Federal Register Vol. 81, No.65,

Federal Register Volume 81, Issue 65 (April 5, 2016)

Page Range19467-19856
FR Document

81_FR_65
Current View
Page and SubjectPDF
81 FR 19855 - National Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month, 2016PDF
81 FR 19853 - National Financial Capability Month, 2016PDF
81 FR 19851 - National Child Abuse Prevention Month, 2016PDF
81 FR 19849 - National Cancer Control Month, 2016PDF
81 FR 19660 - Sunshine Act MeetingPDF
81 FR 19605 - Formations of, Acquisitions by, and Mergers of Bank Holding CompaniesPDF
81 FR 19605 - Change in Bank Control Notices; Acquisitions of Shares of a Bank or Bank Holding CompanyPDF
81 FR 19526 - Air Plan Approval; South Carolina; Transportation Conformity UpdatePDF
81 FR 19467 - Submission of Credit Card Agreements Under the Truth in Lending Act (Regulation Z)PDF
81 FR 19582 - Community Bank Advisory Council MeetingPDF
81 FR 19700 - In the Matter of the Designation of Salah Abdeslam as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist Pursuant to Section 1(b) of Executive Order 13224, as AmendedPDF
81 FR 19714 - Proposed Collection; Comment Request for Regulation ProjectPDF
81 FR 19495 - Air Plan Approval; South Carolina; Transportation Conformity UpdatePDF
81 FR 19600 - Proposed Consent Decree, Clean Air Act Citizen SuitPDF
81 FR 19527 - Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; 12-Month Findings on Petitions To List Island Marble Butterfly, San Bernardino Flying Squirrel, Spotless Crake, and Sprague's Pipit as Endangered or Threatened SpeciesPDF
81 FR 19699 - Delegation of the Secretary of State's Authorities in Title 8 of the United States Code Sections 1182e and 1182f to the Assistant Secretary for Consular Affairs and the Assistant Secretary of Democracy, Human Rights and LaborPDF
81 FR 19601 - Notification of a Cancellation of a Public Teleconference of the Science Advisory Board's Economy-Wide Modeling PanelPDF
81 FR 19604 - Proposed Information Collection Request; Comment Request; Motor Vehicle and Engine Compliance Program Fees (Renewal), EPA ICR 2080.06, OMB Control No. 2060-0545PDF
81 FR 19608 - Agency Forms Undergoing Paperwork Reduction Act ReviewPDF
81 FR 19603 - Notice of Proposed Administrative Settlement Pursuant to the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability ActPDF
81 FR 19552 - Phosphor Copper From the Republic of Korea: Initiation of Less-Than-Fair-Value InvestigationPDF
81 FR 19701 - Buy America Waiver NotificationPDF
81 FR 19490 - OMB Approvals Under the Paperwork Reduction Act; Technical AmendmentPDF
81 FR 19618 - Proposed Amendment to the Willamette Valley Native Prairie Habitat Programmatic Safe Harbor Agreement for the Fender's Blue Butterfly in Benton, Lane, Linn, Marion, Polk, and Yamhill Counties, OregonPDF
81 FR 19616 - Low-Effect Habitat Conservation Plan for The Terrace of Scotts Valley in the City of Scotts Valley, Santa Cruz County, CaliforniaPDF
81 FR 19602 - Environmental Modeling Public Meeting; Notice of Public MeetingPDF
81 FR 19500 - Enhancing Retailer Standards in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Clarification of Proposed Rule and Extension of Comment PeriodPDF
81 FR 19498 - Final Flood Elevation DeterminationsPDF
81 FR 19612 - Changes in Flood Hazard DeterminationsPDF
81 FR 19612 - Louisiana; Amendment No. 3 to Notice of a Major Disaster DeclarationPDF
81 FR 19612 - Oregon; Amendment No. 2 to Notice of a Major Disaster DeclarationPDF
81 FR 19581 - Agency Information Collection Activities Under OMB ReviewPDF
81 FR 19502 - Special Conditions: Ultramagic, S.A., Mark-32 Burner SeriesPDF
81 FR 19700 - Thirty-Ninth Meeting: RTCA Special Committee (224) Airport Security Access Control SystemsPDF
81 FR 19700 - Agency Information Collection Activities: Requests for Comments; Clearance of Renewed Approval of Information Collection: General Operating and Flight RulesPDF
81 FR 19705 - FY 2016 Railroad Safety Technology Grant FundsPDF
81 FR 19611 - Agency Information Collection Activities: Proposed Collection; Comment RequestPDF
81 FR 19551 - Foreign-Trade Zone 17-Kansas City, Kansas, Application for Reorganization, (Expansion of Service Area) Under Alternative Site FrameworkPDF
81 FR 19583 - Defense Business Board; Notice of Federal Advisory Committee MeetingPDF
81 FR 19552 - Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaic Cells, Whether or Not Assembled Into Modules, From the People's Republic of China: Rescission of Antidumping Duty New Shipper Review; 2014-2015PDF
81 FR 19622 - Notice of Inventory Completion: Museum of Ojibwa Culture and Marquette Mission Park, City of St. Ignace, St. Ignace, MIPDF
81 FR 19621 - Notice of Inventory Completion: Department of Anthropology and Middle Eastern Cultures, Mississippi State University, MSPDF
81 FR 19624 - Notice of Intent To Repatriate Cultural Items: Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, Springfield, ILPDF
81 FR 19632 - Notice of Inventory Completion: U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service, Natchez Trace Parkway, Tupelo, MS; CorrectionPDF
81 FR 19629 - Notice of Inventory Completion: U.S. Department of Defense, Army Corps of Engineers, Omaha District, Omaha, NE., and State Archaeological Research Center, Rapid City, SDPDF
81 FR 19625 - Notice of Intent To Repatriate Cultural Items: U.S. Department of Defense Army Corps of Engineers, Omaha District, Omaha, NE and State Archaeological Research Center, Rapid City, SDPDF
81 FR 19631 - Notice of Inventory Completion: U.S. Department of Defense, Army Corps of Engineers, Omaha District, Omaha, NE., and State Archaeological Research Center, Rapid City, SDPDF
81 FR 19619 - Notice of Inventory Completion: U.S. Department of Defense, Army Corps of Engineers, Omaha District, Omaha, NE., and State Archaeological Research Center, Rapid City, SDPDF
81 FR 19626 - Notice of Intent To Repatriate Cultural Items: U.S. Department of Defense, Army Corps of Engineers, Omaha District, Omaha, NE., and State Archaeological Research Center, Rapid City, SDPDF
81 FR 19627 - Notice of Inventory Completion: U.S. Department of Defense, Army Corps of Engineers, Omaha District, Omaha, NE., and State Archaeological Research Center, Rapid City, SDPDF
81 FR 19628 - Notice of Inventory Completion: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Mobile District, Mobile, ALPDF
81 FR 19636 - Notice of Inventory Completion: Catalina Island Museum, Avalon, CAPDF
81 FR 19633 - Notice of Inventory Completion: Catalina Island Museum, Avalon, CAPDF
81 FR 19638 - Notice of Extension of Public Comment Period for the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for Adoption of a Long-Term Experimental and Management Plan for the Operation of Glen Canyon Dam, Page, ArizonaPDF
81 FR 19714 - Proposed Collection; Comment Request for Form 706-GS(T)PDF
81 FR 19620 - Notice of Intent To Repatriate Cultural Items: Grand Rapids Public Museum, Grand Rapids, MichiganPDF
81 FR 19713 - Proposed Collection; Comment Request for Revenue Procedure 2000-37 (Modified by Revenue Procedure 2004-51)PDF
81 FR 19716 - Proposed Collection; Comment Request for Notice 97-45PDF
81 FR 19715 - Proposed Collection; Comment Request for Regulation ProjectPDF
81 FR 19638 - Polyethylene Terephthalate Resin From Oman; Termination of InvestigationPDF
81 FR 19713 - Proposed Collection; Comment Request for Form (GMC 6-25-09)PDF
81 FR 19651 - Entergy Nuclear Operations, Inc., and Dominion Energy Kewaunee, Inc.; Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Station and Kewaunee Power StationPDF
81 FR 19697 - Small Business Investment Company (SBIC) Program: SBA Model Form of Agreement of Limited Partnership for an SBIC Issuing DebenturesPDF
81 FR 19651 - New Postal ProductPDF
81 FR 19640 - Notice of Proposed Revisions for the LSC Grant Assurances for Calendar Year 2017 Basic Field GrantsPDF
81 FR 19698 - Texas Disaster # TX-00463PDF
81 FR 19699 - Oklahoma Disaster # OK-00099PDF
81 FR 19605 - Submission for OMB Review; Contractors' Purchasing Systems ReviewsPDF
81 FR 19606 - Information Collection; Right of First Refusal of EmploymentPDF
81 FR 19595 - Notice of Public Meeting To Inform the Design of a Consent-Based Siting Process for Nuclear Waste Storage and Disposal FacilitiesPDF
81 FR 19580 - Magnuson-Stevens Act Provisions; General Provisions for Domestic Fisheries; Application for Exempted Fishing PermitsPDF
81 FR 19587 - Notice of Public Meeting To Inform the Design of a Consent-Based Siting Process for Nuclear Waste Storage and Disposal FacilitiesPDF
81 FR 19588 - Surplus Plutonium DispositionPDF
81 FR 19712 - Sanctions Actions Pursuant to Executive Order 13224PDF
81 FR 19550 - 2017 Census of GovernmentsPDF
81 FR 19594 - Environmental Management Site-Specific Advisory Board, Northern New MexicoPDF
81 FR 19594 - Environmental Management Site-Specific Advisory Board, Idaho National LaboratoryPDF
81 FR 19579 - Magnuson-Stevens Act Provisions; General Provisions for Domestic Fisheries; Application for Exempted Fishing PermitsPDF
81 FR 19547 - Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; Shrimp Fishery of the Gulf of Mexico; Amendment 17APDF
81 FR 19639 - Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposed Collection; Comments Requested; Notice of Appeal From a Decision of an Immigration JudgePDF
81 FR 19703 - Commercial Driver's License: Oregon Department of Transportation; Application for ExemptionPDF
81 FR 19598 - Notice of Commission Staff AttendancePDF
81 FR 19597 - Midcontinent Independent System Operator, Inc.; Notice of Institution of Section 206 Proceeding and Refund Effective DatePDF
81 FR 19596 - Public Utility District No. 2 of Grant County; Notice of Application Accepted for Filing and Soliciting Comments, Motions To Intervene, and ProtestsPDF
81 FR 19595 - Antelope Big Sky Ranch LLC; Supplemental Notice That Initial Market-Based Rate Filing Includes Request for Blanket Section 204 AuthorizationPDF
81 FR 19599 - Percheron Power, LLC; Notice of Petition for Declaratory OrderPDF
81 FR 19599 - Notice of Effectiveness of Exempt Wholesale Generator StatusPDF
81 FR 19597 - Dominion Transmission, Inc.; Notice of Availability of the Environmental Assessment for the Proposed Leidy South ProjectPDF
81 FR 19598 - Combined Notice of FilingsPDF
81 FR 19599 - Combined Notice of Filings # 1PDF
81 FR 19702 - Commercial Driver's License Standards: Application for Exemption; Daimler Trucks North America (Daimler)PDF
81 FR 19485 - Amendment of Class E Airspace for the Following Michigan Towns; Alpena, MI; and Muskegon, MIPDF
81 FR 19486 - Amendment of Class E Airspace; Rapid City, SDPDF
81 FR 19484 - Amendment of Class D and Class E Airspace; Wilmington, OHPDF
81 FR 19542 - Designating the Sakhalin Bay-Nikolaya Bay-Amur River Stock of Beluga Whales as a Depleted Stock Under the Marine Mammal Protection ActPDF
81 FR 19557 - Takes of Marine Mammals Incidental to Specified Activities; Taking Marine Mammals Incidental to Site Characterization Surveys Off the Coast of MassachusettsPDF
81 FR 19711 - Notice of Request for the Extension of a Currently Approved Information CollectionPDF
81 FR 19709 - Notice of Request for Extension of a Currently Approved Information CollectionPDF
81 FR 19710 - Notice of Request for the Extension of a Currently Approved Information CollectionPDF
81 FR 19586 - Agency Information Collection Activities; Comment Request; NCES System Clearance for Cognitive, Pilot, and Field Test StudiesPDF
81 FR 19607 - Proposed Data Collection Submitted for Public Comment and RecommendationsPDF
81 FR 19641 - Advisory Committee for Cyberinfrastructure; Notice of MeetingPDF
81 FR 19681 - FactorShares Trust, et al.; Notice of ApplicationPDF
81 FR 19488 - Drawbridge Operation Regulation; Inner Harbor Navigation Canal, New Orleans, LAPDF
81 FR 19587 - Agency Information Collection Activities; Comment Request; Accrediting Agencies Reporting Activities for Institutions and ProgramsPDF
81 FR 19583 - Agency Information Collection Activities; Submission to the Office of Management and Budget for Review and approval; Comment Request; 2016-17 Baccalaureate and Beyond Longitudinal Study (B&B:16/17) Field Test Data CollectionPDF
81 FR 19602 - Agency Information Collection Activities OMB ResponsesPDF
81 FR 19698 - Reporting and Recordkeeping Requirements Under OMB ReviewPDF
81 FR 19639 - Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposed eCollection; Ecomments Requested; Immigration Practitioner Complaint Form (OMB1125-0007)PDF
81 FR 19486 - Claims Under the Federal Tort Claims ActPDF
81 FR 19656 - OHA Investment Corporation, et al.; Notice of ApplicationPDF
81 FR 19678 - Self-Regulatory Organizations; The Nasdaq Stock Market LLC; Notice of Filing of Proposed Rule Change To Require Listed Companies to Publicly Disclose Compensation or Other Payments by Third Parties to Board of Director's Members or NomineesPDF
81 FR 19690 - Self-Regulatory Organizations; BATS Exchange, Inc.; Order Granting Approval of Proposed Rule Change, as Modified by Amendment Nos. 1 and 3 Thereto, To List and Trade Shares of the Elkhorn Dow Jones RAFI Commodity ETF of Elkhorn ETF TrustPDF
81 FR 19653 - Self-Regulatory Organizations; Chicago Board Options Exchange, Incorporated; Notice of Filing and Immediate Effectiveness of a Proposed Rule To Amend the Fees SchedulePDF
81 FR 19665 - Self-Regulatory Organizations; NYSE MKT LLC; Notice of Filing and Immediate Effectiveness of Proposed Rule Change Adopting Requirements for the Collection and Transmission of Data Pursuant to Appendices B and C of the Regulation NMS Plan To Implement a Tick Size Pilot ProgramPDF
81 FR 19671 - Self-Regulatory Organizations; New York Stock Exchange LLC; Notice of Filing of Proposed Rule Change, as Modified by Amendment No. 1 Thereto, To Amend Rule 86 To Add Additional Order Types to the NYSE BondsSMPDF
81 FR 19661 - Self-Regulatory Organizations; BATS Exchange, Inc.; Order Approving Proposed Rule Change, as Modified by Amendment No. 1 Thereto, To Amend BATS' Rules Regarding the Auction Process for Securities Subject to an Initial Public OfferingPDF
81 FR 19664 - Self-Regulatory Organizations; NASDAQ PHLX LLC; Notice of Filing and Immediate Effectiveness of Proposed Rule Change Relating to PartnershipsPDF
81 FR 19695 - Order Granting Limited Exemptions From Exchange Act Rule 10b-17 and Rules 101 and 102 of Regulation M to J.P. Morgan Exchange-Traded Fund Trust, JPMorgan Diversified Return International Currency Hedged ETF, and JPMorgan Diversified Return Europe Currency Hedged ETF Pursuant to Exchange Act Rule 10b-17(b)(2) and Rules 101(d) and 102(e) of Regulation MPDF
81 FR 19652 - New Postal ProductPDF
81 FR 19610 - National Heart, Lung, and Blood InstitutePDF
81 FR 19609 - National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute; Notice of Closed MeetingPDF
81 FR 19653 - Product Change-Priority Mail and Parcel Select Negotiated Service AgreementPDF
81 FR 19585 - President's Board of Advisors on Historically Black Colleges and UniversitiesPDF
81 FR 19549 - Submission for OMB Review; Comment RequestPDF
81 FR 19519 - Air Plan Approval; North Carolina; Regional HazePDF
81 FR 19492 - Clean Air Plans; 1-Hour and 1997 8-Hour Ozone Nonattainment Area Requirements; San Joaquin Valley, CaliforniaPDF
81 FR 19495 - Approval of Air Plan Revisions; Arizona; Rescissions and CorrectionsPDF
81 FR 19584 - Agency Information Collection Activities; Submission to the Office of Management and Budget for Review and Approval; Comment Request; Native American Career and Technical Education Program Application (1894-0001)PDF
81 FR 19550 - Agenda and Notice of Public Meeting of the Maryland Advisory CommitteePDF
81 FR 19549 - Notice of Public Meeting of the Michigan Advisory Committee to Discuss Preparations for a Public Hearing Regarding the Civil Rights Impact of Civil Forfeiture Practices in the StatePDF
81 FR 19516 - Airworthiness Directives; International Aero Engines AG Turbofan EnginesPDF
81 FR 19514 - Airworthiness Directives; The Boeing Company AirplanesPDF
81 FR 19512 - Airworthiness Directives; The Boeing Company AirplanesPDF
81 FR 19509 - Airworthiness Directives; Airbus AirplanesPDF
81 FR 19505 - Airworthiness Directives; Airbus AirplanesPDF
81 FR 19488 - Safety Zone; Bayou Teche, Crude Oil Spill; Jeanerette, LAPDF
81 FR 19518 - Claims for Compensation Under the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program ActPDF
81 FR 19482 - Airworthiness Directives; Airbus AirplanesPDF
81 FR 19470 - Airworthiness Directives; The Boeing Company AirplanesPDF
81 FR 19641 - Applications and Amendments to Facility Operating Licenses and Combined Licenses Involving Proposed No Significant Hazards Considerations and Containing Sensitive Unclassified Non-Safeguards Information and Order Imposing Procedures for Access to Sensitive Unclassified Non-Safeguards InformationPDF
81 FR 19472 - Airworthiness Directives; The Boeing Company AirplanesPDF
81 FR 19467 - Airworthiness Directives; Airbus AirplanesPDF
81 FR 19718 - Air Quality Control, Reporting, and CompliancePDF
81 FR 19818 - Organization and Delegation of Powers and DutiesPDF

Issue

81 65 Tuesday, April 5, 2016 Contents Agricultural Research Agricultural Research Service NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals, 19549 2016-07674 Agriculture Agriculture Department See

Agricultural Research Service

See

Food and Nutrition Service

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection RULES Submission of Credit Card Agreements, 19467 2016-07815 NOTICES Meetings: Community Bank Advisory Council, 19582-19583 2016-07814 Census Bureau Census Bureau NOTICES 2017 Census of Governments, 19550-19551 2016-07736 Centers Disease Centers for Disease Control and Prevention NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals, 19607-19609 2016-07707 2016-07803 Civil Rights Civil Rights Commission NOTICES Meetings: Maryland Advisory Committee, 19550 2016-07630 Michigan Advisory Committee, 19549-19550 2016-07629 Coast Guard Coast Guard RULES Drawbridge Operations: Inner Harbor Navigation Canal, New Orleans, LA, 19488 2016-07702 Safety Zones: Bayou Teche, Crude Oil Spill, Jeanerette, LA, 19488-19490 2016-07541 Commerce Commerce Department See

Census Bureau

See

Foreign-Trade Zones Board

See

International Trade Administration

See

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Commodity Futures Commodity Futures Trading Commission NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals, 19581-19582 2016-07788 Defense Department Defense Department NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: Contractors' Purchasing Systems Reviews, 19605-19606 2016-07743 Right of First Refusal of Employment, 19606-19607 2016-07742 Meetings: Defense Business Board, 19583 2016-07777 Education Department Education Department NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: 2016-17 Baccalaureate and Beyond Longitudinal Study Field Test, 19583-19584 2016-07699 Accrediting Agencies Reporting Activities for Institutions and Programs, 19587 2016-07701 National Center for Education Statistics System Clearance for Cognitive, Pilot, and Field Test Studies, 19586-19587 2016-07708 Native American Career and Technical Education Program Application, 19584-19585 2016-07650 Meetings: President's Board of Advisors on Historically Black Colleges and Universities, 19585-19586 2016-07675 Energy Department Energy Department See

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission

NOTICES Meetings: Environmental Management Site-Specific Advisory Board, Idaho National Laboratory, 19594 2016-07734 Environmental Management Site-Specific Advisory Board, Northern New Mexico, 19594-19595 2016-07735 Fuel Cycle Technologies, Office of Nuclear Energy, 19587-19588 2016-07739 Fuel Cycle Technologies, Office of Nuclear EnergyMeetings, 19595 2016-07741 Surplus Plutonium Disposition, 19588-19594 2016-07738
Environmental Protection Environmental Protection Agency RULES Air Quality State Implementation Plans; Approvals and Promulgations: Arizona; Rescissions and Corrections, 19495 2016-07666 San Joaquin Valley, CA; 1-Hour and 1997 8-Hour Ozone Nonattainment Area Requirements, 19492-19495 2016-07668 Transportation Conformity Update, South Carolina, 19495-19498 2016-07811 OMB Approvals under the Paperwork Reduction Act; OMB Approvals under the Paperwork Reduction Act; Technical Amendment, 19490-19492 2016-07797 PROPOSED RULES Air Quality State Implementation Plans; Approvals and Promulgations: North Carolina; Regional Haze, 19519-19526 2016-07670 Transportation Conformity Update, South Carolina, 19526-19527 2016-07816 NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: OMB Responses, 19602-19603 2016-07697 Motor Vehicle and Engine Compliance Program Fees (Renewal), 19604-19605 2016-07804 Meetings: Cancellation of a Public Teleconference of the Science Advisory Board's Economy-Wide Modeling Panel, 19601-19602 2016-07807 Environmental Modeling, 19602 2016-07794 Proposed Administrative Settlements: Rab Valley Wood Preserving Superfund Site, Panama, LeFlore County, OK, 19603-19604 2016-07802 Proposed Consent Decree, Clean Air Act Citizen Suit, 19600-19601 2016-07810 Federal Aviation Federal Aviation Administration RULES Airworthiness Directives: Airbus Airplanes, 19467-19470, 19482-19484 2016-07028 2016-07372 The Boeing Company Airplanes, 19470-19482 2016-07150 2016-07230 Amendment of Class D and Class E Airspace: Wilmington, OH; Correction, 19484-19485 2016-07714 Amendment of Class E Airspace: Alpena, MI and Muskegon, MI; Correction, 19485-19486 2016-07717 Rapid City, SD; Correction, 19486 2016-07715 PROPOSED RULES Airworthiness Directives: Airbus Airplanes, 19505-19511 2016-07569 2016-07575 International Aero Engines AG Turbofan Engines, 19516-19518 2016-07579 The Boeing Company Airplanes, 19512-19516 2016-07577 2016-07578 Special Conditions: Ultramagic, S.A., Mark-32 Burner Series, 19502-19505 2016-07786 NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals, 19700 2016-07781 Meetings: RTCA Special Committee (224) Airport Security Access Control Systems, 19700-19701 2016-07784 Federal Emergency Federal Emergency Management Agency RULES Final Flood Elevation Determinations, 19498-19499 2016-07792 NOTICES Changes in Flood Hazard Determinations, 19612-19616 2016-07791 Major Disaster Declarations: Louisiana; Amendment No. 3, 19612 2016-07790 Oregon; Amendment No. 2, 19612 2016-07789 Federal Energy Federal Energy Regulatory Commission NOTICES Combined Filings, 19598-19600 2016-07720 2016-07721 Effectiveness of Exempt Wholesale Generator Status: FTS Project Owner 1, LLC, et al., 19599 2016-07723 Environmental Assessments; Availability, etc.: Dominion Transmission, Inc.; Leidy South Project, 19597-19598 2016-07722 Hydroelectric Applications: Public Utility District No. 2 of Grant County, 19596-19597 2016-07726 Initial Market-Based Rate Filings Including Requests for Blanket Section 204 Authorizations: Antelope Big Sky Ranch LLC, 19595-19596 2016-07725 Investigations; Determinations, Modifications, and Rulings, etc.: Midcontinent Independent System Operator, Inc., 19597 2016-07727 Petitions for Declaratory Orders: Percheron Power, LLC, 19599 2016-07724 Staff Attendance, 19598-19599 2016-07728 Federal Highway Federal Highway Administration NOTICES Buy America Waivers, 19701-19702 2016-07800 Federal Motor Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration NOTICES Applications for Exemption; Commercial Driver's License Standards: Daimler Trucks North America (Daimler), 19702-19703 2016-07719 Commercial Driver's License; Applications for Exemtions: Oregon Department of Transportation, 19703-19705 2016-07730 Federal Railroad Federal Railroad Administration NOTICES FY 2016 Railroad Safety Technology Grant Funds, 19705-19709 2016-07780 Federal Reserve Federal Reserve System NOTICES Changes in Bank Control: Acquisitions of Shares of a Bank or Bank Holding Company, 19605 2016-07824 Formations of, Acquisitions by, and Mergers of Bank Holding Companies, 19605 2016-07825 Federal Transit Federal Transit Administration NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals, 19709-19712 2016-07709 2016-07710 2016-07711 Fish Fish and Wildlife Service PROPOSED RULES Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants: 12-Month Findings on Petitions to List Island Marble Butterfly, San Bernardino Flying Squirrel, Spotless Crake, and Sprague's Pipit as Endangered or Threatened Species, 19527-19542 2016-07809 NOTICES Low-Effect Habitat Conservation Plan: Terrace of Scotts Valley in the City of Scotts Valley, Santa Cruz County, CA, 19616-19618 2016-07795 Willamette Valley Native Prairie Habitat Programmatic Safe Harbor Agreement: Fender's Blue Butterfly in Benton, Lane, Linn, Marion, Polk, and Yamhill Counties, OR, 19618-19619 2016-07796 Food and Nutrition Food and Nutrition Service PROPOSED RULES Enhancing Retailer Standards in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program; Clarification and Extension of Comment Period, 19500-19502 2016-07793 Foreign Assets Foreign Assets Control Office NOTICES Blocking or Unblocking of Persons and Properties, 19712-19713 2016-07737 Foreign Trade Foreign-Trade Zones Board NOTICES Applications for Reorganization: Foreign-Trade Zone 17; Kansas City, KS, 19551-19552 2016-07778 General Services General Services Administration NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: Contractors' Purchasing Systems Reviews, 19605-19606 2016-07743 Right of First Refusal of Employment, 19606-19607 2016-07742 Health and Human Health and Human Services Department See

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

See

National Institutes of Health

See

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

Homeland Homeland Security Department See

Coast Guard

See

Federal Emergency Management Agency

Interior Interior Department See

Fish and Wildlife Service

See

National Park Service

See

Ocean Energy Management Bureau

See

Reclamation Bureau

Internal Revenue Internal Revenue Service NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals, 19713-19716 2016-07753 2016-07755 2016-07756 2016-07757 2016-07760 2016-07812 International Trade Adm International Trade Administration NOTICES Antidumping or Countervailing Duty Investigations, Orders, or Reviews: Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaic Cells, Whether or Not Assembled Into Modules, from the People's Republic of China, 19552 2016-07776 Phosphor Copper from the Republic of Korea, 19552-19557 2016-07801 International Trade Com International Trade Commission NOTICES Investigations; Determinations, Modifications, and Rulings, etc.: Polyethylene Terephthalate Resin from Oman, 19638-19639 2016-07754 Justice Department Justice Department NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: Appeal from a Decision of an Immigration Judge, 19639-19640 2016-07731 Immigration Practitioner Complaint Form, 19639 2016-07694 Labor Department Labor Department See

Workers Compensation Programs Office

Legal Legal Services Corporation NOTICES Proposed Revisions for the LSC Grant Assurances for Calendar Year 2017 Basic Field Grants, 19640-19641 2016-07747 NASA National Aeronautics and Space Administration NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: Contractors' Purchasing Systems Reviews, 19605-19606 2016-07743 Right of First Refusal of Employment, 19606-19607 2016-07742 National Institute National Institutes of Health NOTICES Meetings: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, 19609 2016-07677 Requests for Nominations: National Institutes of Health, National, Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute's National Asthma Education and Prevention Program Coordinating Committee, 19610 2016-07678 National Labor National Labor Relations Board RULES Claims under the Federal Tort Claims Act, 19486-19488 2016-07692 National Oceanic National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration PROPOSED RULES Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic: Shrimp Fishery of the Gulf of Mexico; Amendment 17A, 19547-19548 2016-07732 Marine Mammals: Sakhalin Bay-Nikolaya Bay-Amur River Stock of Beluga Whales; Designation as a Depleted Stock, 19542-19547 2016-07713 NOTICES Exempted Fishing Permit; Applications, 19579-19581 2016-07733 2016-07740 Takes of Marine Mammals Incidental to Specified Activities: Taking Marine Mammals Incidental to Site Characterization Surveys off the Coast of Massachusetts, 19557-19579 2016-07712 National Park National Park Service NOTICES Environmental Impact Statements; Availability, etc.: Adoption of a Long-Term Experimental and Management Plan for the Operation of Glen Canyon Dam, Page, AZ, 19638 2016-07761 Intent to Repatriate Cultural Items: Department of Defense, Army Corps of Engineers, Omaha District, Omaha, NE, and State Archaeological Research Center, Rapid City, SD, 19625-19626 2016-07770 Grand Rapids Public Museum, Grand Rapids, MI, 19620-19621 2016-07758 Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, Springfield, IL, 19624-19625 2016-07773 Inventory Completions: Army Corps of Engineers, Mobile District, Mobile, AL, 19628-19629 2016-07765 Catalina Island Museum, Avalon, CA, 19633-19638 2016-07763 2016-07764 Department of Anthropology and Middle Eastern Cultures, Mississippi State University, MS, 19621-19622 2016-07774 Department of Defense, Army Corps of Engineers, Omaha District, Omaha, NE, and State Archaeological Research Center, Rapid City, SD, 19619-19620, 19627-19632 2016-07766 2016-07768 2016-07769 2016-07771 Department of the Interior, National Park Service, Natchez Trace Parkway, Tupelo, MS; Correction, 19632-19633 2016-07772 Museum of Ojibwa Culture and Marquette Mission Park, City of St. Ignace, St. Ignace, MI, 19622-19624 2016-07775 National Science National Science Foundation NOTICES Meetings: Advisory Committee for Cyberinfrastructure, 19641 2016-07706 Nuclear Regulatory Nuclear Regulatory Commission NOTICES Applications and Amendments Involving Proposed No Significant Hazards Considerations, etc., 19641-19651 2016-07168 Petition; Director's Decision: Entergy Nuclear Operations, Inc., and Dominion Energy Kewaunee, Inc. Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Station and Kewaunee Power Station, 19651 2016-07752 Ocean Energy Management Ocean Energy Management Bureau PROPOSED RULES Air Quality Control, Reporting, and Compliance, 19718-19816 2016-06310 Postal Regulatory Postal Regulatory Commission NOTICES New Postal Products, 19651-19653 2016-07680 2016-07748 Postal Service Postal Service NOTICES Product Changes: Priority Mail and Parcel Select Negotiated Service Agreement, 19653 2016-07676 Presidential Documents Presidential Documents PROCLAMATIONS Special Observances: National Cancer Control Month (Proc. 9411), 19847-19850 2016-07955 National Child Abuse Prevention Month (Proc. 9412), 19851-19852 2016-07957 National Financial Capability Month (Proc. 9413), 19853-19854 2016-07959 National Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month (Proc. 9414), 19855-19856 2016-07960 Reclamation Reclamation Bureau NOTICES Environmental Impact Statements; Availability, etc.: Adoption of a Long-Term Experimental and Management Plan for the Operation of Glen Canyon Dam, Page, AZ, 19638 2016-07761 Securities Securities and Exchange Commission NOTICES Applications: FactorShares Trust, et al., 19681-19690 2016-07704 OHA Investment Corporation, et al., 19656-19660 2016-07689 Meetings; Sunshine Act, 19660-19661 2016-07829 Orders Granting Limited Exemptions: J.P. Morgan Exchange-Traded Fund Trust, JPMorgan Diversified Return International Currency Hedged ETF, et al., 19695-19697 2016-07681 Self-Regulatory Organizations; Proposed Rule Changes: BATS Exchange, Inc., 19661-19664, 19690-19695 2016-07683 2016-07687 Chicago Board Options Exchange, Inc., 19653-19656 2016-07686 NASDAQ PHLX, LLC, 19664-19665 2016-07682 Nasdaq Stock Market, LLC, 19678-19680 2016-07688 New York Stock Exchange, LLC, 19671-19678 2016-07684 NYSE MKT, LLC, 19665-19671 2016-07685 Small Business Small Business Administration NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals, 19698-19699 2016-07696 Disaster Declarations: Oklahoma, 19699 2016-07745 Texas, 19698 2016-07746 SBA Model Form of Agreement of Limited Partnership for an SBIC Issuing Debentures, 19697-19698 2016-07749 State Department State Department NOTICES Delegation of the Secretary of State's Authorities to the Assistant Secretary for Consular Affairs and the Assistant Secretary of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, 19699-19700 2016-07808 Designations as Global Terrorists: Salah Abdeslam, 19700 2016-07813 Substance Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals, 19611-19612 2016-07779 Transportation Department Transportation Department See

Federal Aviation Administration

See

Federal Highway Administration

See

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

See

Federal Railroad Administration

See

Federal Transit Administration

RULES Organization and Delegation of Powers and Duties, 19818-19845 2016-04230
Treasury Treasury Department See

Foreign Assets Control Office

See

Internal Revenue Service

Workers' Workers Compensation Programs Office PROPOSED RULES Claims for Compensation under the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act, 19518-19519 2016-07488 Separate Parts In This Issue Part II Interior Department, Ocean Energy Management Bureau, 19718-19816 2016-06310 Part III Transportation Department, 19818-19845 2016-04230 Part IV Presidential Documents, 19847-19856 2016-07955 2016-07957 2016-07959 2016-07960 Reader Aids

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

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

81 65 Tuesday, April 5, 2016 Rules and Regulations BUREAU OF CONSUMER FINANCIAL PROTECTION 12 CFR Part 1026 Submission of Credit Card Agreements Under the Truth in Lending Act (Regulation Z) AGENCY:

Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection.

ACTION:

Notice of expiration of suspension.

SUMMARY:

The Truth in Lending Act (TILA) and Regulation Z require credit card issuers to submit their currently-offered credit card agreements to the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection (Bureau), to be posted on the Bureau's Web site. In April 2015, the Bureau suspended that submission obligation for a period of one year. That suspension has expired, and the next submission is due on the first business day on or after April 30, 2016 (i.e., May 2, 2016). Credit card issuers should visit the Bureau's Web site for instructions on submitting credit card agreements.

DATES:

Credit card issuers are required to submit to the Bureau the agreements they offered to the public as of March 31, 2016, on or before May 2, 2016.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Thomas L. Devlin, Counsel, or Kristine M. Andreassen, Senior Counsel, Office of Regulations, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, 1700 G Street NW., Washington, DC 20552, at 202-435-7700.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

In April 2015, the Bureau amended Regulation Z (12 CFR part 1026), which implements TILA, and the official interpretation to that regulation, to temporarily suspend card issuers' obligations to submit credit card agreements to the Bureau for a period of one year i.e., the four quarterly submissions due to the Bureau by the first business day on or after April 30, 2015; July 31, 2015; October 31, 2015; and January 31, 2016, respectively.1

1 80 FR 21153 (Apr. 17, 2015).

The suspension began with the submission that would have been due on the first business day on or after April 30, 2015, and ended with the submission that would have been due on the first business day on or after January 31, 2016. Accordingly, card issuers must resume submitting agreements to the Bureau with the submission due on the first business day on or after April 30, 2016 (i.e., May 2, 2016), covering credit card agreements that were offered to the public as of March 31, 2016.2 Regulation Z § 1026.58(g) and comment 58(g)-2 describe which agreements must be submitted to the Bureau as part of the submission due on May 2, 2016.

2 12 CFR 1026.58(g)(1).

Regulation Z provides that card issuers shall submit their currently-offered agreements “in the form and manner specified by the Bureau.” 3 Updated submission instructions are available through the Bureau's Web site.4 Card issuers' obligations to post currently-offered credit card agreements on their publicly available Web sites, and to make agreements for open accounts available to cardholders, were not affected by the suspension.5

3 12 CFR 1026.58(c)(1).

4http://www.consumerfinance.gov/credit-cards/agreements/.

5 12 CFR 1026.58(d), (e), (g)(2).

Dated: March 28, 2016. Richard Cordray, Director, Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection.
[FR Doc. 2016-07815 Filed 4-4-16; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4810-AM-P
DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION Federal Aviation Administration 14 CFR Part 39 [Docket No. FAA-2014-1047; Directorate Identifier 2014-NM-157-AD; Amendment 39-18449; AD 2016-07-04] RIN 2120-AA64 Airworthiness Directives; Airbus Airplanes AGENCY:

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

ACTION:

Final rule.

SUMMARY:

We are adopting a new airworthiness directive (AD) for certain Airbus Model A318, A319, A320, and A321 series airplanes. This AD was prompted by a report that, during the assembly process, several gaps between the two parts of the girt bar fittings for the aft passenger doors were found to exceed tolerances. This AD requires an inspection of the gap between the two parts of the girt bar fittings on left-hand (LH) and right-hand (RH) aft passenger doors, and corrective actions if necessary. We are issuing this AD to detect and correct incorrect gaps between the girt bar fittings. Detachment of a girt bar could lead to the separation of the slide or slide-raft from the fuselage, making the emergency exit inoperative, which could impede an emergency evacuation.

DATES:

This AD becomes effective May 10, 2016.

The Director of the Federal Register approved the incorporation by reference of a certain publication listed in this AD as of May 10, 2016.

ADDRESSES:

For service information identified in this final rule, contact Airbus, Airworthiness Office—EIAS, 1 Rond Point Maurice Bellonte, 31707 Blagnac Cedex, France; telephone +33 5 61 93 36 96; fax +33 5 61 93 44 51; email [email protected]; Internet http://www.airbus.com. You may view this referenced service information at the FAA, Transport Airplane Directorate, 1601 Lind Avenue SW., Renton, WA. For information on the availability of this material at the FAA, call 425-227-1221. It is also available on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov by searching for and locating Docket No. FAA-2014-1047.

Examining the AD Docket

You may examine the AD docket on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov by searching for and locating Docket No. FAA-2014-1047; or in person at the Docket Management Facility between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays. The AD docket contains this AD, the regulatory evaluation, any comments received, and other information. The street address for the Docket Office (telephone 800-647-5527) is Docket Management Facility, U.S. Department of Transportation, Docket Operations, M-30, West Building Ground Floor, Room W12-140, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC 20590.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

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

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Discussion

We issued a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) to amend 14 CFR part 39 by adding an AD that would apply to certain Airbus Model A318, A319, A320, and A321 series airplanes. The NPRM published in the Federal Register on January 23, 2015 (80 FR 3533) (“the NPRM”). The NPRM was prompted by a report that, during the assembly process, several gaps between the two parts of the girt bar fittings for the aft passenger doors were found to exceed tolerances. The NPRM proposed to require an inspection of the gap between the two parts of the girt bar fittings on LH and RH aft passenger doors, and corrective actions if necessary. We are issuing this AD to detect and correct incorrect gaps between the girt bar fittings. Detachment of a girt bar could lead to the separation of the slide or slide-raft from the fuselage, making the emergency exit inoperative, which could impede an emergency evacuation.

Comments

We gave the public the opportunity to participate in developing this AD. We have considered the comments received. The following presents the comments received on the NPRM and the FAA's response to each comment.

Request To Reference Later Revision of Service Information

United Airlines (UAL) proposed to update the reference to the service information to Airbus Service Bulletin A320-53-1289, Revision 01, dated August 29, 2014. UAL also suggested that the service information update would also update the effectivity for the applicable inspection.

We agree to reference the latest service information, Airbus Service Bulletin A320-53-1289, Revision 01, dated August 29, 2014, which updates the effectivity, and have revised paragraph (g) of this AD accordingly. We have also added a new paragraph (i) to this AD to provide credit for actions done using Airbus Service Bulletin A320-53-1289, dated May 28, 2014, and have redesignated subsequent paragraphs accordingly.

Request To Clarify the Tolerances for the Gap Size

UAL requested clarification on the inspection task's initial gap requirement tolerance and the required gap tolerance for trimmed latches. UAL stated that it seems the initial inspection in Task 531289-832-601/602-001 of Airbus Service Bulletin A320-53-1289, Revision 01, dated August 29, 2014, specifies that a gap equal to or less than 4 millimeters (mm) (0.158 inch) is acceptable without the need for further action, but other tasks for post-trimming and post-latch-replacement inspections specify replacement if the gap is less than 1 mm (0.0394 inch). UAL noted that those inspection tasks reference a figure in Airbus Service Bulletin A320-53-1289, Revision 01, dated August 29, 2014, which specifies the gap should be between 1 mm (0.0394 inch) and 4 mm (0.158 inch). UAL also stated that the trimming action in Task 531289-831-601-001 of Airbus Service Bulletin A320-53-1289, Revision 01, dated August 29, 2014, specifies trimming the latch again if the gap is still greater than 4 mm (0.158 inch), which seems to conflict with a figure that gives one trim dimension without any tolerance. UAL further stated that it should be clearer that the latch should be trimmed as many times as required with a maximum trim dimension of 0.5 mm (0.0197 inch) until the required gap tolerance is achieved.

We agree to provide clarification. Figure A-SBCAA of Airbus Service Bulletin A320-53-1289, Revision 01, dated August 29, 2014, specifies 0.5 mm (0.0197 inch) as the limit of the edge margin, which must not be exceeded while trimming the latch part during the gap adjustment. We find that Airbus Service Bulletin A320-53-1289, Revision 01, dated August 29, 2014, is clear on the initial gap tolerance, which specifies corrective actions if the gap is initially greater than 4 mm (0.158 inch). The corrective actions include trimming and determining the gap after trimming. If the gap is less than 1 mm (0.0394 inch) or greater than 4 mm (0.158 inch) after trimming, Airbus Service Bulletin A320-53-1289, Revision 01, dated August 29, 2014, specifies additional corrective actions. No change has been made to this final rule in this regard.

Request To Address Issue of Obsolete Part Numbers

UAL stated that the NPRM and the referenced service information (Airbus Service Bulletins A320-53-1289, dated May 28, 2014, and Revision 01, dated August 29, 2014) do not identify part number D531125020000 as obsolete, which is identified in the illustrated parts catalog (IPC) as an acceptable part. UAL pointed out that the referenced service information introduces new part numbers D5348027920-200/400 as part of a corrective action, but does not specify the new part numbers as a part of an action to require new or revised latch or girt bar assembly parts. UAL asserts that, without a revised IPC or specific steps in the service information, there is a risk that the old part number could be used in the future, and lead to an incorrect gap after accomplishing the inspection required by this AD.

We agree to clarify the issue. This AD refers to Airbus Service Bulletin A320-53-1289, Revision 01, dated August 29, 2014, as the appropriate source of service information for accomplishing the actions required by this AD. We have determined the information specified in Airbus Service Bulletin A320-53-1289, Revision 01, dated August 29, 2014, is adequate. In addition, the requirements of an AD take precedence over any specifications in an IPC, which is not an FAA-approved document. We recommend that operators work with the manufacturer to ensure there are no discrepancies in the IPC. It is the responsibility of operators to apply necessary controls to maintain the airplane in accordance with the required configuration of an AD. No change has been made to this final rule in this regard.

Conclusion

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

• Are consistent with the intent that was proposed in the NPRM for correcting the unsafe condition; and

• Do not add any additional burden upon the public than was already proposed in the NPRM.

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

Related Service Information Under 1 CFR Part 51

Airbus has issued Service Bulletin A320-53-1289, Revision 01, dated August 29, 2014. The service information describes procedures for a detailed inspection of the gap in the girt bar fittings of the aft passenger doors, LH and RH sides, and corrective actions. This service information is reasonably available because the interested parties have access to it through their normal course of business or by the means identified in the ADDRESSES section.

Costs of Compliance

We estimate that this AD affects 838 airplanes of U.S. registry.

We also estimate that it will take about 3 work-hours per product to comply with the basic requirements of this AD. The average labor rate is $85 per work-hour. Based on these figures, we estimate the cost of this AD on U.S. operators to be $213,690, or $255 per product.

In addition, we estimate that any necessary follow-on actions will take about 4 work-hours and require parts costing $435, for a cost of $775 per product. We have no way of determining the number of aircraft that might need these actions.

Authority for This Rulemaking

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

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

Regulatory Findings

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

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

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

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

3. Will not affect intrastate aviation in Alaska; and

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

List of Subjects in 14 CFR Part 39

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

Adoption of the Amendment

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

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

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

§ 39.13 [Amended]
2. The FAA amends § 39.13 by adding the following new airworthiness directive (AD): 2016-07-04 Airbus: Amendment 39-18449. Docket No. FAA-2014-1047; Directorate Identifier 2014-NM-157-AD. (a) Effective Date

This AD becomes effective May 10, 2016.

(b) Affected ADs

None.

(c) Applicability

This AD applies to Airbus airplanes, certificated in any category, identified in paragraphs (c)(1) through (c)(4) of this AD, except those on which Airbus Modification 154966 has been embodied during production.

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

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

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

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

(d) Subject

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

(e) Reason

This AD was prompted by a report that, during the assembly process, several gaps between the two parts of the girt bar fittings for the aft passenger doors were found to exceed tolerances. We are issuing this AD to detect and correct incorrect gaps between the girt bar fittings. Detachment of a girt bar could lead to the separation of the slide or slide-raft from the fuselage, making the emergency exit inoperative, which could impede an emergency evacuation.

(f) Compliance

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

(g) Inspection and Corrective Action

Except as provided by paragraph (h) of this AD, within 36 months after the effective date of this AD, do a detailed inspection of the gap in the girt bar fittings of the aft passenger doors, left-hand (LH) and right-hand (RH) sides, and do all applicable corrective actions, in accordance with the Accomplishment Instructions of Airbus Service Bulletin A320-53-1289, Revision 01, dated August 29, 2014. Do all applicable corrective actions before further flight.

(h) Exception

For any airplane that has been modified to a configuration where one or both LH and RH aft passenger doors are permanently inoperative or deactivated: If any aft passenger door is reactivated, after reactivation but before further flight, do the detailed inspection of the reactivated aft passenger door(s) and all applicable corrective actions, as required by paragraph (g) of this AD.

(i) Credit for Previous Actions

This paragraph provides credit for actions required by paragraphs (g) and (h) of this AD, if those actions were performed before the effective date of this AD using Airbus Service Bulletin A320-53-1289, dated May 28, 2014, which is not incorporated by reference in this AD.

(j) Other FAA AD Provisions

The following provisions also apply to this AD:

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

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

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

(k) Related Information

(1) Refer to Mandatory Continuing Airworthiness Information (MCAI) European Aviation Safety Agency Airworthiness Directive 2014-0178, dated July 25, 2014, for related information. This MCAI may be found in the AD docket on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov by searching for and locating Docket No. FAA-2014-1047.

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

(l) Material Incorporated by Reference

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

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

(i) Airbus Service Bulletin A320-53-1289, Revision 01, dated August 29, 2014.

(ii) Reserved.

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

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

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

Issued in Renton, Washington, on March 20, 2016. Michael Kaszycki, Acting Manager, Transport Airplane Directorate, Aircraft Certification Service.
[FR Doc. 2016-07028 Filed 4-4-16; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4910-13-P
DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION Federal Aviation Administration 14 CFR Part 39 [Docket No. FAA-2016-5036; Directorate Identifier 2015-NM-180-AD; Amendment 39-18453; AD 2016-07-08] RIN 2120-AA64 Airworthiness Directives; The Boeing Company Airplanes AGENCY:

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), DOT.

ACTION:

Final rule; request for comments.

SUMMARY:

We are adopting a new airworthiness directive (AD) for a certain The Boeing Company Model DC-9-83 (MD-83) airplane. This AD requires installing fuel level float and pressure switch in-line fuses, and doing applicable wiring changes, on the left, right, and center wing forward spars, forward auxiliary fuel tank, and aft auxiliary fuel tank. This AD was prompted by fuel system reviews conducted by the manufacturer. We are issuing this AD to prevent the potential of ignition sources inside fuel tanks, which, in combination with flammable fuel vapors, could result in fuel tank explosions and consequent loss of the airplane.

DATES:

This AD is effective April 20, 2016.

The Director of the Federal Register approved the incorporation by reference of a certain publication listed in this AD as of April 20, 2016.

We must receive comments on this AD by May 20, 2016.

ADDRESSES:

You may send comments, using the procedures found in 14 CFR 11.43 and 11.45, by any of the following methods:

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

Fax: 202-493-2251.

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

Hand Delivery: U.S. Department of Transportation, Docket Operations, M-30, 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.

For service information identified in this final rule, contact Boeing Commercial Airplanes, Attention: Data & Services Management, 3855 Lakewood Boulevard, MC D800-0019, Long Beach, CA 90846-0001; telephone 206-544-5000, extension 2; fax 206-766-5683; Internet https://www.myboeingfleet.com. You may view this referenced service information at the FAA, Transport Airplane Directorate, 1601 Lind Avenue SW., Renton, Washington. For information on the availability of this material at the FAA, call 425-227-1221. It is also available on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov by searching for and locating Docket No. FAA-2016-5036.

Examining the AD Docket

You may examine the AD docket on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov by searching for and locating Docket No. FAA-2016-5036; or in person at the Docket Management Facility between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays. The AD docket contains this AD, the regulatory evaluation, any comments received, and other information. The street address for the Docket Office (phone: 800-647-5527) is in the ADDRESSES section. Comments will be available in the AD docket shortly after receipt.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Samuel Lee, Aerospace Engineer, Propulsion Branch, ANM-140L, FAA, Los Angeles Aircraft Certification Office, 3960 Paramount Boulevard, Lakewood, CA 90712-4137; phone: 562-627-5262; fax: 562-627-5210; email: [email protected]

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Discussion

The FAA has examined the underlying safety issues involved in fuel tank explosions on several large transport airplanes, including the adequacy of existing regulations, the service history of airplanes subject to those regulations, and existing maintenance practices for fuel tank systems. As a result of those findings, we issued a regulation titled “Transport Airplane Fuel Tank System Design Review, Flammability Reduction and Maintenance and Inspection Requirements” (66 FR 23086, May 7, 2001). In addition to new airworthiness standards for transport airplanes and new maintenance requirements, this rule included Special Federal Aviation Regulation No. 88 (“SFAR 88,” Amendment 21-78, and subsequent Amendments 21-82 and 21-83).

Among other actions, SFAR 88 (66 FR 23086, May 7, 2001) requires certain type design (i.e., type certificate (TC) and supplemental type certificate (STC)) holders to substantiate that their fuel tank systems can prevent ignition sources in the fuel tanks. This requirement applies to type design holders for large turbine-powered transport airplanes and for subsequent modifications to those airplanes. It requires them to perform design reviews and to develop design changes and maintenance procedures if their designs do not meet the new fuel tank safety standards. As explained in the preamble to the rule, we intended to adopt airworthiness directives to mandate any changes found necessary to address unsafe conditions identified as a result of these reviews.

In evaluating these design reviews, we have established four criteria intended to define the unsafe conditions associated with fuel tank systems that require corrective actions. The percentage of operating time during which fuel tanks are exposed to flammable conditions is one of these criteria. The other three criteria address the failure types under evaluation: Single failures, single failures in combination with a latent condition(s), and in-service failure experience. For all four criteria, the evaluations included consideration of previous actions taken that may mitigate the need for further action.

We have determined that the actions identified in this AD are necessary to reduce the potential of ignition sources inside fuel tanks, which, in combination with flammable fuel vapors, could result in fuel tank explosions and consequent loss of the airplane.

Related Rulemaking

AD 2011-01-16, Amendment 39-16573 (76 FR 1993, January 12, 2011), requires installing fuel level float and pressure switch in-line fuses on the wing forward spars and forward and aft auxiliary fuel tanks. The applicability of AD 2011-01-16 did not include the Model DC-9-83 (MD-83) airplane identified in the applicability of this AD.

Related Service Information Under 1 CFR Part 51

We reviewed Boeing Service Bulletin MD80-28-226, Revision 1, dated March 6, 2015. The service information describes procedures for installing fuel level float and pressure switch in-line fuses, and doing wiring changes, on the left, right, and center wing forward spars, forward auxiliary fuel tank, and aft auxiliary fuel tank. This service information is reasonably available because the interested parties have access to it through their normal course of business or by the means identified in the ADDRESSES section.

FAA's Determination

We are issuing this AD because we evaluated all the relevant information and determined the unsafe condition described previously is likely to exist or develop in other products of the same type design.

AD Requirements

This AD would require accomplishing the actions specified in the service information described previously. For information on the procedures, see this service information at http://www.regulations.gov by searching for and locating Docket No. FAA-2016-5036.

FAA's Justification and Determination of the Effective Date

The airplane identified in the paragraph (c) applicability of this AD is currently not registered in the United States. However, this rule is necessary to ensure that the described unsafe condition is addressed if this airplane is placed on the U.S. Register in the future. Therefore, we find that notice and opportunity for prior public comment are unnecessary and that good cause exists for making this amendment effective in less than 30 days.

Comments Invited

This AD is a final rule that involves requirements affecting flight safety and was not preceded by notice and an opportunity for public comment. However, we invite you to send any written data, views, or arguments about this AD. Send your comments to an address listed under the ADDRESSES section. Include the docket number FAA-2016-5036, and Directorate Identifier 2015-NM-180-AD at the beginning of your comments. We specifically invite comments on the overall regulatory, economic, environmental, and energy aspects of this AD. We will consider all comments received by the closing date and may amend this AD because of those comments.

We will post all comments we receive, without change, to http://www.regulations.gov, including any personal information you provide. We will also post a report summarizing each substantive verbal contact we receive about this AD.

Costs of Compliance

Currently, the sole airplane affected by this AD is not on the U.S. Register. However, if the affected airplane is imported and placed on the U.S. Register in the future, we estimate the following costs to comply with this AD:

Estimated Costs Action Labor cost Parts cost Cost per
  • product
  • Cost on U.S.
  • operators
  • Installation 31 work-hours × $85 per hour = $2,635 $7,034 $9,669 $0
    Authority for This Rulemaking

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

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

    Regulatory Findings

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

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

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

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

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

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

    List of Subjects in 14 CFR Part 39

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

    Adoption of the Amendment

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

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

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

    § 39.13 [Amended]
    2. The FAA amends § 39.13 by adding the following new airworthiness directive (AD): 2016-07-08 The Boeing Company: Amendment 39-18453; Docket No. FAA-2016-5036; Directorate Identifier 2015-NM-180-AD. (a) Effective Date

    This AD is effective April 20, 2016.

    (b) Affected ADs

    None.

    (c) Applicability

    This AD applies to The Boeing Company Model DC-9-83 (MD-83) airplane, fuselage number 2155 (variable number 80E718, serial number 53192), certificated in any category.

    (d) Subject

    Air Transport Association (ATA) of America Code 28: Fuel.

    (e) Unsafe Condition

    This AD was prompted by fuel system reviews conducted by the manufacturer. We are issuing this AD to prevent the potential of ignition sources inside fuel tanks, which, in combination with flammable fuel vapors, could result in fuel tank explosions and consequent loss of the airplane.

    (f) Compliance

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

    (g) Fuse Installation

    Within 60 months after the effective date of this AD, install fuel level float and pressure switch in-line fuses, and do applicable wiring changes, on the left, right, and center wing forward spars, forward auxiliary fuel tank, and aft auxiliary fuel tank. Do the actions in accordance with the Accomplishment Instructions of Boeing Service Bulletin MD80-28-226, Revision 1, dated March 6, 2015.

    (h) Credit for Previous Actions

    This paragraph provides credit for the actions required by paragraph (g) of this AD, if those actions were performed before the effective date of this AD using Boeing Service Bulletin MD80-28-226, dated April 14, 2010, which is incorporated by reference in AD 2011-01-16, Amendment 39-16573 (76 FR 1993, January 12, 2011).

    (i) Alternative Methods of Compliance (AMOCs)

    (1) The Manager, Los Angeles Aircraft Certification Office (ACO), FAA, has the authority to approve AMOCs for this AD, if requested using the procedures found in 14 CFR 39.19. In accordance with 14 CFR 39.19, send your request to your principal inspector or local Flight Standards District Office, as appropriate. If sending information directly to the manager of the Los Angeles ACO, send it to the attention of the person identified in paragraph (j)(1) of this AD. Information may be emailed to: [email protected]

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

    (3) An AMOC that provides an acceptable level of safety may be used for any repair, modification, or alteration required by this AD if it is approved by the Boeing Commercial Airplanes Organization Designation Authorization (ODA) that has been authorized by the Manager, Los Angeles ACO, to make those findings. To be approved, the repair method, modification deviation, or alteration deviation must meet the certification basis of the airplane, and the approval must specifically refer to this AD.

    (j) Related Information

    (1) For more information about this AD, contact Samuel Lee, Aerospace Engineer, Propulsion Branch, ANM-140L, FAA, Los Angeles ACO, 3960 Paramount Boulevard, Lakewood, CA 90712-4137; phone: 562-627-5262; fax: 562-627-5210; email: [email protected]

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

    (k) Material Incorporated by Reference

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

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

    (i) Boeing Service Bulletin MD80-28-226, Revision 1, dated March 6, 2015.

    (ii) Reserved.

    (3) For Boeing service information identified in this AD, contact Boeing Commercial Airplanes, Attention: Data & Services Management, 3855 Lakewood Boulevard, MC D800-0019, Long Beach, CA 90846-0001; telephone 206-544-5000, extension 2; fax 206-766-5683; Internet https://www.myboeingfleet.com.

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

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

    Issued in Renton, Washington, on March 22, 2016. Michael Kaszycki, Acting Manager, Transport Airplane Directorate, Aircraft Certification Service.
    [FR Doc. 2016-07230 Filed 4-4-16; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4910-13-P
    DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION Federal Aviation Administration 14 CFR Part 39 [Docket No. FAA-2012-0187; Directorate Identifier 2011-NM-094-AD; Amendment 39-18452; AD 2016-07-07] RIN 2120-AA64 Airworthiness Directives; The Boeing Company Airplanes AGENCY:

    Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), DOT.

    ACTION:

    Final rule.

    SUMMARY:

    We are adopting a new airworthiness directive (AD) for certain The Boeing Company Model 757 airplanes. This AD was prompted by fuel system reviews conducted by the manufacturer. This AD requires modifying the fuel quantity indication system (FQIS) wiring to prevent development of an ignition source inside the center fuel tank. We are issuing this AD to prevent ignition sources inside the center fuel tank, which, in combination with flammable fuel vapors, could result in a fuel tank explosion and consequent loss of the airplane.

    DATES:

    This AD is effective May 10, 2016.

    The Director of the Federal Register approved the incorporation by reference of a certain publication listed in this AD as of May 10, 2016.

    ADDRESSES:

    For service information identified in this final rule, contact Boeing Commercial Airplanes, Attention: Data & Services Management, P. O. Box 3707, MC 2H-65, Seattle, WA 98124-2207; telephone 206-544-5000, extension 1; fax 206-766-5680; Internet https://www.myboeingfleet.com. You may view this referenced service information at the FAA, Transport Airplane Directorate, 1601 Lind Avenue SW., Renton, WA. For information on the availability of this material at the FAA, call 425-227-1221. It is also available on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov by searching for and locating Docket No. FAA-2012-0187.

    Examining the AD Docket

    You may examine the AD docket on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov by searching for and locating Docket No. FAA-2012-0187; or in person at the Docket Management Facility between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays. The AD docket contains this AD, the regulatory evaluation, any comments received, and other information. The address for the Docket Office (phone: 800-647-5527) is Docket Management Facility, U.S. Department of Transportation, Docket Operations, M-30, West Building Ground Floor, Room W12-140, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC 20590.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Jon Regimbal, Aerospace Engineer, Propulsion Branch, ANM-140S, FAA, Seattle Aircraft Certification Office (ACO), 1601 Lind Avenue SW., Renton, WA 98057-3356; phone: 425-917-6506; fax: 425-917-6590; email: [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Discussion

    We issued a supplemental notice of proposed rulemaking (SNPRM) to amend 14 CFR part 39 by adding an AD that would apply to certain The Boeing Company Model 757 airplanes. The SNPRM published in the Federal Register on February 23, 2015 (80 FR 9400) (“the SNPRM”). We preceded the SNPRM with a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) that published in the Federal Register on March 1, 2012 (77 FR 12506). The NPRM proposed to require modifying the fuel quantity indication system (FQIS) wiring or fuel tank systems to prevent development of an ignition source inside the center fuel tank. The NPRM was prompted by fuel system reviews conducted by the manufacturer. The SNPRM proposed to revise the applicability, including alternative actions for cargo airplanes, and extend the compliance time. We are issuing this AD to prevent ignition sources inside the center fuel tank, which, in combination with flammable fuel vapors, could result in fuel tank explosions and consequent loss of the airplane.

    Record of Ex Parte Communication

    In preparation of AD actions such as NPRMs and immediately adopted rules, it is the practice of the FAA to obtain technical information and information on the operational and economic impact from design approval holders and aircraft operators. We discussed certain issues related to this final rule in a meeting held December 1, 2015, with Airlines for America (A4A) and other members of the aviation industry. This final rule addresses the issues discussed during that meeting that are relevant to this final rule. A summary of this meeting can be found in the rulemaking docket at http://www.regulations.gov by searching for and locating Docket No. FAA-2012-0187.

    Comments

    We gave the public the opportunity to participate in developing this AD. The following presents the comments received on the SNPRM and the FAA's response to each comment.

    Request To Withdraw SNPRM: New Certification Requirements for Flammability Reduction Means (FRM) Unwarranted

    A4A, representing U.S. cargo operators, stated that the FAA intends to issue rulemaking requiring U.S. cargo operators to do additional fuel safety modifications to meet the latest aircraft certification requirements.

    We infer that A4A considers that requiring airplanes to meet the latest certification requirements is not warranted and that the SNPRM should therefore be withdrawn. We assume that by “the latest aircraft certification requirements,” A4A is referring to the relatively new requirements for FRM contained in 14 CFR part 125.

    We do not agree that the SNPRM should be withdrawn. This AD is not specifically intended to require that the affected airplanes meet the flammability requirements of 14 CFR part 125. It is instead intended to address an unsafe condition as required by 14 CFR part 39 identified by the FAA under the policy contained in the FAA's Special Federal Aviation Regulation No. 88 (14 CFR part 21, SFAR 88) AD decision policy (Policy Memorandum ANM-100-2003-112-15) (http://rgl.faa.gov/Regulatory_and_Guidance_Library/rgPolicy.nsf/0/DC94C3A46396950386256D5E006AED11?OpenDocument&Highlight=anm-100-2003-112-15), dated February 25, 2003, and the FAA's Transport Airplane Risk Assessment Methodology (TARAM) (Policy Statement PS-ANM-25-05) (http://rgl.faa.gov/Regulatory_and_Guidance_Library/rgPolicy.nsf/0/4E5AE8707164674A862579510061F96B?OpenDocument&Highlight=ps-anm-25-05). The FAA determined that installing FRM that meets 14 CFR part 125 would be one acceptable way to address the identified unsafe condition, so airplanes on which such a modification was incorporated were excluded from the applicability of the SNPRM. Other modifications identified later in this discussion are available as alternative actions to installing FRM for certain operations. We have determined it is necessary to proceed with issuance of this final rule.

    Request To Withdraw SNPRM: Intrusive, Expensive, Unnecessary

    A4A stated that Airbus and Boeing have indicated to them that the service bulletins for the wire separation modification that is part of the cargo airplane alternative actions will be intrusive and expensive and will not significantly improve safety. A4A stated that the safety analyses performed by the aircraft manufacturers do not classify the proposed modifications as safety critical. A4A noted that those service bulletins will not be issued as “Alert” service bulletins. Additionally, A4A stated that foreign regulatory authorities, aircraft manufacturers, and airlines do not support that a safety issue remains.

    We infer that A4A is requesting that we withdraw the SNPRM because the airplane manufacturers have determined that an unsafe condition does not exist and the SNPRM will not significantly improve safety. We do not agree that the SNPRM should be withdrawn. We acknowledge that Boeing does not consider the condition associated with FQIS on these airplanes to be unsafe. We disagree with Boeing's assertions, for the reasons discussed extensively in our response to Boeing's similar comment in the SNPRM, under “Request to Withdraw NPRM (77 FR 12506, March 1, 2012): Unjustified by Risk.” We have determined that it is necessary to proceed with issuance of this final rule.

    Request To Withdraw SNPRM: Global Economic Disadvantage to U.S. Operators

    A4A does not expect that foreign regulators will require modification of affected foreign-registered aircraft, and stated that the competitive position of U.S. cargo operators will be harmed as a result. A4A stated that foreign regulatory agencies did not mandate retrofit of FRM for cargo airplanes, and therefore A4A did not expect that those authorities will mandate FQIS changes for their operators. A4A's comment made reference to documents published by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), the Civil Aviation Authority of China (CAAC), and the Japan Civil Aviation Bureau (JCAB) as evidence that those agencies are not planning action to address any unsafe condition associated with FQIS.

    We infer that A4A is requesting that we withdraw the NPRM because other foreign regulatory agencies have determined that an unsafe condition does not exist with regard to FQIS as addressed by the proposed AD.

    We were unable to examine the EASA document A4A attempted to reference because the reference number was incomplete. We do not agree that the CAAC and JCAB documents indicate a position on the unsafe condition addressed by the SNPRM. Both of those documents simply state a requirement for existing type certificate holders to review fuel tank designs that is similar to the FAA's SFAR 88. Those documents do not state positions on any unsafe conditions or AD proposals identified by the FAA, the CAAC, or the JCAB.

    A4A stated that the U.S. air cargo industry is currently in an extremely competitive global market. Additional lower deck capacity on passenger aircraft, especially through Middle East hubs, has significantly increased the need for cargo industry capacity. Several cargo carriers have ceased operations, and many others have parked some aircraft. U.S. carriers compete directly with foreign cargo operators. A4A stated that any additional costs on U.S. cargo operators that are not incurred by foreign operators will make U.S. operators less competitive and will lead to the loss of jobs in the U.S.

    We infer that A4A is requesting that we withdraw the proposal to require corrective action on cargo airplanes because non-U.S. cargo operators will not be required to make similar modifications, and the FAA AD action would harm the competitive position of U.S. cargo operators, resulting in the loss of U.S. jobs.

    We do not agree to withdraw the SNPRM for corrective action on cargo airplanes. As part of the AD development process, the FAA works with the affected manufacturer to develop a cost estimate for the corrective actions in a proposed AD. The FAA considers all possible corrective actions proposed by a manufacturer in an attempt to minimize the cost burden on operators. In some cases the FAA even makes a specific suggestion to a manufacturer for a less costly alternative. In the end, the manufacturer is responsible for development of an appropriate corrective action.

    While the FAA attempts to minimize the costs associated with a required corrective action for a U.S. product, ultimately the FAA has the responsibility as the civil aviation authority (CAA) of the state of design to address unsafe conditions through AD action. Other CAAs overseeing foreign operators will typically apply the FAA AD or develop a similar AD for U.S. products operated under each CAA's jurisdiction. Other CAAs rely heavily on the knowledge and judgment of the CAA of the state of design to identify unsafe conditions and appropriate corrective actions for products of that state. The FAA is not aware at this time of any affected CAAs that do not plan to issue a corresponding mandate to address the unsafe condition associated with FQIS identified in the proposed AD. Even if such a situation occurs, the FAA would not use a foreign CAA's position as a justification for not addressing an unsafe condition identified by the FAA. While we acknowledge such a situation could harm the competitive position of a U.S. operator, we are still obligated by U.S. law and by international treaties to address the identified unsafe condition. We have determined that it is necessary to proceed with issuance of this final rule.

    Request To Withdraw SNPRM: Costs of Compliance

    A4A stated that the proposed modifications are very costly, and noted that United Parcel Service (UPS) has estimated a total cost of $16 million for its fleet of four aircraft types that are potentially affected by the SNPRM and other similar planned ADs. A4A pointed out that U.S. cargo operators have already spent tens of millions of dollars on fuel tank safety improvements. UPS alone has spent $35.5 million to comply with 51 SFAR 88 ADs on the four fleet types potentially affected. A4A noted that cargo operators already have recurring expenses for Enhanced Airworthiness Program for Airplane Safety (EAPAS) maintenance program tasks that continue to help ensure fuel tank safety. A4A added that cargo operators have already invested in improved and more expensive fuel tank component repair and overhaul processes.

    We infer that A4A is requesting that we withdraw the SNPRM because the costs of addressing previously identified fuel tank unsafe conditions has been high, and that the additional cost to address the FQIS latent-plus-one issue will also be high, with very little safety benefit.

    We do not agree to withdraw the SNPRM. We acknowledge that the total industry cost to address other fuel tank system unsafe conditions has been high. The SFAR 88 studies for Boeing airplanes identified several basic design deficiencies in lightning protection that could cause an ignition source in a fuel tank in the event of a lightning strike, and several issues with fuel pump systems and fuel valve systems where a single failure could result in an ignition source in a fuel tank. Fuel pump issues are suspected to have caused several fuel tank ignition events, so these issues were considered to be the highest priority for the development of corrective actions and related AD actions. The FAA considers the cost of addressing those issues to be clearly justified. Deficiencies in maintenance programs and inappropriate component repair actions that could lead to inadvertent significant increases in the risk of an ignition source in a fuel tank were also identified, and the cost of airworthiness limitations to address those issues is also considered to be justified.

    The SFAR 88 studies and the FAA's subsequent decision-making process identified FQIS vulnerability of Model 707, 727, 737, 747, 757, 767, and 777 airplanes as an unsafe condition requiring corrective action. While the more recently designed of these airplane models have significant improvements in FQIS design details, they all have similar FQIS design architecture with respect to the identified failure scenario. That architecture is vulnerable to a combination of a latent in-tank wiring failure and a subsequent wiring failure outside of the tank that connects a high power source to the FQIS tank circuit creating an ignition source in a fuel tank. This failure combination was determined by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) to have been the most likely cause of the Model 747 fuel tank explosion accident off Long Island in 1996. NTSB Safety Recommendation A-98-038 (http://www.ntsb.gov/about/employment/_layouts/ntsb.recsearch/Recommendation.aspx?Rec=A-98-038) recommended that the FAA require that FQIS wiring on all airplane models that have similar wiring installations be separated and shielded to the maximum extent possible.

    The FAA issued AD 98-20-40, Amendment 39-10808 (63 FR 52147, September 30, 1998); and AD 99-03-04, Amendment 39-11018 (64 FR 4959, February 2, 1999); to address this issue on early Model 747 and Model 737 airplanes, respectively, which used the same FQIS as the accident airplane. The FAA subsequently (in 2003) determined that this same architectural vulnerability was an unsafe condition for high flammability fuel tanks on all Boeing jet transports existing at that time. This determination was consistent with the published FAA policy for SFAR 88 corrective actions and with the current FAA TARAM guidelines for identification of unsafe conditions on transport airplanes.

    The FAA deferred acting on this unsafe condition until after the FRM rulemaking activity was complete because introduction of FRM had the potential to change the classification of many of the affected fuel tanks to low flammability. When the final decision for the FRM rule did not include a requirement for FRM on all airplanes, the FAA resumed the planned actions to address the identified FQIS unsafe condition on the airplanes that were not required to have FRM.

    The FAA considers the safety benefit of the SNPRM to be significant for both passenger and cargo airplanes. We estimate that the installation of compliant FRM will provide approximately an order of magnitude reduction in the risk of a fuel tank explosion on anticipated flights with a latent failure of an FQIS circuit in the center fuel tank. We estimate that the periodic BITE checks in the cargo airplane alternative actions will result in a 75- to 90-percent reduction in the number of flights that operate with a latent in-tank failure that makes them vulnerable to a single additional wiring hot short failure creating an ignition source in the center fuel tank. We estimate that the proposed wire separation modification in the cargo airplane alternative actions will reduce the risk of a hot short (and a resultant ignition source) on flights that have a latent in-tank failure by 50 to 75 percent. This estimated reduction in the risk on anticipated flights with a latent in-tank failure is sufficient to reduce the risk below the FAA's TARAM individual flight risk guideline level for urgent action. As discussed below in our response to “Request to Remove Alternative Actions for Cargo Airplanes,” we determined that further changes to further reduce the risk below the TARAM individual flight risk corrective action guideline of 1 in 10 million per flight hour would significantly increase the costs of compliance and are not necessary to adequately address the unsafe condition. We have determined that it is necessary to proceed with issuance of this final rule.

    Request To Withdraw SNPRM: Unsafe Condition Addressed by Previous Requirements

    A4A stated that there have been no fuel tank ignition incidents since the previously issued fuel tank safety ADs were implemented. A4A stated that this provides direct evidence that FAA projections for additional incidents were overstated and that SFAR 88 changes have worked. They further stated that no unsafe condition exists, asserting that service experience has shown that the fuel tank safety issues have been sufficiently addressed with significant previous modifications, recurring maintenance, controlled overhaul processes and repair processes, and maintenance program tasks.

    We infer that A4A is requesting that we withdraw the SNPRM because previously required actions have adequately addressed the need for improvements in fuel tank safety.

    We do not agree to withdraw the SNPRM. Until recently, fuel tank ignition incidents on U.S.- and European-manufactured transport airplanes have occurred roughly once every five to six years, with the most recent event in May 2006 (a Model 727 airplane in India in 2006, a Model 737 airplane in Thailand in 2001, a Model 747 airplane near New York in 1996, and a Model 737 airplane in the Philippines in 1991). It has now been ten years since the most recent event.

    We agree that a significant improvement in fuel tank safety has occurred due to actions that have reduced the potential for ignition sources associated with single failures of fuel pumps and fuel pump power systems. That improvement alone would be expected to increase the average interval between fuel tank ignition incidents to more than ten years. However, the fact that no incidents have occurred since 2006 is not statistically significant, and is not sufficient to predict that additional events will not occur. In addition, even assuming the average interval between events is significantly improved to the extent that the overall fleet risk is considered acceptable, we would still address unsafe conditions identified based on the published FAA policy for SFAR 88 corrective actions and the current FAA guidelines for identification of unsafe conditions on transport airplanes when the individual flight safety risk exceeds our guidelines, as in this case. We have determined that it is necessary to proceed with issuance of this final rule.

    Request To Withdraw SNPRM: All Related NTSB Safety Recommendations Closed

    A4A stated that the NTSB previously issued the following safety recommendations related to flammability, wiring, and wiring maintenance:

    • A-96-174—Preclude flammable fuel air mixtures in fuel tanks. Closed—Acceptable Action: FRM Rulemaking. Safety Recommendation A-96-174 can be found at http://www.ntsb.gov/_layouts/ntsb.recsearch/Recommendation.aspx?Rec=A-96-174.

    • A-98-038—Separation of FQIS wires to the max extent possible. Closed—Acceptable Action: SFAR 88 Rulemaking.

    • A-98-039—Require surge protection systems for FQIS wires. Closed—Acceptable Action: SFAR 88 Rulemaking. Safety Recommendation A-98-039 can be found at http://www.ntsb.gov/about/employment/_layouts/ntsb.recsearch/Recommendation.aspx?Rec=A-98-039.

    • A-00-106—Assess wiring criticality and separation. Closed—Acceptable Action: EAPAS/FTS Rulemaking. Safety Recommendation A-00-106 can be found at (http://www.ntsb.gov/_layouts/ntsb.recsearch/Recommendation.aspx?Rec=A-00-106.

    • A-00-108—Repair of potentially unsafe wiring conditions. Closed—Acceptable Action: EAPAS/FTS Rulemaking. Safety Recommendation A-00-108 can be found at http://www.ntsb.gov/_layouts/ntsb.recsearch/Recommendation.aspx?Rec=A-00-108.

    A4A noted that all applicable NTSB safety recommendations are closed with acceptable actions taken by the FAA. A4A stated that none of the NTSB safety recommendations called for the FAA to address wire separation for the FQIS.

    We infer that A4A is requesting that we withdraw the SNPRM because the NTSB considers the overall fuel tank safety issue to be adequately addressed by previous actions.

    We do not agree to withdraw the SNPRM. A4A appears to have misunderstood NTSB Safety Recommendation A-98-038 and the NTSB's acceptance of the FAA's response to that safety recommendation. NTSB Safety Recommendation A-98-038 specifically called for the FAA to require, in “airplanes with fuel quantity indication system (FQIS) wire installations that are co-routed with wires that may be powered, the physical separation and electrical shielding of FQIS wires to the maximum extent possible.” The NTSB classified that recommendation as “closed, acceptable action” after the FAA stated that it would issue ADs to mandate FQIS protection on the high flammability tanks of aircraft on which the installation of FRM is not required by the Fuel Tank Flammability Reduction (FTFR) rule (73 FR 42444, July 21, 2008). The communications between the NTSB and the FAA on Safety Recommendation A-98-038 can be viewed at http://www.ntsb.gov/about/employment/_layouts/ntsb.recsearch/Recommendation.aspx?Rec=A-98-038. We have determined that it is necessary to proceed with issuance of this final rule.

    Request To Withdraw SNPRM: Unjustified by Risk Assessment

    A4A stated that the original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and other regulatory agencies are having difficulty calculating the true safety value associated with the proposed FQIS AD. A4A stated that its position is that all the unsafe conditions have been mitigated, operationally and across industry, and all previous rules have been effective. A4A added that, in light of the operators' financial and technical investment to mitigate the unsafe conditions in all areas, the SNPRM is difficult to understand technically relative to the amount of mitigation that would be required, in light of a true risk assessment. A4A stated that the FAA is alone in believing that a safety issue still exists.

    We infer that A4A is requesting that we withdraw the SNPRM because it has not been justified by a risk assessment and because previously required actions have adequately addressed the need for improvements in fuel tank safety.

    We do not agree to withdraw the SNPRM. We provided a detailed response to similar comments and described the FAA's risk assessment in the SNPRM in the sections “Request to Withdraw NPRM (77 FR 12506, March 1, 2012): Unjustified by Risk,” “Request to Withdraw NPRM (77 FR 12506, March 1, 2012): Not Supported by Risk Analysis,” and “Request to Withdraw NPRM (77 FR 12506, March 1, 2012): No Unsafe Condition,” as well as in earlier paragraphs in this discussion. We have determined that it is necessary to proceed with issuance of this final rule.

    Request To Remove Requirement for Corrective Actions for Cargo Airplanes

    A4A stated that the alternative wire separation modifications allowed for cargo airplanes would not meet the “new design criteria.” (We assume that A4A is referring to the wire separation requirements for repairs and modifications that are included in the fuel tank system airworthiness limitations required by recent ADs for the various Boeing models.) A4A stated that in the Model 757 service bulletin under development by Boeing, only about “5 percent” of FQIS wires can be separated from other systems by a distance of 2 inches, and that the majority of the wire bundle relocation will achieve only up to 0.5-inch spacing. A4A stated that because the wire separation requirements are not met, partial exemptions from the requirements of 14 CFR 25.981 are required to allow approval of these wire separation service bulletins. Based on the reduced separation distance and the need for exemptions, A4A considered the proposed wire separation requirements included in the cargo airplane alternative actions to be a symbolic gesture with no significant safety benefit, while at the same time being expensive and intrusive. A4A further stated that operators have reviewed the associated draft service bulletins and are concerned about the lack of a design target or adequate rationale for the actions proposed by the FAA. Finally, A4A stated that Boeing had stated to them that Boeing does not understand what design changes the FAA wants or why the FAA considers there to be a safety issue.

    We infer that A4A is requesting that we remove the alternative actions for a wire separation modification on cargo airplanes because A4A believes the wire separation actions associated with the cargo airplane alternative actions in the SNPRM would have no significant safety benefit since inadequate physical wire separation is provided.

    We do not agree to withdraw the SNPRM. A4A appears to have misunderstood the intent of the FQIS wire separation requirements added to the airworthiness limitations as a critical design configuration control limitation (CDCCL). The FQIS wire separation CDCCL provides a set of wire separation requirements that are intended to be used as a default when modifying or repairing an aircraft to ensure that the intended level of separation of the FQIS wiring from other wiring is maintained. The Model 757 CDCCL (28-AWL-05) contains a simple 2-inch separation requirement as originally proposed by Boeing. While Boeing has not proposed changes to the Model 757 FQIS wire separation CDCCL, the corresponding CDCCL (28-AWL-05) for Model 737-700, -800, and -900 airplanes has numerous additional provisions approving other design approaches (typically combinations of wire sleeving and smaller separation distances) that Boeing or operators proposed and that the FAA approved. Each time wire separation configuration options were approved for Boeing, alternative CDCCL wording was approved as an AMOC with the AD that required the addition of the CDCCLs to operators' maintenance programs. A similar AMOC will be granted for the approved modifications to the FQIS for Model 757 airplanes.

    A4A also appears to have misunderstood the reason that exemptions would be required to allow approval of the cargo airplane wire separation modification. Lack of a full 2 inches of wire separation in all of the changed areas is not the reason an exemption is required. Rather, an exemption is required because the overall FQIS will not comply with 14 CFR 25.901(c) and 25.981(a)(3) due to the existing noncompliance of the unchanged areas of the system. Because those rules require a system-level safety analysis, we cannot find the changes to the system compliant if a noncompliance exists in the unchanged areas of the system.

    The proposed Boeing design uses sleeving over the wire bundles and extensive retention features to provide a level of wire protection similar to the protection that would be provided by a greater separation distance. The design measures are consistent with those previously approved by the FAA in the Model 737-700/800/900 CDCCL mentioned previously.

    We consider the safety benefit provided by the proposed cargo airplane alternative actions to be significant. The unsafe condition determination and the rationale and estimated safety benefit for the cargo airplane alternative actions were discussed extensively with Boeing in several meetings, and we consider that Boeing fully understands the FAA's position on each of those aspects of the proposal. The proposed requirement for a periodic check through the built-in test equipment (BITE) of the FQIS processor is intended to identify and result in corrective actions for the detectable fault conditions in the FQIS in-tank wiring. We estimated that this proposed requirement will result in a 75- to 90-percent reduction in the number of flights that operate with a latent in-tank failure that makes them vulnerable to a single additional wiring hot short failure creating an ignition source in the center fuel tank. The proposed FQIS wire separation modification is intended to reduce the risk of a hot short of power onto center tank FQIS circuits by physically isolating the portions of those circuits that are outside of the tank in the areas where those circuits are most vulnerable to damage and most easily separated. We did not propose to require modifications of the wiring in the electrical racks or in the cockpit areas because of the difficulty involved in accessing and achieving additional wire separation in those areas, and in recognition that the FQIS processor provides some beneficial circuit isolation to protect against hot shorts in those areas. We estimated that the proposed wire separation modification would reduce the risk of a hot short on flights that have a latent in-tank failure by 50 to 75 percent. Those estimates were reviewed with Boeing, and Boeing did not disagree with those estimates. We have determined it is necessary to proceed with issuance of this final rule.

    Request To Remove Alternative Actions for Cargo Airplanes

    Colin Edwards and an anonymous commenter made no explicit request to change the SNPRM, but objected to the proposed addition of alternative actions for cargo airplanes that would allow a design change that does not fully comply with the fuel tank system safety requirements of 14 CFR part 25 (14 CFR 25.981(a)(3)) to be used to address the unsafe condition. The commenters stated that it should not be acceptable to allow greater risk to exist on cargo airplanes than that allowed for passenger airplanes.

    We infer that the commenters propose the elimination of the proposed alternative corrective action for cargo airplanes. We disagree with this request. We determined that an acceptable level of safety would be provided for the affected cargo airplanes, and explained our position in depth in response to similar comments in the SNPRM. However, we will attempt to address the commenters' concerns by expanding on the explanation of our safety determination.

    When assessing potential unsafe conditions on transport airplanes to determine if corrective action is necessary, the FAA assesses the total risk to the affected fleet of airplanes exposed to the condition, and assesses the level of risk on individual airplanes within the fleet. The FAA's guidelines for assessing the total fleet risk related to the unsafe condition are slightly different for cargo and passenger airplanes due to operational usage differences. In this case, however, the total risk to the affected fleet is lower than the unsafe condition risk guidelines for both passenger and cargo airplanes. Total fleet risk is therefore not the risk assessment element driving the proposed actions.

