Federal Register Vol. 82, No.181,

Federal Register Volume 82, Issue 181 (September 20, 2017)

Page Range43827-44052
FR Document

82_FR_181
Current View
Page and SubjectPDF
82 FR 43864 - Great Lakes Pilotage Rates-2017 Annual ReviewPDF
82 FR 43950 - Sunshine Act NoticePDF
82 FR 44003 - Sunshine Act MeetingPDF
82 FR 43965 - Sunshine Act MeetingsPDF
82 FR 43873 - Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Threatened Species Status for the Iiwi (Drepanis coccinea)PDF
82 FR 43897 - Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Endangered Species Status for Sonoyta Mud TurtlePDF
82 FR 43951 - Extension of the Application Deadline Date for the Fiscal Year 2017; Promise Neighborhoods Program Grant ApplicationPDF
82 FR 43885 - Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Threatened Species Status for Pearl DarterPDF
82 FR 43933 - National Advisory CommitteePDF
82 FR 43842 - Foreign Trade Regulations (FTR): Clarification on Filing Requirements; CorrectionPDF
82 FR 43845 - Listing of Color Additives Exempt From Certification; Spirulina Extract; Confirmation of Effective DatePDF
82 FR 44023 - 60-Day Notice of Proposed Information Collection: Training/Internship Placement PlanPDF
82 FR 43964 - Compliance Date Extension; Statutory Requirements for Substantiation of Confidential Business Information (CBI) Claims Under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA)PDF
82 FR 44003 - NASA Astrophysics Advisory Committee; MeetingPDF
82 FR 44025 - International Standards on the Transport of Dangerous GoodsPDF
82 FR 43983 - Notice of Agreement FiledPDF
82 FR 43944 - Fisheries of the South Atlantic; South Atlantic Fishery Management Council; Public MeetingsPDF
82 FR 43945 - Pacific Fishery Management Council; Public MeetingPDF
82 FR 43935 - Proposed Information Collection; Comment Request; Survey of Housing Starts, Sales, and CompletionsPDF
82 FR 43934 - Proposed Information Collection; Comment Request; Pilot of USPS Postal Carriers as Census Enumerators During the 2018 End-to-End Census TestPDF
82 FR 44006 - Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards (ACRS); Meeting of the ACRS Subcommittee on NuScale; Notice of MeetingPDF
82 FR 44021 - Presidential Declaration Amendment of a Major Disaster for the State of FloridaPDF
82 FR 43952 - Notice of Petition for Waiver of Johnson Controls, Inc. (JCI) From the Department of Energy Central Air Conditioners and Heat Pumps Test Procedure, and Granting of Interim WaiverPDF
82 FR 44024 - Designation of Brandon-Lee Thulsie, aka Sallahuddin Thulsie, aka Salahuddin ibn Hernani as a Specially Designated Global TerroristPDF
82 FR 44023 - E.O. 13224 Designation of Tony-Lee Thulsie, aka Yakeen Thulsie, aka Yaqeen ibn Hernani, aka Yakeen, aka Simba as a Specially Designated Global TerroristPDF
82 FR 43936 - Titanium Sponge From Kazakhstan: Initiation of Countervailing Duty InvestigationPDF
82 FR 43939 - Titanium Sponge From Japan and Kazakhstan: Initiation of Less-Than-Fair-Value InvestigationsPDF
82 FR 44007 - New Postal ProductsPDF
82 FR 44022 - Presidential Declaration Amendment of a Major Disaster for the State of FloridaPDF
82 FR 43946 - Agency Information Collection Activities Under OMB ReviewPDF
82 FR 44021 - Presidential Declaration Amendment of a Major Disaster for the Commonwealth of Puerto RicoPDF
82 FR 43858 - Vessel Documentation Regulations-Technical AmendmentsPDF
82 FR 43992 - Agency Recordkeeping/Reporting Requirements Under Emergency Review by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB)PDF
82 FR 44001 - Wire Rod From Belarus, Italy, Korea, Russia, South Africa, Spain, Turkey, Ukraine, the United Arab Emirates, and the United Kingdom; Scheduling of the Final Phase of Countervailing Duty and Antidumping Duty InvestigationsPDF
82 FR 43999 - Biodiesel From Argentina and Indonesia; Scheduling of the Final Phase of Countervailing Duty and Antidumping Duty InvestigationsPDF
82 FR 43961 - Red Dirt Wind Project, LLC; Supplemental Notice That Initial Market-Based Rate Filing Includes Request for Blanket Section 204 AuthorizationPDF
82 FR 43959 - SunSea Energy, LLC; Supplemental Notice That Initial Market-Based Rate Filing Includes Request for Blanket Section 204 AuthorizationPDF
82 FR 43958 - Rock Creek Wind Project, LLC; Supplemental Notice That Initial Market-Based Rate Filing Includes Request for Blanket Section 204 AuthorizationPDF
82 FR 43961 - Texas Gas Transmission, LLC; Notice of Schedule for Environmental Review of the Morgan City and Youngsville Compression Station Abandoment ProjectPDF
82 FR 43958 - Florida Gas Transmission Company, L.L.C.; Notice of Availability of the Environmental Assessment for the Proposed Wekive Parkway Relocation ProjectPDF
82 FR 43960 - Combined Notice of Filings #1PDF
82 FR 43950 - Notice of Extension of Scoping Period for the Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement/Overseas Environmental Impact Statement for Northwest Training and TestingPDF
82 FR 43844 - Repeal of Regulations Governing the Public Telecommunications Facilities ProgramPDF
82 FR 43949 - Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program Scientific Advisory Board; Notice of Federal Advisory Committee MeetingPDF
82 FR 43985 - Agency Forms Undergoing Paperwork Reduction Act ReviewPDF
82 FR 43991 - Proposed Data Collection Submitted for Public Comment and RecommendationsPDF
82 FR 44023 - U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy; Notice of MeetingPDF
82 FR 44004 - Arts Advisory Panel MeetingsPDF
82 FR 43965 - Notice to All Interested Parties of the Termination of the Receivership of 10209-Beach First National Bank, Myrtle Beach, South CarolinaPDF
82 FR 43932 - Information Collection: Public Lands Corps Participant Tracking SheetPDF
82 FR 44021 - Administrative Declaration of an Economic Injury Disaster for the State of UtahPDF
82 FR 44022 - Administrative Declaration of a Disaster for the State of HawaiiPDF
82 FR 43966 - Appraisal Subcommittee; Proposed Revised Policy StatementsPDF
82 FR 44036 - Freedom of Information Act RegulationsPDF
82 FR 44044 - Privacy Act RegulationsPDF
82 FR 44006 - Hispanic Council on Federal EmploymentPDF
82 FR 44028 - Agency Information Collection Activity: Insurance Customer Satisfaction SurveysPDF
82 FR 44032 - Agency Information Collection Activity: Servicer's Staff Appraisal Reviewer (SAR) ApplicationPDF
82 FR 44029 - Agency Information Collection Activity: Department Of Veteran Affairs Acquisition Regulation (VAAR) Clause 852.236-91PDF
82 FR 44030 - Agency Information Collection Activity: Department of Veteran Affairs Acquisition Regulation (VAAR) Clauses 852.237-7, Indemnification and Medical Liability Insurance; 852.228-71, Indemnification and Medical Liability Insurance; and 852.207-70, Report of Employment Under Commercial ActivitiesPDF
82 FR 44027 - Agency Information Collection Activity: Matured Endowment NotificationPDF
82 FR 44032 - Agency Information Collection Activity: Supporting Statement Regarding MarriagePDF
82 FR 44029 - Agency Information Collection Activity: Veteran/Servicemembers Supplemental Application for Assistance in Acquiring Specially Adapted HousingPDF
82 FR 44028 - Agency Information Collection Activity Under OMB Review: Veteran's Supplemental Claim ApplicationPDF
82 FR 43957 - Combined Notice of FilingsPDF
82 FR 43960 - Combined Notice of FilingsPDF
82 FR 44004 - River Bend Station, Unit 1PDF
82 FR 43998 - Foreign Endangered and Threatened Species; Receipt of Applications for PermitPDF
82 FR 43908 - Pacific Island Pelagic Fisheries; Exemption for Large U.S. Longline Vessels To Fish in Portions of the American Samoa Large Vessel Prohibited Area; Court OrderPDF
82 FR 43926 - International Fisheries; Western and Central Pacific Fisheries for Highly Migratory Species; Fishing Limits in Purse Seine Fisheries for 2017PDF
82 FR 44006 - New Postal ProductsPDF
82 FR 43948 - U.S. Strategic Command Strategic Advisory Group; Notice of Federal Advisory Committee MeetingPDF
82 FR 43944 - Marine Mammals; File Nos. 21217 and 21397PDF
82 FR 43946 - Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council (MAFMC); Public MeetingPDF
82 FR 43994 - Agency Information Collection Activities; Extension, Without Change, of a Currently Approved Collection: Generic Clearance for the Collection of Qualitative Feedback on Agency Service DeliveryPDF
82 FR 44031 - Special Medical Advisory Group; Notice of MeetingPDF
82 FR 44002 - Notice of Receipt of Complaint; Solicitation of Comments Relating to the Public InterestPDF
82 FR 44026 - Notice of OFAC Sanctions ActionsPDF
82 FR 44020 - Presidential Declaration Amendment of a Major Disaster for Public Assistance Only for the State of TexasPDF
82 FR 44010 - Self-Regulatory Organizations; Chicago Stock Exchange, Inc.; Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, Inc.; Order Approving Proposed Rule Changes, as Modified by Amendments, To Adopt a Consolidated Audit Trail Fee Dispute Resolution ProcessPDF
82 FR 44018 - Self-Regulatory Organizations; BOX Options Exchange LLC; Notice of Filing and Immediate Effectiveness of a Proposed Rule Change To Amend the Fee Schedule on the BOX Market LLC (“BOX”) Options FacilityPDF
82 FR 44008 - Self-Regulatory Organizations; Chicago Board Options Exchange, Incorporated; Notice of Filing and Immediate Effectiveness of a Proposed Rule Change To Amend the Fees SchedulePDF
82 FR 44014 - Self-Regulatory Organizations; Chicago Board Options Exchange, Incorporated; Notice of Filing and Immediate Effectiveness of a Proposed Rule Change To Correct an Inadvertent Marking Error in the Fees SchedulePDF
82 FR 44016 - Self-Regulatory Organizations; New York Stock Exchange LLC; Notice of Filing and Immediate Effectiveness of Proposed Rule Change To Amend Its Price ListPDF
82 FR 44013 - Self-Regulatory Organizations; Nasdaq ISE, LLC; Notice of Filing and Immediate Effectiveness of Proposed Rule Change To Eliminate Third Party Developer Fees From the Schedule of FeesPDF
82 FR 44022 - Presidential Declaration Amendment of a Major Disaster for Public Assistance Only for the Commonwealth of Puerto RicoPDF
82 FR 43984 - Proposed Data Collection Submitted for Public Comment and RecommendationsPDF
82 FR 43988 - Proposed Data Collection Submitted for Public Comment and RecommendationsPDF
82 FR 43990 - Agency Forms Undergoing Paperwork Reduction Act ReviewPDF
82 FR 43964 - Notice of Intent To Prepare a Programmatic Environmental Assessment (PEA) for Financing Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Projects Pursuant to the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation ActPDF
82 FR 44024 - Notice of Opportunity for Public Comment on Disposal of 57 Acres of Airport Land at Manchester-Boston Regional Airport in Manchester, NHPDF
82 FR 44025 - Notice of Opportunity for Public Comment on a Land Use Change From Aeronautical to Non-Aeronautical Use for 18.6 Acres of Airport Land for Solar Farm Use at North Central Airport, Smithfield, RIPDF
82 FR 43827 - Special Conditions: Safran Aircraft Engines, Silvercrest-2 SC-2D; Rated Takeoff Thrust at High Ambient TemperaturePDF
82 FR 43840 - IFR Altitudes; Miscellaneous AmendmentsPDF
82 FR 44031 - Genomic Medicine Program Advisory Committee; Notice of MeetingPDF
82 FR 44027 - Notice of Open Public Meetings; CorrectionPDF
82 FR 43933 - Notice of Request for Extension of a Currently Approved Information CollectionPDF
82 FR 43995 - 30-Day Notice of Proposed Information Collection: Housing Discrimination Information Form (“HUD-903.1”)PDF
82 FR 43997 - 30-Day Notice of Proposed Information Collection: Multifamily Contractor's Mortgagor's Cost Breakdowns and CertificationsPDF
82 FR 43993 - Notice of Availability of Final Policy DocumentPDF
82 FR 43996 - 30-Day Notice of Proposed Information Collection for Public Comment on the: ConnectHome Expansion Data CollectionPDF
82 FR 43925 - Approval of Implementation Plans; State of Iowa; Elements of the Infrastructure SIP Requirements for the 2010 Nitrogen Dioxide National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS)PDF
82 FR 43846 - Approval of Implementation Plans; State of Iowa; Elements of the Infrastructure SIP Requirements for the 2010 Nitrogen Dioxide National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS)PDF
82 FR 43926 - Approval of Nebraska Air Quality Implementation Plans; Infrastructure SIP Requirements for the 2010 Nitrogen Dioxide and Sulfur Dioxide and the 2012 Fine Particulate Matter National Ambient Air Quality StandardsPDF
82 FR 43848 - Approval of Nebraska Air Quality Implementation Plans; Infrastructure SIP Requirements for the 2010 Nitrogen Dioxide and Sulfur Dioxide and the 2012 Fine Particulate Matter National Ambient Air Quality StandardsPDF
82 FR 43962 - Clean Water Act; Contractor Access to Confidential Business InformationPDF
82 FR 43920 - Use of Truncated Taxpayer Identification Numbers on Forms W-2, Wage and Tax Statement, Furnished to EmployeesPDF
82 FR 43947 - Army Education Advisory Subcommittee Meeting NoticePDF
82 FR 43910 - Community Reinvestment Act RegulationsPDF
82 FR 43850 - Approval of California Air Plan Revisions, South Coast Air Quality Management DistrictPDF
82 FR 43829 - Airworthiness Directives; Bombardier, Inc., AirplanesPDF
82 FR 43835 - Airworthiness Directives; Airbus Defense and Space S.A. (Formerly Known as Construcciones Aeronauticas, S.A.) AirplanesPDF
82 FR 43837 - Airworthiness Directives; Airbus AirplanesPDF
82 FR 43832 - Airworthiness Directives; Airbus Defense and Space S.A. (Formerly Known as Construcciones Aeronauticas, S.A.) AirplanesPDF
82 FR 43962 - Interim Registration Review Decision for 22 Sulfonylurea Pesticides; Notice of AvailabilityPDF
82 FR 43865 - Permitting Radar Services in the 76-81 GHz BandPDF

Issue

82 181 Wednesday, September 20, 2017 Contents Agriculture Agriculture Department See

Forest Service

See

Rural Housing Service

Army Army Department NOTICES Meetings: Army Education Advisory Subcommittee, 43947-43948 2017-19905 Census Bureau Census Bureau RULES Foreign Trade Regulations: Associate Director for Economic Programs, 43842-43844 2017-20060 NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: Pilot of USPS Postal Carriers as Census Enumerators during 2018 End-to-End Census Test, 43934-43935 2017-20036 Survey of Housing Starts, Sales, and Completions, 43935-43936 2017-20037 Meetings: National Advisory Committee, 43933-43934 2017-20061 Centers Disease Centers for Disease Control and Prevention NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals, 43984-43992 2017-20009 2017-19957 2017-19958 2017-19959 2017-20008 Children Children and Families Administration NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: Electronic Case Management System, 43992-43993 2017-20022 Coast Guard Coast Guard RULES Great Lakes Pilotage Rates: 2017 Annual Review; Correction, 43864 C1--2017--18411 Vessel Documentation Regulations: Technical Amendments, 43858-43864 2017-20023 Commerce Commerce Department See

Census Bureau

See

International Trade Administration

See

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

See

National Telecommunications and Information Administration

Commodity Futures Commodity Futures Trading Commission NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals, 43946-43947 2017-20025 Comptroller Comptroller of the Currency PROPOSED RULES Community Reinvestment Act Regulations, 43910-43920 2017-19765 Defense Department Defense Department See

Army Department

See

Navy Department

NOTICES Meetings: Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program Scientific Advisory Board, 43949-43950 2017-20011 U.S. Strategic Command Strategic Advisory Group, 43948-43949 2017-19978
Defense Nuclear Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board NOTICES Meetings; Sunshine Act, 43950-43951 2017-20160 Education Department Education Department NOTICES Application Deadlines: Fiscal Year 2017; Promise Neighborhoods Program Grant Application, 43951-43952 2017-20070 Energy Department Energy Department See

Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Office

See

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission

Energy Efficiency Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Office NOTICES Central Air Conditioners and Heat Pumps Test Procedure Waivers; Approvals: Johnson Controls, Inc., 43952-43957 2017-20032 Environmental Protection Environmental Protection Agency RULES Air Quality State Implementation Plans; Approvals and Promulgations: California; Air Plan Revisions, South Coast Air Quality Management District, 43850-43858 2017-19693 Iowa; Elements of Infrastructure SIP Requirements for 2010 Nitrogen Dioxide National Ambient Air Quality Standard, 43846-43848 2017-19935 Nebraska; Infrastructure Requirements for 2010 Nitrogen Dioxide and Sulfur Dioxide and 2012 Fine Particulate Matter National Ambient Air Quality Standards, 43848-43850 2017-19931 PROPOSED RULES Air Quality State Implementation Plans; Approvals and Promulgations: Iowa; Elements of Infrastructure SIP Requirements for 2010 Nitrogen Dioxide National Ambient Air Quality Standard, 43925-43926 2017-19936 Nebraska; Infrastructure Requirements for 2010 Nitrogen Dioxide and Sulfur Dioxide and 2012 Fine Particulate Matter National Ambient Air Quality Standards, 43926 2017-19934 NOTICES Contractor Access to Confidential Business Information, 43962 2017-19930 Environmental Assessments; Availability, etc.: Financing Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Projects Pursuant to Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act, 43964 2017-19956 Registration Reviews: 22 Sulfonylurea Pesticides, 43962-43963 2017-19458 Statutory Requirements for Substantiation of Confidential Business Information Claims under Toxic Substances Control Act; Compliance Date Extension, 43964-43965 2017-20046 Federal Aviation Federal Aviation Administration RULES Airworthiness Directives: Airbus Airplanes, 43837-43840 2017-19656 Airbus Defense and Space S.A. (Formerly Known as Construcciones Aeronauticas, S.A.) Airplanes, 43832-43836 2017-19655 2017-19659 Bombardier, Inc., Airplanes, 43829-43832 2017-19660 IFR Altitudes; Miscellaneous Amendments, 43840-43842 2017-19950 Special Conditions: Safran Aircraft Engines, Silvercrest-2 SC-2D; Rated Takeoff Thrust at High Ambient Temperature, 43827-43829 2017-19952 NOTICES Airport Property Disposals: 57 Acres of Airport Land at Manchester-Boston Regional Airport in Manchester, NH, 44024-44025 2017-19954 Land Use Change from Aeronautical to Non-Aeronautical Use: 18.6 Acres of Airport Land for Solar Farm Use at North Central Airport, Smithfield, RI, 44025 2017-19953 Federal Communications Federal Communications Commission RULES Permitting Radar Services in 76-81 GHz Band, 43865-43872 2017-18463 Federal Deposit Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation PROPOSED RULES Community Reinvestment Act Regulations, 43910-43920 2017-19765 NOTICES Terminations of Receiverships: Beach First National Bank, Myrtle Beach, SC, 43965 2017-20002 Federal Election Federal Election Commission NOTICES Meetings; Sunshine Act, 43965-43966 2017-20098 Federal Energy Federal Energy Regulatory Commission NOTICES Combined Filings, 43957-43958, 43960-43961 2017-19985 2017-19986 2017-20014 Environmental Assessments; Availability, etc.: Florida Gas Transmission Co., LLC; Wekiva Parkway Relocation Project, 43958-43959 2017-20015 Texas Gas Transmission, LLC; Morgan City and Youngsville Compressor Station Abandonment Project, 43961 2017-20016 Initial Market-Based Rate Filings Including Requests for Blanket Section 204 Authorizations: Red Dirt Wind Project, LLC, 43961-43962 2017-20019 Rock Creek Wind Project, LLC, 43958 2017-20017 SunSea Energy, LLC, 43959-43960 2017-20018 Federal Financial Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council NOTICES Appraisal Subcommittee Proposed Revised Policy Statements, 43966-43983 2017-19998 Federal Maritime Federal Maritime Commission NOTICES Agreements Filed, 43983-43984 2017-20040 Federal Reserve Federal Reserve System PROPOSED RULES Community Reinvestment Act Regulations, 43910-43920 2017-19765 Fish Fish and Wildlife Service RULES Endangered and Threatened Species: Status for Iiwi (Drepanis coccinea), 43873-43885 2017-20074 Status for Pearl Darter, 43885-43896 2017-20069 Status for Sonoyta Mud Turtle, 43897-43907 2017-20072 NOTICES Permit Applications: Foreign Endangered and Threatened Species, 43998-43999 2017-19983 Food and Drug Food and Drug Administration RULES Listing of Color Additives Exempt from Certification: Spirulina Extract, 43845-43846 2017-20050 Foreign Assets Foreign Assets Control Office NOTICES Blocking or Unblocking of Persons and Properties, 44026-44027 2017-19971 Forest Forest Service NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: Public Lands Corps Participant Tracking Sheet, 43932-43933 2017-20001 Health and Human Health and Human Services Department See

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

See

Children and Families Administration

See

Food and Drug Administration

See

Health Resources and Services Administration

Health Resources Health Resources and Services Administration NOTICES Health Center Program Compliance Manual, 43993-43994 2017-19938 Homeland Homeland Security Department See

Coast Guard

See

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services

Housing Housing and Urban Development Department NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: ConnectHome Expansion Data Collection, 43996-43997 2017-19937 Housing Discrimination Information Form, 43995-43996 2017-19941 Multifamily Contractor's Mortgagor's Cost Breakdowns and Certifications, 43997-43998 2017-19940 Interior Interior Department See

Fish and Wildlife Service

Internal Revenue Internal Revenue Service PROPOSED RULES Use of Truncated Taxpayer Identification Numbers on Forms W-2, Wage and Tax Statement, Furnished to Employees, 43920-43925 2017-19910 International Trade Adm International Trade Administration NOTICES Antidumping or Countervailing Duty Investigations, Orders, or Reviews: Titanium Sponge from Kazakhstan, 43936-43939 2017-20029 Initiation of Less-Than-Fair-Value Investigations: Titanium Sponge from Japan and Kazakhstan, 43939-43944 2017-20028 International Trade Com International Trade Commission NOTICES Complaints: Certain Reusable Diapers, Components Thereof, and Products Containing Same, 44002-44003 2017-19972 Investigations; Determinations, Modifications, and Rulings, etc.: Biodiesel from Argentina and Indonesia, 43999-44001 2017-20020 Wire Rod from Belarus; Italy; Korea; Russia; South Africa; Spain; Turkey; Ukraine; United Arab Emirates; and United Kingdom, 44001-44002 2017-20021 Justice Department Justice Department See

Parole Commission

NASA National Aeronautics and Space Administration NOTICES Meetings: Astrophysics Advisory Committee, 44003-44004 2017-20045 National Capital National Capital Planning Commission RULES Freedom of Information Act Regulations, 44036-44044 2017-19997 Privacy Act Regulations, 44044-44052 2017-19996 National Endowment for the Arts National Endowment for the Arts NOTICES Meetings: Arts Advisory Panel, 44004 2017-20006 National Foundation National Foundation on the Arts and the Humanities See

National Endowment for the Arts

National Oceanic National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration RULES Pacific Island Pelagic Fisheries: Exemption for Large U.S. Longline Vessels to Fish in Portions of American Samoa Large Vessel Prohibited Area; Court Order, 43908-43909 2017-19982 PROPOSED RULES International Fisheries; Western and Central Pacific Fisheries for Highly Migratory Species: Fishing Limits in Purse Seine Fisheries for 2017, 43926-43931 2017-19981 NOTICES Meetings: Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council, 43946 2017-19976 Pacific Fishery Management Council, 43945-43946 2017-20038 South Atlantic Fishery Management Council, 43944 2017-20039 Permit Applications: Marine Mammals; File Nos. 21217, 21397, 43944-43945 2017-19977 National Telecommunications National Telecommunications and Information Administration RULES Repeal of Regulations Governing Public Telecommunications Facilities Program, 43844-43845 2017-20012 Navy Navy Department NOTICES Environmental Impact Statements; Availability, etc.: Northwest Training and Testing, 43950 2017-20013 Nuclear Regulatory Nuclear Regulatory Commission NOTICES Environmental Impact Statements; Availability, etc.: River Bend Station, Unit 1, 44004-44006 2017-19984 Meetings: Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards; Subcommittee on Nuscale, 44006 2017-20035 Parole Parole Commission NOTICES Meetings; Sunshine Act, 44003 2017-20135 Personnel Personnel Management Office NOTICES Meetings: Hispanic Council on Federal Employment, 44006 2017-19995 Pipeline Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration NOTICES Meetings: International Standards on Transport of Dangerous Goods, 44025-44026 2017-20044 Postal Regulatory Postal Regulatory Commission NOTICES New Postal Products, 44006-44008 2017-19979 2017-20027 Rural Housing Service Rural Housing Service NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals, 43933 2017-19942 Securities Securities and Exchange Commission NOTICES Self-Regulatory Organizations; Proposed Rule Changes: BOX Options Exchange, LLC, 44018-44020 2017-19967 Chicago Board Options Exchange, Inc., 44008-44010, 44014-44016 2017-19965 2017-19966 Chicago Stock Exchange, Inc., 44010-44013 2017-19968 Nasdaq ISE, LLC, 44013-44014 2017-19963 New York Stock Exchange, LLC, 44016-44018 2017-19964 Small Business Small Business Administration NOTICES Disaster Declarations: Florida, 44022 2017-20026 Hawaii, 44022 2017-19999 Puerto Rico, 44021 2017-20024 Utah, 44021 2017-20000 Major Disaster Declarations: Florida, 44021 2017-20033 Puerto Rico, 44022 2017-19960 Texas, 44020 2017-19970 State Department State Department NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: Training/Internship Placement Plan, 44023-44024 2017-20048 Designations as Global Terrorists: Brandon-Lee Thulsie, aka Sallahuddin Thulsie, aka Salahuddin ibn Hernani, 44024 2017-20031 Tony-Lee Thulsie, aka Yakeen Thulsie, aka Yaqeen ibn Hernani, aka Yakeen, aka Simba, 44023 2017-20030 Meetings: Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy, 44023 2017-20007 Transportation Department Transportation Department See

Federal Aviation Administration

See

Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration

Treasury Treasury Department See

Comptroller of the Currency

See

Foreign Assets Control Office

See

Internal Revenue Service

U.S. Citizenship U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: Generic Clearance for Collection of Qualitative Feedback on Agency Service Delivery, 43994-43995 2017-19974 U.S. China U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission NOTICES Meetings, 44027 2017-19946 Veteran Affairs Veterans Affairs Department NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals, 44029-44030 2017-19992 Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: Department of Veteran Affairs Acquisition Regulation Clauses, Indemnification and Medical Liability Insurance; Indemnification and Medical Liability Insurance; and Report of Employment under Commercial Activities, 44030-44031 2017-19991 Insurance Customer Satisfaction Surveys, 44028 2017-19994 Matured Endowment Notification, 44027-44028 2017-19990 Servicer's Staff Appraisal Reviewer Application, 44032-44033 2017-19993 Supporting Statement Regarding Marriage, 44032 2017-19989 Veteran/Servicemembers Supplemental Application for Assistance in Acquiring Specially Adapted Housing, 44029 2017-19988 Veteran's Supplemental Claim Application, 44028-44029 2017-19987 Meetings: Genomic Medicine Program Advisory Committee, 44031-44032 2017-19949 Special Medical Advisory Group, 44031 2017-19973 Separate Parts In This Issue Part II National Capital Planning Commission, 44036-44052 2017-19997 2017-19996 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 electronic mailing list, go to https://public.govdelivery.com/accounts/USGPOOFR/subscriber/new, enter your e-mail address, then follow the instructions to join, leave, or manage your subscription.

82 181 Wednesday, September 20, 2017 Rules and Regulations DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION Federal Aviation Administration 14 CFR Part 33 [Docket No. FAA-2017-0586; Special Conditions No. 33-019-SC] Special Conditions: Safran Aircraft Engines, Silvercrest-2 SC-2D; Rated Takeoff Thrust at High Ambient Temperature AGENCY:

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), DOT.

ACTION:

Final special conditions.

SUMMARY:

These special conditions are issued for the Safran Aircraft Engines (SAE), Silvercrest-2 SC-2D engine model. This engine model will have a novel or unusual design feature associated with an additional takeoff rating that maintains takeoff thrust in certain high ambient temperature conditions for a maximum accumulated usage of 20 minutes in any one flight. The applicable airworthiness regulations do not contain adequate or appropriate safety standards for this design feature. These special conditions contain the additional safety standards that the Administrator considers necessary to establish a level of safety equivalent to that established by the existing airworthiness standards.

DATES:

Effective September 20, 2017.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Tara Fitzgerald, AIR-6A1, Engine and Propeller Standards Branch, Aircraft Certification Service, 1200 District Avenue, Burlington, Massachusetts 01803-5213; telephone (781) 238-7130; facsimile (781) 238-7199; email [email protected]

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Under standard practice, the effective date of final special conditions would be 30 days after the date of publication in the Federal Register. However, as the certification date for the SAE, Silvercrest-2 SC-2D engine model is imminent; the FAA finds that good cause exists to make these special conditions effective upon publication.

Background

On April 19, 2011, SNECMA, now known as SAE, applied for a type certificate for the Silvercrest-2 SC-2D engine model. On April 30, 2014, SAE requested an extension to their original type certificate application, which the FAA granted through June 30, 2015. On May 26, 2015, SAE requested another extension to their type certificate application, which the FAA granted through September 30, 2018.

SAE proposed an additional takeoff rating that maintains takeoff thrust in certain high ambient temperature conditions with all engines operating (AEO) for the Silvercrest-2 SC-2D engine model. Therefore, the Silvercrest-2 SC-2D engine model would have two different takeoff ratings. The first rating corresponds with the rated takeoff thrust of the engine. The second rating maintains the takeoff thrust in certain high ambient temperature conditions. This additional takeoff rating is named “Rated Takeoff Thrust at High Ambient Temperature” (Rated TOTHAT). The “Rated TOTHAT” is an approved engine thrust developed under specified altitudes and temperatures within the operating limitations established for the engine during takeoff operation for a maximum usage of 20 minutes in any one flight.

Type Certification Basis

Under the provisions of Title 14, Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) 21.17, SAE must show that the Silvercrest-2 SC-2D engine model meets the applicable provisions of 14 CFR part 33, amendments 33-1 through 33-34 in effect on the date of application. The FAA has determined that the applicable airworthiness regulations in part 33 do not contain adequate or appropriate safety standards for the Silvercrest-2 SC-2D engine model because of their novel and unusual design feature referred to as “Rated TOTHAT”. Therefore, these special conditions are prescribed under the provisions of 14 CFR 11.19 and 14 CFR 21.16, and will become part of the type certification basis for Silvercrest-2 SC-2D engine models in accordance with § 21.17(a)(2).

If the Administrator finds that the applicable airworthiness regulations do not contain adequate or appropriate safety standards for the SAE, Silvercrest-2 SC-2D engine model 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 engine model for which they are issued. Should the type certificate for that engine model be amended later to include any other engine model(s) that incorporates the same novel or unusual design feature, the special conditions would also apply to the other engine models under § 21.101.

In addition to complying with the applicable product airworthiness regulations and special conditions, the Silvercrest-2 SC-2D engine model must comply with the fuel venting and exhaust emission requirements of 14 CFR part 34.

Novel or Unusual Design Features

The Silvercrest-2 SC-2D engine model will incorporate a novel or unusual design feature, referred to as “Rated TOTHAT”. This additional takeoff rating increases the exhaust gas temperature (EGT) limit that maintains takeoff thrust in certain high ambient temperature conditions for a maximum of 20 minutes in any one flight.

Discussion

The “Rated TOTHAT” is designed for use during takeoff in specified high altitudes and high ambient temperature conditions. It maintains thrust during takeoff for a maximum of 20 minutes in any one flight. These special conditions contain additional mandatory post-flight inspection and maintenance action requirements associated with any use of the “Rated TOTHAT”. These requirements add a rating definition in paragraph 1.1 below and mandate required inspections in the instructions for continued airworthiness (ICA); instructions for installing and operating the engine; engine rating and operating limitations; instrument connection; and endurance testing.

The current requirements of the endurance test under 14 CFR 33.87 represent a typical airplane flight profile and the severity of the takeoff rating. Therefore, the endurance test under § 33.87 covers normal, AEO takeoff conditions for which the engine control system limits the engine to the takeoff thrust rating. It is intended to represent the airplane flight profile during takeoff under specified ambient temperatures for a time until the mandatory inspection and maintenance actions can be performed.

These special conditions require additional test cycles that include at least a 150 hours of engine operation as specified in § 33.87(a), to demonstrate the engine is capable of performing the “Rated TOTHAT” rating during AEO conditions without disassembly or modification.

The associated engine deterioration, after use of the “Rated TOTHAT”, is not known without the intervening mandatory inspections in these special conditions. These mandatory inspections ensure the engine will continue to comply with its certification basis, which includes these special conditions, after any use of the “Rated TOTHAT”. The applicant is expected to assess the deterioration from use of the “Rated TOTHAT”. The airworthiness limitations section (ALS) must prescribe the mandatory post-flight inspections and maintenance actions associated with any use of the “Rated TOTHAT”.

These requirements maintain a level of safety equivalent to the level intended by the applicable airworthiness standards in effect on the date of application.

Discussion of Comments

Notice of proposed special conditions No. 33-17-01-SC for the SAE, Silvercrest-2 SC-2D; Rated Takeoff Thrust at High Ambient Temperature engine model was published in the Federal Register on July 03, 2017 (82 FR 30800). No comments were received, and the special conditions are adopted as proposed.

Applicability

As discussed above, these special conditions are applicable to the Silvercrest-2 SC-2D engine model. Should SAE apply at a later date for a change to the type certificate to include another model on the same type certificate incorporating the same novel or unusual design feature, these special conditions would apply to that model as well.

Conclusion

This action affects only the “Rated TOTHAT” features on Silvercrest-2 SC-2D engine models. It is not a rule of general applicability and applies only to SAE who requested FAA approval of this engine feature.

List of Subjects in 14 CFR Part 33

Aircraft, Engines, Aviation Safety, Reporting and Recordkeeping requirements.

The authority citation for these special conditions is as follows:

Authority:

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

The Special Conditions

Accordingly, pursuant to the authority delegated to me by the Administrator, the following special conditions are issued as part of the type certification basis for SAE, Silvercrest-2 SC-2D engine model.

1. Part 1 Definition.

“Rated Take-off Thrust at High Ambient Temperature” (Rated TOTHAT) means the approved engine thrust developed under specified altitudes and temperatures within the operating limitations established for the engine during takeoff operation. Use is limited to two periods, no longer than 10 minutes each under one engine inoperative (OEI) conditions or 5 minutes each under all engines operating (AEO) conditions in any one flight for a maximum accumulated usage of 20 minutes in any one flight. Each flight where the “Rated TOTHAT” is used must be followed by mandatory inspection and maintenance actions.

2. Part 33 Requirements.

In addition to the airworthiness standards in 14 CFR part 33, effective February 1, 1965, which are applicable to the engine and the “Rated TOTHAT”, the following special conditions apply:

(a) Section 33.4, Instructions for Continued Airworthiness.

(1) The ALS must prescribe the mandatory post-flight inspections and maintenance actions associated with any use of the “Rated TOTHAT”.

(2) The applicant must validate the adequacy of the inspections and maintenance actions required under paragraph 2(a)(1) of these special conditions.

(3) The applicant must establish an in-service engine evaluation program to ensure the continued adequacy of the instructions for mandatory post-flight inspections and maintenance actions prescribed under paragraph 2(a)(1) of these special conditions, and of the data for thrust assurance procedures required by paragraph 2(b)(2) of these special conditions. The program must include service engine tests or equivalent service engine test experience on engines of similar design and evaluations of service usage of the “Rated TOTHAT”.

(b) Section 33.5, Instruction manual for installing and operating the engine.

(1) Installation Instructions:

(i) The applicant must identify the means, or provisions for means, provided in compliance with the requirements of paragraph 2(e) of these special conditions.

(ii) The applicant must specify that the engine thrust control system automatically resets the thrust on the operating engine to the “Rated TOTHAT” level when one engine fails during takeoff at specified altitudes and temperatures.

(iii) The applicant must specify that the “Rated TOTHAT” is available by manual crew selection at specified altitudes and temperatures in AEO conditions.

(2) Operating Instructions: The applicant must provide data on engine performance characteristics and variability to enable the airplane manufacturer to establish airplane thrust assurance procedures.

(c) Section 33.7, Engine ratings and operating limitations.

(1) “Rated TOTHAT” and the associated operating limitations are established as follows:

(i) The thrust is the same as the engine takeoff rated thrust with extended flat rating corner point.

(ii) The rotational speed limits are the same as those associated with the engine takeoff rated thrust.

(iii) The applicant must establish a gas temperature steady-state limit and, if necessary, a transient gas over temperature limit for which the duration is no longer than 30 seconds.

(iv) The use is limited to two periods of no longer than 10 minutes each under OEI conditions or 5 minutes each under AEO conditions in any one flight, for a maximum accumulated usage of 20 minutes in any one flight. Each flight where the “Rated TOTHAT” is used must be followed by mandatory inspections and maintenance actions prescribed by paragraph 2(a)(1) of these special conditions.

(2) The applicant must propose language to include in the type certificate data sheet specified in 14 CFR 21.41 for the following:

(i) “Rated TOTHAT” and associated limitations.

(ii) As required by 14 CFR 33.5(b), Operating instructions, include a note stating that “Rated Takeoff Thrust at High Ambient Temperature (Rated TOTHAT) means the approved engine thrust developed under specified altitudes and temperatures within the operating limitations established for the engine. Use is limited to two periods, no longer than 10 minutes each under OEI conditions or 5 minutes each under AEO conditions in any one flight, for a maximum accumulated usage of 20 minutes in any one flight. Each flight where the “Rated TOTHAT” is used must be followed by mandatory inspection and maintenance actions.”

(iii) As required by § 33.5(b), Operating instructions, include a note stating that “the engine thrust control system automatically resets the thrust on the operating engine to the “Rated TOTHAT” level when one engine fails during takeoff at specified altitudes and temperatures, and the “Rated TOTHAT” is available by manual selection when all engines are operational during takeoff at specified altitudes and temperatures.”

(d) Section 33.28, Engine Control Systems.

The engine must incorporate a means, or a provision for a means, for automatic availability and automatic control of the “Rated TOTHAT” under OEI conditions and must permit manual activation of the “Rated TOTHAT” under AEO conditions.

(e) Section 33.29, Instrument connection.

The engine must:

(1) Have means, or provisions for means, to alert the pilot when the “Rated TOTHAT” is in use, when the event begins and when the time interval expires.

(2) Have means, or provision for means, which cannot be reset in flight, to:

(i) Automatically record each use and duration of the “Rated TOTHAT”, and

(ii) Alert maintenance personnel that the engine has been operated at the “Rated TOTHAT” and permit retrieval of recorded data.

(3) Have means, or provision for means, to enable routine verification of the proper operation of the means in paragraph 2(e)(1) and (e)(2) of these special conditions.

(f) Section 33.85(b), Calibration tests.

The applicant must base the calibration test on the thrust check at the end of the endurance test required by § 33.87 of these special conditions.

(g) Section 33.87, Endurance test.

(1) In addition to the applicable requirements of § 33.87(a):

(i) The § 33.87 endurance test must be modified as follows:

(A) Modify the 30 minute test cycle at the rated takeoff thrust in § 33.87(b)(2)(ii) to run one minute at rated takeoff thrust, followed by five minutes at the “Rated TOTHAT”, followed by the rated takeoff thrust for the remaining twenty-four minutes.

(B) The modified 30 minute period described above in paragraph 2(g)(1)(i)(A) must be repeated ten times in cycles 16 through 25 of the § 33.87 endurance test.

(2) After completion of the tests required by § 33.87(b), as modified in paragraph 2(g)(1)(i) above, and without intervening disassembly, except as needed to replace those parts described as consumables in the ICA, the applicant must conduct the following test sequence for a total time of not less than 120 minutes:

(i) Ten minutes at “Rated TOTHAT”.

(ii) Eighty-eight minutes at rated maximum continuous thrust.

(iii) One minute at 50 percent of rated takeoff thrust.

(iv) Ten minutes at “Rated TOTHAT”.

(v) Ten minutes at rated maximum continuous thrust.

(vi) One minute at flight idle.

(3) The test sequence of §§ 33.87(b)(1) through (b)(6) of these special conditions must be run continuously. If a stop occurs during these tests, the interrupted sequence must be repeated unless the applicant shows that the severity of the test would not be reduced if the current tests were continued.

(4) Where the engine characteristics are such that acceleration to the “Rated TOTHAT” results in a transient over temperature in excess of the steady-state temperature limit identified in paragraph 2(c)(1)(iii) of these special conditions, the transient gas over temperature must be applied to each acceleration to the “Rated TOTHAT” of the test sequence in paragraph 2(g)(2) of these special conditions.

(h) Section 33.93, Teardown inspection.

The applicant must perform the teardown inspection required by § 33.93(a), after completing the endurance test prescribed by § 33.87 of these special conditions.

(i) Section 33.201, Design and test requirements for Early ETOPS eligibility.

In addition to the requirements of § 33.201(c)(1), the simulated ETOPS mission cyclic endurance test must include two cycles of 10 minute duration, each at the “Rated TOTHAT”; one before the last diversion cycle and one at the end of the ETOPS test.

Issued in Burlington, Massachusetts on August 23, 2017. Karen M. Grant Acting Manager, Engine and Propeller Standards Branch, Aircraft Certification Service.
[FR Doc. 2017-19952 Filed 9-19-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4910-13-P
DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION Federal Aviation Administration 14 CFR Part 39 [Docket No. FAA-2017-0334; Product Identifier 2017-NM-008-AD; Amendment 39-19039; AD 2017-19-09] RIN 2120-AA64 Airworthiness Directives; Bombardier, Inc., Airplanes AGENCY:

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

ACTION:

Final rule.

SUMMARY:

We are superseding Airworthiness Directive (AD) 2014-25-01, which applied to certain Bombardier, Inc., Model DHC-8-400 series airplanes. AD 2014-25-01 required modifying the nose landing gear (NLG) trailing arm and installing a new pivot pin retention mechanism. This AD instead requires modifying the NLG shock strut assembly. This AD was prompted by reports of discrepancies of a certain bolt at the pivot pin link, resulting in corrosion of the bolt. We are issuing this AD to address the unsafe condition on these products.

DATES:

This AD is effective October 24, 2017.

The Director of the Federal Register approved the incorporation by reference of a certain publication listed in this AD as of October 24, 2017.

ADDRESSES:

For service information identified in this final rule, contact Bombardier, Inc., Q-Series Technical Help Desk, 123 Garratt Boulevard, Toronto, Ontario M3K 1Y5, Canada; telephone 416-375-4000; fax 416-375-4539; email [email protected]; Internet http://www.bombardier.com. You may view this referenced service information at the FAA, Transport Standards Branch, 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-2017-0334.

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-2017-0334; 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 (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:

Fabio Buttitta, Aerospace Engineer, Airframe and Mechanical Systems Section, FAA, New York ACO Branch, 1600 Stewart Avenue, Suite 410, Westbury, NY 11590; telephone 516-228-7303; fax 516-794-5531.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Discussion

We issued a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) to amend 14 CFR part 39 to supersede AD 2014-25-01, Amendment 39-18042 (79 FR 73808, December 12, 2014) (“AD 2014-25-01”). AD 2014-25-01 applied to certain Bombardier, Inc., Model DHC-8-400 series airplanes. The NPRM published in the Federal Register on May 9, 2017 (82 FR 21484). The NPRM was prompted by reports of discrepancies of a certain bolt at the pivot pin link, resulting in corrosion of the bolt. The NPRM proposed to require modifying the NLG shock strut assembly. We are issuing this AD to prevent failure of the pivot pin retention bolt, which could result in a loss of directional control or loss of an NLG tire during takeoff or landing.

Transport Canada Civil Aviation (TCCA), which is the aviation authority for Canada, has issued Canadian Airworthiness Directive CF-2009-29R2, dated December 21, 2016 (referred to after this as the Mandatory Continuing Airworthiness Information, or “the MCAI”), to correct an unsafe condition for certain Bombardier, Inc., Model DHC-8-400 series airplanes. The MCAI states:

Two in-service incidents have been reported on DHC-8 Series 400 aircraft in which the nose landing gear (NLG) trailing arm pivot pin retention bolt (part number NAS6204-13D) was damaged. One incident involved the left hand NLG tire which ruptured on take-off. Investigation determined that the retention bolt failure was due to repeated contact of the castellated nut with the towing device including both the towbar and the towbarless rigs. The loss of the retention bolt allowed the pivot pin to migrate from its normal position and resulted in contact with and rupture of the tire. The loss of the pivot pin could compromise retention of the trailing arm and could result in a loss of directional control due to loss of nose wheel steering. The loss of an NLG tire or the loss of directional control could adversely affect the aircraft during take-off or landing.

To prevent the potential failure of the pivot pin retention bolt, Bombardier Aerospace has developed a modification which includes a new retention bolt, a reverse orientation of the retention bolt and a rework of the weight on wheel (WOW) proximity sensor cover to provide clearance for the re-oriented retention bolt.

Since the original issue of this [Canadian] AD [which corresponds to AD 2010-13-04, Amendment 39-16335 (75 FR 35622, June 23, 2010)], there have been several reports of pivot pin retention bolts found missing or damaged. Additional investigation determined that the failures were caused by high contact stresses on the retention bolt due to excessive frictional torque on the pivot pin and an adverse tolerance condition at the retention bolt.

Revision 1 of this [Canadian] AD mandated the installation of a new pivot pin retention mechanism.

Since the issuance of Revision 1 of this [Canadian] AD, there have been reports of chrome peeling on special bolt part number 47205-1 at the pivot pin link resulting in corrosion of the bolt substrate layer.

Revision 2 of this [Canadian] AD mandates the installation of new special bolt part number 47205-3 with additional processing for increased chrome plating adhesion on aeroplanes equipped with nose landing gear shock strut assembly part number 47100-19 or any assembly with Bombardier (BA) Service Bulletin (SB) 84-32-110 incorporated. In addition, Revision 2 of this [Canadian] AD mandates the installation of a new pivot pin retention mechanism that includes new special bolt part number 47205-3 on aeroplanes equipped with nose landing gear shock strut assembly part number 47100-9, 47100-11, 47100-13, 47100-15, or 47100-17 without BA SB 84-32-110 incorporated. The corrective actions of Revision 2 of this [Canadian] AD cancel and replace the corrective actions of Revision 1 of this [Canadian] AD.

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-2017-0334.

Comments

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

Support for the NPRM

The Air Line Pilots Association, International concurred with the intent of the NPRM.

Request To Exclude Setup and Closeout Sections

Horizon Air asked that we revise paragraph (g) of the proposed AD to exclude the “Job Set-up” and “Close Out” sections of Bombardier Service Bulletin 84-32-145, Revision A, dated October 18, 2016. Horizon Air stated that incorporating those sections as a requirement of the AD restricts an operator's ability to perform other maintenance in conjunction with incorporation of the referenced service information.

We agree with the commenter's request for the reason provided. We have revised paragraph (g) of this AD to require accomplishment of only paragraph 3.B., “Procedure” of the Accomplishment Instructions of Bombardier Service Bulletin 84-32-145, Revision A, dated October 18, 2016.

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 change 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

Bombardier, Inc., has issued Bombardier Service Bulletin 84-32-145, Revision A, dated October 18, 2016. The service information describes procedures for modifying the NLG shock strut assembly by installing a new, improved pivot pin retention mechanism and a new retention bolt. 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 52 airplanes of U.S. registry.

We also estimate that it takes about 2 work-hours per product to comply with the basic requirements of this AD. The average labor rate is $85 per work-hour. Required parts will cost about $0 per product. Based on these figures, we estimate the cost of this AD on U.S. operators to be $8,840, or $170 per product.

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.

This AD is issued in accordance with authority delegated by the Executive Director, Aircraft Certification Service, as authorized by FAA Order 8000.51C. In accordance with that order, issuance of ADs is normally a function of the Compliance and Airworthiness Division, but during this transition period, the Executive Director has delegated the authority to issue ADs applicable to transport category airplanes to the Director of the System Oversight Division.

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 removing Airworthiness Directive (AD) 2014-25-01, Amendment 39-18042 (79 FR 73808, December 12, 2014), and adding the following new AD: 2017-19-09 Bombardier, Inc.: Amendment 39-19039; Docket No. FAA-2017-0334; Product Identifier 2017-NM-008-AD. (a) Effective Date

This AD is effective October 25, 2017.

(b) Affected ADs

This AD replaces AD 2014-25-01, Amendment 39-18042 (79 FR 73808, December 12, 2014).

(c) Applicability

This AD applies to Bombardier, Inc., Model DHC-8-400, -401, and -402 airplanes, certificated in any category, serial numbers 4001, 4003 through 4533 inclusive, and 4535, equipped with any nose landing gear (NLG) shock strut assembly having part number 47100-9, 47100-11, 47100-13, 47100-15, 47100-17, or 47100-19.

(d) Subject

Air Transport Association (ATA) of America Code 32, Landing Gear.

(e) Reason

This AD was prompted by reports of discrepancies of a certain bolt at the pivot pin link, resulting in corrosion of the bolt. We are issuing this AD to prevent failure of the pivot pin retention bolt, which could result in a loss of directional control or loss of an NLG tire during takeoff or landing.

(f) Compliance

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

(g) Installation of Improved Pivot Pin Retention Mechanism and Bolt

Within 6,000 flight hours or 36 months after the effective date of this AD, whichever occurs first: Install a new pivot pin retention mechanism to the NLG shock strut assembly, and replace the existing pivot pin retention bolt with a new bolt, in accordance with paragraph 3.B., “Procedure,” of the Accomplishment Instructions of Bombardier Service Bulletin 84-32-145, Revision A, dated October 18, 2016.

(h) Credit for Previous Actions

This paragraph provides credit for actions required by paragraph (g) of this AD, if those actions were performed before the effective date of this AD using Bombardier Service Bulletin 84-32-145, dated July 26, 2016.

(i) Other FAA AD Provisions

The following provisions also apply to this AD:

(1) Alternative Methods of Compliance (AMOCs): The Manager, New York ACO Branch, 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 certification office, send it to ATTN: Program Manager, Continuing Operational Safety, FAA, New York ACO Branch, 1600 Stewart Avenue, Suite 410, Westbury, NY 11590; telephone 516-228-7300; fax 516-794-5531. 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.

(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, New York ACO Branch, FAA; or Transport Canada Civil Aviation (TCCA); or Bombardier, Inc.'s TCCA Design Approval Organization (DAO). If approved by the DAO, the approval must include the DAO-authorized signature.

(j) Related Information

(1) Refer to Mandatory Continuing Airworthiness Information (MCAI) Canadian Airworthiness Directive CF-2009-29R2, dated December 21, 2016, 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-2017-0334.

(2) For more information about this AD, contact Fabio Buttitta, Aerospace Engineer, Airframe and Mechanical Systems Section, FAA, New York ACO Branch, 1600 Stewart Avenue, Suite 410, Westbury, NY 11590; telephone 516-228-7303; fax 516-794-5531.

(3) 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 this AD specifies otherwise.

(i) Bombardier Service Bulletin 84-32-145, Revision A, dated October 18, 2016.

(ii) Reserved.

(3) For service information identified in this AD, contact Bombardier, Inc., Q-Series Technical Help Desk, 123 Garratt Boulevard, Toronto, Ontario M3K 1Y5, Canada; telephone 416-375-4000; fax 416-375-4539; email [email protected]; Internet http://www.bombardier.com.

(4) You may view this service information at the FAA, Transport Standards Branch, 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 September 7, 2017. Jeffrey E. Duven, Director, System Oversight Division, Aircraft Certification Service.
[FR Doc. 2017-19660 Filed 9-19-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4910-13-P
DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION Federal Aviation Administration 14 CFR Part 39 [Docket No. FAA-2017-0555; Product Identifier 2016-NM-183-AD; Amendment 39-19037; AD 2017-19-07] RIN 2120-AA64 Airworthiness Directives; Airbus Defense and Space S.A. (Formerly Known as Construcciones Aeronauticas, S.A.) Airplanes AGENCY:

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

ACTION:

Final rule.

SUMMARY:

We are superseding Airworthiness Directive (AD) 2013-02-12, which applied to all EADS CASA (now Airbus Defense and Space S.A.) Model CN-235, CN-235-100, CN-235-200, and CN-235-300 airplanes. AD 2013-02-12 required a one-time inspection to identify the correct polarity for each pair of electrical connectors on each engine fire extinguisher cartridge, and repair if necessary. This AD continues to require identifying the correct polarity of each pair of electrical connectors of the affected engine fire extinguisher cartridge, and doing a repair if necessary. This AD also requires modifying the installation of the fire extinguisher circuit harnesses. This AD was prompted by reports of incorrect electrical polarity connections on engine fire extinguishing discharge cartridges. We are issuing this AD to address the unsafe condition on these products.

DATES:

This AD is effective October 25, 2017.

The Director of the Federal Register approved the incorporation by reference of certain publications listed in this AD as of October 25, 2017.

The Director of the Federal Register approved the incorporation by reference of a certain other publication listed in this AD as of March 8, 2013 (78 FR 7262, February 1, 2013).

ADDRESSES:

For service information identified in this final rule, contact Airbus Defense and Space Services/Engineering Support, Avenida de Aragón 404, 28022 Madrid, Spain; telephone +34 91 585 55 84; fax +34 91 585 31 27; email [email protected] You may view this referenced service information at the FAA, Transport Standards Branch, 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-2017-0555.

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-2017-0555; 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 (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:

Shahram Daneshmandi, Aerospace Engineer, International Section, Transport Standards Branch, FAA, 1601 Lind Avenue SW., Renton, WA 98057-3356; telephone 425-227-1112; fax 425-227-1149.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Discussion

We issued a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) to amend 14 CFR part 39 to supersede AD 2013-02-12, Amendment 39-17333 (78 FR 7262, February 1, 2013) (“AD 2013-02-12”). AD 2013-02-12 applied to all EADS CASA (now Airbus Defense and Space S.A.) Model CN-235, CN-235-100, CN-235-200, and CN-235-300 airplanes. The NPRM published in the Federal Register on June 16, 2017 (82 FR 27631). The NPRM was prompted by reports of incorrect electrical polarity connections on engine fire extinguishing discharge cartridges. The NPRM proposed to continue to require identifying the correct polarity of each pair of electrical connectors of the affected engine fire extinguisher cartridge, and doing a repair if necessary. The NPRM also proposed to require modifying the installation of the fire extinguisher circuit harnesses. We are issuing this AD to detect and correct incorrect polarity connections, which could prevent the actuation of the discharge cartridge in case of automatic fire detection or manual initiation during a potential engine fire, and could result in damage to the airplane and injury to passengers.

The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), which is the Technical Agent for the Member States of the European Union, has issued EASA AD 2016-0201, dated October 11, 2016 (referred to after this as the Mandatory Continuing Airworthiness Information, or “the MCAI”), to correct an unsafe condition for all Airbus Defense and Space S.A. Model CN-235, CN-235-100, CN-235-200, and CN-235-300 airplanes. The MCAI states:

Reports have been received of finding wrong electrical polarity connections of engine fire extinguishing discharge cartridges on CASA CN-235 aeroplanes. The results of the subsequent investigation showed that the incorrect discharge cartridge assembly was caused by production line errors.

This condition, if not detected and corrected, could prevent the actuation of the discharge cartridge in case of automatic fire detection or manual initiation in case of engine fire, possibly resulting in damage to the aeroplane and injury to occupants.

To address this potentially unsafe condition, EADS CASA (Airbus Military) developed instructions to identify erroneous wiring polarity installation and EASA issued AD 2012-0045 [which correlates to FAA AD 2013-02-12, Amendment 39-17333 (78 FR 7262, February 1, 2013)] to require a one-time inspection to verify proper electrical polarity of wiring of each engine fire extinguisher discharge cartridge and, depending on findings, corrective action.

Since [EASA] AD 2012-0045 was issued, Airbus Defence and Space (D&S) developed modification of the installation of the fire extinguisher circuit harnesses, available for in-service installation through Service Bulletin (SB) SB-235-26-0005, which represents technical solution for an unsafe condition addressed by [EASA] AD 2012-0045 for those aeroplanes. Embodiment of this modification introduces a design solution that avoids maintenance errors during (re)connecting of the affected fire extinguisher circuit harnesses after accomplishment of maintenance tasks or functional tests.

For the reasons described above, this [EASA] AD retains the requirements of EASA AD 2012-0045, which is superseded and requires identification of the correct polarity after each maintenance action involving (re)connecting of the engine fire extinguisher cartridge electrical connector. This [EASA] AD also requires modification of the affected fire extinguisher circuit harnesses.

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-2017-0555.

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.

Conclusion

We reviewed the available data and determined that air safety and the public interest require adopting this AD as proposed except for 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

We reviewed EADS CASA Service Bulletin SB-235-26-0005, dated July 9, 2014. This service information describes procedures for modifying the installation of the fire extinguisher circuit harnesses.

We have also reviewed Airbus Military All Operator Letter 235-020, Revision 01, dated November 12, 2013. This service information describes procedures for identifying the correct polarity of each pair of electrical connectors of the affected engine fire extinguisher cartridge, and repairing the erroneous wiring polarity 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 12 airplanes of U.S. registry.

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 Inspection (retained action from AD 2013-02-12) 4 work-hours × $85 per hour = $340 $0 $340 $4,080. Repetitive Inspection (new action) 3 work-hours × $85 per hour = $255 per inspection cycle 0 $255 per inspection cycle $3,060 per inspection cycle. Modification (new action) 8 work-hour × $85 per hour = $680 3,280 $3,960 $47,520.

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

On-Condition Costs Action Labor cost Parts cost Cost per
  • product
  • Wiring Correction 1 work-hour × $85 per hour = $85 $0 $85
    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.

    This AD is issued in accordance with authority delegated by the Executive Director, Aircraft Certification Service, as authorized by FAA Order 8000.51C. In accordance with that order, issuance of ADs is normally a function of the Compliance and Airworthiness Division, but during this transition period, the Executive Director has delegated the authority to issue ADs applicable to transport category airplanes to the Director of the System Oversight Division.

    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 removing Airworthiness Directive (AD) 2013-02-12, Amendment 39-17333 (78 FR 7262, February 1, 2013), and adding the following new AD: 2017-19-07 Airbus Defense and Space S.A. (Formerly Known as Construcciones Aeronauticas, S.A.): Amendment 39-19037; Docket No. FAA-2017-0555; Product Identifier 2016-NM-183-AD. (a) Effective Date

    This AD is effective October 25, 2017.

    (b) Affected ADs

    This AD replaces AD 2013-02-12, Amendment 39-17333 (78 FR 7262, February 1, 2013) (“AD 2013-02-12”).

    (c) Applicability

    This AD applies to all Airbus Defense and Space S.A. (formerly known as Construcciones Aeronauticas, S.A.) Model CN-235, CN-235-100, CN-235-200, and CN-235-300 airplanes, certificated in any category.

    (d) Subject

    Air Transport Association (ATA) of America Code 26, Fire protection.

    (e) Reason

    This AD was prompted by reports of incorrect electrical polarity connections on engine fire extinguishing discharge cartridges. We are issuing this AD to detect and correct incorrect polarity connections, which could prevent the actuation of the discharge cartridge in case of automatic fire detection or manual initiation during a potential engine fire, and could result in damage to the airplane and injury to passengers.

    (f) Compliance

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

    (g) Retained Inspection, With Revised Service Information

    This paragraph restates the requirements of paragraph (g) of AD 2013-02-12, with revised service information. Within 30 days after March 8, 2013 (the effective date of AD 2013-02-12), do a one-time inspection to identify the correct polarity for each pair of electrical connectors on each engine fire extinguisher cartridge, in accordance with the Instructions of Airbus Military All Operator Letter 235-020, dated March 9, 2012; or Airbus Military All Operator Letter 235-020, Revision 01, dated November 12, 2013.

    (h) New Requirement of This AD: Repetitive Inspections

    As of 30 days after the effective date of this AD: Before further flight after accomplishing each maintenance task involving disconnection or reconnection of an electrical connector of an engine fire extinguisher cartridge, determine the polarity of each pair of electrical connectors of the affected engine fire extinguisher cartridge, in accordance with the Instructions of Airbus Military All Operator Letter 235-020, Revision 01, dated November 12, 2013.

    (i) New Requirement of This AD: Corrective Action

    If, during any inspection required by paragraph (g) or (h) of this AD, erroneous wiring polarity installation is detected, before further flight, repair the erroneous polarity in accordance with a method approved by the Manager, International Section, Transport Standards Branch, FAA; or the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA); or EADS CASA's EASA Design Organization Approval (DOA).

    (j) New Requirement of This AD: Modification

    Within 24 months after the effective date of this AD: Modify the installation of the fire extinguisher circuit harnesses, in accordance with the Accomplishment Instructions of EADS CASA Service Bulletin SB-235-26-0005, dated July 9, 2014.

    (k) Terminating Action

    The modification required in paragraph (j) of this AD terminates the actions required in paragraphs (g) and (h) of this AD.

    (l) Other FAA AD Provisions

    The following provisions also apply to this AD:

    (1) Alternative Methods of Compliance (AMOCs): The Manager, International Section, Transport Standards Branch, 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 Section, send it to the attention of the person identified in paragraph (m)(2) of this AD. 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.

    (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 Section, Transport Standards Branch, FAA; or the EASA; or EADS CASA's EASA DOA. If approved by the DOA, the approval must include the DOA-authorized signature.

    (m) Related Information

    (1) Refer to Mandatory Continuing Airworthiness Information (MCAI) EASA AD 2016-0201, dated October 11, 2016, 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-2017-0555.

    (2) For more information about this AD, contact Shahram Daneshmandi, Aerospace Engineer, International Section, Transport Standards Branch, FAA, 1601 Lind Avenue SW., Renton, WA 98057-3356; telephone 425-227-1112; fax 425-227-1149.

    (n) 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.

    (3) The following service information was approved for IBR on October 25, 2017.

    (i) Airbus Military All Operator Letter 235-020, Revision 01, dated November 12, 2013.

    (ii) EADS CASA Service Bulletin SB-235-26-0005, dated July 9, 2014.

    (4) The following service information was approved for IBR on March 8, 2013 (78 FR 7262, February 1, 2013).

    (i) Airbus Military All Operator Letter 235-020, dated March 9, 2012.

    (ii) Reserved.

    (5) For service information identified in this AD, contact Airbus Defense and Space Services/Engineering Support, Avenida de Aragón 404, 28022 Madrid, Spain; telephone +34 91 585 55 84; fax +34 91 585 31 27; email [email protected]

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

    (7) 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 September 7, 2017. Jeffrey E. Duven, Director, System Oversight Division, Aircraft Certification Service.
    [FR Doc. 2017-19655 Filed 9-19-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4910-13-P
    DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION Federal Aviation Administration 14 CFR Part 39 [Docket No. FAA-2017-0623; Product Identifier 2017-NM-024-AD; Amendment 39-19038; AD 2017-19-08] RIN 2120-AA64 Airworthiness Directives; Airbus Defense and Space S.A. (Formerly Known as Construcciones Aeronauticas, S.A.) Airplanes AGENCY:

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

    ACTION:

    Final rule.

    SUMMARY:

    We are adopting a new airworthiness directive (AD) for all Airbus Defense and Space S.A. Model C-212-CB, C-212-CC, C-212-CD, C-212-CE, and C-212-DF airplanes. This AD was prompted by reports of failures of the rudder pedal control system support. This AD requires modifying the rudder pedal adjustment system. We are issuing this AD to address the unsafe condition on these products.

    DATES:

    This AD is effective October 25, 2017.

    The Director of the Federal Register approved the incorporation by reference of a certain publication listed in this AD as of October 25, 2017.

    ADDRESSES:

    For service information identified in this final rule, contact Airbus Defense and Space Services/Engineering Support, Avenida de Aragón 404, 28022 Madrid, Spain; telephone +34 91 585 55 84; fax +34 91 585 31 27; email [email protected] You may view this referenced service information at the FAA, Transport Standards Branch, 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-2017-0623.

    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-2017-0623; 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:

    Shahram Daneshmandi, Aerospace Engineer, International Section, Transport Standards Branch, FAA, 1601 Lind Avenue SW., Renton, WA 98057-3356; telephone 425-227-1112; 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 all Airbus Defense and Space S.A. Model C-212-CB, C-212-CC, C-212-CD, C-212-CE, and C-212-DF airplanes. The NPRM published in the Federal Register on June 27, 2017 (82 FR 29019) (“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 2017-0036, dated February 21, 2017 (referred to after this as the Mandatory Continuing Airworthiness Information, or “the MCAI”), to correct an unsafe condition for all Airbus Defense and Space S.A. Model C-212-CB, C-212-CC, C-212-CD, C-212-CE, and C-212-DF airplanes. The MCAI states:

    Failures were reported of the pedal control system support of CASA C-212 aeroplanes. Subsequent investigation revealed that the welding area of the affected support structure had broken.

    This condition, if not corrected, could lead to failure of the rudder control system, possibly resulting in reduced control of the aeroplane.

    To address this potential unsafe condition, EADS-CASA issued Service Bulletin (SB) SB-212-27-0057 to provide modification instructions.

    For the reasons described above, this [EASA] AD requires modification of the rudder pedal adjustment system.

    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-2017-0623.

    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.

    Conclusion

    We reviewed the relevant data and determined that air safety and the public interest require adopting this AD as proposed except for 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 Defense and Space S.A. has issued EADS CASA Service Bulletin SB-212-27-0057, dated May 21, 2014. This service information describes procedures for modifying the rudder pedal adjustment system. 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 42 airplanes of U.S. registry.

    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
    Modification 9 work-hours × $85 per hour = $765 $5,683 $6,448 $270,816
    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.

    This AD is issued in accordance with authority delegated by the Executive Director, Aircraft Certification Service, as authorized by FAA Order 8000.51C. In accordance with that order, issuance of ADs is normally a function of the Compliance and Airworthiness Division, but during this transition period, the Executive Director has delegated the authority to issue ADs applicable to transport category airplanes to the Director of the System Oversight Division.

    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): 2017-19-08 Airbus Defense and Space S.A. (Formerly Known as Construcciones Aeronauticas, S.A.): Amendment 39-19038; Docket No. FAA-2017-0623; Product Identifier 2017-NM-024-AD. (a) Effective Date

    This AD is effective October 25, 2017.

    (b) Affected ADs

    None.

    (c) Applicability

    This AD applies to all Airbus Defense and Space S.A. Model C-212-CB, C-212-CC, C-212-CD, C-212-CE, and C-212-DF airplanes, certificated in any category.

    (d) Subject

    Air Transport Association (ATA) of America Code 27, Flight controls.

    (e) Reason

    This AD was prompted by reports of failures of the rudder pedal control system support and a determination that the welding area of the affected support structure had broken. We are issuing this AD to prevent failure of the rudder control system, which could result in reduced controllability of the airplane.

    (f) Compliance

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

    (g) Modification

    Within 12 months after the effective date of this AD: Modify the rudder pedal adjustment system, in accordance with the Accomplishment Instructions of EADS CASA Service Bulletin SB-212-27-0057, dated May 21, 2014.

    (h) Other FAA AD Provisions

    The following provisions also apply to this AD:

    (1) Alternative Methods of Compliance (AMOCs): The Manager, International Section, Transport Standards Branch, 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 Section, send it to the attention of the person identified in paragraph (i)(2) of this AD. 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.

    (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 Section, Transport Standards Branch, FAA; or the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA); or EADS CASA's EASA Design Organization Approval (DOA). If approved by the DOA, the approval must include the DOA-authorized signature.

    (i) Related Information

    (1) Refer to Mandatory Continuing Airworthiness Information (MCAI) EASA Airworthiness Directive 2017-0036, dated February 21, 2017, 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-2017-0623.

    (2) For more information about this AD, contact Shahram Daneshmandi, Aerospace Engineer, International Section, Transport Standards Branch, FAA, 1601 Lind Avenue SW., Renton, WA 98057-3356; telephone 425-227-1112; fax 425-227-1149.

    (j) 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) EADS CASA Service Bulletin SB-212-27-0057, dated May 21, 2014.

    (ii) Reserved.

    (3) For service information identified in this AD, contact Airbus Defense and Space Services/Engineering Support, Avenida de Aragón 404, 28022 Madrid, Spain; telephone +34 91 585 55 84; fax +34 91 585 31 27; email [email protected]

    (4) You may view this service information at the FAA, Transport Standards Branch, 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 September 7, 2017. Jeffrey E. Duven, Director, System Oversight Division, Aircraft Certification Service.
    [FR Doc. 2017-19659 Filed 9-19-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4910-13-P
    DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION Federal Aviation Administration 14 CFR Part 39 [Docket No. FAA-2017-0561; Product Identifier 2016-NM-141-AD; Amendment 39-19043; AD 2017-19-13] RIN 2120-AA64 Airworthiness Directives; Airbus Airplanes AGENCY:

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

    ACTION:

    Final rule.

    SUMMARY:

    We are superseding Airworthiness Directive (AD) 2001-16-01, which applied to certain Airbus Model A330-301, -321, -322, -341, and -342 airplanes, and certain Model A340 series airplanes; and AD 2014-17-06, which applied to all Airbus Model A330-200 series airplanes, Model A330-200 Freighter series airplanes, and Model A330-300 series airplanes. AD 2001-16-01 required inspections for cracking of the aft cargo compartment door, and corrective action if necessary. AD 2014-17-06 required revising the maintenance or inspection program, as applicable, to incorporate structural inspection requirements. This AD requires revising the maintenance or inspection program, as applicable, to incorporate new or revised airworthiness limitation requirements; and removing airplanes from the applicability. This AD was prompted by a determination that more restrictive maintenance instructions and airworthiness limitations are necessary. We are issuing this AD to address the unsafe condition on these products.

    DATES:

    This AD is effective October 25, 2017.

    The Director of the Federal Register approved the incorporation by reference of certain publications listed in this AD as of October 25, 2017.

    The Director of the Federal Register approved the incorporation by reference of certain other publications listed in this AD as of October 8, 2014 (79 FR 52181, September 3, 2014).

    ADDRESSES:

    For service information identified in this final rule, contact Airbus SAS, Airworthiness Office—EAL, 1 Rond Point Maurice Bellonte, 31707 Blagnac Cedex, France; telephone +33 5 61 93 36 96; fax +33 5 61 93 45 80; email [email protected]; Internet http://www.airbus.com. You may view this referenced service information at the FAA, Transport Standards Branch, 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-2017-0561.

    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-2017-0561; 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 (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:

    Vladimir Ulyanov, Aerospace Engineer, International Section, Transport Standards Branch, FAA, 1601 Lind Avenue SW., Renton, WA 98057-3356; telephone 425-227-1138; fax 425-227-1149.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Discussion

    We issued a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) to amend 14 CFR part 39 to supersede AD 2001-16-01, Amendment 39-12369 (66 FR 40874, August 6, 2001) (“AD 2001-16-01”), which applied to certain Airbus Model A330-301, -321, -322, -341, and -342 airplanes, and certain Model A340 series airplane; and AD 2014-17-06, Amendment 39-17959 (79 FR 52181, September 3, 2014) (“AD 2014-17-06”), which applied to all Airbus Model A330-200 series airplanes, Model A330-200 Freighter series airplanes, and Model A330-300 series airplanes. AD 2014-17-06 superseded AD 2011-17-08, Amendment 39-16772 (76 FR 53303, August 26, 2011). The NPRM published in the Federal Register on June 20, 2017 (82 FR 28020). The NPRM was prompted by a determination that more restrictive maintenance instructions and airworthiness limitations are necessary. The NPRM proposed to require revising the maintenance or inspection program, as applicable, to incorporate new or revised airworthiness limitation requirements; and to remove airplanes from the applicability. We are issuing this AD to detect and correct fatigue cracking, damage, and corrosion in a certain structure, which could result in reduced structural integrity of the airplane.

    The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), which is the Technical Agent for the Member States of the European Union, has issued EASA Airworthiness Directive 2016-0152, dated July 27, 2016 (referred to after this as the Mandatory Continuing Airworthiness Information, or “the MCAI”), to correct an unsafe condition for all Airbus Model A330-200 Freighter, -200, and -300 series airplanes; and Model A340-200, -300, -500, and -600 series airplanes. The MCAI states:

    The airworthiness limitations are currently defined and published in the Airbus A330 and A340 Airworthiness Limitations Section (ALS) documents.

    The airworthiness limitations applicable to the Damage Tolerant Airworthiness Limitation Items (DT-ALI), which are approved by EASA, are specified in Airbus A330 and A340 ALS Part 2. Failure to comply with these instructions could result in an unsafe condition [fatigue cracking, damage, and corrosion in a certain structure, which could result in reduced structural integrity of the airplane].

    EASA issued AD 2012-0211 (for A330 aeroplanes) [which corresponds to FAA AD 2014-17-06] and AD 2013-0127 (for A340 aeroplanes) [which corresponds to FAA AD 2001-16-01] to require the actions as specified in Airbus A330 and A340 ALS Part 2 at original issue and Revision 01, respectively.

    Since those [EASA] ADs were issued, Airbus issued Revision 01 and Revision 02, respectively, of Airbus A330 and A340 ALS Part 2, to introduce more restrictive maintenance requirements and/or airworthiness limitations.

    For the reason described above, this [EASA] AD retains the requirements of EASA AD 2012-0211 and AD 2013-0127, which are superseded, and requires accomplishment of the actions specified in Airbus A330 ALS Part 2 Revision 01 including Variation 1.1 and Variation 1.2, or A340 ALS Part 2 Revision 02 including Variation 2.1 and Variation 2.2, as applicable (hereafter collectively referred to as `the applicable ALS' in this [EASA] AD).

    In addition, this [EASA] AD also supersedes DGAC [Direction Générale de l'Aviation Civile] France AD 2001-126(B), whose requirements applicable to A330 aeroplanes have been transferred into Airbus A330 ALS Part 2, and supersedes DGAC France AD 2001-124(B), EASA AD 2012-0031 and AD 2012-0167, whose requirements applicable to A340 aeroplanes have been transferred into Airbus A340 ALS Part 2 [EASA ADs 2001-124(B) and 2001-126(B) correspond with FAA AD 2001-16-01].

    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-2017-0561. 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.

    Conclusion

    We reviewed the available data and determined that air safety and the public interest require adopting this AD as proposed except for 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 the following service information, which describes airworthiness limitation requirements for damage-tolerant airworthiness limitation items. These documents are distinct since they provide different limitation requirements.

    • Airbus A330 ALS Part 2, DT-ALI, Revision 01, issue 02, dated November 30, 2015.

    • Airbus A330 ALS Part 2, DT-ALI, Variation 1.1, dated December 15, 2015.

    • Airbus A330 ALS Part 2, DT-ALI, Variation 1.2, dated May 27, 2016.

    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 101 airplanes of U.S. registry.

    The actions required by AD 2014-17-06, and retained in this AD, take about 1 work-hour per product, at an average labor rate of $85 per work-hour. Required parts cost about $0 per product. Based on these figures, the estimated cost of the actions that were required by AD 2014-17-06 is $85 per product.

    We also estimate that it would take about 1 work-hour per product to comply with the basic requirements of this AD. The average labor rate is $85 per work-hour. Required parts would cost about $0 per product. Based on these figures, we estimate the cost of this AD on U.S. operators to be $8,585, or $85 per product.

    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.

    This AD is issued in accordance with authority delegated by the Executive Director, Aircraft Certification Service, as authorized by FAA Order 8000.51C. In accordance with that order, issuance of ADs is normally a function of the Compliance and Airworthiness Division, but during this transition period, the Executive Director has delegated the authority to issue ADs applicable to transport category airplanes to the Director of the System Oversight Division.

    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: a. Removing Airworthiness Directives (AD) 2001-16-01, Amendment 39-12369 (66 FR 40874, August 6, 2001); and AD 2014-17-06, Amendment 39-17959 (79 FR 52181, September 3, 2014); and b. Adding the following new AD: 2017-19-13 Airbus: Amendment 39-19043; Docket No. FAA-2017-0561; Product Identifier 2016-NM-141-AD. (a) Effective Date

    This AD is effective October 25, 2017.

    (b) Affected ADs

    This AD replaces AD 2001-16-01, Amendment 39-12369 (66 FR 40874, August 6, 2001) (“AD 2001-16-01”); and AD 2014-17-06, Amendment 39-17959 (79 FR 52181, September 3, 2014) (“AD 2014-17-06”).

    (c) Applicability

    This AD applies to the Airbus airplanes identified in paragraphs (c)(1), (c)(2), and (c)(3) of this AD, certificated in any category, with an original certificate of airworthiness or original export certificate of airworthiness issued on or before May 27, 2016.

    (1) Airbus Model A330-201, -202, -203, -223, and -243 airplanes.

    (2) Airbus Model A330-223F and -243F airplanes.

    (3) Airbus Model A330-301, -302, -303, -321, -322, -323, -341, -342, and -343 airplanes.

    (d) Subject

    Air Transport Association (ATA) of America Code 05, Periodic inspections.

    (e) Reason

    This AD was prompted by a determination that more restrictive maintenance instructions and airworthiness limitations are necessary. We are issuing this AD to detect and correct fatigue cracking, damage, and corrosion in a certain structure, which could result in reduced structural integrity of the airplane.

    (f) Compliance

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

    (g) Retained Requirement: Maintenance or Inspection Program Revision, With a New Terminating Action

    This paragraph restates the requirements of paragraph (i) of AD 2014-17-06, with a new terminating action. Accomplishing the revision required by paragraph (j) of this AD terminates the requirements of this paragraph.

    (1) Within 3 months after October 8, 2014 (the effective date of AD 2014-17-06): Revise the maintenance or inspection program, as applicable, by incorporating Airbus Document AI/SE-M4/95A.0089/97, “A330 Airworthiness Limitation Items,” Issue 19, dated March 23, 2012; “Variation to Issue 19 of ALI Document (referenced in ALS Part 2) Damage Tolerant Airworthiness Limitation Items (DT-ALI),” variation reference 0GVLG120018/C0S, dated October 24, 2012; and “Variation to Issue 19 of ALI Document (referenced in ALS Part 2) Damage Tolerant Airworthiness Limitation Items (DT-ALI),” variation reference 0GVLG130002/C01, dated March 26, 2013.

    (2) Comply with all applicable instructions and airworthiness limitations included in Airbus Document AI/SE M4/95A.0089/97, “A330 Airworthiness Limitation Items,” Issue 19, dated March 23, 2012; “Variation to Issue 19 of ALI Document (referenced in ALS Part 2) Damage Tolerant Airworthiness Limitation Items (DT-ALI),” variation reference 0GVLG120018/C0S, dated October 24, 2012; and “Variation to Issue 19 of ALI Document (referenced in ALS Part 2) Damage Tolerant Airworthiness Limitation Items (DT-ALI),” variation reference 0GVLG130002/C01, dated March 26, 2013. The initial compliance times for the actions specified in Airbus Document AI/SE-M4/95A.0089/97, “A330 Airworthiness Limitation Items,” Issue 19, dated March 23, 2012; “Variation to Issue 19 of ALI Document (referenced in ALS Part 2) Damage Tolerant Airworthiness Limitation Items (DT-ALI),” variation reference 0GVLG120018/C0S, dated October 24, 2012; and “Variation to Issue 19 of ALI Document (referenced in ALS Part 2) Damage Tolerant Airworthiness Limitation Items (DT-ALI),” 0GVLG130002/C01, dated March 26, 2013; are at the times specified in Airbus Document AI/SE-M4/95A.0089/97, “A330 Airworthiness Limitation Items,” Issue 19, dated March 23, 2012; “Variation to Issue 19 of ALI Document (referenced in ALS Part 2) Damage Tolerant Airworthiness Limitation Items (DT-ALI),” variation ref. 0GVLG120018/C0S, dated October 24, 2012; and “Variation to Issue 19 of ALI Document (referenced in ALS Part 2) Damage Tolerant Airworthiness Limitation Items (DT-ALI),” variation ref. 0GVLG130002/C01, dated March 26, 2013; or within 3 months after October 8, 2014 (the effective date of AD 2014-17-06), whichever occurs later.

    (h) Retained Provision: Optional Compliance, With a New Terminating Action

    This paragraph restates the provision in paragraph (j) of AD 2014-17-06, with a new terminating action. Compliance with tasks 533021-02-01, 533021-02-02, and 533021-02-03, specified in “Variation to Issue 19 of ALI Document (referenced in ALS Part 2) Damage Tolerant Airworthiness Limitation Items (DT-ALI),” variation ref. 0GVLG120022/C0S, dated December 21, 2012, may be used as a method of compliance to tasks 533021-01-01, 533021-01-02, 533021-01-03 specified in Section 2.2.1 and 2.2.2 of Section 2, “Airworthiness Limitations,” of Airbus Document AI/SE M4/95A.0089/97, “A330 Airworthiness Limitation Items,” Issue 19, dated March 23, 2012. Accomplishing the revision required by paragraph (j) of this AD terminates the provision specified in this paragraph.

    (i) Retained Requirement: No Alternative Intervals or Limits, With a New Exception

    This paragraph restates the requirements of paragraph (k) of AD 2014-17-06, with a new exception. Except as provided by paragraph (h) of this AD and as required by paragraph (j) of this AD, after the maintenance or inspection program, as applicable, has been revised as required by paragraph (g) of this AD, no alternative actions (e.g., inspections) or intervals may be used unless the actions or intervals are approved as an alternative method of compliance (AMOC) under the provisions of paragraph (l)(1) of this AD.

    (j) New Requirement: Maintenance or Inspection Program Revision

    Within 3 months after the effective date of this AD: Revise the maintenance or inspection program, as applicable, by incorporating the service information specified in paragraphs (j)(1), (j)(2), and (j)(3) of this AD. The initial compliance times for the actions specified in the service information referenced in paragraphs (j)(1), (j)(2), and (j)(3) of this AD are the times specified in the applicable service information, or within 3 months after the effective date of this AD, whichever occurs later. Accomplishing the revision specified in this paragraph terminates the requirements of paragraph (g) of this AD and the provision specified in paragraph (h) of this AD.

    (1) Airbus A330 Airworthiness Limitations Section (ALS) Part 2, Damage Tolerant Airworthiness Limitation Items (DT-ALI), Revision 01, issue 02, dated November 30, 2015.

    (2) Airbus A330 ALS Part 2, DT-ALI, Variation 1.1, dated December 15, 2015.

    (3) Airbus A330 ALS Part 2, DT-ALI, Variation 1.2, dated May 27, 2016.

    (k) New Requirement: No Alternative Actions or Intervals

    After the maintenance or inspection program, as applicable, has been revised, as required by paragraph (j) of this AD, no alternative actions (e.g., inspections) or intervals may be used unless the actions or intervals are approved as an AMOC in accordance with the procedures specified in paragraph (l)(1) of this AD.

    (l) Other FAA AD Provisions

    The following provisions also apply to this AD:

    (1) Alternative Methods of Compliance (AMOCs): The Manager, International Section, Transport Standards Branch, 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 Section, send it to the attention of the person identified in paragraph (m)(2) of this AD. 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.

    (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 Section, Transport Standards Branch, 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.

    (m) Related Information

    (1) Refer to Mandatory Continuing Airworthiness Information (MCAI) EASA Airworthiness Directive 2016-0152, dated July 27, 2016, 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-2017-0561.

    (2) For more information about this AD, contact Vladimir Ulyanov, Aerospace Engineer, International Section, Transport Standards Branch, FAA, 1601 Lind Avenue SW., Renton, WA 98057-3356; telephone 425-227-1138; fax 425-227-1149.

    (n) 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.

    (3) The following service information was approved for IBR on October 25, 2017.

    (i) Airbus A330 Airworthiness Limitations Section (ALS) Part 2, Damage Tolerant Airworthiness Limitation Items (DT-ALI), Revision 01, issue 02, dated November 30, 2015.

    (ii) Airbus A330 ALS Part 2, DT-ALI, Variation 1.1, dated December 15, 2015.

    (iii) Airbus A330 ALS Part 2, DT-ALI, Variation 1.2, dated May 27, 2016.

    (4) The following service information was approved for IBR on October 8, 2014 (79 FR 52181, September 3, 2014).

    (i) Airbus Document AI/SE-M4/95A.0089/97, “A330 Airworthiness Limitation Items,” Issue 19, dated March 23, 2012.

    (ii) Airbus “Variation to Issue 19 of ALI Document (referenced in ALS Part 2) Damage Tolerant Airworthiness Limitation Items (DT-ALI),” variation ref. 0GVLG130002/C01, dated March 26, 2013.

    (iii) Airbus “Variation to Issue 19 of ALI Document (referenced in ALS Part 2) Damage Tolerant Airworthiness Limitation Items (DT-ALI),” variation ref. 0GVLG120018/C0S, dated October 24, 2012.

    (iv) Airbus “Variation to Issue 19 of ALI Document (referenced in ALS Part 2) Damage Tolerant Airworthiness Limitation Items (DT-ALI),” variation ref. 0GVLG120022/C0S, dated December 21, 2012.

