Federal Register Vol. 82, No.184,

Federal Register Volume 82, Issue 184 (September 25, 2017)

Page Range44493-44709
FR Document

82_FR_184
Current View
Page and SubjectPDF
82 FR 44543 - Guidance on the Definition of Registered FormPDF
82 FR 44705 - Imposing Additional Sanctions With Respect to North KoreaPDF
82 FR 44666 - Sunshine Act MeetingsPDF
82 FR 44518 - Section 108 Loan Guarantee Program: Announcement of Fee To Cover Credit Subsidy CostsPDF
82 FR 44648 - Missouri; Amendment No. 3 to Notice of a Major Disaster DeclarationPDF
82 FR 44641 - South Carolina; Emergency and Related DeterminationsPDF
82 FR 44638 - Proposed Flood Hazard DeterminationsPDF
82 FR 44644 - Virgin Islands; Emergency and Related DeterminationsPDF
82 FR 44633 - Proposed Flood Hazard DeterminationsPDF
82 FR 44645 - Virgin Islands; Major Disaster and Related DeterminationsPDF
82 FR 44635 - Changes in Flood Hazard DeterminationsPDF
82 FR 44635 - Virgin Islands; Amendment No. 1 to Notice of a Major Disaster DeclarationPDF
82 FR 44632 - Texas; Amendment No. 6 to Notice of a Major Disaster DeclarationPDF
82 FR 44642 - Changes in Flood Hazard DeterminationsPDF
82 FR 44644 - Virgin Islands; Amendment No. 4 to Notice of a Major Disaster DeclarationPDF
82 FR 44640 - Virgin Islands; Amendment No. 3 to Notice of a Major Disaster DeclarationPDF
82 FR 44648 - Virgin Islands; Amendment No. 2 to Notice of a Major Disaster DeclarationPDF
82 FR 44639 - Puerto Rico; Amendment No. 1 to Notice of a Major Disaster DeclarationPDF
82 FR 44640 - Puerto Rico; Amendment No. 1 to Notice of an Emergency DeclarationPDF
82 FR 44647 - Nebraska; Amendment No. 2 to Notice of a Major Disaster DeclarationPDF
82 FR 44641 - Virgin Islands; Amendment No. 1 to Notice of an Emergency DeclarationPDF
82 FR 44648 - Nebraska; Amendment No. 2 to Notice of a Major Disaster DeclarationPDF
82 FR 44647 - Puerto Rico; Emergency and Related DeterminationsPDF
82 FR 44639 - Puerto Rico; Major Disaster and Related DeterminationsPDF
82 FR 44548 - National Oil and Hazardous Substances Pollution Contingency Plan; National Priorities List: Deletion of the Vancouver Water Station #1 Superfund SitePDF
82 FR 44545 - National Oil and Hazardous Substances Pollution Contingency Plan; National Priorities List: Deletion of the Vancouver Water Station #4 Superfund SitePDF
82 FR 44612 - Ambient Air Monitoring Reference and Equivalent Methods: Designation of Three New Reference MethodsPDF
82 FR 44646 - Georgia; Major Disaster and Related DeterminationsPDF
82 FR 44632 - Puerto Rico; Amendment No. 2 to Notice of a Major Disaster DeclarationPDF
82 FR 44641 - Puerto Rico; Amendment No. 3 to Notice of a Major Disaster DeclarationPDF
82 FR 44648 - Texas; Amendment No. 7 to Notice of a Major Disaster DeclarationPDF
82 FR 44527 - Approval and Promulgation of Plans for Designated Facilities; New Jersey; Delegation of AuthorityPDF
82 FR 44646 - Texas; Amendment No. 8 to Notice of a Major Disaster DeclarationPDF
82 FR 44685 - Barings Corporate Investors, et al.; Notice of ApplicationPDF
82 FR 44615 - Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) or Superfund, Section 128(a); Notice of Grant Funding Guidance for State and Tribal Response Programs for FY2018PDF
82 FR 44513 - Amendment of Restricted Areas R-3004A and R-3004B and Establishment of R-3004C; Fort Gordon, GAPDF
82 FR 44700 - Blocking of Persons and Property Under the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation ActPDF
82 FR 44649 - 30-Day Notice of Proposed Information Collection: Mortgage Record ChangePDF
82 FR 44614 - FIFRA Scientific Advisory Panel; Notice of Public Meeting for the Clarification of Charge Questions on PBPKPDF
82 FR 44656 - Notice of Receipt of Complaint; Solicitation of Comments Relating to the Public InterestPDF
82 FR 44537 - Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Longnose Skate in the Western Regulatory Area of the Gulf of AlaskaPDF
82 FR 44628 - Compliance Policy for Required Warning Statements on Small-Packaged Cigars; Guidance for Industry; AvailabilityPDF
82 FR 44624 - Formations of, Acquisitions by, and Mergers of Bank Holding CompaniesPDF
82 FR 44701 - Reasonable Charges for Inpatient MS-DRGs and SNF Medical Services; v3.22, Fiscal Year 2018 UpdatePDF
82 FR 44629 - National Advisory Council on Migrant HealthPDF
82 FR 44673 - Product Change-Priority Mail Negotiated Service AgreementPDF
82 FR 44562 - Certain Cold-Drawn Mechanical Tubing of Carbon and Alloy Steel From the People's Republic of China: Preliminary Affirmative Countervailing Duty DeterminationPDF
82 FR 44558 - Certain Cold-Drawn Mechanical Tubing of Carbon and Alloy Steel From India: Preliminary Affirmative Countervailing Duty DeterminationPDF
82 FR 44694 - Projects Approved for Consumptive Uses of WaterPDF
82 FR 44694 - Projects Approved for Minor ModificationsPDF
82 FR 44586 - Disclosure of Loan-Level HMDA DataPDF
82 FR 44556 - National Telecommunications and Information Administration; Notice of Intent To Prepare a Supplemental Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement and Conduct Scoping for the Nationwide Public Safety Broadband NetworkPDF
82 FR 44514 - Removal of Certain Entities From the Entity List; and Revisions of Entries on the Entity ListPDF
82 FR 44630 - Minutes of Institutional Review Board Meetings; Guidance for Institutions and Institutional Review Boards; AvailabilityPDF
82 FR 44700 - Mutual Savings Association Advisory CommitteePDF
82 FR 44557 - Foreign-Trade Zone (FTZ) 23-Erie County, New York; Notification of Proposed Production Activity; Cummins, Inc.; (Diesel and Gas Engines); Lakewood and Jamestown, New YorkPDF
82 FR 44558 - Foreign-Trade Zone 61-San Juan, Puerto Rico; Application for Subzone; Plaza Warehousing & Realty Corporation; Caguas, Puerto RicoPDF
82 FR 44561 - Certain Small Diameter Carbon and Alloy Seamless Standard, Line and Pressure Pipe From Romania: Final Results of Antidumping Duty Administrative Review; 2015-2016PDF
82 FR 44493 - Collection and Transmission of Annual AMC Registry FeesPDF
82 FR 44581 - Proposed Information Collection; Comment Request; Alaska Pacific Halibut Fisheries: Charter PermitsPDF
82 FR 44583 - Proposed Information Collection; Comment Request; Alaska Rockfish Program: Permits and ReportsPDF
82 FR 44582 - Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; Reef Fish Fishery of the Gulf of Mexico; Amendment 44PDF
82 FR 44584 - Science Advisory Board (SAB); Public Meeting of the NOAA Science Advisory BoardPDF
82 FR 44665 - Records Schedules; Availability and Request for CommentsPDF
82 FR 44626 - Medical Devices; Availability of Safety and Effectiveness Summaries for Premarket Approval ApplicationsPDF
82 FR 44556 - Notice of Petitions by Firms for Determination of Eligibility To Apply for Trade Adjustment AssistancePDF
82 FR 44698 - Pipeline Safety: Meeting of the Voluntary Information-Sharing System Working GroupPDF
82 FR 44694 - Notice of Determinations; Culturally Significant Objects Imported for Exhibition Determinations: “Wiener Werkstätte, 1903-1932: The Luxury of Beauty” ExhibitionPDF
82 FR 44693 - Notice of Determinations; Additional Culturally Significant Objects Imported for Exhibition Determinations: “KLIMT & RODIN: An Artistic Encounter” ExhibitionPDF
82 FR 44564 - Advisory Committee on Supply Chain Competitiveness; Notice of Public MeetingsPDF
82 FR 44542 - Idemitsu Kosan, Cp. Ltd.; Filing of Food Additive Petition (Animal Use)PDF
82 FR 44493 - Temporary Extension of Applicability of Regulations Governing Conduct on Federal PropertyPDF
82 FR 44652 - Notice of Inventory Completion: University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MIPDF
82 FR 44649 - Foreign Endangered and Threatened Species; Receipt of Applications for PermitPDF
82 FR 44625 - Food and Drug Administration Clinical Trial Requirements, Regulations, Compliance, and Good Clinical Practice; Public WorkshopPDF
82 FR 44565 - Visiting Committee on Advanced TechnologyPDF
82 FR 44651 - Enhancement of Survival Permit Application; Draft Candidate Conservation Agreement With Assurances for the Greater Sage-Grouse and Four Grassland Songbirds in Montana; Draft Environmental AssessmentPDF
82 FR 44666 - South Texas Project Nuclear Operating CompanyPDF
82 FR 44657 - Tool Chests and Cabinets From China and Vietnam; Scheduling of the Final Phase of Countervailing Duty and Antidumping Duty InvestigationsPDF
82 FR 44654 - Certain Thermoplastic-Encapsulated Electric Motors, Components Thereof, and Products and Vehicles Containing Same; Commission's Determination To Grant Complainant's Motion To Withdraw the Complaint and Deny Complainant's Motion for Vacatur; Termination of the InvestigationPDF
82 FR 44585 - Patent and Trademark Resource Centers MetricsPDF
82 FR 44584 - Submissions for OMB Review; Comment Request; “Submissions Regarding Correspondence and Regarding Attorney Representation (Trademarks)”PDF
82 FR 44631 - Proposed Collection; 60-Day Comment Request; Generic Clearance to Conduct Formative Research (NIAID)PDF
82 FR 44678 - Self-Regulatory Organizations; NYSE Arca, Inc.; Notice of Filing of Amendment No. 4, and Order Granting Accelerated Approval of a Proposed Rule Change, as Modified by Amendment No. 4, Relating to the Listing and Trading of Shares of the USCF Canadian Crude Oil Index Fund Under NYSE Arca Rule 8.200-EPDF
82 FR 44674 - Self-Regulatory Organizations; Bats BYX Exchange, Inc.; Notice of Filing and Immediate Effectiveness of a Proposed Rule Change Related to Fees for Use on Bats BYX Exchange, Inc.PDF
82 FR 44677 - Self-Regulatory Organizations; NYSE Arca, Inc.; Notice of Filing and Immediate Effectiveness of Proposed Rule Change To Amend Its Rules and the NYSE Arca Options Fees and Charges Schedule in Connection With the Name Change of Its Affiliate NYSE MKT LLC to NYSE American LLCPDF
82 FR 44565 - Takes of Marine Mammals Incidental to Specified Activities; Taking Marine Mammals Incidental to a Geophysical Survey in the Central Pacific OceanPDF
82 FR 44683 - Self-Regulatory Organizations; NYSE American LLC; Notice of Filing and Immediate Effectiveness of Proposed Rule Change Amending Its Rules To Make Technical and Conforming Updates, in Connection With the Merger of NYSE Arca Equities, Inc. With and Into the Exchange's Affiliate NYSE Arca, Inc. and the Name Change of NYSE National, Inc.PDF
82 FR 44683 - Submission for OMB Review; Comment RequestPDF
82 FR 44676 - Submission for OMB Review; Comment RequestPDF
82 FR 44682 - Submission for OMB Review; Comment RequestPDF
82 FR 44696 - Hazardous Materials: Emergency Waiver No. 1PDF
82 FR 44699 - Hazardous Materials: Emergency Waiver No. 2PDF
82 FR 44697 - Hazardous Materials: Emergency Waiver No. 3PDF
82 FR 44695 - 2017 Special 301 Out-of-Cycle Review of Colombia: Request for Public CommentPDF
82 FR 44659 - Privacy Act of 1974; Systems of RecordsPDF
82 FR 44551 - Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; Reef Fish Fishery of the Gulf of Mexico; Gray Triggerfish Management Measures; Amendment 46PDF
82 FR 44690 - Presidential Declaration Amendment of a Major Disaster for Public Assistance Only for the State of TexasPDF
82 FR 44529 - National Oil and Hazardous Substance Pollution Contingency Plan; National Priorities List: Deletion of the Nutting Truck & Caster Co. Superfund SitePDF
82 FR 44548 - National Oil and Hazardous Substances Pollution Contingency Plan; National Priorities List: Deletion of the Nutting Truck & Caster Co. Superfund SitePDF
82 FR 44555 - Inviting Applications for the Delta Health Care Services Grant ProgramPDF
82 FR 44693 - Presidential Declaration Amendment of a Major Disaster for the State of GeorgiaPDF
82 FR 44691 - Presidential Declaration Amendment of a Major Disaster for the State of FloridaPDF
82 FR 44525 - Approval and Promulgation of Air Quality Implementation Plans; West Virginia; Removal of Clean Air Interstate Rule Trading Programs Replaced by Cross-State Air Pollution Rule Trading ProgramsPDF
82 FR 44555 - Information Collection Activity; Comment RequestPDF
82 FR 44544 - Approval and Promulgation of Air Quality Implementation Plans; West Virginia; Removal of Clean Air Interstate Rule Trading Programs Replaced by Cross-State Air Pollution Rule Trading ProgramsPDF
82 FR 44543 - Air Plan Approval; GA: Emission Reduction CreditsPDF
82 FR 44519 - Air Plan Approval; GA: Emission Reduction CreditsPDF
82 FR 44664 - Advisory Board on Toxic Substances and Worker HealthPDF
82 FR 44663 - Proposed Renewal of Information Collection Requirements; Comment RequestPDF
82 FR 44511 - Amendment of Class E Airspace; Brainerd, MNPDF
82 FR 44541 - Proposed Amendment of Class E Airspace; Charlotte, MIPDF
82 FR 44691 - Presidential Declaration Amendment of a Major Disaster for the State of TexasPDF
82 FR 44522 - Approval and Promulgation of Air Quality Implementation Plans; Maryland; 2011 Base Year Inventory for the 2008 8-Hour Ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standard for the Maryland Portion of the Philadelphia-Wilmington-Atlantic City Nonattainment AreaPDF
82 FR 44544 - Approval and Promulgation of Air Quality Implementation Plans; Maryland; 2011 Base Year Inventory for the 2008 8-Hour Ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standard for the Maryland Portion of the Philadelphia-Wilmington-Atlantic City Nonattainment AreaPDF
82 FR 44692 - Presidential Declaration Amendment of a Major Disaster for Public Assistance Only for the Commonwealth of Puerto RicoPDF
82 FR 44655 - Notice of Receipt of Complaint; Solicitation of Comments Relating to the Public InterestPDF
82 FR 44658 - Notice of Receipt of Complaint; Solicitation of Comments Relating to the Public InterestPDF
82 FR 44694 - Notice of Determinations; Culturally Significant Objects Imported for Exhibition Determinations: Exhibition of Musical Instruments Played by Ostad ElahiPDF
82 FR 44693 - Notice of Determinations; Additional Culturally Significant Objects Imported for Exhibition Determinations: “Michelangelo: Divine Draftsman and Designer” ExhibitionPDF
82 FR 44690 - Presidential Declaration of a Major Disaster for the State of GeorgiaPDF
82 FR 44545 - Washington: Proposed Authorization of State Hazardous Waste Management Program RevisionsPDF
82 FR 44613 - Notice of Administrative Settlement Agreement Pursuant to the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability ActPDF
82 FR 44692 - Presidential Declaration Amendment of a Major Disaster for the U.S. Virgin IslandsPDF
82 FR 44692 - Presidential Declaration of a Major Disaster for Public Assistance Only for the U.S. Virgin IslandsPDF
82 FR 44539 - Airworthiness Directives; Zodiac Aerotechnics, Oxygen Mask RegulatorsPDF
82 FR 44504 - Airworthiness Directives; The Boeing Company AirplanesPDF
82 FR 44502 - Airworthiness Directives; British Aerospace Regional Aircraft AirplanesPDF
82 FR 44509 - Airworthiness Directives; Airbus HelicoptersPDF
82 FR 44533 - Compliance Date Extension; Formaldehyde Emission Standards for Composite Wood ProductsPDF

Issue

82 184 Monday, September 25, 2017 Contents Agriculture Agriculture Department See

Rural Business-Cooperative Service

See

Rural Utilities Service

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection NOTICES Guidance: Disclosure of Loan-Level HMDA Data, 44586-44612 2017-20409 Commerce Commerce Department See

Economic Development Administration

See

First Responder Network Authority

See

Foreign-Trade Zones Board

See

Industry and Security Bureau

See

International Trade Administration

See

National Institute of Standards and Technology

See

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

See

Patent and Trademark Office

Comptroller Comptroller of the Currency NOTICES Meetings: Mutual Savings Association Advisory Committee, 44700 2017-20404 Economic Development Economic Development Administration NOTICES Trade Adjustment Assistance; Petitions, 44556 2017-20390 Environmental Protection Environmental Protection Agency RULES Air Quality State Implementation Plans; Approvals and Promulgations: Georgia; Emission Reduction Credits, 44519-44521 2017-20336 Maryland; 2011 Base Year Inventory for the 2008 8-Hour Ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standard for the Maryland Portion of the Philadelphia-Wilmington-Atlantic City Nonattainment Area, 44522-44525 2017-20324 West Virginia; Removal of Clean Air Interstate Rule Trading Programs Replaced by Cross-State Air Pollution Rule Trading Programs, 44525-44527 2017-20341 Designated Facilities and Pollutants State Plans; Approval and Promulgations: New Jersey; Delegation of Authority, 44527-44529 2017-20440 Formaldehyde Emission Standards for Composite Wood Products, 44533-44537 2017-19455 National Oil and Hazardous Substances Pollution Contingency Plan; National Priorities List: Deletion of the Nutting Truck and Caster Co. Superfund Site, 44529-44533 2017-20348 PROPOSED RULES Air Quality State Implementation Plans; Approvals and Promulgations: Georgia; Emission Reduction Credits, 44543 2017-20337 Maryland; 2011 Base Year Inventory for the 2008 8-Hour Ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standard for the Maryland Portion of the Philadelphia-Wilmington-Atlantic City Nonattainment Area, 44544-44545 2017-20323 West Virginia; Removal of Clean Air Interstate Rule Trading Programs Replaced by Cross-State Air Pollution Rule Trading Programs, 44544 2017-20339 National Oil and Hazardous Substances Pollution Contingency Plan; National Priorities List: Deletion of the Nutting Truck and Caster Co. Superfund Site, 44548 2017-20346 Deletion of the Vancouver Water Station #1 Superfund Site, 44548-44551 2017-20449 Deletion of the Vancouver Water Station #4 Superfund Site, 44545-44548 2017-20448 State Hazardous Waste Management Program; Authorizations: Washington, 44545 2017-20314 NOTICES Ambient Air Monitoring Reference and Equivalent Methods: Designation of Three New Reference Methods, 44612-44613 2017-20447 Grant Funding Guidance: CERCLA; State and Tribal Response Programs for FY2018, 44615-44624 2017-20436 Meetings: Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act Scientific Advisory Panel; Clarification of Charge Questions on Physiologically-Based Pharmacokinetic, 44614-44615 2017-20430 Proposed Administrative Settlement Agreement: CERCLA, 44613-44614 2017-20313 Federal Aviation Federal Aviation Administration RULES Airworthiness Directives: Airbus Helicopters, 44509-44511 2017-19939 British Aerospace Regional Aircraft Airplanes, 44502-44504 2017-20047 The Boeing Company Airplanes, 44504-44509 2017-20114 Amendment of Class E Airspace: Brainerd, MN, 44511-44512 2017-20330 Amendment of Restricted Areas: R-3004A and R-3004B and Establishment of R-3004C; Fort Gordon, GA, 44513-44514 2017-20435 PROPOSED RULES Airworthiness Directives: Zodiac Aerotechnics, Oxygen Mask Regulators, 44539-44541 2017-20267 Amendment of Class E Airspace: Charlotte, MI, 44541-44542 2017-20329 Federal Contract Federal Contract Compliance Programs Office NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals, 44663 2017-20333 Federal Emergency Federal Emergency Management Agency NOTICES Emergency and Related Determinations: Puerto Rico, 44647 2017-20451 South Carolina, 44641-44642 2017-20471 Virgin Islands, 44644-44645 2017-20469 Emergency Declarations: Puerto Rico; Amendment No. 1, 44640-44641 2017-20455 Virgin Islands; Amendment No. 1, 44641 2017-20453 Flood Hazard Determinations; Changes, 44635-44638; 44642-44644 2017-20462 2017-20466 Flood Hazard Determinations; Proposals, 44633-44634; 44638-44639 2017-20468 2017-20470 Major Disaster and Related Determinations: Georgia, 44646 2017-20446 Puerto Rico, 44639-44640 2017-20450 Virgin Islands, 44645-44646 2017-20467 Major Disaster Declarations: Missouri; Amendment No. 3, 44648 2017-20472 Nebraska; Amendment No. 2, 44647-44649 2017-20452 2017-20454 Puerto Rico; Amendment No. 1, 44639 2017-20456 Puerto Rico; Amendment No. 2, 44632 2017-20444 Puerto Rico; Amendment No. 3, 44641 2017-20442 Texas; Amendment No. 6, 44632-44633 2017-20463 Texas; Amendment No. 7, 44648 2017-20441 Texas; Amendment No. 8, 44646-44647 2017-20439 Virgin Islands; Amendment No. 1, 44635 2017-20465 Virgin Islands; Amendment No. 2, 44648 2017-20458 Virgin Islands; Amendment No. 3, 44640 2017-20459 Virgin Islands; Amendment No. 4 No. 3, 44644 2017-20461 Federal Financial Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council RULES Collection and Transmission of Annual AMC Registry Fees, 44493-44502 2017-20400 Federal Reserve Federal Reserve System NOTICES Formations of, Acquisitions by, and Mergers of Bank Holding Companies, 44624-44625 2017-20424 FIRSTNET First Responder Network Authority NOTICES Environmental Impact Statements; Availability, etc.: Nationwide Public Safety Broadband Network, 44556-44557 2017-20408 Fish Fish and Wildlife Service NOTICES Environmental Assessments; Availability, etc.: Enhancement of Survival Permit Application; Draft Candidate Conservation Agreement with Assurances for the Greater Sage-Grouse and Four Grassland Songbirds in Montana, 44651-44652 2017-20373 Permit Applications: Foreign Endangered and Threatened Species, 44649-44651 2017-20381 Food and Drug Food and Drug Administration PROPOSED RULES Animal Food Additive Petitions: Idemitsu Kosan, Cp. Ltd., 44542-44543 2017-20385 NOTICES Guidance: Compliance Policy for Required Warning Statements on Small-Packaged Cigars, 44628-44629 2017-20426 Medical Devices: Availability of Safety and Effectiveness Summaries for Premarket Approval Applications, 44626-44628 2017-20391 Meetings: Clinical Trial Requirements, Regulations, Compliance, and Good Clinical Practice; Public Workshop, 44625-44626 2017-20375 Foreign Assets Foreign Assets Control Office NOTICES Blocking or Unblocking of Persons and Properties, 44700-44701 2017-20432 Foreign Trade Foreign-Trade Zones Board NOTICES Production Activities: Cummins, Inc., Foreign-Trade Zone 23, Erie County, NY, 44557-44558 2017-20403 Subzone Applications: Plaza Warehousing and Realty Corp., Foreign-Trade Zone 61, San Juan, PR, 44558 2017-20402 Health and Human Health and Human Services Department See

Food and Drug Administration

See

Health Resources and Services Administration

See

National Institutes of Health

NOTICES Guidance: Minutes of Institutional Review Board Meetings; Institutions and Institutional Review Boards, 44630-44631 2017-20405
Health Resources Health Resources and Services Administration NOTICES Meetings: National Advisory Council on Migrant Health, 44629-44630 2017-20422 Homeland Homeland Security Department See

Federal Emergency Management Agency

RULES Temporary Extension of Applicability of Regulations Governing Conduct on Federal Property, 44493 2017-20383
Housing Housing and Urban Development Department RULES Section 108 Loan Guarantee Program: Announcement of Fee to Cover Credit Subsidy Costs, 44518-44519 2017-20474 NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: Mortgage Record Change, 44649 2017-20431 Industry Industry and Security Bureau RULES Entity List: Removals and Revisions of Certain Entities, 44514-44517 2017-20406 Interior Interior Department See

Fish and Wildlife Service

See

National Park Service

Internal Revenue Internal Revenue Service PROPOSED RULES Registered Form; Definition Guidance, 44543 C1--2017--19753 International Trade Adm International Trade Administration NOTICES Antidumping or Countervailing Duty Investigations, Orders, or Reviews: Certain Cold-Drawn Mechanical Tubing of Carbon and Alloy Steel from India, 44558-44560 2017-20412 Certain Cold-Drawn Mechanical Tubing of Carbon and Alloy Steel from the People's Republic of China, 44562-44564 2017-20413 Certain Small Diameter Carbon and Alloy Seamless Standard, Line and Pressure Pipe from Romania; Final Results of Administrative Review; 2015-2016, 44561-44562 2017-20401 Meetings: Advisory Committee on Supply Chain Competitiveness, 44564-44565 2017-20386 International Trade Com International Trade Commission NOTICES Complaints: Certain Amorphous Metal and Products Containing Same, 44656-44657 2017-20429 Certain Magnetic Data Storage Tapes and Cartridges Containing the Same, 44658-44659 2017-20318 Certain Reusable Diapers, Components Thereof, and Products Containing the Same, 44655-44656 2017-20319 Investigations; Determinations, Modifications, and Rulings, etc.: Certain Thermoplastic-Encapsulated Electric Motors, Components Thereof, and Products and Vehicles Containing Same, 44654-44655 2017-20370 Tool Chests and Cabinets from China and Vietnam, 44657-44658 2017-20371 Justice Department Justice Department NOTICES Privacy Act; Systems of Records, 44659-44663 2017-20352 Labor Department Labor Department See

Federal Contract Compliance Programs Office

See

Workers Compensation Programs Office

National Archives National Archives and Records Administration NOTICES Records Schedules, 44665-44666 2017-20393 National Institute National Institute of Standards and Technology NOTICES Meetings: Visiting Committee on Advanced Technology, 44565 2017-20374 National Institute National Institutes of Health NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: Generic Clearance to Conduct Formative Research, 44631-44632 2017-20367 National Oceanic National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration RULES Fisheries of Exclusive Economic Zone off Alaska: Longnose Skate in Western Regulatory Area of Gulf of Alaska, 44537-44538 2017-20428 PROPOSED RULES Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic: Reef Fish Fishery of the Gulf of Mexico; Gray Triggerfish Management Measures; Amendment 46, 44551-44554 2017-20351 NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: Alaska Pacific Halibut Fisheries: Charter Permits, 44581-44582 2017-20398 Alaska Rockfish Program: Permits and Reports, 44583-44584 2017-20397 Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic: Reef Fish Fishery of the Gulf of Mexico; Amendment 44, 44582-44583 2017-20396 Meetings: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Science Advisory Board, 44584 2017-20395 Takes of Marine Mammals Incidental to Specified Activities: Geophysical Survey in the Central Pacific Ocean, 44565-44581 2017-20362 National Park National Park Service NOTICES Inventory Completions: University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, 44652-44654 2017-20382 National Transportation National Transportation Safety Board NOTICES Meetings; Sunshine Act, 44666 2017-20504 Nuclear Regulatory Nuclear Regulatory Commission NOTICES License Renewals; Applications: South Texas Project Nuclear Operating Co., 44666-44673 2017-20372 Patent Patent and Trademark Office NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: Resource Centers Metrics, 44585-44586 2017-20369 Submissions Regarding Correspondence and Regarding Attorney Representation (Trademarks), 44584-44585 2017-20368 Pipeline Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration NOTICES Hazardous Materials: Emergency Waiver No. 1, 44696-44697 2017-20357 Emergency Waiver No. 2, 44699-44700 2017-20356 Emergency Waiver No. 3, 44697-44698 2017-20355 Meetings: Pipeline Safety: Voluntary Information-Sharing System Working Group, 44698-44699 2017-20389 Postal Service Postal Service NOTICES Product Changes: Priority Mail Negotiated Service Agreement, 44673-44674 2017-20414 2017-20415 2017-20416 Presidential Documents Presidential Documents EXECUTIVE ORDERS North Korea; Additional U.S. Sanctions Imposed (EO 13810), 44703-44709 2017-20647 Rural Business Rural Business-Cooperative Service NOTICES Requests for Applications: Delta Health Care Services Grant Program, 44555 2017-20345 Rural Utilities Rural Utilities Service NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals, 44555-44556 2017-20340 Securities Securities and Exchange Commission NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals, 44676-44677, 44682-44683 2017-20358 2017-20359 2017-20360 Applications: Barings Corporate Investors, et al., 44685-44690 2017-20438 Self-Regulatory Organizations; Proposed Rule Changes: Bats BYX Exchange, Inc., 44674-44676 2017-20364 NYSE American, LLC, 44683-44685 2017-20361 NYSE Arca, Inc., 44677-44682 2017-20363 2017-20365 Small Business Small Business Administration NOTICES Disaster Declarations: Florida, 44691-44692 2017-20342 Georgia, 44693 2017-20343 Texas; Amendment 2, 44690-44691 2017-20349 Major Disaster Declarations: Florida; Amendment 4, 44691 2017-20320 Georgia, 44690 2017-20315 Puerto Rico; Amendment 2, 44692 2017-20321 Texas; Amendment 5, 44691 2017-20328 US Virgin Islands, 44692 2017-20311 US Virgin Islands; Amendment 1, 44692 2017-20312 State Department State Department NOTICES Culturally Significant Objects Imported for Exhibition: Exhibition of Musical Instruments played by Ostad Elahi, 44694 2017-20317 KLIMT and RODIN—An Artistic Encounter, 44693 2017-20387 Michelangelo: Divine Draftsman and Designer Exhibition, 44693 2017-20316 Wiener Werkstatte, 1903-1932—The Luxury of Beauty, 44694 2017-20388 Susquehanna Susquehanna River Basin Commission NOTICES Projects Approved: Consumptive Uses of Water, 44694-44695 2017-20411 Minor Modifications, 44694 2017-20410 Trade Representative Trade Representative, Office of United States NOTICES 2017 Special 301 Out-of-Cycle Review of Colombia; Request for Comments, 44695-44696 2017-20354 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

Veteran Affairs Veterans Affairs Department NOTICES Reasonable Charges for Inpatient MS-DRGs and SNF Medical Services; v3.22, Fiscal Year 2018 Update, 44701-44702 2017-20423 Workers' Workers Compensation Programs Office NOTICES Requests for Nominations: Advisory Board on Toxic Substances and Worker Health, 44664-44665 2017-20335 Separate Parts In This Issue Part II Presidential Documents, 44703-44709 2017-20647 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.

82 184 Monday, September 25, 2017 Rules and Regulations DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY Office of the Secretary 6 CFR Chapter I Temporary Extension of Applicability of Regulations Governing Conduct on Federal Property AGENCY:

Office of the Secretary, Department of Homeland Security.

ACTION:

Notification of temporary extension of the applicability of regulations.

SUMMARY:

The Acting Secretary of Homeland Security, pursuant to the Homeland Security Act of 2002, has temporarily extended the applicability of certain regulations governing conduct on federal property to certain areas within the United States Border Patrol's San Diego Sector allowing for their enforcement. This temporary administrative extension enables the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to protect and secure Federal property at or near the project areas for border wall prototypes and fence replacement near the city of San Diego, including but not limited to, project sites, staging areas, access roads, and buildings temporarily erected to support construction activities and to carry out its statutory obligations to protect and secure the nation's borders. The project areas for border wall prototype and fence replacement are situated within a geographic area that starts at the Pacific Ocean and extends to approximately one mile east of Border Monument 251.