    When assessing the level of risk on individual airplanes, the FAA considers the risk on the worst reasonably anticipated flights to ensure that the level of safety on each flight is acceptable. Our individual flight risk unsafe condition threshold is 1 × 10E-7 events (or a 1-in-10-million chance of a catastrophic event) per flight hour. In addition, the worst reasonably anticipated flights should not be vulnerable to a single failure that causes a fatal event, regardless of probability. There is no difference in the individual flight risk unsafe condition criteria for cargo airplanes and passenger airplanes because the operational differences are not considered in this risk calculation.

    In this case, we are concerned about a latent failure inside the fuel tank that, in combination with an electrical short circuit in FQIS wiring outside of the tank, could result in an electrical spark or arc in the tank. An electrical arc or spark in the fuel tank combined with flammable conditions in the fuel tank could result in a fuel tank explosion. The worst reasonably anticipated flights in this case are those that have both the latent failure and flammable conditions in the tank. The manufacturer's analysis indicates that a significant number of flights would be expected to occur with these conditions in the life of the affected fleet if no corrective action is taken. For those flights, one additional failure—a short circuit between FQIS wiring and power wiring—could cause a fuel tank explosion. Also, the probability of an explosion is between 1 in a million and 1 in 10 million, per flight hour, which slightly exceeds the numerical unsafe condition guideline for individual flight risk discussed above.

    An issue that violates one or more of the individual flight risk guidelines would normally require corrective action that reduces the risk to a level that is below the unsafe condition guidelines. However, in this case the FAA acknowledged that the cost of corrective action is high, and that the available corrective action (fuel tank FRM systems) would reduce, but not eliminate, the number of expected flights with the condition we are concerned about (a latent failure plus flammable conditions inside the tank). The alternative actions for cargo airplanes would also reduce the number of expected flights with the condition we are concerned about, but to a lesser degree. The FAA has determined that allowing a moderate number of cargo flights per year (on average) with this condition provides an acceptable level of safety. As part of making this determination, we noted that the level of risk on the worst reasonably anticipated flights is similar to the level of risk for private and commercial pilots flying normal category airplanes.

    We have not changed the final rule regarding this issue.

    Request To Require FQIS Modification in all Fuel Tanks

    National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) requested that we require changes to the FQIS to address the potential “latent-plus-one-failure scenario” in all fuel tanks, not just in the center fuel tank.

    NATCA stated that the failure condition that is the subject of the SNPRM should be classified as a “known” latent-plus-one-failure condition when applying the FAA Transport Airplane Directorate Policy Memorandum 2003-112-15, “SFAR 88—Mandatory Action Decision Criteria,” dated February 25, 2015 (http://rgl.faa.gov/Regulatory_and_Guidance_Library/rgPolicy.nsf/0/dc94c3a46396950386256d5e006aed11/$FILE/Feb2503.pdf). NATCA stated that this would have the effect of classifying the failure condition as an unsafe condition requiring corrective action in all affected fuel tanks regardless of flammability level.

    NATCA considered the combination of a latent in-tank failure with electrical energy transmitted into the fuel tank via the FQIS wiring due to an additional failure outside of the tank to be a “known” failure condition because that failure condition was considered to be the most likely cause of the TWA Flight 800 Model 747 accident. (That accident occurred on July 17, 1996, shortly after takeoff from John F. Kennedy International Airport in Jamaica, New York.) NATCA concluded that because the Model 757 FQIS is similar to that of the Model 747, both models are vulnerable to the same failure scenario. NATCA cited the unsafe condition statement for the SNPRM as evidence that the scenario should be classified as “known.” NATCA pointed out that the FAA issued AD 98-20-40, Amendment 39-10808 (63 FR 52147, September 30, 1998), to address this issue for Model 747 airplanes, and pointed out that the FAA TARAM Handbook specifically states that Policy Memorandum 2003-112-15 should be followed in determining whether corrective action should be required for fuel tank safety concerns identified through SFAR 88.

    We disagree with the request to require modification of the FQIS in all fuel tanks. We have determined that, under the policy contained in the policy memorandum, this failure condition for the Model 757 FQIS should not be classified as “known.” The memo defines “known” failure conditions as follows:

    [T]hose conditions which have occurred in-service and are likely to occur on other products of the same or similar type design, and conditions which have been subject to mandatory corrective actions, following in-service findings, on products with a similar design of fuel system.

    We agree that the Model 757 FQIS has the same high-level system architecture and operating principles as those of the Model 747 FQIS, resulting in vulnerability to the same theoretical latent-plus-one-failure scenario. There are, however, significant differences in the details of the Model 757 FQIS design that reduce the likelihood of the individual contributing failures. Those differences include the following:

    • Improved FQIS probe terminal connector block design;

    • The use of wiring that is not silver plated and therefore does not create silver sulfide deposits on the terminal blocks;

    • The use of improved wire types and wiring installation practices outside of the fuel tanks; and

    • The use of a system processor that provides significant isolation of the tank probe circuits from the indication and power circuits of the FQIS.

    We therefore did not consider that the FQIS designs for the Model 747 and Model 757 were so similar that the Model 757 FQIS design should be considered to have a “known” latent-plus-one-failure condition vulnerability as defined in the policy memorandum. The provisions in the above definition for classifying a failure condition as “known” based on the existence of a similar design were intended to allow the FAA to evaluate the degree of similarity in the design, and to make discretionary judgments in determining that a failure condition that is believed to have occurred (and/or was addressed by AD action) in one specific design should be classified as “known” in a different specific design. The application of that discretion would be expected to involve evaluation of design detail differences and the effects of those differences on failure modes and failure probability. Based on our determination that sufficient design differences exist between the Model 757 and Model 747 FQIS designs to not classify the Model 757 FQIS latent-plus-one-failure condition as “known,” under the direction contained in the policy memorandum, this AD addresses that failure condition vulnerability only for the center fuel tank, which is the only high-flammability fuel tank on the Model 757.

    NATCA expressed a concern that the FAA did not understand NATCA's previous comment on this matter, and stated that the FAA had not considered the requirements of “Element 2.a)” from Policy Memorandum 2003-112-15, dated February 25, 2015. In fact, we had addressed the requirements of “Element 2.a)” in the response to the comments under “Request to Revise Proposed AD Requirements to Apply to All Fuel Tanks” of the SNPRM. The FAA understood the earlier comment and understands the more recent comment, but has reached a different conclusion about the classification of the failure condition under the guidance in the policy memorandum. We classified the Model 757 FQIS latent-plus-one-failure scenario as a theoretical vulnerability rather than a “known” combination of failures. Policy Memorandum 2003-112-15, dated February 25, 2015, calls for corrective action for theoretical latent-plus-one-failure conditions only in high-flammability fuel tanks. Contrary to the assertion in the NATCA comment, the acknowledgement of the scenario as theoretically possible and the consequent AD proposal to address the scenario in the high flammability center fuel tank do not automatically drive classification of the failure as “known” under the policy memorandum. We have not changed this final rule regarding this issue.

    Request To Address Unsafe Condition in All Fuel Tanks, With or Without FRM

    NATCA requested that we require design changes to the FQIS to address the potential latent-plus-one-failure scenario in all fuel tanks of all Model 757 airplanes, regardless whether FRM is installed. NATCA stated that the minimum performance standards for FRM contained in 14 CFR part 25 allow flights to occur with flammable conditions in tanks that are required to incorporate FRM due to system performance as designed and due to system failures. In addition, time-limited dispatch with an inoperative FRM has been allowed in the master minimum equipment list (MMEL) for affected airplanes. Flights with flammable conditions and a pre-existing latent in-tank FQIS failure are reasonably anticipated to occur in the life of the affected fleet. For those flights, a fuel tank explosion could occur due to a single additional failure (hot short of power onto FQIS tank probe circuits). NATCA notes that four fuel tank explosion events have occurred in fuel tanks that are classified as low flammability.

    We disagree with the request. We have determined that the proposed corrective actions (either installation of FRM or specific FQIS changes limited to the center fuel tank) represent a reasonable, cost-effective method to achieve a meaningful reduction in the risk of an accident due to potential FQIS fuel tank ignition sources.

    The service history of conventional unheated aluminum wing tanks that contain Jet A fuel indicates that there would be little safety benefit by further limiting the flammability of these tanks. While NATCA expressed concern because fuel vapor ignition events have occurred in wing fuel tanks, NATCA did not differentiate service experience based on fuel type used (JP-4 versus Jet A fuel).

    Our review of the nine wing tank ignition events we know to have occurred on turbine-engine-powered transport airplanes shows that five of the nine airplanes were using JP-4 fuel, and this type of fuel is no longer used except on an emergency basis in the U.S. Use of JP-4 fuel in other parts of the world is also relatively rare, and is normally limited to areas with extremely cold airport conditions. Three of the remaining four events were caused by external heating of the wing by engine fires, and the remaining event occurred on the ground during maintenance. To date, there have been no fuel tank explosions in conventional unheated aluminum wing tanks fueled with Jet A fuel that have resulted in any fatalities.

    The flammability characteristics of JP-4 fuel results in the fuel tanks being flammable a significant portion of the time when an airplane is in flight. This is not the case for wing tanks containing Jet A fuel. Therefore, based on the low fleet average flammability of the Model 757 wing fuel tanks and on the specific features of the Model 757 FQIS design, we have determined that the latent-plus-one vulnerability that exists in the Model 757 wing tank FQIS is not an unsafe condition requiring corrective action on in-service airplanes.

    We have not changed this final rule regarding this issue.

    Request To Require Design Changes for Full Compliance with Airworthiness Regulations

    NATCA requested that we require design changes to the FQIS that would bring that system into full compliance with the applicable airworthiness regulations. NATCA stated that the failure condition that is the subject of the SNPRM represents a noncompliance of the type design with the requirements of 14 CFR 25.901(c) and 25.981(a)(3), even for low-flammability fuel tanks. NATCA stated that the proposed corrective actions would not bring the airplane design into compliance with those regulations “as required by SFAR 88 and SFAR 88 Policy published by the FAA as Mandatory Corrective Action criteria in FAA Policy Statement No. 2003-112-15.” NATCA added that the proposed alternative corrective actions for cargo airplanes do not comply with those regulations because the alternative actions do not fully eliminate the potential for the failure condition that is addressed by the SNPRM.

    We disagree with the request. SFAR 88, as modified by Amendment 21-82, and Policy Memorandum 2003-112-15, dated February 25, 2003, do not specifically require noncompliant designs discovered through SFAR 88 to be brought into compliance. As originally issued, SFAR 88 required design approval holders to develop the corrective actions necessary to bring any noncompliant design fuel system features into compliance. However, SFAR 88 did not dictate that the FAA require a given corrective action. In fact, the FAA later published Amendment 21-82, “Equivalent Safety Provisions for Fuel Tank System Fault Tolerance Evaluations (SFAR 88),” to clarify that the FAA would accept SFAR 88 reports that do not provide corrective actions that directly comply with 14 CFR 25.981(a)(3) provided any aspects that do not comply are compensated for by factors that provide an equivalent level of safety. The FAA used the introduction of flammability reduction in place of corrective action for a specific ignition source as an example of a potentially acceptable compensating factor.

    Also, while the normal certification process requires proposed design changes to be compliant with the applicable regulations, applicants are permitted under 14 CFR part 11 to petition for an exemption from any FAA regulatory requirement. Policy Memorandum 2003-112-15, dated February 25, 2003, did not state that the FAA would not consider a petition for exemption from an airworthiness requirement for a proposed design intended as corrective action for an SFAR 88 issue. We therefore consider that the applicant may petition for an exemption and propose a noncompliant design change, and the FAA may approve and issue an AD to require a noncompliant design change. Boeing's FRM design change for the Model 757 was approved some time ago. We have determined that for Model 757 airplanes, installation of FRM, instead of FQIS design changes, represents a reasonable, cost-effective method to achieve a meaningful overall reduction in the risk of an accident due to fuel tank ignition events. We therefore excluded airplanes with FRM installed from the applicability of this AD.

    Request To Mandate Compliance with Airworthiness Regulations for Newly Produced Airplanes

    NATCA requested that we require newly produced airplanes to be in compliance with 14 CFR 25.901, 25.981(a), and 25.981(b). NATCA expressed concern that nearly 20 years after the TWA Flight 800 accident, manufacturers have been allowed to continue production of airplanes without making changes to eliminate the FQIS latent-plus-one-failure scenario, and that the FAA has granted exemptions to approve certain design changes without fully addressing the issue.

    We disagree with the request. This AD applies only to certain Model 757 series airplanes, and the Model 757 is out of production. The comment is therefore outside of the scope of this AD. We have not changed the final rule regarding this issue.

    Request To Allow Alternative Procedure for BITE Check

    FedEx proposed that we revise paragraph (h)(1) of the SNPRM to allow use of the FQIS BITE check procedure in its airplane maintenance manual (AMM) as an alternative to the procedure in Boeing Service Bulletin 757-28-0136, dated June 5, 2014, which does not apply to FedEx's fleet. We assume this is because FedEx operates some airplanes that were converted to a cargo configuration using a non-Boeing supplemental type certificate.

    We disagree with the request. FedEx's comment did not provide adequate information to show that its AMM procedure is equivalent to the procedure described in Boeing Service Bulletin 757-28-0136, dated June 5, 2014. FedEx's comment also did not identify the fault conditions for which dispatch would be prohibited. We therefore do not have sufficient information at this time to allow FedEx's proposed alternative procedure. However, under the provisions of paragraph (i) of this AD, we will consider requests for approval of alternative procedures, if sufficient data are submitted to substantiate that the change would provide an acceptable level of safety. We have not changed this final rule regarding this request.

    Request To Reduce Compliance Time

    NATCA requested that we reduce the compliance time to 5 years or less. NATCA noted that the proposed 72-month compliance time would result in a corrective action deadline that is approximately 27 years after the TWA Flight 800 accident. NATCA stated that such a long delay in action is not in the public interest.

    We disagree with the request to reduce the compliance time, which we have determined is necessary to give operators adequate time to prepare for and perform the required modifications without excessive disruption of operations. We had initially proposed 60 months, but extended that to 72 months in response to operator comments, which included extension requests of up to 108 months. NATCA made a similar comment to the NPRM (77 FR 12506, March 1, 2012), requesting a reduction in the compliance time to 36 months, and the FAA provided its response in the SNPRM under “Request to Reduce Compliance Time.” We have not changed this final rule regarding this issue.

    Statement Regarding Compliance Time for Wire Separation

    FedEx stated that without service information for the wire separation, it cannot effectively determine whether the proposed 72-month compliance time is acceptable.

    We had previously determined, as specified in the SNPRM, that the work involved for the cargo airplane wire separation modification would take 230 work-hours, and a compliance time of 72 months would be adequate for operators to perform the modification on their affected fleets. Boeing has since provided an updated estimate of 74 work-hours for the alternative modification for cargo airplanes. We have revised the cost estimate accordingly in this final rule, but since this change reduces the work-hour estimate, it is not necessary to adjust the compliance time to accommodate the workload for this action for cargo operators.

    Request To Remove Reference to “Fuel Tank Systems”

    Paragraph (g) of the SNPRM would have required modification of “the FQIS wiring or fuel tank systems.” Boeing asked that we remove reference to “fuel tank systems” in this proposed requirement because a fuel tank system modification could be done as an AMOC.

    We agree with the commenter's request and rationale. We have removed the references to “fuel tank systems” throughout the preamble and in paragraph (g) of this AD.

    Request To Clarify Condition Requiring Repair

    Boeing requested that we revise paragraph (h)(1) of the SNPRM to specify that repair is required for any “nondispatchable” fault code recorded before or as a result of the BITE check. (The SNPRM would have required repair for any fault code.) Boeing requested this change to make the repair requirement consistent with the BITE check service information referenced in the SNPRM (Boeing Service Bulletin 757-28-0136, dated June 5, 2014).

    We agree with the request. The intent of the SNPRM was to require correction only of faults identified as “nondispatchable.” The SNPRM used the terminology “as applicable” to indicate this intent, but we agree that further clarification is appropriate. We have revised paragraph (h)(1) in this AD as requested by the commenter.

    Request To Clarify End Point for FQIS Wire Separation

    Paragraph (h)(2) of the SNPRM specified that the FQIS wiring separation was to be done on the wiring that runs between the FQIS processor and the center fuel tank. Boeing requested that we change “the center fuel tank” to “the center fuel tank wall penetrations.” Boeing requested this change to clarify the end point for the FQIS wire separation.

    We agree with the request. Boeing's suggestion is consistent with the intent of this AD, and improves the clarity of the requirement. We have revised paragraph (h)(2) in this AD to incorporate Boeing's request.

    Request To Delay Final Rule Pending New Service Information

    Boeing requested that we delay issuance of the final rule pending issuance of new service information that would specifically define an acceptable wiring configuration that complies with the proposed requirements.

    We disagree with the request because the referenced service information was not available at the time we were ready to publish the final rule, and we cannot reliably predict the time that service information will be issued by Boeing. We do not consider it in the public interest to further delay this rulemaking. We have determined that it is necessary to proceed with issuing the final rule as proposed. Operators may, however, request approval under the provisions of paragraph (i) of this AD to use a future approved service bulletin, if developed, as an AMOC with the requirements of this AD, or we may approve the service bulletin as a global AMOC.

    Statement Regarding Unsafe Condition

    Boeing stated that it has accepted the FAA's requirement to provide service information defining an acceptable wire separation modification, but, based on previously provided analysis, maintained that the risk level is less than extremely improbable. As asserted in earlier comments, Boeing considers the design of the affected airplanes safe and the proposed requirements therefore unnecessary.

    We disagree with Boeing's assertions for the reasons discussed extensively in our response to Boeing's similar comment in the SNPRM. The FAA's response to Boeing's assertion is covered in the response to comments in the SNPRM under “Request to Withdraw NPRM (77 FR 12506, March 1, 2012): Unjustified by Risk.”

    Additional Change Made to This AD

    We have revised the introductory text to paragraph (h) of this AD to clarify that the alternative modification for cargo airplanes must be accompanied by periodic BITE checks started within 6 months after the effective date of this AD. And, for airplanes converted to an all-cargo configuration more than 6 months after the effective date of this AD, operators must perform the first BITE check before flight after the conversion. In reviewing the proposed requirements after publication of the SNPRM, we recognized that operators might interpret the requirements as allowing a delay in the decision to exercise the cargo airplane alternative until late in the compliance period. That is not the literal meaning of the proposed language of the requirement, and was not the FAA's intent. However, we determined that we should clarify the language of paragraph (h) of this AD regarding the required timing for the first BITE check if an operator chooses to exercise the cargo airplane alternative.

    Conclusion

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

    • Are consistent with the intent that was proposed in the SNPRM for correcting the unsafe condition; and

    • Do not add any additional burden upon the public than was already proposed in the SNPRM.

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

    Related Service Information Under 1 CFR Part 51

    We have reviewed Boeing Service Bulletin 757-28-0136, dated June 5, 2014, which describes procedures for a BITE check (check of built-in test equipment). This service information is reasonably available because the interested parties have access to it through their normal course of business or by the means identified in the ADDRESSES section.

    Costs of Compliance

    We estimate that this AD affects 167 airplanes of U.S. registry. This estimate includes 148 cargo airplanes and 19 non-air-carrier passenger airplanes. We estimate the following costs to comply with this AD:

    Estimated Costs: Basic Requirement for All Airplanes Action Labor cost Parts cost Cost per product Fully correct FQIS vulnerability to latent-plus-one-failure conditions 1,200 work-hours × $85 per hour = $102,000 $200,000 $302,000 Estimated Costs: Alternative Actions for All Airplanes Install FRM 720 work-hours × $85 per hour = $61,200 323,000 $384,200. Estimated Costs: Alternative Actions for Cargo Airplanes Wire separation 74 work-hours × $85 per hour = $6,290 10,000 $16,290. FQIS BITE check (required with wire separation alternative actions) 1 work-hour × $85 per hour = $85 0 $85 per check (4 checks per year).

    Existing regulations already require that air-carrier passenger airplanes be equipped with FRM by December 26, 2017. We therefore assume that the FRM installation specified in paragraph (g) of this AD will be done on only the 19 affected non-air-carrier passenger airplanes, for an estimated passenger fleet cost of $7,299,800. We also assume that the operators of the 148 affected cargo airplanes would choose the less costly actions specified in paragraph (h) of this AD, at an estimated cost of $2,410,920 for the wire separation modification, plus $50,320 annually for the BITE checks.

    Authority for This Rulemaking

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

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

    Regulatory Findings

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

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

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

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

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

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

    List of Subjects in 14 CFR Part 39

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

    Adoption of the Amendment

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

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

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

    § 39.13 [Amended]
    2. The FAA amends § 39.13 by adding the following new airworthiness directive (AD): 2016-07-07 The Boeing Company: Amendment 39-18452; Docket No. FAA-2012-0187; Directorate Identifier 2011-NM-094-AD. (a) Effective Date

    This AD is effective May 10, 2016.

    (b) Affected ADs

    None.

    (c) Applicability

    This AD applies to The Boeing Company Model 757-200, -200PF, -200CB, and -300 series airplanes; certificated in any category; except airplanes equipped with a flammability reduction means (FRM) approved by the FAA as compliant with the Fuel Tank Flammability Reduction (FTFR) rule (73 FR 42444, July 21, 2008) requirements of 14 CFR 25.981(b) or 14 CFR 26.33(c)(1).

    (d) Subject

    Joint Aircraft System Component (JASC) Code 7397: Engine fuel system wiring.

    (e) Unsafe Condition

    This AD was prompted by fuel system reviews conducted by the manufacturer. We are issuing this AD to prevent ignition sources inside the center fuel tank, which, in combination with flammable fuel vapors, could result in a fuel tank explosion and consequent loss of the airplane.

    (f) Compliance

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

    (g) Modification

    Within 72 months after the effective date of this AD, modify the fuel quantity indication system (FQIS) wiring to prevent development of an ignition source inside the center fuel tank, using a method approved in accordance with the procedures specified in paragraph (i) of this AD.

    (h) Alternative Actions for Cargo Airplanes

    For airplanes used exclusively for cargo operations: As an alternative to the requirements of paragraph (g) of this AD, do the actions specified in paragraphs (h)(1) and (h)(2) of this AD, using methods approved in accordance with the procedures specified in paragraph (i) of this AD. To exercise this alternative, operators must perform the first inspection required under paragraph (h)(1) of this AD within 6 months after the effective date of this AD. To exercise this alternative for airplanes returned to service after conversion of the airplane from a passenger configuration to an all-cargo configuration more than 6 months after the effective date of this AD, operators must perform the first inspection required under paragraph (h)(1) of this AD prior to further flight after the conversion.

    (1) Within 6 months after the effective date of this AD, record the existing fault codes stored in the FQIS processor and then do a BITE check (check of built-in test equipment) of the FQIS, in accordance with the Accomplishment Instructions of Boeing Service Bulletin 757-28-0136, dated June 5, 2014. If any nondispatchable fault code is recorded prior to the BITE check or as a result of the BITE check, before further flight, do all applicable repairs, and repeat the BITE check until a successful test is performed with no nondispatchable fault found, in accordance with the Accomplishment Instructions of Boeing Service Bulletin 757-28-0136, dated June 5, 2014. Repeat these actions thereafter at intervals not to exceed 750 flight hours.

    (2) Within 72 months after the effective date of this AD, modify the airplane by separating FQIS wiring that runs between the FQIS processor and the center fuel tank wall penetrations, including any circuits that pass through a main fuel tank, from other airplane wiring that is not intrinsically safe.

    (i) Alternative Methods of Compliance (AMOCs)

    (1) The Manager, Seattle Aircraft Certification Office (ACO), FAA, has the authority to approve AMOCs for this AD, if requested using the procedures found in 14 CFR 39.19. In accordance with 14 CFR 39.19, send your request to your principal inspector or local Flight Standards District Office, as appropriate. If sending information directly to the manager of the ACO, send it to the attention of the person identified in paragraph (j) of this AD. Information may be emailed to: [email protected]

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

    (3) An AMOC that provides an acceptable level of safety may be used for any repair, modification, or alteration required by this AD if it is approved by the Boeing Commercial Airplanes Organization Designation Authorization (ODA) that has been authorized by the Manager, Seattle ACO, to make those findings. To be approved, the repair method, modification deviation, or alteration deviation must meet the certification basis of the airplane, and the approval must specifically refer to this AD.

    (j) Related Information

    For more information about this AD, contact Jon Regimbal, Aerospace Engineer, Propulsion Branch, ANM-140S, FAA, Seattle ACO, 1601 Lind Avenue SW., Renton, WA 98057-3356; phone: 425-917-6506; fax: 425-917-6590; email: [email protected]

    (k) Material Incorporated by Reference

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

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

    (i) Boeing Service Bulletin 757-28-0136, dated June 5, 2014.

    (ii) Reserved.

    (3) For service information identified in this AD, contact Boeing Commercial Airplanes, Attention: Data & Services Management, P. O. Box 3707, MC 2H-65, Seattle, WA 98124-2207; telephone 206-544-5000, extension 1; fax 206-766-5680; Internet https://www.myboeingfleet.com.

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

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

    Issued in Renton, Washington, on March 21, 2016. Michael Kaszycki, Acting Manager, Transport Airplane Directorate, Aircraft Certification Service.
    [FR Doc. 2016-07150 Filed 4-4-16; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4910-13-P
    DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION Federal Aviation Administration 14 CFR Part 39 [Docket No. FAA-2015-6537; Directorate Identifier 2014-NM-154-AD; Amendment 39-18457; AD 2016-07-12] RIN 2120-AA64 Airworthiness Directives; Airbus Airplanes AGENCY:

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

    ACTION:

    Final rule.

    SUMMARY:

    We are adopting a new airworthiness directive (AD) for certain Airbus Model A318, A319, A320, and A321 series airplanes. This AD was prompted by reports of cracking of the aft fixed fairing (AFF) of the pylons due to fatigue damage of the structure. This AD requires repetitive inspections for damage and cracking of the AFF of the pylons, and repair if necessary. We are issuing this AD to detect and correct damage and cracking of the AFF of the pylons, which could result in detachment of a pylon and consequent reduced structural integrity of the airplane.

    DATES:

    This AD becomes effective May 10, 2016.

    The Director of the Federal Register approved the incorporation by reference of a certain publication listed in this AD as of May 10, 2016.

    ADDRESSES:

    For service information identified in this final rule, contact Airbus, Airworthiness Office—EIAS, 1 Rond Point Maurice Bellonte, 31707 Blagnac Cedex, France; telephone +33 5 61 93 36 96; fax +33 5 61 93 44 51; email [email protected]; Internet http://www.airbus.com. You may view this referenced service information at the FAA, Transport Airplane Directorate, 1601 Lind Avenue SW., Renton, WA. For information on the availability of this material at the FAA, call 425-227-1221. It is also available on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov by searching for and locating Docket No. FAA-2015-6537.

    Examining the AD Docket

    You may examine the AD docket on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov by searching for and locating Docket No. FAA-2015-6537; or in person at the Docket Management Facility between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays. The AD docket contains this AD, the regulatory evaluation, any comments received, and other information. The street address for the Docket Operations office (telephone 800-647-5527) is Docket Management Facility, U.S. Department of Transportation, Docket Operations, M-30, West Building Ground Floor, Room W12-140, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

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

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Discussion

    We issued a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) to amend 14 CFR part 39 by adding an AD that would apply to certain Airbus Model A318, A319, A320, and A321 series airplanes. The NPRM published in the Federal Register on November 30, 2015 (80 FR 74729) (“the NPRM”).

    The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), which is the Technical Agent for the Member States of the European Union, has issued EASA Airworthiness Directive 2014-0154, dated July 2, 2014 (referred to after this as the Mandatory Continuing Airworthiness Information, or “the MCAI”), to correct an unsafe condition for certain Airbus Model A318, A319, A320, and A321 series airplanes. The MCAI states:

    On aeroplanes equipped with post-mod 33844 CFM pylons, several operators have reported cracks on the Aft Fixed Fairing (AFF). After material analysis, it appears that the pylon AFF structure, especially on this configuration, is subject to fatigue constraint damage which could lead to pylon AFF cracks.

    Further to these findings, Airbus released Alert Operators Transmission (AOT) A54N002-12 which provides instructions to inspect the pylon AFF, applicable only to aeroplanes incorporating Airbus production mod 33844 on CFM pylons. More recently, Airbus issued Service Bulletin (SB) A320-54-1027, superseding AOT A54N002-12.

    This condition, if not detected and corrected, could lead to detachment of a pylon AFF from the aeroplane, possibly resulting in injuries to persons on the ground.

    For the reasons described above, this [EASA] AD requires repetitive detailed inspections (DET) of the pylon AFF and, depending on findings, accomplishment of applicable corrective action(s).

    Since the MCAI was issued, EASA has clarified that the detachment of a pylon AFF from the airplane could result in damage to the airplane; such damage could result in reduced structural integrity of the airplane.

    You may examine the MCAI in the AD docket on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov by searching for and locating Docket No. FAA-2015-6537.

    Comments

    We gave the public the opportunity to participate in developing this AD. We received no comments on the NPRM or on the determination of the cost to the public.

    Explanation of Change to the Proposed Applicability

    We have removed Airbus Model A320-215 airplanes from the Applicability statement of this AD; this model is not type certificated in the U.S.

    Conclusion

    We reviewed the available data and determined that air safety and the public interest require adopting this AD with the change described previously, including minor editorial changes. We have determined that these minor changes:

    • Are consistent with the intent that was proposed in the NPRM for correcting the unsafe condition; and

    • Do not add any additional burden upon the public than was already proposed in the NPRM.

    Related Service Information Under 1 CFR Part 51

    Airbus has issued Service Bulletin A320-54-1027, dated April 10, 2014. This service information describes procedures for inspections for damage and cracking of the AFF of the pylons, and repair if necessary. This service information is reasonably available because the interested parties have access to it through their normal course of business or by the means identified in the ADDRESSES section.

    Costs of Compliance

    We estimate that this AD affects 69 airplanes of U.S. registry.

    We also estimate that it takes about 4 work-hours per product to comply with the basic requirements of this AD. The average labor rate is $85 per work-hour. Based on these figures, we estimate the cost of this AD on U.S. operators to be $23,460, or $340 per product.

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

    Authority for This Rulemaking

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

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

    Regulatory Findings

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

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

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

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

    3. Will not affect intrastate aviation in Alaska; and

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

    List of Subjects in 14 CFR Part 39

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

    Adoption of the Amendment

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

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

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

    § 39.13 [Amended]
    2. The FAA amends § 39.13 by adding the following new airworthiness directive (AD): 2016-07-12 Airbus: Amendment 39-18457. Docket No. FAA-2015-6537; Directorate Identifier 2014-NM-154-AD. (a) Effective Date

    This AD becomes effective May 10, 2016.

    (b) Affected ADs

    None.

    (c) Applicability

    This AD applies to Airbus Model A318-111 and -112, airplanes; Model A319-111, -112, -113, -114, and -115 airplanes; Model A320-211, -212, and -214 airplanes; and Model A321-111, -112, -211, -212, and -213 airplanes; certificated in any category; all manufacturer serial numbers on which Airbus Modification 33844 has been embodied in production.

    (d) Subject

    Air Transport Association (ATA) of America Code 54, Nacelles/pylons.

    (e) Reason

    This AD was prompted by reports of cracking of the aft fixed fairing (AFF) of the pylons due to fatigue damage of the structure. We are issuing this AD to detect and correct damage and cracking of the AFF of the pylons, which could result in detachment of a pylon and consequent reduced structural integrity of the airplane.

    (f) Compliance

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

    (g) Repetitive Inspections

    At the later of times specified in paragraphs (g)(1) and (g)(2), or (g)(1) and (g)(3) of this AD, as applicable: Do a detailed inspection for damage and cracking of the AFF of the pylons, in accordance with the Accomplishment Instructions of Airbus Service Bulletin A320-54-1027, dated April 10, 2014. Repeat the inspection thereafter at intervals not to exceed 2,500 flight cycles or 3,750 flight hours, whichever occurs first.

    (1) For all airplanes: Before exceeding 5,000 flight cycles or 7,500 flight hours, whichever occurs first since the airplane's first flight.

    (2) For airplanes on which the inspection specified in Airbus All Operators Transmission (AOT) A54N002-12 has been done as of the effective date of this AD: Within 2,500 flight cycles or 3,750 flight hours since the most recent accomplishment of maintenance planning data (MPD) Task ZL 371-01, or since doing the most recent inspection specified in Airbus AOT A54N002-12, whichever occurs first.

    (3) For airplanes on which the inspection specified in Airbus AOT A54N002-12 has not been done as of the effective date of this AD: Within 750 flight cycles or 1,500 flight hours after the effective date of this AD, whichever occurs first.

    (h) Repair

    If any crack is found during any inspection required by paragraph (g) of this AD: Before further flight, repair in accordance with the Accomplishment Instructions of Airbus Service Bulletin A320-54-1027, dated April 10, 2014. Accomplishment of this repair does not terminate the repetitive inspections required by paragraph (g) of this AD.

    (i) Other FAA AD Provisions

    The following provisions also apply to this AD:

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

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

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

    (j) Related Information

    Refer to Mandatory Continuing Airworthiness Information (MCAI) EASA Airworthiness Directive 2014-0154, dated July 2, 2014, for related information. This MCAI may be found in the AD docket on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov by searching for and locating Docket No. FAA-2015-6537.

    (k) Material Incorporated by Reference

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

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

    (i) Airbus Service Bulletin A320-54-1027, dated April 10, 2014.

    (ii) Reserved.

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

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

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

    Issued in Renton, Washington, on March 22, 2016. Michael Kaszycki, Acting Manager, Transport Airplane Directorate, Aircraft Certification Service.
    [FR Doc. 2016-07372 Filed 4-4-16; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4910-13-P
    DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION Federal Aviation Administration 14 CFR Part 71 [Docket No. FAA-2015-7486; Airspace Docket No. 15-AGL-26] Amendment of Class D and Class E Airspace; Wilmington, OH AGENCY:

    Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), DOT.

    ACTION:

    Final rule; correction.

    SUMMARY:

    This correction amends the final rule published in the Federal Register of February 8, 2016, amending the Class E surface area airspace and Class E airspace designated as an extension at Wilmington Air Park, Wilmington, OH. This correction adds part-time Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) language inadvertently removed to the Class E surface area description. The geographic coordinates and airport name of Wilmington Air Park in Class D and E airspace, and in Class E airspace extending upward from 700 feet above the surface are added to the rule. The Title is also amended to include Class D airspace.

    DATES:

    Effective 0901 UTC, April 5, 2016. The compliance date for this rule is March 31, 2016. The Director of the Federal Register approves this incorporation by reference action under Title 1, Code of Federal Regulations, part 51, subject to the annual revision of FAA Order 7400.9 and publication of conforming amendments.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Jeffrey Claypool, Federal Aviation Administration, Operations Support Group, Central Service Center, 10101 Hillwood Parkway, Fort Worth, TX, 76177; telephone (817) 222-5711.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: History

    The Federal Register published a final rule amending Class E airspace at Wilmington Air Park, Wilmington, OH, (81 FR 6450, February 8, 2016) Docket No. FAA-2015-7486. Subsequent to publication, the FAA found in amending the airport name and airport reference point for the airport, additional existing controlled airspace was inadvertently omitted from the rule. This action adds adjustment of the geographic coordinates in Class D airspace and Class E airspace extending upward from 700 feet or more above the surface of the Earth at Wilmington Air Park.

    The FAA also determined that the part-time NOTAM language in the Class E surface area description was inadvertently removed in error. Potential safety concerns were identified due to the possibility for confusion in determining the operating rules and equipment requirements in the Wilmington Air Park terminal area. The concerns were based on the opportunity for part-time Class D surface area airspace and continuous Class E surface area airspace to be active at the same time.

    To resolve these concerns, the FAA is keeping the part-time NOTAM language in the Class E surface area description to retain it as part-time airspace supplementing the existing part-time Class D surface area airspace at Wilmington Air Park. The regulatory text is rewritten for clarity.

    Correction to Final Rule

    Accordingly, pursuant to the authority delegated to me, in the Federal Register of February 8, 2016 (81 FR 6450) FR Doc. 2016-02284, Amendment of Class E Airspace, Wilmington, OH, is corrected as follows:

    § 71.1 [Amended]

    On page 6451, column 1, after line 31, add the following:

    Paragraph 5000 Class D Airspace. AGL OH D Wilmington, OH [Corrected] Wilmington, Wilmington Air Park, OH Lat. 39°25′41″ N., long. 083°47′32″ W.) Wilmington, Hollister Field Airport, OH Lat. 39°26′15″ N., long. 083°42′30″ W.)

    That airspace extending upward from the surface to and including 3,600 feet MSL within a 4.2-mile radius of the Wilmington Air Park, excluding that portion of airspace within a 1-mile radius of Hollister Field Airport. This Class D airspace area is effective during the specific dates and times established in advance by a Notice to Airmen. The effective date and time will thereafter be continuously published in the Airport/facility directory.

    AGL OH E2 Wilmington, OH [Corrected]

    On page 6451, column 1, beginning on line 40, remove the following text:

    “Within a 4.2-mile radius of Wilmington Air Park, and within 3.7 miles each side of the Midwest VOR/DME 215° radial extending from the 4.2-mile radius of Wilmington Air Park to 7 miles southwest of the airport, and within 3.7 miles each side of the Midwest VOR/DME 041° radial extending from the 4.2-mile radius of the airport to 7 miles northeast of the airport, excluding that portion of airspace within a 1-mile radius of Hollister Field Airport.”

    And add in its place:

    “Within a 4.2-mile radius of Wilmington Air Park, and within 3.7 miles each side of the Midwest VOR/DME 215° radial extending from the 4.2-mile radius of Wilmington Air Park to 7 miles southwest of the airport, and within 3.7 miles each side of the Midwest VOR/DME 041° radial extending from the 4.2-mile radius of the airport to 7 miles northeast of the airport, excluding that portion of airspace within a 1-mile radius of Hollister Field Airport. This Class E airspace area is effective during the specific dates and times established in advance by a Notice to Airmen. The effective date and time will thereafter be continuously published in the Airport/facility Director.”

    On page 6451, column 2, after line 11, add the following:

    Paragraph 6005 Class E Airspace Areas Extending Upward From 700 Feet or More Above the Surface of the Earth. AGL OH E5 Wilmington, OH [Corrected] Wilmington, Wilmington Air Park, OH Lat. 39°25′41″ N., long. 083°47′32″ W.) Midwest VOR/DME Lat. 39°25′47″ N., long. 083°48′04″ W.)

    That airspace extending upward from 700 feet above the surface within an 7-mile radius of Wilmington Air Park and within 4.6 miles each side of the Midwest VOR/DME 041° radial, extending from the 7-mile radius to 11.3 miles northeast of Wilmington Air Park.

    Issued in Fort Worth, Texas, on March 28, 2016. Robert W. Beck, Manager, Operations Support Group, ATO Central Service Center.
    [FR Doc. 2016-07714 Filed 3-31-16; 4:15 pm] BILLING CODE 4910-13-P
    DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION Federal Aviation Administration 14 CFR Part 71 [Docket No. FAA-2015-7483; Airspace Docket No. 15-AGL-23] Amendment of Class E Airspace for the Following Michigan Towns; Alpena, MI; and Muskegon, MI AGENCY:

    Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), DOT.

    ACTION:

    Final rule; correction.

    SUMMARY:

    This correction amends a final rule published in the Federal Register of February 8, 2016 amending Class E surface area airspace and Class E airspace designated as an extension at Alpena County Regional Airport, Alpena, MI, and Muskegon County Airport, Muskegon, MI. This correction adds part-time Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) language to the Class E surface area description for the above airports.

    DATES:

    Effective 0901 UTC, April 5, 2016. The compliance date for this rule is March 31, 2016. The Director of the Federal Register approves this incorporation by reference action under Title 1, Code of Federal Regulations, part 51, subject to the annual revision of FAA Order 7400.9 and publication of conforming amendments.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Jeffrey Claypool, Federal Aviation Administration, Operations Support Group, Central Service Center, 10101 Hillwood Parkway, Fort Worth, TX 76177; telephone (817) 222-5711.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    History

    The Federal Register published a final rule amending Class E airspace at Alpena County Regional Airport, Alpena, MI, and Muskegon County Airport, Muskegon, MI (81 FR 6447, February 8, 2016) Docket No. FAA-2015-7483. Subsequent to publication, the FAA determined that the part-time NOTAM language in the Class E surface area description was inadvertently removed in error. Potential safety concerns were identified due to the possibility for confusion in determining the operating rules and equipment requirements in the Alpena Country Regional Airport and Muskegon Country Airport terminal areas. The concerns were based on the opportunity for part-time Class D surface area airspace and continuous Class E surface area airspace to be active at the same time.

    To resolve these concerns, the FAA is keeping the part-time NOTAM language in the Class E surface area description to retain it as part-time airspace supplementing the existing part-time Class D surface area airspace at Alpena Country Regional Airport and Muskegon Country Airport. The regulatory text is rewritten for clarity.

    Correction to Final Rule

    Accordingly, pursuant to the authority delegated to me, in the Federal Register of February 8, 2016 (81 FR 6447) FR Doc. 2016-02285, Amendment of Class E Airspace for the Following Michigan Towns; Alpena, MI, and Muskegon, MI, is corrected as follows:

    § 71.1 [Amended] AGL MI E2 Alpena, MI [Corrected]

    On page 6448, column 2, beginning on line 32, remove the following text:

    “Within a 4.4-mile radius of the Alpena County Regional Airport, and within 2.5 miles each side of the Alpena VORTAC 350° radial, extending from the 4.4-mile radius of the airport to 7 miles north of the VORTAC, and within 2.5 miles each side of the Alpena VORTAC 187° radial, extending from the 4.4-mile radius of the airport to 7 miles south of the VORTAC.”

    And add in its place:

    “Within a 4.4-mile radius of the Alpena County Regional Airport, and within 2.5 miles each side of the Alpena VORTAC 350° radial, extending from the 4.4-mile radius of the airport to 7 miles north of the VORTAC, and within 2.5 miles each side of the Alpena VORTAC 187° radial, extending from the 4.4-mile radius of the airport to 7 miles south of the VORTAC. This Class E airspace is effective during the specific dates and times established in advance by a Notice to Airmen. The effective date and time will thereafter be continuously published in the Airport/Facility Directory.”

    AGL MI E2 Muskegon, MI [Corrected]

    On page 6448, column 2, beginning on line 44, remove the following text:

    “Within a 4.2-mile radius of the Muskegon County Airport and within 1.3 miles each side of the Muskegon VORTAC 271° radial extending from the VORTAC to the 4.2-mile radius of Muskegon County Airport.”

    And add in its place:

    “Within a 4.2-mile radius of the Muskegon County Airport and within 1.3 miles each side of the Muskegon VORTAC 271° radial extending from the VORTAC to the 4.2-mile radius of the Muskegon County Airport. This Class E airspace area is effective during the specific dates and times established in advance by a Notice to Airman. The effective date and time will thereafter be continuously published in the Airport/facility Directory.”

    Issued in Fort Worth, Texas, on March 28, 2016. Robert W. Beck, Manager, Operations Support Group, ATO Central Service Center.
    [FR Doc. 2016-07717 Filed 3-31-16; 4:15 pm] BILLING CODE 4910-13-P
    DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION Federal Aviation Administration 14 CFR Part 71 [Docket No. FAA-2015-7492; Airspace Docket No. 15-AGL-27] Amendment of Class E Airspace; Rapid City, SD AGENCY:

    Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), DOT.

    ACTION:

    Final rule; correction.

    SUMMARY:

    This correction amends the final rule published in the Federal Register of February 4, 2016 amending Class E airspace area at Rapid City Regional Airport, Rapid City, SD. This correction adds part-time Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) language to the Class E surface area description for the airport.

    DATES:

    Effective 0901 UTC, April 5, 2016. The compliance date for this rule is March 31, 2016. The Director of the Federal Register approves this incorporation by reference action under Title 1, Code of Federal Regulations, part 51, subject to the annual revision of FAA Order 7400.9 and publication of conforming amendments.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Jeffrey Claypool, Federal Aviation Administration, Operations Support Group, Central Service Center, 10101 Hillwood Parkway, Fort Worth, TX, 76177; telephone (817) 222-5711.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    History

    The Federal Register published a final rule amending Class E airspace at Rapid City Regional Airport, Rapid City, SD, (81 FR 5905, February 4, 2016) Docket No. FAA-2015-7492. Subsequent to publication, the FAA determined that the part-time NOTAM language in the Class E surface area description was inadvertently removed in error. Potential safety concerns were identified due to the possibility for confusion in determining the operating rules and equipment requirements in the Rapid City Regional Airport terminal area. The concerns were based on the opportunity for part-time Class D surface area airspace and continuous Class E surface area airspace to be active at the same time.

    To resolve these concerns, the FAA is keeping the part-time NOTAM language in the Class E surface area description to retain it as part-time airspace supplementing the existing part-time Class D surface area airspace at Rapid City Regional Airport. The regulatory text is rewritten for clarity.

    Correction to Final Rule

    Accordingly, pursuant to the authority delegated to me, in the Federal Register of February 4, 2016 (81 FR 5905) FR Doc. 2016-02037, Amendment of Class E Airspace; Rapid City, SD, is corrected as follows:

    § 71.1 [Amended]

    On page 5906, column 1, beginning on line 27, remove the following text:

    “Within a 4.4-mile radius of the Rapid City Regional Airport, excluding the portion north of a line between the intersection of the Rapid City Regional Airport 4.4-mile radius and the Ellsworth AFB 4.7-mile radius, and that airspace extending upward from the surface within 2.6 miles each side of the Rapid City VORTAC 155°/335°. radials extending from the 4.4-mile radius of the Rapid City Regional Airport to 7 miles southeast of the VORTAC, excluding that airspace within the Rapid City, SD, Class D airspace area.”

    And add in its place:

    “Within a 4.4-mile radius of the Rapid City Regional Airport, excluding the portion north of a line between the intersection of the Rapid City Regional Airport 4.4-mile radius and the Ellsworth AFB 4.7-mile radius, and that airspace extending upward from the surface within 2.6 miles each side of the Rapid City VORTAC 155°/335°. radials extending from the 4.4-mile radius of the Rapid City Regional Airport to 7 miles southeast of the VORTAC, excluding that airspace within the Rapid City, SD, Class D airspace area. This Class E airspace area is effective during the specific dates and times established in advance by Notice to Airmen. The effective date and time will thereafter be continuously published in the Airport/Facility Directory.”

    Issued in Fort Worth, Texas, on March 28, 2016. Robert W. Beck, Manager, Operations Support Group, ATO Central Service Center.
    [FR Doc. 2016-07715 Filed 3-31-16; 4:15 pm] BILLING CODE 4910-13-P
    NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS BOARD 29 CFR Part 100 Claims Under the Federal Tort Claims Act AGENCY:

    National Labor Relations Board.

    ACTION:

    Final rule.

    SUMMARY:

    The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is issuing a final rule amending its Rules and Regulations concerning administrative claims made pursuant to the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA). The rule reflects structural changes within the NLRB that impact the NLRB's processing of claims, the current address for submission of claims to the NLRB, the impact of a claimant's submission of an amended claim, and the effect on a claimant of the NLRB's payment of a claim.

    DATES:

    The effective date is June 6, 2016.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Gary Shinners, Executive Secretary, 1015 Half Street SE., Washington, DC 20570. Telephone: (202) 273-1067.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    These amendments update the NLRB's regulations governing the submission and processing of administrative claims under the FTCA. Because of the scope of these amendments, the NLRB is replacing subpart D in its entirety.

    The amendments include: (i) In paragraph (b), directing claims to be made to the Associate General Counsel for the Division of Legal Counsel, and directing that claims be submitted to the NLRB's current headquarters address available on its Web site; (ii) in paragraph (c), providing that a claim may be amended at any time prior to final action by the NLRB and that the NLRB shall have six months from the amendment to make a final disposition; (iii) in paragraph (d), providing that the Associate General Counsel for the Division of Legal Counsel has authority to determine submitted claims; (iv) in paragraph (e), omitting that legal review of certain claims is to be performed by the General Counsel or his or her designee; (v) in paragraph (f), providing that awards up to $2,500 will be paid by the Chief Financial Officer; and (vi) in paragraph (g), providing that acceptance of payment constitutes a release of claims against the United States, the NLRB, and any employee whose act or omission gave rise to the claim.

    These amendments are being made primarily as a result of the NLRB's restructuring in 2013 to create a new Division of Legal Counsel (78 FR 44981 (July 25, 2013)). Claims previously were directed to and determined by the NLRB's Director of Administration, and as a matter of practice, claims filed in the regions were forwarded to headquarters for processing by Administration. As a result of the 2013 reorganization of NLRB functions, the Division of Legal Counsel now handles claims under the FTCA, including determining the claims, and the final rule reflects this change in paragraphs (b) and (d). Paragraph (b) also reflects that claims should be submitted to the NLRB's current headquarters address, available on its Web site; the address designated in the current regulations is outdated.

    Similarly, financial functions, including payment of FTCA awards, were formerly conducted within the Division of Administration. In 2012, an Office of the Chief Financial Officer was created, with the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) jointly reporting to the General Counsel and the Chairman of the Board (77 FR 43127 (July 23, 2012)). Accordingly, the final rule reflects in paragraph (f) that payments on FTCA administrative claims under $2,500 are made by the CFO, rather than by the Division of Administration. Payments over that amount continue to be handled in accordance with 28 CFR 14.10.

    Paragraph (c) is a new provision for the amendment of claims. It permits amendment at any time prior to the NLRB's determination of a claim, and it provides that an amendment restarts the six-month deadline for responding to the claim. It also provides that the six-month time period prior to which a claimant may not bring a lawsuit against an agency (28 U.S.C. 2675(a)) begins to run at the time of the amendment. While the NLRB has received amendments of claims, its regulations have not previously provided for their treatment.

    The elimination of review by “the General Counsel or designee” for claims above $5,000 in paragraph (e) conforms the proposal with 28 CFR 14.5, which applies to FTCA administrative claims government-wide. That regulation provides that awards in excess of $5,000 may be made by the head of an agency or his designee “only after review by a legal officer of the agency.” Accordingly, this regulation does not require legal review specifically by the General Counsel or a designee. Consistent with the NLRB restructuring, the Division of Legal Counsel will provide the legal review.

    Finally, paragraph (g) sets forth that acceptance of payment constitutes a release of claims against the United States, the NLRB, and any employee whose act or omission gave rise to the claim. This is consistent with 28 U.S.C. 2672 and is included as a new provision to make the consequences of accepting payment clear to any claimants submitting claims to the NLRB.

    Accordingly, consistent with the foregoing, the NLRB is amending 29 CFR part 100, subpart D to revise its procedures governing the submission and processing of administrative claims under the FTCA.

    This action relates solely to agency organization, management, or personnel matters and will not impose any additional paperwork, reporting, or other costs, burdens, or responsibilities on claimants under the FTCA. Accordingly, this action is not subject to the advance notice and comment provisions of the Administrative Procedure Act (5 U.S.C. 553) or the requirements of Executive Order 12866, the Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 601 et seq.), or the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act (5 U.S.C. 801).

    List of Subjects in 29 CFR Part 100

    Administrative regulations, Claims under the Federal Tort Claims Act, Cooperation in audits and investigations, Employee personal property loss claims, Employee responsibilities and conduct, Government employees, Nondiscrimination on the basis of handicap in NLRB programs.

    For the reasons set forth above, the NLRB amends 29 CFR part 100, subpart D as follows:

    PART 100—ADMINISTRATIVE REGULATIONS 1. The authority citation for part 100 continues to read in part as follows: Authority:

    Section 6, National Labor Relations Act, as amended (29 U.S.C. 141, 156).

    Subpart D—Claims Under the Federal Tort Claims Act 2. Revise § 100.401 to read as follows:
    § 100.401 Claims under the Federal Tort Claims Act for loss of or damage to property or for personal injury or death.

    (a) Scope of regulations. These regulations apply to administrative claims filed under the Federal Tort Claims Act (28 U.S.C. 2672), as amended, for money damages against the United States for damage to or loss of property, or for personal injury or death, caused by the negligent or wrongful act or omission of any employee of the National Labor Relations Board acting within the scope of his or her office or employment, under circumstances where the United States, if a private person, would be liable to the claimant in accordance with the law of the place where the act or omission occurred. The regulations in this part supplement the Department of Justice's regulations in 28 CFR part 14.

    (b) Filing a claim. Claims may be submitted to the Associate General Counsel, Division of Legal Counsel, Headquarters, National Labor Relations Board, Washington, DC 20570 at any time within 2 years after such claim has accrued. The current address for Headquarters can be found at www.nlrb.gov. Such claim may be presented by a person specified in 28 CFR 14.3. An executed Standard Form 95, Claim for Damage, Injury, or Death, or written notification must be submitted and accompanied by as much of the appropriate information specified in 28 CFR 14.4 as may reasonably be obtained.

    (c) Amendment of claim. A claim submitted in compliance with this subpart may be amended by the claimant at any time prior to final action by the National Labor Relations Board or prior to the exercise of the claimant's option under 28 U.S.C. 2675(a). Amendments shall be submitted in writing and signed by the claimant or his or her duly authorized agent or legal representative. Upon the timely filing of an amendment to a pending claim, the National Labor Relations Board shall have six months to make a final disposition of the claim as amended and the claimant's option under 28 U.S.C. 2675(a) shall not accrue until six months after filing of an amendment.

    (d) Action on claims. The Associate General Counsel, Division of Legal Counsel, shall have the power to consider, ascertain, adjust, determine, compromise, or settle any claim submitted in accordance with paragraph (a) of this section. Any exercise of such power shall be in accordance with 28 U.S.C. 2672 and 28 CFR part 1.

    (e) Legal review of claims. In accordance with 28 CFR 14.5, legal review is required if the amount of a proposed settlement, compromise, or award exceeds $5,000. Any exercise of such power shall be in accordance with 28 U.S.C. 2672 and 28 CFR part 14.

    (f) Payment of awards. Any award, compromise, or settlement in an amount of $2,500 or less made pursuant to this action will be paid by the Chief Financial Officer out of appropriations available to the National Labor Relations Board. Payment of any award, compromise, or settlement in an amount greater than $2,500 will be paid in accordance with 28 CFR 14.10.

    (g) Acceptance of payment constitutes release. Acceptance by a claimant, his or her agent or legal representative of any award, compromise, or settlement made pursuant to this part shall be final and conclusive on the claimant, his or her agent or legal representative and any other person on whose behalf or for whose benefit the claim has been submitted, and shall constitute a complete release of any claims against the United States, the National Labor Relations Board, and any employee of the government whose act or omission gave rise to the claim.

    Dated: March 30, 2016.

    By direction of the Board.

    William B. Cowen, Solicitor, National Labor Relations Board.
    [FR Doc. 2016-07692 Filed 4-4-16; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 7545-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY Coast Guard 33 CFR Part 117 [Docket No. USCG-2016-0040] Drawbridge Operation Regulation; Inner Harbor Navigation Canal, New Orleans, LA AGENCY:

    Coast Guard, DHS.

    ACTION:

    Notice of deviation from drawbridge regulation.

    SUMMARY:

    The Coast Guard has issued a deviation from the operating schedule that governs the Senator Ted Hickey (Leon C. Simon Blvd./Seabrook) bascule bridge across the Inner Harbor Navigation Canal, mile 4.6, at New Orleans, Louisiana. This deviation is necessary to accommodate the rescheduling of the New Orleans Endurance Festival event. This deviation allows the bridge to remain closed to navigation during the event.

    DATES:

    This deviation is effective from 7 a.m. through 2 p.m. on May 28, 2016.

    ADDRESSES:

    The docket for this deviation, [USCG-2016-0040] is available at http://www.regulations.gov.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    If you have questions on this temporary deviation, call or email Geri Robinson, Bridge Administration Branch, Coast Guard, telephone (504) 671-2128, email [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    On February 1, 2016, a United States Coast Guard notice of temporary deviation from drawbridge regulations under the same docket number, USCG-2016-0040, was published in the Federal Register [81 FR 5039]. That temporary deviation resulted from a request made by Premier Event Management, through the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (LDOTD), for a deviation from the operating schedule of the Senator Ted Hickey (Leon C. Simon Blvd./Seabrook) bascule bridge across the Inner Harbor Navigation Canal, mile 4.6, at New Orleans, Louisiana. The deviation was requested to accommodate the New Orleans Endurance Festival event, which includes a triathlon, originally scheduled to be held on April 3, 2016. Due to colder than normal weather, the New Orleans Endurance Festival was postponed until May 28, 2016. Therefore, through this document, the Coast Guard issues a temporary deviation for the rescheduled date.

    The vertical clearance of the bascule span bridge is 46 feet above mean high water in the closed-to-navigation position and unlimited in the open-to-navigation position. The bridge is governed by 33 CFR 117.458(c).

    This deviation is effective on May 28, 2016, from 7 a.m. through 2 p.m. This deviation allows the bridge to remain closed to navigation for seven (7) hours on the day of the event.

    Navigation on the waterway consists of small tugs with and without tows, commercial vessels, and recreational craft, including sailboats.

    Vessels able to pass through the bridge in the closed-to-navigation position may do so at anytime. The bridge will be able to open for emergencies, and there is no immediate alternate route. The Coast Guard will also inform the users of the waterways through our Local and Broadcast Notices to Mariners of the change in operating schedule for the bridge to minimize any impact caused by the temporary deviation.

    In accordance with 33 CFR 117.35(e), the drawbridge must return to its regular operating schedule immediately at the end of the effective period of this temporary deviation. This deviation from the operating regulations is authorized under 33 CFR 117.35.

    Dated: March 30, 2016. Eric Washburn, Bridge Administrator, Eighth Coast Guard District.
    [FR Doc. 2016-07702 Filed 4-4-16; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 9110-04-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY Coast Guard 33 CFR Part 165 [Docket Number USCG-2016-0263] RIN 1625-AA00 Safety Zone; Bayou Teche, Crude Oil Spill; Jeanerette, LA AGENCY:

    Coast Guard, DHS.

    ACTION:

    Temporary final rule.

    SUMMARY:

    The Coast Guard is establishing a temporary safety zone on all navigable waters of Bayou Teche from Jeanerette, LA to Linwood, LA. This safety zone is necessary to protect persons, property, and infrastructure from potential damage and safety hazards associated with an 11,550 gallon type III crude oil spill and corresponding response efforts. During the periods of enforcement, entry into and transiting or anchoring within this safety zone is prohibited unless specifically authorized by Captain of the Port (COTP) Morgan City or other designated representative.

    DATES:

    This rule is effective without actual notice from April 5, 2016 until April 15, 2016. The rule will be enforced until April 15, 2016, or until emergency spill response efforts are complete, whichever occurs earlier. For the purposes of enforcement, actual notice will be used from March 29, 2016 until April 5, 2016.

    ADDRESSES:

    To view documents mentioned in this preamble as being available in the docket, go to http://www.regulations.gov, type USCG-2016-0263 in the “SEARCH” box and click “SEARCH.” Click on Open Docket Folder on the line associated with this rule.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    If you have questions on this rule, call or email Lieutenant Junior Grade Vanessa Taylor, Chief of Waterways Management, U.S. Coast Guard MSU Morgan City 800 David Dr, Morgan City LA,70380; telephone (985) 380-5334, email [email protected].

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: I. Table of Abbreviations CFR Code of Federal Regulations DHS Department of Homeland Security FR Federal Register NPRM Notice of proposed rulemaking § Section U.S.C. United States Code II. Background Information and Regulatory History

    The Coast Guard is issuing this temporary rule without prior notice and opportunity to comment pursuant to authority under section 4(a) of the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) (5 U.S.C. 553(b)). This provision authorizes an agency to issue a rule without prior notice and opportunity to comment when the agency for good cause finds that those procedures are “impracticable, unnecessary, or contrary to the public interest.” Under 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(B), the Coast Guard finds that good cause exists for not publishing a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) with respect to this rule because immediate emergency efforts are required to respond to an oil spill on Bayou Teche. This spill poses an extremely hazardous condition to the public and environment until it is contained and cleaned up. It is impracticable to publish an NPRM because we must establish this safety zone by March 29, 2016.

    We are issuing this rule, and under 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3), the Coast Guard finds that good cause exists for making it effective less than 30 days after publication in the Federal Register. Delaying the effective date of this rule would be contrary to public interest because immediate action is needed to provide additional safety measures during the spill cleanup to ensure safety of the public and environment.

    III. Legal Authority and Need for Rule

    The legal basis and authorities for this rule are found in 33 U.S.C. 1231.

    The purpose of the rule is to establish the necessary temporary safety zone to protect persons, property, and infrastructure from potential damage and safety hazards during emergency response efforts associated with an 11,550 gallon crude oil spill on Bayou Teche.

    IV. Discussion of the Rule

    This rule establishes a safety zone from March 29, 2016 through April 15, 2016 or until emergency spill response efforts are complete, whichever occurs earlier. The safety zone will cover all navigable waters of Bayou Teche from Jeanerette, LA to Linwood, LA. This safety zone is intended to protect personnel, vessels, and the marine environment in these navigable waters while the pollution response and cleanup occur. No vessel or person will be permitted to enter the safety zone without obtaining permission from the COTP or a designated representative.

    V. Regulatory Analyses

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

    A. Regulatory Planning and Review

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

    This regulatory action determination is based on the size, location, duration, and traffic during the time-of-year of the safety zone. The safety zone only impacts a small designated area of Bayou Teche Waterway from Jeanerette, LA to Linwood, LA from March 29, 2016 through April 15, 2016 or until emergency spill response efforts are complete, whichever occurs earlier. Additionally, this is a time of year when vessel traffic is normally low. Moreover, the Coast Guard will issue Broadcast Notice to Mariners via VHF-FM marine channel 16 informing waterway users of the safety zone and any changes in the schedule. Finally, the rule allows vessels to seek permission to enter the zone.

    B. Impact on Small Entities

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

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

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

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

    C. Collection of Information

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

    D. Federalism and Indian Tribal Governments

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

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

    E. Unfunded Mandates Reform Act

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

    F. Environment

    We have analyzed this rule under Department of Homeland Security Management Directive 023-01 and Commandant Instruction M16475.lD, which guide the Coast Guard in complying with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (42 U.S.C. 4321-4370f), and have determined that this action is one of a category of actions that do not individually or cumulatively have a significant effect on the human environment. This rule involves a safety zone lasting less than 20 days that will prohibit entry in all navigable waters of the Bayou Teche from Jeanerette, LA to Linwood, LA. It is categorically excluded from further review under paragraph 34(g) of Figure 2-1 of the Commandant Instruction. An environmental analysis checklist supporting this determination and a Categorical Exclusion Determination are available in the docket where indicated under ADDRESSES. We seek any comments or information that may lead to the discovery of a significant environmental impact from this rule.

    G. Protest Activities

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

    List of Subjects in 33 CFR Part 165

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

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

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

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

    2. Add § 165.T08-1121 to read as follows:
    § 165.T08-1121 Safety Zone; Bayou Teche, Crude Oil Spill; Jeanerette, LA.

    (a) Location. The following area is a safety zone: All waters of Bayou Teche from Jeanerette, LA to Linwood, LA.

    (b) Definitions. As used in this section, designated representative means a Coast Guard Patrol Commander, including a Coast Guard coxswain, petty officer, or other officers operating a Coast Guard vessel and a Federal, State, and local officer designated by or assisting the Captain of the Port (COTP) Morgan City in the enforcement of the safety zones.

    (c) Regulations. (1) Under the general safety zone regulations in 33 CFR part 165 subpart C, you may not enter the safety zones described in paragraph (a) of this section unless authorized by the COTP or the COTP's designated representative.

    (2) To seek permission to enter, contact the COTP or the COTP's representative via VHF-FM channel 16, or through Coast Guard Marine Safety Unit Morgan City at 985-380-5334. Those in the safety zones must comply with all lawful orders or directions given to them by the COTP or the COTP's designated representative.

    (d) Enforcement period. This rule will be enforced from March 29, 2016 through April 15, 2016 or until emergency spill response efforts are complete, whichever occurs earlier.

    (e) Informational broadcasts. The COTP or a designated representative will inform the public through broadcasts notice to mariners of the enforcement period for the emergency safety zones as well as any changes in the dates and times of enforcement.

    Dated: March 29, 2016. D.G. McClellan, Captain, U.S. Coast Guard, Captain of the Port Morgan City, Louisiana.
    [FR Doc. 2016-07541 Filed 4-4-16; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 9110-04-P
    ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY 40 CFR Part 9 [EPA-HQ-OPPT-2014-0486; FRL-9943-62] OMB Approvals Under the Paperwork Reduction Act; Technical Amendment AGENCY:

    Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

    ACTION:

    Final rule.

    SUMMARY:

    In compliance with the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA), this technical amendment updates the table that lists the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) control numbers issued under PRA for information collection requirements contained in EPA's regulations that are promulgated in title 40 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). This technical amendment adds new approvals published in the Federal Register since January 8, 2016, and removes expired and terminated approvals.

    DATES:

    This final rule is effective April 5, 2016.

    ADDRESSES:

    The docket for this action, identified by docket identification (ID) number EPA-HQ-OPPT-2014-0486, is available at http://www.regulations.gov or at the Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics Docket (OPPT Docket), Environmental Protection Agency Docket Center (EPA/DC), West William Jefferson Clinton Bldg., Rm. 3334, 1301 Constitution Ave. NW., Washington, DC. The Public Reading Room is open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, excluding legal holidays. The telephone number for the Public Reading Room is (202) 566-1744, and the telephone number for the OPPT Docket is (202) 566-0280. Please review the visitor instructions and additional information about the docket available at http://www.epa.gov/dockets.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Angela Hofmann, Regulatory Coordination Staff (7101M), Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention, Environmental Protection Agency, 1200 Pennsylvania Ave. NW., Washington, DC 20460-0001; telephone number: (202) 564-0258; email address: [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    I. Does this action apply to me?

    This action is directed to the public in general. This action may, however, be of interest to those persons who are concerned about OMB approval for information collections required by EPA regulations. Since other entities may also be interested, the Agency has not attempted to describe all the specific entities that may be affected by this action.

    II. Background A. Why is this technical amendment being issued?

    This document updates the OMB control numbers listed in 40 CFR part 9 for various regulations promulgated under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) (15 U.S.C. 2601), the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) (7 U.S.C. 136), and the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA) (21 U.S.C. 408). Under PRA (44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.), an agency may not conduct or sponsor, and a person is not required to respond to an information collection request unless it displays a currently valid OMB control number. The OMB control numbers for EPA's regulations are codified in title 40 of the CFR, after appearing in the preamble of the final rule. These numbers are listed in 40 CFR part 9, displayed in a subsequent publication in the Federal Register, or displayed by other appropriate means, such as on a related collection instrument or form, or as part of the instructions to respondents. The display of OMB control numbers in certain EPA regulations is consolidated in 40 CFR part 9. In addition to displaying the applicable OMB control number in the final rule and on the applicable collection instruments, the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention (OCSPP) has also typically listed the OMB control number in the table at 40 CFR 9.1 for regulations it has issued under TSCA, FIFRA, and FFDCA. With this technical amendment, OCSPP is updating the table in 40 CFR 9.1 to list the new OMB control number that replaces the two OMB control numbers that have been consolidated under the new OMB control number.

    B. Why is this technical amendment issued as a final rule?

    The information collection activities referenced in this document were previously subject to public notice and comment as part of the rulemaking process, and this action does not in any way affect the referenced information collection activities or rulemakings. This action only amends the table at 40 CFR 9.1 to update the list of OMB control numbers listed there. Due to the technical nature of the table, EPA finds that further notice and comment about amending the table is unnecessary. As a result, EPA finds that there is “good cause” under section 553(b)(3)(B) of the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) (5 U.S.C. 553(b)(3)(B)), to amend this table without further notice and comment.

    C. What specific changes are being made?

    On January 8, 2016, OMB approved the consolidation of three existing, approved OMB control numbers into a single, new OMB control number. Specifically, OMB control numbers 2070-0155, 2070-0158, and 2070-0181 were consolidated into a single information collection approved under OMB control number 2070-0195. This consolidated OMB control number covers the information collection activities imposed on entities conducting lead-based paint related activities. The previous OMB control numbers for these information collection activities will be discontinued.

    III. Statutory and Executive Order Reviews

    This action implements technical amendments to 40 CFR part 9 to reflect changes to OMB approvals under PRA. It does not otherwise impose or amend any requirements. As such, this action does not require review by OMB under Executive Order 12866, entitled “Regulatory Planning and Review” (58 FR 51735, October 4, 1993), the Paperwork Reduction Act (44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.), or Executive Order 13045, entitled “Protection of Children from Environmental Health Risks and Safety Risks” (62 FR 19885, April 23, 1997). Nor does it impose any enforceable duty, contain any unfunded mandate, or impose any significant or unique impact on small governments as described in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (UMRA) (2 U.S.C. 1501 et seq.).

    This action will not have substantial direct effects on State or tribal governments, on the relationship between the Federal Government and States or Indian tribes, or on the distribution of power and responsibilities between the Federal Government and States or Indian tribes. As such, it will not have any “federalism implications” as described by Executive Order 13132, entitled “Federalism” (64 FR 43255, August 10, 1999) or “tribal implications” as described by Executive Order 13175, entitled “Consultation and Coordination with Indian Tribal Governments” (65 FR 67249, November 9, 2000). Nor does it involve any technical standards that would require Agency consideration of voluntary consensus standards pursuant to section 12(d) of the National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act (15 U.S.C. 272 note), environmental justice-related issues that would require consideration under Executive Order 12898, entitled “Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Populations” (59 FR 7629, February 16, 1994), or otherwise involve anything that would have any adverse effect on the supply, distribution, or use of energy that would require consideration under Executive Order 13211, entitled “Actions Concerning Regulations that Significantly Affect Energy Supply, Distribution, or Use” (66 FR 28355, May 22, 2001).

    In addition, since this action is not subject to notice-and-comment requirements under the APA or any other statute, it is not subject to the regulatory flexibility provisions of the Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 601 et seq.).

    IV. Congressional Review Act

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

    List of Subjects in 40 CFR Part 9

    Environmental protection, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements.

    Dated: March 29, 2016. James Jones, Assistant Administrator, Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention.

    Therefore, 40 CFR chapter I is amended as follows:

    PART 9—OMB APPROVALS UNDER THE PAPERWORK REDUCTION ACT 1. The authority citation for part 9 continues to read as follows: Authority:

    7 U.S.C. 135 et seq., 136-136y; 15 U.S.C. 2001, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2601-2671, 21 U.S.C. 331j, 346a, 348; 31 U.S.C. 9701; 33 U.S.C. 1251 et seq., 1311, 1313d, 1314, 1318, 1321, 1326, 1330, 1342, 1344, 1345(d) and (e), 1361; E.O. 11735, 38 FR 21243, 3 CFR, 1971-1975 Comp. p. 973; 42 U.S.C. 241, 242b, 243, 246, 300f, 300g, 300g-1, 300g-2, 300g-3, 300g-4, 300g-5, 300g-6, 300j-1, 300j-2, 300j-3, 300j-4, 300j-9, 1857 et seq., 6901-6992k, 7401-7671q, 7542, 9601-9657, 11023, 11048.

    2. In §  9.1, the table is amended by revising the undesignated center heading “Lead-Based Paint Poisioning Prevention in Certain Residential Structures” to read “Lead-Based Paint Poisoning Prevention in Certain Residential Structures” and revising the following entries underneath it: a. Part 745, subpart E; b. Part 745, subpart L; and c. Part 745, subpart Q.

    The revisions read as follows:

    § 9.1 OMB approvals under the Paperwork Reduction Act. 40 CFR citation OMB control No. *    *    *    *    * Lead-Based Paint Poisoning Prevention in Certain Residential Structures Part 745, subpart E 2070-0195 *    *    *    *    * Part 745, subpart L 2070-0195 Part 745, subpart Q 2070-0195 *    *    *    *    *
    [FR Doc. 2016-07797 Filed 4-4-16; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560-50-P
    ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY 40 CFR Part 52 [EPA-R09-OAR-2015-0048; FRL-9943-78-Region 9] Clean Air Plans; 1-Hour and 1997 8-Hour Ozone Nonattainment Area Requirements; San Joaquin Valley, California AGENCY:

    Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

    ACTION:

    Final rule.

    SUMMARY:

    The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is taking final action to approve a state implementation plan revision submitted by the State of California to provide for attainment of the 1-hour ozone national ambient air quality standard in the San Joaquin Valley, California ozone nonattainment area and to meet other Clean Air Act requirements. Specifically, with respect to the 1-hour ozone standard, the EPA is taking final action to find the emissions inventories to be acceptable and to approve the reasonably available control measures demonstration, the rate of progress demonstrations, the attainment demonstration, contingency measures for failure to meet rate of progress milestones, the provisions for advanced technology/clean fuels for boilers, and the demonstration that the plan provides sufficient transportation control strategies and measures to offset emissions increases due to increases in motor vehicle activity. For the 1997 8-hour ozone standard, the EPA is taking final action to approve the demonstration that the plan provides sufficient transportation control strategies and measures to offset emissions increases due to increases in motor vehicle activity.

    DATES:

    This rule is effective on May 5, 2016.

    ADDRESSES:

    The EPA has established a docket for this action under Docket ID Number EPA-R09-OAR-2015-0048. Generally, documents in the docket for this action are available electronically at www.regulations.gov and in hard copy at EPA Region IX, 75 Hawthorne Street, San Francisco, California. While all documents in the docket are listed at www.regulations.gov, some information may be publicly available only at the hard copy location (e.g., copyrighted material, large maps), and some may not be publicly available in either location (e.g., confidential business information or “CBI”). To inspect the hard copy materials, please schedule an appointment during normal business hours with the contact listed in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    John Ungvarsky, Air Planning Office (AIR-2), U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 9, (415) 972-3963, [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Throughout this document, “we,” “us” and “our” refer to the EPA.

    Table of Contents I. Proposed Action II. Public Comments III. Final Action IV. Statutory and Executive Order Reviews I. Proposed Action

    On January 15, 2016 (81 FR 2140), the EPA proposed, under section 110(k)(3) of the Clean Air Act (CAA or “Act”), to approve a revision to the California state implementation plan (SIP) submitted by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) on December 20, 2013. The SIP submittal consists of the San Joaquin Valley's “2013 Plan for the Revoked 1-Hour Ozone Standard” (“2013 Ozone Plan”) and related documentation.1 More specifically, we proposed to approve all of the elements contained in the 2013 Ozone Plan, with the exception of the attainment contingency provisions for which the EPA is deferring action, based on the documentation contained in or submitted with the plan itself and supplemental documentation provided by CARB on June 19, 2014 related to the vehicle-miles-traveled (VMT) emissions offset requirement in CAA section 182(d)(1)(A).

    1 Ground-level ozone is formed when oxides of nitrogen (NOX) and volatile organic compounds (VOC) react in the presence of sunlight. The 1-hour ozone national ambient air quality standard is 0.12 parts per million (ppm) averaged over a 1-hour period (“1-hour ozone standard”). See 40 CFR 50.9.

    As explained in more detail in our proposed rule, the 2013 Ozone Plan was prepared by the San Joaquin Valley Unified Air Pollution Control District (SJVUACPD or “District”) and CARB in response to the EPA's regulatory responses to two specific court decisions issued by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals (“Ninth Circuit”),2 one of which remanded to the EPA the approval of the previous San Joaquin Valley 1-hour ozone plan. Although the 1-hour ozone national ambient air quality standard has been revoked, certain SIP requirements that had applied to 1-hour ozone nonattainment areas, such as the San Joaquin Valley, at the time of revocation continue to apply under “anti-backsliding” regulations that the EPA promulgated to govern the transition from the 1-hour ozone standard to the 8-hour ozone standard.

    2 The two cases are Sierra Club v. EPA, 671 F.3d 955 (9th Cir. 2012)(Remand of the EPA's approval of previous San Joaquin Valley 1-hour ozone plan)(“Sierra Club”); and Association of Irritated Residents v. EPA, 632 F.3d. 584, at 596-597 (9th Cir. 2011), reprinted as amended on January 27, 2012, 686 F.3d 668, further amended February 13, 2012 (Remand of the EPA's approval of the state's VMT emissions offset demonstration for the South Coast)(“Association of Irritated Residents”).

    In our proposed rule, we also discussed the implications on our action on the 2013 Ozone Plan of a third Ninth Circuit decision, Committee for a Better Arvin v. EPA, 786 F.3d 1169 (9th Cir. 2015)(“Committee for a Better Arvin”), and indicated that, in response to the decision in Committee for a Better Arvin, the EPA had proposed in a separate rulemaking (i.e., 80 FR 69915 (November 12, 2015)) to approve (as a revision to the California SIP) a number of CARB mobile source regulations for which the EPA has issued waivers or authorizations under CAA section 209 (referred to herein as “waiver measures.”) See our January 15, 2016 proposed rule at 81 FR 2141-2144.

    In our January 15, 2016 proposed rule, we reviewed the various SIP elements contained in the 2013 Ozone Plan (except for the attainment contingency provisions), and evaluated them for compliance with statutory and regulatory requirements, and concluded that they meet all applicable requirements. More specifically, we determined that:

    • The 2007 base year emission inventory in the 2013 Ozone Plan is comprehensive, accurate, and current and that this inventory as well as the 2013, 2016, and 2017 projected inventories have been prepared consistent with EPA guidance and provide an appropriate basis for the various other elements of the 2013 Ozone Plan, including the reasonably available control measures (RACM) demonstration, and the Rate-of-Progress (ROP) and attainment demonstrations (see 81 FR 2144-2145 from the proposed rule);

    • There are no additional RACM that would advance attainment of the 1-hour ozone standard in the San Joaquin Valley to 2016, and thus the 2013 Ozone Plan provides for the implementation of all RACM as required by CAA section 172(c)(1) and 40 CFR 51.1105(a)(1) and 51.1100(o)(17) for the 1-hour ozone standard (see 81 FR 2145-2148 from the proposed rule);

    • The ROP demonstrations in the 2013 Ozone Plan meet the requirements of CAA section 172(c)(2) and 182(c)(2)(B), and 40 CFR 51.1105(a)(1) and 51.1100(o)(4) for the 1-hour ozone standard (see 81 FR 2148-2149 from the proposed rule);

    • The air quality modeling in the 2013 Ozone Plan is adequate to support the attainment demonstration and that the plan's demonstration of attainment by November 26, 2017 meets the requirements of CAA section 182(c)(2)(A), and 40 CFR 51.1105(a)(1) and 51.1100(o)(12) for the 1-hour ozone standard (see 81 FR 2149-2153 from the proposed rule);

    • The 2013 Ozone Plan provides sufficient excess reductions of NOX in each milestone year beyond those needed to meet the next ROP percent reduction requirement to provide the 3 percent of adjusted baseline emissions reductions needed to meet the ROP contingency measure requirement for 2010, 2013, 2016, and 2017 and thereby meets the ROP contingency measure requirements in CAA section 182(c)(9) and 40 CFR 51.1105(a)(1) and 51.1100(o)(13) for the 1-hour ozone standard (see 81 FR 2153-2154 from the proposed rule);

    • Through EPA-approved District rules 2201, 4306, and 4352, the 2013 Ozone Plan meets the clean fuels or advanced control technology for boilers requirement in CAA section 182(e)(3) and 40 CFR 40 CFR 51.1105(a)(1) and 51.1100(o)(6) for the 1-hour ozone standard (see 81 FR 2154 from the proposed rule); and

    • The 2013 Ozone Plan (particularly, appendix D and the related technical supplement submitted by CARB on June 19, 2014) demonstrates that the State has adopted sufficient transportation control strategies (TCSs) and transportation control measures (TCMs) to offset the growth in emissions from growth in VMT and vehicle trips in the San Joaquin Valley for the purposes of the 1-hour ozone and 1997 8-hour ozone standards and thereby complies with the VMT emissions offset requirement in CAA section 182(d)(1)(A) and 40 CFR 51.1105(a)(1) and 51.1100(o)(10) for those standards (see 81 FR 2154-2158 from the proposed rule).

    Lastly, we indicated in our proposed rule that, given that the 2013 Ozone Plan is based in part on the permanence and enforceability of the waiver measures, the EPA would not finalize approval of the 2013 Ozone Plan until the Agency takes final action to approve the waiver measures as part of the California SIP. The comment period for our proposed approval of the waiver measures SIP revision has closed, but the Agency has yet to issue a final rule. However, given that the statutory deadline for final action by the EPA on CARB's December 20, 2013 submittal of the 2013 Ozone Plan has passed and given that we expect that the EPA will take final action on the waiver measures SIP revision in the near term, we believe that taking action on the 2013 Ozone Plan at this time is reasonable and appropriate. If, however, final action on the waiver measures SIP revision is delayed beyond the near term, we will take appropriate remedial action to ensure that our action on the 2013 Ozone Plan is fully supportable or we will reconsider this action in light of changed circumstances.

    Please see our January 15, 2016 proposed rule and the related Technical Support Document for more information concerning the background for this action and for a more detailed discussion of the rationale for approval of the 2013 Ozone Plan.

    II. Public Comments

    Our January 15, 2016 proposed rule provided a 30-day public comment period, which closed on February 16, 2016. We received no comments on our proposal during this period.

    III. Final Action

    For the reasons discussed in the January 15, 2016 proposed rule and summarized above, the EPA is approving, under CAA section 110(k)(3), CARB's submittal dated December 20, 2013 of the San Joaquin Valley 2013 Ozone Plan as a revision to the California SIP.3 In so doing, the EPA is approving the following elements of the plan as meeting the specified requirements for the revoked 1-hour ozone standard:

    3 In withdrawing our approval of the 2004 1-Hour Ozone Plan, as revised and clarified, in the wake of the remand in the Sierra Club case, 77 FR 70376 (November 26, 2012), we inadvertently failed to remove 40 CFR 52.220(c)(371) which codified our March 8, 2010 final approval of the “2008 Clarifications” for the 2004 San Joaquin Valley (1-hour ozone) plan. In this final action, we are correcting this error by removing paragraph (c)(371) from the “Identification of Plan” section of 40 CFR part 52 for the State of California.

    • RACM demonstration as meeting the requirements of CAA section 172(c)(1) and 40 CFR 51.1105(a)(1) and 51.1100(o)(17);

    • ROP demonstrations as meeting the requirements of CAA section 172(c)(2) and 182(c)(2)(B), and 40 CFR 51.1105(a)(1) and 51.1100(o)(4);

    • Attainment demonstration as meeting the requirements of CAA section 182(c)(2)(A), and 40 CFR 51.1105(a)(1) and 51.1100(o)(12);

    • ROP contingency measures as meeting the requirements of CAA sections 182(c)(9) and 40 CFR 51.1105(a)(1) and 51.1100(o)(13); and

    • Provisions for clean fuels or advanced control technology for boilers as meeting the requirements of CAA section 182(e)(3) and 40 CFR 51.1105(a)(1) and 51.1100(o)(6).

    The EPA is also approving the 2013 Ozone Plan as meeting the specified requirements for the revoked 1-hour ozone standard and the revoked 1997 8-hour ozone standard:

    • VMT emissions offset demonstrations as meeting the requirements of CAA section 182(d)(1)(A) and 40 CFR 51.1105(a)(1) and 51.1100(o)(10).

    IV. Statutory and Executive Order Reviews

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

    • Is not a “significant regulatory action” subject to review by the Office of Management and Budget under Executive Order 12866 (58 FR 51735, October 4, 1993);

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Executive Order 13175, entitled “Consultation and Coordination with Indian Tribal Governments” (65 FR 67249, November 9, 2000), requires the EPA to develop an accountable process to ensure “meaningful and timely input by tribal officials in the development of regulatory policies that have tribal implications.” “Policies that have Tribal implications” is defined in the Executive Order to include regulations that have “substantial direct effects on one or more Indian tribes, on the relationship between the Federal government and the Indian tribes, or on the distribution of power and responsibilities between the Federal government and Indian Tribes.”

    Eight Indian tribes are located within the boundaries of the San Joaquin Valley air quality planning area for the 1-hour ozone and 1997 8-hours ozone standards: The Big Sandy Rancheria of Mono Indians of California, the Cold Springs Rancheria of Mono Indians of California, the North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians of California, the Picayune Rancheria of Chukchansi Indians of California, the Santa Rosa Rancheria of the Tachi Yokut Tribe, the Table Mountain Rancheria of California, the Tejon Indian Tribe, and the Tule River Indian Tribe of the Tule River Reservation.