    (5) For service information identified in this AD, contact Airbus SAS, Airworthiness Office—EAL, 1 Rond Point Maurice Bellonte, 31707 Blagnac Cedex, France; telephone +33 5 61 93 36 96; fax +33 5 61 93 45 80; email [email protected]; Internet http://www.airbus.com.

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

    (7) 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 September 7, 2017. Jeffrey E. Duven, Director, System Oversight Division, Aircraft Certification Service.
    [FR Doc. 2017-19656 Filed 9-19-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4910-13-P
    DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION Federal Aviation Administration 14 CFR Part 95 [Docket No. 31156; Amdt. No. 535] IFR Altitudes; Miscellaneous Amendments AGENCY:

    Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), DOT.

    ACTION:

    Final rule.

    SUMMARY:

    This rule adopts miscellaneous amendments to the required IFR (instrument flight rules) altitudes and changeover points for certain Federal airways, jet routes, or direct routes for which a minimum or maximum en route authorized IFR altitude is prescribed. This regulatory action is needed because of changes occurring in the National Airspace System. These changes are designed to provide for the safe and efficient use of the navigable airspace under instrument conditions in the affected areas.

    DATES:

    Effective 0901 UTC, October 12, 2017.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Thomas J Nichols, Flight Procedure Standards Branch (AMCAFS-420), Flight Technologies and Programs Division, Flight Standards Service, Federal Aviation Administration, Mike Monroney Aeronautical Center, 6500 South MacArthur Blvd., Oklahoma City, OK 73169 (Mail Address: P.O. Box 25082 Oklahoma City, OK 73125) telephone: (405) 954-4164.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    This amendment to part 95 of the Federal Aviation Regulations (14 CFR part 95) amends, suspends, or revokes IFR altitudes governing the operation of all aircraft in flight over a specified route or any portion of that route, as well as the changeover points (COPs) for Federal airways, jet routes, or direct routes as prescribed in part 95.

    The Rule

    The specified IFR altitudes, when used in conjunction with the prescribed changeover points for those routes, ensure navigation aid coverage that is adequate for safe flight operations and free of frequency interference. The reasons and circumstances that create the need for this amendment involve matters of flight safety and operational efficiency in the National Airspace System, are related to published aeronautical charts that are essential to the user, and provide for the safe and efficient use of the navigable airspace. In addition, those various reasons or circumstances require making this amendment effective before the next scheduled charting and publication date of the flight information to assure its timely availability to the user. The effective date of this amendment reflects those considerations. In view of the close and immediate relationship between these regulatory changes and safety in air commerce, I find that notice and public procedure before adopting this amendment are impracticable and contrary to the public interest and that good cause exists for making the amendment effective in less than 30 days.

    Conclusion

    The FAA has determined that this regulation only involves an established body of technical regulations for which frequent and routine amendments are necessary to keep them operationally current. It, therefore—(1) is not a “significant regulatory action” under Executive Order 12866; (2) is not a “significant rule” under DOT Regulatory Policies and Procedures (44 FR 11034; February 26, 1979); and (3) does not warrant preparation of a regulatory evaluation as the anticipated impact is so minimal. For the same reason, the FAA certifies that this amendment will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities under the criteria of the Regulatory Flexibility Act.

    List of Subjects in 14 CFR Part 95

    Airspace, Navigation (air).

    Issued in Washington, DC, on September 8, 2017. John Duncan, Director, Flight Standards Service. Adoption of the Amendment

    Accordingly, pursuant to the authority delegated to me by the Administrator, part 95 of the Federal Aviation Regulations (14 CFR part 95) is amended as follows effective at 0901 UTC, October 12, 2017.

    1. The authority citation for part 95 continues to read as follows: Authority:

    49 U.S.C. 106(g), 40103, 40106, 40113, 40114, 40120, 44502, 44514, 44719, 44721.

    2. Part 95 is amended to read as follows: Revisions to IFR Altitudes & Changeover Point [Amendment 535 Effective Date, October 12, 2017] From To MEA MAA § 95.4000 High Altitude RNAV Routes § 95.4039 RNAV Route Q39 Is Amended By Adding CLAWD, NC WP TARCI, WV FIX * 18000 45000 * 18000-GNSS MEA * DME/DME/IRU MEA TARCI, WV FIX ASERY, WV WP * 18000 45000 * 18000-GNSS MEA * DME/DME/IRU MEA Is Amended to Delete CLAWD, NC WP WISTA, WV WP * 18000 45000 * 18000-GNSS MEA * DME/DME/IRU MEA § 95.4067  RNAV Route Q67 Is Amended by Adding JONEN, KY WP DARYN, WV WP * 18000 45000 * 18000-GNSS MEA * DME/DME/IRU MEA Is Amended to Delete JONEN, KY WP COLTZ, OH FIX * 18000 45000 * 18000-GNSS MEA * DME/DME/IRU MEA From To MEA  § 95.6001 Victor Routes-U.S § 95.6006 VOR Federal Airway V6 Is Amended to Read in Part IOWA CITY, IA VOR/DME DAVENPORT, IA VORTAC 2700 § 95.6007  VOR Federal Airway V7 Is Amended to Delete MUSCLE SHOALS, AL VORTAC GILLE, AL FIX 2500 GILLE, AL FIX GRAHAM, TN VORTAC * 3000 * 2400-MOCA GRAHAM, TN VORTAC VALER, TN FIX 3000 VALER, TN FIX CENTRAL CITY, KY VORTAC * 3000 * 2200-MOCA § 95.6028 VOR Federal Airway V28 Is Amended to Read in Part HAIRE, CA FIX * LINDEN, CA VOR/DME ** 3000 * 4000-MCA LINDEN, CA VOR/DME, NE BND ** 2100-MOCA SPOOK, CA FIX RICHY, CA FIX * 15000 * 12000-MOCA § 95.6059 VOR Federal Airway V59 Is Amended to Read in Part WARDO, WV FIX * EDSOE, WV FIX 3000 * 3500-MRA * EDSOE, WV FIX PARKERSBURG, WV VORTAC 3000 * 3500-MRA § 95.6067 VOR Federal Airway V67 Is Amended to Delete SHELBYVILLE, TN VOR/DME GRAHAM, TN VORTAC * 4000 * 2500-MOCA GRAHAM, TN VORTAC LANKY, TN FIX * 4000 * 2200-MOCA LANKY, TN FIX CUNNINGHAM, KY VOR/DME * 3000 * 2200-MOCA § 95.6088  VOR Federal Airway V88 Is Amended to Read in Part WACCO, MO FIX * QUALM, MO FIX ** 3700 * 3700-MCA QUALM, MO FIX, W BND ** 3000-MOCA § 95.6113 VOR Federal Airway V113 Is Amended to Read in Part MODESTO, CA VOR/DME * LINDEN, CA VOR/DME 2000 * 4000-MCA LINDEN, CA VOR/DME, NE BND KATSO, CA FIX * SPOOK, CA FIX ** 13000 * 15000-MCA SPOOK, CA FIX, N BND ** 12100-MOCA SPOOK, CA FIX; RICHY, CA FIX * 15000 *  12000-MOCA § 95.6115 VOR Federal Airway V115 Is Amended to Read in Part CHARLESTON, WV VORTAC PARKERSBURG, WV VORTAC 3000 § 95.6119 VOR Federal Airway V119 Is Amended to Read in Part HENDERSON, WV VORTAC * JACEE, WV FIX 2700 * 3800-MRA § 95.6190 VOR Federal Airway V190 Is Amended to Read in Part WACCO, MO FIX QUALM, MO FIX ** 3700 * 3700-MCA QUALM, MO FIX, W BND ** 3000-MOCA § 95.6195 VOR Federal Airway V195 Is Amended to Read in Part * TOMAD, CA FIX ** YAGER, CA FIX *** 11000 * 7000-MRA ** 7700-MCA YAGER, CA FIX, E BND ** 8300-MOCA § 95.6216 VOR Federal Airway V216 Is Amended to Read in Part IOWA CITY, IA VOR/DME LOTTE, IA FIX * 3500 * 2600-MOCA § 95.6513 VOR Federal Airway V513 Is Amended to Read in Part NEW HOPE, KY VOR/DME LOUISVILLE, KY VORTAC 2700
    [FR Doc. 2017-19950 Filed 9-19-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4910-13-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE Bureau of the Census 15 CFR Part 30 [Docket Number: 151222999-7734-03] RIN 0607-AA55 Foreign Trade Regulations (FTR): Clarification on Filing Requirements; Correction AGENCY:

    Bureau of the Census, Commerce Department.

    ACTION:

    Correcting amendments.

    SUMMARY:

    On April 19, 2017, the Census Bureau revised the Foreign Trade Regulations (FTR). The revisions to the FTR reflected the implementation of the International Trade Data System, in accordance with the Executive Order 13659, Streamlining the Export/Import Process for American Businesses. In the Final Rule, the Census Bureau also amended the appendices section. Appendices B, C, E, and F were removed and appendix D was revised and redesignated as the new appendix B. With the revisions to the appendices section, there are a few sections of the FTR that were inadvertently not updated to reflect these changes. This document corrects the final regulations.

    DATES:

    Effective on September 20, 2017.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Dale C. Kelly, Chief, International Trade Management Division, U.S. Census Bureau, Washington, DC 20233-6010, by phone: (301) 763-6937, by fax: (301) 763-8835, or by email: [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Background

    The Census Bureau is responsible for collecting, compiling, and publishing trade statistics for the United States under the provisions of Title 13 of the United States Code (U.S.C.), Chapter 9, Section 301. The Census Bureau published a Final Rule in the Federal Register (82 FR 18383, April 19, 2017) that revised the Foreign Trade Regulations (FTR) to reflect new export reporting requirements. In the Final Rule the Census Bureau amended the appendices section. Appendices B, C, E, and F were removed and appendix D was revised and redesignated as the new appendix B. With the revisions to the appendices section, there are a few sections of the FTR that were inadvertently not updated to reflect the changes to the appendices.

    Program Requirements

    To comply with the requirements of the Foreign Relations Act, Public Law 107-228, the Census Bureau is amending relevant sections of the FTR to revise or clarify export reporting requirements. Therefore, the Census Bureau is correcting 15 CFR part 30 by making the following correcting amendments:

    • Revise § 30.1(c) to replace the reference to appendix D with appendix B in the definition of “Exemption legend” because appendix D is redesignated as appendix B.

    • Revise § 30.1(c) to replace the reference to appendix D with appendix B in the definition of “Postdeparture filing citation” because appendix D is redesignated as appendix B.

    • Revise § 30.3(e)(2)(xi) to replace “Foreign port of unloading” with “Foreign port of unlading.”

    • Revise § 30.4(b)(3) to replace “Foreign port of unloading” with “Foreign port of unlading.”

    • Revise § 30.4(b)(4)(ii)(A) to replace the reference to appendix D with appendix B because appendix D is redesignated as appendix B.

    • Revise § 30.6(a)(18) to remove the reference to appendix B because this appendix is removed from the FTR.

    • Revise § 30.7(b) to replace the reference to appendix D with appendix B because appendix D is redesignated as appendix B.

    • Revise § 30.8 introductory text to replace the reference to appendix D with appendix B because appendix D is redesignated as appendix B.

    • Revise § 30.8(b) to replace the reference to § 30.46 with § 30.4(c)(2) for requirements for the filing of export information by pipeline carriers.

    • Revise § 30.35 to replace the reference to appendix D with appendix B because appendix D is redesignated as appendix B.

    • Revise appendix B, IX to replace the reference to § 30.40(d) with § 30.40(c).

    List of Subjects in 15 CFR Part 30

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

    Accordingly, 15 CFR part 30 is corrected by making the following correcting amendments:

    PART 30—FOREIGN TRADE REGULATIONS 1. The authority citation for part 30 continues to read as follows: Authority:

    5 U.S.C. 301; 13 U.S.C. 301-307; Reorganization plan No. 5 of 1990 (3 CFR 1949-1953 Comp., p. 1004); Department of Commerce Organization Order No. 35-2A, July 22, 1987, as amended, and No. 35-2B, December 20, 1996, as amended; Pub. L. 107-228, 116 Stat. 1350.

    2. Amend § 30.1(c) by revising the definitions for “Exemption legend” and “Postdeparture filing citation” to read as follows:
    § 30.1 Purpose and definitions.

    (c) * * *

    Exemption legend. A notation placed on the bill of lading, air waybill, export shipping instructions, or other commercial loading document that describes the basis for not filing EEI for an export transaction. The exemption legend shall reference the number of the section or provision in the FTR where the particular exemption is provided (See appendix B to this part).

    Postdeparture filing citation. A notation placed on the bill of lading, air waybill, export shipping instructions, or other commercial loading documents that states that the EEI will be filed after departure of the carrier. (See appendix B of this part.)

    3. Amend § 30.3 by revising paragraph (e)(2)(xi) to read as follows:
    § 30.3 Electronic Export Information filer requirements, parties to export transactions, and responsibilities of parties to export transactions.

    (e) * * *

    (2) * * *

    (xi) Foreign port of unlading.

    4. Amend § 30.4 by revising paragraphs (b)(3) and (b)(4)(ii)(A) to read as follows:
    § 30.4 Electronic Export Information filing procedures, deadlines, and certification statements.

    (b) * * *

    (3) For shipments between the United States and Puerto Rico, the USPPI or authorized agent shall provide the proof of filing citation, postdeparture filing citation, AES downtime filing citation, exemption or exclusion legend to the exporting carrier by the time the shipment arrives at the port of unlading.

    (4) * * *

    (ii) * * *

    (A) Provide the appropriate downtime filing citation as described in § 30.7(b) and appendix B of this part; and

    5. Amend § 30.6 by revising paragraph (a)(18) to read as follows:
    § 30.6 Electronic Export Information data elements.

    (a) * * *

    (18) Export information code. A code that identifies the type of export shipment or condition of the exported items (e.g., goods donated for relief or charity, impelled shipments, shipments under the Foreign Military Sales program, household goods, and all other shipments).

    6. Amend § 30.7 by revising paragraphs (b) to read as follows:
    § 30.7 Annotating the bill of lading, air waybill, or other commercial loading documents with proof of filing citations, and exemption legends.

    (a) * * *

    (b) For shipments other than USML, the USPPI or the authorized agent is responsible for annotating the proper proof of filing citation or exemption legend on the first page of the bill of lading, air waybill, export shipping instructions or other commercial loading documents. The USPPI or the authorized agent must provide the proof of filing citation or exemption legend to the exporting carrier. The carrier must annotate the proof of filing citation, exemption or exclusion legends on the carrier's outbound manifest when required. The carrier is responsible for presenting the appropriate proof of filing citation or exemption legend to CBP Port Director at the port of export as stated in subpart E of this part. Such presentation shall be without material change or amendment of the proof of filing citation, postdeparture filing citation, AES downtime filing citation, or exemption legend as provided to the carrier by the USPPI or the authorized agent. The proof of filing citation will identify that the export information has been accepted as transmitted. The postdeparture filing citation, AES downtime filing citation, or exemption legend will identify that no filing is required prior to export. The proof of filing citations, postdeparture filing citations, or exemption legends shall appear on the bill of lading, air waybill or other commercial loading documentation and shall be clearly visible. The AES filing citation, exemption or exclusion legends are provided for in appendix B of this part. The exporting carrier shall annotate the manifest or other carrier documentation with the AES filing citations, exemption or exclusions legends.

    7. Amend § 30.8 by revising the introductory text and paragraph (b) to read as follows:
    § 30.8 Time and place for presenting proof of filing citations and exemption legends.

    The following conditions govern the time and place to present proof of filing citations, postdeparture filing citations, AES downtime filing citation, exemption, or exclusion legends. The USPPI or the authorized agent is required to deliver the proof of filing citations, postdeparture filing citations, AES downtime filing citations, exemption, or exclusion legends required in § 30.7 to the exporting carrier. See appendix B of this part for the properly formatted proof of filing citations, exemption, or exclusion legends. Failure of the USPPI or the authorized agent of either the USPPI or FPPI to comply with these requirements constitutes a violation of the regulations in this part and renders such principal party or the authorized agent subject to the penalties provided for in subpart H of this part.

    (b) Pipeline exports. The proof of filing citations or exemption and exclusion legends for items being sent by pipeline shall be presented to the operator of a pipeline no later than four calendar days after the close of the month. See § 30.4(c)(2) for requirements for the filing of export information by pipeline carriers.

    8. Revise § 30.35 to read as follows:
    § 30.35 Procedure for shipments exempt from filing requirements.

    Except as noted in § 30.2(a)(1)(iv), where an exemption from the filing requirement is provided in this subpart, a legend describing the basis for the exemption shall be made on the first page of the bill of lading, air waybill, or other commercial loading document, and on the carrier's outbound manifest. The exemption legend shall reference the number of the section or provision in this part where the particular exemption is provided (see appendix B of this part).

    9. Revise appendix B to read as follows: Appendix B to Part 30—AES Filing Citation, Exemption and Exclusion Legends

    I. Proof of Filing Citation AES ITN

  • Example: AES X20170101987654
  • II. Postdeparture Citation—USPPI, USPPI is filing the EEI AESPOST USPPI EIN Date of Export (mm/dd/yyyy)
  • Example: AESPOST 12345678912 01/01/2017
  • III. Postdeparture Citation—Agent, Agent is filing the EEI AESPOST USPPI EIN—Filer ID Date of Export (mm/dd/yyyy)
  • Example: AESPOST 12345678912—987654321 01/01/2017
  • IV. AES downtime Filing Citation—Use only when AES or AES Direct is unavailable AESDOWN Filer ID Date of Export (mm/dd/yyyy)
  • Example: AESDOWN 123456789 01/01/2017
  • V. Exemption for Shipments to Canada NOEEI § 30.36 VI. Exemption for Low-Value Shipments NOEEI § 30.37(a) VII. Miscellaneous Exemption Statements are found in 15 CFR part 30, subpart D, § 30.37(b) through (y) NOEEI § 30.37 (site corresponding alphabet) VIII. Special Exemption for Shipments to the U.S. Armed Forces NOEEI § 30.39 IX. Special Exemptions for Certain Shipments to U.S. Government Agencies and Employees (Exemption Statements are found in 15 CFR part 30, subpart D, § 30.40(a) through (c) NOEEI § 30.40 (site corresponding alphabet) X. Split Shipments Split Shipments should be referenced as such on the manifest in accordance with provisions contained in § 30.28, Split Shipments. The notation should be easily identifiable on the manifest. It is preferable to include a reference to a split shipment in the exemption statements cited in the example, the notation SS should be included at the end of the appropriate exemption statement AES ITN SS
  • Example: AES X20170101987654 SS
  • Dated: September 14, 2017. Ron S. Jarmin, Associate Director for Economic Programs, performing the non-exclusive functions and duties of the Director, Bureau of the Census.
    [FR Doc. 2017-20060 Filed 9-19-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-07-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Telecommunications and Information Administration 15 CFR Part 2301 [Docket No. 170627596-7803-02] RIN 0660-AA34 Repeal of Regulations Governing the Public Telecommunications Facilities Program AGENCY:

    National Telecommunications and Information Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce.

    ACTION:

    Final rule.

    SUMMARY:

    The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) is repealing its regulations governing the Public Telecommunications Facilities Program (PTFP). The PTFP was a competitive grant program that helped public broadcasting stations, state and local governments, Indian Tribes, and nonprofit organizations to construct public television and radio stations. As of Fiscal Year 2011, no funds have been available for PTFP grants. NTIA is repealing its regulations governing the PTFP because the regulations are unnecessary and obsolete.

    DATES:

    This rule becomes effective on September 20, 2017.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Milton Brown, Deputy Chief Counsel, National Telecommunications and Information Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce, 1401 Constitution Avenue NW., Room 4713, Washington, DC 20230; telephone: (202) 482-1816; facsimile: (202) 501-8013; or email: [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: I. Background

    The PTFP was a competitive grant program that supports the planning and construction of public telecommunications facilities.1 The program helped public broadcasting stations, state and local governments, Indian Tribes, and nonprofit organizations to construct public television and radio stations. On November 8, 1996, NTIA issued a final rule entitled, “Public Telecommunications Facilities Program,” to carry out its statutory responsibility to administer the PTFP.2 The regulations outlined the PTFP grant application requirements, the evaluation and selection process, post-award requirements, and the completion of PTFP grant projects. Between Fiscal Years 1994 and 2010, NTIA awarded between $14 and $42 million each year in PTFP grant awards to assist radio, television, digital television including digital conversion projects, and distance learning.

    1 The PTFP is authorized under the Public Telecommunications Financing Act of 1978, as amended, 47 U.S.C. 390-393, 397-399b.

    2 61 FR 57966 (Nov. 8, 1996). (The rules were codified at 47 CFR part 2301).

    For the past seven years, no funds have been available for PTFP grants. In 2010, the Department of Commerce found that the majority of PTFP grants had assisted digital television conversion projects which had concluded, and that support for public broadcasters was available from other sources.3 For these reasons, the Department of Commerce identified the PTFP as “outdated, ineffective, or duplicative.” 4 Accordingly, Congress appropriated no funds for PTFP in Fiscal Year 2011.5

    3See Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations for Fiscal Year 2011: Hearing before the Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies of the Senate Committee on Appropriations, 111th Cong. 12, 22 (Mar. 4, 2010).

    4Id. at 12.

    5See Department of Defense and Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act of 2011, Pub. L. 112-10, sec. 1320 (Apr. 15, 2011) (“Notwithstanding section 1101, the level of the following accounts shall be $0: `Department of Commerce, National Telecommunications and Information Administration, Public Telecommunications Facilities Planning and Construction' ”). In the 2014 appropriation, Congress rescinded $8.5 million from the NTIA PTFP account. Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2014, Pub. L. 113-76, sec. 524(a) (Jan. 17, 2014) (“Of the unobligated balances available for `Department of Commerce, National Telecommunications and Information Administration, Public Telecommunications Facilities, Planning and Construction,' $8,500,000 is hereby rescinded”).

    As a result of the lack of funding, NTIA began the orderly shutdown of the PTFP thereafter. NTIA has not processed applications or awarded any additional grants under the PTFP since that time. NTIA has continued to monitor PTFP grants it awarded before Fiscal Year 2011 to ensure taxpayer funds have been utilized in the most responsible and efficient manner.

    II. Comments

    On July 18, 2017, NTIA published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) in the Federal Register seeking comment on its proposed repeal of regulations governing the PTFP. NTIA did not receive any comments in response to the NPRM.

    III. Repeal of Regulations for the Public Telecommunications Facilities Program

    Congress authorized NTIA to establish regulations “as may be necessary to carry out” the PTFP.6 Due to the lack of funding for seven years and no prospective funding for the PTFP, the regulations governing the PTFP are unnecessary and obsolete. If these regulations are not removed, it may suggest that the program is still active and may cause confusion regarding the status of the program. Accordingly, NTIA is repealing its regulations governing the PTFP.

    6 47 U.S.C. 392(e).

    Administrative Procedure Act

    The Final Rule relates solely to the repeal of grant program processes, and, as such, is not subject to the requirements of the Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. 553(a)(2).

    Congressional Review Act

    It has been determined that this final rule is not major under 5 U.S.C. 801 et seq.

    Executive Order 12866

    The repeal of the regulations governing the PTFP is not a significant regulatory action as defined by Executive Order 12866.

    Executive Order 13132

    The repeal of the regulations governing the PTFP does not contain policies with federalism implications sufficient to warrant preparation of a federalism assessment under Executive Order 13132.

    Regulatory Flexibility Act

    The Chief Counsel for Regulation of the Department of Commerce certified to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business Administration that the repeal of regulations governing the PTFP would not have a significant impact on a substantial number of small entities in accordance with section 605(b) of the Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 605(b)). NTIA received no comments on the certification, which remains unchanged.

    Paperwork Reduction Act

    The repeal of the regulations governing the PTFP contains no collections of information. Therefore, clearance by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 is not required. In 2013, OMB approved NTIA's requests to discontinue the following collections associated with the regulations governing the PTFP: OMB Control Numbers 0660-0003, 0660-0001, and 0605-0001; consequently, NTIA has no active collections associated with its regulations governing the PTFP.

    Lists of Subjects in 15 CFR Part 2301

    Administrative procedure, Grant programs-communications, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Telecommunications.

    For the reasons stated above, and under the authority of 47 U.S.C. 390-393 and 397-399b, NTIA is removing and reserving 15 CFR part 2301. PART 2301—[REMOVED AND RESERVED] Dated: September 15, 2017. Leonard Bechtel, Director of Administration and Chief Financial Officer, performing the non-exclusive duties of the Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information, National Telecommunications and Information Administration.
    [FR Doc. 2017-20012 Filed 9-19-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-60-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES Food and Drug Administration 21 CFR Part 73 [Docket No. FDA-2016-C-2570] Listing of Color Additives Exempt From Certification; Spirulina Extract; Confirmation of Effective Date AGENCY:

    Food and Drug Administration, HHS.

    ACTION:

    Final rule; confirmation of effective date.

    SUMMARY:

    The Food and Drug Administration (FDA or we) is confirming the effective date of August 3, 2017, for the final rule that appeared in the Federal Register of July 3, 2017, and that amended the color additive regulations to provide for the expanded safe use of spirulina extract to seasonally color hard-boiled shell eggs at levels consistent with good manufacturing practice.

    DATES:

    Effective date of final rule published in the Federal Register of July 3, 2017 (82 FR 30731), confirmed: August 3, 2017.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Molly A. Harry, Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, Food and Drug Administration, 5001 Campus Dr., College Park, MD 20740, 240-402-1075.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    In the Federal Register of July 3, 2017 (82 FR 30731), we amended the color additive regulations in § 73.530 Spirulina extract (21 CFR 73.530) to provide for the expanded safe use of spirulina extract to seasonally color the shells of hard-boiled eggs.

    We gave interested persons until August 2, 2017, to file objections or requests for a hearing. We received no objections or requests for a hearing on the final rule. Therefore, we find that the effective date of the final rule that published in the Federal Register of July 3, 2017, should be confirmed.

    List of Subjects in 21 CFR Part 73

    Color additives, Cosmetics, Drugs, Medical devices.

    Therefore, under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (21 U.S.C. 321, 341, 342, 343, 348, 351, 352, 355, 361, 362, 371, 379e) and under authority delegated to the Commissioner of Food and Drugs, we are giving notice that no objections or requests for a hearing were filed in response to the July 3, 2017, final rule. Accordingly, the amendments issued thereby became effective August 3, 2017. Dated: September 14, 2017. Anna K. Abram, Deputy Commissioner for Policy, Planning, Legislation, and Analysis.
    [FR Doc. 2017-20050 Filed 9-19-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4164-01-P
    ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY 40 CFR Part 52 [EPA-R07-OAR-2017-0208; FRL-9967-93-Region 7] Approval of Implementation Plans; State of Iowa; Elements of the Infrastructure SIP Requirements for the 2010 Nitrogen Dioxide National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) AGENCY:

    Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

    ACTION:

    Direct final rule.

    SUMMARY:

    The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is taking direct final action to approve elements of a State Implementation Plan (SIP) submission, and an amended SIP submission from the State of Iowa for the 2010 Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS).

    Infrastructure SIPs address the applicable requirements of Clean Air Act (CAA) section 110, which requires that each state adopt and submit a SIP for the implementation, maintenance, and enforcement of each new or revised NAAQS promulgated by the EPA. These SIPs are commonly referred to as “infrastructure” SIPs. The infrastructure requirements are designed to ensure that the structural components of each state's air quality management program are adequate to meet the state's responsibilities under the CAA.

    DATES:

    This direct final rule will be effective November 20, 2017, without further notice, unless EPA receives adverse comment by October 20, 2017. If EPA receives adverse comment, we will publish a timely withdrawal of the direct final rule in the Federal Register informing the public that the rule will not take effect.

    ADDRESSES:

    Submit your comments, identified by Docket ID No. EPA-R07-OAR-2017-0208, to https://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. The 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 https://www2.epa.gov/dockets/commenting-epa-dockets.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Heather Hamilton, Air Planning and Development Branch, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 7, 11201 Renner Boulevard, Lenexa, KS 66219 at (913) 551-7039, or by email at [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

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

    I. What is being addressed in this document? II. Have the requirements for approval of a SIP revision been met? III. What action is EPA taking? IV. Statutory and Executive Order Reviews I. What is being addressed in this document?

    EPA is approving elements of the 2010 NO2 NAAQS infrastructure SIP submission from the State of Iowa received on July 29, 2013, and an amended SIP submission received on March 9, 2017. Specifically, EPA is approving the following elements of section 110(a)(2): (A), (B), (C), (D)(i)(I)—significant contribution to nonattainment (prong 1), interfering with maintenance of the NAAQS (prong 2) and (D)(i)(II)—prevent of significant deterioration of air quality (prong 3), and (D)(ii), (E) through (H), and (J) through (M). EPA is not acting on the elements of section 110(a)(2)(D)(i)(II)—protection of visibility (prong 4), and 110(a)(2)(I).

    A Technical Support Document (TSD) is included as part of this docket to discuss the details of this action, including analysis of how the SIP meets the applicable 110 requirements for infrastructure SIPs.

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

    The state submission has met the public notice requirements for SIP submissions in accordance with 40 CFR 51.102. The state initiated public comment from April 6, 2013, to May 8, 2013. One comment was received and adequately addressed in the final SIP submission. The amended submission was placed on public comment January 12, 2017, to February 15, 2017. No comments were received. These submissions also satisfied the completeness criteria of 40 CFR part 51, appendix V. In addition, as explained above and in more detail in the technical support document which is part of this docket, the revisions meets the substantive SIP requirements of the CAA, including section 110 and implementing regulations.

    III. What action is EPA taking?

    EPA is approving elements of the July 23, 2013, (received July 29, 2013) infrastructure SIP submission from the State of Iowa, which addresses the requirements of CAA sections 110(a)(1) and (2) as applicable to the 2010 NO2 NAAQS. As stated above, EPA is approving the following elements of section 110(a)(2): (A), (B), (C), (D)(i)(I)—significant contribution to nonattainment (prong 1), interfering with maintenance of the NAAQS (prong 2) and (D)(i)(II)—prevent significant deterioration of air quality (prong 3), and (D)(ii), (E) through (H), and (J) through (M). The March 1, 2017, SIP amendment, revised 110(a)(2)(D)(i)(I). Details of the submission are addressed in the TSD, included as part of the docket, to discuss this approval action.

    EPA is not taking action on section 110(a)(2)(I). Section 110(a)(2)(I) requires that in the case of a plan or plan revision for areas designated as nonattainment areas, states must meet applicable requirements of part D of the CAA, relating to SIP requirements for designated nonattainment areas. EPA does not expect infrastructure SIP submissions to address element (I). The specific SIP submissions for designated nonattainment areas, as required under CAA title I, part D, are subject to different submission schedules than those for section 110 infrastructure elements. EPA will take action on part D attainment plan SIP submissions through a separate rulemaking governed by the requirements for nonattainment areas, as described in part D.

    EPA is not taking action on section 110(a)(2)(D)(i)(II), prong 4.

    We are publishing this direct final rule without a prior proposed rule because we view this as a noncontroversial action and anticipate no adverse comment. However, in the “Proposed Rules” section of this Federal Register, we are publishing a separate document that will serve as the proposed rule to approve the SIP revision if adverse comments are received on this direct final rule. We will not institute a second comment period on this action. Any parties interested in commenting must do so at this time. For further information about commenting on this rule, see the ADDRESSES section of this document. If EPA receives adverse comment, we will publish a timely withdrawal in the Federal Register informing the public that this direct final rule will not take effect. We will address all public comments in any subsequent final rule based on the proposed rule.

    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, 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 and will not impose substantial direct costs on tribal governments or preempt tribal law as specified by Executive Order 13175 (65 FR 67249, November 9, 2000).

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

    Under section 307(b)(1) of the CAA, petitions for judicial review of this action must be filed in the United States Court of Appeals for the appropriate circuit by November 20, 2017. Filing a petition for reconsideration by the Administrator of this final rule does not affect the finality of this action for the purposes of judicial review nor does it extend the time within which a petition for judicial review may be filed, and shall not postpone the effectiveness of such rule or action. This action may not be challenged later in proceedings to enforce its requirements. (See section 307(b)(2).)

    List of Subjects in 40 CFR Part 52

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

    Dated: September 8, 2017. Cathy Stepp, Acting Regional Administrator, Region 7.

    For the reasons stated in the preamble, EPA amending 40 CFR part 52 as set forth below:

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

    42 U.S.C. 7401 et seq.

    Subpart Q—Iowa 2. Section 52.820(e) is amended by adding new entry (47) in numerical order at the end of the table to read as follows:
    § 52.820 Identification of plan.

    (e) * * *

    EPA-Approved Iowa Nonregulatory SIP Provisions Name of nonregulatory SIP revision Applicable
  • geographic or
  • nonattainment
  • area
  • State
  • submittal
  • date
  • EPA approval date Explanation
    *         *         *         *         *         *         * (47) Sections 110(a)(1) and (2) Infrastructure Requirements 2010 Nitrogen Dioxide NAAQS Statewide 7/23/13, 3/1/17 9/20/2017, [Insert Federal Register citation] This action addresses the following CAA elements: 110(a)(2)(A), (B), (C), (D)(i)(I) prongs 1 and 2, D(i)(II) prong 3 only, and D(ii), (E), (F), (G), (H), (J), (K), (L), and (M). 110(a)(2)(I) is not applicable. [EPA-R07-OAR-2017-0208; FRL-9967-93-Region 7].
    [FR Doc. 2017-19935 Filed 9-19-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560-50-P
    ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY 40 CFR Part 52 [EPA-R07-OAR-2017-0477; FRL-9967-95-Region 7] Approval of Nebraska Air Quality Implementation Plans; Infrastructure SIP Requirements for the 2010 Nitrogen Dioxide and Sulfur Dioxide and the 2012 Fine Particulate Matter National Ambient Air Quality Standards AGENCY:

    Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

    ACTION:

    Direct final rule.

    SUMMARY:

    The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is taking direct final action to approve elements of a State Implementation Plan (SIP) submission from the State of Nebraska addressing the applicable requirements of Clean Air Act (CAA) section 110 for the 2010 Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) and Sulfur Dioxide (SO2) National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS), and the 2012 Fine Particulate Matter (PM2.5) NAAQS, which requires that each state adopt and submit a SIP to support implementation, maintenance, and enforcement of each new or revised NAAQS promulgated by EPA. These SIPs are commonly referred to as “infrastructure” SIPs. The infrastructure requirements are designed to ensure that the structural components of each state's air quality management program are adequate to meet the state's responsibilities under the CAA.

    DATES:

    This direct final rule will be effective November 20, 2017, without further notice, unless EPA receives adverse comment by October 20, 2017. If EPA receives adverse comment, we will publish a timely withdrawal of the direct final rule in the Federal Register informing the public that the rule will not take effect.

    ADDRESSES:

    Submit your comments, identified by Docket ID No. EPA-R07-OAR-2017-0477 to https://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 https://www2.epa.gov/dockets/commenting-epa-dockets.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Mr. Gregory Crable, Environmental Protection Agency, Air Planning and Development Branch, 11201 Renner Boulevard, Lenexa, Kansas 66219 at (913) 551-7391, or by email at [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

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

    I. What is being addressed in this document? II. Have the requirements for approval of a SIP revision been met? III. What action is EPA taking? IV. Statutory and Executive Order Reviews I. What is being addressed in this document?

    EPA is taking direct final action to approve the infrastructure submissions as meeting the submittal requirement section 110(a)(1). EPA is approving elements of the 2010 NO2 and SO2 infrastructure SIP submissions from the State of Nebraska received on February 7, 2013, and August 22, 2013, respectively. EPA is also taking action to approve the 2012 PM2.5 infrastructure submittal received on February 22, 2016. Specifically, EPA is approving, in regard to the 2010 NO2 NAAQS, the following elements of section 110(a)(2): (A) through (C), (D)(i)(I)—Prongs 1 and 2, (D)(i)(II)—prong 3, (D)(ii), (E) through (H), and (J) through (M).

    In regard to the 2010 SO2 and 2012 PM2.5 NAAQS, EPA is approving the following infrastructure elements of 110(a)(2): (A) through (C), (D)(i)(II)—Prong 3, (D)(ii), (E) through (H), and (J) through (M). As discussed in the TSD, EPA is not acting, at this time, on section 110(a)(2)(D)(i)(I)—prongs 1 and 2, as it relates to the 2010 SO2 and 2012 PM2.5 NAAQS.

    In regard to the 2010 NO2 and SO2 and the 2012 PM2.5 infrastructure submittals and as explained in the TSD, EPA is not acting, at this time, on section (D)(i)(II)—prong 4. Finally, EPA is not acting on section 110(a)(2)(I) as it does not expect infrastructure SIP submissions to address element (I).

    As noted, a Technical Support Document (TSD) is included as part of the docket to discuss the details of this action.

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

    The state submissions have met the public notification requirements for SIP submissions in accordance with 40 CFR 51.102. A public comment period was held for the NO2 infrastructure SIP from December 27, 2012 to January 28, 2013.

    The only comments were from the EPA, and the infrastructure SIP submission was revised to address the comments. A public hearing was held on January 28, 2013.

    The state held a public comment period for the SO2 infrastructure SIP from April 25, 2013, to May 28, 2013. NDEQ received comments from the Sierra Club on May 28, 2013. The state addressed the Sierra Clubs comments with no revisions to its proposed SIP. A public hearing was held on May 27, 2013.

    A public comment period was held for the PM2.5 infrastructure SIP from November 23, 2015, to December 29, 2015. A public hearing was held on December 29, 2015. No comments were received.

    All three submissions satisfied the completeness criteria of 40 CFR part 51, appendix V. As explained in more detail in the TSD, which is part of this docket, the revisions meet the substantive SIP requirements of the CAA, including section 110 and implementing regulations.

    III. What action is EPA taking?

    EPA is approving the infrastructure SIP submissions from Nebraska, which address the requirements of CAA sections 110(a)(1) and (2) as applicable to the 2010 NO2 and SO2 and 2012 PM2.5 NAAQS. As stated in the above preamble, EPA is approving elements of the state's submission as meeting requirements of section 110(a)(1) for all three submittals.

    With regard to the 2010 NO2 NAAQS, EPA is approving the following infrastructure elements of 110(a)(2): (A) through (C), (D)(i)(I)—Prongs 1 and 2, (D)(i)(II)—prong 3, (D)(ii), (E) through (H), and (J) through (M). As explained in the TSD, EPA intends to act on section (D)(i)(II)—prong 4, in a subsequent rulemaking.

    EPA is approving the following infrastructure elements of 110(a)(2) as it relates to the 2010 SO2 and the 2012 PM2.5 NAAQS: (A) through (C), (D)(i)(II)—Prong 3, (D) (ii), (E) through (H), and (J) through (M). As discussed in the TSD, EPA intends to act on section (D)(i)(II)—prong 4, in a subsequent rulemaking and is not acting, at this time, on section 110(a)(2)(D)(i)(I)—prongs 1 and 2, for both the 2010 SO2 and 2012 PM2.5 NAAQS.

    Finally, EPA is taking no action with respect to section 110(a)(2)(I) for the 2010 NO2 and SO2 NAAQS, and the 2012 PM2.5 NAAQS. Section 110(a)(2)(I) requires that in the case of a plan or plan revision for areas designated as nonattainment areas, states must meet applicable requirements of part D of the CAA, relating to SIP requirements for designated nonattainment areas. EPA does not expect infrastructure SIP submissions to address element (I). The specific SIP submissions for designated nonattainment areas, as required under CAA title I, part D, are subject to different submission schedules than those for section 110 infrastructure elements. EPA takes action on part D attainment plan SIP submissions through separate rulemaking governed by the requirements for nonattainment areas, as described in part D. EPA has not designated any area in the U.S. as nonattainment for the 2010 NO2 NAAQS; EPA has designated all areas of Nebraska as “attainment/unclassified” with regards to the 2012 PM2.5 NAAQS. Additionally, EPA has designated Lincoln and Otoe Counties as “attainment/unclassified” for the 2010 1-hr SO2 NAAQS, but has not yet made a final determination for the rest of the Nebraska as it relates to the 2010 SO2 NAAQS. Nebraska has no current CAA requirement to submit a plan to address section 110(a)(2)(I).

    Based upon review of the state's infrastructure SIP submissions for the 2010 NO2 and SO2 NAAQS as well as the 2012 PM2.5 NAAQS, and relevant statutory and regulatory authorities and provisions referenced in the submissions or referenced in Nebraska's SIP, EPA believes that Nebraska has the infrastructure to address all applicable required elements of sections 110(a)(1) and (2) (except otherwise noted) to ensure that the 2010 NO2 and SO2 NAAQS and the 2012 PM2.5 NAAQS are implemented in the state.

    We are publishing this direct final rule without a prior proposed rule because we view this as a noncontroversial action and anticipate no adverse comment. However, in the “Proposed Rules” section of this Federal Register, we are publishing a separate document that will serve as the proposed rule to this action partionally approving elements of section 110(a)(2) for the 2010 NO2 and SO2 NAAQS and the 2012 PM2.5 NAAQS, if adverse comments are received on this direct final rule. We will not institute a second comment period on this action. Any parties interested in commenting must do so at this time. For further information about commenting on this rule, see the ADDRESSES section of this document. If EPA receives adverse comment, we will publish a timely withdrawal in the Federal Register informing the public that this direct final rule will not take effect. We will address all public comments in any subsequent final rule based on the proposed rule.

    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, 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 and will not impose substantial direct costs on tribal governments or preempt tribal law as specified by Executive Order 13175 (65 FR 67249, November 9, 2000).

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

    Under section 307(b)(1) of the CAA, petitions for judicial review of this action must be filed in the United States Court of Appeals for the appropriate circuit by November 20, 2017. Filing a petition for reconsideration by the Administrator of this final rule does not affect the finality of this action for the purposes of judicial review nor does it extend the time within which a petition for judicial review may be filed, and shall not postpone the effectiveness of such rule or action. This action may not be challenged later in proceedings to enforce its requirements. (See section 307(b)(2).)

    List of Subjects in 40 CFR Part 52

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

    Dated: September 8, 2017. Cathy Stepp, Acting Regional Administrator, Region 7.

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

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

    42 U.S.C. 7401 et seq.

    Subpart CC—Nebraska 2. Amend § 52.1420(e) by adding entries “(32)”, “(33)” and “(34)” in numerical order to read as follows:
    § 52.1420 Identification of Plan.

    (e) * * *

    EPA-Approved Nebraska Nonregulatory Provisions Name of nonregulatory SIP provision Applicable
  • geographic or
  • nonattainment
  • area
  • State
  • submittal
  • date
  • EPA approval date Explanation
    *         *         *         *         *         *         * (32) Section 110(a)(2) Infrastructure Requirements for the 2010 NO2 NAAQS Statewide 2/7/13 9/20/17, [Insert Federal Register citation] [EPA-R07-OAR-2017-0477; FRL-9967-95-Region 7]. This action addresses the following CAA elements 110(a)(2) (A) through (C), (D) (i) (I)—Prongs 1 and 2, (D)(i)(II)—prong 3, (D)(ii), (E) through (H), and (J) through (M). (33) Section 110(a)(2) Infrastructure Requirements for the 2010 SO2 NAAQS Statewide 8/22/13 9/20/17, [Insert Federal Register citation] [EPA-R07-OAR-2017-0477; FRL-9967-95-Region 7]. This action addresses the following CAA elements 110(a)(2) (A) through (C), (D) (i) (II)—Prong 3, (D) (ii), (E) through (H), and (J) through (M). (34) Section 110(a)(2) Infrastructure Requirements for the 2010 PM2.5 NAAQS Statewide 2/22/16 9/20/17, [Insert Federal Register citation] [EPA-R07-OAR-2017-0477; FRL-9967-95-Region 7]. This action addresses the following CAA elements 110(a)(2) (A) through (C), (D) (i) (II)—Prong 3, (D) (ii), (E) through (H), and (J) through (M).
    [FR Doc. 2017-19931 Filed 9-19-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560-50-P
    ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY 40 CFR Part 52 [EPA-R09-OAR-2016-0215; FRL-9967-45-Region 9] Approval of California Air Plan Revisions, South Coast Air Quality Management District AGENCY:

    Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

    ACTION:

    Final rule.

    SUMMARY:

    The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is taking final action to approve revisions to the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD or District) portion of the California State Implementation Plan (SIP). These revisions concern the District's demonstration regarding Reasonably Available Control Technology (RACT) requirements for the 2008 8-hour ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) in the South Coast Air Basin and Coachella Valley ozone nonattainment areas.

    DATES:

    This rule will be effective on October 20, 2017.

    ADDRESSES:

    The EPA has established a docket for this action under Docket No. EPA-R09-OAR-2016-0215. All documents in the docket are listed on the http://www.regulations.gov Web site. Although listed on the Web site, some information is not publicly available, e.g., Confidential Business Information (CBI) or other information whose disclosure is restricted by statute. Certain other material, such as copyrighted material, is not placed on the Internet and will be publicly available only in hard copy form. Publicly available docket materials are available through http://www.regulations.gov, or please contact the person identified in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section for additional availability information.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Stanley Tong, EPA Region IX, (415) 947-4122, [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

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

    Table of Contents I. Proposed Action II. Public Comments and EPA Responses III. Final Action IV. Incorporation by Reference V. Statutory and Executive Order Reviews I. Proposed Action

    On June 15, 2017 (82 FR 27451), under section 110(k)(3) of the Clean Air Act (CAA or “Act”), the EPA proposed to approve the “2016 AQMP Reasonably Available Control Technology (RACT) Demonstration” (“2016 AQMP RACT SIP”), submitted to the EPA by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) on July 18, 2014 1 for approval as a revision to the California SIP, as supplemented by the public draft versions of the “Supplemental RACM/RACT Analysis for the NOX RECLAIM Program” (“2017 RACT Supplement”) and two negative declarations submitted by CARB on May 22, 2017.2 We had previously proposed a partial approval and partial disapproval of the 2016 Air Quality Management Plan (AQMP) RACT SIP,3 but withdrew that proposal because we found that the 2017 RACT Supplement and recent amendments to certain District rules adequately addressed the deficiency that had been the basis for the earlier proposed partial disapproval. References herein to the “proposed rule” or “proposed action” refer to our proposed action published on June 15, 2017, unless otherwise stated.

    1 The SCAQMD adopted its 2016 AQMP RACT SIP on June 4, 2014.

    2 CARB's May 22, 2017 submittal contained public draft versions of the 2017 RACT Supplement and negative declarations along with a request that the EPA provide parallel processing of the documents concurrently with the state's public process. See footnote 1 in our June 15, 2017 proposed rule. In our June 15, 2017 proposed rule, we erroneously described the 2017 RACT Supplement as including the two negative declarations. The 2017 RACT Supplement includes additional emissions analyses and two appendices that contain certain permit conditions for two specific stationary sources in Coachella Valley but does not include the negative declarations. The negative declarations were included in CARB's May 22, 2017 submittal but as a separate document.

    3See 81 FR 76547 (November 3, 2016).

    Our proposed rule was based on our evaluation of the public draft versions of the 2017 RACT Supplement and negative declarations, and we indicated that we would not take final action until CARB submitted the final adopted versions to the EPA as a SIP revision. On July 7, 2017, the SCAQMD held a public hearing and approved the 2017 RACT Supplement and two negative declarations and submitted the approval package to CARB for adoption and submittal to the EPA. On July 26, 2017, the CARB Executive Officer adopted the 2017 RACT Supplement and negative declarations as a revision to the California SIP and, on July 27, 2017, submitted them to the EPA for approval, thereby satisfying the condition 4 for final EPA action.

    4 As explained in our June 15, 2017 proposed rulemaking, the EPA is following established procedures for parallel processing that allows us to approve a state provision so long as it was adopted as proposed with no significant changes.

    The District prepared the 2017 RACT Supplement to address a deficiency that the EPA had identified in the 2016 AQMP RACT SIP and that was the basis for the EPA's proposed partial disapproval published on November 3, 2016 (81 FR 76547).5 The final versions of the 2017 RACT Supplement (which includes additional analyses and certain permit conditions for two specific stationary sources in Coachella Valley) and negative declarations include non-substantive changes from the public draft versions that were the basis for our June 15, 2017 proposed rule. Lastly, CARB's July 27, 2017 SIP revision submittal includes documentation of the public process followed by the SCAQMD to approve the 2017 RACT Supplement and related negative declarations and documentation of the adoption by CARB of the 2017 RACT Supplement and negative declarations as revisions to the California SIP.

    5 As noted above, we have withdrawn our November 3, 2016 proposed rule. See the summary section of our June 15, 2017 proposed rule at 82 FR 27451.

    On August 7, 2017, we found the 2017 RACT Supplement including certain conditions from permits for two specific stationary sources located in Coachella Valley, and two negative declarations met the completeness criteria in 40 CFR part 51, appendix V.6 Today, we take final action on the 2016 AQMP RACT SIP submitted on July 18, 2014 as supplemented by the 2017 RACT Supplement and negative declarations submitted on July 27, 2017.

    6 As previously indicated in our June 15, 2017 proposed rulemaking, SCAQMD's 2016 AQMP RACT SIP was deemed complete by operation of law on January 18, 2015.

    In our proposed rule, we explained that CAA sections 182(b)(2) and (f) require that SIPs for ozone nonattainment areas classified as Moderate or above implement RACT for any source covered by a Control Techniques Guidelines 7 (CTG) document and for any major source of volatile organic compounds (VOC) or nitrogen oxides (NOX).8 The EPA's implementing regulations for the 2008 ozone NAAQS explain how these RACT requirements will be applied in areas classified as Moderate or above for the 2008 ozone NAAQS. See 40 CFR 51.1112.

    7 CTGs provide the EPA's recommendations on how to control emissions of VOC from a specific type of product or process in an ozone nonattainment area. Each CTG includes emissions limitations based on RACT to address ozone nonattainment area requirements.

    8 VOC and NOX together produce ground-level ozone, smog and particulate matter (PM), which harm human health and the environment.

    We further explained that the areas under discussion here are subject to the RACT requirement as the South Coast Air Basin (“South Coast”) is classified as an Extreme nonattainment area and the Coachella Valley portion of Riverside County (“Coachella Valley”) is classified as a Severe-15 nonattainment area for the 2008 8-hour ozone NAAQS (40 CFR 81.305); 77 FR 30088 at 30101 and 30103 (May 21, 2012). SCAQMD implements the RACT requirements for South Coast and Coachella Valley because it is authorized under state law to regulate stationary sources in those areas. Therefore, the SCAQMD must, at a minimum, adopt requirements to achieve emissions reductions equivalent to RACT-level controls for all sources covered by a CTG document and for all major non-CTG sources of VOC or NOX within the two nonattainment areas. Any stationary source that emits or has the potential to emit at least 10 tons per year of VOC or NOX is a major stationary source in an extreme ozone nonattainment area (CAA section 182(e) and (f)), and any stationary source that emits or has the potential to emit at least 25 tons per year of VOC or NOX is a major stationary source in a severe ozone nonattainment area (CAA section 182(d) and (f)).

    In our proposed rule, we evaluated the 2016 AQMP RACT Demonstration, 2017 RACT Supplement and negative declarations in light of the above requirements and concluded that, collectively, they meet the RACT requirements of CAA sections 182(b)(2) and (f) and 40 CFR 51.1112 for the South Coast and Coachella Valley nonattainment areas for the 2008 ozone standard. In this document, we provide a summary of our evaluation. For a more detailed discussion, please see the proposed rule at 82 FR 27451, pages 27453 through 27455.

    First, based on our review of the documentation provided by the SCAQMD in the 2016 AQMP RACT SIP and the negative declarations, we agreed that existing District rules approved in the SIP meet or are more stringent than the corresponding CTG limits and applicability thresholds for each category of VOC sources covered by a CTG document or are covered by negative declarations for which we were proposing approval. In this action, we affirm the finding we made in the proposed rule with respect to the CTG portion of the RACT requirement and approve the two negative declarations as a revision to the California SIP.

    Next, with respect to major stationary sources of VOC or NOX emissions, we divided the evaluation into three parts: major non-CTG VOC and NOX stationary sources that are subject to District's command-and-control VOC and NOX rules, major sources located in the South Coast that are subject to the District's cap-and-trade program referred to as the Regional Clean Air Incentives Market (“RECLAIM”) program, and major sources located in Coachella Valley that are subject to RECLAIM.

    With respect to the first part of the evaluation of RACT for major sources, we reviewed the information provided by the District regarding new major Title V sources receiving permits since the District's previous RACT SIP approval and agreed with the District that the District's command-and-control VOC and NOX rules approved in the SIP require implementation of RACT for all major non-CTG VOC and NOX sources in the South Coast and Coachella Valley to which those rules apply. We affirm that finding in this final action.

    In connection with the second part of the evaluation, we described RECLAIM as a program adopted by the District to reduce emissions from the largest stationary sources of NOX and sulfur oxides (SOX) emissions through a market-based trading program that establishes annual declining NOX and SOX allocations (also called “facility caps”) and allows covered facilities to comply with their facility caps by installing pollution control equipment, changing operations, or purchasing RECLAIM trading credits (RTCs) from the RECLAIM market. We noted that section 40440 of the California Health and Safety Code (CH&SC) requires the District to monitor advances in best available retrofit control technology (BARCT) and periodically to reassess the overall facility caps to ensure that the facility caps are equivalent, in the aggregate, to BARCT emission levels imposed on affected sources; 9 that facilities subject to RECLAIM are exempted from a number of District command-and-control (also referred to as “prohibitory”) rules that otherwise apply to sources of NOX and SOX emissions in the South Coast; 10 and that, with certain exceptions, facilities located outside of the South Coast but within SCAQMD jurisdiction (e.g., facilities in Coachella Valley) are not included in the RECLAIM program.

    9 BARCT is defined as “an emission limitation that is based on the maximum degree of reduction achievable taking into account environmental, energy, and economic impacts by each class or category of source.” CH&SC section 40406. For the purposes of comparison, the EPA defines RACT as the lowest emission limitation that a particular source is capable of meeting by the application of control technology that is reasonably available considering technological and economic feasibility. 44 FR 53762 (September 17, 1979). As such, we generally find that BARCT level of control meets or exceeds RACT level of control. For additional background, see the technical support document (TSD) associated with our June 15, 2017 proposed rule explaining how SCAQMD's RECLAIM program, as amended in 2015, fulfills the RACT requirement based on the District's re-evaluation of the 2015 BARCT reassessment in terms of RACT, rather than BARCT.

    10See District Rule 2001 (“Applicability”), as amended May 6, 2005. Exemptions from RECLAIM, such as the exemption for certain facilities located in Coachella Valley, are listed in Rule 2001(i).

    Under longstanding EPA interpretation of the CAA, a market-based cap and trade program may satisfy RACT requirements by ensuring that the level of emission reductions resulting from implementation of the program will be equal, in the aggregate, to those reductions expected from the direct application of RACT on all affected sources within the nonattainment area,11 and, consistent with our longstanding interpretation of the CAA, we approved the RECLAIM program in 1998 and then, as amended, in 2006 and 2011, based in part on the conclusion that RECLAIM continued to satisfy RACT requirements.12 More recently, in the Agency's 2008 Ozone SIP Requirements Rule, 80 FR 12264, at 12278-12283 (March 6, 2015), the EPA re-affirmed its longstanding interpretation that a market-based cap and trade program may satisfy RACT requirements by ensuring equal aggregate reductions; and in this action, we are approving SIP revisions that rely in part on such a program to meet the RACT requirement because we find the program consistent with our 2008 Ozone SIP Requirements Rule.

    11See 59 FR 16690 (April 7, 1994) and the EPA's, “Improving Air Quality with Economic Incentive Programs,” EPA-452/R-01-001 (January 2001), at Section 16.7 and 80 FR 12264, 12279 (March 6, 2015).

    12 71 FR 51120 (August 29, 2006) and 76 FR 50128 (August 12, 2011).

    As noted above, state law requires the District to monitor advances in BARCT and to periodically reassess the overall facility caps to ensure that RECLAIM facilities achieve the same or greater emission reductions that would have occurred under a command-and-control approach. In 2005, the District examined the RECLAIM program, found that additional reduction opportunities existed due to the advancement of control technology, and amended the RECLAIM rules (i.e., District Regulation XX) to reduce the facility annual allocations (in the aggregate) for NOX from 34.2 tons per day (tpd) to 26.5 tpd. In 2015, the District conducted another reevaluation and amended the RECLAIM rules to further reduce the NOX allocations (in the aggregate) from 26.5 tpd to 14.5 tpd to be achieved through downward incremental adjustments from 2017 through 2022. At the time of our proposed rule, the EPA had only proposed to approve the RECLAIM rules that reflect the 2015 amendments reducing the aggregate facility allocations to 14.5 tpd of NOX, but the Agency has since taken final action, and the RECLAIM rules, as amended in 2015, are now approved into the California SIP.13

    13See pre-publication version of the final rule, approving the 2015 amended RECLAIM rules, that was signed on August 15, 2017 by the Acting Regional Administrator, EPA Region IX.

    In the 2017 RACT Supplement, the District provided a demonstration of how the RECLAIM program, as amended in 2015, meets the RACT requirement in the aggregate. To do so, the District re-examined the BARCT reevaluation that it conducted in 2015 and determined that, for certain source categories, the BARCT allocation level was essentially equivalent to RACT, but that, for certain other source categories, the BARCT allocation level was beyond RACT because there were no other rules in the District itself or any other California air district for these specific categories that were more stringent than the limits established under the RECLAIM program in effect prior to the 2015 amendments. The District then re-calculated hypothetical facility annual allocations (in the aggregate) reflecting RACT implementation (rather than BARCT) of 14.8 tpd. Because the facility annual allocations (in the aggregate) for NOX adopted by the District in 2015 (implementing BARCT) of 14.5 tpd is less than (i.e., more stringent than) the hypothetical allocations (implementing RACT) of 14.8 tpd, the District concluded that the program as amended in 2015 meets the RACT requirement.

    In our proposed rule, based on our review of the District's approach, assumptions, and methods to the updated RECLAIM program, we agreed that, as amended in 2015, the RECLAIM program provides for emissions reductions greater, in the aggregate, to those reductions expected from the direct application of RACT on all major NOX sources in the South Coast and thereby meets the RACT requirement for such sources for the purposes of the 2008 ozone standard.14 We affirm that finding in this final action and approve the 2016 AQMP RACT SIP, as supplemented in the 2017 RACT Supplement.

    14 We also agree with the District that RECLAIM rule amendments in October 2016 help to ensure the success of the program in achieving BARCT-equivalent (and RACT-equivalent) reductions by preventing the majority of facility shutdown RTCs from entering the market and delaying the installation of pollution controls at other NOX RECLAIM facilities. The EPA recently approved RECLAIM amendments, including the October 2016 amendments, as a revision to the California SIP. See pre-publication version of the final rule approving the RECLAIM rule amendments signed on August 15, 2017.

    Lastly, with respect to the two major NOX sources in Coachella Valley that are not otherwise subject to District RACT-level command-and-control regulations, we proposed approval of certain permit conditions that were included in appendices A and B to the 2017 RACT Supplement. As described in the proposed rule, the permit conditions submitted by the District for these facilities (both of which are electric generating facilities) pertain to specified NOX emission limits ranging from 2.5 to 5 parts per million (ppm) for the gas turbines, control technology (selective catalytic reduction (SCR)), and monitoring, among other elements. The District's analysis indicated that SCR is generally identified as an emission control technology to achieve “best available control technology” emission limits in the range of 2 to 5 ppm for gas turbines, and thus the controls meet or exceed the requirements for RACT. We reviewed the permit conditions (and SCAQMD's analysis) and found that they provide for RACT level of control (or better) at the two subject facilities in Coachella Valley. In this action, we affirm that finding and are approving into the SIP the submitted permit conditions for the two specific major NOX sources in Coachella Valley.

    For more background information and a more extensive discussion of the 2016 AQMP RACT Demonstration, the 2017 RACT Supplement, and negative declarations and our evaluation of them for compliance with CAA RACT requirements, please see our proposed rule and related technical support document (TSD).

    II. Public Comments and EPA Responses

    The EPA's proposed action provided a 30-day public comment period which ended on July 17, 2017. During this period, we received comments from Earthjustice, which submitted comments on behalf of the Sierra Club.15 In the following paragraphs, we summarize the comments and provide our responses.

    15 Earthjustice submitted a letter dated July 17, 2017, on behalf of the Sierra Club. These comments are in the docket at www.regulations.gov, docket ID EPA-R09-OAR-2016-0215.

    Comment #1: Earthjustice contends that a cap-and-trade program, such as RECLAIM, can never provide the basis for compliance with the RACT requirement in CAA sections 182(b)(2) and 182(f) based on the plain language of the CAA that, according to Earthjustice, requires all major sources to implement RACT, i.e., RACT must be met by each individual major source and cannot be met by achieving equivalent levels of emission reductions across the nonattainment area. In support of this contention, Earthjustice highlights the word “all” in CAA section 182(b)(2) in connection with implementation of RACT at major sources and cites legislative history for the CAA Amendments of 1990 that purports to emphasize the applicability of the RACT requirement to all major sources of NOX in an ozone nonattainment area.

    Earthjustice also views the EPA's longstanding definition of RACT as supporting an interpretation of the RACT requirement as applicable to each and every major NOX source, not a collective emission limitation for an entire class of sources located across a nonattainment area or an entire state or region. Earthjustice also claims that reliance on emissions trading to meet the RACT requirement for major NOX sources is tantamount to creating a NOX exemption that is inconsistent with the explicit NOX exemptions found at CAA section 182(f). Lastly, Earthjustice cites the EPA's November 3, 2016 proposed rule as further support that emissions averaging in the South Coast does not actually provide RACT-level reductions.

    Response #1: We disagree that a cap-and-trade program can never be approved as meeting the RACT requirement of CAA sections 182(b)(2) and 182(f). First, we note that our action today is consistent with our past approval actions on the RECLAIM rules and amendments as meeting the RACT requirement and, more recently, with our SIP requirements rule for the 2008 ozone standard (“2008 Ozone SIP Requirements Rule”) that indicates that a cap-and-trade approach remains a viable option to comply with the RACT requirement. More specifically, in our final 2008 Ozone SIP Requirements Rule, we indicated that states have the option of conducting a technical analysis for a nonattainment area considering the emissions controls required by a regional cap-and-trade program, and demonstrating that compliance by certain sources participating in the cap-and-trade program results in actual emission reductions in the particular nonattainment area that are equal to or greater than the emission reductions that would result if RACT were applied to an individual source or source category within the nonattainment area. See 80 FR 12264, at 12279 (March 6, 2015). For additional discussion of this option, please see our proposed 2008 Ozone SIP Requirements Rule at 78 FR 34178, at 34192-34193 (June 6, 2013).16

    16 The EPA's position that states may comply with the RACT requirement in the aggregate through a cap-and-trade program is part of the ongoing legal challenge to our 2008 ozone implementation rule filed in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. In the consolidated case, South Coast Air Quality Management District v. EPA, D.C. Cir., No. 15-1115, the environmental petitioners object to reliance on cap-and-trade programs to meet the section 182 RACT requirement. The Agency's arguments in support of its interpretation of the RACT requirement with respect to cap-and-trade programs are found in the respondent's brief dated September 13, 2016. Oral argument in the D.C. Circuit for the national case is scheduled for September 14, 2017.

    Second, CAA section 182(b)(2), in relevant part, provides that the state shall submit a revision to the SIP to include provisions to require the implementation of RACT under section 172(c)(1) of this title with respect to, among other categories, all other major stationary sources of VOC that are located in the area, and Section 182(f) extends the requirements for major stationary sources of VOC to major stationary sources of NOX, unless exempted under the terms of section 182(f). As such, CAA section 172(c)(1) is explicitly brought into section 182(b)(2) and affects how it is interpreted. Specifically, section 172(c)(1), in relevant part, requires SIP revisions for nonattainment areas to “provide for the implementation of all reasonably available control measures as expeditiously as practicable (including such reductions in emissions from existing sources in the area as may be obtained through the adoption, at a minimum, of reasonably available control technology).”

    The plain language of section 172(c)(1)—“such reductions . . . as may be obtained through the adoption, at a minimum, of reasonably available control technology”—does not require reductions from each individual source but rather only requires areas to achieve the same level of emissions reductions from stationary sources that installing reasonably available control technology would yield. In other words, as long as the level of emissions reductions obtained in the area from stationary sources equals or exceeds the level of emissions reductions that would be achieved through implementation of RACT at existing sources, then the RACT requirement of section 172(c)(1) are met. See NRDC v. EPA, 571 F.3d 1245, 1256-58 (D.C. Cir. 2009).

    Section 182(b)(2) simply prescribes a more specific bar for the required level of emissions reductions that must be obtained. With respect to major stationary sources of NOX, the bar for the required level of emissions reductions that must be obtained is calculated based on the emissions reductions that can be achieved through implementation of RACT at major stationary sources of NOX. Consistent with section 172(c)(1), the emissions reductions need not come from the major NOX sources themselves so long as an equal or greater level of emissions reductions are obtained within the area. As such, the plain language of sections 172(c)(1) and 182(b)(2) allows a cap-and-trade program to meet the RACT requirements of those sections for major NOX sources so long as the overall emissions reductions that are obtained equal or exceed that level of emissions reductions that would have been obtained through implementation of RACT at the major NOX sources themselves. The plain language of the CAA supporting the EPA's interpretation negates the need to consult the legislative history cited by Earthjustice in its comment.

    The area-wide—rather than individual, source-specific—nature of the RACT requirement is reinforced by CAA section 182(b)(2), which requires states to revise their SIPs to adopt RACT “with respect to” specified categories of VOC sources. The plain language of that provision does not mandate emission reductions from each individual source. In contrast, the next subsection of that same provision imposes individual, source-specific requirements by mandating that State Implementation Plans “require all owners or operators of gasoline dispensing systems to install and operate . . . a system for gasoline vapor recovery. . . .” See CAA section 182(b)(3).

    Third, Earthjustice cites the EPA's longstanding definition of RACT as support for its position, however, the definition cited in the comment does not require an individual, source-specific application of control technology. Instead, it is used solely as the beginning point for the extrapolation of the total reductions that each nonattainment area must achieve to satisfy the section 172(c)(1) RACT requirement.

    Fourth, we also disagree with the claim that reliance on emissions trading to meet the RACT requirement for major NOX sources is tantamount to creating a NOX exemption and that such an exemption is inconsistent with the explicit NOX exemptions found at CAA section 182(f). The RECLAIM program in the South Coast provides no exemption per se for major NOX sources. Each such source must install controls or purchase credits sufficient to meet their annual allocation.

    Lastly, we acknowledge Earthjustice's comment that our November 3, 2016 rulemaking proposed to partially disapprove the 2016 AQMP RACT SIP because of deficiencies in the RECLAIM rules. However, our proposed partial disapproval was not based on the fact that RECLAIM is an emissions averaging program but rather on the evidence at hand that suggested that the then-current SIP RECLAIM program did not actually provide for the emissions reductions necessary to achieve RACT-level reductions. Since then, the District has amended, and the EPA has approved, the RECLAIM rules to achieve greater aggregate emissions reductions from the sources in the program, and based on the District's evaluation of the amended program as set forth in the 2017 RACT Supplement, we have concluded that the RECLAIM rules, as amended, meet the RACT requirement in sections 182(b)(2) and 182(f) with respect to major stationary sources of NOX in the South Coast.

    Comment #2: Earthjustice contends that approval of the South Coast RACT demonstration would be arbitrary and capricious because the RECLAIM rules, as amended in 2015, do not achieve aggregate emissions reductions of NOX equivalent to those that would be achieved through implementation of RACT level of control at each major NOX source in the South Coast. Earthjustice summarized that, as a part of the District's rule development process culminating in the 2015 RECLAIM amendments, SCAQMD analyzed whether its program achieved Best Available Retrofit Control Technology (BARCT) controls. The commenter points out that the District's analysis identified refineries as having the largest total NOX emissions and as holding the largest percentage of RTCs, but that the RECLAIM program had excess RTCs that resulted in refinery facilities not needing to achieve actual emission reductions.

    Earthjustice points out that SCAQMD's BARCT assessment concluded that a 14 tpd “shave” from the program was needed to be equivalent to a traditional command-and-control regulatory approach. Earthjustice further asserts that if readily available BARCT equipment were applied to sources of pollution in the program, emissions would have been at 9.5 tpd instead of 20.7 tpd. Earthjustice comments that, although the SCAQMD staff recommended a 14 tpd shave, the Governing Board adopted a 12 tpd shave instead. Earthjustice further states that the record shows that the 12 tpd shave does not sufficiently result in RACT level controls for the NOX RECLAIM universe and that the EPA has a record before it showing that at least a 14 tpd shave is necessary to achieve what the District confirmed was necessary to assure implementation of RACT-equivalent level of controls that the BARCT assessment demonstrated was necessary. Moreover, Earthjustice states that the record shows that the pace of the shave interferes with attainment of the 2006 PM2.5 standard.

    Response #2: We disagree with Earthjustice's implication that the terms RACT and BARCT are interchangeable and its assertion that the record shows a 14 tpd shave is needed to meet RACT.

    BARCT is a term used by the State of California and is defined as “an emission limitation that is based on the maximum degree of reduction achievable, taking into account environmental, energy, and economic impacts by each class or category of source.” 17 [Emphasis added.] By comparison, the EPA defines RACT as the lowest emission limitation that a particular source is capable of meeting by the application of control technology that is reasonably available considering technological and economic feasibility. 44 FR 53762 (September 17, 1979). The EPA has historically not treated these terms interchangeably and has generally found that BARCT level of control meets or exceeds RACT level of control.18

    17 California Health and Safety Code section 40406. Available at: https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes_displaySection.xhtml?sectionNum=40406.&lawCode=HSC.

    18 See for example, 68 FR 52512 (September 4, 2003, comment #14: “What is the difference between BARCT and RACT? . . . BARCT is defined under California state law and not under the CAA. This is a state-only requirement. As it happens, BARCT is more stringent than RACT”, available at https://www.thefederalregister.org/fdsys/pkg/FR-2003-09-04/pdf/03-22444.pdf; and 77 FR 31200 (May 25, 2012), response to comment 26: “A review of both terms [Federal best available control technology (BACT) and California BARCT] shows that the definition of BARCT contains the same key elements of the Federal BACT definition . . . An air emission limitation that applies to existing sources and is based on the maximum degree of reduction achievable, taking into account environmental, energy, and economic impacts by each class or category of sources”, available at https://www.thefederalregister.org/fdsys/pkg/FR-2012-05-25/pdf/2012-12500.pdf. A BACT level of control is a more stringent than a RACT level of control.

    We note that SCAQMD determined in its December 4, 2015 Draft Final Staff Report that only four out of an estimated 51 boilers/heaters were retrofitted with selective catalytic reduction to reduce NOX emissions to comply with BARCT.19 The staff report does not discuss RACT in the context of the RECLAIM program. Therefore, we disagree with the commenter that the December 4, 2015 Draft Final Staff Report or elsewhere in the record that SCAQMD had determined that the 2015 amendments to the RECLAIM program fail to implement RACT. The TSD associated with our June 15, 2017 proposed rule explains how the RECLAIM program, as amended in 2015, fulfills the RACT requirement based on the District's re-evaluation of the 2015 BARCT reassessment in terms of RACT, rather than BARCT. We find the District evaluation of the amended RECLAIM program to be acceptable as the basis to conclude that the amended program provides equivalent emissions reductions in the aggregate to those that would be achieved through implementation of RACT at all major NOX sources in the South Coast.

    19See Draft Final Staff Report, Proposed Amendments to Regulation XX Regional Clean Air Incentives Market (RECLAIM)—NOX RECLAIM, dated December 4, 2015, (page 78) available at: https://www.regulations.gov/document?D=EPA-R09-OAR-2017-0259-0021.

    Lastly, we disagree with Earthjustice's assertion that the EPA should not approve the South Coast RACT demonstration because the pace of the NOX shave would interfere with attainment of the 2006 PM2.5 standard. This final rule addresses a requirement applicable to ozone nonattainment areas, not PM2.5 areas. With respect to the latter pollutant, the EPA will consider the pace of NOX reductions in the 2015 RECLAIM rule amendments in the context of our evaluation of the reasonable further progress (RFP) and attainment demonstrations in the PM2.5 portion of the recently submitted 2016 South Coast Air Quality Management Plan.

    Comment #3: Earthjustice contends that the District has failed to remedy the problem of credits from shutdowns that have occurred prior to 2016 and notes that such credits have had the effect of depressing credit prices and thereby allowing major sources, particularly refineries, to avoid installation of BARCT/RACT controls like SCRs. Earthjustice identifies California Portland Cement as one of the most significant shutdown facilities whose credits (2.5 tons per day) have led to this problem and contends that refineries and other facilities continue to use credits from that shutdown facility to avoid installation of BARCT/RACT controls. To remedy this problem, Earthjustice asserts that the pre-2016 credits, including those from California Portland Cement, must be removed to achieve BARCT/RACT level of control.

    Response #3: The RECLAIM rule amendments adopted by the District in 2016 were enacted specifically to avoid the effect of shutdown credits depressing credit prices and allowing sources to avoid installation of pollution controls, but we recognize that the 2016 amendments act prospectively and do not address credits from shutdowns that occurred prior to the amendments. Nonetheless, the 12-tpd shave in the NOX annual allotments enacted by the District in 2015 discounts RTCs to a much greater extent than necessary to simply address the significant market effect of credits from pre-2016 shutdowns. As such, the problem has been adequately addressed and the associated disincentive to install controls has been removed.20

    20See 2017 RACT Supplement, page 19: “Facilities, such as refineries, that typically purchased RTCs in the past to offset emissions will now be required to install pollution controls due to a greater shift of the shave to the refinery sector (i.e., 56% shave for the refinery sector). The 2016 RECLAIM amendments, which addressed RECLAIM facility shutdowns, would prevent an excess amount of RTCs resulting from shutdowns from being introduced into the market.”

    Comment #4: Earthjustice contends that, while in some cases BARCT may exceed RACT, BARCT does not exceed RACT with respect to the District's 2015 BARCT assessment controls because the BARCT level controls established in the 2015 BARCT analysis are cost-effective and have been achieved in practice. Earthjustice objects to the District's general approach to distinguishing between BARCT and RACT-level controls in the 2017 RACT Supplement as artificially narrow on the grounds that the analysis only focuses on regulations that are adopted by either SCAQMD or other California Air Districts. Earthjustice objects to this approach because the District itself has generally abandoned adopting command-and-control regulations for NOX RECLAIM facilities and the limited geographic focus of the evaluation on California-only air districts for more stringent controls is not supported by the Clean Air Act. The focus on rules, Earthjustice contends, distracts from the actual technology, which the District has determined are cost effective and have been used in practice. More specifically, Earthjustice states that the District “has not articulated how the seven of ten BARCT level controls fail to meet the RACT determination.” Lastly, Earthjustice asserts that the RECLAIM program has a number of features that together keep credit prices low, which inhibits the installation of controls.

    Response #4: We agree that, in its 2015 BARCT reassessment, the District identified 10 equipment categories as capable of further emissions reductions (beyond the 2005 NOX emission factors) and that the District's analysis was based on retrofit technologies that the District had concluded were cost-effective and achieved in practice. However, the District's determinations in this regard were for BARCT, not RACT, i.e., the emission limitations and associated retrofit technologies were found by the District to be cost-effective and achieved in practice to reduce emissions to the maximum degree of reduction achievable, not to the degree of reduction achievable through reasonably available controls.

    There is no universal method for evaluating a cap-and-trade program for RACT equivalence, and we find the District's approach, i.e., distinguishing between BARCT and RACT on the basis of whether the BARCT controls have been adopted by the District itself or any other California Air District, to be reasonable. The commenter objects to the District's basic approach as too narrow because the District should have considered the rules adopted by air agencies in other states. However, we believe that the SCAQMD's approach is reasonable because the SCAQMD has, for the purposes of meeting other CAA requirements such as demonstrating attainment, continued to tighten emission limits in its own command-and-control rules to reduce emissions from many of the same types of sources that are included in the RECLAIM program,21 and the emission limits in its own command-and-control rules thus provide a basis for comparison with RECLAIM emissions factors. Also, the larger California Air Districts, such as the San Joaquin Valley Unified Air Pollution Control District, are similar to the SCAQMD in that they have been designated nonattainment for the ozone NAAQS for several decades and have conducted several rounds of RACT review for their rules, which, therefore, provide another appropriate basis of comparison with RECLAIM emissions factors.

    21See, for example, Rule 1146 (Emissions of Oxides of Nitrogen from Industrial, Institutional, and Commercial Boilers, Steam Generators, and Process Heaters), which was amended most recently on September 5, 2008 to reduce NOX limits. (The District has further amended Rule 1146 in 2013 but the 2013 amendments did not affect the NOX limits.)

    Nonetheless, while we believe the SCAQMD's approach in the 2017 RACT Supplement is reasonable, we have provided additional review of the seven RECLAIM categories for which the District concluded that the 2005 RECLAIM factors represent RACT level of control. The seven categories include four from the refinery sector: Fluid catalytic cracking units (FCCUs), boilers and heaters, coke calciners, and sulfur recovery unit/tail gas (SRU/TG) incinerators, and three from the non-refinery sector: Glass melting furnaces, sodium silicate furnaces, and metal heating treating.

    At the outset, we note that, while the EPA has not established a simple cost-effectiveness threshold to determine RACT in all applications, the incremental cost effectiveness estimates for three of the seven categories (refinery boilers and heaters, coke calciners, and SRU/TG incinerators) to achieve 2015 BARCT (relative to the 2005 BARCT) exceed $22,000 per ton 22 and are well above any such estimates that the Agency has generally considered appropriate for determining RACT.23 As such, we agree with the District that the 2005 RECLAIM factors for these three categories represent at least RACT level of control. We provide our review of the four other categories in the following paragraphs.

    22 The incremental cost estimates are found in table 1 (page 6) of agenda item number 30 (Proposed Amendments to NOX RECLAIM Program (Regulation XX)) for the SCAQMD's board meeting on December 4, 2015. This table was also included on page 5 of Earthjustice's July 17, 2017 comment letter.

    23 For EPA statements on cost effectiveness in the RACT context, please see the EPA's final implementation rule for the 1997 8-hour ozone NAAQS at 70 FR 71612, at 71654-71655 (November 29, 2005). The RACT discussion in the final implementation rule for the 2008 ozone NAAQS is found at 80 FR 12264, at 12278-12283 (March 6, 2015).

    First, with respect to FCCUs, the District's 2015 BARCT staff report compiled and evaluated emissions limits adopted throughout the U.S. and internationally.24 The most stringent limits for FCCUs identified therein are in the 8-10 ppm range, which is equivalent to the 85% reduction that was included in the 2005 RECLAIM amendments for this category.25 As such, we find that the 2005 RECLAIM factors for refinery FCCUs reflect RACT level of control. For comparison purposes, the 2015 BARCT RECLAIM factor for FCCUs is 2 ppm.

    24 See appendix A to the SCAQMD staff report, which is attachment H to agenda item number 30 (Proposed Amendments to NOX RECLAIM Program (Regulation XX)) for the December 4, 2015 SCAQMD board meeting.

    25 Email from Kevin Orellana, Air Quality Specialist, Planning, Rule Development, and Area Sources, SCAQMD, August 22, 2017.

    Second, with respect to glass melting furnaces, the RECLAIM NOX factor for the container glass melting category prior to the 2015 RECLAIM amendments was 1.2 pound of NOX per ton of glass pulled.26 The EPA agrees that this limit meets RACT since it is consistent with the 1.5 pound of NOX per ton of glass limit 27 we approved for San Joaquin Valley Unified Air Pollution Control District's Rule 4354 (“Glass Melting Furnaces”) as implementing RACT for an Extreme ozone nonattainment area. For comparison purposes, the 2015 BARCT RECLAIM factor for glass melting furnaces is 80% reduction (or 0.24 lb/ton glass produced).

    26 See SCAQMD Rule 2002, Table 1.

    27 See our TSD supporting approval of Rule 4354 amended September 16, 2010, 76 FR 53640 (August 29, 2011) which includes a review of NOX limits for glass melting furnaces in other states and in the RACT/BACT/Lowest Available Emission Rate clearinghouse available at https://www.regulations.gov/contentStreamer?documentId=EPA-R09-OAR-2011-0412-0004&contentType=pdf.

    Third, with respect to metal heat treating furnaces, the 2005 RECLAIM BARCT emission factor for this category is 45 ppm.28 We find that this limit is consistent with the 60 ppm limit for metal melting furnaces in the District's corresponding command-and-control rule, Rule 1147 (“NOX Reductions from Miscellaneous Sources”).29 The 2015 BARCT RECLAIM factor for metal heat treating furnaces >150 MMBtu/hr is 9 ppm.

    28 See SCAQMD Rule 2002, Table 3.

    29 Rule 1147 was first adopted by SCAQMD on December 5, 2008 and amended on September 9, 2011. These amendments were approved into the SIP in 75 FR 46845 (August 4, 2010), and 81 FR 95472 (December 28, 2016) respectively. SCAQMD's July 7, 2017 amendments to Rule 1147 have not been submitted to EPA for SIP approval.

    Fourth, with respect to sodium silicate furnaces, we note that the incremental emissions reductions (0.09 tons per day) are too small to affect the conclusion of the analysis because the SCAQMD's ending allocation under the 2015 RECLAIM amendments of 14.5 tons per day is 0.3 tons per day less (i.e., more stringent) than the hypothetical ending allocation reflecting RACT level of control (i.e., 14.8 tons per day). Thus, even if we were to assume that the 2015 RECLAIM factor for this category (80% reduction) represents RACT, the SCAQMD's 2015 ending allocation (14.5 tons per day) would still be less than the hypothetical ending allocation reflecting RACT level of control (14.8 minus 0.09 or 14.71 tons per day).

    Therefore, we do not believe that the comment has demonstrated that controls that SCAQMD labels BARCT, can be assumed to also be RACT. Rather, we think it is appropriate to generally rely on the more involved RACT analysis performed by different agencies at the time of rule adoption or preparation of a RACT SIP. As such, we believe it is reasonable to assume that a control is beyond RACT if it has not yet been adopted by air districts in California.

    Lastly, with respect to the issue of excess credits in the RECLAIM market and related delays in the installation of controls, please see our response to comment #3.30

    30 We note also that the 2016 South Coast Air Quality Management Plan provides for further NOX reductions from RECLAIM sources. More specifically, in adopting the plan, the District committed to modify the RECLAIM program to achieve an additional 5 tpd NOX emission reduction as soon as feasible, but no later than 2025, and to transition the RECLAIM program to a command-and-control regulatory structure. See footnote 14 of our proposed rule.

    Comment #5: Citing CAA section 110(a)(2)(E), Earthjustice asserts that the EPA can only approve a SIP revision if it determines that the provision is not inconsistent with state law. Earthjustice contends that the current proposal violates California law because it is not equivalent to BARCT and does not achieve command-and-control equivalence as mandated by California's Health and Safety Code. As such, Earthjustice contends that the EPA cannot make the determination required in section 110 of the Act that the approval not interfere with compliance with state law.

    Response #5: We disagree that we must determine under CAA section 110 that a SIP or SIP revision is not inconsistent with state law, or that the approval would not interfere with compliance with state law, prior to approval. Rather, in reviewing SIPs and SIP revisions, the EPA must determine that the SIP or SIP revision is supported by necessary assurances that the state or relevant local or regional agency has adequate legal authority under state and local law to carry out the SIP or SIP revision (and is not prohibited by any provision of federal or state law from carrying out such SIP or portion thereof).31

    31See CAA section 110(a)(2)(E).

    First, alleged inconsistency with state law is relevant to the EPA in the context of our SIP review only if it undermines the legal authority under state or local law to carry out the SIP. In this instance, compliance with the RACT requirement in the South Coast depends in part on the legal authority of the SCAQMD to carry out the RECLAIM rules, as amended in 2015 and 2016,32 and as to the amended RECLAIM rules, the EPA has been provided the necessary assurances by CARB that the District has the legal authority to carry out the rules. See CARB Executive Order S-17-002 (dated March 16, 2017) adopting the amended 2015 and 2016 RECLAIM rules as a revision to the California SIP.33 For that reason, we find that the 2016 AQMP RACT SIP, as supplemented by the 2017 RACT Supplement and negative declarations, is supported by adequate legal authority and, thus, meets the corresponding requirements in CAA section 110(a)(2)(E).

    32 As noted previously, the EPA has approved the 2015 and 2016 amended RECLAIM rules in a separate rulemaking.

    33 The Executive Order states the District is authorized by California Health and Safety Code (H&SC) section 40001 to adopt and enforce the rules identified in Enclosure A (i.e., the amended RECLAIM rules).

    III. Final Action

    Under section 110(k)(3) of the Act, and for the reasons set forth in the proposed rule and summarized above, the EPA is taking final action to approve certain revisions to the California SIP submitted by CARB to address the RACT requirements for the 2008 ozone standard for the South Coast and Coachella Valley nonattainment areas. More specifically, we are approving the RACT demonstration in the 2016 AQMP RACT SIP, as supplemented in the 2017 RACT Supplement, certain permit conditions for two power plants in Coachella Valley included with the 2017 RACT Supplement, and two negative declarations (for the CTG for shipbuilding and repair operations and for the paper coating portion of the CTG for paper, film and film coatings) because collectively they fulfill RACT SIP requirements under CAA sections 182(b) and (f) and 40 CFR 51.1112 for the South Coast and Coachella Valley for the 2008 ozone NAAQS.