DATES:

Pursuant to 40 U.S.C. 1315(d), the extension began on September 19, 2017 and will continue for the duration of the construction activities related to the fence replacement and border wall prototype projects near the city of San Diego.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Joshua A. Vayer, Division Director, Protective Operations Division, Federal Protective Service, [email protected]

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

Pursuant to section 1706 of the Homeland Security Act of 2002, 40 U.S.C. 1315(a); Public Law 107-296, 116 Stat. 2135 (Nov. 25, 2002), the Secretary of Homeland Security is responsible for protecting the buildings, grounds, and property owned, occupied, or secured by the Federal Government (including any agency, instrumentality, or wholly owned or mixed ownership corporation thereof) and the persons on the property. To carry out this mandate, the Department is authorized to enforce the applicable Federal regulations for the protection of persons and property set forth in 41 CFR 102-74, subpart C.1 These regulations govern conduct on federal property and set forth the relevant criminal penalties. Although these regulations apply to all property under the authority of the General Services Administration and to all person entering in or on such property,2 the Secretary of Homeland Security is authorized pursuant to 40 U.S.C. 1315(d)(2)(A) to extend the applicability of and to enforce these regulations to any property owned or occupied by the Federal Government.

1 Although these regulations were issued prior to the Homeland Security Act, per section 1512 of the Act, these regulations remain the relevant regulations for purposes of the protection and administration of property owned or occupied by the Federal Government.

2See 41 CFR 102-74.365.

Temporary Extension of Applicability of Regulations Governing Conduct on Federal Property to Certain Areas in the Vicinity of the Border Near the City of San Diego

DHS is replacing existing border fence with bollard wall and constructing border wall prototypes near the city of San Diego in the United States Border Patrol's San Diego Sector pursuant to several statutory and executive directives.3 In order to protect and secure the property at or near the border wall prototype and fence replacement project areas, including, but not limited to, project sites, staging areas, access roads, and buildings temporarily erected to support construction activities, I temporarily extended the applicability, allowing the enforcement, of regulations governing the conduct of individuals on federal property to areas in or around the fence replacement and border wall prototype project areas, pursuant to 40 U.S.C. 1315(d)(2)(A). The project areas for border wall prototype and fence replacement are situated within a geographic area that starts at the Pacific Ocean and extends to approximately one mile east of Border Monument 251. Specifically, I temporarily extended the applicability, allowing the enforcement, of the regulations in 41 CFR part 102-74, subpart C, to any property owned or occupied by the Federal Government at or near the fence replacement and border wall prototype project areas near the city of San Diego.

3 The statutory and executive directives relating to the construction of the border wall prototypes include, but are not limited to, section 102 of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996, Public Law 104-208, Div. C, 110 Stat. 3009-546, 3009-554 (Sept. 30, 1996) (8 U.S.C. 1103 note), as amended by the REAL ID Act of 2005, Public Law 109-13, Div. B, 119 Stat. 231, 302, 306 (May 11, 2005) (8 U.S.C. 1103 note), as amended by the Secure Fence Act of 2006, Public Law 109-367, section 3, 120 Stat. 2638 (Oct. 26, 2006) (8 U.S.C. 1103 note), as amended by the Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act, 2008, Public Law 110-161, Div. E, Title V, section 564, 121 Stat. 2090 (Dec. 26, 2007) (8 U.S.C. 1103 note), Section 2 of the Secure Fence Act of 2006, Public Law 109-367, 120 Stat. 2638 (Oct. 26, 2006) (8 U.S.C. 1701 note), and E.O. 13767.

The regulations in 41 CFR part 102-74, subpart C, will remain applicable and enforceable at these locations for the duration of the construction related to the fence replacement and border wall prototypes near the city of San Diego.

Elaine C. Duke, Acting Secretary of Homeland Security.
[FR Doc. 2017-20383 Filed 9-22-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4410-10-P
FEDERAL FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS EXAMINATION COUNCIL 12 CFR Part 1102 [Docket No. AS17-07] Collection and Transmission of Annual AMC Registry Fees AGENCY:

Appraisal Subcommittee of the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (ASC).

ACTION:

Final rule.

SUMMARY:

The ASC is adopting a final rule to implement collection and transmission of appraisal management company (AMC) annual registry fees in the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (Dodd-Frank Act) to be applied by State appraiser certifying and licensing agencies that elect to register and supervise AMCs, pursuant to 12 U.S.C. 3353 and the regulations promulgated thereunder.

DATES:

Effective date. This final rule will become effective on November 24, 2017.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

James R. Park, Executive Director, at (202) 595-7575, or Alice M. Ritter, General Counsel, at (202) 595-7577, Appraisal Subcommittee, 1401 H Street NW., Suite 760, Washington, DC 20005.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: I. Background

Section 1473 of the Dodd-Frank Act 1 included amendments to Title XI of the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery, and Enforcement Act of 1989 2 (Title XI). Section 1109 of Title XI,3 Roster of State certified or licensed appraisers; authority to collect and transmit fees, was amended by the Dodd-Frank Act to require States 4 that elect to register and supervise AMCs to collect: (1) From AMCs that have been in existence for more than a year an annual registry fee of $25 multiplied by the number of appraisers working for or contracting with such AMC in such State during the previous year; and (2) from AMCs that have not been in existence for more than a year, $25 multiplied by an appropriate number to be determined by the ASC. Such $25 amount may be adjusted, up to a maximum of $50, at the discretion of the ASC, if necessary to carry out the ASC's Title XI functions.5

1 Public Law 111-203, 124 Stat. 1376.

2 Public Law 101-73, 103 Stat. 183.

3 12 U.S.C. 3338.

4 As of January, 2017, the 50 States, the District of Columbia, and four Territories, which are the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, and United States Virgin Islands, had State appraiser certifying and licensing agencies.

5See 12 U.S.C. 3338(a)(4)(B).

Section 1117 of Title XI,6 Establishment of State appraiser certifying and licensing agencies, was amended by the Dodd-Frank Act to include additional duties for States, if they so choose, to: (1) Register and supervise AMCs; and (2) add information about AMCs in their State to the National Registry of AMCs (AMC Registry).7 States electing to register and supervise AMCs under Section 1117 must implement minimum requirements in accordance with the AMC Rule.8

6 12 U.S.C. 3346.

7 Title XI as amended by the Dodd-Frank Act defines “appraisal management company” to mean, in part, an external third party that oversees a network or panel of more than 15 appraisers, who are State certified or licensed in a State, or 25 or more appraisers nationally (two or more States) within a given year. (See 12 U.S.C. 3350(11)). Title XI as amended by the Dodd-Frank Act also allows States to adopt requirements in addition to those in the AMC Rule. (See 12 U.S.C. 3353(b)). For example, States may decide to supervise entities that provide appraisal management services, but do not meet the size thresholds of the Title XI definition of AMC. If a State has a more expansive regulatory framework that covers entities that provide appraisal management services but do not meet the Title XI definition of AMC, the State should only submit information regarding AMCs meeting the Title XI definition to the AMC Registry.

8 The Dodd-Frank Act added section 1124 to Title XI, Appraisal Management Company Minimum Requirements, which required the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC); Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (Board); Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC); National Credit Union Administration (NCUA); Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection (Bureau); and Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) to establish, by rule, minimum requirements for the registration and supervision of AMCs by States that elect to register and supervise AMCs pursuant to Title XI and the rules promulgated thereunder. The Agencies issued a final rule (AMC Rule) with an effective date of August 10, 2015. (80 FR 32658, June 9, 2015).

Section 1103 of Title XI,9 Functions of Appraisal Subcommittee, was amended by the Dodd-Frank Act to require the ASC to maintain the AMC Registry of those AMCs that are either:

9 12 U.S.C. 3332.

(1) Registered with and subject to supervision by a State that has elected to register and supervise AMCs; or (2) are operating subsidiaries of a Federally regulated financial institution (Federally regulated AMCs). On or before the effective date of this rule, the ASC will issue an ASC Bulletin to States that will address:

1. When the AMC Registry will be open for States; and

2. Reporting requirements (information required to be submitted by States in order to register AMCs on the AMC Registry) with the effective date for compliance.

Title XI as amended by the Dodd-Frank Act imposes a statutory restriction on performance of services by AMCs for a federally related transaction (FRT) 10 that applies after a 36-month period that began when the AMC Rule became effective (Implementation Period).11 The ASC recognizes that States electing to register and supervise AMCs may need to amend their rules and/or regulations, or revise their operating procedures in order to implement AMC registry fees. Given the limited period of time between publication of this final rule and the expiration of the Implementation Period, States may not be able to implement the AMC registry fees within the Implementation Period. As discussed further below in the subsection Collection and transmission of annual AMC registry fees, only those AMCs whose registry fees have been transmitted to the ASC are eligible to be on the AMC Registry. While the ASC encourages States that elect to register and supervise AMCs to begin collecting fees from registered AMCs as soon as possible in accordance with the requirements of Section 1109 of Title XI so that those AMCs may be entered on the AMC Registry, the restriction on performance of services for FRTs will not impact an AMC so long as the AMC is registered with a State that has elected to register and supervise AMCs, or is subject to oversight by a Federal financial institutions regulatory agency.

10 A federally related transaction includes any real estate-related financial transaction which: (a) A Federal financial institutions regulatory agency engages in, contracts for, or regulates; and (b) requires the services of an appraiser. See Title XI sec. 1121 (4), 12 U.S.C. 3350), implemented by the OCC: 12 CFR 34.42(f) and 34.43(a); Board: 12 CFR 225.62(f) and 225.63(a); FDIC: 12 CFR 323.2(f) and 323.3(a); and NCUA: 12 CFR 722.2(f) and 722.3(a). Based on 2014 Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA) data, at least 90 percent of residential mortgage loan originations are not subject to the Title XI appraisal regulations. (FFIEC report to Congress, Economic Growth and Regulatory Paperwork Reduction Act, 82 FR 15900 (March 30, 2017).

11See 12 U.S.C. 3353(f)(1). In summary, beginning 36 months from the effective date of the AMC Rule, an AMC, as defined by Title XI, may not provide services for FRTs in a State unless the AMC is registered with the State pursuant to a registration and supervision program established under Section 1117, or is subject to oversight by a Federal financial institutions regulatory agency.

On May 20, 2016, the ASC published a proposed rule with a 60-day public comment period on implementation of the annual AMC registry fee that States would collect and transmit to the ASC if they elect to register and supervise AMCs.12 This final rule sets the fee formula that States would apply in collecting annual AMC registry fees and transmitting those fees to the ASC.

12 81 FR 31868 (May 20, 2016).

II. The Final Rule

The final rule: (1) Establishes the annual AMC registry fee in section 1109 of Title XI for AMCs in those States electing to register and supervise AMCs; and (2) implements collection and transmission of AMC registry fees as required by section 1109. The final rule sets forth the ASC's interpretation of the phrase “working for or contracting with” for purposes of calculating the annual AMC registry fee.

For the reasons discussed in section III of this SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION, the final rule adopts the rule substantially as proposed. The final rule contains technical, nonsubstantive changes.

III. The Final Rule and Public Comments on the Proposed Rule

The following is a section-by-section review of the proposed rule and a discussion of the public comments received by the ASC concerning the proposal. The ASC received 104 comment letters in response to the published proposal. These comment letters were received from State appraiser certifying and licensing agencies, AMCs, appraiser and real estate trade associations, professional associations, appraisal firms and appraisers.

A. Section 1102.401 Definitions

The ASC requested comment on all aspects of the proposed rule. The following is a discussion of the definitions, related public comments and issues relating to those definitions. Definitions on which the ASC did not receive comment are not discussed below and are adopted without change in the final rule.

The ASC is adopting the definitions substantially as proposed, including cross-references to the definitions established in the AMC Rule. Several commenters requested that the cross-referenced definitions be included in the final rule rather than as proposed by cross reference to definitions in the AMC Rule. However, if the ASC were to adopt the approach suggested by these commenters, in the event those AMC Rule definitions are amended by the interagency process in the future, definitions included in this rule would become inaccurate and inconsistent. To avoid that circumstance, the ASC is adopting the definitions as proposed with cross-reference to those definitions established by the AMC Rule.

One commenter expressed concern over the definition of “appraiser panel” stating AMCs should not be penalized over other providers of appraisal services, and included discussion on appraisal firms and AMCs. This commenter quoted language from the AMC Rule on appraisal firms. Another commenter expressed concern that the definition of “appraiser panel” should only include independent contractors and not employees. The issues raised by these commenters were determined in the interagency AMC Rule during that rulemaking process.

Proposed § 1102.401(d) defined performance of an appraisal. Proposed § 1102.401(d) is being corrected to define performed an appraisal, which conforms to the actual phrase used throughout the rule, to mean the appraisal service requested of an appraiser by the AMC was provided to the AMC. The ASC is adopting this definition without substantive change as § 1102.401(d) in the final rule. One commenter questioned whether this referred to initial submission of the report or when the appraisal has been reviewed and accepted by the client in its final form. The ASC recognizes that the issue may be complicated by the ongoing debate within the profession concerning when an appraisal is complete. The ASC is adopting the definition as proposed, intending for the terms to remain subject to a plain English interpretation. Another commenter requested a definition of “appraisal service” be included in the final rule. The ASC recognizes that various appraisal services could be requested, including an appraisal review, and therefore declines to define the phrase, recognizing that States can be more restrictive. In general, commenters supported the proposed definition.

Establishing the Annual AMC Registry Fee

The ASC is adopting proposed § 1102.402 without change. Section 1102.402 establishes the annual AMC registry fee for States that elect to register and supervise AMCs as follows:

(1) In the case of an AMC that has been in existence for more than a year, $25 multiplied by the number of appraisers who have performed an appraisal for the AMC on a covered transaction in such State during the previous year; and (2) in the case of an AMC that has not been in existence for more than a year, $25 multiplied by the number of appraisers who have performed an appraisal for the AMC on a covered transaction in such State since the AMC commenced doing business.

For AMCs that have been in existence for more than a year, section 1109 of Title XI provides that the annual AMC registry fee is based on the number of appraisers “working for or contracting with” an AMC in a State during a 12-month period multiplied by $25, but where such $25 amount may be adjusted up to a maximum of $50.13 The final rule adopts the minimum fee of $25 as set by statute and interprets the phrase “working for or contracting with” to mean those appraisers on an AMC appraiser panel that performed an appraisal for the AMC on a covered transaction during the previous year in a particular State.

13See Title XI sec. 1109(a)(4)(B), 12 U.S.C. 3338(a)(4)(B).

For AMCs that have not been in existence for more than a year, the statute requires a determination by the ASC of an appropriate multiplier to calculate registry fees for those AMCs. The ASC proposed to use the same factors of $25 multiplied by the number of appraisers that performed an appraisal for the AMC on a covered transaction, but the fee would be based on the actual period of time since the AMC commenced doing business rather than 12 months. For example, if an AMC has been operating for 6 months, the fee would be calculated by multiplying $25 by the number of appraisers that performed an appraisal for the AMC on a covered transaction during that 6-month period.

One commenter stated the ASC should identify what it will do with revenue from AMC registry fees and suggested the ASC should consider decreasing the fee to less than $25 which would still allow the ASC plenty of funds to perform its Title XI-related functions. The commenter asserted the ASC has discretion to do so. However, section 1109(a)(4), by its plain terms, sets the minimum fee allowed under the statutory framework at $25. The statute did provide latitude for the ASC to establish an appropriate number to multiply by $25 for AMCs that have not been in existence for more than a year. Using the actual period of time since the AMC commenced doing business will maintain some consistency in the calculation of AMC registry fees to reduce administrative burden for the States. Based on the ASC's anticipated costs of overseeing States that elect to register and supervise AMCs, as well as the ASC's anticipated costs of maintaining the AMC Registry, the ASC believes the proposed annual AMC registry fee would cover those costs while supporting other Title XI functions of the ASC as mandated by Congress, and in particular, further development of its grant programs, particularly to support States as funds are available.

The ASC considered three options with respect to interpreting the phrase “working for or contracting with.” Under the first option, the phrase “working for or contracting with” would have been interpreted to include every appraiser on an AMC appraiser panel during the reporting period 14 in a particular State. The multiplier in this option would have included all appraisers on an AMC's appraiser panel in a particular State, including appraisers accepted by the AMC for consideration for future appraisal assignments. One commenter stated this option would likely penalize AMCs for adding appraisers to their roster for future use, and would also be burdensome for States. Another commenter stated the interpretation under the first option would be the easiest for States. The ASC remains concerned that this option would impose the most burden to AMCs and impose the highest registry fees.

14 In the case of AMCs that have been in existence for more than a year, the reporting period would be 12 months. In the case of an AMC that has not been in existence for more than a year, the reporting period would be since the AMC commenced doing business.

Under the second option, the phrase “working for or contracting with” would have been interpreted to include those appraisers engaged by the AMC to perform an appraisal on a covered transaction during the reporting period in a particular State. Under this option, those appraisers engaged by the AMC to perform an appraisal, regardless of whether the appraiser completed the appraisal during the reporting period, would be included in the calculation of the AMC's registry fees.

The ASC requested comment on the second option's interpretation of the phrase “working for or contracting with” and whether this would be an easier interpretation for the States to administer. (See Question 3 in the proposal.) Several commenters expressed concern over this option. One commenter stated that AMCs could reduce their panel sizes, thereby creating slower turnaround times and utilizing fewer appraisers. Another commenter stated the interpretation under the second option would not be easier to implement and States would have to rely on AMCs self reporting this information. Another commenter expressed concern that the second option could penalize AMCs if an order is accepted and assigned but later cancelled and neither the AMC or the appraiser receive any compensation, and could also be burdensome for States to enforce without having a status of assignments and their completion during a given timeframe.

Under the third option, which is adopted in the final rule, the phrase “working for or contracting with” includes those appraisers that performed an appraisal for the AMC on a covered transaction during the reporting period in a particular State. This option excludes appraisers accepted by the AMC for consideration for future appraisal assignments as well as appraisers who performed appraisals in the past, but did not perform any appraisals in the reporting period. The AMC registry fee is not intended to result in an appraiser being counted twice in calculating the fee, regardless of how many appraisals that appraiser performed in a single State during a reporting period. A few commenters misunderstood the proposed application of the fee and thought the fee would be calculated based on the total number of individual appraisers on an AMC panel, or that the fee would be imposed based on individual appraisals, neither of which is consistent with the proposal or the final rule.

Several commenters expressed support for the third option as having the least economic impact to an AMC, the least burden for appraisers and preferable from a State administrative point of view. A few commenters expressed support for the third option but believed it would be a burden for States to collect information from AMCs. One commenter, while stating the third option is costly to AMCs, stated that the third option would be the most equitable as it applies to those appraisers who had completed appraisal assignments, and that the first two options may cause AMCs to pare their appraiser panels. One commenter stated the third option would also simplify the queries that States would need to run to report all registered AMCs that have completed appraisal reports during a specific year or timeframe. Another commenter stated AMCs may use fewer appraisers for appraisal assignments to keep AMC registry fees down. The ASC anticipates there may well be such responses by AMCs to reduce their registry fees, but under the statutory framework, it is seemingly unavoidable.

The ASC requested comment on the ASC's interpretation of the phrase “working for or contracting with.” (See Question 2 in the proposal.) One commenter expressed concern that for AMCs in business less than 12 months, determining how many appraisals have been performed could be difficult. Another commenter suggested “working for” and “contracting with” should be properly defined with specifics and parameters. One commenter requested clarification of the term “working for,” and another commenter, while supporting the third option, commented the term “performed” needs clarity, suggesting appraisals could be considered “performed” when delivered by the AMC to the client. The ASC recognizes that because the AMC is acting as an agent of the appraiser's client, delivery of an appraisal to the AMC could also be deemed delivery to the client. The ASC is adopting the interpretation as proposed, intending for the terms to remain subject to a plain English interpretation.

The ASC also requested comment on what aspects of the proposed rule, if any, would be challenging for States to implement and any alternative approaches that would make implementation easier, while maintaining consistency with the statute. (See Question 8 in the proposal.) Several commenters expressed concern that the proposed rule would create significant administrative burden on the State to calculate and verify registry fees, and would also result in expenditures to administer and transmit the registry fees. Some commenters are opposed to the fee in general, while a few expressed opposition to AMCs. A few commenters suggested no action should be taken until the Dodd-Frank Act is amended. One commenter stated the ASC should seek legislative changes to 12 U.S.C. 3338 asserting it is fundamentally flawed, and requested withdrawal of the proposed rule until the federal statute is changed. The ASC, however, is charged with implementation of the statute as passed by Congress.

One commenter stated that the 500 hours of regulatory burden is understated, and added States should be reimbursed for expenses in collecting and transmitting registry fees. Another commenter also stated that the 500 hours is underestimated stating the ASC failed to consider administrative costs and expenses for creating and maintaining a database, and for the staff time to run the program. The ASC is working to minimize such burden in simplifying the reporting requirements for AMCs. As stated in the proposal, the ASC will issue a Bulletin to address reporting requirements with the effective date for compliance.

Another commenter foresees several barriers to collecting reliable data on how many appraisers are on an AMC panel and how many have done work for the AMC in the previous 12 months, including the necessity to adopt new rules, create new forms and update current IT systems to collect and maintain this data, all of which will result in increased labor costs for staff needed for implementation of the proposed rule. As stated in the proposed rule, the ASC anticipates further development of its grants program, particularly in support of the States as funds are available. The statutory purpose of ASC grants to the States is to provide funds to assist States in compliance with Title XI. Therefore, as funds are available, the ASC could consider establishing a grant to assist States in registry reporting requirements and transmission of registry fees for both appraisers and AMCs. Another commenter suggested the ASC should provide a revenue projection as well as costs to develop the AMC Registry. The ASC has included those expenses in its budget process and will continue to do so on an annual basis.

Another commenter opposed the interpretation of “working for or contracting with,” stating it will create an entirely new regulatory criterion for States to implement and validate, thereby requiring audits. It should be noted that there is no federal requirement for States to audit AMCs to determine validity of information submitted to the State. A State may determine to periodically audit, or not to exercise such authority at all, or alternatively, a State may rely on the complaint/investigation process to determine if and when an audit is warranted.

By far the majority of comments received expressed concern over these additional fees and the impact on appraisers if the fee is passed on to them by the AMCs. More specifically, these commenters requested that the final rule prohibit AMCs from passing the fee on to appraisers. While the ASC shares in the concern expressed over the fee being passed on to appraisers, such regulation of AMCs is outside of the authority of the ASC. The ASC notes the fee imposed by statute is not a fee assessed on appraisers, but rather on AMCs. Some commenters identified certain States are already attempting to regulate this at the State level. One commenter, however, stated the choice to pass the fee on to the appraiser should be left to the AMC, and that appraisers have a choice whether to participate on an AMC panel.

Some commenters expressed concern that AMCs hide their appraisal management fees from borrowers by including them as part of the fee paid to appraisers, and requested that the final rule require fees be disclosed to the borrower. This, however, is outside the authority of the ASC. Comments were also received expressing concern over AMCs not paying customary and reasonable fees to appraisers, or charging appraisers various fees to be on an AMC panel. This too is outside the authority of the ASC.

One commenter suggested consideration of a de minimis exception, stating the ASC should allow AMCs to use the IRS 1099 threshold and thus exclude those appraisers to whom it pays less than $600 during a tax year, which would include appraisers who performed only one appraisal assignment, and perhaps up to three. The commenter suggests its proposal as an alternative to potentially reduce AMC registry fees. However, the ASC would not have authority under the statute to provide such an exception, particularly in the case of AMCs that have been in existence for more than a year. Furthermore, the ASC is concerned there would be undesirable consequences. For example, there could be a reduction in appraiser fees in order to avoid the proposed threshold. Additionally, AMCs might select appraisers in a manner to avoid the threshold rather than basing a selection on competency. The ASC will continue to work with States to address increased burden and will continue to explore means to provide additional grant funding to the States to support State programs as funds are available and additional grant policies and procedures are developed and approved.

A few commenters expressed preference for a flat fee to avoid any need to verify that AMCs are sending in the correct amount, another commenter suggested a two-tiered system and another commenter suggested a tiered structure based on the size of the appraiser panel and/or the volume of appraisals brokered by an AMC. The ASC considered these various options to calculating the AMC registry fee, but concluded that such options were not supported by the statute. Also, the ASC notes, in response to several commenters expressing concern over the honor system versus auditing AMCs on information provided to the State by AMCs, that it is up to the State to determine whatever process the State deems appropriate.

Two commenters stated the AMC registry fee should be calculated based on FRTs, not covered transactions. The ASC believes the proposal is consistent with the AMC Rule and the statute. The AMC Rule defined a covered transaction as any consumer credit transaction secured by the consumer's principal dwelling.15 As stated in the AMC Rule preamble, the definition did not limit the definition of covered transaction to FRTs, even though Title XI and its implementing regulations have applied historically only to appraisals for FRTs. The AMC Rule, through the interagency process, determined that defining “covered transaction” as such reflected the statutory text of section 1121(11), which defines the term “appraisal management company,” as in pertinent part, “any external third party authorized either by a creditor of a consumer credit transaction secured by the consumer's principal dwelling or by an underwriter of or other principal in the secondary mortgage markets.” 16 It was further stated in the AMC Rule preamble that applying coverage of the AMC Rule beyond FRTs was consistent with the structure and text of other parts of Title XI, section 1124, most of which address appraisals generally rather than appraisals only for FRTs, and in particular, the text of section 1124(a)(4) of Title XI indicates that one of the chief purposes of the minimum requirements for AMCs is to ensure compliance with the valuation independence standards established pursuant to section 129E of the Truth and Lending Act (TILA) (15 U.S.C. 1639e).17 The preamble of the AMC Rule concluded that those standards apply to AMCs whenever they engage in a consumer credit transaction secured by the consumer's principal dwelling, regardless of whether the transaction is a FRT.18

15See 12 CFR 34.211(h); 12 CFR 225.191(h); 12 CFR 323.9(h); 12 CFR 1222.21(h) (2015).

16See 80 FR 32658, 32664 (June 9, 2015).

17See Title XI sec. 1124(a)(4), 12 U.S.C. 3353(a)(4).

18See 80 FR 32658, 32664 (June 9, 2015).

Another commenter questioned the benefit of the AMC Registry to the industry as a whole. The ASC notes the requirement for the ASC to maintain the AMC Registry is statutory. The benefit of the Registry initially will be to promote information sharing between States on AMCs. The Registry will also allow lenders, AMCs and other stakeholders to identify AMCs that are located in participating States, and therefore subject to State registration and supervision. In addition, the Registry will identify AMCs that are Federally regulated AMCs.

Collection and Transmission of Annual AMC Registry Fees

The ASC is adopting § 1102.403(a) and (b) substantially as proposed regarding collection and transmission of annual AMC registry fees. On or before the effective date of this rule, the ASC will issue an ASC Bulletin to States that will address:

1. When the AMC Registry will be open for States; and

2. Reporting requirements (information required to be submitted by States in order to register AMCs on the AMC Registry) with the effective date for compliance.

Section 1102.403(a) and (b) implement collection and transmission of annual AMC registry fees for States that elect to register and supervise AMCs following the statutory scheme set forth in sections 1109 and 1117 of Title XI as amended by the Dodd-Frank Act. The final rule requires AMC registry fees to be collected and transmitted to the ASC on an annual basis by States that elect to register and supervise AMCs. Only those AMCs whose registry fees have been transmitted to the ASC are eligible to be on the AMC Registry.

The ASC requested comment on all aspects of proposed collection and transmission of annual AMC registry fees. (See Question 4 in the proposal.) One commenter stated that while it is understandable that States should have some flexibility in connection with the collection of registry fees, some boundaries or guidelines should be implemented within the final rule because varying State expiration dates could be financially and logistically challenging for AMCs. One commenter stated that the staggered renewal dates could complicate the reporting process and may be a burden to AMCs and States to maintain records. The commenter suggested the reporting period should be the same for every State. As proposed, the ASC recognizes that States should have the flexibility to align a one-year period with any 12-month period, which may or may not be based on the calendar year. Based on annual fees paid by the States historically for appraiser registry fees, the ASC recognizes States require flexibility to determine the period for reporting and collection of registry fees dependent on their budget cycles, rules and statutes. States vary greatly on the 12-month cycle as well as renewal cycles, which in some States may be 2 years or more. Just as many States do not use a calendar year for their existing appraiser credentialing process, the ASC believes that allowing States to set the 12-month period provides appropriate flexibility and will help States comply with the collection and transmission of AMC fees and reduce regulatory burden for State governments. States may choose to do this in a similar manner as they currently do for their appraisers, meaning some States have a date certain every year, while other States use, for example, the appraiser's date of birth (States could use AMC registration date similarly). The registration cycle is left to the individual States to determine, but the ASC notes that the statutory requirement in section 1109(a)(4) requires States to submit AMC registry fees to the ASC annually.19

19See Title XI sec. 1109(a)(4)(B), 12 U.S.C. 3338(a)(4)(B).

Several other commenters expressed concern over the additional burden on States to collect and transmit information and fees to the ASC and the need for additional funding and staff. Another commenter stated the ASC should consider implementing a centralized computer system for collecting AMC registry fees, and use some of the fees to provide grants to States to set up and run their AMC programs. The ASC will continue to work with States to address increased burden and will continue to explore means to provide additional grant funding to the States to support State programs as funds are available and additional grant policies and procedures are developed and approved.

One commenter objected to States levying additional fees on AMCs to cover the costs of collecting and transmitting fees to the ASC. This commenter referenced the AMC Rule stating in its preamble the option for States to collect administrative fees from Federally regulated AMCs to offset the cost of collecting the AMC Registry fee and the information related to the fee. The ASC understands the basis for the concern, but recognizes this is a matter left to the States.

The ASC requested comment on Federally regulated AMCs operating in a State that does not elect to register and supervise AMCs, and whether the ASC should collect information and fees directly from those Federally regulated AMCs. (See Question 5 in the proposal.) The ASC received a number of comments in response to this question. One commenter expressed concerns about collecting fees from Federally regulated AMCs which are exempt from registration with the State. Another commenter stated that Federally regulated AMCs operating in a State that does not have an AMC program should report and submit fees directly to the ASC. A few commenters stated that the State would not have authority to collect fees from entities that are exempt from State licensure and they do not have authority to require that those entities submit data to the State Board and requested that the ASC collect the fees from those entities directly. Several commenters stated the ASC should collect fees directly from Federally regulated AMCs rather than the State acting as a pass-through. One commenter stated if the ASC sets up a program to collect fees from Federally regulated AMCs in States that do not register and supervise AMCs, the ASC should consider the same for States with an AMC program. Another commenter stated that States could choose to opt out due to the reported low percentage of FRTs compared to overall transactions, which would result in a barrier to collection of fees in those States. The ASC considered commenters' concerns, but recognizes the authority to impose requirements on Federally regulated AMCs lies with the Agencies.20 The ASC will work with the Agencies to address these concerns.

20 OCC, Board, FDIC, NCUA, Bureau, and FHFA (see footnote 8).

Some commenters expressed concern that even though they elect to register and supervise AMCs, they would have no authority over Federally regulated AMCs, and therefore no ability to accept information or fees from those AMCs. The ASC recognizes this may present a challenge for some States. However, for States that elect to register and supervise AMCs, the requirement to collect fees from Federally regulated AMCs is statutory. The Agencies 21 involved with issuing the AMC Rule recognized that practical challenges may arise as the minimum requirements are adopted in States and reporting requirements take effect and the Agencies committed to monitor these issues. The ASC will monitor these issues as well and will continue to explore means to provide additional grant funding to the States to support State programs as funds are available and additional grant policies and procedures are developed and approved.

21 Id.

The ASC requested comment on what barriers, if any, exist that would make it difficult for a State to implement the collection and transmission of AMC registry fees (see Question 6 in the proposal) and what costs, both direct in terms of fees and indirect in terms of administrative costs, would be associated with collection and transmission of AMC registry fees (see Question 7 in the proposal). One commenter estimated that the burden for a State's program would be 25 hours per month of staff time to complete and would cost approximately $6000 to design a database and $700/month for staff to maintain. Another commenter stated the proposed rule could negatively affect AMCs, consumers and real estate appraisers, as well as create burden for States. This commenter also stated AMCs will likely pass on fees to clients and therefore consumers. Another commenter stated costs may negatively affect smaller AMCs causing consolidation of AMCs. Another concern was that AMCs may pare down appraiser panels. The ASC recognizes the collection and transmission to the ASC of AMC registry fees by the States would create some recordkeeping, reporting and compliance requirements. However, these collection and transmission requirements are imposed by the statute. The ASC will continue to work with States to address increased burden and will continue to explore means to provide additional grant funding to the States to support State programs as funds are available and additional grant policies and procedures are developed and approved.