    The EPA's approval of the various SIP elements submitted by CARB to address the 1-hour ozone standard and 1997 8-hours ozone standard in the San Joaquin Valley would not have tribal implications because the SIP is not approved to apply on any Indian reservation land or in any other area where the EPA or an Indian tribe has demonstrated that a tribe has jurisdiction. In those areas of Indian country, the SIP approvals do not have tribal implications and will not impose substantial direct costs on tribal governments or preempt tribal law as specified by Executive Order 13175 (65 FR 67249, November 9, 2000). Therefore, the EPA has concluded that the action will not have tribal implications for the purposes of Executive Order 13175, and will not impose substantial direct costs upon the tribes, nor will it preempt Tribal law. We note that none of the tribes located in the San Joaquin Valley has requested eligibility to administer programs under the CAA.

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

    Under section 307(b)(1) of the Clean Air Act, petitions for judicial review of this action must be filed in the United States Court of Appeals for the appropriate circuit by June 6, 2016. Filing a petition for reconsideration by the Administrator of this final rule does not affect the finality of this action for the purposes of judicial review nor does it extend the time within which a petition for judicial review may be filed, and shall not postpone the effectiveness of such rule or action. This action may not be challenged later in proceedings to enforce its requirements. (See section 307(b)(2)).

    List of Subjects in 40 CFR Part 52

    Environmental protection, Air pollution control, Incorporation by reference, Intergovernmental regulations, Nitrogen dioxide, Ozone, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Volatile organic compounds.

    Authority:

    42 U.S.C. 7401 et seq.

    Dated: February 25, 2016. Jared Blumenfeld, Regional Administrator, EPA Region 9.

    Chapter I, title 40 of the Code of Federal Regulations is amended as follows:

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

    42 U.S.C. 7401 et seq.

    Subpart F—California 2. Section 52.220 is amended by: a. Removing and reserving paragraph (c)(371); and b. Adding paragraph (c)(470) to read as follows:
    § 52.220 Identification of plan.

    (c) * * *

    (371) [Reserved]

    (470) The following plan was submitted on December 20, 2013 by the Governor's designee.

    (i) [Reserved]

    (ii) Additional materials.

    (A) California Air Resources Board.

    (1) Letter and enclosures from Lynn Terry, Deputy Executive Officer, California Air Resources Board, dated June 19, 2014, providing supplemental information related to Appendix D (“VMT Emissions Offset Demonstration”) of the San Joaquin Valley 2013 Plan for the Revoked 1-Hour Ozone Standard, excluding EMFAC2011 output files.

    (B) San Joaquin Valley Unified Air Pollution Control District.

    (1) 2013 Plan for the Revoked 1-Hour Ozone Standard, adopted by the San Joaquin Valley Unified Air Pollution Control District on September 19, 2013 and approved by the California Air Resources Board on November 21, 2013, excluding section 4.4 (“Contingency Reductions”).

    [FR Doc. 2016-07668 Filed 4-4-16; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560-50-P
    ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY 40 CFR Part 52 [EPA-R09-OAR-2016-0028; FRL-9944-56-Region 9] Approval of Air Plan Revisions; Arizona; Rescissions and Corrections AGENCY:

    Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

    ACTION:

    Partial withdrawal of direct final rule.

    SUMMARY:

    Due to the receipt of adverse comments, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is withdrawing a portion of the February 11, 2016 direct final rule approving certain revisions to the Arizona State Implementation Plan (SIP) and correcting certain errors. The adverse comments relate to a particular test method and thus the EPA is withdrawing the portion of the direct final rule that relates to the test methods that include the test method for which the adverse comments were received.

    DATES:

    The addition of paragraph (c)(29)(i)(B) published on February 11, 2016 at 81 FR 7214 is withdrawn, effective April 5, 2016.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Andrew Steckel, EPA Region IX, (415) 947-4115, [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    On February 11, 2016, the EPA published a direct final rule approving a SIP revision submitted by the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ). In the February 11, 2016 direct final rule, the EPA also corrected certain errors in previous actions on prior revisions to the Arizona SIP and to make certain other corrections. In the direct final rule, the EPA stated that if adverse comments were received by March 14, 2016, the EPA would publish a timely withdrawal and address the comments in a subsequent final rule based on the proposed rule also published on February 11, 2016 (81 FR 7259). The February 11, 2016 proposed rule indicated that if the EPA receives adverse comment on an amendment, paragraph, or section of the direct final rule and if that provision may be severed from the remainder of the rule, the EPA may adopt as final those provisions of the rule that are not the subject of an adverse comment.

    In this instance, the EPA received adverse comments on a certain test method for which the EPA had approved rescission. The relevant test method was included in a SIP revision submitted by ADEQ on January 23, 1979 that also included a number of other test methods and certain performance test specifications, all of which were approved by the EPA at 47 FR 17483 (April 23, 1982). The EPA's approval of the test methods and performance test specifications submitted on January 23, 1979 and approved on April 23, 1982 was codified at 40 CFR 52.120(c)(29)(i)(A).

    The EPA's action on the rescission of the test methods and performance test specifications submitted on January 23, 1979 and approved on April 23, 1982 is severable from the rest of the direct final rule. Thus, the EPA is withdrawing only the portion of the direct final rule related to those test methods and performance test specifications. The EPA will address the comments in a separate final action covering the state's rescission of the test methods and performance test specifications submitted on January 23, 1979 (and approved on April 23, 1982) based on the proposed action published on February 11, 2016 (81 FR 7259). The EPA will not open a second comment period for the action on the state's rescissions of the test methods and performance test specifications. The other actions in the February 11, 2016 Federal Register direct final rule are not affected.

    List of Subjects in 40 CFR Part 52

    Environmental protection, Air pollution control, Incorporation by reference, Intergovernmental relations, Particulate matter, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements.

    Dated: March 24, 2016. Jared Blumenfeld, Regional Administrator, Region IX.

    Accordingly, the addition of paragraph (c)(29)(i)(B) which was published in the Federal Register on February 11, 2016 (81 FR 7209) on page 7214 is withdrawn as of April 5, 2016.

    [FR Doc. 2016-07666 Filed 4-4-16; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560-50-P
    ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY 40 CFR Part 52 [EPA-R04-OAR-2015-0696; FRL-9944-55-Region 4] Air Plan Approval; South Carolina; Transportation Conformity Update AGENCY:

    Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

    ACTION:

    Direct final rule.

    SUMMARY:

    The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is taking direct final action to approve a revision to the South Carolina State Implementation Plan (SIP) submitted on October 13, 2015, through the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SC DHEC). This revision consists of transportation conformity criteria and procedures related to interagency consultation and enforceability of certain transportation-related control measures and mitigation measures. The intended effect of this approval is to update the transportation conformity criteria and procedures in the South Carolina SIP to reorganize previous exhibits into a single Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) document as well as updating signatories to add the newly established Lowcountry Area Transportation Study (LATS) to the list of Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs), created to represent a new urbanized area designated as a result of the 2010 Census. EPA has determined that this revision is consistent with the Clean Air Act (CAA or Act).

    DATES:

    This direct final rule is effective June 6, 2016 without further notice, unless EPA receives adverse comment by May 5, 2016. If EPA receives such comments, it will publish a timely withdrawal of the direct final rule in the Federal Register and inform the public that the rule will not take effect.

    ADDRESSES:

    Submit your comments, identified by Docket ID No. EPA-R04-OAR-2015-0696 at http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the online instructions for submitting comments. Once submitted, comments cannot be edited or removed from Regulations.gov. EPA may publish any comment received to its public docket. Do not submit electronically any information you consider to be Confidential Business Information (CBI) or other information whose disclosure is restricted by statute. Multimedia submissions (audio, video, etc.) must be accompanied by a written comment. The written comment is considered the official comment and should include discussion of all points you wish to make. EPA will generally not consider comments or comment contents located outside of the primary submission (i.e. on the web, cloud, or other file sharing system). For additional submission methods, the full EPA public comment policy, information about CBI or multimedia submissions, and general guidance on making effective comments, please visit http://www2.epa.gov/dockets/commenting-epa-dockets.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Kelly Sheckler, Air Regulatory Management Section, Air Planning and Implementation Branch, Air, Pesticides and Toxics Management Division, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 4, 61 Forsyth Street SW., Atlanta, Georgia 30303-8960. Ms. Sheckler's telephone number is 404-562-9992. She can also be reached via electronic mail at [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    I. Transportation Conformity

    Transportation conformity (hereafter referred to as “conformity”) is required under section 176(c) of the CAA to ensure that federally supported highway and transit activities are consistent with (“conform to”) the purpose of the SIP. Conformity currently applies to areas that are designated nonattainment, and to areas that have been redesignated to attainment after 1990 (i.e., maintenance areas) with plans developed under section 175A of the Act, for the following transportation related criteria pollutants: Ozone, particulate matter (e.g., PM2.5 and PM10), carbon monoxide, and nitrogen dioxide.

    Conformity to the purpose of the SIP means that transportation activities will not cause or contribute to new air quality violations, worsen existing violations, or delay timely attainment of the national ambient air quality standards (NAAQS) for the relevant criteria pollutants. The conformity regulation is found in 40 CFR part 93 and provisions related to conformity SIPs are found in 40 CFR 51.390.

    II. Background for This Action A. Federal Requirements

    EPA promulgated the Federal transportation conformity criteria and procedures (“Conformity Rule”) on November 24, 1993. 58 FR 62188. Among other things, the rule required states to address all provisions of the conformity rule in their SIPs, frequently referred to as “conformity SIPs.” Under 40 CFR 51.390, most sections of the Conformity Rule were required to be copied verbatim into the SIP. States were also required to tailor all or portions of the following three sections of the Conformity Rule to the state's individual circumstances: 40 CFR 93.105, which addresses consultation procedures; 40 CFR 93.122(a)(4)(ii), which addresses written commitments to control measures that are not included in a MPO's transportation plan and transportation improvement program that must be obtained prior to a conformity determination, and the requirement that such commitments must be fulfilled; and 40 CFR 93.125(c), which addresses written commitments to mitigation measures that must be obtained prior to a project-level conformity determination, and the requirement that project sponsors must comply with such commitments.

    On August 10, 2005, the “Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users” (SAFETEA-LU) was signed into law. SAFETEA-LU revised section 176(c) of the CAA transportation conformity provisions. One of the changes streamlined the requirements for conformity SIPs. Under SAFETEA-LU, states are required to address and tailor only three sections of the rule in their conformity SIPs: 40 CFR 93.105, 40 CFR 93.122(a)(4)(ii), and, 40 CFR 93.125(c), described above. In general, states are no longer required to submit conformity SIP revisions that address the other sections of the Conformity Rule. These changes took effect on August 10, 2005, when SAFETEA-LU was signed into law.

    B. South Carolina Transportation Conformity SIP

    The Conformity Rule requires the states to develop their own processes and procedures for interagency consultation among the Federal, state, and local agencies and resolution of conflicts meeting the criteria in 40 CFR 93.105. The conformity SIP revision must include processes and procedures to be followed by the MPO, state DOT, and US DOT in consulting with the state and local air quality agencies and EPA before making conformity determinations. The SIP revision must also include processes and procedures for the state and local air quality agencies and EPA to coordinate the development of applicable SIPs with MPOs, state DOTs, and the US DOT.

    In 2004, EPA approved the State of South Carolina's initial conformity SIP revision which incorporated by reference 40 CFR part 93, subpart A (67 FR 50808), and customized 40 CFR 93.105, 93.122(a)(4)(ii), and 93.125(c) for all of the MPOs in the entire state and for the South Carolina Department of Transportation (SC DOT). 69 FR 4245. Specifically, the State of South Carolina established a MOA for implementing the conformity criteria and consultation procedures for all transportation-related pollutants. On July 28, 2009, EPA approved a revision to the SC MOA to address the relevant NAAQS and SAFTEA-LU amendments. 74 FR 37168.

    III. State Submittal and EPA Evaluation

    On October 13, 2015, the State of South Carolina, through SC DHEC, submitted the Statewide conformity and interagency consultation SIP, based on a new MOA signed by all of the MPOs in the State 1 and SC DOT, to EPA as a revision to the SIP. The SIP revision establishes procedures for interagency consultation and, upon EPA approval, supersedes the SIP revision that EPA approved on July 28, 2009. See 74 FR 37168.

    1 Although South Carolina currently has only one nonattainment area (i.e., a portion of York County) for the 2008 8-hour ozone NAAQS, its MOA covers all of the MPOs in the State should any new areas become subject to conformity requirements for a transportation-related pollutant in the future.

    Specifically, the SC DEHC is now proposing certain updates, including a reorganization that incorporates Exhibits 1 and 2 to the previous MOA into the new MOA itself, as well as the addition of the Lowcountry Area Transportation Study (LATS) to the list of MPOs which are signatories to the MOA. LATS is a newly established MPO that represents a new urbanized area designated as a result of the 2010 Census. LATS covers the Town of Hilton Head Island, the Town of Bluffton, and parts of unincorporated Beaufort County. The State also seeks approval of the following additional changes from the old MOA: Clarification of the responsibilities of the MPOs, grammar and punctuation changes, recodification of sections C, D and E for ease of reading, the addition of language to specifically address the requirements of 40 CFR 93.122(a)(4)(ii) and 93.125(c), and the addition of a new “General Provisions” section (section F).

    As noted in EPA's 2009 approval, 74 FR 37168, the State of South Carolina developed its consultation SIP based on the elements contained in 40 CFR 93.105, 93.122(a)(4)(ii), and 93.125(c) and included it in the SIP. As a first step, the State worked with the existing transportation planning organization's interagency committee that included representatives from the SC DHEC; SC DOT; all of the MPOs in the State; Federal Highway Administration—South Carolina Division; Federal Transit Administration; and the Region 4 office of EPA. The interagency committee met regularly and drafted the consultation procedures, considering elements in 40 CFR 93.105, 93.122(a)(4)(ii), and 93.125(c), and integrated the local procedures and processes into the MOA. The resulting consultation process developed is unique to the State of South Carolina. SC DHEC offered the opportunity for a public hearing regarding the new MOA on January 6, 2015, but no hearing was requested and thus none was held. No comments, written or oral, were received from the public. The final MOA was issued by South Carolina on October 13, 2015, and subsequently submitted to EPA as a SIP revision.

    EPA has evaluated this SIP revision and has determined that the State has met the requirements of federal transportation conformity rules as described in 40 CFR part 51, subpart T and 40 CFR part 93, subpart A. SC DHEC has satisfied the public participation and comprehensive interagency consultation requirement during development and adoption of the MOA at the local level. Therefore, EPA is approving the updated MOA as a revision to the South Carolina SIP.

    EPA has reviewed the submittal to assure consistency with the CAA as amended by SAFETEA-LU and EPA regulations (40 CFR part 93 and 40 CFR 51.390) governing state procedures for transportation conformity and interagency consultation and has concluded that the submittal is approvable.

    IV. Final Action

    EPA is taking direct final action under sections 110 and 176 of the Act to approve the rule implementing the conformity criteria and consultation procedures revision to the South Carolina SIP pursuant to the CAA, as a revision to the South Carolina SIP. This action also establishes consultation procedures for all counties in South Carolina. As a result of this action, South Carolina's previously SIP-approved conformity procedures at 74 FR 37168 will be replaced by the procedures submitted to EPA on October 13, 2015, for approval and adopted by State of South Carolina on October 23, 2015.

    EPA is publishing this rule without prior proposal because the Agency views this as a noncontroversial submittal and anticipates no adverse comments. However, in the proposed rules section of this Federal Register publication, EPA is publishing a separate document that will serve as the proposal to approve the SIP revision should adverse comments be filed. This rule will be effective June 6, 2016 without further notice unless the Agency receives adverse comments by May 5, 2016.

    If EPA receives such comments, then EPA will publish a document withdrawing the final rule and informing the public that the rule will not take effect. All public comments received will then be addressed in a subsequent final rule based on the proposed rule. EPA will not institute a second comment period. Parties interested in commenting should do so at this time. If no such comments are received, the public is advised that this rule will be effective on June 6, 2016 and no further action will be taken on the proposed rule.

    V. Statutory and Executive Order Reviews

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    The SIP is not approved to apply on any Indian reservation land or in any other area where EPA or an Indian tribe has demonstrated that a tribe has jurisdiction. In those areas of Indian country, the rule does not have tribal implications as specified by Executive Order 13175 (65 FR 67249, November 9, 2000), nor will it impose substantial direct costs on tribal governments or preempt tribal law.

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

    Under section 307(b)(1) of the CAA, petitions for judicial review of this action must be filed in the United States Court of Appeals for the appropriate circuit by June 6, 2016. Filing a petition for reconsideration by the Administrator of this final rule does not affect the finality of this action for the purposes of judicial review nor does it extend the time within which a petition for judicial review may be filed, and shall not postpone the effectiveness of such rule or action. Parties with objections to this direct final rule are encouraged to file a comment in response to the parallel notice of proposed rulemaking for this action published in the proposed rules section of this issue of the Federal Register; rather than file an immediate petition for judicial review of this direct final rule, so that EPA can withdraw this direct final rule and address the comment in the proposed rulemaking. This action may not be challenged later in proceedings to enforce its requirements. See section 307(b)(2).

    List of Subjects in 40 CFR Part 52

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

    Dated: March 25, 2016. Heather McTeer Toney, Regional Administrator, Region 4.

    40 CFR part 52 is amended as follows:

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

    42.U.S.C. 7401 et seq.

    Subpart (PP)—South Carolina 2. Section 52.2120(e) is amended by adding an entry at the end of the table for “South Carolina Transportation Conformity Air Quality Implementation Plan” to read as follows:
    § 52.2120(e) Identification of plan.

    (e) * * *

    EPA Approved South Carolina Non-Regulatory Provisions Provision State effective date EPA approval date Explanation *         *         *         *         *         *         * South Carolina Transportation Conformity Air Quality Implementation Plan 10/23/2015 4/5/2016, [Insert citation of publication]
    [FR Doc. 2016-07811 Filed 4-4-16; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560-50-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY Federal Emergency Management Agency 44 CFR Part 67 [Docket ID FEMA-2016-0002] Final Flood Elevation Determinations AGENCY:

    Federal Emergency Management Agency, DHS.

    ACTION:

    Final rule.

    SUMMARY:

    Base (1% annual-chance) Flood Elevations (BFEs) and modified BFEs are made final for the communities listed below. The BFEs and modified BFEs are the basis for the floodplain management measures that each community is required either to adopt or to show evidence of being already in effect in order to qualify or remain qualified for participation in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).

    DATES:

    The date of issuance of the Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) showing BFEs and modified BFEs for each community. This date may be obtained by contacting the office where the maps are available for inspection as indicated in the table below.

    ADDRESSES:

    The final BFEs for each community are available for inspection at the office of the Chief Executive Officer of each community. The respective addresses are listed in the table below.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Luis Rodriguez, Chief, Engineering Management Branch, Federal Insurance and Mitigation Administration, Federal Emergency Management Agency, 500 C Street SW., Washington, DC 20472, (202) 646-4064, or (email) [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) makes the final determinations listed below for the modified BFEs for each community listed. These modified elevations have been published in newspapers of local circulation and ninety (90) days have elapsed since that publication. The Deputy Associate Administrator for Mitigation has resolved any appeals resulting from this notification.

    This final rule is issued in accordance with section 110 of the Flood Disaster Protection Act of 1973, 42 U.S.C. 4104, and 44 CFR part 67. FEMA has developed criteria for floodplain management in floodprone areas in accordance with 44 CFR part 60.

    Interested lessees and owners of real property are encouraged to review the proof Flood Insurance Study and FIRM available at the address cited below for each community. The BFEs and modified BFEs are made final in the communities listed below. Elevations at selected locations in each community are shown.

    National Environmental Policy Act. This final rule is categorically excluded from the requirements of 44 CFR part 10, Environmental Consideration. An environmental impact assessment has not been prepared.

    Regulatory Flexibility Act. As flood elevation determinations are not within the scope of the Regulatory Flexibility Act, 5 U.S.C. 601-612, a regulatory flexibility analysis is not required.

    Regulatory Classification. This final rule is not a significant regulatory action under the criteria of section 3(f) of Executive Order 12866 of September 30, 1993, Regulatory Planning and Review, 58 FR 51735.

    Executive Order 13132, Federalism. This final rule involves no policies that have federalism implications under Executive Order 13132.

    Executive Order 12988, Civil Justice Reform. This final rule meets the applicable standards of Executive Order 12988.

    List of Subjects in 44 CFR Part 67

    Administrative practice and procedure, Flood insurance, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements.

    Dated: March 10, 2016. Roy E. Wright, Deputy Associate Administrator for Insurance and Mitigation, Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency.

    Accordingly, 44 CFR part 67 is amended as follows:

    PART 67—[AMENDED] 1. The authority citation for part 67 continues to read as follows: Authority:

    42 U.S.C. 4001 et seq.; Reorganization Plan No. 3 of 1978, 3 CFR, 1978 Comp., p. 329; E.O. 12127, 44 FR 19367, 3 CFR, 1979 Comp., p. 376.

    § 67.11 [Amended]
    2. The tables published under the authority of § 67.11 are amended as follows: Flooding source(s) Location of referenced elevation * Elevation in feet (NGVD)
  • + Elevation in feet
  • (NAVD)
  • # Depth in feet above ground
  • ⁁ Elevation in
  • meters (MSL)
  • Modified
  • Communities affected
    Morehouse Parish, Louisiana, and Incorporated Areas Docket No.: FEMA-B-1145 Horse Bayou Just upstream of Cherry Ridge Road +98 City of Bastrop, Unincorporated. Approximately 140 feet upstream of Louisiana Highway 830-4 +122 Areas of Morehouse Parish. Staulking Head Creek Approximately 489 feet downstream of Henry Avenue +84 City of Bastrop, Unincorporated. Approximately 520 feet upstream of Cleveland Street +114 Areas of Morehouse Parish. W-10 Canal Approximately 4,330 feet downstream of the dam +91 City of Bastrop, Unincorporated. Approximately 2,382 feet upstream of the dam +102 Areas of Morehouse Parish. * National Geodetic Vertical Datum.
  • + North American Vertical Datum.
  • # Depth in feet above ground.
  • ⁁ Mean Sea Level, rounded to the nearest 0.1 meter.
  • ADDRESSES City of Bastrop Maps are available for inspection at the City Hall, 200 East Jefferson Avenue, Bastrop, LA 71220. Unincorporated Areas of Morehouse Parish Maps are available for inspection at the Morehouse Parish Police Jury Building, 125 East Madison Avenue, Bastrop, LA 71220.
    [FR Doc. 2016-07792 Filed 4-4-16; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 9110-12-P
    81 65 Tuesday, April 5, 2016 Proposed Rules DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Food and Nutrition Service 7 CFR Parts 271 and 278 RIN 0584-AE27 Enhancing Retailer Standards in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Clarification of Proposed Rule and Extension of Comment Period AGENCY:

    Food and Nutrition Service (FNS), U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

    ACTION:

    Clarification of proposed rule; extension of comment period.

    SUMMARY:

    This action extends the comment period and responds to questions posed by commenters about certain aspects of a proposed rule pertaining to the eligibility of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) retail food stores that was published in the Federal Register on February 17, 2016. The Agricultural Act of 2014 (2014 Farm Bill) amended the Food and Nutrition Act of 2008 (the Act) to increase the requirement that certain SNAP authorized retail food stores have available on a continual basis at least three varieties of items in each of four staple food categories, to a mandatory minimum of seven varieties. The 2014 Farm Bill also amended the Act to increase, for certain SNAP authorized retail food stores, the minimum number of categories in which perishable foods are required from two to three. The proposed rule would codify these mandatory requirements.

    DATES:

    The comment period for the proposed rule that was published on February 17, 2016 (81 FR 8015) has been extended from April 18, 2016 to May 18, 2016. To be assured of consideration, comments must be postmarked on or before May 18, 2016.

    ADDRESSES:

    The Food and Nutrition Service (FNS), USDA, invites interested persons to submit comments. In order to ensure proper receipt, comments may only be submitted through one of the following methods:

    Preferred method: Federal e-Rulemaking Portal: Go to http://www.regulations.gov and follow the online instructions for submitting comments on docket FNS-2016-0018.

    Mail: Written comments should be addressed to Vicky Robinson, Chief, Retailer Management and Issuance Branch, Retailer Policy and Management Division, Room 418, 3101 Park Center Drive, Alexandria, Virginia 22302.

    All comments submitted in response to this notice will be included in the record and will be made available to the public. Please be advised that the substance of the comments and the identity of the individuals or entities submitting the comments will be subject to public disclosure. FNS will make the comments publicly available on the Internet via: http://www.regulations.gov. All submissions will be available for public inspection at the address above during regular business hours (8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.), Monday through Friday.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Address any questions regarding this notice to Vicky Robinson, Chief, Retailer Management and Issuance Branch, Retailer Policy and Management Division at the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS), USDA, 3101 Park Center Drive, Alexandria, Virginia 22302. Ms. Robinson can also be reached by telephone at (703)-305-2476 or by email at [email protected] during regular business hours (8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.) Monday through Friday.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    I. Background

    The Agricultural Act of 2014 (2014 Farm Bill) amended the Food and Nutrition Act of 2008 (the Act) to increase the requirement that certain SNAP authorized retail food stores have available on a continual basis at least three varieties of items in each of four staple food categories, to a mandatory minimum of seven varieties. The 2014 Farm Bill also amended the Act to increase, for certain SNAP authorized retail food stores, the minimum number of categories in which perishable foods are required from two to three. The proposed rule would codify these mandatory requirements.

    Further, using existing authority in the Act and feedback from a Request for Information that was published in the Federal Register on August 20, 2013, and that included five listening sessions in urban and rural locations across the nation and generated 233 public comments, FNS proposed several additional changes. Among other items, these proposed changes would address depth of stock, amend the definition of staple foods, and amend the definition of “retail food store” to clarify when a retailer is a restaurant rather than a retail food store.

    Additionally, this action extends the comment period for the proposed rule. Since publication of the proposed rule, several entities have requested an extension of the comment period in order to allow ample time for all stakeholders to comment on the rulemaking process. The comment period, therefore, is being extended 30 days in order to provide additional time for interested parties to review and comment on this proposed rule. To be assured of consideration, comments on this proposed rule must be received by FNS on or before May 18, 2016.

    II. Clarification and Request For Comment

    Commenters have posed similar questions to FNS concerning provisions of the proposed rule, in some instances indicating possible misunderstandings of the proposal. FNS appreciates these comments and for this reason, as well as to help ensure that comments submitted are of most value to the Agency, FNS is providing the following additional clarifications and requests for comment regarding certain provisions proposed in this rule.

    FNS encourages commenters to review and comment on all of the issues raised in the proposed rulemaking, as well as on issues examined in the supporting Regulatory Impact Analysis and Interim Regulatory Flexibility Analysis prepared for the proposed rule and published as part of the docket in Supporting Documents on Regulations.gov.

    1. Under the proposed rule, what would be the varieties of items retailers would need to stock?

    As required by Section 3(o)(1)(A) of the Food and Nutrition Act of 2008 (the Act), as amended by the Agricultural Act of 2014 (2014 Farm Bill), retailers would be required to stock at least 7 varieties in each of the 4 staple food categories. Section 3(q) of the Act defines the 4 staple food categories as dairy products; breads and cereals; meats, poultry, and fish; and fruits and vegetables. FNS does not have discretion to alter the statutory 7 variety requirement.

    However, FNS appreciates the questions it has received from commenters inquiring about the items that constitute variety under the proposed rule in the four staple food categories and encourages additional comments from the public on this point. FNS is particularly interested in comments from the public as to whether and how variety should take into account the differences between products within staple food categories (generally and individually), and what factors should be considered when making such distinctions.

    For example, for purposes of variety in the meat, poultry, and fish category, FNS would appreciate public comments on whether to consider food items that come from the same type of animal or species as separate varieties in this food category (e.g., raw chicken breast versus refrigerated grilled chicken breast; roast beef versus ground beef; sliced turkey versus turkey bacon; fresh bluefin tuna steaks versus canned albacore tuna). FNS would also appreciate public comments regarding the basis by which one could consider food items that come from the same type of animal or species as separate varieties, in this or other staple food categories. Finally, FNS would like to clarify its intent in the proposed rule for the meat, poultry, and fish staple food category to include other varieties, such as eggs and meat alternatives (e.g., tofu, gluten, or mycoprotein).

    Examples of how a retailer might stock 7 varieties in each of the 4 staple food categories follow further below.

    2. Under the proposed rule, how many perishable items would retailers need to stock?

    Section 3(o)(1)(A) of the Act, as amended by the 2014 Farm Bill, requires that retailers would be required to stock “perishable foods in at least 3 of the [staple food] categories.” Therefore, FNS has proposed to codify in regulation the statutory requirement that retailers stock at least one perishable variety in 3 of the 4 staple food categories.

    The proposed rule does not propose to change the meaning of “perishable” in the current regulations. Currently, under 7 CFR 278.1(b)(1)(ii)(B), perishable foods include items that are either frozen or refrigerated staple food items and as well as fresh, unrefrigerated staple food items that will spoil or suffer significant deterioration in quality within 2 to 3 weeks (e.g., bread).

    An example of how a retailer might meet the perishables requirement with one perishable variety in 3 of the 4 staple food categories follows further below.

    3. Under the proposed rule, what would qualify as multiple ingredient foods?

    Currently, 7 CFR 271.2 provides that “commercially processed foods and prepared mixtures with multiple ingredients shall only be counted in one staple food category” for the purposes of determining eligibility of any firm.

    Under the proposed rule, commercially processed foods and prepared mixtures with multiple ingredients that do not represent a single staple food category (e.g., cold pizza, macaroni and cheese, sandwiches, TV dinners, mixed soup varieties, and pot pies), would not be counted (toward variety, perishables, or depth of stock) as staple foods for purposes of determining a firm's eligibility to participate in SNAP as a retail food store. Under the proposed rule, multiple ingredient foods would not include such items as yogurt, cheeses, and cereals, as the primary staple food ingredient is clearly represented and easily recognized.

    FNS appreciates the questions it has received from commenters on multiple ingredient foods under the proposed rule and encourages additional comments from the public on this provision of the proposed rule. FNS is particularly interested in comments from the public as to whether certain types of foods with multiple ingredients should continue to be counted as staple foods, including toward variety, perishables, or depth of stock requirements. For example, for the purposes of staple food categorization, FNS would appreciate public comments on whether and how to categorize certain foods with multiple staple food ingredients, such as prepared salads, pizzas, pot pies, macaroni and cheese, stuffed pastas, and others, as offered by commenters, for purposes of making a retailer eligibility determination for SNAP authorization.

    Examples of additional multiple ingredient foods that would and would not count as staple foods under the proposed rule follow.

    Multiple ingredient foods are currently eligible for purchase with SNAP benefits, and this proposed rule would not change the eligibility of these foods for purchase with SNAP benefits in authorized stores.

    4. Under the proposed rule, how many total items would retailers be required to stock?

    Currently SNAP regulations require that SNAP authorized stores have available on a continuous basis at least 3 varieties of items in each of the 4 staple food categories with perishable varieties in at least 2 of the 4 staple food categories. Under current SNAP regulations, retailers may be SNAP authorized with a minimum stock of at least 12 food items, including at least 2 perishable items. As noted in the proposed rule, these requirements have been changed by the Food and Nutrition Act of 2008 (the Act), as amended by the Agricultural Act of 2014 (2014 Farm Bill).

    Section 3(o)(1)(A) of the Act now requires that retailers stock at least 7 varieties in each of the 4 staple food categories and perishable foods in at least 3 of the 4 staple food categories. That means that retailers are required to stock 28 items on a continuous basis. At least 3 of these items must be perishable.

    Under the proposed rule, which would require a depth of stock defined as 6 stocking units, SNAP-authorized retailers would be required to stock a new minimum inventory requirement of 168 staple food items.

    Based on the statutory requirement that at least 1 perishable variety be stocked in 3 of the 4 staple food categories, and with depth of stock discretionarily defined as 6 stock keeping units, this proposed rule would require that a store stock at least 18 perishable staple food items (within the 168 staple food item total).

    According to Department analysis, contained in the Interim Regulatory Flexibility Analysis prepared for the proposed rule and published as part of the docket in Supporting Documents on Regulations.gov, the average small store would need to add an additional 54 additional staple food items, at a cost of around $140, in order to meet the proposed eligibility criteria. As set forth in the Interim Regulatory Flexibility Analysis for the proposed rulemaking, FNS estimates that purchasing all 168 staple food items would cost a store approximately $400, including a one-time inventory carrying cost of 25% to account for storage costs and potential spoilage. FNS believes that adding new inventory would be a one-time cost, a cost that would be recouped as inventory is sold.

    See the full Regulatory Impact Analysis and Interim Regulatory Flexibility Analysis for further details. https://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=FNS-2016-0018-0006.

    More generally, FNS appreciates the questions it has received from commenters on the number of total food items that retailers would be required to stock under the proposed rule and encourages additional comments from the public on this provision of the proposed rule, including comments on the impacts (such as benefits, costs, or small business impacts) associated with proposals that would alter the total food items that retailers would be required to stock.

    FNS also appreciates the questions from commenters it has received regarding how the proposed requirements would affect different types of retail food stores and encourages additional comments from the public on potential retail food store impacts.

    EXAMPLES of Acceptable Variety, Perishables, and Depth of Stock Under the Proposed Rule

    Meat, Poultry, and Fish—the proposed rule would require stocking at least 7 varieties in this staple food category; below are ten examples of what FNS would consider different varieties. This is an illustrative list and not an exhaustive list of items that FNS proposes to be acceptable varieties in this staple food category.

    Perishable:

    1. Sliced turkey breast—6 packages 2. Shrimp—6 packages 3. Sliced ham—6 packages 4. Fresh or frozen ground beef- 6 packages 5. Fresh or frozen catfish—6 packages 6. Eggs—6 cartons (any size) 7. Frozen lamb chops—6 packages 8. Tofu (meat substitute)—6 packages

    Non-perishable:

    9. Canned tuna—6 cans 10. Canned chicken—6 cans

    Fruits, Vegetables—the proposed rule would require stocking at least 7 varieties in this category; below are ten examples of what FNS would consider different varieties. This is not an exhaustive list of acceptable varieties in this staple food category. Under the proposed rule, the first 7 varieties listed below would be considered perishable varieties in this staple food group, provided that they will spoil or suffer significant deterioration in quality within 2 to 3 weeks.

    Perishable:

    1. Fresh bananas—6 bananas 2. Fresh oranges—6 oranges 3. Fresh pears—6 pears 4. Frozen raspberries—6 packages 5. Frozen spinach—6 packages 6. Fresh baby carrots—6 packages 7. Fresh celery sticks—6 packages

    Non-Perishable:

    8. Apple sauce—6 jars 9. Canned corn—6 cans 10. Canned peas—6 cans

    Dairy—the proposed rule would require stocking at least 7 varieties in this category; below are ten examples of what FNS would consider different varieties This is not an exhaustive list of acceptable varieties in this staple food category. Under the proposed rule, the first 8 varieties listed below would likely be considered perishable varieties in this staple food group, provided that they will spoil or suffer significant deterioration in quality within 2 to 3 weeks.

    Perishable:

    1. Fresh cow's milk—6 containers 2. Fresh goat's milk—6 containers 3. Fresh yogurt—6 containers 4. Fresh sour cream—6 packages 5. Fresh cheddar cheese (hard)—6 packages 6. Fresh cream cheese (soft)—6 packages 7. Frozen butter—6 packages 8. Margarine—6 containers

    Non-Perishable:

    9. Infant Formula—6 containers 10. Almond Milk—6 containers

    Breads or Cereals—the proposed rule would require stocking at least 7 varieties in this category; below are ten examples of what FNS would consider different varieties. This is not an exhaustive list of acceptable varieties in this staple food category. Under the proposed rule, the first 5 varieties listed below would likely be considered perishable varieties in this staple food group, provided that they will spoil or suffer significant deterioration in quality within 2 to 3 weeks.

    Perishable:

    1. Bread—any combination (wheat, white, rye)—6 packages 2. Tortillas (flour, corn)—6 packages 3. Bagels (white, wheat, other)—6 items 4. Pitas—6 packages 5. Frozen dinner rolls—6 packages

    Non-Perishable:

    6. Rice—any combination (long-grain, brown)—6 packages 7. Pasta—any combination (spaghetti, lasagna noodles, rice noodles)—6 packages 8. Cereal- any combination (wheat, rice, chex, granola, etc)—6 packages 9. Flour (white, wholegrain, any combination)—6 packages 10. Infant Cereal—6 packages EXAMPLES of Multiple Ingredient Foods That Would be Excluded for Purposes of Retailer Eligibility Decisions Under the Proposed Rule ○ Pizzas (contains dough, cheese, and tomato) ○ Multiple ingredient soups, e.g. minestrone (contains vegetables and pasta) ○ Multiple ingredient canned foods, e.g. ravioli (contains vegetables, cheese, and pasta) ○ Chicken pot pies (contains dough, vegetables, and chicken) ○ Frozen TV dinners, e.g. chicken dinner (contains chicken, potatoes, and vegetables) ○ Sandwiches (contains meat, cheese, bread, and vegetables) ○ Lunch-snack trays (contains meat, cheese, and crackers) EXAMPLES of Multiple Ingredient Foods That Would Continue to Count as Staple Foods (i.e., the Primary Staple Food Category Ingredient is Clearly Represented and Easily Recognized) ○ Mixed vegetables (frozen or canned; contains a variety of vegetables) ○ Boxed breakfast cereals (intended to served heated or cold; contains a variety of grains) III. Comment Period Extension

    Since publication of the proposed rule, several entities, including SNAP retail trade groups, have requested an extension of the comment period in order to allow ample time for all stakeholders to comment on the rulemaking process. The comment period, therefore, is being extended 30 days in order to provide additional time for interested parties to review the proposed rule. To be assured of consideration, comments on the proposed rule must be received by FNS on or before May 18, 2016.

    Dated: March 31, 2016. Audrey Rowe, Administrator, Food and Nutrition Service.
    [FR Doc. 2016-07793 Filed 4-4-16; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3410-30-P
    DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION Federal Aviation Administration 14 CFR Part 31 [Docket No. FAA-2016-5424; Notice No. 31-16-01-SC] Special Conditions: Ultramagic, S.A., Mark-32 Burner Series AGENCY:

    Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), DOT.

    ACTION:

    Notice of proposed special conditions.

    SUMMARY:

    This action proposes special conditions for the Ultramagic, S.A., balloon models F-18, H-56, H-65, H-77, M-56, M-56C, M-65, M-65C, M-77, M-77C, M-90, M-105, M-120, M-130, M-145, M-160, N-180, N-210, N-250, N-300, N-355, N-425, S-70, S-90, S-105, S-130, S-160, T-150, T-180, T-210, V-56, V-65, V-77, V-90, V-105, and Z-90. These models will have a novel or unusual design feature associated with having the new Mark-32 Burner series. The applicable airworthiness regulations do not contain adequate or appropriate safety standards for this design feature. These proposed special conditions contain the additional safety standards that the Administrator considers necessary to establish a level of safety equivalent to that established by the existing airworthiness standards.

    DATES:

    Send your comments on or before May 5, 2016.

    ADDRESSES:

    Send comments identified by docket number FAA-2016-5424 using any of the following methods:

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

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

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

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

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

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

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    John VanHoudt, FAA, Program and Procedures Branch, ACE-114, Small Airplane Directorate, Aircraft Certification Service, 901 Locust; Kansas City, Missouri 64106; telephone (816) 329-4142; facsimile (816) 329-4090.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Comments Invited

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

    We will consider all comments we receive on or before the closing date for comments. We will consider comments filed late if it is possible to do so without incurring expense or delay. We may change these special conditions based on the comments we receive.

    Background

    On September 21, 2014, Ultramagic, S.A. (Ultramagic) applied for a change to Type Certificate No. B02CE to incorporate the new Mark-32 (MK-32) Burner series in balloon models F-18, H-56, H-65, H-77, M-56, M-56C, M-65, M-65C, M-77, M-77C, M-90, M-105, M-120, M-130, M-145, M-160, N-180, N-210, N-250, N-300, N-355, N-425, S-70, S-90, S-105, S-130, S-160, T-150, T-180, T-210, V-56, V-65, V-77, V-90, V-105, and Z-90. The MK-32 Burner series is a derivative of the MK-10 Burner series, which are currently approved under TCDS B02CE.

    The MK-32 burner does introduce a particular novel aspect in terms of operation and performance—the primary modification being an oxygen augmented igniter system.

    Type Certification Basis

    Under the provisions of § 21.101, Ultramagic must show that the balloon models F-18, H-56, H-65, H-77, M-56, M-56C, M-65, M-65C, M-77, M-77C, M-90, M-105, M-120, M-130, M-145, M-160, N-180, N-210, N-250, N-300, N-355, N-425, S-70, S-90, S-105, S-130, S-160, T-150, T-180, T-210, V-56, V-65, V-77, V-90, V-105, and Z-90, as changed, continues to meet the applicable provisions incorporated by reference in Type Certificate No. B02CE or the applicable regulations in effect on the date of application for the change. The regulations incorporated by reference in the type certificate are commonly referred to as the “original type certification basis.” The Direccion General de Aviacion Civil originally type certificated this aircraft under its type certificate Numbers 3, 4, 18, 61, 147, and 247. The FAA validated these products under U.S. Type Certificate Number B02CE. On September 28, 2003, EASA began oversight of this product on behalf of Spain. The regulations incorporated by reference in B02CE are as follows:

    a. 14 CFR 21.29.

    b. 14 CFR part 31, effective on January 1990, as amended by 31-1 through 31-5 inclusive. Application for Type Certificate dated June 5, 1997.

    c. Equivalent level of Safety findings per provision of 14 CFR 21.21(b)(1):

    (1) ACE-08-151 , August 1, 2008, Burners, 14 CFR 31.47(d).

    1http://rgl.faa.gov/Regulatory_and_Guidance_Library/rgELOS.nsf/0/BE4DB369A87F7A7A86257C210072E48A?OpenDocument&Highlight=ace-08-15.

    (2) ACE-08-15A2 , November 05, 2013, Burners, 14 CFR 31.47(d), for Model S-70.

    2http://rgl.faa.gov/Regulatory_and_Guidance_Library/rgELOS.nsf/0/BE4DB369A87F7A7A86257C210072E48A?OpenDocument&Highlight=ace-08-15.

    If the Administrator finds that the applicable airworthiness regulations (i.e., 14 CFR part 31) do not contain adequate or appropriate safety standards for balloon models F-18, H-56, H-65, H-77, M-56, M-56C, M-65, M-65C, M-77, M-77C, M-90, M-105, M-120, M-130, M-145, M-160, N-180, N-210, N-250, N-300, N-355, N-425, S-70, S-90, S-105, S-130, S-160, T-150, T-180, T-210, V-56, V-65, V-77, V-90, V-105, and Z-90 because of a novel or unusual design feature, special conditions are prescribed under the provisions of § 21.16.

    Special conditions are initially applicable to the model for which they are issued. Should the type certificate for that model be amended later to include any other model that incorporates the same or similar novel or unusual design feature, or should any other model already included on the same type certificate be modified to incorporate the same or similar novel or unusual design feature, the special conditions would also apply to the other model under § 21.101.

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

    Novel or Unusual Design Features

    The Model Numbers F-18, H-56, H-65, H-77, M-56, M-56C, M-65, M-65C, M-77, M-77C, M-90, M-105, M-120, M-130, M-145, M-160, N-180, N-210, N-250, N-300, N-355, N-425, S-70, S-90, S-105, S-130, S-160, T-150, T-180, T-210, V-56, V-65, V-77, V-90, V-105, and Z-90 balloons will incorporate the following novel and unusual design feature:

    The oxygen augmentation and hydraulic control.

    Discussion

    Based on the provisions of §§ 21.17 and 21.29 and the U.S.-EASA Technical Implementation Procedures for Airworthiness and Environmental Certification Between the Federal Aviation Administration of the United States of America and the European Aviation Safety Agency of the European Union, the following airworthiness requirements are applicable to this project and will remain active for three years from the date of application and form the Certification Basis:

    a. Part 31, amendment 7 (The certification basis complied with according to the Ultramagic part 31 compliance checklist.).

    b. Equivalent Level of Safety (ELOS) Findings: The FAA notes that it has issued an equivalent level of safety findings per provision of 14 CFR 21.21(b)(1), specifically ACE-08-153 on August 1, 2008, Burners, § 31.47(d) and then extended the ELOS as ACE-08-15A4 on November 05, 2013, Burners, § 31.47(d), for the Model S-70. This ELOS has not been applied to the MK-32 and therefore not applicable.

    3http://rgl.faa.gov/Regulatory_and_Guidance_Library/rgELOS.nsf/0/BE4DB369A87F7A7A86257C210072E48A?OpenDocument&Highlight=ace-08-15.

    4http://rgl.faa.gov/Regulatory_and_Guidance_Library/rgELOS.nsf/0/BE4DB369A87F7A7A86257C210072E48A?OpenDocument&Highlight=ace-08-15.

    3. Special conditions: The FAA notes that Ultramagic elected to comply with certain provisions of CS-23, amendment 3, that apply to oxygen systems. These provisions are applicable because there is an oxygen augmented igniter system available for the MK-32 burner. The below 14 CFR regulations, except § 23.1445, are harmonized with their CS-23, amendment 3, counterpart regulations and form the basis of this special condition.

    § 23.1445, Oxygen distribution system, paragraphs (a) and (b) states the following:

    (a) Except for flexible lines from oxygen outlets to the dispensing units, or where shown to be otherwise suitable to the installation, nonmetallic tubing must not be used for any oxygen line that is normally pressurized during flight.

    (b) Non-metallic oxygen distribution lines must not be routed where they may be subjected to elevated temperatures, electrical arcing, and released flammable fluids that might result from any probable failure.

    § 23.1451, Fire protection for oxygen equipment, paragraphs (a), (b), and (c) states the following:

    Oxygen equipment and lines must—

    (a) Not be in any designated fire zone.

    (b) Be protected from heat that may be generated in, or escaped from, any designated fire zone.

    (c) Be installed so that escaping oxygen cannot cause ignition of grease, fluid, or vapour accumulations that are present in normal operation or that may result from the failure or malfunction of any other system.

    § 23.1453, Protection of oxygen equipment from rupture, paragraphs (a) and (b) states the following:

    (a) Each element of the oxygen system must have sufficient strength to withstand the maximum pressure and temperature in combination with any externally applied loads arising from consideration of limit structural loads that may be acting on that part of the system.

    (b) Oxygen pressure sources and the lines between the source and shutoff means must be:

    (1) Protected from unsafe temperatures; and

    (2) Located where the probability and hazard of rupture in a crash landing are minimized.

    § 23.1445 is the only significant regulatory difference, which states the following:

    Part 23 requires crewmembers be able to reserve a minimum supply for themselves when they share a common source of O2 with passengers.

    As the oxygen system is not utilized for breathing, this Significant Standard Difference (SSD) does not apply.

    In addition, the FAA notes that Ultramagic offers an optional hydraulic kit. This kit is a hydraulic system that actuates the burners' fuel valve. Since part 31 does not have provisions for hydraulic systems, § 23.1435, Hydraulic systems, will provide the basis for the hydraulic system special conditions contained herein. No SSD is associated with this regulation.

    Applicability

    As discussed above, these special conditions are applicable to the Model Numbers F-18, H-56, H-65, H-77, M-56, M-56C, M-65, M-65C, M-77, M-77C, M-90, M-105, M-120, M-130, M-145, M-160, N-180, N-210, N-250, N-300, N-355, N-425, S-70, S-90, S-105, S-130, S-160, T-150, T-180, T-210, V-56, V-65, V-77, V-90, V-105, and Z-90 balloons. Should Ultramagic, S.A. apply at a later date for a change to the type certificate to include another model incorporating the same novel or unusual design feature, the special conditions would apply to that model as well.

    Conclusion

    This action affects only certain novel or unusual design features on one model series of burners. It is not a rule of general applicability.

    List of Subjects in 14 CFR Part 31

    Aircraft, Aviation safety.

    The authority citation for these special conditions is as follows:

    Authority:

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

    The Proposed Special Conditions

    Accordingly, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) proposes the following special conditions as part of the type certification basis for Model Numbers F-18, H-56, H-65, H-77, M-56, M-56C, M-65, M-65C, M-77, M-77C, M-90, M-105, M-120, M-130, M-145, M-160, N-180, N-210, N-250, N-300, N-355, N-425, S-70, S-90, S-105, S-130, S-160, T-150, T-180, T-210, V-56, V-65, V-77, V-90, V-105, and Z-90 balloons.

    1. Certification of the MK-32 Burner Series under 14 CFR part 31.

    (a) In addition to the provisions of part 31, amendment 7, the applicant must design the MK-32 Burner to comply with the requirements, as described below, with respect to the igniter oxygen augmentation system and hydraulic burner valve actuation system:

    Oxygen Distribution System

    (1) Except for flexible lines from oxygen outlets to the dispensing units, or where shown to be otherwise suitable to the installation, nonmetallic tubing must not be used for any oxygen line that is normally pressurized during flight.

    (2) Nonmetallic oxygen distribution lines must not be routed where they may be subjected to elevated temperatures, electrical arcing, and released flammable fluids that might result from any probable failure.

    Fire Protection for Oxygen Equipment

    Oxygen equipment and lines must:

    (1) Not be installed in any designated fire zones.

    (2) Be protected from heat that may be generated in, or escape from, any designated fire zone.

    (3) Be installed so that escaping oxygen cannot come in contact with and cause ignition of grease, fluid, or vapor accumulations that are present in normal operation or that may result from the failure or malfunction of any other system.

    Protection of Oxygen Equipment From Rupture

    (1) Each element of the oxygen system must have sufficient strength to withstand the maximum pressure and temperature, in combination with any externally applied loads arising from consideration of limit structural loads that may be acting on that part of the system.

    (2) Oxygen pressure sources and the lines between the source and the shutoff means must be:

    (i) Protected from unsafe temperatures; and

    (ii) Located where the probability and hazard of rupture in a crash landing are minimized.

    Hydraulic Systems

    (1) Design. Each hydraulic system must be designed as follows:

    (i) Each hydraulic system and its elements must withstand, without yielding, the structural loads expected in addition to hydraulic loads.

    (ii) A means to indicate the pressure in each hydraulic system which supplies two or more primary functions must be provided to the flight crew.

    (iii) There must be means to ensure that the pressure, including transient (surge) pressure, in any part of the system will not exceed the safe limit above design operating pressure and to prevent excessive pressure resulting from fluid volumetric changes in all lines which are likely to remain closed long enough for such changes to occur.

    (iv) The minimum design burst pressure must be 2.5 times the operating pressure.

    (2) Tests. Each system must be substantiated by proof pressure tests. When proof tested, no part of any system may fail, malfunction, or experience a permanent set. The proof load of each system must be at least 1.5 times the maximum operating pressure of that system.

    (3) Accumulators. A hydraulic accumulator or reservoir may be installed on the engine side of any firewall, if—

    (i) It is an integral part of an engine or propeller system; or

    (ii) The reservoir is nonpressurized and the total capacity of all such nonpressurized reservoirs is one quart or less.

    (b) Ultramagic, through EASA, will provide the FAA with all Airworthiness Directives issued against the changed type design, if any, and a plan for resolving the unsafe conditions for the FAA type design.

    Issued in Kansas City, Missouri, on March 28, 2016. Mel Johnson, Acting Manager, Small Airplane Directorate Aircraft Certification Service.
    [FR Doc. 2016-07786 Filed 4-4-16; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4910-13-P
    DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION Federal Aviation Administration 14 CFR Part 39 [Docket No. FAA-2016-5039; Directorate Identifier 2013-NM-148-AD] RIN 2120-AA64 Airworthiness Directives; Airbus Airplanes AGENCY:

    Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), DOT.

    ACTION:

    Notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM).

    SUMMARY:

    We propose to supersede airworthiness directive (AD) 2000-10-18, that applies to certain Airbus Model A300 series airplanes; Model A300 B4-600, B4-600R, F4-600R series airplanes, and Model A300 C4-605R Variant F airplanes (collectively called Model A300-600 series airplanes); and Model A310 series airplanes. AD 2000-10-18 requires repetitive inspections to detect cracks in the lower spar of the engine pylons between ribs 6 and 7, and repair if necessary. Since we issued AD 2000-10-18, we have determined that the compliance times for the initial inspection and the repetitive intervals must be reduced to allow timely detection of cracks in the engine pylon's lower spar between ribs 6 and 7. This proposed AD would reduce the compliance times for the initial inspection and the repetitive intervals. We are proposing this AD to prevent fatigue cracking, which could result in reduced structural integrity of the engine pylon's lower spar, and possible separation of the engine from the airplane.

    DATES:

    We must receive comments on this proposed AD by May 20, 2016.

    ADDRESSES:

    You may send comments by any of the following methods:

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

    Fax: (202) 493-2251.

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

    Hand Delivery: U.S. Department of Transportation, Docket Operations, M-30, West Building Ground Floor, Room W12-140, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays.

    For service information identified in this NPRM, contact Airbus SAS, Airworthiness Office—EAW, 1 Rond Point Maurice Bellonte, 31707 Blagnac Cedex, France; telephone +33 5 61 93 36 96; fax +33 5 61 93 44 51; email [email protected]; Internet http://www.airbus.com. You may view this referenced service information at the FAA, Transport Airplane Directorate, 1601 Lind Avenue SW., Renton, WA. For information on the availability of this material at the FAA, call 425-227-1221.

    Examining the AD Docket

    You may examine the AD docket on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov by searching for and locating Docket No. FAA-2016-5039; or in person at the Docket Management Facility between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays. The AD docket contains this proposed AD, the regulatory evaluation, any comments received, and other information. The street address for the Docket Operations office (telephone 800-647-5527) is in the ADDRESSES section. Comments will be available in the AD docket shortly after receipt.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Dan Rodina, Aerospace Engineer, International Branch, ANM-116, Transport Airplane Directorate, FAA, 1601 Lind Avenue SW., Renton, WA 98057-3356; telephone (425) 227-2125; fax (425) 227-1149.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Comments Invited

    We invite you to send any written relevant data, views, or arguments about this proposed AD. Send your comments to an address listed under the ADDRESSES section. Include “Docket No. FAA-2016-5039; Directorate Identifier 2013-NM-148-AD” at the beginning of your comments. We specifically invite comments on the overall regulatory, economic, environmental, and energy aspects of this proposed AD. We will consider all comments received by the closing date and may amend this proposed AD based on those comments.

    We will post all comments we receive, without change, to http://www.regulations.gov, including any personal information you provide. We will also post a report summarizing each substantive verbal contact we receive about this proposed AD.

    Discussion

    On May 16, 2000, we issued AD 2000-10-18, Amendment 39-11742 (65 FR 34055, May 26, 2000). AD 2000-10-18 requires actions intended to address an unsafe condition on certain Airbus Model A300 series airplanes; Model A300 B4-600, B4-600R, F4-600R series airplanes, and Model A300 C4-605R Variant F airplanes (collectively called Model A300-600 series airplanes); and Model A310 series airplanes.

    Since we issued AD 2000-10-18, Amendment 39-11742 (65 FR 34055, May 26, 2000), we have determined that the compliance times for the initial inspection and the repetitive intervals must be reduced to allow timely detection of cracks in the engine pylon's lower spar between ribs 6 and 7.

    The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), which is the Technical Agent for the Member States of the European Community, has issued EASA Airworthiness Directive 2013-0167, dated July 26, 2013 (referred to after this as the Mandatory Continuing Airworthiness Information, or “the MCAI”), to correct an unsafe condition. The MCAI states:

    Cracks were found between ribs 6 and 7 in the lower spar of engine pylons on A310, A300 and A300-600 aeroplanes. To prevent crack initiation, a first inspection programme of this area was rendered mandatory by DGAC [Direction Générale de l'Aviation Civile] France AD 93-228-154 (later revised, currently at Revision 3) [http://ad.easa.europa.eu/blob/19932283tb__Superseded.pdf/AD_F-1993-228-154R3_1] [which corresponds to certain actions in in FAA AD 2000-10-18, Amendment 39-11742 (65 FR 34055)] for A300 and A300-600 aeroplanes.

    At a later date and due to new findings, a specific inspection programme for A310 aeroplanes was rendered mandatory by DGAC France AD 1999-239-287(B) [which corresponds to certain other actions in FAA AD 2000-10-18, Amendment 39-11742 (65 FR 34055, May 26, 2000)]. That [French] AD was later superseded by EASA AD 2008-0001 [http://ad.easa.europa.eu/blob/easa_ad_2008_0001_Superseded.pdf/AD_2008-0001_1], which introduced new thresholds and intervals in the frame of the A310 extended service goal (ESG) exercise.

    Since DGAC France AD 1993-228-154(B)R3 and EASA AD 2008-0001 were issued, a fleet survey and updated Fatigue and Damage Tolerance analyses have been performed in order to substantiate the second ESG for A300-600, called ESG2 exercise. The results of these analyses have shown that the inspection threshold and interval must be reduced to allow timely detection of cracks in the engine pylon lower spar between ribs 6 and 7.

    For the reasons described above, this new [EASA] AD retains the requirements of DGAC France AD 1993-228-154(B)R3 and EASA AD 2008-0001, which are superseded, and requires accomplishment of the [eddy current or liquid penetrant] inspections [for cracking] and, depending on findings, [related investigative and] corrective actions [repairs], within the new thresholds and intervals specified in Airbus Service Bulletin (SB) A300-54-0073 Revision 03 [dated October 11, 2012] or SB A310-54-2017 Revision 06 [dated October 3, 2012] or SB A300-54-6014 Revision 07 [dated September 5, 2012].

    Related investigative actions include eddy current or liquid penetrant inspections for cracking of areas with removed protection. The unsafe condition is cracking in the lower spar of the engine pylons between ribs 6 and 7, which could result in reduced structural integrity of the engine pylon's lower spar, and possible separation of the engine from the airplane. You may examine the MCAI in the AD docket on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov by searching for and locating it in Docket No. FAA-2016-5039.

    The compliance times for the inspections vary, depending on airplane configuration and utilization as follows.

    For Model A300-600 series airplanes:

    • The compliance time for the initial inspection is before the accumulation of 10,900 total flight cycles.

    • The compliance times for the repetitive inspection interval are 5,700 flight cycles for pre-doubler modified airplanes; and for post-doubler modified airplanes, the compliance times range from 7,200 flight cycles or 8,200 flight hours, to 8,400 flight cycles or 16,000 flight hours.

    • The compliance times for the initial inspection following crack repair range from 5,200 flight cycles or 5,900 flight hours, to 6,600 flight cycles or 13,400 flight hours; and the compliance times for the post-repair repetitive inspection range from 2,200 flight cycles or 2,500 flight hours, to 3,400 flight cycles or 6,900 flight hours.

    For Model A300 series airplanes:

    • The compliance times for the initial inspection range from before the accumulation of 4,400 total flight cycles to 9,400 total flight cycles.

    • The compliance times for the repetitive inspection interval range from 4,400 flight cycles to 6,100 flight cycles.

    • The initial inspection compliance times for post-doubler modified airplanes range from 12,700 flight cycles or 25,700 flight hours, to 20,700 flight cycles or 30,900 flight hours after the modification; the post-doubler repetitive inspection interval ranges from 7,800 flight cycles or 16,600 flight hours, to 12,200 flight cycles or 18,200 flight hours.

    • The compliance times for the initial post-repair inspection range from 6,500 flight cycles or 13,900 flight hours, to 10,200 flight cycles or 15,200 flight hours; and the post-repair repetitive inspection interval ranges from 4,700 flight cycles or 10,000 flight hours, to 11,000 flight cycles or 23,300 flight hours.

    For Model A310 series airplanes:

    • The compliance times for the initial inspection range from before the accumulation of 3,000 total flight cycles or 14,900 total flight hours, to 6,400 total flight cycles or 12,800 total flight cycles.

    • The compliance times for the repetitive inspection interval range from 4,600 flight cycles or 23,800 flight hours, to 6,200 flight cycles or 12,400 flight hours.

    • The initial inspection compliance times for post-doubler modified airplanes range from 7,500 flight cycles or 37,200 flight hours, to 11,000 flight cycles or 22,000 flight hours after the modification; the post-doubler repetitive inspection interval ranges from 5,900 flight cycles or 29,500 flight hours, to 6,500 flight cycles or 13,000 flight hours.

    • The compliance times for the initial post-repair inspection range from 4,500 flight cycles or 23,700 flight hours, to 5,400 flight cycles or 10,800 flight hours; and the post-repair repetitive inspection interval ranges from 2,500 flight cycles or 12,200 flight hours, to 2,800 flight cycles or 5,600 flight hours.

    Related Service Information Under 1 CFR part 51

    Airbus has issued the following service bulletins.

    • Airbus Service Bulletin A300-54-0073, Revision 03, dated October 11, 2012 (for Model A300 series airplanes).

    • Airbus Service Bulletin A300-54-6014, Revision 07, dated September 5, 2012 (for Model A300-600 series airplanes).

    • Airbus Service Bulletin A310-54-2017, Revision 06, dated October 3, 2012 (for Model A310 series airplanes).

    This service information describes procedures for inspecting for cracking of the engine pylon's lower spar between ribs 6 and 7 and related investigative actions. This service information is reasonably available because the interested parties have access to it through their normal course of business or by the means identified in the ADDRESSES section.

    FAA's Determination and Requirements of This Proposed AD

    This product has been approved by the aviation authority of another country, and is approved for operation in the United States. Pursuant to our bilateral agreement with the State of Design Authority, we have been notified of the unsafe condition described in the MCAI and service information referenced above. We are proposing this AD because we evaluated all pertinent information and determined an unsafe condition exists and is likely to exist or develop on other products of the same type design.

    Differences Between This Proposed AD and the MCAI or Service Information

    Unlike the procedures described in the following service information, this proposed AD would not permit further flight if cracks are detected in the lower spar of the engine pylons between ribs 6 and 7. We have determined that, because of the safety implications and consequences associated with that cracking, any cracked lower spar of the engine pylons between ribs 6 and 7 must be repaired or modified before further flight. This difference has been coordinated with the EASA.

    • Airbus Service Bulletin A300-54-0073, Revision 03, dated October 11, 2012 (for Model A300 series airplanes).

    • Airbus Service Bulletin A300-54-6014, Revision 07, dated September 5, 2012 (for Model A300-600 series airplanes).

    • Airbus Service Bulletin A310-54-2017, Revision 06, dated October 3, 2012 (for Model A310 series airplanes).

    Where the “Grace periods” specified in paragraph 1.E., “Compliance,” of the service information identified previously contain ambiguous language, i.e., “for aircraft that have already exceeded or are close to exceed the threshold or scheduled interval,” this proposed AD does not include that language. We have clarified this exception to the service information in paragraph (i)(2) of this proposed AD.

    Costs of Compliance

    We estimate that this proposed AD affects 156 airplanes of U.S. registry.

    We also estimate that it would take about 6 work-hours per product to comply with the basic requirements of this proposed AD. The average labor rate is $85 per work hour. Based on these figures, we estimate the cost of this proposed AD on U.S. operators to be $79,560, or $510 per product.

    We have received no definitive data that would enable us to provide cost estimates for the on-condition actions specified in this proposed AD. We have no way of determining the number of aircraft that might need these actions.

    Authority for This Rulemaking

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

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

    Regulatory Findings

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

    For the reasons discussed above, I certify this proposed regulation:

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

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

    3. Will not affect intrastate aviation in Alaska; and

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

    List of Subjects in 14 CFR Part 39

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

    The Proposed Amendment

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

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

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

    § 39.13 [Amended]
    2. The FAA amends § 39.13 by removing Airworthiness Directive (AD) 2000-10-18, Amendment 39-11742 (65 FR 34055, May 26, 2000), and adding the following new AD: Airbus: Docket No. FAA-2016-5039; Directorate Identifier 2013-NM-148-AD. (a) Comments Due Date

    We must receive comments by May 20, 2016.

    (b) Affected ADs

    This AD replaces AD 2000-10-18, Amendment 39-11742 (65 FR 34055, May 26, 2000).

    (c) Applicability

    This AD applies to the Airbus airplanes identified in paragraphs (c)(1) through (c)(6) of this AD, certificated in any category, except airplanes on which Airbus Modification 10149 has been incorporated in production.

    (1) Airbus Model A300 B2-1A, B2-1C, B2K-3C, B2-203, B4-2C, B4-103, and B4-203 airplanes.

    (2) Airbus Model A300 B4-601, B4-603, B4-620, and B4-622 airplanes.

    (3) Airbus Model A300 B4-605R and B4-622R airplanes.

    (4) Airbus Model A300 F4-605R and F4-622R airplanes.

    (5) Airbus Model A300 C4-605R Variant F airplanes.

    (6) Airbus Model A310-203, -204, -221, -222, -304, -322, -324, and -325 airplanes.

    (d) Subject

    Air Transport Association (ATA) of America Code 54, Nacelles/pylons.

    (e) Reason

    This AD was prompted by a determination that the inspection compliance time and repetitive interval must be reduced to allow timely detection of cracks in the engine pylon's lower spar between ribs 6 and 7. We are issuing this AD to prevent fatigue cracking, which could result in reduced structural integrity of the engine pylon's lower spar, and possible separation of the engine from the airplane.

    (f) Compliance

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

    (g) Inspections and Corrective Actions

    Except as provided by paragraphs (i)(1) and (i)(2) of this AD, at the applicable time specified in paragraph 1.E., “Compliance,” of the applicable Airbus service bulletin specified in paragraphs (g)(1), (g)(2), and (g)(3) of this AD: Do an eddy current or liquid penetrant inspection for cracking of the engine pylon's lower spar between ribs 6 and 7; and do all applicable related investigative and corrective actions; in accordance with the Accomplishment Instructions of the applicable Airbus service bulletin specified in paragraphs (g)(1), (g)(2), and (g)(3) of this AD, except as required by paragraph (i)(3) of this AD. Do all applicable related investigative and corrective actions before further flight. Repeat the inspection of the engine pylon's lower spar between ribs 6 and 7 thereafter at the applicable time and intervals specified in paragraph 1.E., “Compliance,” of the applicable Airbus service bulletin specified in paragraphs (g)(1), (g)(2), and (g)(3) of this AD until a repair or modification specified in the Accomplishment Instructions of the applicable Airbus service bulletin identified in paragraphs (g)(1), (g)(2), and (g)(3) of this AD is done.

    Note 1 to paragraph (g) of this AD:

    An additional source of guidance for accomplishing the modification specified in Airbus Service Bulletin A300-54-0073, Revision 03, dated October 11, 2012, can be found in Airbus Service Bulletin A300-54-0080, Revision 02, dated July 9, 2002.

    Note 2 to paragraph (g) of this AD:

    An additional source of guidance for accomplishing the modification specified in Airbus Service Bulletin A300-54-6014, Revision 07, dated September 5, 2012, can be found in Airbus Service Bulletin A300-54-6020, Revision 02, dated July 9, 2002.

    Note 3 to paragraph (g) of this AD:

    An additional source of guidance for accomplishing the modification specified in Airbus Service Bulletin A310-54-2017, Revision 06, dated October 3, 2012, can be found in Airbus Service Bulletin A310-54-2023, Revision 03, dated July 9, 2002.

    (1) Airbus Service Bulletin A300-54-0073, Revision 03, dated October 11, 2012 (for Model A300 series airplanes).

    (2) Airbus Service Bulletin A300-54-6014, Revision 07, dated September 5, 2012 (for Model A300-600 series airplanes).

    (3) Airbus Service Bulletin A310-54-2017, Revision 06, dated October 3, 2012 (for Model A310 series airplanes).

    (h) Post-Repair/Modification and Corrective Actions

    For airplanes on which any repair or modification specified in the Accomplishment Instructions of the applicable Airbus service bulletin identified in paragraphs (g)(1), (g)(2), and (g)(3) of this AD is done: Except as provided by paragraphs (i)(1) and (i)(2) of this AD, at the applicable time specified in paragraph 1.E., “Compliance,” of the applicable Airbus service bulletin specified in paragraphs (g)(1), (g)(2), and (g)(3) of this AD: Do an eddy current or liquid penetrant inspection for cracking of the engine pylon's lower spar between ribs 6 and 7; and do all applicable related investigative and corrective actions; in accordance with the Accomplishment Instructions of the applicable Airbus service bulletin specified in paragraphs (g)(1), (g)(2), and (g)(3) of this AD, except as required by paragraph (i)(3) of this AD. Do all applicable related investigative and corrective actions before further flight. Repeat the inspection of the engine pylon's lower spar between ribs 6 and 7 thereafter at the applicable time and intervals specified in paragraph 1.E., “Compliance,” of the applicable Airbus service bulletin specified in paragraphs (g)(1), (g)(2), and (g)(3) of this AD.

    (i) Exceptions to Service Information

    (1) Where a “Threshold” is specified in paragraph 1.E., “Compliance,” of the service information specified in paragraphs (g)(1), (g)(2), and (g)(3) of this AD, the “FC” and “FH” compliance times are total flight cycle and total flight hour compliance times, except that if a repair or service bulletin identified in paragraph 1.E., “Compliance,” of the service bulletins specified in paragraphs (g)(1), (g)(2), and (g)(3) of this AD has been done, the “FC” and “FH” compliance times are flight cycle and flight hour compliance times since the identified repair or service bulletin was done.

    (2) Except as provided by paragraphs (i)(2)(i) and (i)(2)(ii) of this AD: For the “Grace period” specified in paragraph 1.E., “Compliance,” of the service information specified in paragraphs (g)(1), (g)(2), and (g)(3) of this AD, operators must comply with the actions specified in paragraphs (g) and (h) of this AD, as applicable, at the later of the applicable times in the “Threshold” and “Grace Period” specified in paragraph 1.E., “Compliance,” of the service information, except the language “for aircraft that have already exceeded or are close to exceed the threshold or scheduled interval” does not apply.

    (i) Where Airbus Service Bulletin A300-54-0073, Revision 03, dated October 11, 2012; and Airbus Service Bulletin A310-54-2017, Revision 06, dated October 3, 2012; specify a compliance time “. . . after receipt of this Inspection Service Bulletin without exceeding the requirements of previous issue of this ISB,” this AD requires compliance within the specified compliance time after the effective date of this AD.

    (ii) Where Airbus Service Bulletin A300-54-6014, Revision 07, dated September 5, 2012, specifies a compliance time “. . . after receipt of this Inspection Service Bulletin without exceeding the requirements of previous issue of this SB,” this AD requires compliance within the specified compliance time after the effective date of this AD.

    (3) If any crack is found during any inspection required by this AD and an Airbus service bulletin specified in paragraph (g)(1), (g)(2), or (g)(3) of this AD specifies to contact Airbus: Before further flight, repair the crack using a method approved by the Manager, International Branch, ANM-116, Transport Airplane Directorate, FAA; or the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA); or Airbus's EASA Design Organization Approval (DOA).

    (j) Credit for Previous Actions

    This paragraph provides credit for actions required by paragraphs (g) and (h) of this AD, if those actions were performed before the effective date of this AD using an applicable service bulletin specified in paragraphs (j)(1) through (j)(10) of this AD.

    (1) Airbus Service Bulletin A300-54-0073, Revision 1, dated March 28, 1994 (for Model A300 series airplanes), which is incorporated by reference in AD 96-11-05, Amendment 39-9630 (61 FR 26091, May 24, 1996).

    (2) Airbus Service Bulletin A300-54-0073, Revision 02, dated July 9, 2002 (for Model A300 series airplanes), which is not incorporated by reference in this AD.

    (3) Airbus Service Bulletin A300-54-6014, Revision 1, dated March 28, 1994 (for Model A300-600 series airplanes), which is incorporated by reference in AD 96-11-05, Amendment 39-9630 (61 FR 26091, May 24, 1996).

    (4) Airbus Service Bulletin A300-54-6014, Revision 03, dated June 4, 1998 (for Model A300-600 series airplanes), which is not incorporated by reference in this AD.

    (5) Airbus Service Bulletin A300-54-6014, Revision 04, dated March 9, 2002 (for Model A300-600 series airplanes), which is not incorporated by reference in this AD.

    (6) Airbus Service Bulletin A300-54-6014, Revision 05, dated September 1, 2011 (for Model A300-600 series airplanes), which is not incorporated by reference in this AD.

    (7) Airbus Service Bulletin A300-54-6014, Revision 06, dated May 24, 2012 (for Model A300-600 series airplanes), which is not incorporated by reference in this AD.

    (8) Airbus Service Bulletin A310-54-2017, Revision 03, dated June 11, 1999 (for Model A310 series airplanes), which is incorporated by reference in AD 2000-10-18, Amendment 39-11742 (65 FR 34055, May 26, 2000).

    (9) Airbus Service Bulletin A310-54-2017, Revision 04, dated July 9, 2002 (for Model A310 series airplanes), which is not incorporated by reference in this AD.

    (10) Airbus Service Bulletin A310-54-2017, Revision 05, dated November 16, 2007 (for Model A310 series airplanes), which is not incorporated by reference in this AD.

    (k) Other FAA AD Provisions

    The following provisions also apply to this AD:

    (1) Alternative Methods of Compliance (AMOCs): The Manager, International Branch, ANM-116, Transport Airplane Directorate, FAA, has the authority to approve AMOCs for this AD, if requested using the procedures found in 14 CFR 39.19. In accordance with 14 CFR 39.19, send your request to your principal inspector or local Flight Standards District Office, as appropriate. If sending information directly to the International Branch, send it to ATTN: Dan Rodina, Aerospace Engineer, International Branch, ANM-116, Transport Airplane Directorate, FAA, 1601 Lind Avenue SW., Renton, WA 98057-3356; telephone (425) 227-2125; fax (425) 227-1149. Information may be emailed to: [email protected] Before using any approved AMOC, notify your appropriate principal inspector, or lacking a principal inspector, the manager of the local flight standards district office/certificate holding district office. The AMOC approval letter must specifically reference this AD.

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

    (l) Related Information

    (1) Refer to Mandatory Continuing Airworthiness Information (MCAI) EASA Airworthiness Directive 2013-0167, dated July 26, 2013, for related information. This MCAI may be found in the AD docket on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov by searching for and locating it in Docket No. FAA-2016-5039.

    (2) For service information identified in this AD, contact Airbus SAS, Airworthiness Office—EAW, 1 Rond Point Maurice Bellonte, 31707 Blagnac Cedex, France; telephone +33 5 61 93 36 96; fax +33 5 61 93 44 51; email [email protected]; Internet http://www.airbus.com. You may view this service information at the FAA, Transport Airplane Directorate, 1601 Lind Avenue SW., Renton, WA. For information on the availability of this material at the FAA, call 425-227-1221.

    Issued in Renton, Washington, on March 24, 2016. Michael Kaszycki, Acting Manager, Transport Airplane Directorate, Aircraft Certification Service.
    [FR Doc. 2016-07569 Filed 4-4-16; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4910-13-P
    DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION Federal Aviation Administration 14 CFR Part 39 [Docket No. FAA-2016-5040; Directorate Identifier 2013-NM-192-AD] RIN 2120-AA64 Airworthiness Directives; Airbus Airplanes AGENCY:

    Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), DOT.

    ACTION:

    Notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM).

    SUMMARY:

    We propose to adopt a new airworthiness directive (AD) for certain Airbus Model A300 series airplanes; and Model A300 B4-600, B4-600R, and F4-600R series airplanes, and Model A300 C4-605R Variant F airplanes (collectively called Model A300-600 series airplanes). This proposed AD was prompted by the determination that certain existing inspection thresholds and intervals must be reduced. This proposed AD would require repetitive detailed inspections for corrosion, and related investigative and corrective actions if necessary. We are proposing this AD to detect and correct corrosion and cracking on the lower wing root joint, which could reduce the structural integrity of the airframe.

    DATES:

    We must receive comments on this proposed AD by May 20, 2016.

    ADDRESSES:

    You may send comments, using the procedures found in 14 CFR 11.43 and 11.45, by any of the following methods:

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

    Fax: 202-493-2251.

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

    Hand Delivery: Deliver to Mail address above between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays.

    For service information identified in this NPRM, contact Airbus SAS, Airworthiness Office—EAW, 1 Rond Point Maurice Bellonte, 31707 Blagnac Cedex, France; telephone +33 5 61 93 36 96; fax +33 5 61 93 44 51; email [email protected]; Internet http://www.airbus.com. You may view this referenced service information at the FAA, Transport Airplane Directorate, 1601 Lind Avenue SW., Renton, WA. For information on the availability of this material at the FAA, call 425-227-1221.

    Examining the AD Docket

    You may examine the AD docket on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov by searching for and locating Docket No. FAA-2016-5040; or in person at the Docket Management Facility between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays. The AD docket contains this proposed AD, the regulatory evaluation, any comments received, and other information. The street address for the Docket Operations office (telephone 800-647-5527) is in the ADDRESSES section. Comments will be available in the AD docket shortly after receipt.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Dan Rodina, Aerospace Engineer, International Branch, ANM-116, Transport Airplane Directorate, FAA, 1601 Lind Avenue SW., Renton, WA 98057-3356; telephone (425) 227-2125; fax (425) 227-1149.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Comments Invited

    We invite you to send any written relevant data, views, or arguments about this proposed AD. Send your comments to an address listed under the ADDRESSES section. Include “Docket No. FAA-2016-5040; Directorate Identifier 2013-NM-192-AD” at the beginning of your comments. We specifically invite comments on the overall regulatory, economic, environmental, and energy aspects of this proposed AD. We will consider all comments received by the closing date and may amend this proposed AD based on those comments.

    We will post all comments we receive, without change, to http://www.regulations.gov, including any personal information you provide. We will also post a report summarizing each substantive verbal contact we receive about this proposed AD.

    Discussion

    The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), which is the Technical Agent for the Member States of the European Union, has issued EASA Airworthiness Directive 2013-0230, dated September 24, 2013 (referred to after this as the Mandatory Continuing Airworthiness Information, or “the MCAI”), to correct an unsafe condition for certain Airbus Model A300 and A300-600 series airplanes. The MCAI states:

    Several cases of corrosion on the lower wing root joint, located in the wing bottom skin inboard and outboard of the external lower surface splice, have been reported by operators.

    This condition, if not detected and corrected, could affect the structural integrity of the airframe.

    Prompted by these findings, [Directorate General for Civil Aviation] (DGAC) France issued AD 1997-006-210 [which corresponds to FAA AD 98-21-34, Amendment 39-10842 (63 FR 55524, October 16, 1998)] to require repetitive inspections to detect the presence of corrosion and prevent crack propagation at the wing bottom skin, inboard and outboard of the Rib 1 external lower surface splice, between Frame (FR) 40 and FR47.

    DGAC France * * * issued [an AD] to expand the choice of applicable Service Bulletins (SB). [The] DGAC France AD * * * was issued to allow A300-600 operators to use Revision 04 of Airbus SB A300-57-6047, converting flight cycles/“Fatigue rating” into flight cycles (FC)/flight hours (FH).

    Subsequently, Airbus modification 10599 was developed to improve the corrosion behaviour of the area. This improvement allowed refining the inspection programme of the A300-600 aeroplane. For post-modification 10599 A300-600 aeroplanes, the application of the Maintenance Review Board Report (MRBR) inspection tasks was deemed sufficient for maintaining an adequate level of safety on these aeroplanes.

    Consequently, EASA issued AD 2008-0208 [http://ad.easa.europa.eu/blob/easa_ad_2008_0208_R2.pdf/AD_2008-0208R2_1] (later revised), retaining the requirements of [a] DGAC France AD * * *, which was superseded, to require the use of Airbus SB A300-57-6047 Revision 05 for the inspections and to exclude post-modification 10599 A300-600 aeroplanes from the Applicability.

    Since EASA AD 2008-0208R1 was issued, a fleet survey and updated Fatigue and Damage Tolerance analyses have been performed in order to substantiate the second A300-600 Extended Service Goal (ESG2) exercise. The results of these analyses determined that the threshold and interval must be reduced to allow timely detection of these cracks and the accomplishment of an applicable corrective action.

    For the reasons described above, this [EASA] AD takes over and retains the requirements for A300 and A300-600 aeroplanes from EASA AD 2008-0208R1 (which has been revised, remaining applicable only to A310 aeroplanes) and requires accomplishment of the inspections within the new thresholds and intervals.

    Required actions include repetitive detailed inspections for corrosion of the rib 1 external lower surface splice between FR40 and FR47, and repetitive fatigue inspections for cracking of the fasteners and on the surface of the forward and aft lower surface panels if necessary, and corrective actions (including application of new protective coating, removal of corrosion, and measurement of the reworked depth) if necessary. You may examine the MCAI in the AD docket on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov by searching for and locating Docket No. FAA-2016-5040.

    Related Rulemaking

    AD 98-21-34, Amendment 39-10842 (63 FR 55524, October 16, 1998) (“AD 98-21-34”), applies to all Model A300, A300-600, and A310 series airplanes. This NPRM proposes to apply to only certain Model A300 and A300-600 series airplanes. The actions in this proposed AD are the same as those required by AD 98-21-34, but with certain revised compliance times. Accomplishment of the initial inspection specified in this proposed AD would terminate the repetitive inspection requirements of AD 98-21-34 for the affected airplanes. Certain modified Model A300-600 series airplanes would not be subject to the inspection requirements of this AD, and would no longer be subject to the repetitive inspection requirements of AD 98-21-34.

    Related Service Information Under 1 CFR Part 51

    We reviewed Service Bulletin A300-57-0204, Revision 01, dated April 2, 1999; and Airbus Service Bulletin A300-57-6047, Revision 06, dated October 17, 2011. This service information describes procedures for repetitive detailed inspections for corrosion of the rib 1 external lower surface splice between FR40 and FR47, repetitive fatigue inspections for cracking of the fasteners and on the surface of the forward and aft lower surface panels if necessary, and corrective actions (including application of new protective coating, removal of corrosion, and measurement of the reworked depth) if necessary. This service information is reasonably available because the interested parties have access to it through their normal course of business or by the means identified in the ADDRESSES section.

    FAA's Determination and Requirements of This Proposed AD

    This product has been approved by the aviation authority of another country, and is approved for operation in the United States. Pursuant to our bilateral agreement with the State of Design Authority, we have been notified of the unsafe condition described in the MCAI and service information referenced above. We are proposing this AD because we evaluated all pertinent information and determined an unsafe condition exists and is likely to exist or develop on other products of these same type designs.

    Costs of Compliance

    We estimate that this proposed AD affects 29 airplanes of U.S. registry. We also estimate that it would take about 8 work-hours per product to comply with the basic requirements of this proposed AD. The average labor rate is $85 per work-hour. Based on these figures, we estimate the cost of this proposed AD on U.S. operators to be $19,270, or $680 per product.

    In addition, we estimate that any necessary follow-on actions would take about 8 work-hours, for a cost of $680 per product. We have no way of determining the number of aircraft that might need these actions.

    Authority for This Rulemaking

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

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

    Regulatory Findings

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

    For the reasons discussed above, I certify this proposed regulation:

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

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

    3. Will not affect intrastate aviation in Alaska; and

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

    List of Subjects in 14 CFR Part 39

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

    The Proposed Amendment

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

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

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

    § 39.13 [Amended]
    2. The FAA amends § 39.13 by adding the following new airworthiness directive (AD): Airbus: Docket No. FAA-2016-5040; Directorate Identifier 2013-NM-192-AD. (a) Comments Due Date

    We must receive comments by May 20, 2016.

    (b) Affected ADs

    This AD affects AD 98-21-34, Amendment 39-10842 (63 FR 55524, October 16, 1998) (“AD 98-21-34”).

    (c) Applicability

    This AD applies to all Airbus airplanes, certificated in any category, identified in paragraphs (c)(1) and (c)(2) of this AD.

    (1) Model A300 B2-1A, B2-1C, B2K-3C, B2-203, B4-2C, B4-103, and B4-203 airplanes.

    (2) Model A300 B4-601, B4-603, B4-620, B4-622, B4-605R, B4-622R, F4-605R, F4-622R, and C4-605R Variant F airplanes.

    (d) Subject

    Air Transport Association (ATA) of America Code 57, Wings.

    (e) Reason

    This AD was prompted by the determination that certain existing inspection thresholds and intervals must be reduced. We are issuing this AD to detect and correct corrosion and cracking on the lower wing root joint, which could reduce the structural integrity of the airframe.

    (f) Compliance

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

    (g) Airplanes Excluded From Requirements of This AD and AD 98-21-34

    For airplanes identified in paragraph (c)(2) of this AD on which Airbus modification 10599 has been incorporated:

    (1) No action is required by this AD; and

    (2) As of the effective date of this AD, the actions specified in AD 98-21-34 are no longer required.