    IV. Incorporation by Reference

    In this rule, the EPA is finalizing regulatory text that includes incorporation by reference. In accordance with the requirements of 1 CFR 51.5, the EPA is finalizing the incorporation by reference of certain permit conditions for two stationary sources in Coachella Valley described in the amendments to 40 CFR part 52 set forth below. The EPA, has made, and will continue to make, these documents available through www.regulations.gov and at the EPA Region IX Office (please contact the person identified in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section of this preamble for more information).

    V. Statutory and Executive Order Reviews

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    • Does not provide 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).

    In addition, 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, this rule does not have tribal implications and will not impose substantial direct costs on tribal governments or preempt tribal law as specified by Executive Order 13175 (65 FR 67249, November 9, 2000).

    The Congressional Review Act, 5 U.S.C. 801 et seq., as added by the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996, generally provides that before a rule may take effect, the agency promulgating the rule must submit a rule report, which includes a copy of the rule, to each House of the Congress and to the Comptroller General of the United States. 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 November 20, 2017. Filing a petition for reconsideration by the Administrator of this final rule does not affect the finality of this rule for the purposes of judicial review nor does it extend the time within which a petition for judicial review may be filed, and shall not postpone the effectiveness of such rule or action. This action may not be challenged later in proceedings to enforce its requirements (see section 307(b)(2)).

    List of Subjects in 40 CFR Part 52

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

    Authority:

    42 U.S.C. 7401 et seq.

    Dated: August 29, 2017. Alexis Strauss, Acting Regional Administrator, Region IX.

    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 adding paragraphs (c)(449)(ii)(C) and (c)(492) to read as follows:
    § 52.220 Identification of plan—in part.

    (c) * * *

    (449) * * *

    (ii) * * *

    (C) South Coast Air Quality Management District.

    (1) South Coast Air Quality Management District, “2016 AQMP Reasonably Available Control Technology (RACT) Demonstration,” dated May 22, 2014.

    (492) The following plan revisions were submitted on July 27, 2017 by the Governor's designee.

    (i) Incorporation by reference. (A) South Coast Air Quality Management District.

    (1) Appendix A to the Supplemental RACM/RACT Analysis for the NOX RECLAIM Program, Facility Permit to Operate, 63500 19th Ave., North Palm Springs, CA 92258, title page, table of contents, section A (page 1), and section D (pages 1-21), adopted on July 7, 2017.

    (2) Appendix B to the Supplemental RACM/RACT Analysis for the NOX RECLAIM Program, Facility Permit to Operate, 15775 Melissa Land Rd, North Palm Springs, CA 92258, title page, table of contents, section A (page 1), and section D (pages 1-49), adopted on July 7, 2017.

    (ii) Additional materials. (A) South Coast Air Quality Management District.

    (1) Attachment B (“Supplemental RACM/RACT Analysis for the NOX RECLAIM Program (May 2017)”), excluding Appendices A and B.

    (2) Attachment C (“Negative Declaration for Control Techniques Guidelines of Surface Coating Operations at Shipbuilding and Repair Facilities, and Paper, Film and Foil Coatings (May 2017)”).

    3. Section 52.222 is amended by adding paragraph (a)(13) to read as follows:
    § 52.222 Negative declarations.

    (a) * * *

    (13) South Coast Air Quality Management District.

    (i) Negative declarations for the 2008 ozone standard: Control Techniques Guidelines for Shipbuilding and Ship Repair Operations (Surface Coating) including (published on August 27, 1996) and EPA 453/R-94-032 Alternative Control Techniques Document: Surface Coating Operations at Shipbuilding and Ship Repair Facilities; paper coating portion of EPA 453/R-07-003 Control Techniques Guidelines for Paper, Film, and Foil Coatings.

    (ii) [Reserved]

    [FR Doc. 2017-19693 Filed 9-19-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560-50-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY Coast Guard 46 CFR Part 67 [USCG-2016-0531] Vessel Documentation Regulations—Technical Amendments AGENCY:

    Coast Guard, DHS.

    ACTION:

    Final rule.

    SUMMARY:

    The Coast Guard is making technical amendments to its vessel documentation regulations. A Certificate of Documentation, which is required for the operation of a vessel in certain trades, serves as evidence of vessel nationality, and permits a vessel to be subject to preferred mortgages. The amendments make non-substantive edits to align Coast Guard regulations with current vessel documentation statutes, correct typographical errors, and align procedural requirements with current Coast Guard practice.

    DATES:

    This final rule is effective September 20, 2017.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    For information about this document, call or email Ms. Andrea Heck, National Vessel Documentation Center, U.S. Coast Guard; telephone 304-271-2461, email [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Table of Contents for Preamble I. Abbreviations II. Basis, Purpose, and Good Cause Exception to Notice and Comment Requirements III. Petition for Rulemaking IV. Discussion of the Rule V. Regulatory Analyses A. Regulatory Planning and Review B. Small Entities C. Assistance for Small Entities D. Collection of Information E. Federalism F. Unfunded Mandates Reform Act G. Taking of Private Property H. Civil Justice Reform I. Protection of Children J. Indian Tribal Governments K. Energy Effects L. Technical Standards M. Environment I. Abbreviations CFR Code of Federal Regulations COD Certificate of Documentation NVDC National Vessel Documentation Center OMB Office of Management and Budget Pub. L.  Public Law § Section U.S.C. United States Code II. Basis, Purpose, and Good Cause Exception to Notice and Comment Requirements

    The legal basis of this rulemaking is provided by Title 46 of United States Code (U.S.C.), section 2103. Section 2103 gives the Secretary of the department in which the Coast Guard is operating regulatory authority to carry out the provisions of Title 46, subtitle II (Vessels and Seamen) of the U.S.C., in which vessel documentation statutes are located. The Secretary's authority is delegated to the Coast Guard by Department of Homeland Security Delegation No. 0170.1, para. II (92.a). The purpose of this rule is to make non-substantive edits to: (1) Align the Coast Guard's vessel documentation regulations with current statutes on that subject; (2) correct typographical errors; and (3) align procedural requirements with current Coast Guard practice.

    We did not publish a notice of proposed rulemaking for this rule. Under Title 5 of United States Code (U.S.C.) section 553(b)(A), the Coast Guard finds that this rule is exempt from notice and public comment rulemaking requirements, because these changes involve rules of agency organization, procedure, or practice. In addition, the Coast Guard finds that notice and comment procedures are unnecessary under 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(B), as this rule consists only of technical and editorial corrections, organizational, and conforming amendments, and that these changes will have no substantive effect on the public. Under 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3), the Coast Guard finds that, for the same reasons, good cause exists for making this final rule effective upon publication in the Federal Register.

    III. Petition for Rulemaking

    On October 18, 2013, the Maritime Law Association, a private group consisting primarily of maritime lawyers, petitioned the Coast Guard to open a rulemaking to make numerous changes to our vessel documentation regulations.1 The Coast Guard granted the petition on November 6, 2013, and shortly thereafter, began working with members of the Maritime Law Association to identify specifically what changes should be made. Many of the changes the group requested involve significant substantive changes that may be the subject of future regulatory action. However, part of the review process also revealed several instances where the Coast Guard could currently make non-substantive technical corrections.

    1 Docket ID: USCG-2013-0942, available at https://www.regulations.gov/docket?D=USCG-2013-0942.

    IV. Discussion of the Rule

    “Vessel documentation” refers to the system under which a vessel receives a Government certificate of documentation (COD). This certificate is required for the operation of a vessel of at least 5 net tons in certain trades including: (1) Fisheries on the navigable waters of the United States or its Exclusive Economic Zone; (2) foreign trade or trade with U.S. overseas territories; and (3) coastwise trade (trade between U.S. ports without leaving U.S. territorial waters) as described in 46 U.S.C. 12102 and 46 U.S.C. chapter 121, subchapter II. The COD is also a required element, in 46 U.S.C. 31322, to establish a vessel's entitlement to preferred mortgage status. Under 46 U.S.C. 31326, preferred mortgages have priority over other liens on vessels, and they offer an enhancement to the security available to lenders.

    This final rule makes 35 non-substantive changes to 19 sections in 46 CFR part 67. The changes correct omissions, misspellings, or inaccurate references caused by unintentional typographical errors and make small edits for additional clarity. The changes also update referenced material, such as treaty citations and web addresses. Over the course of several decades, through various laws, Congress has undertaken the task of codifying U.S. shipping laws into positive law. The two most significant of these acts were Public Law 98-89 (1986), which codified subtitle II of Title 46 into positive law, and Public Law 109-304 (2006), which completed the process of codifying all of Title 46 into positive law. Due to the recodification of Title 46, several 46 CFR part 67 regulations currently contain inaccurate statutory citations. A crosswalk between pre-codified and codified provisions of Title 46 is available in the disposition tables in 46 U.S.C.2

    2 The most recent disposition tables for Title 46 are available at https://www.thefederalregister.org/fdsys/pkg/USCODE-2015-title46/pdf/USCODE-2015-title46-front.pdf.

    The changes made by this rule also reflect the elimination of citizenship requirements for mortgagees by Public Law 104-324, section 1113 (1996). Since the issuance of Public Law 104-324, the National Vessel Documentation Center (NVDC) has allowed vessel owners to mortgage their vessels to non-citizens, and it has not restricted the eligibility of a vessel mortgaged to a non-citizen to earn registry or coastwise endorsements, even though 33 CFR 67.17(c) and 67.19(d)(3) continue to explicitly state these restrictions. Therefore, amending these sections will align regulatory text with the current and longstanding 20-year practice of the NVDC, consistent with the statutory requirements, and these changes will result in no impact on industry.

    This rule also makes changes to reflect the elimination of renewal decals and address labels for CODs issued by the NVDC. In 2001, the NVDC began to use a new database, Vessel Documentation System 1.0, and introduced the current version of the COD (66 FR 15625, March 20, 2001). This information technology system and recordkeeping form made the use of decals and labels unnecessary; therefore, the NVDC stopped requiring them, even though the relevant sections of part 67 continued to reference them. Amending 46 CFR 67.163(c) and 67.311 will align regulatory text with NVDC's current practice, and these changes will result in no impact on industry.

    The following table shows the complete list of sections in 46 CFR part 67 that we are amending, the changes we are making, the reasons for those changes, and their impacts.

    Table of Changes 46 CFR
  • affected
  • section
  • Changed text Reason for change Regulatory impact
    67.3 In paragraph (b) of the definition of “Acknowledgment” replace “Hague Convention Abolishing the Requirement for Legalisation of Public Documents” with “Hague Convention Abolishing the Requirement of Legalisation for Foreign Public Documents.” Minor typographical changes to correct the full title of the Hague Convention in accordance with 33 U.S.T. 883 and TIAS 10072 None. Replace “Article 3” with “Article 4.” Article 3 is erroneously referenced because the certificate is described in Article 4, not 3 None. Revise the definition of “Certification of Documentation” by replacing “Certification” with “Certificate.” Correct a typographical error contained in 58 FR 60256, Nov. 15, 1993. The referenced document has historically been described as a “certificate” in accordance with Title 46 of the U.S.C. This change aligns the defined term with the U.S.C. and corresponding Coast Guard regulations None. Following the text “CG-1270”, add “when issued by the Director, National Vessel Documentation Center.” The change makes clear that the form itself is not a “Certificate of Documentation.” Rather, consistent with longstanding Coast Guard policy, it becomes a “Certificate of Documentation” only when issued by the Director, National Vessel Documentation Center None. In the definition of “United States,” replace “§ 67.19(d)(3)” with “§ 67.19(c)(3).” The reference to 67.19(d)(3) is erroneous because paragraph (d)(3) has no bearing on the scope of the definition of “United States”; rather it is paragraph (c)(3), which addresses whether or not a rebuilding, if done in a trust territory, would be deemed to have been done in the “United States.” None. In the definition of “Wrecked Vessel,” replace “46 U.S.C. app. 14” with “46 U.S.C. 12107.” Update the statutory reference to reflect the recodification of Title 46. (Pub. L. 109-304 (2006)) None. 67.11(a)(2) Replace “section 2 of the Shipping Act, 1916 (46 U.S.C. app. 802) with “46 U.S.C. 50501.” Update the statutory references to reflect the recodification of Title 46. (Pub. L. 109-304 (2006)) None. Remove the word “mortgaged.” Citizenship requirements for mortgagees were eliminated by Public Law 104-324, section 1113, in October 1996. Since the issuance of Public Law 104-324, the NVDC has allowed vessel owners to mortgage their vessels to non-citizens, and it has not restricted the eligibility of a vessel mortgaged to a non-citizen to earn registry or coastwise endorsements, even though the relevant sections of part 67 continued to explicitly state these restrictions None. Amending this paragraph will align regulatory text with statutory requirements and longstanding corresponding practices of the NVDC. 67.13(a) Replace an old National Archives and Records Administration Internet address with the new one. Update an obsolete web address None. 67.14 Replace “44 U.S.C. 3507(f)” with “44 U.S.C. 3507(a)(3).” The stated purpose of this section is to affirm the intention of the Coast Guard to comply with the requirement of the Paperwork Reduction Act that agencies display a current control number assigned by the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for each approved agency information collection requirement. That requirement is set forth at 44 U.S.C. 3507(a)(3), not at 44 U.S.C. 3507(f), which refers only to independent regulatory agencies. The purpose of this change is to correct that erroneous reference None. 67.17(c) Delete paragraph relating to the effect of a vessel's foreign transfer on its eligibility for a registry endorsement. Reflect elimination of foreign transfer restrictions by Public Law 104-324, section 1113 (1996) None. Amending this paragraph will align regulatory text with statutory requirements and longstanding corresponding practices of the NVDC. 67.19(b)(6) Replace “46 U.S.C. app. 808” with “46 U.S.C. 57109.” Update the statutory reference to reflect the recodification of Title 46. (Pub. L. 109-304 (2006)) None. 67.19(d)(2) Replace “§ 67.35(a)” with “§ 67.35(c).” Section 67.19 addresses eligibility for a coastwise endorsement; the reference to 67.35(a) is erroneous because the cross-reference to 67.35(a) is to the partnership citizenship requirements for a recreational endorsement. The partnership citizenship requirements for a coastwise endorsement are found at 67.35(c) None. 67.19(e) Delete paragraph (e), which is related to the ineligibility for a coastwise endorsement of a foreign-owned vessel. Reflect elimination of foreign transfer restrictions by Public Law 104-324, section 1113 (1996) None. Amending this paragraph will align regulatory text with statutory requirements and longstanding corresponding practices of the NVDC. 67.21(e) Replace “46 U.S.C. 12102(c)(5)” with “46 U.S.C. 12113(c)(3).” Update the statutory reference to reflect the recodification of Title 46. (Pub. L. 109-304. (2006)) None. 67.30(c) Update reference to the Bowater Amendment and the Oil Pollution Act of 1990; replace “46 U.S.C. app. 883-1” with “46 U.S.C. 12118.” Update the reference to the Bowater Amendment and the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 to reflect the recodification of Title 46. (Pub. L. 109-304 (2006)) None. Replace “46 U.S.C. 12106(d)” with “46 U.S.C. 12117.” Update the statutory reference to reflect the recodification of Title 46. (Pub. L. 109-304 (2006)) None. 67.47(a)(3) Replace “, as defined in section 2 of the Shipping Act, 1916 (46 U.S.C. app. 802), to a person not a citizen within the meaning of section 2 of that act” with “of the United States to a person not a citizen of the United States, as defined in 46 U.S.C. 50501.” Reworded sentence and update the statutory references to reflect the recodification of Title 46. (Pub. L. 109-304 (2006)) None. 67.63(b)(1) Replace “46 U.S.C. app. 14” with “46 U.S.C. 12107.” Update the statutory reference to reflect the recodification of Title 46. (Pub. L. 109-304 (2006)) None. 67.133(a) Replace “46 U.S.C. app. 14” with “46 U.S.C. 12107.” Update the statutory references to reflect the recodification of Title 46. (Pub. L. 109-304 (2006)) None. 67.133(b) Replace “46 U.S.C. app. 14” with “46 U.S.C. 12107.” Update the statutory references to reflect the recodification of Title 46. (Pub. L. 109-304 (2006)) None. 67.141(c) Replace “Certification” with “Certificate.” Correct a typographical error made in 65 FR 76572, Dec. 7, 2000, regulatory text. The document has historically been described as a “Certificate” in accordance with Title 46 of the U.S.C. This change aligns the defined term with the U.S.C. and corresponding Coast Guard regulations None. 67.151(b) Insert “determination of the” following the text “Upon the.” Correct a typographical error in which the subject language was inadvertently omitted from the regulation, resulting in an incomplete sentence None. 67.161(a)(3) Replace “Sections 9 and 37(b) of the Shipping Act, 1916 (46 U.S.C. app. 808, 835(b))” with “46 U.S.C. 56101, 56102 and 57109.” Update the statutory references to reflect the recodification of Title 46. (Pub. L. 109-304 (2006)) None. 67.161(a)(4) Replace “Section 902 of the Merchant Marine Act, 1936 (46 U.S.C. app. 1242)” with “46 U.S.C. 56301.” Update the statutory references to reflect the recodification of Title 46. (Pub. L. 109-304 (2006)) None. 67.163(c) Remove paragraph. The NVDC no longer issues renewal decals, and therefore, they cannot be affixed. In 2001, the NVDC began to use a new database, Vessel Documentation System 1.0, and introduced the current version of the COD. 66 FR 15625, March 20, 2001. This information technology system and recordkeeping form made the use of decals unnecessary; therefore, the NVDC stopped requiring them, even though the relevant sections of part 67 continued to reference them None. Amending this paragraph will align regulatory text with NVDC's current, long-standing practice. 67.165(c)(3) Replace “Sections 9 and 37(b) of the Shipping Act, 1916 (46 U.S.C. app. 808, 835(b))” with “46 U.S.C. 56101, 56102 and 57109.” Update the statutory references to reflect the recodification of Title 46. (Pub. L. 109-304 (2006)) None. 67.165(c)(4) Replace “Section 902 of the Merchant Marine Act, 1936 (46 U.S.C. app. 1242)” with “46 U.S.C. 56301.” Update the statutory references to reflect recodification of Title 46. (Pub. L. 109-304 (2006)) None. 67.167(c) Replace “a sea” with “at sea.” Correct a minor grammatical typographical error None. 67.167(c)(10) Replace “46 U.S.C. 12106(e)” with “46 U.S.C. 12119.” Update the statutory reference to reflect the recodification of Title 46. (Pub. L. 109-304 (2006)) None. 67.167(d) Replace “endorsements” with “endorsement(s).” Correct minor typographical error; change conforms this paragraph to paragraphs (b), (c), and (e) None. 67.203(e) Remove paragraph Reflect elimination of foreign transfer restrictions by Public Law 104-324, section 1113 (1996) None. Amending this paragraph will align regulatory text with statutory requirements and longstanding corresponding practices of the NVDC. 67.203(f) Remove paragraph Reflect elimination of foreign transfer restrictions by Public Law 104-324, section 1113 (1996) None. Amending this paragraph will align regulatory text with statutory requirements and longstanding corresponding practices of the NVDC. 67.311 Remove the language referring to exceptions for new address labels or renewal decals The NVDC no longer requires new address labels or renewal decals, and therefore, they cannot be altered. In 2001, the NVDC began to use a new database, Vessel Documentation System 1.0, and introduced the current version of the COD. 66 FR 15625, March 20, 2001. This information technology system and recordkeeping form made the use of labels unnecessary; therefore, the NVDC stopped requiring them, even though the relevant sections of part 67 continued to reference them None. Amending this section will align regulatory text with NVDC's current practice. Change to active voice For reasons of added clarity, change from passive to active voice in compliance with plain language directives; no substantive change intended None.

    In association with the changes made by the recodification of title 46, the Coast Guard is updating its list of authority citations for 46 CFR part 67. For a cross-walk between the changes, please see the disposition tables for title 46 and the Historical and Revision Notes for the applicable sections in the U.S.C.3

    3 The most recent disposition tables for Title 46 are available at https://www.thefederalregister.org/fdsys/pkg/USCODE-2015-title46/pdf/USCODE-2015-title46-front.pdf; Historical and Revision notes for each section are available in the U.S.C. following the code section they accompany.

    V. Regulatory Analyses

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

    A. Regulatory Planning and Review

    Executive Orders 12866 (“Regulatory Planning and Review”) and 13563 (“Improving Regulation and Regulatory Review”) direct agencies to assess the costs and benefits of available regulatory alternatives and, if regulation is necessary, to select regulatory approaches that maximize net benefits (including potential economic, environmental, public health and safety effects, distributive impacts, and equity). Executive Order 13563 emphasizes the importance of quantifying both costs and benefits, of reducing costs, of harmonizing rules, and of promoting flexibility. Executive Order 13771 (“Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs”) directs agencies to reduce regulation and control regulatory costs and provides that “for every one new regulation issued, at least two prior regulations be identified for elimination, and that the cost of planned regulations be prudently managed and controlled through a budgeting process.”

    The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has not designated this rule a significant regulatory action under section 3(f) of Executive Order 12866. Accordingly, OMB has not reviewed it. As this rule is not a significant regulatory action, this rule is exempt from the requirements of Executive Order 13771. See OMB's Memorandum “Guidance Implementing Executive Order 13771, Titled `Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs'” (April 5, 2017). This rule involves non-substantive changes and internal agency practices and procedures; it will not impose any additional costs on the public. The benefit of the non-substantive changes is increased clarity of regulations.

    B. Small Entities

    This rule is not preceded by a notice of proposed rulemaking and, therefore, is exempt from the requirements of the Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 601-612). The Regulatory Flexibility Act does not apply when notice and comment rulemaking is not required.

    C. Assistance for Small Entities

    Under section 213(a) of the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996 (Pub. L. 104-121), we want to assist small entities in understanding this rule so that they can better evaluate its effects on them. 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.

    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).

    D. Collection of Information

    This rule calls for no new or modified collection of information under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, 44 U.S.C. 3501-3520.

    E. Federalism

    A rule has implications for federalism under Executive Order 13132 (“Federalism”) if the rule has a substantial direct effect on State or local governments and would either preempt State law or impose a substantial direct cost of compliance on them. We have analyzed this rule under Executive Order 13132 and have determined that it does not have implications for federalism.

    F. Unfunded Mandates Reform Act

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

    G. Taking of Private Property

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

    H. Civil Justice Reform

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

    I. Protection of Children

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

    J. Indian Tribal Governments

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

    K. Energy Effects

    We have analyzed this rule under Executive Order 13211 (“Actions Concerning Regulations That Significantly Affect Energy Supply, Distribution, or Use”). We have determined that it is not a “significant energy action” under that order because it is not a “significant regulatory action” under Executive Order 12866 and is not likely to have a significant adverse effect on the supply, distribution, or use of energy. The Administrator of OMB's Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs has not designated it as a significant energy action.

    L. Technical Standards

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

    M. Environment

    We have analyzed this rule under Department of Homeland Security Management Directive 023-01 and Commandant Instruction M16475.lD (COMDTINST M16475.1D), which guide the Coast Guard in complying with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (42 U.S.C. 4321-4370f), and have made a determination that this action is one of a category of actions that do not individually or cumulatively have a significant effect on the human environment. A Record of Environmental Consideration supporting this determination is available in the docket. This rule is categorically excluded under Chapter 2, Section B, Paragraph 2 (Categorical Exclusions), and Figure 2-1 (Coast Guard Categorical Exclusions), paragraph (34)(a) and (34)(d) of the Instruction.

    This final rule involves technical amendments to the Coast Guard's vessel documentation regulations. Certificates of Documentation allow the operation of vessels in certain trades, provide evidence of vessel nationality, and permit vessels to be subject to preferred mortgages. The technical amendments presented in this rulemaking entail editorial or procedural changes that: (1) Align Coast Guard regulations with current vessel documentation statutes; (2) correct non-substantive typographical errors; and (3) harmonize procedural requirements with current Coast Guard practice. These amendments collectively promote the Coast Guard's maritime safety, security, and environmental protection missions by rendering the Coast Guard's vessel documentation system more effective.

    List of Subjects in 46 CFR Part 67

    Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Vessels.

    For the reasons discussed in the preamble, the Coast Guard amends 46 CFR part 67 as follows:

    PART 67—DOCUMENTATION OF VESSELS 1. The authority citation for part 67 is revised to read as follows: Authority:

    4 U.S.C. 664; 31 U.S.C. 9701; 42 U.S.C. 9118; 46 U.S.C. 2103, 2104, 2107, 12102, 12103, 12104, 12105, 12106, 12113, 12133, 12139; Department of Homeland Security Delegation No. 0170.1.

    § 67.3 [Amended]
    2. Amend § 67.3 as follows: a. In the definition of “Acknowledgment”, redesignate paragraphs (a) and (b) as paragraphs (1) and (2); in newly redesignated paragraph (2), remove the text “Hague Convention Abolishing the Requirement for Legalisation of Public Documents” and add in its place the text “Hague Convention Abolishing the Requirement of Legalisation for Foreign Public Documents”; and in newly redesignated paragraph (2), remove the text “Article 3” and add in its place “Article 4”; b. In the definition of “Certification of Documentation”, remove the word “Certification” and add in its place the word “Certificate”; and following the text “CG-1270”, add the text “when issued by the Director, National Vessel Documentation Center”; c. In the definition of “United States,” remove the text “§ 67.19(d)(3)” and add in its place the text “§ 67.19(c)(3)”; and d. In the definition of “Wrecked vessel,” remove the text “46 U.S.C. app. 14” and add in its place the text “46 U.S.C. 12107”.
    § 67.11 [Amended]
    3. In § 67.11(a)(2), remove the text “section 2 of the Shipping Act, 1916 (46 U.S.C. app. 802)” wherever it appears, and add in its place the text “46 U.S.C. 50501”; and in paragraph (a)(2), remove the text “mortgaged,”.
    § 67.13 [Amended]
    4. In § 67.13, remove the text “http://www.archives.gov/federal_register/code_of_federal_regulations)/ibr_locations.html” and add in its place the text “http://www.archives.gov/federal-register/cfr/ibr-locations.html”.
    § 67.14 [Amended]
    5. In § 67.14(a), remove the text “44 U.S.C. 3507(f)” and add in its place the text “44 U.S.C. 3507(a)(3),”.
    § 67.17 [Amended]
    6. In § 67.17, remove paragraph (c).
    § 67.19 [Amended]
    7. Amend § 67.19 as follows: a. In paragraph (b)(6), remove the text “46 U.S.C. app. 808” and add in its place the text “46 U.S.C. 57109”; b. In paragraph (d) introductory text, remove the text “, except as provided in paragraph (e) of this section,”; and in paragraph (d)(2), remove the text “§ 67.35(a)” and add in its place the text “§ 67.35(c)”; and c. Remove paragraph (e).
    § 67.21 [Amended]
    8. In § 67.21(e), remove the text “46 U.S.C. 12102(c)(5)” and add in its place the text “46 U.S.C. 12113(c)(3)”.
    § 67.30 [Amended]
    9. In § 67.30, remove the text “46 U.S.C. app. 883-1” and add in its place the text “46 U.S.C. 12118”; and remove the text “46 U.S.C. 12106(d)” and add in its place the text “46 U.S.C. 12117”.
    § 67.47 [Amended]
    10. In § 67.47(a)(3), remove the text “, as defined in section 2 of the Shipping Act, 1916 (46 U.S.C. app. 802), to a person not a citizen within the meaning of section 2 of that act” and add in its place the text “of the United States to a person not a citizen of the United States, as defined in 46 U.S.C. 50501”.
    § 67.63 [Amended]
    11. In § 67.63(b)(1), remove the text “46 U.S.C. app. 14” and add in its place the text “46 U.S.C. 12107”.
    § 67.133 [Amended]
    12. In § 67.133(a) introductory text and (b), remove the text “46 U.S.C. app. 14” and add in its place the text “46 U.S.C. 12107”.
    § 67.141 [Amended]
    13. In § 67.141(c), remove the word “Certification” and add in its place the word “Certificate”.
    § 67.151 [Amended]
    14. In § 67.151(b), following the text “Upon the”, add the text “determination of the”.
    § 67.161 [Amended]
    15. Amend § 67.161 as follows: a. In paragraph (a)(3), remove the text “Sections 9 and 37(b) of the Shipping Act, 1916 (46 U.S.C. app. 808, 835(b))” and add in its place the text “46 U.S.C. 56101, 56102 and 57109”; and b. In paragraph (a)(4), remove the text “Section 902 of the Merchant Marine Act, 1936 (46 U.S.C. app. 1242)” and add in its place the text “46 U.S.C. 56301”.
    § 67.163 [Amended]
    16. In § 67.163, remove paragraph (c).
    § 67.165 [Amended]
    17. Amend § 67.165 as follows: a. In paragraph (c)(3), remove the text “Sections 9 and 37(b) of the Shipping Act, 1916 (46 U.S.C. app. 808, 835(b))” and add in its place the text “46 U.S.C. 56101, 56102 and 57109”; and b. In paragraph (c)(4), remove the text “Section 902 of the Merchant Marine Act, 1936 (46 U.S.C. app. 1242)” and add in its place the text “46 U.S.C. 56301”.
    § 67.167 [Amended]
    18. Amend § 67.167 as follows: a. In paragraph (c) introductory text, following the text “vessel is not”, remove the text “a sea” and add in its place the text “at sea”; b. In paragraph (c)(10) remove the text “46 U.S.C. 12106(e)” and add in its place the text “46 U.S.C. 12119”; and c. In paragraph (d) remove the text “endorsements” and add in its place the text “endorsement(s)”.
    § 67.203 [Amended]
    19. In § 67.203, remove paragraphs (e) and (f). 20. Revise § 67.311 to read as follows:
    § 67.311 Alteration of Certificate of Documentation.

    No person other than a documentation officer shall intentionally alter a Certificate of Documentation.

    Dated: September 15, 2017. Rebecca Orban, Acting Chief, Office of Regulations and Administrative Law.
    [FR Doc. 2017-20023 Filed 9-19-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 9110-04-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY Coast Guard 46 CFR Parts 401, 403, and 404 [USCG-2016-0268] RIN 1625-AC34 Great Lakes Pilotage Rates—2017 Annual Review Correction

    In rule document 2017-18411 beginning on page 41466 in the issue of Thursday, August 31, 2017, make the following corrections:

    1. On page 41466, in the first column, in the first line below Table E-1, remove the words SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:.

    2. On the same page, in the second column, after the second line, insert the words SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: on their own line.

    § 401.405 [Corrected]
    3. On page 41495, in the second column, in the 22nd line from the bottom, “Revise § 401.405 to read as follows:” should read “In § 401.405, revise paragraph (a) to read as follows:”.
    § 401.420 [Corrected]
    4. On the same page, in the same column, in the eighth line from the bottom, “Revise § 401.420 to read as follows:” should read “In § 401.420, revise paragraph (b) to read as follows:”.
    § 401.450 [Corrected]
    5. On the same page, in the third column, in the ninth through fourteenth lines, 5. Revise § 401.450 as follows: a. Redesignate paragraphs (b) through (j) as paragraphs (c) through (k), respectively; and b. Add new paragraph (b) to read as follows:

    Should read:

    5. In § 401.450, redesignate paragraphs (b) through (j) as paragraphs (c) through (k), respectively, and add new paragraph (b) to read as follows: 6. In part 401, in section 401.405, on the same page, in the same column, after the 20th line, add the following line:
    § 404.100 [Corrected]
    7. On the same page, in the same column, in the 28th line, “Amend § 404.101(a) as follows:” should read “In § 404.100, revise paragraph (a) to read as follows:”. 8. In part 404, in section 404.100, on the same page, in the same column, after the 39th line, add the following line:
    § 404.103 [Corrected]
    9. In the same page, in the same column, in the 41st through 46th lines, a. In paragraph (a), following the words “dividing each area's” remove the word “peak” and add, in its place, the word “seasonal”; and b. Revise paragraph (b) to read as follows:

    should read:

    a. In paragraph (a) introductory text, following the words “dividing each area's” remove the word “peak” and add in its place the word “seasonal”; and b. Revise paragraph (b).

    The revision reads as follows:

    § 404.105 [Corrected]

    10. On page 41496, in the first column, in the 22nd and 23rd line, “and add, in their place, the words “working capital fund.” ” should read “and add in their place the words “working capital fund”.”.

    [FR Doc. C1-2017-18411 Filed 9-19-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 13010-00-D
    FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION 47 CFR Parts 1, 2, 15, 90, 95, and 97 [ET Docket No. 15-26; FCC 17-94] Permitting Radar Services in the 76-81 GHz Band AGENCY:

    Federal Communications Commission.

    ACTION:

    Final rule.

    SUMMARY:

    In this document, the Federal Communications Commission (Commission) amends its rules to permit vehicular radars and certain non-vehicular fixed and mobile radars used at airports to operate in the entire 76-81 GHz band on an interference-protected basis. Access to the entire 76-81 GHz band is intended to provide sufficient spectrum bandwidth to enable the deployment of wideband high-precision short-range vehicular radar (SRR) applications, such as blind spot detectors, that can enhance the safety of drivers and other road users, while continuing to allow the deployment of proven long-range vehicular radar (LRR) applications, such as adaptive cruise control. The amended rules also permit the deployment in airport air operations areas of fixed and mobile radars that detect foreign object debris (FOD) on runways, which could harm aircraft on take-off and landing, and aircraft-mounted radars that can help aircraft avoid colliding with equipment, buildings, and other aircraft while moving on airport grounds. In addition, the amended rules allow for the continued shared use of the 76-81 GHz band by other incumbent users, including amateur radio operators and the scientific research community.

    DATES:

    Effective date: Effective October 20, 2017, except for § 15.37(l), which is effective September 20, 2018.

    Applicability date: Section 15.37(o) was applicable beginning July 13, 2017.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Howard Griboff (Legal) at (202) 418-0657, [email protected], or Patrick Forster (Technical) at (202) 418-7061, [email protected], Office of Engineering and Technology.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    This is a summary of the Commission's Report and Order, ET Docket No. 15-26, FCC 17-94, adopted July 13, 2017 and released July 14, 2017. The full text of this document is available for public inspection and copying during normal business hours in the FCC Reference Center (Room CY-A257), 445 12th Street SW., Washington, DC 20554, or by downloading the text from the Commission's Web site at http://transition.fcc.gov/Daily_Releases/Daily_Business/2017/db0714/FCC-17-94A1.pdf. Alternative formats are available for people with disabilities (Braille, large print, electronic files, audio format) by sending an email to [email protected] or calling the Commission's Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau at (202) 418-0530 (voice), (202) 418-0432 (TTY).

    Synopsis I. Introduction

    1. On February 3, 2015, the Commission adopted a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) in this proceeding. 80 FR 12120, March 6, 2015. In the Report and Order, the Commission amended the United States Table of Frequency Allocations (U.S. Table) in § 2.106 and several related service rules to establish a comprehensive and consistent set of rules and policies for radar operations in the 76-81 GHz band. The following are the major actions that the Commission took to support the deployment in the 76-81 GHz band of advanced vehicular radar applications and certain non-vehicular fixed and mobile radar applications for use at airports:

    • Allocated the 77.5-78 GHz band to the Radiolocation Service on a primary basis in the U.S. Table to provide a contiguous five gigahertz band at 76-81 GHz for radar operations.

    • Allowed vehicular radars and certain non-vehicular fixed and mobile radars used at airports to operate in the entire 76-81 GHz band.

    • Consolidated radar operations in the 76-81 GHz band under part 95 of the Commission's rules to be licensed-by-rule and protected from interference with the same technical parameters as currently specified for 76-77 GHz radars in part 15 of the rules.

    • Restricted fixed radar operations to airport air operations areas to prevent such radars signals from illuminating public roadways and causing harmful interference to vehicular radar operations.

    • Reduced the maximum equivalent isotropically radiated power (EIRP) of amateur and amateur satellite operations in the 76-81 GHz band to match that of radar operations in the 76-81 GHz band to reduce the potential for these amateur operations to cause harmful interference to radar operations in the band.

    II. Discussion

    2. In the Report and Order, the Commission amended parts 1, 2, 15, 90, 95, and 97 of its rules to facilitate the deployment in the 76-81 GHz band of advanced vehicular radar applications and certain fixed and mobile radars in airport air operations areas. These actions are described in greater detail below.

    A. Allocation Changes to the 77.5-78 GHz Band

    3. As proposed in the NPRM, the Commission allocated the 77.5-78 GHz band to the Radiolocation Service (RLS) on a primary basis in the U.S. Table. This action made the entire 76-81 GHz band available for licensed radar applications on a primary basis nationwide and brought the U.S. Table into agreement with the International Table of Frequency Allocations. In response to commenters' concerns about the potential for interference from amateur operations to vehicular radar operations in the 76-81 GHz band, the Commission changed the Amateur Service and Amateur Satellite Service allocations in the 77.5-78 GHz band of the U.S. Table from primary to secondary status to match the secondary Amateur Service and Amateur Satellite Service allocations in the remainder of the 76-81 GHz band. As secondary users in the 76-81 GHz band, amateurs will have an obligation to operate in a manner that minimizes the potential for harmful interference to licensed radar applications that will operate under the primary RLS allocation throughout the entire 76-81 GHz band and Radio Astronomy Service (RAS) stations in the 76-81 GHz band, and cannot claim protection from harmful interference from any primary service. If amateur radio operators cause any harmful interference, they will be required to provide an immediate remedy, up to and including terminating their operations. As an added protection against potential interference from amateur operations to vehicular radar operations in the 76-81 GHz band, the Commission amended the part 97 Amateur Radio Service rules to specify a maximum EIRP of 55 dBm (316 Watts) that Amateur Service and Amateur Satellite Service stations in the 76-81 GHz band may transmit, the same as the allowable vehicular radar peak EIRP limit.

    4. Although the Commission determined that the addition of the primary RLS allocation in the 77.5-78 GHz band did not raise any new interference considerations for RAS operations in the 76-81 GHz band, because there is no distinction between RAS use of the 77.5-78 GHz band and the remainder of the 76-81 GHz band it upgraded the secondary RAS allocation in the 77.5-78 GHz band to primary status to match the RAS allocations in the 76-77.5 GHz/78-81 GHz bands. By making the RLS and RAS co-primary throughout the 76-81 GHz band, the Commission provided regulatory consistency between the two services and eliminated the potential problem, in the event of harmful interference to the RAS due to vehicular radar operations, of determining protection rights in favor of addressing and mitigating the interference concern. However, since the Commission determined that addition of the primary RLS allocation in the 77.5-78 GHz band did not raise any new interference considerations that would justify upgrading the secondary Space Research Service (space-to-Earth) (SRS (space-to-Earth)) allocation in the 77.5-78 GHz band to primary status, the Commission maintained this service's current secondary status, consistent with the SRS (space-to-Earth) allocations in the remainder of the 76-81 GHz band. Given the size and scope of the automotive fleet in the United States as compared to the two RAS facilities that operate in the 76-81 GHz band, the Commission declined to adopt commenters proposals for an automatic or manual on/off switch and coordination zones in the vicinity of RAS observatories for vehicular radars that operate in the 76-81 GHz band.

    B. Consolidating Vehicular Radar Operations Into the 76-81 GHz Band

    5. As part of the Commission's efforts to consolidate future vehicular radar operations into the 76-81 GHz band, the NPRM noted that there is little or no use of vehicular radars in the 16.2-17.7 GHz and 46.7-46.9 GHz bands, and sought comment on modifying the Commission's part 15 rules to no longer approve vehicular radar devices for operation in these bands. Since no commenters opposed this suggestion, the Commission deleted the references to vehicular radar operations in the 16.2-17.7 GHz and 46.7-46.9 GHz bands from the Commission's part 15 rules and ceased accepting applications for equipment certification of such devices effective upon the adoption of the Report and Order. It prohibited the continued manufacture, importation, marketing, sale, and installation for use in the United States of such equipment in the 16.2-17.7 GHz band under the sole existing equipment authorization, FCC ID No. L2C0004TR. However, it grandfathered, for the life of the equipment, any vehicular radars that are already installed or in use under this authorization, thus allowing such systems to continue operating for the life of the vehicle or until the supply of existing equipment necessary for maintenance is exhausted.

    6. As proposed in the NPRM, the Commission also phased out unlicensed wideband radars authorized under § 15.252 to operate in the 23.12-29 GHz and ultra-wideband (UWB) radars authorized under § 15.515 to operate in the 22-29 GHz band (collectively, “unlicensed 24 GHz wideband and UWB vehicular radars”). In response to commenters' concerns that ceasing certification of new unlicensed 24 GHz wideband and UWB vehicular radars beginning 30 days after publication of the final rules in the Federal Register, as proposed in the NPRM, would be insufficiently short, the Commission decided it will not certify new unlicensed 24 GHz wideband and UWB vehicular radar equipment on or after one year from the date of publication of the Report and Order in the Federal Register. In response to commenters' suggestions to, at a minimum, harmonize the phase-out of unlicensed 24 GHz wideband and UWB vehicular radars with the phase-out adopted for 24 GHz vehicular radars in the European Union (EU), the Commission decided to allow the manufacture, importation, marketing, sale, and installation of, as well as Class II permissive changes for, previously certified unlicensed 24 GHz wideband and UWB vehicular radar devices until January 1, 2022, consistent with the EU transition plan for 24 GHz vehicular radars. After January 1, 2022, the manufacture, importation, marketing, sale, and installation of, and Class II permissive changes for, these devices for use in the United States, with one limited exception regarding sale and installation for the repair/replacement of defective, damaged, or malfunctioning equipment, will not be permitted.

    7. However, as proposed in the NPRM, the Commission decided to permit unlicensed 24 GHz wideband and UWB vehicular radars that are already installed or in use by January 1, 2022 to continue to operate in the vehicle. In that regard, the Commission provided a narrow exception to the phase-out requirements to permit, for the life of the vehicle, the continued sale and installation of unlicensed 24 GHz wideband and UWB radar devices for the exclusive purpose of repairing or replacing defective, damaged, or potentially malfunctioning equipment installed on or before January 1, 2022. This exception is available only when it is not possible to repair or replace the radar equipment designed to operate in the 24 GHz band with radar equipment designed to operate in the 76-81 GHz band, and is limited to the repair and replacement of unlicensed 24 GHz wideband and UWB vehicular radar equipment that has been certified for operation in the 24 GHz band. The Commission expects manufacturers to draw on existing stock of equipment that has been approved before January 1, 2022, but it will address requests for additional relief (e.g., manufacture, importation, or product redesign) on a case-by-case basis.

    8. The Commission clarified that the proposal with regard to phasing out use of the 22-29 GHz band for wideband and UWB vehicular radar operations that operate under §§ 15.252 and 15.515 of the rules was not intended to apply to unlicensed radars that operate at 24.075-24.175 GHz and 24.0-24.25 GHz under §§ 15.245 and 15.249 of the rules, respectively. These rules, which are not being modified, authorize a wide variety of devices that include, but are not limited to, vehicular-specific radars. As such, the Commission will continue to certify radars that operate under these rules and they can continue to be used in vehicular applications.

    C. Fixed and Other Mobile Radar Operations in the 76-81 GHz Band

    9. Fixed Radars Operations. The NPRM proposed to adopt rules that would permit fixed infrastructure radar applications in all or part of the 76-81 GHz band if there was sufficient demand for such uses and studies could support sharing between vehicular and non-vehicular radar applications in the band. Although several commenters expressed interest in deploying fixed radar applications in the 76-81 GHz band at any location, there was substantial disagreement as to whether such applications could successfully coexist with vehicular radars. Many commenters opposed allowing fixed radar operations in the 76-81 GHz band, citing potential interference that could compromise the safe operation of vehicular radar systems. Although commenters asserted that they expected fixed radar manufacturers to design equipment that is technically identical to vehicular radars, the Commission stated that it could not guarantee that this would happen in practice since it neither proposed nor developed a record for the Commission to mandate device specifications and guidelines. Therefore, to prevent non-vehicular fixed radar applications outside of airport locations from causing harmful interference to vehicular radars and provide a more certain environment for the successful migration of vehicular radars to the 76-81 GHz band, the Commission decided to maintain the existing prohibition on non-vehicular fixed radar operations outside of airport air operations areas.

    10. However, the Commission recognized the possibility that there may be situations in which fixed radars might be compatible with vehicular radars in the 76-81 GHz band, and did not foreclose exploration of such scenarios. The Commission acknowledged that, under careful coordination, it might be possible for fixed radars to operate in the band at carefully selected locations without causing harmful interference to vehicular radars, but noted that there was insufficient information in the record to develop the specific criteria for a successful coordination process. The Commission stated that it is open to the possibility that specific, limited fixed uses of 76-81 GHz radars outside of airport locations may be possible so long as it can be convinced that such use would not cause harmful interference to vehicular radar operations in the band.

    11. Airport Radar Operations. Prior to adoption of the Report and Order, unlicensed FOD detection radar operations were operating as fixed devices in the 76-77 GHz band under part 15 of the rules, and could be authorized as either fixed or mobile devices on a licensed basis under the Commission's part 90 rules in the 78-81 GHz band, in airport air operations areas only. As proposed in the NPRM and supported by the record, the Commission decided to permit fixed and mobile FOD detection radar operations throughout the entire 76-81 GHz band on airport grounds only, under the same technical requirements as those provided for such operations in the 76-77 GHz band in part 15 of the Commission's rules. To minimize the potential for harmful interference to vehicular radar operations from expanded FOD detection radar operations, the Commission maintained the limitation that FOD detection radar operations occur only in airport locations that avoid illumination of public roadways (i.e., in airport air operations areas). This restriction will provide geographic separation between airport-based radar operations and vehicular radar operations on public roads, avoiding any possibility of harmful interference to vehicular radar operations in the 76-81 GHz band. As proposed in the NPRM and supported by the record, the Commission grandfathered for the life of the equipment, or until the supply of existing equipment necessary for maintenance is exhausted, any FOD detection radars that are already installed or in use. If entities want to operate existing FOD detection radars in the 77-78 GHz band, which has not previously been available for FOD detection radar use, such equipment would first have to be certified under the Commission's equipment authorization procedures to operate in the 77-78 GHz band under the part 95 rules.

    12. The Commission also permitted the use of aircraft-mounted radar applications, referred to as “wingtip radars,” in the entire 76-81 GHz band with the same technical rules as FOD detection radars, as long as they are used in airport air operations areas while aircraft (including helicopters) are on the ground. These radars will be used to prevent and mitigate the severity of aircraft wingtip collisions while planes move between airport gates and runways. The Commission agreed with commenters that aircraft-mounted radar applications can help protect aircraft during taxiing and ground maneuvering, improve airport operations, and provide significant benefits to the airline industry and traveling public, while still protecting vehicular radars from harmful interference.

    13. Based on the potential for airborne radar operations to interfere with RAS operations, the Commission decided not to permit the use of aircraft-mounted radars when the aircraft (or helicopter) is airborne. To provide greater assurance that parties will comply with the ground-based restriction for aircraft-mounted radars, the Commission also decided to require that aircraft-mounted radars include an automatic mechanism that discontinues all 76-81 GHz radar functions while the aircraft is airborne, which no commenters objected to, and one commenter indicated is technically feasible.

    D. Radar Operations in the 76-81 GHz Band Under Part 95 of the Commission's Rules

    14. As proposed in the NPRM and supported by the majority of commenters, the Commission consolidated 76-81 GHz radar operations, except for Level Probing Radars (LPRs), under part 95 of the Commission's rules to be licensed-by-rule and protected from interference. Radar applications operating in the 76-81 GHz range will now be governed by Subpart M, The 76-81 GHz Radar Service, in part 95 of the rules. LPRs, which are authorized by § 15.256 to operate in a variety of frequency ranges, including the 75-85 GHz band, and can coexist with vehicular radar operations, will remain authorized to operate on an unlicensed basis.

    15. A licensed-by-rule approach under part 95 will provide a level of interference protection to 76-81 GHz radar operations that the Commission's part 15 rules cannot provide since unlicensed users must accept interference from licensed and unlicensed users, whereas under part 95, primary licensed users are protected from interference from secondary and unlicensed users. A licensed-by-rule approach will also reduce the application and licensing burdens associated with authorizing radar operations under an individual license basis, and create time and cost efficiencies for deployment of these important services. Given that FOD detection radar operations are restricted to airport air operations areas that do not have public vehicle access, and considering the narrow beamwidths, highly directional antennas, and large signal propagation losses at relatively short distances of radar operations in the 76-81 GHz band, the Commission saw no need to require licensed FOD detection radars to coordinate with other licensed services or exclude FOD detection radars from part 95 regulation.

    16. Technical Rules. As proposed in the NPRM, the Commission adopted technical rules for the newly expanded radar band that mirrored those currently provided for unlicensed vehicular radars and FOD detection radars in the 76-77 GHz band under the part 15 rules. Specifically, the Commission adopted the same average (50 dBm) and peak (55 dBm) EIRP emissions limits for radar applications in the entire 76-81 GHz band as is currently specified in the part 15 rules for unlicensed vehicular radars in the 76-77 GHz band. The Commission also adopted other technical rules for the newly expanded radar band that mirrored those currently provided under part 15, including unwanted emissions limits, equipment certification, and radiofrequency exposure evaluation. Consistent with the NPRM, the new part 95 rules do not specify distinct spectrum blocks in the 76-81 GHz band for particular radar operations such as LRR and SRR, or FOD detection and aircraft-mounted radars. Instead, the Commission chose to rely on market forces and standardization processes to drive radars use of the band in accordance with application needs and the state of the technology, and decided that interested parties can determine whether particular segments of the 76-81 GHz band should be designated exclusively for LRR or SRR applications, or for FOD detection or aircraft-mounted radars. Neither LRR applications nor aircraft-mounted radars are restricted to operating within a one-gigahertz block of spectrum within the 76-81 GHz band, as suggested by some commenters.

    17. Vehicular and FOD detection radars currently certified under part 15 to operate in the 76-77 GHz band need not be recertified under part 95 to continue to operate in the band. These devices may continue their operations, but will now do so on a licensed-by-rule basis and be entitled to interference protection from amateur operations in the 76-81 GHz band. Any changes for such previously certified devices will need to comply with the applicable part 95 rules.

    III. Procedural Matters A. Paperwork Reduction Act Analysis

    18. This document does not contain any new or modified information collections subject to the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (PRA), Public Law 104-13.

    B. Congressional Review Act

    19. The Commission will send a copy of the Report and Order in a report to be sent to Congress and the Government Accountability Office pursuant to the Congressional Review Act, see 5 U.S.C. 801(a)(1)(A).

    C. Final Regulatory Flexibility Act

    20. The Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980 (RFA) requires that an agency prepare a regulatory flexibility analysis for notice and comment rulemakings, unless the agency certifies that “the rule will not, if promulgated, have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities.” Accordingly, the Commission has prepared a Final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (FRFA), set forth in Appendix B of the Report and Order concerning the possible impact of the rule changes.

    IV. Ordering Clauses

    21. Accordingly, it is ordered that pursuant to sections 1, 2, 4(i), 301, 302(a), and 303(f) of the Communications Act of 1934, 47 U.S.C. 151, 152, 154(i), 301, 302(a), and 303(f), the Report and Order in ET Docket No. 15-26 is hereby adopted.

    22. It is further ordered that parts 1, 2, 15, 90, 95, and 97 of the Commission's rules, 47 CFR parts 1, 2, 15, 90, 95, and 97 are amended, effective October 20, 2017, except as otherwise specified.

    List of Subjects 47 CFR Parts 1 and 2

    Radio, Telecommunications.

    47 CFR Parts 15, 90, 95, and 97

    Communications equipment, Radar, Radio.

    Federal Communications Commission. Katura Jackson, Federal Register Liaison Officer, Office of the Secretary. Final Rules

    For the reasons discussed in the preamble, the Federal Communications Commission amends 47 CFR parts 1, 2, 15, 90, 95, and 97 as follows:

    PART 1—PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE 1. The authority citation for part 1 continues to read as follows: Authority:

    47 U.S.C. 151, 154(i), 154(j), 155, 157, 160, 201, 225, 227, 303(r), 309, 332, 1403, 1404, 1451, 1452, and 1455.

    2. Amend § 1.1307 by adding an entry for “76-81 GHz Radar Service (part 95)” above the entry for “Amateur Radio Service (part 97)” in Table 1 in paragraph (b)(1) and revising paragraphs (b)(2)(i) and (ii) to read as follows:
    § 1.1307 Actions that may have a significant environmental effect, for which Environmental Assessments (EAs) must be prepared.

    (b) * * *

    (1) * * *

    Table 1—Transmitters, Facilities and Operations Subject to Routine Environmental Evaluation Service (title 47 CFR rule part) Evaluation required if: *    *    *    *    * 76-81 GHz Radar Service (part 95) All included. *    *    *    *    *

    (2)(i) Mobile and portable transmitting devices that operate in the Commercial Mobile Radio Services pursuant to part 20 of this chapter; the Cellular Radiotelephone Service pursuant to part 22 of this chapter; the Personal Communications Services (PCS) pursuant to part 24 of this chapter; the Satellite Communications Services pursuant to part 25 of this chapter; the Miscellaneous Wireless Communications Services pursuant to part 27 of this chapter; the Upper Microwave Flexible User Service pursuant to part 30 of this chapter; the Maritime Services (ship earth stations only) pursuant to part 80 of this chapter; the Specialized Mobile Radio Service, the 4.9 GHz Band Service, and the 3650 MHz Wireless Broadband Service pursuant to part 90 of this chapter; the Wireless Medical Telemetry Service (WMTS), the Medical Device Radiocommunication Service (MedRadio), and the 76-81 GHz Band Radar Service pursuant to part 95 of this chapter; and the Citizens Broadband Radio Service pursuant to part 96 of this chapter are subject to routine environmental evaluation for RF exposure prior to equipment authorization or use, as specified in §§ 2.1091 and 2.1093 of this chapter.

    (ii) Unlicensed PCS, unlicensed NII, and millimeter-wave devices are also subject to routine environmental evaluation for RF exposure prior to equipment authorization or use, as specified in §§ 15.255(g), 15.257(g), 15.319(i), and 15.407(f) of this chapter.

    PART 2—FREQUENCY ALLOCATIONS AND RADIO TREATY MATTERS; GENERAL RULES AND REGULATIONS 3. The authority citation for part 2 continues to read as follows: Authority:

    47 U.S.C. 154, 302a, 303, and 336, unless otherwise noted.

    4. Amend § 2.106, the Table of Frequency Allocations, as follows: a. Revise page 62. b. Under “International Footnotes,” add, in numerical order, footnote 5.559B.

    The revision and addition read as follows:

    § 2.106 Table of Frequency Allocations. BILLING CODE 6712-01-P ER20SE17.002 BILLING CODE 6712-01-C International Footnotes

    5.559B The use of the frequency band 77.5-78 GHz by the radiolocation service shall be limited to short-range radar for ground-based applications, including automotive radars. The technical characteristics of these radars are provided in the most recent version of Recommendation ITU-R M.2057. The provisions of No. 4.10 do not apply. (WRC-15)

    5. Amend § 2.1091 by revising paragraphs (c)(1) introductory text and (c)(2) to read as follows:
    § 2.1091 Radiofrequency radiation exposure evaluation: mobile devices.

    (c)(1) Mobile devices that operate in the Commercial Mobile Radio Services pursuant to part 20 of this chapter; the Cellular Radiotelephone Service pursuant to part 22 of this chapter; the Personal Communications Services pursuant to part 24 of this chapter; the Satellite Communications Services pursuant to part 25 of this chapter; the Miscellaneous Wireless Communications Services pursuant to part 27 of this chapter; the Upper Microwave Flexible Use Service pursuant to part 30 of this chapter; the Maritime Services (ship earth station devices only) pursuant to part 80 of this chapter; the Specialized Mobile Radio Service, and the 3650 MHz Wireless Broadband Service pursuant to part 90 of this chapter; the 76-81 GHz Band Radar Service pursuant to part 95 of this chapter; and the Citizens Broadband Radio Service pursuant to part 96 of this chapter are subject to routine environmental evaluation for RF exposure prior to equipment authorization or use if:

    (2) Unlicensed personal communications service devices, unlicensed millimeter-wave devices, and unlicensed NII devices authorized under §§ 15.255(g), 15.257(g), 15.319(i), and 15.407(f) of this chapter are also subject to routine environmental evaluation for RF exposure prior to equipment authorization or use if their ERP is 3 watts or more or if they meet the definition of a portable device as specified in § 2.1093(b) requiring evaluation under the provisions of that section.

    6. Amend § 2.1093 by revising paragraph (c)(1) to read as follows:
    § 2.1093 Radiofrequency radiation exposure evaluation: portable devices.

    (c)(1) Portable devices that operate in the Cellular Radiotelephone Service pursuant to part 22 of this chapter; the Personal Communications Service (PCS) pursuant to part 24 of this chapter; the Satellite Communications Services pursuant to part 25 of this chapter; the Miscellaneous Wireless Communications Services pursuant to part 27 of this chapter; the Upper Microwave Flexible Use Service pursuant to part 30 of this chapter; the Maritime Services (ship earth station devices only) pursuant to part 80 of this chapter; the Specialized Mobile Radio Service, the 4.9 GHz Band Service, and the 3650 MHz Wireless Broadband Service pursuant to part 90 of this chapter; the Wireless Medical Telemetry Service (WMTS), the Medical Device Radiocommunication Service (MedRadio), and the 76-81 GHz Band Radar Service pursuant to subparts H, I, and M of part 95 of this chapter, respectively; unlicensed personal communication service, unlicensed NII devices and millimeter-wave devices authorized under §§ 15.255(g), 15.257(g), 15.319(i), and 15.407(f) of this chapter; and the Citizens Broadband Radio Service pursuant to part 96 of this chapter are subject to routine environmental evaluation for RF exposure prior to equipment authorization or use.

    PART 15—RADIO FREQUENCY DEVICES 7. The authority citation for part 15 continues to read as follows: Authority:

    47 U.S.C. 154, 302a, 303, 304, 307, 336, 544a, and 549.

    8. Amend § 15.37 by adding paragraphs (l) through (p) to read as follows:
    § 15.37 Transition provisions for compliance with the rules.

    (l) The certification of wideband vehicular radars designed to operate in the 23.12-29 GHz band under § 15.252 and ultra-wideband vehicular radars designed to operate in the 22-29 GHz band under § 15.515 shall not be permitted on or after September 20, 2018.

    (m) The manufacture, importation, marketing, sale, and installation of wideband or ultra-wideband vehicular radars that are designed to operate in the 23.12-29 GHz band under § 15.252 and/or in the 22-29 GHz band under § 15.515 shall not be permitted after January 1, 2022. Notwithstanding the foregoing, sale and installation of such radars is permitted, for the life of the vehicle, when the following conditions have been met:

    (1) The sale and installation is for the exclusive purpose of repairing or replacing defective, damaged, or potentially malfunctioning radars that are designed to operate in the 23.12-29 GHz band under § 15.252 and/or in the 22-29 GHz band under § 15.515;

    (2) The equipment being repaired or replaced has been installed in the vehicle on or before January 1, 2022; and

    (3) It is not possible to replace the vehicular radar equipment designed to operate in the 23.12-29 GHz and/or 22-29 GHz bands with vehicular radar equipment designed to operate in the 76-81 GHz band.

    (n) Wideband or ultra-wideband vehicular radars operating in the 23.12-29 GHz band under § 15.252 and/or in the 22-29 GHz band under § 15.515 that are already installed or in use may continue to operate in accordance with their previously obtained certification. Class II permissive changes for such equipment shall not be permitted after January 1, 2022.

    (o) Applicable July 13, 2017, the certification, manufacture, importation, marketing, sale, and installation of field disturbance sensors that are designed to operate in the 16.2-17.7 GHz and 46.7-46.9 GHz bands shall not be permitted. Field disturbance sensors already installed or in use in the 16.2-17.7 GHz band may continue to operate in accordance with their previously obtained certification. Class II permissive changes shall not be permitted for such equipment.

    (p) Effective October 20, 2017, the certification under this part of vehicular radars and fixed radar systems used in airport air operations areas that are designed to operate in the 76-77 GHz band shall not be permitted. Vehicular radars and fixed radar systems used in airport air operations areas operating in the 76-77 GHz band that are already installed or in use may continue to operate in accordance with their previously obtained certification. Any future certification, or any change of already issued certification and operations of such equipment, shall be under part 95, subpart M, of this chapter.

    9. Amend § 15.252 by revising the section heading and paragraphs (a) introductory text and (a)(1), removing paragraph (b)(1), redesignating paragraphs (b)(2) through (6) as paragraphs (b)(1) through (5), revising newly redesignated paragraphs (b)(2) and (3), and adding paragraph (d) to read as follows:
    § 15.252 Operation of wideband vehicular radar systems within the band 23.12-29.0 GHz.

    (a) Operation under this section is limited to field disturbance sensors that are mounted in terrestrial transportation vehicles. Terrestrial use is limited to earth surface-based, non-aviation applications.

    (1) The −10 dB bandwidth of the fundamental emissions shall be located within the 23.12-29.0 GHz band, exclusive of the 23.6-24.0 GHz restricted band, as appropriate, under all conditions of operation including the effects from stepped frequency, frequency hopping or other modulation techniques that may be employed as well as the frequency stability of the transmitter over expected variations in temperature and supply voltage.

    (b) * * *

    (2) In addition to the radiated emissions limits specified in the table in paragraph (b)(1) of this section, transmitters operating under the provisions of this section shall not exceed the following RMS average EIRP limits when measured using a resolution bandwidth of no less than 1 kHz:

    Frequency in MHz EIRP in dBm 1164-1240 −85.3 1559-1610 −85.3

    (3) There is a limit on the peak level of the emissions contained within a 50 MHz bandwidth centered on the frequency at which the highest radiated emission occurs and this 50 MHz bandwidth must be contained within the 24.05-29.0 GHz band. The peak EIRP limit is 20 log (RBW/50) dBm where RBW is the resolution bandwidth in MHz employed by the measurement instrument. RBW shall not be lower than 1 MHz or greater than 50 MHz. Further, RBW shall not be greater than the −10 dB bandwidth of the device under test. For transmitters that employ frequency hopping, stepped frequency or similar modulation types, measurement of the −10 dB minimum bandwidth specified in this paragraph shall be made with the frequency hop or step function disabled and with the transmitter operating continuously at a fundamental frequency. The video bandwidth of the measurement instrument shall not be less than RBW. The limit on peak emissions applies to the 50 MHz bandwidth centered on the frequency at which the highest level radiated emission occurs. If RBW is greater than 3 MHz, the application for certification shall contain a detailed description of the test procedure, the instrumentation employed in the testing, and the calibration of the test setup.

    (d) Wideband vehicular radar systems operating in the 23.12-29.0 GHz band are subject to the transition provisions of § 15.37(l) through (n).

    § 15.253 [Removed and Reserved]
    10. Remove and reserve § 15.253. 11. Amend § 15.515 by adding paragraph (h) to read as follows:
    § 15.515 Technical requirements for vehicular radar systems.

    (h) UWB vehicular systems operating in the 22-29 GHz band are subject to the transition provisions of § 15.37(l) through (n).

    PART 90—PRIVATE LAND MOBILE RADIO SERVICES
    12. The authority citation for part 90 continues to read as follows: Authority:

    Sections 4(i), 11, 303(g), 303(r), and 332(c)(7) of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, 47 U.S.C. 154(i), 161, 303(g), 303(r), and 332(c)(7), and Title VI of the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012, Pub. L. 112-96, 126 Stat. 156.

    § 90.103 [Amended]
    13. Amend § 90.103 by removing the entry “78,000-81,000” in the table in paragraph (b). PART 95—PERSONAL RADIO SERVICES 14. The authority citation for part 95 continues to read as follows: Authority:

    47 U.S.C. 154, 301, 302(a), 303, and 307(e).

    15. Revise § 95.347 to read as follows:
    § 95.347 Automatic control.

    Operation of Personal Radio Services stations under automatic control is prohibited, unless otherwise allowed for a particular Personal Radio Service by rules in the subpart governing that specific service. See, e.g., §§ 95.1747, 95.2347, 95.2547, 95.3347.

    16. Add subpart M, consisting of §§ 95.3301 through 95.3385, to read as follows: Subpart M—The 76-81 GHz Band Radar Service Administrative Rules Sec. 95.3301 Scope. 95.3303 Definitions, the 76-81 GHz Band Radar Service. 95.3305 Radar operator eligibility in the 76-81 GHz Band. Operating Rules 95.3331 Permissible 76-81 GHz Band Radar Service uses. 95.3333 Airborne use of 76-81 GHz Band Radar Service is prohibited. 95.3347 76-81 GHz Band Radar Service automatic control. Technical Rules 95.3361 Certification. 95.3367 76-81 GHz Band Radar Service radiated power limits. 95.3379 76-81 GHz Band Radar Service unwanted emissions limits. 95.3385 76-81 GHz Band Radar Service RF exposure evaluation. Subpart M—The 76-81 GHz Band Radar Service Administrative Rules
    § 95.3301 Scope.

    This subpart sets out the regulations that apply to radar systems operating in the 76-81 GHz band. This subpart does not apply to Level Probing Radars that operate under part 15 of this title.

    § 95.3303 Definitions, the 76-81 GHz Band Radar Service.

    (a) Air operations area. See § 87.5 of this chapter.

    (b) Field disturbance sensor. See § 15.5(l) of this chapter.

    (c) Foreign object debris (FOD) detection radar. A radar device designed to detect foreign object debris in airport air operations areas and to monitor aircraft as well as service vehicles on taxiways, and other airport vehicle service areas that have no public vehicle access.

    (d) Radar. See § 2.1(c) of this chapter.

    § 95.3305 Radar operator eligibility in the 76-81 GHz Band.

    Subject to the requirements of §§ 95.305 and 95.307, any person is eligible to operate a radar in the 76-81 GHz band without an individual license; such operation must comply with all applicable rules in this subpart.

    Operating Rules
    § 95.3331 Permissible 76-81 GHz Band Radar Service uses.

    Radar systems operating in the 76-81 GHz band may operate as vehicular radars, or as fixed or mobile radars in airport air operations areas, including but not limited to FOD detection radars and aircraft-mounted radars for ground use only.

    § 95.3333 Airborne use of 76-81 GHz Band Radar Service is prohibited.

    Notwithstanding the provisions of § 95.3331, 76-81 GHz Band Radar Service is prohibited aboard aircraft in flight. Aircraft-mounted radars shall be equipped with a mechanism that will prevent operations once the aircraft becomes airborne.

    § 95.3347 76-81 GHz Band Radar Service automatic control.

    Notwithstanding the provisions of § 95.347, 76-81 GHz Band Radar Service operations may be conducted under manual or automatic control.

    Technical Rules
    § 95.3361 Certification.

    Radar equipment operating in the 76-81 GHz band shall be certificated in accordance with this subpart and subpart J of part 2 of this chapter.

    § 95.3367 76-81 GHz Band Radar Service radiated power limits.

    The fundamental radiated emission limits within the 76-81 GHz band are expressed in terms of Equivalent Isotropically Radiated Power (EIRP) and are as follows:

    (a) The maximum power (EIRP) within the 76-81 GHz band shall not exceed 50 dBm based on measurements employing a power averaging detector with a 1 MHz Resolution Bandwidth (RBW).

    (b) The maximum peak power (EIRP) within the 76-81 GHz band shall not exceed 55 dBm based on measurements employing a peak detector with a 1 MHz RBW.

    § 95.3379 76-81 GHz Band Radar Service unwanted emissions limits.

    (a) The power density of any emissions outside the 76-81 GHz band shall consist solely of spurious emissions and shall not exceed the following:

    (1) Radiated emissions below 40 GHz shall not exceed the field strength as shown in the following emissions table.

    Frequency
  • (MHz)
  • Field strength
  • (microvolts/meter)
  • Measurement distance
  • (meters)
  • 0.009-0.490 2400/F(kHz) 300 0.490-1.705 24000/F(kHz) 30 1.705-30.0 30 30 30-88 100 3 88-216 150 3 216-960 200 3 Above 960 500 3

    (i) In the emissions table in paragraph (a)(1) of this section, the tighter limit applies at the band edges.

    (ii) The limits in the table in paragraph (a)(1) of this section are based on the frequency of the unwanted emissions and not the fundamental frequency. However, the level of any unwanted emissions shall not exceed the level of the fundamental frequency.

    (iii) The emissions limits shown in the table in paragraph (a)(1) of this section are based on measurements employing a CISPR quasi-peak detector except for the frequency bands 9.0-90.0 kHz, 110.0-490.0 kHz, and above 1000 MHz. Radiated emissions limits in these three bands are based on measurements employing an average detector with a 1 MHz RBW.

    (2) The power density of radiated emissions outside the 76-81 GHz band above 40.0 GHz shall not exceed the following, based on measurements employing an average detector with a 1 MHz RBW:

    (i) For radiated emissions outside the 76-81 GHz band between 40 GHz and 200 GHz from field disturbance sensors and radar systems operating in the 76-81 GHz band: 600 pW/cm2 at a distance of 3 meters from the exterior surface of the radiating structure.

    (ii) For radiated emissions above 200 GHz from field disturbance sensors and radar systems operating in the 76-81 GHz band: 1000 pW/cm2 at a distance of 3 meters from the exterior surface of the radiating structure.

    (3) For field disturbance sensors and radar systems operating in the 76-81 GHz band, the spectrum shall be investigated up to 231.0 GHz.

    (b) Fundamental emissions must be contained within the frequency bands specified in this section during all conditions of operation. Equipment is presumed to operate over the temperature range −20 to +50 degrees Celsius with an input voltage variation of 85% to 115% of rated input voltage, unless justification is presented to demonstrate otherwise.

    § 95.3385 76-81 GHz Band Radar Service RF exposure evaluation.

    Regardless of the power density levels permitted under this subpart, devices operating under the provisions of this subpart are subject to the radiofrequency radiation exposure requirements specified in §§ 1.1307(b), 2.1091, and 2.1093 of this chapter, as appropriate. Applications for equipment authorization of devices operating under this section must contain a statement confirming compliance with these requirements for both fundamental emissions and unwanted emissions. Technical information showing the basis for this statement must be submitted to the Commission upon request.

    PART 97—AMATEUR RADIO SERVICE
    17. The authority citation for part 97 continues to read as follows: Authority:

    48 Stat. 1066, 1082, as amended: 47 U.S.C. 154, 303. Interpret or apply 48 Stat. 1064-1068, 1081-1105, as amended; 47 U.S.C. 151-155, 301-609, unless otherwise noted.

    18. Amend § 97.303 by revising paragraphs (c) and (f) and removing and reserving paragraph (s) to read as follows:
    § 97.303 Frequency sharing requirements.

    (c) Amateur stations transmitting in the 76-81 GHz segment, the 136-141 GHz segment, or the 241-248 GHz segment must not cause harmful interference to, and must accept interference from, stations authorized by the United States Government, the FCC, or other nations in the radiolocation service.

    (f) Amateur stations transmitting in the following segments must not cause harmful interference to radio astronomy stations: 3.332-3.339 GHz, 3.3458-3.3525 GHz, 76-81 GHz, 136-141 GHz, 241-248 GHz, 275-323 GHz, 327-371 GHz, 388-424 GHz, 426-442 GHz, 453-510 GHz, 623-711 GHz, 795-909 GHz, or 926-945 GHz. In addition, amateur stations transmitting in the following segments must not cause harmful interference to stations in the Earth exploration-satellite service (passive) or the space research service (passive): 275-277 GHz, 294-306 GHz, 316-334 GHz, 342-349 GHz, 363-365 GHz, 371-389 GHz, 416-434 GHz, 442-444 GHz, 496-506 GHz, 546-568 GHz, 624-629 GHz, 634-654 GHz, 659-661 GHz, 684-692 GHz, 730-732 GHz, 851-853 GHz, or 951-956 GHz.

    (s) [Reserved]

    19. Amend § 97.313 by adding paragraph (m) to read as follows:
    § 97.313 Transmitter power standards.

    (m) No station may transmit with a peak equivalent isotropically radiated power (EIRP) exceeding 316 W in the 76-81 GHz (4 mm) band.

    [FR Doc. 2017-18463 Filed 9-19-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6712-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Fish and Wildlife Service 50 CFR Part 17 [Docket No. FWS-R1-ES-2016-0057; 4500030113] RIN 1018-BB54 Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Threatened Species Status for the Iiwi (Drepanis coccinea) AGENCY:

    Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

    ACTION:

    Final rule.

    SUMMARY:

    We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), determine threatened status under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act), for the iiwi (Drepanis coccinea), a bird species from the Hawaiian Islands. The effect of this regulation is to add this species to the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife.

    DATES:

    This rule becomes effective October 20, 2017.

    ADDRESSES:

    This final rule is available on the internet at http://www.regulations.gov and http://www.fws.gov/pacificislands. Comments and materials we received, as well as supporting documentation we used in preparing this rule, such as the species status report, are available for public inspection at http://www.regulations.gov. Comments, materials, and documentation that we considered in this rulemaking will be available by appointment, during normal business hours at: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Pacific Islands Fish and Wildlife Office, 300 Ala Moana Boulevard, Room 3-122, Honolulu, HI 96850; by telephone at 808-792-9400; or by facsimile at 808-792-9581.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Mary Abrams, Field Supervisor, Pacific Islands Fish and Wildlife Office, 300 Ala Moana Boulevard, Room 3-122, Honolulu, HI 96850; by telephone (808-792-9400); or by facsimile (808-792-9581). Persons who use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD) may call the Federal Relay Service (FIRS) at 800-877-8339.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Executive Summary

    Why we need to publish a rule. Under the Endangered Species Act, 16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq., a species or subspecies may warrant protection through listing if it is endangered or threatened throughout all or a significant portion of its range. Critical habitat shall be designated, to the maximum extent prudent and determinable, for any species determined to be an endangered or threatened species under the Act.

    This rule finalizes the listing of the iiwi (Drepanis coccinea) as threatened under the Act because of current and future threats, and listing can only be done by issuing a rule. The iiwi no longer occurs across much of its historical range, and faces a variety of threats in the form of diseases and impacts to its remaining habitat.

    Delineation of critical habitat requires, within the geographical area occupied by the species, identification of the physical or biological features essential to the species' conservation. A careful assessment of the biological needs of the species and the areas that may have the physical or biological features essential for the conservation of the species and that may require special management considerations or protections, and thus qualify for designation as critical habitat, is particularly complicated in this case by the ongoing and projected effects of climate change and will require a thorough assessment. We require additional time to analyze the best available scientific data in order to identify specific areas appropriate for critical habitat designation and to analyze the impacts of designating such areas as critical habitat. Accordingly, we find designation of critical habitat for the iiwi to be “not determinable” at this time.

    What this document does. This document lists the iiwi as a threatened species. We previously published a 90-day finding and a 12-month finding and proposed listing rule for the iiwi. Those documents assessed all available information regarding status of and threats to the iiwi.

    The basis for our action. Under the Act, we can determine that a species is an endangered or threatened species based on any of 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 have determined that the primary threats to the iiwi are its susceptibility to avian malaria (Factor C) and the expected reduction in disease-free habitat as a result of increased temperatures caused by climate change (Factor E). Although not identified as primary threat factors, rapid ohia death, a fungal disease that kills the tree species required by iiwi for nesting and foraging, and impacts from nonnative invasive plants and feral ungulates, contribute to the degradation and curtailment of the iiwi's remaining, disease-free native ohia forest habitat, exacerbating threats to the species' viability.

    Peer review and public comment. We sought comments on our proposal from eight independent specialists to ensure that our designation is based on scientifically sound data, assumptions, and analyses. We also considered all comments and information received during the public comment period.

    A species status report for the iiwi was prepared by a team of Service biologists, with the assistance of scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey's (USGS) Pacific Islands Ecosystems Research Center and the Service's Pacific Islands Climate Change Cooperative. We also obtained review and input from experts familiar with avian malaria and avian genetics. The species status report represents a compilation of the best scientific and commercial data available concerning the status of the species, including the past, present, and future threats to the iiwi. The final species status report, revised in response to peer reviewer comments, and other materials relating to this proposal can be found at http://www.regulations.gov, at Docket No. FWS-R1-ES-2016-0057, or by contacting the Pacific Islands Fish and Wildlife Office (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT).

    Background Previous Federal Actions

    Please refer to the proposed listing rule, published in the Federal Register on September 20, 2016 (81 FR 64414), for previous Federal actions for this species prior to that date. The publication of the proposed listing rule opened a 60-day public comment period that closed on November 21, 2016. We published a public notice of the proposed rule on September 19, 2016. This notice was picked up and published by several local media outlets including the State's largest newspaper, the Honolulu Star Advertiser, as well as the Garden Island Newspaper, Honolulu Civil Beat, and Hawaii News Now.

    Summary of Comments and Recommendations

    We solicited comments during the 60-day public comment period from September 20, to November 21, 2016 (81 FR 64414). We contacted appropriate Federal and State agencies, scientific experts and organizations, and other interested parties and invited them to comment on the proposal. Notices inviting public comment also were published in four major news outlets in the State. During the comment period, we received a total of nine letters from members of the public. We did not receive any requests for a public hearing. In this final rule, we address only those comments directly relevant to the listing of the iiwi. All nine letters were from individual members of the public. We did not receive any comments from the State of Hawaii.

    Public Comments

    Of the nine comment letters we received from members of the public, eight expressed general support for our listing the iiwi under the Act, and one commented on a topic unrelated to our proposed rule. None of these letters provided new, substantive information or comments requiring specific response here.

    Peer Review

    In accordance with our peer review policy published on July 1, 1994 (59 FR 34270), we solicited expert opinions from eight individuals with scientific expertise on the iiwi and its habitat, biological needs, and threats, including familiarity with the geographic region where the iiwi occurs, and principles of conservation biology. We received responses from all eight of these individuals.

    In general, all of the peer reviewers agreed that the draft Species Status Report and proposed rule provided an accurate synthesis of the life history of the iiwi and robust analysis of the stressors affecting the species. They further agreed that our conclusions regarding the status of the species were reasonable and scientifically sound. We reviewed all comments received from the peer reviewers for substantive issues and new information regarding the listing of iiwi. Where appropriate, we have incorporated corrections, editorial suggestions, and new literature and other information they provided into both the final species report and final rule. Any substantive comments are discussed below (see also Summary of Changes from Proposed Rule). All of the peer reviews were constructive and thorough; we thank the peer reviewers for their thoughtful assistance.

    Comment (1): Two of the peer reviews suggested that we had not sufficiently emphasized the potential importance of avian pox as a threat to the iiwi. Specifically, the reviewers noted that the literature on mosquito-borne diseases affecting native Hawaiian forest birds tends to be focused more on avian malaria due, in part, to the knowledge gaps about the impacts of avian pox and the lack of an accurate, noninvasive diagnostic test for identifying acute active infections and birds that have recovered from infection. The reviewers point out that the two diseases may be acting both individually and synergistically when infections are simultaneous. Although avian malaria has been more thoroughly studied, the peer reviewers felt that the available evidence suggests avian pox may also be a significant source of mortality and pose a greater threat to the iiwi than would be suggested by our analysis.

    Our Response: Although our draft Species Status Report pointed to the difficulty in untangling the relationship between the two diseases because of their frequent occurrence together, we agree with the reviewers that we placed more emphasis on the threat posed by avian malaria, in part simply due to the greater amount of scientific information available that clearly links high levels of mortality in iiwi directly to infection with malaria. In our final Species Status Report and this final rule, we have increased emphasis on the possibility that avian pox, both alone and in combination with avian malaria, may have negative, population-level impacts on iiwi.

    Comment (2): One reviewer suggested that the “estimate” of 50 birds on Oahu reported in the draft Species Status Report is unrealistically high and not based on scientific data; the reviewer stated that based on observations of occasional single birds over the past 15 years, the population is probably much less than 50, perhaps 10 at the most. Likewise for Molokai, the reviewer pointed out that the estimated number of birds from the 1980s is no longer accurate, and there are many fewer than 80 birds on that island.

    Our Response: We thank the reviewer for his comments, and have made the corrections as needed in the final Species Status Report. Because the proposed rule did not refer to specific numbers of birds, no associated changes were required in this final rule.

    Comment (3): Two peer reviewers provided updated information regarding the impacts and extent of various diseases affecting ohia trees, especially rapid ohia death (also known as ohia wilt, caused by fungi in the genus Ceratocystis).

    Our Response: We have incorporated these changes into the final Species Status Report and final rule, as appropriate. In particular, we have updated the estimated area infected with rapid ohia death on Hawaii Island to more than 50,000 acres (20,235 hectares) (Hughes 2016, pers. comm.).

    Comment (4): One peer reviewer pointed out that, although Paxton et al. (2013) stated that the iiwi population on the leeward (Kona) side of Hawaii Island is strongly increasing, they couched those specific results as the inference from a limited dataset. The reviewer suggested that it was important for us to provide a similar caveat with regard to this reported trend in our final Species Status Report and final rule.

    Our Response: We agree that this point provides important context for the interpretation of this reported trend, and have provided additional language in the final Species Status Report and in this final rule to more accurately mirror the reported results of Paxton et al. 2013.

    Comment (5): One peer reviewer suggested that, although it is true that the effects of predation have not been well documented or quantified for the iiwi, there is substantial evidence that predation by nonnative rats, particularly the black rat (Rattus rattus), is a serious threat to other Hawaiian forest birds. Although the reviewer acknowledges that predation is difficult to detect and document, particularly in species like the iiwi that nest high in the forest canopy, he believes the available evidence suggests predation by rats is likely also a contributing factor in the decline of the iiwi.

    Our Response: We have incorporated additional discussion of the potential impacts of rat predation on the iiwi in this final rule.

    Comment (6): Two peer reviewers suggested that we consider the findings of Paxton et al. (2016) in a paper published subsequent to the writing of our draft Species Status Report.

    Our Response: We have incorporated the results of Paxton et al. 2016 into our final Species Status Report and this final rule. This research documents the rapid collapse of the native avian community on the island of Kauai since 2000 as a result of the impacts of mosquito-borne diseases exacerbated by increased ambient temperature. In particular, the projections of Paxton et al. (2016) point to the likely extirpation of the iiwi from the island of Kauai by the year 2050 as a consequence of the loss of disease-free habitat on Kauai and consequent exposure to avian malaria and pox. We also updated the reported numbers and range of iiwi on Kauai with the more recent estimates from Paxton et al. (2016).

    Summary of Changes From Proposed Rule

    After consideration of the comments we received during the public comment period and new information published or obtained since the proposed rule was published, we have made some changes to the final rule. None of these changes affect the determination. We made many small, nonsubstantive changes and corrections (e.g., updating the Background section in response to comments, minor clarifications, and editorial changes) throughout the document. In addition, we made some substantive changes to the information in this final rule in response to peer review, which are summarized here:

    (1) We have elevated the identification of avian pox as a potentially important factor contributing to the decline of iiwi in response to mosquito-borne diseases, in addition to the effects of avian malaria;

    (2) We have made a more definitive statement about the likely negative effects of rat predation on iiwi (VanderWerf 2016, pers. comm.);

    (3) We updated the amount of area on Hawaii Island that is now estimated to be affected by rapid ohia death, which has now increased to more than 50,000 acres (20,235 hectares) (Hughes 2016, pers. comm.);

    (4) We have updated our discussion of both the documented and projected declines of native forest birds on the island of Kauai to reflect the recently published work of Paxton et al. (2016), which projects the potential extirpation of iiwi from that island by the year 2050 as a consequence of warming temperatures and associated exposure to mosquito-borne diseases.

    Status Assessment for the Iiwi

    A thorough review of the taxonomy, life history, and ecology of the iiwi (Drepanis coccinea) is presented in the Iiwi (Drepanis coccinea) Species Status Report, available online at http://www.regulations.gov under Docket No. FWS-R1-ES-2016-0057. The species status report documents the results of our comprehensive biological status review for the iiwi, including an assessment of the potential stressors to the species. The species status report does not represent a decision by the Service on whether the iiwi should be listed as a threatened or endangered species under the Act; that decision involves the application of standards within the Act and its implementing regulations and policies. The species report does, however, provide the scientific basis that informs our regulatory decision. We have revised the report in response to comments from peer reviewers, who provided new information, additional references, and minor corrections. None of these changes substantively altered the conclusions we drew from the available information or changed the outcome of our assessment. The following is a summary of the key results and conclusions from the species status report.

    Summary of Biological Status

    A medium-sized forest bird notable for its iconic bright red feathers, black wings and tail, and a long, curved bill (Fancy and Ralph 1998, p. 2), the iiwi belongs to the family Fringillidae and the endemic Hawaiian honeycreeper subfamily, Drepanidinae (Pratt et al. 2009, pp. 114, 122). Iiwi songs are complex with variable creaks (often described as sounding like a “rusty hinge”), whistles, or gurgling sounds, and they sometimes mimic other birds (Fancy and Ralph 1998, p. 5; Hawaii Audubon Society 2011, p. 97). The species is found primarily in closed canopy, montane wet or montane mesic forests composed of tall stature ohia (Metrosideros polymorpha) trees or ohia and koa (Acacia koa) tree mixed forest. The iiwi's diet consists primarily of nectar from the flowers of ohia and mamane (Sophora chrysophylla), various plants in the lobelia (Campanulaceae) family (Pratt et al. 2009, p. 193), and occasionally, insects and spiders (Fancy and Ralph 1998, pp. 4-5; Pratt et al. 2009, p. 193).

    Although iiwi may breed anytime between October and August (Fancy and Ralph 1998, p. 7-8), the main breeding season occurs between February and June, which coincides with peak flowering of ohia (Fancy and Ralph 1997, p. 2). Iiwi create cup-shaped nests typically within the upper canopy of ohia (Fancy and Ralph 1998, p. 7-8), and breeding pairs defend a small area around the nest and disperse after the breeding season (Fancy and Ralph 1997, p. 2). An iiwi clutch typically consists of two eggs, with a breeding pair raising one to two broods per year (Fancy and Ralph 1998, p. 7-8).