Several commenters requested that States should be allowed to send in multi-year registry fees rather than annually. Another commenter expressed concern that States could incur significant administrative costs to implement programming changes to their computer systems if they have to collect fees annually rather than multi-year fees as they do now for appraisers. If a State can assess on a multi-year basis, the ASC would not object. However, the ASC notes that the statutory requirement in section 1109(a)(4) requires States that elect to register and supervise AMCs to submit AMC registry fees to the ASC annually.22 For clarification purposes, language that was included at the end of proposed section 1102.403(b) referencing the “12-month period subsequent to payment of the fee” has been removed to avoid conflict should a State assess the fee on a multi-year basis.

22See Title XI sec. 1109(a)(4)(B), 12 U.S.C. 3338(a)(4)(B).

Another commenter expressed the desire for the ASC to continue to accept data files for AMCs. Historically, the ASC accepted data files, and continues to do so on a limited basis for the Appraiser Registry. However, this method of transmitting rosters is obsolete and time consuming. The ASC has continued to improve the Appraiser Registry using more up-to-date transmission methods such as the extranet application and Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP) in order to provide more real-time information on the National Registries. While the ASC recognizes this may impose additional burden on States, the ASC will continue to explore means to provide grant funding to the States to support State programs as funds are available and additional grant policies and procedures are developed and approved.

Another commenter was concerned with specific collection and transmission scenarios and how various scenarios would impact determination of fees, calculation of panel size, transmission of fees, verification of fee calculation and audit requirements. Several of this commenter's concerns deal with logistics and will be part of the ASC Bulletin concerning reporting requirements which will be issued after this final rule. This commenter also wanted to know what timeline the ASC is considering between verification and remittance, similar to another commenter who stated there should be flexibility with the timing of payment of fees and the actual transmission of the fees, and that the final rule should add additional language that clearly addresses these potential gaps in order to avoid any unintended consequences. This is a matter that will be left to the States to administer within the following parameters: (1) AMC registry fees must be collected and transmitted to the ASC on an annual basis by States that elect to register and supervise AMCs; and (2) only those AMCs whose registry fees have been transmitted to the ASC are eligible to be on the AMC Registry.

IV. Regulatory Analysis Paperwork Reduction Act

Certain provisions of the final rule contain “information collection” requirements within the meaning of the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA) of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.). Under the PRA, the ASC may not conduct or sponsor, and, notwithstanding any other provision of law, a person is not required to respond to, an information collection unless the information collection displays a valid Office of Management and Budget (OMB) control number. The information collection requirements contained in this final rule were submitted to OMB for review and approval at the proposed rule stage by the ASC pursuant to section 3506 of the PRA and section 1320.11 of the OMB's implementing regulations (5 CFR part 1320). OMB instructed the ASC to examine public comment in response to the proposed rule and describe in the supporting statement of their next collections any public comments received regarding the collection as well as why (or why it did not) incorporate the commenter's recommendation. The ASC received 12 public comments regarding the collection and concern of burden on States, and two comments voiced concern that the ASC did not perform a cost benefit analysis. The ASC described the comments in the supporting statement above and the discussion below on the Regulatory Flexibility Act, and addressed why the ASC did not incorporate commenters' recommendations. The collection of information requirements in the final rule are found in §§ 1102.400-1102.403. This information is required to implement section 1473 of the Dodd-Frank Act.

Title of Information Collection: Collection and Transmission of Annual AMC Registry Fees.

OMB Control Nos.: The ASC will be seeking new control numbers for these collections.

Frequency of Response: Event generated.

Affected Public: States; businesses or other for-profit and not-for-profit organizations.

Abstract State Recordkeeping Requirements

States that elect to register and supervise AMCs are required to collect and transmit annual AMC registry fees to the ASC. Section 1102.402 establishes the annual AMC registry fee for States that elect to register and supervise AMCs as follows: (1) In the case of an AMC that has been in existence for more than a year, $25 multiplied by the number of appraisers who have performed an appraisal for the AMC on a covered transaction in such State during the previous year; and (2) in the case of an AMC that has not been in existence for more than a year, $25 multiplied by the number of appraisers who have performed an appraisal for the AMC on a covered transaction in such State since the AMC commenced doing business.

Section 1102.403 requires AMC registry fees to be collected and transmitted to the ASC on an annual basis by States that elect to register and supervise AMCs. Only those AMCs whose registry fees have been transmitted to the ASC will be eligible to be on the AMC Registry. Section 1102.403 clarifies that States may align a one-year period with any 12-month period, which may, or may not, be based on the calendar year. The registration cycle is left to the individual States to determine.

State Reporting Burden

Section 1103 of Title XI, Functions of Appraisal Subcommittee, was amended by the Dodd-Frank Act to require the ASC to maintain a registry of AMCs that are either: (1) Registered with and subject to supervision by a State; or (2) Federally regulated AMCs. On or before the effective date of this rule, the ASC will issue an ASC Bulletin to States that will address:

1. When the AMC Registry will be open for States; and

2. Reporting requirements (information required to be submitted by States in order to register AMCs on the AMC Registry) with the effective date for compliance.

Burden Estimates:

Total Number of Respondents: 500 AMCs, 55 States.

Burden Total: 500 hours.

Regulatory Flexibility Act

The Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA), 5 U.S.C. 601 et seq., generally 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 proposed rule on small entities. However, the regulatory flexibility analysis otherwise required under the RFA is not required if an agency certifies that the proposed 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 together with the rule. Based on its analysis, and for the reasons stated below, the ASC believes that the rule will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities.

Section 1109 of Title XI provides that State appraiser certifying and licensing agencies that elect to register and supervise AMCs shall collect (1) from AMCs that have been in existence for more than a year, annual AMC registry fees in the amount of $25 (up to a maximum of $50) multiplied by the number of appraisers “working for or contracting with” an AMC in a State during the previous year; and (2) from AMCs that have not been in existence for more than a year, annual AMC registry fees in the amount of $25 (up to a maximum of $50) multiplied by an appropriate number to be determined by the ASC.23 The purpose of the statutory fee is to support the ASC's functions under Title XI. Because the ASC believes the minimum fee required by the statute would be adequate to support its functions, the rule adopts the minimum fee of $25 as set by statute. The rule also interprets the phrase “working for or contracting with” to mean those appraisers that performed an appraisal for the AMC on a covered transaction during the reporting period. For AMCs that have existed for more than a year, the formula is $25 multiplied by the number of appraisers who have performed an appraisal for the AMC on a covered transaction during the previous year. For AMCs that have not existed for more than a year, the $25 fee is multiplied by the number of appraisers that performed an appraisal for the AMC on a covered transaction since the AMC commenced doing business.

23See 12 U.S.C. 3338(a)(4)(B).

Regarding the fee for AMCs that have been in existence for more than a year, the ASC believes the rule imposes the minimum fee allowed under the statutory provisions of section 1109. The ASC did not exercise statutory discretion granted to the ASC to increase the fee above $25. Further, the ASC interprets “working for or contracting with” to mean only those appraisers who actually performed an appraisal for the AMC, as opposed to all appraisers on the AMC's panel or all appraisers engaged, regardless of whether the assignment was completed. The ASC believes this formula results in the lowest fee allowed by the statute and the ASC chose not to exercise its authority to increase this minimum fee. Therefore, any burden produced is the result of statutory and not regulatory requirements.

The ASC has also decided to adopt the statutory minimum fee of $25 for AMCs that have not existed for more than a year. As required by statute, the ASC adopted an appropriate number against which to multiply the $25 fee. The ASC adopted the same multiple as used for AMCs that have existed for more than a year (i.e., the number of appraisers that have performed appraisal assignments for the AMC). It is possible that the ASC may have been able to adopt a multiple that would have resulted in a lower fee and would still be deemed appropriate. In this regard, the rule may have created a burden for AMCs that have not existed for more than a year, beyond the burden created by the statutory requirements alone. However, using the actual period of time since the AMC commenced doing business will maintain some consistency in the calculation of AMC registry fees to reduce administrative burden for the States.

One commenter stated the proposed rule would have a large financial impact on smaller AMCs and community banks and credit unions, as well as appraisers, and asserted that the RFA requires analysis when the rule directly regulates small entities. This commenter stated that as an owner of a small AMC, regulatory fees proposed are burdensome, and as a national AMC, is opposed to paying for the same appraiser in different States, especially given that the AMC registry fee is on top of other State fees required by the States, and regulatory oversight seems “duplicitous.” Another commenter stated the proposed rule would affect thousands of small appraisal businesses as a result of AMCs passing the registry fee on to appraisers, and that the ASC should do extensive analysis on how the proposed rule will affect residential appraisers. The ASC shares in the concern but has no authority to regulate that issue. A few commenters indicated that some States are looking at regulating this issue at the State level. In support of those States, the ASC notes the fee imposed by statute is not a fee assessed on appraisers, but rather on AMCs. This commenter, similar to the previous commenter, also did not believe the requirements of section 609(a) of the RFA have been met and that the fee may force small AMCs out of business, as well as impact sole proprietorships that accept assignments from AMCs. This commenter went on to state that while the ASC is not required to adhere to Executive Order 12866 or issue cost benefit analysis, this commenter believes it is sound best practice.

The ASC carefully considered these matters and concluded requirements under the rule are imposed by the statute, not the rule, and further, the requirements apply to those States that elect to register and supervise AMCs following the statutory scheme set forth in section 1473 of the Dodd-Frank Act. In addition, the RFA does not require an agency to conduct a small-entity impact analysis when the agency does not regulate the affected entities (AMCs, lenders, appraisers). The ASC's statutory oversight extends to State certifying and licensing agencies. Section 1109 of Title XI provides the framework and minimum fee to collect from AMCs for States that elect to register and supervise AMCs. The ASC believes the rule as proposed imposes the minimum fee of $25 allowed under the statutory provisions of section 1109. The statute did provide latitude for the ASC to establish an appropriate number to multiply by $25 for AMCs that have not been in existence for a year. Using the actual period of time since the AMC commenced doing business will maintain some consistency in the calculation of AMC registry fees to reduce administrative burden for the States. The ASC did not exercise statutory discretion granted to the ASC to increase the fee above $25. Therefore, any burden produced is the result of statutory and not regulatory requirements.

While some burden beyond the statutory requirements may have resulted from the rule for AMCs that have not existed for more than a year, the ASC does not believe the rule will have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. There are only approximately 500 AMCs operating in the United States. The annual regulatory burden will only apply to new AMCs that have not existed for more than a year. Given the small number of AMCs currently in operation, it is unlikely that there will be a substantial number of AMCs that commence doing business in any given year. Further, the ASC adopted the lowest possible fee of $25. Therefore, the ASC does not believe that the exercise of its discretion in setting the fee formula for such AMCs will have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities.

The collection and transmission to the ASC of AMC registry fees by the States would create some recordkeeping, reporting and compliance requirements. However, these collection and transmission requirements are imposed by the statute, not the rule. Further, the RFA requires an agency to perform a regulatory flexibility analysis of small entity impacts when the agency's rule directly regulates the small entities.24

24 For purposes of assessing the impacts of the proposed rule on small entities, “small entities” is defined in the RFA to include small businesses, small not-for-profit organizations, and small government jurisdictions. See 5 U.S.C. 601(6). A “small business” is determined by application of SBA regulations and reference to the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) classifications and size standards. See 5 U.S.C. 601(3). A “small organization” is any “not-for-profit enterprise which is independently owned and operated and is not dominant in its field.” 5 U.S.C. 601(4). A “small governmental jurisdiction” is the government of a city, county, town, township, village, school district, or special district with a population of less than 50,000. See 5 U.S.C. 601(5). Given these definitions, States that elect to establish licensing and certification authorities are not small entities and the burden on them is not relevant to this analysis.

Based on its analysis, and for the reasons stated above, the ASC believes that the rule will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. Therefore, the ASC certifies that the final rule will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities.

Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 Determination

The ASC has analyzed the final rule under the factors in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 (UMRA) (2 U.S.C. 1532). Under this analysis, the ASC considered whether the final 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 annually for inflation). For the following reasons, the ASC finds that the final rule does not trigger the $100 million UMRA threshold. The costs specifically related to requirements set forth in statute are excluded from expenditures under the UMRA. Given that the final rule reflects requirements that arise from section 1473 of the Dodd-Frank Act, the UMRA cost estimate for the proposed rule is zero. For this reason, and for the other reasons cited above, the ASC has determined that this final rule will not result in expenditures by State, local, and tribal governments, or the private sector, of $100 million or more in any one year. Accordingly, this proposed rule is not subject to section 202 of the UMRA.

List of Subjects in 12 CFR Part 1102

Administrative practice and procedure, Appraisers, Banks, Banking, Freedom of information, Mortgages, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements.

Authority and Issuance

For the reasons set forth in the preamble, the ASC amends 12 CFR part 1102 as follows:

PART 1102—APPRAISER REGULATION 1. The authority citation for part 1102 is revised to read as follows: Authority:

12 U.S.C. 3348(a), 3332, 3335, 3338 (a)(4)(B), 3348(c), 5 U.S.C. 552a, 553(e); Executive Order 12600, 52 FR 23781 (3 CFR, 1987 Comp., p. 235).

2. Subpart E to part 1102 is added to read as follows: Subpart E—Collection and Transmission of Appraisal Management Company (AMC) Registry Fees Sec. 1102.400 Authority, purpose, and scope. 1102.401 Definitions. 1102.402 Establishing the annual AMC registry fee. 1102.403 Collection and transmission of annual AMC registry fees. Subpart E—Collection and Transmission of Appraisal Management Company (AMC) Registry Fees
§ 1102.400 Authority, purpose, and scope.

(a) Authority. This subpart is issued by the Appraisal Subcommittee (ASC) under sections 1106 and 1109 (a)(4)(B) of Title XI of the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery, and Enforcement Act of 1989 (Title XI), as amended by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (Dodd-Frank Act) (Pub. L. 111-203, 124 Stat. 1376 (2010)), 12 U.S.C. 3335, 3338 (a)(4)(B)).

(b) Purpose. The purpose of this subpart is to implement section 1109 (a)(4)(B) of Title XI, 12 U.S.C. 3338.

(c) Scope. This subpart applies to States that elect to register and supervise appraisal management companies pursuant to 12 U.S.C. 3346 and 3353, and the regulations promulgated thereunder.

§ 1102.401 Definitions.

For purposes of this subpart:

(a) AMC Registry means the national registry maintained by the ASC of those AMCs that meet the Federal definition of AMC, as defined in 12 U.S.C. 3350(11), are registered by a State or are Federally regulated, and have paid the annual AMC registry fee.

(b) AMC Rule means the interagency final rule on minimum requirements for AMCs. (12 CFR 34.210-34.216; 12 CFR 225.190-225.196; 12 CFR 323.8-323.14; 12 CFR 1222.20-1222.26).

(c) ASC means the Appraisal Subcommittee of the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council established under section 1102 (12 U.S.C. 3310) as it amended the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council Act of 1978 (12 U.S.C. 3301 et seq.) by adding section 1011.

(d) Performed an appraisal means the appraisal service requested of an appraiser by the AMC was provided to the AMC.

(e) State means any State, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, the United States Virgin Islands, and American Samoa.

(f) Other terms. Definitions of: Appraisal management company (AMC); appraisal management services; appraisal panel; consumer credit; covered transaction; dwelling; Federally regulated AMC are incorporated from the AMC Rule by reference.

§ 1102.402 Establishing the annual AMC registry fee.

The annual AMC registry fee to be applied by States that elect to register and supervise AMCs is established as follows:

(a) In the case of an AMC that has been in existence for more than a year, $25 multiplied by the number of appraisers who have performed an appraisal for the AMC in connection with a covered transaction in such State during the previous year; and

(b) In the case of an AMC that has not been in existence for more than a year, $25 multiplied by the number of appraisers who have performed an appraisal for the AMC in connection with a covered transaction in such State since the AMC commenced doing business.

§ 1102.403 Collection and transmission of annual AMC registry fees.

(a) Collection of annual AMC registry fees. States that elect to register and supervise AMCs pursuant to the AMC Rule shall collect an annual registry fee as established in § 1102.402 from AMCs eligible to be on the AMC Registry.

(b) Transmission of annual AMC registry fee. States that elect to register and supervise AMCs pursuant to the AMC Rule shall transmit AMC registry fees as established in § 1102.402 to the ASC on an annual basis. States may align a one-year period with any 12-month period, which may, or may not, be based on the calendar year. Only those AMCs whose registry fees have been transmitted to the ASC will be eligible to be on the AMC Registry.

By the Appraisal Subcommittee.

Dated: September 13, 2017. Arthur Lindo, Chairman.
[FR Doc. 2017-20400 Filed 9-22-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6700-01-P
DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION Federal Aviation Administration 14 CFR Part 39 [Docket No. FAA-2017-0639; Product Identifier 2017-CE-016-AD; Amendment 39-19052; AD 2017-19-22] RIN 2120-AA64 Airworthiness Directives; British Aerospace Regional Aircraft Airplanes AGENCY:

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

ACTION:

Final rule.

SUMMARY:

We are superseding Airworthiness Directive (AD) 2014-07-09 for British Aerospace Regional Aircraft Jetstream Series 3101 and Jetstream Model 3201 airplanes. This AD results from mandatory continuing airworthiness information (MCAI) originated by an aviation authority of another country to identify and correct an unsafe condition on an aviation product. The MCAI describes the unsafe condition as both the need for newly added inspections for corrosion, which includes the door hinges/supporting structure and attachment bolts for the main spar joint and engine support, and inadequate existing instructions for inspection for corrosion for several areas including the rudder hinge location on the vertical stabilizer. We are issuing this AD to require actions to address the unsafe condition on these products.

DATES:

This AD is effective October 30, 2017.

The Director of the Federal Register approved the incorporation by reference of certain publications listed in the AD as of October 30, 2017.

ADDRESSES:

You may examine the AD docket on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov by searching for and locating Docket No. FAA-2017-0395; or in person at Document Management Facility, U.S. Department of Transportation, Docket Operations, M-30, West Building Ground Floor, Room W12-140, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC 20590.

For service information identified in this AD, contact BAE Systems (Operations) Limited, Customer Information Department, Prestwick International Airport, Ayrshire, KA9 2RW, Scotland, United Kingdom; telephone: +44 1292 675207; fax: +44 1292 675704; email: [email protected]; Internet: http://www.baesystems.com/Businesses/RegionalAircraft/. You may view this referenced service information at the FAA, Policy and Innovation Division, 901 Locust, Kansas City, Missouri 64106. For information on the availability of this material at the FAA, call (816) 329-4148. It is also available on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov by searching for Docket No. FAA-2017-0639.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Doug Rudolph, Aerospace Engineer, FAA, Small Airplane Standards Branch, 901 Locust, Room 301, Kansas City, Missouri 64106; telephone: (816) 329-4059; fax: (816) 329-4090; email: [email protected]

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Discussion

We issued AD 2014-07-09, Amendment 39-17823 (79 FR 22367; April 22, 2014) (“AD 2014-07-09”). That AD required actions intended to address an unsafe condition on British Aerospace Regional Aircraft Model Jetstream Series 3101 and Jetstream Model 3201 airplanes and was based on mandatory continuing airworthiness information (MCAI) originated by an aviation authority of another country.

Since we issued AD 2014-07-09, more extensive reports of corrosion have been received, resulting in the need to inspect additional areas.

We issued a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) (82 FR 28592; June 23, 2017) to amend 14 CFR part 39 by adding an AD that would apply to British Aerospace Regional Aircraft Model Jetstream Series 3101 and Jetstream Model 3201 airplanes and supersede AD 2014-07-09.

The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), which is the Technical Agent for the Member States of the European Community, has issued EASA AD No.: 2017-0073, dated April 27, 2017 (referred to after this as “the MCAI”), to correct an unsafe condition for the specified products. The MCAI states:

Maintenance instructions for BAE Jetstream 3100 and 3200 aeroplanes, which are approved by EASA, are currently defined and published in the BAE Systems (Operations) Ltd Jetstream Series 3100 & 3200 Corrosion Prevention and Control Programme (CPCP) document, JS/CPCP/01. These instructions have been identified as mandatory for continued airworthiness.

Failure to accomplish these instructions could result in an unsafe condition.

EASA issued AD 2012-0036 to require operators to comply with the inspection instructions as contained in the CPCP at Revision 6.

Since that AD was issued, reports have been received of finding extensive corrosion. While affected areas are covered by an existing zonal inspection, it has been determined that this inspection is inadequate to identify the corrosion in those areas. Consequently, new inspection items 52-11-002 C1, 200/EX/01 C2, 500/IN/02 C1, 600/IN/04 C1 and 700/IN/04 C1 have been added to the CPCP at Revision 8.

For the reason described above, this [EASA] AD retains the requirements of EASA AD 2012-0036, which is superseded, and requires accomplishment of the actions specified in BAE Systems (Operations) Ltd Jetstream Series 3100 & 3200 CPCP, JS/CPCP/01, Revision 8 (hereafter referred to as `the CPCP' in this AD).

The MCAI can be found in the AD docket on the Internet at: https://www.regulations.gov/document?D=FAA-2017-0639-0002. Comments

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

Summary Clarification

Kenneth MacKinnon of BAE Systems Regional Aircraft stated that the Summary and Reason, paragraph (e) of this AD, both list corrosion issues that were introduced at Revision 6, which he assumes was mandated by AD 2014-07-09. He assumes this is an error and that both sections should summarize the changes introduced at Revisions 7 and 8, as detailed in the BAE SYSTEMS Certification Plans AWR/768/J3I and AWR/815/J31 respectively. BAE wants the summary to better reflect the changes since FAA AD 2014-07-09.

We partially agree with this comment. The Summary and Reason, paragraph (e) of this AD, could contain language to better clarify the unsafe condition. We disagree with including all of the details in this AD because we matched the intent of the EASA AD, and the details provided are included in the service documents. We have added language to the Summary and Reason, paragraph (e) of this AD, to clarify the unsafe condition.

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. 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

We reviewed British Aerospace Jetstream Series 3100 & 3200 Corrosion Prevention and Control Programme, Manual Ref: JS/CPCP/01, Revision 8, dated October 15, 2016. The service information describes procedures for a comprehensive corrosion prevention and control program. 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 of this document.

Costs of Compliance

We estimate that this AD will affect 42 products of U.S. registry. We also estimate that it would take about 100 work-hours per product to comply with the basic requirements of this AD. The average labor rate is $85 per work-hour.

Based on these figures, we estimate the cost of this AD on U.S. operators to be $357,000, or $8,500 per product.

The scope of damage found in the required inspection could vary significantly from airplane to airplane. We have no way of determining how much damage may be found on each airplane or the cost to repair damaged parts on each airplane or the number of airplanes that may require repair.

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 small airplanes and domestic business jet transport airplanes to the Director of the Policy and Innovation 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 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.

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-2017-0639; 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 the NPRM, the regulatory evaluation, any comments received, and other information. The street address for the Docket Office (telephone (800) 647-5527) is in the ADDRESSES section. Comments will be available in the AD docket shortly after receipt.

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 Amendment 39-17823 (79 FR 22367; April 22, 2014), and adding the following new AD: 2017-19-22 British Aerospace Regional Aircraft: Amendment 39-19052; Docket No. FAA-2017-0639; Product Identifier 2017-CE-016-AD. (a) Effective Date

This airworthiness directive (AD) becomes effective October 30, 2017.

(b) Affected ADs

This AD replaces AD 2014-07-09, Amendment 39-17823 (79 FR 22367; April 22, 2014) (“2014-07-09”).

(c) Applicability

This AD applies to British Aerospace Regional Aircraft Jetstream Series 3101 and Jetstream Model 3201 airplanes, all serial numbers, certificated in any category.

(d) Subject

Air Transport Association of America (ATA) Code 5: Time Limits.

(e) Reason

This AD was prompted by mandatory continuing airworthiness information (MCAI) originated by an aviation authority of another country to identify and correct an unsafe condition on an aviation product. The MCAI describes the unsafe condition as both the need for newly added inspections for corrosion, which includes the door hinges/supporting structure and attachment bolts for the main spar joint and engine support, and inadequate existing instructions for inspection for corrosion for several areas including the rudder hinge location on the vertical stabilizer. We are issuing this AD to require actions to address the unsafe condition on these products as a result of possible corrosion on the rudder upper hinge bracket and internal wing, areas of the passenger/crew door hinges and supporting structure, the main spar joint, and the engine support attachment bolts, which could lead to reduced structural integrity with consequent loss of control.

(f) Actions and Compliance

Comply with paragraphs (f)(1) through (3) of this AD within the compliance times specified, unless already done:

(1) Before further flight after October 30, 2017 (the effective date of this AD), incorporate BAE Systems (Operations) Limited Jetstream Series 3100 & 3200 Corrosion Prevention and Control Programme, Manual Ref. JS/CPCP/01, Revision 8, dated October 15, 2016, into the Limitations of your FAA-approved maintenance program (instructions for continued airworthiness) on the basis of which the operator or the owner ensures the continuing airworthiness of each operated airplane, as applicable to the airplane model.

(2) Do all tasks in the BAE Systems (Operations) Limited Jetstream Series 3100 & 3200 Corrosion Prevention and Control Programme, Manual Ref. JS/CPCP/01, Revision 8, dated October 15, 2016, at the compliance times specified in the manual, or within the next 12 months after October 30, 2017 (the effective date of this AD), whichever occurs later; except for the following tasks, which must be done within 12 months after October 30, 2017 (the effective date of this AD): 52-11-002 C1, 200/EX/01 C2, 500/IN/02 C1, 600/IN/04 C1, and 700/IN/04 C1.

(3) If any discrepancy, particularly corrosion, is found during any inspections or tasks required by paragraphs (f)(1) or (2) of this AD, within the compliance time specified, repair or replace, as applicable, all damaged structural parts and components and do the maintenance procedures for corrective action following BAE Systems (Operations) Limited Jetstream Series 3100 & 3200 Corrosion Prevention and Control Programme, Manual Ref. JS/CPCP/01, Revision 8, dated October 15, 2016. If no compliance time is defined, do the applicable corrective action before further flight.

(g) Other FAA AD Provisions

The following provisions also apply to this AD:

(1) Alternative Methods of Compliance (AMOCs): The Manager, Small Airplane Standards Branch, FAA, has the authority to approve AMOCs for this AD, if requested using the procedures found in 14 CFR 39.19. Send information to ATTN: Doug Rudolph, Aerospace Engineer, FAA, Small Airplane Standards Branch, 901 Locust, Room 301, Kansas City, Missouri 64106; telephone: (816) 329-4059; fax: (816) 329-4090; email: [email protected] Before using any approved AMOC on any airplane to which the AMOC applies, notify your appropriate principal inspector (PI) in the FAA Flight Standards District Office (FSDO), or lacking a PI, your local FSDO.

(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, Small Airplane Standards Branch; or the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), or BAE Systems (Operations) Limited's EASA DOA. If approved by the DOA, the approval must include the DOA-authorized signature.

(3) Reporting Requirements: For any reporting requirement in this AD, a federal agency may not conduct or sponsor, and a person is not required to respond to, nor shall a person be subject to a penalty for failure to comply with a collection of information subject to the requirements of the Paperwork Reduction Act unless that collection of information displays a current valid OMB Control Number. The OMB Control Number for this information collection is 2120-0056. Public reporting for this collection of information is estimated to be approximately 5 minutes per response, including the time for reviewing instructions, completing and reviewing the collection of information. All responses to this collection of information are mandatory. Comments concerning the accuracy of this burden and suggestions for reducing the burden should be directed to the FAA at: 800 Independence Ave. SW., Washington, DC 20591, Attn: Information Collection Clearance Officer, AES-200.

(h) Related Information

Refer to MCAI European Aviation Safety Agency 2017-0073, dated April 27, 2017. The MCAI can be found in the AD docket on the Internet at: https://www.regulations.gov/document?D=FAA-2017-0639-0002.

(i) Material Incorporated by Reference

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

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

(i) BAE Systems (Operations) Limited Jetstream Series 3100 & 3200 Corrosion Prevention and Control Programme, Manual Ref. JS/CPCP/01, Revision 8, dated October 15, 2016.

(ii) Reserved.

(3) For British Aerospace Jetstream Series 3100 and 3200 service information related to this AD, contact BAE Systems (Operations) Limited, Customer Information Department, Prestwick International Airport, Ayrshire, KA9 2RW, Scotland, United Kingdom; telephone: +44 1292 675207; fax: +44 1292 675704; email: [email protected]; Internet: http://www.baesystems.com/Businesses/RegionalAircraft/.

(4) You may review copies of the referenced service information at the FAA, Policy and Innovation Division, 901 Locust, Kansas City, Missouri 64106. For information on the availability of this material at the FAA, call (816) 329-4148. In addition, you can access this service information on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov by searching for and locating Docket No. FAA-2017-0639.

(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 Kansas City, Missouri, on September 14, 2017. Pat Mullen, Acting Deputy Director, Policy & Innovation Division, Aircraft Certification Service.
[FR Doc. 2017-20047 Filed 9-22-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4910-13-P
DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION Federal Aviation Administration 14 CFR Part 39 [Docket No. FAA-2016-9301; Product Identifier 2015-NM-193-AD; Amendment 39-19056; AD 2017-19-26] RIN 2120-AA64 Airworthiness Directives; The Boeing Company Airplanes AGENCY:

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

ACTION:

Final rule.

SUMMARY:

We are superseding Airworthiness Directive (AD) 2008-12-04, which applied to certain The Boeing Company Model 737-600, -700, -700C, -800, and -900 series airplanes. AD 2008-12-04 required various repetitive inspections to detect cracks along the chem-milled steps of the fuselage skin, and to detect missing or loose fasteners in the area of a certain preventive modification or repairs; replacement of the time-limited repair with a permanent repair, if applicable; and applicable corrective actions which would end certain repetitive inspections. This AD reduces the post-modification inspection compliance times, limits installation of the preventive modification to airplanes with fewer than 30,000 total flight cycles, and adds repetitive inspections for modified airplanes. This AD was prompted by an evaluation by the design approval holder (DAH) that indicated that the upper skin panel at the chem-milled step above the lap joint is subject to widespread fatigue damage (WFD) if the modification was installed after 30,000 total flight cycles. We are issuing this AD to address the unsafe condition on these products.

DATES:

This AD is effective October 30, 2017.

The Director of the Federal Register approved the incorporation by reference of a certain publication listed in this AD as of October 30, 2017.

ADDRESSES:

For service information identified in this final rule, contact Boeing Commercial Airplanes, Attention: Contractual & Data Services (C&DS), 2600 Westminster Blvd., MC 110-SK57, Seal Beach, CA 90740; telephone 562-797-1717; Internet https://www.myboeingfleet.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-2016-9301.

Examining the AD Docket

You may examine the AD docket on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov by searching for and locating Docket No. FAA-2016-9301; or in person at the Docket Management Facility between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays. The AD docket contains this AD, the regulatory evaluation, any comments received, and other information. The address for the Docket Office (phone: 800-647-5527) is Docket Management Facility, U.S. Department of Transportation, Docket Operations, M-30, West Building Ground Floor, Room W12-140, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC 20590.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Alan Pohl, Aerospace Engineer, Airframe Section, FAA, Seattle ACO Branch, 1601 Lind Avenue SW., Renton, WA 98057-3356; phone: 425-917-6450; fax: 425-917-6590; email: [email protected]

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Discussion

We issued a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) to amend 14 CFR part 39 to supersede AD 2008-12-04, Amendment 39-15547 (73 FR 32991, June 11, 2008) (“AD 2008-12-04”). AD 2008-12-04 applied to certain The Boeing Company Model 737-600, -700, -700C, -800, and -900 series airplanes. The NPRM published in the Federal Register on November 22, 2016 (81 FR 83745) (“the NPRM”). The NPRM was prompted by an evaluation by the DAH that indicated that the upper skin panel at the chem-milled step above the lap joint is subject to WFD if the modification was installed after 30,000 total flight cycles. The NPRM proposed to continue to require various repetitive inspections to detect cracks along the chem-milled steps of the fuselage skin, and to detect missing or loose fasteners in the area of the preventive modification or repairs; replacement of the time-limited repair with a permanent repair, if applicable; and applicable corrective actions which would end certain repetitive inspections. The NPRM also proposed to reduce the post-modification inspection compliance times, limit installation of the preventive modification to airplanes with fewer than 30,000 total flight cycles, and add repetitive inspections for modified airplanes. We are issuing this AD to detect and correct cracking of the upper skin panel at the chem-milled step above the lap joint, which could result in reduced structural integrity of the airplane.