    (h) Inspection and Corrective Actions

    Within 60 months since the airplane's first flight, or within 60 months since accomplishment of the last inspection specified in Airbus Service Bulletin A300-57-0204 or A300-57-6047, whichever occurs later: Do a detailed inspection for corrosion of the rib 1 external lower surface splice between frame (FR)40 and FR47, in accordance with the Accomplishment Instructions of Airbus Service Bulletin A300-57-0204, Revision 01, dated April 2, 1999; or Airbus Service Bulletin A300-57-6047, Revision 06, dated October 17, 2011; as applicable. Repeat the inspection thereafter at intervals not to exceed 60 months. Accomplishment of the initial inspection required by this paragraph terminates the requirements of AD 98-21-34 for Model A300 and A300-600 series airplanes.

    (i) Corrective Actions for Corrosion

    If any corrosion is found during any inspection required by paragraph (h) of this AD, do the actions specified in paragraph (i)(1) and (i)(2) of this AD.

    (1) Before further flight, do all applicable corrective actions in accordance with the Accomplishment Instructions of Airbus Service Bulletin A300-57-0204, Revision 01, dated April 2, 1999; or Airbus Service Bulletin A300-57-6047, Revision 06, dated October 17, 2011; as applicable; except as required by paragraph (j)(1) of this AD.

    (2) At the applicable time specified in paragraph (i)(2)(i) or (i)(2)(ii) of this AD, except as required by paragraph (j)(2) of this AD: Do fatigue inspections to detect cracks of the fasteners and on the surface of the forward and aft lower surface panels, in accordance with the Accomplishment Instructions of Airbus Service Bulletin A300-57-0204, Revision 01, dated April 2, 1999; or Airbus Service Bulletin A300-57-6047, Revision 06, dated October 17, 2011; as applicable. Repeat the fatigue inspections thereafter at the applicable interval specified in paragraph B.(5) of Airbus Service Bulletin A300-57-0204, Revision 01, dated April 2, 1999; or Figure A-FBGAA, Sheet 01, of Airbus Service Bulletin A300-57-6047, Revision 06, dated October 17, 2011; as applicable; except as required by paragraph (j)(2) of this AD. If any cracking is found during any fatigue inspection required by this paragraph: Before further flight, repair using a method approved by the Manager, International Branch, ANM-116, Transport Airplane Directorate, FAA; or the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA); or Airbus's EASA Design Organization Approval (DOA).

    (i) For Model A300 series airplanes: Do the initial inspection at the applicable time specified in paragraph B.(5) of Airbus Service Bulletin A300-57-0204, Revision 01, dated April 2, 1999.

    (ii) For Model A300-600 series airplanes: Do the initial inspection at the later of the times specified in paragraphs (i)(2)(ii)(A) and (i)(2)(ii)(B) of this AD.

    (A) At the applicable time specified in Figure A-FBGAA, Sheet 01, of Airbus Service Bulletin A300-57-6047, Revision 06, dated October 17, 2011.

    (B) Within 500 flight cycles or 1,050 flight hours after the effective date of this AD, whichever occurs first, without exceeding the time specified in paragraph (i)(2)(ii)(A) of this AD.

    (j) Exceptions to Service Bulletin Specifications

    (1) Where Airbus Service Bulletin A300-57-0204, Revision 01, dated April 2, 1999; or Airbus Service Bulletin A300-57-6047, Revision 06, dated October 17, 2011; specifies to contact Airbus for appropriate corrective action, this AD requires repair before further flight using a method approved by the Manager, International Branch, ANM-116, Transport Airplane Directorate, FAA; or EASA; or Airbus's EASA DOA.

    (2) Where Airbus Service Bulletin A300-57-6047, Revision 06, dated October 17, 2011, specifies to contact Airbus for the appropriate threshold or repetitive interval, this AD requires that the compliance time be determined using a method approved by the Manager, International Branch, ANM-116, Transport Airplane Directorate, FAA; or EASA; or Airbus's EASA DOA.

    (k) Calculating Average Flight Time (AFT)

    The accumulated flight hours (counted from the takeoff up to the landing) divided by the number of accumulated flight cycles is the AFT per flight cycle.

    (l) Credit for Previous Actions

    This paragraph provides credit for the inspections and corrective actions required by paragraphs (h) and (i) of this AD, if those actions were performed before the effective date of this AD using the applicable service information specified in paragraphs (l)(1) through (l)(3) of this AD.

    (1) Airbus Service Bulletin A300-57-6047, Revision 02, dated April 2, 1999, which is not incorporated by reference in this AD.

    (2) Airbus Service Bulletin A300-57-6047, Revision 03, dated September 28, 1999, which is not incorporated by reference in this AD.

    (3) Airbus Service Bulletin A300-57-6047, Revision 05, dated May 27, 2008, which is not incorporated by reference in this AD.

    (m) Other FAA AD Provisions

    The following provisions also apply to this AD:

    (1) Alternative Methods of Compliance (AMOCs): The Manager, International Branch, ANM-116, Transport Airplane Directorate, FAA, has the authority to approve AMOCs for this AD, if requested using the procedures found in 14 CFR 39.19. In accordance with 14 CFR 39.19, send your request to your principal inspector or local Flight Standards District Office, as appropriate. If sending information directly to the International Branch, send it to ATTN: Dan Rodina, Aerospace Engineer, International Branch, ANM-116, Transport Airplane Directorate, FAA, 1601 Lind Avenue SW., Renton, WA 98057-3356; telephone (425) 227-2125; fax (425) 227-1149. Information may be emailed to: [email protected] Before using any approved AMOC, notify your appropriate principal inspector, or lacking a principal inspector, the manager of the local flight standards district office/certificate holding district office. The AMOC approval letter must specifically reference this AD.

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

    (n) Related Information

    (1) Refer to Mandatory Continuing Airworthiness Information (MCAI) EASA Airworthiness Directive 2013-0230, dated September 24, 2013, for related information. This MCAI may be found in the AD docket on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov by searching for and locating Docket No. FAA-2016-5040.

    (2) For service information identified in this AD, contact Airbus SAS, Airworthiness Office—EAW, 1 Rond Point Maurice Bellonte, 31707 Blagnac Cedex, France; telephone +33 5 61 93 36 96; fax +33 5 61 93 44 51; email [email protected]; Internet http://www.airbus.com. You may view this service information at the FAA, Transport Airplane Directorate, 1601 Lind Avenue SW., Renton, WA. For information on the availability of this material at the FAA, call 425-227-1221.

    Issued in Renton, Washington, on March 24, 2016. Michael Kaszycki, Acting Manager, Transport Airplane Directorate, Aircraft Certification Service.
    [FR Doc. 2016-07575 Filed 4-4-16; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4910-13-P
    DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION Federal Aviation Administration 14 CFR Part 39 [Docket No. FAA-2016-5042; Directorate Identifier 2015-NM-140-AD] RIN 2120-AA64 Airworthiness Directives; The Boeing Company Airplanes AGENCY:

    Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), DOT.

    ACTION:

    Notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM).

    SUMMARY:

    We propose to adopt a new airworthiness directive (AD) for all The Boeing Company Model 737-600, -700, -700C, -800, -900 and -900ER series airplanes. This proposed AD was prompted by an evaluation by the design approval holder (DAH) indicating that certain fastener locations in the window corner surround structure are subject to widespread fatigue damage (WFD). This proposed AD would require repetitive high frequency eddy current (HFEC) inspections for cracking in certain fastener locations in the window corner surround structure, and repair if necessary. We are proposing this AD to detect and correct fatigue cracking around certain fastener locations that could cause multiple window corner skin cracks, which could result in rapid decompression and consequent reduced structural integrity of the airplane.

    DATES:

    We must receive comments on this proposed AD by May 20, 2016.

    ADDRESSES:

    You may send comments, using the procedures found in 14 CFR 11.43 and 11.45, by any of the following methods:

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

    Fax: 202-493-2251.

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

    Hand Delivery: Deliver to Mail address above between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays.

    For service information identified in this NPRM, contact Boeing Commercial Airplanes, Attention: Data & Services Management, P.O. Box 3707, MC 2H-65, Seattle, WA 98124-2207; telephone: 206-544-5000, extension 1; fax: 206-766-5680; Internet: https://www.myboeingfleet.com. You may view this referenced service information at the FAA, Transport Airplane Directorate, 1601 Lind Avenue SW., Renton, WA. For information on the availability of this material at the FAA, call 425-227-1221. It is also available on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov by searching for and locating Docket No. FAA-2016-5042.

    Examining the AD Docket

    You may examine the AD docket on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov by searching for and locating Docket No. FAA-2016-5042; or in person at the Docket Management Facility between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays. The AD docket contains this proposed AD, the regulatory evaluation, any comments received, and other information. The street address for the Docket Office (phone: 800-647-5527) is in the ADDRESSES section. Comments will be available in the AD docket shortly after receipt.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Jason Deutschman, Aerospace Engineer, Airframe Branch, ANM-120S, FAA, Seattle Aircraft Certification Office (ACO), 1601 Lind Avenue SW., Renton, WA 98057-3356; phone: 425-917-6595; fax: 425-917-6590; email: [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Comments Invited

    We invite you to send any written relevant data, views, or arguments about this proposal. Send your comments to an address listed under the ADDRESSES section. Include “Docket No. FAA-2016-5042; Directorate Identifier 2015-NM-140-AD” at the beginning of your comments. We specifically invite comments on the overall regulatory, economic, environmental, and energy aspects of this proposed AD. We will consider all comments received by the closing date and may amend this proposed AD because of those comments.

    We will post all comments we receive, without change, to http://www.regulations.gov, including any personal information you provide. We will also post a report summarizing each substantive verbal contact we receive about this proposed AD.

    Discussion

    Structural fatigue damage is progressive. It begins as minute cracks, and those cracks grow under the action of repeated stresses. This can happen because of normal operational conditions and design attributes, or because of isolated situations or incidents such as material defects, poor fabrication quality, or corrosion pits, dings, or scratches. Fatigue damage can occur locally, in small areas or structural design details, or globally. Global fatigue damage is general degradation of large areas of structure with similar structural details and stress levels. Multiple-site damage is global damage that occurs in a large structural element such as a single rivet line of a lap splice joining two large skin panels. Global damage can also occur in multiple elements such as adjacent frames or stringers. Multiple-site-damage and multiple-element-damage cracks are typically too small initially to be reliably detected with normal inspection methods. Without intervention, these cracks will grow, and eventually compromise the structural integrity of the airplane, in a condition known as WFD. As an airplane ages, WFD will likely occur, and will certainly occur if the airplane is operated long enough without any intervention.

    The FAA's WFD final rule (75 FR 69746, November 15, 2010) became effective on January 14, 2011. The WFD rule requires certain actions to prevent structural failure due to WFD throughout the operational life of certain existing transport category airplanes and all of these airplanes that will be certificated in the future. For existing and future airplanes subject to the WFD rule, the rule requires that DAHs establish a limit of validity (LOV) of the engineering data that support the structural maintenance program. Operators affected by the WFD rule may not fly an airplane beyond its LOV, unless an extended LOV is approved.

    The WFD rule (75 FR 69746, November 15, 2010) does not require identifying and developing maintenance actions if the DAHs can show that such actions are not necessary to prevent WFD before the airplane reaches the LOV. Many LOVs, however, do depend on accomplishment of future maintenance actions. As stated in the WFD rule, any maintenance actions necessary to reach the LOV will be mandated by airworthiness directives through separate rulemaking actions.

    In the context of WFD, this action is necessary to enable DAHs to propose LOVs that allow operators the longest operational lives for their airplanes, and still ensure that WFD will not occur. This approach allows for an implementation strategy that provides flexibility to DAHs in determining the timing of service information development (with FAA approval), while providing operators with certainty regarding the LOV applicable to their airplanes.

    The FAA has received a report indicating that an evaluation by the DAH has indicated that certain fastener locations in the window corner surround structure are subject to WFD. Fatigue cracking around certain fastener locations could cause multiple window corner skin cracks, which could result in rapid decompression and consequent reduced structural integrity of the airplane.

    Related Service Information Under 1 CFR Part 51

    We reviewed Boeing Alert Service Bulletin 737-53A1351, dated July 8, 2015. The service information describes procedures for HFEC inspections for cracking in certain fastener locations in the window corner surround structure and repair. This service information is reasonably available because the interested parties have access to it through their normal course of business or by the means identified in the ADDRESSES section.

    FAA's Determination

    We are proposing this AD because we evaluated all the relevant information and determined the unsafe condition described previously is likely to exist or develop in other products of the same type design.

    Proposed AD Requirements

    This proposed AD would require accomplishing the actions specified in the service information identified previously, except as discussed under “Difference Between this Proposed AD and the Service Information.” For information on the procedures and compliance times, see this service information at http://www.regulations.gov by searching for and locating Docket No. FAA-2016-5042.

    Difference Between This Proposed AD and the Service Information

    Boeing Alert Service Bulletin 737-53A1351, dated July 8, 2015, specifies to contact the manufacturer for instructions on how to repair certain conditions, but this proposed AD would require repairing those conditions in one of the following ways:

    • In accordance with a method that we approve; or

    • Using data that meet the certification basis of the airplane, and that have been approved by the Boeing Commercial Airplanes Organization Designation Authorization (ODA) whom we have authorized to make those findings.

    Costs of Compliance

    We estimate that this proposed AD affects 1,528 airplanes of U.S. registry.

    We estimate the following costs to comply with this proposed AD:

    Estimated Costs Action Labor cost Parts cost Cost per product Cost on U.S. operators Inspection 38 work-hours × $85 per hour = $3,230 [per inspection cycle] $0 [per inspection cycle] $3,230 [per inspection cycle] $4,935,440 [per inspection cycle].

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

    Authority for This Rulemaking

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

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

    Regulatory Findings

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

    For the reasons discussed above, I certify this proposed regulation:

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

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

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

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

    List of Subjects in 14 CFR Part 39

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

    The Proposed Amendment

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

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

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

    § 39.13 [Amended]
    2. The FAA amends § 39.13 by adding the following new airworthiness directive (AD): The Boeing Company: Docket No. FAA-2016-5042; Directorate Identifier 2015-NM-140-AD. (a) Comments Due Date

    We must receive comments by May 20, 2016.

    (b) Affected ADs

    None.

    (c) Applicability

    This AD applies to all The Boeing Company Model 737-600, -700, -700C, -800, -900 and -900ER series airplanes, certificated in any category.

    (d) Subject

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

    (e) Unsafe Condition

    This AD was prompted by an evaluation by the design approval holder (DAH) indicating that certain fastener locations in the window corner surround structure are subject to widespread fatigue damage (WFD). We are issuing this AD to detect and correct fatigue cracking around certain fastener locations that could cause multiple window corner skin cracks, which could result in rapid decompression and consequent reduced structural integrity of the airplane.

    (f) Compliance

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

    (g) Repetitive Inspections and Repair

    At the applicable time specified in paragraph 1.E., “Compliance,” of Boeing Alert Service Bulletin 737-53A1351, dated July 8, 2015: Do an external high frequency eddy current (HFEC) inspection for cracking of the skin around the fastener locations at the upper forward and lower aft corners of each window between station (STA) 360 and STA 540, as applicable, and at the lower forward and upper aft corners of each window between STA 727 and STA 887, in accordance with the Accomplishment Instructions of Boeing Alert Service Bulletin 737-53A1351, dated July 8, 2015. Repeat the inspection thereafter at the applicable times specified in paragraph 1.E., “Compliance,” of Boeing Alert Service Bulletin 737-53A1351, dated July 8, 2015. If any crack is found during any inspection, repair before further flight using a method approved in accordance with the procedures specified in paragraph (i) of this AD.

    (h) Exception to the Service Bulletin Specifications

    Although Boeing Alert Service Bulletin 737-53A1351, dated July 8, 2015, specifies to contact Boeing for repair instructions, and specifies that action as “RC” (Required for Compliance), this AD requires repair before further flight using a method approved in accordance with the procedures specified in paragraph (i) of this AD.

    (i) Alternative Methods of Compliance (AMOCs)

    (1) The Manager, Seattle Aircraft Certification Office (ACO), FAA, has the authority to approve AMOCs for this AD, if requested using the procedures found in 14 CFR 39.19. In accordance with 14 CFR 39.19, send your request to your principal inspector or local Flight Standards District Office, as appropriate. If sending information directly to the manager of the ACO, send it to the attention of the person identified in paragraph (j)(1) of this AD. Information may be emailed to: [email protected]

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

    (3) An AMOC that provides an acceptable level of safety may be used for any repair, modification, or alteration required by this AD if it is approved by the Boeing Commercial Airplanes Organization Designation Authorization (ODA) that has been authorized by the Manager, Seattle ACO, to make those findings. To be approved, the repair method, modification deviation, or alteration deviation must meet the certification basis of the airplane and the approval must specifically refer to this AD.

    (4) Except as required by paragraph (h) of this AD: For service information that contains steps that are labeled as RC, the provisions of paragraphs (i)(4)(i) and (i)(4)(ii) of this AD apply.

    (i) The steps labeled as RC, including substeps under an RC step and any figures identified in an RC step, must be done to comply with the AD. An AMOC is required for any deviations to RC steps, including substeps and identified figures.

    (ii) Steps not labeled as RC may be deviated from using accepted methods in accordance with the operator's maintenance or inspection program without obtaining approval of an AMOC, provided the RC steps, including substeps and identified figures, can still be done as specified, and the airplane can be put back in an airworthy condition.

    (j) Related Information

    (1) For more information about this AD, contact Jason Deutschman, Aerospace Engineer, Airframe Branch, ANM-120S, FAA, Seattle ACO, 1601 Lind Avenue SW., Renton, WA 98057-3356; phone: 425-917-6595; fax: 425-917-6590; email: [email protected]

    (2) For service information identified in this AD, contact Boeing Commercial Airplanes, Attention: Data & Services Management, P.O. Box 3707, MC 2H-65, Seattle, WA 98124-2207; telephone: 206-544-5000, extension 1; fax: 206-766-5680; Internet: https://www.myboeingfleet.com. You may view the referenced service information at the FAA, Transport Airplane Directorate, 1601 Lind Avenue SW., Renton, WA. For information on the availability of this material at the FAA, call 425-227-1221.

    Issued in Renton, Washington, on March 24, 2016. Michael Kaszycki, Acting Manager, Transport Airplane Directorate, Aircraft Certification Service.
    [FR Doc. 2016-07577 Filed 4-4-16; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4910-13-P
    DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION Federal Aviation Administration 14 CFR Part 39 [Docket No. FAA-2016-5041; Directorate Identifier 2015-NM-102-AD] RIN 2120-AA64 Airworthiness Directives; The Boeing Company Airplanes AGENCY:

    Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), DOT.

    ACTION:

    Notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM).

    SUMMARY:

    We propose to adopt a new airworthiness directive (AD) for certain The Boeing Company Model 747-8 and 747-8F series airplanes. This proposed AD was prompted by a report that static strength analysis has shown that the aluminum transmission aft bearing plate assemblies have inadequate structural strength for one or more of the required load cases, including cases for drive system jam, flap skew, and structural damage tolerance. Inadequate structural strength can result in damage to the transmission aft bearing plate assemblies. This proposed AD would require removing aluminum transmission aft bearing plate assemblies from the flap track and installing titanium transmission aft bearing plate assemblies to the flap track. We are proposing this AD to prevent inadequate structural strength of transmission aft bearing plate assemblies. This condition could result in damaged transmission aft bearing plate assemblies, which could result in incorrect operation and departure of the flap from the airplane and consequent loss of controllability of the airplane.

    DATES:

    We must receive comments on this proposed AD by May 20, 2016.

    ADDRESSES:

    You may send comments, using the procedures found in 14 CFR 11.43 and 11.45, by any of the following methods:

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

    Fax: 202-493-2251.

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

    Hand Delivery: Deliver to Mail address above between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays.

    For service information identified in this NPRM, contact Boeing Commercial Airplanes, Attention: Data & Services Management, P.O. Box 3707, MC 2H-65, Seattle, WA 98124-2207; telephone 206-544-5000, extension 1; fax 206-766-5680; Internet https://www.myboeingfleet.com. You may view this referenced service information at the FAA, Transport Airplane Directorate, 1601 Lind Avenue SW., Renton, WA. For information on the availability of this material at the FAA, call 425-227-1221. It is also available on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov by searching for and locating Docket No. FAA-2016-5041.

    Examining the AD Docket

    You may examine the AD docket on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov by searching for and locating Docket No. FAA-2016-5041; or in person at the Docket Management Facility between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays. The AD docket contains this proposed AD, the regulatory evaluation, any comments received, and other information. The street address for the Docket Office (phone: 800-647-5527) is in the ADDRESSES section. Comments will be available in the AD docket shortly after receipt.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Bill Ashforth, Aerospace Engineer, Airframe Branch, ANM-120S, FAA, Seattle Aircraft Certification Office (ACO), 1601 Lind Avenue SW., Renton, WA 98057-3356; phone: 425-917-6432; fax: 425-917-6590; email: [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Comments Invited

    We invite you to send any written relevant data, views, or arguments about this proposal. Send your comments to an address listed under the ADDRESSES section. Include “Docket No. FAA-2016-5041; Directorate Identifier 2015-NM-102-AD” at the beginning of your comments. We specifically invite comments on the overall regulatory, economic, environmental, and energy aspects of this proposed AD. We will consider all comments received by the closing date and may amend this proposed AD because of those comments.

    We will post all comments we receive, without change, to http://www.regulations.gov, including any personal information you provide. We will also post a report summarizing each substantive verbal contact we receive about this proposed AD.

    Discussion

    We have received a report that static strength analysis has shown that the aluminum transmission aft bearing plate assemblies have inadequate structural strength for one or more of the required load cases, including cases for drive system jam, flap skew, and structural damage tolerance. These types of load cases can cause a flap transmission torque brake to engage, which will then cause additional loading on the transmission aft bearing plate assemblies common to that flap. This could cause damage to the transmission aft bearing plate assemblies. This condition, if not corrected, could result in transmission aft bearing plate assemblies working incorrectly or departure of the flap from the airplane, which could result in loss of controllability of the airplane.

    Related Service Information Under 1 CFR Part 51

    We reviewed Boeing Alert Service Bulletin 747-57A2348, dated June 12, 2015. The service information describes procedures for removing the aluminum transmission aft bearing plate assembly from the flap track and installing a new titanium transmission aft bearing plate assembly to the flap track. This service information is reasonably available because the interested parties have access to it through their normal course of business or by the means identified in the ADDRESSES section.

    FAA's Determination

    We are proposing this AD because we evaluated all the relevant information and determined the unsafe condition described previously is likely to exist or develop in other products of the same type design.

    Proposed AD Requirements

    This proposed AD would require accomplishing the actions specified in the service information described previously.

    Costs of Compliance

    We estimate that this proposed AD affects 11 airplanes of U.S. registry.

    We estimate the following costs to comply with this proposed AD:

    Estimated Costs Action Labor cost Parts cost Cost per
  • product
  • Cost on U.S. operators
    Replacement 114 work-hours × $85 per hour = $9,690 $48,682 $58,372 $642,092

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

    Authority for This Rulemaking

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

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

    Regulatory Findings

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

    For the reasons discussed above, I certify this proposed regulation:

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

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

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

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

    List of Subjects in 14 CFR Part 39

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

    The Proposed Amendment

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

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

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

    § 39.13 [Amended]
    2. The FAA amends § 39.13 by adding the following new airworthiness directive (AD): The Boeing Company: Docket No. FAA-2016-5041; Directorate Identifier 2015-NM-102-AD. (a) Comments Due Date

    We must receive comments by May 20, 2016.

    (b) Affected ADs

    None.

    (c) Applicability

    This AD applies to The Boeing Company Model 747-8 and 747-8F series airplanes, certified in any category, as identified in Boeing Alert Service Bulletin 747-57A2348, dated June 12, 2015.

    (d) Subject

    Air Transport Association (ATA) of America Code 57, Wings.

    (e) Unsafe Condition

    This AD was prompted by a report that static strength analysis has shown that the aluminum transmission aft bearing plate assemblies have inadequate structural strength for one or more of the required load cases, including cases for drive system jam, flap skew, and structural damage tolerance. Inadequate structural strength can result in damage to the transmission aft bearing plate assemblies. We are issuing this AD to prevent inadequate structural strength of transmission aft bearing plate assemblies. This condition could result in damaged transmission aft bearing plate assemblies, which could result in incorrect operation and departure of the flap from the airplane and consequent loss of controllability of the airplane.

    (f) Compliance

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

    (g) Replacement

    Within 48 months after the effective date of this AD: Remove aluminum transmission aft bearing plate assemblies from the flap track and install new titanium transmission aft bearing plate assemblies to the flap track, in accordance with the Accomplishment Instructions of Boeing Alert Service Bulletin 747-57A2348, dated June 12, 2015.

    (h) Alternative Methods of Compliance (AMOCs)

    (1) The Manager, Seattle Aircraft Certification Office (ACO), FAA, has the authority to approve AMOCs for this AD, if requested using the procedures found in 14 CFR 39.19. In accordance with 14 CFR 39.19, send your request to your principal inspector or local Flight Standards District Office, as appropriate. If sending information directly to the manager of the ACO, send it to the attention of the person identified in paragraph (i)(1) of this AD. Information may be emailed to: [email protected]

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

    (3) An AMOC that provides an acceptable level of safety may be used for any repair, modification, or alteration required by this AD if it is approved by the Boeing Commercial Airplanes Organization Designation Authorization (ODA) that has been authorized by the Manager, Seattle ACO, to make those findings. To be approved, the repair method, modification deviation, or alteration deviation must meet the certification basis of the airplane, and the approval must specifically refer to this AD.

    (4) For service information that contains steps that are labeled as Required for Compliance (RC), the provisions of paragraphs (h)(4)(i) and (h)(4)(ii) of this AD apply.

    (i) The steps labeled as RC, including substeps under an RC step and any figures identified in an RC step, must be done to comply with the AD. An AMOC is required for any deviations to RC steps, including substeps and identified figures.

    (ii) Steps not labeled as RC may be deviated from using accepted methods in accordance with the operator's maintenance or inspection program without obtaining approval of an AMOC, provided the RC steps, including substeps and identified figures, can still be done as specified, and the airplane can be put back in an airworthy condition.

    (i) Related Information

    (1) For more information about this AD, contact Bill Ashforth, Aerospace Engineer, Airframe Branch, ANM-120S, FAA, Seattle ACO, 1601 Lind Avenue SW., Renton, WA 98057-3356; phone: 425-917-6432; fax: 425-917-6590; email: [email protected]

    (2) For service information identified in this AD, contact Boeing Commercial Airplanes, Attention: Data & Services Management, P.O. Box 3707, MC 2H-65, Seattle, WA 98124-2207; telephone 206-544-5000, extension 1; fax 206-766-5680; Internet https://www.myboeingfleet.com. For information on the availability of this material at the FAA, call 425-227-1221.

    Issued in Renton, Washington, on March 24, 2016. Michael Kaszycki, Acting Manager, Transport Airplane Directorate, Aircraft Certification Service.
    [FR Doc. 2016-07578 Filed 4-4-16; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4910-13-P
    DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION Federal Aviation Administration 14 CFR Part 39 [Docket No. FAA-2016-4123; Directorate Identifier 2016-NE-06-AD] RIN 2120-AA64 Airworthiness Directives; International Aero Engines AG Turbofan Engines AGENCY:

    Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), DOT.

    ACTION:

    Notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM).

    SUMMARY:

    We propose to adopt a new airworthiness directive (AD) for certain International Aero Engines AG (IAE) V2522-A5, V2524-A5, V2525-D5, V2527-A5, V2527E-A5, V2527M-A5, V2528-D5, V2530-A5, and V2533-A5 turbofan engines. This proposed AD was prompted by the fracture of the high-pressure turbine (HPT) stage 2 hub during flight, which resulted in an in-flight shutdown (IFSD), undercowl fire, and smoke in the cabin. This proposed AD would require inspecting the HPT stage 1 hub and HPT stage 2 hub, and, if necessary, their replacement with parts that are eligible for installation. We are proposing this AD to prevent failure of the HPT stage 1 or HPT stage 2 hubs, which could result in uncontained HPT blade release, damage to the engine, and damage to the airplane.

    DATES:

    We must receive comments on this proposed AD by June 6, 2016.

    ADDRESSES:

    You may send comments, using the procedures found in 14 CFR 11.43 and 11.45, by any of the following methods:

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

    Fax: 202-493-2251.

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

    Hand Delivery: Deliver to Mail address above between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays.

    For service information identified in this NPRM, contact International Aero Engines AG, 400 Main Street, East Hartford, CT 06118; phone: 860-368-3700; fax: 860-368-4600; email: [email protected]; Internet: https://www.iaeworld.com. You may view this service information at the FAA, Engine & Propeller Directorate, 1200 District Avenue, Burlington, MA. For information on the availability of this material at the FAA, call 781-238-7125.

    Examining the AD Docket

    You may examine the AD docket on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov by searching for and locating Docket No. FAA-2016-4123 or in person at the Docket Management Facility between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays. The AD docket contains this proposed AD, the regulatory evaluation, any comments received, and other information. The street address for the Docket Office (phone: 800-647-5527) is in the ADDRESSES section. Comments will be available in the AD docket shortly after receipt.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Brian Kierstead, Aerospace Engineer, Engine Certification Office, FAA, Engine & Propeller Directorate, 1200 District Avenue, Burlington, MA 01803; phone: 781-238-7772; fax: 781-238-7199; email: [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Comments Invited

    We invite you to send any written relevant data, views, or arguments about this proposal. Send your comments to an address listed under the ADDRESSES section. Include “Docket No. FAA-2016-4123; Directorate Identifier 2016-NE-06-AD” at the beginning of your comments. We specifically invite comments on the overall regulatory, economic, environmental, and energy aspects of this proposed AD. We will consider all comments received by the closing date and may amend this proposed AD because of those comments.

    We will post all comments we receive, without change, to http://www.regulations.gov, including any personal information you provide. We will also post a report summarizing each substantive verbal contact we receive about this proposed AD.

    Discussion

    We received a report of an engine IFSD and subsequent undercowl fire on an IAE V2527-A5 turbofan engine during a revenue flight of an Airbus A320 airplane in September 2014. The subsequent investigation of this event determined that it was caused by a manufacturing defect in the HPT stage 2 hub that resulted in fracture and failure of the HPT stage 2 hub. The event involved release of a fir tree lug and two HPT stage 2 blades. IAE also identified a similar manufacturing defect on the HPT stage 1 hub. This condition, if not corrected, could result in uncontained HPT blade release, damage to the engine, and damage to the airplane.

    Related Service Information Under 1 CFR Part 51

    We reviewed IAE Non-Modification Service Bulletin (NMSB) No. V2500-ENG-72-0661, Revision No. 1, dated February 5, 2016. The NMSB describes procedures for inspecting the HPT stage 1 and stage 2 hubs. This service information is reasonably available because the interested parties have access to it through their normal course of business or by the means identified in the ADDRESSES section.

    FAA's Determination

    We are proposing this AD because we evaluated all the relevant information and determined the unsafe condition described previously is likely to exist or develop in other products of the same type design.

    Proposed AD Requirements

    This proposed AD would require inspecting the engine HPT stage 1 hub and HPT stage 2 hub, and, if necessary, their replacement with parts eligible for installation.

    Costs of Compliance

    We estimate that this proposed AD affects 668 engines with 947 hubs installed on airplanes of U.S. registry. Some of the 668 engines have two hubs installed. We estimate that it would take about 8 hours per hub to perform the piece-part inspection. The average labor rate is $85 per hour. We estimate that 568 hubs will require replacement. We estimate the pro-rated cost to replace an HPT stage 1 hub to be $50,271 and the pro-rated cost to replace an HPT stage 2 hub to be $40,063. Based on these figures, we estimate the cost of this proposed AD on U.S. operators to be $26,298,816.

    Authority for This Rulemaking

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

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

    Regulatory Findings

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

    For the reasons discussed above, I certify this proposed regulation:

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

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

    (3) Will not affect intrastate aviation in Alaska to the extent that it justifies making a regulatory distinction, and

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

    List of Subjects in 14 CFR Part 39

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

    The Proposed Amendment

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

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

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

    § 39.13 [Amended]
    2. The FAA amends § 39.13 by adding the following new airworthiness directive (AD): International Aero Engines AG: Docket No. FAA-2016-4123; Directorate Identifier 2016-NE-06-AD. (a) Comments Due Date

    We must receive comments by June 6, 2016.

    (b) Affected ADs

    None.

    (c) Applicability

    This AD applies to International Aero Engines AG (IAE) V2522-A5, V2524-A5, V2525-D5, V2527-A5, V2527E-A5, V2527M-A5, V2528-D5, V2530-A5, and V2533-A5, engines with either of the following installed:

    (1) High-pressure turbine (HPT) stage 1 hub, part number (P/N) 2A5001, with a serial number (S/N) listed in Table 1, Appendix A, of IAE Non-Modification Service Bulletin (NMSB) No. V2500-ENG-72-0661, Revision 1, dated February 5, 2016; or

    (2) HPT stage 2 hub, P/N 2A4802, with an S/N listed in Table 2, Appendix A, of IAE NMSB No. V2500-ENG-72-0661, Revision 1, dated February 5, 2016.

    (d) Unsafe Condition

    This AD was prompted by the fracture of the HPT stage 2 hub during flight, which resulted in an in-flight shutdown, undercowl fire, and smoke in the cabin. We are issuing this AD to prevent failure of the HPT stage 1 or HPT stage 2 hubs, which could result in uncontained HPT blade release, damage to the engine, and damage to the airplane.

    (e) Compliance

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

    (1) Inspect the HPT stage 1 hub, P/N 2A5001, and HPT stage 2 hub, P/N 2A4802, at the next shop visit or as follows, whichever comes first:

    (i) For hubs with 0 to 7,000 CSN, before accumulating 13,000 CSN;

    (ii) For hubs with 7,001 to 11,000 CSN, within 6,000 cycles from the effective date of this AD or before accumulating 15,000 CSN, whichever occurs first;

    (iii) For hubs with 11,001 to 15,500 CSN, within 4,000 cycles from the effective date of this AD or before accumulating 17,000 CSN, whichever occurs first;

    (iv) For hubs with 15,501 CSN or greater, within 1,500 cycles from the effective date of this AD.

    (2) Use Accomplishment Instructions, paragraphs 2.A., 2.C., and 2.D., of IAE NMSB No. V2500-ENG-72-0661, Revision 1, dated February 5, 2016, to inspect the HPT stage 1 hub, P/N 2A5001.

    (3) Use Accomplishment Instructions, paragraphs 2.E., 2.G., and 2H., of IAE NMSB No. V2500-ENG-72-0661, to inspect the HPT stage 2 hub, P/N 2A4802.

    (4) Remove from service any HPT stage 1 hub, P/N 2A5001, or HPT stage 2 hub, P/N 2A4802, that fail the inspections required by paragraphs (e)(2) and (e)(3) of this AD, and replace with a part that is eligible for installation.

    (f) Definition

    For the purpose of this AD, a “shop visit” is the induction of an engine into the shop for maintenance involving the separation of pairs of major mating engine flanges, except that the separation of engine flanges solely for the purposes of transportation without subsequent engine maintenance does not constitute an engine shop visit.

    (g) Alternative Methods of Compliance (AMOCs)

    The Manager, Engine Certification Office, FAA, may approve AMOCs for this AD. Use the procedures found in 14 CFR 39.19 to make your request. You may email your request to: [email protected]

    (h) Related Information

    (1) For more information about this AD, contact Brian Kierstead, Aerospace Engineer, Engine Certification Office, FAA, Engine & Propeller Directorate, 1200 District Avenue, Burlington, MA 01803; phone: 781-238-7772; fax: 781-238-7199; email: [email protected]

    (2) For service information identified in this proposed AD, contact International Aero Engines AG, 400 Main Street, East Hartford, CT 06118; phone: 860-368-3700; fax: 860-368-4600; email: [email protected]; Internet: https://www.iaeworld.com.

    (3) You may view this service information at the FAA, Engine & Propeller Directorate, 1200 District Avenue, Burlington, MA. For information on the availability of this material at the FAA, call 781-238-7125.

    Issued in Burlington, Massachusetts, on March 24, 2016. Colleen M. D'Alessandro, Manager, Engine & Propeller Directorate, Aircraft Certification Service.
    [FR Doc. 2016-07579 Filed 4-4-16; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4910-13-P
    DEPARTMENT OF LABOR Office of Workers' Compensation Programs 20 CFR Part 30 RIN 1240-AA08 Claims for Compensation Under the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act AGENCY:

    Office of Workers' Compensation Programs, Department of Labor.

    ACTION:

    Notice of proposed rulemaking; reopening of comment period.

    SUMMARY:

    The Department of Labor is reopening and extending the comment period for the notice of proposed rulemaking it published on November 18, 2015 (80 FR 72296). The Department originally allowed a 60-day comment period that was scheduled to close on January 19, 2016, but on that date extended the comment period another 30 days through February 18, 2016 (81 FR 2787). This notice indicates that the comment period is being reopened as of April 5, 2016 and extended for an additional period. The comment period for the information collection requirements in the proposed rule ended on December 18, 2015, and that period is not being reopened.

    DATES:

    The comment period for the notice of proposed rulemaking published on November 18, 2015 (80 FR 72296) and extended at 81 FR 2787 (January 19, 2016) is reopened. The Department will accept written comments on the notice of proposed rulemaking from interested parties that are submitted from April 5, 2016 through May 9, 2016.

    ADDRESSES:

    Parties may submit comments on the regulations in the proposed rule, identified by Regulatory Information Number (RIN) 1240-AA08, by any ONE of the following methods:

    Federal e-Rulemaking Portal: The Internet address to submit comments on the regulations in the proposed rule is www.regulations.gov. Follow the Web site instructions for submitting comments. Comments will also be available for public inspection on the Web site.

    Mail or Hand Delivery: Submit written comments by mail to Rachel P. Leiton, Director, Division of Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation, Office of Workers' Compensation Programs, U.S. Department of Labor, Room C-3321, 200 Constitution Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20210. The Department will only consider mailed comments that have been postmarked by the U.S. Postal Service or other delivery service on or before the deadline for comments.

    Instructions: All comments must cite RIN 1240-AA08 that has been assigned to this rulemaking. Receipt of any comments, whether by Internet, mail or hand delivery, will not be acknowledged.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Rachel P. Leiton, Director, Division of Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation, Office of Workers' Compensation Programs, U.S. Department of Labor, Room C-3321, 200 Constitution Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20210, Telephone: 202-693-0081 (this is not a toll-free number).

    Individuals with hearing or speech impairments may access this telephone number via TTY by calling the toll-free Federal Information Relay Service at 1-800-877-8339.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    In response to requests from members of the public, the Department has decided to reopen the public comment period for the notice of proposed rulemaking it published on November 18, 2015 (80 FR 72296). The Department originally allowed a 60-day comment period that was scheduled to close on January 19, 2016, but on that date extended the comment period another 30 days through February 18, 2016 (81 FR 2787). The comment period is being reopened as of April 5, 2016 and extended through May 9, 2016. The comment period for the information collection requirements in the proposed rule ended on December 18, 2015, and that period is not being reopened.

    The notice of proposed rulemaking contains changes to update the regulations governing the administration of the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act of 2000, as amended (EEOICPA or Act), 42 U.S.C. 7384 et seq., which was originally enacted on October 30, 2000. The initial version of EEOICPA established a compensation program (known as Part B of the Act) to provide a uniform lump-sum payment of $150,000 and medical benefits as compensation to covered employees who had sustained designated illnesses due to their exposure to radiation, beryllium or silica while in the performance of duty for DOE and certain of its vendors, contractors and subcontractors. Part B of the Act also provides for payment of compensation to certain survivors of these covered employees, and for payment of a smaller uniform lump-sum ($50,000) to individuals (who would also receive medical benefits), or their survivors, who were determined to be eligible for compensation under section 5 of the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA), 42 U.S.C. 2210 note, by the Department of Justice. Primary responsibility for the administration of Part B of the Act was assigned to DOL by Executive Order 13179 (“Providing Compensation to America's Nuclear Weapons Workers”) of December 7, 2000 (65 FR 77487).

    The initial version of EEOICPA also created a second program (known as Part D of the Act) that required DOE to establish a system by which DOE contractor employees (and their eligible survivors) could seek assistance from DOE in obtaining state workers' compensation benefits if a Physicians Panel determined that the employee in question had sustained a covered illness as a result of work-related exposure to a toxic substance at a DOE facility. A positive panel finding that was accepted by DOE required DOE, to the extent permitted by law, to order its contractor not to contest the claim for state workers' compensation benefits. However, Congress amended EEOICPA in Subtitle E of Title XXXI of the Ronald W. Reagan National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2005, Public Law 108-375, 118 Stat. 1811, 2178 (October 28, 2004), by abolishing Part D of the Act and creating a new Part E (codified at 42 U.S.C. 7385s through 7385s-15) that it assigned to DOL for administration. Part E established a new system of variable federal payments for DOE contractor employees, uranium workers covered by section 5 of RECA, and eligible survivors of such employees.

    The Department's proposed rule would amend certain of the existing regulations governing its administration of Parts B and E of EEOICPA to conform them to current administrative practice, based on its experience administering the Act since 2001, to bring further clarity to the regulatory description of the claims adjudication process, and to improve the administration of the Act.

    Signed at Washington, DC, this 29th day of March, 2016. Leonard J. Howie III, Director, Office of Workers' Compensation Programs.
    [FR Doc. 2016-07488 Filed 4-4-16; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4510-CR-P
    ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY 40 CFR Part 52 [EPA-R04-OAR-2015-0518; FRL-9944-50-Region 4] Air Plan Approval; North Carolina; Regional Haze AGENCY:

    Environmental Protection Agency.

    ACTION:

    Proposed rule.

    SUMMARY:

    The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing to approve a revision to North Carolina's regional haze State Implementation Plan (SIP), submitted by the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources (NC DENR) on October 31, 2014, that relies on an alternative to Best Available Retrofit Technology (BART) to satisfy BART requirements for electric generating units (EGUs) formerly subject to the Clean Air Interstate Rule (CAIR). EPA also proposes to find that final approval of this SIP revision would correct the deficiencies that led to EPA's limited disapproval of the State's regional haze SIP on June 7, 2012, and proposes to convert EPA's June 27, 2012, limited approval to a full approval. This submittal addresses the requirements of the Clean Air Act (CAA or Act) and EPA's rules that require states to prevent any future, and remedy any existing, manmade impairment of visibility in mandatory Class I areas caused by emissions of air pollutants from numerous sources located over a wide geographic area (also referred to as the regional haze program). States are required to assure reasonable progress toward the national goal of achieving natural visibility conditions in Class I areas.

    DATES:

    Written comments must be received on or before April 26, 2016.

    ADDRESSES:

    Submit your comments, identified by Docket ID No. EPA-R04-OAR-2015-0518 at http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the online instructions for submitting comments. Once submitted, comments cannot be edited or removed from Regulations.gov. EPA may publish any comment received to its public docket. Do not submit electronically any information you consider to be Confidential Business Information (CBI) or other information whose disclosure is restricted by statute. Multimedia submissions (audio, video, etc.) must be accompanied by a written comment. The written comment is considered the official comment and should include discussion of all points you wish to make. EPA will generally not consider comments or comment contents located outside of the primary submission (i.e. on the web, cloud, or other file sharing system). For additional submission methods, the full EPA public comment policy, information about CBI or multimedia submissions, and general guidance on making effective comments, please visit http://www2.epa.gov/dockets/commenting-epa-dockets.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Michele Notarianni, Air Regulatory Management Section, Air Planning and Implementation Branch, Air, Pesticides and Toxics Management Division, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 4, 61 Forsyth Street SW., Atlanta, Georgia 30303-8960. Ms. Notarianni can be reached by telephone at (404) 562-9031 or via electronic mail at [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Table of Contents I. Background for EPA's Proposed Action A. Overview of the Regional Haze Rule

    Regional haze is visibility impairment that is produced by a multitude of sources and activities which are located across a broad geographic area and emit fine particles (e.g., sulfates, nitrates, organic carbon, elemental carbon, and soil dust) and their precursors (e.g., sulfur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxides (NOX), and in some cases, ammonia and volatile organic compounds). Fine particle precursors react in the atmosphere to form fine particulate matter (PM2.5) which impairs visibility by scattering and absorbing light. Visibility impairment reduces the clarity, color, and visible distance that one can see.

    In section 169A of the 1977 Amendments to the CAA, Congress created a program for protecting visibility in the nation's national parks and wilderness areas. This section of the CAA establishes as a national goal the “prevention of any future, and the remedying of any existing, impairment of visibility in mandatory Class I Federal areas (Class I areas) which impairment results from manmade air pollution.” It also directs states to evaluate the use of retrofit controls at certain larger, often uncontrolled, older stationary sources in order to address visibility impacts from these sources. Specifically, section 169A(b)(2)(A) of the CAA requires states to revise their SIPs to contain such measures as may be necessary to make reasonable progress towards the national visibility goal, including a requirement that certain categories of existing major stationary sources built between 1962 and 1977 (known as “BART-eligible” sources) procure, install, and operate BART. In the 1990 CAA Amendments, Congress amended the visibility provisions in the CAA to focus attention on the problem of regional haze.

    In 1999, EPA promulgated the Regional Haze Rule, which requires states to develop and implement SIPs to ensure reasonable progress toward improving visibility in Class I areas by reducing emissions that cause or contribute to regional haze. See 64 FR 35713 (July 1, 1999). The Regional Haze Rule requires each state, the District of Columbia, and the Virgin Islands to each submit a regional haze SIP no later than December 17, 2007. Under 40 CFR 51.308(e), the SIP must contain emission limitations representing BART and schedules for compliance with BART for each BART-eligible source, unless the SIP demonstrates that an emissions trading program or other alternative (BART Alternative) will achieve greater reasonable progress toward natural visibility conditions than would have resulted from the installation and operation of BART at all sources subject to BART and covered by the BART Alternative. An approvable BART Alternative must meet the criteria in 40 CFR 51.308(e)(2) as described in section II.B, below.

    CAA Section 169A and the Regional Haze Rule require states to establish a long-term strategy for making reasonable progress toward meeting the national goal of achieving natural visibility conditions in Class I areas. The long-term strategy is the compilation of all enforceable emission limitations, compliance schedules, and other measures as necessary for a state to meet applicable reasonable progress goals during an implementation period. For the first implementation period, the long-term strategy includes BART as well as any other controls necessary to ensure reasonable progress.

    B. North Carolina's Regional Haze SIP

    North Carolina submitted its regional haze SIP on December 17, 2007, the regional haze SIP submittal deadline. Fully consistent with EPA's regulations at the time, the SIP relied on CAIR to satisfy NOX and SO2 BART requirements for CAIR-subject EGUs in the State and to partially satisfy the requirement for a long-term strategy sufficient to achieve the state-adopted reasonable progress goals.

    CAIR, promulgated in 2005, required 27 states and the District of Columbia to reduce emissions of NOX and SO2 that significantly contribute to, or interfere with maintenance of, the 1997 national ambient air quality standards (NAAQS) for fine particulates and for ozone in any downwind state. CAIR imposed specified emissions reduction requirements on each affected state and established an EPA-administered cap and trade program for EGUs that states could join as a means to meet these requirements.

    EPA demonstrated that CAIR achieved greater reasonable progress toward the national visibility goal than BART for NOX and SO2 at BART-eligible EGUs in CAIR affected states, and the Agency revised the Regional Haze Rule to provide that states participating in CAIR's cap-and-trade program need not require affected BART-eligible EGUs to install, operate, and maintain BART for emissions of SO2 and NOx. See 70 FR 39104 (July 6, 2005). As a result, a number of states in the CAIR region designed their regional haze SIPs to rely on CAIR as an alternative to NOx and SO2 BART for CAIR-subject EGUs. These states also relied on CAIR as an element of a long-term strategy for achieving their reasonable progress goals.

    The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (D.C. Circuit) initially vacated CAIR in 2008,1 but ultimately remanded the rule to EPA without vacatur to preserve the environmental benefits provided by CAIR.2 On August 8, 2011, acting on the D.C. Circuit's remand, EPA promulgated the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR) to replace CAIR and thus to address the interstate transport of emissions contributing to nonattainment and interfering with maintenance of the two air quality standards covered by CAIR as well as the 2006 PM2.5 NAAQS.3 See 76 FR 48208.

    1North Carolina v. EPA, 531 F.3d 896 (D.C. Cir. 2008).

    2North Carolina v. EPA, 550 F.3d 1176 (D.C. Cir. 2008).

    3 Although a number of parties challenged the legality of CSAPR and the D.C. Circuit initially vacated and remanded CSAPR to EPA in EME Homer City Generation, L.P. v. EPA, 696 F.3d 7, 38 (D.C. Cir. 2012), the United States Supreme Court reversed the D.C. Circuit's decision on April 29, 2014, and remanded the case to the D.C. Circuit to resolve remaining issues in accordance with the high court's ruling. EPA v. EME Homer City Generation, L.P., 134 S. Ct. 1584 (2014). On remand, the D.C. Circuit affirmed CSAPR in most respects and CSAPR is now in effect. EME Homer City Generation, L.P. v. EPA, 795 F.3d 118 (D.C. Cir. 2015).

    Due to CAIR's status as a temporary measure following the D.C. Circuit's 2008 ruling, EPA could not fully approve regional haze SIP revisions to the extent that they relied on CAIR to satisfy the BART requirement and the requirement for a long-term strategy sufficient to achieve the state-adopted reasonable progress goals. On these grounds, EPA finalized a limited disapproval of North Carolina's regional haze SIP on June 7, 2012, triggering the requirement for EPA to promulgate a FIP unless North Carolina submitted and EPA approved a SIP revision that corrected the deficiency. See 77 FR 33642. EPA finalized a limited approval of North Carolina's regional haze SIP on June 27, 2012, as meeting the remaining applicable regional haze requirements set forth in the CAA and the Regional Haze Rule. See 77 FR 38185.

    II. Analysis of North Carolina's Regional Haze SIP Submittal

    On October 31, 2014, NC DENR submitted a revision to North Carolina's regional haze SIP to correct the deficiencies identified in the June 7, 2012, limited disapproval by replacing reliance on CAIR with reliance on a BART Alternative to satisfy NOx and SO2 BART requirements for EGUs formerly subject to CAIR. EPA is proposing to approve this SIP revision because EPA is proposing to determine that the BART Alternative contained therein meets the requirements of 40 CFR 51.308(e)(2) and that final approval of this SIP revision would correct the deficiencies that led to EPA's limited disapproval of the State's regional haze SIP.

    A. North Carolina's BART Alternative

    North Carolina's October 31, 2014, SIP revision relies on the State's Clean Smokestacks Act (CSA) as a BART Alternative for NOX and SO2 at the BART-eligible EGUs formerly covered by CAIR. North Carolina enacted the CSA in 2002 to improve air quality by imposing firm caps on the total annual emissions of NOx and SO2 from 42 coal-fired EGUs at the 14 power plants identified in Table 1, below, operated by Duke Energy Progress, LLC (Progress Energy) and Duke Energy Carolinas, LLC (Duke Energy).4 The CSA requires Duke Energy EGUs and Progress Energy EGUs to reduce SO2 emissions to 150,000 tons and 100,000 tons, respectively, by the end of 2009 and to further reduce SO2 emissions to 80,000 tons and 50,000 tons, respectively, by the end of 2013. The CSA limits NOx emissions from Duke Energy EGUs and Progress Energy EGUs to 35,000 tons and 25,000 tons, respectively, beginning on January 1, 2007, and tightens the emissions cap on Duke Energy EGUs to 31,000 tons as of January 1, 2009. Collectively, the caps require these utilities to: (1) Reduce actual emissions of NOX from 245,000 tons in 1998 to 56,000 tons by 2009 (a 77 percent reduction), and (2) reduce actual SO2 emissions from 489,000 tons in 1998 to 250,000 tons by 2009 (a 49 percent reduction) and to 130,000 tons by 2013 (a 73 percent reduction).

    4 More information on the CSA regulation can be found at http://daq.state.nc.us/news/leg/cleanstacks.shtml. At the time that the CSA was enacted, the Progress Energy units were owned by Progress Energy Carolinas, Inc. and the Duke Energy units were owned by Duke Power.

    Duke Energy and Progress Energy must meet the CSA emission caps through actual reductions. The CSA does not allow these units to buy or trade emissions credits (also referred to as “allowances”) under CSAPR to meet these caps even though each utility may decide how to allocate emission reductions across its affected units.5 Furthermore, any CSAPR allowances in excess of the CSA emissions caps must be surrendered to the North Carolina State Treasurer thereby preventing the transfer of these allowances to EGUs located in other states within the CSAPR trading program.6 EPA approved the CSA emissions caps into North Carolina's SIP on September 26, 2011. See 76 FR 59250.

    5 The CSA also prohibited the purchase and trade of CAIR credits to meet the CSA caps when CAIR was in effect. Allowances cannot be traded between the units owned by Progress Energy and those owned by Duke Energy.

    6 In 2013, Duke Energy reported an excess of 58,961 CAIR SO2 allowances and 1,987 CAIR NOx allowances above CSA emissions limits and Progress Energy reported 78,050 excess CAIR SO2 allowances. All of these excess allowances have been verified and transferred to the State.

    7 This category includes EGUs that were converted from coal to natural gas.

    Progress Energy and Duke Energy have shut down 22 of the coal-fired EGUs subject to the CSA and have installed scrubbers to control SO2 emissions and Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) or Selective Non-catalytic Reduction (SNCR) to control NOX emissions on all of the currently operating coal-fired EGUs subject to the CSA in order to meet the emissions caps. Table 1, below, identifies the retired units and the NOX and SO2 emissions controls on the operating units.

    Table 1—EGUs Subject to the CSA Status Facility Parent company * Unit ID BART-eligible NOX Control SO2 Control Operating 7 Allen Duke 1-5 SNCR FGD Asheville Progress 1-2 Y SCR FGD Buck Duke 5-9 SNCR ** Belews Creek Duke 1-2 Y SCR FGD Cliffside Duke 5 Y SCR FGD 6 SCR FGD Marshall Duke 1-2, 4
  • 3
  • Y SNCR
  • SCR
  • FGD
  • FGD
  • Mayo Progress 1 SCR FGD Roxboro Progress 1-3
  • 4
  • Y SCR
  • SCR
  • FGD
  • FGD
  • Retired Cape Fear Progress 5-6 Cliffside Duke 4 Dan River Duke 1-3 Lee Progress 1-3 Riverbend Duke 7-10 Sutton Progress 3 Y Weatherspoon Progress 1-3 * Duke Energy and Progress Energy merged on July 2, 2012. ** Units converted from coal to natural gas.
    B. EPA's Evaluation of North Carolina's BART Alternative

    The Regional Haze Rule requires that a SIP revision establishing a BART Alternative include the three elements listed below, and EPA has evaluated North Carolina's BART Alternative with respect to each of these elements.

    • A demonstration that the emissions trading program or other alternative measure will achieve greater reasonable progress than would have resulted from the installation and operation of BART at all sources subject to BART in the state and covered by the alternative program. See 40 CFR 51.308(e)(2)(i).

    • A requirement that all necessary emissions reductions take place during the period of the first long-term strategy for regional haze. See 40 CFR 51.308(e)(2)(iii).

    • A demonstration that the emissions reductions resulting from the alternative measure will be surplus to those reductions resulting from measures adopted to meet requirements of the CAA as of the baseline date of the SIP. See 40 CFR 51.308(e)(2)(iv).

    EPA seeks comments on its proposed findings under each of these elements, which are described in detail below. 1. Demonstration That the BART Alternative Will Achieve Greater Reasonable Progress Than BART

    Pursuant to 40 CFR 51.308(e)(2)(i), the state must demonstrate that the BART Alternative will achieve greater reasonable progress than would have resulted from the installation and operation of BART at all sources subject to BART in the state and covered by the alternative program. This demonstration must be based on the five criteria addressed below.

    a. List of All BART-Eligible Sources Within the State

    Pursuant to 40 CFR 51.308(e)(2)(i)(A), the SIP submission must include a list of all BART-eligible sources within the state. In its December 31, 2007, regional haze SIP submittal, North Carolina identified all 17 BART-eligible sources located in the State. See 77 FR 11858, 11873-11874 (February 28, 2012). Of these 17 sources, six were subject to CAIR and 11 were non-EGUs. North Carolina determined that one non-EGU source was subject to BART, nine were exempt from BART, and one was shut down. See 77 FR 11873, 11874 (February 28, 2012). The State relied on CAIR to satisfy the NOX and SO2 BART requirements for the 13 BART-eligible EGUs at the six CAIR-subject sources. EPA approved the State's identification of BART-eligible and BART-subject sources and the BART determination for the one BART-subject source not subject to CAIR (Blue Ridge Paper). See 77 FR 38185 (June 27, 2012). EPA issued a limited disapproval of the State's SIP submittal based on its reliance on CAIR to satisfy NOX and SO2 BART requirements for certain sources and to satisfy the long-term strategy requirements of its EGUs. See 77 FR 33642 (June 7, 2012). In its October 31, 2014, SIP revision, the State lists the 13 BART-eligible EGUs impacted by EPA's limited disapproval. Because the State identified all BART-eligible units in its regional haze SIP and identified all outstanding BART-eligible units in its BART Alternative SIP revision, EPA proposes to find that the State has met the requirement of 40 CFR 51.308(e)(2)(i)(A).

    b. List of All BART-Eligible Sources and All Bart Source Categories Covered by the Alternative Program

    Pursuant to 40 CFR 51.308(e)(2)(i)(B), the SIP submission must include a list of all BART-eligible sources and all BART source categories covered by the BART Alternative, and each BART-eligible source in the state must be subject to the requirements of the alternative program or have a federally enforceable emission limitation determined by the state and approved by EPA as meeting BART. As previously mentioned, EPA approved the BART determinations for all BART-eligible units in North Carolina with the exception of NOX and SO2 BART for the 13 BART-eligible EGUs formerly covered by CAIR, and these 13 units are subject to the BART Alternative. Therefore, EPA proposes to find that the SIP revision satisfies 40 CFR 51.308(e)(2)(i)(B).

    c. Analysis of BART and Associated Emissions Reductions

    Pursuant to 40 CFR 51.308(e)(2)(i)(C), the SIP submission must include an analysis of the best system of continuous emissions control technology available and associated emission reductions achievable for each source subject to BART and covered by the alternative program. This analysis must be conducted by making a BART determination for each source subject to BART and covered by the alternative program unless the alternative has been designed to meet a requirement other than BART. In this latter case, the State may determine the best system of continuous emissions control technology and associated emission reductions for similar types of sources within a source category based on both source-specific and category-wide information, as appropriate. North Carolina opted to use the simplified approach because North Carolina created the CSA to meet requirements other than BART.

    In using the simplified approach for EGUs, states may estimate the emissions reductions associated with BART based on an analysis of what BART is likely to be for similar types of sources within the source category using the presumptions for EGUs in the Guidelines for BART Determinations under the Regional Haze Rule located at 40 CFR part 51, Appendix Y (BART Guidelines). The BART Guidelines contain presumptive NOX and SO2 emissions limits for EGUs greater than 200 megawatt (MW) capacity at plants with a total generating capacity in excess of 750 MW. When a state is estimating the emissions reductions achievable through BART at the BART-eligible EGUs covered by the BART Alternative, it should assume that these EGUs would control at the presumptive level unless the state determines that such presumptions are not appropriate.

    i. SO2 Emissions Reductions

    The BART Guidelines specify the presumptive SO2 BART limit at 95 percent control or 0.15 pounds per million British Thermal Units (lbs/MMBtu) for uncontrolled EGUs greater than 200 MW at 750 MW power plants unless an alternative control level is justified. See 40 CFR part 51, App. Y, IV.E.4. North Carolina used this presumptive limit to calculate SO2 BART emissions by multiplying the limit by each BART-eligible EGU's 2002 heat input in MMBtu. When compared to actual 2002 SO2 emissions, the State calculated that BART would reduce SO2 emissions by 274,668 tons. See Table 3 in North Carolina's October 31, 2014, submittal.

    ii. NOX Emissions Reductions

    All of the BART-eligible EGUs subject to the CSA burn bituminous coal and have either wall-fired or tangential-fired boilers. See Table 1 of the State's October 31, 2014, submittal. The presumptive NOX emission limits for these EGUs are 0.39 and 0.28 lb/MMbtu for wall-fired and tangential-fired boilers, respectively, unless an alternative control level is justified. See 40 CFR part 51, App. Y, IV.E.5. North Carolina used these presumptive limits to calculate NOX BART emissions by multiplying the corresponding limits by each BART-eligible EGU's 2002 heat input in MMBtu. When compared to actual 2002 NOX emissions, the State calculated that BART would reduce NOX emissions by 19,364 tons. See Table 8 in North Carolina's October 31, 2014, submittal.

    d. Analysis of Emissions Reductions Associated With the BART Alternative

    Pursuant to 40 CFR 51.308(e)(2)(i)(D), the SIP submission must include an analysis of the projected emissions reductions achievable through the BART Alternative. North Carolina projected these reductions using four different methods: (1) CSA emissions caps; (2) 2018 emissions projected by the Visibility Improvement—State and Tribal Association of the Southeast (VISTAS) 8 and presented in North Carolina's December 17, 2007, regional haze SIP submission; (3) 2018 emissions projected by EPA's Integrated Planning Model (IPM); and (4) 2018 emissions projected by Duke Energy after the merger with Progress Energy. North Carolina also evaluated actual emissions reductions from the CSA units by comparing 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013 emissions to 2002 levels. Table 2 shows the emissions reductions associated with the BART Alternative using the CSA caps and 2018 projections identified above, and Tables 3 and 4 show the reductions using actual emissions from 2009-2015.

    8 VISTAS is a collaborative effort of state governments, tribal governments, and various Federal agencies established to initiate and coordinate activities associated with the management of regional haze, visibility, and other air quality issues in the southeastern United States. Member state and tribal governments include: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, and the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians.

    Table 2—BART Alternative Emissions Reductions (Tons) From 2002 Baseline Using CSA Caps and 2018 Projections Pollutant 2002 Baseline CSA Cap 2018 VISTAS 2018 IPM 2018 Duke Emissions SO2 467,321 130,000 89,343 24,732 23,901 Reductions from Baseline 337,321 377,978 442,589 443,420 Emissions NOX 142,879 56,000 42,133 22,792 22,414 Reductions from Baseline 86,879 100,746 120,087 120,465 Table 3—BART Alternative Emissions Reductions From 2002 Baseline Using Actual Emissions (Tons)—SO2 2002 Baseline 2009 Actuals 2010 Actuals 2011 Actuals 2012 Actuals 2013 Actuals Emissions 467,321 110,818 116,529 73,457 53,458 42,080 Reductions from Baseline 356,503 350,792 393,864 413,863 425,241 Table 4—BART Alternative Emissions Reductions From 2002 Baseline Using Actual Emissions (Tons)—NOX 2002 Baseline 2009 Actuals 2010 Actuals 2011 Actuals 2012 Actuals 2013 Actuals Emissions 142,879 37,829 47,373 39,361 42,147 40,410 Reductions from Baseline 105,050 95,506 103,518 100,732 102,469 i. CSA Caps

    Under the CSA, Duke Energy EGUs and Progress Energy EGUs were required to reduce SO2 emissions to 150,000 tons and 100,000 tons, respectively, by the end of 2009 and to further reduce SO2 emissions to 80,000 tons and 50,000 tons, respectively, by the end of 2013. Using the 2013 emissions caps, the BART Alternative would reduce SO2 emissions by 337,321 tons from 2002 levels.

    The CSA limited NOX emissions from Duke Energy EGUs and Progress Energy EGUs to 35,000 tons and 25,000 tons, respectively, beginning on January 1, 2007, and tightened the emissions cap on Duke Energy EGUs to 31,000 tons as of January 1, 2009. Using the 2009 emissions caps, the BART Alternative would reduce NOX emissions by 86,879 tons from 2002 levels.

    ii. 2018 Projections

    VISTAS developed 2018 emissions projections for the states in the VISTAS region to use when preparing the states' regional haze SIP submissions. VISTAS accounted for the CSA emissions caps and other control programs, including CAIR, in its 2018 modeling and projected total NOX and SO2 emissions from North Carolina's EGUs at 42,133 tons and 89,343 tons, respectively. See 77 FR 11866 (February 28, 2012). North Carolina compared these 2018 VISTAS emissions projections for the CSA units with 2002 actual emissions and estimated that NOX and SO2 emissions from these units would decrease by 100,746 tons and 377,978 tons, respectively. The projected NOX and SO2 emissions reductions from only the BART-eligible sources in the CSA would be 69,485 tons and 276,998 tons, respectively.

    North Carolina also included EPA IPM modeling year 2018 NOX and SO2 emissions estimates for the CSA EGUs. The IPM predicted that these units would emit approximately 22,792 tons of NOXemissions in 2018, resulting in a projected reduction of 120,087 tons when compared with 2002 actual emissions. The IPM also predicted 24,732 tons of SO2 emissions from these units in 2018, resulting in a projected reduction of 442,589 tons compared to 2002 actual emissions. These predictions are well below VISTAS' 2018 projections and the CSA emissions caps.

    Following the merger with Progress Energy, Duke Energy projected 2018 emissions for its EGUs in North Carolina due to the significant shift from coal to natural gas and the retirement of several EGUs in the State. These estimates were prepared by Duke Energy based on its economic modeling, and they differ only slightly from the IPM forecast. The primary difference between the Duke Energy and IPM estimates is that EPA assumed in the IPM that the Allen facility's coal-fired EGUs would be shut down by 2018.9 Duke Energy projected that the CSA units would emit approximately 22,414 tons of NOX and 23,901 tons of SO2 in 2018, a reduction of approximately 120,465 and 443,420 tons of NOX and SO2, respectively, from 2002 levels, respectively.

    9 Duke Energy must retire Allen Units 1 and 2 by December 31, 2024, pursuant to a consent decree entered by the United States District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina on October 20, 2015. Consent Decree, United States, et al. v. Duke Energy Corporation, Civil Case No. 1:00-cv-1262 (M.D.N.C. October 20, 2015).

    iii. Actual Emissions Reductions

    North Carolina analyzed actual emissions reductions achieved with the CSA for each year from 2009 to 2013 using emissions reported to EPA's Clean Air Markets Division. North Carolina started with 2009 because this is the year when Duke Energy and Progress Energy were required to comply with the CSA's first SO2 cap and the final NOX cap. Emissions of SO2 steadily decreased from 116,529 tons in 2010 to 42,080 tons in 2013. Actual NOX emissions ranged from 47,373 tons in 2010 to 40,410 tons in 2013. See Tables 6 and 11 in North Carolina's October 31, 2014, submittal for actual emissions by CSA facility.

    e. Determination That the BART Alternative Achieves Greater Reasonable Progress Than BART

    Pursuant to 40 CFR 51.308(e)(2)(i)(E), the state must provide a determination that the alternative achieves greater reasonable progress than BART under 40 CFR 51.308(e)(3) or otherwise based on the clear weight of evidence. 40 CFR 51.308(e)(3) provides two different tests for determining whether the alternative achieves greater reasonable progress than BART. Under the first test, if the distribution of emissions is not substantially different than under BART, and the alternative measure results in greater emission reductions, then the alternative measure may be deemed to achieve greater reasonable progress. If the distribution of emissions is significantly different, however, then the state must use the second test and conduct dispersion modeling to determine differences in visibility between BART and the alternative program for each impacted Class I area, for the worst and best 20 percent of days. See 40 CFR 51.308(e)(3). The modeling would demonstrate “greater reasonable progress” if: (1) Visibility does not decline in any Class I area, and (2) there is an overall improvement in visibility, determined by comparing the average differences between BART and the alternative over all affected Class I areas. North Carolina did not provide dispersion modeling because it believes that greater reasonable progress can be shown through an emissions reduction analysis under the first 40 CFR 51.308(e)(3) test and/or through a weight-of-evidence analysis based on the types of controls installed on the BART-eligible CSA units, the reductions in visibility impairing pollutants associated with the CSA, and the uniform nature of these reductions across all EGUs subject to the CSA.

    EPA proposes to determine that the CSA achieves greater reasonable progress than would be achieved through the installation and operation of BART at the BART-eligible EGUs covered by the CSA based on the following weight of evidence.

    First, BART would result in controls for NOX and SO2 only at the 13 BART-eligible EGUs, whereas the BART Alternative applies to 42 EGUs. Of these 42 EGUs, 17 have retired, five have converted from coal to natural gas, and the remaining 20 coal-fired EGUs in operation are controlled for NOX and SO2.

    Second, the 20 operating coal-fired EGUs in the BART Alternative have installed emissions controls to meet the CSA that are, with the exception of NOX control at Allen Units 1-5 and Marshall Units 1, 2, and 4, the most stringent controls available for SO2 and NOX. All of the CSA EGUs use flue gas desulphurization (i.e., scrubbers) to remove SO2. SO2 controls are of particular importance because, as North Carolina demonstrated in its regional haze SIP, sulfates are the major contributor to PM2.5 mass and visibility impairment at Class I areas in the VISTAS region and in states neighboring this region.10 See 77 FR 11867, 11877 (February 28, 2012). Thus, North Carolina concluded that reducing SO2 emissions from EGU and non-EGU point sources in the VISTAS states would have the greatest visibility benefits for the North Carolina Class I areas and the Class I areas that the State's sources impact. See 77 FR 11868 (February 28, 2012).

    10 The VISTAS region includes North Carolina and the two states, Virginia and Tennessee, that North Carolina identified as having a Class I area potentially impacted by its sources.

    Regarding NOX, all of the CSA-subject EGUs in operation are using SCR for post-combustion NOX control, with the exception of Allen Units 1-5 (not BART-eligible) and Marshall Units 1, 2, and 4 (BART-eligible) that use SNCR. Although SCR is the most stringent NOX control technology available for EGU retrofits, it is unlikely that a BART determination would result in the installation of SCR at Marshall Units 1, 2, and 4 given the EGUs' NOX emissions, the distance from Class I areas, the cost of replacing SNCR with SCR, and the incremental visibility improvement associated with the switch from SNCR to SCR. As discussed in North Carolina's 2007 regional haze SIP submittal, nitrates are a relatively small contributor to PM2.5 mass and visibility impairment on the 20 percent worst days at the inland Class I areas in VISTAS, which include all of the North Carolina Class I areas except for the Swanquarter National Wilderness Area. Therefore, the visibility benefits of reducing NOX emissions at these Class I areas are small. See 77 FR 11868 (February 28, 2012).

    Third, the emissions reductions under the BART Alternative are greater than those that would result from the installation and operation of BART at the BART-eligible EGUs covered by the CSA under a variety of scenarios.11 As discussed in section II.B.1.c, above, North Carolina compared CSA emissions to BART emissions using the CSA caps, 2018 emissions projections prepared by VISTAS, IPM, and Duke Energy, and actual NOX and SO2 emissions. Only the emission reductions required by the CSA cap are federally enforceable by virtue of being included in North Carolina's SIP. North Carolina's calculations of emission reductions relative to the various projections provide additional information and support for its assertion that the BART Alternative achieves greater reasonable progress than BART. Tables 5 through 7, below, identify the additional emissions reductions achieved through the BART Alternative.

    11 As discussed above, North Carolina used EPA's presumptive limits for NOX and SO2 as the BART benchmark.

    Table 5—BART Alternative Emissions Reductions Beyond BART Using CSA Caps and 2018 Projections (Tons) Pollutant BART CSA cap 2018 VISTAS 2018 IPM 2018 Duke Reductions from 2002 Baseline SO2 274,668 337,321 377,978 442,589 443,420 Reductions beyond BART 62,653 103,310 167,921 168,752 Reductions from 2002 Baseline NOX 19,364 86,879 100,746 120,087 120,465 Reductions beyond BART 67,515 81,382 100,723 101,101 Table 6—BART Alternative Emissions Reductions Beyond BART Using Actual Emissions (Tons)—SO2 BART 2009 Actuals 2010 Actuals 2011 Actuals 2012 Actuals 2013 Actuals Reductions from 2002 Baseline 274,668 356,503 350,791 393,864 413,862 425,241 Reductions beyond BART 81,835 76,123 119,196 139,194 150,573 Table 7—BART Alternative Emissions Reductions Beyond BART Using Actual Emissions (Tons)— NOX BART 2009 Actuals 2010 Actuals 2011 Actuals 2012 Actuals 2013 Actuals Reductions from 2002 Baseline 19,364 105,049 95,506 103,518 100,732 102,468 Reductions beyond BART 85,685 76,142 84,154 81,368 83,104

    Compared with BART, North Carolina's current CSA caps achieve an additional SO2 reduction of 62,653 tons and an additional NOX reduction of 67,515 tons relative to the 2002 baseline. Table 5 also shows that, depending on the origin of the 2018 projections, the BART Alternative results in an additional SO2 reduction of 103,310 to 168,752 tons and an additional NOX reduction of 81,382 to 101,101 tons beyond BART. The comparison of actual emissions under the BART Alternative to estimated BART emissions in Tables 6 and 7 shows that, between 2009 and 2013, the CSA achieved 76,123 to 150,573 tons of additional SO2 reductions and 76,142 to 84,154 tons of additional NOX reductions beyond BART. Regardless of the reduction scenario, the BART Alternative results in significantly lower NOX and SO2 emissions when compared to BART.

    Fourth, the NOX and SO2 emissions controls needed to comply with CSA requirements began operating before any controls would begin operation under BART. BART must be installed and operated as expeditiously as practicable, but no later than five years after the date of EPA approval of the regional haze SIP. See CAA section 169A(g)(4); 40 CFR 51.308(e)(1)(iv). The CSA, enacted in 2002, required compliance with the initial emissions caps for SO2 in 2007 and NOX in 2009, and therefore resulted in emissions reductions before EPA issued a limited approval of North Carolina's regional haze SIP on June 27, 2012. See 77 FR 38185. Even if EPA had approved source-specific BART determinations for the CAIR-subject units in North Carolina at that time, the BART installation and operation deadline would have been set after compliance with the CSA began.

    Lastly, although the CSA does allow for limited emissions shifting, there is no indication that implementation of the CSA would result in any “hot spots,” as compared to BART. The shifting of emissions under the CSA is limited by the prohibition on emissions credit trading between the EGUs owned by Progress Energy and those owned by Duke Energy before the 2012 merger, as mentioned above. Additionally, the 2009-2013 SO2 and NOX emissions data summarized in Tables 6 and 11, respectively, of North Carolina's submittal indicate that emissions have not shifted to any significant degree between the EGUs subject to the CSA during this time period. Emissions reductions were taking place at each EGU facility and not isolated to any one facility or group of facilities. To the extent that any shifting might occur in the future, all of the operating Progress Energy units subject to the CSA operate with the most stringent NOX and SO2 control equipment, and all of the Duke Energy units subject to the CSA operate with the most stringent NOX and SO2 controls with the exception of Allen, Marshall, and Buck which operate SNCR. Of the SNCR units, only Marshall is BART-eligible. Even assuming that a BART analysis would result in a requirement to install SCR at Marshall, any shifting of emissions to Marshall would be restricted by its available capacity. Furthermore, any incremental decrease in NOX emissions if the State were to require SCR at Marshall would not be expected to have a significant impact on visibility at Class I areas due, in part, to the fact that nitrates are a relatively small contributor to PM2.5 mass and visibility impairment on the 20 percent worst days at the Class I areas in closest proximity to Marshall.

    Based on the evidence provided above, EPA proposes to find that the BART Alternative achieves greater reasonable progress than BART and thus satisfies the requirements of 40 CFR 51.308(e)(2)(i)(E).

    2. Requirement That Emissions Reductions Occur During the First Implementation Period

    Pursuant to 40 CFR 51.308(e)(2)(iii), the state must ensure that all necessary emission reductions take place during the period of the first long-term strategy for regional haze (i.e., by December 31, 2018). The Regional Haze Rule further provides that, to meet this requirement, the state must provide a detailed description of the alternative measure, including schedules for implementation, the emission reductions required by the program, all necessary administrative and technical procedures for implementing the program, rules for accounting and monitoring emissions, and procedures for enforcement. Id. EPA proposes to find that the BART Alternative meets this requirement because the State has fully described the CSA, the CSA prescribes emissions reductions through the use of emissions caps, the emissions caps are in effect and incorporated into North Carolina's SIP, and all CSA-subject EGUs are required to meet the accounting and monitoring requirements of CSAPR.12 Furthermore, all CSA-related permitting and construction activities have been completed to meet the CSA emissions caps. EPA therefore proposes to find that North Carolina has satisfied the requirements of 40 CFR 51.308(e)(2)(iii).

    12See 76 FR 48208 (August 8, 2011).

    3. Demonstration That Emissions Reductions Are Surplus

    Pursuant to 40 CFR 51.308(e)(2)(iv), the SIP must demonstrate that the emissions reductions resulting from the alternative measure will be surplus to those reductions resulting from measures adopted to meet requirements of the CAA as of the baseline date of the SIP. The baseline date for regional haze SIPs is 2002, and the first NOX and SO2 CSA emissions caps were not effective until 2007 and 2009, respectively. See 64 FR 35742. Therefore, EPA proposes to find that the reductions associated with the CSA are surplus in accordance with 40 CFR 51.308(e)(2)(iv).

    B. Reasonable Progress Evaluation

    EPA finalized a limited disapproval of North Carolina's regional haze SIP based on its reliance on CAIR to satisfy the BART requirement and the requirement for a long-term strategy sufficient to achieve the state-adopted reasonable progress goals. See 77 FR 33653. In that action, EPA also finalized limited disapprovals of a number of other states' regional haze SIPs that relied on CAIR to satisfy these requirements and finalized Federal Implementation Plans (FIPs) that substituted reliance on CSAPR for reliance on CAIR for several states. Id. However, North Carolina's 2014 regional haze SIP submission relies on the CSA, rather than CSAPR, to correct the deficiencies in its regional haze SIP. EPA therefore must evaluate whether inclusion of the CSA in lieu of CAIR in the state's long-term strategy is sufficient to ensure reasonable progress.

    As discussed in section II.B.1.e, sulfates are the major contributor to visibility impairment at Class I areas in the VISTAS region. Based on its conclusion that SO2 reductions would result in the greatest visibility improvements, North Carolina's 2007 regional haze SIP submission focused its reasonable progress control analysis on emission units that fall within the SO2 area of influence of any Class I area, as modeled by VISTAS, and have a one percent or greater contribution to the sulfate visibility impairment in at least one Class I area. See 77 FR 11869. Sixteen EGUs subject to the CSA and formerly subject to CAIR met North Carolina's reasonable process screening criteria. The State subsequently concluded in its regional haze SIP submission that no additional controls beyond CAIR and the CSA were reasonable for these units during the first implementation period. See 77 FR 11870, 11872. North Carolina's long-term strategy relied, in part, on this conclusion.

    Ten of the 16 aforementioned units have shut down or converted to natural gas. The remaining coal-fired units have each installed FGD to comply with the CSA. Given North Carolina's focus on reducing SO2 emissions to achieve reasonable progress and the fact that coal-fired EGUs remaining in operation are already subject to the most stringent SO2 controls available, EPA proposes to find that no additional controls are necessary for these units to achieve reasonable progress during the first implementation period. This proposed finding and the proposed finding that North Carolina's BART Alternative meets the requirements of the Regional Haze Rule form the basis for EPA's proposal to convert EPA's limited disapproval of the State's regional haze SIP to a full approval.

    III. Proposed Action

    EPA is proposing to find that North Carolina's regional haze SIP revision meets the applicable requirements of the CAA and Regional Haze Rule, including the requirement that the BART Alternative achieve greater reasonable progress than would be achieved through the installation and operation of BART. EPA also proposes to find that final approval of this SIP revision would correct the deficiencies that led to EPA's limited disapproval of the State's regional haze SIP on June 7, 2012, and proposes to convert the EPA's June 27, 2012, limited approval to a full approval. These proposed actions, if finalized, would eliminate the need for EPA to issue a FIP to remedy the deficiencies in North Carolina's December 17, 2007, SIP submission.

    IV. Statutory and Executive Order Reviews

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    The SIP is not approved to apply on any Indian reservation land or in any other area where EPA or an Indian tribe has demonstrated that a tribe has jurisdiction. In those areas of Indian country, the rule does not have tribal implications as specified by Executive Order 13175 (65 FR 67249, November 9, 2000), nor will it impose substantial direct costs on tribal governments or preempt tribal law.

    List of Subjects in 40 CFR Part 52

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

    Authority:

    42 U.S.C. 7401 et seq.

    Dated: March 25, 2016. Heather McTeer Toney, Regional Administrator, Region 4.
    [FR Doc. 2016-07670 Filed 4-4-16; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560-50-P
    ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY 40 CFR Part 52 [EPA-R04-OAR-2015-0696; FRL-9944-54-Region 4] Air Plan Approval; South Carolina; Transportation Conformity Update AGENCY:

    Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

    ACTION:

    Proposed rule.

    SUMMARY:

    The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing to approve a State Implementation Plan (SIP) revision submitted by the State of South Carolina, through the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control, on October 13, 2015. This revision consists of transportation conformity criteria and procedures related to interagency consultation and enforceability of certain transportation-related control measures and mitigation measures. The intended effect of this approval is to update the transportation conformity criteria and procedures in the South Carolina SIP to reorganize previous exhibits into a single Memorandum of Agreement document as well as to update signatories to add the newly established Lowcountry Area Transportation Study to the list of Metropolitan Planning Organizations, created to represent a new urbanized area designated as a result of the 2010 Census. This proposed action is being taken pursuant to the Clean Air Act.

    DATES:

    Written comments must be received on or before May 5, 2016.

    ADDRESSES:

    Submit your comments, identified by Docket ID No. EPA-R04-OAR-2015-0696 at http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the online instructions for submitting comments. Once submitted, comments cannot be edited or removed from Regulations.gov. EPA may publish any comment received to its public docket. Do not submit electronically any information you consider to be Confidential Business Information (CBI) or other information whose disclosure is restricted by statute. Multimedia submissions (audio, video, etc.) must be accompanied by a written comment. The written comment is considered the official comment and should include discussion of all points you wish to make. EPA will generally not consider comments or comment contents located outside of the primary submission (i.e. on the web, cloud, or other file sharing system). For additional submission methods, the full EPA public comment policy, information about CBI or multimedia submissions, and general guidance on making effective comments, please visit http://www2.epa.gov/dockets/commenting-epa-dockets.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Kelly Sheckler of the Air Regulatory Management Section at the Air Planning and Implementation Branch, Air, Pesticides and Toxics Management Division, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 4, 61 Forsyth Street SW., Atlanta, Georgia 30303-8960. Ms. Sheckler's telephone number is 404-562-9992. She can also be reached via electronic mail at [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    In the Final Rules Section of this Federal Register, EPA is approving the State's implementation plan revision as a direct final rule without prior proposal because the Agency views this as a noncontroversial submittal and anticipates no adverse comments. A detailed rationale for the approval is set forth in the direct final rule. If no adverse comments are received in response to this rule, no further activity is contemplated. If EPA receives adverse comments, the direct final rule will be withdrawn and all public comments received will be addressed in a subsequent final rule based on this proposed rule. EPA will not institute a second comment period on this document. Any parties interested in commenting on this document should do so at this time.

    Dated: March 25, 2016. Heather McTeer Toney, Regional Administrator, Region 4.
    [FR Doc. 2016-07816 Filed 4-4-16; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560-50-P
    DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Fish and Wildlife Service 50 CFR Part 17 [4500030113] Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; 12-Month Findings on Petitions To List Island Marble Butterfly, San Bernardino Flying Squirrel, Spotless Crake, and Sprague's Pipit as Endangered or Threatened Species AGENCY:

    Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

    ACTION:

    Notice of 12-month petition findings.

    SUMMARY:

    We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce 12-month findings on petitions to list the island marble butterfly, the San Bernardino flying squirrel, the American Samoa population of the spotless crake, and the Sprague's pipit as endangered species or threatened species under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). After review of the best available scientific and commercial information, we find that listing the island marble butterfly as an endangered or threatened species is warranted. Currently, however, listing the island marble butterfly is precluded by higher priority actions to amend the Lists of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants. Upon publication of this 12-month petition finding, we will add the island marble butterfly to our candidate species list. We will develop a proposed rule to list the island marble butterfly as our priorities allow. After review of the best available scientific and commercial information, we find that listing the San Bernardino flying squirrel, the American Samoa population of the spotless crake, and the Sprague's pipit is not warranted at this time. However, we ask the public to submit to us any new information that becomes available concerning the stressors to the San Bernardino flying squirrel, the American Samoa population of the spotless crake, the Sprague's pipit, or their habitats at any time.