    Well known for their seasonal movements in response to the availability of flowering ohia and mamane, iiwi are strong fliers that move long distances following their breeding season to locate nectar sources (Fancy and Ralph 1998, p. 3; Kuntz 2008, p. 1; Guillamet et al. 2016, p. 192). The iiwi's seasonal movement to lower elevation areas in search of nectar sources is an important factor in the exposure of the species to avian diseases, particularly malaria (discussed below).

    Although historical abundance estimates are not available, the iiwi was considered one of the most common of the native forest birds in Hawaii by early naturalists, described as “ubiquitous” and found from sea level to the tree line across all the major islands (Banko 1981, pp. 1-2). Today the iiwi is no longer found on Lanai, and only a few individuals may be found on Oahu, Molokai, and west Maui. Remaining populations of iiwi are largely restricted to forests above approximately 3,937 feet (ft) (1,200 meters (m)) in elevation on Hawaii Island (Big Island), east Maui, and Kauai. As described below, the present distribution of iiwi corresponds with areas that are above the elevation at which the transmission of avian malaria readily occurs (“disease-free” habitats). The current abundance of iiwi rangewide is estimated at a mean of 605,418 individuals (range 550,972 to 659,864). Ninety percent of all iiwi now occur on Hawaii Island, followed by east Maui (about 10 percent), and Kauai (less than 1 percent) (Paxton et al. 2013, p. 10; Paxton et al. 2016, p. 2).

    Iiwi population trends and abundance vary across the islands. The population on Kauai appears to be in steep decline, with a modeled rate of decrease equivalent to a 92 percent reduction in population over a 25-year period (Paxton et al. 2013, p. 10); the total population on Kauai is estimated at a mean of 2,603 birds (range 1,789 to 3,520) (Paxton et al. 2016, p. 2). Trends on Maui are mixed, but populations there generally appear to be in decline; East Maui supports an estimated population of 59,859 individuals (range 54,569 to 65,148) (Paxton et al. 2013, p. 10). On Hawaii Island, which supports the largest remaining numbers of iiwi at an estimated average of 543,009 individuals (range 516,312 to 569,706), evidence exists for stable or declining populations on the windward side of the island. Strong trends of increase are inferred on the leeward (Kona) side of the island, but these trends should be interpreted with caution because they are based on a limited number of surveys (Paxton et al. 2013, pp. 25-26; Camp 2016, pers. comm.). As noted above, iiwi have been extirpated from Lanai, and only a few individual birds have been sporadically detected on the islands of Oahu, Molokai, and on west Maui in recent decades. Of the nine iiwi population regions for which sufficient information is available for quantitative inference, five of those show strong or very strong evidence of declining populations; one, a stable to declining population; one, a stable to increasing population; and two, strong evidence for increasing populations. Four of the nine regions show evidence of range contraction. Overall, based on the most recent surveys (up to 2012), approximately 90 percent of remaining iiwi are restricted to forest within a narrow band between 4,265 and 6,234 ft (1,300 and 1,900 m) in elevation (Paxton et al. 2013, pp. 1, 10-11, and Figure 1) (See the Population Status section of the species status report for details).

    Summary of Factors Affecting the Species

    The Act directs us to determine whether any species is an endangered species or a threatened species because of any of five various factors affecting its continued existence. Our species status report evaluated many potential stressors to iiwi, particularly direct impacts on the species from introduced diseases, as well as predation by introduced mammals, competition with nonnative birds, climate change, ectoparasites, and the effects of small population size. We also assessed stressors that may affect the extent or quality of the iiwi's required ohia forest habitat, including ohia dieback (a natural phenomenon), ohia rust (a nonnative pathogen), drought, fires, volcanic eruptions, climate change, and particularly rapid ohia death (ROD, also known as ohia wilt; a nonnative pathogen) and habitat alteration by nonnative plants and feral ungulates.

    All species experience stressors; we consider a stressor to rise to the level of a threat to the species if the magnitude of the stressor is such that it places the current or future viability of the species at risk. In considering what stressors or factors might constitute threats to a species, we must look beyond the exposure of the species to a particular stressor to evaluate whether the species may respond to that stressor in a way that causes impacts to the species now or is likely to cause impacts in the future. If there is exposure to a stressor and the species responds negatively, the stressor may be a threat. We consider the stressor to be a threat if it drives, or contributes to, the risk of extinction of the species such that the species warrants listing as endangered or threatened as those terms are defined in the Act. However, the identification of stressors that could affect a species negatively may not be sufficient to compel a finding that the species warrants listing. The information must include evidence sufficient to suggest that these stressors are operative threats that act on the species to the point that the species may meet the definition of endangered or threatened under the Act.

    Our species status report examines all of the potential stressors to iiwi in detail. Here we describe those stressors that we conclude rise to the level of a threat to the long-term viability of iiwi.

    Based on our comprehensive assessment of the status of the iiwi, we conclude that the best scientific data available consistently identifies avian malaria as the primary driver of declines in abundance and distribution of iiwi observed since the turn of the 20th century. This conclusion is supported by the extremely high mortality rate of iiwi (approximately 95 percent) in response to avian malaria, and the disappearance of iiwi from low-elevation ohia forest where it was formerly common and where malaria is prevalent today. Both the life cycle of the mosquito vector and the development and transmission of the malaria parasite are temperature-limited; thus, iiwi are now found primarily in high-elevation forests above 3,937 ft (1,200 m) where malaria prevalence and transmission is only brief and episodic, or nonexistent, under current conditions. The honeycreepers amakihi and apapane appear to be developing some resistance or tolerance to avian malaria (e.g., Woodworth et al. 2005, p. 1,531; Atkinson et al. 2014, p. 366; Samuel et al. 2015, pp. 12-13). In contrast, iiwi have not demonstrated any substantial sign of developing resistance to avian malaria to date and do not appear to be genetically predisposed to evolve resistance (Jarvi et al. 2004, pp. 2,164-2,166). As the prevalence of avian malaria increases in association with warmer temperatures (e.g., LaPointe et al. 2012, p. 217), the extent and impact of avian diseases upon iiwi are projected to become greatly exacerbated by climate change during this century.

    Additionally, on Hawaii Island, where 90 percent of the iiwi currently occur, the recently discovered tree disease, ohia wilt, commonly known in Hawaii as rapid ohia death (ROD), was identified as an emergent source of habitat loss and degradation that has the potential to exacerbate other stressors to ohia forest habitat, as well as reduce the amount of habitat remaining for iiwi in an already limited, disease-free zone contained within a narrow elevation band. Rapid ohia death leads to significant mortality of the ohia that iiwi depend upon for nesting and foraging. This disease is spreading rapidly and has become a matter of urgent concern. If ROD continues to spread across the native ohia forests, it will directly threaten iiwi by eliminating the limited, malaria-free native forest areas that remain for the species.

    Based on the analysis in our species status report, invasive, nonnative plants and feral ungulates have major, adverse impacts on ohia forest habitat. Although we did not find that the historical and ongoing habitat alteration by nonnative species is the primary cause of the significant observed decline in iiwi's abundance and distribution, the cumulative impacts to iiwi's habitat, and in particular the activities of feral ungulates, are not insignificant and likely exacerbate the effects of avian malaria. Feral ungulates, particularly pigs (Sus scrofa), goats (Capra hircus), and axis deer (Axis axis), degrade ohia forest habitat by spreading nonnative plant seeds and grazing on and trampling native vegetation, and contributing to erosion (Mountainspring 1986, p. 95; Camp et al. 2010, p. 198). Invasive nonnative plants, such as strawberry guava (Psidium cattleianum) and albizia trees (Falcataria moluccana), prevent or retard regeneration of ohia forest used by iiwi for foraging and nesting. The combined effects of drought and nonnative, invasive grasses have resulted in increased fire frequency and the conversion of mesic ohia woodland to exotic grassland in many areas of Hawaii ((D'Antonio and Vitousek 1992, p. 67; Smith and Tunison 1992, pp. 395-397; Vitousek et al. 1997, pp. 7-8; D'Antonio et al. 2011, p. 1,617). Beyond alteration of ohia forest, feral pig activities that create mosquito habitat in ohia forest where there would otherwise be very little to none is identified as an important compounding stressor that acts synergistically with the prevalence of malaria and results in iiwi mortality. Although habitat loss and degradation is not, by itself, considered to be a primary driver of iiwi declines, the habitat impacts described above contribute cumulatively to the vulnerability of the species to the threat of avian malaria by degrading the quality and quantity of the remaining disease-free habitat upon which the iiwi depends. In this regard, ROD, discussed above, is a matter of urgent concern as it can further exacerbate and compound effects from the suite of stressors that impact iiwi (see below).

    Avian Diseases

    The introduction of avian diseases transmitted by the introduced southern house mosquito (Culex quinquefasciatus), including avian malaria (caused by the protozoan Plasmodium relictum) and avian pox (Avipoxvirus sp.), has been a key driving force in both extinctions and extensive declines over the last century in the abundance, diversity, and distribution of many Hawaiian forest bird species, including declines of the iiwi and other endemic honeycreepers (e.g., Warner 1968, entire; Van Riper et al. 1986, entire; Benning et al. 2002, p. 14,246; Atkinson and LaPointe 2009a, p. 243; Atkinson and LaPointe 2009b, pp. 55-56; Samuel et al. 2011, p. 2,970; LaPointe et al. 2012, p. 214; Samuel et al. 2015, pp. 13-15). Nonnative to Hawaii, the first species of mosquitoes were accidentally introduced to the Hawaiian Islands in 1826, and spread quickly to the lowlands of all the major islands (Warner 1968, p. 104; Van Riper et al. 1986, p. 340). Early observations of birds with characteristic lesions suggest that avian pox virus was established in Hawaii by the late 1800s (Warner 1968, p. 106; Atkinson and LaPointe 2009a, p. 55), and later genetic analyses indicate pox was present in the Hawaiian Islands by at least 1900 (Jarvi et al. 2008, p. 339). Avian malaria had arrived in Hawaii in the early 20th century (Warner 1968, p. 107; Van Riper et al. 1986, pp. 340-341; Atkinson and LaPointe 2009, p. 55; Banko and Banko 2009, p. 52), likely in association with imported cage birds (Yorinks and Atkinson 2000, p. 731), or through the deliberate introduction of nonnative birds to replace the native birds that had by then disappeared from the lowlands (Atkinson and LaPointe 2009a, p. 55).

    Avian Malaria

    As noted above, avian malaria is a disease caused by the protozoan parasite Plasmodium relictum; the parasite is transmitted by the mosquito Culex quinquefasciatus, and invades the red blood cells of birds. Birds suffering from malaria infection undergo an acute phase of the disease during which parasitemia, a quantitative measure of the number of Plasmodium parasites in the circulating red blood cells, increases steadily. Because the parasite destroys the red blood cells, anemia and decline of physical condition can quickly result. In native Hawaiian forest birds, death may result either directly from the effects of anemia, or indirectly when anemia-weakened birds become vulnerable to predation, starvation, or a combination of other stressors (LaPointe et al. 2012, p. 213). Native Hawaiian birds that survive avian malaria remain chronically infected, thus becoming lifetime reservoirs of the disease (Samuel et al. 2011, p. 2,960; LaPointe et al. 2012, p. 216) and remaining capable of further disease transmission to other native birds. In contrast, nonnative birds in Hawaii are little affected by avian malaria and later become incapable of disease transmission (LaPointe et al. 2012, p. 216).

    Wild iiwi infected with malaria are rarely captured, apparently because the onset of infection leads to rapid mortality, precluding their capture (Samuel et al. 2011, p. 2,967; LaPointe et al. 2016, p. 11). However, controlled experiments with captive birds have demonstrated the susceptibility of native Hawaiian honeycreepers to avian malaria; mortality is extremely high in some species, including iiwi, experimentally infected with the disease. As early as the 1960s, experiments with Laysan finches (Telespiza cantans) and several other species of native Hawaiian honeycreepers demonstrated 100 percent mortality from malaria in a very short period of time (Warner 1968, pp. 109-112, 118; Fig. 426).

    In a study specific to iiwi, Atkinson et al. (1995, entire) demonstrated that the species suffers approximately 95 percent mortality when infected with malaria (Atkinson et al. 1995, p. S65). All of the exposed iiwi developed infections within 4 days, with only a single male iiwi surviving. Following re-exposure with the same Plasmodium isolate after initial infection, no subsequent increase in parasitemia was detected, suggesting a possible development of some immunity (Atkinson et al. 1995, p. S66). The authors suggested that iiwi may lack sufficient diversity in the major histocompatibility complex or genetically based immunity traits capable of recognizing and responding to malarial antigens, an important factor in iiwi's susceptibility to introduced disease (Atkinson et al. 1995, pp. S65-S66).

    Despite extremely high mortality of iiwi from avian malaria in general, the aforementioned study as well as two other studies have demonstrated that a few individuals have survived infection (Van Riper et al. 1986, p. 334; Atkinson et al. 1995, p. S63; Freed et al. 2005, p. 759). If a genetic correlation were identified, it is possible that surviving individuals could serve as a potential source for the evolution of genetic resistance to malaria, although evidence of this is scant to date. Eggert et al. (2008, p. 8) reported a slight but detectable level of genetic differentiation between iiwi populations located at mid and high elevation, potentially the first sign of selection acting on these populations in response to disease. Additionally, the infrequent but occasional sighting of iiwi on Oahu indicates a possible developed resistance or tolerance to avian malaria. Moreover, other more common honeycreepers, such as the amakihi and apapane, show signs of developing resistance or tolerance to the disease, as evidenced by molecular studies (e.g., Woodworth et al. 2005, p. 1,531; Atkinson et al. 2014, p. 366) and their continued distribution at mid and low elevations where mosquitos and malaria transmission persist year-round (e.g., Foster et al. 2004, entire; Eggert et al. 2008, pp. 7-8).

    Despite these observations, there is no indication as of yet that iiwi have developed significant resistance to malaria such that individuals can survive in areas where the disease is strongly prevalent, including all potential low-elevation forest habitat and most mid-elevation forest habitat (Foster et al. 2007, p. 4,743; Eggert et al. 2008, p. 2). In one study, for example, 4 years of mist-netting effort across extensive areas of Hawaii Island resulted in the capture of a substantial number of iiwi, yet no iiwi were captured in low-elevation forests and only a few were captured in mid-elevation forests (Samuel et al. 2015, p. 11). In addition, several studies indicate that iiwi have low genetic variability, and even genetic impediments to a possible evolved resistance to malaria in the future (Jarvi et al. 2001, p. 255; Jarvi et al. 2004, Table 4, p. 2,164; Foster et al. 2007, p. 4,744; Samuel et al. 2015, pp. 12-13). For example, Eggert et al. (2008, p. 9) noted that gene variations that may confer resistance appear to be rare in iiwi.

    Three factors—the homogeneity of a portion of the iiwi genome, the high mortality rate of iiwi in response to avian malaria, and high levels of gene flow resulting from the wide-ranging nature of the species—suggest that iiwi would likely require a significant amount of time for development of genetic resistance to avian malaria, assuming the species retains a sufficiently large reservoir of genetic diversity for a response to natural selection. Genetic studies of iiwi have also noted a dichotomy between the lack of variation in mitochondrial DNA (Tarr and Fleischer 1993, 1995; Fleischer et al. 1998; Foster et al. 2007, p. 4,743), and maintenance of variation in nuclear DNA (Jarvi et al. 2004, p. 2,166; Foster et al. 2007, p. 4,744); both attributes suggest that iiwi may have historically experienced a drastic reduction in population size that led to a genetic bottleneck. Studies have also found low diversity in the antigen-binding sites of the iiwi's major histocompatibility complex (that part of an organism's immune system that helps to recognize foreign or incompatible proteins (antigens) and trigger an immune response).

    The relationship between temperature and avian malaria is of extreme importance to the current persistence of iiwi and the viability of the species in the future. The development of the Plasmodium parasite that carries malaria responds positively to increased temperature, such that malaria transmission is greatest in warm, low-elevation forests with an average temperature of 72 °F (22 °C), and is largely absent in high-elevation forests above 4,921 ft (1,500 m) with cooler mean annual temperatures around 57 °F (14 °C) (Ahumada et al. 2004, p. 1,167; LaPointe et al. 2010, p. 318; Liao et al. 2015, p. 4,343). High-elevation forests thus currently serve as disease-free habitat zones for Hawaiian forest birds, including iiwi. Once one of the most common birds in forests throughout the Hawaiian islands, iiwi are now rarely found at lower elevations, and are increasingly restricted to high-elevation mesic and wet forests where cooler temperatures limit both the development of the malarial parasite and mosquito densities (Scott et al. 1986, pp. 367-368; Ahumada et al. 2004, p. 1,167; LaPointe et al. 2010, p. 318; Samuel et al. 2011, p. 2,960; Liao et al. 2015, p. 4,346; Samuel et al. 2015, p. 14).

    Temperature also affects the life cycle of the malaria mosquito vector, Culex quinquefasciatus. Lower temperatures slow the development of larval stages and can affect the survival of adults (Ahumada et al. 2005, pp. 1,165-1,168; LaPointe et al. 2012, p. 217). Although closely tied to altitude and a corresponding decrease in temperature, the actual range of mosquitoes varies with season. Generally, as temperature decreases with increasing elevation, mosquito abundance drops significantly at higher altitudes. In the Hawaiian Islands, the mosquito boundary occurs between 4,921 and 5,577 ft (1,500 and 1,700 m) (VanRiper et al. 1986, p. 338; LaPointe et al. 2012, p. 218). Areas above this elevation are at least seasonally relatively free of mosquitoes; thus, malaria transmission is unlikely at these high elevations under current conditions.

    Early on, Ralph and Fancy (1995, p. 741) and Atkinson et al. (1995, p. S66) suggested that the seasonal movements of iiwi to lower elevation areas where ohia is flowering may result in increased contact with malaria-infected mosquitoes, which, combined with the iiwi's high susceptibility to the disease, may explain their observed low annual survivorship relative to other native Hawaiian birds. Compounding the issue, other bird species that overlap with iiwi in habitat, including Apapane (Himatione sanguinea), are relatively resistant to the diseases and carry both Plasmodium and avian pox virus. As reservoirs, they carry these diseases upslope where mosquitoes are less abundant but still occur in numbers sufficient to facilitate and continue transmission to iiwi (Ralph and Fancy 1995, p. 741).

    Subsequent studies have confirmed the correlation between risk of malaria infection and iiwi altitudinal migrations, and suggest upper elevation forest reserves in Hawaii may not adequately protect mobile nectarivores such as iiwi. Kuntz (2008, p. 3) found iiwi populations at upper elevation study sites (6,300 ft (1,920 m)) declined during the non-breeding season when birds departed for lower elevations in search of flowering ohia, traveling up to 12 mi (19.4 km) over contiguous mosquito-infested wet forest. Guillamet et al. (2016, p. 192) used empirical measures of seasonal movement patterns in iiwi to model how movement across elevations increases the risk of disease exposure, even affecting breeding populations in disease-free areas. La Pointe et al. (unpublished data 2015) found that, based on malaria prevalence in all Hawaiian forest birds, species migrating between upper elevations to lower elevations increased their risk of exposure to avian malaria by as much as 27 times. The greater risk was shown to be due to a much higher abundance of mosquitoes at lower elevations, which in turn was attributable at least in part to the higher abundance of pigs and their activities in lower elevation forests (discussed further below).

    Avian Pox

    Avian pox (or bird pox) is an infection caused by the virus Avipoxvirus, which produces large, granular, and eventually dead tissue lesions or tumors on exposed skin or infected lesions on the mouth, trachea, and esophagus of infected birds. Avian pox can be transmitted through cuts or wounds upon physical contact or through the mouth parts of blood-sucking insects such as the mosquito Culex quinquefasciatus, the common vector for both the pox virus and avian malaria (LaPointe et al. 2012, p. 221). Tumors or lesions caused by avian pox can be crippling for birds, and may result in death. Although not extensively studied, existing data suggest that mortality from avian pox may range from 4 to 10 percent observed in Oahu Elepaio (Chasiempis ibidis) (for birds with active lesions) (VanderWerf 2009, p. 743) to 100 percent in Laysan finches (Warner 1968, p. 108). VanderWerf (2009, p. 743) has also suggested that mortality levels from pox may correlate with higher rainfall years, and at least in the case of the Elepaio, observed mortality may decrease over time with a reduction in susceptible birds.

    As early as 1902, native birds suffering from avian pox were observed in the Hawaiian Islands, and Warner (1968, p. 106) described reports that epizootics of avian pox “were so numerous and extreme that large numbers of diseased and badly debilitated birds could be observed in the field.” As the initial wave of post-European extinctions of native Hawaiian birds was largely observed in the late 1800s, prior to the introduction of avian malaria (Van Riper et al. 1986, p. 342), it is possible that avian pox played a significant role, although there is no direct evidence (Warner 1968, p. 106). Molecular work has revealed two genetically distinct variants of the pox virus affecting forest birds in Hawaii that differ in virulence (Jarvi et al. 2008, p. 347): One tends to produce fatal lesions, and the other appears to be less severe, based on the observation of recurring pox infections in birds with healed lesions (Atkinson et al. 2009, p. 56).

    The largest study of avian pox in scope and scale took place between 1977 and 1980, during which approximately 15,000 native and nonnative forest birds were captured and examined for pox virus lesions on Hawaii Island (Van Riper et al. 2002, pp. 929-942). The study made several important determinations, including that native forest birds were indeed more susceptible than introduced species, that all species were more likely to be infected during the wet season, and that pox prevalence was greatest at mid-elevation sites approximately 3,937 ft (1,200 m) in elevation, coinciding with the greatest overlap between birds and the mosquito vector. Of the 107 iiwi captured and examined during the study, 17 percent showed signs of either active or inactive pox lesions (Van Riper et al. 2002, p. 932). Many studies of avian pox have documented that native birds are frequently infected with both avian pox and avian malaria (Van Riper et al. 1986, p. 331; Atkinson et al. 2005, p. 537; Jarvi et al. 2008, p. 347). This may be due to mosquito transmission of both pathogens simultaneously, because documented immune system suppression by the pox virus renders chronically infected birds more vulnerable to infection by, or a relapse of, malaria (Jarvi et al. 2008, p. 347), or due to other unknown factors. The relative frequency with which the two diseases co-occur makes it challenging to disentangle the independent impact of either stressor acting alone (LaPointe et al. 2012, p. 221). Although we lack direct evidence of the degree to which pox may be a specific threat to iiwi or contributing to its decline, both field observations of and limited experimental studies on closely related species of honeycreepers suggests that it may be a significant factor (Warner 1968, pp. 106, 108-109; VanRiper et al. 2002, pp. 936-939).

    Compounded Impacts—Feral Ungulates Create Habitat for Culex Quinquefasciatus Mosquitoes and Exacerbate Impacts of Disease

    It has been widely established that damage to native tree ferns (Cibotium spp.) and rooting and wallowing activity by feral pigs create mosquito larval breeding sites in Hawaiian forests where they would not otherwise occur. The porous geology and relative absence of puddles, ponds, and slow-moving streams in most Hawaiian landscapes precludes an abundance of water-holding habitat sites for mosquito larvae; however, Culex quinquefasciatus mosquitoes, the sole vector for avian malaria in Hawaii, now occur in great density in many wet forests where their larvae primarily rely on habitats created by pig activity (LaPointe 2006, pp. 1-3; Ahumada et al. 2009, p. 354; Atkinson and LaPointe 2009, p. 60; Samuel et al. 2011, p. 2,971). Pigs compact volcanic soils and create wallows and water containers within downed, hollowed-out tree ferns, knocked over and consumed for their starchy pith (Scott et al. 1986, pp. 365-368; Atkinson et al. 1995, p. S68). The abundance of C. quinquefasciatus mosquitoes is also much greater in suburban and agricultural areas than in undisturbed native forest, and the mosquito is capable of dispersing up to 1 mile (1.6 kilometers) within closed-canopy native forest, including habitat occupied by the iiwi (LaPointe 2006, p. 3; LaPointe et al. 2009, p. 409).

    In studies of native forest plots where feral ungulates (including pigs) were removed by trapping and other methods, researchers have demonstrated a correlation in the abundance of Culex spp. mosquitoes when comparing pig-free, fenced areas to adjacent sites where feral pig activity is unmanaged. Aruch et al. 2007 (p. 574), LaPointe 2006 (pp. 1-3) and LaPointe et al. (2009, p. 409; 2012, pp. 215, 219) assert that management of feral pigs may be strategic to managing avian malaria and pox, particularly in remote Hawaiian rain forests where studies have documented that habitats created by pigs are the most abundant and productive habitat for larval mosquitoes. Reduction in mosquito habitat must involve pig management across large landscapes due to the tremendous dispersal ability of C. quinquefasciatus and the possibility of the species invading from adjacent areas lacking management (LaPointe 2006, pp. 3-4). The consequences of feral pig activities thus further exacerbate the impacts to iiwi from avian malaria and avian pox, by creating and enhancing larval habitats for the mosquito vector, thereby increasing exposure to these diseases.

    Avian Diseases—Summary

    The relatively recent introduction of avian pox and avian malaria, in concert with the introduction of the mosquito disease vector, is widely viewed as one of the key factors underlying the loss and decline of native forest birds throughout the Hawaiian Islands. Evolving in the absence of mosquitoes and their vectored pathogens, native Hawaiian forest birds, particularly honeycreepers such as iiwi, lack natural immunity or genetic resistance, and thus are more susceptible to these diseases than are nonnative bird species (van Riper et al. 1986, pp. 327-328; Yorinks and Atkinson 2000, p. 737). Researchers consider iiwi one of the most vulnerable species, with an average of 95 percent mortality in response to infection with avian malaria (Atkinson et al. 1995, p. S63; Samuel et al. 2015, p. 2).

    Many native forest birds, including iiwi, are now absent from warm, low-elevation areas that support large populations of disease-carrying mosquitoes, and these birds persist only in relatively disease-free zones in high-elevation forests, above roughly 4,921 to 5,577 ft (1,500 to 1,700 m), where both the development of the malarial parasite and the density of mosquito populations are held in check by cooler temperatures (Scott et al. 1986, pp. 85, 100, 365-368; Woodworth et al. 2009, p. 1,531; Liao et al. 2015, pp. 4,342-4,343; Samuel et al. 2015, pp. 11-12). Even at these elevations, however, disease transmission may occur when iiwi move downslope to forage on ephemeral patches of flowering ohia in the nonbreeding season, encountering disease-carrying mosquitoes in the process (Ralph and Fancy 1995, p. 741; Fancy and Ralph 1998, p. 3; Guillaumet et al. 2015, p. EV-8; LaPointe et al. 2015, p. 1). Iiwi have not demonstrably developed resistance to avian malaria, unlike related honeycreepers including Amakihi (Hemignathus spp.) and Apapane. Due to the extreme mortality rate of iiwi when exposed to avian malaria, we consider avian malaria in particular to pose a threat to iiwi. Having already experienced local extinctions and widespread population declines, it is possible that the species may not possess sufficient genetic diversity to adapt to these diseases (Atkinson et al. 2009, p. 58).

    Climate Change

    Based on the assessment of the best scientific data available, we conclude that climate change exacerbates the impacts to iiwi from mosquito-borne disease, and this effect is likely to continue and worsen in the future. Air temperature in Hawaii has increased in the past century and particularly since the 1970s, with the greatest increases at higher elevations, and several conservative climate change models project continued warming in Hawaii into the future. As a result, the temperature barrier to the development and transmission of avian malaria will continue to move up in elevation in response to warmer conditions, leading to the curtailment or loss of disease-free habitats for iiwi. We briefly discuss below three climate studies that conservatively predict the iiwi will lose between 60 and 90 percent of its current (and already limited) disease-free range by the end of this century, with significant effects occurring by mid-century.

    Climate Change Effects on Iiwi

    Climate change is a stressor that is likely to significantly exacerbate the effects of avian malaria on iiwi both directly through increased prevalence and mortality, and indirectly through the loss of disease-free habitat. Air temperature in Hawaii has increased in the past century and particularly since the 1970s, with greater increases at high elevation (Giambelluca et al. 2008, pp. 2-4; Wang et al. 2014, pp. 95, 97). Documented impacts of increased temperature include the prevalence of avian malaria in forest birds at increasing elevation, including high-elevation sites where iiwi are already declining, for example, on Kauai (Paxton et al. 2013, p. 13; Paxton et al. 2016, entire). Several projections for future climate in Hawaii describe a continued warming trend, especially at high elevations. In our species status report, we analyzed in particular three climate studies (summarized below) that address the future of native forest birds, including iiwi, in the face of the interactions between climate change and avian malaria.

    Benning et al. (2002) concluded that under optimistic assumptions (i.e., 3.6 °F (2 °C) increase in temperature by the year 2100), malaria-susceptible Hawaiian forest birds, including iiwi, will lose most of their disease-free habitat in the three sites they considered in their projection of climate change impacts. For example, current disease-free habitat at high elevation within the Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) on the island of Hawaii (where the environment is still too cold for development of the malarial parasite) would be reduced by 96 percent by the end of the century.

    Fortini et al. (2015) conducted a vulnerability assessment for 20 species of Hawaiian forest birds based on a projected increase of 6.1 °F (3.4 °C) under the A1B emissions scenario at higher elevations by 2100. Even under this relatively optimistic scenario, in which emissions decline after mid-century (IPCC 2007, p. 44), all species were projected to suffer range loss as the result of increased transmission of avian malaria at higher elevations with increasing temperature. Iiwi was predicted to lose 60 percent of its current range by the year 2100, and climate conditions suitable for the species will shift up in elevation, including into areas that are not currently forested, such as lava flows and high-elevation grasslands. Most of the remaining habitat for iiwi would be restricted to a single island, Hawaii Island.

    Liao et al. (2015) generated temperature and precipitation projections under three alternative emissions scenarios and projected future malaria risk for Hawaiian forest birds. Irrespective of the scenario modeled, by mid-century (roughly 2040), malaria transmission rates and impacts to bird populations began increasing at high elevations. By 2100, the increased annual malaria transmission rate for iiwi was projected to result in population declines of 70 to 90 percent for the species, depending on the emissions scenario.

    All three of these studies consistently predict a significant loss of disease-free habitat for iiwi with consequent severe reductions in population size and distribution by the year 2100, with significant changes likely to be observed as early as 2040. As the iiwi's numbers and distribution continue to decline, the remaining small, isolated populations become increasingly vulnerable to loss of ohia forest habitat from other stressors such as ROD, as well as other environmental catastrophes and demographic stochasticity, particularly should all remaining iiwi become restricted to a single island (Hawaii Island), as some scenarios suggest.

    Climate change will likely exacerbate other stressors to iiwi in addition to disease. Projected increases in temperature and humidity are likely to increase the spatial extent of areas on Hawaii Island vulnerable to ROD (Keith 2016, pers. comm). Changes in the amount and distribution of rainfall in Hawaii likely will affect the quality and extent of mesic and wet forests on which iiwi depend. Hawaii has experienced an overall drying trend since the 1920s, with an average annual decline in precipitation of 1.78 percent (Frazier and Giambelluca 2016, p. 4), but some future projections suggest that areas that currently are wet (windward sides of islands) will experience greater rainfall and more extreme rainfall events, while currently dry areas (leeward sides and high elevations) will become drier (Zhang et al. 2016, pp. 8,350-8,351). Changes in the trade wind inversion (which strongly influences rainfall) and other aspects of precipitation with climate change are difficult to model with confidence, complicating projections of future precipitation in Hawaii on various spatial scales (Chu and Chen 2005, pp. 4,801-4,802; Cao et al. 2007, pp. 1,158-1,159; Timm et al. 2015, p. 107; Fortini et al. 2015, p. 5; Liao et al. 2015, p. 4,345). In addition, potential increases in storm frequency and intensity in Hawaii as a result of climate change may lead to an increase in direct mortality of individual iiwi and a decline in the species' reproductive success. Currently, no well-developed projections exist for these possible cumulative effects.

    Climate Change—Summary

    The natural susceptibility of native forest birds to introduced diseases, in combination with the observed restriction of Hawaiian honeycreepers to high-elevation forests, led Atkinson et al. (1995, p. S68) to predict two decades ago that a shift in the current mosquito distribution to higher elevations could be “disastrous for those species with already reduced populations.” Thus, climate change has significant implications for the future of Hawaiian forest birds, as predictions suggest increased temperatures may largely eliminate the high-elevation forest currently inhospitable to the transmission of mosquito-borne diseases (Benning et al. 2002, pp. 14,247-14,249; LaPointe et al. 2012, p. 219; Fortini et al. 2015, p. 9). Samuel et al. (2015, p. 15) predict further reductions and extinctions of native Hawaiian birds as a consequence, noting that the iiwi is particularly vulnerable due to its high susceptibility to malaria. Finally, Paxton et al. (2016, entire) report a steepening decline in iiwi and other honeycreepers on Kauai since 2000.

    Iiwi is projected to be extirpated from Kauai by 2050 as a result of the island having now passed a “tipping point” where increasing temperature exposes birds to mosquito-borne disease throughout their remaining range on the island; if the current trends of decline in distribution and abundance continue in a linear fashion in the future, iiwi could be extirpated from Kauai much sooner (Paxton et al. 2016, pp. 3, 5). The maximum elevation of forest habitat on Kauai (about 4,900 ft (1,500 m)) is less than that on either Maui or Hawaii Island, where similar trends of increase in temperature and the elevation of disease transmission are well documented, as discussed above. Iiwi, and other disease-susceptible honeycreepers, only persist in abundance on these higher islands in high-elevation, disease-free habitat that is shrinking with increasing temperature. In sum, several independent studies project consistently significant negative impacts to the iiwi as a result of climate change and the increased exposure to avian malaria as disease-free habitats shrink. As iiwi are known to exhibit 95 percent mortality on average as a result of avian malaria, the current numbers of iiwi are of little consequence should all or most of the remaining individuals become exposed to the disease in the future.

    Rapid Ohia Death

    Rapid ohia death, a new disease that kills ohia trees, is a factor with the potential to exacerbate the threats currently affecting iiwi and reduce the amount of disease-free habitat remaining by destroying high-elevation ohia forest. Unexplained, widespread mortality of ohia trees was first detected in 2012 in lowland forests of the Puna Region of Hawaii Island (Keith et al. 2015, entire). Pathogenicity tests conducted by the USDA Agriculture Research Service determined that the vascular wilt disease, now commonly known in Hawaii as rapid ohia death (ROD), is caused by the fungus Ceratocystis fimbriata (Keith et al. 2015, pp. 1-2). A second, new species of Ceratocystis also kills ohia; this new species is being described as of this writing (Hughes 2016, pers. comm.; Keith 2016, pers. comm.).

    Ohia stands experience rapid and extensive mortality from ROD. In 2014, approximately 15,000 ac (6,000 ha) of ohia forest from Kalapana to Hilo on Hawaii Island experienced greater than 50 percent mortality, with 100 percent mortality in some stands over a two to three year period (Friday et al. 2015, p. 1). Between 2014 and 2015, annual mortality rates measured in monitoring plots averaged from 24 percent (measured as ohia stems) to 28 percent (measured as ohia basal area) (Mortenson et al. 2016, p. 89). When these plots were established in the ROD-infected area in January and February of 2014, all had already experienced an average of approximately 39 percent ohia mortality (Mortenson et al. 2016, p. 89).

    At present, the disease remains restricted to Hawaii Island, where it is spreading rapidly. In 2016, the amount of forest area affected on Hawaii Island was estimated to be more than 50,000 ac (20,235 ha), and this estimate includes a new outbreak in Laupahoehoe Forest Reserve on the Hamakua Coast (Hughes 2016, pers. comm.). The largest affected area is within the Puna District, where infected trees have been observed within approximately 4,000 discontinuous acres (1,619 ha) (Hughes 2016, pers. comm.). In some areas, dead and dying trees affected by the fungus have been observed within the range of iiwi (Hughes 2016, pers. comm.; Keith 2016, pers. comm.). Affected trees are found at elevations ranging from sea level up to approximately 5,000 ft (1,524 m), including at Wailuku Forest near Hakalau Forest NWR (Hughes 2016, pers. comm.), which contains a stable to increasing iiwi population (Paxton et al. 2013, p. 12). Hawaii Island is home to 90 percent of the current iiwi population, and this island will remain particularly important for the species: Iiwi are predicted to be largely if not entirely restricted to that island under some future climate change projections (Fortini et al. 2015, p. 9, Supplement 6).

    Evaluation of Existing Regulatory Mechanisms and Conservation Measures

    Our species status report evaluated several regulatory and other measures in place today that might address or are otherwise intended to ameliorate the stressors to iiwi. Our analysis concluded that forest habitat protection, conservation, and restoration has the potential to benefit iiwi by protecting and enhancing breeding and foraging areas for the species while simultaneously reducing the abundance of mosquito breeding sites, despite the disease vector's (Culex quinquefasciatus) 1-mi (1.6-km) dispersal ability (LaPointe et al. 2009, pp. 408; 411-412; LaPointe et al. 2012, p. 215).

    Because of the iiwi's extreme susceptibility to avian malaria, habitat to sustain the species must be disease-free. Efforts to restore and manage large, contiguous tracts of native forests have been shown to benefit iiwi, especially when combined with fencing and ungulate removal (LaPointe et al. 2009, p. 412; LaPointe et al. 2012, p. 219). While forest restoration and ungulate management at the Hakalau Forest NWR on Hawaii Island are excellent examples of what is needed to increase iiwi abundance, many similar large-scale projects would be necessary rangewide to simply reduce mosquito abundance and protect the species from current habitat threats alone. However, even wide-scale landscape habitat management would be unable to fully address the present scope of the threat of disease, and sufficient high-elevation forest is not available to provide disease-free habitat for iiwi in the face of future climate change. Even if disease-free habitat within managed areas could be restored and protected now, much of this habitat will lose its disease-free status as avian malaria moves upward in elevation in response to warming temperatures, as is occurring already within the Alakai Wilderness on the island of Kauai.

    New opportunities are emerging, such as large-scale vector control using new tools that have the potential to assist Hawaiian forest birds (LaPointe et al. 2009, pp. 416-417; Reeves et al. 2014, p. e97557; Gantz et al. 2015, pp. E6736-E6743; Fischer in press, pp. 1-2). The most promising of these new tools forego chemicals as a means of lethal control and directly manipulate the viability (or fitness) of the mosquitoes and can be grouped into two broad categories: the Sterile Insect Technique (SIT) and the Population Replacement Technique (PRT) (Fischer in press, pp. 1-2). These tools have positive attributes that set them apart from traditional mosquito control options. These new approaches have the potential to achieve landscape-scale control, are species specific, and are more effective against dispersed, cryptic, and hard to-reach targets such as the Culex mosquitoes that carry avian malaria in Hawaiian forests (Alphey et al. 2010, pp. 297-299). Although these new developments are encouraging, these new technologies for achieving large-scale control or eradication of mosquitoes in Hawaii are still in the research and planning stage and have yet to be implemented or proven effective.

    We also evaluated several regulations and agreements pertaining to climate change. Although the United States and some other countries have passed some regulations specifically intended to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change, the scope and effect of such regulations are limited. Indeed, during the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) meeting in December 2015, the UNFCCC indicated that, even if all the member countries' intended contributions to greenhouse gas reductions were fully implemented and targets met, the goal of limiting the increase in global average temperature to 2 °C (3.6 °F) by the year 2100 would not be achieved.

    Many of the efforts to tackle the primary stressors to iiwi are still in the research and development stage, or are implemented only on a small or limited scale. Because the primary stressor, avian malaria, continues to have negative impacts, and these impacts are exacerbated by climate change, we conclude that the existing regulatory mechanisms do not offset these impacts to the species.

    Summary of Biological Status and Threats

    We have reviewed the best scientific and commercial data available regarding iiwi populations and the stressors that affect the species. This information includes, notably, a recent comprehensive analysis of iiwi abundance, distribution, and population trends (Paxton et al. 2013); numerous studies that provide information on the particularly high mortality of iiwi in response to avian malaria; and recent models examining the current relationship between climate and malaria, as well as the likely future consequences of climate change for iiwi and other Hawaiian forest birds (including Benning et al. 2002, Fortini et al. 2013, and Liao et al. 2015). Our review also reflects the expert opinion of the species' status report team members, and input provided by specialists familiar with avian malaria and iiwi genetics. We direct the reader to the iiwi species status report for our detailed evaluation of the biological status of the iiwi and the influences that may affect its continued existence.

    Once one of the most common of the native Hawaiian forest birds, the iiwi has declined across large portions of its range and has been extirpated or nearly so from some islands, and many of the few remaining populations are declining. The iiwi's range is contracting upslope in most areas, and population declines and range contraction are concurrent with increasing prevalence of avian malaria. The iiwi is highly susceptible to avian malaria, and that the prevalence of this disease is moving upslope in Hawaiian forests correlated with temperature increases associated with climate change. This disease and its trend of increasing prevalence at increasing elevation are the chief drivers of observed iiwi population declines and range contraction. Although habitat management to reduce breeding habitat for mosquitoes may have slowed the decline of iiwi and other forest birds to some degree in a few locations, no landscape-scale plans or strategies exist for eradicating mosquitoes or otherwise reducing the risk posed by avian malaria to iiwi and other susceptible Hawaiian bird species.

    The documented trend of temperature increase, which is greatest at high elevation, is projected to continue at least through the 21st century. The transmission of avian malaria is currently limited or absent at higher elevations, where temperatures are too cool for the development of the malaria parasite. However, multiple independent modeling efforts consistently project that the prevalence of avian malaria will continue to increase upslope with increasing temperature, eventually eliminating most or all remaining disease-free habitat in the islands. These models, which incorporate data on the distribution of forest birds and on disease transmission, project moderate to high avian malaria transmission at the highest elevations of the iiwi's current range by the end of this century, with some significant effects predicted within the next few decades. As a consequence, significant declines in iiwi populations are projected, on the order of 70 to 90 percent by 2100, depending on the future climate scenario.

    The impacts of other stressors to iiwi, such as loss or degradation of native forest by nonnative species (disturbance or destruction by feral ungulates; invasion by nonnative plants; impacts from nonnative pathogens such as ROD), predation by mongooses and feral cats, and small-population stressors such as demographic stochasticity and loss of genetic diversity, have not been well documented or quantified (predation by rats, notably Rattus rattus, is suspected to contribute to decline in iiwi) (VanderWerf 2016, pers. comm.). However, any stressors that result in further degradation or fragmentation of the forests on which the iiwi relies for foraging and nesting, or result in increased mortality or reduced reproductive success, are likely to exacerbate the impacts of disease on the species. The effects of climate change are likely to exacerbate these other stressors to iiwi as well.

    As the number and distribution of iiwi continue to decline, the remaining small, isolated populations become increasingly vulnerable to environmental catastrophes and demographic stochasticity; this will particularly be the case should all remaining iiwi become restricted to Hawaii Island, as some modeling scenarios suggest. Ninety percent of the rangewide iiwi population is already restricted to Hawaii Island, where ROD has recently emerged as a fast-moving threat to the already limited ohia forest habitat required by iiwi.

    In consideration of all of this information, we conclude that avian malaria and possibly avian pox, as exacerbated by the ongoing effects of climate change, pose a threat to iiwi, and the action of these stressors places the species as a whole at an elevated risk of extinction. Because the vast majority of the remaining iiwi population is restricted to the island of Hawaii, we consider ROD to pose a threat to the future viability of iiwi as well, as it may result in major loss of forest within the iiwi's remaining range on that island.

    Determination

    Section 4 of the Act (16 U.S.C. 1533), and its implementing regulations in title 50 of the Code of Federal Regulations at 50 CFR part 424, set forth the procedures for adding species to the Federal Lists of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants. Under section 4(a)(1) of the Act, we may list a species based on (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. Listing actions may be warranted based on any of the above threat factors, singly or in combination.

    We have carefully assessed the best scientific and commercial information available regarding the past, present, and future threats to the iiwi. As described in the species status report, in considering the five listing factors, we evaluated many potential stressors to iiwi, including but not limited to: Stressors that may affect the extent or quality of the bird's ohia forest habitat (ROD and ohia rust (both nonnative pathogens), ohia dieback (a natural phenomenon), drought, fires, volcanic eruptions, nonnative plants, and feral ungulates), introduced diseases, predation by introduced mammals, competition with nonnative birds, ectoparasites, climate change, and the effects of small population size. Based on our assessment, disease—particularly avian malaria—is the primary driver in the ongoing declines in abundance and range of iiwi, and climate change substantially exacerbates the impact of disease on the species and will continue to do so into the future.

    The greatest current threat to iiwi comes from exposure to introduced diseases carried by nonnative mosquitoes (Factor C). Avian malaria in particular has been clearly demonstrated to result in extremely high mortality of iiwi; avian pox may have significant effects on iiwi as well, although the evidence is not as clear or measurable. These diseases have resulted in significant losses of the once ubiquitous iiwi, which remains highly susceptible and, as of present, shows no clear indication of having developed substantial resistance or tolerance. Exposure to these diseases is ongoing, and is expected to increase as a consequence of the effects of climate change (Factor E).

    Several climate model projections predict that continued increases in temperature due to climate change will greatly exacerbate the impacts of avian diseases upon iiwi due to loss of disease-free habitat. Several iiwi populations, including those on Molokai, Kauai, West Maui, and possibly Oahu—all lower in elevation than East Maui and Hawaii Island—are already extremely small in size or are represented by only a few occasional individuals, probably owing to the loss of disease-free habitat. Iiwi may face extirpation in these places due to the inability to overcome the effects of malaria. The species is expected to first become restricted to Hawaii Island, perhaps by the year 2040. By the end of the century, the existence of iiwi is uncertain due to the ongoing loss of disease-free habitat; the potential impacts to ohia forests from ROD and other stressors could increase the risk to iiwi as well. These threats to iiwi are ongoing, most are rangewide, are expected to increase in the future, and are significant because they will likely result in increased mortality of iiwi and loss of remaining populations, as well as further decreases in the availability and amount of disease-free habitat at high elevation. As discussed above, the existing regulatory mechanisms are not sufficient to address these threats (Factor D).

    Some of the other stressors contributed to past declines in iiwi, or negatively affect the species or its habitat today; however, of the additional stressors considered, we found no information to suggest that any is currently a key factor in the ongoing declines in abundance and range of iiwi, although they may be contributing or exacerbating factors. Habitat loss and alteration (Factor A) caused by nonnative plants and ungulates is occurring rangewide, has resulted in degraded ohia forest habitat, and is not likely to be reduced in the future. While ohia forests still comprise the majority of native forest cover on most of the main Hawaiian Islands, climate change and its likely effects, such as increased drought frequency, are expected to further affect ohia forest habitat and compound other impacts, including the spread of invasive plants and perhaps the severity and frequency of ohia diseases. In particular, ROD, the rapidly spreading and highly lethal tree disease, poses an increasing risk to the native forest habitat of iiwi on Hawaii Island, where 90 percent of remaining iiwi occur. This emerging factor has the potential to exacerbate avian disease and other stressors in the future by accelerating the loss and degradation of iiwi's habitat. If this disease becomes widespread, it could further increase the vulnerability of the iiwi by eliminating the native forest it requires for foraging and nesting.

    We do not have any information that overutilization for commercial, recreational, scientific, or educational purposes (Factor B) poses a threat to iiwi.

    The Act defines an endangered species as any species that is “in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range” and a 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.” We considered whether the iiwi meets either of these definitions, and find that the iiwi meets the definition of a threatened species for the reasons described below.

    We considered whether the iiwi is currently in danger of extinction and determined that endangered status is not appropriate. Although the species has experienced significant reductions in both abundance and range, at the present time the species is still found on multiple islands, and the species as a whole still occurs in relatively high numbers. Additionally, disease-free habitat currently remains available for iiwi in high-elevation ohia forests with temperatures sufficiently cool to prevent the development of the malarial parasite. For these reasons, we do not consider the iiwi to be in imminent danger of extinction, although this formerly common species has experienced threats of such severity and magnitude that it has now become highly vulnerable to continued decline and local extirpation, such that the species is likely to become endangered within the foreseeable future, as explained below.

    Based on our review of the best scientific and commercial data available, we expect that additional iiwi population declines will be observed range-wide within the next few decades, and indications are that declines are already taking place on Kauai and in some Maui and Hawaii Island populations as a result of increasing temperatures and consequent exposure to avian malaria at some elevations where the disease is uncommon or absent today. Iiwi has a very high observed mortality rate when exposed to avian malaria, and the warming effects of climate change will result in increased exposure of the remaining iiwi populations to this disease, especially at high elevation. Peer-reviewed results of modeling experiments project that malaria transmission rates and effects on iiwi populations will begin increasing at high elevations by mid-century, and result in population declines of 70 to 90 percent by the year 2100. We thus conclude that the iiwi is likely to become in danger of extinction throughout all of its range within the foreseeable future. Because the iiwi is not in imminent danger of extinction, but is likely to become in danger of extinction within the foreseeable future, it meets the definition of a threatened species. Therefore, on the basis of the best available scientific and commercial information, we are listing the iiwi as a threatened species in accordance with sections 3(20) and 4(a)(1) of the Act.

    Under the Act and our implementing regulations, a species may warrant listing if it is endangered or threatened throughout all or a significant portion of its range. Because we have determined that the iiwi is threatened throughout all of its range, under the Final Policy on Interpretation of the Phrase “Significant Portion of Its Range” in the Endangered Species Act's Definitions of “Endangered Species and “Threatened Species” (79 FR 37577 (July 1, 2014)) (SPR Policy), if a species warrants listing throughout all of its range, no portion of the species' range can be a “significant” portion of its range. While it is the Service's position under the SPR Policy that undertaking no further analysis of “significant portion of its range” in this circumstance is consistent with the language of the Act, we recognize that the Policy is currently under judicial review, so we also took the additional step of considering whether there could be any significant portions of the species' range where the species is in danger of extinction. We evaluated whether there is substantial information indicating that there are any portions of the species' range: (1) That may be “significant,” and (2) where the species may be in danger of extinction. In practice, a key part of identifying portions appropriate for further analysis is whether the threats are geographically concentrated. For the iiwi, the primary driver of its status is avian malaria. The prevalence of this disease is moving upslope in Hawaiian forests correlated with temperature increases associated with climate change. These threats are affecting the species throughout its entire range; therefore, there is not a meaningful geographical concentration of threats. As a result, even if we were to undertake a detailed SPR analysis, there would not be any portions of the species' range where the threats are harming the species to a greater degree such that it is in danger of extinction in that portion.

    Available Conservation Measures

    Conservation measures provided to species listed as endangered or threatened species under the Act include recognition, recovery actions, requirements for Federal protection, and prohibitions against certain practices. Recognition from listing will result in public awareness and conservation by Federal, State, Tribal, and local agencies, private organizations, and individuals. The Act encourages cooperation with the States and other countries and calls for recovery actions to be carried out for listed species. The protection required by Federal agencies and the prohibitions against certain activities are discussed, in part, below.

    The primary purpose of the Act is the conservation of endangered and threatened species and the ecosystems upon which they depend. The ultimate goal of such conservation efforts is the recovery of these listed species, so that they no longer need the protective measures of the Act. Subsection 4(f) of the Act calls for the Service to develop and implement recovery plans for the conservation of endangered and threatened species. The recovery planning process involves the identification of actions that are necessary to halt or reverse the species' decline by addressing the threats to its survival and recovery. The goal of this process is to restore listed species to a point where they are secure, self-sustaining, and functioning components of their ecosystems.

    Recovery planning includes the development of a recovery outline shortly after a species is listed and preparation of a draft and final recovery plan. The recovery outline guides the immediate implementation of urgent recovery actions and describes the process to be used to develop a recovery plan. Revisions of the plan may be done to address continuing or new threats to the species, as new substantive information becomes available. The recovery plan also identifies recovery criteria for review of when a species may be ready for downlisting or delisting, and methods for monitoring recovery progress. Recovery plans also establish a framework for agencies to coordinate their recovery efforts and provide estimates of the cost of implementing recovery tasks. Recovery teams (composed of species experts, Federal and State agencies, nongovernmental organizations, and other qualified persons) are often established to develop recovery plans. When completed, the recovery outline, draft recovery plan, and the final recovery plan for iiwi will be available on our Web site (http://www.fws.gov/endangered), or from our Pacific Islands Fish and Wildlife Office (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT). The public will have an opportunity to comment on the draft recovery plan, and the Service will consider all information presented during the public comment period prior to approval of the plan.

    Implementation of recovery actions generally requires the participation of a broad range of partners, including other Federal agencies, States, Tribes, nongovernmental organizations, businesses, and private landowners. Examples of recovery actions include habitat restoration (e.g., restoration of native vegetation), research, captive propagation and reintroduction, and outreach and education. The recovery of many listed species cannot be accomplished solely on Federal lands because their range may occur primarily or solely on non-Federal lands. To achieve recovery of these species requires cooperative conservation efforts on private, State, and Tribal lands. If this species is listed, funding for recovery actions will be available from a variety of sources, including Federal budgets, State programs, and cost-share grants for non-Federal landowners, the academic community, and nongovernmental organizations. In addition, pursuant to section 6 of the Act, the State of Hawaii would be eligible for Federal funds to implement management actions that promote the protection or recovery of the iiwi. Information on our grant programs that are available to aid species recovery can be found at: http://www.fws.gov/grants.

    Please let us know if you are interested in participating in recovery efforts for this species. Additionally, we invite you to submit any new information on this species whenever it becomes available and any information you may have for recovery planning purposes (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT).

    Section 7(a) of the Act requires Federal agencies to evaluate their actions with respect to any species that is listed as an endangered or threatened species and with respect to its critical habitat, if any is designated. Regulations implementing this interagency cooperation provision of the Act are codified at 50 CFR part 402. Section 7(a)(2) of the Act requires Federal agencies to ensure that activities they authorize, fund, or carry out are not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of the species or destroy or adversely modify its critical habitat. If a Federal action may affect a listed species or its critical habitat, the responsible Federal agency must enter into consultation with the Service.

    Federal agency actions within the iiwi's habitat that may require a conference or consultation or both as described in the preceding paragraph, include but are not limited to, management and any other landscape-altering activities on Federal lands administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Forest Service, and National Park Service; actions within the jurisdiction of the Natural Resources Conservation Service, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and branches of the Department of Defense (DOD); and activities funded or authorized under the Federal Highway Administration, Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program, and DOD construction activities related to training or other military missions.

    Under section 4(d) of the Act, the Service has discretion to issue regulations that we find necessary and advisable to provide for the conservation of threatened species. We are not proposing to issue a special rule pursuant to section 4(d) for this species. Therefore, the provisions of 50 CFR 17.31(a) and (b) would apply. These regulatory provisions apply the prohibitions of section 9(a)(1) of the Act to threatened wildlife and make it illegal for any person subject to the jurisdiction of the United States to take (which includes harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect; or to attempt any of these) threatened wildlife within the United States or on the high seas. In addition, it is unlawful to import, export, deliver, receive, carry, transport, or ship in interstate or foreign commerce in the course of commercial activity; or sell or offer for sale in interstate or foreign commerce any listed species. It is also illegal to possess, sell, deliver, carry, transport, or ship any such wildlife that has been taken illegally. Certain exceptions apply to employees of the Service, the National Marine Fisheries Service, other Federal land management agencies, and State conservation agencies.

    We may issue permits to carry out otherwise prohibited activities involving threatened wildlife under certain circumstances. Regulations governing permits are codified at 50 CFR 17.32. With regard to threatened wildlife, a permit may be issued for the following purposes: For scientific purposes, to enhance the propagation or survival of the species, or for incidental take in connection with otherwise lawful activities. There are also certain statutory exemptions from the prohibitions, which are found in sections 9 and 10 of the Act.

    It is our policy, as published in the Federal Register on July 1, 1994 (59 FR 34272), to identify to the maximum extent practicable at the time a species is listed, those activities that would or would not constitute a violation of section 9 of the Act. The intent of this policy is to increase public awareness of the effect of a final listing on proposed and ongoing activities within the range of a listed species. Based on the best available information, actions that may result in a violation of section 9 include but are not limited to:

    (1) Development of land or the conversion of native ohia forest, including the construction of any infrastructure (e.g., roads, bridges, railroads, pipelines, utilities) in occupied iiwi habitat;

    (2) Unauthorized collecting, handling, possessing, selling, delivering, carrying, or transporting of the species, including import or export across State lines and international boundaries, except for properly documented antique specimens of this species at least 100 years old, as defined by section 10(h)(1) of the Act;

    (3) Introduction of nonnative species that compete with or prey upon the iiwi, such as the new introduction of nonnative predators or competing birds to the State of Hawaii; and

    (4) Certain research activities: Collection and handling of iiwi for research that may result in displacement or death of individuals.

    Questions regarding whether specific activities would constitute a violation of section 9 of the Act should be directed to the Pacific Islands Fish and Wildlife Office, Ecological Services Field Office (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT).

    Required Determinations National Environmental Policy Act (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.)

    We have determined that environmental assessments and environmental impact statements, as defined under the authority of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA; 42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.), need not be prepared in connection with listing a species as an endangered or threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. We published a notice outlining our reasons for this determination in the Federal Register on October 25, 1983 (48 FR 49244).

    References Cited

    A complete list of references cited in this rulemaking is available on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov at Docket No. FWS-R1-ES-2016-0057 and upon request from the Pacific Islands Fish and Wildlife Office (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT).

    Authors

    The primary authors of this final rule are the staff members of the Pacific Islands Fish and Wildlife Office.

    List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 17

    Endangered and threatened species, Exports, Imports, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Transportation.

    Regulation Promulgation

    Accordingly, we amend part 17, subchapter B of chapter I, title 50 of the Code of Federal Regulations, as set forth below:

    PART 17—ENDANGERED AND THREATENED WILDLIFE AND PLANTS 1. The authority citation for part 17 continues to read as follows: Authority:

    16 U.S.C. 1361-1407; 1531-1544; 4201-4245; unless otherwise noted.

    2. In § 17.11(h), add an entry for “Iiwi (honeycreeper)” to the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife in alphabetical order under BIRDS to read as set forth below:
    § 17.11 Endangered and threatened wildlife.

    (h) * * *

    Common name Scientific name Where listed Status Listing citations and
  • applicable rules
  • *         *         *         *         *         *         * BIRDS *         *         *         *         *         *         * Iiwi (honeycreeper) Drepanis coccinea Wherever found T 82 FR [Insert Federal Register page where the document begins], 9/20/2017. *         *         *         *         *         *         *
    Dated: August 23, 2017. James W. Kurth Acting Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
    [FR Doc. 2017-20074 Filed 9-19-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4333-15-P
    DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Fish and Wildlife Service 50 CFR Part 17 [Docket No. FWS-R4-ES-2016-0037; 4500030113] RIN 1018-BB55 Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Threatened Species Status for Pearl Darter AGENCY:

    Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

    ACTION:

    Final rule.

    SUMMARY:

    We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), determine threatened species status under the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (Act), as amended, for the pearl darter (Percina aurora), a fish whose historical range includes Mississippi and Louisiana. The effect of this regulation will be to add this species to the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife.

    DATES:

    This rule becomes effective October 20, 2017.

    ADDRESSES:

    This final rule is available on the internet at http://www.regulations.gov in Docket No. FWS-R4-ES-2016-0037 and on the Mississippi Field Office Web site at https://www.fws.gov/mississippiES/. Comments and materials we received, as well as supporting documentation we used in preparing this rule, are available for public inspection at http://www.regulations.gov and by appointment, during normal business hours at: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Mississippi Ecological Services Field Office, 6578 Dogwood View Parkway, Jackson, Mississippi 39213, by telephone 601-321-1122 or by facsimile 601-965- 4340.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Stephen Ricks, Field Supervisor, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Mississippi Ecological Services Field Office, 601-321-1122. Persons who use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD) may call the Federal Relay Service at 800-877-8339.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Executive Summary

    Why we need to publish a rule. Under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act, 16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.), if we determine that a species is an endangered or threatened species throughout all or a significant portion of its range, we are required to promptly publish a proposal in the Federal Register and make a determination on our proposal within 1 year. Listing a species as an endangered or threatened species can only be completed by issuing a rule. We published a proposed rule to add the pearl darter (Percina aurora) to the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife in title 50 of the Code of Federal Regulations (50 CFR 17.11(h)) as threatened on September 21, 2016 (81 FR 64857).

    What this document does. This rule will finalize the listing of the pearl darter as a threatened species.

    The basis for our action. Under the Act, we may determine that a species is an endangered or threatened species based on any of 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 have determined that water quality decline from point and nonpoint source pollution continues to impact portions of this species' habitat. In addition, geomorphology changes attributed to historical sand and gravel mining operations within the drainage are considered an ongoing threat. This species has been extirpated from the Pearl River watershed and is confined today to the Pascagoula River basin where the species' small population size, scattered locations, and low genetic (allelic) diversity increase its vulnerability to extirpation from catastrophic events.

    Peer review and public comment. We sought comments from independent specialists to ensure that our determination was based on scientifically sound data, assumptions, and analyses. We invited these peer reviewers to comment on our listing proposal. We also considered all comments and information received from the public during the comment period.

    Previous Federal Action

    Please refer to the September 21, 2016, proposed listing rule (81 FR 64857) for a detailed description of previous Federal actions concerning this species.

    Background

    For a more detailed discussion of the taxonomy, biology, status, and threats affecting the species, please refer to the proposed listing rule. In the proposed rule, we evaluated the biological status of the species and factors affecting its continued existence. Our assessment was based upon the best available scientific and commercial data on the status of the species, including past, present, and future threats.

    Summary of Comments and Recommendations

    In the proposed rule, we requested that all interested parties submit written comments on the proposal by November 21, 2016. We also contacted appropriate Federal and State agencies, scientific experts and organizations, and other interested parties and invited them to comment on the proposal. Newspaper notices inviting general public comment were published in the Hattiesburg American, Mississippi Press, and Clarion-Ledger on October 2, 2016. We did not receive any requests for a public hearing. All substantive information provided during the comment period has either been incorporated directly into this final determination or is addressed in the more specific response to comments below.

    Peer Reviewer Comments

    In accordance with our peer review policy published on July 1, 1994 (59 FR 34270), we solicited expert opinion from three individuals with scientific expertise that included familiarity with pearl darter and its habitat, biological needs, and threats. We received responses from all three of the peer reviewers.

    We reviewed all comments received from the peer reviewers for new substantive information regarding the listing of the pearl darter. The peer reviewers generally concurred with our methods and conclusions and provided additional information, clarifications, and suggestions to improve the final rule. Where appropriate, we incorporated new information into the final rule as a result of the peer reviewer comments, including new survey information. Other substantive peer reviewer comments are below.

    (1) Comment: One peer reviewer suggested our statement that the species was extirpated from the Pearl River drainage was premature, since surveys in that system were ongoing, and cautioned that a final listing decision should be withheld until surveys were completed.

    Our Response: While upper Pearl River basin surveys for the pearl darter were completed in 2011 (Schaefer and Mickle 2011), surveys for the darter in the lower Pearl River drainage were only completed by the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks in May of 2017 (Wagner et al. 2017, entire). Those surveys, which included both traditional surveys and eDNA analysis (Wagner et al. 2017, p. 5), were utilized over the last 2 years in an attempt to locate evidence of this species persisting in the Pearl River system. Our determination that the pearl darter has not been collected from the Pearl River drainage in over 40 years, and is considered extirpated from this system, is validated by these recent survey results.

    (2) Comment: One peer reviewer stated that pulp mills should be considered a threat to water quality degradation. The reviewer also expressed a suspicion that pulp mill effluent may have had some influence on extirpation of pearl darters in the Pearl River.

    Our Response: We agree and have made changes to this final rule to reflect the peer reviewer's input in the Summary of Factors Affecting the Species section, below.

    (3) Comment: One peer reviewer stated that increased demand for water withdrawal by industry and municipalities should be considered an additional threat to the species in the Pascagoula drainage. The reviewer stated that this activity will be a continuing threat for all aquatic resources as coastal populations grow and industrial needs expand. The commenter cited the 2006 proposed Richton Salt Dome as an example of water withdrawal posing a threat to the pearl darter.

    Our Response: We agree that water withdrawal from the Pascagoula drainages could have an impact on the ecological health of the system and potentially impact the pearl darter. However, at this time, we have no information to indicate that increased demand for water withdrawal by industry and municipalities currently poses a threat to the pearl darter, and we note that the peer reviewer did not identify any specific active projects. The Richton Salt Dome project cited by the peer reviewer, which at one time was a concern, was terminated and removed from the Department of Energy's budget in 2011.

    (4) Comment: One peer reviewer stated that there was no information to indicate there has been a decline in pearl darter abundance in the Bouie River and Black Creek and, particularly, no information attributing any declines to sedimentation and unstable banks. These areas have historically had few specimens of darter and have not been thoroughly surveyed.

    Our Response: We agree that there are inadequate data and a lack of thorough surveying of the Bouie River and Black Creek to definitively note a decline of the species in those systems, and we have clarified the rule accordingly. Until recently, there had been no collection efforts in the Bouie River and Black Creek since 2000. However, in 2016-2017, survey efforts in these systems found pearl darters to be sparsely present in a few sites (Schaefer in litt. 2017). Evidence of substantial sedimentation and unstable banks in the Bouie River and Black Creek has been documented in the past (Mossa and Coley 2004, p. 7; Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality 2005c, p. 16) and observed currently (Schaefer in litt. 2017). The negative impact of excessive sedimentation on darter distribution is well known and addressed under Factor A in the Summary of Factors Affecting the Species section of the preamble to this rule. Furthermore, there are also likely other factors contributing to water quality degradation in these systems, such as point and nonpoint source pollution related to stormwater runoff and effluent discharge from industry, agriculture, and urbanization; therefore, we have revised our statement regarding sedimentation.

    (5) Comment: One peer reviewer commented that our statement in the proposed rule on low genetic diversity and restricted gene flow as reported by Kreiser et al. (2012) ran counter to the hypothesized long-distance spawning migrations noted elsewhere in the rule. The commenter stated that the genetic data support a series of potentially disjunct populations rather than one contiguous population.

    Our Response: We appreciate the comment and have clarified in this final listing rule the statement that pearl darters may have long-distance spawning migrations (Bart et al. 2001, p. 14). Kreiser's (et al. 2012, pp. 14-17) recent genetic studies, indicating a series of potentially disjunct populations, are likely a more accurate representation of the population structure of the pearl darter (see Summary of Factors Affecting the Species, Factor E).

    Comments From States

    The proposed rule was reviewed by the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks; the Mississippi Forestry Commission; and the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. The individual associated with the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks also served as a peer reviewer, and his comment is addressed in Comment 1 above. The State agencies generally concurred with our methods and commented that the literature and data were thorough and properly documented. They stated that we should withhold our final listing decision until their surveys in the Pearl River drainage had been completed. Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks recently provided additional information from their recent site surveys. The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries agreed that there were no recent records from the Pearl River system despite recent sampling efforts. An issue raised by the Mississippi Forestry Commission is addressed below.

    (6) Comment: The Mississippi Forestry Commission and two commenters from the timber industry stated that we mischaracterized the use of best management practices (BMPs) in Mississippi by stating that: (1) Their use was confined to lands managed by The Nature Conservancy and the State of Mississippi, and (2) the lack of a mandatory requirement makes forestry BMPs less effective. The commenters pointed out that the forest industry has a number of forest certification programs, such as the Sustainable Forestry Initiative, which require participating landowners to meet or exceed State forestry BMPs. The commenters also stated that silviculture practices implemented with BMPs have minimal impacts on aquatic species, and that a recent statewide monitoring survey by Mississippi Forestry Commission indicated that BMPs are being implemented across all silviculture landscapes in Mississippi regardless of ownership.

    Our Response: We appreciate the additional information provided by the commenters and commend the timber industry and landowners on their implementation of BMPs in their timber operations and also the success of forestry certification programs, such as Sustainable Forestry Initiative. We have updated information in this rule to acknowledge the contribution of these forest landowners implementing BMPs in the Summary of Factors Affecting the Species section, below.

    Public Comments

    We received five comments from the public, two of which are addressed in Comment 6, above; the three other commenters simply expressed their support for the proposed listing.

    Summary of Changes From the Proposed Rule

    This final rule incorporates minor changes to our proposed rule based on the comments we received, as discussed above in Summary of Comments and Recommendations, and newly available survey information. The survey data allowed us to refine distribution information; thus, the final total current range of the species is different from that in the proposed rule. Many small, nonsubstantive changes and corrections were made throughout the document in response to comments (e.g., updating the Background section, threats, minor clarifications). However, the information we received in response to the proposed rule did not change our determination that the pearl darter is a threatened species, nor was it significant enough to warrant reopening the public comment period. Below is a summary of substantive changes made to the final rule.

    • We now estimate the total current range of the pearl darter in the Pascagoula watershed to be 668 kilometers (km) (415 miles (mi)) based on a reanalysis of collection records and recent survey results. Detailed information about the species' range within each of the seven river/creek systems is presented in the preamble of this rule, under Current Distribution.

    • Additional information on habitat and population structure from peer reviewers and recent studies (Wagner et al. 2017) has been added to the preamble.

    • Additional information and suggestions from peer reviewers was added to clarify and improve the accuracy of the information in the Distribution, Habitat, Biology, and Threats sections of the preamble to the proposed rule.

    • Additional information on the species' abundance and probable cause of decline in the Pearl River, as related to the potential threat to existing populations in the Pascagoula system, from two peer reviewers was added into the Summary of Factors Affecting the Species section of this rule, below.

    • Additional narrative on historical threats within the Pearl River basin, as well as additional historical and current threats affecting water quality within the Pascagoula River basin, including increased brine concentration from oil and gas production and pulp mill effluent related to pulp, paper, and lumber mills, was added to the preamble.

    Summary of Biological Status

    Below we present a summary of the biological and distributional information discussed in the proposed listing rule (81 FR 64857; September 21, 2016). We also present new information published or obtained since the proposed rule was published (see Summary of Changes from the Proposed Rule, above).

    Taxonomy and Species Description

    The pearl darter (Percina aurora) is a small fish and is one of three members of the subgenus Cottogaster (Ross 2001, p. 500). The species is allied to the channel darter (P. copelandi) (Ross et al. 1989, p. 25) but is distinguished from it by its larger size, lack of tubercules (small, raised, skin structures), heavy pigmentation, number of marginal spines on belly scales of breeding males, and fully scaled cheeks (Suttkus et al. 1994, pp. 13-14). Generally, pearl darters range in size from 22 to 59 millimeters (mm) (0.87 to 2.3 inches (in)) in length with the majority of adults being from 30 to 41 mm (1.2 to 1.6 in) long (Clark and Schaefer 2015, p. 10).

    Historical Distribution

    The pearl darter is historically known from localized sites within the Pearl and Pascagoula River drainages in Mississippi and Louisiana, based on collection records from 16 counties and parishes of Mississippi and Louisiana. Examination of site records of museum fish collections from the Pearl River drainage (compiled from Suttkus et al. 1994, pp. 15-18) suggests that the pearl darter once inhabited the large tributaries and main channel habitats within these drainages from St. Tammany Parish, Louisiana, to Simpson County, Mississippi. This area totaled approximately 708 km (440 mi) within the Pearl River basin and included the lower Pearl River, the Strong River, and the Bogue Chitto River (compiled from MMNS 2016, unpublished data; Slack et al. 2005, pp. 5-10; Ross 2001, p. 499; Ross et al. 2000, pp. 2-5; Bart and Piller 1997, pp. 3-10; Bart and Suttkus 1996, pp. 3-4; Suttkus et al. 1994, pp. 15-18). However, there have been no records of this species from the Pearl River drainage in over 40 years, despite repeated collecting efforts through the years (Wagner et al. 2017, pp. 3-10, 12; Geheber and Piller 2012, pp. 633-636; Schaefer and Mickel 2011, p. 10; Slack et al. 2005, pp. 5-10; Tipton et al. 2004, pp. 56-57; Ross 2001, p. 499; Bart and Piller 1997, p. 1; Bart and Suttkus 1996, pp. 3-4; Bart and Suttkus 1995, pp. 13-14; Suttkus et al. 1994, pp. 15-18). Survey efforts over the last few years at all historical sites, including north of and just below the Ross Barnett Reservoir (Schaefer and Mickle 2011, pp. 8-10), have confirmed its absence from the Pearl River system (Wagner et al. 2017, pp. 3-4; Roberts in litt. 2015; Geheber and Piller 2012, p. 633), including the recent analysis of water samples for eDNA from the Pearl River proper, Strong River, and Bogue Chitto River (Piller in litt. 2017). Thus, the pearl darter is considered extirpated from the Pearl River system today.

    Current Distribution

    Today, the pearl darter occurs in scattered sites within an approximately 668-km (415-mi) area of the Pascagoula drainage, including the Pascagoula (101 km, 63 mi), Chickasawhay (257 km, 160 mi), Leaf (186 km, 115 mi), Chunky (31 km, 19 mi), and Bouie (24 km, 15 mi) Rivers and Okatoma (37 km, 23 mi) and Black Creeks (32 km, 20 mi) (Wagner et al. 2017, pp. 3-10, 12; Wagner in litt. 2017; Clark and Schaefer 2015, pp. 10, 19, 23; Schaefer and Mickle 2011, pp. 1-3; Slack et al. 2002, p. 9).

    The average catch at known occupied sites, using standard sampling (30 minutes with heavy leaded seine) is 2.1 individuals (Wagner et al. 2017. pp. 3-4; Clark and Schaefer 2015, pp. 9-14, 18-22), indicating a species that is rare. Surveys by Kreiser et al. (2012, pp. 29-32) found sporadic occurrences of the species within the Pascagoula River from its headwaters at the confluence of the Leaf and Chickasawhay Rivers downstream to where the river bifurcates (splits). Recent survey efforts indicate reproducing populations in the Chickasawhay and Leaf Rivers, based on the presence of different size classes (Clark in litt. 2017; Wagner in litt. 2017; Wagner et al. 2017, p. 3; Schaefer in litt. 2017; Clark and Schaefer 2015, pp. 9-14, 18-22). Though there is a clear pattern of higher abundance and greater rate of occurrence at sites in the Chickasawhay River (5.03 ± 0.62 pearl darters per hour) compared to the Leaf River (2.18 ± 0.56 pearl darters per hour); a pattern that has remained constant over time (Clark and Schaefer 2015, pp. 9-14). Surveys in 2016 of historical locations (Clark in litt. 2017; Schaefer in litt. 2017) in the Bouie River, Okatoma Creek, and Black Creek yielded seven fish in the Okatoma Creek and one specimen each in the Bouie River and Black Creek. In 2017, one pearl darter was collected in the Chunky River, confirming its presence in that system for the first time since its last collection there over 15 years ago.

    Habitat and Biology

    The pearl darter occurs in low-gradient, coastal plain rivers and creeks (Suttkus et al. 1994, p. 13), predominately classified as 4th to 2nd order streams (Strahler stream order hierarchy). There have been no comprehensive microhabitat studies on the pearl darter; however, based on observations of occupancy in the field, microhabitat features consist of a bottom substrate mixture of sand, silt, loose clay, gravel, organic material, and snags (Slack et al. 2005, pp. 9-11). The species has been collected at the steep ends of sandbars, and inside river bends where material is deposited. The water where the species is typically captured has a slow to medium current velocity (0.003 to 0.635 centimeters/second (cm/s) (0.53 to 0.25 in/s) (tabulated from Clark in litt. 2017, Slack in litt. 2017, Schaefer in litt. 2017, unpublished data; Slack et al. 2005, p. 10). In fact, based on cluster analysis and ordination of habitat data of the Leaf and Chickasawhay Rivers, higher densities of pearl darters were found in slower moving, deeper waters with finer substrate (Clark and Schaefer 2015, p. 11). There is very little aquatic vegetation in these drainages (Slack et al. 2005, p. 9), and vegetation that may be present is usually river weed (Podostemum ceratophyllum) attached to rocks (Drennen and Wagner 2017, pers. observ.). Banksides where the pearl darter was collected are vegetative and not vertical or severely eroded (Schaefer in litt. 2017, unpublished data).

    There is no specific information available on the diet of the pearl darter. However, the channel darter (P. copelendi), a closely allied species in similar habitat, has been reported to feed on chironomid flies, small crustaceans, mayflies, and caddisflies (Kuehne and Barbour 1983, p. 49).

    Summary of Factors Affecting the Species

    Below we present a summary of the threats information from the proposed listing rule. We also present new information published or obtained since the proposed rule was published, including information received during the public comment period.

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

    Members of the Cottogaster subgenus have undergone range contractions that are of potential conservation concern throughout their respective distributions (Dugo et al. 2008, p. 3; Warren et al. 2000, pp. 7-8; Goodchild 1994, pp. 433-435). The pearl darter was extirpated from the Pearl River drainage, perhaps as early as the 1970s, and many of the stressors thought to have played a role in its loss in that system are present in the Pascagoula River drainages where the species occurs today, including impoundments (sills and dams); instability in the channel; increased sedimentation from the removal of riparian vegetation and poor agriculture and silviculture practices; and general chronic water degradation from point and non-point source pollution (Piller et al. 2004, pp. 1004-1011; TNC 2004, p. 5; Ross 2001, pp. 499-500).

    Water Quality Degradation

    Water quality degradation, particularly non-point source pollution from incompatible commercial and industrial development and land use practices, has been a major concern within the Pearl River basin (TNC 2004, p. 18). Similarly, the Pascagoula River system suffers from acute and localized water quality degradation by nonpoint source pollution in association with surface, stormwater, and effluent runoffs from urbanization and municipal areas (MDEQ 2005c, p. 23; 2005d, p. 16). “Total Maximum Daily Loads” (TMDLs), a term in the U.S. Clean Water Act describing a benchmark set for a certain pollutant to bring water quality up to the applicable standard, have been established for 89 segments of the Pascagoula River basin, many of which include portions of the pearl darter's range (MDEQ 2014a, pp. 18-21). For sediment, one of the most pervasive pollutants, the State of Mississippi has TMDLs for various tributaries and main stems of the Leaf and Chickasawhay Rivers. To date, efforts by the State of Mississippi to improve water quality in the Pascagoula River basin to meet these TMDL benchmarks have been inadequate (MDEQ 2014a, pp. 18-21). Thirty-nine percent of the Pascagoula River basin tributaries are rated fair or poor due to pollution impacts (MDEQ 2014a, pp. 18-21; MDEQ 2008, p. 17).

    Most water quality threats are due to increased sediment loads and variations in pH (MDEQ 2014a, pp. 1-51; 2008a, pp. 13-15). Sediment in stormwater runoff increases water turbidity and temperature and originates locally from poorly maintained construction sites, timber harvest tracts, agricultural fields, clearing of riparian vegetation, and gravel extraction in the river floodplain. Suttkus et al. (1994, p. 19) attributed the loss of the pearl darter in the Pearl River to increasing sedimentation from habitat modification caused by the removal of riparian vegetation and extensive cultivation near the river's edge. Excessive sediments disrupt feeding and spawning of fish and aquatic insects, abrade and suffocate periphyton (mixture of algae, bacteria, microbes, and detritus that is attached to submerged surfaces), and impact fish growth, survival, and reproduction (Waters 1995, pp. 55-62). A localized portion of the Chickasawhay River is on the State Section 303(d) List of Water Bodies as impaired due to sediment (MDEQ 2005b, p. 17).

    Nonpoint source pollution is a localized threat to the pearl darter within the drainage, and is more prevalent in areas where certified best management practices (BMPs) are not utilized. The use of certified BMPs during land-altering activities can greatly reduce impacts to water quality. Certified BMPs, currently implemented by the forestry industry (e.g., Sustainable Forestry Initiative, Forest Stewardship Council, and American Tree Farm System), are helping to minimize or eliminate non-point source pollution during the course of forestry activities. The Mississippi Forestry Commission (2016, entire) reports certified BMP implementation rates to be high in Mississippi for forestry activities, primarily due to the efforts of State forestry agencies and forest certification programs (Schilling and Wigley 2015, pp. 3-7).

    Historically, timber harvesting and processing was extensive in the Pearl River basin, and at one time, the basin was home to one of the most important lumber centers in the United States (Thigpen 1965, pp. 66-69). Pulp and paper manufacturing began in the Pascagoula watershed in Mississippi with three major mills (Monthly Review 1958, p. 83). Today, there are six major pulp mills in the Pascagoula River basin whose effluent may be a threat to the pearl darter. Paper mill effluent is a contributor to water quality degradation and is suspected to have had some influence on the extirpation of the pearl darter in the Pearl River system (Slack in litt. 2016). Fish and mussel kills were reportedly not uncommon within reaches downstream from pulp mills in Lawrence County near historical locations for the pearl darter (Slack in litt. 2016). As recently as 2011, a “black liquor” (wastewater) spill from a paper manufacturing process resulted in a massive fish kill in the Pearl River (Kizha et al. 2016, pp. 926-929; Piller and Geheber 2015, pp. 2433-2434).

    Numerous studies have documented the effects of pulp and paper mill effluents on fish populations (Beyer et al. 1996, pp. 212-224). Depending on the bleaching process, pulp- and paper mill effluents may contain various kinds and concentrations of chlorinated organic compounds such as polychlorinated dibenzodioxins (dioxins) and polychlorinated dibenzofurans (furans), which elicit several lethal and sublethal effects in fish, such as alterations in steroid biosynthesis (manufacturing of hormones and other organic compounds), gonadal (sex gland) development, sexual maturation, and expression of secondary sex characteristics (features that appear at maturity such as coloration). These types of compounds are known to bioaccumulate and have reproductive and antiestrogen (opposite effects of hormones) impacts on fish (Hoffman et al. 2003, pp. 1063-1065).

    Additionally, some contaminants may bind with one another (i.e., heavy metals bind with sediments or other contaminants in the water column) within the Pascagoula River drainage. These bound chemical contaminants have not been addressed in TMDLs. Only seven TMDLs for metals have been completed (MDEQ 2008, pp. 1-55). The Davis Dead River, a tributary at the most downstream site of the pearl darter's range, is considered critically impaired by mercury (MDEQ 2011, pp. 1-29), and fish consumption advisories continue for mercury in certain gamefish species in the Pascagoula River main stem (MDEQ 2008, p. 43).

    There are 15 permitted point source discharge sites within the Bouie River system (MDEQ 2005a, p. 6) and an unknown amount of nonpoint runoff sites. Municipal and industrial discharges during periods of low flow (i.e., no or few rain events) intensify water quality degradation by increasing water temperatures, lowering dissolved oxygen, and changing pH. Within the Pascagoula River basin, pollutants causing specific channel or river reach impairment (i.e., those pollutants preventing the water body from reaching its applicable water quality standard (Environmental Protection Agency 2012, pp. 1-9)), include sedimentation; chemicals and nutrients in the water column; and various toxins, such as heavy metals like lead or cadmium for a total of 304 km (189 mi) impaired riverine segments. TMDLs were completed for pesticides such as dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT), toxaphene, dioxin, and pentachlorophenol, although much of the data and results are not finalized and remain unavailable for the designated reaches (Environmental Protection Agency 2012, pp. 1-7; MDEQ 2003, pp. 5-10; Justus et al. 1999, p. 1).

    Localized wastewater effluent into the Leaf River from the City of Hattiesburg is negatively impacting water quality (Hattiesburg American 2015, pp. 1-2; Mississippi River Collaboration 2014, p. 1). Existing housing, recreational cabins, and trailers along the banks of the Leaf River between I-59 and the town of Estabutchie cause nutrient loading through treated sewage and septic water effluent (Mississippi River Collaboration 2014, p. 1). In 1997, Bart and Piller (p. 12) noted extensive algal growth during warmer months in the Leaf and Bouie Rivers, indicating nutrient and organic enrichment and decreases in dissolved oxygen and pH changes. Today, at specific locations, the water quality of the Bouie and Leaf Rivers and their tributaries continues to be negatively impacted by sediment, organic enrichment, low dissolved oxygen, fecal coliform, and elevated nutrients (MDEQ 2016, p. 86, 91; 2014a, p. 18, 21, 32; 2005a, pp. 1-26; 2004, pp. 1-29).

    Oil and Gas Development

    Nonpoint and point source pollution from oil and gas exploration, including drill field construction, active drilling, and pipeline easements, may add localized pollutants into the Pascagoula River basin during stormwater runoff events if BMPs are not used. There is one major oil refinery within the basin along with 6 oil pumping stations, 10 major crude pipelines, 4 major product oil pipelines, and 5 major gas and more than 25 lesser gas lines stretching hundreds of miles and crisscrossing the main stem Pascagoula, Bouie, Leaf, Chickasawhay, and Chunky Rivers and their tributaries; in addition, there are more than 100 active oil producing wells within the pearl darters' watersheds (compiled from Oil and Gas Map of Mississippi in Phillips 2013, pp. 10, 23). All have the potential to rupture or leak and cause environmental and organismal damage as evidenced by the Genesis Oil Company and Leaf River oil spill of 2000 (Environmental Science Services, Inc. 2000, pp. 1-50; Kemp Associates, PA, 2000, pp. 4-5; The Clarion-Ledger, December 23, 1999, p. 1B) and Genesis Oil Company spill in Okatoma Creek in February 2016 (Drennen 2016, pers. observ.). In addition to gas pipelines, there are numerous railways that cross pearl darter habitat that are subject to accidental and catastrophic spilling of toxins such as fuel oil, methanol, resin, and fertilizer (MDEQ 2014b, pp. 1-23).