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

Boeing and United Airlines supported the NPRM.

Effect of Winglets on Accomplishment of the Proposed Actions

Aviation Partners Boeing stated that installation of winglets, as provided in Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) ST00830SE, does not affect the ability to accomplish the actions proposed in the NPRM.

We agree with the commenter. We have redesignated paragraph (c) of the proposed AD as (c)(1) and added paragraph (c)(2) to this AD to state that installation of STC ST00830SE does not affect the ability to accomplish the actions required by this AD. Therefore, for airplanes on which STC ST00830SE is installed, a “change in product” alternative method of compliance (AMOC) approval request is not necessary to comply with the requirements of 14 CFR 39.17.

Request To Revise Certain Compliance Time Provisions

Southwest Airlines (SWA) asked that we revise certain compliance language in paragraph (p)(4) of the proposed AD, which stipulated that post-repair or post-mod inspections be done at the time specified in the service information or at the time specified in the previously approved AMOC, “whichever occurs first.” SWA stated that previously approved AMOCs for post-repair or post-modification supplemental inspections that comply with certain regulations may contain unique damage tolerance inspection programs that demonstrate a level of safety equivalent to that of AD 2008-12-04. SWA added that altering those supplemental inspections to post-repair or post-modification inspections as specified in Boeing Alert Service Bulletin 737-53A1232, Revision 3, dated July 27, 2015, when those are done first, could result in incorrect inspection methods to geometrical structure that does not conform to the repair or modification definitions specified in Revisions 1 and 3 of that service information.

We partially agree with the commenter's request. We have determined that repairs and preventive modifications should be handled separately. Fleet experience and subsequent analysis of Model 737-200, -200C, -300, -400, and -500 airplanes, which have similar chem-milled step details, have shown that certain post-preventative modification inspection programs may not adequately address the unsafe condition. Therefore, paragraph (p)(4) of this AD has been changed to remove the language “preventative modifications” and remove the reference to the service information and “whichever occurs first” from the compliance time specified. In addition, we have added paragraph (p)(5) to this AD to address only the preventive modifications without change to the service information and “whichever occurs first” language.

Request To Retain Certain Exceptions

Additionally, SWA asked that paragraphs (j) and (k) of AD 2008-12-04 be included in the proposed AD. Paragraph (j) of AD 2008-12-04 provides an allowance for repairs that are FAA-approved and that have a minimum of three rows of fasteners above and below the chem-milled step. SWA stated that paragraph (k) of AD 2008-12-04 provides a means of inspections without an AMOC when an external repair is covering the chem-milled step, but that the doubler does not span the step by a minimum of three rows of fasteners above and below the chem-milled step. SWA added that both paragraphs (j) and (k) of AD 2008-12-04 are missing from the proposed AD and should be added, with certain clarifications, to paragraph (j) of the proposed AD. First, the repair is an external doubler repair. Second, in lieu of the doing the post-repair supplemental inspections in accordance with table 2 of paragraph 1.E., “Compliance,” of Boeing Alert Service Bulletin 737-53A1232, Revision 3, dated July 27, 2015, the inspections should be done in accordance with 14 CFR 121.1109(c)(2) or 14 CFR 129.109(b)(2) supplemental inspection requirements, or in accordance with FAA-approved damage tolerance inspection requirements.

SWA also stated that if paragraphs (j) and (k) of AD 2008-12-04 are not restated for compliance with existing FAA-approved repairs, operators will be required to seek AMOC approvals for such existing repairs prior to the inspection threshold or repeat interval of table 1 of paragraph 1.E., “Compliance,” of Boeing Alert Service Bulletin 737-53A1232, Revision 3, dated July 27, 2015. SWA stated that not including the exceptions in paragraphs (j) and (k) of AD 2008-12-04 could potentially lead to disruption of operations if it is necessary to request AMOC approvals during repair discovery, or could burden operators with records research to identify these repairs for AMOC approvals prior to the required compliance times.

We agree that an allowance can be made for repairs that meet the criteria specified in paragraph (j) of AD 2008-12-04. These repairs address the unsafe condition identified in this AD. Therefore, we have added paragraph (l)(3) to this AD to include the provision of paragraph (j) of AD 2008-12-04 for repairs that were accomplished before the effective date of this AD.

We disagree that post-repair inspections for these repairs should be done in accordance with 14 CFR 121.1109(c)(2) or 14 CFR 129.109(b)(2) supplemental inspection requirements. Post-repair inspections for repairs that meet the criteria of paragraph (j) of this AD are to be accomplished in accordance with table 2 of paragraph 1.E., “Compliance,” of Boeing Alert Service Bulletin 737-53A1232, Revision 3, dated July 27, 2015. This is consistent with the DAH's current recommendation as well as the requirements of paragraph (j) of AD 2008-12-04. Paragraph (l)(3) of this AD reflects these provisions.

We also disagree with the commenter's request to change the word “repair” to “external doubler repair” in paragraph (l)(3) of this AD because we are retaining the provisions of paragraph (j) of AD 2008-12-04.

We also agree to add certain provisions of paragraph (k) of AD 2008-12-04 to this AD. We have added paragraph (l)(4) to this AD to address certain repairs as defined in paragraph (k) of AD 2008-12-04. However, paragraph (l)(4) of this AD does not include a reference to Boeing Model 737 Non-destructive Test (NDT) Manual, Part 6, Subject 53-30-20, and instead requires that the inspection be done using FAA-approved procedures. We have also added Note 1 to paragraph (l)(4) of this AD to specify that guidance on the inspection specified in paragraph (l)(4) of this AD can be found in Boeing Model 737 NDT Manual, Part 6, Subject 53-30-20.

Clarification of Paragraph (i)(1) of This AD

We have revised the language in paragraph (i)(1) of this AD to clarify which modifications are exempt from the actions required by paragraph (i)(1) of this AD.

Conclusion

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

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

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

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

Related Service Information Under 1 CFR Part 51

We reviewed Boeing Alert Service Bulletin 737-53A1232, Revision 3, dated July 27, 2015. This service information describes procedures for an external detailed inspection and an external nondestructive inspection (NDI) for cracks in the fuselage skin at chem-milled steps. Corrective actions include a permanent or time-limited repair, a preventive modification, and replacement of loose and missing fasteners. Related investigative actions include internal and external detailed inspections of the repair area. 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 376 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 Inspections Up to 25 work-hours × $85 per hour = $2,125 per inspection cycle $0 Up to $2,125 per inspection cycle Up to $799,000 per inspection cycle.

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

On-Condition Costs Action Labor cost Parts cost Cost per
  • product
  • Fastener replacement Up to 1 work-hour × $85 per hour = $85 Minimal $85

    We have received no definitive data that would enable us to provide cost estimates for the related investigative actions, certain repairs, and other applicable actions specified in this AD.

    Authority for This Rulemaking

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    List of Subjects in 14 CFR Part 39

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

    Adoption of the Amendment

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

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

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

    § 39.13 [Amended]
    2. The FAA amends § 39.13 by removing Airworthiness Directive (AD) 2008-12-04, Amendment 39-15547 (73 FR 32991, June 11, 2008), and adding the following new AD: 2017-19-26 The Boeing Company: Amendment 39-19056; Docket No. FAA-2016-9301; Product Identifier 2015-NM-193-AD. (a) Effective Date

    This AD is effective October 30, 2017.

    (b) Affected ADs

    This AD replaces AD 2008-12-04, Amendment 39-15547 (73 FR 32991, June 11, 2008) (“AD 2008-12-04”).

    (c) Applicability

    (1) This AD applies to The Boeing Company Model 737-600, -700, -700C, -800, and -900 series airplanes, certificated in any category, as identified in Boeing Alert Service Bulletin 737-53A1232, Revision 3, dated July 27, 2015.

    (2) Installation of Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) ST00830SE [http://rgl.faa.gov/Regulatory_and_Guidance_Library/rgstc.nsf/0/184DE9A71EC3FA5586257EAE00707DA6?OpenDocument&Highlight=st00830se] does not affect the ability to accomplish the actions required by this AD. Therefore, for airplanes on which STC ST00830SE is installed, a “change in product” alternative method of compliance (AMOC) approval request is not necessary to comply with the requirements of 14 CFR 39.17.

    (d) Subject

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

    (e) Unsafe Condition

    This AD was prompted by a fatigue test that revealed numerous cracks in the upper skin panel at the chem-milled step above the lap joint, followed by an evaluation by the design approval holder (DAH) that indicated that location is subject to widespread fatigue damage (WFD) on airplanes on which a certain modification was installed after 30,000 total flight cycles. We are issuing this AD to detect and correct cracking of the upper skin panel at the chem-milled step above the lap joint, 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) Inspections at Locations Without the Preventive Modification, Time-Limited Repair, or Permanent Repair Installed

    At locations where a preventive modification, time-limited repair, or permanent repair has not been installed as specified in Boeing Service Bulletin 737-53A1232: At the applicable time specified in paragraph 1.E., “Compliance,” of Boeing Alert Service Bulletin 737-53A1232, Revision 3, dated July 27, 2015, do an external detailed inspection and an inspection specified in either paragraph (g)(1) or (g)(2) of this AD, for any crack in the fuselage skin at the chem-milled steps at specified locations, in accordance with Accomplishment Instructions of Boeing Alert Service Bulletin 737-53A1232, Revision 3, dated July 27, 2015. Do all applicable related investigative and corrective actions before further flight in accordance with the Accomplishment Instructions of Boeing Alert Service Bulletin 737-53A1232, Revision 3, dated July 27, 2015, except as required by paragraph (l)(1) of this AD, and except as provided in paragraphs (l)(3) and (l)(4) of this AD. Repeat the inspections thereafter at the applicable time specified in paragraph 1.E., “Compliance,” of Boeing Alert Service Bulletin 737-53A1232, Revision 3, dated July 27, 2015.

    (1) Do an external medium frequency eddy current (MFEC), or magneto optic imager (MOI), or C-Scan inspection.

    (2) Do an external ultrasonic phased array (UTPA) inspection.

    (h) Repetitive Post-Modification Inspections and Repair at Any Location With the Preventive Modification But No Time-Limited or Permanent Repair

    At any location with a preventive modification installed as specified in Boeing Service Bulletin 737-53A1232: At the applicable time specified in paragraph 1.E., “Compliance,” of Boeing Alert Service Bulletin 737-53A1232, Revision 3, dated July 27, 2015, except as required by paragraph (l)(2) of this AD, do the actions specified in paragraphs (h)(1) and (h)(2) of this AD.

    (1) Do external detailed and external high frequency and medium frequency eddy current inspections for any crack, in accordance with Part 7 of the Accomplishment Instructions of Boeing Alert Service Bulletin 737-53A1232, Revision 3, dated July 27, 2015. If no crack is found during the inspection, repeat the inspections thereafter at the applicable time specified in paragraph 1.E., “Compliance,” of Boeing Alert Service Bulletin 737-53A1232, Revision 3, dated July 27, 2015. If any crack is found during any inspection required by this paragraph, repair before further flight, in accordance with the Accomplishment Instructions of Boeing Alert Service Bulletin 737-53A1232, Revision 3, dated July 27, 2015, except as required by paragraph (l)(1) of this AD.

    (2) Do a detailed inspection for any crack and any loose or missing fasteners, in accordance with Part 7 of the Accomplishment Instructions of Boeing Alert Service Bulletin 737-53A1232, Revision 3, dated July 27, 2015. Repeat the inspections thereafter at applicable time specified in paragraph 1.E, “Compliance,” of Boeing Alert Service Bulletin 737-53A1232, Revision 3, dated July 27, 2015. If any crack is found during any inspection, or any loose or missing fastener is found, before further flight, do all applicable corrective actions, in accordance with Part V of the Accomplishment Instructions of Boeing Alert Service Bulletin 737-53A1232, Revision 3, dated July 27, 2015, except as specified in paragraph (l)(1) of this AD.

    (i) Additional Actions for Modified Airplanes

    (1) At any location where a preventive modification as specified in Boeing Service Bulletin 737-53A1232 was installed after the accumulation of 30,000 total flight cycles, at the applicable time specified in paragraph 1.E., “Compliance,” of Boeing Alert Service Bulletin 737-53A1232, Revision 3, dated July 27, 2015, except as required by paragraph (l)(2) of this AD, do all applicable investigative and corrective actions using a method approved in accordance with the procedures specified in paragraph (p) of this AD. For preventive modifications installed on airplanes listed in Appendix A of Boeing Alert Service Bulletin 737-53A1232, Revision 3, dated July 27, 2015, at the specified total flight cycles: The actions specified in this paragraph are not required.

    (2) For airplanes which have installed STC ST01697SE (http://rgl.faa.gov/Regulatory_and_Guidance_Library/rgstc.nsf/0/0812969a86af879b8625766400600105/$FILE/ST01697SE.pdf) and the preventive modification has been installed after 15,000 total flight cycles: Before the accumulation of 25,000 total flight cycles, do all applicable investigative and corrective actions using a method approved in accordance with the procedures specified in paragraph (p) of this AD.

    (j) Inspections and Repair at Locations With the Permanent Chem-Milled Step Repair Installed

    At any location where a permanent repair has been installed as specified in Boeing Service Bulletin 737-53A1232: At the applicable time specified in paragraph 1.E., “Compliance,” of Boeing Alert Service Bulletin 737-53A1232, Revision 3, dated July 27, 2015, do the inspections specified in paragraph (j)(1) or (j)(2) of this AD, in accordance with Accomplishment Instructions of Boeing Alert Service Bulletin 737-53A1232, Revision 3, dated July 27, 2015. Repeat the inspections thereafter at the applicable time specified in paragraph 1.E., “Compliance,” of Boeing Alert Service Bulletin 737-53A1232, Revision 3, dated July 27, 2015. Do all applicable related investigative and corrective actions before further flight in accordance with Boeing Alert Service Bulletin 737-53A1232, Revision 3, dated July 27, 2015, except as required by paragraph (l)(1) of this AD.

    (1) Do an external low frequency eddy current (LFEC) inspection for any crack, and doubler external LFEC and external detailed inspections for any crack and loose or missing fasteners.

    (2) Do an external LFEC inspection for any crack, a doubler external LFEC and external detailed inspections for any crack and loose or missing fasteners, and an internal MFEC for any crack.

    (k) Inspection and Replacement at Locations With a Chem-Milled Time-Limited Repair Installed

    At any location where a chem-milled time-limited repair is installed, do the actions specified in paragraphs (k)(1) and (k)(2) of this AD, at the applicable time specified in 1.E. “Compliance,” of Boeing Alert Service Bulletin 737-53A1232, Revision 3, dated July 27, 2015.

    (1) Do internal and external detailed inspections of the time-limited repair for any crack, or loose or missing fasteners, in accordance with Part IV of the Accomplishment Instructions of Boeing Alert Service Bulletin 737-53A1232, Revision 3, dated July 27, 2015. Repeat the inspections thereafter at the applicable time specified in paragraph 1.E., “Compliance,” of Boeing Alert Service Bulletin 737-53A1232, Revision 3, dated July 27, 2015. If any crack is found during any inspection, or if any loose or missing fastener is found, before further flight, do all applicable corrective actions, in accordance with Part IV of the Accomplishment Instructions of Boeing Alert Service Bulletin 737-53A1232, Revision 3, dated July 27, 2015, except as specified in paragraph (l)(1) of this AD.

    (2) Replace the time-limited repair with the permanent repair, in accordance with Part IV of the Accomplishment Instructions of Boeing Alert Service Bulletin 737-53A1232, Revision 3, dated July 27, 2015.

    (l) Exceptions to Service Information Specifications

    (1) Where Boeing Alert Service Bulletin 737-53A1232, Revision 3, dated July 27, 2015, specifies to contact Boeing for repair instructions, this AD requires repair before further flight using a method approved in accordance with the procedures specified in paragraph (p) of this AD.

    (2) Where paragraph 1.E., “Compliance,” of Boeing Alert Service Bulletin 737-53A1232, Revision 3, dated July 27, 2015, specifies a compliance time “after the date of Revision 2 of this service bulletin,” this AD requires compliance within the specified compliance time after the effective date of this AD.

    (3) For airplanes on which the actions specified in paragraph (g) of this AD are required: Inspections specified in table 1 of paragraph 1.E., “Compliance,” of Boeing Alert Service Bulletin 737-53A1232, Revision 3, dated July 27, 2015, are not required in areas that are spanned by an FAA-approved repair that has a minimum of 3 rows of fasteners above and below the chem-milled step, provided that the repair was installed before the effective date of this AD. Operators must accomplish post-repair inspections at the applicable time specified in table 2 of paragraph 1.E, “Compliance,” of Boeing Alert Service Bulletin 737-53A1232, Revision 3, dated July 27, 2015.

    (4) For any airplane that has an external doubler covering the chem-milled step, but the doubler does not span the step by a minimum of 3 rows of fasteners above and below the chem-milled step and the doubler was installed before the effective date of this AD: One method of compliance with the inspection requirement of paragraph (g) of this AD is to inspect all chem-milled steps covered by the repair using non-destructive test (NDT) methods approved in accordance with the procedures specified in paragraph (p) of this AD. These repairs are to be considered time-limited and are subject to the post-repair supplemental inspections and replacement at the times specified in table 3 of paragraph 1.E., “Compliance,” of Boeing Alert Service Bulletin 737-53A1232, Revision 3, dated July 27, 2015.

    Note 1 to paragraph (l)(4) of this AD: Guidance for the procedures for the alternative inspection specified in paragraph (l)(4) of this AD can be found in the Boeing 737 NDT Manual, Part 6, Subject 53-30-20.

    (m) Optional Terminating Action

    (1) For airplanes that have accumulated 30,000 total flight cycles or fewer, or for airplanes on which STC ST01697SE was installed and that have accumulated 15,000 total flight cycles or fewer, accomplishment of the preventive modification specified in Part V of Boeing Alert Service Bulletin 737-53A1232, Revision 3, dated July 27, 2015, terminates the inspections required by paragraph (g) of this AD in the modified areas only.

    (2) Installation of a permanent repair as specified in Part III of Boeing Alert Service Bulletin 737-53A1232, Revision 3, dated July 27, 2015, or a time-limited repair as specified in Part IV of Boeing Alert Service Bulletin 737-53A1232, Revision 3, dated July 27, 2015, terminates the inspections required by paragraph (g) of this AD in the repaired areas only.

    (n) Installation Limitations of Preventive Modification

    As of the effective date of this AD, installation of the preventive modification specified in Boeing Service Bulletin 737-53A1232 is prohibited on the airplanes identified in paragraphs (n)(1) and (n)(2) of this AD.

    (1) Airplanes that have accumulated more than 30,000 total flight cycles.

    (2) Airplanes which have installed STC ST01697SE and that have accumulated more than 15,000 total flight cycles.

    (o) Credit for Previous Actions

    This paragraph provides credit for the corresponding actions specified in paragraphs (g), (h), (i), (j), (k), and (m) of this AD, if those actions were performed before the effective date of this AD using the service information identified in paragraph (o)(1), (o)(2), or (o)(3) of this AD.

    (1) Boeing Special Attention Service Bulletin 737-53A1232, dated April 2, 2007.

    (2) Boeing Special Attention Service Bulletin 737-53A1232, Revision 1, dated May 18, 2012.

    (3) Boeing Special Attention Service Bulletin 737-53A1232, Revision 2, dated July 26, 2013.

    (p) Alternative Methods of Compliance (AMOCs)

    (1) The Manager, Seattle 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 the attention of the person identified in paragraph (q)(1) of this AD. Information may be emailed to: [email protected]

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

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

    (4) AMOCs approved previously for repairs for AD 2008-12-04 are approved as AMOCs for the installation of the repair specified in this AD, provided all post-repair inspections are done at the applicable times specified in the AMOC.

    (5) AMOCs approved previously for preventive modifications for AD 2008-12-04 are approved as AMOCs for the installation of the preventive modification specified in this AD, provided all post-modification inspections are done at the applicable times specified in the AMOC, or in tables 1a and 1b of paragraph 1.E., “Compliance,” of Boeing Alert Service Bulletin 737-53A1232, Revision 3, dated July 27, 2015, whichever occurs first. The AMOC must include all of the inspections specified in Tables 1a and 1b of Boeing Alert Service Bulletin 737-53A1232, Revision 3, dated July 27, 2015.

    (q) Related Information

    (1) For more information about this AD, contact Alan Pohl, Aerospace Engineer, Airframe Section, FAA, Seattle ACO Branch, 1601 Lind Avenue SW., Renton, WA 98057-3356; phone: 425-917-6577; fax: 425-917-6450; email: [email protected]

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

    (r) Material Incorporated by Reference

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

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

    (i) Boeing Alert Service Bulletin 737-53A1232, Revision 3, dated July 27, 2015.

    (ii) Reserved.

    (3) For service information identified in this AD, contact Boeing Commercial Airplanes, Attention: Contractual & Data Services (C&DS), 2600 Westminster Blvd., MC 110-SK57, Seal Beach, CA 90740; telephone 562-797-1717; Internet https://www.myboeingfleet.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 14, 2017. Jeffrey E. Duven, Director, System Oversight Division, Aircraft Certification Service.
    [FR Doc. 2017-20114 Filed 9-22-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4910-13-P
    DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION Federal Aviation Administration 14 CFR Part 39 [Docket No. FAA-2016-9143; Product Identifier 2013-SW-037-AD; Amendment 39-19051; AD 2017-19-21] RIN 2120-AA64 Airworthiness Directives; Airbus Helicopters AGENCY:

    Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), DOT.

    ACTION:

    Final rule.

    SUMMARY:

    We are adopting a new airworthiness directive (AD) for Airbus Helicopters Model EC225LP helicopters. This AD requires modifying the emergency lubrication system (EMLUB). This AD was prompted by two incidents of emergency ditching after there was a warning of a loss of oil pressure and a false EMLUB failure. The actions of this AD are intended to address an unsafe condition on these products.

    DATES:

    This AD is effective October 30, 2017.

    The Director of the Federal Register approved the incorporation by reference of a certain document listed in this AD as of October 30, 2017.

    ADDRESSES:

    For service information identified in this final rule, contact Airbus Helicopters, 2701 N Forum Drive, Grand Prairie, TX 75052; telephone (972) 641-0000 or (800) 232-0323; fax (972) 641-3775; or at http://www.airbushelicopters.com/techpub.

    You may review the referenced service information at the FAA, Office of the Regional Counsel, Southwest Region, 10101 Hillwood Pkwy., Room 6N-321, Fort Worth, TX 76177.

    Examining the AD Docket

    You may examine the AD docket on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov by searching for and locating Docket No. FAA-2016-9143; or in person at the Docket Operations Office between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays. The AD docket contains this AD, the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) AD, any incorporated-by-reference service information, the economic evaluation, any comments received, and other information. The street address for the Docket Operations Office (phone: 800-647-5527) is U.S. Department of Transportation, Docket Operations Office, M-30, West Building Ground Floor, Room W12-140, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC 20590.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Rao Edupuganti, Aviation Safety Engineer, Regulations & Policy Section, Rotorcraft Standards Branch, FAA, 10101 Hillwood Pkwy., Fort Worth, Texas 76177; telephone (817) 222-5110; email [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Discussion

    On March 14, 2017, at 82 FR 13565, the Federal Register published our notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM), which proposed to amend 14 CFR part 39 by adding an AD that would apply to Airbus Helicopters (formerly Eurocopter France) Model EC225LP helicopters. The NPRM proposed to require replacing the EMLUB glycol pump, the air and glycol pressure switches, and the MGB lubrication card, and modifying and re-identifying the helicopter wiring harness. The NPRM also proposed testing the function of the EMLUB and electrical systems and revising the Emergency Procedures section of the RFM. Lastly, the NPRM proposed to prohibit installing certain part-numbered EMLUB glycol pumps, air-pressure switches, glycol pressure switches and electronic boards on any helicopter. The proposed requirements were intended to prevent a false EMLUB warning. This condition when associated with a loss of the MGB oil pressure could result in an unnecessary emergency landing or ditching.

    The NPRM was prompted by AD No. 2013-0156, dated July 18, 2013, issued by EASA, which is the Technical Agent for the Member States of the European Union, to correct an unsafe condition for the Airbus Helicopters Model EC225LP helicopters. EASA advises of two incidents of emergency ditching in the North Sea after a warning indication of MGB loss of oil pressure followed by a red alarm on the EMLUB. In both cases, the EMLUB provided a false failure indication due to a design nonconformity on the electrical outputs of some EMLUB air and glycol pressure-switches. EASA states that a false red EMLUB warning during an MGB emergency lubrication system operation could cause the flight crew to perform an immediate landing or ditching. As a result, the EASA AD requires several actions that restore safe operation of the EMLUB system.

    Comments

    We gave the public the opportunity to participate in developing this AD, but we received no comments on the NPRM.

    FAA's Determination

    These helicopters have been approved by the aviation authority of France and are approved for operation in the United States. Pursuant to our bilateral agreement with France, EASA, its technical representative, has notified us of the unsafe condition described in the EASA AD. We are issuing this AD because we evaluated all information provided by EASA and determined the unsafe condition exists and is likely to exist or develop on other helicopters of these same type designs and that air safety and the public interest require adopting the AD requirements as proposed.

    Related Service Information Under 1 CFR Part 51

    Eurocopter (now Airbus Helicopters) issued Alert Service Bulletin (ASB) No. EC225-05A033, Revision 0, dated July 14, 2013, for Model EC225LP helicopters. This ASB specifies replacing the air and glycol pressure switches, modifying the helicopter wiring, replacing the glycol pump, replacing the MGB lubrication card, modifying the RFM emergency procedures in the event of EMLUB activation, and canceling the RFM limitations of Eurocopter Emergency ASB No. 04A010, dated July 14, 2013.

    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.

    Related Service Information

    Eurocopter (now Airbus Helicopters) also issued the following Alert Service Bulletins (ASBs), each dated July 14, 2013:

    • Emergency ASB, Revision 1, with two different numbers: No. 04A010 for Model EC225LP helicopters and No. 04A009 for military Model EC725AP helicopters, which are not FAA type certificated. This Emergency ASB specifies modifying the RFM emergency procedures in the event of activation of the EMLUB system and applies only to those helicopters that have not been altered by certain modifications.

    • Emergency ASB No. 05A032, Revision 2, for both Model EC225LP and military Model EC725AP helicopters. This Emergency ASB specifies checking that the EMLUB electrical system (harness, control, alarm, and indicator panel) operates correctly and applies only to those helicopters that have not been altered by certain modifications (the same as those for Emergency ASB No. 04A010 and No. 04A009).

    Costs of Compliance

    We estimate that this AD affects 4 helicopters of U.S. Registry and that labor costs average $85 per work-hour. Based on these estimates, we expect the following costs. We estimate that 34 work-hours are needed to replace the air and glycol pressure switches, modify the helicopter wiring, replace the glycol pump, and replace the MGB lubrication card. The required parts cost $121,695 per helicopter. Based on these estimates, the total costs are $124,585 per helicopter and $498,340 for the U.S. fleet.

    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 helicopters identified in this rulemaking action.

    Regulatory Findings

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

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

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

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

    (3) Will not affect intrastate aviation in Alaska to the extent that it justifies making a regulatory distinction; and

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

    We prepared an economic evaluation of the estimated costs to comply with this AD and placed it in the AD docket.

    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): 2017-19-21 Airbus Helicopters (formerly Eurocopter France): Amendment 39-19051; Docket No. FAA-2016-9143; Product Identifier 2013-SW-037-AD. (a) Applicability

    This AD applies to Model EC225LP helicopters, certificated in any category.

    (b) Unsafe Condition

    This AD defines the unsafe condition as a false emergency lubrication system (EMLUB) warning. This condition when associated with a loss of the main gearbox (MGB) oil pressure could result in an unnecessary emergency landing or ditching.

    (c) Effective Date

    This AD becomes effective October 30, 2017.

    (d) Compliance

    You are responsible for performing each action required by this AD within the specified compliance time unless it has already been accomplished prior to that time.

    (e) Required Actions

    (1) Within 500 hours time-in-service:

    (i) Replace EMLUB glycol pump part number (P/N) 332A32-5051-00 with EMLUB glycol pump P/N 332A32-5043-00.

    (ii) Replace EMLUB air pressure switch P/N MA193-00 or MC7014-0-00 with P/N MC7014-1-00, and replace EMLUB glycol pressure switch P/N MA194-01 or MC7015-0-00 with P/N MC7015-1-00. P/N MC7014-1-00 and P/N MC7015-1-00 must be from the same manufacturer.

    (iii) Modify and re-identify the helicopter wiring harness. Refer to Figure 3 of Eurocopter Alert Service Bulletin No. EC225-05A033, Revision 0, dated July 14, 2013 (ASB EC225-05A033).

    (iv) Replace MGB lubrication card P/N 704A46580127 with P/N 704A46580146, and MGB lubrication card P/N 704A46580106 with P/N 704A46580146 or -147.

    (v) Accomplish a functional test of the EMLUB system and the electrical system.

    (vi) Revise the Emergency Procedures section of the Rotorcraft Flight Manual (RFM) by removing any pages from Section 3 of the RFM that pertain to the emergency procedures in the event of EMLUB activation and by inserting the pages from paragraph 4.C. Appendix 3, of ASB EC225-05A033 into Section 3 of the RFM.

    (2) Do not install on any helicopter EMLUB glycol pump P/N 332A32-5051-00, air pressure-switch P/N MA193-00 or P/N MC7014-0-00, glycol pressure-switch P/N MA194-01 or P/N MC7015-0-00, or MGB lubrication card P/N 704A46580106 or P/N 704A46580127.

    (f) Special Flight Permits

    Special flight permits are prohibited.

    (g) Alternative Methods of Compliance (AMOCs)

    (1) The Manager, Safety Management Section, FAA, may approve AMOCs for this AD. Send your proposal to: Rao Edupuganti, Aviation Safety Engineer, Regulations & Policy Section, Rotorcraft Standards Branch, FAA, 10101 Hillwood Pkwy., Fort Worth, Texas 76177; telephone (817) 222-5110; email [email protected]

    (2) For operations conducted under a 14 CFR part 119 operating certificate or under 14 CFR part 91, subpart K, we suggest that you notify your principal inspector, or lacking a principal inspector, the manager of the local flight standards district office or certificate holding district office, before operating any aircraft complying with this AD through an AMOC.

    (h) Additional Information

    (1) Emergency Alert Service Bulletin (ASB) No. 05A032, Revision 2, dated July 14, 2013, and Emergency ASB with two numbers (No. 04A010 and No. 04A009), Revision 1, dated July 14, 2013, which are not incorporated by reference, contain additional information about the subject of this AD. For service information identified in this AD, contact Airbus Helicopters, 2701 N. Forum Drive, Grand Prairie, TX 75052; telephone (972) 641-0000 or (800) 232-0323; fax (972) 641-3775; or at http://www.airbushelicopters.com/techpub. You may review a copy of the service information at the FAA, Office of the Regional Counsel, Southwest Region, 10101 Hillwood Pkwy, Room 6N-321, Fort Worth, TX 76177.

    (2) The subject of this AD is addressed in European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) AD 2013-0156, dated July 18, 2013. You may view the EASA AD on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov in Docket No. FAA-2016-9143.

    (i) Subject

    Joint Aircraft Service Component (JASC) Code: 6320, Main Rotor Gearbox.

    (j) Material Incorporated by Reference

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

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

    (i) Eurocopter Alert Service Bulletin No. EC225-05A033, Revision 0, dated July 14, 2013.

    (ii) Reserved.

    (3) For Airbus Helicopters service information identified in this AD, contact Airbus Helicopters, 2701 N. Forum Drive, Grand Prairie, TX 75052; telephone (972) 641-0000 or (800) 232-0323; fax (972) 641-3775; or at http://www.airbushelicopters.com/techpub.

    (4) You may view this service information at FAA, Office of the Regional Counsel, Southwest Region, 10101 Hillwood Pkwy., Room 6N-321, Fort Worth, TX 76177. For information on the availability of this material at the FAA, call (817) 222-5110.

    (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 Fort Worth, Texas, on September 11, 2017. Lance T. Gant, Director, Compliance & Airworthiness Division, Aircraft Certification Service.
    [FR Doc. 2017-19939 Filed 9-22-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4910-13-P
    DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION Federal Aviation Administration 14 CFR Part 71 [Docket No. FAA-2017-0188; Airspace Docket No. 17-AGL-8] Amendment of Class E Airspace; Brainerd, MN AGENCY:

    Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), DOT.