    DATES:

    The findings announced in this document were made on April 5, 2016.

    ADDRESSES:

    These findings are available on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov at the following docket numbers:

    Species Docket No. Island marble butterfly FWS-R1-ES-2014-0025. San Bernardino flying squirrel FWS-R8-ES-2016-0046. American Samoa population of the spotless crake FWS-HQ-ES-2016-0048. Sprague's pipit FWS-R6-ES-2009-0081.

    Supporting information used in preparing these findings is available for public inspection, by appointment, during normal business hours, by contacting the appropriate person, as specified under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT. Please submit any new information, materials, comments, or questions concerning these findings to the appropriate person, as specified under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Species Contact information Island marble butterfly Eric V. Rickerson, State Supervisor, Washington Fish and Wildlife Office, 360-753-9440; [email protected] San Bernardino flying squirrel Mendel Stewart, Field Supervisor, Carlsbad Fish and Wildlife Office, 760-731-9440; [email protected] American Samoa population of the Spotless crake Mary Abrams, Project Leader, Pacific Islands Fish and Wildlife Office, 808-792-9400; [email protected] Sprague's pipit Kevin Shelley, State Supervisor, North Dakota Ecological Services Field Office, 701-250-4402; [email protected] If you use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD), please call the Federal Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 800-877-8339.
    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Background

    Section 4(b)(3)(B) of the Act (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.) requires that, for any petition to revise the Federal Lists of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants that contains substantial scientific or commercial information indicating that listing an animal or plant species may be warranted, we make a finding within 12 months of the date of receipt of the petition (“12-month finding”). In this finding, we determine whether listing the island marble butterfly, the San Bernardino flying squirrel, the American Samoa population of the spotless crake, and the Sprague's pipit is: (1) Not warranted; (2) warranted; or (3) warranted, but the immediate proposal of a regulation implementing the petitioned action is precluded by other pending proposals to determine whether species are endangered or threatened species, and expeditious progress is being made to add or remove qualified species from the Federal Lists of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants (warranted but precluded). Section 4(b)(3)(C) of the Act requires that we treat a petition for which the requested action is found to be warranted but precluded as though resubmitted on the date of such finding, that is, requiring a subsequent finding to be made within 12 months. We must publish these 12-month findings in the Federal Register.

    Summary of Information Pertaining to the Five Factors

    Section 4 of the Act (16 U.S.C. 1533) and the implementing regulations in part 424 of title 50 of the Code of Federal Regulations (50 CFR part 424) set forth procedures for adding species to, removing species from, or reclassifying species on the Federal Lists of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants. Under section 4(a)(1) of the Act, a species may be determined to be an endangered species or a threatened species based on any of the following five factors:

    (A) The present or threatened destruction, modification, or curtailment of its habitat or range;

    (B) Overutilization for commercial, recreational, scientific, or educational purposes;

    (C) Disease or predation;

    (D) The inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms; or

    (E) Other natural or manmade factors affecting its continued existence.

    We summarize below the information on which we based our evaluation of the five factors provided in section 4(a)(1) of the Act in determining whether the island marble butterfly, the San Bernardino flying squirrel, the American Samoa population of the spotless crake, and the Sprague's pipit are endangered species or threatened species. More detailed information about these species is presented in the species-specific assessment forms found on http://www.regulations.gov under the appropriate docket number (see ADDRESSES). In considering what stressors under the five factors might constitute threats, we must look beyond the mere exposure of the species to the factor to determine whether the species responds to the factor in a way that causes actual impacts to the species. If there is exposure to a factor, but no response, or only a positive response, that factor is not a threat. If there is exposure and the species responds negatively, the factor may be a threat. In that case, we determine if that stressor rises to the level of a threat, meaning that it may drive or contribute to the risk of extinction of the species such that the species warrants listing as an endangered or threatened species as those terms are defined by the Act. This does not necessarily require empirical proof of a threat. The combination of exposure and some corroborating evidence of how the species is likely affected could suffice. The mere identification of stressors that could affect a species negatively is not sufficient to compel a finding that listing is appropriate; we require evidence that these stressors are operative threats that act on the species to the point that the species meets the definition of an endangered species or a threatened species under the Act.

    In making our 12-month findings, we considered and evaluated the best available scientific and commercial information.

    Island Marble Butterfly (Euchloe ausonides insulanus) Previous Federal Actions

    On December 11, 2002, we received a petition dated December 10, 2002, from the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation (Xerces), Center for Biological Diversity, Friends of the San Juans, and Northwest Ecosystem Alliance, requesting that we emergency list the island marble butterfly as an endangered species, and that we designate critical habitat concurrently with the listing. The petition clearly identified itself as such and included the requisite identification information from the petitioner, required at 50 CFR 424.14(a). Because the Act does not provide for petitions to emergency list species, we treat emergency listing petitions as petitions to list the species. On February 13, 2006, we published a 90-day finding in the Federal Register (71 FR 7497) concluding that the petition presented substantial scientific information indicating that listing the island marble butterfly may be warranted. On November 14, 2006, we published a notice of 12-month petition finding, concluding that the island marble butterfly did not warrant listing (71 FR 66292). Please see that 12-month finding for a complete summary of all previous Federal actions for this subspecies.

    On August 24, 2012, we received a second petition from Xerces dated August 22, 2012, requesting that we emergency list the island marble butterfly as an endangered species and that we designate critical habitat concurrently with the listing. The petition clearly identified itself as such and included the requisite identification information from the petitioner, required at 50 CFR 424.14(a). Included in the petition was supporting information regarding the subspecies' taxonomy, ecology, historical and current distribution, current status, and what the petitioner identified as actual and potential causes of decline. We acknowledged the receipt of the petition in a letter to Xerces, dated September 27, 2012. In that letter we also stated that we would, to the maximum extent practicable, issue a finding within 90 days stating whether the petition presented substantial information indicating that listing may be warranted.

    On March 6, 2013, we received a notice of intent to sue from Xerces for failure to complete the finding on the petition within 90 days. On January 28, 2014, we entered into a settlement agreement with Xerces stipulating that we would complete the 90-day finding before September 30, 2014. We published our 90-day finding in the Federal Register on August 19, 2014 (79 FR 49045). In that finding, we concluded that the petition presented substantial scientific information indicating that listing the island marble butterfly may be warranted. The settlement agreement did not specifically stipulate a deadline for a subsequent 12-month finding.

    We received a notice of intent to sue from Xerces dated September 5, 2014, stating the organization's intent to file suit to compel the Service to issue a 12-month finding as to whether listing the island marble butterfly is warranted, not warranted, or warranted but precluded. We entered into a settlement agreement with Xerces on April 6, 2015, stipulating that we would submit a 12-month finding to the Federal Register on or before March 31, 2016. This document constitutes the 12-month finding on the August 22, 2012, petition to list the island marble butterfly as an endangered species.

    To ensure the status review was based on the best scientific and commercial information available, the Service requested any new or updated information available for the island marble butterfly when we published our 90-day finding on August 19, 2014. On February 13, 2016, we published a correction to our 90-day finding (80 FR 5719) to address a clerical error affecting the closing date for the initial public comment period; the comment period on the 90-day finding closed on April 6, 2015.

    Summary of Status Review

    In making our 12-month finding on the petition, we consider and evaluate the best available scientific and commercial information. This evaluation includes information from all sources, including Federal, State, tribal, academic, and private entities and the public. However, because we completed a status review for the subspecies in 2006, we started our evaluation for this 2016 status review and 12-month finding by considering the November 14, 2006, 12-month finding (71 FR 66292) on the island marble butterfly.

    We then considered studies and information that have become available since that finding. A supporting document entitled “Notice of 12-month petition finding on a petition to list the Island marble butterfly” provides a summary of the current (post 2006) literature and information regarding the island marble butterfly's distribution, habitat requirements, life history, and stressors, as well as a detailed account of our five-factor threat analysis. The assessment is available as a supplemental document at Docket No. FWS-R1-ES-2014-0025.

    The island marble butterfly is an early-flying Pierid butterfly (meaning that it is in the family of butterflies that includes “whites” and “sulfurs”) and only produces a single brood a year. The island marble butterfly is now only found on San Juan Island in a single population centered on American Camp. There are three known plants that can serve as larval host plants for the island marble butterfly, all in the mustard family (Brassicaceae): Lepidium virginicum var. menziesii (Menzies' pepperweed), a native species; Brassica rapa (field mustard), a nonnative species; and Sisymbrium altissimum L. (tumble mustard), a nonnative species. Each larval host plant is associated with a specific habitat type, and each is subject to different stressors; for example, Menzies' pepperweed grows in coastal, nearshore habitat and is subject to inundation and storm surge damage, whereas tumble mustard grows primarily in higher elevation sand-dune habitat where dune stabilization and competition with weedy species degrade habitat quality. The island marble butterfly primarily nectars on its larval host plants, but also nectars on a wide variety of additional native and nonnative species.

    The island marble butterfly progresses from egg to chrysalis over the course of 38 days, on average, and may spend greater than 330 days in diapause before emerging as adults in late April or early May. Males generally emerge a few days before females and adults live between 6 and 9 days. The adult flight season generally begins in late April to early May and may extend into late June or early July.

    Our 2006 12-month finding and the status review conducted for our 2016 12-month finding both considered a number of stressors (natural or human-induced negative pressures affecting individuals or subpopulations of a species) on the island marble butterfly. These include habitat loss attributed to: Development; road construction; road maintenance activities; grassland restoration; agricultural practices; herbivory by black-tailed deer, livestock, European rabbits, and brown garden snails; storm surges; recreation; plant succession; and competition with invasive species. We also evaluated the stressors of over-collection; disease and predation; inadequacy of regulatory mechanisms; small population size and vulnerability to stochastic events; vehicular collisions; insecticide application; and the cumulative effects of these stressors, including small population size and restricted range combined with any stressor that removes individuals from the population or decreases the island marble butterfly's reproductive success.

    Habitat loss for the island marble butterfly is extensive and ongoing, and has resulted in the extirpation of the island marble butterfly from much of its former range due, in large part, to: (1) Development; (2) road maintenance activities; (3) agricultural practices; and (4) herbivory by black-tailed deer and livestock. The last known population of the island marble butterfly is centered on American Camp, a unit of the San Juan Island National Historical Park that is managed by the National Park Service, and we evaluated stressors to habitat within the current range of the subspecies. We conclude that herbivory by black-tailed deer and European rabbits, plant succession and competition with invasive species, and a projected increased frequency in storm surges reduce or destroy habitat for the island marble butterfly at American Camp and constitute a threat to the subspecies.

    We did not find substantive evidence to conclude that habitat loss attributable to development, road construction, road maintenance activities, agricultural practices, herbivory by livestock and brown garden snails, or recreation are threats at this time. The island marble butterfly occurs almost entirely in National Park Service land. The National Park Service constructed deer exclusion fencing around virtually all suitable island marble butterfly habitat in the park. The fencing has the additional benefit of discouraging park visitors from inadvertently walking through areas potentially occupied by the island marble butterfly. While it is possible that recreation may cause a loss of larval habitat and trampling of individuals in some small portions of the park, we find that the effects of recreation alone do not rise to the level of a threat to the island marble butterfly at this time.

    We further considered whether predation is a threat to the island marble butterfly. Direct predation by spiders (on larvae and adults) and wasps (on larvae) accounts for a significant proportion of mortality for the island marble butterfly where grazers are excluded. Where grazers cannot be excluded, incidental predation by browsing black-tailed deer accounts for a high proportion of mortality for eggs and larvae of the island marble butterfly, as deer preferentially eat the flowering heads of the larval host plants where the island marble butterflies lay their eggs. We conclude that direct and incidental predation is a threat to the island marble butterfly.

    We reviewed all Federal, State, and local laws, regulations, and other regulatory mechanisms, as well as any conservation efforts, that could reduce or minimize the threats we have identified to the subspecies; we found that existing regulatory mechanisms are being implemented within their scope and provide some benefit to the island marble butterfly.

    American Camp, as part of San Juan Island National Historic Park, is managed under the National Park Service's Organic Act and implementing regulations, which promote natural resource conservation in the park and prohibit the collection of the island marble butterfly on lands managed by the park In addition, under the General Management Plan for the park, the National Park Service is required to follow the 2006 Conservation Agreement and Strategy for the Island Marble Butterfly. Conservation actions for the island marble butterfly include restoring native grassland ecosystem components at American Camp; avoiding management actions that would destroy host plants; avoiding vegetation treatments in island marble butterfly habitat when early life-stages are likely to be present; and implementing a monitoring plan for the subspecies.

    The island marble butterfly is currently classified as a candidate species by the State of Washington. The Washington Department of Natural Resources owns the Cattle Point Natural Resources Conservation Area consisting of 112 acres directly to the east of American Camp, a portion of which provides potentially suitable habitat for island marble butterflies. Natural Resource Conservation Areas are managed to protect outstanding examples of native ecosystems; habitat for endangered, threatened, and sensitive plants and animals; and scenic landscapes. Removal of any plants or soil is prohibited unless written permission is obtained from Washington Department of Natural Resources. In addition, state- and county-level regulatory mechanisms that influence development and zoning on San Juan and Lopez islands are generally beneficial to suitable habitat that could be occupied by the island marble butterfly in the future.

    Given that the very small population at American Camp is likely the only remaining population of the subspecies, we conclude that small population size makes it particularly vulnerable to a number of likely stochastic events that remove individuals from the population or decrease its reproductive success. We further find that the increased frequency and strength of storm surges associated with climate change is a threat to the island marble butterfly.

    The scope of the regulatory mechanisms that are currently in place is not sufficient to ameliorate these threats to the subspecies, including habitat loss from herbivory, plant succession, competition with invasive species, and increased frequency and strength of storm surges; predation; and small population size. Therefore, the habitat loss and mortality due to these stressors, when considered in conjunction with small population size and the restricted range of the subspecies, results in cumulative effects that pose a threat to the island marble butterfly.

    There is no substantiated evidence that overutilization, either scientific or commercial, is a threat to the island marble butterfly. Similarly, there is no evidence that disease is a threat to the subspecies. Vehicle collisions are a likely stressor, but there is significant uncertainty regarding the extent of negative impacts on the island marble butterfly attributable to vehicular collisions. The best available information does not indicate that vehicular collisions pose a threat to the subspecies at this time. Insecticide application could negatively affect the island marble butterfly, if it were to take place in occupied habitat, but the best available information does not indicate that insecticide use is a threat at this time.

    Finding

    Based on our review of the best available scientific and commercial information pertaining to the five factors, we identified the following threats: (1) Habitat loss attributable to plant succession and competition with invasive species, herbivory by deer and European rabbits, and storm surges; (2) direct predation by spiders and wasps, and incidental predation by deer; (3) small population size and vulnerability to stochastic events; and (4) the cumulative effects of small population size and restricted range combined with any other stressor that removes individuals from the population or decreases the island marble butterfly's reproductive success. These threats have affected the island marble butterfly throughout the entirety of its range, are ongoing, and are likely to persist into the foreseeable future. When considered individually and cumulatively, these threats are of a high magnitude. Despite existing regulatory mechanisms and other conservation efforts, the threats to the subspecies remain sufficient to put the subspecies is in danger of extinction or likely to become so in the foreseeable future.

    On the basis of the best scientific and commercial information available, we find that the petitioned action to list the island marble butterfly as an endangered or a threatened species is warranted. We will make a determination on the status of the subspecies as an endangered or threatened species when we publish a proposed listing determination. However, the immediate proposal of a regulation implementing this action is precluded by higher-priority listing actions, and progress is being made to add or remove qualified species from the Lists of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants.

    We reviewed the available information to determine if the existing and foreseeable threats render the subspecies at risk of extinction now such that issuing an emergency regulation temporarily listing the subspecies under section 4(b)(7) of the Act is warranted. We determined that issuing an emergency regulation temporarily listing the island marble butterfly is not warranted for this subspecies at this time because there are no imminent threats that immediate Federal protection would feasibly ameliorate. However, if at any time we determine that issuing an emergency regulation temporarily listing the island marble butterfly is warranted, we will initiate emergency listing at that time.

    We assigned the island marble butterfly a listing priority number (LPN) of 3 based on our finding that the subspecies faces threats that are imminent and of high magnitude. These threats include: (1) Habitat loss attributable to plant succession and competition with invasive species, herbivory by deer and European rabbits, and storm surges; (2) direct predation by spiders and wasps, and incidental predation by deer; (3) small population size and vulnerability to stochastic events; and (4) the cumulative effects of small population size and restricted range combined with any other stressor that removes individuals from the population or decreases the island marble butterfly's reproductive success. This is the highest priority that can be provided to a subspecies under our guidance.

    The island marble butterfly will be added to the list of candidate species upon publication of this 12-month finding. We will continue to evaluate this subspecies as new information becomes available. Continuing review will determine if a change in status is warranted, including the need to make prompt use of emergency listing procedures.

    We intend that any proposed listing determination for the island marble butterfly will be as accurate as possible. Therefore, we will continue to accept additional information and comments from all concerned governmental agencies, the scientific community, industry, or any other interested party concerning this finding.

    Preclusion and Expeditious Progress

    To make a finding that a particular action is warranted-but-precluded, the Service must make two findings: (1) That the immediate proposal and timely promulgation of a final regulation is precluded by pending listing proposals; and (2) that expeditious progress is being made to add qualified species to either of the Lists of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants (Lists) and to remove species from the Lists (16 U.S.C. 1533(b)(3)(B)(iii)).

    Preclusion

    A listing proposal is precluded if the Service does not have sufficient resources available to complete the proposal, because there are competing demands for those resources, and the relative priority of those competing demands is higher. Thus, in any given fiscal year (FY), multiple factors dictate whether it will be possible to undertake work on a proposed listing regulation or whether promulgation of such a proposal is precluded by higher-priority listing actions: (1) The amount of resources available for completing the proposed listing; (2) the estimated cost of completing the proposed listing; and (3) the Service's workload and prioritization of the proposed listing in relation to other actions.

    Available Resources

    The resources available for listing actions are determined through the annual Congressional appropriations process. In FY 1998 and for each fiscal year since then, Congress has placed a statutory cap on funds that may be expended for the Listing Program. This spending cap was designed to prevent the listing function from depleting funds needed for other functions under the Act (for example, recovery functions, such as removing species from the Lists), or for other Service programs (see House Report 105-163, 105th Congress, 1st Session, July 1, 1997). The funds within the spending cap are available to support work involving the following listing actions: Proposed and final listing rules; 90-day and 12-month findings on petitions to add species to the Lists or to change the status of a species from threatened to endangered; annual “resubmitted” petition findings on prior warranted-but-precluded petition findings as required under section 4(b)(3)(C)(i) of the Act; critical habitat petition findings; proposed and final rules designating or revising critical habitat; and litigation-related, administrative, and program-management functions (including preparing and allocating budgets, responding to Congressional and public inquiries, and conducting public outreach regarding listing and critical habitat).

    We cannot spend more for the Listing Program than the amount of funds within the spending cap without violating the Anti-Deficiency Act (see 31 U.S.C. 1341(a)(1)(A)). In addition, since FY 2002, the Service's budget has included a subcap for critical habitat to ensure that some funds within the spending cap for listing are available for completing Listing Program actions other than critical habitat designations for already-listed species (“The critical habitat designation subcap will ensure that some funding is available to address other listing activities” (House Report No. 107-103, 107th Congress, 1st Session. June 19, 2001)). In FY 2002 and each year until FY 2006, the Service had to use virtually all of the funds within the critical habitat subcap to address court-mandated designations of critical habitat, and consequently none of the funds within the critical habitat subcap were available for other listing activities. In some FYs since 2006, we have not needed to use all of the funds within the critical habitat subcap to comply with court orders, and we therefore could use the remaining funds within the subcap towards additional proposed listing determinations for high-priority candidate species. In other FYs, while we did not need to use all of the funds within the critical habitat subcap to comply with court orders, we did not use the remaining funds towards additional proposed listing determinations, and instead used the remaining funds towards completing critical habitat determinations concurrently with proposed listing determinations; this allowed us to combine the proposed listing determination and proposed critical habitat designation into one rule, thereby being more efficient in our work. In FY 2014, based on the Service's workload, we were able to use some of the funds within the critical habitat subcap to fund proposed listing determinations.

    For FY 2012, Congress also put in place two additional subcaps within the listing cap: One for listing actions for foreign species and one for petition findings. As with the critical habitat subcap, if the Service does not need to use all of the funds within either subcap, we are able to use the remaining funds for completing proposed or final listing determinations. In FY 2016, based on the Service's workload and available funding, we may use some of the funds within the critical habitat subcap, foreign species subcap, and/or the petitions subcap to fund proposed listing determinations if necessary.

    We make our determinations of preclusion on a nationwide basis to ensure that the species most in need of listing will be addressed first and also because we allocate our listing budget on a nationwide basis. Through the listing cap, the three subcaps, and the amount of funds needed to complete court-mandated actions within those subcaps, Congress and the courts have in effect determined the amount of money available for listing activities nationwide. Therefore, the funds in the listing cap—other than those within the subcaps needed to comply with court orders or court-approved settlement agreements requiring critical habitat actions for already-listed species, listing actions for foreign species, and petition findings—set the framework within which we make our determinations of preclusion and expeditious progress.

    For FY 2016, on December 18, 2015, Congress passed a Consolidated Appropriations Act (Pub. L. 114-113), which provides funding through September 30, 2016. In particular, it includes an overall spending cap of $20,515,000 for the listing program. Of that, no more than $4,605,000 can be used for critical habitat determinations; no more than $1,504,000 can be used for listing actions for foreign species; and no more than $1,501,000 can be used to make 90-day or 12-month findings on petitions. The Service thus has $12,905,000 available to work on proposed and final listing determinations for domestic species. In addition, if the Service has funding available within the critical habitat, foreign species, or petition subcaps after those workloads have been completed, it can use those funds to work on listing actions other than critical habitat designations or foreign species.

    Costs of Listing Actions. The work involved in preparing various listing documents can be extensive, and may include, but is not limited to: Gathering and assessing the best scientific and commercial data available and conducting analyses used as the basis for our decisions; writing and publishing documents; and obtaining, reviewing, and evaluating public comments and peer review comments on proposed rules and incorporating relevant information from those comments into final rules. The number of listing actions that we can undertake in a given year also is influenced by the complexity of those listing actions; that is, more complex actions generally are more costly. The median cost for preparing and publishing a 90-day finding is $39,276; for a 12-month finding, $100,690; for a proposed rule with proposed critical habitat, $345,000; and for a final listing rule with final critical habitat, $305,000.

    Prioritizing Listing Actions. The Service's Listing Program workload is broadly composed of four types of actions, which the Service prioritizes as follows: (1) Compliance with court orders and court-approved settlement agreements requiring that petition findings or listing or critical habitat determinations be completed by a specific date; (2) section 4 (of the Act) listing and critical habitat actions with absolute statutory deadlines; (3) essential litigation-related, administrative, and listing program-management functions; and (4) section 4 listing actions that do not have absolute statutory deadlines. In FY 2010, the Service received many new petitions and a single petition to list 404 species, significantly increasing the number of actions within the second category of our workload—actions that have absolute statutory deadlines. As a result of the petitions to list hundreds of species, we currently have over 460 12-month petition findings yet to be initiated and completed.

    To prioritize within each of the four types of actions, we developed guidelines for assigning a listing priority number (LPN) for each candidate species (48 FR 43098, September 21, 1983). Under these guidelines, we assign each candidate an LPN of 1 to 12, depending on the magnitude of threats (high or moderate to low), immediacy of threats (imminent or nonimminent), and taxonomic status of the species (in order of priority: Monotypic genus (a species that is the sole member of a genus); a species; or a part of a species (subspecies or distinct population segment)). The lower the listing priority number, the higher the listing priority (that is, a species with an LPN of 1 would have the highest listing priority). A species with a higher LPN would generally be precluded from listing by species with lower LPNs, unless work on a proposed rule for the species with the higher LPN can be combined with work on a proposed rule for other high-priority species. This is not the case for the island marble butterfly. Thus, in addition to being precluded by the lack of available resources, the island marble butterfly, with an LPN of 3, is also precluded by work on proposed listing determinations for those candidate species with a higher listing priority.

    Finally, proposed rules for reclassification of threatened species to endangered species are lower priority, because as listed species, they are already afforded the protections of the Act and implementing regulations. However, for efficiency reasons, we may choose to work on a proposed rule to reclassify a species to endangered if we can combine this with work that is subject to a court-determined deadline.

    Since before Congress first established the spending cap for the Listing Program in 1998, the Listing Program workload has required considerably more resources than the amount of funds Congress has allowed for the Listing Program. It is therefore important that we be as efficient as possible in our listing process. Therefore, as we implement our listing work plan and work on proposed rules for the highest-priority species in the next several years, we are preparing multi-species proposals when appropriate, and these may include species with lower priority if they overlap geographically or have the same threats as one of the highest priority species. In addition, we take into consideration the availability of staff resources when we determine which high-priority species will receive funding to minimize the amount of time and resources required to complete each listing action.

    Listing Program Workload. Each FY we determine, based on the amount of funding Congress has made available within the Listing Program spending cap, specifically which actions we will have the resources to work on in that FY. We then prepare Allocation Tables that identify the actions that we are funding for that FY, and how much we estimate it will cost to complete each action; these Allocation Tables are part of our record for this notice document and the listing program. Our Allocation Table for FY 2012, which incorporated the Service's approach to prioritizing its workload, was adopted as part of a settlement agreement in a case before the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia (Endangered Species Act Section 4 Deadline Litigation, No. 10-377 (EGS), MDL Docket No. 2165 (“MDL Litigation”), Document 31-1 (D. DC May 10, 2011) (“MDL Settlement Agreement”)). The requirements of paragraphs 1 through 7 of that settlement agreement, combined with the work plan attached to the agreement as Exhibit B, reflected the Service's Allocation Tables for FY 2011 and FY 2012. In addition, paragraphs 2 through 7 of the agreement require the Service to take numerous other actions through FY 2017—in particular, complete either a proposed listing rule or a not-warranted finding for all 251 species designated as “candidates” in the 2010 candidate notice of review (“CNOR”) before the end of FY 2016, and complete final listing determinations within one year of proposing to list any of those species. Paragraph 10 of that settlement agreement sets forth the Service's conclusion that “fulfilling the commitments set forth in this Agreement, along with other commitments required by court orders or court-approved settlement agreements already in existence at the signing of this Settlement Agreement (listed in Exhibit A), will require substantially all of the resources in the Listing Program.” As part of the same lawsuit, the court also approved a separate settlement agreement with the other plaintiff in the case; that settlement agreement requires the Service to complete additional actions in specific fiscal years—including 12-month petition findings for 11 species, 90-day petition findings for 477 species, and proposed listing determinations or not-warranted findings for 39 species.

    These settlement agreements have led to a number of results that affect our preclusion analysis. First, the Service has been, and will continue to be, limited in the extent to which it can undertake additional actions within the Listing Program through FY 2017, beyond what is required by the MDL settlement agreements. Second, because the settlement is court-approved, two broad categories of actions now fall within the Service's highest priority (compliance with a court order): (1) The Service's entire prioritized workload for FY 2012, as reflected in its Allocation Table; and (2) completion, before the end of FY 2016, of proposed listings or not-warranted findings for the candidate species identified in the 2010 CNOR for which we have not yet proposed listing or made a not-warranted finding. Therefore, each year, one of the Service's highest priorities is to make steady progress towards completing by the end of 2017 proposed and final listing determinations for the 2010 candidate species—based on its LPN prioritization system, preparing multi-species actions when appropriate, and taking into consideration the availability of staff resources.

    The island marble butterfly was not listed as a candidate in the 2010 CNOR, nor was the proposed listing for the island marble butterfly included in the Allocation Tables that were reflected in the MDL settlement agreement. As we have discussed above, we have assigned an LPN of 3 to the island marble butterfly. Therefore, even if the Service has some additional funding after completing all of the work required by court orders and court-approved settlement agreements, we would first fund actions with absolute statutory deadlines for species that have LPNs of 1 or 2. In light of all of these factors, funding a proposed listing for the island marble butterfly is precluded by court-ordered and court-approved settlement agreements, listing actions with absolute statutory deadlines, and work on proposed listing determinations for those candidate species with a lower LPN.

    Expeditious Progress

    As explained above, a determination that listing is warranted but precluded must also demonstrate that expeditious progress is being made to add and remove qualified species to and from the Lists. As with our “precluded” finding, the evaluation of whether progress in adding qualified species to the Lists has been expeditious is a function of the resources available for listing and the competing demands for those funds. (Although we do not discuss it in detail here, we are also making expeditious progress in removing species from the list under the Recovery program in light of the resources available for delisting, which is funded by a separate line item in the budget of the Endangered Species Program. Thus far, during FY 2016, we have completed four delisting rules.) As discussed below, given the limited resources available for listing, we find that we are making expeditious progress in adding qualified species to the Lists in FY 2016.

    We provide below tables cataloguing the work of the Service's Listing Program in FY 2016. Making progress towards adding qualified species to the lists includes all three of the steps necessary for adding species to the Lists: (1) Identifying species that warrant listing; (2) undertaking the evaluation of the best available scientific information about those species and the threats they face, and preparing proposed and final listing rules; and (3) adding species to the Lists by publishing proposed and final listing rules that include a summary of the data on which the rule is based and show the relationship of that data to the rule. After taking into consideration the limited resources available for listing, the competing demands for those funds, and the completed work catalogued in the tables below, we find that we are making expeditious progress to add qualified species to the Lists in FY 2016.

    Our accomplishments this year should also be considered in the broader context of our commitment to reduce the number of candidate species in the 2010 CNOR for which we have not made final determinations whether or not to list. The MDL Settlement Agreement, which the court approved on May 10, 2011, required, among other things, that for all 251 species that were included as candidates in the 2010 CNOR, the Service submit to the Federal Register proposed listing rules or not-warranted findings by the end of FY 2016, and that for any proposed listing rules, the Service complete final listing determinations within the statutory time frame. Paragraph 6 of the agreement provided indicators that the Service is making adequate progress towards meeting that requirement. To date, the Service has completed proposed listing rules or not-warranted findings for 200 of the 2010 candidate species, as well as final listing rules for 143 of those proposed rules, and is therefore is making adequate progress towards meeting all of the requirements of the MDL settlement agreement. Both by entering into the settlement agreement and by implementing the settlement agreement—including making adequate progress towards making final listing determinations for the 251 species on the 2010 candidate list—the Service is making expeditious progress to add qualified species to the lists.

    The Service's progress in FY 2016 included completing and publishing the following determinations:

    FY 2016 Completed Listing Actions Publication
  • date
  • Title Actions FR Pages
    12/22/2015 90-day and 12-month Findings on a Petition to List the Miami Tiger Beetle as an Endangered or Threatened Species; Proposed Endangered Species Status for the Miami Tiger Beetle 90-day and 12-month petition findings—substantial and warranted
  • Proposed listing
  • Endangered
  • 80 FR 79533-79554.
    1/6/2016 12-Month Finding on a Petition to List the Alexander Archipelago Wolf as an Endangered or Threatened Species 12 month petition finding
  • Not warranted
  • 81 FR 435-458.
    1/12/2016 90-Day Findings on 17 Petitions 90-day petition findings
  • Substantial and not substantial
  • 81 FR 1368-1375.
    3/16/2016 90-Day Findings on 29 Petitions 90-day petition findings
  • Substantial and not substantial
  • 81 FR 14058-14072.

    Our expeditious progress also included work on listing actions that we funded in previous fiscal years, and in FY 2016, but have not yet been completed to date. For these species, we have completed the first step, and have been working on the second step, necessary for adding species to the Lists. These actions are listed below. Actions in the table are being conducted under a deadline set by a court through a court order or settlement agreement.

    Actions Funded in Previous FYs and FY 2016 But Not Yet Completed Species Action Actions Subject to Court Order/Settlement Agreement: Fisher (West Coast DPS) Final listing. Washington ground squirrel Proposed listing. Xantus's murrelet Proposed listing. 4 Florida plants (Florida pineland crabgrass, Florida prairie clover, pineland sandmat, and Everglades bully) Proposed listing. Black warrior waterdog Proposed listing. Black mudalia Proposed listing. Highlands tiger beetle Proposed listing. Sicklefin redhorse Proposed listing. Texas hornshell Proposed listing. Guadalupe fescue Proposed listing. Stephan's riffle beetle Proposed listing. Huachuca springsnail Proposed listing. Actions Subject to Statutory Deadline: 11 DPSs of green sea turtle Final listing. Big Sandy and Guyandotte River crayfishes Final listing. Virgin Islands coqui 12-month petition finding.

    Another way that we have been expeditious in making progress to add qualified species to the Lists is that we have endeavored to make our listing actions as efficient and timely as possible, given the requirements of the relevant law and regulations, and constraints relating to workload and personnel. We are continually considering ways to streamline processes or achieve economies of scale, such as by batching related actions together. Given our limited budget for implementing section 4 of the Act, these efforts also contribute towards finding that we are making expeditious progress to add qualified species to the Lists.

    San Bernardino Flying Squirrel (Glaucomys sabrinus californicus) Previous Federal Actions

    We recognized in four notices of review published in the Federal Register that listing the San Bernardino flying squirrel was potentially warranted. On September 18, 1985, the Service issued the first notice identifying vertebrate animal taxa native to the United States being considered for possible addition to the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife (List), including the San Bernardino flying squirrel (50 FR 37958). Subsequently, we issued three additional notices, dated January 6, 1989 (54 FR 554), November 21, 1991 (56 FR 58804), and November 15, 1994 (59 FR 58982), that presented an updated compilation of vertebrate and invertebrate animal taxa native to the United States, including the San Bernardino flying squirrel, that we were reviewing for possible addition to the List. This subspecies was categorized in these reviews as a category 2 (C2) taxon, meaning that listing was possibly appropriate but more information was needed before a final decision to list could be made. In the February 28, 1996, notice of review (61 FR 7596), we discontinued the designation of C2 species. Most C2 species were removed from the candidate list, including the San Bernardino flying squirrel.

    On August 25, 2010, we received a petition dated August 24, 2010, from the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD), requesting that we list the San Bernardino flying squirrel as endangered or threatened and designate critical habitat concurrent with listing under the Act. The petition clearly identified itself as a petition, was dated, and included the requisite identification information required at 50 CFR 424.14(a). On October 5, 2010, we sent the petitioner a letter acknowledging our receipt of the petition, and responded that we had reviewed the information presented in the petition and had not identified any emergency posing a significant risk to the well-being of the species that would make immediate listing of the species under section 4(b)(7) of the Act necessary. We also stated that, due to court orders and court-approved settlement agreements for other listing and critical habitat determinations under the Act, our listing and critical habitat funding for Fiscal Year 2011 was committed to other projects. We said that we would be unable to make an initial finding on the petition at that time, but would complete the action when workload and funding allowed. On February 1, 2012, we published in the Federal Register a 90-day finding (77 FR 4973) that the petition presented substantial information indicating that listing may be warranted and initiated a status review.

    On June 17, 2014, CBD sent a notice of intent to sue on our failure to complete a 12-month finding on the San Bernardino flying squirrel. On September 22, 2014, we reached a settlement with CBD (Center for Biological Diversity v. Jewell et al., No. 1:14-cv-01021-EGS). The settlement stipulated that we would submit our 12-month finding to the Federal Register by April 29, 2016. This document constitutes the 12-month finding on the August 24, 2010, petition to list the San Bernardino flying squirrel as an endangered or threatened species and fulfills our settlement obligation.

    This finding is based upon the Species Status Assessment titled “Final Species Status Assessment for San Bernardino Flying Squirrel (Glaucomys sabrinus californicus)” (Service 2016) (Species Status Assessment), a scientific analysis of available information prepared by a team of Service biologists from the Service's Carlsbad Fish and Wildlife Office, Pacific Southwest Regional Office, and National Headquarters Office. The purpose of the Species Status Assessment is to provide the best available scientific and commercial information about San Bernardino flying squirrel so that we can evaluate whether or not the subspecies warrants protection under the Act. In the Species Status Assessment, we present the best scientific and commercial data available concerning the status of the subspecies, including past, present, and future stressors. As such, the Species Status Assessment provides the scientific basis that informs our regulatory decision in this document. In this 12-month finding, we apply the standards of the Act and its regulations and policies. The Species Status Assessment can be found on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov, under Docket No. FWS-R8-ES-2016-0046.

    Summary of Status Review

    In making our 12-month finding on the petition, we consider and evaluate the best available scientific and commercial information. This evaluation includes information from all sources, including State, Federal, tribal, academic, and private entities and the public.

    The San Bernardino flying squirrel is 1 of 25 recognized subspecies of the northern flying squirrel. It is currently only known from the San Bernardino Mountains region. It was previously known to occur in the San Jacinto Mountains. The San Bernardino flying squirrel has not been observed in the San Jacinto Mountain since the 1990s; however, extensive surveys have not been conducted in this area. The habits and population biology of the San Bernardino flying squirrel have not been extensively studied throughout its presumed range.

    The San Bernardino flying squirrel is an arboreal (lives in trees) rodent, active year-round, and primarily nocturnal. Individual characteristics of mature or older forested habitat indicate that large-diameter trees, large snags, coarse woody debris, and truffle abundance have been found to be directly related to population densities of the northern flying squirrel. The San Bernardino flying squirrel has been observed in many residential settings and appears to be adaptable to lower density development and residential-forest habitats, as reported in other flying squirrel populations, as long as habitat features such as den sites and canopy cover are available.

    The potential threats (identified in the Species Status Assessment as “stressors” or “potential stressors”) that may be acting upon the San Bernardino flying squirrel currently or in the future (and consistent with the five listing factors identified in section 4(a)(1) of the Act) were described in the Species Status Assessment (Service 2016, pp. 27-66) (available at http://www.regulations.gov under Docket No. FWS-R8-ES-2016-0046). Our 2016 Species Status Assessment included summary evaluations of six potential stressors to the San Bernardino flying squirrel that may have low or medium-level impacts on the subspecies or its habitat, including habitat loss from urban development (Factor A), habitat fragmentation (Factor A), wildland fire fuel treatment (Factor A), wildland fire (Factor A and Factor E), urban air pollution (Factor A), and climate change (Factor A). We evaluated potential impacts associated with overutilization (Factor B), disease (Factor C), and predation (Factor C), but found that the subspecies has not been exposed to these stressors at a level sufficient to result in more than low or no impacts, overall, across the subspecies' range (see Service 2016, pp. 36-39).

    Where possible, we analyzed whether potential stressors are acting upon the subspecies for both the San Bernardino Mountains and the San Jacinto Mountains, though the occupancy status of the San Jacinto Mountains is unconfirmed at this time. Given that detailed occupancy and life history data for the San Bernardino flying squirrel are unavailable, we estimated or modeled the extent of habitat suitable to support the San Bernardino flying squirrel using positive detections, vegetation data layers, elevation range, and potential home range size (Service 2016, pp. 27-28). A complete description of the analysis and our methodology is available in the Species Status Assessment (Service 2016, pp. 27-28) and in our GIS procedures summary document (Service 2015a), which are available on http://www.regulations.gov under docket number FWS-R8-ES-2016-0046.

    Within our estimated suitable San Bernardino flying squirrel habitat in the San Bernardino Mountains we analyzed the effects of habitat loss and fragmentation. We found that 77 percent of land in the San Bernardino Mountains and 65 percent of land in the San Jacinto Mountains is owned by the U.S. Forest Service (USFS). In the San Jacinto Mountains region, approximately 22 percent of San Bernardino flying squirrel suitable habitat is under private ownership, but all but a very small portion of those lands are encompassed within the boundaries of two habitat conservation plans: the Western Riverside County Multi Species Habitat Conservation Plan (MSHCP) and the Coachella Valley MSHCP.

    The Western Riverside County MSHCP is a large-scale, multi-jurisdictional, 75-year habitat conservation plan approved in 2004 that addresses 146 listed and unlisted “Covered Species” including the San Bernardino flying squirrel within a 1,260,000 ac (599,904 ha) Plan Area in western Riverside County, California. Conservation objectives identified in the Western Riverside County MSHCP for the San Bernardino flying squirrel include the following: (1) Include within the Western Riverside County MSHCP Conservation Area at least 19,476 ac (7,882 ha) (67 percent) of suitable montane coniferous forest and deciduous woodland and forest habitats within the San Jacinto Mountains Bioregion for breeding, foraging, wintering, and dispersal movement, and (2) confirm occupation of 2,470 ac (1,000 ha) with a mean density of at least 2 individuals per 2.47 ac (2 individuals per ha) in the San Jacinto Mountains; and, in the San Bernardino Mountains, confirm occupation of 247.11 ac (100 ha) within the Western Riverside County MSHCP Conservation Area (Service 2016, pp. 73-74).

    The Coachella Valley MSHCP is a large-scale, multijurisdictional, 75-year habitat conservation plan approved in 2008 encompassing about 1.1 million ac (445,156 ha) in the Coachella Valley of central Riverside County, California. The Coachella Valley MSHCP is also a Subregional Plan under the State of California's Natural Community Conservation Planning (NCCP) Act, as amended. The Coachella Valley MSHCP/NCCP addresses 27 listed and unlisted covered species; however, these species do not include the San Bernardino flying squirrel.

    The Coachella Valley MSHCP/NCCP was designed to establish a multiple-species habitat conservation program that minimizes and mitigates the expected loss of habitat and incidental take of covered species. The associated permit covers incidental take resulting from habitat loss and disturbance associated with urban development and other proposed covered activities. These activities include public and private development within the plan area that requires discretionary and ministerial actions by permittees subject to consistency with the Coachella Valley MSHCP/NCCP policies. Though the San Bernardino flying squirrel is not a covered species, it will likely receive ancillary benefits from habitat protection measures included in the plan.

    A review of applications for development projects in the San Bernardino Mountains found six planned activities; the total area for these projects covers only a small fraction of San Bernardino flying squirrel suitable habitat in this mountain region. Similar project data were not available for the San Jacinto Mountains. In order to analyze the potential impacts of fragmentation, we conducted a spatial analysis using life-history and the most important habitat features associated with northern flying squirrels. We found only 1.3 percent of our estimated suitable habitat in the San Bernardino Mountains and only 5 percent of our estimated suitable habitat in the San Jacinto Mountains to be fragmented due to residential development or other activities (Service 2015a, entire).

    The San Bernardino flying squirrel relies on features in the landscape that may be modified or removed by fuel treatment activities; these activities may result in loss or modification of habitat structure and removal of nest trees. However, fuel treatment can provide desirable results to understory plant diversity in forests where fire has been suppressed. We evaluated data from the USFS summarizing their thinning practices and found that the total area subject to this activity over the past 10 years represents only 6 percent of all USFS lands within the San Bernardino Mountains (or about 1,045 ac (423 ha) per year); we are unaware of any thinning activities by the USFS in the San Jacinto Mountains area.

    San Bernardino flying squirrel habitat is downwind from California's densely populated South Coast Air Basin. Impacts from air pollution, such as nitrogen deposition and increased ozone, may result in habitat effects including soil acidification, loss of understory diversity, accelerated leaf turnover, and decreased allocation belowground and fine root biomass. Local air quality monitoring has recorded declines in ozone levels in the past 30 years, and local and State regulations on urban air pollution are expected to further reduce ozone levels and nitrogen deposition. However, additional analyses are needed to assess the effects of nitrogen and the combination of nitrogen emissions in combination with ozone level to San Bernardino flying squirrel habitat, as well as to the extent to which the subspecies will respond to any effects.

    As a result of fire suppression activities since the early 20th century, forested habitat in the San Bernardino and San Jacinto Mountains is at moderate to high risk of wildland fire. However, this stressor is being reduced by ongoing fuel reduction management techniques. Furthermore, results from a study of habitat use of the San Bernardino flying squirrel following fire has found that they return to moderately burned areas within 7 years after a wildland fire. The subspecies has persisted in the region since its first detection in 1897, despite numerous, periodic, and often large fires.

    Downscaled climate projections forecast an overall increase in temperature for the Southern California mountains region, which includes the San Bernardino and San Jacinto mountain ranges. Climate models for southern California also project a small annual mean decrease in precipitation for southern California; however, these models do not show consistent results for future precipitation patterns. Recent studies have shown that ongoing changes in precipitation and temperature have exacerbated the effects of the recent California drought. Given the projections of increased temperature and decreased precipitation, drought may in the future continue to be exacerbated by climate change. The effects of climate change may result in decrease of the forested habitat that supports the San Bernardino flying squirrel and of food resources utilized by the subspecies.

    We reviewed all Federal, State, and local laws, regulations, and other regulatory mechanisms intended to minimize the threats to the subspecies and found that existing regulatory mechanisms are being implemented within their scope and provide some benefit to the San Bernardino flying squirrel. We conclude that the best available scientific and commercial information overall indicates that the existing regulatory mechanisms are adequate to address impacts to the San Bernardino flying squirrel from the stressors for which governments may have regulatory control (habitat loss, habitat fragmentation, wildland fire fuel treatment, and urban air pollution).

    Cumulative impacts are currently occurring from the combined effects from wildland fire and climate-related changes. Studies have found that that the likelihood and frequency of large wildfires are expected to increase in southwestern California due to rising surface temperatures. The mixed conifer forests ecosystems in the San Bernardino and San Jacinto Mountains are likely currently experiencing the cumulative effects of wildland fire and the warming effects of climate change.

    Finding

    As required by the Act, we considered the five factors in assessing whether the San Bernardino flying squirrel is an endangered or threatened species throughout all of its range. We examined the best scientific and commercial information available regarding the past, present, and future stressors faced by the San Bernardino flying squirrel. We reviewed the petition, information available in our files, and other available published and unpublished information, and we coordinated with recognized species and habitat experts and other Federal, State, tribal, and local agencies. Listing is warranted if, based on our review of the best available scientific and commercial data, we find that the stressors to the San Bernardino flying squirrel are so severe or broad in scope that the subspecies is in danger of extinction (endangered), or likely to become endangered within the foreseeable future (threatened), throughout all or a significant portion of its range.

    We evaluated in the Species Status Assessment (Service 2016, pp. 27-66) whether each of the potential stressors is acting upon the subspecies, and we determined that the following are stressors that have acted upon the subspecies and have minimally or moderately affected, or in the future may potentially affect, individuals or portions of suitable habitat: Habitat loss from urban development (Factor A), habitat fragmentation (Factor A), wildland fire fuel treatment (Factor A), wildland fire (Factor A and Factor E), urban air pollution (Factor A), and climate change (Factor A). In our Species Status Assessment, we evaluated potential impacts associated with overutilization (Factor B), disease (Factor C), and predation (Factor C). We found that these potential stressors impacted individual San Bernardino flying squirrels, but that the subspecies has not been exposed to these stressors at a level sufficient to result in more than low or no impacts, overall, across the subspecies' range (see Service 2016, pp. 36-39); thus, we did not discuss them in this document.

    Effects from urban development (Factor A) and habitat fragmentation (Factor A) are considered low at this time and are not expected to change in the future based on our assessment of the limited scope of proposed developments in the region, the large percentage of habitat that is owned and managed by the USFS, and our analysis of the small amount of fragmentation of current suitable habitat. Urban air pollution (Factor A) presents a low-level stressor to San Bernardino flying squirrel habitat, and existing regulatory mechanisms such as the California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 and the California Clean Air Act are helping to ameliorate any impacts and decrease the overall levels of nitrogen and ozone deposition within the San Bernardino and San Jacinto Mountains. Though impacts from these three stressors—urban development, habitat fragmentation, and urban air pollution—are ongoing and expected to continue, they pose only low-level impacts that are not likely to drive or contribute to the risk of extinction now or in the foreseeable future, and therefore do not rise to the level of a threat.

    Wildland fire (Factor A and Factor E) presents a moderate, but periodic, stressor to the San Bernardino flying squirrel and its habitat. Analysis of fire data indicates that forested areas within San Bernardino flying squirrel habitat are burning less frequently than reference conditions, and several fires (reported since the 1980s) in this habitat have burned at moderate to high burn severity. However, despite these conditions, results from an ongoing study to evaluate habitat use by the San Bernardino flying squirrel after a 2007 fire have shown that 35 percent of all detected individuals were found in areas that had been moderately burned 7 years prior to the study, indicating that San Bernardino flying squirrels are resilient to impacts from wildland fire and are able to repopulate burned areas in a short timeframe. Furthermore, resource management actions, such as fuel reduction practices and thinning, that are being implemented by the USFS within the San Bernardino National Forest provide a benefit to the San Bernardino flying squirrel and its habitat by reducing potential wildland fire fuel loads. The San Bernardino Land Management Plan contains specific design criteria and conservation strategies to benefit the San Bernardino flying squirrel and its habitat. These and other management actions currently being implemented by the USFS within the San Bernardino National Forest will continue to provide important conservation benefits to the San Bernardino flying squirrel. Therefore, we conclude that wildland fire is not a threat to the species, because it poses only a low-level stressor that we do not expect to drive or contribute to the risk of extinction of the subspecies now or in the foreseeable future.

    Wildland fire fuel treatment (Factor A) may remove habitat structure used by nesting San Bernardino flying squirrels; however, habitat modification and thinning from fuel treatment activities provide a net benefit by reducing the overall risk of wildfire. Furthermore, San Bernardino flying squirrels and other northern flying squirrel subspecies are known to persist in fragmented and edge habitat. Therefore, we find that wildland fire fuel treatment is a low-level stressor that we do not expect to rise to the level of a threat now or in the foreseeable future.

    Based on computer model projections, potential effects to the habitat occupied by the San Bernardino flying squirrel from climate change (Factor A) appear to be minimal; however, cumulative impacts from climate change and wildland fire may have an effect on the subspecies and its habitat (Factor A and Factor E). However, we expect these impacts will be mitigated by wildland fire fuel treatment activities. Therefore, we find that climate change and the cumulative effects of climate change and wildland fires together pose a low to moderate stressor to the San Bernardino flying squirrel and its habitat. Though these stressors are ongoing and expected to continue, they do not rise to the level of a threat now or in the foreseeable future.

    We also evaluated existing regulatory mechanisms (Factor D) and did not determine an inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms for the San Bernardino flying squirrel. Specifically, we found that management actions currently being implemented by the USFS within the San Bernardino National Forest will continue to provide important conservation benefits to the San Bernardino flying squirrel. Additional important Federal mechanisms include protections provided under the Wilderness Act of 1964 (16 U.S.C. 1131 et seq.); USFS Organic Administration Act of 1897, as amended (16 U.S.C. 473-478, 479-482, and 551); and other USFS management policies, practices, and procedures that guide management within San Bernardino National Forest. State review of projects through the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) provides an additional layer of protection for the San Bernardino flying squirrel through restrictions on take and through the inclusion of its designation as a “Species of Special Concern” within State (CEQA) planning processes. Additional protections and conservation measures that benefit San Bernardino flying squirrel habitat in the San Jacinto Mountains are provided by the Western Riverside County MSHCP.

    The USFS manages approximately 76 percent of the suitable habitat within the San Bernardino Mountains region and 65 percent in the San Jacinto Mountains, and these lands are therefore protected from large-scale urban development and rangewide habitat fragmentation. Furthermore, 33 percent of suitable San Bernardino flying squirrel habitat within the San Jacinto Mountains region is designated as either Federal or State Parks and State Wilderness, which provides an important conservation benefit to the subspecies and its habitat. The subspecies is locally abundant; it has been observed in many residential settings and appears to be adaptable to lower density development and residential-forest habitats, as reported in other flying squirrel populations, as long as habitat features such as available den sites (large trees and snags) and canopy cover are available.

    None of the stressors, as summarized above was found to individually or cumulatively affect the San Bernardino flying squirrel to such a degree that listing is warranted at this time. Therefore, based on the analysis contained within the Species Status Assessment (Service 2016, pp. 27-66), we conclude that the best available scientific and commercial information indicates that these stressors are not singly or cumulatively sufficient to cause the San Bernardino flying squirrel to be in danger of extinction, nor are the stressors likely to cause the subspecies to be in danger of extinction in the foreseeable future.

    Significant Portion of the Range

    Under the Act and our implementing regulations, a species may warrant listing if it is in danger of extinction or likely to become so throughout all or a significant portion of its range. The Act defines “endangered species” as any species which is “in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range,” and “threatened species” as any species which is “likely to become an endangered species within the foreseeable future throughout all or a significant portion of its range.” The term “species” includes “any subspecies of fish or wildlife or plants, and any distinct population segment [DPS] of any species of vertebrate fish or wildlife which interbreeds when mature.” We published a final policy interpreting the phrase “significant portion of its range” (SPR) (79 FR 37578; July 1, 2014). The final policy states that (1) if a species is found to be endangered or threatened throughout a significant portion of its range, the entire species is listed as an endangered or a threatened species, respectively, and the Act's protections apply to all individuals of the species wherever found; (2) a portion of the range of a species is “significant” if the species is not currently endangered or threatened throughout all of its range, but the portion's contribution to the viability of the species is so important that, without the members in that portion, the species would be in danger of extinction, or likely to become so in the foreseeable future, throughout all of its range; (3) the range of a species is considered to be the general geographical area within which that species can be found at the time the Service or the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) makes any particular status determination; and (4) if a vertebrate species is endangered or threatened throughout an SPR, and the population in that significant portion is a valid DPS, we will list the DPS rather than the entire taxonomic species or subspecies.

    The SPR policy is applied to all status determinations, including analyses for the purposes of making listing, delisting, and reclassification determinations. The procedure for analyzing whether any portion is an SPR is similar, regardless of the type of status determination we are making. The first step in our analysis of the status of a species is to determine its status throughout all of its range. If we determine that the species is in danger of extinction, or likely to become so in the foreseeable future, throughout all of its range, we list the species as an endangered or a threatened species, respectively, and no SPR analysis will be required. If the species is neither in danger of extinction nor likely to become so throughout all of its range, we determine whether the species is in danger of extinction or likely to become so throughout a significant portion of its range. If it is, we list the species as an endangered or a threatened species, respectively; if it is not, we conclude that listing the species is not warranted.

    When we conduct an SPR analysis, we first identify any portions of the species' range that warrant further consideration. The range of a species can theoretically be divided into portions in an infinite number of ways. However, there is no purpose to analyzing portions of the range that are not reasonably likely to be significant and endangered or threatened. To identify only those portions that warrant further consideration, we determine whether there is substantial information indicating that (1) the portions may be significant and (2) the species may be in danger of extinction in those portions or likely to become so within the foreseeable future. We emphasize that answering these questions in the affirmative is not a determination that the species is endangered or threatened throughout a significant portion of its range—rather, it is a step in determining whether a more detailed analysis of the issue is required. In practice, a key part of this analysis is whether the threats are geographically concentrated in some way. If the threats to the species are affecting it uniformly throughout its range, no portion is likely to warrant further consideration. Moreover, if any concentration of threats apply only to portions of the range that clearly do not meet the biologically based definition of “significant” (i.e., the loss of that portion clearly would not be expected to increase the vulnerability to extinction of the entire species), those portions will not warrant further consideration.

    If we identify any portions that may be both (1) significant and (2) endangered or threatened, we engage in a more detailed analysis to determine whether these standards are indeed met. The identification of an SPR does not create a presumption, prejudgment, or other determination as to whether the species in that identified SPR is endangered or threatened. We must go through a separate analysis to determine whether the species is endangered or threatened in the SPR. To determine whether a species is endangered or threatened throughout an SPR, we will use the same standards and methodology that we use to determine if a species is endangered or threatened throughout its range.

    Depending on the biology of the species, its range, and the threats it faces, it may be more efficient to address the “significant” question first, or the status question first. Thus, if we determine that a portion of the range is not “significant,” we do not need to determine whether the species is endangered or threatened there; if we determine that the species is not endangered or threatened in a portion of its range, we do not need to determine if that portion is “significant.”

    We evaluated the current range of the San Bernardino flying squirrel to determine if there is any apparent geographic concentration of potential threats. In this document, we discussed suitable habitat in two geographically separated mountain ranges. We examined potential threats from habitat loss or fragmentation, wildland fire fuel treatment activities, urban air pollution, wildland fire, climate change, the inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms, and any cumulative effects from wildland fire and climate-related changes. We found no concentration of threats that suggests that the San Bernardino flying squirrel may be in danger of extinction in a portion of its range. We found no portions of its range where potential threats are significantly concentrated or substantially greater than in other portions of its range, and that there was no higher concentration of threats in the San Bernardino or San Jacinto Mountains. Therefore, we find that factors affecting the San Bernardino flying squirrel are essentially uniform throughout its range, indicating no portion of its range is likely to be in danger of extinction or likely to become so. Therefore, no portion warrants further consideration to determine whether the species may be endangered or threatened in a significant portion of its range.

    Conclusion

    Our review of the best available scientific and commercial information indicates that the San Bernardino flying squirrel is neither in danger of extinction (endangered) nor likely to become endangered within the foreseeable future (threatened), throughout all or a significant portion of its range. Therefore, we find that listing the San Bernardino flying squirrel as an endangered or threatened species under the Act is not warranted at this time.

    Spotless Crake (Porzana tabuensis) Previous Federal Actions

    In our CNOR published on November 15, 1994 (59 FR 58982), we recognized the American Samoa population of the spotless crake as a candidate for which the Service had sufficient information on the biological vulnerability of, and threats to, the species to determine that listing as endangered or threatened was warranted, but development of a proposal was precluded by other listing actions. Subsequently, we published similar findings on the American Samoa population of the spotless crake in our CNOR on February 28, 1996 (61 FR 7596), September 19, 1997 (62 FR 49398), October 25, 1999 (64 FR 57534), October 30, 2001 (66 FR 54808), and June 13, 2002 (67 FR 40657). In the 2002 CNOR, we identified the American Samoa population of the spotless crake as a distinct population segment (DPS) for the first time, in accordance with our Policy Regarding the Recognition of Distinct Vertebrate Population Segments Under the Endangered Species Act (DPS Policy), which published in the Federal Register on February 7, 1996 (61 FR 4722). Throughout this period, the American Samoa population of the spotless crake retained the same status (the Service's label for that status changed from “1” to “C,” but the status remained the same).

    Through 2004, the spotless crake had an LPN of 6, reflecting the taxonomic identity of the listable entity as a population, with threats that we did not consider to be imminent, in accordance with our 1983 guidance on establishing listing priorities (48 FR 43103; September 21, 1983). In the 2005 CNOR, we changed the LPN from 6 to 3, indicating that, based on new information about the occurrence of nonnative predators in the only known location of the spotless crake in American Samoa, we now considered the threats to this population to be imminent (70 FR 24870; May 11, 2005). Listing the American Samoa population of the spotless crake continued to be precluded by higher-priority listing actions.

    On May 4, 2004, the Center for Biological Diversity petitioned the Secretary of the Interior to list 225 species of plants and animals, including the American Samoa population of the spotless crake, as an endangered or threatened species under the provisions of the Act. Since then, we have published our annual findings on this population, with the LPN of 3, in the CNORs dated May 11, 2005 (70 FR 24870), September 12, 2006 (71 FR 53756), December 6, 2007 (72 FR 69034), December 10, 2008 (73 FR 75176), November 9, 2009 (74 FR 57804), November 10, 2010 (75 FR 69222), October 26, 2011 (76 FR 66370), November 21, 2012 (77 FR 69994), November 22, 2013 (78 FR 70104), December 5, 2014 (79 FR 72450), and December 24, 2015 (80 FR 80584).

    As a result of the Service's 2011 multidistrict litigation settlement with petitioners, the Service is required to submit a proposed listing rule or a not-warranted 12-month finding to the Federal Register by September 30, 2016 (In re: Endangered Species Act Section 4 Deadline Litigation, No. 10-377 (EGS), MDL Docket No. 2165 (D.D.C. May 10, 2011)). This 12-month finding satisfies the requirements of that settlement agreement for the American Samoa population of the spotless crake, and constitutes the 12-month finding on the May 4, 2004, petition to list this population as an endangered or threatened species.

    Summary of Status Review

    In making our 12-month finding on the petition, we consider and evaluate the best available scientific and commercial information. This evaluation includes information from all sources, including State, Federal, tribal, academic, and private entities and the public.

    The spotless crake (Porzana tabuensis) is a very small (length: 6 inches (15 centimeters)), blackish rail, with a gray head, neck, and underparts; dark brown wings and back; black bill; and red iris (Watling 2001, p. 113). In American Samoa, the fossil record indicates the prehistoric occurrence of the spotless crake on the island of Tutuila (Steadman and Pregill 2004, p. 620). In modern times, the spotless crake was first known from a series of 10 specimens that were collected from Tau in 1923, during the Whitney South Sea Expedition (Murphy 1924, p. 124; Banks 1984, p. 156). The population of the species in American Samoa today is presumed to be very small and restricted to the mid-elevation forest and the summit of Tau Island, but a population estimate does not exist because of challenges in monitoring this species, which is extremely shy and occurs in dense vegetation in very remote areas (Badia 2014a, in litt.). Prior to the establishment of survey transects and audio playback surveys conducted in 2013 on Tau, recent observations of the crake were few, primarily opportunistic, and infrequent (Rauzon and Fialua 2003, p. 490; Seamon, in litt. 2004, 2007; Tulafono 2011, in litt.). Based on 2013 surveys and presumed potential for birds to occur in suitable habitat areas not surveyed, Badia (2014b, in litt.) estimated a population size of 130 individuals on Tau. In addition to American Samoa, the global range of the spotless crake includes Australia and island nations throughout the tropical Pacific and Southeast Asia: Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, French Polynesia, Indonesia, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Niue, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines Pitcairn Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, and Tonga (BirdLife International 2016).

    We evaluated the American Samoa population of the spotless crake under our DPS Policy, which published in the Federal Register on February 7, 1996 (61 FR 4722). Under this policy, we evaluate two elements of a vertebrate population segment, its discreteness and its significance to the taxon as a whole, to assess whether the population segment may be recognized as a DPS. If we determine that a population segment being considered for listing is a DPS, then the population segment's conservation status is evaluated based on the five listing factors established by the Act to determine if listing the DPS as either an endangered or threatened species is warranted.

    To meet the discreteness element, a population segment of a vertebrate taxon must be either (1) markedly separated from other populations of the same taxon as a consequence of physical, physiological, ecological, or behavioral factors, or (2) it is delimited by international governmental boundaries within which differences in control of exploitation, management of habitat, conservation status, or regulatory mechanisms exist that are significant in light of section 4(a)(1)(D) of the Act. The available scientific information indicates that the American Samoa population of the spotless crake is markedly separate from other populations of the species due to geographic (physical) isolation from spotless crake populations on other islands in the oceanic Pacific, the Philippines, and Australia. Although the spotless crake (and other rails) are distributed widely in the Pacific (del Hoyo 1996, p. 134; Steadman 2006, pp. 134, 458), exhibit long-distance vagrancy, and are apparently excellent colonizers of islands on an evolutionary timescale (Ripley 1977, p. 17; Steadman 2006, p. 458), the spotless crake is currently not known for regular migration or frequent long-distance dispersal on an ecological timescale (Taylor 2016). Despite being capable of flight and widely distributed, the spotless crake has been described either as “rarely flying” or a “reluctant flier” (Muse and Muse 1982, p. 83; Watling 2001, p. 113). The distance between the American Samoa population of the spotless crake and the nearest populations of the species makes the probability of accidental immigration low: Samoa lies 100 miles (mi) (160 kilometers (km)) to the west, Tonga approximately 300 to 560 mi (500 to 900 km) to the southwest, and Niue 333 mi (536 km) to the southeast. For the reasons described above, we conclude that long-distance ocean crossings and mixing among populations of the spotless crake and other island rails is extremely rare or highly improbable on an ecological timescale (i.e., decades to centuries). Therefore, we have determined that the American Samoa population of the spotless crake is markedly separate from other populations of the species due to its geographic isolation, and meets the requirements criteria for discreteness under our DPS Policy.

    Under our DPS Policy, once we have determined that a population segment is discrete, we consider its biological and ecological significance to the larger taxon to which it belongs, in light of congressional guidance that the authority to list DPSs be used “sparingly” while encouraging the conservation of genetic diversity (see U.S. Congress 1979, Senate Report 151, 96th Congress, 1st Session). This consideration may include, but is not limited to: (1) Evidence of the persistence of the discrete population segment in an ecological setting that is unusual or unique for the taxon; (2) evidence that loss of the population segment would result in a significant gap in the range of the taxon; (3) evidence that the population segment represents the only surviving natural occurrence of a taxon that may be more abundant elsewhere as an introduced population outside its historical range; or (4) evidence that the discrete population segment differs markedly from other populations of the species in its genetic characteristics. In this case, we considered available information about the biological and ecological significance of the spotless crake in American Samoa relative to the spotless crake throughout the remainder of its range in Oceania, Australia, the Philippines, and Southeast Asia. We have not found evidence that the loss of the American Samoa population of the spotless crake would be biologically or ecologically significant to the taxon as a whole, and thus this population does not meet our criteria for significance under our DPS Policy.

    Unique ecological setting. This population does not occur in an unusual or unique ecological setting. In American Samoa, the spotless crake occurs in dense, sometimes rank vegetation, similar to habitats used in other parts of the species' range (Pratt et al. 1987, p. 126; del Hoyo 1996, p. 189; Watling et al. 2001, p. 113; Badia in litt. 2014a, 2014b, 2015; BirdLife International 2016).

    Gap in the range. In our original DPS analysis for the American Samoa population of the spotless crake, we stated that the loss of the population could reduce connectivity within the range of the spotless crake in Oceania and thus would constitute a gap in the range of species as a whole (71 FR 53756, September 12, 2006, on p. 53779). Upon review of the available information, we have concluded that our original analysis was in error. The spotless crake is widespread throughout Oceania, Southeast Asia, and Australia. Some populations across the Pacific Islands occur at distances from each other similar to or greater than the distance between populations that would be created if the American Samoa population were lost. Moreover, as noted above, another population is thought to occur in Samoa (Watling 2001, p. 114; Avibase 2016), about 100 mi (160 km) from Tau Island, where the spotless crake occurs in American Samoa. Our original evaluation of the significance of the American Samoa population to the species as a whole did not properly take into consideration the nearby population in Samoa or the relative distribution of other populations.

    As described above, the species' distribution today most likely reflects historical connectivity over time scales of thousands of years or longer, as a result of chance dispersal rather than contemporary migration or frequent intermixing among populations. In our original analysis we did not consider the differing influence between migration or frequent dispersal in ecological time, and chance dispersal in evolutionary time on a species' distribution. Given the poor flight ability of rails generally and the spotless crake's probable low rate of dispersal between islands on an ecological timescale (Ripley 1977, pp. 17-18; Muse and Muse 1982, p. 83; Watling 2001, p. 113), the loss of this population would neither interrupt movement among adjacent populations in ecological time (which is unlikely to occur in any case), nor interfere with the chance or waif dispersal events on an evolutionary timescale (e.g., events that lead to colonization of new islands; Ripley 1977, p. 17). Because American Samoa lies roughly in the center of the species' range in the Pacific Basin, the loss of the American Samoa population would not result in a truncation or shift in the species' distribution, another consideration we did not include in our original analysis. Therefore, loss of the American Samoa population would not result in a significant gap in the species' range.

    Only surviving natural occurrence. This criterion does not apply to the American Samoa population of the spotless crake because it is one of many natural occurrences of the species.

    Differs markedly from other populations. Our review of the best available information does not indicate that the American Samoa population of the spotless crake is markedly different from populations of the species elsewhere in its behavior, morphology, or genetic characteristics. However, detailed study of the species' behavior and morphology across its range is lacking, and no genetic research exists.

    Other considerations. Finally, given the very wide distribution of the spotless crake, the loss of the American Samoa population would not substantively affect the species' conservation status rangewide.

    The American Samoa population is geographically isolated from other populations of the species and thus meets discreteness criteria under the DPS policy. It does not, however, meet the criteria for significance to the taxon as a whole. Therefore, the American Samoa population of the spotless crake is not a valid DPS as defined by our DPS Policy, and thus is not a listable entity under the Act.

    This determination about the regulatory status of the spotless crake under the Act does not negate the considerable threats faced by the population of this species in American Samoa. Invasive, nonnative plants, such as Clidemia hirta, and ungulates, such as feral pigs (Sus scrofa) and cattle (Bos taurus), damage and degrade the spotless crake's habitat on Tau (Whistler 1992, p. 22; O'Connor and Rauzon 2004, pp. 10-11; Togia pers. comm. in Loope et al. 2013, p. 321; Badia 2014a, 2015, in litt.). Nonnative predators such as rats (Rattus spp.) and feral cats (Felis catus) have caused the extinction and extirpation of numerous island bird species and populations, especially of ground-nesting species such as rails (Steadman 1995, pp. 1,123, 1,127; Medina et al. 2011, p. 6). These predators are common and widespread on Tau, including on Tau summit (Rauzon and Fialua 2003, p. 491; (O'Connor and Rauzon 2004, pp. 57-59; Adler et al. 2011, pp. 216-217; Badia 2014a, in litt.). Populations that undergo significant decline in numbers and range reduction are inherently highly vulnerable to extinction from chance environmental or demographic events (Shaffer 1981, p. 131; Gilpin and Soulé 1986, pp. 24-34; Pimm et al. 1988, p. 757; Mangel and Tier 1994, p. 607; Lacey 2000, pp. 40, 44-46). Owing to its low total number of individuals, restricted distribution, and distribution on a single island, the American Samoa population of the spotless crake is susceptible to natural catastrophes such as hurricanes, demographic fluctuations, or inbreeding depression. Existing regulatory mechanisms may provide some conservation benefit to the American Samoa population of the spotless crake, but they do not address the ongoing threats of habitat loss and degradation or predation by nonnative predators.

    Finding

    The American Samoa population of the spotless crake was originally placed on the candidate list because of the threats to the species in American Samoa and its apparently very low numbers. Those threats still exist. After review of all available scientific and commercial information and upon closer consideration of the significance of this population to the species as a whole, we find that the American Samoa population of the spotless crake does not meet the significance criteria under our DPS policy, and thus does not constitute a listable entity under the Act. Consequently we are removing the American Samoa population of the spotless crake from candidate status. This determination about the regulatory status of the spotless crake under the Act and our DPS Policy does not alter the threats faced by the population of this species in American Samoa or its conservation needs there. Therefore, we ask the public to continue to submit to us any new information that becomes available concerning the taxonomy, biology, ecology, and status of the spotless crake, and we encourage local agencies and stakeholders to continue cooperative monitoring and conservation efforts for this rare member of American Samoa's avifauna.

    Sprague's Pipit (Anthus spragueii) Previous Federal Actions

    On October 10, 2008, we received a petition dated October 9, 2008, from WildEarth Guardians, requesting that we list the Sprague's pipit as endangered or threatened under the Act and designate critical habitat. We published a 90-day finding that the petition presented substantial scientific or commercial information indicating that listing the Sprague's pipit may be warranted in the Federal Register on December 3, 2009 (74 FR 63337). On May 19, 2010, the Service and WildEarth Guardians entered into a settlement agreement. According to the agreement, the Service was to submit a 12-month finding to the Federal Register on or before September 10, 2010. On September 15, 2010, we published the 12-month petition finding (75 FR 56028). We found that listing the Sprague's pipit as endangered or threatened was warranted. However, listing the Sprague's pipit was precluded by higher-priority actions to amend the Lists of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants, and the Sprague's pipit was added to our candidate species list. We have since addressed the status of the candidate taxon through our annual CNOR (November 10, 2010 (75 FR 69222), October 26, 2011 (76 FR 66370), November 21, 2012 (77 FR 69994), November 22, 2013 (78 FR 70104), December 5, 2014 (79 FR 72450), and December 24, 2015 (80 FR 80584)). As a result of the Service's 2011 multidistrict litigation settlement, the Service is required to submit a proposed listing rule or a withdrawal of the 12-month finding to the Federal Register by September 30, 2016 (In re: Endangered Species Act Section 4 Deadline Litigation, No. 10—377 (EGS), MDL Docket No. 2165 (D.D.C. May 10, 2011)).

    Summary of Status Review

    In making our 12-month finding on the petition, we consider and evaluate the best available scientific and commercial information. This evaluation includes information from all sources, including State, Federal, tribal, academic, and private entities and the public.

    The Sprague's pipit (Anthus spragueii) is a small passerine first described by John James Audubon that breeds exclusively in the Northern Great Plains. Sprague's pipits have an affinity for grasslands throughout their range; however they can show flexibility in their use of habitat types in different portions of their range.

    The Sprague's pipit breeding range is throughout North Dakota, except for the easternmost counties; northern and central Montana east of the Rocky Mountains; northern portions of South Dakota; north central and northeastern portions of Wyoming; and occasionally northwestern Minnesota. In Canada, Sprague's pipits breed in southeastern Alberta, the southern half of Saskatchewan, and in southwest Manitoba. The Sprague's pipit's wintering range includes south-central and southeast Arizona, Texas, southern Oklahoma, southern Arkansas, northwest Mississippi, southern Louisiana, and northern Mexico.

    In 2010, the Sprague's pipit was listed as a candidate species. The major threats to the species identified at that time were native prairie conversion of breeding grounds and energy development, primarily from oil and gas and associated infrastructure. A recent model evaluating habitat use on the breeding grounds allowed us to evaluate the threats facing the species more specifically for this finding and focus on that part of the range where the Sprague's pipit is concentrated (hereafter the core area). Available models indicate that most of the core area is unlikely to be converted because it is relatively low-value land for row-crop agriculture. The most likely future scenario predicts that only about 13 percent of the population will be affected by future habitat conversion on the breeding grounds. In addition, the response to oil and gas development appears to be more nuanced than we previously thought, with less avoidance behavior reported in Canada, where infrastructure is already in place, than had been expected. This suggests the overall disturbance impacts from oil and gas development are lower than we anticipated in our 2010 finding.

    We evaluated the Sprague's pipit population trend both within and outside of the core area in the breeding range, as well as for the population overall. Inside the breeding range core area, population estimates from 2005-2014 have a range of uncertainty that means numbers may have slightly increased or decreased, with a somewhat more likely possibility that they decreased. Outside of the breeding range core area, the analysis more clearly indicated a decline from 2005-2014. As noted above, however, current Sprague's pipit populations are concentrated within the core area of the breeding range, and therefore evaluation of the overall population trends from 2005-2014 suggests a more slight population decline than the rates solely outside the core area.

    Because recent population declines appear to have been largely outside of the breeding range core area, while the current population is concentrated within the core area where population trends have been more stable, continued overall population decreases at the same rate appear unlikely. In addition, with decreasing commodity prices and changes to crop insurance for conversion of native grassland, we anticipate conversion rates will decrease in the future, rather than continue at the 10-year trend rate. Finally, as noted above, the extent of exposure to threats within the core appears to be less than for exposure to threats outside the core area. For all these reasons, the overall population trends are likely to be more stable in the future than over the last 10 years.

    We note that little is known about this species' distribution and habitat use on the wintering grounds in Mexico, where grassland conversion and woody vegetation encroachment into grasslands are occurring. However, the available evidence suggests that the Sprague's pipit is more flexible in its habitat use on the wintering grounds in comparison to breeding rounds. For example, a study in the Chihuahuan Desert found that the Sprague's pipit is broadly distributed and apparently mobile in response to annual habitat conditions. Additionally, in the United States, experts report that Sprague's pipits use a wide variety of native and nonnative grassland types.

    Finding

    Based on our review of the best available scientific and commercial information pertaining to the five factors, we find that the stressors acting on the species and its habitat, either singly or in combination, are not of sufficient imminence, intensity, or magnitude to indicate that the Sprague's pipit is in danger of extinction (an endangered species), or likely to become endangered within the foreseeable future (a threatened species), throughout all of its range. Threats identified in 2010 are now believed to have lower impacts on the Sprague's pipit than understood at that time; recent downward population trends are unlikely to continue at the same rate, and even if they do, they would not indicate the species is likely to become an endangered species in the foreseeable future; and while unknowns remain, especially regarding wintering grounds, the species' adaptability appears greater than previously understood. Because the distribution of the species is relatively stable across its range and stressors are similar throughout the species' range, we found no concentration of stressors that suggests that the Sprague's pipit may be in danger of extinction in any portion of its range. Therefore, we find that listing the Sprague's pipit as an endangered or a threatened species is not warranted throughout all or a significant portion of its range at this time, and consequently we are removing this species from candidate status.

    New Information

    We request that you submit any new information concerning the status of, or stressors to, the San Bernardino flying squirrel, the American Samoa population of the spotless crake or the Sprague's pipit to the appropriate person, as specified under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT, whenever it becomes available. New information will help us monitor these species and encourage their conservation. If an emergency situation develops for any of these species, we will act to provide immediate protection.

    References Cited

    Lists of the references cited in the petition findings are available on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov and upon request from the appropriate person, as specified under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT.

    Authors

    The primary authors of this document are the staff members of the Branch of Listing, Ecological Services Program.

    Authority

    The authority for this section is section 4 of the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.).

    Dated: March 29, 2016. Stephen Guertin, Acting Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
    [FR Doc. 2016-07809 Filed 4-4-16; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4333-15-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 216 [Docket No. 151113999-6206-01] RIN 0648-BF55 Designating the Sakhalin Bay-Nikolaya Bay-Amur River Stock of Beluga Whales as a Depleted Stock Under the Marine Mammal Protection Act AGENCY:

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

    ACTION:

    Proposed rule; request for comments.

    SUMMARY:

    NMFS proposes to designate the Sakhalin Bay-Nikolaya Bay-Amur River Stock of beluga whales (Delphinapterus leucas) as a depleted stock of marine mammals pursuant to the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA). This action is being taken as a result of a status review conducted by NMFS in response to a petition to designate a group of beluga whales in the western Sea of Okhotsk as depleted. The biological evidence indicates that the group is a population stock as defined by the MMPA, and the stock is depleted as defined by the MMPA.

    DATES:

    Comments must be received by June 6, 2016.

    ADDRESSES:

    You may submit comments on this proposed rule, identified by NOAA-NMFS-2015-0154, by either of the following methods:

    Electronic Submissions: Submit all electronic public comments via the Federal eRulemaking Portal http://www.regulations.gov.

    Mail: Send comments or requests for copies of reports to: Chief, Marine Mammal and Sea Turtle Conservation Division, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service, 1315 East-West Highway, Silver Spring, MD 20910-3226.

    Instructions: All comments received are a part of the public record and will generally be posted to http://www.regulations.gov 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.

    NMFS will accept anonymous comments (enter N/A in the required fields, if you wish to remain anonymous). You may submit attachments to electronic comments in Microsoft Word, Excel, WordPerfect, or Adobe PDF file formats only.

    A list of references cited in this proposed rule and the status review report are available at www.regulations.gov (search for docket NOAA-NMFS-2015-0154) or http://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/pr/species/mammals/whales/beluga-whale.html or upon request.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Shannon Bettridge, Office of Protected Resources, 301-427-8402, [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Background

    Section 115(a) of the MMPA (16 U.S.C. 1383b(a)) allows interested parties to petition NMFS to initiate a status review to determine whether a species or stock of marine mammals should be designated as depleted. On April 23, 2014, NMFS received a petition from the Animal Welfare Institute, Whale and Dolphin Conservation, Cetacean Society International, and Earth Island Institute (petitioners) to “designate the Sakhalin Bay-Amur River stock of beluga whales as depleted under the MMPA.” NMFS published a notice that the petition was available (79 FR 28879, May 20, 2014). After evaluating the petition, NMFS determined that the petition contained substantial information indicating that the petitioned action may be warranted (79 FR 44733, August 1, 2014). Following its determination that the petitioned action may be warranted, NMFS convened a status review team and conducted a status review to evaluate whether the Sakhalin Bay-Amur River group of beluga whales is a population stock and, if so, whether that stock is depleted. This proposed rule is based upon that status review.

    Section 3(1)(A) of the MMPA (16 U.S.C. 1362(1)(A)) defines the term “depletion” or “depleted” to include “any case in which. . . the Secretary, after consultation with the Marine Mammal Commission and the Committee of Scientific Advisors on Marine Mammals . . .determines that a species or a population stock is below its optimum sustainable population.” NMFS' authority to designate a stock as depleted is not limited to stocks that occur in U.S. jurisdictional waters. Although the Sakhalin Bay-Amur River group of beluga whales does not occur in U.S. jurisdictional waters, NMFS has authority to designate the stock as depleted if it finds that the stock is below its optimum sustainable population.

    Status Review

    A status review for the population stock of beluga whales addressed in this proposed rule was conducted by a status review team (Bettridge et al. 2016). The status review compiled and analyzed information on the stock's distribution, abundance, threats, and historic take from information contained in the petition, our files, a comprehensive literature search, and consultation with experts. The draft status review report was submitted to independent peer reviewers, and comments and information received from peer reviewers were addressed and incorporated as appropriate before finalizing the report.

    Sea of Okhotsk Beluga Whales

    Beluga whales are small, toothed whales distributed throughout the Arctic and inhabiting subarctic regions of Russia, Greenland, and North America. They are found in the Arctic Ocean and its adjoining seas, including the Sea of Okhotsk, the Bering Sea, the Gulf of Alaska, the Beaufort Sea, Baffin Bay, Hudson Bay, and the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Beluga whales may also be found in large rivers during certain times of the year.

    Beluga whales are found throughout much of the Sea of Okhotsk, including Shelikov Bay in the northeast and throughout the western Sea of Okhotsk including the Amur River estuary, the nearshore areas of Sakhalin Bay, in the large bays to the west (Nikolaya Bay, Ulbansky Bay, Tugursky Bay and Udskaya Bay), and among the Shantar Islands. Use of the bays and estuaries in the western Sea of Okhotsk is limited primarily to summer months when belugas may molt (Finley 1982) and give birth to and care for their calves (Sergeant and Brodie 1969). The whales move into the ice-covered offshore areas of the western Sea of Okhotsk in the winter (Melnikov 1999). In the status review and this proposed rule, we refer to the beluga whales found in the Amur River estuary and the nearshore areas of Sakhalin Bay during summer as the Sakhalin River-Amur Bay beluga whales.

    The best available estimate of abundance of beluga whales in the Sakhalin Bay-Amur River area is 3,961 (Reeves et al. 2011). This estimate was based on aerial surveys conducted in 2009 and 2010 and was further reviewed by an International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) scientific panel of beluga whale experts (Reeves et al. 2011). The minimum population estimate for the Sakhalin Bay-Amur River population was determined to be 2,891 (Reeves et al. 2011).

    Information on potential sources of serious injury and mortality is limited for the Sea of Okhotsk beluga whales. The IUCN panel identified subsistence harvest, death during live-capture for public display, entanglement in fishing gear, vessel strike, climate change, and pollution as human activities that may result in serious injury or mortality to Sea of Okhotsk beluga whales (Reeves et al. 2011). The greatest amount of available information is from the estimates of annual take from the commercial hunt. As noted in the petition and the IUCN review, monitoring of other types of mortality in the Sea of Okhotsk is low, if existent at all, and information on possible threats and sources of mortality in Sea of Okhotsk beluga whales is highlighted by a lack of substantiated data, and is largely anecdotal.

    Identifying a “Population Stock” or “Stock” Under the MMPA

    To designate the Sakhalin Bay-Amur River group of beluga whales as a depleted stock under the MMPA, it must be determined to be a “population stock” or “stock.” The MMPA defines “population stock” as “a group of marine mammals of the same species or smaller taxa in a common spatial arrangement, that interbreed when mature” (MMPA section 3(11)). NMFS' guidelines for assessing stocks of marine mammals (NMFS 2005) state that many different types of information can be used to identify stocks, reproductive isolation is proof of demographic isolation, and demographically isolated groups of marine mammals should be identified as separate stocks. NMFS has interpreted “demographically isolated” as “demographically independent” (see, for example, Weller et al. 2013, Moore and Merrick (eds.) 2011).

    The guidelines state, specifically: “Many types of information can be used to identify stocks of a species: e.g., distribution and movements, population trends, morphological differences, differences in life history, genetic differences, contaminants and natural isotope loads, parasite differences, and oceanographic habitat differences. Different population responses (e.g., different trends in abundance) between geographic regions is also an indicator of stock structure, as populations with different trends are not strongly linked demographically. When different types of evidence are available to identify stock structure, the report must discuss inferences made from the different types of evidence and how these inferences were integrated to identify the stock.