    Alternative oil and gas collection methods (i.e., hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) and horizontal drilling and injection) have allowed the expansion of oil and gas drilling into deposits that were previously inaccessible (Phillips 2013, p. 21), which has led to increased activity within southern Mississippi, including portions of the Pascagoula River basin. There are more than 100 water injection disposal wells and enhanced oil recovery wells within the basin (compiled from Active Injection Well Map of Mississippi in Phillips 2013, p. 49). A variety of chemicals (e.g., 15% diluted hydrochloric acid, surfactants, potassium chloride) are used during the drilling and fracking process (Colborn et al. 2011, pp. 1040-1042), and their wastes are stored in open pits (retention basins) or storage facilities. Spills during transport or releases due to retention basin failure or overflow pose a risk for surface and groundwater contamination, which can cause significant adverse effects to water quality and aquatic organisms that inhabit these watersheds (Osborn et al. 2011, pp. 8172-8176; Kargbo et al. 2010, pp. 5680-5681; Wiseman 2009, pp. 127-142). In addition, contamination of streams with brine (chloride), a byproduct of oil and gas development, poses a significant risk to aquatic habitats and species. High chloride concentrations interfere with osmoregulation (maintenance of proper levels of salts and other solutes in bodily fluids) and hinder the organism's survival, growth, and reproduction (Hunt et al. 2012, p. 1). Brine contamination has been documented within the pearl darter's historical range in the Pearl River system (Kalhoff 1993, pp. 12-15, 19-20, 25; Kalhoff 1986, p. 49) and within the Pascagoula River basin where it currently occurs, including several Leaf and Chickasawhay River drainage basin tributaries (Kalhoff 1986, pp. 52-63). There is currently no routine water quality monitoring in areas where the pearl darter currently occurs, so it is unlikely that the effects of a leak or spill would be detected quickly enough to allow for a timely response.

    Geomorphology Changes

    Piller et al. (2004, pp. 1004-1011) cited numerous human-caused disturbances within the Pearl River since the 1950s, including channelization, reservoir construction, and channel modification from bank collapse downstream of dams. Specifically, the Pearl River Navigation Canal in 1956, the Ross Barnett Reservoir in 1964, and channel changes of the lower Pearl River (increased width and decreased depth) were implicated in the decline of abundance for several fish species in that system (Piller et al. 2004, pp. 1004-1011). These habitat modifications and channel changes resulted in the loss of gravel substrates in places, completely replacing gravel bars with sand or sediment, which are not appropriate substrate for the pearl darter and other species (Tipton et al. 2004, pp. 58-60; TNC 2004, p. 5). Tipton et al. (2004, pp. 58-60) documented a decrease in fish diversity and abundance within the disturbed reaches as compared with relatively undisturbed reaches. These changes most likely contributed to the decline of the pearl darter in the Pearl River system and potentially threaten the species in the Pascagoula system.

    Pearl darters are not found in impounded waters and are intolerant of lentic (standing water) habitats that may be formed by gravel mining or other landscape-altering practices. Incompatible sand and gravel mining and its disruption of topography, vegetation, and flow pattern of streams is considered a major stressor to the Pearl River system where the pearl darter once occurred (TNC 2004, p. 16). In the species' current range in the Pascagoula system, the results of historical sand and gravel dredging impacts have been a concern for the Bouie and Leaf Rivers (MDEQ 2000, pp. 1-98). Historically, the American Sand and Gravel Company (1995, p. B4) has mined sand and gravel using a hydraulic suction dredge, operating within the banks or adjacent to the Bouie and Leaf Rivers. Large gravel bars of the river and its floodplain have been removed over the past 50 years, creating open-water areas that function as deep lake systems (American Sand and Gravel Company 1995, pp. B4-B8). The creation of these large, open-water areas has accelerated geomorphic processes, specifically headcutting (erosional feature causing an abrupt drop in the streambed) that has adversely affected the flora and fauna of many coastal plain streams (Patrick et al. 1993, p. 90). Mining in active river channels typically results in incision upstream of the mine by knickpoints (breaks in the slope of a river or stream profile caused by renewed erosion attributed to a bottom disturbance that may retreat upstream), sediment deposition downstream, and an alteration in channel morphology that can have impacts for years (Mossa and Coley 2004, pp. 1-20). The upstream migration of knickpoints, or headcutting, may cause undermining of structures, lowering of alluvial water tables (aquifer comprising unconsolidated materials deposited by water and typically adjacent to rivers), channel destabilization and widening, and loss of aquatic and riparian habitat. This geomorphic change may cause the extirpation of riparian and lotic (flowing water) species (Patrick et al. 1993, p. 96).

    Sedimentation from unstable banks and loose, unconsolidated streambeds (Bart and Piller 1997, p. 12) is likely impacting the pearl darters in the Bouie River and Black Creek. Mossa and Coley (2004, p. 17) determined that, of the major tributaries in the Pascagoula basin, the Bouie River was the least stable. Channel enlargement of the Bouie River showed higher than background values associated with avulsions (the rapid abandonment of a river channel and the formation of a new river channel) into floodplain pits and increased sedimentation. In addition, channel enlargement of 400 to 500 percent in the Bouie River has occurred at specific sites due to instream gravel mining (Mossa et al. 2006, entire; Mossa and Coley 2004, p. 17). Ayers (2014, pp. 43-45) also found significant and lengthy instream channel form changes in the Chickasawhay River floodplain. Clark and Schaefer (2015, pp. 13-14) noted a slight decrease in fish species richness in the upper Pascagoula River basin from their 2004 sampling, which they attributed to past anthropogenic influences such as gravel mining, bankside practices, and construction.

    In the Bogue Chitto River of the Pearl River basin, Stewart et al. (2005, pp. 268-270) found that the assemblages of fishes had shifted over 27 years. In this time period, the sedimentation rates within the system had increased dramatically and caused the decrease in the relative abundance of all fish in the family Percidae (Stewart et al. 2005, pp. 268-270) from 35 percent to 9 percent, including the extirpation of pearl darters. Ross et al. (1992, pp. 8-9) studied threats to the Okatoma Creek (Pascagoula basin) fish diversity and predicted that geomorphic changes to the stream would reduce the fish habitat diversity resulting in a decline of the fish assemblages, including the pearl darter.

    Impoundments

    Dams and other flow control structures within a river can block fish passage, disrupt the natural flow patterns, and cause channel degradation and erosion (see “Geomorphology Changes” section above) that directly impact aquatic life habitat, as well as reduce the capacity of the stream to carry water (TNC 2004, p. 17). Streams with highly altered flow regimes often become wide, shallow, and homogeneous, resulting in poor habitat for many fish species (Bunn and Arthington 2002, pp. 493-498). The decline of the pearl darter in the Pearl River was noted after the construction of low sill dams. Bart (in TNC 2004, p. 5) speculated that, after spawning, young darters in the Pearl River were swept downriver and unable to migrate back upriver due to the low water sills and varied water flow; their limited success year after year likely caused the population to crash. These low sill dams are also thought to have led to the extirpation of the Alabama shad (Alosa alabamae) from that system (Mickel et al. 2010, p. 158).

    The proposed damming of Little and Big Cedar Creeks, tributaries to the Pascagoula River, for establishment of two recreational lakes (George County Lakes) (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers 2015, pp. 1-13) has prompted the American Rivers organization to recently list the Pascagoula River as the 10th most endangered river in the country (American Rivers 2016, pp. 20-21). Though the proposed project is not directly within known pearl darter habitat, the lakes may decrease water quantity entering the lower Pascagoula basin and will likely concentrate pollutants, reduce water flow, and alter downstream food webs and aquatic productivity (Poff and Hart 2002, p. 660).

    Summary of Factor A

    Habitat modification and resultant water quality degradation are occurring within the pearl darter's current range and likely led to the loss of the species from the Pearl River drainage. Water quality degradation occurs locally from point and nonpoint source pollution in association with land surface, stormwater, and effluent runoff from urbanization, industry, and municipal areas. Of particular concern is the threat of overflooding of storage ponds for industrial effluent, such as that from pulp and paper manufacturing. Increased sediment from a variety of sources, including geomorphological changes and bank instability from past habitat modification, appears to be the major contributor to water quality declines in this species' habitat. Localized sewage and waste water effluent also pose a threat to this species and its habitat. The pearl darter's vulnerability to catastrophic events, particularly the release of pollutants in its habitat from oil spills, train derailments, and hydraulic fracturing, is also a concern due to the abundance of oil wells, pumping stations, gas lines, and railways throughout its habitat, and the increased interest in alternative oil and gas collection methods in the area. The proposed damming of Big and Little Cypress Creeks may decrease water flow and increase nutrient concentration into the Pascagoula River. These threats continue to impact water quality and habitat conditions through much of this species' current range. Therefore, we conclude that habitat degradation is presently a moderate threat to the pearl darter that is expected to continue and possibly increase into the future.

    Factor B: Overutilization for Commercial, Recreational, Scientific, or Educational Purposes

    The pearl darter is not a commercially valuable species, and collecting is not considered a factor in its decline. Therefore, we do not consider overutilization for commercial, recreational, scientific, or educational purposes to be a threat to the pearl darter at this time.

    Factor C: Disease or Predation

    We have no specific information indicating that disease or predation is negatively impacting pearl darter populations. Therefore, we do not consider these factors to be threats to the pearl darter at this time.

    Factor D: The Inadequacy of Existing Regulatory Mechanisms

    The State of Mississippi classifies the pearl darter as endangered (Mississippi Natural Heritage Program 2015, p. 2), and prohibits the collection of the pearl darter for scientific purposes without a State-issued collecting permit. However, as discussed under Factor B, we have no evidence to suggest that scientific collection poses a threat to this species. This State classification conveys no legal protection for the pearl darter's habitat nor does it prohibit habitat degradation, which is the primary threat to the species. The pearl darter receives no protection in Louisiana, where it is considered to have historically occurred (Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries 2005, p. 39).

    The pearl darter and its habitats are afforded some protection from water quality and habitat degradation under the Clean Water Act of 1972 (33 U.S.C. 1251 et seq.) and the Mississippi Water Pollution Control Law, as amended, 1993 (Code of Mississippi, section 49-17-1, et seq.) and regulations promulgated thereunder by the Mississippi Commission on Environmental Quality. Although these laws have resulted in some enhancement in water quality and habitat for aquatic life, particularly in reducing point-source pollutants, they have been inadequate in fully protecting the pearl darter from sedimentation and other nonpoint source pollutants.

    The State of Mississippi maintains water-use classifications through issuance of National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permits to industries, municipalities, and others that set maximum limits on certain pollutants or pollutant parameters. For water bodies on the Clean Water Act section 303(d) list of impaired streams, the State is required to establish a TMDL for the pollutants of concern that will improve water quality to the applicable standard. The establishment of TMDLs for 89 river or stream segments and ratings of fair to poor for 39 percent of the tributaries within the Pascagoula basin are indicative of water pollution impacts within the pearl darter's habitat (MDEQ 2008a, p. 17). TMDLs are not an enforced regulation, and only reflect benchmarks for improving water quality; they have not been successful in reducing water quality degradation within this species' habitat, as these streams continue to remain on the 303(d) list of impaired streams.

    Mississippi Surface Mining and Reclamation Law, Miss. Code Ann. section 53-7-1 et seq., and Federal laws regarding oil and gas drilling (42 U.S.C. 6921) are generally designed to protect freshwater resources like the pearl darter, but these regulatory mechanisms do not contain specific provisions requiring an analysis of project impacts to fish and wildlife resources. They also do not contain or provide for any formal mechanism requiring coordination with, or input from, the Service or the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks regarding the presence of federally endangered, threatened, or candidate species, or other rare and sensitive species. In the case of surface mining, penalties may be assessed if damage is serious, but there is no immediate response for remediation of habitats or species. As demonstrated under Factor A, periodic declines in water quality and degradation of habitat for this species are ongoing despite these protective regulations. These mechanisms have been inadequate to protect the species from sediment runoff and turbidity within its habitat associated with land surface runoff and municipal and industrial discharges, as described under Factor A. There are currently no requirements within the scope of other statewide environmental laws to specifically consider the pearl darter or ensure that a project will not significantly impact the species.

    The pearl darter likely receives ancillary protection (i.e., water quality improvements, protection from geomorphological changes) where it co-occurs with two other federally listed species, the Gulf sturgeon (Acipenser oxyrhynchus desotoi) and yellow-blotched map turtle (Graptemys flavimaculata), during the course of consultation on these species under section 7 of the Act. However, protective measures through section 7 of the Act would be triggered only for those projects having a Federal nexus, which would not include many of the water quality disturbances caused by industry, municipalities, agriculture, or private landowners.

    Additional protection of 53,520 hectares (ha) (132,128 acres (ac)) within the Pascagoula basin watershed occurs due to the Mississippi Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks' management of six Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) within the upper drainage basin for recreational hunting and fishing. Four of the six WMAs (Chickasawhay and Leaf Rivers, Mason and Red Creeks) do not directly border the river system, but they do contain and protect parcels of upland buffer, wetland, and tributaries to the basin. The Pascagoula River and Ward Bayou WMAs (20,329 ha; 50,234 ac) consist of wetland buffer and river/stream reach protecting approximately 106 km (66 mi) of the Pascagoula River main stem (Stowe in litt. 2015). The Nature Conservancy (TNC) protects 14,164 ha (35,000 ac) within the Pascagoula River watershed and approximately 10 km (6 mi) of the Pascagoula River shoreline in Jackson County, Mississippi. Of that amount, the Charles M. Deaton Nature Preserve (1,336 ha, 3,300 ac) protects the upper reaches of the Pascagoula River, where the Leaf and Chickasawhay Rivers converge, and is part of a 19,020-ha (47,000-ac) swath of public lands surrounding the Pascagoula River, which includes approximately 8 km (5 mi) of the Chickasawhay River and approximately 7 km (4 mi) of the Leaf River shorelines (Stowe in litt. 2015).

    These State-managed WMAs and TNC preserves provide a measure of protection for approximately 134 km (84 mi) or 30 percent of the river reaches within this species' current range. Point and nonpoint sediment sources are decreased or reduced by using and monitoring certified BMPs during silviculture, road maintenance, and other landscape-altering activities. However, only short segments of shoreline in the Chickasawhay and Leaf Rivers are within these WMAs. Remaining lands within these segments can be vulnerable to farming and timbering to the bankside edge, and construction of structures such as houses, septic facilities, dams, and ponds. Each land management action can increase stormwater runoff laden with sediment and agricultural and wastewater chemicals. The impact of silvicultural activities on water quality degradation are likely lower than other land-altering activities according to information in the Mississippi Forestry Commission's report (2016, entire) that found certified BMP implementation rates to be high across all silvicultural landscapes in Mississippi.

    Summary of Factor D

    Despite existing authorities such as the Clean Water Act, pollutants continue to impair the water quality throughout much of the current range of the pearl darter. State and Federal regulatory mechanisms have helped reduce the negative effects of point source and nonpoint source discharges, yet these regulations are difficult to implement, and may not provide adequate protection for sensitive species like the pearl darter. Thus, we conclude that existing regulatory mechanisms do not adequately protect the pearl darter from the impact of other threats.

    Factor E: Other Natural or Manmade Factors Affecting Its Continued Existence Small Population Size and Loss of Genetic Diversity

    The pearl darter has always been considered rare (Deacon et al. 1979, p. 42) and is currently restricted to localized sites within the Pascagoula River drainage. Genetic diversity has likely declined due to fragmentation and separation of reproducing pearl darter populations. Kreiser et al. (2012, pp. 12-17) found that disjunct populations of pearl darters within the Leaf and Chickasawhay Rivers showed some distinct alleles suggesting that gene flow between the two rivers was restricted and perhaps that the total gene pool diversity was declining. Collecting data (Ross 2001, p. 500; Bart and Piller 1997, p. 4; Bart and Suttkus 1996, p. 4; Suttkus et al. 1994, p. 19) indicate that the pearl darter is rare in the Pascagoula River system, as when this species is collected it is typically in low numbers and a disproportionately low percentage of the total fish collected (catch per unit effort of 2.1 individuals per site, Clark and Shaefer 2015, p. 4).

    Species that are restricted in range and population size are more likely to suffer loss of genetic diversity due to genetic drift, potentially increasing their susceptibility to inbreeding depression, decreasing their ability to adapt to environmental changes, and reducing the fitness of individuals (Allendorf and Luikart 2007, pp. 117-146; Soulé 1980, pp. 157-158). It is likely that some of the pearl darter populations are below the effective population size required to maintain long-term genetic and population viability (Soulé 1980, pp. 162-164).

    The long-term viability of a species is founded on the conservation of numerous local populations throughout its geographic range (Harris 1984, pp. 93-104). The presence of viable, separate populations is essential for a species to recover and adapt to environmental change (Noss and Cooperrider 1994, pp. 264-297; Harris 1984, pp. 93-104). Inbreeding and loss of neutral genetic variation associated with small population size reduces the fitness of the population (Reed and Frankham 2003, pp. 230-237) and accelerates population decline (Fagan and Holmes 2006, pp. 51-60). The species' small numbers within scattered locations, coupled with its lack of genetic variability, may decrease the species' ability to adapt or recover from major hydrological events that impact potential spawning habitat (Clark and Schaefer 2015, pp. 18-22).

    Hurricanes

    Fish and aquatic communities and habitat, including that of the pearl darter, may be changed by hurricanes (Schaefer et al. 2006, pp. 62-68). In 2005, Hurricane Katrina destroyed much of the urban and industrial areas along the lower Pascagoula River basin and also impacted the ecology upriver to the confluence with the Leaf and Chickasawhay Rivers. Many toxic chemicals that leaked from grounded and displaced boats and ships, storage facilities, vehicles, septic systems, business sites, and other sources due to the hurricane were reported in the rivers, along with saltwater intrusion from the Gulf of Mexico. Initial assessment identified several fish kills and increased surge of organic material into the waters, which lowered dissolved oxygen levels (Schaefer et al. 2006, pp. 62-68). As discussed below, the deleterious impacts of climate change will likely lead to an increase in the strength and frequency of hurricanes.

    Climate Change

    Numerous long-term climate changes have been observed including widespread changes in precipitation amounts, ocean salinity, wind patterns, and aspects of extreme weather including droughts, heavy precipitation, heat waves, and the intensity of tropical cyclones (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change 2014, p. 4). Climate change, and the resultant shifts in spatial distribution, may result in increased fragmentation which would increase the vulnerability of any isolated populations to future extinction (Comet et al. 2013, p. 635). However, while continued change is certain, the magnitude and rate of change is unknown in many cases.

    Climate change has the potential to increase the vulnerability of the pearl darter to random catastrophic events (Thomas et al. 2004, pp. 145-148; McLaughlin et al. 2002, pp. 6060-6074). An increase in both severity and variation in climate patterns is expected, with extreme floods, strong storms, and droughts becoming more common (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change 2014, pp. 58-83). Thomas et al. (2004, pp. 145-148) report that frequency, duration, and intensity of droughts are likely to increase in the Southeast as a result of global climate change. Kaushal et al. (2010, p. 465) reported that stream temperatures in the Southeast have increased roughly 0.2-0.4 °C (0.3-0.7 °F) per decade over the past 30 years, and as air temperature is a strong predictor of water temperature, stream temperatures are expected to continue to rise. Predicted impacts of climate change on fishes, related to drought, include disruption to their physiology (e.g., temperature tolerance, dissolved oxygen needs, and metabolic rates), life history (e.g., timing of reproduction, growth rate), and distribution (e.g., range shifts, migration of new predators) (Comte et al. 2013, pp. 627-636; Strayer and Dudgeon 2010, pp. 350-351; Heino et al. 2009, pp. 41-51; Jackson and Mandrak 2002, pp. 89-98). However, estimates of the effects of climate change using available climate models typically lack the geographic precision needed to predict the magnitude of effects at a scale small enough to discretely apply to the range of a given species. Therefore, there is uncertainty about the specific effects of climate change (and their magnitude) on the pearl darter. However, climate change is almost certain to affect aquatic habitats in the Pascagoula River basin through increased water temperatures resulting in stronger storm surges and more frequent droughts (Alder and Hostetler 2013, pp. 1-12), and species with limited ranges, fragmented distributions, and small population sizes are thought to be especially vulnerable to the effects of climate change (Byers and Norris 2011, p. 18).

    Summary of Factor E

    The pearl darter's limited geographic range, fragmented distribution within the Pascagoula River system, small population numbers, and low genetic diversity threaten this species' long-term viability. These threats are current and are likely to continue or increase in the future, and would be exacerbated by climate change.

    Cumulative Effects of Factors A Through E

    The threats that affect the pearl darter are important on a threat-by-threat basis but are even more significant in combination. Due to the loss of the species from the Pearl River system, the pearl darter is now confined to a single drainage system. The species continues to be subjected to water quality degradation from point and nonpoint source pollution in association with land-altering activities, discharges from municipalities, and geomorphological changes from past gravel mining. The laws and regulations directed at preventing water quality degradation have been ineffective at providing for the conservation of the pearl darter. Furthermore, these threats and their effect on this species are exacerbated due to the pearl darter's small population numbers, localized distribution, and low genetic diversity, which reduce its genetic fitness and resilience to possible catastrophic events. Though projecting possible synergistic effects of climate change on the pearl darter is somewhat speculative, climate change, and its effects of increased water temperatures leading to stronger storms and more frequent droughts, will have a greater negative impact on species with limited ranges and small population sizes, such as the pearl darter. While these threats or stressors may act in isolation, it is more probable that many stressors are acting simultaneously (or in combination) on the pearl darter, having a greater cumulative negative effect than any individual stressor or threat.

    Determination

    We have carefully assessed the best scientific and commercial information available regarding the past, present, and future threats to the pearl darter. The pearl darter has been extirpated from the Pearl River system, and it is now confined to the Pascagoula River watershed. The species occurs in low numbers within its current range, and continues to be at risk throughout all of its range due to the immediacy, severity, and scope of threats from habitat degradation and range curtailment (Factor A) and other natural or manmade factors affecting its continued existence (Factor E). Existing regulatory mechanisms have been inadequate in ameliorating these threats (Factor D).

    Anthropogenic activities, such as general land development, agriculture and silviculture, oil and gas development (especially when BMPs were not implemented during these activities), along with inadequate sewage treatment, uncontrolled stormwater runoff, pulp mill effluent, past gravel mining and resultant geomorphological changes, and construction of dams or sills, have all contributed to the degradation of stream habitats and water quality within this species' range (Factor A). These land use activities have led to chemical and physical changes in the main stem rivers and tributaries that continue to affect the species through negative impacts to its habitat. Specific water quality threats include inputs of sediments covering bottom stream substrates, increased turbidity, and inputs of dissolved solids. These threats, especially the inputs of dissolved solids, chemical-laden effluent, sedimentation, and geomorphic changes, have had profound negative effects on pearl darter populations, as demonstrated in the Pearl River basin, and have been the primary factor in the species' decline. Existing regulatory mechanisms (e.g., the Clean Water Act) have provided for some improvements in water quality and habitat conditions across the species' range, but these laws and regulations have been inadequate in protecting the species' habitat (Factor D), as evidenced by the extirpation of the species within the Pearl River basin and by the number of section 303(d) listed streams within the species' historical and current range. The pearl darter's vulnerability to these threats is even greater due to its reduced range, scattered locations of small populations, and low genetic diversity (Factor E).

    The Act defines an endangered species as any species that is “in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range” and a threatened species as any species “that is likely to become endangered throughout all or a significant portion of its range within the foreseeable future.” We find that the pearl darter is likely to become endangered throughout all or a significant portion of its range within the foreseeable future, based on the immediacy, severity, and scope of the threats currently impacting the species. Foreseeable future for this species was determined to be approximately 20 years, which is based on our best professional judgement of the projected future conditions related to threats identified impacting this species. The overall range has been reduced substantially, and the remaining habitat and populations are threatened by a variety of factors acting in combination to reduce the overall viability of the species over time. The threats are not expected to change substantially within this 20-year timeframe, as water quality degradation continues to pose a risk locally despite existing regulations, and land development and land-altering activities are expected to increase. The risk of becoming endangered during this time is high because populations confined to this single watershed are fragmented and genetic diversity within the species is low. Many of the populations are small and likely below the effective population size needed to maintain long-term population viability which makes this species particularly vulnerable to catastrophic events. Though there is uncertainty about the magnitude of effects of climate change on the pearl darter, the frequency and intensity of storms affecting the Pascagoula River watershed are evident today and predicted to increase during this timeframe.

    We find that endangered species status is not appropriate for this species. Despite low population numbers and numerous threats, the Chickasawhay and Leaf Rivers, within the upper Pascagoula River drainage, appear to support reproducing populations. In addition, the magnitude of threats is considered to be moderate overall, since the threats are having a localized impact on the species and its habitat. For example, water quality degradation, the most prevalent threat, is not as pervasive within areas where BMPs are utilized, and geomorphic changes caused by historic sand and gravel mining are also sporadic within its habitat. Therefore, on the basis of the best available scientific and commercial information, we are listing the pearl darter as threatened in accordance with sections 3(6) and 4(a)(1) of the Act.

    Under the Act and our implementing regulations, a species may warrant listing if it is endangered or threatened throughout all or a significant portion of its range. Because we have determined that the pearl darter is threatened throughout all of its range, no portion of its range can be “significant” for purposes of the definitions of “endangered species” and “threatened species.” See the Final Policy on Interpretation of the Phrase “Significant Portion of Its Range” in the Endangered Species Act's Definitions of “Endangered Species” and “Threatened Species” (79 FR 37577, July 1, 2014). While it is the Service's position under the Policy that undertaking no further analysis of “significant portion of its range” in this circumstance is consistent with the language of the Act, we recognize that the Policy is currently under judicial review, so we also took the additional step of considering whether there could be any significant portions of the species' range where the species is in danger of extinction. We evaluated whether there is substantial information indicating that there are any portions of the species' range: (1) That may be “significant,” and (2) where the species may be in danger of extinction. In practice, a key part of identifying portions appropriate for further analysis is whether the threats are geographically concentrated. The threats affecting the species are throughout its entire range; therefore, there is not a meaningful geographical concentration of threats. As a result, even if we were to undertake a detailed “significant portion of its range” analysis, there would not be any portions of the species' range where the threats are harming the species to a greater degree such that it is in danger of extinction in that portion.

    Critical Habitat

    Section 3(5)(A) of the Act defines critical habitat as “(i) the specific areas within the geographical area occupied by the species, at the time it is listed...on which are found those physical or biological features (I) essential to the conservation of the species and (II) which may require special management considerations or protection; and (ii) specific areas outside the geographical area occupied by the species at the time it is listed...upon a determination by the Secretary that such areas are essential for the conservation of the species.”

    Section 4(a)(3) of the Act and implementing regulations (50 CFR 424.12) require that we designate critical habitat at the time a species is determined to be an endangered or threatened species, to the maximum extent prudent and determinable. In our September 21, 2016, proposed rule to list the darter (81 FR 64857), we determined that designation of critical habitat was prudent. We also found that critical habitat for the pearl darter was not determinable because the specific information sufficient to perform the required analysis of the impacts of the designation is currently lacking, such as information on areas to be proposed for designation and the potential economic impacts associated with designation of these areas. We are continuing the process of obtaining information on the economic impacts of our critical habitat designation, and, once this process is completed, we intend to publish our proposed critical habitat designation for the pearl darter in the Federal Register and request public input.

    Available Conservation Measures

    Conservation measures provided to species listed as endangered or threatened species under the Act include recognition, recovery actions, requirements for Federal protection, and prohibitions against certain practices. Recognition through listing results in public awareness, and conservation by Federal, State, Tribal, and local agencies, private organizations, and individuals. The Act encourages cooperation with the States and requires that recovery actions be carried out for all listed species. The protection required by Federal agencies and the prohibitions against certain activities are discussed, in part, below.

    The primary purpose of the Act is the conservation of endangered and threatened species and the ecosystems upon which they depend. The ultimate goal of such conservation efforts is the recovery of these listed species, so that they no longer need the protective measures of the Act. Subsection 4(f) of the Act requires the Service to develop and implement recovery plans for the conservation of endangered and threatened species. The recovery planning process involves the identification of actions that are necessary to halt or reverse the species' decline by addressing the threats to its survival and recovery. The goal of this process is to restore listed species to a point where they are secure, self-sustaining, and functioning components of their ecosystems.

    Recovery planning includes the development of a recovery outline shortly after a species is listed and preparation of a draft and final recovery plan. The recovery outline guides the immediate implementation of urgent recovery actions and describes the process to be used to develop a recovery plan. Revisions of the plan may be done to address continuing or new threats to the species, as new substantive information becomes available. The recovery plan identifies site-specific management actions that set a trigger for review of the five factors that control whether a species remains endangered or may be downlisted or delisted, and methods for monitoring recovery progress. Recovery plans also establish a framework for agencies to coordinate their recovery efforts and provide estimates of the cost of implementing recovery tasks. Recovery teams (composed of species experts, Federal and State agencies, nongovernmental organizations, and stakeholders) are often established to develop recovery plans. When completed, the recovery outline, draft recovery plan, and the final recovery plan will be available on our Web site (http://www.fws.gov/endangered) or from our Mississippi Ecological Services Field Office (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT).

    Implementation of recovery actions generally requires the participation of a broad range of partners, including other Federal agencies, States, Tribal, nongovernmental organizations, businesses, and private landowners. Examples of recovery actions include habitat restoration (e.g., restoration of native vegetation), research, captive propagation and reintroduction, and outreach and education. The recovery of many listed species cannot be accomplished solely on Federal lands because their range may occur primarily or solely on non-Federal lands. To achieve recovery of these species requires additional cooperative conservation efforts on private, State, and Tribal lands.

    Following publication of this final listing rule, funding for recovery actions will be available from a variety of sources, including Federal budgets, State programs, and cost share grants for non-Federal landowners, the academic community, and nongovernmental organizations. In addition, pursuant to section 6 of the Act, the State of Mississippi will be eligible for Federal funds to implement management actions that promote the protection or recovery of the pearl darter. Information on our grant programs that are available to aid species recovery can be found at: http://www.fws.gov/grants.

    Please let us know if you are interested in participating in recovery efforts for the pearl darter. Additionally, we invite you to submit any new information on this species whenever it becomes available and any information you may have for recovery planning purposes (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT).

    Section 7(a) of the Act requires Federal agencies to evaluate their actions with respect to any species that is listed as an endangered or threatened species and with respect to its critical habitat, if any is designated. Regulations implementing this interagency cooperation provision of the Act are codified at 50 CFR part 402. Section 7(a)(1) requires Federal agencies to utilize their authorities in furtherance of the purposes of the Act by carrying out programs for the conservation of endangered and threatened species listed pursuant to section 4 of the Act. Section 7(a)(2) of the Act requires Federal agencies to ensure that activities they authorize, fund, or carry out are not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of any endangered or threatened species or destroy or adversely modify its critical habitat. If a Federal action may affect a listed species or its critical habitat, the responsible Federal agency must enter into consultation with the Service.

    Federal agency actions within the species' habitat that may require consultation as described in the preceding paragraph include actions on lands under ownership by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the issuance of section 404 Clean Water Act permits by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, construction and maintenance of gas and oil pipelines and power line rights-of-way by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Environmental Protection Agency pesticide registration, construction and maintenance of roads or highways by the Federal Highway Administration, and funding of various projects administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

    Under section 4(d) of the Act, the Service has discretion to issue regulations that we find necessary and advisable to provide for the conservation of threatened species. The Act and its implementing regulations set forth a series of general prohibitions and exceptions that apply to threatened wildlife. The prohibitions of section 9(a)(1) of the Act, as applied to threatened wildlife and codified at 50 CFR 17.31, make it illegal for any person subject to the jurisdiction of the United States to take (which includes harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect; or to attempt any of these) threatened wildlife within the United States or on the high seas. In addition, it is unlawful to import; export; deliver, receive, carry, transport, or ship in interstate or foreign commerce in the course of commercial activity; or sell or offer for sale in interstate or foreign commerce any listed species. It is also illegal to possess, sell, deliver, carry, transport, or ship any such wildlife that has been taken illegally. Certain exceptions apply to employees of the Service, the National Marine Fisheries Service, other Federal land management agencies, and State conservation agencies.

    We may issue permits to carry out otherwise prohibited activities involving threatened wildlife under certain circumstances. Regulations governing permits are codified at 50 CFR 17.32. With regard to threatened wildlife, a permit may be issued for the following purposes: For scientific purposes, to enhance the propagation or survival of the species, and for incidental take in connection with otherwise lawful activities. There are also certain statutory exemptions from the prohibitions, which are found in sections 9 and 10 of the Act.

    It is our policy, as published in the Federal Register on July 1, 1994 (59 FR 34272), to identify to the maximum extent practicable at the time a species is listed, those activities that would or would not constitute a violation of section 9 of the Act. The intent of this policy is to increase public awareness of the effect of a final listing on proposed and ongoing activities within the range of a listed species. Based on the best available information, the following actions are unlikely to result in a violation of section 9, if these activities are carried out in accordance with existing regulations, permit requirements, or certification programs; this list is not comprehensive:

    (1) Normal agricultural and silvicultural practices, including herbicide and pesticide use, which are carried out in accordance with existing regulations, permit and label requirements, and certified best management practices (i.e., Sustainable Forestry Initiative, Forest Stewardship Council, and American Tree Farm System).

    (2) Normal residential and urban landscape activities, such as mowing, edging, fertilizing, etc.

    (3) Normal pipeline/transmission line easement maintenance.

    (4) Normal bridge, culvert, and roadside maintenance consistent with appropriate best management practices for these activities.

    Based on the best available information, the following activities may potentially result in a violation of section 9 of the Act; this list is not comprehensive:

    (1) Unauthorized handling or collecting of the species.

    (2) Introduction of nonnative fish that compete with or prey upon the pearl darter.

    (3) Unlawful discharge or dumping of toxic chemicals, contaminants, sediments, fracking and oil waste water, waste water effluent, or other pollutants into waters supporting the pearl darter that kills or injures individuals, or otherwise impairs essential life-sustaining behaviors such as spawning, feeding, or sheltering.

    (4) Destruction or alteration of the species' habitat (e.g., unpermitted instream dredging, impoundment, water diversion or withdrawal, channelization, discharge of fill material, modification of tributaries, channels, or banks) that impairs essential behaviors such as spawning, feeding, or sheltering, or results in killing or injuring a pearl darter.

    (5) Unpermitted gravel mining, oil and gas processes, silviculture, and agricultural processes that result in direct or indirect destruction of riparian bankside habitat or in channel habitat in waters supporting the pearl darter that kills or injures individuals, or otherwise impairs essential life-sustaining behaviors such as spawning, feeding, or sheltering.

    Questions regarding whether specific activities would constitute a violation of section 9 of the Act should be directed to the Mississippi Ecological Services Field Office (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT).

    Required Determinations National Environmental Policy Act (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.)

    We have determined that environmental assessments and environmental impact statements, as defined under the authority of the National Environmental Policy Act, need not be prepared in connection with listing a species as an endangered or threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. We published a notice outlining our reasons for this determination in the Federal Register on October 25, 1983 (48 FR 49244).

    Government-to-Government Relationship With Tribes

    In accordance with the President's memorandum of April 29, 1994 (Government-to-Government Relations with Native American Tribal Governments; 59 FR 22951), Executive Order 13175 (Consultation and Coordination With Indian Tribal Governments), and the Department of the Interior's manual at 512 DM 2, we readily acknowledge our responsibility to communicate meaningfully with recognized Federal Tribes on a government-to-government basis. In accordance with Secretarial Order 3206 of June 5, 1997 (American Indian Tribal Rights, Federal-Tribal Trust Responsibilities, and the Endangered Species Act), we readily acknowledge our responsibilities to work directly with tribes in developing programs for healthy ecosystems, to acknowledge that tribal lands are not subject to the same controls as Federal public lands, to remain sensitive to Indian culture, and to make information available to tribes. The pearl darter is not known to occur within any tribal lands or waters.

    References Cited

    A complete list of references cited in this rulemaking is available on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov and upon request from the Mississippi Ecological Services Field Office (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT).

    Authors

    The primary authors of this final rule are the staff members of the Mississippi Ecological Services Field Office.

    List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 17

    Endangered and threatened species, Exports, Imports, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Transportation.

    Regulation Promulgation

    Accordingly, we amend part 17, subchapter B of chapter I, title 50 of the Code of Federal Regulations, as follows:

    PART 17—ENDANGERED AND THREATENED WILDLIFE AND PLANTS 1. The authority citation for part 17 continues to read as follows: Authority:

    16 U.S.C. 1361-1407; 1531-1544; and 4201-4245, unless otherwise noted.

    2. Amend § 17.11(h) by adding an entry for “Darter, Pearl” to the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife in alphabetical order under “FISHES” to read as follows:
    § 17.11 Endangered and threatened wildlife.

    (h) * * *

    Common name Scientific name Where listed Status Listing citations and applicable rules *         *         *         *         *         *         * FISHES *         *         *         *         *         *         * Darter, Pearl Percina aurora Wherever found T 82 FR [insert Federal Register page where the document begins], 9/20/2017. *         *         *         *         *         *         *
    Date: September 7, 2017. James W. Kurth, Acting Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
    [FR Doc. 2017-20069 Filed 9-19-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4333-15-P
    DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Fish and Wildlife Service 50 CFR Part 17 [Docket No. FWS-R2-ES-2016-0103; 4500030113] RIN 1018-AZ02 Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Endangered Species Status for Sonoyta Mud Turtle AGENCY:

    Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

    ACTION:

    Final rule.

    SUMMARY:

    We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), list the Sonoyta mud turtle (Kinosternon sonoriense longifemorale), a turtle from Arizona in the United States and Sonora in Mexico, as an endangered species under the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (Act), as amended. This rule adds the Sonoyta mud turtle to the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and extends the Act's protections to this subspecies.

    DATES:

    This rule is effective October 20, 2017.

    ADDRESSES:

    This final rule is available on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov and at http://www.fws.gov/southwest/es/arizona/. Comments and materials we received, as well as supporting documentation we used in preparing this rule, are available for public inspection at http://www.regulations.gov. Comments, materials, and documentation that we considered in this rulemaking will be available by appointment, during normal business hours at: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Arizona Ecological Services Field Office, 9828 North 31st Ave #C3, Phoenix, AZ 85051-2517; telephone 602-242-0210.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Steve Spangle, Field Supervisor, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Arizona Ecological Services Field Office, 9828 North 31st Ave #C3, Phoenix, AZ 85051-2517; telephone 602-242-0210. Persons who use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD) may call the Federal Relay Service at 800-877-8339.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Previous Federal Action

    Please refer to the proposed listing rule for the Sonoyta mud turtle (81 FR 64829; September 21, 2016) for a detailed description of previous Federal actions concerning this subspecies.

    Background

    We completed a comprehensive assessment of the biological status of the Sonoyta mud turtle, and prepared a report of the assessment, which provides a thorough account of the subspecies' overall viability. We define viability as the ability of the subspecies to persist over the long term and avoid extinction. In this section, we summarize the conclusions of that assessment, which can be accessed at Docket No. FWS-R2-ES-2016-0103 on http://www.regulations.gov and at http://www.fws.gov/southwest/es/arizona/. The Sonoyta mud turtle's Species Status Assessment (SSA Report; Service 2017, chapter 4) contains a detailed discussion of our evaluation of the biological status of the Sonoyta mud turtle and the influences that may affect its continued existence.

    To assess Sonoyta mud turtle viability, we used the three conservation biology principles of resiliency, representation, and redundancy (Shaffer and Stein 2000, pp. 306-310). Briefly, resiliency supports the ability of the species to withstand environmental and demographic stochasticity (for example, wet or dry, warm or cold years); representation supports the ability of the species to adapt over time to long-term changes in the environment (for example, climate changes); and redundancy supports the ability of the species to withstand catastrophic events (for example, droughts). In general, the more redundant, representative, and resilient a species is, the more likely it is to sustain populations over time, even under changing environmental conditions. Using these principles, we identified the Sonoyta mud turtle's ecological requirements for survival and reproduction at the individual, population, and subspecies levels, and described the beneficial and risk factors influencing the subspecies' viability.

    We evaluated the change in resiliency, representation, and redundancy from the past until the present, and projected the anticipated future states of these conditions. To forecast the biological condition into the future, we devised plausible future scenarios by using expert information on the primary stressors anticipated in the future to the Sonoyta mud turtle: habitat loss and degradation (i.e., surface water loss and riparian vegetation loss), effects of climate change, and small population dynamics. To assess population resiliency of the Sonoyta mud turtle, we evaluated habitat conditions and recruitment over time. To assess representation (as an indicator of adaptive capacity) of the Sonoyta mud turtle, we evaluated the ecological and genetic diversity and connectivity over time. To assess redundancy, we calculated the risk of population extirpations given the catastrophic events. That is, we tallied the number of populations historically, currently, and projected into the future to assess the viability of the subspecies.

    Subspecies Description

    The Sonoyta mud turtle is a freshwater turtle encountered in or near water in an otherwise arid environment that commonly experiences drought and extreme heat (ambient temperatures can exceed 45 degrees Celsius (°C) (113 degrees Fahrenheit (°F)). The Sonoyta mud turtle is one of two recognized subspecies of Sonora mud turtle (Kinosternon sonoriense) and has been differentiated from the other subspecies based on shell measurements and DNA analysis (Iverson 1981, p. 62; Rosen 2003, entire; Rosen et al. 2006, entire). The other subspecies, K. s. sonoriense, is commonly referred to as Sonora mud turtle. The Sonoyta mud turtle is an isolated, native endemic found in southern Arizona and northern Sonora, Mexico. The Sonoyta mud turtle is a dark, medium-sized freshwater turtle with a mottled pattern on the head, neck, and limbs. Average lifespan is from 10 to 12 years; however, one has been reported to be 39 years old.

    Minimum age of sexual maturity of female Sonoyta mud turtles is just under 6 years, and males around 4 years (Rosen and Lowe 1996, pp. 14-16). Mating occurs in water from April to late June. Ovulation and shelling of eggs begins in June, and eggs remain in the oviducts until the monsoon rains occur from mid to late July through September (van Loben Sels et al. 1997, p. 343). In mid to late July through September, females leave the water briefly to lay eggs in terrestrial nests. Eggs may undergo embryonic diapause (delayed embryo development) in the nest for up to 11 months after being laid. Development begins as eggs warm during the following spring and takes about 80 days, and hatchlings emerge and disperse from the nest the following year to coincide with the onset of summer rains (van Lobel Sels et al. 1997, p. 343; Ernst and Lovich 2009, p. 497; Stone et al. 2015, p. 735).

    Habitat and Range

    The Sonoyta mud turtle is found in southern Arizona and northwestern Mexico and depends on aquatic habitat with adjacent terrestrial habitat. Its habitats commonly experience drought and extreme heat. Historically, the Sonoyta mud turtle was limited in its distribution to the Rio Sonoyta basin in Arizona and Sonora, Mexico. There are five historical records of the subspecies being found within three historical perennial sections of the Rio Sonoyta, including the Sonoyta, Santo Domingo, and Papalote (also referred to as Agua Dulce) reaches (Rosen et al. 2010, p. 152), which we assume supported three populations. Perennial waters likely flowed through these three sections of the Rio Sonoyta separated by seasonally ephemeral sections (figure 3.1.1.b of the SSA Report), and groundwater also supported springs and cienegas (wet, marshy areas) in the area (Miller and Fuiman 1987, p. 602; Schoenherr 1988, p. 110; Hendrickson and Varela-Romero 1989, p. 481). These three distinct perennial reaches of the Rio Sonoyta together likely provided 19 to 27 kilometers (km) (12 to 17 miles (mi)) of stream habitat for the Sonoyta mud turtle. The Rio Sonoyta probably flowed for short periods during wet seasons, providing connectivity for mud turtles, with the stream rapidly retracting during the dry season, as it still does today. During periods of above-average precipitation, the river may have been continuous for longer periods, making turtle population connectivity more likely along Rio Sonoyta. We assume that the historical locations of the Sonoyta mud turtles were in areas of the Rio Sonoyta basin that maintained perennial surface water at all times except, possibly, during rare, protracted drought periods. These locations may no longer have reliable surface water to support mud turtles or sufficient surface water to support as large a population as they used to (Paredes-Aguilar and Rosen 2003, p. 2; Rosen et al. 2010, p. 155). Perennial water also existed outside of the Rio Sonoyta in cienegas such as one fed by Quitobaquito Springs on Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument. Quitobaquito Springs is predominately supplied by groundwater (Carruth 1996, pp. 14, 18).

    In the SSA Report, we define a population of Sonoyta mud turtles as a group of interbreeding individuals living in an ecological community and separated from other populations by barriers including desert upland (overland, not connected by riparian or xeroriparian habitat) or in-channel distances that lack water most of the time. Currently, five populations of Sonoyta mud turtles occur. Three of these populations are historical populations—Quitobaquito Springs, and the Sonoyta and Papalote reaches of the Rio Sonoyta. However, the Sonoyta reach has now been reduced to a much smaller reach referred to as Xochimilco. There are two new populations—the Sonoyta sewage lagoon and Quitovac in Mexico, which were historically unknown and only discovered in 2002 but likely were present since the 1990s (Knowles et al. 2002, p. 74). These two new populations are not connected hydrologically to each other or to the Rio Sonoyta populations and it is likely that humans transplanted turtles from the Rio Sonoyta to these sites. One other historical population is considered extirpated—Santo Domingo. Of the five extant populations, one is in the United States in the pond and channel associated with Quitobaquito Springs in Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, Arizona. The other four populations are in Sonora, Mexico (Rosen et al. 2010, p. 152). Two populations in the Rio Sonoyta in the Papalote reach and Xochimilco reach are extant, but perennial water flow in these reaches is reduced from historical levels. Since these perennial reaches in the Rio Sonoyta are greatly reduced or gone, the connectivity among these remaining populations is highly unlikely. The other two extant populations are the Sonoyta sewage lagoon and Quitovac in Mexico. Quitovac consists of multiple springs impounded to form a pond. The Sonoyta sewage lagoon site consists of two lagoons of raw sewage. A new wastewater treatment plant has been constructed to replace the Sonoyta sewage lagoons. However, this new plant has yet to begin operating and it is unclear when it will open. The amount of water and riparian vegetation provided at the new plant is less than that provided at the sewage lagoons and only a portion of the Sonoyta mud turtles are likely to be transplanted.

    The population at Quitobaquito Springs has been extensively monitored since the early 1980s. Surveys in the Rio Sonoyta basin in Sonora, Mexico, from 2001 through 2006 provide most of our knowledge of the current populations in Mexico (table 3.2.2 of the SSA Report; Paredes-Aguilar and Rosen 2003, entire; Knowles et al. 2002, entire; Rosen et al. 2010, pp. 152-153). However, we have low confidence that the population sizes for the Sonora populations remain at 2006 levels today, as many changes since the early 2000s have reduced or degraded habitat at most of the sites that still support Sonoyta mud turtles. In October 2001, a single turtle was found in a soup-bowl-sized remnant of water at the semi-perennial spring in the Santo Domingo reach (Santo Domingo is in the Rio Sonoyta and is the location of one of the five historical records of Sonoyta mud turtle listed above; Rosen et al. 2010, pp. 152-153), and we now think this historical population is likely extirpated due to loss of perennial surface water in this reach (Rosen 2016, pers. comm.).

    Species Needs

    Sonoyta mud turtles depend on aquatic habitat for foraging, shelter, and mating and terrestrial habitat for nesting and estivating. The Sonoyta mud turtle historically occupied habitat in cienegas and streams supported by groundwater-fed springs. Natural aquatic habitats of Sonoyta mud turtles are sustained by groundwater discharged from springs and augmented by seasonal rainfall. Terrestrial habitat that maintains soil moisture needed for Sonoyta mud turtles occurs in riparian areas along the banks of ponds and streams, including intermittently dry sections of a stream channel. However, natural aquatic habitats are highly limited. Sonoyta mud turtles can also be sustained by modified natural habitats or completely human-created habitats that provide similar permanent or almost permanent surface water. Currently, populations still occur within stream habitat, but all the cienegas have been modified from their natural state.

    For the Sonoyta mud turtle to maintain viability, its populations, or some portion of its populations, must be resilient enough to withstand stochastic events such as fluctuations in water levels, habitat modification, and introduction of nonnative predators. In the SSA Report, we categorized the potential resiliency of populations of the subspecies. We developed four different resiliency levels: High, medium, low, and none. In a highly resilient Sonoyta mud turtle population, all or the majority of turtles are able to complete their life functions, breeding maintains a stable or increasing population, and the population is able to withstand stochastic events or recover from stochastic events from connected populations. Influencing those factors are elements of Sonoyta mud turtle habitat that determine whether survivorship among age classes is achieved, thereby increasing the resiliency of populations. These factors include perennial or near perennial water (i.e., 10 to 11 months annually for consecutive years) of sufficient volume and extent with connectivity to other populations, terrestrial riparian habitat with soil moisture, high invertebrate prey abundance, and lack of problem nonnative species. The factors used to develop these resiliency levels are discussed below.

    Table 1—Population Resiliency Categories for Sonoyta Mud Turtle High (Good) Moderate Low None A population with high resilience is where:
  • • All or the majority of turtles are able to complete their life functions;
  • • Breeding is successful to maintain a stable or increasing population;
  • • Population is able to withstand stochastic events or recover from stochastic events from connected populations.
  • A population with moderate resilience is where:
  • • Some turtles can complete life functions;
  • • Some turtles have some successful breeding, but population is not increasing;
  • • Population could be stable or decreasing;
  • • Population could withstand some stochastic events or a portion of the population could withstand stochastic events, but population is not able to recover through the immigration of connected populations.
  • A population with low resilience is one where:
  • • Some or few turtles can complete life functions;
  • • Some or few turtles have successful breeding, but population is decreasing;
  • • Population is not able to withstand stochastic events, and is not able to recover through the immigration of connected populations.
  • A population with no resiliency is one that might be extirpated completely.
    Surface Water

    Sonoyta mud turtles require perennial or mostly perennial water to complete their life-history functions and avoid desiccation. We define near-perennial as water present more than 10 to 11 months of the year for multiple years. Aquatic habitat in ponds and streams with water 2 meters (m) (6.5 feet (ft)) deep, with a rocky, muddy, or sandy substrate, and emergent or submergent vegetation, or both is needed (NPS 2015, p. 2; Paredes-Aguilar and Rosen 2003, p. 5-7; Rosen 2003, p. 5; Rosen et al. 2010, p. 14). Hatchling, juvenile, and sub-adult turtles prefer aquatic habitat with shallow water and dense emergent vegetation and overhanging vegetation along the stream channel or pond margin that provides foraging opportunities as well as protection from predators (Rosen 1986, pp. 14 and 36; Rosen and Lowe 1996, p. 11). Adults will also use shallow water habitat, but prefer aquatic habitat with accessible, deeper, open water (up to 2 m (6.5 ft)) when available, and submerged vegetation for feeding on benthic and plant-crawling invertebrates along the substrate (Rosen 1986, pp. 14, 16; Rosen and Lowe 1996, p. 11). Adults, juveniles, and subadults also use aquatic habitat with structure that provides protection from predators such as root masses, complex rock features, and undercut banks. Turtle recruitment can be affected by the amount of surface water available, how long it is available, as well as its fluctuation. In addition, hydrologic connectivity is needed for a population to recover from a stochastic event.

    Terrestrial Habitat

    Sonoyta mud turtles need terrestrial habitat that maintains soil moisture for Sonoyta mud turtles in riparian areas along the banks of ponds and streams, including intermittently dry sections of stream channels. Riparian habitat provides shadier, cooler, and moister conditions than the adjacent upland areas. Sonoyta mud turtles likely need moist soil for nesting to prevent desiccation of eggs and estivation sites to prevent desiccation of juveniles and adults. Riparian vegetation may also provide some level of protection from terrestrial predators while turtles are out of the water. Sonoyta mud turtles further need accessible shoreline without insurmountable rock or artificial vertical barriers to allow for movement between wetted sites, between aquatic habitat and terrestrial nest sites, and between water and estivation sites.

    Invertebrate Prey

    Sonoyta mud turtle hatchlings and juveniles need shoreline invertebrate fauna, while subadults and adults need bottom dwelling (i.e. on or in the sediment) and plant-crawling invertebrates. Aquatic habitat with emergent and submerged vegetation or the substrate of ponds and streams is needed to support prey for Sonoyta mud turtles (Rosen 1986, pp. 14, 31; Rosen and Lowe 1996, pp. 32-35). Aquatic invertebrates primarily live on and require a variety of prey such as algae, diatoms, and other microorganisms. In habitats with poor aquatic invertebrate faunas, Sonoyta mud turtles will shift to omnivorous feeding, including plants and vertebrates. When invertebrates are abundant, and competition is low, turtles grow rapidly and have sufficient fat content to support reproduction.

    Nonnative Predators and Competitors

    Sonoyta mud turtles need aquatic habitat free of problematic nonnative predators and competitors such as crayfish, American bullfrogs, sunfish, black bullheads, African cichlid fishes (tilapia), western mosquitofish, and exotic turtles. Competition between nonnative species and mud turtles for food likely results in disruption of the food chain and alteration of the invertebrate community (Taylor et al. 1984, pp. 330-331; Fernandez and Rosen 1996, pp. 39-40; Duncan 2013, p. 1). Such competition, in turn, likely decreases the type and amount of aquatic invertebrate prey available to Sonoyta mud turtles (Fernandez and Rosen 1996, pp. 39-40) and leads to lower fitness of turtles.

    Sonoyta mud turtles need genetic or ecological diversity to adapt to changing environmental conditions. The more representation, or diversity, a species has, the more it is capable of adapting to changes (natural or human-caused) in its environment. Representation can be measured by the breadth of genetic or environmental diversity within and among populations and gauges the probability that a species is capable of adapting to environmental changes. Currently, the Sonoyta mud turtle exhibits genetic and ecological diversity. Maintaining gene flow among populations and counteracting genetic drift and deleterious effects of inbreeding connectivity among populations are needed. A minimum of 1 and maximum of 10 migrants per generation is needed to successfully breed in populations of a species (Mills and Allendorf 1996, p. 1517; Nathan et al. 2017, p. 270; Wang 2004, p. 341). This is a large range of migrants per generation, and we do not know where within this range the Sonoyta mud turtle falls to maintain genetic diversity among the fragmented populations of the subspecies. Genetic analysis conducted in the mid-2000s reveals that successful migration has likely occurred in the past (Rosen 2006, p. 10). Maintaining representation in the form of genetic or ecological diversity is important to maintain the Sonoyta mud turtle's capacity to adapt to future environmental changes.

    The Sonoyta mud turtle needs multiple resilient populations spread over its historical range distributed in such a way that a catastrophic event will not result in the loss of all populations. In addition, hydrologic connectivity is needed for a population to recover from a catastrophic event. We do not have an estimate of how many populations are needed to withstand localized loss of habitat and maintain redundancy. However, the loss of Quitobaquito Springs, Quitovac, and either Rio Sonoyta Papalote or Rio Sonoyta Xochimilco would reduce the representation for the subspecies.

    Summary of Biological Status and Threats

    The primary negative factor affecting the future viability of the Sonoyta mud turtle is continued loss of water that supports aquatic and riparian habitat. The sources of water loss affecting Sonoyta mud turtles include groundwater pumping, drought, changes to wastewater infrastructure, consumption by livestock, surface water diversion, and habitat manipulation. Of these sources, water loss caused by drought and groundwater pumping, both of which are exacerbated by climate change and changes to wastewater infrastructure, are the primary causes of population-level impacts to the Sonoyta mud turtle. The other sources of water loss are not likely to have population-level impacts unless mining near Quitovac is intensified and unregulated. However, the Quitovac site is routinely dredged, resulting in direct impacts to Sonoyta mud turtles and prey. All of these factors are additive in terms of impacts to populations that are already stressed by the primary activities causing population-level impacts. In addition, impacts from climate change (discussed below) are expected to exacerbate water loss.

    Ground water pumping impacts the amount of surface water in areas used by Sonoyta mud turtles because the perennial sections of the Rio Sonoyta as well as the pond at Quitobaquito Springs and Quitovac are supplied by ground water. Diminished water reduces the amount of space, prey, and cover (from predators and for estivation) available to mud turtles. Reduction in aquatic habitat (i.e., space) leads to crowding and increased competition for limited resources (Stanila 2009, p. 45). Sonoyta mud turtles in dry or low surface water reaches will burrow in channels to escape desiccation for a short period of time. However, the ability of Sonoyta mud turtles to estivate may depend on behavioral cues provided by the level of permanence of water they reside in (Ligon and Stone 2003, p. 753; Stanila 2009, p. 45). After time, burrows themselves may become too dry; turtles will lose fat reserves due to lack of foraging opportunity; females may not have viable eggs due to lack of nutrition and fat reserves, thereby reducing reproduction; and eventually turtles will die from either starvation or desiccation. If water is not reliably present all year and absent beyond the dry season, turtles are not able to forage; may not reproduce; and, as drought periods lengthen, may eventually desiccate (Stanila 2009, p. 45).

    Sonora mud turtles that live in permanent bodies of water have shown highly aquatic behavior with little terrestrial behavior or movement between water sources, while Sonora mud turtles in more ephemeral habits have been documented moving through or out of dry stream beds to reach wetted pools, for winter hibernation, or for estivation during drought as a drought-survival strategy (Hall and Steidl, 2007, pp. 406-408; Hensley et al. 2010, pp. 181-182; Ligon and Stone 2003, pp. 752-753; Stone 2001, pp. 46-51). Prolonged and recurrent estivation is expected to reduce fitness and increase mortality (Peterson and Stone 2000, pp. 692-698). Variation in body size among populations of Sonora mud turtles appears to be related to water permanence, and body size was significantly larger in permanent habitats compared to intermittent and ephemeral habitats (Stanila 2009, p. 31). In permanent water sites, growth and body size are positively correlated with aquatic invertebrate abundance at a site (Rosen and Lowe 1996, pp. 33, 35).

    Reduced surface water and ground water reduce the survival and growth of vegetation in the riparian areas. Reductions in riparian habitat decrease subsurface moisture needed for nesting sites; drought refuge for hatchlings, juvenile, and adult turtles; and shelter from large flooding events for hatchlings, juveniles, and adults. It is likely that only adults will be the most resistant to severe droughts. Decreased riparian vegetation will lead to deterioration of the microclimate that provides soil moisture for nest sites and burrows.

    Water permanence may also affect the diversity of aquatic invertebrate prey available for mud turtles, with ephemeral habitats having lower diversity than intermittent or perennial habitats (Stanila 2009, p. 38), in addition to the presence of nonnative aquatic species that compete for prey. When invertebrates are abundant, and competition is low, turtles grow rapidly and have sufficient lipid content to support reproduction. Turtle recruitment is likely driven in significant part by invertebrate prey available because nutritional stress on females may result in a reduction in annual survivorship (Rosen and Lowe 1996, p. 41). Competition from nonnatives could decrease the type and amount of aquatic invertebrate prey available to Sonoyta mud turtles (Fernandez and Rosen 1996, pp. 39-40) and lead to lower fitness of turtles. Because high average annual juvenile survivorship is required for populations of long-lived organisms to maintain population stability (Congdon et al. 1993, pp. 831-832; Congdon et al. 1994, pp. 405-406), nonnative predators that reduce recruitment in Sonoyta mud turtle populations likely cause population declines.

    The current prognosis of climate change impacts on the Sonoran Desert includes fewer frost days; warmer temperatures; greater water demand by plants, animals, and people; and an increased frequency of extreme weather events (heat waves, droughts, and floods) (Weiss and Overpeck 2005, p. 2074; Archer and Predick 2008, p. 24). Any reductions in annual rainfall, coupled with the hotter temperatures that are projected with very high confidence (and that will alone bring reductions in aquifer inputs due to higher evaporation rates), would have negative effects on aquifers across the Southwest. Virtually any plausible future climate scenario projects longer dry spells between rains, which can have more severe impacts on the landscape, especially in spring and summer (Lenart 2008, entire).

    Current Condition

    Currently, five known populations of Sonoyta mud turtle remain. The perennial water supporting four of the five turtle extant populations has been reduced, and all five populations are isolated from one another. For the sole population in the United States, discharge from Quitobaquito Springs has diminished by 42 percent over the past 35 years, with 5,500 cubic feet (cf)/day average discharge measured in the period 1981-1992, down to 3,157 cf/day measured from 2005-present (Carruth 1996, pp. 13, 21; Holm 2016, pers. comm.). Thus far, declining spring flow has been associated with less than 30 centimeters (cm) (12 inches (in)) of surface water level decline at the pond, the depth of which ranges from 81 to 94 cm (32 to 37 in). This could indicate that current lower water levels of the pond are also caused by leakage or evapotranspiration, not just reduced spring flow. Excluding young-of-the-year (< 40 mm (1.6 in) carapace length), population estimates since 1984 ranged from a low of 39 turtles in 2005 to a high of 189 in 2013 with an average annual population estimate of 110 turtles. The population estimate for 2015 was 141 turtles.

    In Mexico, the two populations in the Xochimilco and Papalote reaches of the Rio Sonoyta are isolated from one another even more than they used to be historically because the lengths of the perennial reaches have contracted. Added to this, a previously extant population in the Santa Domingo reach that was located between Xochimilco and Papalote reaches is no longer extant due to a complete lack of perennial water. The perennial waters in these three reaches have decreased by 80 to 92 percent from 19-27 km (11.8-16.8 mi) historically to approximately 1.5-5.5 km (0.9-3.4 mi) currently (table 1 and figure 3.1.1 of the SSA Report). Periodic movement between populations in the Rio Sonoyta basin may occur during prolonged periods of high rainfall, but the extent of immigration and emigration of turtles is unknown. However, it is thought to be rare to limited due to distances between populations coupled with limited hydrological connection.

    Currently, the status of the Xochimilco population is unknown, but abundance is almost certainly far less, considering the reduced spatial and temporal extent of surface water. A total of 57 turtles have been marked in the Papalote reach in 2017, for a mark-recapture study that will provide better information on the status of the Sonoyta mud turtle in this reach in the next few years.

    The population at the Sonoyta sewage lagoon adjacent to the Rio Sonoyta has the most reliable source of water at this time and may be the largest of the five populations based on water availability, but we have no current data on numbers of turtles at this site. If a new wastewater treatment plant is completed for the town of Sonoyta, the existing Sonoyta sewage lagoons will be drained and the new wastewater treatment plant will have 75 percent less habitat available for Sonoyta mud turtles. The fourth population in Mexico at Quitovac is outside of the Rio Sonoyta watershed, in the Rio Guadalupe basin, and has no present-day hydrological connection to the Rio Sonoyta. In addition, the Quitovac site was just recently completely dredged and the current status of Sonoyta mud turtles at that location is unknown.

    Future Condition

    The future resiliency of Sonoyta mud turtle populations depends on future water quantity, available riparian habitat, available invertebrate prey, and absence of certain nonnative aquatic species. In addition, if the new wastewater treatment plant becomes operational and replaces the Sonoyta sewage lagoons, this will be a reduction in water and riparian habitat for the Sonoyta mud turtle. Further, only a portion of the Sonoyta mud turtles are likely to be transplanted. Because there is uncertainty regarding how and when surface water loss and associated riparian habitat impairment may occur, as well as if and when various nonnative species may occur, we projected what the effects to the Sonoyta mud turtle may be in terms of population resiliency and species redundancy and representation under three plausible future scenarios over three meaningful time frames: 7 years, 35 years, and 70 years. We chose 7 years based on the area's drought cycle, 35 years because it incorporates both the maximum life span of the species and the mid-century climate projections for the southwestern United States, and 70 years because it is within the range of the available drought and climate change model forecasts and is about twice the maximum life span of the species (Lenart 2008, entire; Strittholt et al. 2012, entire; Garfin et al. 2013, entire).

    Since surface water availability limits the other elements and the carrying capacity of the site, the ranking of the surface water was weighted higher than the other metrics. This means that if surface water was ranked moderate and all other elements were ranked high, the overall ranking would be moderate. We are presenting the moderate case scenarios, as we have determined that this is the most likely future scenario based on our understanding of the future conditions of climate change and groundwater pumping.

    Table 2—Summary of Sonoyta Mud Turtle Population Resiliency Under Scenario 2—Moderate Case at Each Time Step Compared To Current Condition Country Population name Current Condition Moderate case scenario 7-year time step 35-year time step 70-year time step United States Quitobaquito Springs Moderate Moderate Moderate Low Mexico Papalote Reach (Agua Dulce) Moderate Moderate None None Sonoyta Sewage Lagoon Moderate Low None None New Sonoyta wastewater treatment plant None Moderate Moderate Moderate Xochimilco Reach
  • (Sonoyta Reach)
  • Low Low None None
    Quitovac Low Low Low Low Santo Domingo None None None None
    Summary of Changes From the Proposed Rule

    In preparing this final rule, we reviewed and fully considered comments we received from the public and peer reviewers on the SSA Report and proposed rule. We received numerous comments and new information from peer reviewers on the science and analysis in the SSA Report, and we have updated the SSA Report to incorporate these accordingly. In addition, we met with the National Park Service (NPS) to discuss the SSA Report, and we updated the SSA Report with the information NPS provided. This final rule incorporates minor changes to our proposed listing based on the comments we received, as discussed below in Summary of Comments and Recommendations. We received multiple comments from peer reviewers that we underestimated some of the future risks to Sonoyta mud turtle populations. We have reevaluated the viability of the Sonoyta mud turtle in the SSA Report given this new information. These data allowed us to refine our risk assessment; thus, the final results are slightly different from those in the proposed rule. We found the probability of persistence lower than in the proposed rule. The new information we received in response to the proposed rule did not change our determination that the Sonoyta mud turtle is an endangered species, nor was it significant enough to warrant reopening the public comment period on the proposed rule.

    Summary of Comments and Recommendations

    In the proposed rule published on September 21, 2016 (81 FR 64829), we requested that all interested parties submit written comments on the proposal by November 21, 2016. We also contacted appropriate Federal and State agencies, scientific experts and organizations, and other interested parties and invited them to comment on the proposal. Newspaper notices inviting general public comment were published in the Arizona Daily Star. We did not receive any requests for a public hearing.

    We reviewed all comments we received in response to the proposed rule for substantive issues and new information. We did not receive any comments from Federal agencies, States, or Tribes, and the public comments we received only stated a preference for listing or not listing the subspecies without including any substantive comments regarding the sufficiency of our analysis. All substantive information provided by peer reviewers during the comment period has either been incorporated directly into this final determination or is addressed below.

    Peer Reviewer Comments

    In accordance with our peer review policy published on July 1, 1994 (59 FR 34270), we solicited expert opinion from eight knowledgeable individuals with scientific expertise that included familiarity with the Sonoyta mud turtle and its habitat, biological needs, and threats, or the nominate subspecies Sonora mud turtle. We received responses from six of the peer reviewers.

    We reviewed all comments received from the peer reviewers for substantive issues and new information regarding the listing of Sonoyta mud turtle. The peer reviewers generally concurred with our methods and conclusion, and provided additional and pertinent information, clarifications, and suggestions to improve the SSA Report and, therefore, the final rule. Peer reviewer comments are addressed in the following summary and incorporated into the SSA Report and this final rule as appropriate.

    (1) Comment: One peer reviewer stated that the new wastewater treatment facility is not constructed, nor are there in-place plans to populate it, and there is currently no guarantee that whatever habitat is constructed will actually be suitable.

    Our Response: We made revisions throughout the SSA Report to acknowledge the uncertainty related to future habitat for the Sonoyta mud turtle at the new wastewater treatment plant in the town of Sonoyta, Sonora, Mexico.

    (2) Comment: One peer reviewer identified the importance of stipulating that the historical range and populations of the Sonoyta mud turtle are only those that are known or have been documented.

    Our Response: We acknowledge that these are only the known populations of the Sonoyta mud turtle. While historically there could have been other populations, the best available commercial and scientific information does not indicate any other additional populations.

    (3) Comment: One peer reviewer stated that he is not convinced that development of Sonoyta mud turtle embryos takes 80 days and is delayed after the eggs are laid, as stated in Ernst and Lovich (2009, p. 497).

    Our Response: We acknowledge uncertainty regarding the timing of embryo development, or diapause, in the Sonoyta mud turtle. However, these specific steps in the reproductive process are also noted in van Lobel Sels et al. (1997, p. 497) and Stone et al. (2015, p. 735). The best available commercial and scientific information indicates that diapause likely occurs in this subspecies as it does in the nominate subspecies.

    (4) Comment: One peer reviewer stated that we are assuming that Sonoyta mud turtles need riparian areas with moist soil.

    Our Response: We acknowledge uncertainty around the terrestrial habitat needs of the Sonoyta mud turtle. However, we have high confidence that this subspecies uses areas with more shade and increased soil moisture to prevent desiccation of eggs in nest sites and turtles in estivation sites. Without suitable soil moisture, eggs will desiccate, and while the threshold is unknown, at some point the loss of soil moisture will impact egg survival. In the extremely arid environment where the Sonoyta mud turtle exists, riparian areas provide more shade and soil moisture than the surrounding uplands and, therefore, provide better habitat for nests.

    (5) Comment: One peer reviewer stated that some nonnative aquatic species can be both predator and competitor to the Sonoyta mud turtle, and that not all nonnatives are harmful to the Sonoyta mud turtle.

    Our Response: In the SSA Report, we clarified that only certain nonnative aquatic species are predators of the Sonoyta mud turtle, and we identify those that are a potential threat. We also clarified that only certain other nonnative aquatic species, as well as native fish species, may compete with Sonoyta mud turtles for invertebrate prey or disrupt the prey food chain. Further, we clarified the effects to the Sonoyta mud turtle from predation and competition from these specific nonnatives.

    (6) Comment: Multiple peer reviewers thought that our viability projections for the Sonoyta mud turtle in chapter 5 of the SSA Report were overly optimistic based on uncertainty of the current status of populations in Mexico and because we underestimated the threats of introduction of nonnative aquatic species and climate change to the subspecies. Conversely, one peer reviewer thought we overestimated the threat of nonnatives persisting at Quitobaquito Springs because NPS would probably remove the threat.

    Our Response: We agree that viability projections for the Sonoyta mud turtle were overly optimistic because of the high uncertainty of the number of turtles in the Mexico populations and that we underestimated some of the threats, such as long-term drought, nonnatives, and loss of connectivity, to the Sonoyta mud turtle. We modified the SSA Report accordingly. We also agree that the nonnatives at Quitobaquito Springs have been removed by NPS in the past; however, no mechanism ensures that changing resource priorities and funding constraints will not be an issue in the future. We have modified the SSA Report accordingly.

    (7) Comment: Several peer reviewers noted that statements in the SSA Report that require citations to support them. For example, one peer reviewer believed that the statement “prolonged and recurrent estivation will reduce fitness and increase mortality” was entirely speculative. Similarly, another peer reviewer indicated the uncertainties acknowledged in the SSA Report reduce its predictive value (e.g., effects of transitioning to the new sewage treatment plant, likelihood of introduction of nonnative species, status of the turtle on Tohono O'odham Nation lands, long-term genetic viability, and continued ability of State and Federal agencies to manage for this species).

    Our Response: We revised the SSA Report to add citations to support statements where needed throughout the document. We also recognize that the SSA Report contains uncertainties, and throughout the document we identify these uncertainties as well as quantify or clarify our level of uncertainty. However, because we are required by the Act (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.) to complete this determination based on the best available scientific and commercial information, we must move forward without resolving all potential uncertainties.

    (8) Comment: One peer reviewer noted that the distribution map on page 4, figure 2.1.1., of the SSA Report is a bit out of date. Specifically, the Quitovac locality is not shown, and there are now many more localities in northeastern Sonora (see the Madrean Archipelago Biodiversity Assessment and Madrean Discovery Expeditions databases).

    Our Response: Figure 2.1.1. in the SSA Report is used to demonstrate the general distribution of the two mud turtle subspecies, Sonora and Sonoyta, in relation to each other, not to delineate the current range or distribution of either subspecies.

    Public Comments

    We received only comments stating a preference for listing or not listing the subspecies. We did not receive any substantive comments regarding the sufficiency of the analysis.

    Determination Standard for Review

    Section 4 of the Act (16 U.S.C. 1533), and its implementing regulations at 50 CFR part 424, set forth the procedures for adding species to the Federal Lists of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants. Under section 4(a)(1) of the Act, we may list a species based on (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. Listing actions may be warranted based on any of the above threat factors, singly or in combination.

    The fundamental question before the Service is whether the species meets the definition of “endangered species” or “threatened species” under the Act. To make this determination, we evaluated the projections of extinction risk, described in terms of the condition of current and future populations and their distribution (taking into account the risk factors and their effects on those populations). For any species, as population condition declines and distribution shrinks, the species' extinction risk increases and overall viability declines.

    Sonoyta Mud Turtle Determination of Status Throughout All of Its Range

    We have carefully assessed the best scientific and commercial information available regarding the past, present, and future threats to the Sonoyta mud turtle. Currently, the five extant populations are all significantly isolated from one another such that recolonization of areas previously extirpated or areas that may be extirpated is extremely unlikely. Expert input provided during the development of the SSA Report indicated that connectivity or movement among the populations is a rare or nonexistent occurrence. The species' range has been reduced by 80 to 92 percent in the Rio Sonoyta (Factor A) in Mexico, and current distribution is limited to five populations in three ponds totaling less than 7 ha (less than 17.5 ac) and two perennial sections of the Rio Sonoyta totaling 1.5 to 5.5 km (0.9 to 3.4 mi). Two historical populations are extirpated due to loss of perennial water. There are two newly discovered extant populations in addition to the three historical populations that remain. One is within a wastewater treatment plant where the impacts from facility management and water quality make monitoring difficult and may be adverse to Sonoyta mud turtle viability, and the other is outside the Rio Sonoyta basin, which is likely outside the historical range of the species. None of the five populations are classified as having “high” resiliency, described in the SSA Report as “all or the majority of turtles are able to complete their life functions and breeding is successful to maintain a stable or increasing population, and able to withstand stochastic events or recover from stochastic events from connected populations.” Even with a resiliency classified as “moderate” in three populations, we expect stable or decreasing populations that are not able to recover from stochastic events. The remaining two populations have few turtles able to complete life functions, a decreasing population, and inability to withstand or recover from stochastic events. All five of these populations are currently facing stressors and are susceptible to current and ongoing impacts.

    Habitat loss from anthropogenic ground water withdrawals and long-term drought is occurring rangewide and is likely to continue and increase in the near term (Factors A and E). This reduction in water restricts the limited available habitat and decreases the resiliency of Sonoyta mud turtle populations within those habitats. We find that ongoing cyclical drought is likely to continue and be exacerbated by climate change, further decreasing water availability and increasing evapotranspiration losses (Factors A and E). This threat is ongoing, rangewide, and expected to increase in the future. Predation by nonnative aquatic species has occurred at two sites in Mexico, although there is uncertainty with regard to the population effects (Factor C). Predation by nonnative aquatic species reduces recruitment and population size of populations of Sonora mud turtle, and it is likely to continue to affect Sonoyta mud turtle populations in the future. The Quitovac population's current habitat was just recently completely dredged (Factor A), and the current status of Sonoyta mud turtles at that location is unknown. Partial dredging in the near term is likely to occur based on past dredging activity. It is reasonably likely that a catastrophic event could occur imminently at one or more of the population sites, and current population resiliency and redundancy are inadequate to maintain population viability.

    The implementation of the conservation measures by NPS and the Quitobaquito Rio Sonoyta Working Group has resulted in maintaining the only Sonoyta mud turtle population in the United States and reduces the risk of loss of at least one population in Mexico. However, the conservation measures do not alleviate the threats that are influencing the resiliency, redundancy, and representation of the Sonoyta mud turtle across its range (as described above).

    The Act defines a “species” as including any “subspecies of fish or wildlife or plants, and any distinct population segment of any species of vertebrate fish or wildlife which interbreeds when mature.” The Act defines an “endangered species” as any species that is “in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range” and a “threatened species” as any species “that is likely to become endangered throughout all or a significant portion of its range within the foreseeable future.” Based on the information presented in the SSA Report for the Sonoyta mud turtle, and the discussion above, we find that the best available scientific and commercial information indicates that the Sonoyta mud turtle is presently in danger of extinction throughout its entire range based on the severity and immediacy of threats currently impacting the subspecies. The overall range has been significantly reduced; the limited remaining habitat and populations are currently threatened by an increase in ground water pumping, which results in reduced spring flows and, therefore, reduced surface water. Discharge from Quitobaquito Springs has diminished by 42 percent over the past 35 years, and the pond depth has been declining since the early 1990s due to evapotranspiration, leakage, and the reduction in spring water discharge. The perennial waters in the three historical reaches of the Rio Sonoyta have decreased by 80 to 92 percent. Current distribution is limited to five populations in three ponds totaling less than 7 ha (less than 17.5 ac) and two perennial sections of the Rio Sonoyta totaling 1.5 to 5.5 km (0.9 to 3.4 mi). The new wastewater treatment plant, if utilized, will provide 75 percent less habitat available for Sonoyta mud turtles than the current sewage lagoon. Reduced surface water results in reduced aquatic habitat where the subspecies spends the majority of its time and that is needed to avoid desiccation of all life stages. Further, the reduction in surface water impacts aquatic vegetation used by the Sonoyta mud turtle for cover and by its prey species. Lastly, the reduction in ground water reduces the soil moisture of the riparian area, resulting in habitat that is too dry for Sonoyta mud turtles to use for estivation and nesting.

    These factors, acting in combination, reduce the overall viability of the subspecies. Each of the five remaining populations are exposed to threats that may eliminate them individually at any time. The risk of extinction for this subspecies is currently high because the five remaining populations are small, isolated, and have limited (if any) potential for recolonization. Each population's isolation from other populations means that once a population is extirpated, it is likely to remain extirpated. The estimated current conditions of the known Sonoyta mud turtle populations as described in the SSA Report lead us to find that the condition and distribution of populations do not provide sufficient resiliency, redundancy, and representation for this subspecies at this time; therefore, we find that the subspecies meets the definition of an endangered species under the Act. Accordingly, on the basis of the best available scientific and commercial information, we are listing the Sonoyta mud turtle as endangered in accordance with sections 3(6) and 4(a)(1) of the Act.

    We find that a threatened status is not appropriate for the Sonoyta mud turtle because the danger of extinction for this subspecies exists now. The current restricted range and ubiquitous and imminent threats occur rangewide. Consequently, we find the Sonoyta mud turtle to be in danger of extinction now throughout its range.

    Determination of Status Throughout a Significant Portion of Its Range

    The Act defines an endangered species as any species that is “in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range” and a threatened species as any species “that is likely to become endangered within the foreseeable future throughout all or a significant portion of its range.” The phrase “significant portion of its range” is not defined by the Act, and a district court has held that aspects of the Service's Final Policy on Interpretation of the Phrase “Significant Portion of Its Range” in the Endangered Species Act's Definitions of “Endangered Species and “Threatened Species” (79 FR 37577 (July 1, 2014)) (SPR Policy) were not valid. Center for Biological Diversity v. Jewell, No. 14-cv-02506-RM (D. Ariz. Mar. 29, 2017) (Pygmy-Owl Decision).

    Although the court's order in that case has not yet gone into effect, if the court denies the pending motion for reconsideration, the SPR Policy would become vacated. Therefore, we have examined the plain language of the Act and court decisions addressing the Service's application of the SPR phrase in various listing decisions, and for purposes of this rulemaking we are applying the interpretation set out below for the phrase “significant portion of its range” and its context in determining whether or not a species is an endangered species or a threatened species. Because the interpretation we are applying is consistent with the SPR Policy, we summarize herein the bases for our interpretation, and also refer the public to the SPR Policy itself for a more-detailed explanation of our reasons for interpreting the phrase in this way.

    An important factor that influences the question of whether an SPR analysis is necessary here is what the consequence would be if the Service were to find that the Sonoyta mud turtle is in danger of extinction or likely to become so throughout a significant portion of its range. Two district court decisions have evaluated whether the outcomes of the Service's SPR determinations were reasonable. As described in the SPR Policy, both courts found that, once the Service determines that a “species”—which can include a species, subspecies, or DPS under ESA Section 3(16)—meets the definition of “endangered species” or “threatened species,” the species must be listed in its entirety and the Act's protections applied consistently to all members of that species (subject to modification of protections through special rules under sections 4(d) and 10(j) of the Act). See Defenders of Wildlife v. Salazar, 729 F. Supp. 2d 1207, 1222 (D. Mont. 2010) (delisting of the Northern Rocky Mountains DPS of gray wolf; appeal dismissed as moot because of public law vacating the listing, 2012 U.S. App. LEXIS 26769 (9th Cir. Nov. 7, 2012)); WildEarth Guardians v. Salazar, No. 09-00574-PHX-FJM, 2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 105253, 15-16 (D. Ariz. Sept. 30, 2010) (Gunnison's prairie dog). The issue has not been addressed by a Federal Court of Appeals.

    Consistent with the district court case law, we interpret that the consequence of finding that the Sonoyta mud turtle is in danger of extinction or likely to become so throughout a significant portion of its range would be that the entire species would be listed as an endangered species or threatened species, respectively, and the Act's protections would be applied to all individuals of the species wherever found. Thus, the “throughout all” phrase and the SPR phrase provide two independent bases for listing. We note that in the Act Congress placed the “all” language before the SPR phrase in the definitions of “endangered species” and “threatened species.” This suggests that Congress intended that an analysis based on consideration of the entire range should receive primary focus. Thus, the first step we undertook, above, in our assessment of the status of the species was to determine its status throughout all of its range. Having determined that the species is in danger of extinction throughout all of its range, we now examine whether it is necessary to determine its status throughout a significant portion of its range.

    We conclude that in this situation we do not need to conduct an SPR analysis. This conclusion is consistent with the Act because the species is currently in danger of extinction throughout all of its range due either to high-magnitude threats across its range, or to threats that are so high in particular areas that they severely affect the species across its range. Therefore, the species is in danger of extinction throughout every portion of its range, and an analysis of whether the species is in danger of extinction or likely to become so throughout any significant portion of its range would be redundant and unnecessary. We accordingly conclude that we do not need to conduct further analysis of whether the Sonoyta mud turtle is in danger of extinction or likely to become so in the foreseeable future throughout a significant portion of its range.

    Therefore, on the basis of the best available scientific and commercial information, we are adding Sonoyta mud turtle to the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife as an endangered species in accordance with sections 3(6) and 4(a)(1) of the Act. We find that a threatened species status is not appropriate for Sonoyta mud turtle because of the immediacy of threats facing the species with only five known populations, at least one of which is declining in abundance.

    Critical Habitat Determination

    Section 4(a)(3) of the Act, as amended, and implementing regulations (50 CFR 424.12), require that, to the maximum extent prudent and determinable, the Secretary shall designate critical habitat at the time the species is determined to be an endangered or threatened species. Our regulations (50 CFR 424.12(a)(1)) state that the designation of critical habitat is not prudent when one or both of the following situations exist:

    (1) The species is threatened by taking or other human activity, and identification of critical habitat can be expected to increase the degree of threat to the species, or

    (2) Such designation of critical habitat would not be beneficial to the species. In determining whether a designation would not be beneficial, the factors the Service may consider include but are not limited to: Whether the present or threatened destruction, modification, or curtailment of a species' habitat or range is not a threat to the species, or whether any areas meet the definition of “critical habitat.”

    Prudency of Critical Habitat

    There is currently no imminent threat of take attributed to collection or vandalism identified under Factor B for this subspecies, and identification and mapping of critical habitat is not expected to initiate any such threat. In the absence of finding that the designation of critical habitat would increase threats to a species, we next determine whether such designation of critical habitat would not be beneficial to the species. In our proposed listing rule, we determined that there are habitat-based threats to the Sonoyta mud turtle identified under Factor A. Therefore, we find that the designation of critical habitat would be beneficial to Sonoyta mud turtle through the provisions of section 7 of the Act. Because we have determined that the designation of critical habitat will not likely increase the degree of threat to the subspecies and would be beneficial, we find that designation of critical habitat is prudent for the Sonoyta mud turtle.

    Critical Habitat Determinability

    Having determined that designation is prudent, under section 4(a)(3) of the Act, we must find whether critical habitat for the Sonoyta mud turtle is determinable. Our regulations at 50 CFR 424.12(a)(2) state that critical habitat is not determinable when one or both of the following situations exist:

    (i) Information sufficient to perform required analysis of the impacts of the designation is lacking, or

    (ii) The biological needs of the species are not sufficiently well known to identify any area that meets the definition of “critical habitat.”

    As required by section 4(b)(2) of the Act, we use the best scientific data available to designate critical habitat after taking into consideration the economic impact, national security impact, and any other relevant impact of specifying any particular area as critical habitat. In accordance with the Act and our implementing regulations at 50 CFR 424.12(b), we review available information pertaining to the habitat requirements of the species and identify specific areas within the geographical area occupied by the species at the time of listing and any specific areas outside the geographical area occupied by the species to be considered for designation as critical habitat. A careful assessment of the economic impacts that may occur due to a critical habitat designation is still ongoing, and we are in the process of working with Customs and Border Protection and the National Park Service in acquiring the necessary information needed to perform that assessment. The information sufficient to perform a required analysis of the impacts of the designation is lacking. Accordingly, we find that critical habitat for this subspecies, in accordance with section 4(a)(3)(A) of the Act, to be not determinable at this time. When critical habitat is not determinable, the Act allows the Service an additional year to publish a critical habitat designation (16 U.S.C. 1533(b)(6)(C)(ii)).

    Available Conservation Measures

    Conservation measures provided to species listed as endangered or threatened species under the Act include recognition, recovery actions, requirements for Federal protection, and prohibitions against certain practices. Recognition through listing results in public awareness, and conservation by Federal, State, Tribal, and local agencies, private organizations, and individuals. The Act encourages cooperation with the States and requires that recovery actions be carried out for all listed species. The protection required by Federal agencies and the prohibitions against certain activities are discussed, in part, below.

    The primary purpose of the Act is the conservation of endangered and threatened species and the ecosystems upon which they depend. The ultimate goal of such conservation efforts is the recovery of these listed species, so that they no longer need the protective measures of the Act. Subsection 4(f) of the Act requires the Service to develop and implement recovery plans for the conservation of endangered and threatened species. The recovery planning process involves the identification of actions that are necessary to halt or reverse the species' decline by addressing the threats to its survival and recovery. The goal of this process is to restore listed species to a point where they are secure, self-sustaining, and functioning components of their ecosystems.