    ACTION:

    Final rule.

    SUMMARY:

    This action modifies Class E airspace extending up to 700 feet above the surface at Brainerd Lakes Regional Airport (formerly Brainerd-Crow Wing County Regional Airport), Brainerd, MN. Airspace reconfiguration is necessary due to the decommissioning of the Brainerd (BRD) VHF omnidirectional radio range tactical air navigation aid (VORTAC), and cancellation of the VOR approach. This action also updates the geographic coordinates of the airport and the airport name in the Class E airspace. Additionally, an editorial change is made to the Class E surface area airspace legal description replacing Airport/Facility Directory with the term Chart Supplement.

    DATES:

    Effective 0901 UTC, December 7, 2017. The Director of the Federal Register approves this incorporation by reference action under Title 1, Code of Federal Regulations, part 51, subject to the annual revision of FAA Order 7400.11 and publication of conforming amendments.

    ADDRESSES:

    FAA Order 7400.11B, Airspace Designations and Reporting Points, and subsequent amendments can be viewed online at http://www.faa.gov/air_traffic/publications/. For further information, you can contact the Airspace Policy Group, Federal Aviation Administration, 800 Independence Avenue SW., Washington, DC 20591; telephone: (202) 267-8783. The Order is also available for inspection at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). For information on the availability of FAA Order 7400.11B at NARA, call (202) 741-6030, or go to http://www.archives.gov/federal_register/code_of_federal-regulations/ibr_locations.html.

    FAA Order 7400.11, Airspace Designations and Reporting Points, is published yearly and effective on September 15.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Walter Tweedy, Federal Aviation Administration, Operations Support Group, Central Service Center, 10101 Hillwood Parkway, Fort Worth, TX 76177; telephone (817) 222-5900.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Authority for This Rulemaking

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

    History

    The FAA published in the Federal Register a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) (82 FR 22091, May 12, 2017) Docket No. FAA-2017-0188 to modify Class E airspace extending upward from 700 feet above the surface and associated Class E airspace at Brainerd Lakes Regional Airport, Brainerd, MN. An editorial correction is made to the heading for para 6002, removing excess language. Interested parties were invited to participate in this rulemaking effort by submitting written comments on the proposal to the FAA. No comments were received.

    Class E airspace designations are published in paragraph 6002 and 6005 respectfully of FAA Order 7400.11B, dated August 3, 2017, and effective September 15, 2017, which is incorporated by reference in 14 CFR 71.1. The Class E airspace designations listed in this document will be published subsequently in the Order.

    Availability and Summary of Documents for Incorporation by Reference

    This document amends FAA Order 7400.11B, Airspace Designations and Reporting Points, dated August 3, 2017, and effective September 15, 2017. FAA Order 7400.11B is publicly available as listed in the ADDRESSES section of this document. FAA Order 7400.11B lists Class A, B, C, D, and E airspace areas, air traffic service routes, and reporting points.

    The Rule

    This amendment to Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) part 71 modifies Class E airspace extending upward from 700 feet above the surface within a 7.1-mile (from a 7.9-mile) radius of Brainerd Lakes Regional Airport (formerly Brainerd-Crow Wing County Regional Airport), MN, with a segment extending 2 miles each side of the 233° bearing extending from the 7.1-mile radius to 9.1 miles southwest of the airport.

    Airspace reconfiguration is necessary due to the decommissioning of the Brainerd VORTAC and cancellation of the VOR approaches, and for the safety and management of the standard instrument approach procedures for IFR operations at the airport. This action also updates the geographic coordinates of the airport.

    Additionally, this action replaces the outdated term Airport/Facility Directory with the term Chart Supplement in Class E surface area airspace, as well as updates the airport name from Brainerd-Crow Wing County Regional Airport to Brainerd Lakes Regional Airport.

    Regulatory Notices and Analyses

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

    Environmental Review

    The FAA has determined that this action qualifies for categorical exclusion under the National Environmental Policy Act in accordance with FAA Order 1050.1F, “Environmental Impacts: Policies and Procedures,” paragraph 5-6.5.a. This airspace action is not expected to cause any potentially significant environmental impacts, and no extraordinary circumstances exist that warrant preparation of an environmental assessment.

    List of Subjects in 14 CFR Part 71

    Airspace, Incorporation by reference, Navigation (air).

    Adoption of the Amendment

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

    PART 71—DESIGNATION OF CLASS A, B, C, D, AND E AIRSPACE AREAS; AIR TRAFFIC SERVICE ROUTES; AND REPORTING POINTS 1. The authority citation for 14 CFR part 71 continues to read as follows: Authority:

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

    § 71.1 [Amended]
    2. The incorporation by reference in 14 CFR 71.1 of FAA Order 7400.11B, Airspace Designations and Reporting Points, dated August 3, 2017, and effective September 15, 2017, is amended as follows: Paragraph 6002 Class E Airspace Designated as Surface Areas. AGL MN E2 Brainerd, MN [Amended] Brainerd Lakes Regional Airport, MN (Lat. 46°24′15″ N., long. 94°08′02″ W.)

    Within a 4.3-mile radius of Brainerd Lakes Regional Airport. This Class E airspace area is effective during the specific dates and times established in advance by a Notice to Airmen. The effective dates and times will thereafter be continuously published in the Chart Supplement.

    Paragraph 6005 Class E Airspace Extending Upward From 700 Feet or More Above the Surface of the Earth. AGL MN E5 Brainerd, MN [Amended] Brainerd Lakes Regional Airport, MN (Lat. 46°24′15″ N., long. 94°08′02″ W.)

    That airspace extending upward from 700 feet above the surface within a 7.1-mile radius of Brainerd Lakes Regional Airport, MN and within 2 miles each side of the 233° bearing extending from the 7.1-mile radius to 9.1 miles southwest of the airport.

    Issued in Fort Worth, Texas on September 14, 2017. Vonnie Royal, Acting Manager, Operations Support Group, ATO Central Service Center.
    [FR Doc. 2017-20330 Filed 9-22-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4910-13-P
    DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION Federal Aviation Administration 14 CFR Part 73 [Docket No. FAA-2017-0886; Airspace Docket No. 16-ASO-11] Amendment of Restricted Areas R-3004A and R-3004B and Establishment of R-3004C; Fort Gordon, GA AGENCY:

    Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), DOT.

    ACTION:

    Final rule.

    SUMMARY:

    This action modifies the restricted areas at Fort Gordon, GA to further subdivide the vertical limits of the airspace. The designated altitudes for R-3004A and R-3004B are realigned and a new subarea, designated R-3004C, is established above R-3004B. The FAA is taking this action to allow for more efficient use of the airspace during periods when military activities only require restricted airspace below 3,500 feet MSL. The modifications are fully contained within the existing lateral and vertical boundaries of the restricted airspace.

    DATES:

    Effective date: 0901 UTC, December 7, 2017.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Paul Gallant, Airspace Policy Group, Office of Airspace Services, Federal Aviation Administration, 800 Independence Avenue SW., Washington, DC 20591; telephone: (202) 267-8783.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Authority for This Rulemaking

    The FAA's authority to issue rules regarding aviation safety is found in Title 49 of the United States Code. Subtitle I, Section 106 describes the authority of the FAA Administrator. Subtitle VII, Aviation Programs, describes in more detail the scope of the agency's authority. This rulemaking is promulgated under the authority described in Subtitle VII, Part A, Subpart I, Section 40103. Under that section, the FAA is charged with prescribing regulations to assign the use of the airspace necessary to ensure the safety of aircraft and the efficient use of airspace. This regulation is within the scope of that authority since it vertically subdivides the restricted airspace at Fort Gordon, GA, into three sections to enable more efficient use of airspace.

    Background

    The restricted airspace at Fort Gordon, GA consists of R-3004A, extending from the surface to 7,000 feet MSL; and R-3004B, extending from 7,001 feet MSL to 16,000 feet MSL. The time of designation for both areas is as activated by NOTAM 24 hours in advance.

    A FAA review of the utilization of the airspace revealed that most activities being conducted only require restricted airspace below 3,500 feet MSL. However, when R-3004A was activated, restrictions were in effect up to 7,000 feet MSL.

    While lateral boundaries of the restricted airspace remain the same as currently charted and the overall vertical limits of the restricted airspace are unchanged, in order to provide for more efficient use of airspace, the FAA and the using agency agreed to further subdivide the restricted airspace vertically. The FAA is realigning the designated altitudes for R-3004A and R-3004B and establishing R-3004C as a third subdivision. The new configuration enables activation of restricted airspace to the lower altitude required for the majority of the using agency's training needs while maintaining the ability to activate additional restricted airspace for missions that require higher altitudes.

    The designated altitudes for R-3004A are amended to read “surface to but not including 3,500 feet MSL” (decreased from 7,000 feet MSL). The designated altitudes for R-3004B are amended to read “3,500 feet MSL to but not including 7,000 feet MSL,” instead of the current “7,001 feet MSL to 16,000 feet MSL.” This amendment also established a third subdivision, designated R-3004C, which extends from 7,000 feet MSL to 16,000 feet MSL. These changes accommodate the using agency's requirements while releasing unneeded restricted airspace for access by other users.

    In addition, the aircraft activity limitations on use of the areas are amended to clarify the limitations in effect during the annual Masters Golf Tournament.

    These changes enhance the efficient use of the National Airspace System by providing for activation of the minimum amount of restricted airspace needed for the specific mission being conducted resulting in the release of unneeded restricted airspace for access by other users.

    The Rule

    This rule amends Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) part 73 by further dividing the current restricted airspace at Fort Gordon, GA, into three subareas instead of two. The designated altitudes for R-3004A are amended from the current “surface to 7,000 feet MSL,” to “surface to but not including 3,500 feet MSL.” The designated altitudes for R-3004B are amended from the current “7,001 feet MSL to 16,000 feet MSL” to “3,500 feet MSL to but not including 7,000 feet MSL.” A new third subdivision, designated R-3004C, is established and extends from 7,000 feet MSL to 16,000 feet MSL.”

    Additionally, the terms and conditions listed in the restricted area legal descriptions for aircraft activities in the restricted areas are revised, in part. Specifically, in order to clarify aircraft operations during the annual Masters Golf tournament, the text of item number 1 is changed from “1. Aircraft activities may not be conducted on weekends, National holidays, or the entire week of the Masters Golf Tournament” to: “1. Aircraft activities must not be conducted on weekends, national holidays, or from the Sunday prior to the Masters Golf Tournament through the Monday after (and subsequent weather days if required).” The terms and conditions in Items 2 and 3 remain unchanged.

    The above modifications enhance the efficient use of airspace and reduce the burden on the public by lessening the amount of restricted airspace at Fort Gordon, GA, that is activated on a routine basis. These modifications do not change the current lateral boundaries, overall designated altitudes, or activities conducted within the restricted areas; therefore, notice and public procedure under 5 U.S.C. 553(b) are unnecessary.

    Regulatory Notices and Analyses

    The FAA has determined that this action 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. Since this is a routine matter that only affects air traffic procedures and air navigation, it is certified that this rule, when promulgated, does not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities under the criteria of the Regulatory Flexibility Act.

    Environmental Review

    The FAA has determined that this action of vertically subdividing limits of existing restricted airspace within the current lateral and vertical limits qualifies for categorical exclusion under the National Environmental Policy Act and in accordance with FAA Order 1050.1F—Environmental Impacts: Policies and Procedures, Categorical Exclusions for Procedural Actions, paragraph 5-6.5d—Modification of the technical description of special use airspace (restricted areas) that does not alter the dimensions, altitudes, or times of designation of the airspace. Therefore, this airspace action is not expected to result in any significant environmental impacts. In accordance with FAAO 1050.1F, paragraph 5-2 regarding Extraordinary Circumstances, this action has been reviewed for factors and circumstances in which a normally categorically excluded action may have a significant environmental impact requiring further analysis, and it is determined that no extraordinary circumstances exist that warrant preparation of an environmental assessment.

    List of Subjects in 14 CFR Part 73

    Airspace, Prohibited areas, Restricted areas.

    Adoption of the Amendment

    In consideration of the foregoing, the Federal Aviation Administration amends 14 CFR part 73, as follows:

    PART 73—SPECIAL USE AIRSPACE 1. The authority citation for part 73 continues to read as follows: Authority:

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

    § 73.30 [Amended]
    2. § 73.30 is amended as follows: R-3004A  Fort Gordon, GA [Amended]

    By removing the current designated altitudes and aircraft activity limitations and inserting the following in their places:

    Designated Altitudes. Surface to but not including 3,500 feet MSL.

    Aircraft activity is limited to the following terms and conditions:

    Aircraft activities must not be conducted on weekends, national holidays, or from the Sunday prior to the Masters Golf Tournament through the Monday after (and subsequent weather days if required).

    2. Aircraft activities may only be conducted from the surface to 12,000 feet AGL.

    3. Weather conditions required for aircraft activities are 5 miles visibility and with prevailing clouds or obscuring phenomena no greater than five-tenths coverage of the sky and bases no lower than 3,000 feet AGL.

    R-3004B Fort Gordon, GA [Amended]

    By removing the current designated altitudes and aircraft activity limitations and inserting the following in their places:

    Designated Altitudes. 3,500 feet MSL to but not including 7,000 feet MSL.

    Aircraft activity is limited to the following terms and conditions:

    1. Aircraft activities must not be conducted on weekends, national holidays, or from the Sunday prior to the Masters Golf Tournament through the Monday after (and subsequent weather days if required).

    2. Aircraft activities may only be conducted from the surface to 12,000 feet AGL.

    3. Weather conditions required for aircraft activities are 5 miles visibility and with prevailing clouds or obscuring phenomena no greater than five-tenths coverage of the sky and bases no lower than 3,000 feet AGL.

    R-3004C Fort Gordon, GA [New]

    Boundaries. Beginning at lat. 33°21′54″ N., long. 82°12′14″ W.; to lat. 33°19′44″ N., long. 82°12′14″ W.; to lat. 33°16′21″ N., long. 82°17′59″ W.; to lat. 33°17′30″ N., long. 82°22′59″ W.; to lat. 33°21′16″ N., long. 82°18′46″ W.; to lat. 33°22′16″ N., long. 82°16′59″ W.; to the point of beginning.

    Designated Altitudes. 7,000 feet MSL to 16,000 feet MSL.

    Times of designation. By NOTAM 24 hours in advance.

    Controlling agency. FAA, Atlanta ARTCC.

    Using agency. U.S. Army, Commanding Officer, Fort Gordon, GA.

    Aircraft activity is limited to the following terms and conditions:

    Aircraft activities must not be conducted on weekends, national holidays, or from the Sunday prior to the Masters Golf Tournament through the Monday after (and subsequent weather days if required).

    2. Aircraft activities may only be conducted from the surface to 12,000 feet AGL.

    3. Weather conditions required for aircraft activities are 5 miles visibility and with prevailing clouds or obscuring phenomena no greater than five-tenths coverage of the sky and bases no lower than 3,000 feet AGL.

    Issued in Washington, DC, on September 19, 2017. Rodger A. Dean, Jr., Manager, Airspace Policy Group.
    [FR Doc. 2017-20435 Filed 9-22-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4910-13-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE Bureau of Industry and Security 15 CFR Part 744 [Docket No. 170622586-7586-01] RIN 0694—AH41 Removal of Certain Entities From the Entity List; and Revisions of Entries on the Entity List AGENCY:

    Bureau of Industry and Security, Commerce.

    ACTION:

    Final rule.

    SUMMARY:

    This rule amends the Export Administration Regulations (EAR) by removing three entities under four entries from the Entity List. This rule removes one entity listed under the destination of Australia, one entity listed under the destination of China, and one entity listed under the destinations of Iran and the United Arab Emirates from the Entity List. The one additional entry is being removed to account for one entity listed under more than one destination on the Entity List. All three of the removals are the result of requests for removal received by BIS pursuant to the section of the EAR used for requesting removal or modification of an Entity List entity and a review of information provided in the removal requests in accordance with the procedure for requesting removal or modification of an Entity List entity. Finally, this final rule modifies five existing entries on the Entity List consisting of five entries under Pakistan to provide additional or modified addresses and/or names for these persons.

    DATES:

    This rule is effective September 25, 2017.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Chair, End-User Review Committee, Office of the Assistant Secretary, Export Administration, Bureau of Industry and Security, Department of Commerce, Phone: (202) 482-5991, Email: [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Background

    The Entity List (Supplement No. 4 to part 744) identifies entities and other persons reasonably believed to be involved, or to pose a significant risk of being or becoming involved, in activities contrary to the national security or foreign policy interests of the United States. The EAR imposes additional license requirements on, and limits the availability of most license exceptions for, exports, reexports, and transfers (in-country) to those listed. The “license review policy” for each listed entity or other person is identified in the License Review Policy column on the Entity List and the impact on the availability of license exceptions is described in the Federal Register document adding entities or other persons to the Entity List. BIS places entities and other persons on the Entity List pursuant to sections of part 744 (Control Policy: End-User and End-Use Based) and part 746 (Embargoes and Other Special Controls) of the EAR.

    The End-User Review Committee (ERC), composed of representatives of the Departments of Commerce (Chair), State, Defense, Energy and, where appropriate, the Treasury, makes all decisions regarding additions to, removals from, or other modifications to the Entity List. The ERC makes all decisions to add an entry to the Entity List by majority vote and all decisions to remove or modify an entry by unanimous vote.

    ERC Entity List Decisions Removals From the Entity List

    This rule implements a decision of the ERC to remove the following three entities under four entries from the Entity List on the basis of removal requests received by BIS, as follows: Vortex Electronics, located in Australia; China National Commercial New Tone Trading Company Ltd., located in China; and FIMCO FZE, located in Iran and the United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.) (which accounts for two of the entries this final rule removes). The entry for Vortex Electronics was added to the Entity List on September 18, 2014 (see 79 FR 56003). The entry for China National Commercial New Tone Trading Company Ltd was added to the Entity List on July 28, 2015 (see 80 FR 44849). The two entries for FIMCO FZE were added to the Entity List on August 1, 2014 (see 79 FR 44683).

    The ERC decided to remove these three entities under four entries based on information received by BIS pursuant to § 744.16 of the EAR and further review conducted by the ERC.

    This final rule implements the decision to remove the following one entity located in Australia, one entity located in China, and one entity located in Iran and the U.A.E. from the Entity List:

    Australia

    (1) Vortex Electronics, 125 Walker Street, Quakers Hill, NSW 2763, Australia.

    China

    (1) China National Commercial New Tone Trading Company Ltd, Room 616, 2nd Building, No. 45 Fuxingmennei St, Beijing, China, 100801; and No. 45 Fuxing Mennei Avenue, Xicheng District, Beijing, China, 100801.

    Iran

    (1) FIMCO FZE, No. 3, Rahim Salehi Alley, Akbari St., Roomi Bridge, Dr. Shariati Ave., P.O. Box 3379, Tehran, Iran 3379/19395 (See alternate address under U.A.E.).

    United Arab Emirates

    (1) FIMCO FZE, LOB 16, F16401, P.O. Box 61342, JAFZ, U.A.E. (See alternate addresses under Iran).

    The removal of the entities referenced above, which was approved by the ERC, eliminates the existing license requirements in Supplement No. 4 to part 744 for exports, reexports and transfers (in-country) to these entities. However, the removal of these entities from the Entity List does not relieve persons of other obligations under part 744 of the EAR or under other parts of the EAR. Neither the removal of an entity from the Entity List nor the removal of Entity List-based license requirements relieves persons of their obligations under General Prohibition 5 in § 736.2(b)(5) of the EAR which provides that, “you may not, without a license, knowingly export or reexport any item subject to the EAR to an end-user or end-use that is prohibited by part 744 of the EAR.” Additionally, this removal does not relieve persons of their obligation to apply for export, reexport or in-country transfer licenses required by other provisions of the EAR. BIS strongly urges the use of Supplement No. 3 to part 732 of the EAR, “BIS's `Know Your Customer' Guidance and Red Flags,” when persons are involved in transactions that are subject to the EAR.

    Modifications to the Entity List

    This final rule implements decisions of the ERC to modify five existing entries on the Entity List. Under the destination of Pakistan, the ERC made a determination to revise five entries, as follows: revise one address and add three additional addresses to the entry for IKAN Engineering Services; correct the spelling of the name of an entry from Imam Group to Iman Group; revise the address to the entry for Interscan; revise the address for the entry for Makkays Hi-Tech Systems; and revise the address to the entry for Micado.

    This final rule makes the following modifications to five entries on the Entity List:

    Pakistan

    (1) IKAN Engineering Services, a.k.a., the following one alias: -IKAN Sourcing. 34-KM Shamki Bhattian Multan Road, Lahore, Pakistan; and Plot 7, 1-11/3 Markaz, Islamabad, Pakistan; and Building #7, #9 Sanitary Market I-11/3 Islamabad, Pakistan; and House #B-4, Block-F Gulshane-Jamal, Karachi, Pakistan; and 84/L Shah Rukn-e-Alam Colony Multan, Pakistan;

    (2) Iman Group, a.k.a., the following one alias: -Pana Communication Inc. Plot No. 227, St. No. 7, Sector I-9/2, Industrial Area, Near Dry Port, Islamabad, Pakistan; and 70-East A.A. Plaza, Mezz. Floor Blue Area, Islamabad 44000, Capital, Pakistan;

    (3) Interscan, Sattar Villa B, 32/1-C-1 Block-6, P.E.C.H.S., Karachi 75400i, Sindh, Pakistan;

    (4) Makkays Hi-Tech Systems, a.k.a., the following one alias: -Zaib Electronics. Block 14 Civic Centre, G-6 Markaz, Islamabad, Pakistan; and Kulsum Plaza, 42 Jinnah Avenue, Islamabad, Pakistan; and Basement Khyber Plaza, Barma Town, near Barma Bridge, Lehtrar Road, Islamabad, Pakistan; and House No. 675, Street No. 19, G-9/3, Islamabad, Pakistan; and

    (5) Micado, 40-C, Block-6, P.E.C.H.S., Shahrah-e-Faisal, Karachi, Sindh, Pakistan.

    Export Administration Act of 1979

    Although the Export Administration Act of 1979 expired on August 20, 2001, the President, through Executive Order 13222 of August 17, 2001, 3 CFR, 2001 Comp., p. 783 (2002), as amended by Executive Order 13637 of March 8, 2013, 78 FR 16129 (March 13, 2013) and as extended by the Notice of August 15, 2017, 82 FR 39005 (August 16, 2017), has continued the Export Administration Regulations in effect under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act. BIS continues to carry out the provisions of the Export Administration Act of 1979, as appropriate and to the extent permitted by law, pursuant to Executive Order 13222, as amended by Executive Order 13637.

    Rulemaking Requirements

    1. Executive Orders 13563 and 12866 direct agencies to assess all costs and benefits of available regulatory alternatives and, if regulation is necessary, to select regulatory approaches that maximize net benefits (including potential economic, environmental, public health and safety effects, distributive impacts, and equity). Executive Order 13563 emphasizes the importance of quantifying both costs and benefits, of reducing costs, of harmonizing rules, and of promoting flexibility. This rule has been determined to be not significant for purposes of Executive Order 12866. This rule is not an Executive Order 13771 regulatory action because this rule is not significant under Executive Order 12866.

    2. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, no person is required to respond to nor be subject to a penalty for failure to comply with a collection of information, subject to the requirements of the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.) (PRA), unless that collection of information displays a currently valid Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Control Number. This regulation involves collections previously approved by OMB under control number 0694-0088, Simplified Network Application Processing System, which includes, among other things, license applications, and carries a burden estimate of 43.8 minutes for a manual or electronic submission.

    Total burden hours associated with the PRA and OMB control number 0694-0088 are not expected to increase as a result of this rule. You may send comments regarding the collection of information associated with this rule, including suggestions for reducing the burden, to Jasmeet K. Seehra, Office of Management and Budget (OMB), by email to [email protected], or by fax to (202) 395-7285.

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

    4. For the three entities under four entries removed from the Entity List in this final rule, pursuant to the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(3)(B), BIS finds good cause to waive requirements that this rule be subject to notice and the opportunity for public comment because it would be contrary to the public interest.

    In determining whether to grant a request for removal from the Entity List, a committee of U.S. Government agencies (the End-User Review Committee (ERC)) evaluates information about and commitments made by listed entities or persons requesting removal from the Entity List, the nature and terms of which are set forth in 15 CFR part 744, Supplement No. 5, as noted in 15 CFR 744.16(b). The information, commitments, and criteria for this extensive review were all established through the notice of proposed rulemaking and public comment process (72 FR 31005 (June 5, 2007) (proposed rule), and 73 FR 49311 (August 21, 2008) (final rule)). These three removals under four entries have been made within the established regulatory framework of the Entity List. If the rule were to be delayed to allow for public comment, U.S. exporters may face unnecessary economic losses as they turn away potential sales to the entities removed by this rule because the customer remained a listed person on the Entity List even after the ERC approved the removal pursuant to the rule published at 73 FR 49311 on August 21, 2008. By publishing without prior notice and comment, BIS allows the applicants to receive U.S. exports immediately because the applicants already have received approval by the ERC pursuant to 15 CFR part 744, Supplement No. 5, as noted in 15 CFR 744.16(b).

    Removals from the Entity List granted by the ERC involve interagency deliberation and result from review of public and non-public sources, including sensitive law enforcement information and classified information, and the measurement of such information against the Entity List removal criteria. This information is extensively reviewed according to the criteria for evaluating removal requests from the Entity List, as set out in 15 CFR part 744, Supplement No. 5, and 15 CFR 744.16(b). For reasons of national security, BIS is not at liberty to provide to the public detailed information on which the ERC relied to make the decisions to remove these entities. In addition, the information included in the removal request is information exchanged between the applicant and the ERC, which by law (section 12(c) of the Export Administration Act of 1979), BIS is restricted from sharing with the public. Moreover, removal requests from the Entity List contain confidential business information, which is necessary for the extensive review conducted by the U.S. Government in assessing such removal requests.

    Section 553(d) of the APA generally provides that rules may not take effect earlier than thirty (30) days after they are published in the Federal Register. BIS finds good cause to waive the 30-day delay in effectiveness under 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(1) because this rule is a substantive rule which relieves a restriction. This rule's removal of three entities under four entries from the Entity List removes requirements (the Entity-List-based license requirement and limitation on use of license exceptions) on these three entities being removed from the Entity List. The rule does not impose a requirement on any other person for these removals from the Entity List. Further, no other law requires that a notice of proposed rulemaking and an opportunity for public comment be given for this final rule.

    5. The Department finds that there is good cause under 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(3)(B) to waive the provisions of the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) requiring prior notice and the opportunity for public comment for the five modifications included in this rule because, as described above, they are impracticable and are contrary to the public interest. In addition, these five changes are limited to to providing additional or modified addresses and/or a corrected name for these entities on the Entity List, which will assist the public in more easily identifying these listed entities on the Entity List.

    6. Because a notice of proposed rulemaking and an opportunity for public comment are not required to be given for this rule by 5 U.S.C. 553, or by any other law, the analytical requirements of the Regulatory Flexibility Act, 5 U.S.C. 601 et seq., are not applicable. Accordingly, no regulatory flexibility analysis is required and none has been prepared.

    List of Subjects in 15 CFR Part 744

    Exports, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Terrorism.

    Accordingly, part 744 of the Export Administration Regulations (15 CFR parts 730-774) is amended as follows:

    PART 744—[AMENDED] 1. The authority citation for 15 CFR part 744 is revised to read as follows: Authority:

    50 U.S.C. 4601 et seq.; 50 U.S.C. 1701 et seq.; 22 U.S.C. 3201 et seq.; 42 U.S.C. 2139a; 22 U.S.C. 7201 et seq.; 22 U.S.C. 7210; E.O. 12058, 43 FR 20947, 3 CFR, 1978 Comp., p. 179; E.O. 12851, 58 FR 33181, 3 CFR, 1993 Comp., p. 608; E.O. 12938, 59 FR 59099, 3 CFR, 1994 Comp., p. 950; E.O. 12947, 60 FR 5079, 3 CFR, 1995 Comp., p. 356; E.O. 13026, 61 FR 58767, 3 CFR, 1996 Comp., p. 228; E.O. 13099, 63 FR 45167, 3 CFR, 1998 Comp., p. 208; E.O. 13222, 66 FR 44025, 3 CFR, 2001 Comp., p. 783; E.O. 13224, 66 FR 49079, 3 CFR, 2001 Comp., p. 786; Notice of September 15, 2016, 81 FR 64343 (September 19, 2016); Notice of November 8, 2016, 81 FR 79379 (November 10, 2016); Notice of January 13, 2017, 82 FR 6165 (January 18, 2017); Notice of August 15, 2017, 82 FR 39005 (August 16, 2017).

    2. Supplement No. 4 to part 744 is amended: a. By removing the entry for Australia; b. By removing, under China, one Chinese entity, “China National Commercial New Tone Trading Company Ltd, Room 616, 2nd Building, No. 45 Fuxingmennei St, Beijing, China, 100801; and No. 45 Fuxing Mennei Avenue, Xicheng District, Beijing, China, 100801”; c. By removing, under Iran, one Iranian entity, “FIMCO FZE, No. 3, Rahim Salehi Alley, Akbari St., Roomi Bridge, Dr. Shariati Ave, P.O. Box 3379, Tehran, Iran 3379/19395 (See alternate address under U.A.E.)”; d. By revising, under Pakistan, five Pakistani entities; and e. By removing under the United Arab Emirates, one Emirati entity, “FIMCO FZE, LOB 16, F16401, P.O. Box 61342, JAFZ, U.A.E. (See alternate addresses under Iran).”

    The revisions read as follows:

    Supplement No. 4 to Part 744—Entity List Country Entity License requirement License
  • review policy
  • Federal Register citation
    *         *         *         *         *         *         * PAKISTAN  *         *         *         *         *         * IKAN Engineering Services, a.k.a., the following one alias: For all items subject to the EAR. (See § 744.11 of the EAR) Presumption of denial 79 FR 56003, 9/18/14. 82 FR [INSERT FR PAGE NUMBER], 9/25/2017.
  • —IKAN Sourcing. 34-KM Shamki Bhattian Multan Road, Lahore, Pakistan; and Plot 7, 1-11/3 Markaz, Islamabad, Pakistan; and Building #7, #9 Sanitary Market I-11/3 Islamabad, Pakistan; and House #B-4, Block-F Gulshane- Jamal, Karachi, Pakistan; and 84/L Shah Rukn-e-Alam Colony Multan, Pakistan. Iman Group, a.k.a., the following one alias: For all items subject to the EAR. (See § 744.11 of the EAR) Presumption of denial 82 FR 24245, 5/26/17. 82 FR [INSERT FR PAGE NUMBER], 9/25/2017.
  • —Pana Communication Inc. Plot No. 227, St. No. 7, Sector I-9/2, Industrial Area, Near Dry Port, Islamabad, Pakistan; and 70-East A.A. Plaza, Mezz. Floor Blue Area, Islamabad 44000, Capital, Pakistan. Interscan, Sattar Villa B, 32/1-C-1 Block-6, P.E.C.H.S., Karachi 75400i, Sindh, Pakistan. For all items subject to the EAR. (See § 744.11 of the EAR) Presumption of denial 82 FR 24245, 5/26/17. 82 FR [INSERT FR PAGE NUMBER], 9/25/2017.  *         *         *         *         *         * Makkays Hi-Tech Systems, a.k.a., the following one alias: For all items subject to the EAR. (See § 744.11 of the EAR) Presumption of denial 82 FR 24245, 5/26/17. 82 FR [INSERT FR PAGE NUMBER], 9/25/2017.
  • — Zaib Electronics. Block 14 Civic Centre, G-6 Markaz, Islamabad, Pakistan; and Kulsum Plaza, 42 Jinnah Avenue, Islamabad, Pakistan; and Basement Khyber Plaza, Barma Town, near Barma Bridge, Lehtrar Road, Islamabad, Pakistan; and House No. 675, Street No. 19, G-9/3, Islamabad, Pakistan.  *         *         *         *         *         * Micado, 40-C, Block-6, P.E.C.H.S., Shahrah-e-Faisal, Karachi, Sindh, Pakistan. For all items subject to the EAR. (See § 744.11 of the EAR) Presumption of denial 82 FR 24245, 5/26/17. 82 FR [INSERT FR PAGE NUMBER], 9/25/2017.  *         *         *         *         *         * *         *         *         *         *         *         * Dated: September 19, 2017. Richard E. Ashooh, Assistant Secretary for Export Administration. [FR Doc. 2017-20406 Filed 9-22-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-33-P DEPARTMENT OF HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT 24 CFR Part 570 [Docket No. FR-5767-N-06] RIN 2506-AC35 Section 108 Loan Guarantee Program: Announcement of Fee To Cover Credit Subsidy Costs AGENCY:

    Office of the Assistant Secretary for Community Planning and Development, HUD.