    “Evidence of morphological or genetic differences in animals from different geographic regions indicates that these populations are reproductively isolated. Reproductive isolation is proof of demographic isolation, and, thus, separate management is appropriate when such differences are found. Demographic isolation means that the population dynamics of the affected group is more a consequence of births and deaths within the group (internal dynamics) rather than immigration or emigration (external dynamics). Thus, the exchange of individuals between population stocks is not great enough to prevent the depletion of one of the populations as a result of increased mortality or lower birth rates.” (NMFS 2005)

    The Sakhalin Bay-Amur River Group of Beluga Whales as a Stock

    At the broadest geographic scale in the Sea of Okhotsk, there is strong evidence for genetic differentiation, in both mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) and nuclear DNA, between beluga whales that summer in the northeastern Sea of Okhotsk off the west Kamchatka coast (east of 145° E. longitude) and those that summer in the western Sea of Okhotsk from Sakhalin Bay to Udskaya Bay, west of 145° E. longitude (Meschersky et al. 2013). Since the petition involves individuals in the western aggregations, this proposed rule does not further consider the northeastern aggregations because they are clearly distinct from the beluga whales in the western Sea of Okhotsk.

    Available evidence regarding the stock structure of the Sakhalin Bay-Amur River beluga whales relative to other western Sea of Okhotsk beluga whales is limited. A variety of genetic studies have been performed on beluga whales from the western Sea of Okhotsk (see below), and limited telemetry data are available. NMFS considered the following lines of evidence regarding the Sakhalin Bay-Amur River beluga whales to answer the question of whether the group comprises a stock: (1) Genetic comparisons among the summering aggregations in the western Sea of Okhotsk; (2) movement data collected using satellite transmitters; and (3) geographical and ecological separation (site fidelity). Below we summarize the information considered, including information presented in the status review report.

    Genetic Data

    A variety of genetic studies have been performed on beluga whales from the western Sea of Okhotsk (Meschersky et al. 2008, 2013; Meschersky and Yazykova 2012). In these studies, 107 individuals were sampled from the Sakhalin Bay-Amur River area over seven sampling years with relatively even sampling per year and an overall relatively even split between males and females. However, Meschersky et al. (2013) suggested that there was a duplicate sample so we considered the correct number to be 106. This sampling is fairly robust and likely sufficiently representative of the haplotypic frequency distribution of the full population. Sampling from the four other bays in the western Sea of Okhotsk (Nikolaya, Ulbansky, Tugursky, and Udskaya) has been less thorough, most of it having been conducted in a single year, and the samples from all four bays are skewed towards males (Meschersky et al. 2013). The sample size from Nikolaya Bay is particularly small, making it difficult to draw conclusions about the relationship of whales in this bay to the other bays based on genetic data.

    The genetic comparisons between samples from the beluga whales of the Sakhalin Bay-Amur River and the beluga whales of the other bays consistently found significant differentiation in mtDNA haplotype frequencies among bays, but not between Sakhalin Bay and the adjacent Nikolaya Bay, though the small sample size in Nikolaya Bay may have played a role (Meschersky et al. 2013). In some cases, haplotypes were found that were unique to a bay, indicating that most recruitment is internal. However, the presence of some common haplotypes across bays suggests that there may be some external recruitment or, alternatively, founding events have been recent enough that there has not been sufficient time for lineage sorting amongst the bays, resulting in some common haplotypes over large geographic ranges.

    Analysis of nuclear microsatellite markers found no evidence for genetic differentiation among the bays of the western Sea of Okhotsk with the exception of a comparison of Sakhalin Bay to the distant Ulbansky Bay (Merschersky 2012, Merschersky et al. 2013). This negative finding for differentiation in nuclear DNA does not rule out that beluga whales in these different summer feeding areas could constitute stocks under the MMPA. The mtDNA differences alone are considered to be sufficient evidence for demographic independence.

    Telemetry Data

    Telemetry data, although sparse, support the conclusions drawn from the genetic data. From 2007-2010, 22 beluga whales were tagged at Sakhalin Bay. Tags transmitted data for 2.5-9.5 months, with an average of six months. Most whales stayed close to the tagging site in summer (Shpak et al. 2010), though several tagged whales were sighted in Nikolaya Bay in summer (Shpak et al. 2011). Ten whales tagged in 2010 moved in the fall to Nikolaya Bay and the eastern Shantar region, and four went as far as Ulbansky Bay, spending up to three months in these areas. In winter, tagged whales moved north and west into offshore waters (Shpak et al. 2012). Though not very many whales have been tagged, the data available to date suggest whales present in the summer in Sakhalin Bay also use Nikolaya Bay, but there is little evidence for movement between Sakhalin Bay and the other bays further to the west during spring and summer.

    Geographical and Ecological Separation

    Beluga whales in other, better studied areas form strong social groups that follow learned, predictable annual movements between breeding and feeding areas. Summer aggregations often focus on seasonally available fish runs. Site fidelity to summer feeding areas is not uncommon in cetaceans and can often result in genetic differentiation in mtDNA. In some cases, site fidelity is strong enough and occurs over a long enough time period that mtDNA lineage sorting can occur, resulting in mtDNA haplotypes unique to a given feeding area. Sakhalin Bay-Amur River beluga whales exhibit behaviors and frequency differences in mtDNA haplotypes consistent with the general beluga whale life history strategy seen in Alaska, and therefore are considered to be similar to aggregations defined as stocks within Alaska. The two Alaska beluga stocks with movements and seasonal cycles most similar to the Sakhalin Bay-Amur River beluga whales are the Eastern Bering Sea stock and the Bristol Bay stock. Together, genetic and movement data indicate that beluga whales in the western Sea of Okhotsk exhibit life history characteristics and levels of differentiation very similar to beluga whales in Alaska that have been designated as stocks.

    Stock Determination

    Given the limitations on available data, the status review team used structured expert decision making (SEDM) procedures to evaluate the available data for beluga whales in the western Sea of Okhotsk as they relate to delineating stocks. This approach is often employed as a means to elicit expert opinion while also characterizing uncertainty within the expert opinion, whereby an expert is asked to distribute plausibility points among the choices/scenarios for a given statement reflecting his or her opinion of how likely that choice or option correctly reflects the population status. The status review team members were largely in agreement that Sakhalin Bay-Amur River beluga whales were either their own stock (44.4% of the team's SEDM plausibility points) or belonged to a stock that also included whales that summer in Nikolaya Bay (42.5% of the team's SEDM plausibility points). These results were largely based on mtDNA evidence. The team concluded that, together, genetic and movement data indicate that beluga whales in the western Sea of Okhotsk exhibit life history characteristics and levels of differentiation very similar to beluga whales in Alaska that have been designated as stocks. Given the available data and the assumptions outlined in the status review report, NMFS finds no reason to disagree with the conclusions of the status review team regarding stock structure.

    As required by the MMPA, NMFS consulted with the Marine Mammal Commission related to the petition to designate the Sakhalin Bay-Amur River group of beluga whales as a depleted population stock. In a letter dated December 7, 2015, the Commission recommended NMFS take a precautionary approach and define the Sakhalin Bay-Amur River stock to include whales in Nikolaya Bay and promptly publish a proposed rule under section 115(a)(3)(D) of the MMPA to designate this stock as depleted.

    Multiple lines of evidence indicate that Sakhalin Bay-Amur River beluga whales are their own stock or are a stock that also includes whales that summer in Nikolaya Bay. The status review team's evaluation of whether the Sakhalin Bay-Amur River stock is discrete or includes whales in Nikolaya Bay was almost evenly divided, based on the lines of evidence reviewed (see above). Given the currently available information, it is equally plausible that the beluga whales in Nikolaya Bay are part of the demographically independent population stock of Sakhalin Bay-Amur River beluga whales than not. Including Nikolaya Bay in the delineation and description of the stock would be a more conservative and precautionary approach, as it would provide any protection afforded under the MMPA to the beluga whales in Sakhalin Bay-Amur River to those beluga whales in Nikolaya Bay. Therefore, based on the best scientific information available as presented in the status review report and this proposed rule, NMFS is identifying the Sakhalin Bay-Nikolaya Bay-Amur River group of beluga whales as a population stock.

    The Depleted Determination

    As described above, NMFS finds that the Sakhalin Bay-Nikolaya Bay-Amur River group of beluga whales is a population stock. Therefore, the second question to be analyzed is whether the stock is depleted.

    Status of the Stock

    Section 3(1)(A) of the MMPA (16 U.S.C. 1362(1)(A)) defines the term “depletion” or “depleted” to include any case in which “the Secretary, after consultation with the Marine Mammal Commission and the Committee of Scientific Advisors on Marine Mammals . . . determines that a species or a population stock is below its optimum sustainable population.” Section 3(9) of the MMPA (16 U.S.C. 1362(9)) defines “optimum sustainable population [(OSP)] . . . with respect to any population stock, [as] the number of animals which will result in the maximum productivity of the population or the species, keeping in mind the carrying capacity [(K)] of the habitat and the health of the ecosystem of which they form a constituent element.” NMFS' regulations at 50 CFR 216.3 clarify the definition of OSP as a population size that falls within a range from the population level of a given species or stock that is the largest supportable within the ecosystem (i.e., carrying capacity, or K) to its maximum net productivity level (MNPL). MNPL is the population abundance that results in the greatest net annual increment in population numbers resulting from additions to the population from reproduction, less losses due to natural mortality.

    A population stock below its MNPL is, by definition, below OSP and, thus, would be considered depleted under the MMPA. Historically, MNPL has been expressed as a range of values (between 50 and 70 percent of K) determined on a theoretical basis by estimating what stock size, in relation to the historical stock size, will produce the maximum net increase in population (42 FR 12010, March 1, 1977). In practice, NMFS has determined that stocks with populations under the mid-point of this range (i.e., 60 percent of K) are depleted (42 FR 64548, December 27, 1977; 45 FR 72178, October 31, 1980; 53 FR 17888, May 18, 1988; 58 FR 58285, November 1, 1993; 65 FR 34590, May 31, 2000; 69 FR 31321, June 3, 2004). For stocks of marine mammals, including beluga whales, K is generally unknown. NMFS, therefore, has used the best estimate available of maximum historical abundance as a proxy for K (64 FR 56298, October 19, 1999; 68 FR 4747, January 30, 2003; 69 FR 31321, June 3, 2004). One technique NMFS has employed to estimate maximum historical abundance is the back-calculation method, which assumes that the historic population was at equilibrium, and that the environment has not changed greatly. The back-calculation approach looks at the current population and then calculates historic carrying capacity based on how much the population has been reduced by anthropogenic actions. For example, the back-calculation approach was applied in the management of the subsistence hunt of the Cook Inlet beluga whale stock (73 FR 60976, October 15, 2008). The status review team concluded, and NMFS agrees, that the back-calculation technique is the most appropriate to use in determining the abundance of the stock relative to OSP. This analysis is summarized below.

    Application of Back Calculation to Sakhalin Bay-Nikolaya Bay-Amur River Beluga Whales

    As stated above, the back-calculation method looks at the current population level and then calculates historical carrying capacity based on how much the population has been reduced by human actions. The best available estimate of abundance beluga whales in the Sakhalin Bay-Amur River area is 3,961 (Reeves et al. 2011; see details in the Population Size section below). The best available removal data for the Sakhalin Bay-Amur River stock of beluga whales are a time series of removals by hunt and live capture since 1915 (Shpak et al. 2011; see details in the Catch History section below). It was not feasible to develop an estimate of any additional anthropogenic mortality on this stock. These data, plus an estimate of the stock's productivity, allow back-calculation of the historical stock size (i.e., K) that probably existed prior to the beginning of the catch history.

    A population model was used to perform the necessary calculations. In short, for each year, the model calculates the expected number of animals added to the stock (by natural population growth) and it subtracts the number removed, and then the model grows or shrinks the population for the next year according to the difference between the growth and the removals. A computer spreadsheet search routine finds the value of K that is large enough to have accommodated the removals and low enough to have resulted in a population in 2009-2010 that matches the observed abundance in those years.

    The population equation used was Nt + 1 = Nt(1 + r(1 − (Nt/K)z) − Ht where:

    Nt is the population size in year t,

    r is the annual rate of increase (productivity) when the population is small,

    K is the carrying capacity,

    z controls the rate at which productivity declines as Nt approaches K, and

    Ht is the removals in year t.

    The values of r and z have not been measured for Sakhalin Bay-Amur River beluga whales so values (r = 0.04 and z = 2.39) were used in the “base case.” The value for r = 0.04 is a default value for cetaceans used in PBR calculations (NMFS 2005), and z = 2.39 is in the middle of the range considered reasonable for cetaceans. Alternate plausible values for r and z were also evaluated to test the model's sensitivity to changes in these parameters.

    Once the back-calculation estimated the value of K that results in the estimated population size in 2009-2010, the population model was projected forward to 2015 to estimate the current population size. The current depletion level was then calculated by dividing the 2015 stock size (estimated by the model) by the estimated carrying capacity (K).

    Catch History

    Commercial hunts of the Sakhalin Bay-Amur River beluga whale population began in 1915 (Shpak et al. 2011) and subsistence hunts have occurred prior to, during, and since this date (see Appendix 1 of the Status Review Report). There are a number of years with known but poorly documented hunts, and years for which more than one estimate is provided. A complete catch history is required to estimate carrying capacity by the back-calculation method, so two options were considered: A “high take” and a “low take” scenario. The high take scenario gave a conservative estimate of depletion, because higher take results in a higher estimated historic K and a more depleted current population relative to K (i.e., lower percentage of K). The low take scenario uses what is thought to be the lowest take possible and provides a minimum estimate for K, resulting in a less depleted current population relative to K (i.e., higher percentage of K). The low take scenario thus provides an upper bound for the population's status relative to K. Both options used catch data from Shpak et al. (2011).

    The low-take scenario used the take estimates when they were available, and when more than one estimate of take was available, used the lowest value. Years with no indication that takes occurred were left blank and treated as zero. The low-take option was included to evaluate whether this unlikely scenario would still result in a depleted population.

    The high take scenario used the take estimates where they were available, and when more than one estimate of take was available, used the highest value. For years when hunts are thought to have occurred but no record is available, missing values were estimated or interpolated from adjacent years with similar hunts. For years when removals for live display are known to have occurred but no record is available, missing values were also estimated or interpolated from adjacent years with known data. The high take scenario is considered the better of the two because it accounts for times when takes are known to have occurred but are not documented. Additionally, the analysis did not account for beluga whales that are struck and lost because these were unavailable, so the high take option may even be an underestimate.

    Population Size

    The most recent estimate of abundance, 3,961, is based on aerial surveys in 2009 and 2010 (Reeves et al. 2011). The estimate is from only the Sakhalin Bay-Amur River area because there is no current abundance estimate of the Nikolaya Bay region. However, few animals are thought to be in Nikolaya Bay in the survey period compared to the Sakhalin Bay-Amur River, so the estimate accounts for nearly all of the population (Shpak et al. 2011). The estimate includes a correction factor, which accounts for beluga whales that were submerged during overflight and not available to be counted.

    Estimated Carrying Capacity and Depletion Level

    The back-calculation investigated the sensitivities of the effects of a range of parameter values and the high and low catch scenarios. The status review team considered the value of K resulting when r = 0.04 (the default value for MMPA PBR calculations for cetaceans) and z = 2.39 and the high take scenario (which assumes some medium level of catch for years with missing data when take is thought to have or known to have occurred) to be representative of the most likely scenario. The estimate of K for this scenario is 17,700, the projected current (2015) abundance estimate is 4,520, and the estimated depletion level is 25.5% of K. The status review team also estimated the value of K resulting when r = 0.04 and z = 2.39 under the low take scenario, which assumes no mortality for all years with missing data and the lowest level of subsistence take. The estimate of K for this scenario is 13,200, the projected current (2015) abundance estimate is 4,626, and the estimated depletion level is 35.0% of K. Both scenarios indicate the population is currently below MNPL and below the lower limit of the OSP range (which is reached at a depletion level of 60% K).

    As noted above, in its OSP analysis, the team used a 2009-2010 abundance estimate from only the Sakhalin Bay-Amur River area because there was no current abundance estimate of the Nikolaya Bay region. However, because few animals are thought to be in Nikolaya Bay in the survey period compared to the Sakhalin Bay-Amur River, the estimate accounts for nearly all of the population (Shpak et al. 2011). To conduct the OSP analysis for the combined group of Sakhalin Bay-Amur River and Nikolaya Bay whales, the team added 500 to the abundance estimate to account for Nikolaya Bay, and ran the model using the high take scenario where r = 0.04 and z = 2.39. The result was an increase of fewer than 100 animals in the estimate of K (K = 17,726), and an estimated depletion level of 28.9% of K (projected abundance estimate for 2015 = 5,125). Thus, including Nikolaya Bay whales in the analysis would not change the estimate of K significantly; it would result in a slightly higher percentage of K (i.e., less depleted), but the population is still below OSP (i.e., less than 60% of K).

    Based on the best scientific information available data, and considering the assumptions outlined in the status review report, NMFS finds no reason to disagree with the conclusions of the status review team regarding the status of the stock. Therefore, based upon the best scientific information available, NMFS finds that the Sakhalin Bay-Nikolaya Bay-Amur River stock of beluga whales is below its optimum sustainable population level, and proposes to designate the stock as a depleted stock under the MMPA. The proposed depletion designation applies to all biological members of the stock, regardless of whether those individuals are in the wild or in captivity.

    Consultation With the Marine Mammal Commission

    As required by the MMPA, NMFS consulted with the Marine Mammal Commission on our efforts related to the petition to designate the Sakhalin Bay-Amur River group of beluga whales as a depleted population stock. In a letter dated December 7, 2015, the Commission recommended NMFS take a precautionary approach and define the Sakhalin Bay-Amur River stock to include whales in Nikolaya Bay and promptly publish a proposed rule under section 115(a)(3)(D) of the MMPA to designate this stock as depleted.

    Public Comments Solicited

    NMFS is soliciting comments from the public on this proposed rule for the designation of the Sakhalin Bay-Nikolaya Bay-Amur River stock of beluga whales as depleted under the MMPA.

    Classification

    This proposed rule has been determined to be not significant for the purposes of Executive Order 12866.

    Similar to Endangered Species Act listing decisions, which are based solely on the best scientific and commercial information available, depleted designations under the MMPA are determined “solely on the basis of the best scientific information available.” 16 U.S.C. 1533(b)(1)(A) and 16 U.S.C. 1383b(a)(2). Because Endangered Species Act listings are thus exempt from the requirement to prepare an environmental assessment or environmental impact statement under the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (see NOAA Administrative Order 216-6.03(e)(1)), NMFS has determined that MMPA depleted designations are also exempt from the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act. Thus, an environmental assessment or environmental impact statement is not required and have not been prepared for the proposed depleted designation of this stock under the MMPA.

    The Chief Counsel for Regulation of the Department of Commerce certified to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business Administration that this proposed rule, if adopted, would not have a significant impact on a substantial number of small entities. If implemented, this proposed rule would designate a group of beluga whales in Russian waters (known as the Sakhalin Bay-Nikolaya Bay-Amur River group) as depleted; however, if implemented, this rule would not, by itself, directly regulate the public, including any small entities. The MMPA authorizes NMFS to take certain actions to protect a stock that is designated as depleted. For example, a stock that is designated as depleted meets the definition of a strategic stock under the MMPA. Under provisions of the MMPA, a take reduction team must be established and a take reduction plan developed and implemented within certain time frames if a strategic stock of marine mammals interacts with a Category I or II commercial fishery. However, NMFS has not identified any interactions between commercial fisheries and this group of beluga whales that would result in such a requirement. In addition, under the MMPA, if NMFS determines that impacts on areas of ecological significance to marine mammals may be causing the decline or impeding the recovery of a strategic stock, it may develop and implement conservation or management measures to alleviate those impacts. However, NMFS has not identified information sufficient to make any such determination for this group of beluga whales. The MMPA also requires NMFS to prepare a conservation plan and restore any stock designated as depleted to its optimum sustainable population, unless NMFS determines that such a plan would not promote the conservation of the stock. NMFS has determined that a conservation plan would not promote the conservation of the Sakhalin Bay-Nikolaya Bay-Amur River stock of beluga whales and therefore does not plan to implement a conservation plan. In summary, this rule, if implemented, would not directly regulate the public. If any subsequent restrictions placed on the public to protect the Sakhalin Bay-Nikolaya Bay-Amur River stock of beluga whales are included in separate regulations, appropriate analyses under the Regulatory Flexibility Act would be conducted during those rulemaking procedures.

    The MMPA prohibits the importation of any marine mammal designated as depleted for purposes of public display (see 16 U.S.C. 1371(a)(3)(B) and 1372(b)). Therefore, this rule, if implemented, would have the indirect effect of prohibiting the future importation of any marine mammal from this stock into the United State for public display. There are 104 facilities in the United States that house marine mammals for the purposes of public display. Of these, only six facilities house beluga whales. There are currently twenty-seven beluga whales at these facilities. None of these beluga whales were taken in the wild from the Sakhalin Bay-Nikolaya Bay-Amur River stock; three whales are progeny of animals taken in the wild from this stock. NMFS receives very few requests to import beluga whales into the United States for purposes of public display, and has no pending requests to import beluga whales for public display. NMFS notes the small number of U.S. entities that house beluga whales and the small number of beluga whales from this stock that are currently permitted for public display in the United States. Because this rule, if implemented, would not prevent an entity from requesting to import a beluga whale from a non-depleted stock for purposes of public display, NMFS finds that this rule, if implemented, would not result in a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities.

    Accordingly, this proposed rule, if implemented, would not result in a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. As a result, no regulatory flexibility analysis for this proposed rule has been prepared. NMFS invites comment from members of the public who believe this rule, if implemented, will result in a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities, or who have additional information relevant to NMFS' analysis.

    This proposed rule does not contain a collection-of-information requirement for purposes of the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1980.

    This proposed rule does not contain policies with federalism implications sufficient to warrant preparation of a federalism assessment under Executive Order 13132.

    List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 216

    Administrative practice and procedure, Exports, Imports, Marine mammals, Transportation.

    Dated: March 30, 2016. Samuel D. Rauch III, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine Fisheries Service.

    For the reasons set out in the preamble, 50 CFR part 216 is proposed to be amended as follows:

    PART 216—REGULATIONS GOVERNING THE TAKING AND IMPORTING OF MARINE MAMMALS 1. The authority citation for part 216 continues to read as follows: Authority:

    16 U.S.C. 1361 et seq. unless otherwise noted.

    2. In § 216.15, paragraph (j) is added to read as follows:
    § 216.15 Depleted species.

    (j) Sakhalin Bay-Nikolaya Bay-Amur River beluga whales (Delphinapterus leucas). The stock includes all beluga whales primarily occurring in, but not limited to, waters of Sakhalin Bay, Nikolaya Bay, and Amur River in the Sea of Okhotsk.

    [FR Doc. 2016-07713 Filed 4-4-16; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-22-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 622 RIN 0648-BF77 Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; Shrimp Fishery of the Gulf of Mexico; Amendment 17A AGENCY:

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

    ACTION:

    Notice of availability; request for comments.

    SUMMARY:

    The Gulf of Mexico (Gulf) Fishery Management Council (Council) has submitted Amendment 17A to the Fishery Management Plan for the Shrimp Fishery of the Gulf of Mexico (FMP) for review, approval, and implementation by NMFS. Amendment 17A includes actions to extend the Gulf commercial shrimp permit moratorium and retain the royal red endorsement to the Gulf shrimp permit.

    DATES:

    Written comments must be received on or before June 6, 2016.

    ADDRESSES:

    You may submit comments on Amendment 17A, identified by “NOAA-NMFS-2016-0018” by any of the following methods:

    Electronic Submission: Submit all electronic public comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. Go to www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-2016-0018, click the “Comment Now!” icon, complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments.

    Mail: Submit written comments to Susan Gerhart, Southeast Regional Office, NMFS, 263 13th Avenue South, St. Petersburg, FL 33701.

    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 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).

    Electronic copies of Amendment 17A, which includes an environmental assessment, a Regulatory Flexibility Act analysis, and a regulatory impact review, may be obtained from the Southeast Regional Office Web site at http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/sustainable_fisheries/gulf_fisheries/shrimp/2016/am17a/index.html.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Susan Gerhart, telephone: 727-824-5305, or email: [email protected].

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    The Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act) requires each regional fishery management council to submit any FMP or amendment to NMFS for review and approval, partial approval, or disapproval. The Magnuson-Stevens Act also requires that NMFS, upon receiving a plan or amendment, publish an announcement in the Federal Register notifying the public that the plan or amendment is available for review and comment.

    The FMP being revised by Amendment 17A was prepared by the Council and implemented through regulations at 50 CFR part 622 under the authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Act.

    Background

    In 2002, through Amendment 11 to the FMP, the Council established a Federal commercial open access permit for all vessels harvesting shrimp from federal waters of the Gulf (67 FR 51074, August 7, 2002). Approximately 2,951 vessels had been issued these permits by 2006. After the establishment of the permit, the shrimp fishery experienced economic losses, primarily because of high fuel costs and reduced shrimp prices caused by competition from imports. These economic losses resulted in decreasing numbers of vessels in the fishery, and consequently, reduction of effort. The Council determined that the number of vessels in the offshore shrimp fleet would likely decline to a point where the fishery again became profitable for the remaining participants, and new vessels might want to enter the fishery. That additional effort could negate, or at least lessen, profitability for the fleet as a whole. Consequently, through Amendment 13 to the FMP, the Council established a 10-year moratorium on the issuance of new Federal commercial shrimp vessel permits and established a royal red shrimp endorsement to the Gulf shrimp permit (71 FR 56039, September 26, 2006). The moratorium on permits also indirectly controls shrimping effort in Federal waters and thereby, bycatch levels of juvenile red snapper and sea turtles. The final rule implementing the moratorium was effective October 26, 2006, and the moratorium permits became effective in March 2007. Amendment 17A would extend the moratorium for an additional 10 years until October 26, 2026. Extending the moratorium is expected to maintain the biological, social, and economic benefits to the shrimp fishery achieved under the moratorium over the past 10 years.

    The purpose of establishing the royal red shrimp endorsement was to help inform data collectors about who the royal red shrimpers were and collect better information about the fishery. These endorsements are available to anyone with a Federal Gulf commercial shrimp permit and many more royal red shrimp endorsements are issued than the number of vessels actually harvesting royal red shrimp. Royal red shrimp are primarily harvested from deep waters requiring greater capital investment; therefore, historically only a small number of boats have been engaged in harvesting royal red shrimp. In Amendment 17A, the Council considered eliminating the royal red shrimp endorsement to the Gulf shrimp permit. However, the Council chose to retain the endorsement because it may be useful in the future to identify shrimpers who could be exempt from closed areas and for enforcement.

    A proposed rule that would implement measures outlined in Amendment 17A has been drafted. In accordance with the Magnuson-Stevens Act, NMFS is evaluating the proposed rule to determine whether it is consistent with the FMP, the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and other applicable law. If that determination is affirmative, NMFS will publish the proposed rule in the Federal Register for public review and comment.

    Consideration of Public Comments

    The Council has submitted Amendment 17A for Secretarial review, approval, and implementation. Comments on Amendment 17A must be received by June 6, 2016. Comments received during the respective comment periods, whether specifically directed to the amendment or the proposed rule, will be considered by NMFS in its decision to approve, disapprove, or partially approve the amendment and will be addressed in the final rule.

    Authority:

    16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.

    Dated: March 31, 2016. Alan D. Risenhoover, Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service.
    [FR Doc. 2016-07732 Filed 4-4-16; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-22-P
    81 65 Tuesday, April 5, 2016 Notices DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Agricultural Research Service Submission for OMB Review; Comment Request March 30, 2016.

    The Department of Agriculture has submitted the following information collection requirement(s) to OMB for review and clearance under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, Public Law 104-13. Comments are requested regarding (1) whether the collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the agency, including whether the information will have practical utility; (2) the accuracy of the agency's estimate of burden including the validity of the methodology and assumptions used; (3) ways to enhance the quality, utility and clarity of the information to be collected; and (4) ways to minimize the burden of the collection of information on those who are to respond, including through the use of appropriate automated, electronic, mechanical, or other technological collection techniques or other forms of information technology.

    Comments regarding this information collection received by May 5, 2016 will be considered. Written comments should be addressed to: Desk Officer for Agriculture, Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, Office of Management and Budget (OMB), New Executive Office Building, 725—17th Street, NW., Washington, DC 20502. Commenters are encouraged to submit their comments to OMB via email to: [email protected] or fax (202) 395-5806 and to Departmental Clearance Office, USDA, OCIO, Mail Stop 7602, Washington, DC 20250-7602. Copies of the submission(s) may be obtained by calling (202) 720-8958.

    An agency may not conduct or sponsor a collection of information unless the collection of information displays a currently valid OMB control number and the agency informs potential persons who are to respond to the collection of information that such persons are not required to respond to the collection of information unless it displays a currently valid OMB control number.

    Agricultural Research Service

    Title: ARS Animal Health National Program Assessment Survey Form.

    OMB Control Number: 0518-0042.

    Summary of Collection: The Agricultural Research Service (ARS) covers the span of nutrition, food safety and quality, animal and plant production and protection, and natural resources and sustainable agricultural systems and it organized into seventeen National Programs addressing specific areas of this research. Research in the Agency is conducted through coordinated National Programs on a five year cycle. The cycle ensures that ARS research meets OMB's Research and Development Investment Criteria and other external requirements, including the Research Title of the Farm Bill, and the Government Performance and Results Act of 1993 (GPRA). These National Programs serve to bring coordination, communication, and empowerment to approximately 750 research projects carried out by ARS and focus on the relevance, impact, and quality of ARS research. The requested voluntary electronic evaluation survey will give the beneficiaries of ARS research the opportunity to provide input on the impact of several ARS National Programs.

    Need and Use of the Information: The purpose of the survey is to assess the impact of the research in the current National Program cycle and ensure relevance for the next cycle. Failure to collect input from our customers on the impact of our research program would significantly inhibit the relevance and credibility of the research conducted at ARS.

    Description of Respondents: Individuals or households; Business or other for-profit; Not-for-profit institutions; State, Local or Tribal Government.

    Number of Respondents: 800.

    Frequency of Responses: Reporting: Other (5 years).

    Total Burden Hours: 131.

    Ruth Brown, Departmental Information Collection Clearance Officer.
    [FR Doc. 2016-07674 Filed 4-4-16; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3410-03-P
    COMMISSION ON CIVIL RIGHTS Notice of Public Meeting of the Michigan Advisory Committee to Discuss Preparations for a Public Hearing Regarding the Civil Rights Impact of Civil Forfeiture Practices in the State 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 Thursday April 14, 2016, at 3:00 p.m. EDT for the purpose of discussing preparations for a public hearing regarding the civil rights impact of civil asset forfeiture in the State.

    This meeting is available to the public through the following toll-free call-in number: 888-587-0615, conference ID: 9524760. 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 regular charges for calls they initiate over wireless lines according to their wireless plan, 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 within 30 days following the meeting. 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 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. Click on the “Meeting Details” and “Documents” links to download. 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 Preparatory Discussion for Public Hearing: Civil Rights Impact of Civil Forfeiture Practices in Michigan Future Plans and Actions Open Comment Adjournment DATES:

    The meeting will be held on Thursday, April 14, 2016, at 3:00 p.m. EDT Public Call Information:

    Dial: 888-587-0615

    Conference ID: 9524760

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Melissa Wojnaroski at [email protected] or 312-353-8311.

    Dated March 30, 2016. David Mussatt, Chief, Regional Programs Unit.
    [FR Doc. 2016-07629 Filed 4-4-16; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6335-01-P
    COMMISSION ON CIVIL RIGHTS Agenda and Notice of Public Meeting of the Maryland Advisory Committee AGENCY:

    Commission on Civil Rights.

    ACTION:

    Announcement of monthly planning meetings.

    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 (FACA) that the Maryland Advisory Committee (MD Advisory Committee) will convene meetings by conference call at 12:30 p.m. (EDT) on each of the following Fridays: April 22, May 20, June 17, July 15, August 19, 2016. The purpose of each meeting is to discuss project planning and eventually select topic(s) for the Committee's civil rights review. In addition, at the May 20, 2016, meeting, the members will nominate and select additional Committee officers.

    Interested members of the public may listen to the discussion by calling the following toll-free conference call number: 1-888-437-9445 and conference call ID: 2956454. An open comment period will be provided to allow members of the public to make a statement. Please be advised that before placing them into the conference call, the conference call operator will ask callers to provide their names, their organizational affiliations (if any), and email addresses (so that callers may be notified of future meetings). 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 herein.

    Persons with hearing impairments may also follow the discussion by first calling the Federal Relay Service at 1-888-364-3109 and providing the operator with the toll-free conference call number: 1-888-437-9445 and conference call ID: 2956454.

    Members of the public are also invited to submit written comments; the comments must be received in the regional office approximately 30 days after each scheduled meeting. Written comments may be mailed to the Eastern Regional Office, U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, 1331 Pennsylvania Avenue, Suite 1150, Washington, DC 20425, faxed to (202) 376-7548, or emailed to Evelyn Bohor at [email protected] Persons who desire additional information may contact the Eastern Regional Office at (202) 376-7533.

    Records and documents discussed during the meeting will be available for public viewing as they become available at http://facadatabase.gov/committee/meetings.aspx?cid=253. Click the “Meeting Details” and “Documents” links to download documents. Records generated from this meeting may also be inspected and reproduced at the Eastern Regional Office, as they become available, both before and after the meetings. Persons interested in the work of this advisory committee are advised to go to the Commission's Web site, www.usccr.gov, or to contact the Eastern Regional Office at the above phone number, email or street address.

    Agenda Welcome and Introductions
    Rollcall Planning Meeting Discuss and Eventually Select Topic(s) for Civil Rights Project Review Discuss and Eventually Appoint Working Group(s) Other Business Open Comment Adjournment DATES:

    The meetings will be held on the following Fridays: April 22, May 20, June 17, July 15 and August 19, 2016.

    Time: Each meeting starts at 12:30 p.m. (EDT).

    Public Call-In Information: Conference call number: 1-888-437-9445 and conference call ID: 2956454.

    TDD: Dial Federal Relay Service at 1-800-977-8339 and give the operator the above toll-free conference call number and conference call ID.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Ivy L. Davis, at [email protected] or by phone at 202-376-7533.

    Dated: March 30, 2016. David Mussatt, Chief, Regional Programs Unit.
    [FR Doc. 2016-07630 Filed 4-4-16; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6335-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE Bureau of the Census [Docket Number 160322272-6272-01] 2017 Census of Governments AGENCY:

    Bureau of the Census, Commerce.

    ACTION:

    Notice of determination and request for comment.

    SUMMARY:

    The Bureau of the Census (U.S. Census Bureau) publishes this notice to request public comment on the content of the 2017 Census of Governments. The Census of Governments is conducted at 5-year intervals (years ending in 2 and 7) and is the most comprehensive compilation of statistics about state and local governments available. The Census Bureau is seeking input on the content of the 2017 Census of Governments to ensure that the Census of Governments continues to be the most comprehensive measure of state and local governments by adapting to growing areas of interest, accounting and policy changes. The granting of specific authority to conduct the program is Title 13, United States Code (U.S.C.), Section 161, which authorizes and requires the Census of Governments.

    DATES:

    The Census Bureau will begin mailing the 2017 Census of Governments Employment component in the Spring of 2017 and the Finance component in the Fall of 2017. Responses will be due by April 2017 (for the Employment component) and by December 2017 (for the finance component). Therefore, written comments on proposed content changes must be submitted on or before June 6, 2016 to ensure consideration of your comments on the 2017 Census of Governments content.

    ADDRESSES:

    Direct all written comments regarding the 2017 Census of Governments to Kevin Deardorff, Chief, Economy Wide Statistics Division, U.S. Census Bureau, Room 8K154, Washington, DC 20233; or by email [email protected]

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Economy-Wide Statistics Division, U.S. Census Bureau, 4600 Silver Hill Road, C/O Kevin Deardorff, Chief, Economy Wide Statistics Division, U.S. Census Bureau, Room 8K154, Washington, DC 20233; or by email [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    A. Background

    Section 161 of Title 13 U.S.C. directs the Secretary of Commerce to “take, compile, and publish for the year 1957 and for every fifth year thereafter a census of governments. Each such census shall include, but shall not be limited to, data on taxes and tax valuations, governmental receipts, expenditures, indebtedness, and employees of States, counties, cities, and other governmental units.” Because of this, the Census of Governments is the most comprehensive, comparable, and precise measure of government economic activity. It identifies the scope and nature of the nation's public sector and provides authoritative benchmark figures of public finance, pensions, and employment. This helps us identify and classify the complex and diverse state and local government organizations, powers, and activities, and measures federal, state, and local fiscal relationships.

    This notice requests public comments on the 2017 Census of Governments content as discussed further in Section B of this Federal Register notice. Regular content reviews help keep the Census of Governments valuable to policy analysts, researchers, the general public and other federal agencies.

    Two federal statistical agencies, the Bureau of Economic Analysis and the Federal Reserve Board, use the Census of Governments data to measure the nation's economic and financial performance. State and local governments use the data to develop programs and budgets, assess financial conditions, and perform comparative analyses. In addition, analysts, economists, market specialists, and researchers need these data to measure the changing characteristics of the government sector of the economy and to conduct public policy research. Journalists report on, and teachers and students learn about, their governments' activities using our data. Internally, the Census Bureau uses these data as a benchmark for all our non-census year samples.

    B. Census of Governments Content

    For the 2017 Census of Governments, finance and employment data are the same as in comparable annual surveys and include revenues, expenditures, debt, assets, number of employees (by full-time and part-time status), payroll, and benefits. The Census Bureau posted copies of the 2012 Census of Governments forms on its Web site at: http://www.census.gov/govs/cog/get_forms.html. Please take a moment to review the forms relevant to your interests and provide us with your comments for us to consider as we prepare content for the 2017 questionnaires. In particular, Forms F-11 and F-12 may be of interest, given recent changes to the accounting standards concerning actuarial data for Public Pensions instituted by the Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB). We are especially interested in comments on the usefulness of existing inquiries for continued inclusion and in suggestions for new measures that would be appropriate to include in the Census of Governments.

    Notwithstanding any other provision of law, no person is required to respond to, nor shall a person be subject to a penalty for failure to comply with a collection of information subject to the requirements of the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA) unless that collection of information displays a current valid Office of Management and Budget (OMB) control number. The Census Bureau, through the proper established procedures, will be obtaining OMB control numbers under the PRA as we get closer to launching the program in 2017.

    Dated: March 29, 2016. John H. Thompson, Director, Bureau of the Census.
    [FR Doc. 2016-07736 Filed 4-4-16; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-07-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE Foreign-Trade Zones Board [B-16-2016] Foreign-Trade Zone 17—Kansas City, Kansas, Application for Reorganization, (Expansion of Service Area) Under Alternative Site Framework

    An application has been submitted to the Foreign-Trade Zones (FTZ) Board by the Greater Kansas City Foreign Trade Zone, Inc., grantee of Foreign-Trade Zone 17, requesting authority to reorganize the zone to expand its service area under the alternative site framework (ASF) adopted by the FTZ Board (15 CFR Sec. 400.2(c)). The ASF is an option for grantees for the establishment or reorganization of zones and can permit significantly greater flexibility in the designation of new subzones or “usage-driven” FTZ sites for operators/users located within a grantee's “service area” in the context of the FTZ Board's standard 2,000-acre activation limit for a zone. The application was submitted pursuant to the Foreign-Trade Zones Act, as amended (19 U.S.C. 81a-81u), and the regulations of the FTZ Board (15 CFR part 400). It was formally docketed on March 31, 2016.

    FTZ 17 was approved by the FTZ Board on December 20, 1973 (Board Order 97, 39 FR 26, January 2, 1974) and reorganized under the ASF on July 8, 2010 (Board Order 1696, 75 FR 41819, July 19, 2010). The zone currently has a service area that includes Wyandotte, Johnson, Douglas, Shawnee, Leavenworth and Miami Counties, Kansas.

    The applicant is now requesting authority to expand the service area of the zone to include Atchison, Jefferson and Franklin Counties, as described in the application. If approved, the grantee would be able to serve sites throughout the expanded service area based on companies' needs for FTZ designation. The application indicates that the proposed expanded service area is adjacent to the Kansas City Customs and Border Protection Port of Entry.

    In accordance with the FTZ Board's regulations, Camille Evans of the FTZ Staff is designated examiner to evaluate and analyze the facts and information presented in the application and case record and to report findings and recommendations to the FTZ Board.

    Public comment is invited from interested parties. Submissions shall be addressed to the FTZ Board's Executive Secretary at the address below. The closing period for their receipt is June 6, 2016. Rebuttal comments in response to material submitted during the foregoing period may be submitted during the subsequent 15-day period to June 20, 2016.

    A copy of the application will be available for public inspection at the Office of the Executive Secretary, Foreign-Trade Zones Board, Room 21013, U.S. Department of Commerce, 1401 Constitution Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20230-0002, and in the “Reading Room” section of the FTZ Board's Web site, which is accessible via www.trade.gov/ftz. For further information, contact Camille Evans at [email protected] or (202) 482-2350.

    Dated: March 31, 2016. Andrew McGilvray, Executive Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2016-07778 Filed 4-4-16; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-DS-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE International Trade Administration [A-570-979] Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaic Cells, Whether or Not Assembled Into Modules, From the People's Republic of China: Rescission of Antidumping Duty New Shipper Review; 2014-2015 AGENCY:

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

    SUMMARY:

    In response to a request from Anji DaSol Solar Energy Science & Technology Co., Ltd. (“Anji DaSol”), the Department of Commerce (“the Department”) initiated a new shipper review of the antidumping duty order on crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells, whether or not assembled into modules, (“solar cells”) from the People's Republic of China (“PRC”) covering the period December 1, 2014 through November 30, 2015.1 On March 21, 2016, Anji DaSol timely withdrew its request for a new shipper review.2 Accordingly, the Department is rescinding the new shipper review with respect to Anji DaSol.

    1See Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaic Cells, Whether or Not Assembled Into Modules, From the People's Republic of China: Initiation of Antidumping Duty New Shipper Review, 81 FR 5711 (February 3, 2016).

    2See Letter from Anji DaSol to the Secretary of Commerce, “Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaic Cells, Whether or not Assembled Into Modules, from the People's Republic of China; Withdrawal of New Shipper Review Request,” dated March 21, 2016.

    DATES:

    Effective Date: April 5, 2016.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Cara Lofaro, AD/CVD Operations, Office IV, Enforcement & Compliance, International Trade Administration, Department of Commerce, 14th Street and Constitution Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20230; telephone: (202) 482-5720.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Rescission of New Shipper Review

    On February 3, 2016, the Department initiated a new shipper review for Anji DaSol, and on March 21, 2016, Anji DaSol withdrew its new shipper review request. Section 351.214(f)(1) of the Department's regulations provides that the Department may rescind a new shipper review if the party that requested the review withdraws its request for review no later than 60 days after the date of publication of the notice of initiation of the requested review. Given that Anji DaSol timely withdrew its request for a new shipper review, the Department is rescinding the new shipper review of the antidumping duty order on solar cells from the PRC with respect to Anji DaSol. Consequently, Anji DaSol will remain part of the PRC-wide entity.

    Assessment

    Because we are rescinding the new shipper review of Anji DaSol, we are not making a determination as to whether Anji DaSol qualifies for a separate rate. Therefore, Anji DaSol remains part of the PRC-wide entity and any entries covered by this new shipper review will be assessed at the PRC-wide rate. The PRC-wide entity is not under review in the ongoing administrative review covering the 2014-2015 period of review, and therefore, Anji DaSol is not under review in the concurrent administrative review.3 Accordingly, the Department intends to issue liquidation instructions for any entries by Anji DaSol 15 days after publication of this rescission notice.

    3See Initiation of Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Administrative Reviews, 81 FR 6832 (February 9, 2016).

    Cash Deposit

    Effective upon publication of the rescission of the new shipper review of Anji DaSol, the Department will instruct U.S. Customs and Border Protection to discontinue the option of posting a bond or security in lieu of a cash deposit for entries of subject merchandise from Anji DaSol.4 Because we did not calculate a dumping margin for Anji DaSol or grant Anji DaSol a separate rate in this new shipper review, Anji DaSol continues to be part of the PRC-wide entity. The cash deposit rate for the PRC-wide entity is 238.95 percent. These cash deposit requirements shall remain in effect until further notice.

    4See section 751(a)(2)(B)(iii) of the Tariff Act of 1930, as amended (“the Act”); see also 19 CFR 351.214(e).

    Notifications to Interested Parties

    This notice serves as a final reminder to importers of their responsibility under 19 CFR 351.402(f)(2) to file a certificate regarding the reimbursement of antidumping duties prior to liquidation of the relevant entries during this review period. Failure to comply with this requirement could result in the Secretary's presumption that reimbursement of antidumping duties occurred and the subsequent assessment of double antidumping duties. This notice also serves as a reminder to parties subject to administrative protective order (“APO”) of their responsibility concerning the return or destruction of proprietary information disclosed under APO, in accordance with 19 CFR 351.305(a)(3). Timely written notification of the return or destruction of APO materials, or conversion to judicial protective order, is hereby requested. Failure to comply with the regulations and terms of an APO is a violation which is subject to sanction.

    This rescission and notice are published in accordance with sections 751(a)(2)(B) and 777(i) of the Act and 19 CFR 351.214(f)(3).

    Dated: March 29, 2016. Christian Marsh, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Operations.
    [FR Doc. 2016-07776 Filed 4-4-16; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-DS-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE International Trade Administration [A-580-885] Phosphor Copper From the Republic of Korea: Initiation of Less-Than-Fair-Value Investigation AGENCY:

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

    DATES:

    Effective Date: March 29, 2016.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Cindy Robinson or Eric Greynolds, at (202) 482-3797 or (202) 482-6071, AD/CVD Operations, Enforcement and Compliance, U.S. Department of Commerce, 14th Street and Constitution Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20230.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    The Petition

    On March 9, 2016, the Department of Commerce (the Department) received an antidumping duty (AD) petition concerning imports of phosphor copper from the Republic of Korea (Korea), filed in proper form on behalf of Metallurgical Products Company (Metallurgical) (Petitioner).1 Petitioner is a domestic producer of phosphor copper.2

    1See the Petition for the Imposition of Antidumping Duties on Imports of Phosphor Copper from the Republic of Korea, dated March 9, 2016 (the Petition).

    2See Volume I of the Petition, at 1.

    On March 14 and 18, 2016, the Department requested additional information and clarification of certain areas of the Petition.3 Petitioner filed responses on March 16, 21, and 22, 2016.4

    3See Letter from the Department to Petitioner entitled “Re: Petition for the Imposition of Antidumping Duties on Imports of Phosphor Copper from the Republic of Korea: Supplemental Questions” dated March 14, 2016 and Memorandum to the File, “Phone Call with Counsel to Petitioner,” dated March 18, 2016.

    4See letter from Petitioner entitled “Phosphor Copper from the Republic of Korea: Response to the Department's Supplemental Questions,” dated March 16, 2016 (Petition Supplement 1); see also “Phosphor Copper from the Republic of Korea: Response to the Department's Supplemental Questions,” dated March 21, 2016 (Petition Supplement 2); and “Phosphor Copper from the Republic of Korea: Supplemental Submission Regarding Scope and Domestic Like Product,” dated March 22, 2016 (Scope Supplement).

    In accordance with section 732(b) of the Tariff Act of 1930, as amended (the Act), Petitioner alleges that imports of phosphor copper from Korea are being, or are likely to be, sold in the United States at less-than-fair value within the meaning of section 731 of the Act, and that such imports are materially injuring, or threatening material injury to, an industry in the United States. Also, consistent with section 732(b)(1) of the Act, the Petition is accompanied by information reasonably available to Petitioner supporting its allegations.

    The Department finds that Petitioner filed this Petition on behalf of the domestic industry because Petitioner is an interested party as defined in section 771(9)(C) of the Act. The Department also finds that Petitioner demonstrated sufficient industry support with respect to the initiation of the AD investigation that Petitioner is requesting.5

    5See the “Determination of Industry Support for the Petition” section below.

    Period of Investigation

    Because the Petition was filed on March 9, 2016, the period of investigation (POI) is, pursuant to 19 CFR 351.204(b)(1), January 1, 2015, through December 31, 2015.

    Scope of the Investigation

    The product covered by this investigation is phosphor copper from Korea. For a full description of the scope of this investigation, see the “Scope of the Investigation,” in Appendix I of this notice.

    Comments on Scope of the Investigation

    During our review of the Petition, the Department issued questions to, and received responses from, the Petitioner pertaining to the proposed scope to ensure that the scope language in the Petition would be an accurate reflection of the products for which the domestic industry is seeking relief.6

    6See Petition Supplement 1 and 2 and Scope Supplement.

    As discussed in the preamble to the Department's regulations,7 we are setting aside a period for interested parties to raise issues regarding product coverage (scope). The Department will consider all comments received from parties and, if necessary, will consult with parties prior to the issuance of the preliminary determination. If scope comments include factual information (see 19 CFR 351.102(b)(21)), all such factual information should be limited to public information. In order to facilitate preparation of its questionnaires, the Department requests all interested parties to submit such comments by 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time (ET) on Monday, April 18, 2016, which is 20 calendar days from the signature date of this notice. Any rebuttal comments, which may include factual information, must be filed by 5:00 p.m. ET on Thursday, April 28, 2016, which is 10 calendar days after the initial comments deadline.

    7See Antidumping Duties; Countervailing Duties, 62 FR 27296, 27323 (May 19, 1997).

    The Department requests that any factual information the parties consider relevant to the scope of the investigation be submitted during this time period. However, if a party subsequently finds that additional factual information pertaining to the scope of the investigation may be relevant, the party may contact the Department and request permission to submit the additional information.

    Filing Requirements

    All submissions to the Department must be filed electronically using Enforcement and Compliance's Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Centralized Electronic Service System (ACCESS).8 An electronically filed document must be received successfully in its entirety by the time and date when it is due. Documents excepted from the electronic submission requirements must be filed manually (i.e., in paper form) with Enforcement and Compliance's APO/Dockets Unit, Room 18022, U.S. Department of Commerce, 14th Street and Constitution Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20230, and stamped with the date and time of receipt by the applicable deadlines.

    8See 19 CFR 351.303 (for general filing requirements); see also Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Proceedings: Electronic Filing Procedures; Administrative Protective Order Procedures, 76 FR 39263 (July 6, 2011); see also Enforcement and Compliance; Change of Electronic Filing System Name, 79 FR 69046 (November 20, 2014) for details of the Department's electronic filing requirements, which went into effect on August 5, 2011. Information on help using ACCESS can be found at https://access.trade.gov/help.aspx and a handbook can be found at https://access.trade.gov/help/Handbook%20on%20Electronic%20Filling%20Procedures.pdf.

    Comments on Product Characteristics for AD Questionnaires

    The Department requests comments from interested parties regarding the appropriate physical characteristics of phosphor copper to be reported in response to the Department's AD questionnaires. This information will be used to identify the key physical characteristics of the subject merchandise in order to report the relevant factors and costs of production accurately as well as to develop appropriate product-comparison criteria.

    Interested parties may provide any information or comments that they feel are relevant to the development of an accurate list of physical characteristics. Specifically, they may provide comments as to which characteristics are appropriate to use as: (1) General product characteristics and (2) product-comparison criteria. We note that it is not always appropriate to use all product characteristics as product-comparison criteria. We base product-comparison criteria on meaningful commercial differences among products. In other words, although there may be some physical product characteristics utilized by manufacturers to describe phosphor copper, it may be that only a select few product characteristics take into account commercially meaningful physical characteristics. In addition, interested parties may comment on the order in which the physical characteristics should be used in matching products. Generally, the Department attempts to list the most important physical characteristics first and the least important characteristics last.

    In order to consider the suggestions of interested parties in developing and issuing the AD questionnaires, all comments must be filed by 5:00 p.m. EDT on April 18, 2016, which is twenty calendar days from the signature date of this notice. Any rebuttal comments must be filed by 5:00 p.m. EDT on April 25, 2016. All comments and submissions to the Department must be filed electronically using ACCESS, as explained above, on the record of this Korea less-than-fair-value investigation.

    Determination of Industry Support for the Petition

    Section 732(b)(1) of the Act requires that a petition be filed on behalf of the domestic industry. Section 732(c)(4)(A) of the Act provides that a petition meets this requirement if the domestic producers or workers who support the petition account for: (i) At least 25 percent of the total production of the domestic like product; and (ii) more than 50 percent of the production of the domestic like product produced by that portion of the industry expressing support for, or opposition to, the petition. Moreover, section 732(c)(4)(D) of the Act provides that, if the petition does not establish support of domestic producers or workers accounting for more than 50 percent of the total production of the domestic like product, the Department shall: (i) Poll the industry or rely on other information in order to determine if there is support for the petition, as required by subparagraph (A); or (ii) determine industry support using a statistically valid sampling method to poll the “industry.”

    Section 771(4)(A) of the Act defines the “industry” as the producers as a whole of a domestic like product. Thus, to determine whether a petition has the requisite industry support, the statute directs the Department to look to producers and workers who produce the domestic like product. The International Trade Commission (ITC), which is responsible for determining whether “the domestic industry” has been injured, must also determine what constitutes a domestic like product in order to define the industry. While both the Department and the ITC must apply the same statutory definition regarding the domestic like product,9 they do so for different purposes and pursuant to a separate and distinct authority. In addition, the Department's determination is subject to limitations of time and information. Although this may result in different definitions of the like product, such differences do not render the decision of either agency contrary to law.10

    9See section 771(10) of the Act.

    10See USEC, Inc. v. United States, 132 F. Supp. 2d 1, 8 (CIT 2001) (citing Algoma Steel Corp., Ltd. v. United States, 688 F. Supp. 639, 644 (CIT 1988), aff'd 865 F.2d 240 (Fed. Cir. 1989)).

    Section 771(10) of the Act defines the domestic like product as “a product which is like, or in the absence of like, most similar in characteristics and uses with, the article subject to an investigation under this title.” Thus, the reference point from which the domestic like product analysis begins is “the article subject to an investigation” (i.e., the class or kind of merchandise to be investigated, which normally will be the scope as defined in the Petition).

    With regard to the domestic like product, Petitioner does not offer a definition of the domestic like product distinct from the scope of the investigation. Based on our analysis of the information submitted on the record, we have determined that phosphor copper, as defined in the scope, constitutes a single domestic like product and we have analyzed industry support in terms of that domestic like product.11

    11 For a discussion of the domestic like product analysis in this case, see Antidumping Duty Investigation Initiation Checklist: Phosphor Copper from the Republic of Korea (Korea AD Initiation Checklist), at Attachment II, Analysis of Industry Support for the Antidumping Duty Petition Covering Phosphor Copper from the Republic of Korea (Attachment II). This checklist is dated concurrently with this notice and is on file electronically via ACCESS. Access to documents filed via ACCESS is also available in the Central Records Unit, Room B8024 of the main Department of Commerce building.

    In determining whether Petitioner has standing under section 732(c)(4)(A) of the Act, we considered the industry support data contained in the Petition with reference to the domestic like product as defined in the “Scope of the Investigation,” in Appendix I of this notice. To establish industry support, Petitioner provided its production of the domestic like product in 2015, as well as estimated total production of the domestic like product for the entire domestic industry.12 We relied on data in the Petition for purposes of measuring industry support.13

    12See Volume I of the Petition, at 2-3, and at Exhibit I-3.

    13Id. For a further discussion, see Korea AD Initiation Checklist, at Attachment II.

    Our review of the data provided in the Petition and other information readily available to the Department indicates that Petitioner has established industry support.14 First, the Petition established support from domestic producers (or workers) accounting for more than 50 percent of the total production of the domestic like product and, as such, the Department is not required to take further action in order to evaluate industry support (e.g., polling).15 Second, the domestic producers (or workers) have met the statutory criteria for industry support under section 732(c)(4)(A)(i) of the Act for the Petition because the domestic producers (or workers) who support the Petition account for at least 25 percent of the total production of the domestic like product.16 Finally, the domestic producers (or workers) have met the statutory criteria for industry support under section 732(c)(4)(A)(ii) of the Act because the domestic producers (or workers) who support the Petition account for more than 50 percent of the production of the domestic like product produced by that portion of the industry expressing support for, or opposition to, the Petition.17 Accordingly, the Department determines that the Petition was filed on behalf of the domestic industry within the meaning of section 732(b)(1) of the Act.

    14See Korea AD Initiation Checklist, at Attachment II.

    15See section 732(c)(4)(D) of the Act; see also Korea AD Initiation Checklist, at Attachment II.

    16See Korea AD Initiation Checklist, at Attachment II.

    17Id.

    The Department finds that Petitioner filed the Petition on behalf of the domestic industry because it is an interested party as defined in section 771(9)(C) of the Act and it has demonstrated sufficient industry support with respect to the AD investigation that it is requesting the Department initiate.18

    18See Korea AD Initiation Checklist, at Attachment II.

    Allegations and Evidence of Material Injury and Causation

    Petitioner alleges that the U.S. industry producing the domestic like product is being materially injured, or is threatened with material injury, by reason of the imports of the subject merchandise sold at less than normal value (NV). In addition, Petitioner alleges that subject imports exceed the negligibility threshold provided for under section 771(24)(A) of the Act.19

    19See Volume I of the Petition, at 7-8 and at Exhibit I-9.

    Petitioner contends that the industry's injured condition is illustrated by reduced market share, underselling and price suppression or depression, lost sales and revenues, and impacts on production, capacity utilization, commercial shipments, and financial performance.20 We have assessed the allegations and supporting evidence regarding material injury, threat of material injury, and causation, and we have determined that these allegations are properly supported by adequate evidence and meet the statutory requirements for initiation.21

    20See Volume I of the Petition, at 7-8, 12-25 and at Exhibits I-9 and I-11 through I-17.

    21See Korea AD Initiation Checklist, at Attachment III, Analysis of Allegations and Evidence of Material Injury and Causation for the Antidumping Duty Petition Covering Phosphor Copper from the Republic of Korea.

    Allegation of Sales at Less-Than-Fair Value

    The following is a description of the allegation of sales at less-than-fair value upon which the Department based its decision to initiate the investigation of imports of phosphor copper from Korea. The sources of data for the deductions and adjustments relating to U.S. price and NV are discussed in greater detail in the initiation checklist.

    Export Price

    Petitioner based U.S. prices on a 2015 Korean producer's price offerings to its customers in the United States for phosphor copper produced in, and exported from, Korea during the POI.22 Where applicable, Petitioner made deductions from U.S. price for movement expenses consistent with the delivery terms, including foreign and U.S. inland freight, foreign and U.S. brokerage and handling fees, ocean freight, marine insurance, and U.S. harbor maintenance fees and merchandise processing fees.23

    22See Korea AD Initiation Checklist; see also Volume II of the Petition, at 3 and Exhibit II-3.

    23See Korea AD Initiation Checklist.

    Normal Value

    Petitioner provided home market price information based on sales, or offers for sale, in Korea of merchandise identical or similar to the product being imported into the United States during the POI.24 Petitioner made certain adjustments to the price quotes, including deductions for inland freight charges (where applicable).25

    24See Volume II of the Petition, at 9-10 and Exhibit II-3; see also Korea AD Initiation Checklist.

    25See Korea AD Initiation Checklist.

    Petitioner provided information indicating that sales of phosphor copper in Korea were made at prices below the cost of production (COP) and, as a result, also calculated NV based on constructed value (CV).26 For further discussion of COP and NV based on CV, see below.27

    26 On June 29, 2015, the President of the United States signed into law the Trade Preferences Extension Act of 2015, which made numerous amendments to the AD and CVD law. See Trade Preferences Extension Act of 2015, Pub. L. 114-27, 129 Stat. 362 (2015). The 2015 law does not specify dates of application for those amendments. On August 6, 2015, the Department published an interpretative rule, in which it announced the applicability dates for each amendment to the Act, except for amendments contained in section 771(7) of the Act, which relate to determinations of material injury by the ITC. See Dates of Application of Amendments to the Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Laws Made by the Trade Preferences Extension Act of 2015, 80 FR 46793 (August 6, 2015) (Applicability Notice). The amendments to sections 771(15), 773, 776, and 782 of the Act are applicable to all determinations made on or after August 6, 2015, and, therefore, apply to this AD investigation. See id at 46794-95. The 2015 amendments may be found at https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/house-bill/1295/text/pl.

    27 In accordance with section 505(a) of the Trade Preferences Extension Act of 2015, amending section 773(b)(2) of the Act, for this investigation, the Department will request information necessary to calculate the CV and COP to determine whether there are reasonable grounds to believe or suspect that sales of the foreign like product have been made at prices that represent less than the COP of the product. The Department no longer requires a COP allegation to conduct this analysis.

    Normal Value Based on Constructed Value

    Pursuant to section 773(b)(3) of the Act, COP consists of the cost of manufacturing (COM); SG&A expenses; financial expenses; and packing expenses. Petitioner calculated COM based on a U.S. producer's experience during the proposed POI.28 Using publicly-available data to value copper and U.S. price data for phosphorus, Petitioner multiplied the usage quantities by the submitted value of the inputs used to manufacture phosphor copper in Korea.29 Petitioner derived labor and electricity rates from publicly available sources multiplied by the product-specific usage rates.30 Petitioner relied on a U.S. producer's experience to determine factory overhead.31 Petitioner relied on the financial statements of Bongsan Co., Ltd. (Bongsan), a Korean producer of identical merchandise, to determine the SG&A rate.32 We revised the SG&A rate to exclude income and expenses related to investments.33 Because Bongsan's financial statements show that financial income exceeded financial expenses, Petitioner, conservatively, set financial expenses to zero.34

    28See Korea AD Initiation Checklist.

    29Id.

    30Id.

    31Id.

    32Id.

    33Id. at Attachment V.

    34See Korea AD Initiation Checklist.

    Because certain home market prices fell below COP, pursuant to sections 773(a)(4), 773(b), and 773(e) of the Act, as noted above, Petitioner also calculated NVs based on CV.35 Pursuant to section 773(e) of the Act, CV consists of the COM, SG&A, financial expenses, packing expenses, and profit. Petitioner calculated CV using the same average COM and SG&A expenses used to calculate COP.36 Petitioner relied on the financial statements of the same producer that Petitioner used for calculating the SG&A rate to calculate the profit rate.37 We adjusted Petitioner's calculated profit rate to exclude the investment and expenses items we excluded from SG&A.38

    35Id.

    36Id.

    37See Korea AD Initiation Checklist.

    38Id.

    Fair Value Comparisons

    Based on the data provided by Petitioner, there is reason to believe that imports of phosphor copper from Korea are being, or are likely to be, sold in the United States at less-than-fair value. Based on comparisons of export price (EP) to NV in accordance with sections 772 and 773 of the Act, the estimated dumping margin(s) for phosphor copper for Korea ranges from 12.55 to 66.54 percent.39

    39See Petition Supplement 1 at Exhibit SQ-II-5. See also Korea AD Initiation Checklist at attachment 5.

    Initiation of Less-Than-Fair-Value Investigation

    Based upon the examination of the AD Petition on phosphor copper from Korea, we find that the Petition meets the requirements of section 732 of the Act. Therefore, we are initiating a less-than-fair-value investigation to determine whether imports of phosphor copper from Korea are being, or are likely to be, sold in the United States at less-than-fair value. In accordance with section 733(b)(1)(A) of the Act and 19 CFR 351.205(b)(1), unless postponed, we will make our preliminary determination no later than 140 days after the date of this initiation.

    Respondent Selection

    The Department normally relies on import data from Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to select a limited number of producers/exporters for individual examination in market economy AD investigations where the number of exporters/producers is determined to be large. In this case the Petitioner identified only one company as a producer/exporter of phosphor copper in Korea, Bongsan Co., Ltd. (Bongsan).40 Petitioner supports its claim with information from Bongsan's corporate Web site, where Bongsan describes itself as the “exclusive firm in Korea' that has challenged copper master alloy production.” 41 Furthermore, we know of no additional producers/exporters of merchandise under consideration from Korea. Therefore, consistent with our past practice, the Department intends to examine all known producers/exporters in this investigation, i.e., Bongsan.42

    40See Volume I of the Petition at 6-7 and Exhibit I-8.

    41See Volume II of the Petition at 2 and Exhibit II-2.

    42See, e.g., Certain Uncoated Paper from Australia, Brazil, the People's Republic of China, Indonesia, and Portugal: Initiation of Less-Than-Fair-Value Investigations, 80 FR 8614 (February 18, 2015).

    We invite interested parties to comment on this issue. Parties wishing to comment must do so within five days of the publication of this notice in the Federal Register. Comments must be filed electronically using ACCESS. An electronically-filed document must be received successfully in its entirety by the Department's electronic records system, ACCESS, by 5 p.m. EST by the date noted above.

    Distribution of Copies of the Petition

    In accordance with section 732(b)(3)(A) of the Act and 19 CFR 351.202(f), copies of the public version of the Petition have been provided to the government of Korea via ACCESS. To the extent practicable, we will attempt to provide a copy of the public version of the Petition to the exporter named in the Petition, as provided under 19 CFR 351.203(c)(2).

    ITC Notification

    We will notify the ITC of our initiation, as required by section 732(d) of the Act.

    Preliminary Determination by the ITC

    The ITC will preliminarily determine, within 45 days after the date on which the Petition was filed, whether there is a reasonable indication that imports of phosphor copper from Korea are materially injuring or threatening material injury to a U.S. industry.43 A negative ITC determination will result in the investigation being terminated; 44 otherwise, the investigation will proceed according to statutory and regulatory time limits.

    43See section 733(a) of the Act.

    44Id.

    Submission of Factual Information

    Factual information is defined in 19 CFR 351.102(b)(21) as: (i) Evidence submitted in response to questionnaires; (ii) evidence submitted in support of allegations; (iii) publicly available information to value factors under 19 CFR 351.408(c) or to measure the adequacy of remuneration under 19 CFR 351.511(a)(2); (iv) evidence placed on the record by the Department; and (v) evidence other than factual information described in (i)-(iv). Any party, when submitting factual information, must specify under which subsection of 19 CFR 351.102(b)(21) the information is being submitted 45 and, if the information is submitted to rebut, clarify, or correct factual information already on the record, to provide an explanation identifying the information already on the record that the factual information seeks to rebut, clarify, or correct.46 Time limits for the submission of factual information are addressed in 19 CFR 351.301, which provides specific time limits based on the type of factual information being submitted. Please review the regulations prior to submitting factual information in this investigation.

    45See 19 CFR 351.301(b).

    46See 19 CFR 351.301(b)(2).

    Extensions of Time Limits

    Parties may request an extension of time limits before the expiration of a time limit established under 19 CFR 351, or as otherwise specified by the Secretary. In general, an extension request will be considered untimely if it is filed after the expiration of the time limit established under 19 CFR 351 expires. For submissions that are due from multiple parties simultaneously, an extension request will be considered untimely if it is filed after 10:00 a.m. ET on the due date. Under certain circumstances, we may elect to specify a different time limit by which extension requests will be considered untimely for submissions which are due from multiple parties simultaneously. In such a case, we will inform parties in the letter or memorandum setting forth the deadline (including a specified time) by which extension requests must be filed to be considered timely. An extension request must be made in a separate, stand-alone submission; under limited circumstances we will grant untimely-filed requests for the extension of time limits. Review Extension of Time Limits; Final Rule, 78 FR 57790 (September 20, 2013), available at http://www.thefederalregister.org/fdsys/pkg/FR-2013-09-20/html/2013-22853.htm, prior to submitting factual information in this investigation.

    Certification Requirements

    Any party submitting factual information in an AD or CVD proceeding must certify to the accuracy and completeness of that information.47 Parties are hereby reminded that revised certification requirements are in effect for company/government officials, as well as their representatives. Investigations initiated on the basis of petitions filed on or after August 16, 2013, and other segments of any AD or CVD proceedings initiated on or after August 16, 2013, should use the formats for the revised certifications provided at the end of the Final Rule. 48 The Department intends to reject factual submissions if the submitting party does not comply with applicable revised certification requirements.

    47See section 782(b) of the Act.

    48See Certification of Factual Information to Import Administration during Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Proceedings, 78 FR 42678 (July 17, 2013) (Final Rule); see also frequently asked questions regarding the Final Rule, available at http://enforcement.trade.gov/tlei/notices/factual_info_final_rule_FAQ_07172013.pdf.

    Notification to Interested Parties

    Interested parties must submit applications for disclosure under administrative protective order (APO) in accordance with 19 CFR 351.305. On January 22, 2008, the Department published Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Proceedings: Documents Submission Procedures; APO Procedures, 73 FR 3634 (January 22, 2008). Parties wishing to participate in this investigation should ensure that they meet the requirements of these procedures (e.g., the filing of letters of appearance as discussed in 19 CFR 351.103(d)).

    This notice is issued and published pursuant to section 777(i) of the Act.

    Dated: March 29, 2016. Paul Piquado, Assistant Secretary for Enforcement and Compliance. Appendix I Scope of the Investigation

    The merchandise covered by this investigation is master alloys 49 of copper containing between five percent and 17 percent phosphorus by nominal weight, regardless of form (including but not limited to shot, pellet, waffle, ingot, or nugget), and regardless of size or weight. Subject merchandise consists predominantly of copper (by weight), and may contain other elements, including but not limited to iron (Fe), lead (Pb), or tin (Sn), in small amounts (up to one percent by nominal weight). Phosphor copper is frequently produced to JIS H2501 and ASTM B-644, Alloy 3A standards or higher; however, merchandise covered by this investigation includes all phosphor copper, regardless of whether the merchandise meets, fails to meet, or exceeds these standards.

    49 A “master alloy” is a base metal, such as copper, to which a relatively high percentage of one or two other elements is added.

    Merchandise covered by this investigation is currently classified in the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS) under subheading 7405.00.1000. This HTSUS subheading is provided for convenience and customs purposes; the written description of the scope of this investigation is dispositive.

    [FR Doc. 2016-07801 Filed 4-4-16; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-DS-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration RIN 0648-XE435 Takes of Marine Mammals Incidental to Specified Activities; Taking Marine Mammals Incidental to Site Characterization Surveys Off the Coast of Massachusetts AGENCY:

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

    ACTION:

    Notice; proposed incidental harassment authorization; request for comments.

    SUMMARY:

    NMFS has received an application from DONG Energy Massachusetts (U.S.) LLC (DONG Energy) for an Incidental Harassment Authorization (IHA) to take marine mammals, by harassment, incidental to high-resolution geophysical (HRG) and geotechnical survey investigations associated with marine site characterization activities off the coast of Massachusetts in the area of the Commercial Lease of Submerged Lands for Renewable Energy Development on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS-A 0500) (the Lease Area). Pursuant to the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), NMFS is requesting comments on its proposal to issue an IHA to DONG Energy to incidentally take, by Level B harassment only, small numbers of marine mammals during the specified activities.

    DATES:

    Comments and information must be received no later than May 5, 2016.

    ADDRESSES:

    Comments on DONG Energy's IHA application (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] Comments sent via email, including all attachments, must not exceed a 25-megabyte file size. NMFS is not responsible for comments sent to addresses other than those provided here.

    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/ 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.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    John Fiorentino, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, (301) 427-8401.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Availability

    An electronic copy of the application and supporting documents, as well as a list of the references cited in this document, may be obtained by visiting the Internet at: www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/incidental/. In case of problems accessing these documents, please call the contact listed above.

    National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)

    The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) prepared an Environmental Assessment (EA) in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), to evaluate the issuance of wind energy leases covering the entirety of the Massachusetts Wind Energy Area (including the OCS-A 0500 Lease Area), and the approval of site assessment activities within those leases (BOEM, 2014). NMFS intends to adopt BOEM's EA, if adequate and appropriate. Currently, we believe that the adoption of BOEM's EA will allow NMFS to meet its responsibilities under NEPA for the issuance of an IHA to DONG Energy for HRG and geotechnical survey investigations in the Lease Area. If necessary, however, NMFS will supplement the existing analysis to ensure that we comply with NEPA prior to the issuance of the final IHA. Comments on this proposed IHA will be considered in the development of any additional NEPA analysis or documents (i.e., NMFS' own EA) should they be deemed necessary. BOEM's EA is available on the internet at: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/incidental/energy_other.htm.

    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 4, 2015, NMFS received an application from DONG Energy for the taking of marine mammals incidental to Spring 2016 geophysical survey investigations off the coast of Massachusetts in the OCS-A 0500 Lease Area, designated and offered by the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), to support the development of an offshore wind project. NMFS determined that the application was adequate and complete on January 27, 2016. On January 20, 2016, DONG Energy submitted a separate request for the taking of marine mammals incidental to proposed geotechnical survey activities within the Lease Area scheduled for Fall 2016. On February 26, 2016, DONG Energy submitted a revision to the take request for the geotechnical activities and an addendum requesting that the two IHA requests be processed as a single application and IHA. NMFS determined that the combined application was adequate and complete on February 26, 2016.

    The proposed geophysical survey activities would occur for 4 weeks beginning in early May 2016, and geotechnical survey activities would take place in September 2016 and last for approximately 6 days. The following specific aspects of the proposed activities are likely to result in the take of marine mammals: Shallow and medium-penetration sub-bottom profiler (chirper and sparker) and equipment positioning system (also referred to as acoustic positioning system, or pinger) use during the HRG survey, and dynamically positioned (DP) vessel thruster use in support of geotechnical survey activities. Take, by Level B Harassment only, of individuals of 9 species of marine mammals is anticipated to result from the specified activities.

    Description of the Specified Activity Overview

    DONG Energy's proposed activities discussed here are based on its February 26, 2016, final IHA application. DONG Energy proposes to conduct a geophysical and geotechnical survey in the Lease Area to support the characterization of the existing seabed and subsurface geological conditions in the Lease Area. This information is necessary to support the siting and design of up to two floating light and detection ranging buoys (FLIDARs) and up to two metocean monitoring buoys, as well as to obtain a baseline assessment of seabed/sub-surface soil conditions in the DONG Energy Massachusetts Lease Area to support the siting of the proposed wind farm.

    Dates and Duration

    HRG surveys are anticipated to commence in early May 2016 and will last for approximately 30 days, including estimated weather down time. Geotechnical surveys requiring the use of the DP drill ship will take place in September 2016, at the earliest, and will last for approximately 6 days excluding weather downtime.

    Specified Geographic Region

    DONG Energy's survey activities will occur in the approximately 187,532-acre Lease Area designated and offered by the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), located approximately 14 miles (mi) south of Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts, at its closest point (see Figure 1-1 of the IHA application). The Lease Area falls within the Massachusetts Wind Energy Area (MA WEA; Figure 1-1 of the IHA application). An evaluation of site assessment activities within the MA WEA was fully assessed in the BOEM Environmental Assessment (EA) and associated Finding of No Significant Impact (BOEM, 2014). A Biological Opinion on site assessment activities within the MA WEA was issued by NMFS' Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office (formerly Northeast Regional Office) to BOEM in April 2013.

    Detailed Description of Activities High-Resolution Geophysical Survey Activities

    Marine site characterization surveys will include the following HRG survey activities:

    • Depth sounding (multibeam depth sounder) to determine water depths and general bottom topography;

    • Magnetic intensity measurements for detecting local variations in regional magnetic field from geological strata and potential ferrous objects on and below the bottom;

    • Seafloor imaging (sidescan sonar survey) for seabed sediment classification purposes, to identify natural and man-made acoustic targets resting on the bottom as well as any anomalous features;

    • Subsea equipment positioning using ultra-short baseline (USBL) acoustic positioning systems (pingers);

    • Shallow penetration sub-bottom profiler (chirper) to map the near surface stratigraphy (top 0-5 meter [m] soils below seabed); and

    • Medium penetration sub-bottom profiler (sparker) to map deeper subsurface stratigraphy as needed (soils down to 75-100 m below seabed).

    The HRG surveys are scheduled to begin, at the earliest, on May 1, 2016. Table 1 identifies the representative survey equipment that is being considered in support of the HRG survey activities. The make and model of the listed HRG equipment will vary depending on availability, but will be finalized as part of the survey preparations and contract negotiations with the survey contractor, and therefore the final selection of the survey equipment will be confirmed prior to the start of the HRG survey program. Only the make and model of the HRG equipment may change, not the types of equipment or the addition of equipment with characteristics that might have effects beyond (i.e., resulting in larger ensonified areas) those considered in this proposed IHA. None of the proposed HRG survey activities will result in the disturbance of bottom habitat in the Lease Area.

    Table 1—Summary of Representative DONG Energy HRG Survey Equipment HRG equipment Operating
  • frequencies
  • Source level Source depth Beamwidth
  • (degree)
  • Pulse duration
  • (millisec)
  • iXBlue GAPS equipment positioning system (pinger) 22-30 kHz 192 dBRMS 2-5 m below surface 180 1 Sonardyne Scout USBL equipment positioning system (pinger) 35-50 kHz 187 dBRMS 2-5 m below surface 180 1 Edgtech 4125 Sidescan Sonar 1 400/900/1600 kHz 205 dBRMS 1-2 m below surface 50 0.6 to 4.9 Klein 3000H Sidescan Sonar 1 445/900 kHz 242 dBRMS 3-8 m above seafloor .2 0.0025 to 0.4 GeoPulse Sub-bottom Profiler (chirper) 1.5 to 18 kHz 208 dBRMS 3-8 m above seafloor 55 0.1 to 1 Geo-Source 200/800 (sparker) 50 to 5000 Hz 221 dBRMS/217 dBRMS 1-2 m below surface 110 1 to 2 SeaBat 7125 Multibeam Sonar 2 400 kHz 220 dBpeak 1-3 m below surface 2 0.03 to .3 EM 2040 Multibeam Sonar 2 400 kHz 207 dBRMS 1-3 m below surface 1.5 0.05 to 0.6 1 It should be noted that only one of the representative sidescan sonars would be selected for deployment. 2 It should be noted that only one of the representative multibeam sonars would be selected for deployment.

    The HRG survey activities will be supported by a vessel approximately 98 to 180 feet (ft) in length and capable of maintaining course and a survey speed of approximately 4 knots while transiting survey lines. HRG survey activities across the Lease Area will generally be conducted at 900-meter (m) line spacing (total survey line approximately 1,800 km). Up to two FLIDARs would be deployed within the Lease Area, and up to three potential locations for FLIDAR deployment will be investigated. At the three potential FLIDAR deployment locations the survey will be conducted along a tighter 30-m line (total survey line approximately 2 km) spacing to meet the BOEM requirements as set out in the July 2015 Guidelines for Providing Geophysical, Geotechnical, and Geohazard Information Pursuant and Archeological and Historic Property Information to 30 CFR part 585.

    Given the size of the Lease Area (187,532 acres), to minimize cost, the duration of survey activities, and the period of potential impact on marine species, DONG Energy has proposed conducting survey operations 24 hours per day. Based on 24-hour operations, the estimated duration of the survey activities would be approximately 30 days (including estimated weather down time).

    Both NMFS and BOEM have advised that the deployment of HRG survey equipment, including the use of intermittent, impulsive sound-producing equipment operating below 200 kilohertz (kHz) (e.g., sub-bottom profilers), has the potential to cause acoustic harassment to marine mammals. Based on the frequency ranges of the equipment to be used in support of the HRG survey activities (Table 1) and the hearing ranges of the marine mammals that have the potential to occur in the Lease Area during survey activities (Table 2), only the equipment positioning systems (iXBlue GAPS and Sonardyne Scout USBL) and the sub-bottom profilers (GeoPulse Sub-bottom Profiler and Geo-Source 200 and 800) fall within the established marine mammal hearing ranges and have the potential to result in Level B harassment of marine mammals.

    The equipment positioning systems use vessel-based underwater acoustic positioning to track equipment (in this case, the sub-bottom profiler) in very shallow to very deep water. Using pulsed acoustic signals, the systems calculate the position of a subsea target by measuring the range (distance) and bearing from a vessel-mounted transceiver to a small acoustic transponder (the acoustic beacon, or pinger) fitted to the target. Equipment positioning systems (either the iXBlue GAPS or Sonardyne Scout) will be operational at all times during HRG survey data acquisition (i.e, concurrent with the sub-bottom profiler operation). Sub-bottom profiling systems identify and measure various marine sediment layers that exist below the sediment/water interface. A sound source emits an acoustic signal vertically downwards into the water and a receiver monitors the return signal that has been reflected off the sea floor. Some of the acoustic signal will penetrate the seabed and be reflected when it encounters a boundary between two layers that have different acoustic impedance. The system uses this reflected energy to provide information on sediment layers beneath the sediment-water interface. A GeoPulse, or similar model, shallow penetration sub-bottom profiler will be used to map the near surface stratigraphy of the Lease Area. The shallow penetration sub-bottom profiler is a precisely controlled hull/pole mounted “chirp” system that emits high-energy sounds with a pulse duration of 0.1 to 1 millisecond (ms) at operating frequencies of 1.5 to 18 kHz and is used to penetrate and profile the shallow (top 0-5 m soils below seabed) sediments of the seafloor. A Geo-Source 200/800, or similar model, medium-penetration sub-bottom profiler (sparker) will be used to map deeper subsurface stratigraphy in the Lease Area as needed (soils down to 75-100 m below seabed). The sparker is towed from a boom arm off the side of the survey vessel and emits a downward pulse with a duration of 1 to 2 ms at an operating frequency of 50 to 5000 Hz.

    Geotechnical Survey Activities

    Marine site characterization surveys will involve the following geotechnical survey activities:

    • Sample boreholes to determine geological and geotechnical characteristics of sediments;

    • Deep cone penetration tests (CPTs) to determine stratigraphy and in-situ conditions of the deep surface sediments;

    • Shallow CPTs to determine stratigraphy and in-situ conditions of the near surface sediments; and

    • Vibracoring to determine geological and geotechnical characteristics of the near surface sediments.

    It is anticipated that the geotechnical surveys will take place no sooner than September 2016. The geotechnical survey program will consist of up to 4 deep sample bore holes and adjacent 4 deep CPTs both to a depth of approximately 131 ft to 164 ft (40 m to 50 m) below the seabed, as well as 15 shallow CPTs, and 15 adjacent vibracores, both up to 20 ft (6 m) below seabed.

    The investigation activities are anticipated to be conducted from a 250-ft to 350-ft (76 m to 107 m) dynamically positioned (DP) drill ship. DP vessel thruster systems maintain their precise coordinates in waters through the use of automatic controls. These control systems use variable levels of power to counter forces from current and wind. Operations will take place over a 24-hour period to ensure cost, the duration of survey activities, and the period of potential impact on marine species are minimized. Based on 24-hour operations, the estimated duration of the geotechnical survey activities would be approximately 6 days excluding weather downtime. Estimated weather downtime is approximately 4 to 5 days.

    Field studies conducted off the coast of Virginia (Tetra Tech, 2014; Kalapinski and Varnik, 2015) to determine the underwater noise produced by borehole drilling and CPTs confirm that these activities do not result in underwater noise levels that harmful or harassing to marine mammals (i.e., do not exceed NMFS' current Level A and Level B harassment thresholds for marine mammals). However, underwater continuous noise produced by the thrusters associated with the DP drill ship that will be used to support the geotechnical activities has the potential to result in Level B harassment of marine mammals.

    Description of Marine Mammals in the Area of the Specified Activity

    There are 38 species of marine mammals that potentially occur in the Northwest Atlantic Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) region (BOEM, 2014) (Table 2). The majority of these species are pelagic and/or northern species, or are so rarely sighted that their presence in the Lease Area is unlikely. Six marine mammal species are listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and are known to be present, at least seasonally, in the waters of Southern New England: blue whale, fin whale, humpback whale, right whale, sei whale, and sperm whale. These species are highly migratory and do not spend extended periods of time in a localized area; the waters of Southern New England (including the Lease Area) are primarily used as a stopover point for these species during seasonal movements north or south between important feeding and breeding grounds. While the fin, humpback, and right whales have the potential to occur within the Lease Area, the sperm, blue, and sei whales are more pelagic and/or northern species, and though their presence within the Lease Area is possible, they are considered less common with regards to sightings. In particular, while sperm whales are known to occur occasionally in the region, their sightings are considered rare and thus their presence in the Lease Area at the time of the proposed activities is considered unlikely. Because the potential for sperm whale, blue whale, and sei whale to occur within the Lease Area during the marine survey period is unlikely, these species will not be described further in this analysis.

    The following species are both common in the waters of the OCS south of Massachusetts and have the highest likelihood of occurring, at least seasonally, in the Lease Area: North Atlantic right whale (Eubalaena glacialis), humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae), fin whale (Balaenoptera physalus), minke whale (Balaenoptera acutorostrata), harbor porpoise (Phocoena phocoena), Atlantic white-sided dolphin (Lagenorhynchus acutus), short-beaked common dolphin (Delphinus delphis), harbor seal (Phoca vitulina), and gray seal (Halichorus grypus) (Right Whale Consortium, 2014).