    Recovery planning includes the development of a recovery outline shortly after a species is listed and preparation of a draft and final recovery plan. The recovery outline guides the immediate implementation of urgent recovery actions and describes the process to be used to develop a recovery plan. Revisions of the plan may be done to address continuing or new threats to the species, as new substantive information becomes available. The recovery plan identifies site-specific management actions that set a trigger for review of the five factors that control whether a species remains endangered or may be downlisted or delisted, and methods for monitoring recovery progress. Recovery plans also establish a framework for agencies to coordinate their recovery efforts and provide estimates of the cost of implementing recovery tasks. Recovery teams (composed of species experts, Federal and State agencies, nongovernmental organizations, and stakeholders) are often established to develop recovery plans. When completed, the recovery outline, draft recovery plan, and the final recovery plan will be available on our Web site (http://www.fws.gov/endangered) or from our Arizona Ecological Services Field Office (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT).

    Implementation of recovery actions generally requires the participation of a broad range of partners, including other Federal agencies, States, Tribes, nongovernmental organizations, businesses, and private landowners. Examples of recovery actions include habitat restoration (e.g., restoration of native vegetation), research, captive propagation and reintroduction, and outreach and education. The recovery of many listed species cannot be accomplished solely on Federal lands because their range may occur primarily or solely on non-Federal lands. To achieve recovery of these species requires cooperative conservation efforts on private, State, and Tribal lands.

    Following publication of this final listing rule, funding for recovery actions will be available from a variety of sources, including Federal budgets, State programs, and cost share grants for non-Federal landowners, the academic community, and nongovernmental organizations. In addition, pursuant to section 6 of the Act, the State of Arizona will be eligible for Federal funds to implement management actions that promote the protection or recovery of the Sonoyta mud turtle. Information on our grant programs that are available to aid species recovery can be found at: http://www.fws.gov/grants.

    Please let us know if you are interested in participating in recovery efforts for the Sonoyta mud turtle. Additionally, we invite you to submit any new information on this subspecies whenever it becomes available and any information you may have for recovery planning purposes (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT).

    Section 7(a) of the Act requires Federal agencies to evaluate their actions with respect to any species that is listed as an endangered or threatened species and with respect to its critical habitat, if any is designated. Regulations implementing this interagency cooperation provision of the Act are codified at 50 CFR part 402. Section 7(a)(2) of the Act requires Federal agencies to ensure that activities they authorize, fund, or carry out are not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of any endangered or threatened species or destroy or adversely modify its critical habitat. If a Federal action may affect a listed species or its critical habitat, the responsible Federal agency must enter into consultation with the Service.

    Federal agency actions within the subspecies' habitat that may require conference or consultation or both as described in the preceding paragraph include management and any other landscape-altering activities on Federal lands administered by NPS (Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

    The Act and its implementing regulations set forth a series of general prohibitions and exceptions that apply to endangered wildlife. The prohibitions of section 9(a)(1) of the Act, codified at 50 CFR 17.21, make it illegal for any person subject to the jurisdiction of the United States to take (which includes harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect; or to attempt any of these) endangered wildlife within the United States or on the high seas. In addition, it is unlawful to import; export; deliver, receive, carry, transport, or ship in interstate or foreign commerce in the course of commercial activity; or sell or offer for sale in interstate or foreign commerce any listed species. It is also illegal to possess, sell, deliver, carry, transport, or ship any such wildlife that has been taken illegally. Certain exceptions apply to employees of the Service, the National Marine Fisheries Service, other Federal land management agencies, and State conservation agencies.

    We may issue permits to carry out otherwise prohibited activities involving endangered wildlife under certain circumstances. Regulations governing permits are codified at 50 CFR 17.22. With regard to endangered wildlife, a permit may be issued for the following purposes: for scientific purposes, to enhance the propagation or survival of the species, and for incidental take in connection with otherwise lawful activities. There are also certain statutory exemptions from the prohibitions, which are set forth at sections 9 and 10 of the Act.

    It is our policy, as published in the Federal Register on July 1, 1994 (59 FR 34272), to identify to the maximum extent practicable at the time a species is listed, those activities that would or would not constitute a violation of section 9 of the Act. The intent of this policy is to increase public awareness of the effect of a final listing on proposed and ongoing activities within the range of a listed species. At this time, we are unable to identify specific activities that would not be considered to result in a violation of section 9 of the Act because the Sonoyta mud turtle sites where the species currently occurs are subject to a variety of potential activities, and it is likely that site-specific conservation measures may be needed for activities that may directly or indirectly affect the species. Based on the best available information, the following actions are likely to result in a violation of section 9; this list is not comprehensive:

    (1) Unauthorized handling or collecting of the Sonoyta mud turtle.

    (2) Destruction/alteration of Sonoyta mud turtle habitat by discharge of fill material, draining, ditching, tiling, pond construction, stream channelization or diversion, removal or destruction of emergent aquatic vegetation; or diversion or alteration of surface or ground water flow into or out of the wetland (i.e., due to roads, impoundments, discharge pipes, storm water detention basins, etc.) or in any body of water in which the Sonoyta mud turtle is known to occur.

    (3) Direct or indirect destruction of riparian habitat.

    (4) Introduction of nonnative species that compete with or prey upon the Sonoyta mud turtle, such as the introduction of nonnative fish and crayfish species.

    (5) Release of biological control agents that attack any life stage of this subspecies.

    (6) Discharge of chemicals or fill material into any waters in which the Sonoyta mud turtle is known to occur.

    Questions regarding whether specific activities would constitute a violation of section 9 of the Act should be directed to the Arizona Ecological Services Field Office (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT).

    Required Determinations National Environmental Policy Act (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.)

    We have determined that environmental assessments and environmental impact statements, as defined under the authority of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA; 42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.), need not be prepared in connection with listing a species as an endangered or threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. We published a notice outlining our reasons for this determination in the Federal Register on October 25, 1983 (48 FR 49244).

    Government-to-Government Relationship With Tribes

    In accordance with the President's memorandum of April 29, 1994 (Government-to-Government Relations with Native American Tribal Governments; 59 FR 22951), Executive Order 13175 (Consultation and Coordination With Indian Tribal Governments), and the Department of the Interior's manual at 512 DM 2, we readily acknowledge our responsibility to communicate meaningfully with recognized Federal Tribes on a government-to-government basis. In accordance with Secretarial Order 3206 of June 5, 1997 (American Indian Tribal Rights, Federal-Tribal Trust Responsibilities, and the Endangered Species Act), we readily acknowledge our responsibilities to work directly with tribes in developing programs for healthy ecosystems, to acknowledge that tribal lands are not subject to the same controls as Federal public lands, to remain sensitive to Indian culture, and to make information available to tribes.

    Based on cultural claims maps and reservation boundaries we have on file, the distribution of the Sonoyta mud turtle overlaps areas that may be of interest to the following tribes: Tohono O'odham Nation, Quechan Tribe, Hopi Tribe, Colorado River Indian Tribes, and Cocopah Indian Tribe. On November 20, 2015, we notified these tribes via letter of our intent to conduct a status assessment for the purpose of determining whether the subspecies warrants protection under the Act. In our letter, we offered to meet with the tribe to discuss the process, potential impacts to the tribes, and how tribal information may be used in our assessment. In addition, we requested any information they have regarding the subspecies. On August 17, 2016, we invited comments from the five tribes, and on September 19, 2016, we submitted notification to tribal leaders of the proposed listing publication. To date, we have not received a response from these any of these tribes. Upon publication of this final rule, we will send notification letters to these tribes and again extend an invitation to meet and discuss.

    References Cited

    A complete list of references cited in this rulemaking is available in the SSA Report (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 2017. Species status assessment report for the Sonoyta mud turtle (Kinosternon sonoriense longifemorale), Version 2.0. Albuquerque, NM) that is available on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov at Docket Number FWS-R2-ES-2016-0103, at https://www.fws.gov/southwest/es/arizona/, and upon request from the Arizona Ecological Services Field Office (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT).

    Authors

    The primary authors of this final rule are the staff members of the Arizona Ecological Services Field Office.

    List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 17

    Endangered and threatened species, Exports, Imports, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Transportation.

    Regulation Promulgation

    Accordingly, we amend part 17, subchapter B of chapter I, title 50 of the Code of Federal Regulations, as follows:

    PART 17—ENDANGERED AND THREATENED WILDLIFE AND PLANTS 1. The authority citation for part 17 continues to read as follows: Authority:

    16 U.S.C. 1361-1407; 1531-1544; 4201-4245, unless otherwise noted.

    2. In § 17.11(h), add an entry for “Turtle, Sonoyta mud” to the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife in alphabetical order under REPTILES to read as set forth below:
    § 17.11 Endangered and threatened wildlife.

    (h) * * *

    Common name Scientific name Where listed Status Listing citations and
  • applicable rules
  • *         *         *         *         *         *         * REPTILES *         *         *         *         *         *         * Turtle, Sonoyta mud Kinosternon
  • sonoriense longifemorale
  • Wherever found E 82 FR [insert Federal Register page where the document begins], 9/20/2017.
    *         *         *         *         *         *         *
    Dated: September 7, 2017. James W. Kurth, Acting Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
    [FR Doc. 2017-20072 Filed 9-19-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4333-15-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 665 [Docket No. 170404354-7873-01] RIN 0648-BG79 Pacific Island Pelagic Fisheries; Exemption for Large U.S. Longline Vessels To Fish in Portions of the American Samoa Large Vessel Prohibited Area; Court Order AGENCY:

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

    ACTION:

    Final rule.

    SUMMARY:

    In this final rule, NMFS removes a regulatory exemption that allowed certain large U.S. longline vessels to fish in portions of the American Samoa Large Vessel Prohibited Area (LVPA). The intent is to comply with a U.S. District Court Final Judgment and Order that vacated and set aside that rule.

    DATES:

    Effective September 20, 2017.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Bob Harman, NMFS PIRO Sustainable Fisheries, 808-725-5170.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    NMFS and the Western Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) manage pelagic fisheries in the U.S. Pacific Islands under the Fishery Ecosystem Plan for Pelagic Fisheries of the Western Pacific Region, formerly the Fishery Management Plan for Pelagic Fisheries of the Western Pacific Region (FMP). In 2002, in response to a recommendation from the Council, NMFS implemented a measure under the FMP that prohibited certain vessels from fishing for Pacific pelagic management unit species in Federal waters from 3 nm to approximately 30-50 nm around the islands of American Samoa (the Large Vessel Prohibited Area, LVPA). The area prohibition applied to vessels more than 50 ft in length overall that had not landed pelagic management unit species in American Samoa under a Federal longline general permit prior to November 13, 1997. The LVPA was intended to prevent the potential for gear conflicts and catch competition between large and small vessels. At the time, the Council and NMFS felt that such conflicts and competition could have led to reduced opportunities for sustained participation by residents of American Samoa in the small-scale pelagic fishery. You may read more about the establishment of the LVPA in the 2001 proposed rule (66 FR 39475, July 31, 2001) and 2002 final rule (67 FR 4369, January 30, 2002).

    Since 2002, however, the American Samoa longline fishery has been experiencing declining catch rates of albacore, lower fish prices, and increased fuel and operating costs. In the period 2001-2009, longline incomes had decreased by 96 percent, with average revenues only half of what was necessary for profitable operations. Concerned that the LVPA might be unnecessarily reducing the efficiency of the larger American Samoa longline vessels by displacing the fleet from a part of their historical fishing grounds, in early 2014 the Council began exploring ways to assist the longline fishery, while ensuring conservation of affected stocks and minimizing impacts to other fisheries. To address current fishery conditions, the Council recommended in 2015 that NMFS provide a limited exemption from the LVPA based on vessel size, and allow federally permitted U.S. longline vessels 50 ft and longer to fish in portions of the LVPA.

    Accordingly, in 2016, NMFS published a final rule that allowed large federally permitted U.S. longline vessels to fish in specific areas of the LVPA. That action allowed large U.S. vessels that hold a Federal American Samoa longline limited entry permit to fish within the LVPA to within about 12-17 nm from shore around Swains Island, Tutuila, and the Manua Islands. Large vessels continued to be restricted from fishing within the remaining portions of the LVPA. The intent of the rule was to improve the viability of the American Samoa longline fishery and achieve optimum yield, while preventing overfishing in accordance with National Standard 1 of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act). You may read more about the large vessel exemptions to the LVPA in the 2015 proposed rule (80 FR 51527, August 25, 2015) and 2016 final rule (81 FR 5619, February 3, 2016).

    In July 2016, the Territory of American Samoa sued NMFS and the Council in the U.S. District Court for the District of Hawaii (Territory of American Samoa v. NMFS, et al. (D. HI) Civil 16-00095), seeking to set aside the 2016 final rule. The Territory claimed that NMFS did not consider, as other applicable law, the 1900 and 1904 Deeds of Cession with respect to the protection of the cultural fishing rights of the people of American Samoa.

    On March 20, 2017, the U.S. District Court for the District of Hawaii held that, because NMFS did not consider whether the 2016 rule was consistent with the Deeds of Cession, the final rule was invalid. The Court issued an Order for NMFS to vacate and set aside the LVPA exemption rule. On August 10, 2017, the U.S. District Court denied Defendants' Motion for Reconsideration of this Judgment. Pursuant to the Final Judgment, this final rule removes the LVPA exemptions based on vessel size found at Title 50, Code of Federal Regulations, Section 665.818, paragraph (b). All other provisions applicable to the American Samoa longline fishery remain unchanged.

    Classification

    The Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, NOAA, has determined that this final rule is consistent with the Court's Final Judgment, the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and other applicable laws.

    This final rule has been determined to be not significant for purposes of Executive Order 12866.

    The Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, NOAA, finds good cause to waive notice and public comment on this action because it would be unnecessary and contrary to the public interest, as provided by 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(B). This action is limited in scope and ensures that the regulatory text provides accurate information to the regulated public that is consistent with a Federal Court Order. NMFS does not have discretion to take other action, as there is no alternative to complying with the requirements of the Court Order.

    Furthermore, the Assistant Administrator for Fisheries finds good cause to waive the 30-day delayed effectiveness period, as provided by 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3), finding that such delay would be contrary to the public interest because the measures contained in this rule are necessary to ensure that the fishery is conducted in compliance with a Federal Court Order. On March 27, 2017, NMFS notified longline permit holders of the Court Order, that the exemption available to large longline vessels no longer applies, and that they may not fish within the boundaries of the LVPA.

    Because this rulemaking is required by Court Order, and prior notice and opportunity for public comment are not required under 5 U.S.C. 553, or any other law, the regulatory flexibility analysis requirements of the Regulatory Flexibility Act, 5 U.S.C. 603-605, do not apply to this rule. Accordingly, no regulatory flexibility analysis is required and none has been prepared.

    In addition, because the changes required by the Court Order that are identified in this rule are non-discretionary, the National Environmental Policy Act does not apply to this rule.

    List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 665

    Administrative practice and procedure, American Samoa, Fisheries, Fishing, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements.

    Dated: September 14, 2017. Samuel D. Rauch III, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine Fisheries Service.

    For the reasons set out in the preamble, NMFS amends 50 CFR part 665 as follows:

    PART 665—FISHERIES IN THE WESTERN PACIFIC 1. The authority citation for 50 CFR part 665 continues to read as follows: Authority:

    16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.

    § 665.818 [Amended]
    2. In § 665.818, remove and reserve paragraph (b).
    [FR Doc. 2017-19982 Filed 9-19-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-22-P
    82 181 Wednesday, September 20, 2017 Proposed Rules DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY Office of the Comptroller of the Currency 12 CFR Parts 25 and 195 [Docket ID OCC-2017-0008] RIN 1557-AE15 FEDERAL RESERVE SYSTEM 12 CFR Part 228 [Docket No. R-1574] RIN 7100-AE84 FEDERAL DEPOSIT INSURANCE CORPORATION 12 CFR Part 345 RIN 3064-AE58 Community Reinvestment Act Regulations AGENCY:

    Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, Treasury; Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System; and Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.

    ACTION:

    Joint notice of proposed rulemaking; request for comment.

    SUMMARY:

    The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (Board), and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) (collectively, the Agencies) propose to amend their regulations implementing the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) to update the existing definitions of “home mortgage loan” and “consumer loan,” related cross references, and the public file content requirements to conform recent revisions made by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (Bureau) to Regulation C, which implements the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA), and to remove obsolete references to the Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP).

    DATES:

    Comments must be received on or before October 20, 2017.

    ADDRESSES:

    Comments should be directed to:

    OCC: Because paper mail in the Washington, DC area and at the OCC is subject to delay, commenters are encouraged to submit comments through the Federal eRulemaking Portal or email, if possible. Please use the title “Community Reinvestment Act Regulations” to facilitate the organization and distribution of the comments. You may submit comments by any of the following methods:

    Federal eRulemaking Portal—“Regulations.gov”: Go to www.regulations.gov. Enter “Docket ID OCC-2017-0008” in the Search box and click “Search.” Click on “Comment Now” to submit public comments.

    • Click on the “Help” tab on the Regulations.gov home page to get information on using Regulations.gov, including instructions for submitting public comments.

    Email: [email protected]

    Mail: Legislative and Regulatory Activities Division, Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, 400 7th Street SW., Suite 3E-218, Washington, DC 20219.

    Hand Delivery/Courier: 400 7th Street SW., Suite 3E-218, Mail Stop 9W-11, Washington, DC 20219.

    Fax: (571) 465-4326.

    Instructions: You must include “OCC” as the agency name and “Docket ID OCC-2017-0008” in your comment. In general, OCC will enter all comments received into the docket and publish them on the Regulations.gov Web site without change, including any business or personal information that you provide such as name and address information, email addresses, or phone numbers. Comments received, including attachments and other supporting materials, are part of the public record and subject to public disclosure. Do not include any information in your comment or supporting materials that you consider confidential or inappropriate for public disclosure.

    You may review comments and other related materials that pertain to this rulemaking action by any of the following methods:

    Viewing Comments Electronically: Go to www.regulations.gov. Enter “Docket ID OCC-2017-0008” in the Search box and click “Search.” Click on “Open Docket Folder” on the right side of the screen. Comments and supporting materials can be viewed and filtered by clicking on “View all documents and comments in this docket” and then using the filtering tools on the left side of the screen.

    • Click on the “Help” tab on the Regulations.gov home page to get information on using Regulations.gov. The docket may be viewed after the close of the comment period in the same manner as during the comment period.

    Viewing Comments Personally: You may personally inspect and photocopy comments at the OCC, 400 7th Street SW., Washington, DC 20219. For security reasons, the OCC requires that visitors make an appointment to inspect comments. You may do so by calling (202) 649-6700 or, for persons who are deaf or hard of hearing, TTY, (202) 649-5597. Upon arrival, visitors will be required to present valid government-issued photo identification and submit to security screening in order to inspect and photocopy comments.

    Board: When submitting comments, please consider submitting your comments by email or fax because paper mail in the Washington, DC area and at the Board may be subject to delay. You may submit comments, identified by Docket No. R-XXXX and RIN XXXX-XXXX, by any of the following methods:

    Agency Web site: http://www.federalreserve.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments at http://www.federalreserve.gov/generalinfo/foia/ProposedRegs.cfm.

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

    Email: [email protected] Include docket and RIN numbers in the subject line of the message.

    Fax: (202) 452-3819 or (202) 452-3102.

    Mail: Ann E. Misback, Secretary, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, 20th Street and Constitution Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20551.

    Instructions: All public comments will be made available on the Board's Web site at http://www.federalreserve.gov/generalinfo/foia/ProposedRegs.cfm as submitted, unless modified for technical reasons. Accordingly, your comments will not be edited to remove any identifying or contact information. Public comments may also be viewed electronically or in paper form in Room 3515, 1801 K Street NW. (between 18th and 19th Streets, NW.), Washington, DC 20006 between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. on weekdays. For security reasons, the Board requires that visitors make an appointment to inspect comments. You may do so by calling (202) 452-3684. Upon arrival, visitors will be required to present valid government-issued photo identification and to submit to security screening in order to inspect and photocopy comments.

    FDIC: You may submit comments, identified by RIN 3064-AE62, by any of the following methods:

    Agency Web site: http://www.fdic.gov/regulations/laws/federal/propose.html. Follow instructions for submitting comments on the Agency Web site.

    Email: [email protected] Include the RIN 3064-AE62 on the subject line of the message.

    Mail: Robert E. Feldman, Executive Secretary, Attention: Comments, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, 550 17th Street NW., Washington, DC 20429.

    Hand Delivery: Comments may be hand delivered to the guard station at the rear of the 550 17th Street Building (located on F Street) on business days between 7:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m.

    Instructions: All comments received must include the agency name and RIN 3064-AE62 for this rulemaking. All comments received will be posted without change to http://www.fdic.gov/regulations/laws/federal/propose.html, including any personal information provided. Paper copies of public comments may be ordered from the FDIC Public Information Center, 3501 North Fairfax Drive, Room E-1002, Arlington, VA 22226 by telephone at (877) 275-3342 or (703) 562-2200.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    OCC: Emily R. Boyes, Attorney, Community and Consumer Law Division, (202) 649-6350; Allison Hester-Haddad, Counsel, Legislative and Regulatory Activities Division, (202) 649-5490; for persons who are deaf or hard of hearing, TTY, (202) 649-5597; or Vonda J. Eanes, Director for CRA and Fair Lending Policy, Compliance Risk Policy Division, (202) 649-6907, Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, 400 7th Street SW., Washington, DC 20219.

    Board: Amal S. Patel, Senior Supervisory Consumer Financial Services Analyst, Division of Consumer and Community Affairs, (202) 912-7879; Cathy Gates, Senior Project Manager, Division of Consumer and Community Affairs, (202) 452-2099, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, 20th Street and Constitution Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20551.

    FDIC: Patience R. Singleton, Senior Policy Analyst, Supervisory Policy Branch, Division of Depositor and Consumer Protection, (202) 898-6859; Sharon B. Vejvoda, Senior Examination Specialist, Examination Branch, Division of Depositor and Consumer Protection, (202) 898-3881; Richard M. Schwartz, Counsel, Legal Division (202) 898-7424; or Sherry Ann Betancourt, Counsel, Legal Division (202) 898-6560, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, 550 17th Street NW., Washington, DC 20429.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Background

    The Board, the FDIC, and the OCC implement the CRA (12 U.S.C. 2901 et seq.) through their CRA regulations. See 12 CFR parts 25, 195, 228, and 345. The CRA is designed to encourage regulated financial institutions to help meet the credit needs of the local communities in which an institution is chartered. The CRA regulations establish the framework and criteria by which the Agencies assess a financial institution's record of helping to meet the credit needs of its community, including low- and moderate-income neighborhoods, consistent with safe and sound operations. Under the CRA regulations, the Agencies apply different evaluation standards for financial institutions of different asset sizes and types.

    The Agencies also publish the Interagency Questions and Answers Regarding Community Reinvestment (Questions and Answers) 1 to provide guidance on the interpretation and application of the CRA regulations to agency personnel, financial institutions, and the public.

    1 “Questions and Answers” refers to the “Interagency Questions and Answers Regarding Community Reinvestment” in its entirety; “Q&A” refers to an individual question and answer within the Questions and Answers.

    Introduction

    The Agencies jointly propose to amend their regulations implementing the CRA (12 U.S.C. 2901 et seq.). This proposed rulemaking amends the current definitions of “home mortgage loan” and “consumer loan” and the public file content requirements to conform to recent revisions made by the Bureau to its Regulation C, which implements HMDA, makes technical amendments to remove unnecessary cross references as a result of the amended definitions, and removes an obsolete reference to the NSP.

    Amendments To Conform the CRA Regulations to Recent Revisions to the Bureau's Regulation C Conforming Changes to the “Home Mortgage Loan” Definition

    The CRA regulations specify the type of lending and other activities that the Agencies evaluate to assess a financial institution's CRA performance. In 1995, the Agencies substantively amended their CRA regulations to clarify the methods that examiners use to assess financial institutions' CRA performance (1995 CRA Rule).2 These amended regulations added the definition of “home mortgage loan,” to describe a category of loans that examiners evaluate when assessing a financial institution's performance under the retail lending test. As part of efforts to produce a less-burdensome CRA assessment process, the Agencies relied on the scope of loans reported under the Board's Regulation C, which implemented HMDA at the time, to define “home mortgage loan.” (12 CFR part 203 (1995)).3 The Board's Regulation C required a HMDA reporter to report data to its supervisory agency on originations, purchases, and applications for loans that were made for one of two purposes: Home purchase or home improvement. (See 12 CFR 203.1(c) (1995)). As a result, the 1995 CRA Rule defined “home mortgage loan” to mean “home purchase loan” or “home improvement loan,” as those terms were defined in the Board's Regulation C in 12 CFR 203.2.

    2 60 FR 22156 (May 4, 1995). The CRA regulations were also issued by the Office of Thrift Supervision (OTS). In 2010, the OTS was integrated with the OCC pursuant to the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (Dodd-Frank Act) (15 U.S.C. 5413), and the regulation of thrifts was transferred to the OCC, the Board, and the FDIC (15 U.S.C. 5412).

    3 The Agencies originally proposed that the definition of “home mortgage loan” include all mortgage loans reportable under both the HMDA statute and its implementing regulations (see 58 FR 67466, at 67473, Dec. 21, 1993). However, some commenters noted that the Board had already refined the definition of home mortgage loan in its HMDA regulations (12 CFR part 203). These commenters indicated it would be preferable and, perhaps, less confusing if the Agencies only referred to the Board's HMDA regulations, rather than both the HMDA statute and the regulation. As a result of these comments, the Agencies amended the proposed definition in the 1995 CRA Rule and defined “home mortgage loan” as a “home improvement loan” or a “home purchase loan,” as those terms were defined in 12 CFR 203.2 of the Board's Regulation C.

    On February 15, 2002, the Board made substantial revisions to its Regulation C (2002 HMDA Rule), including, among other things, changing the scope of loans reported under Regulation C to include all refinancings, regardless of purpose.4 Prior to this amendment, lenders were able to select from among four scenarios to decide which refinancings to report. The 2002 HMDA Rule revised Regulation C to define and include “refinancings” in the scope of loans that were reportable under HMDA and Regulation C. 12 CFR 203.1(c) (2004). As a result of this change, any closed-end home purchase or refinancing was reported if it was dwelling-secured and home improvement loans were reported whether or not they were dwelling-secured. To keep the CRA regulations aligned with the scope of loans reportable under HMDA and Regulation C, on March 28, 2005, the Agencies issued a final rule to change the definition of “home mortgage loan” in their CRA regulations to mean not only a “home improvement loan” or a “home purchase loan,” but also a “refinancing” as that term was defined in 12 CFR 203.2 of the Board's Regulation C.5

    4 67 FR 7222 (Feb. 15, 2002). The 2002 HMDA Rule revisions became effective on January 1, 2004.

    5 70 FR 15570 (Mar. 28, 2005).

    On July 21, 2011, rulemaking authority for HMDA transferred from the Board to the Bureau pursuant to the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (Dodd-Frank Act).6 On October 15, 2015, the Bureau issued a final rule substantially revising Regulation C (12 CFR 1003), in part, to implement amendments to HMDA required by section 1094 of the Dodd-Frank Act (2015 HMDA Rule).7 The 2015 HMDA Rule, which in relevant part has a January 1, 2018, effective date, revises the scope of transactions reportable under Regulation C.8 In some cases, the revised scope of loans reportable under HMDA is broader, and in other cases, it is more limited.9 For consumer-purpose transactions, the 2015 HMDA Rule changes the traditional purpose-based reporting approach 10 to a dwelling-secured standard for all closed-end loans and open-end lines of credit that are for personal, family, or household purposes (i.e., consumer purpose).11 As a result, most consumer-purpose transactions, including closed-end mortgage loans, closed-end home equity loans, home-equity lines of credit, and reverse mortgages, will be reportable under HMDA if they are secured by a dwelling.12 Home improvement loans that are not secured by a dwelling (i.e., home improvement loans that are unsecured or that are secured by some other type of collateral), however, will now be excluded from Regulation C coverage.13

    6 Public Law 111-203, 124 Stat. 1376 (2010), codified in relevant part at 12 U.S.C. 5301, 5481-5603, and in laws amended (Title X); and 12 U.S.C. 5481 note, 15 U.S.C. 1601 note, 1602, and 1631 et seq. (Title XIV). The Bureau's Regulation C is located at 12 CFR part 1003.

    7 80 FR 66127 (Oct. 28, 2015). On August 24, 2017, the Bureau issued a final rule (2017 HMDA Rule) amending the 2015 HMDA Rule. The 2017 HMDA Rule finalizes a proposal issued by the Bureau on April 25, 2017 (82 FR 19142), to address technical errors, ease the burden on certain reporting requirements, and clarify some key terms. The 2017 HMDA Rule also finalizes a proposal issued by the Bureau on July 14, 2017 (82 FR 33455), to temporarily increase the institutional and transactional coverage thresholds for open-end lines of credit. See http://files.consumerfinance.gov/f/documents/201708_cfpb_final-rule_home-mortgage-disclosure_regulation-c.pdf

    8 80 FR at 66128.

    9 The 2015 HMDA Rule revises the scope of transactions as well as financial institutions that must collect and report HMDA data. Under the revised rule, a financial institution that meets all other requirements for financial institution coverage is required to report HMDA data only if it originates at least 25 closed-end mortgage loans or at least 100 open-end lines of credit in each of the two preceding calendar years. The open-end lines of credit threshold will increase from 100 to 500 loans on a temporary basis for a period of two years (calendar years 2018 and 2019) pursuant to the 2017 HMDA Rule. The Bureau is not making the threshold increase for open-end lines of credit permanent at this time. Absent further action by the Bureau, effective January 1, 2020, the open-end threshold will be restored to the 2015 HMDA Rule level of 100 open-end lines of credit, and creditors originating between 100 and 499 open-end lines of credit will need to begin collecting and reporting HMDA data for open-end lines of credit at this time. While depository financial institutions with more than 100 open-end lines of credit (500 open-end lines of credit for 2018 and 2019) will have to report HMDA data, fewer depository financial institutions will report closed-end mortgage data under HMDA when the revised rule becomes effective.

    10 Under current Regulation C, loans that are made primarily for personal, family or household purposes (i.e., consumer purpose) and that are secured by a dwelling are reportable if they are made for the purpose of home-purchase or refinancing. Loans that are made for the purpose of home improvement are reported regardless of whether they are secured by a dwelling. The 2015 HMDA Rule modifies the types of transactions that are subject to Regulation C by changing this traditional “purpose-based” reporting approach to generally adopting a dwelling secured standard for transactional coverage.

    11 80 FR at 66128.

    12Id.

    13Id.

    The 2015 HMDA Rule retains the traditional purpose-based reporting approach for all commercial-purpose transactions. Thus, if a dwelling-secured, commercial loan has the purpose of home purchase, home improvement, or refinancing, the loan will be subject to Regulation C.14 Commercial-purpose loans or lines of credit that are not for home purchase, home improvement, or refinancing will continue to be excluded from the regulation's coverage under the 2015 HMDA Rule, as are all primarily agricultural-purpose transactions.15

    14Id. Under the 2015 HMDA Rule, dwelling-secured commercial-purpose transactions will be covered only if they are for home purchase, home improvement, or refinancing purposes. A closed-end mortgage loan or an open-end line of credit to purchase or to improve a multifamily dwelling or a single-family investment property, or a refinancing of a closed-end mortgage loan or an open-end line of credit secured by a multifamily dwelling or a single-family investment property, would be a reportable transaction under the 2015 HMDA Rule. See Comment 3(c)(10)—3.i. A closed-end mortgage loan or an open-end line of credit whose funds will be used primarily to improve or expand a business, for example, to renovate a family restaurant that is not located in a dwelling or to purchase a warehouse, business equipment, or inventory, would not be a reportable transaction. See Comment 3(c)(10)—4.i.

    15Id. Note that under current Regulation C, a loan to purchase property used primarily for agricultural purposes, is not a home purchase loan. However, under certain circumstances a refinance with a primarily agricultural purpose could be reported as a refinancing on the HMDA Loan Application Register (LAR). For purposes of CRA, this loan could be captured as both a “refinancing” under the CRA definition of “home mortgage loan” and, because the refinancing would be for an agricultural loan, the loan would also be captured on the Call Report as a refinance of a small farm loan. Under the 2015 HMDA Rule, all loans with a primarily agricultural purpose, whether they are for home purchase, home improvement, refinancing, or another purpose, will no longer be reported on the HMDA LAR. As a result, for purposes of CRA, the likelihood of double counting primarily agricultural purpose loans as both a “refinancing” under the definition of “home mortgage loan” and a refinancing of small farm loans is decreased. The Agencies do not believe the proposed change in transactional coverage for commercial loans and loans with a primarily agricultural purpose will negatively impact a financial institution's CRA rating.

    Effective January 1, 2018, Regulation C will require covered financial institutions to report applications for, and originations and purchases of, “covered loans” that are secured by a dwelling. A “covered loan” is defined in 12 CFR 1003.2(e) to mean a closed-end mortgage loan, as defined in § 1003.2(d), or an open-end line of credit, as defined in § 1003.2(o), that is not an excluded transaction under 12 CFR 1003.3(c).16 To conform to the new revisions in Regulation C, the proposed rule would revise the current definition of “home mortgage loan” in their CRA regulations, also effective on January 1, 2018, to mean a “closed-end mortgage loan” or an “open-end line of credit,” as those terms are defined under new 12 CFR 1003.2(d) and (o), respectively, and as may be amended from time to time, and that is not an excluded transaction under new 12 CFR 1003.3(c)(1)-(10) and (13), as may be amended from time to time.17 The Agencies have used the scope of HMDA reportable transactions to define “home mortgage loan” in the CRA regulations since 1995. The Agencies will review any amendments made to the cross-referenced definitions in HMDA to ensure that such cross-referenced terms continue to meet the statutory objectives of the CRA.

    16 The 2015 HMDA Rule retains existing categories of excluded transactions, clarifies some categories of excluded transactions, and expands the existing exclusion for agricultural-purpose transactions. Effective January 1, 2018, the following transactions will not be reportable under Regulation C:

    1. A closed-end mortgage loan or open-end line of credit originated or purchased by a financial institution acting in a fiduciary capacity;

    2. A closed-end mortgage loan or open-end line of credit secured by a lien on unimproved land;

    3. Temporary financing;

    4. The purchase of an interest in a pool of closed-end mortgage loans or open-end lines of credit;

    5. The purchase solely of the right to service closed-end mortgage loans or open-end lines of credit;

    6. The purchase of closed-end mortgage loans or open-end lines of credit as part of a merger or acquisition, or as part of the acquisition of all of the assets and liabilities of a branch office as defined in 12 CFR 1003.2(c);

    7. A closed-end mortgage loan or open-end line of credit, or an application of a closed-end mortgage loan or open-end line of credit, for which the total dollar amount is less than $500;

    8. The purchase of a partial interest in a closed-end mortgage loan or open-end line of credit;

    9. A closed-end mortgage loan or open-end line of credit used primarily for agricultural purposes;

    10. A closed-end mortgage loan or open-end line of credit that is or will be made primarily for a business or commercial purpose, unless the closed-end mortgage loan or open-end equity line of credit is a home improvement loan under § 1003.2(i), a home purchase under § 1003.2(j), or a refinancing under § 1003.2(p);

    11. A closed-end mortgage loan, if the financial institution originated fewer than 25 closed-end mortgage loans in either of the two preceding calendar years; a financial institution may collect, record, report, and disclose information, as described in §§ 1003.4 and 1003.5, for such an excluded closed-end mortgage loan as though it were a covered loan, provided that the financial institution complies with such requirements for all applications for closed-end mortgage loans that it receives, closed-end mortgage loans that it originates, and closed-end mortgage loans that it purchases that otherwise would have been covered loans during the calendar year during which final action is taken on the excluded closed-end mortgage loan; or

    12. An open-end equity line of credit, if the financial institution originated fewer than 500 open-end equity lines of credit in either of the two preceding calendar years; a financial institution may collect, record, report, and disclose information, as described in §§ 1003.4 and 1003.5, for such an excluded open-end line of credit as though it were a covered loan, provided that the financial institution complies with such requirements for all applications for open-end lines of credit that it receives, open-end lines of credit that it originates, and open-end lines of credit that it purchases that otherwise would have been covered loans during the calendar year during which final action is taken on the excluded open-end line of credit (as noted above, the increased threshold from 100 to 500 open-end lines of credit is temporary and applies only to calendar years 2018 and 2019; absent action from the Bureau, the threshold for reporting open-end lines of credit reverts to 100 effective January 1, 2020); or

    13. A transaction that provided or, in the case of an application, proposed to provide new funds to the applicant or borrower in advance of being consolidated in a New York State consolidation, extension, and modification agreement classified as a supplemental mortgage under New York Tax Law section 255; the transaction is excluded only if final action on the consolidation was taken in the same calendar year as final action on the new funds transaction.

    17 The 2017 HMDA Rule adds a new exclusion from reporting HMDA data for certain transactions concerning New York consolidation, extension, and modification agreements (also known as NY CEMAs) under new § 1003.3(c)(13).

    As a result of the proposed revisions to the “home mortgage loan” definition, the manner in which some loan transactions are considered under CRA will be affected. Effective January 1, 2018, home improvement loans that are not secured by a dwelling, which are currently required to be reported under Regulation C, will no longer be reportable transactions under the 2015 HMDA Rule. Therefore, also effective January 1, 2018, for purposes of CRA, home improvement loans that are not secured by a dwelling may be considered at the option of the financial institution. A financial institution that opts to have its home improvement loans considered would need to collect and maintain data on these loans in machine readable form under the category of “other secured consumer loan” or “other unsecured consumer loan,” as appropriate. See 12 CFR __.12(j)(3) or (4). The Agencies note that, notwithstanding an institution's option, home improvement loans that are not secured by a dwelling may still be evaluated by the Agencies under the lending test set out under 12 CFR __.22(a)(1), in circumstances where the consumer lending is so significant a portion of an institution's lending by activity and dollar volume of loans that the lending test evaluation would not meaningfully reflect lending performance if consumer loans were excluded.18

    18 Q&A § __.22(a)(1)—2.

    Home equity lines of credit secured by a dwelling, which are currently reported at the option of the financial institution under Regulation C, will be covered loans under the 2015 HMDA Rule. Effective January 1, 2018, financial institutions that meet the reporting requirements under the 2015 HMDA Rule will be required to collect, maintain, and report data on home equity lines of credit secured by a dwelling. For purposes of CRA consideration, in the case of financial institutions that report closed-end mortgage loans and/or home equity lines of credit under the 2015 HMDA Rule, those loans would be considered as home mortgage loans under the proposed amended definition of “home mortgage loan.” The effect of the proposed change will vary depending upon the amount and characteristics of the financial institution's mortgage loan portfolio. As with all aspects of an institution's CRA performance evaluation, the performance context of the institution will affect how the Agencies will consider home equity lines of credit. Performance context includes a broad range of economic, demographic, and financial institution and community-specific information that the Agencies use to understand the circumstances in which a financial institution's record of performance should be evaluated. Performance context information is used by the Agencies to support a financial institution's level of performance and CRA performance rating. For financial institutions that would not be required to report these transactions under Regulation C, examiners may review the relevant files and consider these loans for CRA performance on a sampling basis under the home mortgage loan category.

    The Agencies request comment on their proposal to amend the definition of “home mortgage loan,” including how the amended definition may impact a financial institution's CRA performance.

    Conforming Changes to the “Consumer Loan” Definition

    The CRA regulations currently define “consumer loan” as a loan to one or more individuals for household, family, or other personal expenditures and that is not a home mortgage, small business, or small farm loan under 12 CFR __.12(j). A “home equity loan” is one of five loan categories listed under the definition of “consumer loan” and is defined as a “consumer loan secured by a residence of the borrower” under 12 CFR __.12(j)(3). As noted above, the proposed CRA definition of “home mortgage loan” would refer to “closed-end mortgage loans” and “open-end lines of credit” as those terms are defined in §§ 1003.2(d) and 1003.2(o), respectively, of Regulation C. Under Regulation C, a closed-end mortgage loan is defined “as an extension of credit secured by a lien on a dwelling,” and therefore, includes a home equity loan secured by a dwelling per 12 CFR 1003.2(d), effective January 1, 2018. Thus, the Agencies believe it is no longer necessary to separately categorize home equity loans under the CRA definition of “consumer loan” because both home equity loans and home equity lines of credit would be specifically included in the proposed revised CRA definition of “home mortgage loan.” Accordingly, the proposed rule would remove the term “home equity loan” from the list of consumer loan categories provided under the definition of “consumer loan” in 12 CFR __.12(j). The Agencies request comment on their proposal to amend the definition of “consumer loan.”

    Changes to the Content of the Public File

    The CRA regulations currently provide that financial institutions shall maintain a public file of certain information and specify, among other things, the information that should be maintained and made available to the public upon request under 12 CFR__.43(a)-(d). Currently, a financial institution that is required to report HMDA data under Regulation C must include a copy of the HMDA disclosure statement that is provided to each financial institution by the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council in the institution's CRA public file for each of the prior two calendar years per 12 CFR __.43(b)(2). However, pursuant to changes to Regulation C under the 2015 HMDA Rule, which becomes effective January 1, 2018, financial institutions will no longer be required to provide this HMDA disclosure statement directly to the public. Instead, pursuant to Regulation C, a financial institution will only be required to provide a notice that clearly conveys to the public that they can obtain a copy of the financial institution's disclosure statement on the Bureau's Web site under 12 CFR 1003.5(b). As a result, the proposed rule would amend the CRA public file content requirements under 12 CFR__.43(b)(2) for consistency and to reduce burden. Specifically, under the proposal, institutions that are required to report HMDA data would need to only maintain the notice required under Regulation C in their CRA public file, rather than a copy of the HMDA disclosure statement. The Agencies request comment on their proposal to amend the CRA public file content requirements.

    As explained in more detail under the Regulatory Analysis section of this proposal, the Agencies expect the proposed changes to the CRA definitions and to the content of the public file, to reflect revisions made to the Bureau's Regulation C, to generally have little economic effect and believe the proposed changes would not create additional regulatory burden on financial institutions.

    Technical Amendments “Home Equity” When Used as a Category of Consumer Loans

    As indicated above, the proposed rule would remove the term “home equity loan” currently included under 12 CFR __.12(j)(3) from the categories of consumer loans listed in 12 CFR __.12(j). Based on the new proposed definition of “consumer loan,” any cross-references to home equity loans as a category of “consumer loans” in the CRA regulations would be invalid. As a result, the proposed rule would amend 12 CFR __.22, Lending Test, and 12 CFR _.42, Data Collection, Reporting, and Disclosure, to remove the term “home equity” each time it appears as a category of consumer loans.

    Technical Revision to the “Community Development Loan” Definition

    The CRA regulations under 12 CFR __.12(h) currently define “community development loan” as a loan that,

    (1) Has as its primary purpose, community development; and

    (2) Except in the case of a wholesale or limited purpose bank:

    (i) Has not been reported or collected by the bank or an affiliate for consideration in the bank's assessment as a home mortgage, small business, small farm, or consumer loan, unless it is a multifamily dwelling loan (as described in appendix A to part 1003 of this title); and

    (ii) Benefits the bank's assessment area(s) or a broader statewide or regional area that includes the bank's assessment area(s).

    Effective January 1, 2019, the 2015 HMDA Rule removes appendix A from Regulation C. The instructions for completion of the HMDA LAR currently found in part 1 of that appendix A will not apply to data collected pursuant to the amendments to Regulation C that are effective January 1, 2018. The substantive requirements found in existing appendix A will be moved to the text and commentary of Regulation C and going forward, any reference to appendix A will become obsolete. As a result, the Agencies believe that the reference to appendix A of Regulation C in the “community development loan” definition in the CRA regulations needs to be removed. Moreover, effective January 1, 2018, the term “multifamily dwelling” will be specifically defined under 12 CFR 1003.2(n). Accordingly, the proposed rule would remove the reference to appendix A in the definition of “community development loan” and replace it with a reference to the definition of “multifamily dwelling” under new 12 CFR 1003.2(n).

    Removal of Obsolete Language Related to the NSP

    The NSP was authorized by the Housing and Economic Recovery Act 19 to stabilize communities suffering from foreclosures and abandonment. On December 20, 2010, the Agencies issued a joint final rule amending the definition of “community development” to include qualifying NSP-related activities that benefit low-, moderate-, and middle-income individuals and geographies in NSP-target areas.20 Under the joint final rule, NSP-eligible activities would receive consideration if conducted no later than two years after the last date appropriated funds for the program were required to be spent by the grantees. After the two-year period, the rule would cease to apply. The last date appropriated funds were required to be spent by grantees was March 2014.21 Thus, pursuant to 12 CFR __.12(g)(5)(ii), after March 2016, NSP-eligible activities no longer receive consideration as “community development” under the CRA regulations. On that basis, the proposed rule would amend 12 CFR 25.12, 195.12, 228.12, and 345.12 to revise the definition of “community development” to remove qualifying NSP-related activities that benefit low-, moderate-, and middle-income individuals and geographies in NSP-targeted areas.

    19 Public Law 110-289, 122 Stat. 2654 (2008).

    20 75 FR 79278 (Dec. 20, 2010).

    21See https://www.hudexchange.info/resources/documents/NSP3_100_Expenditure_Deadline.pdf.

    The Agencies request comment on their proposal to make the technical amendments described above.

    The Agencies note that they plan to make conforming changes to the relevant Interagency CRA Q&As if the proposed changes to the CRA regulations become final.

    Effective Date

    The proposed rule would have an effective date of January 1, 2018, to conform to the effective date of the revisions resulting from the Bureau's Regulation C. The Agencies request comment on the proposed effective date.

    Regulatory Analysis Regulatory Flexibility Act

    OCC: In general, the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) (5 U.S.C. 601 et seq.) requires that in connection with a rulemaking, an agency prepare and make available for public comment a regulatory flexibility analysis that describes the impact of the rule on small entities. Under section 605(b) of the RFA, this analysis is not required if an agency certifies that the rule will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities and publishes its certification and a brief explanatory statement in the Federal Register along with its rule.

    The OCC currently supervises approximately 956 small entities. Although the proposed rule would apply to all OCC-supervised financial institutions, we anticipate that the proposal would not impose costs on any OCC-supervised financial institutions since the proposed rule does not impose new requirements or include new mandates. Any burden that may be associated with changes made to Regulation C HMDA reporting are a result of Bureau rulemakings. However, the proposed rule may reduce regulatory costs for covered financial institutions that are required to report HMDA data because those institutions would no longer be required to keep two years of HMDA disclosure statements in their CRA public file. Instead, covered financial institutions would provide a notice in the public file with a Web site address indicating where the HMDA disclosure statements can be accessed. Among the small entities that the OCC currently supervises, 518 are HMDA reporters. By not having to keep paper copies of the HMDA disclosure statements in their CRA public file, the OCC estimates that the savings for these small entities will be less than $1,142 (10 hours × $114.20 per hour) per entity. Therefore, the proposal will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. Accordingly, the OCC certifies that the joint proposed rule, if promulgated, will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small OCC-supervised entities.

    Board: The RFA (5 U.S.C. 601 et seq.) generally requires an agency to publish an initial regulatory flexibility analysis with a proposed rule or certify that the proposed rule will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities.22 Based on its analysis, and for the reasons stated below, the Board believes that this proposed rule will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. Nevertheless, the Board is publishing an initial regulatory flexibility analysis and requests public comment on all aspects of its analysis. The Board will, if necessary, conduct a final regulatory flexibility analysis after considering the comments received during the public comment period.

    22See 5 U.S.C. 601 et seq.

    There are 820 Board-supervised state member banks, and 566 are identified as small entities according to the RFA.23 The Board estimates that the proposed rule will have generally small economic effects for small entities. The new CRA public file disclosure statement option will reduce recordkeeping burden for covered financial institutions. Additionally, the Board expects that the proposed changes to definitions within the CRA performance standards will have little impact on supervisory assessments of CRA performance generally, but could affect some financial institutions more than others depending upon the amount and characteristics of their loan portfolio.

    23 Call Report Data as of June 30, 2017.

    The proposed rule changes the CRA public file notification requirements for covered financial institutions. Financial institutions that are required to report HMDA data can maintain the notice required under Regulation C in their CRA public file of their branch office, rather than the HMDA Disclosure Statement. By allowing covered financial institutions to utilize the same disclosure for both purposes, the proposed rule will reduce compliance burden. As previously stated, there are 566 Board-supervised entities that are identified as small entities by the terms of the RFA. Of those, 304 were HMDA filers in 2016.24 All FDIC-insured financial institutions reported having 31,096 branch offices, for an average of 7.9 branches per financial institution.25 The Board assumes it takes one employee 10 minutes at a rate of $76.61 an hour 26 to print and file the CRA notification and an additional 10 minutes to print and file the HMDA notification per year. This equates to an estimated annual printing and filing cost of $25.54 per branch office. Therefore, complying with the new rule will save small entities an estimated $61,336.86 in costs per year.27

    24 2016 HMDA Data and Call Report Data as of June 30, 2017.

    25 2015 Summary of Deposits Data.

    26 Estimated total hourly compensation for Compliance Officers in the Depository Credit Intermediation sector as of December 2016. The estimate includes the May 2015 90th percentile hourly wage rate reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, National Industry-Specific Occupational Employment, and Wage Estimates. This wage rate has been adjusted for changes in the Consumer Price Index for all Urban Consumers between May 2015 and December 2016 (2.5 percent) and grossed up by 54.3 percent to account for non-monetary compensation as reported by the December 2016 Employer Costs for Employee Compensation Data.

    27 Assuming that each covered institution will no longer have to print and file the CRA notification, the recordkeeping burden for each branch office declines by 10 minutes for all 7.9 branch offices, for all 304 small entities that are HMDA filers.

    The Board expects the proposed changes to definitions within the CRA performance standards to generally have little economic effect for small entities, however the amendments could pose some effects for individual entities depending upon the amount and characteristics of their loan portfolio. As noted previously, in some cases the revised scope of the CRA definitions is broader, and in other cases, it is more limited. These changes could affect supervisory assessment of CRA performance for small entities. However, it is unlikely that small financial institutions will be significantly affected given that HMDA reporting will be limited to financial institutions that originate more than 25 home mortgage loans or 100 home equity lines of credit each year.28 There could be a net effect on CRA examination results for some small entities which may, in turn, affect the future behavior of those financial institutions. But, it is difficult to accurately determine the likelihood and degree of aggregate lending or economic effects that may result because they are dependent upon firm-specific business plans and propensities to lend.

    28 The open-end lines of credit threshold will increase from 100 to 500 loans on a temporary basis for a period of two years (calendar years 2018 and 2019) pursuant to the 2017 HMDA Rule. The Bureau is not making the threshold increase for open-end lines of credit permanent at this time. Absent further action by the Bureau, effective January 1, 2020, the open-end threshold will be restored to the 2015 HMDA Rule level of 100 open-end lines of credit, and creditors originating between 100 and 499 open-end lines of credit will need to begin collecting and reporting HMDA data for open-end lines of credit at this time.

    Finally, Board-supervised small entities will likely benefit from the harmonization of definitions for CRA performance standards with HMDA data reporting requirements by avoiding unnecessary confusion and costs. Inconsistencies between CRA examination metrics and the HMDA data, which is used to assess performance, could lead to misleading results causing small entities to change future lending behavior.

    1. Statement of the need for, and objectives of, the proposed rule. The proposed rule makes revisions to certain definitions in the current CRA regulations and the public file content requirements to conform to recent changes made by the Bureau to Regulation C, removes cross references related to the proposed definitional changes, and removes an obsolete reference to the NSP.

    2. Small entities affected by the proposed rule. State member banks that are subject to the Board's CRA regulation would be affected. The Board currently supervises approximately 566 small entities, and does not believe the proposed rule will have a significant economic impact on these entities. As noted, the Board believes that the proposed changes to the definition of “home mortgage loan” and “consumer loan” will have minimal impact on supervisory assessments of a financial institution's CRA performance generally, but could affect some financial institutions more than others depending on the characteristics of their loan portfolios. For example, home improvement loans that are not secured by a dwelling, which are currently required to be reported under Regulation C, will no longer be reportable transactions under HMDA, effective January 1, 2018. A financial institution that opts to have these loans considered would need to collect and maintain data on these loans in machine readable form under the category of “other secured consumer loan” or “other unsecured consumer loan,” as appropriate.

    The Board invites comment on the effect of the proposed rule on small entities.

    3. Recordkeeping, reporting, and compliance requirements. The proposed rule would impose minor recordkeeping, reporting, or compliance requirements on some entities. Additionally, it is anticipated that by allowing covered financial institutions to utilize the Regulation C notice that clearly conveys to the public that they can obtain a copy of the financial institution's HMDA disclosure statement at the Bureau's Web site to satisfy the associated CRA public file content requirements the proposed rule will reduce compliance burden.

    4. Other federal rules. The Board has not identified any federal rules that duplicate, overlap, or conflict with the proposed rule.

    5. Significant alternatives to the proposed revisions. The Board is not aware of any significant alternatives that would further minimize the impact on small entities of the proposed rule, but solicits comment on any significant alternatives that would reduce the regulatory burden associated on small entities with this proposed rule.

    FDIC: The RFA (5 U.S.C. 601 et seq.) generally requires that, in connection with a notice of proposed rulemaking, an agency prepare and make available for public comment an initial regulatory flexibility analysis that describes the impact of a proposed rule on small entities (defined in regulations promulgated by the Small Business Administration to include banking organizations with total assets of less than or equal to $550 million). A regulatory flexibility analysis, however, is not required if the agency certifies that the rule will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities, and publishes its certification and a short explanatory statement in the Federal Register together with the proposed rule. For the reasons provided below, the FDIC certifies that the proposed rule will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities.

    There are 3,787 FDIC-supervised financial institutions, and 3,080 are identified as small entities according to the RFA.29 The FDIC estimates that the proposed rule would have generally small economic effects for small entities. The new proposed CRA public file disclosure statement option would reduce regulatory costs for covered financial institutions. Additionally, the FDIC expects that the proposed changes to definitions within the CRA performance standards would have little impact on supervisory assessments of CRA performance generally, but could affect some financial institutions more than others depending upon the amount and characteristics of their loan portfolio.

    29 Call Report Data as of Dec. 31, 2016.

    The proposed rule changes the CRA public file notification requirements for covered financial institutions. Financial institutions required to report HMDA data can maintain the notice required under Regulation C in the CRA public file of their branch office, rather than the HMDA Disclosure Statement. By allowing covered financial institutions to utilize the same disclosure for both purposes, the proposed rule would reduce regulatory costs. As previously stated, there are 3,080 FDIC-supervised entities that are identified as small entities by the terms of the RFA. Of those, 1,856 were HMDA filers in 2015.30 All FDIC-insured financial institutions reported having 31,096 branch offices, for an average of 7.9 branches per financial institution.31 The FDIC assumes it takes one employee 10 minutes at a rate of $76.61 an hour 32 to print and file the CRA notification and an additional 10 minutes to print and file the HMDA notification per year. This equates to an estimated annual printing and filing cost of $25.54 per branch office. Therefore, complying with the new rule would save small entities an estimated $187,214 in costs per year.33

    30 2015 HMDA Data and Call Report Data as of Dec. 31, 2015.

    31 2015 Summary of Deposits Data.

    32 Estimated total hourly compensation for Compliance Officers in the Depository Credit Intermediation sector as of December 2016. The estimate includes the May 2015 90th percentile hourly wage rate reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, National Industry-Specific Occupational Employment, and Wage Estimates. This wage rate has been adjusted for changes in the Consumer Price Index for all Urban Consumers between May 2015 and December 2016 (2.5 percent) and grossed up by 54.3 percent to account for non-monetary compensation as reported by the December 2016 Employer Costs for Employee Compensation Data.

    33 Assuming that each covered institution will no longer have to print and file the CRA notification, the recordkeeping burden for each branch office declines by 10 minutes for all 7.9 branch offices, for all 1,856 small entities that are HMDA filers.

    The FDIC expects the proposed changes to definitions within the CRA performance standards to generally have little economic effect for small entities, however the amendments could pose some effects for individual entities depending upon the amount and characteristics of their loan portfolio. As noted previously, in some cases the revised scope of the CRA definitions is broader, and in other cases, it is more limited. These changes could affect supervisory assessment of CRA performance for small entities. However, it is unlikely that small financial institutions would be significantly affected given that HMDA reporting will be limited to financial institutions that originate more than 25 home mortgage loans or 100 home equity lines of credit each year.34 There could be a net effect on CRA examination results for some small entities which may, in turn, affect the future behavior of those financial institutions. But, it is difficult to accurately determine the likelihood and degree of aggregate lending or economic effects that may result because they are dependent upon firm-specific business plans and propensities to lend.

    34 The open-end lines of credit threshold will increase from 100 to 500 loans on a temporary basis for a period of two years (calendar years 2018 and 2019) pursuant to the 2017 HMDA Rule. The Bureau is not making the threshold increase for open-end lines of credit permanent at this time. Absent further action by the Bureau, effective January 1, 2020, the open-end threshold will be restored to the 2015 HMDA Rule level of 100 open-end lines of credit, and creditors originating between 100 and 499 open-end lines of credit will need to begin collecting and reporting HMDA data for open-end lines of credit at this time.

    Finally, FDIC-supervised small entities would likely benefit from the harmonization of definitions for CRA performance standards with HMDA data reporting requirements by avoiding unnecessary confusion and costs. Inconsistencies between CRA examination metrics and the HMDA data which is used to assess performance could lead to misleading results causing small entities to change future lending behavior.

    Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995

    Certain provisions of the proposed rule contain “collection of information” requirements within the meaning of the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA) of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3501-3521). In accordance with the requirements of the PRA, the Agencies may not conduct or sponsor, and the respondent is not required to respond to, an information collection unless it displays a currently-valid Office of Management and Budget (OMB) control number. The information collection requirements contained in this proposed rulemaking have been submitted by the OCC and FDIC to OMB for review and approval under section 3507(d) of the PRA (44 U.S.C. 3507(d)) and section 1320.11 of the OMB's implementing regulations (5 CFR 1320). The OMB control number for the OCC is 1557-0160 and the FDIC is 3064-0092. The OMB control number for the Board is 7100-0197 and will be extended, with revision. The Board reviewed the proposed rule under the authority delegated to the Board by OMB.

    Under this proposal, effective January 1, 2018, financial institutions required to collect data under the CRA would also be required to collect data for open-end lines of credit in MSA and non-MSA areas where they have no branch or home office. The Agencies estimate that this proposed change would not result in an increase in burden under the currently approved CRA information collections because the burden associated with the above-described requirement is accounted for under the HMDA information collections.35

    35 OMB Control Number 1557-0159 (OCC); OMB Control Number 7100-0247 (Board); and OMB Control Number 3064-0046 (FDIC).

    The agencies have determined that the proposed revised definition of “home mortgage loan” to include home equity lines of credit and to exclude home improvement loans that are not secured by a dwelling (i.e., home improvement loans that are unsecured or that are secured by some other type of collateral) does not warrant a change to the current burden estimates.

    Comments are invited on:

    (a) Whether the collections of information are necessary for the proper performance of the Agencies' functions, including whether the information has practical utility;

    (b) The accuracy of the estimates of the burden of the information collections, including the validity of the methodology and assumptions used;

    (c) Ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected;

    (d) Ways to minimize the burden of the information collections on respondents, including through the use of automated collection techniques or other forms of information technology; and

    (e) Estimates of capital or start-up costs and costs of operation, maintenance, and purchase of services to provide information.

    All comments will become a matter of public record. Comments on aspects of this notice that may affect reporting, recordkeeping, or disclosure requirements and burden estimates should be sent to the addresses listed in the ADDRESSES section of this document. A copy of the comments may also be submitted to the OMB desk officer for the Agencies: By mail to U.S. Office of Management and Budget, 725 17th Street NW., #10235, Washington, DC 20503; by facsimile to (202) 395-5806; or by email to: [email protected], Attention, Federal Banking Agency Desk Officer.

    Proposed Information Collection

    Title of Information Collection: Reporting, Recordkeeping, and Disclosure Requirements Associated with the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA).

    Frequency of Response: Annually.

    Affected Public: Businesses or other for-profit.

    Respondents:

    OCC: National banks, trust companies, savings associations (except special purpose savings associations pursuant to 12 CFR 195.11(c)(2)), insured Federal branches and any Federal branch that is uninsured that results from an acquisition described in section 5(a)(8) of the International Banking Act of 1978 (12 U.S.C. 3103(a)(8)).

    Board: State member banks.

    FDIC: Insured state nonmember banks and insured state branches.

    Abstract: The CRA was enacted in 1977 and is implemented by 12 CFR parts 25, 195, 228, and 345. The CRA directs the Agencies to evaluate financial institutions' records of helping to meet the credit needs of their entire communities, including low- and moderate-income areas consistent with the safe and sound operation of the institutions. The CRA is implemented through regulations issued by the Agencies.36

    36 As noted above in footnote 2, the Dodd-Frank Act transferred from the OTS all authorities (including rulemaking) relating to savings associations to the OCC and all authorities (including rulemaking) relating to savings and loan holding companies (SLHCs) to the Board on July 21, 2011.

    In 1995, the federal banking agencies issued substantially identical regulations under CRA to reduce unnecessary compliance burden, promote consistency in CRA assessments, and encourage improved performance.37 As a result, the current reporting, recordkeeping, and disclosure requirements under the CRA regulations depend in part on a bank's size.

    37See 60 FR 22156 (May 4, 1995).

    Under the CRA regulations, large banks are defined as those with assets of $1.226 billion or more for the past two consecutive year-ends; all other banks are considered small or intermediate.38 The banking agencies amend the definition of a small bank and an intermediate small bank in their CRA regulations each year when the asset thresholds are adjusted for inflation pursuant to the CRA regulations, most recently in January 2017.39

    38 Beginning January 18, 2017, banks and savings associations that, as of December 31 of either of the prior two calendar years, had assets of less than $1.226 billion are small banks or small savings associations. Small banks or small savings associations with assets of at least $307 million as of December 31 of both of the prior two calendar years, and less than $1.226 billion as of December 31 of either of the prior two calendar years, are intermediate small banks or intermediate small savings associations.

    39See 82 FR 5354 (Jan. 18, 2017).

    Other than the information collections pursuant to the CRA, the Agencies have no information collection that supplies data regarding the community reinvestment activities.

    PRA Burden Estimates OCC

    Number of respondents: Recordkeeping requirement, small business and small farm loan register, 142; Optional recordkeeping requirements, consumer loan data, 85, and other loan data, 25; Reporting requirements, assessment area delineation, 189; loan data: Small business and small farm, 142, community development, 142, and HMDA out of MSA, 142; Optional reporting requirements, data on lending by a consortium or third party, 31; affiliate lending data, 9; request for strategic plan approval, 5; request for designation as a wholesale or limited purpose bank, 12; Disclosure requirement, public file, 1,234.

    Estimated average hours per response: Recordkeeping requirement, small business and small farm loan register: 219 hours; Optional recordkeeping requirements, consumer loan data, 326 hours, and other loan data, 25 hours; Reporting requirements, assessment area delineation, 2 hours; loan data: Small business and small farm, 8 hours, community development, 13 hours, and HMDA out of MSA, 253 hours; Optional reporting requirements, data on lending by a consortium or third party, 17 hours; affiliate lending data, 38 hours; request for strategic plan approval, 275 hours; request for designation as a wholesale or limited purpose bank, 4 hours; Disclosure requirement, public file, 10 hours.

    Estimated annual reporting hours: Recordkeeping requirement, small business and small farm loan register: 31,098 hours; Optional recordkeeping requirements, consumer loan data, 27,710 hours and other loan data, 625 hours; Reporting requirements, assessment area delineation, 378 hours; loan data: Small business and small farm, 1,136 hours, community development, 1,846 hours, and HMDA out of MSA, 35,926 hours; Optional reporting requirements, data on lending by a consortium or third party, 527 hours; affiliate lending data, 342 hours; request for strategic plan approval, 1,375 hours; request for designation as a wholesale or limited purpose bank, 48 hours; Disclosure requirement, public file, 12,340 hours.

    Total annual burden: 113,351 hours.

    Board

    Number of respondents: Recordkeeping requirement, small business and small farm loan register, 94; Optional recordkeeping requirements, consumer loan data, 21, and other loan data, 15; Reporting requirements, assessment area delineation, 98; loan data: Small business and small farm, 94, community development, 98, and HMDA out of MSA, 89; Optional reporting requirements, data on lending by a consortium or third party, 9; affiliate lending data, 8; request for strategic plan approval, 2; request for designation as a wholesale or limited purpose bank, 1; Disclosure requirement, public file, 817.

    Estimated average hours per response: Recordkeeping requirement, small business and small farm loan register: 219 hours; Optional recordkeeping requirements, consumer loan data, 326 hours, and other loan data, 25 hours; Reporting requirements, assessment area delineation, 2 hours; loan data: Small business and small farm, 8 hours, community development, 13 hours, and HMDA out of MSA, 253 hours; Optional reporting requirements, data on lending by a consortium or third party, 17 hours; affiliate lending data, 38 hours; request for strategic plan approval, 275 hours; request for designation as a wholesale or limited purpose bank, 4 hours; Disclosure requirement, public file, 10 hours.

    Estimated annual reporting hours: Recordkeeping requirement, small business and small farm loan register: 20,586 hours; Optional recordkeeping requirements, consumer loan data, 6,846 hours and other loan data, 375 hours; Reporting requirements, assessment area delineation, 196 hours; loan data: Small business and small farm, 752 hours, community development, 1,274 hours, and HMDA out of MSA, 22,517 hours; Optional reporting requirements, data on lending by a consortium or third party, 153 hours; affiliate lending data, 304 hours; request for strategic plan approval, 550 hours; request for designation as a wholesale or limited purpose bank, 4 hours; Disclosure requirement, public file, 8,170 hours.

    Total annual burden: 61,727 hours.

    FDIC

    Number of respondents: Reporting requirements: Request for designation as a wholesale or limited purpose bank, 1 respondent; Strategic plan, 7 respondents; Small business/small farm loan data, 393 respondents; Community development loan data, 393 respondents; Home mortgage loans, 393 respondents; Data on affiliate lending, 200 respondents; Data on lending by a consortium or a third party, 75 respondents; and Assessment area data, 393 respondents; Recordkeeping requirements: Small business/small farm loan register, 393 respondents; Optional consumer loan data, 75 respondents; and Other loan data, 100 respondents; Disclosure requirements: Content and availability of public file, 3,971 respondents.

    Estimated average hours per response: Reporting requirements: Request for designation as a wholesale or limited purpose bank, 4 hours; Strategic plan, 400 hours; Small business/small farm loan data, 8 hours; Community development loan data, 13 hours; Home mortgage loans, 253 hours; Data on affiliate lending, 38 hours; Data on lending by a consortium or a third party, 17 hours; and Assessment area data, 2 hours; Recordkeeping requirements: Small business/small farm loan register, 219 hours; Optional consumer loan data, 326 hours; and Other loan data, 25 hours; Disclosure requirements: Content and availability of public file, 10 hours.

    Estimated annual reporting hours: Reporting requirements: Request for designation as a wholesale or limited purpose bank, 4 hours; Strategic plan, 2,800 hours; Small business/small farm loan data, 3,144 hours; Community development loan data, 5,109 hours; Home mortgage loans, 99,429 hours; Data on affiliate lending, 7,600 hours; Data on lending by a consortium or a third party, 1,275 hours; and Assessment area data, 786 hours; Recordkeeping requirements: Small business/small farm loan register, 86,067 hours; Optional consumer loan data, 24,450 hours; and Other loan data, 2,500 hours; Disclosure requirements: Content and availability of public file, 39,710 hours.

    Total annual burden: 272,874 hours.

    Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995

    The OCC analyzed the proposed rule under the factors set forth in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 (UMRA) (2 U.S.C. 1532). Under this analysis, the OCC considered whether the proposed rule includes a Federal mandate that may result in the expenditure by State, local, and Tribal governments, in the aggregate, or by the private sector, of $100 million or more in any one year (adjusted for inflation). The OCC has determined that this proposed rule would not result in expenditures by State, local, and Tribal governments, or the private sector, of $100 million or more in any one year.40 Accordingly, the OCC has not prepared a written statement to accompany this notice of proposed rulemaking.

    40 The OCC anticipates that the proposal would not impose costs on any OCC-supervised financial institutions since the proposed rule does not impose new requirements or include new mandates. Any burden that may be associated with changes made to Regulation C HMDA reporting are a result of CFPB rulemakings.

    Plain Language

    Section 722 of the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act requires the Agencies to use plain language in all proposed and final rules published after January 1, 2000. The Agencies invite comment on how to make this proposed rule easier to understand.

    For example:

    • Have the Agencies organized the material to inform your needs? If not, how could the Agencies present the proposed rule more clearly?

    • Are the requirements in the proposed rule clearly stated? If not, how could the proposal be more clearly stated?

    • Does the proposed regulation contain technical language or jargon that is not clear? If so, which language requires clarification?

    • Would a different format (grouping and order of sections, use of headings, paragraphing) make the proposed regulation easier to understand? If so, what changes would achieve that?

    • Is this section format adequate? If not, which of the sections should be changed and how?

    • What other changes can the agencies incorporate to make the proposed regulation easier to understand?

    List of Subjects 12 CFR Part 25

    Community development, Credit, Investments, National banks, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements.

    12 CFR Part 195

    Community development, Credit, Investments, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Savings associations.

    12 CFR Part 228

    Banks, Banking, Community development, Credit, Investments, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements.

    12 CFR Part 345

    Banks, Banking, Community development, Credit, Investments, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements.

    DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY Office of the Comptroller of the Currency 12 CFR Chapter I Authority and Issuance

    For the reasons discussed in the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency proposes to amend 12 CFR parts 25 and 195 as follows:

    PART 25—COMMUNITY REINVESTMENT ACT AND INTERSTATE DEPOSIT PRODUCTION REGULATIONS 1. The authority citation for part 25 continues to read as follows: Authority:

    12 U.S.C. 21, 22, 26, 27, 30, 36, 93a, 161, 215, 215a, 481, 1814, 1816, 1828(c), 1835a, 2901 through 2908, and 3101 through 3111.

    § 25.12 [Amended]
    2. Section 25.12 is amended: a. By adding “or” at the end of paragraph (g)(3); b. By removing “; or” at the end of (g)(4), and adding in its place “.”; c. By removing paragraph (g)(5); d. In paragraph (h)(2)(i), by removing the phrase “unless it is a multifamily dwelling loan (as described in appendix A to part 1003 of this title)” and adding in its place the phrase “unless the loan is for a multifamily dwelling (as defined in § 1003.2(n) of this title)”; e. By removing paragraph (j)(3), and redesignating paragraph (j)(4) as paragraph (j)(3) and redesignating paragraph (j)(5) as paragraph (j)(4); and f. In paragraph (l), by removing the phrase “ `home improvement loan,' `home purchase loan,' or a `refinancing' as defined in § 1003.2 of this title” and adding in its place the phrase “closed-end mortgage loan or an open-end line of credit as these terms are defined under § 1003.2 of this title, and that is not an excluded transaction under § 1003.3(c)(1)-(10) and (13) of this title”.
    § 25.22 [Amended]
    3. Section 25.22 is amended in paragraph (a)(1), by removing the phrase “home equity,” after “credit card.”
    § 25.42 [Amended]
    4. Section 25.42 is amended in paragraph (c)(1), by removing the phrase “home equity,” after “credit card.” 5. Section 25.43 is amended by revising paragraph (b)(2) to read as follows:
    § 25.43 Content and availability of public file.

    (b) * * *

    (2) Banks required to report Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA) data. A bank required to report home mortgage loan data pursuant part 1003 of this title shall include in its public file a written notice that the institution's HMDA Disclosure Statement may be obtained on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's (Bureau's) Web site at www.consumerfinance.gov/hmda. In addition, a bank that elected to have the OCC consider the mortgage lending of an affiliate shall include in its public file the name of the affiliate and a written notice that the affiliate's HMDA Disclosure Statement may be obtained at the Bureau's Web site. The bank shall place the written notice(s) in the public file within three business days after receiving notification from the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council of the availability of the disclosure statement(s).

    PART 195—COMMUNITY REINVESTMENT 6. The authority citation for part 195 continues to read as follows: Authority:

    12 U.S.C. 1462a, 1463, 1464, 1814, 1816, 1828(c), 2901 through 2908, and 5412(b)(2)(B).

    § 195.12 [Amended]
    7. Section 195.12 is amended: a. By adding “or” at the end of paragraph (g)(3); b. By removing “; or” at the end of (g)(4), and adding in its place “.”; c. By removing paragraph (g)(5); d. In paragraph (h)(2)(i), by removing the phrase “unless it is a multifamily dwelling loan (as described in appendix A to part 1003 of this title)” and adding in its place the phrase “unless the loan is for a multifamily dwelling (as defined in § 1003.2(n) of this title)”; e. By removing paragraph (j)(3), and redesignating paragraph (j)(4) as paragraph (j)(3) and redesignating (j)(5) as paragraph (j)(4); and f. In paragraph (l), by removing the phrase “ `home improvement loan,' `home purchase loan,' or a `refinancing' as defined in § 1003.2 of this title” and adding in its place the phrase “closed-end mortgage loan or an open-end line of credit as these terms are defined under § 1003.2 of this title and that is not an excluded transaction under § 1003.3(c)(1)-(10) and (13) of this title”.
    § 195.22 [Amended]
    8. Section 195.22 is amended in paragraph (a)(1), by removing the phrase “home equity,” after “credit card.”
    § 195.42 [Amended]
    9. Section 195.42 is amended in paragraph (c)(1), by removing the phrase “home equity,” after “credit card.” 10. Section 195.43 is amended by revising paragraph (b)(2) to read as follows:
    § 195.43 Content and availability of public file.

    (b) * * *

    (2) Savings associations required to report Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA) data. A savings association required to report home mortgage loan data pursuant part 1003 of this title shall include in its public file a written notice that the institution's HMDA Disclosure Statement may be obtained on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's (Bureau's) Web site at www.consumerfinance.gov/hmda. In addition, a savings association that elected to have the appropriate Federal banking agency consider the mortgage lending of an affiliate shall include in its public file the name of the affiliate and a written notice that the affiliate's HMDA Disclosure Statement may be obtained at the Bureau's Web site. The savings association shall place the written notice(s) in the public file within three business days after receiving notification from the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council of the availability of the disclosure statement(s).

    Federal Reserve System 12 CFR Chapter II Authority and Issuance

    For the reasons discussed in the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section, the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System proposes to amend part 228 of chapter II of title 12 of the Code of Federal Regulations as follows:

    PART 228—COMMUNITY REINVESTMENT (REGULATION BB) 1. The authority citation for part 228 continues to read as follows: Authority:

    12 U.S.C. 321, 325, 1828(c), 1842, 1843, 1844, and 2901 et seq.

    § 228.12 [Amended]
    2. Section 228.12 is amended: a. By adding “or” at the end of paragraph (g)(3); b. By removing “; or” at the end of (g)(4), and adding in its place “.”; c. By removing paragraph (g)(5); d. In paragraph (h)(2)(i), by removing the phrase “unless it is a multifamily dwelling loan (as described in appendix A to part 1003 of this title)” and adding in its place the phrase “unless the loan is for a multifamily dwelling (as defined in § 1003.2(n) of this title)”; e. By removing paragraph (j)(3), and redesignating paragraph (j)(4) as paragraph (j)(3) and redesignating paragraph (j)(5) as paragraph (j)(4); and f. In paragraph (l), by removing the phrase “ `home improvement loan,' `home purchase loan,' or a `refinancing' as defined in § 1003.2 of this title” and adding in its place the phrase, “closed-end mortgage loan or an open-end line of credit as these terms are defined under § 1003.2 of this title and that is not an excluded transaction under § 1003.3(c)(1)-(10) and (13) of this title”.
    § 228.22 [Amended]
    3. Section 228.22 is amended in paragraph (a)(1), by removing the phrase “home equity,” after “credit card.”
    § 228.42 [Amended]
    4. Section 228.42 is amended in paragraph (c)(1), by removing the phrase “home equity,” after “credit card.” 5. Section 228.43 is amended by revising paragraph (b)(2), to read as follows:
    § 228.43 Content and availability of public file.

    (b) * * *

    (2) Banks required to report Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA) data. A bank required to report home mortgage loan data pursuant part 1003 of this title shall include in its public file a written notice that the institution's HMDA Disclosure Statement may be obtained on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's (Bureau's) Web site at www.consumerfinance.gov/hmda. In addition, a bank that elected to have the Board consider the mortgage lending of an affiliate shall include in its public file the name of the affiliate and a written notice that the affiliate's HMDA Disclosure Statement may be obtained at the Bureau's Web site. The bank shall place the written notice(s) in the public file within three business days after receiving notification from the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council of the availability of the disclosure statement(s).

    Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation 12 CFR Chapter III Authority and Issuance

    For the reasons discussed in the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section, the Board of Directors of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation proposes to amend part 345 of chapter III of title 12 of the Code of Federal Regulations to read as follows:

    PART 345—COMMUNITY REINVESTMENT 1. The authority citation for part 345 continues to read as follows: Authority:

    12 U.S.C. 1814-1817, 1819-1820, 1828, 1831u and 2901-2908, 3103-3104, and 3108(a).

    § 345.12 [Amended]
    2. Section 345.12 is amended: a. By adding “or” at the end of paragraph (g)(3); b. By removing “; or” at the end of (g)(4), and adding in its place “.”; c. By removing paragraph (g)(5); d. In paragraph (h)(2)(i), by removing the phrase “unless it is a multifamily dwelling loan (as described in appendix A to part 1003 of this title)” and adding in its place the phrase “unless the loan is for a multifamily dwelling (as defined in § 1003.2(n) of this title)”; e. By removing paragraph (j)(3), and redesignating paragraph (j)(4) as paragraph (j)(3) and redesignating paragraph (j)(5) as paragraph (j)(4); and f. In paragraph (l), by removing the phrase “`home improvement loan,' `home purchase loan,' or a `refinancing' as defined in§ 1003.2 of this title” and adding in its place the phrase, “closed-end mortgage loan or an open-end line of credit as these terms are defined under § 1003.2 of this title and that is not an excluded transaction under § 1003.3(c)(1)-(10) and (13) of this title”.
    § 345.22 [Amended]
    3. Section 345.22 is amended in paragraph (a)(1), by removing the phrase “home equity,” after “credit card.”
    § 345.42 [Amended]
    4. Section 345.42 is amended in paragraph (c)(1), by removing the phrase “home equity,” after “credit card.” 5. Section 345.43 is amended by revising paragraph (b)(2), to read as follows:
    § 345.43 Content and availability of public file.

    (b) * * *

    (2) Banks required to report Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA) data. A bank required to report home mortgage loan data pursuant part 1003 of this title shall include in its public file a written notice that the institution's HMDA Disclosure Statement may be obtained on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's (Bureau's) Web site at www.consumerfinance.gov/hmda. In addition, a bank that elected to have the FDIC consider the mortgage lending of an affiliate shall include in its public file the name of the affiliate and a written notice that the affiliate's HMDA Disclosure Statement may be obtained at the Bureau's Web site. The bank shall place the written notice(s) in the public file within three business days after receiving notification from the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council of the availability of the disclosure statement(s).

    Dated: September 12, 2017. Keith A. Noreika, Acting Comptroller of the Currency. By order of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, September 6, 2017. Ann E. Misback, Secretary of the Board. By order of the Board of Directors. Dated at Washington, DC, this 31st day of August, of 2017. Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. Robert E. Feldman, Executive Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2017-19765 Filed 9-19-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4810-33-P; 6210-01-P; 6714-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY Internal Revenue Service 26 CFR Parts 1, 31, and 301 [REG-105004-16] RIN 1545-BN35 Use of Truncated Taxpayer Identification Numbers on Forms W-2, Wage and Tax Statement, Furnished to Employees AGENCY:

    Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Treasury.

    ACTION:

    Notice of proposed rulemaking.

    SUMMARY:

    This document contains proposed amendments to the regulations under sections 6051 and 6052 of the Internal Revenue Code (Code). To aid employers' efforts to protect employees from identity theft, these proposed regulations would amend existing regulations to permit employers to voluntarily truncate employees' social security numbers (SSNs) on copies of Forms W-2, Wage and Tax Statement, that are furnished to employees so that the truncated SSNs appear in the form of IRS truncated taxpayer identification numbers (TTINs). These proposed regulations also would amend the regulations under section 6109 to clarify the application of the truncation rules to Forms W-2 and to add an example illustrating the application of these rules. Additionally, these proposed amendments would delete obsolete provisions and update cross references in the regulations under sections 6051 and 6052. These proposed regulations affect employers who are required to furnish Forms W-2 and employees who receive Forms W-2.

    DATES:

    Written or electronic comments and requests for a public hearing must be received by December 18, 2017.

    ADDRESSES:

    Send submissions to: CC:PA:LPD:PR (REG-105004-16), Room 5203, Internal Revenue Service, P.O. Box 7604, Ben Franklin Station, Washington, DC 20044. Submissions may be hand-delivered between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. to CC:PA:LPD:PR (REG-105004-16), Courier's Desk, Internal Revenue Service, 1111 Constitution Avenue NW., Washington, DC, or sent via the Federal eRulemaking Portal at www.regulations.gov (REG-105004-16).

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Concerning these proposed regulations, Eliezer Mishory, (202) 317-6844; concerning submissions of comments and/or requests for a hearing, Regina Johnson, (202) 317-6901 (not toll-free numbers).

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Background

    This document contains proposed amendments to the Income Tax Regulations (26 CFR part 1), the Employment Taxes and Collection of Income Tax at Source Regulations (26 CFR part 31), and the Procedure and Administration Regulations (26 CFR part 301) regarding statements that are required to be furnished to employees by employers or other persons under sections 6051 and 6052 of the Code. Section 6051(a) generally requires that an employer provide to each employee on or before January 31st of the succeeding year a written statement that shows the employee's total amount of wages and the total amount deducted and withheld as tax from those wages, along with other information, for each calendar year. Employers must use Form W-2 (or a substitute statement that complies with applicable revenue procedures relating to such statements) to provide the information required by section 6051(a) to employees. See § 31.6051-1(a)(1)(i); Rev. Proc. 2016-54, 2016-45 I.R.B. 685, also published as Publication 1141, “General Rules and Specifications for Substitute Forms W-2 and W-3,” or any successor guidance. Section 6051(d) provides that, when required to do so by regulations, employers must file with the Secretary duplicates of the forms required to be furnished to employees under section 6051. Section 31.6051-2(a) generally requires employers to file Social Security Administration copies of Forms W-2 with the Social Security Administration. A person making a payment of third-party sick pay to an employee of another employer (payee) is required under section 6051(f)(1) to furnish a written statement to the employer for whom services are normally rendered containing certain information, including the payee's SSN. Under certain conditions, the employer for whom services are normally rendered is required under section 6051(f)(2) to furnish a Form W-2 to the payee. This situation may arise, for example, when an insurance company is making payments to an employee of another employer because the employee is temporarily absent from work due to injury, sickness or disability, and the insurance company has satisfied the necessary requirements under § 32.1(e) of the Temporary Employment Tax Regulations under the Act of December 29, 1981 (Pub. L. 97-123) to transfer the obligation to do Form W-2 reporting to the employer. Employers also must use Form W-2 to file and furnish information regarding payment of wages in the form of group-term life insurance under section 6052.

    Section 6109(a) authorizes the Secretary to prescribe regulations with respect to the inclusion in returns, statements, or other documents of an identifying number as may be prescribed for securing proper identification of a person. On July 15, 2014, the Treasury Department and the IRS published in the Federal Register (79 FR 41127-02) final regulations (TD 9675) authorizing the use of TTINs on certain payee statements and certain other documents. These final regulations were in response to concerns about the risks of identity theft, including its effect on tax administration.

    Section 301.6109-4(b) generally provides that a TTIN may be used to identify any person on any statement or other document that the internal revenue laws require to be furnished to another person. Under § 301.6109-4(a), a TTIN is an individual's SSN, IRS individual taxpayer identification number (ITIN), IRS adoption taxpayer identification number (ATIN), or IRS employer identification number (EIN) in which the first five digits of the nine-digit number are replaced with Xs or asterisks. For example, a TTIN replacing an SSN appears in the form XXX-XX-1234 or ***-**-1234. Section 301.6109-4(b)(2)(ii) prohibits using TTINs if, among other things, a statute, regulation, other guidance published in the Internal Revenue Bulletin, form, or instructions specifically requires the use of an SSN. Additionally, § 301.6109-4(b)(2)(iii) prohibits the use of TTINs on any return, statement, or other document that is required to be filed with or furnished to the IRS.

    Prior to being amended by the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes (PATH) Act of 2015, Public Law 114-113, div. Q, title IV, 129 Stat. 2242, section 6051(a)(2) specifically required employers to include their employees' SSNs on copies of Forms W-2 that are furnished to employees. In addition, current regulations under § 31.6051-1, as well as forms and instructions, require employers to include their employees' SSNs on copies of Forms W-2 that are furnished to employees. Section 409 of the PATH Act amended section 6051(a)(2) by striking “his social security account number” from the list of information required on Form W-2 and inserting “an identifying number for the employee” instead. This statutory amendment is effective for statements issued after December 18, 2015, the date that the PATH Act was signed into law. Because an SSN is no longer required by section 6051, the Treasury Department and the IRS propose amending the regulations to permit employers to truncate employees' SSNs to appear in the form of TTINs on copies of Forms W-2 that are furnished to employees. If the proposed regulations are finalized without change, the IRS intends to incorporate the revised regulations into forms and instructions, permitting employers to use a TTIN on the employee copy of the Form W-2. See § 301.6109-4(b)(2)(i) and (ii).