    ACTION:

    Notification of fees.

    SUMMARY:

    This document announces the fee that HUD will collect from borrowers of loans guaranteed under HUD's Section 108 Loan Guarantee Program (Section 108 Program) to offset the credit subsidy costs of the guaranteed loans pursuant to commitments awarded in FY 2018.

    DATES:

    Applicability Date: October 25, 2017.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Paul Webster, Director, Financial Management Division, Office of Block Grant Assistance, Office of Community Planning and Development, Department of Housing and Urban Development, 451 7th Street SW., Room 7180, Washington, DC 20410; telephone number 202-402-4563 (this is not a toll-free number). Individuals with speech or hearing impairments may access this number through TTY by calling the toll-free Federal Relay Service at 800-877-8339. FAX inquiries (but not comments) may be sent to Mr. Webster at 202-708-1798 (this is not a toll-free number).

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    I. Background

    The Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2015 (division K of Pub. L. 113-235, approved December 16, 2014) (2015 Appropriations Act) provided that “the Secretary shall collect fees from borrowers . . . to result in a credit subsidy cost of zero for guaranteeing” Section 108 loans. Identical language was continued or included in the Department's continuing resolutions and appropriations acts authorizing HUD to issue Section 108 loan guarantees during fiscal years 2016 and 2017 (Pub. L. 114-53, 114-113, and 115-31). Section 101(a) of the Continuing Appropriations Act, 2018 (Division D of Pub. L. 115-56, approved September 8, 2017) includes the costs of HUD loan guarantees generally in its continuation of fiscal year 2017 programs. Additionally, the Senate appropriations bill under consideration (S. 1655) and the House omnibus bill (H.R. 3354) have identical language regarding the fees and credit subsidy cost for the Section 108 Program.

    On November 3, 2015, HUD published a final rule (80 FR 67626) that amended the Section 108 Program regulations at 24 CFR part 570 to establish additional procedures, including procedures for announcing the amount of the fee each fiscal year when HUD is required to offset the credit subsidy costs to the Federal government to guarantee Section 108 loans. For fiscal years 2016 and 2017, HUD issued notices to set the fees.1

    1 80 FR 67634 (November 3, 2015) and 81 FR 68297 (October 4, 2016), respectively.

    II. FY 2018 Fee: 2.365 Percent of the Principal Amount of the Loan

    This document sets the fee for Section 108 loan disbursements under loan guarantee commitments awarded for FY 2018 at 2.365 percent of the principal amount of the loan. HUD will collect this fee from borrowers of loans guaranteed under the Section 108 Program to offset the credit subsidy costs of the guaranteed loans pursuant to commitments awarded in FY 2018.

    For this fee notice, HUD is not changing the underlying assumptions or creating new considerations for borrowers. The calculation of the FY 2018 fee uses the same fee calculation model as the FY 2016 and FY 2017 final notices, but incorporates updated information regarding the composition of the Section 108 portfolio and the timing of the estimated future cash flows for defaults and recoveries. The calculation of the fee is also affected by the discount rates required to be used by HUD when calculating the present value of the future cash flows as part of the Federal budget process.

    As described in 24 CFR 570.712(b), HUD's credit subsidy calculation is based on the amount required to reduce the credit subsidy cost to the Federal government associated with making a Section 108 loan guarantee to the amount established by applicable appropriation acts. As a result, HUD's credit subsidy cost calculations incorporated assumptions based on: (i) Data on default frequency for municipal debt where such debt is comparable to loans in the Section 108 loan portfolio; (ii) data on recovery rates on collateral security for comparable municipal debt; (iii) the expected composition of the Section 108 portfolio by end users of the guaranteed loan funds (e.g., third party borrowers and public entities); and (iv) other factors that HUD determined were relevant to this calculation (e.g., assumptions as to loan disbursement and repayment patterns).

    Taking these factors into consideration, HUD determined that the fee for disbursements made under loan guarantee commitments awarded in FY 2018 will be 2.365 percent, which will be applied only at the time of loan disbursements. Note that future notices may provide for a combination of up-front and periodic fees for loan guarantee commitments awarded in future fiscal years but, if so, will provide the public an opportunity to comment if appropriate under 24 CFR 570.712(b)(2).

    The expected cost of a Section 108 loan guarantee is difficult to estimate using historical program data because there have been no defaults in the history of the program that required HUD to invoke its full faith and credit guarantee or use the credit subsidy reserved each year for future losses.2 This is due to a variety of factors, including the availability of Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds as security for HUD's guarantee as provided in 24 CFR 570.705(b). As authorized by Section 108 of the Housing and Community Development Act of 1974, as amended (42 U.S.C. 5308), borrowers may make payments on Section 108 loans using CDBG grant funds. Borrowers may also make Section 108 loan payments from other anticipated sources but continue to have CDBG funds available should they encounter shortfalls in the anticipated repayment source. Despite the program's history of no defaults, federal credit budgeting principles require that the availability of CDBG funds to repay the guaranteed loans cannot be assumed in the development of the credit subsidy cost estimate (see 80 FR 67629, November 3, 2015). Thus, the estimate must incorporate the risk that alternative sources are used to repay the guaranteed loan in lieu of CDBG funds, and that those sources may be insufficient. Based on the rate that CDBG funds are used annually for repayment of loan guarantees, HUD's calculation of the credit subsidy cost must take into account the possibility of future defaults if those CDBG funds were not available. The fee of 2.365 percent of the principal amount of the loan will offset the expected cost to the government due to default, financing costs, and other relevant factors. To arrive at this measure, HUD analyzed data on comparable municipal debt over an extended 16 to 23-year period. The estimated rate is based on the default and recovery rates for general purpose municipal debt and industrial development bonds. The cumulative default rates on industrial development bonds (14.62 percent) were higher than the default rates on general purpose municipal debt (0.25 percent) during the period from which the data were taken. (The recovery rates for industrial development bonds and general purpose debt were 74.76 and 90.27 percent, respectively.) These two subsectors of municipal debt were chosen because their purposes and loan terms most closely resemble those of Section 108 guaranteed loans.

    2 Department of Housing and Urban Development, Study of HUD's Section 108 Loan Guarantee Program, (prepared by Econometrica, Inc. and The Urban Institute), September 2012.

    In this regard, Section 108 guaranteed loans can be broken down into two categories: (1) Loans that finance public infrastructure and activities to support subsidized housing (other than financing new construction) and (2) other development projects (e.g., retail, commercial, industrial). The 2.365 percent fee was derived by weighting the default and recovery data for general purpose municipal debt and the data for industrial development bonds according to the expected composition of the Section 108 portfolio by corresponding project type. Based on the dollar amount of Section 108 loan guarantee commitments awarded during the period from FY 2012 through FY 2016, HUD expects that 30 percent of the Section 108 portfolio will be similar to general purpose municipal debt and 70 percent of the portfolio will be similar to industrial development bonds. In setting the fee at 2.365 percent of the principal amount of the guaranteed loan, HUD expects that the amount generated will fully offset the cost to the Federal government associated with making guarantee commitments awarded in FY 2018. Note that the FY 2018 fee represents a 0.225 percent decrease from the FY 2017 fee of 2.59 percent. This is due primarily to updated loan repayment patterns and discount rates used in calculating the present value of cash flows. These are variables that ordinarily are modified in the credit subsidy calculation.

    This document establishes a rate that does not constitute a development decision that affects the physical condition of specific project areas or building sites. Accordingly, under 24 CFR 50.19(c)(6), this document is categorically excluded from environmental review under the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (42 U.S.C. 4321).

    Dated: September 12, 2017. Neal Rackleff, Assistant Secretary for Community Planning and Development.
    [FR Doc. 2017-20474 Filed 9-22-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4210-67-P
    ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY 40 CFR Part 52 [EPA-R04-OAR-2009-0226; FRL-9968-17-Region 4] Air Plan Approval; GA: Emission Reduction Credits AGENCY:

    Environmental Protection Agency.

    ACTION:

    Direct final rule.

    SUMMARY:

    The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is taking direct final action to approve changes to the Georgia State Implementation Plan (SIP) to revise the Emission Reduction Credits (ERC) regulation. EPA is approving portions of the SIP revision submitted by the State of Georgia, through the Georgia Department of Natural Resources' Environmental Protection Division (GA EPD) on September 15, 2008. The revision expands the eligibility for sources in Barrow County that can participate in the ERC Program, adds a provision for reevaluation of the Certificates of ERC, changes the administrative fees, and eliminates an exemption for certain types of ERCs. This action is being taken pursuant to the Clean Air Act (CAA or Act).

    DATES:

    This direct final rule is effective November 24, 2017 without further notice, unless EPA receives adverse comment by October 25, 2017. If EPA receives such comments, it will publish a timely withdrawal of the direct final rule in the Federal Register and inform the public that the rule will not take effect.

    ADDRESSES:

    Submit your comments, identified by Docket ID No. EPA-R04-OAR-2009-0226 at http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the online instructions for submitting comments. Once submitted, comments cannot be edited or removed from Regulations.gov. EPA may publish any comment received to its public docket. Do not submit electronically any information you consider to be Confidential Business Information (CBI) or other information whose disclosure is restricted by statute. Multimedia submissions (audio, video, etc.) must be accompanied by a written comment. The written comment is considered the official comment and should include discussion of all points you wish to make. EPA will generally not consider comments or comment contents located outside of the primary submission (i.e., on the web, cloud, or other file sharing system). For additional submission methods, the full EPA public comment policy, information about CBI or multimedia submissions, and general guidance on making effective comments, please visit http://www2.epa.gov/dockets/commenting-epa-dockets.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Sean Lakeman, Air Regulatory Management Section, Air Planning and Implementation Branch, Air, Pesticides and Toxics Management Division, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 4, 61 Forsyth Street SW., Atlanta, Georgia 30303-8960. Mr. Lakeman can be reached via telephone at (404) 562-9043 or via electronic mail at [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    I. Background

    On September 15, 2008, GA EPD submitted a SIP revision to EPA for approval that involves changes to Georgia's emissions reduction credits rule and the administrative fees found in Georgia Rule 391-3-1-.03(13). Rule 391-3-1-.03(13) provides for the creation, banking, transfer, and use of nitrogen oxides (NOX) and volatile organic compounds (VOC) ERCs in Federally designated ozone nonattainment areas in Georgia and administrative fees associated with the ERC Program.

    GA EPD oversees the ERC Program, which was created in 1999 and approved into Georgia's SIP on July 10, 2001 (66 FR 35906). The ERC Program facilitates construction permitting for major emission sources that are subject to Nonattainment New Source Review (NNSR) permitting in Georgia ozone nonattainment areas. Emissions point sources within the 25-county area surrounding Atlanta that require Best Available Control Technology (BACT) and offset permitting are also eligible for the ERC Program.

    The ERC Program allows eligible sources that voluntarily reduce emissions in the affected counties to certify and “bank” these reductions as ERCs for future use by themselves or others. The banked ERCs hold their value for ten years, at which point they begin devaluing ten percent per year until they have reached 50 percent of their original value. The ERC Program is intended to help the Atlanta area achieve compliance with federal standards for ground-level ozone. The ERC does not allow for any increase in emissions of NOX or VOC in the area to which it is applicable. In this action, EPA is approving the portion of Georgia's submission that makes changes to the applicability, discounting and revocation, and administrative fees sections of Rule 391-3-1-.03(13)—“Emission Reduction Credits.”

    II. Analysis of State's Submittals

    The September 15, 2008, SIP revision involves changes to Georgia's Rule 391-3-1-.03—“Permits” paragraph (13) “Emissions Reduction Credits,” which provides for the creation, banking, transfer, and use of NOX and VOC ERCs in Federally designated ozone nonattainment areas in Georgia, as well as administrative fees associated with the ERC Program. Georgia's September 15, 2008, changes to 391-3-1-.03(13) include:

    —Under applicability paragraph (a), Georgia modifies eligibility to participate in the ERC Program for stationary sources in Barrow County by removing Barrow County from the list of counties with sources eligible to create and bank NOX and VOC ERCs only for electric generating units that have the potential to emit NOX and VOC emissions in amounts greater than 100 tons per year (tpy), and adding Barrow County to the list of counties with sources eligible to create and bank NOX and VOC ERCs for any stationary source that has the potential to emit NOX and VOC emissions in amounts greater than 100 tpy. This change expands the universe of stationary sources in Barrow County that may voluntarily reduce NOX and VOC emissions and then credit those reductions at an equal or reduced rate against future emissions of those pollutants—thus incentivizing overall emissions reductions. Accordingly, EPA is approving this change as SIP strengthening. —Under discounting and revocation of ERCs paragraph (d), Georgia removes a provision that previously allowed ERCs created through the shutdown of individual process equipment to retain their value indefinitely. Like ERCs created through other methods, these ERCs will now retain their original value for ten years, at which point they will begin devaluing ten percent per year until they have reached 50 percent of their original value. EPA has concluded that the removal of this provision will strengthen Georgia's SIP because the change will decrease the value of these ERCs when they are used to offset emissions occurring more than ten years in the future, thus reducing overall emissions in areas where the Program is implemented. Accordingly, EPA is approving the revision to the Georgia SIP. —Under discounting and revocation of ERCs paragraph (d), Georgia adds a new provision that allows owners to re-evaluate certificates of ERCs to determine if credits specified in the certificate have been discounted or revoked in accordance with the requirements of Rule 391-3-1-.03(13)(d)1. EPA is approving this provision as consistent with section 110(a) of the CAA. —Under administrative fees paragraph (h), Georgia revises the administrative fees for the ERCs program. EPA is approving this provision as consistent with section 110(a) of the CAA.

    EPA has concluded that these changes will not interfere with any applicable requirement concerning attainment and reasonable progress, nor any other applicable requirement of the CAA. EPA is therefore approving these changes to the Georgia SIP.1

    1 Other portions of the September 15, 2008, submission were previously approved, and therefore, are not before EPA for consideration in this action. See 77 FR 59554 (September 28, 2012) and 79 FR 36218 (June 26, 2014).

    III. Incorporation by Reference

    In this rule, EPA is finalizing regulatory text that includes incorporation by reference. In accordance with requirements of 1 CFR 51.5, EPA is finalizing the incorporation by reference of Georgia Rule 391-3-1-.03—“Permits,” effective September 11, 2008. EPA has made, and will continue to make, these materials generally available through www.regulations.gov and/or at the EPA Region 4 Office (please contact the person identified in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section of this preamble for more information). Therefore, this material has been approved by EPA for inclusion in the SIP, has been incorporated by reference by EPA into that plan, are fully federally enforceable under sections 110 and 113 of the CAA as of the effective date of the final rulemaking of EPA's approval, and will be incorporated by reference by the Director of the Federal Register in the next update to the SIP compilation.2

    2 62 FR 27968 (May 22, 1997).

    IV. Final Action

    EPA is approving the aforementioned changes to the SIP because they are consistent with the CFR and the CAA. EPA is publishing this rule without prior proposal because the Agency views this as a noncontroversial submittal and anticipates no adverse comments. However, in the proposed rules section of this Federal Register publication, EPA is publishing a separate document that will serve as the proposal to approve the SIP revision should adverse comments be filed. This rule will be effective November 24, 2017 without further notice unless the Agency receives adverse comments by October 25, 2017.

    If EPA receives such comments, then EPA will publish a document withdrawing the final rule and informing the public that the rule will not take effect. All adverse comments received will then be addressed in a subsequent final rule based on the proposed rule. EPA will not institute a second comment period. Parties interested in commenting should do so at this time. If no such comments are received, the public is advised that this rule will be effective on November 24, 2017 and no further action will be taken on the proposed rule. Please note that if we receive adverse comment on an amendment, paragraph, or section of this rule and if that provision may be severed from the remainder of the rule, we may adopt as final those provisions of the rule that are not the subject of an adverse comment.

    V. Statutory and Executive Order Reviews

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Under section 307(b)(1) of the CAA, petitions for judicial review of this action must be filed in the United States Court of Appeals for the appropriate circuit by November 24, 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. Parties with objections to this direct final rule are encouraged to file a comment in response to the parallel notice of proposed rulemaking for this action published in the proposed rules section of this Federal Register, rather than file an immediate petition for judicial review of this direct final rule, so that EPA can withdraw this direct final rule and address the comment in the proposed rulemaking. This action may not be challenged later in proceedings to enforce its requirements. See section 307(b)(2).

    List of Subjects in 40 CFR Part 52

    Environmental protection, Air pollution control, Carbon monoxide, Incorporation by reference, Lead, Nitrogen dioxide, Ozone, Particulate matter, Sulfur oxides, Volatile organic compounds.

    Dated: September 13, 2017. Onis “Trey” Glenn, III, Regional Administrator, Region 4.

    40 CFR Part 52 is amended as follows:

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

    42 U.S.C. 7401 et seq.

    Subpart L—Georgia 2. In § 52.570, the table in paragraph (c) is amended by revising the entry “391-3-1-.03” to read as follows:
    § 52.570 Identification of plan.

    (c) * * *

    EPA-Approved Georgia Regulations State citation Title/subject State
  • effective
  • date
  • EPA approval date Explanation
    *         *         *         *         *         *         * Emission Standards *         *         *         *         *         *         * 391-3-1-.03 Permits 9/11/2008 9/25/2017, [insert Federal Register citation] *         *         *         *         *         *         *
    [FR Doc. 2017-20336 Filed 9-22-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560-50-P
    ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY 40 CFR Part 52 [EPA-R03-OAR-2017-0149; FRL-9968-00-Region 3] Approval and Promulgation of Air Quality Implementation Plans; Maryland; 2011 Base Year Inventory for the 2008 8-Hour Ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standard for the Maryland Portion of the Philadelphia-Wilmington-Atlantic City Nonattainment Area AGENCY:

    Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

    ACTION:

    Direct final rule.

    SUMMARY:

    The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is taking direct final action to approve the 2011 base year inventory for the Maryland portion of the Philadelphia-Wilmington-Atlantic City marginal nonattainment area for the 2008 8-hour ozone national ambient air quality standard (NAAQS). The State of Maryland submitted the emission inventory, which included the ozone precursors, nitrogen oxides (NOX) and volatile organic compounds (VOC), as well as several other pollutants, through the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) to meet the nonattainment requirements for marginal ozone nonattainment areas for the 2008 8-hour ozone NAAQS. EPA is approving the 2011 base year emissions inventory for the 2008 8-hour ozone NAAQS as a revision to the Maryland State Implementation Plan (SIP) as the inventory for NOX and VOC is in accordance with the requirements of the Clean Air Act (CAA).

    DATES:

    This rule is effective on November 24, 2017 without further notice, unless EPA receives adverse written comment by October 25, 2017. If EPA receives such comments, it will publish a timely withdrawal of the direct final rule in the Federal Register and inform the public that the rule will not take effect.

    ADDRESSES:

    Submit your comments, identified by Docket ID No. EPA-R03-OAR-2017-0149 at https://www.regulations.gov, or via email to [email protected]. For comments submitted at Regulations.gov, follow the online instructions for submitting comments. Once submitted, comments cannot be edited or removed from Regulations.gov. For either manner of submission, 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, please contact the person identified in the For Further Information Contact section. For the full EPA public comment policy, information about CBI or multimedia submissions, and general guidance on making effective comments, please visit http://www2.epa.gov/dockets/commenting-epa-dockets.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Sara Calcinore, (215) 814-2043, or by email at [email protected].

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: I. Background

    Ground level ozone is formed when NOX and VOC react in the presence of sunlight. NOX and VOC are referred to as ozone precursors and are emitted by many types of pollution sources, including motor vehicles, power plants, industrial facilities, and area wide sources, such as consumer products and lawn and garden equipment. Scientific evidence indicates that adverse public health effects occur following exposure to ozone. These effects are more pronounced in children and adults with lung disease. Breathing air containing ozone can reduce lung function and inflame airways, which can increase respiratory symptoms and aggravate asthma or other lung diseases. In response to this scientific evidence, EPA promulgated the first ozone NAAQS in 1979, the 0.12 part per million (ppm) 1-hour ozone NAAQS. See 44 FR 8202 (February 8, 1979). EPA had previously promulgated a NAAQS for total photochemical oxidants.

    On July 18, 1997, EPA promulgated a revised ozone NAAQS of 0.08 ppm, averaged over eight hours. 62 FR 38855. This 8-hour ozone NAAQS was determined to be more protective of public health than the previous 1979 1-hour ozone NAAQS. In 2008, EPA revised the 8-hour ozone NAAQS from 0.08 to 0.075 ppm. See 73 FR 16436 (March 27, 2008).1

    1 On October 1, 2015, EPA strengthened the 8-hour ozone NAAQS to 0.070 ppm. See 80 FR 65292 (October 16, 2015). This rulemaking addresses the 2008 8-hour ozone NAAQS and does not address the 2015 8-hour ozone NAAQS.

    On May 21, 2012, the Philadelphia-Wilmington-Atlantic City area was designated as marginal nonattainment for the 2008 8-hour ozone NAAQS. 77 FR 30088. The designation of the Philadelphia-Wilmington-Atlantic City area as marginal nonattainment was effective July 20, 2012. The Philadelphia-Wilmington-Atlantic City nonattainment area is comprised of Cecil County in Maryland, as well as counties in Delaware, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. Under section 172(c)(3) of the CAA, Maryland is required to submit a comprehensive, accurate, and current inventory of actual emissions from all sources of the relevant pollutants, i.e. the ozone precursors NOX and VOC, in its marginal nonattainment area, i.e., the Maryland portion of the Philadelphia-Wilmington-Atlantic City nonattainment area.

    II. Summary of SIP Revision and EPA Analysis

    Under CAA section 172(c)(3), states are required to submit a comprehensive, accurate, and current inventory of actual emissions from all sources (point, nonpoint, nonroad, and onroad) of the relevant pollutant or pollutants in the nonattainment area. CAA section 182(a)(1) requires that areas designated as nonattainment and classified as marginal submit an inventory of all sources of ozone precursors no later than 2 years after the effective date of designation. EPA's guidance for emissions inventory development calls for actual emissions to be used in the base year inventory. The state must report annual emissions as well as “summer day emissions.” As defined in 40 CFR 51.900(v), “summer day emissions” means, “an average day's emissions for a typical summer work weekday. The state will select the particular month(s) in summer and the day(s) in the work week to be represented.”

    On January 19, 2017, MDE submitted a formal revision (SIP #16-15) to its SIP. The SIP revision consists of the 2011 base year inventory for the Maryland portion of the Philadelphia-Wilmington-Atlantic City nonattainment area for the 2008 8-hour ozone NAAQS. MDE selected 2011 as its base year for SIP planning purposes, as recommended in EPA's final rule, “Implementation of the 2008 National Ambient Air Quality Standards for Ozone: State Implementation Plan Requirements.” See 80 FR 12263 (March 6, 2015). MDE's 2011 base year inventory includes emissions estimates covering the general source categories of stationary point, area (nonpoint), nonroad mobile, onroad mobile, and Marine-Air-Rail (M-A-R). In its 2011 base year inventory, MDE reported actual annual emissions and typical summer day emissions for the months of May through September for NOX, VOC, and carbon monoxide (CO). Although MDE also reported annual emissions for fine particulate matter (PM2.5), sulfur dioxide (SO2), and ammonia (NH3) and typical summer day emissions for CO, in this approval of the 2011 base year emissions inventory for the 2008 ozone NAAQS, EPA is approving only relevant ozone precursors, which are VOC and NOX.2

    2 The actual annual emissions and typical summer day emissions were summarized by MDE in Table 1-1: 2011 Base Year SIP Emission Inventory Summary. A discrepancy was found between the area annual emissions reported for PM2.5 and NH3 in Table 1-1 and the area annual emissions reported for PM2.5 and NH3 in Table 4-1: 2011 Base Year SIP Area Source Emission Inventories and the Nonpoint Annual data table under Appendix C Area/Nonpoint Sources. Since the anthropogenic totals in Table 1-1 correspond to the annual emissions values, the anthropogenic totals for PM2.5 and NH3 in Table 1-1 were also affected by the discrepancy. In a correction letter, MDE confirmed that the area annual emissions for PM2.5 and NH3 in Table 1-1 are 456.50 tpy for PM2.5 and 477.15 tpy for NH3. MDE also confirmed that the corresponding anthropogenic totals for PM2.5 and NH3 are 625.04 tpy and 530.10 tpy. MDE has submitted a corrected version of page 3 of the 2011 base year inventory to reflect the necessary corrections to Table 1-1. The corrected version as well as the correction letter are included in the docket for this rulemaking even though the CAA at sections 172 and 182 only require an inventory of ozone precursors. See July 20, 2017 letter from Brian Hug, Program Manager, Maryland Department of the Environment to Cecil Rodrigues, Acting Regional Administrator, EPA Region III, Subject: SIP #16-15 “2011 Base Year Emissions Inventory for the Maryland Portion of the Philadelphia-Atlantic City, PA-NJ-DE-MD 2008 Ozone NAAQS Nonattainment Area (Cecil County, MD)” Minor Corrections.

    Table 1 summarizes the 2011 VOC and NOX emission inventory by source sector for Maryland's marginal nonattainment area. Annual emissions are given in tons per year (tpy) and summer weekday emissions are given by tons per day (tpd).

    Table 1—Summary of 2011 Emissions of Ozone Precursors for the Philadelphia-Wilmington-Atlantic City Nonattainment Area Source sector Summer weekday
  • (tpd)
  • VOC NOX Annual
  • (tpy)
  • VOC NOX Point 0.301 2.63 64.91 76.19 Area 2.863 0.31 937.78 242.02 Nonroad 5.127 2.01 1,054.93 529.02 Onroad 2.29 7.50 791.98 2,730.44 M-A-R 0.030 0.46 11.03 167.97 Anthropogenic Subtotal 10.61 12.90 2,860.63 3,745.63

    Point sources are large, stationary, and identifiable sources of emissions that release pollutants into the atmosphere. Maryland obtained its point source data from the MDE Air and Radiation Management Administration (ARMA) point source emissions inventory. ARMA identifies and inventories stationary sources for the point source emissions inventory through inspections, investigations, permitting, and equipment registrations.

    Area sources, also known as nonpoint sources, are sources of pollution that are small and numerous and have not been inventoried as specific point or mobile sources. To inventory these sources, they are grouped so that emissions can be estimated collectively using one methodology. Examples include residential heating emissions and emissions from consumer solvents. MDE calculated nonpoint emissions for the Maryland portion of the Philadelphia-Wilmington-Atlantic City nonattainment area by multiplying emissions factors specific for each source category with some known indicator of collective activity for each source category, such as population or employment data.

    Nonroad sources are mobile sources other than onroad vehicles, including aircraft, locomotives, construction and agricultural equipment, and marine vessels. Emissions from different source categories are calculated using various methodologies. MDE relied on EPA's nonroad emissions calculations from the National Mobile Inventory Model (NMIM—April 5, 2009). Onroad or highway sources are vehicles, such as cars, trucks, and buses, which are operated on public roadways. MDE estimated onroad emissions using EPA's Motor Vehicle Emission Simulator (MOVES) model, version 2010a, and appropriate activity levels, such as vehicle miles traveled (VMT) estimates developed from vehicle count data maintained by the State Highway Administration (SHA) of the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT). M-A-R sources include marine vessels, airports, and railroad locomotives. MDE estimated M-A-R emissions using data from surveyed sources or state and federal reporting agencies.

    EPA reviewed Maryland's 2011 base year emission inventory's results, procedures, and methodologies for the Maryland portion of the Philadelphia-Wilmington-Atlantic City nonattainment area and found them to be acceptable and approvable for sections 110, 172(c)(3) and 182(a)(1) of the CAA. EPA's review and analysis is detailed in a Technical Support Document (TSD) prepared for this rulemaking. The TSD is available online at http://www.regulations.gov, Docket ID No. EPA-R03-OAR-2017-0149.

    III. Final Action

    EPA is approving the Maryland January 19, 2017 SIP revision as meeting requirements for a base year inventory for the 2008 8-hour ozone NAAQS for the Maryland portion of the Philadelphia-Wilmington-Atlantic City nonattainment area because the inventory for ozone precursors was prepared in accordance with requirements in sections 110, 172(c)(3) and 182(a)(1) of the CAA and its implementing regulations including 40 CFR 51.915. EPA is publishing this rule without prior proposal because EPA views this as a noncontroversial amendment and anticipates no adverse comment. However, in the “Proposed Rules” section of this Federal Register, EPA is publishing a separate document that will serve as the proposal to approve the SIP revision if adverse comments are filed. This rule will be effective on November 24, 2017 without further notice unless EPA receives adverse comment by October 25, 2017. If EPA receives adverse comment, EPA will publish a timely withdrawal in the Federal Register informing the public that the rule will not take effect. EPA will address all public comments in a subsequent final rule based on the proposed rule. EPA will not institute a second comment period on this action. Any parties interested in commenting must do so at this time.

    IV. Statutory and Executive Order Reviews A. General Requirements

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    In addition, this rule does not have tribal implications as specified by Executive Order 13175 (65 FR 67249, November 9, 2000), because the SIP is not approved to apply in Indian country located in the state, and EPA notes that it will not impose substantial direct costs on tribal governments or preempt tribal law.

    B. Submission to Congress and the Comptroller General

    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).

    C. Petitions for Judicial Review

    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 24, 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. Parties with objections to this direct final rule are encouraged to file a comment in response to the parallel notice of proposed rulemaking for this action published in the proposed rules section of this Federal Register, rather than file an immediate petition for judicial review of this direct final rule, so that EPA can withdraw this direct final rule and address the comment in the proposed rulemaking action.

    This action approving Maryland's 2011 base year inventory for the 2008 8-hour ozone NAAQS for the Maryland portion of the Philadelphia-Wilmington-Atlantic City nonattainment area 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, Nitrogen dioxide, Ozone, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Volatile organic compounds.

    Dated: September 8, 2017. Cecil Rodrigues, Acting Regional Administrator, Region III.

    40 CFR part 52 is amended as follows:

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

    42 U.S.C. 7401 et seq.

    Subpart V—Maryland 2. In § 52.1070, the table in paragraph (e) is amended by adding an entry for “2011 Base Year Inventory for the 2008 8-Hour Ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standard” at the end of the table to read as follows:
    § 52.1070 Identification of plan.

    (e) * * *

    Name of non-regulatory SIP revision Applicable geographic area State submittal date EPA approval date Additional
  • explanation
  • *         *         *         *         *         *         * 2011 Base Year Inventory for the 2008 8-Hour Ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standard Maryland portion of the Philadelphia-Wilmington-Atlantic City, PA-NJ-DE-MD 2008 ozone nonattainment area 01/19/2017 09/25/2017, [Insert Federal Register citation] § 52.1075(q).
    3. Section 52.1075 is amended by adding paragraph (q) to read as follows:
    § 52.1075 Base year emissions inventory.

    (q) EPA approves, as a revision to the Maryland state implementation plan the 2011 base year emissions inventory for the Maryland portion of the Philadelphia-Wilmington-Atlantic City marginal nonattainment area for the 2008 8-hour ozone national ambient air quality standards submitted by the Maryland Department of the Environment on January 19, 2017, as amended July 20, 2017. The 2011 base year emissions inventory includes emissions estimates that cover the general source categories of stationary point, area (nonpoint), nonroad mobile, onroad mobile, and Marine-Air-Rail (M-A-R). The inventory included actual annual emissions and typical summer day emissions for the months of May through September for the ozone precursors, VOC and NOX.

    [FR Doc. 2017-20324 Filed 9-22-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560-50-P
    ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY 40 CFR Part 52 [EPA-R03-OAR-2016-0574; FRL-9968-15-Region 3] Approval and Promulgation of Air Quality Implementation Plans; West Virginia; Removal of Clean Air Interstate Rule Trading Programs Replaced by Cross-State Air Pollution Rule Trading Programs AGENCY:

    Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

    ACTION:

    Direct final rule.