    Further information on the biology, ecology, abundance, and distribution of those species likely to occur in the Lease Area can be found in section 4 of the application, and the NMFS Marine Mammal Stock Assessment Reports (see Waring et al., 2015), which are available online at: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/species/.

    Table 2—Marine Mammals Known To Occur in the Waters of Southern New England Common name Scientific name NMFS status Stock abundance Stock Toothed Whales (Odontoceti) Atlantic white-sided dolphin Lagenorhynchus acutus N/A 48,819 W. North Atlantic. Atlantic spotted dolphin Stenella frontalis N/A 44,715 W. North Atlantic. Bottlenose dolphin Tursiops truncatus Northern coastal stock is Strategic a 11,548 W. North Atlantic, Northern Migratory Coastal. Clymene Dolphin Stenella clymene N/A Unknown W. North Atlantic. Fraser's Dolphin Lagenodelphis hosei N/A Unknown W. North Atlantic. Pan-Tropical Spotted Dolphin Stenella attenuata N/A 3,333 W. North Atlantic. Risso's dolphin Grampus griseus N/A 18,250 W. North Atlantic. Rough-Toothed Dolphin Steno bredanensis N/A 271 W. North Atlantic. Short-beaked common dolphin Delphinus delphis N/A 120,743 W. North Atlantic. Striped dolphin Stenella coeruleoalba N/A 46,882 W. North Atlantic. Spinner Dolphin Stenella longirostris N/A Unknown W. North Atlantic. White-beaked dolphin Lagenorhynchus albirostris N/A 2,003 W. North Atlantic. Harbor porpoise Phocoena phocoena N/A 79,833 Gulf of Maine/Bay of Fundy. Killer whale Orcinus orca N/A Unknown W. North Atlantic. Pygmy Killer Whale Feresa attenuata N/A 3,785 W. North Atlantic. False killer whale Pseudorca crassidens Strategic 442 W. North Atlantic. Long-finned pilot whale Globicephala melas N/A 26,535 W. North Atlantic. Short-finned pilot whale Globicephala macrorhynchus N/A 21,515 W. North Atlantic. Sperm whale Physeter macrocephalus Endangered 2,288 North Atlantic. Pigmy sperm whale Kogia breviceps N/A 3,785 b W. North Atlantic. Dwarf sperm whale Kogia sima N/A 3,785 b W. North Atlantic. Cuvier's beaked whale Ziphius cavirostris N/A 6,532 W. North Atlantic. Blainville's beaked whale Mesoplodon densirostris N/A 7,092 c W. North Atlantic. Gervais' beaked whale Mesoplodon europaeus N/A 7,092 c W. North Atlantic. True's beaked whale Mesoplodon mirus N/A 7,092 c W. North Atlantic. Sowerby's Beaked Whale Mesoplodon bidens N/A 7,092 c W. North Atlantic. Northern bottlenose whale Hyperoodon ampullatus N/A Unknown W. North Atlantic. Melon-headed whale Peponocephala electra N/A Unknown W. North Atlantic. Baleen Whales (Mysticeti) Minke whale Balaenoptera acutorostrata N/A 20,741 Canadian East Coast. Blue whale Balaenoptera musculus Endangered Unknown W. North Atlantic. Fin whale Balaenoptera physalus Endangered 1,618 W. North Atlantic. Humpback whale Megaptera novaeangliae Endangered 823 Gulf of Maine. North Atlantic right whale Eubalaena glacialis Endangered 465 W. North Atlantic. Sei whale Balaenoptera borealis Endangered 357 Nova Scotia. Earless Seals (Phocidae) Gray seals Halichoerus grypus N/A 348,900 North Atlantic. Harbor seals Phoca vitulina N/A 75,834 W. North Atlantic. Hooded seals Cystophora cristata N/A Unknown W. North Atlantic. Harp seal Phoca groenlandica N/A Unknown North Atlantic. a A strategic stock is defined as any marine mammal stock: (1) For which the level of direct human-caused mortality exceeds the potential biological removal level; (2) which is declining and likely to be listed as threatened under the ESA; or (3) which is listed as threatened or endangered under the ESA or as depleted under the MMPA. b This estimate may include both the dwarf and pygmy sperm whales. c This estimate includes Gervais' and Blainville's beaked whales and undifferentiated Mesoplodon spp. beaked whales. Sources: Waring et al., 2015; Waring et al., 2013; Waring et al., 2011; Waring et al., 2010; RI SAMP, 2011; Kenney and Vigness-Raposa, 2009; NMFS, 2012. Potential Effects of the Specified Activity on Marine Mammals and Their Habitat

    This section includes a summary and discussion of the ways that the types of stressors associated with the specified activity have been observed to impact marine mammals. This 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 (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). 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, and 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 “Potential Effects of the Specified Activity on Marine Mammals” 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

    HRG survey equipment use and use of the DP thruster during the geophysical and geotechnical surveys may temporarily impact marine mammals in the area due to elevated in-water sound levels. Marine mammals are continually exposed to many sources of sound. Naturally occurring sounds such as lightning, rain, sub-sea earthquakes, and biological sounds (e.g., snapping shrimp, whale songs) are widespread throughout the world's oceans. Marine mammals produce sounds in various contexts and use sound for various biological functions including, but not limited to: (1) Social interactions; (2) foraging; (3) orientation; and (4) predator detection. Interference with producing or receiving these sounds may result in adverse impacts. Audible distance, or received levels of sound depend on the nature of the sound source, ambient noise conditions, and the sensitivity of the receptor to the sound (Richardson et al., 1995). Type and significance of marine mammal reactions to sound are likely dependent on a variety of factors including, but not limited to, (1) the behavioral state of the animal (e.g., feeding, traveling, etc.); (2) frequency of the sound; (3) distance between the animal and the source; and (4) the level of the sound relative to ambient conditions (Southall et al., 2007).

    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. Current data indicate that not all marine mammal species have equal hearing capabilities (Richardson et al., 1995; Southall et al., 1997; Wartzok and Ketten, 1999; Au and Hastings, 2008).

    Southall et al. (2007) designated “functional hearing groups” for marine mammals based on available behavioral data; audiograms derived from auditory evoked potentials; anatomical modeling; and other data. Southall et al. (2007) also estimated the lower and upper frequencies of functional hearing for each group. However, animals are less sensitive to sounds at the outer edges of their functional hearing range and are more sensitive to a range of frequencies within the middle of their functional hearing range. Note that direct measurements of hearing sensitivity do not exist for all species of marine mammals, including low-frequency cetaceans. The functional hearing groups and the associated frequencies developed by Southall et al. (2007) were revised by Finneran and Jenkins (2012) and have been further modified by NOAA. Table 3 provides a summary of sound production and general hearing capabilities for marine mammal species (note that values in this table are not meant to reflect absolute possible maximum ranges, rather they represent the best known ranges of each functional hearing group). For purposes of the analysis in this document, marine mammals are arranged into the following functional hearing groups based on their generalized hearing sensitivities: high-frequency cetaceans, mid-frequency cetaceans, low-frequency cetaceans (mysticetes), phocids (true seals), and otariids (sea lion and fur seals). A detailed discussion of the functional hearing groups can be found in Southall et al. (2007) and Finneran and Jenkins (2012).

    Table 3—Marine Mammal Functional Hearing Groups Functional hearing group Functional hearing range * Low-frequency (LF) cetaceans (baleen whales) 7 Hz to 25 kHz. Mid-frequency (MF) cetaceans (dolphins, toothed whales, beaked whales, bottlenose whales) 150 Hz to 160 kHz. High-frequency (HF) cetaceans (true porpoises, Kogia, river dolphins, cephalorhynchid, Lagenorhynchus cruciger & L. australis) 200 Hz to 180 kHz. Phocid pinnipeds (underwater) (true seals) 75 Hz to 100 kHz. Otariid pinnipeds (underwater) (sea lions and fur seals) 100 Hz to 48 kHz. Adapted and derived from Southall et al. (2007). * Represents frequency band of hearing for entire group as a composite (i.e., all species within the group), where individual species' hearing ranges are typically not as broad. Functional hearing is defined as the range of frequencies a group hears without incorporating non-acoustic mechanisms (Wartzok and Ketten, 1999). This is ~60 to ~70 dB above best hearing sensitivity (Southall et al., 2007) for all functional hearing groups except LF cetaceans, where no direct measurements on hearing are available. For LF cetaceans, the lower range is based on recommendations from Southall et al., 2007 and the upper range is based on information on inner ear anatomy and vocalizations.

    When sound travels (propagates) from its source, its loudness decreases as the distance traveled by the sound increases. Thus, the loudness of a sound at its source is higher than the loudness of that same sound a kilometer away. Acousticians often refer to the loudness of a sound at its source (typically referenced to one meter from the source) as the source level and the loudness of sound elsewhere as the received level (i.e., typically the receiver). For example, a humpback whale 3 km from a device that has a source level of 230 dB may only be exposed to sound that is 160 dB loud, depending on how the sound travels through water (e.g., spherical spreading [6 dB reduction with doubling of distance] was used in this example). As a result, it is important to understand the difference between source levels and received levels when discussing the loudness of sound in the ocean or its impacts on the marine environment.

    As sound travels from a source, its propagation in water is influenced by various physical characteristics, including water temperature, depth, salinity, and surface and bottom properties that cause refraction, reflection, absorption, and scattering of sound waves. Oceans are not homogeneous and the contribution of each of these individual factors is extremely complex and interrelated. The physical characteristics that determine the sound's speed through the water will change with depth, season, geographic location, and with time of day (as a result, in actual active sonar operations, crews will measure oceanic conditions, such as sea water temperature and depth, to calibrate models that determine the path the sonar signal will take as it travels through the ocean and how strong the sound signal will be at a given range along a particular transmission path). As sound travels through the ocean, the intensity associated with the wavefront diminishes, or attenuates. This decrease in intensity is referred to as propagation loss, also commonly called transmission loss.

    As mentioned previously in this document, nine marine mammal species (seven cetaceans and two pinnipeds) are likely to occur in the Lease Area. Of the seven cetacean species likely to occur in the Lease Area, four are classified as low-frequency cetaceans (i.e., minke whale, fin whale, humpback whale, and North Atlantic right whale), two are classified as mid-frequency cetaceans (i.e., Atlantic white-sided dolphin and short-beaked common dolphin), and one is classified as a high-frequency cetacean (i.e., harbor porpoise) (Southall et al., 2007). A species' functional hearing group is a consideration when we analyze the effects of exposure to sound on marine mammals.

    Hearing Impairment

    Marine mammals may experience temporary or permanent hearing impairment when exposed to loud sounds. Hearing impairment is classified by temporary threshold shift (TTS) and permanent threshold shift (PTS). There are no empirical data for onset of PTS in any marine mammal; therefore, PTS-onset must be estimated from TTS-onset measurements and from the rate of TTS growth with increasing exposure levels above the level eliciting TTS-onset. PTS is presumed to be likely if the hearing threshold is reduced by ≥ 40 dB (that is, 40 dB of TTS). PTS is considered auditory injury (Southall et al., 2007) and occurs in a specific frequency range and amount. 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). Given the higher level of sound and longer durations of exposure necessary to cause PTS as compared with TTS, it is considerably less likely that PTS would occur during the proposed HRG and geotechnical survey.

    Temporary Threshold Shift (TTS)

    TTS is the mildest form of hearing impairment that can occur during exposure to a loud sound (Kryter, 1985). While experiencing TTS, the hearing threshold rises and a sound must be stronger in order to be heard. At least in terrestrial mammals, TTS can last from minutes or hours to (in cases of strong TTS) days, can be limited to a particular frequency range, and can occur to varying degrees (i.e., a loss of a certain number of dBs of sensitivity). For sound exposures at or somewhat above the TTS threshold, hearing sensitivity in both terrestrial and marine mammals recovers rapidly after exposure to the noise ends.

    Marine mammal hearing plays a critical role in communication with conspecifics and in 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. 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 takes place during a time when the animals is traveling through the open ocean, 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 a time when communication is critical for successful mother/calf interactions could have more serious impacts if it were in the same frequency band as the necessary vocalizations and of a severity that it impeded communication. The fact that animals exposed to levels and durations of sound that would be expected to result in this physiological response would also be expected to have behavioral responses of a comparatively more severe or sustained nature is also notable and potentially of more importance than the simple existence of a TTS.

    Currently, TTS data only exist for four species of cetaceans (bottlenose dolphin, beluga whale, harbor porpoise, and Yangtze finless porpoise) and three species of pinnipeds (northern elephant seal, harbor seal, and California sea lion) exposed to a limited number of sound sources (i.e., mostly tones and octave-band noise) in laboratory settings (e.g., Finneran et al., 2002 and 2010; Nachtigall et al., 2004; Kastak et al., 2005; Lucke et al., 2009; Mooney et al., 2009; Popov et al., 2011; Finneran and Schlundt, 2010). In general, harbor seals (Kastak et al., 2005; Kastelein et al., 2012a) and harbor porpoises (Lucke et al., 2009; Kastelein et al., 2012b) have a lower TTS onset than other measured pinniped or cetacean species. However, even for these animals, which are better able to hear higher frequencies and may be more sensitive to higher frequencies, exposures on the order of approximately 170 dB rms or higher for brief transient signals are likely required for even temporary (recoverable) changes in hearing sensitivity that would likely not be categorized as physiologically damaging (Lucke et al., 2009). Additionally, the existing marine mammal TTS data come from a limited number of individuals within these species. There are no data available on noise-induced hearing loss for mysticetes (of note, the source operating characteristics of some of DONG Energy's proposed HRG survey equipment—i.e., the equipment positioning systems—are unlikely to be audible to mysticetes). For summaries of data on TTS in marine mammals or for further discussion of TTS onset thresholds, please see Southall et al. (2007), Finneran and Jenkins (2012), and Finneran (2015).

    Scientific literature highlights the inherent complexity of predicting TTS onset in marine mammals, as well as the importance of considering exposure duration when assessing potential impacts (Mooney et al., 2009a, 2009b; Kastak et al., 2007). Generally, with sound exposures of equal energy, quieter sounds (lower SPL) of longer duration were found to induce TTS onset more than louder sounds (higher SPL) of shorter duration (more similar to sub-bottom profilers). For intermittent sounds, less threshold shift will occur than from a continuous exposure with the same energy (some recovery will occur between intermittent exposures) (Kryter et al., 1966; Ward, 1997). For sound exposures at or somewhat above the TTS-onset threshold, hearing sensitivity recovers rapidly after exposure to the sound ends; intermittent exposures recover faster in comparison with continuous exposures of the same duration (Finneran et al., 2010). NMFS considers TTS as Level B harassment that is mediated by physiological effects on the auditory system; however, NMFS does not consider TTS-onset to be the lowest level at which Level B harassment may occur.

    Animals in the Lease Area during the HRG survey are unlikely to incur TTS hearing impairment due to the characteristics of the sound sources, which include low source levels (208 to 221 dB re 1 µPa-m) and generally very short pulses and duration of the sound. Even for high-frequency cetacean species (e.g., harbor porpoises), which may have increased sensitivity to TTS (Lucke et al., 2009; Kastelein et al., 2012b), individuals would have to make a very close approach and also remain very close to vessels operating these sources in order to receive multiple exposures at relatively high levels, as would be necessary to cause TTS. Intermittent exposures—as would occur due to the brief, transient signals produced by these sources—require a higher cumulative SEL to induce TTS than would continuous exposures of the same duration (i.e., intermittent exposure results in lower levels of TTS) (Mooney et al., 2009a; Finneran et al., 2010). Moreover, most marine mammals would more likely avoid a loud sound source rather than swim in such close proximity as to result in TTS. Kremser et al. (2005) noted that the probability of a cetacean swimming through the area of exposure when a sub-bottom profiler emits a pulse is small—because if the animal was in the area, it would have to pass the transducer at close range in order to be subjected to sound levels that could cause temporary threshold shift and would likely exhibit avoidance behavior to the area near the transducer rather than swim through at such a close range. Further, the restricted beam shape of the sub-bottom profiler and other HRG survey equipment makes it unlikely that an animal would be exposed more than briefly during the passage of the vessel. Boebel et al. (2005) concluded similarly for single and multibeam echosounders, and more recently, Lurton (2016) conducted a modeling exercise and concluded similarly that likely potential for acoustic injury from these types of systems is negligible, but that behavioral response cannot be ruled out. Animals may avoid the area around the survey vessels, thereby reducing exposure. Any disturbance to marine mammals is likely to be in the form of temporary avoidance or alteration of opportunistic foraging behavior near the survey location.

    It is possible that animals in the Lease Area may experience TTS during the use of DP vessel thrusters during the geotechnical survey due to the duration and nature of the noise (continuous, up to 6 days). However, the fact that the DP drill ship is stationary during the geotechnical survey activities makes it less likely that animals would remain in the area long enough to incur TTS. As is the case for the HRG survey activities, animals may avoid the area around the survey vessel, thereby reducing exposure. Any disturbance to marine mammals is more likely to be in the form of temporary avoidance or alteration of opportunistic foraging behavior near the survey location.

    Masking

    Masking is the obscuring of sounds of interest to an animal by other sounds, typically at similar frequencies. Marine mammals are highly dependent on sound, and their ability to recognize sound signals amid other sound is important in communication and detection of both predators and prey (Tyack, 2000). Background ambient sound may interfere with or mask the ability of an animal to detect a sound signal even when that signal is above its absolute hearing threshold. Even in the absence of anthropogenic sound, the marine environment is often loud. Natural ambient sound includes contributions from wind, waves, precipitation, other animals, and (at frequencies above 30 kHz) thermal sound resulting from molecular agitation (Richardson et al., 1995).

    Background sound may also include anthropogenic sound, and masking of natural sounds can result when human activities produce high levels of background sound. Conversely, if the background level of underwater sound is high (e.g., on a day with strong wind and high waves), an anthropogenic sound source would not be detectable as far away as would be possible under quieter conditions and would itself be masked. Ambient sound is highly variable on continental shelves (Thompson, 1965; Myrberg, 1978; Chapman et al., 1998; Desharnais et al., 1999). This results in a high degree of variability in the range at which marine mammals can detect anthropogenic sounds.

    Although masking is a phenomenon which may occur naturally, the introduction of loud anthropogenic sounds into the marine environment at frequencies important to marine mammals increases the severity and frequency of occurrence of masking. For example, if a baleen whale is exposed to continuous low-frequency sound from an industrial source, this would reduce the size of the area around that whale within which it can hear the calls of another whale. The components of background noise that are similar in frequency to the signal in question primarily determine the degree of masking of that signal. In general, little is known about the degree to which marine mammals rely upon detection of sounds from conspecifics, predators, prey, or other natural sources. In the absence of specific information about the importance of detecting these natural sounds, it is not possible to predict the impact of masking on marine mammals (Richardson et al., 1995). In general, masking effects are expected to be less severe when sounds are transient than when they are continuous. Masking is typically of greater concern for those marine mammals that utilize low-frequency communications, such as baleen whales, because of how far low-frequency sounds propagate.

    Marine mammal communications would not likely be masked appreciably by the sub-profiler or pingers' signals given the directionality of the signal and the brief period when an individual mammal is likely to be within its beam. And while continuous sound from the DP thruster when in use is predicted to extend 3.4 km to the 120 dB threshold, the generally short duration of DP thruster use and low source levels, coupled with the likelihood of animals to avoid the sound source, would result in very little opportunity for this activity to mask the communication of local marine mammals for more than a brief period of time.

    Non-Auditory Physical Effects (Stress)

    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 sometimes 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 effect on an animal's welfare.

    An animal's third line of defense to stressors involves its neuroendocrine systems; the system that has received the most study has been the hypothalamus-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 neuro-endocrine 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; Rivier, 1995), 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 function, which impairs 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 its fitness will suffer. In these cases, the animals will have entered a pre-pathological or pathological state which is called “distress” (Seyle, 1950) or “allostatic loading” (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 experiments; 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). Information has also been collected on the physiological responses of marine mammals to exposure to anthropogenic sounds (Fair and Becker, 2000; Romano et al., 2002; Wright et al., 2008). For example, Rolland et al. (2012) found that noise reduction from reduced ship traffic in the Bay of Fundy was associated with decreased stress in North Atlantic right whales. In a conceptual model developed by the Population Consequences of Acoustic Disturbance (PCAD) working group, serum hormones were identified as possible indicators of behavioral effects that are translated into altered rates of reproduction and mortality.

    Studies of other marine animals and terrestrial animals would also 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 high frequency, mid-frequency and low-frequency sounds. For example, Jansen (1998) reported on the relationship between acoustic exposures and physiological responses that are indicative of stress responses in humans (for example, 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), for example, 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 to communicate with conspecifics. Although empirical information on the relationship between sensory impairment (TTS, PTS, and acoustic masking) on marine mammals remains limited, it seems reasonable to assume that reducing an animal's ability to gather information about its environment and to communicate with other members of its species would be stressful for animals that 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 because terrestrial animals exhibit those responses under similar conditions (NRC, 2003). 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), we also assume that stress responses are likely to 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.

    In general, there are few data on 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). There is no definitive evidence that any of these effects occur even for marine mammals in close proximity to an anthropogenic sound source. In addition, marine mammals that show behavioral avoidance of survey vessels and related sound sources, are unlikely to incur non-auditory impairment or other physical effects. NMFS does not expect that the generally short-term, intermittent, and transitory HRG and geotechnical activities would create conditions of long-term, continuous noise and chronic acoustic exposure leading to long-term physiological stress responses in marine mammals.

    Behavioral Disturbance

    Behavioral responses to sound are highly variable and context-specific. An animal's perception of and response to (in both nature and magnitude) an acoustic event can be influenced by prior experience, perceived proximity, bearing of the sound, familiarity of the sound, etc. (Southall et al., 2007). If a marine mammal does react briefly to an underwater sound by changing its behavior or moving a small distance, the impacts of the change are unlikely to be significant to the individual, let alone the stock or population. However, if a sound source displaces marine mammals from an important feeding or breeding area for a prolonged period, impacts on individuals and populations could be significant (e.g., Lusseau and Bejder, 2007; Weilgart, 2007).

    Southall et al. (2007) reports the results of the efforts of a panel of experts in acoustic research from behavioral, physiological, and physical disciplines that convened and reviewed the available literature on marine mammal hearing and physiological and behavioral responses to human-made sound with the goal of proposing exposure criteria for certain effects. This peer-reviewed compilation of literature is very valuable, though Southall et al. (2007) note that not all data are equal, some have poor statistical power, insufficient controls, and/or limited information on received levels, background noise, and other potentially important contextual variables—such data were reviewed and sometimes used for qualitative illustration but were not included in the quantitative analysis for the criteria recommendations. All of the studies considered, however, contain an estimate of the received sound level when the animal exhibited the indicated response.

    In the Southall et al. (2007) publication, for the purposes of analyzing responses of marine mammals to anthropogenic sound and developing criteria, the authors differentiate between pulse sounds (single and multiple) and non-pulse sounds.

    The studies that address responses of low-frequency cetaceans to non-pulse sounds include data gathered in the field and related to several types of sound sources, including: vessel noise, drilling and machinery playback, low-frequency M-sequences (sine wave with multiple phase reversals) playback, tactical low-frequency active sonar playback, drill ships, and non-pulse playbacks. These studies generally indicate no (or very limited) responses to received levels in the 90 to 120 dB re: 1µPa range and an increasing likelihood of avoidance and other behavioral effects in the 120 to 160 dB range. As mentioned earlier, though, contextual variables play a very important role in the reported responses and the severity of effects do not increase linearly with received levels. Also, few of the laboratory or field datasets had common conditions, behavioral contexts, or sound sources, so it is not surprising that responses differ.

    The studies that address responses of mid-frequency cetaceans to non-pulse sounds include data gathered both in the field and the laboratory and related to several different sound sources, including: pingers, drilling playbacks, ship and ice-breaking noise, vessel noise, Acoustic harassment devices (AHDs), Acoustic Deterrent Devices (ADDs), mid-frequency active sonar, and non-pulse bands and tones. Southall et al. (2007) were unable to come to a clear conclusion regarding the results of these studies. In some cases animals in the field showed significant responses to received levels between 90 and 120 dB, while in other cases these responses were not seen in the 120 to 150 dB range. The disparity in results was likely due to contextual variation and the differences between the results in the field and laboratory data (animals typically responded at lower levels in the field).

    The studies that address responses of high-frequency cetaceans to non-pulse sounds include data gathered both in the field and the laboratory and related to several different sound sources, including: pingers, AHDs, and various laboratory non-pulse sounds. All of these data were collected from harbor porpoises. Southall et al. (2007) concluded that the existing data indicate that harbor porpoises are likely sensitive to a wide range of anthropogenic sounds at low received levels (around 90 to 120 dB), at least for initial exposures. All recorded exposures above 140 dB induced profound and sustained avoidance behavior in wild harbor porpoises (Southall et al., 2007). Rapid habituation was noted in some but not all studies.

    The studies that address the responses of pinnipeds in water to non-pulse sounds include data gathered both in the field and the laboratory and related to several different sound sources, including: AHDs, various non-pulse sounds used in underwater data communication, underwater drilling, and construction noise. Few studies exist with enough information to include them in the analysis. The limited data suggest that exposures to non-pulse sounds between 90 and 140 dB generally do not result in strong behavioral responses of pinnipeds in water, but no data exist at higher received levels (Southall et al., 2007).

    The studies that address the responses of mid-frequency cetaceans to impulse sounds include data gathered both in the field and the laboratory and related to several different sound sources, including: small explosives, airgun arrays, pulse sequences, and natural and artificial pulses. The data show no clear indication of increasing probability and severity of response with increasing received level. Behavioral responses seem to vary depending on species and stimuli. Data on behavioral responses of high-frequency cetaceans to multiple pulses is not available.

    The studies that address the responses of pinnipeds in water to impulse sounds include data gathered in the field and related to several different sources, including: small explosives, impact pile driving, and airgun arrays. Quantitative data on reactions of pinnipeds to impulse sounds is limited, but a general finding is that exposures in the 150 to 180 dB range generally have limited potential to induce avoidance behavior (Southall et al., 2007).

    Marine mammals are likely to avoid the HRG survey activity, especially the naturally shy harbor porpoise, while the harbor seals might be attracted to them out of curiosity. However, because the sub-bottom profilers and other HRG survey equipment operate from a moving vessel, and the maximum radius to the 160 dB harassment threshold is less than 400 m, the area and time that this equipment would be affecting a given location is very small. Further, once an area has been surveyed, it is not likely that it will be surveyed again, therefore reducing the likelihood of repeated HRG-related impacts within the survey area. And while the drill ship using DP thrusters will generally remain stationary during geotechnical survey activities, the short duration (up to six days) of the DP thruster use would likely result in only short-term and temporary avoidance of the area, rather than permanent abandonment, by marine mammals. Vessel traffic in the project area is relatively high and marine mammals are presumably habituated to noise from project vessels (DP thrusters).

    We have also considered the potential for severe behavioral responses such as stranding and associated indirect injury or mortality from DONG Energy's use of HRG survey equipment, on the basis of a 2008 mass stranding of approximately one hundred melon-headed whales in a Madagascar lagoon system. An investigation of the event indicated that use of a high-frequency mapping system (12-kHz multibeam echosounder) was the most plausible and likely initial behavioral trigger of the event, while providing the caveat that there is no unequivocal and easily identifiable single cause (Southall et al., 2013). The investigatory panel's conclusion was based on (1) very close temporal and spatial association and directed movement of the survey with the stranding event; (2) the unusual nature of such an event coupled with previously documented apparent behavioral sensitivity of the species to other sound types (Southall et al., 2006; Brownell et al., 2009); and (3) the fact that all other possible factors considered were determined to be unlikely causes. Specifically, regarding survey patterns prior to the event and in relation to bathymetry, the vessel transited in a north-south direction on the shelf break parallel to the shore, ensonifying large areas of deep-water habitat prior to operating intermittently in a concentrated area offshore from the stranding site; this may have trapped the animals between the sound source and the shore, thus driving them towards the lagoon system. The investigatory panel systematically excluded or deemed highly unlikely nearly all potential reasons for these animals leaving their typical pelagic habitat for an area extremely atypical for the species (i.e., a shallow lagoon system). Notably, this was the first time that such a system has been associated with a stranding event. The panel also noted several site- and situation-specific secondary factors that may have contributed to the avoidance responses that led to the eventual entrapment and mortality of the whales. Specifically, shoreward-directed surface currents and elevated chlorophyll levels in the area preceding the event may have played a role (Southall et al., 2013). The report also notes that prior use of a similar system in the general area may have sensitized the animals and also concluded that, for odontocete cetaceans that hear well in higher frequency ranges where ambient noise is typically quite low, high-power active sonars operating in this range may be more easily audible and have potential effects over larger areas than low frequency systems that have more typically been considered in terms of anthropogenic noise impacts. It is, however, important to note that the relatively lower output frequency, higher output power, and complex nature of the system implicated in this event, in context of the other factors noted here, likely produced a fairly unusual set of circumstances that indicate that such events would likely remain rare and are not necessarily relevant to use of lower-power, higher-frequency systems more commonly used for HRG survey applications. The risk of similar events recurring may be very low, given the extensive use of active acoustic systems used for scientific and navigational purposes worldwide on a daily basis and the lack of direct evidence of such responses previously reported.

    Tolerance

    Numerous studies have shown that underwater sounds from industrial activities are often readily detectable by marine mammals in the water at distances of many kilometers. However, other studies have shown that marine mammals at distances more than a few kilometers away often show no apparent response to industrial activities of various types (Miller et al., 2005). 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 from sources 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; Madsen and Mohl, 2000; Croll et al., 2001; Jacobs and Terhune, 2002; Madsen et al., 2002; Miller et al., 2005). In general, pinnipeds seem to be more tolerant of exposure to some types of underwater sound than are baleen whales. Richardson et al. (1995) found that vessel sound 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, and Brueggeman et al. (1992) observed ringed seals (Pusa hispida) hauled out on ice pans displaying short-term escape reactions when a ship approached within 0.16-0.31 mi (0.25-0.5 km). Due to the relatively high vessel traffic in the Lease Area it is possible that marine mammals are habituated to noise (e.g., DP thrusters) from project vessels in the area.

    Vessel Strike

    Ship strikes of marine mammals can cause major wounds, which may lead to the death of the animal. An animal at the surface could be struck directly by a vessel, a surfacing animal could hit the bottom of a vessel, or a vessel's propeller could injure an animal just below the surface. The severity of injuries typically depends on the size and speed of the vessel (Knowlton and Kraus, 2001; Laist et al., 2001; Vanderlaan and Taggart, 2007).

    The most vulnerable marine mammals are those that spend extended periods of time at the surface in order to restore oxygen levels within their tissues after deep dives (e.g., the sperm whale). In addition, some baleen whales, such as the North Atlantic right whale, seem generally unresponsive to vessel sound, making them more susceptible to vessel collisions (Nowacek et al., 2004). These species are primarily large, slow moving whales. Smaller marine mammals (e.g., bottlenose dolphin) move quickly through the water column and are often seen riding the bow wave of large ships. Marine mammal responses to vessels may include avoidance and changes in dive pattern (NRC, 2003).

    An examination of all known ship strikes from all shipping sources (civilian and military) indicates vessel speed is a principal factor in whether a vessel strike results in death (Knowlton and Kraus, 2001; Laist et al., 2001; Jensen and Silber, 2003; Vanderlaan and Taggart, 2007). In assessing records with known vessel speeds, Laist et al. (2001) found a direct relationship between the occurrence of a whale strike and the speed of the vessel involved in the collision. The authors concluded that most deaths occurred when a vessel was traveling in excess of 24.1 km/h (14.9 mph; 13 kts). Given the slow vessel speeds and predictable course necessary for data acquisition, ship strike is unlikely to occur during the geophysical and geotechnical surveys. Marine mammals would be able to easily avoid vessels and are likely already habituated to the presence of numerous vessels in the area. Further, DONG Energy shall implement measures (e.g., vessel speed restrictions and separation distances; see Proposed Mitigation Measures) set forth in the BOEM Lease to reduce the risk of a vessel strike to marine mammal species in the Lease Area.

    Anticipated Effects on Marine Mammal Habitat

    There are no feeding areas, rookeries, or mating grounds known to be biologically important to marine mammals within the proposed project area. There is also no designated critical habitat for any ESA-listed marine mammals. NMFS' regulations at 50 CFR part 224 designated the nearshore waters of the Mid-Atlantic Bight as the Mid-Atlantic U.S. Seasonal Management Area (SMA) for right whales in 2008. Mandatory vessel speed restrictions are in place in that SMA from November 1 through April 30 to reduce the threat of collisions between ships and right whales around their migratory route and calving grounds.

    Bottom disturbance associated with the HRG survey activities may include grab sampling to validate the seabed classification obtained from the multibeam echosounder/sidescan sonar data. This will typically be accomplished using a Mini-Harmon Grab with 0.1 m2 sample area or the slightly larger Harmon Grab with a 0.2 m2 sample area. Bottom disturbance associated with the geotechnical survey activities will consist of the 4 deep bore holes of approximately 3 to 4 inches (in; 7.6 to 10.1 centimeters [cm]) diameter, the 15 shallow CPTs of up to approximately 1 in (2.5 cm) in diameter, and the 4 deep CPTs of approximately 1 in (2.5 cm) in diameter. Impact on marine mammal habitat from these activities will be temporary, insignificant, and discountable.

    Because of the temporary nature of the disturbance, the availability of similar habitat and resources (e.g., prey species) in the surrounding area, and the lack of important or unique marine mammal habitat, the impacts to marine mammals and the food sources that they utilize are not expected to cause significant or long-term consequences for individual marine mammals or their populations.

    Mitigation

    In order to issue an incidental take authorization under section 101(a)(5)(D) of the MMPA, NMFS must set forth the permissible methods of taking pursuant to such activity, and other means of effecting the least practicable adverse impact on such species or stock and its habitat, paying particular attention to rookeries, mating grounds, and areas of similar significance, and on the availability of such species or stock for taking for certain subsistence uses (where relevant).

    Proposed Mitigation Measures

    With NMFS' input during the application process, and as per the BOEM Lease, DONG Energy is proposing the following mitigation measures during site characterization surveys utilizing HRG survey equipment and use of the DP thruster. The mitigation measures outlined in this section are based on protocols and procedures that have been successfully implemented and resulted in no observed take of marine mammals for similar offshore projects and previously approved by NMFS (ESS, 2013; Dominion, 2013 and 2014).

    Marine Mammal Exclusion Zones

    Protected species observers (PSOs) will monitor the following exclusion/monitoring zones for the presence of marine mammals:

    • A 400-m exclusion zone during HRG surveys when the sub-bottom profiler is in operation (this exceeds the estimated Level B harassment isopleth).

    • A 200-m exclusion zone during HRG surveys when all other equipment (i.e., equipment positioning systems) is in operation (this exceeds the estimated Level B harassment isopleth).

    • A 3,500-m monitoring zone during the use of DP thrusters during geotechnical survey activities (this exceeds the Level B harassment isopleth).

    The radial distances from the sound sources for these exclusion/monitoring zones were derived from acoustic modeling (see Appendix A of the application) and cover the area for both the Level A and Level B harassment zones (i.e., the 190/180 dB and 160 dB isopleths, respectively) when HRG survey equipment is in use, and the Level B harassment zone (the 120 dB isopleth) when DP thrusters are in use; DP thrusters will not produce sound levels at 180 dB re 1 μPa (rms). Acoustic modeling of the HRG survey equipment and DP thrusters was completed based on a version of the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory's Range-dependent Acoustic Model (RAM) and BELLHOP Gaussian beam ray-trace propagation model (Porter and Liu, 1994). BELLHOP and RAM are widely used by sound engineers and marine biologists due to its adaptability to describe highly complex acoustic scenarios. RAM is based on the parabolic equation (Collins, 1993) method using the split-step Padé algorithm for improved numerical accuracy and efficiency in solving range dependent acoustic problems and has been extensively benchmarked (Collins et al., 1996). The BELLHOP algorithm is based on a beam-tracing methodology and provides better accuracy by accounting for increased sound attenuation due to volume absorption at higher frequencies and allowing for source directivity components. The modeling methodologies employed calculate transmission loss based on a number of factors including the distance between the source and receiver along with basic ocean sound propagation parameters (e.g., depths, bathymetry, sediment type, and seasonal sound speed profiles). For each sound source, modeling was performed along transects originating out from the source along compass points (45°, 90°, 135°, 180°, 225°, 270°, 315°, and 360°) and propagated horizontally. The received sound field within each radial plane was then sampled at various ranges and depths from the source with fixed steps. The received sound level at a given location along a given transect was then taken as the maximum value that would occur over all samples within the water column. These values were then summed across frequencies to provide broadband received levels at the MMPA Level A and B harassment criteria. The representative area ensonified to the MMPA Level B threshold for each of the pieces of HRG survey equipment and for the DP thruster use represents the zone within which take of a marine mammal could occur. The distances to the Level A and Level B harassment criteria were used to support the estimate of take as well as the development of the monitoring and/or mitigation measures. The complete acoustic modeling assessment can be found in Appendix A of the application. Radial distance to NMFS' Level A and Level B harassment thresholds are summarized in Tables 4 and 5.

    Table 4—Modeled Distances to MMPA Thresholds for Marine Mammals During HRG Survey HRG Equipment Marine
  • mammal
  • level A
  • harassment 180 dBRMS
  • re 1 µPa (m)*
  • Marine
  • mammal
  • level B
  • harassment 160 dBRMS
  • re 1 µPa (m)
  • ixBlue GAPS (pinger) < 10 25 Sonardyne Scout USBL (pinger) 0 25 GeoPulse Sub-bottom Profiler (chirper) 30 75 Geo-Source 800 (sparker) 80 250 Geo-Source 200 (sparker) 90 380 * Distances to NMFS' 190 dB level A harassment threshold for pinnipeds are smaller.
    Table 5—Modeled Distances to MMPA Thresholds for Marine Mammals During Geotechnical Survey Using DP Thrusters Survey equipment Marine mammal level A harassment 180 dBRMS re 1 µPa (m) Marine
  • mammal
  • level B
  • harassment
  • 120 dBRMS
  • re 1 µPa (m)
  • DP Thrusters—at 38 m depth N/A 2,875 DP Thrusters—at 44 m depth N/A 3,225 DP Thrusters—at 54 m depth N/A 3,400

    Visual monitoring of the established exclusion zone(s) for the HRG and geotechnical surveys will be performed by qualified and NMFS-approved PSOs, the resumes of whom will be provided to NMFS for review and approval prior to the start of survey activities. Observer qualifications will include direct field experience on a marine mammal observation vessel and/or aerial surveys in the Atlantic Ocean/Gulf of Mexico. An observer team comprising a minimum of four NMFS-approved PSOs and two certified Passive Acoustic Monitoring (PAM) operators (PAM operators will not function as PSOs), operating in shifts, will be stationed aboard either the survey vessel or a dedicated PSO-vessel. PSOs and PAM operators will work in shifts such that no one monitor will work more than 4 consecutive hours without a 2-hour break or longer than 12 hours during any 24-hour period. During daylight hours the PSOs will rotate in shifts of 1 on and 3 off, while during nighttime operations PSOs will work in pairs. The PAM operators will also be on call as necessary during daytime operations should visual observations become impaired. Each PSO will monitor 360 degrees of the field of vision.

    PSOs will be responsible for visually monitoring and identifying marine mammals approaching or within the established exclusion zone(s) during survey activities. It will be the responsibility of the Lead PSO on duty to communicate the presence of marine mammals as well as to communicate and enforce the action(s) that are necessary to ensure mitigation and monitoring requirements are implemented as appropriate. PAM operators will communicate detected vocalizations to the Lead PSO on duty, who will then be responsible for implementing the necessary mitigation procedures. A mitigation and monitoring communications flow diagram has been included as Appendix B in the IHA application.

    PSOs will be equipped with binoculars and have the ability to estimate distances to marine mammals located in proximity to the vessel and/or exclusion zone using range finders. Reticulated binoculars will also be available to PSOs for use as appropriate based on conditions and visibility to support the siting and monitoring of marine species. Digital single-lens reflex camera equipment will be used to record sightings and verify species identification. During night operations, PAM (see Passive Acoustic Monitoring requirements below) and night-vision equipment in combination with infrared video monitoring will be used (Additional details and specifications of the night-vision devices and infrared video monitoring technology will be provided under separate cover by the DONG Energy Survey Contractor once selected.). Position data will be recorded using hand-held or vessel global positioning system (GPS) units for each sighting.

    The PSOs will begin observation of the exclusion zone(s) at least 60 minutes prior to ramp-up of HRG survey equipment. Use of noise-producing equipment will not begin until the exclusion zone is clear of all marine mammals for at least 60 minutes, as per the requirements of the BOEM Lease.

    If a marine mammal is detected approaching or entering the 200-m or 400-m exclusion zones during the HRG survey, or the 3,500-m monitoring zone during DP thrusters use, the vessel operator would adhere to the shutdown (during HRG survey) or powerdown (during DP thruster use) procedures described below to minimize noise impacts on the animals.

    At all times, the vessel operator will maintain a separation distance of 500 m from any sighted North Atlantic right whale as stipulated in the Vessel Strike Avoidance procedures described below. These stated requirements will be included in the site-specific training to be provided to the survey team.

    Vessel Strike Avoidance

    The Applicant will ensure that vessel operators and crew maintain a vigilant watch for cetaceans and pinnipeds and slow down or stop their vessels to avoid striking these species. Survey vessel crew members responsible for navigation duties will receive site-specific training on marine mammal and sea turtle sighting/reporting and vessel strike avoidance measures. Vessel strike avoidance measures will include the following, except under extraordinary circumstances when complying with these requirements would put the safety of the vessel or crew at risk:

    • All vessel operators will comply with 10 knot (<18.5 km per hour [km/h]) speed restrictions in any Dynamic Management Area (DMA). In addition, all vessels operating from November 1 through July 31 will operate at speeds of 10 knots (<18.5 km/h) or less.

    • All survey vessels will maintain a separation distance of 500 m or greater from any sighted North Atlantic right whale.

    • If underway, vessels must steer a course away from any sited North Atlantic right whale at 10 knots (<18.5 km/h) or less until the 500 m minimum separation distance has been established. If a North Atlantic right whale is sited in a vessel's path, or within 100 m to an underway vessel, the underway vessel must reduce speed and shift the engine to neutral. Engines will not be engaged until the North Atlantic right whale has moved outside of the vessel's path and beyond 100 m. If stationary, the vessel must not engage engines until the North Atlantic right whale has moved beyond 100 m.

    • All vessels will maintain a separation distance of 100 m or greater from any sighted non-delphinoid (i.e., mysticetes and sperm whales) cetaceans. If sighted, the vessel underway must reduce speed and shift the engine to neutral, and must not engage the engines until the non-delphinoid cetacean has moved outside of the vessel's path and beyond 100 m. If a survey vessel is stationary, the vessel will not engage engines until the non-delphinoid cetacean has moved out of the vessel's path and beyond 100 m.

    • All vessels will maintain a separation distance of 50 m or greater from any sighted delphinoid cetacean. Any vessel underway will remain parallel to a sighted delphinoid cetacean's course whenever possible, and avoid excessive speed or abrupt changes in direction. Any vessel underway reduces vessel speed to 10 knots or less when pods (including mother/calf pairs) or large assemblages of delphinoid cetaceans are observed. Vessels may not adjust course and speed until the delphinoid cetaceans have moved beyond 50 m and/or abeam (i.e., moving away and at a right angle to the centerline of the vessel) of the underway vessel.

    • All vessels will maintain a separation distance of 50 m (164 ft) or greater from any sighted pinniped.

    The training program will be provided to NMFS for review and approval prior to the start of surveys. Confirmation of the training and understanding of the requirements will be documented on a training course log sheet. Signing the log sheet will certify that the crew members understand and will comply with the necessary requirements throughout the survey event.

    Seasonal Operating Requirements

    Between watch shifts, members of the monitoring team will consult the NMFS North Atlantic right whale reporting systems for the presence of North Atlantic right whales throughout survey operations. The proposed survey activities will, however, occur outside of the seasonal management area (SMA) located off the coast of Massachusetts and Rhode Island. The proposed survey activities will also occur in May/June and September, which is outside of the seasonal mandatory speed restriction period for this SMA (November 1 through April 30).

    Throughout all survey operations, the Applicant will monitor the NMFS North Atlantic right whale reporting systems for the establishment of a DMA. If NMFS should establish a DMA in the Lease Area under survey, within 24 hours of the establishment of the DMA the Applicant will work with NMFS to shut down and/or alter the survey activities to avoid the DMA.

    Passive Acoustic Monitoring

    As per the BOEM Lease, alternative monitoring technologies (e.g., active or passive acoustic monitoring) are required if a Lessee intends to conduct geophysical surveys at night or when visual observation is otherwise impaired. To support 24-hour HRG survey operations, DONG Energy will use certified PAM operators with experience reviewing and identifying recorded marine mammal vocalizations, as part of the project monitoring during nighttime operations to provide for optimal acquisition of species detections at night, or as needed during periods when visual observations may be impaired. In addition, PAM systems shall be employed during daylight hours to support system calibration and PSO and PAM team coordination, as well as in support of efforts to evaluate the effectiveness of the various mitigation techniques (i.e., visual observations during day and night, compared to the PAM detections/operations). Given the range of species that could occur in the Lease Area, the PAM system will consist of an array of hydrophones with both broadband (sampling mid-range frequencies of 2 kHz to 200 kHz) and at least one low-frequency hydrophone (sampling range frequencies of 10 Hz to 30 kHz). Monitoring of the PAM system will be conducted from a customized processing station aboard the HRG survey vessel. The on-board processing station provides the interface between the PAM system and the operator. The PAM operator(s) will monitor the hydrophone signals in real time both aurally (using headphones) and visually (via the monitor screen displays). DONG Energy proposes the use of PAMGuard software for `target motion analysis' to support localization in relation to the identified exclusion zone. PAMGuard is an open source and versatile software/hardware interface to enable flexibility in the configuration of in-sea equipment (number of hydrophones, sensitivities, spacing, and geometry). PAM operators will immediately communicate detections/vocalizations to the Lead PSO on duty who will ensure the implementation of the appropriate mitigation measure (e.g., shutdown) even if visual observations by PSOs have not been made.

    Ramp-Up

    As per the BOEM Lease, a ramp-up procedure will be used for HRG survey equipment capable of adjusting energy levels at the start or re-start of HRG survey activities. A ramp-up procedure will be used at the beginning of HRG survey activities in order to provide additional protection to marine mammals near the Lease Area by allowing them to vacate the area prior to the commencement of survey equipment use. The ramp-up procedure will not be initiated during daytime, night time, or periods of inclement weather if the exclusion zone cannot be adequately monitored by the PSOs using the appropriate visual technology (e.g., reticulated binoculars, night vision equipment) and/or PAM for a 60-minute period. A ramp-up would begin with the power of the smallest acoustic HRG equipment at its lowest practical power output appropriate for the survey. The power would then be gradually turned up and other acoustic sources added such that the source level would increase in steps not exceeding 6 dB per 5-minute period. If marine mammals are detected within the HRG survey exclusion zone prior to or during the ramp-up, activities will be delayed until the animal(s) has moved outside the monitoring zone and no marine mammals are detected for a period of 60 minutes.

    Shutdown and Powerdown

    HRG Survey—The exclusion zone(s) around the noise-producing activities HRG survey equipment will be monitored, as previously described, by PSOs and at night by PAM operators for the presence of marine mammals before, during, and after any noise-producing activity. The vessel operator must comply immediately with any call for shutdown by the Lead PSO. Any disagreement should be discussed only after shutdown.

    As per the BOEM Lease, if a non-delphinoid (i.e., mysticetes and sperm whales) cetacean is detected at or within the established exclusion zone (200-m exclusion zone during equipment positioning systems use; 400-m exclusion zone during the operation of the sub-bottom profiler), an immediate shutdown of the HRG survey equipment is required. Subsequent restart of the electromechanical survey equipment must use the ramp-up procedures described above and may only occur following clearance of the exclusion zone for 60 minutes. These are extremely conservative shutdown zones, as the 200 and 400-m exclusion radii exceed the distances to the estimated Level B harassment isopleths (Table 4).

    As per the BOEM Lease, if a delphinoid cetacean or pinniped is detected at or within the exclusion zone, the HRG survey equipment (including the sub-bottom profiler) must be powered down to the lowest power output that is technically feasible. Subsequent power up of the survey equipment must use the ramp-up procedures described above and may occur after (1) the exclusion zone is clear of a delphinoid cetacean and/or pinniped for 60 minutes or (2) a determination by the PSO after a minimum of 10 minutes of observation that the delphinoid cetacean or pinniped is approaching the vessel or towed equipment at a speed and vector that indicates voluntary approach to bow-ride or chase towed equipment.

    If the HRG sound source (including the sub-bottom profiler) shuts down for reasons other than encroachment into the exclusion zone by a marine mammal including but not limited to a mechanical or electronic failure, resulting in in the cessation of sound source for a period greater than 20 minutes, a restart for the HRG survey equipment (including the sub-bottom profiler) is required using the full ramp-up procedures and clearance of the exclusion zone of all cetaceans and pinnipeds for 60 minutes. If the pause is less than 20 minutes, the equipment may be restarted as soon as practicable at its operational level as long as visual surveys were continued diligently throughout the silent period and the exclusion zone remained clear of cetaceans and pinnipeds. If the visual surveys were not continued diligently during the pause of 20 minutes or less, a restart of the HRG survey equipment (including the sub-bottom profiler) is required using the full ramp-up procedures and clearance of the exclusion zone for all cetaceans and pinnipeds for 60 minutes.

    Geotechnical Survey (DP Thrusters)—During geotechnical survey activities, a constant position over the drill, coring, or CPT site must be maintained to ensure the integrity of the survey equipment. Any stoppage of DP thruster during the proposed geotechnical activities has the potential to result in significant damage to survey equipment. Therefore, during geotechnical survey activities if marine mammals enter or approach the established 120 dB isopleth monitoring zone, the Applicant shall reduce DP thruster to the maximum extent possible, except under circumstances when reducing DP thruster use would compromise safety (both human health and environmental) and/or the integrity of the equipment. Reducing thruster energy will effectively reduce the potential for exposure of marine mammals to sound energy. After decreasing thruster energy, PSOs will continue to monitor marine mammal behavior and determine if the animal(s) is moving towards or away from the established monitoring zone. If the animal(s) continues to move towards the sound source then DP thruster use would remain at the reduced level. Normal use will resume when PSOs report that the marine mammals have moved away from and remained clear of the monitoring zone for a minimum of 60 minutes since the last sighting.

    Mitigation Conclusions

    NMFS has carefully evaluated DONG Energy's mitigation measures in the context of ensuring that we prescribe the means of effecting the least practicable impact on the affected marine mammal species and stocks and their habitat. Our evaluation of potential measures included consideration of the following factors in relation to one another:

    • The manner in which, and the degree to which, the successful implementation of the measure is expected to minimize adverse impacts to marine mammals;

    • The proven or likely efficacy of the specific measure to minimize adverse impacts as planned; and

    • The practicability of the measure for applicant implementation.

    Any mitigation measure(s) prescribed by NMFS should be able to accomplish, have a reasonable likelihood of accomplishing (based on current science), or contribute to the accomplishment of one or more of the general goals listed here:

    • Avoidance or minimization of injury or death of marine mammals wherever possible (goals 2, 3, and 4 may contribute to this goal).

    • A reduction in the numbers of marine mammals (total number or number at biologically important time or location) exposed to received levels of activities that we expect to result in the take of marine mammals (this goal may contribute to 1, above, or to reducing harassment takes only).

    • 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 activities that we expect to result in the take of marine mammals (this goal may contribute to 1, above, or to reducing harassment takes only).

    • A reduction in the intensity of exposures (either total number or number at biologically important time or location) to received levels of activities that we expect to result in the take of marine mammals (this goal may contribute to 1, above, or to reducing the severity of harassment takes only).

    • 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.

    • 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.

    Monitoring and Reporting

    In order to issue an IHA for an activity, section 101(a)(5)(D) of the MMPA states that NMFS must set forth, “requirements pertaining to the monitoring and reporting of such taking.” The MMPA implementing regulations at 50 CFR 216.104 (a)(13) indicate that requests for ITAs must include the suggested means of accomplishing the necessary monitoring and reporting that will result in increased knowledge of the species and of the level of taking or impacts on populations of marine mammals that are expected to be present in the proposed action area.

    Monitoring measures prescribed by NMFS should accomplish one or more of the following general goals:

    1. An increase in 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

    DONG Energy submitted a marine mammal monitoring and reporting 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.

    Visual Monitoring—Visual monitoring of the established Level B harassment zones (400-m radius for sub-bottom profiler and 200-m radius for equipment positioning system use during HRG surveys [note that these are the same as the mitigation exclusion/shutdown zones established for HRG survey sound sources]; 3,500-m radius during DP thruster use [note that this is the same as the mitigation powerdown zone established for DP thruster sound sources]) will be performed by qualified and NMFS-approved PSOs (see discussion of PSO qualifications and requirements in Marine Mammal Exclusion Zones above).

    The PSOs will begin observation of the monitoring zone during all HRG survey activities and all geotechnical operations where DP thrusters are employed. Observations of the monitoring zone will continue throughout the survey activity and/or while DP thrusters are in use. PSOs will be responsible for visually monitoring and identifying marine mammals approaching or entering the established monitoring zone during survey activities.

    Observations will take place from the highest available vantage point on the survey vessel. General 360-degree scanning will occur during the monitoring periods, and target scanning by the PSO will occur when alerted of a marine mammal presence.

    Data on all PSO observations will be recorded based on standard PSO collection requirements. This will include dates and locations of construction operations; time of observation, location and weather; details of the sightings (e.g., species, age classification [if known], numbers, behavior); and details of any observed “taking” (behavioral disturbances or injury/mortality). The data sheet will be provided to both NMFS and BOEM for review and approval prior to the start of survey activities. In addition, prior to initiation of survey work, all crew members will undergo environmental training, a component of which will focus on the procedures for sighting and protection of marine mammals. A briefing will also be conducted between the survey supervisors and crews, the PSOs, and the Applicant. The purpose of the briefing will be to establish responsibilities of each party, define the chains of command, discuss communication procedures, provide an overview of monitoring purposes, and review operational procedures.

    Acoustic Field Verification — As per the requirements of the BOEM Lease, field verification of the exclusion/monitoring zones will be conducted to determine whether the proposed zones correspond accurately to the relevant isopleths and are adequate to minimize impacts to marine mammals. The details of the field verification strategy will be provided in a Field Verification Plan no later than 45 days prior to the commencement of field verification activities.

    DONG Energy must conduct field verification of the exclusion zone (the 160 dB isopleth) for HRG survey equipment and the powerdown zone (the 120 dB isopleth) for DP thruster use for all equipment operating below 200 kHz. DONG Energy must take acoustic measurements at a minimum of two reference locations and in a manner that is sufficient to establish source level (peak at 1 meter) and distance to the 180 dB and 160 dB isopleths (the Level A and B harassment zones for HRG surveys) and 120 dB isopleth (the Level B harassment zone) for DP thruster use. Sound measurements must be taken at the reference locations at two depths (i.e., a depth at mid-water and a depth at approximately 1 meter [3.28 ft] above the seafloor).

    DONG Energy may use the results from its field-verification efforts to request modification of the exclusion/monitoring zones for the HRG or geotechnical surveys. Any new exclusion/monitoring zone radius proposed by DONG Energy must be based on the most conservative measurements (i.e., the largest safety zone configuration) of the target Level A or Level B harassment acoustic threshold zones. The modified zone must be used for all subsequent use of field-verified equipment. DONG Energy must obtain approval from NMFS and BOEM of any new exclusion/monitoring zone before it may be implemented and the IHA shall be modified accordingly.

    Proposed Reporting Measures

    The Applicant will provide the following reports as necessary during survey activities:

    • The Applicant will contact NMFS and BOEM within 24 hours of the commencement of survey activities and again within 24 hours of the completion of the activity.

    • As per the BOEM Lease: Any observed significant behavioral reactions (e.g., animals departing the area) or injury or mortality to any marine mammals must be reported to NMFS and BOEM within 24 hours of observation. Dead or injured protected species are reported to the NMFS Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office Stranding Hotline (800-900-3622) within 24 hours of sighting, regardless of whether the injury is caused by a vessel. In addition, if the injury of death was caused by a collision with a project related vessel, the Applicant must ensure that NMFS and BOEM are notified of the strike within 24 hours. The Applicant must use the form included as Appendix A to Addendum C of the Lease to report the sighting or incident. If The Applicant is responsible for the injury or death, the vessel must assist with any salvage effort as requested by NMFS. Additional reporting requirements for injured or dead animals are described below (Notification of Injured or Dead Marine Mammals).

    Notification of Injured or Dead Marine Mammals—In the unanticipated event that the specified HRG and geotechnical activities lead to an injury of a marine mammal (Level A harassment) or mortality (e.g., ship-strike, gear interaction, and/or entanglement), DONG Energy would immediately cease the specified activities and report the incident to the Chief of the Permits and Conservation Division, Office of Protected Resources and the NOAA Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office (GARFO) Stranding Coordinator. 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 event. NMFS would work with DONG Energy to minimize reoccurrence of such an event in the future. DONG Energy would not resume activities until notified by NMFS.

    In the event that DONG Energy discovers an injured or dead marine mammal and 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), DONG Energy would immediately report the incident to the Chief of the Permits and Conservation Division, Office of Protected Resources and the GARFO Stranding Coordinator. 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 the Applicant to determine if modifications in the activities are appropriate.

    In the event that DONG Energy discovers an injured or dead marine mammal and determines that the injury or death is not associated with or related to the activities authorized in the IHA (e.g., previously wounded animal, carcass with moderate to advanced decomposition, or scavenger damage), DONG Energy would report the incident to the Chief of the Permits and Conservation Division, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, and the NMFS Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office Regional Stranding Coordinator, within 24 hours of the discovery. DONG Energy would provide photographs or video footage (if available) or other documentation of the stranded animal sighting to NMFS. DONG Energy can continue its operations under such a case.

    • Within 90 days after completion of the marine site characterization survey activities, a technical report will be provided to NMFS and BOEM that fully documents the methods and monitoring protocols, summarizes the data recorded during monitoring, estimates the number of marine mammals that may have been taken during survey activities, and provides an interpretation of the results and effectiveness of all monitoring tasks. Any recommendations made by NMFS must be addressed in the final report prior to acceptance by NMFS.

    • In addition to the Applicant's reporting requirements outlined above, the Applicant will provide an assessment report of the effectiveness of the various mitigation techniques, i.e., visual observations during day and night, compared to the PAM detections/operations. This will be submitted as a draft to NMFS and BOEM 30 days after the completion of the HRG and geotechnical surveys and as a final version 60 days after completion of the surveys.

    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].

    Project activities that have the potential to harass marine mammals, as defined by the MMPA, include underwater noise from operation of the HRG survey sub-bottom profilers and equipment positioning systems, and noise propagation associated with the use of DP thrusters during geotechnical survey activities that require the use of a DP drill ship. Harassment could take the form of temporary threshold shift, avoidance, or other changes in marine mammal behavior. NMFS anticipates that impacts to marine mammals would be in the form of behavioral harassment and no take by injury, serious injury, or mortality is proposed. NMFS does not anticipate take resulting from the movement of vessels associated with construction because there will be a limited number of vessels moving at slow speeds over a relatively shallow, nearshore area.

    The basis for the take estimate is the number of marine mammals that would be exposed to sound levels in excess of NMFS' Level B harassment criteria for impulsive noise (160 dB re 1 μPa (rms) and continuous noise (120 dB re 1 μPa (rms.)). NMFS' current acoustic exposure criteria for estimating take are shown in Table 6 below. DONG Energy's modeled distances to these acoustic exposure criteria are shown in Tables 4 and 5. Details on the model characteristics and results are provided in the hydroacoustic modeling assessment found in Appendix A of the DONG Energy IHA application. As discussed in the application and in Appendix A, modeling took into consideration sound sources using the loudest potential operational parameters, bathymetry, geoacoustic properties of the Lease Area, time of year, and marine mammal hearing ranges. Results from the hydroacoustic modeling assessment showed that estimated maximum critical distance to the 160 dB re 1 μPa (rms) MMPA threshold for all water depths for the HRG survey sub-bottom profilers (the HRG survey equipment with the greatest potential for effect on marine mammal) was approximately 380 m from the source (see Table 4), and the estimated maximum critical distance to the 120 dB re 1 μPa (rms) MMPA threshold for all water depths for the drill ship DP thruster was approximately 3,400 m from the source (see Table 5). DONG Energy and NMFS believe that these estimates represent the worst-case scenario and that the actual distances to the Level B harassment threshold may be shorter.

    Table 6—NMFS' Current Acoustic Exposure Criteria Non-explosive sound Criterion Criterion definition Threshold Level A Harassment (Injury) Permanent Threshold Shift (PTS) (Any level above that which is known to cause TTS) 180 dB re 1 μPa-m (cetaceans)/190 dB re 1 μPa-m (pinnipeds) root mean square (rms). Level B Harassment Behavioral Disruption (for impulse noises) 160 dB re 1 μPa-m (rms). Level B Harassment Behavioral Disruption (for continuous noise) 120 dB re 1 μoPa-m (rms).

    DONG Energy estimated species densities within the proposed project area in order to estimate the number of marine mammal exposures to sound levels above the 120 dB Level B harassment threshold for continuous noise (i.e., DP thrusters) and the 160 dB Level B harassment threshold for intermittent, impulsive noise (i.e., pingers and sub-bottom profiler). Research indicates that marine mammals generally have extremely fine auditory temporal resolution and can detect each signal separately (e.g., Au et al., 1988; Dolphin et al., 1995; Supin and Popov, 1995; Mooney et al., 2009b), especially for species with echolocation capabilities. Therefore, it is likely that marine mammals would perceive the acoustic signals associated with the HRG survey equipment as being intermittent rather than continuous, and we base our takes from these sources on exposures to the 160 dB threshold.

    The data used as the basis for estimating species density (“D”) for the Lease Area are sightings per unit effort (SPUE) taken from Kenney and Vigness-Raposa (2009). SPUE (or, the relative abundance of species) is derived by using a measure of survey effort and number of individual cetaceans sighted. Species density (animals per km2) can be computed by dividing the SPUE value by the width of the marine mammal survey track, and numbers of animals can be computed by multiplying the species density by the size of the geographic area in question (km2). SPUE allows for comparison between discrete units of time (i.e., seasons) and space within a project area (Shoop and Kenney, 1992). SPUE calculated by Kenney and Vigness-Raposa (2009) was derived from a number of sources including: (1) North Atlantic Right Whale Consortium database; (2) CeTAP (CeTAP, 1982); (3) sightings data from the Coastal Research and Education Society of Long Island, Inc. and Okeanos Ocean Research Foundation; (4) the Northeast Regional Stranding network (marine mammals); and (5) the NOAA Northeast Fisheries Science Center's Fisheries Sampling Branch (Woods Hole, MA).

    The Northeast Navy Operations Area (OPAREA) Density Estimates (DoN, 2007) were also used in support for estimating take for seals, which represents the only available comprehensive data for seal abundance. However, abundance estimates for the Southern New England area includes breeding populations on Cape Cod, and therefore using this dataset alone will result in a substantial over-estimate of take in the Project Area. However, based on reports conducted by Kenney and Vigness-Raposa (2009), Schroeder (2000), and Ronald and Gots (2003), harbor seal abundance off the Southern New England coast in the vicinity of the survey is likely to be approximately 20 percent of the total abundance. In addition, because the seasonality of, and habitat use by, gray seals roughly overlaps with harbor seals, the same abundance assumption of 20 percent of the southern New England population of gray seals can be applied when estimating abundance. Per this data, take due to Level B harassment for harbor seals and gray seals has been calculated based on 20 percent of the Northeast Navy OPAREA Density Estimates.

    Estimated takes were calculated by multiplying the species density (per 100 km2) by the zone of influence (ZOI), multiplied by the number of days of the specified activity. A detailed description of the acoustic modeling used to calculate zones of influence is provided in the acoustic modeling assessment found in Appendix A of the DONG Energy IHA application (also see the discussion in the “Mitigation” section above).

    DONG Energy used a ZOI of 23.6 m2 (61 km2) and a conservative survey period of 30 days, which includes estimated weather downtime, to estimate take from use of the HRG survey equipment during geophysical survey activities. The ZOI is based on the worst case (since it assumes the higher powered GeoSource 200 sparker will be operating all the time) ensonified area of 380 m, and a maximum survey trackline of 49 mi (79 km) per day. Based on the proposed HRG survey schedule (May 2016), take calculations were based on the spring seasonal species density as derived from seasonal SPUE data reported in Kenney and Vigness-Raposa (2009) and seasonal OPAREA density estimates (DoN, 2007). The resulting take estimates (rounded to the nearest whole number) are presented in Table 7.

    Table 6—Estimated Level B Harassment Takes for HRG Survey Activities Species Density for Spring
  • (Number/100 km2)
  • Calculated take
  • (Number)
  • Requested take authorization
  • (Number)
  • Percentage of stock potentially affected
    North Atlantic Right Whale 0.06 1.03 1 0.215 Humpback Whale 0.11 2.04 2 0.243 Fin Whale 0.37 6.72 7 0.433 Minke Whale 0.12 2.24 2 0.010 Common Dolphin 2.15 39.38 39 0.001 Atlantic White-sided Dolphin 1.23 22.45 22 0.045 Harbor Porpoise 0.47 8.52 9 0.011 Harbor Seal 1 9.74 35.66 36 0.047 Gray Seal 1 14.16 51.83 52 0.015 1 Density values were derived using 20 percent of the number estimated from DoN (2007) density values.

    DONG Energy used a ZOI of 9.8 m2 (25.4 km2) and a maximum DP thruster use period of 6 days to estimate take from use of the DP thruster during geotechnical survey activities. The ZOI represents the worst-case ensonified area across the three representative water depths within the Lease Area (125 ft, 144 ft, and 177 ft [38 m, 44 m, and 54 m]). Based on the proposed geotechnical survey schedule (September 2016), take calculations were based on the fall seasonal species density as derived from seasonal abundance data reported in Kenney and Vigness-Raposa (2009) and seasonal OPAREA density estimates (DoN, 2007) (Table 7). The resulting take estimates (rounded to the nearest whole number) based upon these conservative assumptions for common and Atlantic white-sided dolphins are presented in Table 8. These numbers are based on 6 days and represent only 0.011 and 0.022 percent of the stock for these 2 species, respectively. Take calculations for North Atlantic right whale, humpback whale, fin whale, minke whale, harbor porpoise, gray seal, and harbor seal are at or near zero (refer to the DONG Energy application); therefore, no takes for these species are requested or proposed for authorization.

    Table 7—Estimated Level B Harassment Takes for Geotechnical Survey Activities Species Density for Fall
  • (Number/100 km2)
  • Calculated take
  • (Number)
  • Requested take authorization (Number) Percentage of stock potentially affected
    Common Dolphin 8.21 12.5 13 0.011 Atlantic White-sided Dolphin 7.46 11 11 0.022

    DONG Energy's requested take numbers are provided in Tables 6 and 7 and this is also the number of takes NMFS is proposing to authorize. DONG Energy's calculations do not take into account whether a single animal is harassed multiple times or whether each exposure is a different animal. Therefore, the numbers in Tables 6 and 7 are the maximum number of animals that may be harassed during the HRG and geotechnical surveys (i.e., DONG Energy assumes that each exposure event is a different animal). These estimates do not account for prescribed mitigation measures that DONG Energy would implement during the specified activities and the fact that shutdown/powerdown procedures shall be implemented if an animal enters the Level B harassment zone (160 dB and 120 dB for HRG survey equipment and DP thruster use, respectively), further reducing the potential for any takes to occur during these activities.

    Analysis and Determinations Negligible Impact

    Negligible impact is “an impact resulting from the specified activity that cannot be reasonably expected to, and is not reasonably likely to, adversely affect the species or stock through effects on annual rates of recruitment or survival” (50 CFR 216.103). A negligible impact finding is based on the lack of likely adverse effects on annual rates of recruitment or survival (i.e., population-level effects). An estimate of the number of takes, alone, is not enough information on which to base an impact determination, as the severity of harassment may vary greatly depending on the context and duration of the behavioral response, many of which would not be expected to have deleterious impacts on the fitness of any individuals. In determining whether the expected takes will have a negligible impact, in addition to considering estimates of the number of marine mammals that might be “taken,” NMFS must consider other factors, such as the likely nature of any responses (their intensity, duration, etc.), the context of any responses (critical reproductive time or location, migration, etc.), as well as the number and nature of estimated Level A harassment takes, the number of estimated mortalities, and the status of the species.

    As discussed in the “Potential Effects” section, permanent threshold shift, masking, non-auditory physical effects, and vessel strike are not expected to occur. There is some potential for limited TTS; however, animals in the area would likely incur no more than brief hearing impairment (i.e., TTS) due to generally low SPLs—and in the case of the HRG survey equipment use, highly directional beam pattern, transient signals, and moving sound sources—and the fact that most marine mammals would more likely avoid a loud sound source rather than swim in such close proximity as to result in TTS or PTS. Further, once an area has been surveyed, it is not likely that it will be surveyed again, therefore reducing the likelihood of repeated impacts within the project area.

    Potential impacts to marine mammal habitat were discussed previously in this document (see the “Anticipated Effects on Habitat” section). Marine mammal habitat may be impacted by elevated sound levels and some sediment disturbance, but these impacts would be temporary. Feeding behavior is not likely to be significantly impacted, as marine mammals appear to be less likely to exhibit behavioral reactions or avoidance responses while engaged in feeding activities (Richardson et al., 1995). Prey species are mobile, and are broadly distributed throughout the Lease Area; therefore, marine mammals that may be temporarily displaced during survey activities are expected to be able to resume foraging once they have moved away from areas with disturbing levels of underwater noise. Because of the temporary nature of the disturbance, the availability of similar habitat and resources in the surrounding area, and the lack of important or unique marine mammal habitat, the impacts to marine mammals and the food sources that they utilize are not expected to cause significant or long-term consequences for individual marine mammals or their populations. Furthermore, there are no feeding areas, rookeries, or mating grounds known to be biologically important to marine mammals within the proposed project area. A biologically important feeding area for North Atlantic right whale encompasses the Lease Area (LaBrecque, et al., 2015); however, there is no temporal overlap between the BIA (effective March-April; November-December) and the proposed survey activities (May-June; October). ESA-listed species for which takes are proposed are North Atlantic right, humpback, and fin whales. Recent estimates of abundance indicate a stable or growing humpback whale population, while examination of the minimum number alive population index calculated from the individual sightings database for the years 1990-2010 suggests a positive and slowly accelerating trend in North Atlantic right whale population size (Waring et al., 2015). There are currently insufficient data to determine population trends for fin whale) (Waring et al., 2015). There is no designated critical habitat for any ESA-listed marine mammals within the Lease Area, and none of the stocks for non-listed species proposed to be taken are considered “depleted” or “strategic” by NMFS under the MMPA.

    The proposed mitigation measures are expected to reduce the number and/or severity of takes by (1) giving animals the opportunity to move away from the sound source before HRG survey equipment reaches full energy; (2) reducing the intensity of exposure within a certain distance by reducing the DP thruster power; and (3) preventing animals from being exposed to sound levels reaching 180 dB during HRG survey activities (sound levels in excess of 180 dB are not anticipated for DP thruster use). Additional vessel strike avoidance requirements will further mitigate potential impacts to marine mammals during vessel transit to and within the Study Area.

    DONG Energy did not request, and NMFS is not proposing, take of marine mammals by injury, serious injury, or mortality. NMFS expects that most takes would be in the form of short-term Level B behavioral harassment in the form of brief startling reaction and/or temporary vacating of the area, or decreased foraging (if such activity were occurring)—reactions that are considered to be of low severity and with no lasting biological consequences (e.g., Southall et al., 2007). This is largely due to the short time scale of the proposed activities, the low source levels and intermittent nature of many of the technologies proposed to be used, as well as the required mitigation.

    NMFS concludes that exposures to marine mammal species and stocks due to DONG Energy's HRG and geotechnical survey activities would result in only short-term (temporary and short in duration) and relatively infrequent effects to individuals exposed, and not of the type or severity that would be expected to be additive for the very small portion of the stocks and species likely to be exposed. Given the duration and intensity of the activities, and the fact that shipping contributes to the ambient sound levels in the surrounding waters (vessel traffic in this area is relatively high; some marine mammals may be habituated to this noise), NMFS does not anticipate the proposed take estimates to impact annual rates of recruitment or survival. Animals may temporarily avoid the immediate area, but are not expected to permanently abandon the area. Major shifts in habitat use, distribution, or foraging success, are not expected.

    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 DONG Energy's proposed HRG survey and DP thruster use during geotechnical survey activities will have a negligible impact on the affected marine mammal species or stocks.

    Small Numbers

    The requested takes proposed to be authorized for the HRG and geotechnical surveys represent 0.215 percent of the Western North Atlantic (WNA) stock of North Atlantic right whale, 0.243 percent of the Gulf of Maine stock of humpback whale, 0.433 percent of the WNA stock of fin whale, 0.010 percent of the Canadian East Coast stock of minke whale, 0.040 percent of the WNA stock of short-beaked common dolphin, 0.068 percent of the WNA stock of Atlantic white-sided dolphin, 0.011 percent of the Gulf of Maine/Bay of Fundy stock of harbor porpoise, 0.047 percent of the WNA stock of harbor seal, and 0.015 percent of the North Atlantic stock of gray seal. These take estimates represent the percentage of each species or stock that could be taken by Level B behavioral harassment and are extremely small numbers (less than 1 percent) relative to the affected species or stock sizes. Further, the proposed take numbers are the maximum numbers of animals that are expected to be harassed during the project; it is possible that some of these exposures may occur to the same individual. Therefore, NMFS preliminarily finds that small numbers of marine mammals will be taken relative to the populations of the affected species or stocks.

    Impact on Availability of Affected Species for Taking for Subsistence Uses

    There are no relevant subsistence uses of marine mammals implicated by this action. Therefore, NMFS has determined that the total taking of affected species or stocks would not have an unmitigable adverse impact on the availability of such species or stocks for taking for subsistence purposes.

    Endangered Species Act

    Within the project area, fin, humpback, and North Atlantic right whale are listed as endangered under the ESA. Under section 7 of the ESA, BOEM consulted with NMFS on commercial wind lease issuance and site assessment activities on the Atlantic Outer Continental Shelf in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New York and New Jersey Wind Energy Areas. NOAA's GARFO issued a Biological Opinion concluding that these activities may adversely affect but are not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of fin whale, humpback whale, or North Atlantic right whale. NMFS is also consulting internally on the issuance of an IHA under section 101(a)(5)(D) of the MMPA for this activity. Following issuance of the DONG Energy IHA, the Biological Opinion may be amended to include an incidental take exemption for these marine mammal species, as appropriate.

    National Environmental Policy Act

    BOEM prepared an Environmental Assessment (EA) in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), to evaluate the issuance of wind energy leases covering the entirety of the Massachusetts Wind Energy Area (including the OCS-A 0500 Lease Area), and the approval of site assessment activities within those leases (BOEM, 2014). NMFS intends to adopt BOEM's EA, if adequate and appropriate. Currently, we believe that the adoption of BOEM's EA will allow NMFS to meet its responsibilities under NEPA for the issuance of an IHA to DONG Energy for HRG and geotechnical survey investigations in the Lease Area. If necessary, however, NMFS will supplement the existing analysis to ensure that we comply with NEPA prior to the issuance of the final IHA. BOEM's EA is available on the Internet at: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/incidental/energy_other.htm.

    Proposed Authorization

    As a result of these preliminary determinations, NMFS proposes to issue an IHA to DONG Energy for HRG survey activities and use of DP vessel thrusters during geotechnical survey activities from May 2016 through April 2017, 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).

    DONG Energy Massachusetts (U.S.) LLC (DONG Energy) (One International Place, 100 Oliver Street, Suite 1400, Boston, MA 02110) is hereby authorized under section 101(a)(5)(D) of the Marine Mammal Protection Act (16 U.S.C. 1371(a)(5)(D)) and 50 CFR 216.107, to harass marine mammals incidental to high-resolution geophysical (HRG) and geotechnical survey investigations associated with marine site characterization activities off the coast of Massachusetts in the area of the Commercial Lease of Submerged Lands for Renewable Energy Development on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS-A 0500) (the Lease Area).

    1. This Authorization is valid from May 1, 2016 through April 30, 2017.

    2. This Authorization is valid only for HRG and geotechnical survey investigations associated with marine site characterization activities, as described in the Incidental Harassment Authorization (IHA) application.

    3. The holder of this authorization (Holder) is hereby authorized to take, by Level B harassment only, 33 Atlantic white-sided dolphins (Lagenorhynchus acutus), 52 short-beaked common dolphins (Delphinus delphis), 9 harbor porpoises (Phocoena phocoena), 2 minke whales (Balaenoptera acutorostrata), 7 fin whales (Balaenoptera physalus), 2 humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae), 1 North Atlantic right whales (Eubalaena glacialis), 52 gray seals (Halichoerus grypus), and 36 harbor seals (Phoca vitulina) incidental to HRG survey activities using sub-bottom profilers and equipment positioning systems, and dynamic positioning (DP) vessel thruster use during geotechnical activities.

    4. The taking of any marine mammal in a manner prohibited under this IHA must be reported immediately to NMFS' Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office (GARFO), 55 Great Republic Drive, Gloucester, MA 01930-2276; phone 978-281-9300, and NMFS' Office of Protected Resources, 1315 East-West Highway, Silver Spring, MD 20910; phone 301-427-8401.

    5. The Holder or designees must notify NMFS' GARFO and Headquarters at least 24 hours prior to the seasonal commencement of the specified activity (see contact information in 4 above).

    6. The holder of this Authorization must notify the Chief of the Permits and Conservation Division, Office of Protected Resources, or her designee at least 24 hours prior to the start of survey activities (unless constrained by the date of issuance of this Authorization in which case notification shall be made as soon as possible) at 301-427-8401 or to [email protected]

    7. Mitigation Requirements

    The Holder is required to abide by the following mitigation conditions listed in 7(a)-(f). Failure to comply with these conditions may result in the modification, suspension, or revocation of this IHA.

    (a) Marine Mammal Exclusion Zones: Protected species observers (PSOs) shall monitor the following zones for the presence of marine mammals:

    • A 400-m exclusion zone during HRG surveys when the sub-bottom profiler is in operation.

    • A 200-m exclusion zone during HRG surveys when all other equipment (i.e., equipment positioning systems) is in operation.

    • A 3,500-m monitoring zone during the use of DP thrusters during geotechnical survey.

    • At all times, the vessel operator shall maintain a separation distance of 500 m from any sighted North Atlantic right whale as stipulated in the Vessel Strike Avoidance procedures described below.

    Visual monitoring of the established exclusion zone(s) shall be performed by qualified and NMFS-approved protected species observers (PSOs). An observer team comprising a minimum of four NMFS-approved PSOs and two certified Passive Acoustic Monitoring (PAM) operators, operating in shifts, shall be stationed aboard either the survey vessel or a dedicated PSO-vessel. PSOs shall be equipped with binoculars and have the ability to estimate distances to marine mammals located in proximity to the vessel and/or exclusion zone using range finders. Reticulated binoculars will also be available to PSOs for use as appropriate based on conditions and visibility to support the siting and monitoring of marine species. Digital single-lens reflex camera equipment shall be used to record sightings and verify species identification. During night operations, PAM (see Passive Acoustic Monitoring requirements below) and night-vision equipment in combination with infrared video monitoring shall be used. The PSOs shall begin observation of the exclusion zone(s) at least 60 minutes prior to ramp-up of HRG survey equipment. Use of noise-producing equipment shall not begin until the exclusion zone is clear of all marine mammals for at least 60 minutes. If a marine mammal is seen approaching or entering the 200-m or 400-m exclusion zones during the HRG survey, or the 3,500-m monitoring zone during DP thrusters use, the vessel operator shall adhere to the shutdown/powerdown procedures described below to minimize noise impacts on the animals.

    (b) Ramp-Up: A ramp-up procedure shall be used for HRG survey equipment capable of adjusting energy levels at the start or re-start of HRG survey activities. The ramp-up procedure shall not be initiated during daytime, night time, or periods of inclement weather if the exclusion zone cannot be adequately monitored by the PSOs using the appropriate visual technology (e.g., reticulated binoculars, night vision equipment) and/or PAM for a 60-minute period. A ramp-up shall begin with the power of the smallest acoustic HRG equipment at its lowest practical power output appropriate for the survey. The power shall then be gradually turned up and other acoustic sources added such that the source level would increase in steps not exceeding 6 dB per 5-minute period. If marine mammals are sighted within the HRG survey exclusion zone prior to or during the ramp-up, activities shall be delayed until the animal(s) has moved outside the monitoring zone and no marine mammals are sighted for a period of 60 minutes.

    (c) Shutdown and Powerdown

    HRG Survey—The exclusion zone(s) around the noise-producing activities HRG survey equipment will be monitored, as previously described, by PSOs and at night by PAM operators for the presence of marine mammals before, during, and after any noise-producing activity. The vessel operator must comply immediately with any call for shutdown by the Lead PSO. If a non-delphinoid (i.e., mysticetes and sperm whales) cetacean is detected at or within the established exclusion zone (200-m exclusion zone during equipment positioning systems use; 400-m exclusion zone during the operation of the sub-bottom profiler), an immediate shutdown of the HRG survey equipment is required. Subsequent restart of the electromechanical survey equipment must use the ramp-up procedures described above and may only occur following clearance of the exclusion zone for 60 minutes. If a delphinoid cetacean or pinniped is detected at or within the exclusion zone, the HRG survey equipment must be powered down to the lowest power output that is technically feasible. Subsequent power up of the survey equipment must use the ramp-up procedures described above and may occur after (1) the exclusion zone is clear of a delphinoid cetacean and/or pinniped for 60 minutes or (2) a determination by the PSO after a minimum of 10 minutes of observation that the delphinoid cetacean or pinniped is approaching the vessel or towed equipment at a speed and vector that indicates voluntary approach to bow-ride or chase towed equipment. If the HRG sound source shuts down for reasons other than encroachment into the exclusion zone by a marine mammal including but not limited to a mechanical or electronic failure, resulting in in the cessation of sound source for a period greater than 20 minutes, a restart for the HRG survey equipment is required using the full ramp-up procedures and clearance of the exclusion zone of all cetaceans and pinnipeds for 60 minutes. If the pause is less than 20 minutes, the equipment may be restarted as soon as practicable at its operational level as long as visual surveys were continued diligently throughout the silent period and the exclusion zone remained clear of cetaceans and pinnipeds. If the visual surveys were not continued diligently during the pause of 20 minutes or less, a restart of the HRG survey equipment is required using the full ramp-up procedures and clearance of the exclusion zone for all cetaceans and pinnipeds for 60 minutes.

    Geotechnical Survey (DP Thrusters)— During geotechnical survey activities if marine mammals enter or approach the established 120 dB isopleth monitoring zone, the Holder shall reduce DP thruster to the maximum extent possible, except under circumstances when reducing DP thruster use would compromise safety (both human health and environmental) and/or the integrity of the equipment. After decreasing thruster energy, PSOs shall continue to monitor marine mammal behavior and determine if the animal(s) is moving towards or away from the established monitoring zone. If the animal(s) continues to move towards the sound source then DP thruster use shall remain at the reduced level. Normal use shall resume when PSOs report that the marine mammals have moved away from and remained clear of the monitoring zone for a minimum of 60 minutes since the last sighting.

    (d) Vessel Strike Avoidance: The Holder shall ensure that vessel operators and crew maintain a vigilant watch for cetaceans and pinnipeds and slow down or stop their vessels to avoid striking these protected species. Survey vessel crew members responsible for navigation duties shall receive site-specific training on marine mammal sighting/reporting and vessel strike avoidance measures. Vessel strike avoidance measures shall include the following, except under extraordinary circumstances when complying with these requirements would put the safety of the vessel or crew at risk:

    • All vessel operators shall comply with 10 knot (<18.5 km per hour [km/h]) speed restrictions in any Dynamic Management Area (DMA). In addition, all vessels operating from November 1 through July 31 shall operate at speeds of 10 knots (<18.5 km/h) or less.

    • All survey vessels shall maintain a separation distance of 500 m or greater from any sighted North Atlantic right whale.

    • If underway, vessels must steer a course away from any sited North Atlantic right whale at 10 knots (<18.5 km/h) or less until the 500 m minimum separation distance has been established. If a North Atlantic right whale is sited in a vessel's path, or within 100 m to an underway vessel, the underway vessel must reduce speed and shift the engine to neutral. Engines shall not be engaged until the North Atlantic right whale has moved outside of the vessel's path and beyond 100 m. If stationary, the vessel must not engage engines until the North Atlantic right whale has moved beyond 100 m.