    Explanation of Provisions Truncated SSN Permitted on Employee's Copies of Form W-2

    These proposed regulations amend § 31.6051-1 to permit employers to truncate employees' SSNs to appear in the form of a TTIN on copies of Forms W-2 that are furnished to employees under section 6051. Consistent with the rule in § 301.6109-4(b)(2)(iii), prohibiting the use of TTINs on any return, statement, or other document that is required to be filed with or furnished to the IRS, these proposed regulations amend § 31.6051-2 to clarify that employers may not truncate an employee's SSN to appear in the form of a TTIN on a copy of a Form W-2 that is filed with the Social Security Administration. This result is appropriate because both the IRS and the SSA need to utilize Forms W-2 to properly identify individuals to be able to carry out their respective duties.

    Consistent with the rule in § 301.6109-4(b)(2)(ii) that prohibits using TTINs if, among other things, a statute specifically requires the use of an SSN, the proposed regulations also amend § 31.6051-3 to clarify that a payee's SSN may not be truncated to appear in the form of a TTIN on a statement furnished to the employer of the payee who received sick pay from a third party because section 6051(f)(1)(A)(i) specifically requires such a statement to contain the employee's SSN. Nonetheless, these proposed regulations permit employers to truncate payees' SSNs to appear in the form of TTINs on copies of Forms W-2 that are furnished under section 6051(f)(2) to payees that report such third-party sick pay, in accordance with the general rule governing the reporting of wages to employees on Forms W-2 under section 6051(a), because section 6051(f)(2) does not specifically require the use of an SSN.

    Further, these proposed regulations amend § 1.6052-2 to permit employers to truncate employees' SSNs to appear in the form of TTINs on copies of Forms W-2 that are furnished to employees under section 6052(b) regarding payment of wages in the form of group-term life insurance.

    These proposed regulations amend § 301.6109-4 to clarify that truncation is not allowed on any return, statement, or other document that is required to be filed with or furnished to the Social Security Administration under the internal revenue laws. These proposed regulations also clarify the rule prohibiting truncation if a statute, regulation, other guidance published in the Internal Revenue Bulletin, form, or instructions, specifically requires use of a SSN, ITIN, ATIN, or EIN. The proposed regulations provide that truncation is allowed if a statute or IRS guidance (e.g., regulations, forms, instructions), that specifically requires use of a SSN, ITIN, ATIN, or EIN, also specifically states that the taxpayer identifying number may be truncated. These proposed regulations also add an example illustrating the application of these rules to Forms W-2. These proposed regulations also amend the existing example for clarity.

    Miscellaneous Updates to Regulations Under Sections 6051 and 6052

    In addition to the amendments relating to the truncation of employees' SSNs to appear in the form of TTINs in specific circumstances, these proposed regulations eliminate obsolete provisions and update cross references in the regulations under sections 6051 and 6052, as explained below.

    First, these proposed regulations amend § 31.6051-1 to remove obsolete provisions regarding compensation, as defined in the Railroad Retirement Tax Act, paid during 1968, 1969, 1970, and 1971 and reported on the now obsolete Form W-2 (RR); the special rule for statements with respect to the refundable earned income credit for Form W-2 for 1987 and 1988; and references to the annual contribution base (repealed in 1993) for wages subject to the Hospital Insurance tax (commonly known as Medicare tax).

    Second, these proposed regulations amend § 31.6051-1 to remove obsolete cross references, including a cross reference to former § 301.6676-1 relating to the penalty for failure to report an identification number or an account number, and a cross reference to section 6723 (prior to its amendment in 1989) that was relevant for Forms W-2 that were due from the beginning of 1987 through the end of 1989.

    Third, these proposed regulations amend § 31.6051-2 to update now inaccurate cross references resulting from statutory and regulatory changes regarding penalties for failures to file, and to remove a cross reference to section 6723 (prior to its amendment in 1989) that was relevant for Forms W-2 that were due from the beginning of 1987 through the end of 1989. These proposed regulations also change the title of § 31.6051-2 from “Information returns on Form W-3 and Internal Revenue Service copies of Forms W-2” to “Information returns on Form W-3 and Social Security Administration copies of Forms W-2,” to conform with the text of the regulation that refers to the Social Security Administration copies of Form W-2. In addition, these proposed regulations remove obsolete references in § 31.6051-2 to the requirements to submit information on magnetic tape and insert a reference to the requirements to submit information on magnetic media.

    Fourth, these proposed regulations amend § 31.6051-3 to remove the obsolete transition rule for third-party sick pay that was paid to a payee after December 31, 1980, and before May 1, 1981.

    Fifth, these proposed regulations amend § 1.6052-2 to remove an obsolete rule that allowed employers to use a statement other than a Form W-2 to satisfy the requirement to furnish a statement to an employee with respect to wages paid in the form of group-term life insurance. This rule was relevant for years prior to 1973, before § 1.6052-1 was amended to require employers to report wages in the form of group-term life insurance on Form W-2. At the same time, to conform to this new requirement, § 1.6052-2 was amended to provide that the requirement to furnish a statement to an employee with respect to wages paid in the form of group-term life insurance may be satisfied by furnishing to the employee the employee's copy of Form W-2 that was filed pursuant to § 1.6052-1. Because the transition period to require employers to file Form W-2 has long since passed and because the Treasury Department and the IRS understand that copies of Forms W-2 are used to satisfy the requirement to furnish statements to employees under § 1.6052-2, these proposed regulations require employers to furnish to employees the employees' copies of Forms W-2 that were filed pursuant to § 1.6052-1, and these proposed regulations make conforming changes throughout that section.

    Finally, these proposed regulations update the now inaccurate cross reference resulting from statutory changes regarding penalties for failures to furnish statements under section 6052 and remove the deemed compliance rule, which applied only to years before 1972.

    Proposed Effective/Applicability Date

    These proposed regulations will be effective on the date of the publication of the Treasury Decision adopting these rules as final in the Federal Register. These proposed regulations amend the effective/applicability date provisions in § 31.6051-1, § 31.6051-3, and § 301.6109-4, and add applicability date provisions to § 1.6052-2 and § 31.6051-2. Several state tax administrators have requested additional time to develop systems to process the copies of Forms W-2 filed with state income tax returns that may contain truncated SSNs. In light of this request, these proposed regulations will not apply to Forms W-2 required to be furnished before January 1, 2019. Accordingly, these proposed regulations provide that these regulations, as amended, will be applicable for statements required to be filed and furnished under sections 6051 and 6052 after December 31, 2018.

    Statement of Availability of IRS Documents

    IRS Revenue Procedures, Revenue Rulings notices, and other guidance cited in this preamble are published in the Internal Revenue Bulletin (or Cumulative Bulletin) and are available from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC 20402, or by visiting the IRS Web site at www.irs.gov.

    Special Analyses

    Certain IRS regulations, including this one, are exempt from the requirements of Executive Order 12866, as supplemented and reaffirmed by Executive Order 13563. Therefore, a regulatory assessment is not required. Because these proposed regulations do not impose a collection of information on small entities, the Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. chapter 6) does not apply. Pursuant to section 7805(f) of the Code, this notice of proposed rulemaking has been submitted to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business Administration for comment on its impact on small business.

    Comments and Requests for Public Hearing

    Before these proposed regulations are adopted as final regulations, consideration will be given to any comments that are submitted timely to the IRS as prescribed in the preamble under the ADDRESSES section. The Treasury Department and the IRS request comments on all aspects of these proposed regulations. All comments submitted will be made available at www.regulations.gov or upon request. A public hearing may be scheduled if requested in writing by any person that timely submits written comments. If a public hearing is scheduled, notice of the date, time, and place for the hearing will be published in the Federal Register.

    Drafting Information

    The principal author of these proposed regulations is Eliezer Mishory of the Office of the Associate Chief Counsel (Procedure and Administration).

    List of Subjects 26 CFR Part 1

    Income taxes, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements.

    26 CFR Part 31

    Employment taxes, Income taxes, Penalties, Pensions, Railroad Retirement, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Social Security, Unemployment compensation.

    26 CFR Part 301

    Employment taxes, Estate taxes, Excise taxes, Gift taxes, Income taxes, Penalties, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements.

    Proposed Amendments to the Regulations

    Accordingly, 26 CFR parts 1, 31 and 301 are proposed to be amended as follows:

    PART 1—INCOME TAXES Paragraph 1. The authority citation for part 1continues to read in part as follows: Authority:

    26 U.S.C. 7805, unless otherwise noted.

    Par. 2. Section 1.6052-2 is amended by: 1. Revising paragraph (a). 2. Removing paragraph (b). 3. Redesignating paragraph (e) as new paragraph (b). 4. Revising paragraphs (c) and (d). 5. Removing paragraphs (f) and (g).

    The revisions read as follows:

    § 1.6052-2 Statements to be furnished employees with respect to wages paid in the form of group-term life insurance.

    (a) Requirement. Every employer filing a return under section 6052(a) and § 1.6052-1, with respect to group-term life insurance on the life of an employee, shall furnish to the employee whose name is set forth in such return the tax return copy and the employee's copy of Form W-2. Each copy of Form W-2 must show the information required to be shown on the Form W-2 filed under § 1.6052-1. An employer may truncate an employee's social security number to appear in the form of an IRS truncated taxpayer identification number (TTIN) on copies of Form W-2 furnished to the employee. For provisions relating to the use of TTINs, see § 301.6109-4 of this chapter (Procedure and Administration Regulations). The rules in § 31.6051-1 of this chapter (Employment Taxes and Collection of Income Tax at Source Regulations) shall apply with respect to the means and time (including extensions thereof) for furnishing the employee's copy of Form W-2 required by this section to the employee and making corrections to such form.

    (c) Penalty. For provisions relating to the penalty provided for failure to furnish a statement under this section, see section 6722 and the regulations thereunder.

    (d) Applicability date. This section is applicable for statements required to be furnished under section 6052 after December 31, 2018.

    PART 31—EMPLOYMENT TAXES AND COLLECTION OF INCOME TAX AT SOURCE Par. 3. The authority citation for part 31 is amended by adding an entry in numerical order to read in part as follows: Authority:

    26 U.S.C. 7805 * * *

    Section 31.6051-3 also issued under 26 U.S.C. 6051.

    Par. 4. Section 31.6051-1 is amended by: 1. Revising paragraphs (a)(1)(i)(b) and (b)(1)(ii). 2. Removing paragraph (d)(1)(ii)(C). 3. Revising paragraphs (f), (h)(2), and (i). 4. Removing paragraph (j)(8). 5. Adding paragraph (k).

    The revisions and addition read as follows:

    § 31.6051-1 Statements for employees.

    (a) * * *

    (1) * * *

    (i) * * *

    (b) The name, address, and social security number of the employee, which may be truncated to appear in the form of an IRS truncated taxpayer identification number (TTIN) on copies of Forms W-2 that are furnished to the employee (for provisions relating to the use of TTINs, see § 301.6109-4 of this chapter (Procedure and Administration Regulations)), if wages as defined in section 3121(a) have been paid or if the Form W-2 is required to be furnished to the employee,

    (b) * * *

    (1) * * *

    (ii) The name, address, and social security number of the employee, which may be truncated to appear in the form of an IRS truncated taxpayer identification number (TTIN) on copies of Forms W-2 that are furnished to the employee (for provisions relating to the use of TTINs, see § 301.6109-4 of this chapter (Procedure and Administration Regulations)),

    (f) Statements with respect to compensation, as defined in the Railroad Retirement Tax Act—(1) Notification of possible credit or refund. With respect to compensation (as defined in section 3231(e)), every employer (as defined in section 3231(a)) who is required to deduct and withhold from an employee (as defined in section 3231(b)) a tax under section 3201, shall include on or with the statement required to be furnished to such employee under section 6051(a), a notice concerning the provisions of this title with respect to the allowance of a credit or refund of the tax on wages imposed by section 3101(b) and the tax on compensation imposed by section 3201 or 3211 which is treated as a tax on wages imposed by section 3101(b).

    (2) Information to be supplied to employees upon request. With respect to compensation (as defined in section 3231 (e)), every employer (as defined in section 3231(a)) who is required to deduct and withhold tax under section 3201 from an employee (as defined in section 3231(b)) who has also received wages during such year subject to the tax imposed by section 3101(b), shall upon request of such employee furnish to him or her a written statement showing—

    (i) The total amount of compensation with respect to which the tax imposed by section 3101(b) was deducted;

    (ii) The total amount of employee tax under section 3201 deducted and withheld (increased by any adjustment in the calendar year for overcollection, or decreased by any adjustment in such year for undercollection, of such tax during any prior year); and

    (iii) The proportion thereof (expressed either as a dollar amount, or a percentage of the total amount of compensation as defined in section 3231(e), or as a percentage of the total amount of employee tax under section 3201) withheld as tax under section 3201 for financing the cost of hospital insurance benefits.

    (h) * * *

    (2) Time for furnishing statement. The statement required by this paragraph (h) for a calendar year shall be furnished—

    (i) In the case of an employee who is required to be furnished a Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement, for the calendar year, within one week of (before or after) the date that the employee is furnished a timely Form W-2 for the calendar year (or, if a Form W-2 is not so furnished, on or before the date by which it is required to be furnished); and

    (ii) In the case of an employee who is not required to be furnished a Form W-2 for the calendar year, on or before February 7 of the year succeeding the calendar year.

    (i) Cross references. For provisions relating to the penalties provided for the willful furnishing of a false or fraudulent statement, or for the willful failure to furnish a statement, see § 31.6674-1 and section 7204. For additional provisions relating to the inclusion of identification numbers and account numbers in statements on Form W-2, see §§ 31.6109-1 and 31.6109-4. For the penalties applicable to information returns and payee statements, see sections 6721-6724 and the regulations thereunder.

    (k) Applicability date. This section is applicable for statements required to be furnished under section 6051 after December 31, 2018.

    Par. 5. Section 31.6051-2 is amended by revising paragraphs (a) and (c) and adding paragraph (d) to read as follows:
    § 31.6051-2 Information returns on Form W-3 and Social Security Administration copies of Forms W-2.

    (a) In general. Every employer who is required to make a return of tax under § 31.6011(a)-1 (relating to returns under the Federal Insurance Contributions Act), § 31.6011(a)-4 (relating to returns of income tax withheld from wages), or § 31.6011(a)-5 (relating to monthly returns) for a calendar year or any period therein, shall file the Social Security Administration copy of each Form W-2 required under § 31.6051-1 to be furnished by the employer with respect to wages paid during the calendar year. An employer may not truncate an employee's social security number to appear in the form of an IRS truncated taxpayer identification number (TTIN) on copies of Form W-2 filed with the Social Security Administration. Each Form W-2 and the transmittal Form W-3 shall together constitute an information return to be filed with the Social Security Administration as indicated on the instructions to such forms. For the requirement to submit the information on Form W-2 on magnetic media, see section 6011(e) and § 301.6011-2 of this chapter (Procedure and Administration Regulations).

    (c) Cross references. For provisions relating to the time for filing the information returns required by this section and to extensions of the time for filing, see sections 6071 and 6081 and the regulations thereunder. For the penalties applicable to information returns and payee statements, see sections 6721 through 6724 and the regulations thereunder.

    (d) Applicability date. This section is applicable for statements required to be filed under section 6051 after December 31, 2018.

    Par. 6. Section 31.6051-3 is amended by revising paragraphs (a)(1)(i), (b)(1), (e)(3), and (f) and removing paragraph (g) to read as follows:
    § 31.6051-3 Statements required in case of sick pay paid by third parties.

    (a) * * *

    (1) * * *

    (i) The name and, if there is withholding from sick pay under section 3402(o) and the regulations thereunder, the social security account number of the payee (the payee's social security number may not be truncated to appear in the form of an IRS truncated taxpayer identification number (TTIN)),

    (b) * * *

    (1) All of the information required to be furnished under paragraph (a) of this section, but the employer may truncate the payee's social security number to appear in the form of an IRS truncated taxpayer identification number (TTIN) on copies of Forms W-2 that are furnished to the payee (for provisions relating to the use of TTINs, see § 301.6109-4 of this chapter (Procedure and Administration Regulations)),

    (e) * * *

    (3) The provisions of section 6109 (relating to identifying numbers) and the regulations thereunder shall be applicable to Form W-2 and to any payee of sick pay to whom a statement on Form W-2 is required by this section to be furnished. The employer must include the social security number of the payee on all copies of Forms W-2. The employer may truncate the payee's social security number to appear in the form of an IRS truncated taxpayer identification number (TTIN) on copies of Forms W-2 that are furnished to the payee. For provisions relating to the use of truncated taxpayer identification numbers (TTINs), see § 301.6109-4 of this chapter (Procedure and Administration Regulations).

    (f) Applicability date. This section is applicable for statements required to be furnished under section 6051 after December 31, 2018.

    PART 301—PROCEDURE AND ADMINISTRATION Par. 7. The authority citation for part 301 continues to read in part as follows: Authority:

    26 U.S.C. 7805 * * *

    Par. 8. Section 301.6109-4 is amended by revising paragraphs (b)(2)(ii) and (iii), (b)(3), and (c) to read as follows:
    § 301.6109-4 IRS truncated taxpayer identification numbers.

    (b) * * *

    (2) * * *

    (ii) A TTIN may not be used on a statement or document if a statute, regulation, other guidance published in the Internal Revenue Bulletin, form, or instructions, specifically requires use of a SSN, ITIN, ATIN, or EIN and does not specifically state that the taxpayer identifying number may be truncated. For example, a TTIN may not be used on a Form W-8ECI or Form W-8IMY because the forms and/or form instructions specifically prescribe use of an SSN, EIN, or ITIN for the U.S. taxpayer identification number.

    (iii) A TTIN may not be used on any return, statement, or other document that is required to be filed with or furnished to the Internal Revenue Service or the Social Security Administration in the case of forms required to be filed with the Social Security Administration under the internal revenue laws.

    (3) Examples. The provisions of this paragraph (b) are illustrated by the following examples:

    (i) Example 1.

    Pursuant to section 6051(d) and § 31.6051-2(a) of this chapter, Employer files the Social Security Administration copy of Employee's Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement, with the Social Security Administration. Employer may not truncate any identifying number on the Social Security Administration copy. Pursuant to section 6051(a) and § 31.6051-1(a)(1)(i) of this chapter, Employer furnishes copies of Form W-2 to Employee. There are no applicable statutes, regulations, other published guidance, forms, or instructions that prohibit use of a TTIN on Form W-2, and § 31.6051-1(a)(1)(i) specifically permits truncating employees' SSNs. Accordingly, Employer may truncate Employee's SSN to appear in the form of a TTIN on copies of Form W-2 furnished to Employee. Employer may not truncate its own EIN on copies of Form W-2 furnished to Employee.

    (ii) Example 2.

    On April 5, year 1, Donor contributes a used car with a blue book value of $1100 to Charitable Organization. On April 20, year 1, Charitable Organization sends Donor copies B and C of the Form 1098-C as a contemporaneous written acknowledgement of the $1100 contribution as required by section 170(f)(12). In late-February, year 2, Charitable Organization prepares and files copy A of Form 1098-C with the IRS, reporting Donor's donation of a qualified vehicle in year 1. Charitable Organization may truncate Donor's SSN to appear in the form of a TTIN in the Donor's Identification Number box on copies B and C of the Form 1098-C because copies B and C of the Form 1098-C are documents required by the Internal Revenue Code and regulations to be furnished to another person; there are no applicable statutes, regulations, other published guidance, forms or instructions that prohibit the use of a TTIN on those copies; and there are no applicable statutes, regulations, other published guidance, forms, or instructions that specifically require use of an SSN or other identifying number on those copies. Charitable Organization may not truncate its own EIN on copies B and C of the Form 1098-C because a person cannot truncate its own taxpayer identifying number on any statement or other document the person furnishes to another person. Charitable Organization may not truncate any identifying number on copy A of the Form 1098-C because copy A is required to be filed with the IRS.

    (c) Applicability date. This section is applicable to returns, statements and other documents required to be filed or furnished after December 31, 2018.

    Kirsten Wielobob, Deputy Commissioner for Services and Enforcement.
    [FR Doc. 2017-19910 Filed 9-18-17; 11:15 am] BILLING CODE 4830-01-P
    ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY 40 CFR Part 52 [EPA-R07-OAR-2017-0208; FRL-9967-92-Region 7] Approval of Implementation Plans; State of Iowa; Elements of the Infrastructure SIP Requirements for the 2010 Nitrogen Dioxide National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) AGENCY:

    Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

    ACTION:

    Proposed rule.

    SUMMARY:

    The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing to approve elements of a State Implementation Plan (SIP) submission, and an amended SIP submission from the State of Iowa for the 2010 Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS). Infrastructure SIPs address the applicable requirements of Clean Air Act (CAA) section 110, which requires that each state adopt and submit a SIP for the implementation, maintenance, and enforcement of each new or revised NAAQS promulgated by the EPA. These SIPs are commonly referred to as “infrastructure” SIPs. The infrastructure requirements are designed to ensure that the structural components of each state's air quality management program are adequate to meet the state's responsibilities under the CAA.

    In the “Rules and Regulations” section of this Federal Register, we are approving the state's SIP revisions as a direct final rule without a prior proposed rule. If we receive no adverse comment, we will not take further action on this proposed rule.

    DATES:

    Comments must be received on or before October 20, 2017.

    ADDRESSES:

    Submit your comments, identified by Docket ID No. EPA-R07-OAR-2017-0208, to https://www.regulations.gov. Follow the online instructions for submitting comments. Once submitted, comments cannot be edited or removed from Regulations.gov. The 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. The 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 https://www2.epa.gov/dockets/commenting-epa-dockets.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Heather Hamilton, Air Planning and Development Branch, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 7, 11201 Renner Boulevard, Lenexa, KS 66219 at (913) 551-7039, or by email at [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    This document proposes to take direct final action on Iowa's infrastructure SIP submissions for the 2010 NO2 NAAQS. We have published a direct final rule approving the State's SIP revision(s) in the “Rules and Regulations” section of this Federal Register, because we view this as a noncontroversial action and anticipate no relevant adverse comment. We have explained our reasons for this action in the preamble to the direct final rule. A detailed Technical Support Document (TSD) is included in this rulemaking docket to address the following: A description of Clean Air Act section 110(a)(1) and (2) infrastructure SIPs; the applicable elements under sections 110(a)(1) and (2); EPA's approach to the review of infrastructure SIP submissions, and EPA's evaluation of how Iowa addressed the relevant elements of sections 110(a)(1) and (2). If we receive no adverse comment, we will not take further action on this proposed rule. If we receive adverse comment, we will withdraw the direct final rule and it will not take effect. We would address all public comments in any subsequent final rule based on this proposed rule. We do not intend to institute a second comment period on this action. Any parties interested in commenting must do so at this time. For further information, please see the information provided in the ADDRESSES section of this document.

    List of Subjects in 40 CFR Part 52

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

    Dated: September 8, 2017. Cathy Stepp, Acting Regional Administrator, Region 7.
    [FR Doc. 2017-19936 Filed 9-19-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560-50-P
    ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY 40 CFR Part 52 [EPA-R07-OAR-2017-0477; FRL-9967-94-Region 7] Approval of Nebraska Air Quality Implementation Plans; Infrastructure SIP Requirements for the 2010 Nitrogen Dioxide and Sulfur Dioxide and the 2012 Fine Particulate Matter National Ambient Air Quality Standards AGENCY:

    Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

    ACTION:

    Proposed rule.

    SUMMARY:

    The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing to approve elements of a State Implementation Plan (SIP) submission from the State of Nebraska addressing the applicable requirements of Clean Air Act (CAA) section 110 for the 2010 Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) and Sulfur Dioxide (SO2) National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS), and the 2012 Fine Particulate Matter (PM2.5) NAAQS, which requires that each state adopt and submit a SIP to support implementation, maintenance, and enforcement of each new or revised NAAQS promulgated by EPA. These SIPs are commonly referred to as “infrastructure” SIPs. The infrastructure requirements are designed to ensure that the structural components of each state's air quality management program are adequate to meet the state's responsibilities under the CAA. EPA is proposing approval of the infrastructure submissions as meeting the applicable requirements of CAA section 110, for all three submittals. EPA is proposing to approve elements of the 2010 NO2 and SO2 infrastructure SIP submissions from the State of Nebraska received on February 7, 2013, and August 22, 2013, respectively. EPA is also proposing to approve the 2012 PM2.5 infrastructure submittal received on February 22, 2016. In the “Rules and Regulations” section of this Federal Register, we are approving the state's SIP revisions as a direct final rule without a prior proposed rule. If we receive no adverse comment, we will not take further action on this proposed rule.

    DATES:

    Comments must be received by October 20, 2017.

    ADDRESSES:

    Submit your comments, identified by Docket ID No. EPA-R07-OAR-2017-0477, to https://www.regulations.gov. Follow the online instructions for submitting comments. Once submitted, comments cannot be edited or removed from Regulations.gov. The 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. The 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 https://www2.epa.gov/dockets/commenting-epa-dockets.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Mr. Gregory Crable, Environmental Protection Agency, Air Planning and Development Branch, 11201 Renner Boulevard, Lenexa, Kansas 66219 at (913) 551-7391, or by email at [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    This document proposes to take action on the 2010 NO2 and SO2 NAAQS and the 2012 PM2.5 NAAQS Infrastructure SIP submittals. We have published a direct final rule approving the State's SIP revision (s) in the “Rules and Regulations” section of this Federal Register, because we view this as a noncontroversial action and anticipate no relevant adverse comment. We have explained our reasons for this action in the preamble to the direct final rule. If we receive no adverse comment, we will not take further action on this proposed rule. If we receive adverse comment, we will withdraw the direct final rule and it will not take effect. We would address all public comments in any subsequent final rule based on this proposed rule. We do not intend to institute a second comment period on this action. Any parties interested in commenting must do so at this time. For further information, please see the information provided in the ADDRESSES section of this document.

    List of Subjects in 40 CFR Part 52

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

    Dated: September 8, 2017. Cathy Stepp, Acting Regional Administrator, Region 7.
    [FR Doc. 2017-19934 Filed 9-19-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560-50-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 300 [Docket No. 170616568-7568-01] RIN 0648-BG93 International Fisheries; Western and Central Pacific Fisheries for Highly Migratory Species; Fishing Limits in Purse Seine Fisheries for 2017 AGENCY:

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

    ACTION:

    Proposed rule; request for comments.

    SUMMARY:

    NMFS seeks comments on this proposed rule issued under authority of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Convention Implementation Act (WCPFC Implementation Act). The proposed rule would establish a limit for calendar year 2017 on fishing effort by U.S. purse seine vessels in the U.S. exclusive economic zone (U.S. EEZ) and on the high seas between the latitudes of 20° N. and 20° S. in the area of application of the Convention on the Conservation and Management of Highly Migratory Fish Stocks in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean (Convention). The limit is 1,828 fishing days. The rule also would make corrections to outdated cross references in existing regulatory text. This action is necessary to satisfy the obligations of the United States under the Convention, to which it is a Contracting Party.

    DATES:

    Comments on the proposed rule must be submitted in writing by October 5, 2017.

    ADDRESSES:

    You may submit comments on the proposed rule and the regulatory impact review (RIR) prepared for the proposed rule, identified by NOAA-NMFS-2017-0100, by either of the following methods:

    Electronic submission: Submit all electronic public comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal.

    1. Go to www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D= NOAA-NMFS-2017-0100,

    2. Click the “Comment Now!” icon, complete the required fields, and

    3. Enter or attach your comments.

    -OR-

    Mail: Submit written comments to Michael D. Tosatto, Regional Administrator, NMFS, Pacific Islands Regional Office (PIRO), 1845 Wasp Blvd., Building 176, Honolulu, HI 96818.

    Instructions: Comments sent by any other method, to any other address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period, might 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 and address), 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).

    An initial regulatory flexibility analysis (IRFA) prepared under authority of the Regulatory Flexibility Act is included in the Classification section of the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section of this document.

    Copies of the RIR and the programmatic environmental assessment (PEA) prepared for National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) purposes are available at www.regulations.gov or may be obtained from Michael D. Tosatto, Regional Administrator, NMFS PIRO (see address above).

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Emily Crigler, NMFS PIRO, 808-725-5036.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Background on the Convention

    The Convention is concerned with the conservation and management of fisheries for highly migratory species (HMS). The objective of the Convention is to ensure, through effective management, the long-term conservation and sustainable use of HMS in the WCPO. To accomplish this objective, the Convention established the Commission, which includes Members, Cooperating Non-members, and Participating Territories (collectively referred to here as “members”). The United States of America is a Member. American Samoa, Guam, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) are Participating Territories.

    As a Contracting Party to the Convention and a Member of the Commission, the United States implements, as appropriate, conservation and management measures and other decisions adopted by the Commission. The WCPFC Implementation Act (16 U.S.C. 6901 et seq.), authorizes the Secretary of Commerce, in consultation with the Secretary of State and the Secretary of the Department in which the United States Coast Guard is operating (currently the Department of Homeland Security), to promulgate such regulations as may be necessary to carry out the obligations of the United States under the Convention, including the decisions of the Commission. The WCPFC Implementation Act further provides that the Secretary of Commerce shall ensure consistency, to the extent practicable, of fishery management programs administered under the WCPFC Implementation Act and the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA; 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.), as well as other specific laws (see 16 U.S.C. 6905(b)). The Secretary of Commerce has delegated the authority to promulgate regulations under the WCPFC Implementation Act to NMFS. A map showing the boundaries of the area of application of the Convention (Convention Area), which comprises the majority of the WCPO, can be found on the WCPFC Web site at: www.wcpfc.int/doc/convention-area-map.

    Proposed Action

    This proposed rule would implement specific provisions of the Commission's Conservation and Management Measure (CMM) 2016-01, “Conservation and Management Measure for Bigeye, Yellowfin, and Skipjack Tuna in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean,” for purse seine fisheries. CMM 2016-01 was adopted by the Commission at its thirteenth regular annual session, in December 2016, went into effect February 2017, and is applicable for 2017. The rule would also make some administrative changes to correct cross references in existing regulatory text.

    CMM 2016-01 is the latest in a series of CMMs devoted to the conservation and management of tropical tuna stocks, particularly stocks of bigeye tuna (Thunnus obesus), yellowfin tuna (Thunnus albacares), and skipjack tuna (Katsuwonus pelamis). CMM 2016-01 maintains the provisions of its predecessor, CMM 2015-01. These and the other CMMs are available at: www.wcpfc.int/conservation-and-management-measures.

    The stated objective of CMM 2016-01 and several of its predecessor CMMs is to ensure that the stocks of bigeye tuna, yellowfin tuna, and skipjack tuna in the WCPO are, at a minimum, maintained at levels capable of producing their maximum sustainable yield as qualified by relevant environmental and economic factors. The CMM includes specific objectives for each of the three stocks: for each, the fishing mortality rate is to be reduced to or maintained at levels no greater than the fishing mortality rate associated with maximum sustainable yield. The proposed rule would implement the provisions for purse seine vessels that have not yet been implemented for 2017. Several provisions of CMM 2016-01 that are the same as in CMM 2015-01 have already been implemented by NMFS. NMFS is also adjusting the longline bigeye tuna catch limit as required under CMM 2016-01 through a separate rulemaking (82 FR 36341; August 4, 2017).

    The elements of the proposed rule are detailed below. The administrative changes that would be made to correct outdated references in existing regulatory text are described at the end of this preamble.

    Purse Seine Effort Limits

    As in previous rules to implement similar Commission-mandated limits on purse seine fishing effort, this proposed rule would implement the applicable limits for the U.S. EEZ (paragraph 23 of CMM 2016-01) and the high seas (paragraph 25 of CMM 2016-01) such that they apply to a single area, without regard to the boundary between the U.S. EEZ and the high seas. CMM 2016-01 has separate provisions for the high seas and the EEZ merely because they are subject to different management responsibility, and not because of different conservation and management needs or objectives for the two areas. Specifically, CMM 2016-01 calls for fishing effort in EEZs to be limited by coastal States, and fishing effort in areas of high seas to be limited by flag States.

    In this case, the United States is both a coastal state and a flag state and will satisfy its dual responsibilities by implementing a rule that combines the two areas for the purpose of limiting purse seine fishing effort. NMFS considered both the action alternative that would combine the two areas and another alternative that would not (see the PEA and the RIR for comparisons of the two alternatives). Because both alternatives would accomplish the objective of controlling fishing effort by the WPCFC-adopted amount (i.e., by U.S. purse seine vessels operating on the high seas and by purse seine vessels in areas under U.S. jurisdiction, collectively), and because the alternative of combining the two areas is expected to result in greater operational flexibility to affected purse seine vessels and lesser adverse economic impacts, as in previous years, NMFS is proposing to implement the alternative that would combine the two areas. This combined area (within the Convention Area between the latitudes of 20° N. and 20° S.) is referred to in U.S. regulations as the Effort Limit Area for Purse Seine, or ELAPS (see 50 CFR 300.211).

    The 2017 purse seine fishing effort limit for the ELAPS is formulated as in previous rules to establish limits for the ELAPS: The applicable limit for the U.S. EEZ portion of the ELAPS, 558 fishing days per year, is combined with the applicable limit for the high seas portion of the ELAPS, 1,270 fishing days per year, resulting in a combined limit of 1,828 fishing days in the ELAPS for calendar year 2017. This ELAPS limit for 2017, 1,828 fishing days, is identical to the limits established for 2014, 2015, and 2016.

    The meaning of “fishing day” is defined at 50 CFR 300.211; that is, any day in which a fishing vessel of the United States equipped with purse seine gear searches for fish, deploys a FAD, services a FAD, or sets a purse seine, with the exception of setting a purse seine solely for the purpose of testing or cleaning the gear and resulting in no catch.

    As established in existing regulations for purse seine fishing effort limits in the ELAPS, NMFS will monitor the number of fishing days spent in the ELAPS using data submitted in logbooks and other available information. If and when NMFS determines that the limit of 1,828 fishing days is expected to be reached by a specific future date, it will publish a notice in the Federal Register announcing that the purse seine fishery in the ELAPS will be closed starting on a specific future date and will remain closed until the end of calendar year 2017. NMFS will publish that notice at least seven days in advance of the closure date (see 50 CFR 300.223(a)(2)). Starting on the announced closure date, and for the remainder of calendar year 2017, it will be prohibited for U.S. purse seine vessels to fish in the ELAPS (see CFR 300.223(a)(3)).

    Related Rulemaking

    On May 12, 2015, as NMFS was preparing to publish an interim rule to establish the ELAPS limit for 2015 (published May 21, 2015; 80 FR 29220), NMFS received a petition for rulemaking from Tri Marine Management Company, LLC. The company requested, first, that NOAA undertake an emergency rulemaking to implement the 2015 ELAPS limits for fishing days on the high seas, and second, that NOAA issue a rule exempting from that high seas limit any U.S.-flagged purse seine vessel that, pursuant to contract or declaration of intent, delivers or will deliver at least 50 percent of its catch to tuna processing facilities based in American Samoa.

    On July 17, 2015, NMFS issued a notice of receipt of, and a request for comments on, the petition (80 FR 42464).

    On October 23, 2015, after considering the petition and public comments on the petition, NMFS announced that it had denied the petition (80 FR 64382). The petition, the public comments on the petition, and NMFS' decision on the petition are available via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal, at www.regulations.gov (search for Docket ID NOAA-NMFS-2015-0088).

    Although NMFS denied the petition, it acknowledged that some of the issues raised in the petition warrant further examination. Accordingly, on the same date, October 23, 2015, and in the same Federal Register document, NMFS issued an advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPRM) related to the subject of the petition (80 FR 64382). NMFS continues to evaluate options that may mitigate adverse economic impacts of purse seine fishing restrictions on the U.S. territories, to the extent consistent with U.S. obligations under the Convention. Establishing a limit of 1,828 fishing days in the ELAPS for 2017 through this proposed rule, however, would not preclude NMFS from proposing at a later date such regulations for 2017 or subsequent years.

    Administrative Changes to Existing Regulations

    The regulations at 50 CFR 300.217(b) and 300.218(a)(2)(v) contain outdated cross references that would be corrected by this proposed rule. In Section 300.217, paragraph (b)(1) would be revised to provide a cross reference to Section 300.336(b)(2), not Section 300.14(b), and in Section 300.218(a)(2)(v), the cross reference would be to Section 300.341(a) instead of to Sections 300.17(a) and (b). Sections 300.14(b) and Sections 300.17(a) and (b) no longer exist and have been replaced through a new regulatory action implementing provisions of the High Seas Fishing Compliance Act (16 U.S.C. 5501 et seq.).

    Classification

    The Administrator, Pacific Islands Region, NMFS, has determined that this proposed rule is consistent with the WCPFC Implementation Act and other applicable laws, subject to further consideration after public comment.

    Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA)

    NMFS determined that this action is consistent to the maximum extent practicable with the enforceable policies of the approved coastal management program of American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), Guam, and the State of Hawaii. Determinations to Hawaii and each of the Territories were submitted on June 26, 2017, for review by the responsible state and territorial agencies under section 307 of the CZMA.

    Executive Order 12866

    This proposed rule has been determined to be not significant for purposes of Executive Order 12866.

    Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA)

    An initial regulatory flexibility analysis (IRFA) was prepared, as required by section 603 of the RFA. The IRFA describes the economic impact this proposed rule, if adopted, would have on small entities. A description of the action, why it is being considered, and the legal basis for this action are contained in the SUMMARY section of the preamble and in other sections of this SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section of the preamble. The analysis follows:

    Estimated Number of Small Entities Affected

    For Regulatory Flexibility Act purposes only, NMFS has established a small business size standard for businesses, including their affiliates, whose primary industry is commercial fishing (see 50 CFR 200.2). A business primarily engaged in commercial fishing (NAICS code 114111) is classified as a small business if it is independently owned and operated, is not dominant in its field of operation (including its affiliates), and has combined annual receipts not in excess of $11 million for all its affiliated operations worldwide.

    The proposed rule would apply to owners and operators of U.S. purse seine vessels used for fishing for HMS in the Convention Area.

    There would be no disproportionate economic impacts between small and large entities operating vessels resulting from this rule. Furthermore, there would be no disproportionate economic impacts based on vessel size, gear, or home port.

    The proposed rule would apply to owners and operators of U.S. commercial fishing vessels that use purse seine gear to fish for HMS in the Convention Area. The estimated number of affected fishing vessels is 40 purse seine vessels (based on the maximum number of purse seine vessels licenses available under the South Pacific Tuna Treaty excluding joint-venture licenses, of which there are five available under the SPTT, but no joint-venture licenses have ever been applied for or issued).

    Based on (limited) financial information about the affected fishing fleets, and using individual vessels as proxies for individual businesses, NMFS believes that over half of the vessels in the purse seine fleet are small entities as defined by the RFA; that is, they are independently owned and operated and not dominant in their fields of operation, and have annual receipts of no more than $11.0 million. Within the purse seine fleet, analysis of average revenue, by vessel, for the three years of 2014-2016 reveals that average fleet revenue was $10,201,962; 22 participating vessels qualified as small entities with their average of the most recent three years of vessel revenue for which data is available of less than $11 million.

    Recordkeeping, Reporting, and Other Compliance Requirements

    The reporting, recordkeeping and other compliance requirements of this proposed rule are described earlier in the preamble. The classes of small entities subject to the requirements and the types of professional skills necessary to fulfill the requirements are as follows:

    The proposed action would establish fishing effort limits for purse seine vessels fishing in the U.S. EEZ and the high seas within the Convention Area between 20 N and 20 S: These requirements would not impose any new reporting or recordkeeping requirements (within the meaning of the Paperwork Reduction Act). Fulfillment of this requirement is not expected to require any professional skills that the vessel owners and operators do not already possess. The costs of complying with the proposed requirements are described below to the extent possible:

    If and when the purse seine fishery is closed to fishing in the ELAPS as a result of the annual fishing effort limit being reached in 2017, owners and operators of U.S. purse seine vessels would have to cease fishing in that area for the remainder of the calendar year. Closure of the fishery in the ELAPS could thereby cause foregone fishing opportunities and associated economic losses if the ELAPS contains preferred fishing grounds during such a closure. The likelihood of the fishery being closed in the ELAPS in 2017 under the proposed rule (1,828 days) is greater than under the no-action alternative (no limit). Purse seine fishing was closed in the ELAPS in 2015 and 2016 after NMFS projected the fishing day limit would be reached in the ELAPS in those years. To determine the likelihood of the limit being reached in 2017, fishing effort in the ELAPS was considered for the most recent 10 years, but omitting 2010-2012, during which two important areas of high seas were closed to fishing. In order to make the data comparable among years, historical fishing effort as well as the proposed ELAPS limit are expressed here in terms of fishing days per year per active vessel, on average. The proposed limit is 1,828 days, and assuming 40 active vessels in 2017, this is equivalent to 45.7 fishing days per vessel per year on average (“proposed threshold”). Among the 10 years 2005-2009 and 2013-2016, fishing effort in the ELAPS ranged from 31 to 65 fishing days per year, exceeding the proposed threshold in 8 of the 10 years, or 80 percent of the time. Based on this history, the likelihood of the proposed limit being reached in 2017 is substantial—roughly 80 percent. However, current fishing patterns for 2017 as of June 2017 suggest that the rate of fishing in the ELAPS in 2017 (~220 days) is much lower than the historical average with average fishing days per vessel at 6.5 fishing days from January-June 2017. Assuming fishing conditions in the latter half of the year mimic the first half of 2017, NMFS believes that it is unlikely that the ELAPS limit would be reached in 2017. If fishing conditions in the latter half of the year were to increase to the highest rate observed in 2015 (21 fishing days/calendar day), there would be a high likelihood that the ELAPS limit would be reached prior to the end of 2017. The highest rate observed to date in 2017 has been 8.5 fishing days/calendar day, and if the highest rate in 2017 were to occur through end of 2017, the ELAPS limit would be expected to be reached by December 22, 2017.

    Other factors that could influence the likelihood of the proposed limit being reached are the status of vessels with respect to whether they have fishery endorsements and are allowed to fish in the U.S. EEZ, El Nino-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) conditions, and fishing day opportunities through the South Pacific Tuna Treaty and fishing day opportunities in the Eastern Pacific Ocean. Regarding the first factor, if the proportion of the fleet that has fishery endorsements changes from the proportion during the baseline period, the likelihood of the ELAPs limit being reached would change accordingly (if the proportion increases, the likelihood would increase). However, because fishing in the U.S. EEZ makes up a relatively small portion of all fishing in the ELAPS, this is a relatively minor factor, and is not examined any further here. Regarding the second factor, the eastern areas of the WCPO have tended to be comparatively more attractive to the U.S. purse seine fleet during El Nino events (versus other times), when warm surface water spreads from the western Pacific to the eastern Pacific and large, valuable yellowfin become more vulnerable to purse seine fishing. Consequently, the ELAPS, much of which is situated in the eastern range of the fleet's fishing grounds, is likely to be more important fishing grounds to the fleet during El Nino events (as compared to neutral or La Nina events). According to the National Weather Service ((see www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/analysis_monitoring/enso_advisory/index.shtml), as of June 2017, conditions were ENSO-neutral and the forecast was that ENSO-neutral conditions are favored through the second half of 2017. The 35-50 percent chance of an El Nino developing in the fall of 2017 suggests a slight chance that fishing in the ELAPS could become more important in the latter half of the year, but would only slightly increase the likelihood (than indicated by fishing effort alone) of the proposed 2017 ELAPS limit being reached. Regarding the third factor, effective January 1, 2017, a new treaty is in place between U.S. purse seine vessel owners and the members of the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) that allows the U.S. fleet the opportunity to purchase fishing days for use in the EEZs of the Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA, a subset of eight FFA members in whose waters most WCPO tropical purse seine fishing occurs), and in the EEZs of the other FFA members during the period of the arrangement, which is through 2022). Under the new treaty, vessels notify the U.S. government which in turn informs FFA of the number of treaty days each vessel or group of vessels desires to purchase. These days can be traded among vessels participating in the treaty, and vessels may purchase additional bilateral days during the agreement period if additional days are desired. As each vessel decides on the number of fishing days it wishes to purchase, and vessels can trade and purchase additional bilateral days, it appears that there is a relatively small likelihood of all of the EEZs of the FFA members becoming unavailable to the U.S. fleet before the end of 2017. It is possible that vessels that purchase more treaty days may rely less on the use of ELAPS days whereas vessels that purchase fewer treaty days may rely more heavily on the use of ELAPS days. Regarding the fourth factor, vessels may also choose to fish outside the Convention Area in the eastern Pacific Ocean (EPO). Historically, the fleet fished very little in the EPO, but the numbers of U.S. purse seine vessels fishing in the EPO has been steadily increasing since 2014. Vessels fishing in the EPO are required to be on the IATTC Vessel Register, and can either apply to be on the active purse seine capacity list where they can fish in the EPO during the calendar year or request to use one fishing trip in the EPO that an SPTT-licensed vessel is allowed to make, not to exceed 90 days in length, and there is an annual limit of 32 trips for the entire SPTT-licensed fleet (50 CFR 300.22(b)(1)). If vessels choose to fish in the EPO, this could influence the number of ELAPS days they use, particularly if they opt to fish in the overlap area between the WCPFC and IATTC where their effort would count against the ELAPS limit or fish outside of the area of the overlap where their effort would not count against the ELAPS limit. As of June 2017, 17 U.S. purse seine vessels with WCPFC Area Endorsements are also on the IATTC active purse seine register for 2017.

    In summary, based on the available information and particularly the current fishing patterns in 2017, there is a small likelihood that the proposed ELAPS limit would be reached before the end of 2017.

    The costs associated with a closure of the ELAPS would depend greatly on the length of the closure as well as whether the EEZs of other nations, particularly the typically most favored fishing grounds, the EEZs of the PNA, or the Eastern Pacific were available for fishing. NMFS conducted a study on the economic impacts of the 2015 ELAPS closure, which lasted from June 15-December 31, 2015, and found that the 2015 ELAPS closure had an adverse impact on profitability across the combined sectors of vessels, canneries and vessel support facilities in American Samoa. During the 2015 and 2016 ELAPS closures, the EEZs of the FFA members remained available for fishing as well as fishing in the Eastern Pacific. As indicated above, there is relatively small likelihood of the EEZs of the FFA members being unavailable for fishing before the end of 2017. Assuming the EEZs of the FFA and Eastern Pacific remain available as fishing grounds, the impacts of a closure of the ELAPS would depend greatly on its length. The closure of any fishing grounds for any amount of time would be expected to bring impacts to affected entities (e.g., because the open area might, during the closed period, be less optimal than the closed area, and vessels might use more fuel and spend more time having to travel to open areas). If the ELAPS is a relatively preferred fishing ground during the closure (e.g., because of oceanic conditions or other factors), then the losses would be accordingly greater than if the ELAPS is not preferred relative to other fishing grounds. If the EEZs of the PNA and other FFA members are not available during an ELAPS closure, the costs of an ELAPS closure could be substantial. In the event the entire WCPO is closed to fishing during an ELAPS closure, possible next-best opportunities include fishing outside the Convention Area in the eastern Pacific Ocean (EPO), and not fishing. As discussed above, an increasing number of vessels have started fishing in the EPO, and almost half the fleet is on the IATTC active vessel register list. Vessels that are not on the IATTC active purse seine vessel register list can request to use the one trip option to fish in the EPO. The alternative of not fishing at all during an ELAPS closure would mean a loss of any revenues from fishing. However, many of the vessels' variable operating costs would be avoided in that case, and for some vessels the time might be used for productive activities like vessel and equipment maintenance. U.S. purse seine vessel operating costs are not known, so estimates of economic losses cannot be made. But information on revenues per day can give an indication of the magnitude of possible economic costs to affected entities. Average annual gross revenues for the 40 affected purse seine vessels during 2014-2016 were approximately $10 million per vessel, on average. This equates to about $28,000 per calendar day, on average.

    The proposed 2017 ELAPS limit could affect the temporal distribution of fishing effort in the U.S. purse seine fishery. Since the limits would apply fleet-wide; that is, they would not be allocated to individual vessels, vessel operators might have an incentive to fish harder in the ELAPS earlier in a given year than they otherwise would. Such a “race-to-fish” effect might also be expected in the time period between when a closure of the fishery is announced and when it is actually closed, which would be at least seven calendar days. To the extent such temporal shifts occur, they could affect the seasonal timing of fish catches and deliveries to canneries, and conceivably affect prices. However, because most of the traditional fishing grounds are outside the ELAPS, the intensity of any race-to-fish in the ELAPS is likely to be low if it occurs at all. The small likelihood of the EEZs of the FFA being closed to fishing before the end of 2017, as discussed above, might also influence the behavior of fishermen earlier in the year, but it is not clear how it would influence fishing in the ELAPS. If fishermen are more concerned about the FFA members' EEZs closing at some point, they might fish harder in those waters earlier in the year; if, on the other hand, they are more concerned about the ELAPS closing, they might fish harder in the ELAPS earlier in the year. In any case, the timing of cannery deliveries by the U.S. fleet alone (as it might be affected by a race to fish in the ELAPS) is unlikely to have an appreciable impact on prices, since many canneries buy from the fleets of multiple nations at any given time. A race to fish could bring costs to affected entities if it causes vessel operators to forego vessel maintenance in favor of fishing or to fish in weather or ocean conditions that they otherwise would not. This could bring costs in terms of the health and safety of the crew as well as the economic performance of the vessel.

    In summary, there is a small likelihood that the ELAPS limit will be reached before the end of 2017, and if it is reached before the end of 2017, the impacts to affected entities could be minor or substantial, depending on such factors as the length of the closure, whether the EEZs of the FFA members and Eastern Pacific remain available for fishing, and oceanic conditions.

    There would be no disproportionate economic impacts between small and large entities operating vessels as a result of this proposed rule. Furthermore, there would be no disproportionate economic impacts based on vessel size, gear, or home-port.

    Duplicating, Overlapping, and Conflicting Federal Regulations

    NMFS has not identified any Federal regulations that duplicate, overlap with, or conflict with the proposed regulations.

    Alternatives to the Proposed Rule

    NMFS has not been able to identify any alternatives that would accomplish the objectives of the Act and minimize any significant economic impact of the proposed rule on small entities. The alternative of taking no action at all was rejected because it would fail to accomplish the objectives of the Act. As a Contracting Party to the Convention, the United States is required to implement the decisions of WCPFC. Consequently, NMFS has limited discretion as to how to implement those decisions.

    In previous rulemakings to establish or revise U.S. purse seine fishing effort limits in the ELAPS in accordance with WCPFC decisions, NMFS considered a number of alternatives. The alternatives had to do, firstly, with the time scales for the limits (e.g., single-year versus multiple-year limits); secondly, with whether separate limits would be established in the U.S. EEZ and high seas portions of the ELAPS or they would be combined; thirdly, with whether the limit(s) would be allocated to individual vessels; and fourthly, with the magnitude of the limit(s).

    The first category, time scales, is not relevant here because the objective is to implement the required fishing effort limit for 2017 only. The second category, whether to break up the ELAPS limit into separate limits for the U.S. EEZ and the high seas portions of the ELAPS, would provide less operational flexibility for affected purse seine vessels, and thus be more constraining and costly than the proposed limit. It is not preferred for that reason. The third category, allocating the limit among individual vessels, would likely alleviate any adverse impacts of a race-to-fish that might occur as a result of establishing the competitive fishing effort limits as in the proposed rule. As described in the previous paragraphs, those potential impacts include lower prices for landed product and risks to performance and safety stemming from fishing during sub-optimal times. Those impacts, however, are expected to be minor, so this alternative is not preferred.

    Regarding the fourth category, the magnitude of the limits, NMFS could, as it did for the 2013 rule that established the 2013 and existing 2014 ELAPS limit, consider both smaller and larger limits for the ELAPS. Smaller limits, being more constraining and costly to affected fishing businesses, are not considered further here. CMM 2013-01 includes an explicit limit for the United States for the high seas, 1,270 fishing days per year, so NMFS is not afforded any discretion there. Like its predecessor, CMM 2012-01, CMM 2013-01 is less explicit with respect to the U.S. EEZ, so NMFS could consider a more expansive limit for that aspect of the total ELAPS limit. For example, in the 2013 rule, NMFS considered an alternative that would be based in part on the fleet's greatest annual level of fishing effort in the U.S. EEZ (on an average per-vessel basis, then expanded to a 40-vessel equivalent) during the 1997-2010 time period. Using that approach here, the U.S. EEZ aspect of the limit would be 1,655 fishing days, and when combined with the high seas aspect of 1,270 fishing days, the total ELAPS limit would be 2,925 fishing days. Because this alternative limit is greater and thus less constraining than the proposed limit of 1,828 fishing days, the costs of complying with this alternative would be less than or equal to those of the proposed limit. This alternative is not preferred because it would depart from the effort limits established for the period 2009-2016. The approach used in formulating the limit proposed in this rule is consistent with the precedent set by the 2009 rule and the 2013 rule, and affected entities have been exposed to the impacts of those limits for the past five years. The alternative of taking no action at all, which would not set any fishing day limits, is not preferred because it would fail to accomplish the objective of the WCPFC Implementation Act or satisfy the international obligations of the United States as a Contracting Party to the Convention.

    List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 300

    Administrative practice and procedure, Fish, Fisheries, Fishing, Marine resources, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Treaties.

    Dated: September 14, 2017. 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 300 is proposed to be amended as follows:

    PART 300—INTERNATIONAL FISHERIES REGULATIONS Subpart O—Western and Central Pacific Fisheries for Highly Migratory Species 1. The authority citation for 50 CFR part 300, subpart O, continues to read as follows: Authority:

    16 U.S.C. 6901 et seq.

    2. In § 300.217, revise paragraph (b)(1) to read as follows:
    § 300.217 Vessel identification.

    (b) Marking. (1) Vessels shall be marked in accordance with the identification requirements of § 300.336(b)(2), and if an IRCS has not been assigned to the vessel, then the Federal, State, or other documentation number used in lieu of the IRCS must be preceded by the characters “USA” and a hyphen (that is, “USA-”).

    3. In § 300.218, revise paragraph (a)(2)(v) to read as follows:
    § 300.218 Reporting and recordkeeping requirements.

    (v) High seas fisheries. Fishing activities subject to the reporting requirements of § 300.341 must be maintained and reported in the manner specified in § 300.341(a).

    4. In § 300.223, revise paragraph (a)(1) to read as follows:
    § 300.223 Purse seine fishing restrictions.

    (a) * * *

    (1) For calendar year 2017 there is a limit of 1,828 fishing days.

    [FR Doc. 2017-19981 Filed 9-19-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-22-P
    82 181 Wednesday, September 20, 2017 Notices DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Forest Service Information Collection: Public Lands Corps Participant Tracking Sheet AGENCY:

    Forest Service, USDA.

    ACTION:

    Notice; request for comment.

    SUMMARY:

    In accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, the Forest Service is seeking comments from all interested individuals and organizations on a new information collection request through the Public Lands Corps Participant Tracking Sheet.

    DATES:

    Comments must be received in writing on or before November 20, 2017 to be assured of consideration. Comments received after that date will be considered to the extent practicable.

    ADDRESSES:

    Comments concerning this notice should be addressed to Volunteers & Service Program Manager, USDA Forest Service, Attn: Recreation, Heritage and Volunteer Resources, 1400 Independence Ave. SW., Mailstop Code: 1125, Washington, DC 20250-1125. Comments also may be submitted via facsimile to 703-605-5131 or by email to: [email protected]

    The public may inspect comments received at the Office of the Director, Recreation, Heritage and Volunteer Resources, 5th Floor South West, Sidney R. Yates Federal Building, 201 14th Street SW., Washington, DC, during normal business hours. Visitors are encouraged to call ahead to 202-205-0560 to facilitate entry to the building.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Merlene Mazyck, Volunteers & Service, 202-205-0560. Individuals who use telecommunication devices for the deaf (TDD) may call the Federal Relay Service (FRS) at 1-800-877-8339 between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Title: Public Lands Corps Participant Tracking Sheet.

    OMB Number: 0596-NEW.

    Type of Request: New Information Collection Request.

    Abstract: The Public Lands Corps is a work and education program involving the nation's land management agencies, conservation and service corps, and environmental organizations that contribute to the rehabilitation, restoration, and repair of public lands resources and infrastructures. Public Lands Corps projects provide opportunities for community and national public service, work experience and training for young people who are unemployed or underemployed persons, students, recent graduates, and others with an interest in natural and cultural resources careers. The law authorizing this program includes 16 U.S.C. 1721-1726, Chapter 37—Public Lands Corps and Resource Assistants Program (Public Lands Corps Healthy Forests Restoration Act of 2005 [Pub. L. 109-154] as amended in 1993, hereafter referred to as “the Act.”)

    The Agency has developed a tracking sheet (FS-1800-0026, Public Lands Corps Participant Tracking Sheet) to support the effective management of the Public Lands Corps Program. The utilization of the Public Lands Corps Tracking Sheet will assist the Agency in ensuring qualified program participants lawfully receive a certificate of non-competitive hiring eligibility, which can be used to apply to Forest Service merit announcements on USAJobs. All partners managing Public Lands Corps projects are required to submit a Public Lands Corps Participant Tracking Sheet to Merlene Mazyck by electronic forms through secure email to [email protected] This email address is monitored daily. In the future, it is intended that partners will be required to electronically submit tracking sheets through a Federal Land Management agency web-based project management system. Public Lands Corps submission is requested on a quarterly basis unless otherwise defined.

    The use of the Public Lands Corps Participant Tracking Sheet ensures uniform collection of information regarding tracking and monitoring participant engagement in order to determine adherence to requirements for non-competitive hiring eligibility as defined in the Act. The data—such as participant demographic information, and project information—collected will allow the Forest Service, and other Federal Land Management Agencies, to monitor the effectiveness of Agency efforts to meet the intent of the Act, and engage under-represented populations in natural and cultural resource conservation, development and scientific research work, and education on public lands. This information collection request will ensure that partners maintain a record of all Public Lands Corps agreements established with Federal Land Management Agencies, participant demographics and education, project information and work hours, project locations and dates, and status of noncompetitive eligibility certification.

    Type of Respondents: Non-profit Organizations and Non-Federal Governmental entities.

    Estimated Annual Number of Respondents: 350.

    Estimated Annual Number of Responses per Respondent: 4; quarterly submission.

    Estimated Total Annual Responses: 1,400.

    Estimated Time per Response: 6 hours per response.

    Estimated Total Annual Burden on Respondents: 8,400 hours.

    Comment Is Invited

    Comment is invited on: (1) Whether this collection of information is necessary for the stated purposes and the proper performance of the functions of the agency, including whether the information will have practical or scientific utility; (2) the accuracy of the agency's estimate of the burden of the collection of information, 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 respondents, including the use of automated, electronic, mechanical, or other technological collection methods or forms of information technology.

    All comments received in response to this notice, including names and addresses when provided, will be a matter of public record. Comments will be summarized and included in the submission of the information collection request to Office of Management and Budget.

    Dated: September 5, 2017. Glenn Casamassa, Associate Deputy Chief, National Forest System.
    [FR Doc. 2017-20001 Filed 9-19-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3411-15-P
    DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Rural Housing Service Notice of Request for Extension of a Currently Approved Information Collection AGENCY:

    Rural Housing Service, Department of Agriculture.

    ACTION:

    Proposed collection; comments requested.

    SUMMARY:

    In accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, this notice announces the Rural Housing Service's intention to request an extension for a currently approved information collection in support of the program of the Agency's use of Supervised Bank Accounts (SBA).

    DATES:

    Comments on this Notice must be received by November 20, 2017 to be assured of consideration.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Joanna Rogers, Financial Loan Analyst, Multi-Family Housing Portfolio Management Division, STOP 0782-Room 1263S, U.S. Department of Agriculture, 1400 Independence Avenue SW., Washington, DC 20250-0782. Telephone: (202) 720-1609.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Title: 7 CFR 1902-A, Supervised Bank Accounts.

    OMB Number: 0575-0158.

    Expiration Date of Approval: January 31, 2018.

    Type of Request: Extension of a Currently Approved Information Collection.

    Abstract: The Agency extends financial assistance to applicants that do not qualify for loans under commercial rates and terms.

    The Agency use SBAs as a mechanism to (1) ensure correct disbursement and expenditure of all funds designated for a project; (2) help a borrower properly manage its financial affairs; (3) ensure that the Government's security is protected adequately from fraud, waste and abuse.

    SBAs are mandatory for Multi-Family Housing (MFH) reserve accounts. The MFH funds must be kept in the SBA for the full term of a loan. Any funds withdrawn for disbursement for an authorized purpose require a countersignature from an Agency official.

    This regulation prescribes the policies and responsibilities for the use of SBAs. In carrying out the mission as a supervised credit Agency, this regulation authorizes the use of supervised accounts for the disbursement of funds. The use may be necessitated to disburse Government funds consistent with the various stages of any development (construction) work actually achieved. On limited occasions, a supervised account is used to provide temporary credit counseling and oversight of those being assisted who demonstrate an inability to handle their financial affairs responsibly. Another use is for depositing MFH reserve account funds in a manner requiring Agency co-signature for withdrawals. MFH reserve account funds are held in a reserve account for the future capital improvement needs for apartment properties. Supervised accounts are established to ensure Government security is adequately protected against fraud, waste and abuse.

    The legislative authority for requiring the use of supervised accounts is contained in section 510 of the Housing Act of 1949, as amended (42 U.S.C. 1480). These provisions authorize the Secretary of Agriculture to make such rules and regulations as deemed necessary to carry out the responsibilities and duties the Government is charged with administering.

    Estimate of Burden: Public reporting burden for this information collection is estimated to average .44 hours per response.

    Respondents: Small Business.

    Estimated Average Number of Respondents: 15,000.

    Estimated Total Annual Responses: 60,292.

    Estimated Total Number of Man Hours: 26,169.

    Copies of this information collection can be obtained from Jeanne Jacobs, Regulations and Paperwork Management Branch, at (202) 692-0040.

    Comments: Comments are invited on: (a) Whether the proposed collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the Agency, including whether the information will have practical utility; (b) the accuracy of the Agency's estimate of the burden of the proposed collection of information including the validity of the methodology and assumptions used; (c) ways to enhance the quality, utility and clarity of the information to be collected; and (d) ways to minimize the burden of the collection of information on those who are to respond, including through the use of appropriate automated, electronic, mechanical, or other technological collection techniques or other forms of information technology. Comments may be sent to Jeanne Jacobs, Regulations and Paperwork Management Branch, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Rural Development, STOP 0742, 1400 Independence Avenue SW., Washington, DC 20250-0742.

    All responses to this Notice will be summarized and included in the request for OMB approval. All comments will also become a matter of public record.

    Dated: September 11, 2017. Richard A. Davis, Acting Administrator, Rural Housing Service.
    [FR Doc. 2017-19942 Filed 9-19-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE Bureau of the Census National Advisory Committee AGENCY:

    U.S. Census Bureau, Department of Commerce.

    ACTION:

    Notice of public meeting.

    SUMMARY:

    The U.S. Census Bureau is giving notice of a meeting of the National Advisory Committee on Racial, Ethnic and Other Populations (NAC). The NAC addresses policy, research, and technical issues relating to all Census Bureau programs and activities. These activities include the production and dissemination of detailed demographic and economic statistics across all program areas, including the Decennial Census programs. The NAC will meet in a plenary session on November 2-3, 2017. Last minute changes to the schedule are possible, which could prevent us from giving advance public notice of schedule adjustments. Planned topics of discussion include the following items:

    • 2020 Census Program updates

    • 2020 Census Operations: Integrated Communications Plan

    • Undercount of Young Children Working Group update

    • Integrated Partnership and Communications Working Group update

    Please visit the Census Advisory Committees Web site for the most current meeting agenda at: http://www.census.gov/about/cac.html. The meeting will be available via webcast at: http://www.census.gov/newsroom/census-live.html.

    DATES:

    November 2-3, 2017. On Thursday, November 2, the meeting will begin at approximately 8:30 a.m. and end at approximately 5:00 p.m. On Friday, November 3, the meeting will begin at approximately 8:30 a.m. and end at approximately 2:00 p.m.

    ADDRESSES:

    The meeting will be held at the U.S. Census Bureau Auditorium, 4600 Silver Hill Road, Suitland, Maryland 20746.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Tara Dunlop Jackson, Branch Chief for Advisory Committees, Customer Liaison and Marketing Services Office, at [email protected], Department of Commerce, U.S. Census Bureau, Room 8H177, 4600 Silver Hill Road, Washington, DC 20233, telephone 301-763-5222. For TTY callers, please use the Federal Relay Service 1-800-877-8339.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    The NAC was establish ed in March 2012 and operates in accordance with the Federal Advisory Committee Act (Title 5, United States Code, Appendix 2, Section 10). The NAC members are appointed by the Director, U.S. Census Bureau, and consider topics such as hard to reach populations, race and ethnicity, language, aging populations, American Indian and Alaska Native tribal considerations, new immigrant populations, populations affected by natural disasters, highly mobile and migrant populations, complex households, rural populations, and population segments with limited access to technology. The Committee also advises on data privacy and confidentiality, among other issues.

    All meetings are open to the public. A brief period will be set aside at the meeting for public comment on Friday, November 3. However, individuals with extensive questions or statements must submit them in writing to: [email protected] (subject line “November 2017 NAC Meeting Public Comment”), or by letter submission to Kimberly L. Leonard, Committee Liaison Officer, Department of Commerce, U.S. Census Bureau, Room 8H179, 4600 Silver Hill Road, Washington, DC 20233.

    If you plan to attend the meeting, please register by Monday, October 30, 2017. You may access the online registration from the following link: https://www.regonline.com/nac_meeting_nov2017. Seating is available to the public on a first-come, first-served basis.

    This meeting is physically accessible to people with disabilities. Requests for sign language interpretation or other auxiliary aids should also be directed to the Committee Liaison Officer as soon as known, and preferably two weeks prior to the meeting.

    Please call 301-763-9906 upon arrival at the Census Bureau on the day of the meeting. A photo ID must be presented in order to receive your visitor's badge. Visitors are not allowed beyond the first floor.

    Dated: September 14, 2017. Ron S. Jarmin, Associate Director for Economic Programs, performing the non-exclusive functions and duties of the Director, Bureau of the Census.
    [FR Doc. 2017-20061 Filed 9-19-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-07-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE Census Bureau Proposed Information Collection; Comment Request; Pilot of USPS Postal Carriers as Census Enumerators During the 2018 End-to-End Census Test AGENCY:

    U.S. Census Bureau, Commerce.

    ACTION:

    Notice.

    SUMMARY:

    The Department of Commerce, as part of its continuing effort to reduce paperwork and respondent burden, invites the general public and other Federal agencies to take this opportunity to comment on proposed and/or continuing information collections, as required by the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995.

    DATES:

    To ensure consideration, written comments must be submitted on or before November 20, 2017.

    ADDRESSES:

    Direct all written comments to Jennifer Jessup, Departmental Paperwork Clearance Officer, Department of Commerce, Room 6616, 14th and Constitution Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20230 (or via the Internet at [email protected]).

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Requests for additional information or copies of the information collection instrument(s) and instructions should be directed to Robin A. Pennington, U.S. Census Bureau, 4600 Silver Hill Road, Washington, DC 20233 (or via the internet at [email protected]).

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    I. Abstract

    The U.S. Census Bureau proposes a proof of concept study on the use of United States Postal Service (USPS) Postal Carriers as Census Bureau enumerators as part of the 2018 End-to-End Census Test. The possibility of formally using Postal Carriers to conduct enumeration as part of Decennial Census operations has been proposed or suggested several times in recent years by Members of Congress, as well as other advisory and oversight bodies, in response to (1) the rising operational costs of both agencies, and (2) the need for familiarity with local addresses. The suggestions often note that the USPS maintains a permanent, well trained, and experienced labor force that possesses significant public trust and detailed knowledge of the addressing and residential patterns in communities they serve.

    The rationale for this study is to test and observe the feasibility of the use of Postal Carriers as enumerators in the context of an existing Census Test, and, thereby, enable the Census Bureau and USPS to better respond to stakeholder inquiries about the feasibility of such activities. The potential long-term advantages to the Census Bureau include: (1) Leveraging local USPS knowledge about households to pinpoint the best time for an interview, (2) increasing the pool of enumerators without hiring new temporary staff, and (3) providing a more flexible landscape for how and when Nonresponse Followup (NRFU) interviews occur during the enumeration phase of a census.

    The Census Bureau plans to conduct a pilot in two ZIP Codes outside of—but adjacent to—the 2018 End-to-End Census Test site location in Providence County, R.I. The pilot will involve approximately 40 Postal Carriers operating out of two ZIP Codes, 02760 located in North Attleboro, MA, and 02888 located in Warwick, RI.

    The proposed evaluation and deliverables are:

    (1) The numbers of resolved enumeration cases will be documented to determine whether Postal Carriers were able to successfully conduct assigned NRFU activities. Documentation will identify and describe challenges and opportunities for future collaborative participation in this operation.

    (2) A report that details the development of baseline metrics to describe costs and benefits of a future collaborative operation. This study will determine the information needed to assess cost differences/savings to recruiting and staff-onboarding operations by using existing USPS employees, and the value added in terms of efficiency and quality of NRFU activities, measured by numbers of visits, of using Postal Carriers with local knowledge.

    (3) Results of focus group debriefings held with the Postal Carriers, their managers, and the public after the 2018 End-to-End Census Test enumeration phase is complete to describe and characterize the impacts of this collaboration on agency operations and the public trust.

    Documented operational Lessons Learned from the entirety of the project and recommendations for next steps will accompany the report. The outcome of this pilot study will provide the Census Bureau and the USPS with baseline descriptive and qualitative information that can be used to inform future field-based collaborations.

    II. Method of Collection

    Census Bureau staff will train Postal Carriers to successfully conduct enumeration to complete the activity. Postal Carriers will be sworn to uphold the same confidentiality as Census Bureau employees. They will perform enumeration functions using the same procedures and automation as other enumerators during the hours of 5 p.m.-8 p.m. on weekdays, variable weekend hours, and both inside and outside the geographic constraints of their assigned routes.

    III. Data

    OMB Control Number: 0607-XXXX.

    Form Number(s): DH-16(LN), DH-16(LN)(E/S).

    Type of Review: Regular submission.

    Affected Public: 31,479.

    Estimated Number of Respondents: 24,889.

    Estimated Time per Response: 10 minutes.

    Estimated Total Annual Burden Hours: 4,148.

    Estimated Total Annual Cost to Public: $199,080.

    Respondent's Obligation: Mandatory.

    Legal Authority: Title 13 U.S.C. 23, 141, 193.

    IV. Request for Comments

    Comments are invited on: (a) Whether the proposed collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the agency, including whether the information shall have practical utility; (b) the accuracy of the agency's estimate of the burden (including hours and cost) of the proposed collection of information; (c) ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and (d) ways to minimize the burden of the collection of information on respondents, including through the use of automated collection techniques or other forms of information technology.

    Comments submitted in response to this notice will be summarized and/or included in the request for OMB approval of this information collection; they also will become a matter of public record.

    Sheleen Dumas, Departmental PRA Lead, Office of the Chief Information Officer.
    [FR Doc. 2017-20036 Filed 9-19-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-07-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE Census Bureau Proposed Information Collection; Comment Request; Survey of Housing Starts, Sales, and Completions AGENCY:

    U.S. Census Bureau, Commerce.

    ACTION:

    Notice.

    SUMMARY:

    The Department of Commerce, as part of its continuing effort to reduce paperwork and respondent burden, invites the general public and other Federal agencies to take this opportunity to comment on proposed and/or continuing information collections, as required by the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, Public Law 104-13.

    DATES:

    To ensure consideration, written comments must be submitted on or before November 20, 2017.

    ADDRESSES:

    Direct all written comments to Jennifer Jessup, Departmental Paperwork Clearance Officer, Department of Commerce, Room 6616, 14th and Constitution Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20230 (or via the Internet at [email protected]).

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Requests for additional information or copies of the information collection instrument(s) and instructions should be directed to Erica Filipek, U.S. Census Bureau, EID, CENHQ Room 7K057, 4600 Silver Hill Road, Washington, DC 20233, telephone (301)763-5161 (or via the Internet at [email protected]).

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION I. Abstract

    The U.S. Census Bureau plans to request a three-year extension of the current Office of Management and Budget (OMB) clearance of the Survey of Housing Starts, Sales and Completions, also known as the Survey of Construction (SOC). We also plan revisions to the current collection. The SOC collects monthly data on new residential construction from a sample of owners or builders. The Census Bureau uses the Computer-Assisted Personal Interviewing (CAPI) electronic questionnaires SOC-QI/SF.1 and SOC-QI/MF.1 to collect data on start and completion dates of construction, physical characteristics of the structure (floor area, number of bathrooms, type of heating system, etc.), and if applicable, date of sale, sales price, and type of financing. The SOC provides widely used measures of construction activity, including the economic indicators Housing Starts and Housing Completions, which are from the New Residential Construction series, and New Residential Sales.

    After working with the survey sponsor and key data users, the Census Bureau has decided to add one new data item to the single-family questionnaire regarding ceiling height.

    With respect to survey burden, the Census Bureau samples about 1,620 new buildings each month (19,440 per year). Census Bureau staff inquire about the progress of each building multiple times until it is completed (and a sales contract is signed, if it is a single-family house that is built for sale). For single-family buildings, there are an average of 8.11 interviews and for multifamily buildings, an average of 7.0 interviews. The total number of interviews conducted each year for single-family buildings is about 102,186 and for multifamily buildings is about 47,880. Each interview takes 5 minutes on average. Therefore, the total annual burden is 12,506 hours.

    II. Method of Collection

    The Census Bureau uses its field representatives to collect the data through CAPI.

    III. Data

    OMB Control Number: 0607-0110.

    Form Number(s): SOC-QI/SF.1 and SOC-QI/MF.1.

    Type of Review: Regular submission.

    Affected Public: Individuals or households, business or other for-profit.

    Estimated Number of Respondents: 19,440.

    Estimated Time per Response: 5 minutes.

    Estimated Total Annual Burden Hours: 12,506.

    Estimated Total Annual Cost to Public: $0.

    Respondent's Obligation: Voluntary.

    Legal Authority: Title 13 U.S.C. 131 and 182.

    IV. Request for Comments

    Comments are invited on: (a) Whether the proposed collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the agency, including whether the information shall have practical utility; (b) the accuracy of the agency's estimate of the burden (including hours and cost) of the proposed collection of information; (c) ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and (d) ways to minimize the burden of the collection of information on respondents, including through the use of automated collection techniques or other forms of information technology.

    Comments submitted in response to this notice will be summarized and/or included in the request for OMB approval of this information collection; they also will become a matter of public record.

    Sheleen Dumas, Departmental PRA Lead, Office of the Chief Information Officer.
    [FR Doc. 2017-20037 Filed 9-19-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-07-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE International Trade Administration [C-834-810] Titanium Sponge From Kazakhstan: Initiation of Countervailing Duty Investigation AGENCY:

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

    DATES:

    Applicable. September 13, 2017.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Lilit Astvatsatrian at (202) 482-6412 or Ariela Garvett at (202) 482-3609, AD/CVD Operations, Enforcement and Compliance, International Trade Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce, 1401 Constitution Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20230.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Petition

    On August 24, 2017, the U.S. Department of Commerce (the Department) received a countervailing duty (CVD) Petition concerning imports of titanium sponge from Kazakhstan, filed in proper form on behalf of Titanium Metals Corporation (the petitioner). The CVD Petition was accompanied by antidumping duty (AD) petitions concerning imports of titanium sponge from Japan and Kazakhstan.1 The petitioner is a domestic producer of titanium sponge.2

    1See Letter to the Secretary of Commerce from the petitioner re: “Titanium Sponge from Japan and Kazakhstan: Petition for the Imposition of Antidumping and Countervailing Duties” (August 24, 2017) (the Petition).

    2Id., Volume I of the Petition, at 1.

    On August 30, 2017, the Department requested supplemental information pertaining to certain areas of the Petition.3 The petitioner filed responses to these requests on September 1, 2017.4 The petitioner filed revised scope language on September 11, 2017.5

    3See Letter from the Department, “Petition for the Imposition of Countervailing and Antidumping Duties on Imports of Titanium Sponge from Japan and Kazakhstan: Supplemental Questions,” dated August 30, 2017 (Kazakhstan CVD Supplemental Questionnaire).

    4See Letter to the Secretary of Commerce from the petitioner, re: “Petition for the Imposition of Countervailing Duties on Titanium Sponge from Kazakhstan: TIMET Response to Supplemental Questionnaire,” (September 1, 2017) (Kazakhstan CVD Supplement).

    5See Letter from the Department, “Petitions for the Imposition of Antidumping and Countervailing Duties on Imports of Titanium Sponge from Japan and Kazakhstan: Supplemental Questions,” dated September 8, 2017 (Second General Issues Supplemental Questionnaire).

    In accordance with section 702(b)(1) of the Tariff Act of 1930, as amended (the Act), the petitioner alleges that the Government of Kazakhstan (GOK) is providing countervailable subsidies, within the meaning of section 771(5) of the Act, to imports of titanium sponge from Kazakhstan, and that such imports are materially injuring, or threatening material injury to, the domestic industry producing titanium sponge in the United States. Also, consistent with section 702(b)(1) of the Act, for those alleged programs on which we are initiating a CVD investigation, the Petition is accompanied by information reasonably available to the petitioner supporting its allegations.

    The Department finds that the petitioner filed this Petition on behalf of the domestic industry because the petitioner is an interested party as defined in section 771(9)(C) of the Act. The Department also finds that the petitioner demonstrated sufficient industry support with respect to the initiation of the CVD investigation that the petitioner is requesting.6

    6See “Determination of Industry Support for the Petition” section, below.

    Period of Investigation

    Because the Petition was filed on August 24, 2017, the period of investigation (POI) is January 1, 2016, through December 31, 2016.7

    7See 19 CFR 351.204(b)(2).

    Scope of the Investigation

    The product covered by this investigation is titanium sponge from Kazakhstan. For a full description of the scope of this investigation, see the “Scope of the Investigation,” in the Appendix to 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 product for which the domestic industry is seeking relief.8

    8See Second General Issues Supplemental Questionnaire; see also Second General Issues Supplement, at Attachement D.

    As discussed in the preamble to the Department's regulations, we are setting aside a period for interested parties to raise issues regarding product coverage (scope).9 The Department will consider all comments received from interested parties and, if necessary, will consult with the interested parties prior to the issuance of the preliminary determination. If scope comments include factual information,10 all such factual information should be limited to public information. 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 Tuesday, October 3, 2017, 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 Friday, October 13, 2017, which is 10 calendar days from the initial comments deadline.

    9See Antidumping Duties; Countervailing Duties; Final Rule, 62 FR 27296, 27323 (May 19, 1997).

    10See 19 CFR 351.102(b)(21).

    The Department requests that any factual information the parties consider relevant to the scope of the investigations be submitted during this time period. However, if a party subsequently finds that additional factual information pertaining to the scope of the investigations may be relevant, the party may contact the Department and request permission to submit the additional information. All such comments must be filed on the records of each of the concurrent AD and CVD investigations.

    Filing Requirements

    All submissions to the Department must be filed electronically using Enforcement and Compliance's Antidumping Duty and Countervailing Duty Centralized Electronic Service System (ACCESS).11 An electronically filed document must be received successfully in its entirety by the time and date it is due. Documents exempted 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, 1401 Constitution Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20230, and stamped with the date and time of receipt by the applicable deadlines.

    11See 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.

    Consultations

    Pursuant to sections 702(b)(4)(A)(i) and (ii) of the Act, the Department notified representatives of the GOK of the receipt of the Petition, and provided them the opportunity for consultations with respect to the CVD Petition.12 Consultations with Kazakhstan were held via conference call on September 7, 2017.13

    12See Letter to the Embassy of Kazakhstan, “Countervailing Duty Petition on Titanium Sponge from Kazakhstan: Invitation for Consultations to Discuss the Countervailing Duty Petition” (August 28, 2017).

    13See Memorandum, re: “Consultations with Officials from the Government of Kazakhstan (GOK) Regarding the Countervailing Duty (CVD) Petition on Titanium Sponge from Kazakhstan” (September 7, 2017).

    Determination of Industry Support for the Petition

    Section 702(b)(1) of the Act requires that a petition be filed on behalf of the domestic industry. Section 702(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 702(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,14 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.15

    14See section 771(10) of the Act.

    15See 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 a petition).

    With regard to the domestic like product, the 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 titanium sponge, as defined in the scope, constitutes a single domestic like product, and we have analyzed industry support in terms of that domestic like product.16

    16 For a discussion of the domestic like product analysis as applied to this case and information regarding industry support, see Countervailing Duty Investigation Initiation Checklist: Titanium Sponge from Kazakhstan (Kazakhstan CVD Initiation Checklist), at Attachment II, “Analysis of Industry Support for the Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Petitions Covering Titanium Sponge from Japan and Kazakhstan.” The checklist is dated concurrently with this notice and 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 the petitioner has standing under section 702(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 the Appendix to this notice. The petitioner provided its own 2016 production of the domestic like product, and compared this to the estimated total production of the domestic like product for the entire domestic industry.17 We relied on data the petitioner provided for purposes of measuring industry support.18

    17See Volume I of the Petition, at 6-7 and Exhibit GEN-20.

    18Id. For further discussion, see Kazakhstan CVD Initiation Checklist, at Attachment II.

    Our review of the data provided in the Petition, General Issues Supplement, and other information readily available to the Department indicates that the petitioner has established industry support for the Petition.19 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).20 Second, the domestic producers (or workers) have met the statutory criteria for industry support under section 702(c)(4)(A)(i) of the Act 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.21 Finally, the domestic producers (or workers) have met the statutory criteria for industry support under section 702(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.22 Accordingly, the Department determines that the Petition was filed on behalf of the domestic industry within the meaning of section 702(b)(1) of the Act.

    19See Kazakhstan CVD Initiation Checklist, at Attachment II.

    20See section 702(c)(4)(D) of the Act; see also Kazakhstan CVD Initiation Checklist, at Attachment II.

    21See Kazakhstan CVD Initiation Checklist, at Attachment II.

    22Id.

    The Department finds that the 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 that the petitioner has demonstrated sufficient industry support with respect to the CVD investigation that it is requesting the Department to initiate.23

    23Id.

    Injury Test

    Because Kazakhstan is a “Subsidies Agreement Country” within the meaning of section 701(b) of the Act, section 701(a)(2) of the Act applies to this investigation. Accordingly, the ITC must determine whether imports of the subject merchandise from Kazakhstan materially injure, or threaten material injury to, a U.S. industry.

    Allegations and Evidence of Material Injury and Causation

    The petitioner alleges that imports of the subject merchandise are benefitting from countervailable subsidies and that such imports are causing, or threaten to cause, material injury to the U.S. industry producing the domestic like product. In addition, the petitioner alleges that subject imports exceed the negligibility threshold provided for under section 771(24)(A) of the Act.24

    24See Volume I of the Petition, at 24-25 and Exhibits GEN-5 and GEN-6.

    The petitioner contends that the industry's injured condition is illustrated by reduced market share; displacement of U.S. production by subject imports; underselling and price suppression or depression; decline in production, capacity utilization, hours worked, and earnings before interest and taxes; lost sales and revenues; and decline in pricing for downstream titanium products.25 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.26

    25See Volume I of the Petition, at 1-3, 14-15, 18-47 and Exhibits GEN-1, GEN-2, GEN-5, GEN-6, GEN-10, GEN-12—GEN-15, GEN-19—GEN-26, GEN-30, GEN-31, and GEN-33.

    26See Kazakhstan CVD Initiation Checklist, at Attachment III, Analysis of Allegations and Evidence of Material Injury and Causation for the Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Petitions Covering Titanium Sponge from Japan and Kazakhstan.

    Initiation of CVD Investigation

    Based on the examination of the CVD Petition, we find that the Petition meets the requirements of section 702 of the Act. Based on our review of the Petition, we find that there is sufficient information to initiate a CVD investigation on three of the four alleged programs in Kazakhstan. For a full discussion of the basis for our decision to initiate or not initiate on each program, see the Kazakhstan CVD Initiation Checklist. A public version of the initiation checklist for this investigation is available on ACCESS.

    Therefore, we are initiating a CVD investigation to determine whether imports of titanium sponge from Kazakhstan benefit from countervailable subsidies conferred by the Government of Kazakhstan. In accordance with section 703(b)(1) of the Act and 19 CFR 351.205(b)(1), unless postponed, we will make our preliminary determination no later than 65 days after the date of this initiation.

    Under the Trade Preferences Extension Act of 2015, numerous amendments to the AD and CVD laws were made.27 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.28 The amendments to sections 776 and 782 of the Act are applicable to all determinations made on or after August 6, 2015, and, therefore, apply to this CVD investigation.29

    27See Trade Preferences Extension Act of 2015, Public Law 114-27, 129 Stat. 362 (2015).

    28See 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 2015 amendments may be found at https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/house-bill/1295/text/pl.

    29See Applicability Notice, 80 FR, at 46794-95.

    In accordance with section 703(b)(1) of the Act and 19 CFR 351.205(b)(1), unless postponed, we will make our preliminary determination no later than 65 days after the date of this initiation.