    SUMMARY:

    The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is taking direct final action to approve two state implementation plan (SIP) revisions submitted by the State of West Virginia. These revisions pertain to two West Virginia regulations that established trading programs under the Clean Air Interstate Rule (CAIR). The EPA-administered trading programs under CAIR were discontinued on December 31, 2014 upon the implementation of the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR), which was promulgated by EPA to replace CAIR. CSAPR established federal implementation plans (FIPs) for 23 states, including West Virginia. The submitted SIP revisions request removal of regulations that implemented the CAIR annual nitrogen oxide (NOX) and annual sulfur dioxide (SO2) trading programs from the West Virginia SIP (as CSAPR has supplanted CAIR). West Virginia's SIP revision submittal requesting removal of a regulation that implemented the CAIR ozone season trading program will be addressed in a separate action. EPA is approving these SIP revisions in accordance with the requirements of the Clean Air Act (CAA).

    DATES:

    This rule is effective on December 26, 2017 without further notice, unless EPA receives adverse written comment by October 25, 2017. If EPA receives such comments, it will publish a timely withdrawal of the direct final rule in the Federal Register and inform the public that the rule will not take effect.

    ADDRESSES:

    Submit your comments, identified by Docket ID No. EPA-R03-OAR-2016-0574 at https://www.regulations.gov, or via email to [email protected] For comments submitted at Regulations.gov, follow the online instructions for submitting comments. Once submitted, comments cannot be edited or removed from Regulations.gov. For either manner of submission, 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, please contact the person identified in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section. For the full EPA public comment policy, information about CBI or multimedia submissions, and general guidance on making effective comments, please visit http://www2.epa.gov/dockets/commenting-epa-dockets.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Marilyn Powers, (215) 814-2308, or by email at [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    On July 13, 2016, the State of West Virginia, through the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (WVDEP), submitted three SIP revisions requesting EPA remove from its SIP three regulations that implemented the CAIR (70 FR 25162, May 12, 2005) trading programs: Regulation 45CSR39—Control of Annual Nitrogen Oxides Emissions, Regulation 45CSR40—Control of Ozone Season Nitrogen Oxides Emissions, and Regulation 45CSR41—Control of Annual Sulfur Dioxide Emissions. This action pertains to the two submittals that remove 45CSR39 and 45CSR41, the CAIR annual NOX and annual SO2 trading programs, respectively, from the West Virginia SIP. The submittal pertaining to removal of the CAIR ozone season NOX trading program is not a part of this action and will be addressed in a separate action.

    I. Background

    In 2005, EPA promulgated CAIR (70 FR 25162, May 12, 2005) to address transported emissions that significantly contributed to downwind states' nonattainment and interfered with maintenance of the 1997 ozone and fine particulate matter (PM2.5) national ambient air quality standards (NAAQS). CAIR required 28 states, including West Virginia, to reduce emissions of NOX and SO2, precursors to the formation of ambient ozone and PM2.5. Under CAIR, EPA established federal implementation plans (FIPs) comprised of separate cap and trade programs for annual NOX, ozone season NOX, and annual SO2. States could comply with the requirements of CAIR by remaining on the FIP, which applied only to electric generating units (EGUs), or by submitting a CAIR SIP revision that included as trading sources EGUs and certain non-EGUs 1 that formerly traded in the NOX Budget Trading Program under the NOX SIP Call.2 West Virginia submitted, and EPA approved, a CAIR SIP revision that included EGUs and certain non-EGUs as part of the State's regulation for the CAIR ozone season trading program as well as EGUs in the CAIR annual trading program for NOX and SO2. See 74 FR 38536 (August 4, 2009).

    1 These non-EGUs are defined in the NOX SIP Call as stationary, fossil fuel-fired boilers, combustion turbines, or combined cycle systems with a maximum design heat input greater than 250 million British thermal units per hour (MMBtu/hr).

    2 In October 1998, EPA finalized the “Finding of Significant Contribution and Rulemaking for Certain States in the Ozone Transport Assessment Group Region for Purposes of Reducing Regional Transport of Ozone”—commonly called the NOX SIP Call. See 63 FR 57356 (October 27, 1998).

    The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (D.C. Circuit) initially vacated CAIR in 2008,3 but ultimately remanded the rule to EPA without vacatur to preserve the environmental benefits provided by CAIR.4 The ruling allowed CAIR to remain in effect temporarily until a replacement rule consistent with the Court's opinion was developed. While EPA worked on developing a replacement rule, the CAIR program continued as planned with the NOX annual and ozone season programs beginning in 2009 and the SO2 annual program beginning in 2010.

    3North Carolina v. EPA, 531 F.3d 896 (D.C. Cir. 2008).

    4North Carolina v. EPA, 550 F.3d 1176 (D.C. Cir. 2008).

    On August 8, 2011 (76 FR 48208), acting on the D.C. Circuit's remand, EPA promulgated the CSAPR to replace CAIR to address the interstate transport of emissions contributing to nonattainment and interfering with maintenance of the two air quality standards covered by CAIR as well as the 2006 PM2.5 NAAQS. The rule also contained provisions that would sunset CAIR-related obligations on a schedule coordinated with the implementation of CSAPR compliance requirements. CSAPR was to become effective January 1, 2012; however, the timing of CSAPR's implementation was impacted by a number of court actions.

    Numerous parties filed petitions for review of CSAPR in the D.C. Circuit, and on December 30, 2011, the D.C. Circuit stayed CSAPR prior to its implementation and ordered EPA to continue administering CAIR on an interim basis.5 On August 21, 2012, the court issued its ruling, vacating and remanding CSAPR to EPA and ordering continued implementation of CAIR. EME Homer City Generation, L.P. v. EPA, 696 F.3d 7, 38 (D.C. Cir. 2012). The D.C. Circuit's vacatur of CSAPR was reversed by the United States Supreme Court on April 29, 2014, and the case was remanded to the D.C. Circuit to resolve remaining issues in accordance with the Supreme Court's ruling. EPA v. EME Homer City Generation, L.P., 134 S. Ct. 1584 (2014). On remand, the D.C. Circuit affirmed CSAPR in most respects.

    5 Order of Dec. 30, 2011, in EME Homer City Generation, L.P. v. EPA, D.C. Cir. No. 11-1302.

    Throughout the initial round of D.C. Circuit proceedings and the ensuing Supreme Court proceedings, the stay on CSAPR remained in place, and EPA continued to implement CAIR. Following the April 2014 Supreme Court decision, EPA filed a motion asking the D.C. Circuit to lift the stay in order to allow CSAPR to replace CAIR in an equitable and orderly manner while further D.C. Circuit proceedings were held to resolve remaining claims from petitioners. Additionally, EPA's motion requested delay, by three years, of all CSAPR compliance deadlines that had not passed as of the approval date of the stay. On October 23, 2014, the D.C. Circuit granted EPA's request,6 and on December 3, 2014 (79 FR 71663), in an interim final rule, EPA set the updated effective date of CSAPR as January 1, 2015 and delayed the implementation of CSAPR Phase I to 2015 and CSAPR Phase 2 to 2017. In accordance with the interim final rule, the sunset date for CAIR was December 31, 2014, and EPA began implementing CSAPR on January 1, 2015.

    6 Order, Document #1518738, EME Homer City Generation, L.P. v. EPA, No. 11-1302 (D.C. Cir. issued Oct. 23, 2014).

    Starting in January 2015, the CSAPR FIP trading programs for annual NOX, ozone season NOX and annual SO2 were applicable in West Virginia. Thus, since January 1, 2015, the West Virginia regulations, 45CSR39 and 45CSR41, that implemented the CAIR trading programs became obsolete with none of these obsolete programs providing any emission reductions.7

    7 EPA notes that 45CSR40—Control of Ozone Season Nitrogen Oxides Emissions is also obsolete and not affecting emission reductions. However, EPA will act on West Virginia's request to remove 45CSR40 from the SIP in a separate action.

    II. Summary of SIP Revisions and EPA Analysis

    WVDEP submitted two SIP revisions on July 13, 2016 that requested the removal from the West Virginia SIP of the State's regulations (45CSR39 and 45CSR41) which implemented respectively the CAIR annual NOX and annual SO2 trading programs. As noted previously, the annual NOX and SO2 reduction programs to address interstate transport of emissions from EGUs for the 1997 and 2006 PM2.5 NAAQS have been replaced by the CSAPR FIP. Because the removal of 45CSR39 and 41 remove moot CAIR provisions which have been replaced by CSAPR which is at least as stringent as CAIR, the removal of 45CSR39 and 41 from the West Virginia SIP has no expected emissions impact on any pollutant and thus is not expected to interfere with reasonable further progress, any NAAQS or any other CAA requirement. The removal of 45CSR39 and 41 from the West Virginia SIP is in accordance with section 110(l) of the CAA. Therefore, EPA determines it is appropriate for these two regulations to be removed in their entirety from the West Virginia SIP as the regulations contain obsolete provisions which no longer provide any emission limitations on, or reductions of, any pollutant.

    III. Final Action

    EPA is approving the two July 13, 2016 West Virginia SIP revision submissions which seek removal from the West Virginia SIP of Regulation 45CSR39 that implemented the CAIR annual NOX trading program and Regulation 45CSR41 that implemented the CAIR annual SO2 trading program. Removal of these two regulations from the West Virginia SIP is in accordance with section 110 of the CAA. EPA is publishing this rule without prior proposal because EPA views this as a noncontroversial amendment and anticipates no adverse comment. However, in the “Proposed Rules” section of this issue of the Federal Register, EPA is publishing a separate document that will serve as the proposal to approve the SIP revision if adverse comments are filed. This rule will be effective on December 26, 2017 without further notice unless EPA receives adverse comment by October 25, 2017. If EPA receives adverse comment, EPA will publish a timely withdrawal in the Federal Register informing the public that the rule will not take effect. EPA will address all public comments in a subsequent final rule based on the proposed rule. EPA will not institute a second comment period on this action. Any parties interested in commenting must do so at this time. Please note that if EPA receives adverse comment on an amendment, paragraph, or section of this rule and if that provision may be severed from the remainder of the rule, EPA may adopt as final those provisions of the rule that are not the subject of an adverse comment.

    IV. Statutory and Executive Order Reviews A. General Requirements

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    In addition, this rule removing West Virginia regulations 45CSR39 and 45CSR41 from the West Virginia SIP does not have tribal implications as specified by Executive Order 13175 (65 FR 67249, November 9, 2000), because the SIP is not approved to apply in Indian country located in the state, and EPA notes that it will not impose substantial direct costs on tribal governments or preempt tribal law.

    B. Submission to Congress and the Comptroller General

    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.

    C. Petitions for Judicial Review

    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 24, 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. Parties with objections to this direct final rule are encouraged to file a comment in response to the parallel notice of proposed rulemaking for this action published in the proposed rules section of this issue of the Federal Register, rather than file an immediate petition for judicial review of this direct final rule, so that EPA can withdraw this direct final rule and address the comment in the proposed rulemaking action.

    This action approving West Virginia SIP revision submittals to remove obsolete CAIR annual trading program provisions 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, Nitrogen dioxide, Ozone, Particulate matter, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Sulfur oxides.

    Dated: September 11, 2017. Cecil Rodrigues, Acting Regional Administrator, Region III.

    40 CFR part 52 is amended as follows:

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

    42 U.S.C. 7401 et seq.

    Subpart XX—West Virginia
    § 52.2520 [Amended]
    2. In § 52.2520, the first table in paragraph (c) is amended by: a. Removing the table heading and the entries for “[45 CSR] Series 39”. b. Removing the table heading and the entries for “[45 CSR] Series 41”.
    [FR Doc. 2017-20341 Filed 9-22-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560-50-P
    ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY 40 CFR Part 62 [EPA-R02-OAR-2017-0132; FRL-9968-13-Region 2] Approval and Promulgation of Plans for Designated Facilities; New Jersey; Delegation of Authority AGENCY:

    Environmental Protection Agency.

    ACTION:

    Final rule.

    SUMMARY:

    The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is approving a request from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) for delegation of authority to implement and enforce the Federal plan for Sewage Sludge Incineration (SSI) units. On April 29, 2016, the EPA promulgated the Federal plan for SSI units to fulfill the requirements of the Clean Air Act. The Federal plan addresses the implementation and enforcement of the emission guidelines applicable to existing SSI units located in areas not covered by an approved and currently effective state plan. The Federal plan imposes emission limits and other control requirements for existing affected SSI facilities which will reduce designated pollutants.

    On January 24, 2017, the NJDEP signed a Memorandum of Agreement which is intended to be the mechanism for the transfer of authority between the EPA and the NJDEP and defines the policies, responsibilities and procedures pursuant to the Federal plan for existing SSI units.

    DATES:

    This rule will be effective October 25, 2017.

    ADDRESSES:

    The EPA has established a docket for this action under Docket ID No. EPA-R02-OAR-2017-0132. All documents in the docket are listed on the www.regulations.gov Web site. Although listed in the index, some information is not publicly available, e.g., Confidential Business Information or other information whose disclosure is restricted by statute. Certain other material, such as copyrighted material, is not placed on the Internet and will be publicly available only in hard copy form. Publicly available docket materials are available either electronically through www.regulations.gov, or please contact the person identified in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section for additional availability information.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Anthony (Ted) Gardella, Environmental Protection Agency, 290 Broadway, New York, New York 10007-1866, at (212) 637-3892, or by email at [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    I. What action is the EPA taking today?

    The EPA is approving the NJDEP's request for delegation of authority to implement and enforce a Federal plan and to adhere to the terms and conditions prescribed in the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) signed between the EPA and the NJDEP, as further explained below. The NJDEP requested delegation of authority of the Federal plan for existing applicable Sewage Sludge Incineration (SSI) units constructed on or before October 14, 2010. See 40 CFR part 62, subpart LLL. The Federal plan was promulgated by the EPA to implement emission guidelines (see 40 CFR part 60, subpart MMMM) pursuant to sections 111(d) and 129 of the Clean Air Act (CAA). The purpose of this delegation is to acknowledge the NJDEP's ability to implement a program and to transfer primary implementation and enforcement responsibility from the EPA to the NJDEP for existing applicable sources of SSI units. While the NJDEP is delegated the authority to implement and enforce the SSI Federal plan, nothing in the delegation agreement shall prohibit the EPA from enforcing the SSI Federal plan.

    II. What was submitted by the NJDEP and how did the EPA respond?

    On October 12, 2016, the NJDEP submitted to the EPA a request for delegation of authority from the EPA to implement and enforce the Federal plan for existing SSI units. The EPA prepared the MOA that defines the policies, responsibilities, and procedures by which the Federal plan will be administered by both the NJDEP and the EPA, pursuant to 40 CFR part 62, subpart LLL for SSI units. The MOA is the mechanism for the transfer of responsibility from the EPA to the NJDEP.

    Both the EPA and the NJDEP signed the MOA in which the State agrees to the terms and conditions of the MOA and accepts responsibility to implement and enforce the policies, responsibilities and procedures of the SSI Federal plan. The transfer of authority to the NJDEP became effective upon signature by the NJDEP on January 24, 2017.

    III. What comments were received in response to the EPA's proposed action?

    On July 13, 2017 (82 FR 32301), the EPA proposed to approve NJDEP's request for delegation of the SSI Federal plan. For a detailed discussion on the content and requirements of the NJDEP's delegation request, the reader is referred to the EPA's proposed rulemaking action. In response to the EPA's July 13, 2017 proposed rulemaking action, the EPA received no public comments.

    IV. What is the EPA's conclusion?

    For the reasons described in this action and in the EPA's proposal the EPA is approving NJDEP's request for delegation of the SSI Federal plan. For further details, the reader is referred to the EPA's proposal.

    V. Statutory and Executive Order Reviews

    Under the Clean Air Act, the Administrator is required to approve a State plan submission that complies with the provisions of the CAA sections 111(d) and 129(b)(2) and applicable Federal regulations. 42 U.S.C. 7411(d) and 7429(b)(2); 40 CFR 62.02(a). Thus, in reviewing State plan submissions, the EPA's role is to approve state choices, provided that they meet the criteria of the CAA. Accordingly, this action merely approves a state delegation request as meeting Federal requirements and does not impose additional requirements beyond those already imposed by state law. For that reason, this action:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    In addition, this rule, pertaining to the NJDEP's section 111(d)/129 request for delegation of authority to implement and enforce the Federal plan for existing SSI units, does not have tribal implications as specified by Executive Order 13175 (65 FR 67249, November 9, 2000), because the NJDEP's request for delegation of the SSI Federal plan is not approved to apply in Indian country located in the state, and EPA notes that it will not impose substantial direct costs on tribal governments or preempt tribal law.

    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 24, 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 62

    Environmental protection, Air pollution control, Administrative practice and procedure, Intergovernmental relations, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Waste treatment and disposal.

    Authority:

    42 U.S.C. 7401 et seq.

    Dated: September 13, 2017. Walter Mugdan, Acting Regional Administrator, Region 2.

    Part 62, chapter I, title 40 of the Code of Federal Regulations is amended as follows:

    PART 62—APPROVAL AND PROMULGATION OF STATE PLANS FOR DESIGNATED FACILITIES AND POLLUTANTS 1. The authority citation for part 62 continues to read as follows: Authority:

    42 U.S.C. 7401 et seq.

    Subpart FF—New Jersey 2. Add § 62.7607 and an undesignated heading to subpart FF to read as follows:

    Air Emissions from Existing Sewage Sludge Incineration Units

    § 62.7607 Identification of plan—delegation of authority.

    (a) Letter from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP), submitted October 12, 2016, requesting delegation of authority from the EPA to implement and enforce the Federal plan for existing Sewage Sludge Incineration (SSI) units. The Federal plan will be administered by both the NJDEP and the EPA, pursuant to “Federal Plan Requirements for Sewage Sludge Incineration Units Constructed on or Before October 14, 2010” 40 CFR 62.15855-62.16050.

    (b) Identification of sources. The Federal plan applies to owners or operators of existing facilities that meet all three of the following criteria:

    (1) The SSI unit(s) commenced construction on or before October 14, 2010;

    (2) The SSI unit(s) meets the definition of an SSI unit as defined in § 62.16045; and

    (3) The SSI unit(s) is not exempt under § 62.15860.

    (c) On December 27, 2016, the EPA prepared and signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between the EPA and NJDEP that define the policies, responsibilities and procedures pursuant to the SSI Federal plan identified in (a) above by which the Federal plan will be administered by both the NJDEP and the EPA. On January 24, 2017, Bob Martin, NJDEP Commissioner, signed the MOA, therefore agreeing to the terms and conditions of the MOA and accepting responsibility to enforce and implement the policies, responsibilities, and procedures for existing SSI units.

    (d) The delegation became fully effective on January 24, 2017, the date the MOA was signed by the NJDEP Commissioner.

    [FR Doc. 2017-20440 Filed 9-22-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560-50-P
    ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY 40 CFR Part 300 [EPA-HQ-SFUND-2005-0011; FRL-9967-25-Region 5] National Oil and Hazardous Substance Pollution Contingency Plan; National Priorities List: Deletion of the Nutting Truck & Caster Co. Superfund Site AGENCY:

    Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

    ACTION:

    Direct final rule.

    SUMMARY:

    The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 5 is publishing a direct final Notice of Deletion of the Nutting Truck & Caster Co. Superfund Site (Site), located in Faribault, Rice County, Minnesota from the National Priorities List (NPL). The NPL, promulgated pursuant to Section 105 of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) of 1980, as amended, is an appendix of the National Oil and Hazardous Substances Pollution Contingency Plan (NCP). This direct final deletion is being published by EPA with the concurrence of the State of Minnesota, through the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA), because EPA has determined that all appropriate response actions under CERCLA have been completed. However, this deletion does not preclude future actions under Superfund.

    DATES:

    This direct final deletion is effective November 24, 2017 unless EPA receives adverse comments by October 25, 2017. If adverse comments are received, EPA will publish a timely withdrawal of the direct final deletion in the Federal Register informing the public that the deletion will not take effect.

    ADDRESSES:

    Submit your comments, identified by Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-SFUND-2005-0011 at https://www.regulations.gov. Follow the online instructions for submitting comments. Comments may also be submitted by email or mail to Randolph Cano, NPL Deletion Coordinator, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 5 (SR-6J), 77 West Jackson Boulevard, Chicago, IL 60604, (312) 886-6036, email address: [email protected] or hand deliver: Superfund Records Center, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 5, 77 West Jackson Boulevard, 7th Floor South, Chicago, IL 60604, (312) 886-0900. Such deliveries are only accepted during the Docket's normal hours of operation, and special arrangements should be made for deliveries of boxed information. The normal business hours are Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., excluding Federal holidays. 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. Publicly available docket materials are available either electronically through https://www.regulations.gov or in hard copy at the site information repositories.

    Locations, contacts, phone numbers and viewing hours are:

    U.S. Environmental Protection Agency—Region 5, Superfund Records Center, 77 West Jackson Boulevard, 7th Floor South, Chicago, IL 60604, Phone: (312) 886-0900, Hours: Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., excluding Federal holidays.

    Buckham Memorial Library, 11 Division Street E, Faribault, MN 55021, Phone: (507) 334-2089, Hours: Monday and Wednesday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Tuesday and Thursday 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., Friday and Saturday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Randolph Cano, NPL Deletion Coordinator, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 5 (SR-6J), 77 West Jackson Boulevard, Chicago, IL 60604, (312) 886-6036, or via email at [email protected]

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

    EPA Region 5 is publishing this direct final Notice of Deletion of the Nutting Truck & Caster Co. Site (Site) from the NPL and requests public comment on this action. The NPL constitutes Appendix B of 40 CFR part 300, which is the National Oil and Hazardous Substances Pollution Contingency Plan (NCP), which EPA promulgated pursuant to Section 105 of CERCLA, as amended. EPA maintains the NPL as the list of sites that appear to present a significant risk to public health, welfare, or the environment. Sites on the NPL may be the subject of remedial actions financed by the Hazardous Substance Superfund (Fund). As described in § 300.425(e)(3) of the NCP, sites deleted from the NPL remain eligible for Fund-financed remedial actions if future conditions warrant such actions.

    Because EPA considers this action to be noncontroversial and routine, this action is effective November 24, 2017, unless EPA receives adverse comments by October 25, 2017.

    Section II of this document explains the criteria for deleting sites from the NPL. Section III discusses procedures that EPA is using for this action. Section IV discusses the Nutting Truck & Caster Co. Site and demonstrates how it meets the deletion criteria. Section V discusses EPA's action to delete the site from the NPL unless adverse comments are received during the public comment period.

    II. NPL Deletion Criteria

    The NCP establishes the criteria that EPA uses to delete sites from the NPL. In accordance with 40 CFR 300.425(e), sites may be deleted from the NPL where no further response is appropriate. In making such a determination pursuant to 40 CFR 300.425(e), EPA will consider, in consultation with the State, whether any of the following criteria have been met:

    i. Responsible parties or other persons have implemented all appropriate response actions required;

    ii. all appropriate Fund-financed response under CERCLA has been implemented, and no further response action by responsible parties is appropriate; or

    iii. the remedial investigation has shown that the release poses no significant threat to public health or the environment and, therefore, the taking of remedial measures is not appropriate.

    III. Deletion Procedures

    The following procedures apply to deletion of the Site:

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

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

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

    (4) EPA placed copies of documents supporting the proposed deletion in the deletion docket and made these items available for public inspection and copying at the Site information repositories identified above.

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

    Deletion of a site from the NPL does not itself create, alter, or revoke any individual's rights or obligations. Deletion of a site from the NPL does not in any way alter EPA's right to take enforcement actions, as appropriate. The NPL is designed primarily for informational purposes and to assist EPA management. Section 300.425(e)(3) of the NCP states that the deletion of a site from the NPL does not preclude eligibility for future response actions, should future conditions warrant such actions.

    IV. Basis for Site Deletion

    The following information provides EPA's rationale for deleting the Site from the NPL.

    Site Background and History

    The Nutting Truck & Caster Co. Superfund Site (CERCLIS ID: MND006154017) is located at 85 Prairie Avenue (formerly reported as 1201 or 1221 W. Division Street) in Faribault, Minnesota. The Site covers approximately 8.6 acres of the former 11 acre Nutting Truck & Caster Co. (Nutting) property that was used for manufacturing and waste disposal activities. The Site is bound on the west by Prairie Avenue and the southeast by railroad tracks. The majority of the north Site boundary is approximately 250 feet south of Division Street. The Site is accessed via Prairie Avenue. The property is currently owned by Prairie Avenue Leasing, Ltd., and is utilized for commercial and light industrial uses. The property includes an industrial/commercial building with loading docks. Most of the remainder of the property is paved. A cell tower is located on the property.

    Single-family homes and an Islamic Center are located to the west and north of the Site. The residences and other water-users on and near the Site are connected to the municipal water supply. Nutting manufactured casters, wheels and hand trucks at the Site from 1891 to 1984. Prior to 1979, Nutting disposed wastes in an unlined seepage pit in a former gravel pit on the Site. The wastes were primarily solvents and sludges containing cadmium, lead, cyanide, methylene chloride, trichloroethylene (TCE) and xylene.

    The MPCA issued a Notice of Noncompliance to Nutting for their past TCE disposal practice at the Site in 1979. Nutting excavated the sludge and contaminated soil from the former seepage pit under MPCA oversight in 1980. Nutting land spread the excavated material on Rice County property adjacent to the Rice County Landfill in accordance with MPCA Permit MNL051748. Nutting backfilled the pit with clean fill and paved the area over with concrete. MPCA determined that the source materials were effectively removed, but that groundwater contamination remained at the Site above drinking water standards.

    EPA proposed the Site to the NPL on September 8, 1983 (48 FR 40658) and finalized the Site on the NPL on September 21, 1984 (49 FR 37055). MPCA added Nutting to its State Superfund Priority List, known as the Permanent List of Priorities (PLP), in 1984. MPCA took the lead in addressing the Site through its State environmental response authority under the Minnesota Environmental Response and Liability Act (MERLA) of 1983.

    MPCA issued a Request for Response Action (RFRA) to Nutting in September 1983 and a Response Order by Consent to Nutting in April 1984 (1984 Order). The 1984 Order required Nutting to conduct a remedial investigation (RI) and to make recommendations concerning further response actions that may be necessary at the Site. EPA was not a party to the 1984 Order because the Site was a State enforcement lead site.

    Remedial Investigation and Feasibility Study (RI/FS)

    Nutting completed the RI and recommended response actions for groundwater in 1986. MPCA issued a second Response Order by Consent to Nutting on September 22, 1987 (1987 Order). EPA was not a party to the 1987 Order. The 1987 Order required Nutting to develop and implement a Response Action Plan (RAP) for groundwater remediation. MPCA required this action based on the possibility that the groundwater contamination immediately downgradient of the Nutting Site could pose a potential future threat to the Faribault well field. Nutting submitted a RAP to MPCA in response to the 1987 Order. MPCA approved the RAP and Nutting implemented the RAP in 1987. The RAP called for the extraction and treatment of contaminated groundwater and continued groundwater monitoring.

    Selected Remedy

    Soil: MPCA's selected remedy for soil was the soil excavation Nutting conducted pursuant to MPCA's 1979 Notice of Noncompliance. Nutting excavated the contaminated soil and material from the seepage pit located in the west central area of the property. Nutting disposed of these materials, which were the Site's major source of TCE contamination, off-site. This removal action achieved MPCA's residential soil clean-up goals. Nutting backfilled the excavated pit with clean fill and paved the area with concrete. The area is currently used as a loading dock and parking area. The soil removal action objectives for the Site are: (1) To eliminate the possibility of precipitation facilitating the migration of contaminants through the soil; and (2) to eliminate access to the former seepage pit area by potential receptors.

    Groundwater: The remedial action objectives (RAOs) for Site groundwater are documented in the 1987 RAP. The groundwater RAOs are to prevent the migration of contaminated groundwater away from the Site and to ensure the protection of downgradient aquifers for future use as a potable water supply. Nutting installed a groundwater pump-and-treat (P&T) system at the Site to prevent the contaminated groundwater from migrating away from the Site in 1987. Nutting also installed a system of downgradient compliance wells to assess the effectiveness of the groundwater remedy.

    MPCA set the cleanup level for groundwater in the RAP at 50 parts per billion (ppb) for TCE in the upper aquifer units. MPCA's objective was to ensure that the downgradient drinking water aquifers would be protected. TCE levels in groundwater could not exceed 50 parts per billion (ppb) in the compliance wells. The compliance wells were the wells that were the closest to the Site, 350-400 feet downgradient of the Nutting property boundary. Several of the sentinel wells located on private properties were subsequently sealed due to requests from property owners.

    The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) recommended that the Minnesota Health Risk Limit (HRL) for TCE be changed from 30 ppb to 5 ppb in 2002. This lower value coincides with EPA's Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) for TCE under the Safe Drinking Water Act. MPCA prepared an amended RAP to modify the groundwater clean-up goals for the Site from 50 ppb of TCE to the present MCL/HRL action level of 5 ppb in 2003.

    Response Actions

    Nutting constructed and began operating the groundwater extraction system at the Site in 1987. The extraction system consisted of two wells. One extraction well was installed in the shallower, glacial outwash unit of the upper aquifer and one extraction well was installed in the deeper, St. Peter Sandstone unit of the upper aquifer. The St. Peter Sandstone unit of the upper aquifer is above the lower, Prairie du Chien aquifer, which is the source of drinking water. Groundwater flow in both aquifers is to the north. Both extraction wells were located just north of the Site on Division Street West. Nutting treated the extracted groundwater on-Site using a gravity cascade to remove the TCE and other volatile organic compounds. Nutting discharged the treated groundwater to a municipal storm water sewer.

    Cleanup Levels

    MPCA lowered the cleanup level for TCE to 5 ppb in an amended RAP in 2003. Groundwater sampling demonstrated that the extraction system achieved the 5 ppb cleanup standard for TCE in the off-site compliance wells in 2004. Nutting shut down the extraction wells in 2004 with the approval of the MPCA.

    Nutting prepared a Long-term Monitoring Plan in June 2004 that contained a two-tier monitoring plan for removing the groundwater treatment system. This document also contained criteria and contingency plans for restarting the groundwater treatment system.

    Nutting continued to monitor the groundwater until 2007. In 2007, MPCA determined that the cleanup standard for groundwater was met and maintained at the compliance wells and that no additional groundwater monitoring was required. Nutting sealed all extraction and monitoring wells with MPCA approval in 2008. MPCA terminated the 1987 Order and deleted the Site from its PLP in 2009.

    EPA reviewed the Site in 2010. EPA determined that no further action was necessary to protect public health or welfare or the environment at the Site. EPA issued a Record of Decision (ROD) in 2010 stating that all appropriate MERLA response actions, which parallel CERCLA response actions, were completed at the Site, and that long-term monitoring indicates that the soil and the groundwater at the Site do not pose a threat to public health or welfare or the environment. EPA's ROD determined that because the actions taken at the Site removed the potential for risks to human health and the environment, these actions meet EPA clean-up standards, and no further action is required. EPA's ROD also determined that Site conditions allow for unlimited use and unrestricted exposure.

    EPA reviewed the historical groundwater data from the Site in 2013 when preparing to delete the Site from the NPL. During this review, EPA determined that the drinking water standard for TCE was, in fact, not being met throughout the plume. This standard would have to be achieved throughout the plume before the Site could be deleted from the NPL. EPA raised this issue with MPCA.

    MPCA contracted the Antea Group (Antea) to re-install two groundwater monitoring wells at the Site to address this issue. Antea re-installed nested groundwater monitoring well B4R in the glacial outwash/St. Peter Sandstone upper aquifer and W13R in the Prairie du Chien lower aquifer in 2014 to confirm that the MCL was attained in the on-Site plume. Antea sampled the groundwater during 15 sampling events from August 2014 to November 2016. Antea sampled lower aquifer well W13R during all 15 sampling events and upper aquifer well B4R during the first 11 events under EPA direction.

    The analytical results from all 11 sampling events from B4R showed TCE concentrations below the cleanup level of 5 ppb. The analytical results from the first seven W13R sampling events showed TCE levels below 10 ppb, with the final eight sampling events under the cleanup level of 5 ppb. Because the last eight consecutive groundwater sampling events at the Site show that the TCE cleanup level of 5 ppb is being met throughout the plume, EPA's requirements for Site closeout are achieved. No additional groundwater monitoring is required.

    MPCA tasked Antea to conduct additional sampling to assess whether there was any potential risk from soil vapor intrusion in 2015. Antea advanced five soil gas probes to depths of six to eight feet below ground surface around the northwest corner of the Site downgradient of the former disposal pit. The analytical results were below the screening values for all constituents on the Minnesota Soil Gas List and total hydrocarbons. These results indicate that the risk for vapor intrusion is minimal and that additional vapor intrusion actions are not necessary.