    • All vessels shall maintain a separation distance of 100 m or greater from any sighted non-delphinoid (i.e., mysticetes and sperm whales) cetacean. If sighted, the vessel underway must reduce speed and shift the engine to neutral, and must not engage the engines until the non-delphinoid cetacean has moved outside of the vessel's path and beyond 100 m. If a survey vessel is stationary, the vessel shall not engage engines until the non-delphinoid cetacean has moved out of the vessel's path and beyond 100 m.

    • All vessels shall maintain a separation distance of 50 m or greater from any sighted delphinoid cetacean. Any vessel underway shall remain parallel to a sighted delphinoid cetacean's course whenever possible, and avoid excessive speed or abrupt changes in direction. Any vessel underway shall reduce vessel speed to 10 knots or less when pods (including mother/calf pairs) or large assemblages of delphinoid cetaceans are observed. Vessels may not adjust course and speed until the delphinoid cetaceans have moved beyond 50 m and/or abeam of the underway vessel.

    • All vessels shall maintain a separation distance of 50 m (164 ft) or greater from any sighted pinniped.

    (e) Seasonal Operating Requirements: Between watch shifts members of the monitoring team shall consult the NMFS North Atlantic right whale reporting systems for the presence of North Atlantic right whales throughout survey operations. The proposed survey activities shall occur outside of the seasonal management area (SMA) located off the coast of Massachusetts and Rhode Island and outside of the seasonal mandatory speed restriction period for this SMA (November 1 through April 30). Throughout all survey operations, the Holder shall monitor the NMFS North Atlantic right whale reporting systems for the establishment of a DMA. If NMFS should establish a DMA in the Lease Area under survey, within 24 hours of the establishment of the DMA the Holder shall work with NMFS to shut down and/or altered the survey activities to avoid the DMA.

    (f) Passive Acoustic Monitoring: To support 24-hour survey operations, the Holder shall include PAM as part of the project monitoring during the geophysical survey during nighttime operations, or as needed during periods when visual observations may be impaired. In addition, PAM systems shall be employed during daylight hours to support system calibration and PSO and PAM team coordination, as well as in support of efforts to evaluate the effectiveness of the various mitigation techniques (i.e., visual observations during day and night, compared to the PAM detections/operations).

    The PAM system shall consist of an array of hydrophones with both broadband (sampling mid-range frequencies of 2 kHz to 200 kHz) and at least one low-frequency hydrophone (sampling range frequencies of 10 Hz to 30 kHz). The PAM operator(s) shall monitor the hydrophone signals in real time both aurally (using headphones) and visually (via the monitor screen displays). PAM operators shall communicate detections/vocalizations to the Lead PSO on duty who shall ensure the implementation of the appropriate mitigation measure.

    8. Monitoring Requirements

    The Holder is required to abide by the following monitoring conditions listed in 8(a)-(b). Failure to comply with these conditions may result in the modification, suspension, or revocation of this IHA.

    (a) Visual Monitoring—Protected species observers (refer to the PSO qualifications and requirements for Marine Mammal Exclusion Zones above) shall visually monitor the established Level B harassment zones (400-m radius during sub-bottom profiler use and 200-m radius for equipment positioning system use during HRG surveys; 3,500-m radius during DP thruster use). The observers shall be stationed on the highest available vantage point on the associated operating platform. PSOs shall estimate distance to marine mammals visually, using laser range finders or by using reticle binoculars during daylight hours. During night operations, PSOs shall use night-vision binoculars. Data on all PSO observations will be recorded based on standard PSO collection requirements. This will include dates and locations of survey operations; time of observation, location and weather; details of the sightings (e.g., species, age classification [if known], numbers, behavior); and details of any observed “taking” (behavioral disturbances or injury/mortality). In addition, prior to initiation of survey work, all crew members will undergo environmental training, a component of which will focus on the procedures for sighting and protection of marine mammals.

    (b) Acoustic Field Verification—Field verification of the exclusion/monitoring zones shall be conducted to determine whether the proposed zones correspond accurately to the relevant isopleths and are adequate to minimize impacts to marine mammals. The Holder shall conduct field verification of the exclusion/monitoring zone (the 160 dB isolpleth) for HRG survey equipment and the monitoring/powerdown zone (the 120 dB isopleth) for DP thruster use for all equipment operating below 200 kHz. The Holder shall take acoustic measurements at a minimum of two reference locations and in a manner that is sufficient to establish source level (peak at 1 meter) and distance to the 180 dB and 160 dB isopleths (the Level A and B harassment zones for HRG surveys) and 120 dB isopleth (the Level B harassment zone) for DP thruster use. Sound measurements shall be taken at the reference locations at two depths (i.e., a depth at mid-water and a depth at approximately 1 meter [3.28 ft] above the seafloor). The Holder may use the results from its field-verification efforts to request modification of the exclusion/monitoring zones for the HRG or geotechnical surveys. Any new exclusion/monitoring zone radius proposed by the Holder shall be based on the most conservative measurements (i.e., the largest safety zone configuration) of the target Level A or Level B harassment acoustic threshold zones. The modified zone shall be used for all subsequent use of field-verified equipment. The Holder shall obtain approval from NMFS and BOEM of any new exclusion/monitoring zone before it may be implemented and the IHA shall be modified accordingly.

    9. Reporting Requirements

    The Holder shall provide the following reports as necessary during survey activities:

    (a) The Holder shall contact NMFS (301-427-8401) and BOEM (703-787-1300) within 24 hours of the commencement of survey activities and again within 24 hours of the completion of the activity.

    (b) Any observed significant behavioral reactions (e.g., animals departing the area) or injury or mortality to any marine mammals shall be reported to NMFS and BOEM within 24 hours of observation. Dead or injured protected species shall be reported to the NMFS Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office Stranding Hotline (800-900-3622) within 24 hours of sighting, regardless of whether the injury is caused by a vessel. In addition, if the injury of death was caused by a collision with a project related vessel, the Holder shall ensure that NMFS and BOEM are notified of the strike within 24 hours. The Holder shall use the form included as Appendix A to Addendum C of the Lease to report the sighting or incident. If the Holder is responsible for the injury or death, the vessel must assist with any salvage effort as requested by NMFS.

    Additional reporting requirements for injured or dead animals are described below (Notification of Injured or Dead Marine Mammals).

    (c) Notification of Injured or Dead Marine Mammals.

    (i) In the unanticipated event that the specified HRG and geotechnical survey activities lead to an injury of a marine mammal (Level A harassment) or mortality (e.g., ship-strike, gear interaction, and/or entanglement), the Holder shall immediately cease the specified activities and report the incident to the Chief of the Permits and Conservation Division, Office of Protected Resources, 301-427-8401, and the NOAA Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office (GARFO) Stranding Coordinator, 978-281-9300. The report shall 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 shall not resume until NMFS is able to review the circumstances of the event. NMFS would work with the Holder to minimize reoccurrence of such an event in the future. The Holder shall not resume activities until notified by NMFS.

    (ii) In the event that the Holder discovers an injured or dead marine mammal and 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), the Holder shall immediately report the incident to the Chief of the Permits and Conservation Division, Office of Protected Resources, 301-427-8401, and the GARFO Stranding Coordinator, 978-281-9300. The report shall include the same information identified in the paragraph above. Activities would be able to continue while NMFS reviews the circumstances of the incident. NMFS would work with the Holder to determine if modifications in the activities are appropriate.

    (iii) In the event that the Holder discovers an injured or dead marine mammal and determines that the injury or death is not associated with or related to the activities authorized in the IHA (e.g., previously wounded animal, carcass with moderate to advanced decomposition, or scavenger damage), the Holder shall report the incident to the Chief of the Permits and Conservation Division, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, 301-427-8401, and the NMFS Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office Regional Stranding Coordinator, 978-281-9300, within 24 hours of the discovery. The Holder shall provide photographs or video footage (if available) or other documentation of the stranded animal sighting.

    (d) Within 90 days after completion of the marine site characterization survey activities, a technical report shall be provided to NMFS and BOEM that fully documents the methods and monitoring protocols, summarizes the data recorded during monitoring, estimates the number of marine mammals that may have been taken during survey activities, and provides an interpretation of the results and effectiveness of all monitoring tasks. Any recommendations made by NMFS shall be addressed in the final report prior to acceptance by NMFS.

    (e) In addition to the Holder's reporting requirements outlined above, the Holder shall provide an assessment report of the effectiveness of the various mitigation techniques, i.e., visual observations during day and night, compared to the PAM detections/operations. This shall be submitted as a draft to NMFS and BOEM 30 days after the completion of the HRG and geotechnical surveys and as a final version 60 days after completion of the surveys.

    10. This Authorization may be modified, suspended, or withdrawn if the Holder fails to abide by the conditions prescribed herein or if NMFS determines the authorized taking is having more than a negligible impact on the species or stock of affected marine mammals.

    11. A copy of this Authorization and the Incidental Take Statement must be in the possession of each vessel operator taking marine mammals under the authority of this Incidental Harassment Authorization.

    12. The Holder 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 DONG Energy's proposed high-resolution geophysical and geotechnical survey investigations associated with marine site characterization activities off the coast of Massachusetts in the area of the Commercial Lease of Submerged Lands for Renewable Energy Development on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS-A 0500). Please include with your comments any supporting data or literature citations to help inform our final decision on DONG Energy's request for an MMPA authorization.

    Dated: March 30, 2016. Wanda Cain, Acting Deputy Director, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service.
    [FR Doc. 2016-07712 Filed 4-4-16; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-22-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration RIN 0648-XE554 Magnuson-Stevens Act Provisions; General Provisions for Domestic Fisheries; Application for Exempted Fishing Permits AGENCY:

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

    ACTION:

    Notice; request for comments.

    SUMMARY:

    The Assistant Regional Administrator for Sustainable Fisheries, Greater Atlantic Region, NMFS, has made a preliminary determination that an Exempted Fishing Permit application contains all of the required information and warrants further consideration. This Exempted Fishing Permit would allow one commercial fishing vessel to fish outside of the limited access scallop regulations in support of research conducted by the National Fisheries Institute that is investigating scallop incidental mortality in the scallop dredge fishery.

    Regulations under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act require publication of this notification to provide interested parties the opportunity to comment on applications for proposed Exempted Fishing Permits.

    DATES:

    Comments must be received on or before April 20, 2016.

    ADDRESSES:

    You may submit written comments by any of the following methods:

    • Email: [email protected] Include in the subject line “Comments on DA16-013 NFI Incidental Discard Mortality EFP.”

    • Mail: John K. Bullard, Regional Administrator, NMFS, Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office, 55 Great Republic Drive, Gloucester, MA 01930. Mark the outside of the envelope “Comments on DA16-013 NFI Incidental Discard Mortality EFP.”

    • Fax: (978) 281-9135.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Shannah Jaburek, Fisheries Management Specialist, 978-282-8456.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    NOAA awarded the National Fisheries Institue (NFI) a grant through the 2014 Atlantic sea scallop research set-aside program in support of a project titled, “Determining Incidental Discard Mortality of Atlantic Sea Scallops, Placopecten magellanicus, in the Scallop Dredge Fishery in the Mid-Atlantic Bight.” NMFS issued the National Fisheries Institute (NFI) an Exempted Fishing Permit (EFP) on April 30, 2015, to complete the project. On February 16, 2016, NMFS received a request to authorize participating vessels to perform an additional 20 tows over the course of two limited access Atlantic sea scallop days-at-sea (DAS). NFI is requesting exemptions that would allow one commercial fishing vessel to fish outside of the DAS regulations found at 50 CFR 648.53(b); mesh size restrictions at § 648.51(a)(2); obstruction in dredge gear restrictions at § 648.51(b)(4)(iii); and the crew size regulations at § 648.51(c). In addition, the EFP would temporarily exempt the participating vessel from possession limits and minimum size requirements specified in 50 CFR part 648, subsections B and D through O, for sampling purposes only. Any fishing activity conducted outside the scope of the exempted fishing activity would be prohibited.

    The project would conduct dredging activities to assess the incidental mortality of scallops passing through the 4-inch (10.16-cm) rings of a 12-foot (4.57-m) Turtle Deflector Dredge on sandy and hard (gravel) substrates. Dredging would be conducted over approximately two DAS during the proposed period of May 2016 through June 2016. All dredging would occur in open access scallop fishing areas off the coast of New Jersey. A total of 20 scallop tows would be conducted (10 tows per substrate). Each tow would be made at depths of 18 to 25 fathoms (32.92 to 45.72 m) for a duration of 40 minutes. The scallop vessel would fish two dredges simultaneously. One dredge would use an experimental net bag cover and the other would fish with an industry standard 12-foot (4.57-m) turtle excluder dredge. The experimental cover is constructed of 17/8-inch (4.76-cm) mesh and sewn into the top of the dredge apron. The bag can be dumped independently of the 4-inch (10.16-cm) ring bag to collect the scallops and other organisms that pass through the 4-inch (10.16-cm) rings. The dredge configurations would be switched to the opposite side after five tows for each substrate.

    All scallops that filter through the 4-inch (10.16-cm) rings and into the mesh bag would be measured for shell height and assessed for damage to the shell in one of three categories: Not injured; sub-lethal (repairable); or lethal (non-repairable). After all scallops are assessed, they would be returned to the ocean bottom as soon as practicable. The researchers would then use this information to estimate the proportion of scallops in each injury category. The weight of scallop catch retained in the 4-inch (10.16-cm) ring bags of both dredges would be estimated by the captain. Researchers would take shell measurements of a subsample of 50 scallops per tow per dredge to determine size selectivity within each dredge. All other bycatch in the experimental net bag would be sorted, the captain would estimate the weights, and researchers would measure a minimum of 25 lengths per individual species. No catch would be landed for sale.

    If approved, the applicant may request minor modifications and extensions to the EFP throughout the year. EFP modifications and extensions may be granted without further notice if they are deemed essential to facilitate completion of the proposed research and have minimal impacts that do not change the scope or impact of the initially approved EFP request. Any fishing activity conducted outside the scope of the exempted fishing activity would be prohibited.

    Authority:

    16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.

    Dated: March 31, 2016. Alan D. Risenhoover, Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service.
    [FR Doc. 2016-07733 Filed 4-4-16; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-22-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration RIN 0648-XE555 Magnuson-Stevens Act Provisions; General Provisions for Domestic Fisheries; Application for Exempted Fishing Permits AGENCY:

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

    ACTION:

    Notice; request for comments.

    SUMMARY:

    The Assistant Regional Administrator for Sustainable Fisheries, Greater Atlantic Region, NMFS, has made a preliminary determination that an Exempted Fishing Permit application contains all of the required information and warrants further consideration. The Exempted Fishing Permit would allow a commercial fishing vessel to fish outside of the limited access scallop regulations in support of research conducted by the Coonamessett Farm Foundation. The exemptions are in support of gear research designed to reduce flatfish bycatch in the limited access general category scallop fishery.

    Regulations under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act require publication of this notification to provide interested parties the opportunity to comment on applications for proposed Exempted Fishing Permits.

    DATES:

    Comments must be received on or before April 20, 2016.

    ADDRESSES:

    You may submit written comments by any of the following methods:

    • Email: [email protected] Include in the subject line “CFF LAGC Modified Sweep EFP.”

    • Mail: John K. Bullard, Regional Administrator, NMFS, Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office, 55 Great Republic Drive, Gloucester, MA 01930. Mark the outside of the envelope “Comments on CFF LAGC Modified Sweep EFP.”

    • Fax: (978) 281-9135.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Shannah Jaburek, Fisheries Management Specialist, 978-282-8456.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Coonamesset Farm Foundation (CFF) has submitted a proposal titled “Determining the Impacts of Dredge Bag Modifications on Flatfish Bycatch in the LAGC Scallop Fishery,” that has been favorably reviewed and is pending final approval by NOAA's Grants Management Division under the 2016 Atlantic Sea Scallop Research Set-Aside (RSA) Program. The project would test a modified flounder cookie sweep on the outer bale bars of the scallop dredge that is used in the limited access general category (LAGC) scallop fishery and film fish-dredge interactions to monitor the effectiveness of the gear modification in reducing flatfish bycatch. CFF submitted a complete application for an EFP on March 14, 2016, to enable data collection activities during research trips. The EFP would allow one commercial fishing vessel to use gear that may be considered obstructed at 50 CFR 648.51(b)(4)(iii), waive scallop observer program requirements at § 648.11(g) in order allow a researcher with adequate room to sample catch on deck, and temporarily exempt the participating vessels from possession limits and minimum size requirements specified in 50 CFR part 648, subsections B and D through O, for sampling purposes only. Any fishing activity conducted outside the scope of the exempted fishing activity would be prohibited, including landing fish in excess of a possession limit or below the minimum size.

    One vessel would conduct scallop dredging in June 2016-April 2017, on about 25 trips lasting approximately one day-at-sea (DAS) each for a project total of 25 DAS. The first trip would be comprised of shorter tow durations and serve as a calibration day for the underwater video equipment to determine the correct configuration on the dredge that would be used on each of the following trips. All other trips would complete approximately six tows per day for a maximum duration of 90 minutes at a tow speed of 4.2 knots. Trips would take place in the Southern New England Dredge Exemption Area where part of the LAGC fleet normally operates.

    All tows would be conducted using a single 9-foot (2.74-m) dredge following an alternate paired tow strategy where a pair consists of one control and one experimental tow. Researchers would attach the two 6- to 7-foot (1.83- to 2.13-m) cookie sweeps to each of the outer bale bars using chain and shackles for the experimental tows and then remove them for the control tows. The cookie sweeps would be constructed of round rubber disks with no larger than a 3-inch (7.62-cm) diameter, and the attachment chains would be evenly spaced and varied in length to account for dredge position while being towed to ensure contact with the ocean bottom. Exemption from the dredge gear obstruction regulation would allow researchers to use the cookie sweep for the experimental tows.

    Researchers would weigh all scallop catch in industry bushel baskets caught in both dredges and a one basket sub-sample from each dredge would be measured in 5-mm increments. Total weight of bycatch species and individual measurements to the nearest centimeter would also be obtained by the researcher. If the volume of the catch is large, subsampling protocols would be necessary. All bycatch would be returned to the sea as soon as practicable following data collection. Exemption from possession limit and minimum sizes would support catch sampling activities, and ensure the vessel is not in conflict with possession regulations while collecting catch data. All catch above a possession limit or below a minimum size would be discarded as soon as practicable following data collection. Exempting the vessel from the sea scallop observer program requirements would allow researchers flexibility for catch sampling timing and space accommodations since vessels in the LAGC fleet are typically smaller with limited deck space.

    All research trips would otherwise be conducted in a manner consistent with normal commercial fishing conditions and catch consistent with the LAGC daily possession limit would be retained for sale.

    If approved, the applicant may request minor modifications and extensions to the EFP throughout the year. EFP modifications and extensions may be granted without further notice if they are deemed essential to facilitate completion of the proposed research and have minimal impacts that do not change the scope or impact of the initially approved EFP request. Any fishing activity conducted outside the scope of the exempted fishing activity would be prohibited.

    Authority:

    16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.

    Dated: March 31, 2016. Alan D. Risenhoover, Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service.
    [FR Doc. 2016-07740 Filed 4-4-16; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-22-P
    COMMODITY FUTURES TRADING COMMISSION Agency Information Collection Activities Under OMB Review AGENCY:

    Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

    ACTION:

    Notice.

    SUMMARY:

    In compliance with the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA), this notice announces that the Information Collection Request (ICR) abstracted below has been forwarded to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review and comment. The ICR describes the nature of the information collection and its expected costs and burden.

    DATES:

    Comments must be submitted on or before May 5, 2016.

    ADDRESSES:

    Comments regarding the burden estimated or any other aspect of the information collection, including suggestions for reducing the burden, may be submitted directly to the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs in OMB, within 30 days of publication of the notice, by email at [email protected] Please identify the comments by OMB Control No. 3038-0031. Please provide the Commission with a copy of all submitted comments at the address listed below. Please refer to OMB Reference No. 3038-0031, found on http://reginfo.gov. Comments may also be mailed to the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, Office of Management and Budget, Attention: Desk Officer for the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, 725 17th Street NW., Washington, DC 20503, and to the Commission through its Web site at http://comments.cftc.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments through the Web site.

    Comments may also be mailed to: Christopher Kirkpatrick, Secretary of the Commission, Commodity Futures Trading Commission, Three Lafayette Centre, 1155 21st Street NW., Washington, DC 20581, or by Hand Delivery/Courier at the same address.

    A copy of the supporting statements for the collection of information discussed above may be obtained by visiting http://reginfo.gov. 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.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Sonda R. Owens, Commodity Futures Trading Commission, (202) 418-5182; fax: (202) 418-5414; email: [email protected] and refer to OMB Control No. 3038-0031.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    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. The OMB control numbers for the CFTC's regulations were published on December 30, 1981. See 46 FR 63035 (Dec. 30, 1981). The Federal Register notice with a 60-day comment period soliciting comments on this collection of information was published on December 15, 2015 (80 FR 77615).

    Title: Procurement Contracts, OMB Control No. 3038-0031. This is a request for extension of a currently approved information collection.

    Abstract: This information collection consists of procurement activities relating to solicitations, amendments to solicitations, requests for quotations, construction contracts, awards of contracts, performance bonds, and payment information for individuals (vendors) or contractors engaged in providing supplies or services.

    Burden statement: The respondent burden for this collection is estimated to average 2 hours per response. This estimate includes the time needed to review instructions; develop, acquire, install, and utilize technology and systems for the purposes of collecting, validating, and verifying information, processing and maintaining information and disclosing and providing information; adjust the existing ways to comply with any previously applicable instructions and requirements; train personnel to be able to respond to a collection of information; and transmit or otherwise disclose the information. The numbers contained in this justification differ from those in the 60-day notice because of a revised estimate of the number of respondents.

    Respondents/Affected Entities: 292.

    Estimated number of responses (reporting): 778.

    Estimated number of responses (recordkeeping): 778.

    Estimated total annual burden on respondents: 1556 hours.

    Frequency of collection: annually.

    Authority:

    44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.

    Dated: March 31, 2016. Robert N. Sidman, Deputy Secretary of the Commission.
    [FR Doc. 2016-07788 Filed 4-4-16; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6351-01-P
    BUREAU OF CONSUMER FINANCIAL PROTECTION Community Bank Advisory Council Meeting AGENCY:

    Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection.

    ACTION:

    Notice of public meeting.

    SUMMARY:

    This notice sets forth the announcement of a public meeting of the Community Bank Advisory Council (CBAC or Council) of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (Bureau). The notice also describes the functions of the Council. Notice of the meeting is permitted by section 9 of the CBAC Charter and is intended to notify the public of this meeting. Specifically, section 9(d) of the CBAC Charter states:

    (1) Each meeting of the Council shall be open to public observation, to the extent that a facility is available to accommodate the public, unless the Bureau, in accordance with paragraph (4) of this section, determines that the meeting shall be closed. The Bureau also will make reasonable efforts to make the meetings available to the public through live recording. (2) Notice of the time, place and purpose of each meeting, as well as a summary of the proposed agenda, shall be published in the Federal Register not more than 45 or less than 15 days prior to the scheduled meeting date. Shorter notice may be given when the Bureau determines that the Council's business so requires; in such event, the public will be given notice at the earliest practicable time. (3) Minutes of meetings, records, reports, studies, and agenda of the Council shall be posted on the Bureau's Web site (www.consumerfinance.gov). (4) The Bureau may close to the public a portion of any meeting, for confidential discussion. If the Bureau closes a meeting or any portion of a meeting, the Bureau will issue, at least annually, a summary of the Council's activities during such closed meetings or portions of meetings.

    DATES:

    The meeting date is Thursday, April 21, 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. eastern daylight time.

    ADDRESSES:

    The meeting location is Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, 1275 First Street NE., Washington, DC 20002.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Crystal Dully, Outreach and Engagement Associate, Advisory Board and Councils Office, External Affairs, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, 1700 G Street NW., Washington, DC 20552, at 202-435-9588. [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: I. Background

    Section 2 of the CBAC Charter provides: “Pursuant to the executive and administrative powers conferred on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB or Bureau) by section 1012 of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (Dodd-Frank Act), the Director established the Community Bank Advisory Council to consult with the Bureau in the exercise of its functions under the federal consumer financial laws as they pertain to community banks with total assets of $10 billion or less.”

    Section 3 of the CBAC Charter states: (“a) The CFPB supervises depository institutions and credit unions with total assets of more than $10 billion and their respective affiliates, but other than the limited authority conferred by § 1026 of the Dodd-Frank Act, the CFPB does not have supervisory authority regarding credit unions and depository institutions with total assets of $10 billion or less. As a result, the CFPB does not have regular contact with these institutions, and it would therefore be beneficial to create a mechanism to ensure that their unique perspectives are shared with the Bureau. Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act (SBREFA) panels provide one avenue to gather this input, but participants from community banks must possess no more than $175 million in assets, which precludes the participation of many. (b) The Advisory Council shall fill this gap by providing an interactive dialogue and exchange of ideas and experiences between community bankers and Bureau staff. (c) The Advisory Council shall advise generally on the Bureau's regulation of consumer financial products or services and other topics assigned to it by the Director. To carry out the Advisory Council's purpose, the scope of its activities shall include providing information, analysis, and recommendations to the Bureau. The output of Advisory Council meetings should serve to better inform the CFPB's policy development, rulemaking, and engagement functions.”

    II. Agenda

    The Community Bank Advisory Council will discuss the CFPB strategic outlook and elder financial abuse.

    Persons who need a reasonable accommodation to participate should contact [email protected], 202-435-9EEO, 1-855-233-0362, or 202-435-9742 (TTY) at least ten business days prior to the meeting or event to request assistance. The request must identify the date, time, location, and title of the meeting or event, the nature of the assistance requested, and contact information for the requester. CFPB will strive to provide, but cannot guarantee that accommodation will be provided for late requests.

    Individuals who wish to attend the Community Bank Advisory Council meeting must RSVP to [email protected] by noon, Wednesday, April 20, 2016. Members of the public must RSVP by the due date and must include “CBAC” in the subject line of the RSVP.

    III. Availability

    The Council's agenda will be made available to the public on Wednesday, April 6, 2016, via consumerfinance.gov. Individuals should express in their RSVP if they require a paper copy of the agenda.

    A recording and transcript of this meeting will be available after the meeting on the CFPB's Web site consumerfinance.gov.

    Dated: March 31, 2016. Christopher D'Angelo, Chief of Staff, Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection.
    [FR Doc. 2016-07814 Filed 4-4-16; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4810-AM-P
    DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE Office of the Secretary Defense Business Board; Notice of Federal Advisory Committee Meeting AGENCY:

    DoD.

    ACTION:

    Meeting notice.

    SUMMARY:

    The Department of Defense is publishing this notice to announce the following Federal advisory committee meeting of the Defense Business Board. This meeting is open to the public.

    DATES:

    The public meeting of the Defense Business Board (“the Board”) will be held on Thursday, April 21, 2016. The meeting will begin at 9:00 a.m. and end at 11:40 a.m. (Escort required; see guidance in the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section, “Public's Accessibility to the Meeting.”)

    ADDRESSES:

    Room 3E863 in the Pentagon, Washington, DC (Escort required; See guidance in the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section, “Public's Accessibility to the Meeting.”)

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    The Board's Designated Federal Officer (DFO) is Roma Laster, Defense Business Board, 1155 Defense Pentagon, Room 5B1088A, Washington, DC 20301-1155, [email protected], 703-695-7563. For meeting information please contact Steven Cruddas, Defense Business Board, 1155 Defense Pentagon, Room 5B1088A, Washington, DC 20301-1155, [email protected], (703) 697-2168. For submitting written comments or questions to the Board, send via email to mailbox address: [email protected]. Please include in the Subject line “DBB April 2016 Meeting.”

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    This meeting is being held under the provisions of the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA) of 1972 (5 U.S.C., Appendix, as amended), the Government in the Sunshine Act of 1976 (5 U.S.C. 552b, as amended), and 41 CFR 102-3.140.

    Purpose of the Meeting: The Board will receive presentations from its task groups on “Evaluation of Position of Under Secretary of Defense for Business Management and Information;” “Real Property Management;” and “Selection of Senior Officials in the Acquisition Workforce.”

    The mission of the Board is to examine and advise the Secretary of Defense on overall DoD management and governance. The Board provides independent advice which reflects an outside private sector perspective on proven and effective best business practices that can be applied to the DoD.

    Availability of Materials for the Meeting: A copy of the agenda and the terms of reference for each Task Group study may be obtained from the Board's Web site at http://dbb.defense.gov/meetings. Copies will also be available at the meeting.

    Meeting Agenda:

    9:00 a.m.-9:05 a.m.—Opening remarks 9:05 a.m.-11:05 a.m.—Task Group presentations on “Evaluation of Position of Under Secretary of Defense for Business Management and Information;” “Real Property Management;” and “Selection of Senior Officials in the Acquisition Workforce.” 11:05 a.m.-11:15 a.m.—Public Comments (if time permits) 11:15 a.m.-11:30 a.m.—Board Deliberations 11:30 a.m.-11:40 a.m.—Future Work

    Submission of written public comments is strongly encouraged, due to meeting time constraints.

    Public's Accessibility to the Meeting: Pursuant to FACA and 41 CFR 102-3.140, this meeting is open to the public. Seating is limited and is on a first-come basis. All members of the public who wish to attend the public meeting must contact Steven Cruddas at the number listed in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section no later than 12:00 p.m. on Friday, April 15, 2016 to register and make arrangements for a Pentagon escort, if necessary. Public attendees requiring escort should arrive at the Pentagon Visitor's Center, located near the Pentagon Metro Station's south exit (the escalators to the left upon exiting through the turnstiles) and adjacent to the Pentagon Transit Center bus terminal with sufficient time to complete security screening no later than 8:30 a.m. on April 21. Note: Pentagon tour groups are accepted at the Visitor's Center beginning at 9:00 a.m. so lines may form well in advance. To complete security screening, please come prepared to present two forms of identification of which one must be a pictured identification card. Government and military DoD CAC holders are not required to have an escort, but are still required to pass through the Visitor's Center to gain access to the Building.

    Special Accommodations: Individuals requiring special accommodations to access the public meeting should contact Steven Cruddas at least five (5) business days prior to the meeting so that appropriate arrangements can be made.

    Procedures for Providing Public Comments

    Pursuant to 41 CFR 102-3.105(j) and 102-3.140, and section 10(a)(3) of FACA, the public or interested organizations may submit written comments to the Board about its mission and topics pertaining to this public meeting.

    Written comments should be received by the DFO at least five (5) business days prior to the meeting date so that the comments may be made available to the Board for their consideration prior to the meeting. Written comments should be submitted via email to the email address for public comments given in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section in either Adobe Acrobat or Microsoft Word format. Please include in the Subject line “DBB April 2016 Meeting.” Please note that since the Board operates under the provisions of the FACA, as amended, all submitted comments and public presentations will be treated as public documents and may be made available for public inspection, including, but not limited to, being posted on the Board's Web site.

    Dated: March 31, 2016. Aaron Siegel, Alternate OSD Federal Register Liaison Officer, Department of Defense.
    [FR Doc. 2016-07777 Filed 4-4-16; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 5001-06-P
    DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION [Docket No.: ED-2016-ICCD-0013] Agency Information Collection Activities; Submission to the Office of Management and Budget for Review and approval; Comment Request; 2016-17 Baccalaureate and Beyond Longitudinal Study (B&B:16/17) Field Test Data Collection AGENCY:

    National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), Department of Education (ED).

    ACTION:

    Notice.

    SUMMARY:

    In accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. chapter 3501 et seq.), ED is proposing a reinstatement of a previously approved information collection.

    DATES:

    Interested persons are invited to submit comments on or before May 5, 2016.

    ADDRESSES:

    To access and review all the documents related to the information collection listed in this notice, please use http://www.regulations.gov by searching the Docket ID number ED-2016-ICCD-0013. Comments submitted in response to this notice should be submitted electronically through the Federal eRulemaking Portal at http://www.regulations.gov by selecting the Docket ID number or via postal mail, commercial delivery, or hand delivery. Please note that comments submitted by fax or email and those submitted after the comment period will not be accepted. Written requests for information or comments submitted by postal mail or delivery should be addressed to the Director of the Information Collection Clearance Division, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue SW., LBJ, Room 2E-103, Washington, DC 20202-4537.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    For specific questions related to collection activities, please contact Kashka Kubzdela at [email protected]

    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: 2016-17 Baccalaureate and Beyond Longitudinal Study (B&B:16/17) Field Test Data Collection.

    OMB Control Number: 1850-0729.

    Type of Review: A reinstatement of a previously approved information collection.

    Respondents/Affected Public: Individuals and Households.

    Total Estimated Number of Annual Responses: 4,417.

    Total Estimated Number of Annual Burden Hours: 977.

    Abstract: This request is for the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) to conduct a field test of the 2016/17 Baccalaureate and Beyond Longitudinal Study (B&B:16/17). The B&B studies of the education, work, financial, and personal experiences of individuals who have completed a bachelor's degree at a given point in time are a series of longitudinal studies. Every 8 years, students are identified as bachelor's degree recipients through the National Postsecondary Student Aid Study (NPSAS). B&B:16/17 is the first follow-up of a panel of baccalaureate degree recipients identified in the 2015-16 NPSAS, and part of the fourth cohort (B&B:16) of the B&B series. The primary purposes of the B&B studies are to describe the post-baccalaureate paths of new college graduates, with a focus on their experiences in the labor market and post-baccalaureate education, and their education-related debt. B&B also focuses on the continuing education paths of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) graduates, as well as the experiences of those who have begun careers in education of students through the 12th grade. Since graduating from college in 2014-15 for the field test, and 2015-16 for the full-scale study, members of this B&B:16 cohort will begin moving into and out of the workforce, enrolling in additional undergraduate and graduate education, forming families, and repaying undergraduate education-related debt. Documenting these choices and pathways, along with individual, institutional, and employment characteristics that may be related to those choices, provides critical information on the costs and benefits of a bachelor's degree in today's workforce. B&B studies include both traditional-age and non-traditional-age college graduates, whose education options and choices often diverge considerably, and allow study of the paths taken by these different graduates. The results of this field test will inform the B&B:16/17 full-scale data collection.

    Dated: March 31, 2016. Kate Mullan, Acting Director, Information Collection Clearance Division, Privacy, Information and Records Management Services, Office of Management.
    [FR Doc. 2016-07699 Filed 4-4-16; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4000-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION [Docket No.: ED-2016-ICCD-0033] Agency Information Collection Activities; Submission to the Office of Management and Budget for Review and Approval; Comment Request; Native American Career and Technical Education Program Application (1894-0001) AGENCY:

    Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education (OCTAE), Department of Education (ED).

    ACTION:

    Notice.

    SUMMARY:

    In accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. chapter 3501 et seq.), ED is proposing an extension of an existing information collection.

    DATES:

    Interested persons are invited to submit comments on or before May 5, 2016.

    ADDRESSES:

    To access and review all the documents related to the information collection listed in this notice, please use http://www.regulations.gov by searching the Docket ID number ED-2016-ICCD-0033. Comments submitted in response to this notice should be submitted electronically through the Federal eRulemaking Portal at http://www.regulations.gov by selecting the Docket ID number or via postal mail, commercial delivery, or hand delivery. Please note that comments submitted by fax or email and those submitted after the comment period will not be accepted. Written requests for information or comments submitted by postal mail or delivery should be addressed to the Director of the Information Collection Clearance Division, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue SW., LBJ, Room 2E-115, Washington, DC 20202-4537.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    For specific questions related to collection activities, please contact Braden Goetz, 202-245-7405.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    The Department of Education (ED), in accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (PRA) (44 U.S.C. 3506(c)(2)(A)), provides the general public and Federal agencies with an opportunity to comment on proposed, revised, and continuing collections of information. This helps the Department assess the impact of its information collection requirements and minimize the public's reporting burden. It also helps the public understand the Department's information collection requirements and provide the requested data in the desired format. ED is soliciting comments on the proposed information collection request (ICR) that is described below. The Department of Education is especially interested in public comment addressing the following issues: (1) Is this collection necessary to the proper functions of the Department; (2) will this information be processed and used in a timely manner; (3) is the estimate of burden accurate; (4) how might the Department enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and (5) how might the Department minimize the burden of this collection on the respondents, including through the use of information technology. Please note that written comments received in response to this notice will be considered public records.

    Title of Collection: Native American Career and Technical Education Program Application (1894-0001).

    OMB Control Number: 1830-0542.

    Type of Review: An extension of an existing information collection.

    Respondents/Affected Public: State, Local, or Tribal Governments.

    Total Estimated Number of Annual Responses: 31.

    Total Estimated Number of Annual Burden Hours: 1,240.

    Abstract: This information collection solicits applications for the Native American Career and Technical Education Program. The collection request includes a notice inviting applications and an accompanying application package that set out the selection criteria used to assess the quality of applications, establish the Government Performance and Results Act indicators on which grantees must report, and require grantees to support an independent evaluation of their project.

    Dated: March 30, 2016. Tomakie Washington, Acting Director, Information Collection Clearance Division, Office of the Chief Privacy Officer, Office of Management.
    [FR Doc. 2016-07650 Filed 4-4-16; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4000-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION President's Board of Advisors on Historically Black Colleges and Universities AGENCY:

    President's Board of Advisors on Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Office of Undersecretary, U.S. Department of Education, U.S. Department of Education.

    ACTION:

    Announcement of an open meeting.

    SUMMARY:

    This notice sets forth the agenda for the April 18, 2016, meeting of the President's Board of Advisors on Historically Black Colleges and Universities (PBA) and provides information to members of the public on submitting written comments and on the process as to how to request time to make oral comments at the meeting. The notice also describes the functions of the Board. Notice of the meeting is required by § 10(a)(2) of the Federal Advisory Committee Act and intended to notify the public of its opportunity to attend.

    DATES:

    The PBA meeting will be held on April 18, 2016, from 9 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. E.D.T. at NASA Research & Education Support Services, 2345 Crystal Drive, Suite 500 in Arlington, Virginia 22202.

    ADDRESSES:

    U.S. Department of Education, White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities, 400 Maryland Avenue SW., Washington, DC 20202.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Sedika Franklin, Associate Director, U.S. Department of Education, White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities, 400 Maryland Avenue SW., Washington, DC 20204; telephone: (202) 453-5634 or (202) 453-5630, fax: (202) 453-5632, or email [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    PBA's Statutory Authority and Function: The President's Board of Advisors on Historically Black Colleges and Universities (the Board) is established by Executive Order 13532 (February 26, 2010) and continued by Executive Order 13708 which was signed by the President on September 30, 2015. The Board is governed by the provisions of the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA), (Pub.L 92-463; as amended, 5 U.S.C.A., Appendix 2) which sets forth standards for the formation and use of advisory committees. The purpose of the Board is to advise the President and the Secretary of Education (Secretary) on all matters pertaining to strengthening the educational capacity of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).

    The Board shall advise the President and the Secretary in the following areas: (i) Improving the identity, visibility, and distinctive capabilities and overall competitiveness of HBCUs; (ii) engaging the philanthropic, business, government, military, homeland-security, and education communities in a national dialogue regarding new HBCU programs and initiatives; (iii) improving the ability of HBCUs to remain fiscally secure institutions that can assist the nation in reaching its goal of having the highest proportion of college graduates by 2020; (iv) elevating the public awareness of HBCUs; and (v) encouraging public-private investments in HBCUs.

    Meeting Agenda: In addition to its review of activities prior to April 18, 2016, the meeting agenda will include Chairman William R. Harvey's report on HBCU issues and concerns; Executive Director, Ivory A. Toldson will provide an update on current priorities of the White House Initiative on HBCUs to include planning strategies and initiatives; Ted Mitchell, Under Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education has been invited to provide an update on education policies relevant to HBCUs; and Chairman Harvey and Executive Director Toldson will lead a conversation regarding how the Board will complete its work as the Administration draws to a close and Chairman Harvey will open the floor for subcommittee reports (Black Males, Strategy, Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), Community Colleges and Aspirational Support) and for the full Board to receive and vote on recommendations from each subcommittee. Oral comments will begin immediately following the conclusion of subcommittee reports.

    Submission of requests to make an oral comment: There are two methods the public may use to make an oral comment at the April 18, 2016 meeting.

    Method One: Submit a request by email to the [email protected] mailbox. Please do not send materials directly to PBA members. Requests must be received by April 11, 2016. Include in the subject line of the email request “Oral Comment Request: (Organization name).” The email must include the name(s), title, organization/affiliation, mailing address, email address, telephone number, of the person(s) requesting to speak, and a brief summary (not to exceed one page) of the principal points to be made during the oral presentation. All individuals submitting an advance request in accordance with this notice will be afforded an opportunity to speak for three minutes.

    Method Two: Register at the meeting location on April 18, 2016, to make an oral comment during the PBA's deliberations concerning Historically Black Colleges and Universities. The requestor must provide his or her name, title, organization/affiliation, mailing address, email address, and telephone number. Individuals will be selected on a first-come, first-served basis. If selected, each commenter will have an opportunity to speak for three minutes.

    All oral comments made will become part of the official record of the Board. Similarly, written materials distributed during oral presentations will become part of the official record of the meeting.

    Submission of written public comments: The Board invites written comments, which will be read during the Public Comment segment of the agenda. Comments must be received by April 11, 2016, in the [email protected] mailbox, include in the subject line “Written Comments: Public Comment”. The email must include the name(s), title, organization/affiliation, mailing address, email address, and telephone number, of the person(s) making the comment. Comments should be submitted as a Microsoft Word document or in a medium compatible with Microsoft Word (not a PDF file) that is attached to an electronic mail message (email) or provided in the body of an email message. Please do not send material directly to the PBA members.

    Access to Records of the Meeting: The Department will post the official report of the meeting on the PBA Web site 90 days after the meeting. Pursuant to the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA), the public may also inspect the materials at 400 Maryland Avenue SW., Washington, DC, by emailing [email protected] or by calling (202) 453-5634 to schedule an appointment.

    Reasonable Accommodations: The meeting site is accessible to individuals with disabilities. If you will need an auxiliary aid or service to participate in the meeting (e.g., interpreting service, assistive listening device, or materials in an alternate format), notify the contact person listed in this notice at least one week before the meeting date. Although we will attempt to meet a request received after that date, we may not be able to make available the requested auxiliary aid or service because of insufficient time to arrange it.

    Electronic Access to this Document: The official version of this document is the document published in the Federal Register. Free Internet access to the official edition of the Federal Register and the Code of Federal Regulations is available via the Federal Digital System at: www.thefederalregister.org/fdsys. At this site you can view this document, as well as all other documents of this Department published in the Federal Register, in text or Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF). To use PDF, you must have Adobe Acrobat Reader, which is available free at the site.

    You may also access documents of the Department published in the Federal Register by using the article search feature at: www.federalregister.gov. Specifically, through the advanced search feature at this site, you can limit your search to documents published by the Department.

    Authority:

    Presidential Executive Order 13532, continued by Executive Order 13708.

    Ted Mitchell, Under Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2016-07675 Filed 4-4-16; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE P
    DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION [Docket No.: ED-2016-ICCD-0040] Agency Information Collection Activities; Comment Request; NCES System Clearance for Cognitive, Pilot, and Field Test Studies AGENCY:

    National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), Department of Education (ED).

    ACTION:

    Notice.

    SUMMARY:

    In accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. chapter 3501 et seq.), ED is proposing an extension of an existing information collection.

    DATES:

    Interested persons are invited to submit comments on or before June 6, 2016.

    ADDRESSES:

    To access and review all the documents related to the information collection listed in this notice, please use http://www.regulations.gov by searching the Docket ID number ED-2016-ICCD-0040. Comments submitted in response to this notice should be submitted electronically through the Federal eRulemaking Portal at http://www.regulations.gov by selecting the Docket ID number or via postal mail, commercial delivery, or hand delivery. Please note that comments submitted by fax or email and those submitted after the comment period will not be accepted. Written requests for information or comments submitted by postal mail or delivery should be addressed to the Director of the Information Collection Clearance Division, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue SW., LBJ, Room 2E-103, Washington, DC 20202-4537.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    For specific questions related to collection activities, please contact Kashka Kubzdela at [email protected]

    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: NCES System Clearance for Cognitive, Pilot, and Field Test Studies.

    OMB Control Number: 1850-0803.

    Type of Review: An extension of an existing information collection.

    Respondents/Affected Public: Individuals.

    Total Estimated Number of Annual Responses: 405,000.

    Total Estimated Number of Annual Burden Hours: 81,000.

    Abstract: This is a request for a 3-year renewal of the generic clearance to allow the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) to continue to develop, test, and improve its survey and assessment instruments and methodologies. The procedures utilized to this effect include but are not limited to experiments with levels of incentives for various types of survey operations, focus groups, cognitive laboratory activities, pilot testing, exploratory interviews, experiments with questionnaire design, and usability testing of electronic data collection instruments.

    Kate Mullan, Acting Director, Information Collection Clearance Division, Privacy, Information and Records Management Services, Office of Management.
    [FR Doc. 2016-07708 Filed 4-4-16; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4000-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION [Docket No.: ED-2016-ICCD-0035] Agency Information Collection Activities; Comment Request; Accrediting Agencies Reporting Activities for Institutions and Programs AGENCY:

    Office of Postsecondary Education (OPE), Department of Education (ED).

    ACTION:

    Notice.

    SUMMARY:

    In accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. chapter 3501 et seq.), ED is proposing a new information collection.

    DATES:

    Interested persons are invited to submit comments on or before June 6, 2016.

    ADDRESSES:

    To access and review all the documents related to the information collection listed in this notice, please use http://www.regulations.gov by searching the Docket ID number ED-2016-ICCD-0035. Comments submitted in response to this notice should be submitted electronically through the Federal eRulemaking Portal at http://www.regulations.gov by selecting the Docket ID number or via postal mail, commercial delivery, or hand delivery. Please note that comments submitted by fax or email and those submitted after the comment period will not be accepted. Written requests for information or comments submitted by postal mail or delivery should be addressed to the Director of the Information Collection Clearance Division, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue SW., LBJ, Room 2E-103, Washington, DC 20202-4537.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    For specific questions related to collection activities, please contact Herman Bounds, 202-453-6128.

    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: Accrediting Agencies Reporting Activities for Institutions and Programs.

    OMB Control Number: 1840-NEW.

    Type of Review: A new information collection.

    Respondents/Affected Public: Private Sector.

    Total Estimated Number of Annual Responses: 76.

    Total Estimated Number of Annual Burden Hours: 200.

    Abstract: The Secretary of Education is authorized by 34 CFR part 602 to recognize accrediting agencies to ensure that these agencies are, for the purposes of the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended (HEA), or for other Federal purposes, reliable authorities regarding the quality of education or training offered by the institutions or programs they accredit. Federal regulations (34 CFR 602.26) outline information that accrediting agencies must report to the Department of Education on a timely basis in order to support the Department's oversight role, including information on accreditation actions taken with regard to institutions and programs. The proposed information collection will clarify the categories of actions taken by accreditors, the reporting required or requested on those actions, and the format for submitting the information.

    The proposed information collection includes two items—a letter and an Excel spreadsheet. The Accreditor Letter on Terminology and Reporting is a draft of a letter the Department plans to send to accrediting agencies to clarify the information those agencies should submit to the Department. The excel spreadsheet is the mechanism through which the Department proposes agencies submit the information. Agencies are invited to review both items and provide comment to improve their clarity and usefulness. The Department will consider public comment and make revisions as necessary before issuing final versions.

    This data is required to demonstrate compliance with criteria at 34 CFR part 602; State agencies for the approval of vocational education to demonstrate compliance with the criteria at 34 CFR part 603; State agencies for the approval of nurse education to demonstrate compliance with the criteria published in the 1969 Federal Register notice; foreign medical accrediting entities in accordance with criteria 34 CFR 600.55; and criteria established by Department staff to evaluate foreign veterinary accrediting organizations in accordance with 34 CFR 600.56.

    Dated: March 31, 2016. Kate Mullan, Acting Director, Information Collection Clearance Division, Office of the Chief Privacy Officer, Office of Management.
    [FR Doc. 2016-07701 Filed 4-4-16; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4000-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY Notice of Public Meeting To Inform the Design of a Consent-Based Siting Process for Nuclear Waste Storage and Disposal Facilities AGENCY:

    Fuel Cycle Technologies, Office of Nuclear Energy, Department of Energy.

    ACTION:

    Notice of public meeting.

    SUMMARY:

    The U.S Department of Energy (DOE) is implementing a consent-based siting process to establish an integrated waste management system to transport, store, and dispose of spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste. In a consent-based siting approach, DOE will work with communities, tribal governments and states across the country that express interest in hosting any of the facilities identified as part of an integrated waste management system. As part of this process, the Department is hosting a series of public meetings to engage communities and individuals and discuss the development of a consent-based approach to managing our nation's nuclear waste. A public meeting will be held in Minneapolis on July 21, 2016.

    DATES:

    The meeting will take place on Thursday, July 21, 2016 from 5:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. CDT. Informal poster sessions will be held from 4:00 p.m. until 5:00 p.m. CDT and again after 9:30 p.m. CDT. Department officials will be available to discuss consent-based siting during the poster sessions.

    ADDRESSES:

    The meeting will be held at Hilton Minneapolis, 1001 Marquette Avenue, Minneapolis, MN 55403. To register for this meeting and to review the agenda for the meeting, please go to energy.gov/consentbasedsiting.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Requests for further information should be sent to [email protected] or to Michael Reim at 202-586-2981. Updated information on this and other planned public meetings on consent based siting will be posted at energy.gov/consentbasedsiting.

    If you are unable to attend a public meeting or would like to further discuss ideas for consent-based siting, please request an opportunity for us to speak with you. The Department will do its best to accommodate such requests and help arrange additional opportunities to engage. To learn more about nuclear energy, nuclear waste, and ongoing technical work please go to energy.gov/consentbasedsiting.

    Privacy Act: Data collected via the mechanisms listed above will not be protected from the public view in any way.

    Issued in Washington, DC on March 29, 2016. Jay Jones, Acting Associate Deputy Assistant Secretary, Office of Nuclear Energy, Department of Energy.
    [FR Doc. 2016-07739 Filed 4-4-16; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6450-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY Surplus Plutonium Disposition AGENCY:

    National Nuclear Security Administration, U.S. Department of Energy.

    ACTION:

    Record of Decision.

    SUMMARY:

    On May 8, 2015, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a Federal Register notice (80 FR 26559) announcing the availability of the Department of Energy/National Nuclear Security Administration's (DOE/NNSA's) Final Surplus Plutonium Disposition Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (Final SPD Supplemental EIS) (DOE/EIS-0283-S2, April 2015). Among the proposed actions considered in the Final SPD Supplemental EIS, DOE/NNSA analyzed the potential environmental impacts of alternatives for the disposition of 13.1 metric tons (MT) (14.4 tons) of surplus plutonium for which a disposition path is not assigned, including 7.1 MT (7.8 tons) of surplus pit plutonium and 6 MT (6.6 tons) of surplus non-pit plutonium. At the time the Final SPD Supplemental EIS was issued, DOE/NNSA did not have a Preferred Alternative for any of the proposed actions considered in the Final SPD Supplemental EIS. Subsequently, on December 24, 2015, DOE/NNSA issued a Federal Register notice (80 FR 80348) identifying the Preferred Alternative for disposition of the 6 MT of surplus non-pit plutonium analyzed in the Final SPD Supplemental EIS. In its Federal Register notice, DOE/NNSA announced that its Preferred Alternative is to prepare 6 MT of surplus non-pit plutonium for disposal at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) near Carlsbad, New Mexico, a geologic repository for disposal of transuranic (TRU) waste generated by atomic energy defense activities.

    DOE/NNSA is announcing a decision to implement its Preferred Alternative for the disposition of 6 MT of surplus non-pit plutonium, as described in DOE/NNSA's Preferred Alternative for Certain Quantities of Plutonium Evaluated in the Final Surplus Plutonium Disposition Supplemental EIS. Shipments of this surplus non-pit plutonium to WIPP, after it is operational,1 will be placed in the queue of waste to be shipped to WIPP. This plutonium will be prepared and packaged to meet the WIPP waste acceptance criteria for contact-handled TRU waste and other applicable regulatory requirements.

    1 DOE suspended disposal activities at WIPP in February 2014 following a salt truck fire and unrelated radiological event underground. Waste emplacement operations at WIPP are expected to commence in late 2016.

    The scope of DOE/NNSA's current decision pertains only to the 6 MT of surplus non-pit plutonium that is a subset of the 13.1 MT of surplus plutonium considered in the Final SPD Supplemental EIS. DOE/NNSA does not have a preferred alternative and is not making any decisions, at the present time, for other alternatives considered in the Final SPD Supplemental EIS. These other alternatives include alternatives for the disposition of 7.1 MT of surplus pit plutonium for which a disposition path is not assigned and various options for providing the capability to disassemble surplus pits and convert the plutonium from pits into a form suitable for disposition.

    Additionally, DOE/NNSA reaffirms its commitment to the Agreement Between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of the Russian Federation Concerning the Management and Disposition of Plutonium Designated as No Longer Needed for Defense Purposes (Plutonium Management and Disposition Agreement or PMDA), which calls for the United States and the Russian Federation to each dispose of at least 34 MT (37.5 tons) of weapon-grade plutonium withdrawn from nuclear weapon programs. DOE/NNSA's previous decisions related to surplus plutonium disposition, including copies of the applicable Federal Register notices, may be found in Appendix A of the Final SPD Supplemental EIS.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    For further information on the surplus plutonium disposition program, please contact Ms. Sachiko W. McAlhany, National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) Document Manager, U.S. Department of Energy at [email protected]

    For information on DOE's NEPA process, please contact Ms. Carol M. Borgstrom, Director, Office of NEPA Policy and Compliance, U.S. Department of Energy, 1000 Independence Avenue SW., Washington, DC 20585-0103; Telephone: (202) 586-4600, or leave a message at (800) 472-2756.

    This Record of Decision, the Final SPD Supplemental EIS, and related NEPA documents are available at http://nnsa.energy.gov/nepa/spdsupplementaleis and http://energy.gov/nepa/nepa-documents.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Background

    DOE/NNSA's purpose and need for action remains as stated in the 1999 SPD EIS (DOE/EIS-0283, November 1999) to reduce the threat of nuclear weapons proliferation worldwide by conducting disposition of surplus plutonium in the United States in an environmentally safe and timely manner, ensuring that it can never again be readily used in nuclear weapons.

    Based on a series of NEPA reviews beginning with the SPD EIS and described in Appendix A, Section A.1, of the Final SPD Supplemental EIS, DOE/NNSA has determined disposition paths for most of the current U.S. inventory of surplus, weapons-usable plutonium; however, 13.1 MT of surplus weapons-usable plutonium (7.1 MT of pit plutonium and 6 MT of non-pit plutonium) did not have an assigned disposition path. DOE/NNSA prepared the SPD Supplemental EIS to evaluate alternatives for disposition of this 13.1 MT of surplus plutonium.

    Alternatives Considered

    In the Final SPD Supplemental EIS, DOE/NNSA analyzed the potential environmental impacts for the No Action Alternative and four action alternatives for disposition of 13.1 MT of surplus plutonium that do not have a disposition path assigned, of which the 6 MT of non-pit plutonium is a subset. These four alternatives are: (1) Immobilization at SRS (Immobilization to Defense Waste Processing Facility [DWPF] Alternative); (2) fabrication into mixed oxide (MOX) fuel at SRS with subsequent irradiation in one or more domestic commercial nuclear power reactors (MOX Fuel Alternative); (3) vitrification with high-level radioactive waste (HLW) at SRS (H-Canyon/HB-Line and DWPF Alternative); and, (4) potential disposal as contact-handled transuranic (CH-TRU) waste at WIPP (WIPP Disposal Alternative). These alternatives are composed of a combination of pit disassembly and conversion options and plutonium disposition options. The plutonium disposition options that are applicable to the 6 MT of surplus non-pit plutonium are described in Section S.9.2 of the Final SPD Supplemental EIS (DOE/EIS-0283-S2, April 2015). For the Final SPD Supplemental EIS, the scope of analysis for the WIPP Disposal Alternative was increased, in response to public comment, to include the full 13.1 MT of surplus plutonium for which a disposition path is not assigned. In the Draft SPD Supplemental EIS, the scope of analysis for the WIPP Disposal Alternative was limited to 6 MT of surplus non-pit plutonium (described in Section S.8.2.4 of DOE/EIS-0283-S2, July 2012). The disposition decision announced today addresses 6 MT of surplus, weapons-usable, non-pit plutonium, not the entire 13.1 MT of surplus plutonium analyzed in the Final SPD Supplemental EIS.

    Within each action alternative, DOE/NNSA evaluated options to disassemble nuclear weapons pits and convert the plutonium metal to an oxide form for disposition. DOE/NNSA has not identified a Preferred Alternative for the disposition of the remaining 7.1 MT of surplus plutonium (surplus pit plutonium) for which a disposition path has not been assigned, or for any option(s) for providing the capability to disassemble surplus pits and convert the plutonium from pits to a form suitable for disposition. Once DOE/NNSA identifies a Preferred Alternative for the remaining 7.1 MT of surplus pit plutonium and/or the disassembly and conversion options, DOE/NNSA will announce its preference in a Federal Register notice and publish a Record of Decision no sooner than 30 days after its announcement of a Preferred Alternative.

    Preferred Alternative

    As announced on December 24, 2015, in a Federal Register notice (80 FR 80348), DOE/NNSA's Preferred Alternative with regard to the 6 MT of surplus non-pit plutonium is to prepare this plutonium for disposal at WIPP near Carlsbad, New Mexico, a geologic repository for disposal of TRU waste generated by atomic energy defense activities. This would allow DOE/NNSA to continue progress on the disposition of surplus weapons-usable plutonium in furtherance of the policies of the United States to ensure that surplus plutonium is never again readily used in a nuclear weapon, and to remove surplus plutonium from the Savannah River Site (SRS) in the State of South Carolina. Surplus non-pit plutonium would be prepared and packaged at SRS using H-Canyon/HB-Line and/or K-Area facilities to meet the WIPP waste acceptance criteria and all other applicable regulatory requirements. Shipments of this surplus plutonium to WIPP, after it is operational, will be placed in the queue of waste to be shipped to WIPP.

    Environmentally Preferable Alternative

    After considering the potential impacts on each resource area, DOE/NNSA identified the No Action Alternative as the environmentally preferable alternative in the near-term, for the 6 MT of surplus non-pit plutonium evaluated in the Final SPD Supplemental EIS and that is the subject of this Record of Decision. Under the No Action Alternative, the 6 MT of surplus non-pit plutonium would be stored at the K-Area Complex at SRS, consistent with the 2002 Amended Record of Decision: Surplus Plutonium Disposition Program (67 FR 19432); the Supplement Analysis, Storage of Surplus Plutonium Materials at the Savannah River Site (DOE/EIS-0229-SA-4) and an amended Record of Decision issued in 2007 (72 FR 51807). No new facilities would be constructed and no processing for disposal or off-site transportation of this material would take place with the exception of a small amount of plutonium required for the material surveillance program. Surveillance activities would be performed on the plutonium and plutonium packages, including destructive and non-destructive examinations, to ensure safe storage (DOE/EA-1538, Revised Finding of No Significant Impact for Safeguards and Security Upgrades for Storage of Materials at the Savannah River Site dated December 2005, and Interim Action Determinations approved in December 2008, September 2009, and March 2011). Although the No Action Alternative is the environmentally preferable alternative, this alternative would not result in the disposition of the 6 MT of surplus non-pit plutonium.

    Potential Environmental Impacts of Preferred Alternative

    For each alternative, the SPD Supplemental EIS analyzed the potential impacts on air quality, human health, socioeconomics, waste management, transportation, environmental justice, land resources, geology and soils, water resources, noise, ecological resources, cultural resources, and infrastructure. DOE/NNSA also evaluated the potential impacts of the irreversible and irretrievable commitment of resources, the short-term uses of the environment, and the maintenance and enhancement of long-term productivity. These analyses and results for the entire 13.1 MT of surplus plutonium are described in the Summary and Chapter 4 of the Final SPD Supplemental EIS. Table S-3 of the Final SPD Supplemental EIS Summary provides a summary of potential environmental impacts associated with each alternative as well as a means for comparing the potential impacts among alternatives.

    In the Draft SPD Supplemental EIS, the scope of analysis for the WIPP Disposal Alternative was limited to 6 MT of surplus non-pit plutonium (described in Section S.8.2.4 of DOE/EIS-0283-S2, July 2012). The analyses and results for the disposition of 6 MT can be found in the Summary, Chapter 4, and Appendix G “Impacts of Plutonium Disposition Options” of the Draft SPD Supplemental EIS.

    In identifying its Preferred Alternative for disposition of 6 MT of surplus non-pit plutonium and making the decision announced in this Record of Decision, DOE/NNSA considered the potential environmental impacts that would result from operations conducted at SRS to prepare and package this quantity (6 MT) of material for disposition at WIPP, those related to transporting the material from SRS to WIPP, and disposal at WIPP. Implementing the WIPP Disposal Alternative relies on existing facilities, structures and pads at SRS to prepare the surplus non-pit plutonium for disposal. This would reduce the potential for additional land disturbance, and reduce the need for additional deactivation and decommissioning in the future. Some staging of packages at E-Area at SRS prior to shipping may be required. This would result in negligible incremental impacts on both workers and the public. The pace of environmental restoration activities at SRS, as well as the requirements for environmental monitoring and protection at SRS and WIPP, would generally remain unchanged from current levels.

    The potential impacts from transporting surplus plutonium to WIPP are also addressed in the Final SPD Supplemental EIS. The Final SPD Supplemental EIS indicated that under all alternatives (including the WIPP Disposal Alternative) no latent cancer fatalities are expected in the general public along the transportation routes and in the transportation crews due to incident-free transport of radioactive wastes and materials from SRS. The potential environmental impacts of TRU waste disposal at WIPP are evaluated in the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant Disposal Phase Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (WIPP SEIS-II) (DOE/EIS-0026-S-2, September 1997) and subsequent Supplement Analyses from 2005 (DOE/EIS-0026-SA-05) and 2009 (DOE/EIS-0026-SA-07) and are briefly described in Appendix A, Section A.2, of the Final SPD Supplemental EIS.

    Public Involvement

    Since the announcement of the first notice of intent to prepare the SPD Supplemental EIS in 2007 (72 FR 14543), DOE/NNSA has provided three scoping periods during which DOE/NNSA held public scoping meetings and actively solicited scoping comments from Federal agencies, state and local governmental entities, American Indian tribal governments, and members of the public. The public scoping periods extended from March 28, 2007 through May 29, 2007; July 19, 2010 through September 17, 2010; and January 12, 2012 through March 12, 2012. Meetings were held in Aiken, Columbia, and North Augusta, South Carolina; Tanner, Alabama; Chattanooga, Tennessee; and Carlsbad, Santa Fe, Espanola, and Pojoaque, New Mexico.

    On July 27, 2012, EPA and DOE/NNSA published notices in the Federal Register announcing the availability of the Draft SPD Supplemental EIS (77 FR 44234 and 77 FR 44222, respectively). A 60-day comment period was provided from July 27 to September 25, 2012. In response to public requests, DOE/NNSA extended the public comment period by 15 days through October 10, 2012. During the public comment period, DOE/NNSA held seven public hearings to provide interested members of the public with opportunities to learn more about the content of the Draft SPD Supplemental EIS, to hear DOE/NNSA representatives present the results of the Draft SPD Supplemental EIS analyses, to ask questions; and to provide oral and/or written comments. The hearings were held in Los Alamos, Santa Fe, Carlsbad, and Espanola, New Mexico; North Augusta, South Carolina; Chattanooga, Tennessee; and Tanner, Alabama.

    DOE/NNSA received 432 comment documents containing approximately 1,050 comments during the comment period for the Draft SPD Supplemental EIS. DOE/NNSA responded to these comments in the Comment Response Document, Volume 3, of the Final SPD Supplemental EIS.

    Comments on the Final SPD Supplemental EIS and Preferred Alternative

    DOE/NNSA distributed the Final SPD Supplemental EIS to Congressional members and committees; State and local governments; other Federal agencies, culturally affiliated American Indian tribal governments, non-governmental organizations, and other stakeholders including members of the public who requested the document. Also, the Final SPD Supplemental EIS was made available via the Internet.

    On December 24, 2015, DOE/NNSA announced its Preferred Alternative in the Preferred Alternative for Certain Quantities of Plutonium Evaluated in the Final Surplus Plutonium Disposition Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (80 FR 80348) with regard to the 6 MT of non-pit plutonium. DOE/NNSA considered all comments received on the Final SPD Supplemental EIS and the Preferred Alternative and concluded that those comments do not identify a need for further NEPA analysis. The Appendix to this Record of Decision summarizes DOE/NNSA's consideration of these comments.

    Decision

    DOE/NNSA has decided to implement its Preferred Alternative as described in DOE/NNSA's Preferred Alternative for Certain Quantities of Plutonium Evaluated in the Final Surplus Plutonium Disposition Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (80 FR 80348) with regard to the disposition of 6 MT of surplus, weapons-usable, non-pit plutonium; DOE/NNSA's Preferred Alternative is to prepare that plutonium for disposal at WIPP near Carlsbad, New Mexico, a geologic repository for disposal of TRU waste generated by atomic energy defense activities. All practicable means to avoid or minimize environmental harm for the decision identified have been adopted.

    Under this alternative, the non-pit plutonium will be prepared for disposal in facilities at HB-Line or K-Area at SRS for disposal at WIPP. The non-pit plutonium containers will be opened in an existing glovebox or newly- constructed glovebox capability in HB-Line or K-Area. Plutonium metal will be converted to oxide. Plutonium oxide will be repackaged into suitable containers, mixed/blended with inert material and loaded into pipe overpack containers (POCs) or criticality control overpacks (CCOs). (DOE/NNSA plans to move toward the use of the CCO containers in lieu of the POC to maximize the amount of plutonium that can be packaged in each container, thereby reducing the number of shipments and volume emplaced at WIPP.) The inert material will be added to inhibit plutonium recovery. Loaded POCs or CCOs will be characterized for WIPP disposal in E-Area at SRS including non-destructive assay, digital radiography, and headspace gas sampling. Waste packages containing surplus plutonium that have been successfully characterized and meet the WIPP waste acceptance criteria will be placed in the queue of waste to be shipped to WIPP after WIPP is operational. The packages will be shipped to WIPP in TRUPACT-II or HalfPACT shipping containers

    Unirradiated Fast Flux Test Facility (FFTF) reactor fuel is included in this 6 MT of non-pit plutonium. If the FFTF fuel cannot be disposed of by direct disposal at WIPP, it will be disassembled at SRS and packaged for disposal at WIPP. H-Canyon at SRS will be used to disassemble the fuel bundles, remove the pellets from the fuel pins, and package the pellets into suitable containers. HB-Line or K-Area will be used to prepare and mix/blend the fuel pellet material with inert material, then package it for shipment to WIPP.

    Disposition decisions announced in this Record of Decision address only the 6 MT of surplus non-pit plutonium. DOE/NNSA has no Preferred Alternative at this time for the disposition of the remaining 7.1 MT of surplus plutonium from pits for which a disposition pathway has not been assigned, or for the capability to disassemble surplus pits and convert the plutonium from pits to a form suitable for disposition. Once a Preferred Alternative is identified, DOE/NNSA will announce its preference in a Federal Register notice and publish a Record of Decision no sooner than 30 days after its announcement of a Preferred Alternative.

    Basis for Decision

    In making its decision, DOE/NNSA considered potential environmental impacts of construction and operations, current and future mission needs, technical and security considerations, availability of resources, and public comments on the Draft and Final SPD Supplemental EIS, and the notice of Preferred Alternative. Implementing the WIPP Disposal Alternative for disposition of 6 MT of surplus non-pit plutonium allows DOE/NNSA to take advantage of existing facilities, infrastructure and expertise at SRS and WIPP. The decision builds on the existing capabilities, infrastructure, and skilled workforce trained in safe operation of nuclear facilities. Environmental impacts and costs (DOE (U.S. Department of Energy) Report of the Plutonium Disposition Working Group: Analysis of Surplus Weapon‐Grade Plutonium Disposition Options, Washington, DC, April 2014) would be less than some of the other alternatives that would require the construction of new facilities. In addition, DOE/NNSA will make use of existing facilities, resulting in efficient use of the facilities. Blending for disposal at WIPP is a proven process that is ongoing at SRS for disposition of plutonium material from the DOE-STD-3013 surveillance process and other non-pit plutonium. In addition, disposal of this surplus non-pit plutonium will avoid long-term impacts, risks, and costs associated with storage.

    DOE/NNSA also considered acceptability of the surplus non-pit plutonium at WIPP and WIPP's performance in making this decision. DOE has previously disposed of similar surplus plutonium at WIPP from SRS, the Rocky Flats Environmental Technology Site, and the Hanford Site (the Rocky Flats and Hanford materials were packaged and shipped directly from those sites). As was the case for previous SRS activities requiring the processing of surplus plutonium for disposal at WIPP, the surplus plutonium identified in this decision will be packaged to meet the WIPP waste acceptance criteria and all applicable regulatory requirements. Compliance with the WIPP waste acceptance criteria is one factor that will help ensure that any TRU waste emplaced in WIPP will not exceed the 40 CFR part 191 performance standards and will meet other applicable requirements. Additionally, the WIPP TRU waste inventory—which includes radionuclide activity—is revised annually and reviewed by DOE for compliance. DOE's currently projected WIPP TRU waste inventory with the addition of the 6 MT of surplus non-pit plutonium suggests that WIPP would continue to comply with 40 CFR 191. These projections from the TRU Waste Inventory and other information are submitted every five years to the EPA, as part of the Compliance Recertification Application, under 40 CFR part 194, Criteria for the Certification and Re-Certification of the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant's Compliance with the 40 CFR part 191 Disposal Regulations. Following issuance of this ROD, the 6 MT of surplus non-pit plutonium will be reflected in the TRU Waste Inventory and inform the next compliance re-certification application to be submitted to EPA in 2019.

    Implementing the Preferred Alternative will allow the DOE/NNSA to continue its progress on the disposition of surplus weapon-usable plutonium in furtherance of the policies of the United States to ensure that surplus plutonium is never again readily used in a nuclear weapon, and to remove surplus plutonium from the State of South Carolina.

    Mitigation Measures

    SRS facility operations would result in airborne emissions of various pollutants, including radionuclides, and organic and inorganic constituents. These emissions would continue to be controlled using Best Available Control Technology to ensure that emissions are compliant with applicable standards. Impacts would be controlled by use of glovebox confinement, packaging as applicable, building confinement and air filtration systems to remove radioactive particulates before discharging process exhaust air to the atmosphere, and internal scrubbers to reduce chemical gas concentrations. Occupational safety risks to workers would be limited by adherence to Federal and state laws; Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulations; DOE/NNSA requirements including regulations and orders; and plans and procedures for performing work. DOE/NNSA facility operations adhere to programs to ensure the reduction of human health and safety impacts. Workers are protected from specific hazards by use of engineering and administrative controls, use of personal protective equipment, and monitoring and training. The Radiological Protection Program limits impacts by ensuring that radiological exposures and doses to all personnel are maintained As Low As Reasonably Achievable (ALARA) and by providing job specific instructions to the facility workers regarding the use of personal protective equipment. The Emergency Preparedness Program mitigates potential accident consequences by ensuring that appropriate organizations are available to respond to emergency situations and take appropriate actions to recover from accident events, while reducing the spread of contamination and protecting facility personnel and the public.

    Issued at Washington, DC on March 29, 2016. Frank G. Klotz, Administrator, National Nuclear Security Administration. Appendix: Public Comments Received on the Final SPD Supplemental EIS and the Preferred Alternative for Certain Quantities of Plutonium Evaluated in the Final Surplus Plutonium Disposition Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement

    DOE/NNSA received eight letters and emails regarding the Final Surplus Plutonium Disposition Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (Final SPD Supplemental EIS) (DOE/EIS-0283-S2, April 2015) (80 FR 26559) and Preferred Alternative for Certain Quantities of Plutonium Evaluated in the Final Surplus Plutonium Disposition Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (80 FR 80348). DOE/NNSA considered all comments contained in the letters and emails. Some of the comments included issues already raised during the comment period for the Draft Surplus Plutonium Disposition Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement. All prior comments submitted on the Draft SPD Supplemental EIS and DOE/NNSA responses to those comments have been published in the Final SPD Supplemental EIS, Volume 3, Comment Response Document, and are not being revisited.

    In announcing its Preferred Alternative for the disposition of 6 MT of surplus non-pit plutonium, DOE/NNSA stated that it had no Preferred Alternative for other potential actions considered in the Final SPD Supplemental EIS. Specifically, DOE/NNSA stated that it had no Preferred Alternative for the disposition of the remaining 7.1 MT of surplus plutonium from pits and that it did not have a Preferred Alternative among the pathways analyzed for providing the capability to disassemble surplus pits and convert the plutonium from pits to a form suitable for disposition. Further, some of the comments were beyond the scope of the Final SPD Supplemental EIS. DOE/NNSA did not address such comments.

    DOE/NNSA received comments on the Final SPD Supplemental EIS and the notice of Preferred Alternative from The Governing Body of the City of Carlsbad, New Mexico; Shelly Wilson, Permitting and Federal Facilities Liaison of the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control; Rick McLeod, Executive Director of the Savannah River Site Community Reuse Organization; Tom Clements of Savannah River Site Watch; Edwin Lyman and Frank von Hippel of the Union of Concerned Scientists; Andrew Kadak; Michael High; and Don Hancock of Southwest Research and Information Center. The topics below summarize the concerns expressed within those comments and provides DOE/NNSA's responses.

    Topic A—National Environmental Policy Act Compliance: Commentors were concerned that analyses of the potential environmental impacts of processing, packaging, and disposal of surplus non-pit plutonium, which could include some quantity of “gap” plutonium retrieved from foreign countries, had not been performed as required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and new or supplemental EISs should be prepared. A commentor also stated that in March 2015, President Obama authorized DOE to pursue a defense high level radioactive waste (HLW) repository; therefore, it is a reasonable alternative for defense surplus plutonium that must be considered, but is not included in the Storage and Disposition PEIS, nor the Draft or Final SPD Supplemental EIS.

    Discussion: DOE believes sufficient information exists, including NEPA documentation, to support a Record of Decision for the disposition of 6 MT of surplus non-pit plutonium for which a disposition path was not assigned. DOE has completed appropriate tiered NEPA analyses related to the Surplus Plutonium Disposition program including the Storage and Disposition of Weapons-Usable Fissile Materials Final Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (Storage and Disposition PEIS) (DOE/EIS-0229) in 1996, Surplus Plutonium Disposition Environmental Impact Statement (SPD EIS) (DOE-EIS-0283) in 1999, and Surplus Plutonium Disposition Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SPD Supplemental EIS) (DOE/EIS-0283-S2) in 2015.

    DOE/NNSA's need to store and disposition surplus plutonium, in accordance with U.S. nonproliferation and export control policies in a safe, reliable, cost effective and timely manner, has not changed since the Storage and Disposition PEIS was prepared in 1996. DOE/NNSA did, however, become aware of new circumstances and information relevant to the 1999 SPD EIS that did warrant re-examination of some of the analyses provided in that NEPA document.

    Consequently, the SPD Supplemental EIS was prepared in accordance with applicable Council on Environmental Quality and DOE NEPA regulations to examine the potential environmental impacts of reasonable alternatives for the disposition of 13.1 MT of surplus plutonium for which a disposition path was not assigned, including 6 MT of surplus non-pit plutonium. The SPD Supplemental EIS also analyzed options to provide the appropriate capability to disassemble surplus pits and convert surplus plutonium to a form suitable for disposition. In preparing the Final SPD Supplemental EIS, DOE/NNSA considered the analyses in the related NEPA documents identified above. The Final SPD Supplemental EIS addresses all of the relevant issues and analysis related to the proposed action and updates the analyses where necessary.

    Appropriate NEPA analyses exist for processing 6 MT of surplus non-pit plutonium at SRS and transportation and disposal of the resulting CH-TRU waste at WIPP, near Carlsbad, New Mexico, a geologic repository for disposal of TRU waste generated by atomic energy defense activities. Chapter 4 and Appendix G of the SPD Supplemental EIS, describe the potential environmental impacts of plutonium disposition options, including preparing surplus non-pit plutonium at facilities at SRS for disposal at WIPP. Appendix E of the SPD Supplemental EIS, describes the potential environmental impacts of transportation of surplus plutonium for disposal at WIPP. Section 4.5.3.6.3, of the Final SPD Supplemental EIS describes the capacity and ability of WIPP to accept 13.1 MT of surplus plutonium as analyzed under the WIPP Disposal Alternative in the Final SPD Supplemental EIS. The potential environmental impacts of TRU waste disposal at WIPP are evaluated in the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant Disposal Phase Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (WIPP SEIS-II) (DOE/EIS-0026-S2, September 1997) and subsequent Supplement Analyses from 2005 (DOE/EIS-0026-SA-05) and 2009 (DOE/EIS-0026-SA-07). Also, see Topic B—WIPP Capacity, and Topic C—WIPP Acceptance, for further discussion of these topics.

    Certain plutonium recovered from foreign sources may have originated from atomic energy defense activities. Up to 0.9 MT of such plutonium may be included in the 6 MT of surplus non-pit plutonium discussed in Chapter 1, Section 1.5.2 of the Final SPD Supplemental EIS in the event that the plutonium from foreign sources is received at SRS. Thus, the potential environmental impacts from the processing and disposition of surplus plutonium recovered from foreign countries, also referred to as “gap material plutonium”, through NNSA's Global Threat Reduction Initiative are evaluated in the SPD Supplemental EIS. NEPA analysis for the transportation, receipt, and processing of gap material plutonium in preparation for disposition is provided in DOE/NNSA's Environmental Assessment for the U.S. Receipt and Storage of Gap Material Plutonium (DOE/EA-1771) May 2010 2 and DOE/NNSA's Environmental Assessment for Gap Material Plutonium—Transport, Receipt, and Processing (Gap Material Plutonium EA) (DOE/EA-2024), December 2015. DOE determined that the potential environmental impacts of implementing the proposed action are not significant, and in May 2010 and December 2015, issued Findings of No Significant Impact.

    2 While this EA is for Official Use Only, the Finding of No Significant Impact can be viewed on the DOE NEPA Web site (http://energy.gov/nepa/downloads/ea-1771-finding-no-significant-impact).

    In President Obama's March 24, 2015, “Presidential Memorandum—Disposal of Defense High-Level Radioactive Waste in a Separate Repository” to the Secretary of Energy, President Obama found, in accordance with Section 8 of the Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982, that “the development of a repository for the disposal of high-level radioactive waste resulting from atomic energy defense activities only is required.” DOE is now authorized to move forward with planning for a separate repository for HLW resulting from atomic energy defense activities. At present, no site has been identified or proposed and no funds have been appropriated for designing, constructing and operating such a repository.

    Topic B—The Blending Process and Implementing the Preferred Alternative at SRS: Commentors expressed concern that many hurdles would remain affecting DOE/NNSA's ability to carry out this decision once the ROD is issued. Commentors also expressed the view that no additional surplus plutonium should be received at SRS until surplus plutonium currently in storage at SRS is removed from the State of South Carolina. Commentors requested information about facilities and infrastructure for blending and packaging the 6 MT of surplus non-pit plutonium at SRS, a description of the processes to be used in blending and packaging and the schedule for processing and shipping to WIPP.

    Discussion: As described in this Record of Decision, DOE/NNSA has decided to prepare 6 MT of surplus non-pit plutonium for disposal at WIPP. This would allow the DOE/NNSA to continue progress on the disposition of surplus weapon-usable plutonium in furtherance of the policies of the United States to ensure that surplus plutonium is never again readily used in a nuclear weapon, and to remove surplus plutonium from the State of South Carolina.

    This Record of Decision summarizes how DOE/NNSA intends to prepare the 6 MT of surplus non-pit plutonium for disposition at WIPP. For additional information, Chapter 2, Section 2.2.4, and Appendix B, Section B.1.3, of the Final SPD Supplemental EIS describe how plutonium would be blended with inert materials and packaged at SRS. Blending these types of materials for disposal at WIPP is a proven process that is ongoing at SRS for disposition of plutonium material from the DOE-STD-3013 surveillance process and other non-pit plutonium. Implementing the WIPP Disposal Alternative for this surplus non-pit plutonium relies on existing SRS facilities (with additional glovebox capability in an existing facility), structures, and pads to prepare the material for disposal. Surplus non-pit plutonium would be prepared and packaged at SRS using H-Canyon/HB-line and/or K-Area Complex facilities and would be temporarily stored in E-Area at SRS until shipped to WIPP. DOE/NNSA's assumptions associated with the schedule for equipping and operating facilities at SRS are described in Table B-2 in the Final SPD Supplemental EIS.

    This Record of Decision identifies DOE/NNSA's intent to place the 6 MT of non-pit plutonium in POCs or CCOs for disposition following its conversion to plutonium oxide and blending with inert materials. (DOE/NNSA plans to move toward the use of the CCO containers in lieu of the POC to maximize the amount of plutonium that can be packaged in each container, thereby reducing the number of shipments and volume emplaced at WIPP.) For additional information, see Chapter 2, Section 2.2.4, and Appendix B, Section B.3, of the SPD Supplemental EIS which describe the POC and CCO containers that would be used for disposal of surplus plutonium at WIPP.

    The details of the inert materials with which plutonium would be blended and applicable safeguards for the plutonium are classified or official use only. The termination of safeguards process is part of DOE/NNSA's Material Control and Accountability Program and is outside the scope of the Final SPD Supplemental EIS and this Record of Decision.

    A schedule for shipment of the 6 MT of plutonium to WIPP has not been established (limited waste emplacement operations at WIPP are expected to commence in late 2016). Shipments of this surplus non-pit plutonium to WIPP, after it is operational, will placed in the queue of waste to be shipped to WIPP.

    Topic C—WIPP Capacity: Commentors were concerned that the WIPP unsubscribed capacity had been incorrectly calculated and that the available volume is less than the volume described in the SPD Supplemental EIS; thus, the disposition of 6 MT of surplus non-pit plutonium could not be accomplished within the unsubscribed capacity of WIPP.

    Discussion: The WIPP Land Withdrawal Act establishes a total WIPP capacity for TRU waste disposal of 175,600 cubic meters (6.2 million cubic feet). Chapter 4, Section 4.5.3.6.3, of the Final SPD Supplemental EIS describes the capacity and ability of WIPP to accept 13.1 MT of surplus plutonium as analyzed under the WIPP Disposal Alternative. This analysis considered past and projected disposal amounts at WIPP of TRU waste from across the DOE complex and as a result of these considerations, an unsubscribed disposal capacity of 24,700 cubic meters (872,000 cubic feet) of CH-TRU waste was assumed for purposes of analysis in the Final SPD Supplemental EIS.

    The estimate of unsubscribed disposal capacity in the Final SPD Supplemental EIS was made using DOE's Annual Transuranic Waste Inventory Report for 2012. The TRU waste volumes reported in the Annual Transuranic Waste Inventory Reports are based on final (containerized) TRU waste forms. Projections from the Annual Transuranic Waste Inventory Reports for 2014 and 2015, suggests that although TRU waste disposal projections vary somewhat from year to year, the information in these documents would not change the conclusions reached in the Final SPD Supplemental EIS.

    All of the TRU waste projected from the activities addressed in the Final SPD Supplemental EIS is expected to be CH-TRU waste. As indicated in Chapter 4, Section 4.5.3.6.3 of the Draft SPD Supplemental EIS, disposal of 6 MT of surplus non-pit plutonium at is estimated to result in 15,000 to 17,000 cubic meters of CH-TRU waste, using pipe overpack containers (POCs) for packaging the 6 MT of surplus non-pit plutonium. These estimated volumes can be substantially reduced if criticality control overpacks (CCOs) are used for packaging the surplus plutonium for WIPP disposal rather than the assumed POCs and the unirradiated Fast Flux Test Facility (FFTF) fuel is disposed of by direct disposal at WIPP. (If the FFTF fuel cannot be disposed of by direct disposal at WIPP, it will be disassembled at SRS and packaged for disposal at WIPP.)

    The WIPP underground is composed of disposal rooms or “panels” mined from the salt beds. Disposal panels at WIPP can be enlarged and/or additional panels can be created to accommodate the 175,