    Respondent Selection

    Based on information from independent sources, the petitioner named one company as a producer/exporter of titanium sponge in Kazakhstan.30 Although the Department normally relies on the number of producers/exporters identified in the petition and/or import data from U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to determine whether to select a limited number of producers/exporters for individual examination in a CVD investigation, the petitioner identified only one company as a producer/exporter of titanium sponge in Kazakhstan: Ust-Kamenogorsk Titanium Magnesium Plant JSC (UKTMP). We currently know of no additional producers/exporters of merchandise under consideration from Kazakhstan and the petitioner provided information from independent sources as support.31 Accordingly, the Department intends to examine the sole producer/exporter in this investigation for Kazakhstan (i.e., the company cited above). Parties wishing to comment on respondent selection for Kazakhstan must do so within five days of the publication of this notice in the Federal Register. Any such comments must be submitted no later than 5:00 p.m. ET on the due date, and must be filed electronically via ACCESS.

    30See Petition, Volume I at 13; see also Kazakhstan CVD Supplement, at 1.

    31See Petition, Volume I.

    Distribution of Copies of the Petition

    In accordance with section 702(b)(4)(A)(i) of the Act and 19 CFR 351.202(f), a copy of the public version of the Petition has been provided to the GOK via ACCESS. To the extent practicable, we will attempt to provide a copy of the public version of the Petition to each 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 702(d) of the Act.

    Preliminary Determinations 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 titanium sponge from Kazakhstan are materially injuring, or threatening material injury to, a U.S. industry.32 A negative ITC determination will result in the investigation being terminated.33 Otherwise, this investigation will proceed according to statutory and regulatory time limits.

    32See section 703(a)(2) of the Act.

    33See section 703(a)(1) of the Act.

    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). 19 CFR 351.301(b) requires any party, when submitting factual information, to specify under which subsection of 19 CFR 351.102(b)(21) the information is being submitted 34 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.35 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. Interested parties should review the regulations prior to submitting factual information in this investigation.

    34See 19 CFR 351.301(b).

    35See 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 351.301, 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 351.301. 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 a 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. Parties should 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.36 Parties must use the certification formats provided in 19 CFR 351.303(g).37 The Department intends to reject factual submissions if the submitting party does not comply with applicable revised certification requirements.

    36See section 782(b) of the Act.

    37See also Certification of Factual Information to Import Administration During Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Proceedings, 78 FR 42678 (July 17, 2013) (Final Rule). Answers to frequently asked questions regarding the Final Rule are 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 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 at 19 CFR 351.103(d)).

    This notice is issued and published pursuant to sections 702 and 777(i) of the Act.

    Dated: September 13, 2017. Gary Taverman, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Operations, performing the non-exclusive functions and duties of the Assistant Secretary for Enforcement and Compliance. Appendix Scope of the Investigation

    The product covered by this investigation is all forms and grades of titanium sponge, except as specified below. Titanium sponge is unwrought titanium metal that has not been melted. Expressly excluded from the scope of this investigation are:

    (1) Loose particles of unwrought titanium metal having a particle size of less than 20 mesh (0.84 mm);

    (2) alloyed or unalloyed briquettes of unwrought titanium metal that contain more than 0.2% oxygen on a dry weight basis; and

    (3) ultra‐high purity titanium sponge. In ultra‐high purity titanium sponge, metallic impurities do not exceed any of these amounts:

    WT % Aluminum 0.0005 Chromium 0.0001 Cobalt 0.0001 Copper 0.0002 Iron 0.0300 Manganese 0.0010 Nickel 0.0002 Vanadium 0.0002 Zirconium 0.0005 Carbon 0.0150 Hydrogen 0.0100 Nitrogen 0.0020 Oxygen 0.1000

    Titanium sponge is currently classified under subheading 8108.20.0010 of the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS). The HTSUS subheading is provided for convenience and customs purposes; the written description of the scope of this investigation is dispositive.

    [FR Doc. 2017-20029 Filed 9-19-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-DS-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE International Trade Administration [A-588-877, A-834-809] Titanium Sponge From Japan and Kazakhstan: Initiation of Less-Than-Fair-Value Investigations AGENCY:

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

    DATES:

    Applicable September 13, 2017.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Aleksandras Nakutis at (202) 482-3147 (Japan) and Jonathan Hill at (202) 482-3518 (Kazakhstan), AD/CVD Operations, Enforcement and Compliance, International Trade Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce, 1401 Constitution Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20230.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    The Petitions

    On August 24, 2017, the U.S. Department of Commerce (the Department) received antidumping duty (AD) Petitions concerning imports of titanium sponge from Japan and Kazakhstan, filed in proper form on behalf of Titanium Metals Corporation (the petitioner).1 The AD Petitions were accompanied by a countervailing duty (CVD) petition concerning imports of titanium sponge from Kazakhstan. The petitioner is a domestic producer of titanium sponge.2 On August 29, 2017, September 5, 2017, and September 8, 2017, the Department requested supplemental information pertaining to certain areas of the Petitions.3 The petitioner filed responses to these requests on August 31, 2017, September 7, 2017, and September 11, 2017, respectively.4 The petitioner filed revised scope language on September 11, 2017.5

    1See Letter to the Secretary of Commerce re: “Titanium Sponge from Japan and Kazakhstan: Petition for the Imposition of Antidumping and Countervailing Duties” (August 24, 2017) (the Petitions).

    2See Volume I of the Petitions, at 1-2.

    3See Letter from the Department, “Petitions for the Imposition of Antidumping and Countervailing Duties on Imports of Titanium Sponge from Japan and Kazakhstan: Supplemental Questions,” dated August 29, 2017 (General Issues Supplemental Questionnaire); see also Petition for the Imposition of Antidumping Duties on Imports of Titanium Sponge from Japan: Supplemental Questionnaire; and Petition for the Imposition of Antidumping Duties on Imports of Titanium Sponge from Kazakhstan: Supplemental Questionnaire. All of these documents are dated August 29, 2017. See also Letter from the Department, “Petitions for the Imposition of Antidumping and Countervailing Duties on Imports of Titanium Sponge from Japan and Kazakhstan: Supplemental Questions,” dated September 8, 2017 (Second General Issues Supplemental Questionnaire).

    4See Letter from the petitioner, “Petitions for the Imposition of Antidumping and Countervailing Duties on Titanium Sponge from Japan and Kazakhstan: TIMET Response to Supplemental General Questions;” (August 31, 2017) (General Issues Supplement); see also “Petition for the Imposition of Antidumping Duties on Titanium Sponge from Japan: TIMET Response to Supplemental Questionnaire;” (Japan AD Supplement) and “Petition for the Imposition of Antidumping Duties on Titanium Sponge from Kazakhstan: TIMET Response to Supplemental Questionnaire.” (Kazakhstan AD Supplement). Each of these documents is dated August 31, 2017; see also Letter from the petitioner, “Petition for the Imposition of Antidumping and Countervailing Duties on Titanium Sponge from Japan and Kazakhstan: TIMET Response to September 6, 2017,” dated September 7, 2017 (Second Supplement); see also Letter from the petitioner, “Petition for the Imposition of Antidumping and Countervailing Duties on Titanium Sponge from Japan and Kazakhstan: TIMET Rsponse to September 8, 2017 Supplemental Questions, dated Septeber (Second General Issues Supplement).

    5See Second General Issues Supplement.

    In accordance with section 732(b) of the Tariff Act of 1930, as amended (the Act), the petitioner alleges that imports of titanium sponge from Japan and Kazakhstan 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, the domestic industry producing titanium sponge in the United States. Also, consistent with section 732(b)(1) of the Act, the Petitions are accompanied by information reasonably available to the petitioner supporting its allegations.

    The Department finds that the petitioner filed these Petitions on behalf of the domestic industry because the petitioner is an interested party as defined in section 771(9)(C) of the Act. The Department also finds that the petitioner demonstrated sufficient industry support with respect to the initiation of the AD investigations that the petitioner is requesting.6

    6See the “Determination of Industry Support for the Petitions” section, below.

    Period of Investigation

    Because the Petitions were filed on August 24, 2017, the period of investigation (POI) for these investigations is July 1, 2016, through June 30, 2017.

    Scope of the Investigations

    The product covered by these investigations is titanium sponge from Japan and Kazakhstan. For a full description of the scope of these investigations, see the “Scope of the Investigations,” in the Appendix to this notice.

    Comments on Scope of the Investigations

    During our review of the Petitions, the Department issued questions to, and received responses from, the petitioner pertaining to the proposed scope to ensure that the scope language in the Petitions would be an accurate reflection of the products for which the domestic industry is seeking relief.7

    7See Second General Issues Questionnaire; see also Second General Issues Supplement, at Attachment D.

    As discussed in the preamble to the Department's regulations, we are setting aside a period for interested parties to raise issues regarding product coverage (scope).8 The Department will consider all comments received from interested parties and, if necessary, will consult with interested parties prior to the issuance of the preliminary determinations. If scope comments include factual information,9 all such factual information should be limited to public information. 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 Tuesday, October 3, 2017, 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 Friday, October 13, 2017, which is 10 calendar days from the initial comments deadline.10

    8See Antidumping Duties; Countervailing Duties, Final Rule, 62 FR 27296, 27323 (May 19, 1997).

    9See 19 CFR 351.102(b)(21) (defining “factual information”).

    10See 19 CFR 351.303(b).

    The Department requests that any factual information the parties consider relevant to the scope of the investigations be submitted during this time period. However, if a party subsequently finds that additional factual information pertaining to the scope of the investigations may be relevant, the party may contact the Department and request permission to submit the additional information. All such comments must be filed on the records of each of the concurrent AD and CVD titanium sponge investigations.

    Filing Requirements

    All submissions to the Department must be filed electronically using Enforcement and Compliance's Antidumping Duty and Countervailing Duty Centralized Electronic Service System (ACCESS).11 An electronically filed document must be received successfully in its entirety by the time and date it is due. Documents exempted 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, 1401 Constitution Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20230, and stamped with the date and time of receipt by the applicable deadlines.

    11See 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 will provide interested parties an opportunity to comment on the appropriate physical characteristics of titanium sponge to be reported in response to the Department's AD questionnaires. This information will be used to identify the key physical characteristics of the merchandise under consideration in order to report the relevant costs of production accurately as well as to develop appropriate product-comparison criteria.

    Interested parties may provide any information or comments that they believe 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 titanium sponge, it may be that only a select few product characteristics are 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 product characteristics comments must be filed by 5:00 p.m. ET on October 3, 2017. Any rebuttal comments must be filed by 5:00 p.m. ET on October 13, 2017. All comments and submissions to the Department must be filed electronically using ACCESS, as explained above, on the records of the Japan and Kazakhstan less-than-fair-value investigations.

    Determination of Industry Support for the Petitions

    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,12 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.13

    12See section 771(10) of the Act.

    13See 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 a petition).

    With regard to the domestic like product, the petitioner does not offer a definition of the domestic like product distinct from the scope of the investigations. Based on our analysis of the information submitted on the record, we have determined that titanium sponge, as defined in the scope, constitutes a single domestic like product, and we have analyzed industry support in terms of that domestic like product.14

    14 For a discussion of the domestic like product analysis as applied to these cases and information regarding industry support, see Antidumping Duty Investigation Initiation Checklist: Titanium Sponge from Japan (Japan AD Initiation Checklist), at Attachment II, “Analysis of Industry Support for the Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Petitions Covering Titanium Sponge from Japan and Kazakhstan;” see also Antidumping Duty Investigation Initiation Checklist: Titanium Sponge from Kazakhstan (Kazakhstan AD Initiation Checklist), at Attachment II, “Analysis of Industry Support for the Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Petitions Covering Titanium Sponge from Japan and Kazakhstan.” These checklists are dated concurrently with this notice and 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 the petitioner has standing under section 732(c)(4)(A) of the Act, we considered the industry support data contained in the Petitions with reference to the domestic like product as defined in the “Scope of the Investigations,” in the Appendix to this notice. The petitioner provided its own 2016 production of the domestic like product, and compared this to the estimated total production of the domestic like product for the entire domestic industry.15 We relied on data the petitioner provided for purposes of measuring industry support.16

    15See Volume I of the Petitions, at 6-7 and Exhibit GEN-20.

    16Id. For further discussion, see Japan AD Initiation Checklist and Kazakhstan AD Initiation Checklist, at Attachment II.

    Our review of the data provided in the Petitions and other information readily available to the Department indicates that the petitioner has established industry support for the Petitions.17 First, the Petitions 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).18 Second, the domestic producers (or workers) have met the statutory criteria for industry support under section 732(c)(4)(A)(i) of the Act because the domestic producers (or workers) who support the Petitions account for at least 25 percent of the total production of the domestic like product.19 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 Petitions 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 Petitions.20 Accordingly, the Department determines that the Petitions were filed on behalf of the domestic industry within the meaning of section 732(b)(1) of the Act.

    17See Japan AD Initiation Checklist and Kazakhstan AD Initiation Checklist, at Attachment II.

    18See section 732(c)(4)(D) of the Act; see also Japan AD Initiation Checklist and Kazakhstan AD Initiation Checklist, at Attachment II.

    19See Japan AD Initiation Checklist and Kazakhstan AD Initiation Checklist, at Attachment II.

    20Id.

    The Department finds that the petitioner filed the Petitions on behalf of the domestic industry because it is an interested party as defined in section 771(9)(C) of the Act, and that the petitioner has demonstrated sufficient industry support with respect to the AD investigations that it is requesting the Department to initiate.21

    21Id.

    Allegations and Evidence of Material Injury and Causation

    The 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, the petitioner alleges that subject imports exceed the negligibility threshold provided for under section 771(24)(A) of the Act.22

    22See Volume I of the Petitions, at 24-25 and Exhibits GEN-5 and GEN-6.

    The petitioner contends that the industry's injured condition is illustrated by reduced market share; displacement of U.S. production by subject imports; underselling and price suppression or depression; decline in production, capacity utilization, hours worked, and earnings before interest and taxes, lost sales and revenues; and decline in pricing for downstream titanium products.23 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.24

    23See Volume I of the Petitions, at 1-3, 14-15, 18-47 and Exhibits GEN-1, GEN-2, GEN-5, GEN-6, GEN-10, GEN-12—GEN-15, GEN-19—GEN-26, GEN-30, GEN-31, and GEN-33.

    24See Japan AD Initiation Checklist, at Attachment III, Analysis of Allegations and Evidence of Material Injury and Causation for the Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Petitions Covering Titanium Sponge from Japan and Kazakhstan (Attachment III); and Kazakhstan AD Initiation Checklist, at Attachment III.

    Allegations of Sales at Less Than Fair Value

    The following is a description of the allegations of sales at less than fair value upon which the Department based its decision to initiate AD investigations of imports of titanium sponge from Japan and Kazakhstan. The sources of data for the deductions and adjustments relating to U.S. price and NV are discussed in greater detail in the country-specific initiation checklists.

    Export Price

    For Japan, the petitioner based U.S. export prices (EPs) on price quotes for sales of titanium sponge produced in, and exported from, Japan and offered for sale in the United States, and on average unit values (AUVs) obtained from official import statistics.25 For Kazakhstan, the petitioner based U.S. EP on an AUV obtained from official import statistics.26 Where applicable, the petitioner made deductions from U.S. price for movement expenses.27

    25See Japan AD Initiation Checklist.

    26See Kazakhstan AD Initiation Checklist.

    27See Japan AD Initiation Checklist; and Kazakhstan AD Initiation Checklist.

    Normal Value

    The petitioner was unable to obtain any prices of sales (or offers for sale) of titanium sponge in Kazakhstan.28 Additionally, although the petitioner was able to obtain a range of titanium sponge prices in Japan during the 2017 fiscal year from the publication Nihon Keizai Shimbun, the petitioner provided evidence indicating that these prices may be based on affiliated-party sales and thus may not be arm's length prices.29 As a result, the petitioner contends that these home market prices are not usable for determining normal value.30 Furthermore, for both Japan and Kazakhstan, the petitioner stated that it was unable to find usable third-country titanium sponge prices.31 Therefore, for both Japan and Kazakhstan, the petitioner based NV on constructed value (CV). For further discussion of the cost of production (COP) and NV based on CV, see the section “Normal Value Based on Constructed Value” below.32

    28 The petitioner cited a newspaper article which quotes the President of Ust-Kamenogorsk Titanium Magnesium Plant JSC (UKTMP) (the sole producer of titanium sponge in Kazakhstan according to the petitioner) as saying “100% of UKTMP products are exported. . .” See Kazakhstan AD Supplement, at 2-3 and Exhibit B.

    29See Volume II-a of the Petitions, at 6-8; see also Japan AD Supplement at 3-4.; see also Japan Second Supplement, at 1.

    30See Japan Second Supplement, at 1.

    31See Japan Second Supplement, at 1-2.

    32 In accordance with section 505(a) of the Trade Preferences Extension Act of 2015, amending section 773(b)(2) of the Act, for all of the investigations, 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(e) of the Act, CV consists of the cost of manufacturing (COM), selling, general, and administrative (SG&A) expenses, financial expenses, and profit. The petitioner determined the COM of titanium sponge by adding together the costs of raw materials, labor, maintenance, electricity, other supplies, and factory overhead, as applicable, incurred by the petitioner, adjusted, where possible, for known differences from costs in Japan and Kazakhstan during a contemporaneous period to the POI. Specifically, the petitioner adjusted for known differences in costs by using publicly available labor and energy rates for Japan and Kazakhstan. The petitioner based prices for raw materials, maintenance, other supplies and factory overhead on the petitioner's own costs as such costs in Japan and Kazakhstan were not reasonably available to the petitioner. The petitioner calculated SG&A expenses, financial expense, and profit based on the experience of Japanese and Kazakh producers of identical merchandise.33

    33See Japan AD Initiation Checklist and Kazakhstan AD Initiation Checklist.

    Fair Value Comparisons

    Based on the data provided by the petitioner, there is reason to believe that imports of titanium sponge from Japan and Kazakhstan are being, or are likely to be, sold in the United States at less than fair value. Based on comparisons of EP to NV in accordance with sections 772 and 773 of the Act, the estimated dumping margins for titanium sponge from Japan and Kazakhstan are as follows: Japan—69.69% to 95.20% percent; 34 and Kazakhstan—42.22%.35

    34See Japan AD Initiation Checklist. The petitioner also calculated margins based on a comparison between EP and the home market prices. However, because the petitioner contends that the home market prices are not usable for purposes of determining normal value, we have relied on the estimated dumping margins based on the comparison between EP and CV for purposes of the initiation.

    35See Kazakhstan AD Initiation Checklist.

    Initiation of Less-Than-Fair-Value Investigations

    Based upon our examination of the AD Petitions, we find that the Petitions meet the requirements of section 732 of the Act. Therefore, we are initiating AD investigations to determine whether imports of titanium sponge from Japan and Kazakhstan 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 determinations in these investigations no later than 140 days after the date of this initiation. For a full discussion of the basis for our decision to initiate or not initiate on each program, see the Japan AD Initiation Checklist and Kazakhstan AD Initiation Checklist. Public versions of the initiation checklists for these investigations are available on ACCESS.

    Under the Trade Preferences Extension Act of 2015, numerous amendments to the AD and CVD law were made.36 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.37 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 these AD investigations.38

    36See Trade Preferences Extension Act of 2015, Public Law 114-27, 129 Stat. 362 (2015).

    37See 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).

    38Id. at 46794-95. The 2015 amendments may be found at https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/house-bill/1295/text/pl.

    Respondent Selection

    Although the Department normally relies on the number of producers/exporters identified in the petition and/or import data from U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to determine whether to select a limited number of producers/exporters for individual examination in AD investigations, the petitioner identified only two companies as producers/exporters of titanium sponge from Japan: Osaka Titanium Technologies Co., Ltd. and Toho Titanium Company., Ltd.; and one company as a producer/exporter of titanium sponge form Kazakhstan: UKTMP. We currently know of no additional producers/exporters of the merchandise under consideration from Japan or Kazakhstan and the petitioner provided information from an independent source as support for its claim that there are only two producers/exporters or titanium sponge in Japan and only one producer/exporter or titanium sponge in Kazakhstan.39 Accordingly, the Department intends to examine the producers/exporters identified in the Petitions for these investigations. Parties wishing to comment on respondent selection must do so within five days of the publication of this notice in the Federal Register. Any such comments must be submitted no later than 5:00 p.m. ET on the due date, and must be filed electronically via ACCESS.

    39See Volume I of the Petitions, at Exhibit GEN-14.

    Distribution of Copies of the Petitions

    In accordance with section 732(b)(3)(A)(i) of the Act and 19 CFR 351.202(f), copies of the public version of the Petitions have been provided to the governments of Japan and Kazakhstan via ACCESS. To the extent practicable, we will attempt to provide a copy of the public version of the Petitions to each exporter named in the Petitions, 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 Determinations by the ITC

    The ITC will preliminarily determine, within 45 days after the date on which the Petitions were filed, whether there is a reasonable indication that imports of titanium sponge from Japan and/or Kazakhstan are materially injuring, or threatening material injury to, a U.S. industry. A negative ITC determination for any country will result in the investigation being terminated with respect to that country. Otherwise, these investigations will proceed according to statutory and regulatory time limits.

    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). 19 CFR 351.301(b) requires any party, when submitting factual information, to specify under which subsection of 19 CFR 351.102(b)(21) the information is being submitted 40 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.41 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. Interested parties should review the regulations prior to submitting factual information in these investigations.

    40See 19 CFR 351.301(b).

    41See 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 351.301, 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 351.301. 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 a 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. Parties should 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 these investigations.

    Certification Requirements

    Any party submitting factual information in an AD or CVD proceeding must certify to the accuracy and completeness of that information.42 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. 43 The Department intends to reject factual submissions if the submitting party does not comply with applicable revised certification requirements.

    42See section 782(b) of the Act.

    43See 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 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 these investigations should ensure that they meet the requirements of these procedures (e.g., the filing of letters of appearance as discussed at 19 CFR 351.103(d)).

    This notice is issued and published pursuant to sections 732(c)(2) and 777(i) of the Act, and 19 CFR 351.203(c).

    Dated: September 13, 2017. Gary Taverman, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Operations, performing the non-exclusive functions and duties of the Assistant Secretary for Enforcement and Compliance. Appendix Scope of the Investigations

    The product covered by these investigations is all forms and grades of titanium sponge, except as specified below. Titanium sponge is unwrought titanium metal that has not been melted. Expressly excluded from the scope of these investigations are:

    (1) Loose particles of unwrought titanium metal having a particle size of less than 20 mesh (0.84 mm);

    (2) alloyed or unalloyed briquettes of unwrought titanium metal that contain more than 0.2% oxygen on a dry weight basis; and

    (3) ultra‐high purity titanium sponge. In ultra‐high purity titanium sponge, metallic impurities do not exceed any of these amounts:

    WT % Aluminum 0.0005 Chromium 0.0001 Cobalt 0.0001 Copper 0.0002 Iron 0.0300 Manganese 0.0010 Nickel 0.0002 Vanadium 0.0002 Zirconium 0.0005 Carbon 0.0150 Hydrogen 0.0100 Nitrogen 0.0020 Oxygen 0.1000

    Titanium sponge is currently classified under subheading 8108.20.0010 of the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS). The HTSUS subheading is provided for convenience and customs purposes; the written description of the scope of these investigations is dispositive.

    [FR Doc. 2017-20028 Filed 9-19-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-DS-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration RIN 0648-XF658 Fisheries of the South Atlantic; South Atlantic Fishery Management Council; Public Meetings AGENCY:

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

    ACTION:

    Announcement of rescheduled meetings of the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council's Citizen Science Advisory Panel Projects/Topics Management; Volunteers; Communication/Outreach/Education Action Teams.

    SUMMARY:

    The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council (Council) will hold meetings of its Citizen Science Advisory Panel Projects/Topics Management; Volunteers; Communication/Outreach/Education Action Teams via webinar. The meetings via webinar were originally scheduled for Tuesday, September 19, 2017 at 1 p.m. (Projects/Topics Management); Thursday, September 21, 2017 at 1 p.m. (Volunteers); Friday, September 22, 2017 at 10 a.m. (Communication/Outreach/Education) but have been rescheduled as a result of wide-spread impacts due to Hurricane Irma [See SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION].

    DATES:

    The Volunteers Team meeting has been rescheduled for Monday, October 2, 2017 at 1 p.m.; Projects/Topics Management Team on Tuesday, October 3, 2017 at 2 p.m.; and Communication/Outreach/Education Team on Wednesday, October 4 at 1 p.m. Each meeting is scheduled to last approximately 90 minutes. Additional Action Team webinar and plenary webinar dates and times will publish in a subsequent issue in the Federal Register.

    ADDRESSES:

    The meetings will be held via webinar and are open to members of the public. Webinar registration is required and registration links will be posted to the Citizen Science program page of the Council's Web site at www.safmc.net.

    Council address: South Atlantic Fishery Management Council, 4055 Faber Place Drive, Suite 201, N. Charleston, SC 29405.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Amber Von Harten, Citizen Science Program Manager, SAFMC; phone: (843) 302-8433 or toll free (866) SAFMC-10; fax: (843) 769-4520; email: [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Due to the impacts of Hurricane Irma and ongoing recovery efforts in the South Atlantic region, the meetings of the Council's Citizen Science Advisory Panel Projects/Topics Management; Volunteers; Communication/Outreach/Education Action Team originally scheduled for Tuesday, September 19, 2017 at 1 p.m. (Projects/Topics Management); Thursday, September 21, 2017 at 1 p.m. (Volunteers); Friday, September 22, 2017 at 10 a.m. (Communication/Outreach/Education) have been rescheduled. The originally scheduled meetings were published in the Federal Register on September 1, 2017 (82 FR 41613).

    The Volunteers Team meeting has been rescheduled for Monday, October 2, 2017 at 1 p.m.; Projects/Topics Management Team on Tuesday, October 3, 2017 at 2 p.m.; and Communication/Outreach/Education Team on Wednesday, October 4 at 1 p.m.

    The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council (Council) created a Citizen Science Advisory Panel Pool in June 2017. The Council appointed members of the Citizen Science Advisory Panel Pool to five Action Teams in the areas of Volunteers, Data Management, Projects/Topics Management, Finance, and Communication/Outreach/Education to develop program policies and operations for the Council's Citizen Science Program.

    The Communication/Outreach/Education; Projects/Topics Management; Volunteers Action Teams will meet to continue work on developing recommendations on program policies and operations to be reviewed by the Council's Citizen Science Committee. Public comment will be accepted at the beginning of the meeting.

    Items to be addressed during these meetings:

    1. Discuss work on tasks in the Terms of Reference 2. Other Business Special Accommodations

    These meetings are physically accessible to people with disabilities. Requests for auxiliary aids should be directed to the council office (see ADDRESSES) 3 days prior to the meeting.

    Note:

    The times and sequence specified in this agenda are subject to change.

    Authority:

    16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.

    Dated: September 15, 2017. Tracey L. Thompson, Acting Deputy Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service.
    [FR Doc. 2017-20039 Filed 9-19-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-22-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration RIN 0648-XF696 Marine Mammals; File Nos. 21217 and 21397 AGENCY:

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

    ACTION:

    Notice; receipt of applications.

    SUMMARY:

    Notice is hereby given that the following entities have applied in due form for a permit to receive, import, and/or export marine mammal parts for scientific research:

    File No. 21217: Aaron Roberts, Ph.D., University of North Texas, Biological Sciences, 1155 Union Circle, #310559, Denton, TX 76203;

    File No. 21397: Burke Museum, Mammalogy [Julie Stein, Responsible Party], University of Washington, Box 353010, Seattle, WA 98195.

    DATES:

    Written, telefaxed, or email comments must be received on or before October 20, 2017.

    ADDRESSES:

    The applications and related documents are available for review by selecting “Records Open for Public Comment” from the “Features” box on the Applications and Permits for Protected Species (APPS) home page, https://apps.nmfs.noaa.gov, and then selecting the appropriate File No. from the list of available applications.

    These documents are also available upon written request or by appointment in the Permits and Conservation Division, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, 1315 East-West Highway, Room 13705, Silver Spring, MD 20910; phone (301) 427-8401; fax (301) 713-0376.

    Written comments on these applications should be submitted to the Chief, Permits and Conservation Division, at the address listed above. Comments may also be submitted by facsimile to (301) 713-0376, or by email to [email protected] Please include the File No. in the subject line of the email comment.

    Those individuals requesting a public hearing should submit a written request to the Chief, Permits and Conservation Division at the address listed above. The request should set forth the specific reasons why a hearing on the application would be appropriate.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Lisa Lierheimer or Jennifer Skidmore, (301) 427-8401.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    The subject permits are requested under the authority of the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972, as amended (MMPA; 16 U.S.C. 1361 et seq.), the regulations governing the taking and importing of marine mammals (50 CFR part 216), the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (ESA; 16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.), the regulations governing the taking, importing, and exporting of endangered and threatened species (50 CFR 222-226), and/or the Fur Seal Act of 1966, as amended (16 U.S.C. 1151 et seq.).

    File No. 21217: The applicant proposes to import biological samples from up to 30 harp seals (Pagophilus groenlandicus) and 30 hooded seals (Cystophora cristata) from Canada to study the effects of polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) on the fitness and immune function in two species of phocid seals. No takes of live animals would be authorized under this permit. The permit would be valid for up to five years after issuance.

    File No. 21397: The applicant proposes to receive, import, and export biological samples from up to 10 cetaceans and 10 pinnipeds (excluding walrus) annually for scientific research, curation, and education. Receipt, import, and export is requested worldwide. Sources of samples may include marine mammal strandings in foreign countries, foreign and domestic subsistence harvests, captive animals, other authorized researchers or curated collections, and marine mammals that died incidental to commercial fishing operations in the U.S. and foreign countries, where such take is legal. The requested duration of the permit is 5 years.

    In compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.), an initial determination has been made that the proposed activities are categorically excluded from the requirement to prepare an environmental assessment or environmental impact statement.

    Concurrent with the publication of this notice in the Federal Register, NMFS is forwarding copies of these applications to the Marine Mammal Commission and its Committee of Scientific Advisors.

    Dated: September 14, 2017. Julia Harrison, Chief, Permits and Conservation Division, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service.
    [FR Doc. 2017-19977 Filed 9-19-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-22-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration RIN 0648-XF684 Pacific Fishery Management Council; Public Meeting AGENCY:

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

    ACTION:

    Notice of public meeting (webinar).

    SUMMARY:

    The Groundfish Subcommittee of the Pacific Fishery Management Council's (Pacific Council's) Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC) will hold a meeting via webinar to review analyses informing 2019 and 2020 groundfish harvest specifications and other matters that will be considered at the November 14-20, 2017 Pacific Council meetings in Costa Mesa, California. The webinar meeting is open to the public.

    DATES:

    The SSC Groundfish Subcommittee webinar will be held Thursday, September 28, 2017, from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (Pacific Daylight Time) or until business for the day has been completed.

    ADDRESSES:

    The SSC's Groundfish Subcommittee meeting will be held by webinar. To attend the webinar, (1) join the meeting by visiting this link http://www.gotomeeting.com/webinar; (2) enter the webinar ID: 975-440-411, and (3) enter your name and email address (required). After logging into the webinar, please (1) dial this TOLL number: 1-631-992-3221 (not a toll-free number); (2) enter the attendee phone audio access code: 214-350-817; and (3) then enter your audio phone pin (shown after joining the webinar). Note: We have disabled mic/speakers as an option and require all participants to use a telephone or cell phone to participate. Technical Information and System Requirements: PC-based attendees are required to use Windows® 7, Vista, or XP; Mac®-based attendees are required to use Mac OS® X 10.5 or newer; Mobile attendees are required to use iPhone®, iPad®, AndroidTM phone or Android tablet (See the https://www.gotomeeting.com/webinar/ipad-iphone-android-webinar-apps). You may send an email to Mr. Kris Kleinschmidt at [email protected] or contact him at 503-820-2280, extension 411 for technical assistance. A public listening station will also be available at the Pacific Council office.

    Council address: Pacific Fishery Management Council, 7700 NE Ambassador Place, Suite 101, Portland, Oregon 97220.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Mr. John DeVore, Staff Officer, Pacific Fishery Management Council; telephone: 503-820-2413.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    The purpose of the SSC Groundfish Subcommittee meeting is to review a new yelloweye rockfish rebuilding analysis, and review new data-limited estimates of overfishing limits (OFLs) for cowcod in the Monterey area, starry flounder, gopher rockfish off California, greenspotted rockfish north of 42° N. lat., blue and deacon rockfishes south of 34°27′ N. lat., blue and deacon rockfishes off Washington, and cabezon off Washington. Some of these data-limited OFLs may be reviewed and resolved by the SSC at the September 11-18, 2017 meeting in Boise, Idaho. If not, then the full suite of OFLs listed above will be reviewed by the SSC Groundfish Subcommittee at this September 28 webinar meeting. The SSC Groundfish Subcommittee will also review additional model runs from the 2017 assessment of Pacific ocean perch (POP) and may recommend a new assessment of POP as best scientific information available. Additionally, the SSC Groundfish Subcommittee will review a paper addressing conditions placed on the west coast bottom trawl groundfish fishery for shortraker rockfish, silvergray rockfish, and California skate by the Marine Stewardship Council.

    No management actions will be decided by the SSC's Groundfish Subcommittee. The SSC Groundfish Subcommittee members' role will be development of recommendations and reports for consideration by the SSC and Pacific Council at the November meeting in Costa Mesa, California.

    Although nonemergency issues not contained in the meeting agendas may be discussed, those issues may not be the subject of formal action during these meetings. Action will be restricted to those issues specifically listed in this notice and any issues arising after publication of this notice that require emergency action under Section 305(c) of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, provided the public has been notified of the intent of the SSC Groundfish Subcommittee to take final action to address the emergency.

    Special Accommodations

    These meetings are physically accessible to people with disabilities. Requests for sign language interpretation or other auxiliary aids should be directed to Mr. Kris Kleinschmidt 503-820-2411 at least ten days prior to the meeting date.

    Dated: September 15, 2017. Tracey L. Thompson, Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service.
    [FR Doc. 2017-20038 Filed 9-19-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-22-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration RIN 0648-XF694 Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council (MAFMC); Public Meeting AGENCY:

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

    ACTION:

    Notice; public meeting.

    SUMMARY:

    The Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council's (Council) Ecosystem and Ocean Planning (EOP) Committee with Advisory Panel (AP) will hold a public meeting.

    DATES:

    The meeting will be held on Friday October 6, 2017. The meeting will begin at 10 a.m. and conclude no later than 3 p.m. The meeting will be held via webinar with a telephone-only connection option. For agenda details, see SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION.

    ADDRESSES:

    Information about connecting to this webinar based meeting will be posted on the Council Web site at www.mafmc.org two weeks prior to meeting.

    Council address: Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council, 800 N. State Street, Suite 201, Dover, DE 19901; telephone: (302) 674-2331 or on their Web site at www.mafmc.org.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Christopher M. Moore, Ph.D., Executive Director, Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council, telephone: (302) 526-5255.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    The purpose of the meeting is to review the final list of risk elements to be evaluated by the Council as part of its Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries Management. At this meeting, the EOP Committee and Advisors will provide final rankings of the risk elements that will be communicated to the full Council at its October meeting in Riverhead, NY. Once adopted, the prioritized risk matrix will be used by the Council to inform its future work and scientific research plans.

    Dated: September 14, 2017. Tracey L. Thompson, Acting Deputy Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service.
    [FR Doc. 2017-19976 Filed 9-19-17; 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 of 1995 (“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 October 20, 2017.

    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 (“OIRA”) in OMB, within 30 days of the notice's publication, by either of the following methods. Please identify the comments by OMB Control No. 3038-0079.

    By email addressed to: [email protected]; or

    By mail addressed to: 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.

    A copy of all comments submitted to OIRA should be sent to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (“CFTC” or “Commission”) by either of the following methods. The copies should refer to OMB Control No. 3038-0079.

    By submission through the Commission's Web site: http://comments.cftc.gov. Please follow the instructions for submitting comments through the Web site;

    By mail addressed 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 to: The address listed above for submission by mail.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Katherine Driscoll, Associate Chief Counsel, (202) 418-5544, [email protected]; or Jacob Chachkin, Special Counsel, 202-418-5496, [email protected], both in the CFTC Division of Swap Dealer and Intermediary Oversight.

    Supporting statements. A copy of the supporting statements for the collection of information discussed herein may be obtained by visiting http://RegInfo.gov.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Title: Conflicts of Interest Policies and Procedures by Swap Dealers and Major Swap Participants (OMB Control No. 3038-0079). This is a request for an amendment to a currently approved information collection.

    Abstract: In 2012, the Commission promulgated Business Conduct Standards for Swap Dealers and Major Swap Participants with Counterparties (“External Business Conduct Standards Final Rulemaking”) 1 which include all of Subpart H of Part 23 of the Commission's regulations (“EBCS Rules”).2 In the External Business Conduct Standards Final Rulemaking, the Commission stated that the information collections associated with the EBCS Rules were part of the overall supervision, compliance and recordkeeping requirements imposed by the Commission in certain other rulemakings including, among others, the collection of information for rules on Conflicts of Interest Policies and Procedures by Swap Dealers and Major Swap Participants under § 23.605 under OMB Collection No. 3038-0079. While the collections associated with the EBCS Rules do overlap with the requirements in certain other Commission regulations, the OMB collections associated with those other Commission regulations do not accurately reflect the burdens imposed by the EBCS Rules. The Commission is proposing to amend the information collection under OMB Control No. 3038-0079 to clearly reflect the paperwork burden imposed by the EBCS Rules under §§ 23.401-450 and ensure that the paperwork burden of the EBCS Rules is centrally located under OMB Control No. 3038-0079. In addition, the Commission will be retitling the collection under OMB Control No. 3038-0079 “Swap Dealer and Major Swap Participant Conflicts of Interest and Business Conduct Standards with Counterparties” to more accurately reflect its coverage. The collections of information contained in the EBCS Rules are necessary to implement requirements set forth in the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act 3 and for the protection of investors and market participants.

    1 Business Conduct Standards for Swap Dealers and Major Swap Participants with Counterparties, 77 FR 9734, Feb. 17, 2012.

    2 Subpart H of Part 23 is titled “Business Conduct Standards for Swap Dealers and Major Swap Participants Dealing with Counterparties, Including Special Entities.” Subpart H includes the following provisions: § 23.400 (Scope); § 23.401 (Definitions); § 23.402 (General Provisions); § 23.410 (Prohibition on fraud, manipulation and other abusive practices); § 23.430 (Verification of counterparty eligibility); § 23.431 (Disclosures of material information); § 23.432 (Clearing disclosures); § 23.433 Communications—fair dealing); § 23.434 (Recommendations to counterparties—institutional suitability; § 23.440 (Requirements for swap dealers acting as advisors to Special Entities); § 23.450 (Requirements for swap dealers and major swap participants acting counterparties to Special Entities); and § 23.451 (Political contributions by certain swap dealers).

    3 See Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, Public Law 111-203, 124 Stat. 1376 (2010). The text of the Dodd-Frank Act may be accessed at: http://www.cftc.gov/ucm/groups/public/@swaps/documents/file/hr4173_enrolledbill.pdf.

    On June 20, 2017, the Commission published in the Federal Register a notice of the proposed extension of this information collection and provided 60 days for public comment on the proposed extension. See 82 FR 28050 (June 20, 2017). The Commission received no relevant comments.

    Burden Statement: The respondent burden for this collection is detailed below and includes the burden currently associated with OMB Collection No. 3038-0079 in connection with § 23.605 (Conflicts of Interest Policies and Procedures for Swap Dealers and Major Swap Participants) and the EBCS Rules. The Commission estimates the burden of this collection of information as follows:

    Respondents/Affected Entities: Swap Dealers and Major Swap Participants.

    Estimated Number of Respondents: 102.

    Estimated Average Burden Hours per Respondent: 2,352.9 hours.

    Estimated Total Annual Burden on Respondents: 240,000 hours.

    Frequency of Collection: Ongoing.

    Comment instructions. All comments must be submitted in English or, if not, accompanied by an English translation. Comments will be posted as received to http://www.cftc.gov. You should submit only information that you wish to make available publicly. If you wish the Commission to consider information that you believe is exempt from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”), a petition for confidential treatment of the exempt information may be submitted according to the procedures established in § 145.9 of the Commission's regulations, 17 CFR 145.9. The Commission reserves the right, but shall have no obligation, to review, pre-screen, filter, redact, refuse or remove any or all of your submission from http://www.cftc.gov that it may deem to be inappropriate for publication, such as obscene language. All submissions that have been redacted or removed that contain comments on the merits of the ICR will be retained in the public comment file and will be considered as required under the Administrative Procedure Act and other applicable laws, and may be accessible under the FOIA.

    (Authority: 44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.) Dated: September 15, 2017. Robert N. Sidman, Deputy Secretary of the Commission.
    [FR Doc. 2017-20025 Filed 9-19-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6351-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE Department of the Army Army Education Advisory Subcommittee Meeting Notice AGENCY:

    Department of the Army, DoD.

    ACTION:

    Notice of open subcommittee meeting.

    SUMMARY:

    The Department of the Army is publishing this notice to announce the following Federal advisory committee meeting of the Command and General Staff College (CGSC) Board of Visitors, a subcommittee of the Army Education Advisory Committee. This meeting is open to the public.

    DATES:

    The CGSC Board of Visitors Subcommittee will meet from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. on November 6 from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on November 7, 2017.

    ADDRESSES:

    U. S. Army Command and General Staff College, Lewis and Clark Center, 100 Stimson Ave., Bell Conference Room, Ft. Leavenworth, KS 66027.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Dr. Robert Baumann, the Alternate Designated Federal Officer for the subcommittee, in writing at Command and General Staff College, 100 Stimson Ave., Ft. Leavenworth, KS 66027, by email at [email protected] or by telephone at (913) 684-2742.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    The subcommittee meeting is being held under the provisions of the Federal Advisory Committee Act of 1972 (5 U.S.C., Appendix, as amended), the Government in the Sunshine Act of 1976 (5 U.S.C. 552b, as amended), and 41 CFR 102-3.150.

    Purpose of the Meeting: The purpose of the meeting is to provide the Subcommittee with an overview of CGSC academic programs, with focus on the College's two degree-granting schools: The Command and General Staff School (CGSS) and the School of Advanced Military Studies (SAMS). This will be an informational meeting with particular focus on the possibility of establishing additional degree programs at CGSC.

    Agenda: November 6-7: The subcommittee will review the results of the accreditation visit to CGSC in spring 2016 by the Higher Learning Commission and receive information briefings on potential opportunities to introduce additional degree programs at the College. No official recommendations will be forthcoming from this meeting. The committee will also complete certain administrative and training requirements associated with the service of individual subcommittee members. Summary minutes of the meeting will be provided to the Army Education Advisory Committee for consideration under the open-meeting rules.

    Public Accessibility to the Meeting: Pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 552b, as amended, and 41 CFR 102-3.140 through 102-3.165, and subject to the availability of space, this meeting is open to the public. Seating is on a first to arrive basis. Attendees are requested to submit their name, affiliation, and daytime phone number seven business days prior to the meeting to Dr. Baumann, via electronic mail, the preferred mode of submission, at the address listed in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section.

    Because the meeting of the subcommittee will be held in a Federal Government facility on a military base, security screening is required. A photo ID is required to enter base. Please note that security and gate guards have the right to inspect vehicles and persons seeing to enter and exit the installation. Lewis and Clark Center is fully handicap accessible. Wheelchair access is available in front at the main entrance of the building. For additional information about public access procedures, contact Dr. Baumann, the subcommittee's Alternate Designated Federal Officer, at the email address or telephone number listed in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section.

    Written Comments or Statements: Pursuant to 41 CFR 102-3.105(j) and 102-3.140 and section 10(a)(3) of the Federal Advisory Committee Act, the public or interested organizations may submit written comments or statements to the subcommittee, in response to the stated agenda of the open meeting or in regard to the subcommittee's mission in general. Written comments or statements should be submitted to Dr. Baumann, the subcommittee Alternate Designated Federal Officer, via electronic mail, the preferred mode of submission, at the address listed in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section. Each page of the comment or statement must include the author's name, title or affiliation, address, and daytime phone number. The Alternate Designated Federal Officer will review all submitted written comments or statements must include the author's name, title or affiliation, address, and daytime phone number. Written comments or statements being submitted in response to the agenda set forth in this notice must be received by the Alternate Designated Federal Officer at least seven business days prior to the meeting to be considered by the subcommittee. Written comments or statements received after this date may not be provided to the subcommittee until its next meeting.

    Pursuant to 41 CFR 102-3.140d, the Committee is not obligated to allow a member of the public to speak or otherwise address the Committee during the meeting. Members of the public will be permitted to make verbal comments during the Committee meeting only at the time and in the manner described below. If a member of the public is interested in making a verbal comment at the open meeting, that individual must submit a request, with a brief statement of the subject matter to be addressed by the comment, at least seven business days in advance to the subcommittee's Alternate Designated Federal Official, via electronic mail, the preferred mode of submission, at the address listed in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section. The Alternate Designated Federal Officer will log each request, in the order received, and in consultation with the Subcommittee Chair, determine whether the subject matter of each comment is relevant to the Subcommittee's mission and/or the topics to be addressed in this public meeting. A 15-minute period near the end of the meeting will be available for verbal public comments. Members of the public who have requested to make a verbal comment and whose comments have been deemed relevant under the process described above, will be allotted no more than three minutes during the period, and will be invited to speak in the order in which their requests were received by the Alternate Designated Federal Officer.

    Brenda S. Bowen, Army Federal Register Liaison Officer.
    [FR Doc. 2017-19905 Filed 9-19-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 5001-03-P
    DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE Office of the Secretary U.S. Strategic Command Strategic Advisory Group; Notice of Federal Advisory Committee Meeting AGENCY:

    Office of the Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff, Department of Defense.

    ACTION:

    Notice of Federal Advisory Committee meeting.

    SUMMARY:

    The Department of Defense (DoD) is publishing this notice to announce that the following Federal Advisory Committee meeting of the U.S. Strategic Command Strategic Advisory Group will take place.

    DATES:

    Day 1—Closed to the public Tuesday, October 16, 2017, from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and Day 2—Closed to the public Wednesday, October 17, 2017, from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

    ADDRESSES:

    Dougherty Conference Center, Building 432, 906 SAC Boulevard, Offutt AFB, Nebraska 68113.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    John Trefz, (402) 294-4102 (Voice), (402) 294-3128 (Facsimile), [email protected] (Email). Mailing address is 901 SAC Boulevard, Suite 1F7, Offutt AFB, NE 68113-6030.

    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 and 102-3.150.

    Purpose of the Meeting: The purpose of the meeting is to provide advice on scientific, technical, intelligence, and policy-related issues to the Commander, U.S. Strategic Command, during the development of the Nation's strategic war plans.

    Agenda: Topics include: Policy Issues, Space Operations, Nuclear Weapons Stockpile Assessment, Weapons of Mass Destruction, Intelligence Operations, Cyber Operations, Global Strike, Command and Control, Science and Technology, Missile Defense.

    Meeting Accessibility: Pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 552b, and 41 CFR 102-3.155, the Department of Defense has determined that the meeting shall be closed to the public. Per delegated authority by the Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, General John E. Hyten, Commander, U.S. Strategic Command, in consultation with his legal advisor, has determined in writing that the public interest requires that all sessions of this meeting be closed to the public because they will be concerned with matters listed in 5 U.S.C. 552b(c)(1).

    Written Statements: Pursuant to 41 CFR 102-3.140(c), the public or interested organizations may submit written statements to the membership of the Strategic Advisory Group at any time or in response to the stated agenda of a planned meeting. Written statements should be submitted to the Strategic Advisory Group's Designated Federal Officer; the Designated Federal Officer's contact information can be obtained from the GSA's FACA Database—http://www.facadatabase.gov/. Written statements that do not pertain to a scheduled meeting of the Strategic Advisory Group may be submitted at any time. However, if individual comments pertain to a specific topic being discussed at a planned meeting, then these statements must be submitted no later than five business days prior to the meeting in question. The Designated Federal Officer will review all submitted written statements and provide copies to all the committee members.

    Dated: September 14, 2017. Aaron Siegel, Alternate OSD Federal Register Liaison Officer, Department of Defense.
    [FR Doc. 2017-19978 Filed 9-19-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 5001-06-P
    DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE Office of the Secretary Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program Scientific Advisory Board; Notice of Federal Advisory Committee Meeting AGENCY:

    Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition Technology and Logistics, Department of Defense.

    ACTION:

    Notice of Federal Advisory Committee meeting.

    SUMMARY:

    The Department of Defense (DoD) is publishing this notice to announce that the following Federal Advisory Committee meeting of the Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program Scientific Advisory Board will take place.

    DATES:

    1st meeting: Open to the public Tuesday, October 17, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:50 p.m. 2nd meeting: Day 1—Open to the public Wednesday, October 18, 2017, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:40 p.m. Day 2—Open to the public Thursday, October 19, 2017, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:55 p.m.

    ADDRESSES:

    The address for both meetings is the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies, 901 North Stuart Street, Suite 200, Arlington, VA 22203.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Herb Nelson, 571-372-6400 (Voice), [email protected] (Email). Mailing address is SERDP Office, 4800 Mark Center Drive, Suite 17D08, Alexandria, VA 22350-3605. Web site: https://www.serdp-estcp.org/About-SERDP-and-ESTCP/About-SERDP/Scientific-Advisory-Board. The most up-to-date changes to the meeting agenda can be found on the Web site.

    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 and 102-3.150. This notice is published in accordance with Section 10(a)(2) of the Federal Advisory Committee Act (Pub. L. 92-463).

    Purpose of the Meeting: The purpose of both the October 17, 2017 and the October 18-19, 2017 meetings are to review new start research and development projects requesting Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program funds as required by the SERDP Statute, U.S. Code—Title 10, Subtitle A, Part IV, Chapter 172, 2904.

    Agenda: Tuesday, October 17, 2017: 8:30 a.m. Convene/Opening Remarks Approval of September 2017 Minutes—Dr. Joseph Hughes, Chair; 8:40 a.m. Program Update—Dr. Herb Nelson, Acting Executive Director; 9:00 a.m. Environmental Restoration Overview—Dr. Andrea Leeson, Environmental Restoration Program Manager; 9:10 a.m. ER18-C1-1259 (ER18-1259): A Mechanistic Understanding of PFASs in Source Zones: Characterization and Control (FY18 New Start)—Dr. Jennifer Field, Oregon State University; 9:55 a.m. ER18-C1-1204 (ER18-1204): Insights into the Long-Term Mass Discharge & Transformation of AFFF in the Unsaturated Zone (FY18 New Start)—Dr. Charles Schaefer, CDM Smith; 10:40 a.m. Break; 10:55 a.m. ER18-C1-1280 (ER18-1280): Evaluating the Importance of Precursor Transport and Transformation for Groundwater Contamination with Poly- and Perfluoroalkyl Substances (FY18 New Start)—Dr. Elsie Sunderland, Harvard University; 11:40 a.m. ER18-C2-1063 (ER18-1063): Regenerable Resin Sorbent Technologies with Regenerant Solution Recycling for Sustainable Treatment of Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFASs) (FY18 New Start)—Dr. Timothy Strathmann, Colorado School of Mines; 12:25 p.m. Lunch; 1:25 p.m. Environmental Restoration Overview—Dr. Andrea Leeson, Environmental Restoration Program Manager; 1:35 p.m. ER18-C1-1149 (ER18-1149): Development and Laboratory Validation of Mathematical Modeling Tools for Prediction of PFAS Transformation, Transport, and Retention in AFFF Source Areas (FY18 New Start)—Dr. Linda Abriola, Tufts University; 2:20 p.m. ER18-C2-1027 (ER18-1027): Ex Situ Treatment of PFAS Contaminated Groundwater Using Ion Exchange with Regeneration (FY18 New Start)—Dr. Mark Fuller, Aptim Federal Services; 3:05 p.m. Break; 3:20 p.m. ER18-C2-1289 (ER18-1289): Treatment of Legacy and Emerging Fluoroalkyl Contaminants in Groundwater with Integrated Approaches: Rapid and Regenerable Adsorption and UV-Induced Defluorination (FY18 New Start)—Dr. Jinyong Liu, UC Riverside; 4:05 p.m. ER18-C2-1306 (ER18-1306): Combined In Situ/Ex Situ Treatment Train for Remediation of Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substance (PFAS) Contaminated Groundwater (FY18 New Start)—Dr. Michelle Crimi, Clarkson University; 4:50 p.m. Public Discussion/Adjourn for the day. Wednesday, October 18, 2017: 8:30 a.m. Convene—Dr. Joseph Hughes, Chair; 8:40 a.m. Environmental Restoration Overview—Dr. Andrea Leeson, Environmental Restoration Program Manager; 8:50 a.m. ER-C2-1026 (ER18-1026): Rational Design and Implementation of Novel Polymer Adsorbents for Selective Uptake of Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances From Groundwater—Dr. Damian Helbling, Cornell University; 9:35 a.m. Resource Conservation and Resiliency Overview—Dr. Kurt Preston, Resource Conservation and Resiliency Program Manager; 9:45 a.m. RC18-C2-1006 (RC18-1006): Understanding and Assessing Riparian Habitat Vulnerability to Drought-Prone Climate Regimes on DoD Bases in the Southwestern USA (FY18 New Start)—Dr. Michael Singer, UC Santa Barbara; 10:30 a.m. Break; 10:45 a.m. RC18-C2-1346 (RC18-1346): Climate-Driven Landscape Disturbance Assessment (FY18 New Start)—Dr. Adam Atchley, Los Alamos National Laboratory; 11:30 a.m. RC18-C2-1183 (RC18-1183): Resiliency and Vulnerability of Boreal Forest Habitat to the Interaction of Climate and Fire Disturbance across DoD Lands of Interior Alaska (FY18 New Start)—Dr. Scott Goetz, Northern Arizona University; 12:15 p.m. Lunch; 1:15 p.m. RC18-C2-1322 (RC18-1322): Forecasting Dryland Ecosystem Vulnerability to Change: A Cross-system Assessment of Vegetation and Process Responses to Disturbance and Climate Variability on DoD Lands (FY18 New Start)—Dr. Scott Ferrenberg, United States Geological Survey; 2:00 p.m. RC18-C2-1021 (RC18-1021): Using Unmanned Aerial Systems to Model Spatially-Mediated Heterogeneity in 3D Microclimate Landscapes (FY18 New Start)—Dr. Anna Carter, Iowa State University; 2:45 p.m. Break; 3:00 p.m. RC18-C2-1108 (RC18-1108): Aquatic Ecosystem Vulnerability to Fire and Climate Change in Alaskan Boreal Forests (FY18 New Start)—Dr. Jeffrey Falke, United States Geological Survey; 3:45 p.m. Resource Conservation and Resiliency Overview—Dr. Kurt Preston, Resource Conservation and Resiliency Program Manager; 3:55 p.m. RC18-C1-1358 (RC18-1358): Using Remotely-sensed Data and Light-level Geolocator Technology to Inform Off-Post Landscape-Scale Conservation Planning for a Migratory Species (FY18 New Start)—Dr. Ashley Long, Texas A&M AgriLife Research; 4:40 p.m. Public Discussion/Adjourn for the day.

    Thursday, October 19, 2017: 8:30 a.m.: Convene—Dr. Joseph Hughes, Chair; 8:40 a.m. Weapons Systems and Platforms Overview—Dr. Robin Nissan, WP Program Manager; 8:50 a.m. WP18-C4-1047 (WP18-1047): Development of an Agile, Novel Expeditionary Battlefield Manufacturing Plant using Recycled and Reclaimed Thermoplastic Materials (FY18 New Start)—Dr. Prabhat Krishnaswamy, Engineering Mechanics Corporation of Columbus; 9:35 a.m. WP18-C4-1323 (WP18-1323): Recycling and Reuse of Metal Alloys by a Single Solid-State Additive Manufacturing and Repair Process (FY18 New Start)—Dr. Paul Allison, University of Alabama; 10:20 a.m. Break; 10:35 a.m. Weapons Systems and Platforms Overview—Dr. Robin Nissan, WP Program Manager; 10:45 a.m. WP18-C1-1114 (WP18-1114): Emulsion Characterization Study for Improved Bilgewater Treatment and Management (FY18 New Start)—Ms. Danielle Paynter, Naval Surface Warfare Center; 11:30 a.m. Weapons Systems and Platforms Overview—Dr. Robin Nissan, WP Program Manager; 11:40 a.m. WP18-C3-1193 (WP18-1193): An Integral Hypergolic Hybrid-Solid Fuel Ramjet Concept for AP-Free High Performance Tactical Rocket Motors (FY18 New Start)—Dr. Mark Pfeil, U.S. Army Aviation & Missile Research, Development, and Engineering Center; 12:25 p.m. Lunch; 1:25 p.m. Weapons Systems and Platforms Overview—Dr. Robin Nissan, WP Program Manager; 1:35 p.m. WP18-F2-1439 (WP18-1439) Development and Evaluation of Non-Chromate LHE ZnNi Passivations for DoD Electrical Connectors (Follow-on to FY15 SEED Project)—Dr. Matthew O'Keefe, Missouri S&T; 2:20 p.m. Munitions Response Overview—Dr. Herbert Nelson, Munitions Response Program Manager; 2:30 p.m. MR18-C1-1233 (MR18-1233): Improved Penetrometer Performance in Stratified Sediment for Cost-Effective Characterization, Monitoring and Management of Submerged Munitions Sites (FY18 New Start)—Dr. Nina Stark, Virginia Tech; 3:15 p.m. Break; 3:30 p.m. Environmental Restoration Overview—Dr. Andrea Leeson, ER Program Manager; 3:40 p.m. ER-2531: Role of Acidophilic Methanotrophs in Long Term Natural Attenuation of VOCs in Low pH Aquifers (Follow On to FY15 Limited Scope Project)—Dr. Paul Hatzinger, Aptim Federal Services; 4:25 p.m. Strategy Session—Dr. Herb Nelson, Acting Executive Director; 4:55 p.m. Public Discussion/Adjourn.

    Meeting Accessibility: The meeting location has proper and working facilities for those with disabilities. Please contact the Designated Federal Officer (DFO) if there are any issues.

    Written Statements: Pursuant to 41 CFR 102-3.140, and section 10(a)(3) of the Federal Advisory Committee Act of 1972, the public or interested organizations may submit written statements to the Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program, Scientific Advisory Board. Written statements may be submitted to the committee at any time or in response to an approved meeting agenda. All written statements shall be submitted to the DFO for the Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program, Scientific Advisory Board. The DFO will ensure that the written statements are provided to the membership for their consideration. Time is allotted at the close of each meeting day for the public to make comments.

    Dated: September 15, 2017. Aaron Siegel, Alternate OSD Federal Register Liaison Officer, Department of Defense.
    [FR Doc. 2017-20011 Filed 9-19-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 5001-06-P
    DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE Department of the Navy Notice of Extension of Scoping Period for the Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement/Overseas Environmental Impact Statement for Northwest Training and Testing AGENCY:

    Department of the Navy, DoD.

    ACTION:

    Notice.

    SUMMARY:

    A notice of intent was published by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in the Federal Register (82 FR 39779) on August 22, 2017 for the supplement to the 2015 Final Northwest Training and Testing (NWTT) Environmental Impact Statement/Overseas Environmental Impact Statement (EIS/OEIS). The 30-day scoping period ends on September 21, 2017. This notice announces a 15-day extension of the scoping period until October 6, 2017.

    DATES:

    Public comments will be accepted during the 45-day scoping period from August 22, 2017 to October 6, 2017.

    ADDRESSES:

    Comments may be provided via mail to the address provided below or through the project Web site at http://nwtteis.com/. Comments must be postmarked or received online by October 6, 2017 for consideration during the development of the Supplemental EIS/OEIS. Anyone interested in receiving electronic project updates can subscribe on the project Web site to receive notifications via email for key milestones throughout the environmental planning process.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Mr. John Mosher, 360-257-3234, [email protected] U.S. Pacific Fleet, Attention: NWTT Supplemental EIS/OEIS Project Manager, 3730 North Charles Porter Avenue, Building 385, Oak Harbor, Washington 98278-3500.

    Dated: September 14, 2017. S.E. Milewski, Deputy Division Director, Administrative Law Division, Judge Advocate General's Corps, U.S. Navy, Alternate Federal Register Liaison Officer.
    [FR Doc. 2017-20013 Filed 9-19-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3810-FF-P
    DEFENSE NUCLEAR FACILITIES SAFETY BOARD Sunshine Act Notice TIME AND DATE:

    12:00 p.m.-3:00 p.m., September 26, 2017.

    PLACE:

    Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board Headquarters, 625 Indiana Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20004-2901.

    STATUS:

    Open.

    MATTERS TO BE CONSIDERED:

    This public meeting will be conducted pursuant to the Government in the Sunshine Act, the Board's implementing regulations for the Government in the Sunshine Act, and the Board's Operating Procedures. The objective of this public business meeting is for the Board to obtain testimony from the DNFSB staff on their completed and documented efforts to date regarding oversight of emergency preparedness and response, with a special emphasis on Board Recommendation 2014-1, and provide an opportunity for the Board to deliberate on these topics. The meeting will proceed in accordance with the meeting agenda, which is posted on the Board's public Web site at www.dnfsb.gov.

    Public participation in the meeting is invited during the public comment period of the agenda. Persons interested in speaking during the public comment period are encouraged to pre-register by submitting a request in writing to the Board's address listed above, emailing [email protected], or calling the Office of the General Counsel at (202) 694-7062 or (800) 788-4016 prior to close of business on September 19, 2017. The Board asks that commenters describe the nature and scope of their oral presentations. Those who pre-register will be scheduled to speak first. Individual oral comments may be limited by the time available, depending on the number of persons who register. At the beginning of the meeting, the Board will post a list of speakers at the entrance to the meeting room. Anyone who wishes to comment or provide technical information or data may do so in writing, either in lieu of, or in addition to, making an oral presentation. The Board Members may question presenters to the extent deemed appropriate. Public participation in the meeting will be subject to the participation criteria posted on the Board's Web site. Written comments and documents will be accepted at the meeting or may be sent to the Board's Washington, DC, office. The Board will hold the meeting record open until October 26, 2017, for the receipt of additional materials.

    The meeting will be presented live through internet video streaming. A link to the presentation will be available on the Board's Web site (www.dnfsb.gov) and a recording will be posted soon after. A transcript of these sessions and the associated correspondence will be made available on the Board's Web site. The Board specifically reserves its right to further schedule and otherwise regulate the course of the meeting, to recess, reconvene, postpone, or adjourn the meeting, conduct further reviews, and otherwise exercise its authority under the Atomic Energy Act of 1954, as amended.

    CONTACT PERSON FOR MORE INFORMATION:

    Glenn Sklar, General Manager, Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board, 625 Indiana Avenue NW., Suite 700, Washington, DC 20004-2901, (800) 788-4016.

    Dated: September 15, 2017. Sean Sullivan, Chairman.
    [FR Doc. 2017-20160 Filed 9-18-17; 4:15 pm] BILLING CODE 3670-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION Extension of the Application Deadline Date for the Fiscal Year 2017; Promise Neighborhoods Program Grant Application AGENCY:

    Office of Innovation and Improvement, Department of Education.

    ACTION:

    Notice.

    SUMMARY:

    The Acting Assistant Deputy Secretary for Innovation and Improvement extends, for certain prospective eligible applicants described elsewhere in this notice, the deadline date for transmittal of applications for new awards for fiscal year (FY) 2017 under the Promise Neighborhoods program, Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance Number 84.215N. The Acting Assistant Deputy Secretary takes this action to allow more time for the preparation and submission of applications by prospective eligible applicants affected by the severe storms and flooding beginning on August 25, 2017, in Texas or Louisiana.

    The extension of the application deadline date for this competition is intended to help affected eligible applicants compete fairly with other eligible applicants under this competition.

    DATES:

    Deadline for Transmittal of Applications: October 6, 2017. Deadline for Intergovernmental Review: December 6, 2017.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Adrienne Hawkins, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue SW., Room 4W256, Washington, DC 20202. Telephone: (202) 453-5638. Email address: [email protected]

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

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    On July 21, 2017, we published in the Federal Register (82 FR 33881) a notice inviting applications for new awards for FY 2017 for the Promise Neighborhoods competition (NIA). The application deadline in the NIA was September 5, 2017. We are extending this competition for applicants in Texas or Louisiana in order to allow applicants more time to prepare and submit their applications.

    Eligibility: The extension of the application deadline date in this notice applies to eligible applicants under the Promise Neighborhoods program that are located in Texas or Louisiana.

    In accordance with the NIA, an eligible applicant for the Promise Neighborhoods program:

    (1) Is representative of the geographic area proposed to be served;

    (2) Is one of the following:

    (a) A nonprofit organization that meets the definition of a nonprofit under 34 CFR 77.1(c), which may include a faith-based nonprofit organization.

    (b) An institution of higher education as defined by section 101(a) of the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended.

    (c) An Indian tribe (as defined in the NIA);

    (3) Currently provides at least one of the solutions from the applicant's proposed continuum of solutions in the geographic area proposed to be served; and

    (4) Operates or proposes to work with and involve in carrying out its proposed project, in coordination with the school's local educational agency (LEA), at least one public elementary or secondary school that is located within the identified geographic area that the grant will serve.

    In the case of an eligible applicant that is a partnership, the extension of the application deadline date applies if any of the entities required to be part of the partnership (i.e., a nonprofit organization, an LEA, or a consortium of schools) are located in Texas or Louisiana.

    An eligible applicant submitting an application under the extended deadline must provide a certification in its application that it meets the criteria for doing so and be prepared to provide appropriate supporting documentation, if requested. If such an eligible applicant is submitting its application electronically, the submission of the application serves as the eligible applicant's attestation that it meets the criteria for submitting an application by the extended deadline.

    Note:

    All information in the NIA published on July 21, 2017 (82 FR 33881) for this competition remains the same, except for the deadline date.

    Program Authority: The Promise Neighborhoods program is authorized under section 4624 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA), as amended by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) (20 U.S.C. 7273-7274).

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

    Electronic Access to This Document: The official version of this document is the document published in the Federal Register. Free internet access to the official edition of the Federal Register and the Code of Federal Regulations is available via the Federal Digital System at: www.thefederalregister.org/fdsys. At this site you can view this document, as well as all other documents of this Department published in the Federal Register, in text or Portable Document Format (PDF). To use PDF you must have Adobe Acrobat Reader, which is available free at the site.

    You may also access documents of the Department published in the Federal Register by using the article search feature at: www.federalregister.gov. Specifically, through the advanced search feature at this site, you can limit your search to documents published by the Department.

    Dated: September 15, 2017. Margo Anderson, Acting Assistant Deputy Secretary for Innovation and Improvement.
    [FR Doc. 2017-20070 Filed 9-19-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4000-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy [Case No. CAC-051] Notice of Petition for Waiver of Johnson Controls, Inc. (JCI) From the Department of Energy Central Air Conditioners and Heat Pumps Test Procedure, and Granting of Interim Waiver AGENCY:

    Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Department of Energy.

    ACTION:

    Notice of petition for waiver, notice of grant an interim waiver, and request for comment.

    SUMMARY:

    This notice announces receipt of and publishes a petition for waiver from JCI seeking an exemption from specified portions of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) test procedure for determining the efficiency of central air conditioners (CAC) and heat pumps (HP). According to JCI, testing its CAC and HP basic models that use variable-speed, oil-injected scroll compressors (VSS systems) with only a 20-hour break-in period produces results unrepresentative of their true energy consumption characteristics, and would provide materially inaccurate comparative data. JCI requests that in lieu of the 20-hour break-in limit, it be permitted to test its VSS systems with a 72-hour break-in period. This notice also grants JCI an interim waiver from the DOE CAC and HP test procedure for its specified basic models, subject to use of the alternative test procedure as set forth in this notice. DOE solicits comments, data, and information concerning JCI's petition and its suggested alternate test procedure.

    DATES:

    DOE will accept comments, data, and information with respect to the JCI Petition until October 20, 2017.

    ADDRESSES:

    You may submit comments, identified by case number “CAC-051” and Docket number “EERE-2017-BT-WAV-0037,” by any of the following methods:

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

    Email: [email protected] Include the case number [Case No. CAC-051] in the subject line of the message. Submit electronic comments in WordPerfect, Microsoft Word, PDF, or ASCII file format, and avoid the use of special characters or any form of encryption.

    Postal Mail: Ms. Lucy Debutts, U.S. Department of Energy, Building Technologies Office, Mailstop EE-5B, Petition for Waiver Case No. CAC-051, 1000 Independence Avenue SW., Washington, DC 20585-0121. If possible, please submit all items on a compact disc (CD), in which case it is not necessary to include printed copies.

    Hand Delivery/Courier: Appliance and Equipment Standards Program, U.S. Department of Energy, Building Technologies Office, 950 L'Enfant Plaza SW., 6th Floor, Washington, DC, 20024. Telephone: (202) 287-1445. If possible, please submit all items on a CD, in which case it is not necessary to include printed copies.

    The docket Web page can be found at http://www.regulations.gov/docket?D=EERE-2017-BT-WAV-0037. The docket Web page will contain simple instruction on how to access all documents, including public comments, in the docket.

    Docket: The docket, which includes Federal Register notices, comments, and other supporting documents/materials, is available for review at www.regulations.gov. All documents in the docket are listed in the www.regulations.gov index. However, some documents listed in the index, such as those containing information that is exempt from public disclosure, may not be publicly available.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Ms. Lucy Debutts, U.S. Department of Energy, Building Technologies Program, Mail Stop EE-2J, Forrestal Building, 1000 Independence Avenue SW., Washington, DC 20585-0121. Telephone: (202) 287-1604. Email: [email protected]

    Mr. Pete Cochran, U.S. Department of Energy, Office of the General Counsel, Mail Stop GC-33, Forrestal Building, 1000 Independence Avenue SW., Washington, DC 20585-0103. Telephone: (202) 586-9496. Email: [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: I. Background and Authority

    Title III, Part B 1 of the Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 1975 (EPCA), Public Law 94-163 (42 U.S.C. 6291-6309, as codified) established the Energy Conservation Program for Consumer Products Other Than Automobiles, which includes central air conditioners and heat pumps.2 Part B includes definitions, test procedures, labeling provisions, energy conservation standards, and the authority to require information and reports from manufacturers. Further, Part B requires the Secretary of Energy to prescribe test procedures that are reasonably designed to produce results that measure energy efficiency, energy use, or estimated operating costs during a representative average-use cycle, and that are not unduly burdensome to conduct. (42 U.S.C. 6293(b)(3)) The test procedure for central air conditioners and heat pumps is contained in 10 CFR part 430, subpart B, appendix M (referred to in this notice as “appendix M”) and 10 CFR part 429.16.

    1 For editorial reasons, upon codification in the U.S. Code, Part B was redesignated as Part A.

    2 All references to EPCA in this document refer to the statute as amended through the Energy Efficiency Improvement Act of 2015 (EEIA), Public Law 114-11 (April 30, 2015).

    DOE's regulations set forth at 10 CFR 430.27 contain provisions that allow a person to seek a waiver from the test procedure requirements for a particular basic model of a covered product when the petitioner's basic model for which the petition for waiver was submitted contains one or more design characteristics that either (1) prevent testing according to the prescribed test procedure, or (2) cause the prescribed test procedures to evaluate the basic model in a manner so unrepresentative of its true energy consumption characteristics as to provide materially inaccurate comparative data. 10 CFR 430.27(a)(1). A petitioner must include in its petition any alternate test procedures known to the petitioner to evaluate the basic model in a manner representative of its energy consumption. 10 CFR 430.27(b)(1)(iii).

    DOE may grant a waiver subject to conditions, including adherence to alternate test procedures. 10 CFR 430.27(f)(2). As soon as practicable after the granting of any waiver, DOE will publish in the Federal Register a notice of proposed rulemaking to amend its regulations so as to eliminate any need for the continuation of such waiver. As soon thereafter as practicable, DOE will publish in the Federal Register a final rule. 10 CFR 430.27(l).

    The waiver process also allows DOE to grant an interim waiver if it appears likely that the petition for waiver will be granted and/or if DOE determines that it would be desirable for public policy reasons to grant immediate relief pending a determination on the petition for waiver. 10 CFR 430.27(e)(2). Within one year of issuance of an interim waiver, DOE will either: (i) Publish in the Federal Register a determination on the petition for waiver; or (ii) publish in the Federal Register a new or amended test procedure that addresses the issues presented in the waiver. 10 CFR 430.27(h)(1). When DOE amends the test procedure to address the issues presented in a waiver, the waiver will automatically terminate on the date on which use of that test procedure is required to demonstrate compliance. 10 CFR 430.27(h)(2).

    II. JCI's Petition for Waiver of Test Procedure and Application for Interim Waiver

    On May 17, 2017, JCI filed a petition for waiver and an application for interim waiver from the applicable CAC and HP test procedure set forth in 10 CFR part 430, subpart B, appendix M and 10 CFR 429.16. On June 2, 2017, JCI supplemented its petition with additional information. According to JCI, testing its CAC and HP basic models that use variable-speed, oil-injected scroll compressors (VSS systems) with only a 20-hour break-in period produces results unrepresentative of their true energy consumption characteristics, and would provide materially inaccurate comparative data. JCI requests that in lieu of the 20-hour break-in limit, it be permitted to test its VSS systems with a 72-hour break-in period. Consequently, JCI seeks to use an alternate test procedure to test and rate specific CAC and HP basic models, which increases the break-in time limit stipulated in section 3.1.7 of Appendix M to 10 CFR part 430, subpart B.

    JCI also requests an interim waiver from the existing DOE test procedure. An interim waiver may be granted if it appears likely that the petition for waiver will be granted, and/or if DOE determines that it would be desirable for public policy reasons to grant immediate relief pending a determination of the petition for waiver. See 10 CFR 430.27(e)(2).

    DOE has reviewed the test data provided by JCI and agrees that it demonstrates that the specified VSS system models that are the subject of the waiver have compressors that may require more than the 20 hours of break-in time allowed by the DOE test procedure. The oil injected into the oil-injected scroll compressors increases the coverage of the viscous oil layer between mating surfaces of the scroll. This is presumably its purpose, i.e., to provide additional sealing in the gaps of the mating surfaces to improve compressor volumetric efficiency (relationship between displacement rate and volume flow rate of refrigerant drawn into the compressor). By enhancing this oil layer, the direct contact between irregularities in the surfaces may also be reduced, which would slow the wearing process that smooths out these irregularities, which is the break-in process. For this reason, oil injected compressors are expected to require additional break-in time.

    DOE understands that absent an interim waiver, JCI's products cannot be tested and rated for energy consumption on a basis representative of their true energy consumption characteristics. DOE has reviewed the alternate procedure suggested by JCI and concludes that it will allow for the accurate measurement of the energy use of these CAC and HP basic models based on the information and data supplied by JCI.

    Consequently, DOE has determined that JCI's petition for waiver will likely be granted. Furthermore, DOE has determined that it is desirable for public policy reasons to grant JCI immediate relief pending a determination of the petition for waiver.

    III. Summary of Grant of an Interim Waiver

    For the reasons stated above, DOE has granted JCI's application for interim waiver from testing for its specified CAC and HP basic models. The substance of DOE's Interim Waiver Order is summarized below.

    JCI is required to use the alternate test procedures set forth in this notice to test and rate certain CAC and HP basic models that use certain variable-speed, oil-injected scroll compressors (VSS systems). Specifically, this requirement applies to JCI CAC and HP basic models that (1) have a VSS system that use one of the compressor models JCI specified to DOE on June 2, 2017 with a request for confidential treatment and (2) include the following outdoor unit models in combinations, listed by brand name:

    Brand York Coleman Luxaire Fraser-
  • Johnston
  • Champion
    Air Conditioners YXV24B21 AC21B2421 AL21B2421 AL21B2421 AL21B2421 YXV36B21 AC21B3621 AL21B3621 AL21B3621 AL21B3621 YXV48B21 AC2134821 AL21B4821 AL21B4821 AL21B4821 YXV60B21 AC21B6021 AL21B6021 AL21B6021 AL21B6021 Heat Pumps YZV24B21 HC20B2421 HL20B2421 HL20B2421 HL20B2421 YZV36B21 HC20B3621 HL20B3621 HL20B3621 HL20B3621 YZV48B21 HC20B4821 HL20B4821 HL20B4821 HL20B4821 YZV60B21 HC20B6021 HL20B6021 HL20B6021 HL20B6021

    JCI is permitted to make representations about the energy use of these basic models for compliance, marketing, or other purposes only to the extent that such products have been tested in accordance with the provisions set forth in the alternate test procedure and such representations fairly disclose the results of such testing in accordance with 10 CFR 429.16.

    DOE makes decisions on waivers and interim waivers for only those basic models specifically set out in the petition, and in this case only those models that use the specified compressors, not future models that may be manufactured by the petitioner. JCI may request that DOE extend the scope of a waiver or an interim waiver to include additional basic models employing the same technology as the basic model(s) set forth in the original petition consistent with 10 CFR 430.27(g). In addition, DOE notes that granting of an interim waiver or waiver does not release a petitioner from the certification requirements set forth at 10 CFR 429. See also 10 CFR 430.27(a) and (i).

    The interim waiver shall remain in effect consistent with the provisions of 10 CFR 430.27(h) and (l). Furthermore, this interim waiver is conditioned upon the presumed validity of statements, representations, and documents provided by the petitioner. DOE may rescind or modify a waiver or interim waiver at any time upon a determination that the factual basis underlying the petition for waiver or interim waiver is incorrect, or upon a determination that the results from the alternate test procedure are unrepresentative of the basic model's true energy consumption characteristics. See 10 CFR 430.27(k).

    IV. Alternate Test Procedure

    EPCA requires that manufacturers use DOE test procedures to make representations about the energy consumption and energy consumption costs of products covered by the statute. (42 U.S.C. 6293(c)) Consistent representations are important for manufacturers to use in making representations about the energy efficiency of their products and to demonstrate compliance with applicable DOE energy conservation standards. Pursuant to its regulations applicable to waivers and interim waivers from applicable test procedures at 10 CFR 430.27, DOE will consider setting an alternate test procedure for JCI in a subsequent Decision and Order.

    In its petition, JCI proposes that the basic models listed in the petition be tested according to the test procedure for residential CAC and HP prescribed by DOE at 10 CFR part 430, subpart B, appendix M, except that the 20-hour break-in period maximum in section 3.1.7 of appendix M be replaced with a 72-hour maximum. With JCI's proposed alternative test procedure, this section of the test procedure reads as follows:

    3.1.7 Test Sequence

    Manufacturers may optionally operate the equipment under test for a “break-in” period, not to exceed 72 hours, prior to conducting the test method specified in this section. A manufacturer who elects to use this optional compressor break-in period in its certification testing should record this information (including the duration) in the test data underlying the certified ratings that are required to be maintained under 10 CFR 429.71. When testing a ducted unit (except if a heating- only heat pump), conduct the A or A2 Test first to establish the cooling full-load air volume rate. For ducted heat pumps where the heating and cooling full-load air volume rates are different, make the first heating mode test one that requires the heating full-load air volume rate. For ducted heating-only heat pumps, conduct the H1 or H12 Test first to establish the heating full-load air volume rate. When conducting a cyclic test, always conduct it immediately after the steady-state test that requires the same test conditions. For variable-speed systems, the first test using the cooling minimum air volume rate should precede the EV Test, and the first test using the heating minimum air volume rate must precede the H2V Test. The test laboratory makes all other decisions on the test sequence.

    V. Summary and Request for Comments

    Through this notice, DOE announces receipt of JCI's petition for waiver from the DOE test procedure for certain CAC and HP basic models and grants JCI an interim waiver from the test procedure for the specified basic models that use variable- speed, oil-injected scroll compressors (VSS systems). DOE is publishing JCI's petition for waiver in its entirety, pursuant to 10 CFR 439.27(b)(1)(iv). The petition contains no confidential information. The petition includes a suggested alternate test procedure, as specified in section IV of this notice, to determine the energy consumption of JCI's specified CAC and HP models. DOE may consider including this alternate procedure in a subsequent Decision and Order.

    DOE solicits comments from interested parties on all aspects of the petition, including the suggested alternate test procedure. More specifically, DOE is seeking test data and additional information on the performance on CAC and HP basic models with VSS compressors as well as the VSS compressor performance information as a function of time. Pursuant to 10 CFR 430.27(d), any person submitting written comments to DOE must also send a copy of such comments to the petitioner. The contact information for the petitioner is Steve Tice, UPG Vice-President, Engineering, Unitary Products, Johnson Controls, Inc., 3110 N. Mead St., Wichita, KS 67219. All comment submissions must include the agency name and Case Number CAC-051 for this proceeding. Submit electronic comments in WordPerfect, Microsoft Word, Portable Document Format (PDF), or text (American Standard Code for Information Interchange (ASCII)) file format and avoid the use of special characters or any form of encryption. Wherever possible, include the electronic signature of the author. DOE does not accept telefacsimiles (faxes).

    Pursuant to 10 CFR 1004.11, any person submitting information that he or she believes to be confidential and exempt by law from public disclosure should submit two copies to DOE: One copy of the document marked “confidential” with all of the information believed to be confidential included, and one copy of the document marked “non-confidential” with all of the information believed to be confidential deleted. DOE will make its own determination about the confidential status of the information and treat it according to its determination.

    Issued in Washington, DC, on September 13, 2017. Kathleen B. Hogan, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency, Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. Johnson Controls, Inc. 3110 N. Mead St. Wichita, KS 67219 Tel 316-239-2925 Fax 316-832-6598 May 17, 2017 VIA EMAIL: [email protected] Ashley Armstrong Building Technologies Program Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy U.S. Department of Energy Mailstop EE-5B 1000 Independence Avenue SW. Washington, DC 20585-0121 RE: Petition for Waiver and Interim Waiver of 20 Hour Break-In Period Limit for Certain JCI Central Air Conditioners and Heat Pumps With Variable Speed Compressors

    Dear Ms. Armstrong: Pursuant to 10 CFR 430.27, Johnson Controls, Inc. (JCI) respectfully submits this petition for waiver, and request for interim waiver,1 of the requirement in Section 3.1.7 of the test procedure for central air conditioners (CAC) and heat pumps (HP) found at Appendix M to Subpart B of 10 CFR part 430 that limits an optional compressor “break-in” period to a maximum of 20 hours before testing under Appendix M (the “20 Hour Break-In Limit”).2 Specifically, JCI seeks waiver of the 20 Hour Break-In Limit for its central air conditioner and heat pumps with variable speed systems that use oil-injected scroll compressors (VSS systems), because testing these systems with only a 20-hour break-in period produces results unrepresentative of their true energy consumption characteristics, and would provide materially inaccurate comparative data.3 As explained below, JCI requests that in lieu of the 20 Hour Break-In Limit, it be permitted to test its VSS systems with a 72-hour break-in period.

    1 This petition for waiver and request for interim waiver is a substitute for that originally submitted by Johnson Controls, Inc. on May 2, 2017 on the same break-in period issue.

    2 Section 3.1.7 of Appendix M to Subpart B of 10 CFR part 430.

    3 10 CFR 430.27(a)(1).

    I. Johnson Controls, Inc.

    Johnson Controls, Inc. is a diversified equipment and technology company with its operational headquarters in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and approximately 140,000 employees located around the globe. Our employees provide intelligent buildings, energy efficient solutions and integrated infrastructure to optimize energy efficiency and to create the smart buildings and communities of the future. Through its Unitary Product Group division, JCI manufactures and sells central air conditioner and heat pump systems for residential use, including high efficiency variable speed systems. These products are manufactured in the United States, in Wichita, Kansas.

    II. Background

    A “break-in” period contemplates the running of equipment for a period of time before beginning of an efficiency test.4 DOE has found that a “break-in period is particularly important for scroll compressors, which may be less efficient when first started and may require time to warm up to achieve optimal performance. Once the compressor is broken in, the performance should be more representative of the actual field performance.” 5 Break-in allows “mating” parts to wear against each other, which results in reduced friction and leakage. Until this initial wear has occurred, the moving parts in the compressor generate greater friction when they contact each other, which decreases efficiency, and the seals between chambers that compress or expand the refrigerant may have greater leakage between the chambers, which reduces efficiency. Oil injection technology improves system efficiency, but the oil in the scroll elements prolongs the time required for this initial wear, which is needed to achieve nominal efficiency.

    4 Energy Conservation Standards and Test Procedures for Commercial Heating, Air-Conditioning, and Water- Heating Equipment, Proposed Rule, 77 FR 2355, 2374 (Jan. 17, 2012).

    5Id.

    Section 3.1.7 of Appendix M to 10 CFR part 430, Subpart B provides that “[m]anufacturers may optionally operate the equipment under test for a “break-in” period, not to exceed 20 hours,” provided that the manufacturer reports the break-in period used in any certification to DOE.6

    6 Section 3.1.7 of Appendix M to Subpart B of 10 CFR part 430 (as revised by DOE in the June 2016 Final Rule).

    III. Basic Models for Which Waiver Is Requested

    JCI requests a waiver from the 20 Hour Break-In Limit for its split-system CAC and HP basic models that use variable speed scroll compressors with an oil-injection system. Specifically, JCI requests waiver for all basic models that include the following outdoor unit models in combinations, listed by brand name:

    EN20SE17.001

    The variable speed scroll compressors used in these systems are optimized for high-efficiency residential air conditioner and heat pump systems in the 2-ton to 5-ton range.

    IV. Grounds for Test Procedure Waiver

    DOE's regulations provide for granting of a test procedure waiver where testing of a basic model under the prescribed test procedures would “evaluate the basic model in a manner so unrepresentative of its true energy . . . consumption characteristics as to provide materially inaccurate comparative data.” 7 JCI seeks a waiver from the 20 Hour Break-In Limit for its VSS systems because limiting the optional break-in period to 20 hours results in testing that provides materially inaccurate data unrepresentative of the true energy efficiency characteristics of these systems.

    7 10 CFR 430.27(a)(1).

    JCI's VSS systems require significantly more than 20 hours of break-in to reach design efficiency, which is the level of efficiency that is representative of system performance over the lifetime of the VSS