    Operation and Maintenance

    This Site does not require any operation and maintenance (O&M) activities. Site soil and groundwater meet all cleanup objectives and no further remedial action or O&M is required. The MPCA will permanently abandon the re-installed monitoring wells, which are no longer needed for the collection of groundwater data.

    Nutting executed an Environmental Covenant and Easement at the Site on October 28, 2008. The MPCA required this institutional control as part of the State delisting requirement from the State PLP. The covenant provides additional and enforceable protection of public health and the environment, as it provides that: (1) No wells can be installed on the property without the approval of the MPCA; (2) all monitoring and extraction wells have been properly abandoned as a condition of the Environmental Covenant; (3) the property owner is required to report to the MPCA on an annual basis that conditions at the Site remain consistent with land use prescribed in the zoning requirements; and (4) any proposed changes in land use require that MPCA be notified to determine if the changes will adversely affect the protectiveness of the completed remedy. It should be noted that this covenant is not required by EPA.

    Five Year Reviews

    MPCA conducted five-year reviews (FYRs) of the Site in 1994, 1998, 2003 and 2008. MPCA conducted the last FYR of the Site in 2008. MPCA's 2008 FYR concluded that the remedial actions at the Site were protective of human health and the environment in the short-term, and that long-term protectiveness would be achieved when the groundwater cleanup standards were attained and the State-required institutional controls were in place. The Site-wide remedy protects human health and the environment because exposure pathways that could result in unacceptable risks have been controlled through the completed remedial activities.

    MPCA deleted the Site from the State PLP in 2009. EPA's 2010 ROD determined that all appropriate MERLA response actions, which parallel CERCLA response actions, have been completed. Long-term monitoring indicates that the soil and groundwater at the Site do not pose a threat to public health or welfare or the environment. EPA's 2010 ROD does not require subsequent FYRs since Site conditions allow for unlimited use and unrestricted exposure. EPA, MPCA, Antea and the Site property owner conducted a final inspection at the Site on November 15, 2016. EPA completed a Final Close Out Report for the Site on April 11, 2017.

    Community Involvement

    EPA and MPCA satisfied public participation activities as required in CERCLA Section 113(k), 42 U.S.C. 9613(k), and CERCLA Section 117, 42 U.S.C. 9617. MPCA published notifications announcing the FYR and inviting the public to comment and express their concerns about the Site in the Faribault Daily News at the start of the 1994, 1998, 2003 and 2008 FYRs. EPA published a document about its proposed no further action plan for the Site, the 30-day public comment period, and the availability of a public meeting, if requested, in the Faribault Daily News in 2010. EPA mailed a proposed plan fact sheet with information about the Site and announcing a 30-day public comment period to the addresses on the Site mailing list prior to issuing its final decision in the 2010 ROD. EPA did not receive any comments during the public comment period or any requests for a public meeting.

    EPA published a document announcing this proposed Direct Final Deletion in the Faribault Daily News prior to publishing this deletion in the Federal Register. Documents in the deletion docket which EPA relied on for recommending the deletion of this Site from the NPL are available to the public in the information repositories and at https://www.regulations.gov.

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

    This Site meets all of the site completion requirements as specified in Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response (OSWER) Directive 9320.2-22, Close Out Procedures for National Priorities List Sites. All cleanup actions specified in the RAP have been implemented, and the Site has achieved the RAP cleanup objectives or has been cleaned up to acceptable risk levels for all media and exposure pathways as noted in the 2010 EPA ROD. The RAOs and associated clean-up goals are consistent with Agency policy and guidance. Confirmation groundwater sampling and soil vapor results provide further assurance that the Site no longer poses a threat to human health or the environment. Therefore, the EPA has determined that no further Superfund response is necessary at the Site to protect human health and the environment.

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

    V. Deletion Action

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

    Because EPA considers this action to be noncontroversial and routine, EPA is taking it without prior publication. This direct final deletion is effective November 24, 2017 unless EPA receives adverse comments by October 25, 2017. If adverse comments are received within the 30-day public comment period, EPA will publish a timely withdrawal of this direct final Notice of Deletion before the effective date of the deletion, and it will not take effect. EPA will prepare a response to comments and continue with the deletion process on the basis of the Notice of Intent to Delete and the comments already received. There will be no additional opportunity to comment.

    List of Subjects in 40 CFR Part 300

    Environmental protection, Air pollution control, Chemicals, Hazardous substances, Hazardous waste, Intergovernmental relations, Penalties, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Superfund, Water pollution control, and Water supply.

    Dated: August 21, 2017. Robert A. Kaplan, Acting Regional Administrator, Region 5.

    For the reasons stated in the preamble, 40 CFR part 300 is amended as follows:

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

    33 U.S.C. 1321(d); 42 U.S.C. 9601-9657; E.O. 13626, 77 FR 56749, 3 CFR, 2013 Comp., p. 306; E.O. 12777, 56 FR 54757, 3 CFR, 1991 Comp., p. 351; E.O. 12580, 52 FR 2923, 3 CFR, 1987 Comp., p. 193.

    Appendix B to Part 300 [Amended] 2. Table 1 of Appendix B to part 300 is amended by removing the entry “MN”, “Nutting Truck & Caster Co”, “Faribault”.
    [FR Doc. 2017-20348 Filed 9-22-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560-50-P
    ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY 40 CFR Part 770 [EPA-HQ-OPPT-2017-0244; FRL-9966-56] RIN 2070-AK35 Compliance Date Extension; Formaldehyde Emission Standards for Composite Wood Products AGENCY:

    Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

    ACTION:

    Final rule; compliance date extension.

    SUMMARY:

    EPA is extending the compliance dates for the formaldehyde emission standards for composite wood products final rule issued pursuant to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Title VI, and published in the Federal Register on December 12, 2016. EPA is extending the December 12, 2017, manufactured-by date for emission standards, recordkeeping, and labeling provisions until December 12, 2018; extending the December 12, 2018 compliance date for import certification provisions until March 22, 2019; and extending the December 12, 2023, compliance date for provisions applicable to producers of laminated products until March 22, 2024. Additionally, this final rule will extend the transitional period during which the California Air Resources Board (CARB) Third Party Certifiers (TPC) may certify composite wood products under TSCA Title VI without an accreditation issued by an EPA TSCA Title VI Accreditation Body, so long as the TPC remains approved by CARB, is recognized by EPA, and complies with all aspects of the December 12, 2016 final rule until March 22, 2019. EPA believes that extension of these compliance dates and the transitional period for CARB TPCs adds needed regulatory flexibility for regulated entities, reduces compliance burdens, and helps to prevent disruptions to supply chains while still ensuring that compliant composite wood products enter the supply chain in a timely manner.

    DATES:

    This final rule is effective on October 25, 2017.

    ADDRESSES:

    The docket for this action, identified by docket identification (ID) number EPA-HQ-OPPT-2017-0244, is available at http://www.regulations.gov or at the Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics Docket (OPPT Docket), Environmental Protection Agency Docket Center (EPA/DC), West William Jefferson Clinton Bldg., Rm. 3334, 1301 Constitution Ave. NW., Washington, DC. The Public Reading Room is open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, excluding legal holidays. The telephone number for the Public Reading Room is (202) 566-1744, and the telephone number for the OPPT Docket is (202) 566-0280. Please review the visitor instructions and additional information about the docket available at http://www.epa.gov/dockets.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    For technical information contact: Erik Winchester, National Program Chemicals Division, Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics, Environmental Protection Agency, 1200 Pennsylvania Ave. NW., Washington, DC 20460-0001; telephone number: (202) 564-6450; email address: [email protected]

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

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    I. Does this action apply to me?

    You may be affected by this final rule if you manufacture (including import), sell, supply, offer for sale, test, or work with the certification of hardwood plywood, medium-density fiberboard, particleboard, and/or products containing these composite wood materials in the United States. The following list of North American Industrial Classification System (NAICS) codes is not intended to be exhaustive, but rather provides a guide to help readers determine whether this document applies to them. Potentially affected entities may include:

    • Veneer, plywood, and engineered wood product manufacturing (NAICS code 3212).

    • Manufactured home (mobile home) manufacturing (NAICS code 321991).

    • Prefabricated wood building manufacturing (NAICS code 321992).

    • Furniture and related product manufacturing (NAICS code 337).

    • Furniture merchant wholesalers (NAICS code 42321).

    • Lumber, plywood, millwork, and wood panel merchant wholesalers (NAICS code 42331).

    • Other construction material merchant wholesalers (NAICS code 423390), e.g., merchant wholesale distributors of manufactured homes (i.e., mobile homes) and/or prefabricated buildings.

    • Furniture stores (NAICS code 4421).

    • Building material and supplies dealers (NAICS code 4441).

    • Manufactured (mobile) home dealers (NAICS code 45393).

    • Motor home manufacturing (NAICS code 336213).

    • Travel trailer and camper manufacturing (NAICS code 336214).

    • Recreational vehicle (RV) dealers (NAICS code 441210).

    • Recreational vehicle merchant wholesalers (NAICS code 423110).

    • Engineering services (NAICS code 541330).

    • Testing laboratories (NAICS code 541380).

    • Administrative management and general management consulting services (NAICS code 541611).

    • All other professional, scientific, and technical services (NAICS code 541990).

    • All other support services (NAICS code 561990).

    • Business associations (NAICS code 813910).

    • Professional organizations (NAICS code 813920).

    If you have any questions regarding the applicability of this action, please consult the technical person listed under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT.

    II. Background A. What action is the agency taking?

    EPA shares the concerns raised by industry stakeholders regarding the time needed to comply with provisions of the formaldehyde emission standards for composite wood products final rule (81 FR 89674, December 12, 2016) (FRL-9949-90), and, therefore, is extending several rule compliance dates. EPA also believes that CARB TPCs should be allotted the full two years granted by the December 12, 2016 final rule to operate under the transitional period as promulgated in § 770.7(d).

    1. Direct Final Rule and Notice of Proposed Rulemaking. Given that EPA extended the effective date of the TSCA Title VI final rule from February 10, 2017 until May 22, 2017, the Agency issued a proposed (82 FR 23735) (FRL-9962-85) and direct final rule (82 FR 23769) (FRL-9962-86) on May 24, 2017 that regulated entities should have at least the same amount of time to comply with the various regulatory timeframes as initially allotted in the final rule. The two extensions to the final rule effective date (82 FR 8499, January 26, 2017 (FRL-9958-87) and 82 FR 14324, May 24, 2017 (FRL-9960-28-OP) resulted in delaying the ability of regulated entities to begin implementation activities to establish certification programs, certify composite wood products and distribute those products into supply chains, such that compliance would be achieved by the required dates. The Agency solicited public comment on this action by issuing a companion Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (82 FR 23769) (FRL-9962-85) with the direct final rule in the event EPA received adverse public comment. EPA did receive nine (9) comments from the public on this action, at least one of which the Agency considered to be adverse in nature with respect to the proposed extension of compliance dates. The direct final action was withdrawn on July 6, 2017, as published in the Federal Register (82 FR 31267) (FRL-9963-74).

    EPA considered all of the public comments submitted in response to the provisions outlined in the direct final rule and companion proposal. Due to the adverse comments, EPA was compelled to withdraw the direct final rule (82 FR 31267) (FRL-9963-74). The Agency then proceeded with the notice of proposed rulemaking (82 FR 23769) (FRL-9962-85) and is now issuing this final rule and a Response to Comments document which addresses the comments received.

    2. Stakeholder Feedback Since the December 12, 2016 Final Rule. Since publication of the December 12, 2016 final rule, the Agency has engaged the composite wood product industry stakeholders, other related regulated entities, and the larger public through webinar presentations, trade group meetings, conference presentations, and teleconferences to discuss and support implementation of the December 12, 2016 final rule. Through this stakeholder outreach, the Agency received both formal and informal feedback regarding compliance challenges faced by regulated entities, including the final rule's compliance dates. In addition, the Agency received several unsolicited letters and general correspondence from composite wood product industry stakeholders requesting that the Agency amend specific provisions of the December 12, 2016 final rule. Written inquiries and correspondence from Hooker Furniture, Composite Panel Association, American Home Furnishings Alliance (AHFA), and a consortium of trade associations including AHFA, Kitchen Cabinet Manufacturers, International Wood Products Association, Recreation Vehicle Industry Association, National Retail Foundation, and Retail Industry Leaders Association are included in the supporting documents section of the public docket for this action. Industry concerns included challenges in meeting the compliance dates due to the complexities of the domestic and imported composite wood product supply chains, import certification requirements, non-complying lot notification requirements, prohibition on early labeling, and laminated product provisions of the final rule.

    Since publication of the direct final action, the Agency has been contacted by multiple stakeholders, national trade associations, and other regulated entities who overwhelmingly confirm that regulated entities will require additional time to comply with the TSCA Title VI emission standards compliance date due to supply chain, global business, and factory supply logistics. National groups representing importers and importers themselves have noted that there will be significant logistical hurdles with sourcing compliant composite wood panels for fabrication of finished goods and component parts before the manufactured-by date that the Agency had not considered in choosing the proposed March 22, 2018 compliance date in the direct final rule. Several commenters suggested extending the compliance date for the emission standards, recordkeeping, and labeling requirements in order to allow adequate time for the production and integration of TSCA Title VI certified composite wood products into the domestic and import supply chains. The supply chain begins with the production of panels, then fabrication of component parts and finished goods to ultimately having compliant products available for sale to consumers. Commenters suggested extensions ranging from a compliance date of December 12, 2018 to July 22, 2019. Commenters also noted that EPA had not fully understood or considered the logistical hurdles that regulated entities face to comply with the rule requirements. Commenters noted that extending the compliance date further than what was proposed on May 24, 2017 (82 FR 23769), will help ensure that an adequate supply of certified composite wood products enter the supply chain. The earliest some regulated entities communicated being able to import TSCA Title VI compliant component parts and finished goods is approximately May 2018. One commenter also noted that achieving full compliance with all of their imported products as TSCA Title VI compliant could take until July 2019, given the anticipated inventory of non-TSCA Title VI certified panels and finished goods currently in their inventory and the time needed to obtain compliant panels to fabricate and sell compliant component parts and finished goods.

    Other commenters did not support any further extension of the compliance dates as they noted that further delay would be a hindrance to the health benefits from reduced formaldehyde emissions in the home environment, and stated that extending the compliance date defeated the purpose of establishing a compliance date in the final rule. Some commenters supported the compliance date extension as proposed stating that it would restore the December 12, 2016, final rule's regulatory timeframe. A full response to comments received during the public comment period is included in the Response to Comments document in the supporting documents section of the public docket for this action.

    After considering the public comments both supportive and non-supportive of extending the compliance dates, the agency believes that the December 12, 2018 compliance date for the emission standards provides a balanced and reasoned timeline for importers, distributors, and regulated entities to establish compliant supply chains and comply with the TSCA Title VI final rule. Additionally, the agency believes extending this compliance date reflects the Congressional intent under TSCA Title VI that the agency implement provisions to ensure compliance with the formaldehyde emission standards as soon as possible while enabling regulated entities to achieve compliance. The Agency does not believe that the extension provided for the emissions compliance date would result in any significant increases in health risk, in part because on July 11, 2017, EPA published a direct final rule that allows voluntary early labeling of compliant composite wood products after August 25, 2017, which facilitates TSCA Title VI compliant products entering commerce sooner than under the original December 12, 2017, compliance date for the emission standards, recordkeeping, and labeling requirements. Moreover, CARB compliant composite wood panels, component parts, and finished goods, which are subject to identical formaldehyde emission standards as TSCA Title VI, make up the majority of composite wood products already in the domestic supply chains and that will continue during the additional time provided to comply with TSCA. The Agency also believes that the extended compliance dates proposed for import certification, laminated products, and the CARB TPC transitional period are adequate. EPA received no adverse comments on these dates, which are being finalized as proposed. As such, this final rule will extend the December 12, 2018, compliance date for import certification provisions until March 22, 2019; and extend the December 12, 2023, compliance date for provisions applicable to producers of laminated products until March 22, 2024. Additionally, this final action will extend the transitional period during which the CARB TPCs may certify composite wood products under TSCA Title VI without an accreditation issued by an EPA TSCA Title VI Accreditation Body so long as the TPC remains approved by CARB, is recognized by EPA, and complies with all aspects of the December 12, 2016, final rule until March 22, 2019.

    3. Final Rule. EPA is publishing this final rule to provide regulated entities with the time needed to ensure certified composite wood products enter the supply chains. EPA is extending the compliance dates for the December 12, 2016, final rule by: Extending the December 12, 2017, date for emission standards, recordkeeping, and labeling provisions, until December 12, 2018; extending the December 12, 2018 date for import certification provisions until March 22, 2019; and extending the December 12, 2023 compliance date for provisions applicable to producers of laminated products until March 22, 2024. Additionally, this final rule will extend the CARB TPC transitional period under § 770.7(d), which is currently set to end December 12, 2018, until March 22, 2019 to be consistent with the regulatory timeframe of the December 12, 2016 final rule.

    The Agency believes that this final rule balances the further extended compliance dates commenters noted would be needed, and the proposed compliance dates in the May 24, 2017 (82 FR 23735), direct final rule that several trade groups concurred with in their public comments. EPA has begun recognizing TPCs and Accreditation Bodies to the TSCA Title VI program since the May 22, 2017, effective date of the December 12, 2016, final rule and anticipates that panel producers and TPCs will work together to provide compliant products for further downstream distribution and fabrication into component parts and finished goods so that those composite wood products will be compliant by or before December 12, 2018.

    As previously noted, this final rule establishes a compliance date of December 12, 2018, for the emission standards, recordkeeping, and labeling provisions. Beginning this date, all imported panels and component parts or finished goods subject to the rule must comply with 40 CFR part 770. Existing stock of non-certified panels manufactured in the United States or imported into the United States before the manufactured-by date may continue to be distributed in commerce and integrated further into component parts and finished goods until that stock is depleted, providing documentation is kept regarding the date of manufacture or import. Further, existing stock of component parts and finished goods that contain non-certified panels manufactured internationally and subsequently imported into the United States before the manufactured-by date may continue to be distributed into commerce and integrated into finished goods until that stock is depleted, providing documentation is kept regarding the date of manufacture or import.

    EPA notes that it has previously referred to the compliance date for the emission standards, recordkeeping, and labeling provisions as the “manufactured-by date” for composite wood products. To clarify, the “manufactured-by date” in this context refers to the compliance date for the emission standards, recordkeeping, and labeling provisions. Additionally, EPA has also described the compliance date for the provisions applicable specifically to producers of laminated products, finalized in this rule to be March 22, 2024, as the “manufactured-by date” for laminated products. To clarify, the “manufactured-by date” in this context refers to the compliance date for the provisions applicable specifically to producers of laminated products.

    In addition, to clarify EPA's original intent regarding the compliance dates referenced in the December 12, 2016, final rule, and to better align with the final rule's preamble discussion the Agency has amended the text preceding the compliance dates from “after” to “beginning,” as proposed. EPA intends regulated entities to begin complying with the referenced rule requirements as of the dates listed in the final rule. EPA did not receive adverse comment on this aspect of the proposal.

    EPA is also proceeding with amending subparagraph § 770.15(e) to clarify that TPCs receive recognition after they apply to EPA, not after the conclusion of the transitional period as the codified text currently reads. EPA did not receive adverse comment on this aspect of the proposal. As such, the Agency is finalizing this amendment as proposed.

    Additionally, EPA is clarifying § 770.2(d) to note that existing CARB-approved TPCs that enter the TSCA Title VI program under the reciprocity provisions of the final rule must be EPA-recognized before they may begin certifying products as TSCA Title VI compliant. EPA notes that this requirement is already explicitly stated in § 770.7(d), and that this editorial clarification is solely intended to resolve any ambiguity to be interpreted between the two aforementioned codified sections of the regulatory text. EPA did not receive adverse comment on this aspect of the proposal.

    B. What is the agency's authority for taking this action?

    These regulations are established under authority of Section 601 of TSCA, 15 U.S.C. 2697.

    III. Statutory and Executive Order Reviews

    Additional information about these statutes and Executive Orders can be found at http://www2.epa.gov/lawsregulations/laws-and-executive-orders.

    A. Executive Order 12866: Regulatory Planning and Review and Executive Order 13563: Improving Regulation and Regulatory Review

    This action has been determined to be a significant regulatory action under Executive Order 12866 (58 FR 51735, October 4, 1993) and was submitted to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review under Executive Orders and 13563 (76 FR 3821, January 21, 2011) and any changes made in response to OMB review have been reflected in the docket for this action.

    B. Executive Order 13771: Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs

    This action is considered an Executive Order 13771 (82 FR 9339, February 3, 2017) deregulatory action. This action provides regulatory relief by extending the compliance date for certain provisions of the formaldehyde emission standards for composite wood products final rule.

    C. Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA)

    This action does not impose any new information collection burden under the PRA because it does not create any new reporting or recordkeeping obligations. OMB has previously approved the information collection activities contained in the existing regulations and has assigned OMB control number 2070-0185 (EPA ICR Number 2446.02).

    D. Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA)

    The Agency certifies that this action will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities under the RFA, 5 U.S.C. 601 et seq. In making this determination, the impact of concern is any significant adverse economic impact on small entities. An agency may certify that a rule will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities if the rule relieves regulatory burden, has no net burden or otherwise has a positive economic effect on the small entities subject to the rule. This rule extends, in response to two delays of the rule effective date and public comment, the compliance dates and transitional period for CARB TPCs to provide the time needed to achieve compliance post-effective date. This will reduce the burden on TPCs, panel producers, fabricators, importers, distributors, and retailers, because shortening of the compliance period by even a few months makes it more difficult for some of them to establish business relationships, certify product, and distribute certified product into commerce to downstream entities before the original compliance date. EPA therefore concludes that this action will relieve or have no net regulatory burden for directly regulated small entities.

    E. Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (UMRA)

    This action does not contain any unfunded mandate as described in UMRA, 2 U.S.C. 1531-1538, and does not significantly or uniquely affect small governments. The action imposes no enforceable duty on any state, local or tribal governments or the private sector.

    F. Executive Order 13132: Federalism

    This action does not have federalism implications as specified in Executive Order 13132 (64 FR 43255, August 10, 1999). It will not have substantial direct effects on the states, on the relationship between the national government and the states, or on the distribution of power and responsibilities among the various levels of government.

    G. Executive Order 13175: Consultation and Coordination With Indian Tribal Governments

    This action does not have tribal implications as specified in Executive Order 13175 (65 FR 67249, November 9, 2000). This final rule will not impose substantial direct compliance costs on Indian tribal governments.

    H. Executive Order 13045: Protection of Children From Environmental Health Risks and Safety Risks

    EPA interprets Executive Order 13045 (62 FR 19885, April 23, 1997), as applying only to those regulatory actions that concern health or safety risks, such that the analysis required under section 5-501 of Executive Order 13045 has the potential to influence the regulation. As addressed in Unit II.A., this action would not materially alter the final rule as published, and will allow regulated entities additional time to establish their supply-chain and certification programs under the final rule, post effective date.

    I. Executive Order 13211: Actions Concerning Regulations That Significantly Affect Energy Supply, Distribution, or Use

    This action is not a “significant energy action” as defined in Executive Order 13211 (66 FR 28355, May 22, 2001), because it is not likely to have a significant adverse effect on the supply, distribution or use of energy.

    J. National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act (NTTAA)

    This final rule does not involve technical standards. As such, NTTAA section 12(d), 15 U.S.C. 272 note, does not apply to this action.

    K. Executive Order 12898: Federal Actions To Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Populations

    EPA has determined that the human health or environmental risk addressed by this action will not have potential disproportionately high and adverse human health or environmental effects on minority, low-income or indigenous populations, as specified in Executive Order 12898 (59 FR 7629, February 16, 1994). As addressed in Unit II.A., this action would not materially alter the final rule as published, and will allow regulated entities additional time to establish their supply-chain and certification programs under the final rule, post effective date.

    IV. Congressional Review Act (CRA)

    This action is subject to the CRA, 5 U.S.C. 801 et seq., and EPA will submit a rule report to each House of the Congress and to the Comptroller General of the United States. This action is not a “major rule” as defined by 5 U.S.C. 804(2).

    List of Subjects in 40 CFR Part 770

    Environmental protection, Formaldehyde, Incorporation by reference, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Third-party certification, Toxic substances, Wood.

    Dated: August 31, 2017. Wendy Cleland-Hamnett, Acting Assistant Administrator, Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention.

    Therefore, 40 CFR chapter I, subchapter R, is amended as follows:

    PART 770—FORMALDEHYDE STANDARDS FOR COMPOSITE WOOD PRODUCTS

    1. The authority citation for part 770 continues to read as follows: Authority: 15 U.S.C. 2697.

    2. Revise § 770.2 to read as follows:

    § 770.2 Applicability and compliance dates.

    (a) [Reserved].

    (b) Laboratory and Product ABs that wish to accredit TPCs for TSCA Title VI purposes may apply to EPA beginning May 22, 2017, to become recognized. Laboratory and Product ABs must be recognized by EPA before they begin to provide and at all times while providing TSCA Title VI accreditation services.

    (c) TPCs that are not approved by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) that wish to provide TSCA Title VI certification services may apply to EPA beginning May 22, 2017, to become recognized. TPCs must be recognized by EPA and comply with all of the applicable requirements of this part before they begin to provide and at all times while providing TSCA Title VI certification services.

    (d) Notwithstanding any other provision of this part, TPCs that are approved by CARB to certify composite wood products have until March 22, 2019, to become accredited by an EPA TSCA Title VI AB(s) pursuant to the requirements of this part. During this two-year transition period, existing CARB-approved TPCs that are recognized by EPA and CARB TPCs approved during this transition period may carry out certification activities under TSCA Title VI, provided that they remain approved by CARB and comply with all aspects of this part other than the requirements of §  770.7(c)(1)(i) and (ii) and (c)(2)(iii) and (iv). After the two-year transition period, CARB-approved TPCs may continue to certify composite wood products under TSCA Title VI provided the TPC maintains its CARB approval, follows the requirements under this part, submits to EPA documentation from CARB supporting their eligibility for reciprocity and has received EPA recognition as an EPA TSCA Title VI TPC. All TPCs that are certifying products as compliant with TSCA Title VI, both during and after the transition period, are subject to enforcement actions for any violations of TSCA Title VI or these regulations.

    (e) Beginning December 12, 2018, all manufacturers (including importers), fabricators, suppliers, distributors, and retailers of composite wood products, and component parts or finished goods containing these materials, must comply with this part, subject to the following:

    (1) Beginning December 12, 2018, laminated product producers must comply with the requirements of this part that are applicable to fabricators.

    (2) Beginning March 22, 2024, producers of laminated products must comply with the requirements of this part that are applicable to hardwood plywood panel producers (in addition to the requirements of this part that are applicable to fabricators) except as provided at §  770.4.

    (3) Beginning March 22, 2024, producers of laminated products that, as provided at §  770.4, are exempt from the definition of “hardwood plywood” must comply with the recordkeeping requirements in §  770.40(c) and (d) (in addition to the requirements of this part that are applicable to fabricators).

    (4) Composite wood products manufactured (including imported) before December 12, 2018 may be sold, supplied, offered for sale, or used to fabricate component parts or finished goods at any time.

    3. In § 770.3 the term “laminated product producer” is revised to read as follows:
    § 770.3 Definitions.

    Laminated product producer means a manufacturing plant or other facility that manufactures (excluding facilities that solely import products) laminated products on the premises. Laminated product producers are fabricators and, beginning March 22, 2024, laminated product producers are also hardwood plywood panel producers except as provided at §  770.4.

    4. In § 770.7, paragraph (d)(1) introductory text is revised to read as follows:
    § 770.7 Third-party certification.

    (d) * * *

    (1) During transitional period. The transitional period is defined as the period beginning on December 12, 2016 and ending on March 22, 2019. TPCs already approved by CARB and TPCs subsequently approved by CARB during the transitional period must apply for EPA recognition in accordance with § 770.8 before they can certify any products under this part. Once recognized by EPA, CARB-approved TPCs become EPA TSCA Title VI TPCs and may certify composite wood products under TSCA Title VI until March 22, 2019, as long as they:

    5. In § 770.10, paragraph (a) is revised to read as follows:
    § 770.10 Formaldehyde emission standards.

    (a) Except as otherwise provided in this part, the emission standards in this section apply to composite wood products sold, supplied, offered for sale, or manufactured (including imported) on or after December 12, 2018 in the United States. These emission standards apply regardless of whether the composite wood product is in the form of a panel, a component part, or incorporated into a finished good.

    6. In § 770.12, paragraph (a) is revised to read as follows:
    § 770.12 Stockpiling.

    (a) The sale of stockpiled inventory of composite wood products, whether in the form of panels or incorporated into component parts or finished goods, is prohibited after December 12, 2018.

    7. In § 770.15, paragraph (a) and (e) are revised to read as follows:
    § 770.15 Composite wood product certification.

    (a) Beginning December 12, 2018, only certified composite wood products, whether in the form of panels or incorporated into component parts or finished goods, are permitted to be sold, supplied, offered for sale, or manufactured (including imported) in the United States, unless the product is specifically exempted by this part.

    (e) If a product is certified by a CARB-approved TPC that is also recognized by EPA, the product will also be considered certified under TSCA Title VI until March 22, 2019 after which the TPC needs to comply with all the requirements of this part as an EPA TSCA Title VI TPC under Section 770.7(d) in order for the product to remain certified.

    8. In § 770.30, paragraphs (b) introductory text, (c), and (d) are revised to read as follows:
    § 770.30 Importers, fabricators, distributors, and retailers.

    (b) Importers must demonstrate that they have taken reasonable precautions by maintaining, for three years, bills of lading, invoices, or comparable documents that include a written statement from the supplier that the composite wood products, component parts, or finished goods are TSCA Title VI compliant or were produced before December 12, 2018 and by ensuring the following records are made available to EPA within 30 calendar days of request:

    (c) Fabricators, distributors, and retailers must demonstrate that they have taken reasonable precautions by obtaining bills of lading, invoices, or comparable documents that include a written statement from the supplier that the composite wood products, component parts, or finished goods are TSCA Title VI compliant or that the composite wood products were produced before December 12, 2018.

    (d) Beginning March 22, 2019, importers of articles that are regulated composite wood products, or articles that contain regulated composite wood products, must comply with the import certification regulations for “Chemical Substances in Bulk and As Part of Mixtures and Articles,” as found at 19 CFR 12.118 through 12.127.

    [FR Doc. 2017-19455 Filed 9-22-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560-50-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 679 [Docket No. 161020985-7181-02] RIN 0648-XF707 Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Longnose Skate in the Western Regulatory Area of the Gulf of Alaska AGENCY:

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

    ACTION:

    Temporary rule; closure.

    SUMMARY:

    NMFS is prohibiting retention of longnose skate in the Western Regulatory Area of the Gulf of Alaska (GOA). This action is necessary because the 2017 total allowable catch of longnose skate in the Western Regulatory Area of the GOA will be reached.

    DATES:

    Effective 1200 hours, Alaska local time (A.l.t.), September 20, 2017, through 2400 hours, A.l.t., December 31, 2017.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Josh Keaton, 907-586-7228.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

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

    The 2017 total allowable catch (TAC) of longnose skate in the Western Regulatory Area of the GOA is 61 metric tons (mt) as established by the final 2017 and 2018 harvest specifications for groundfish of the GOA (82 FR 12032, February 27, 2017).

    In accordance with § 679.20(d)(2), the Administrator, Alaska Region, NMFS (Regional Administrator), has determined that the 2017 TAC of longnose skate in the Western Regulatory Area of the GOA will be reached. Therefore, NMFS is requiring that longnose skate in the Western Regulatory Area of the GOA be treated as prohibited species in accordance with § 679.21(b).

    Classification

    This action responds to the best available information recently obtained from the fishery. The Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, NOAA (AA), finds good cause to waive the requirement to provide prior notice and opportunity for public comment pursuant to the authority set forth at 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(B) as such requirement is impracticable and contrary to the public interest. This requirement is impracticable and contrary to the public interest as it would prevent NMFS from responding to the most recent fisheries data in a timely fashion and would delay prohibiting the retention of longnose skate in the Western Regulatory Area of the GOA. NMFS was unable to publish a notice providing time for public comment because the most recent, relevant data only became available as of September 15, 2017.

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

    This action is required by § 679.20 and § 679.21 and is exempt from review under Executive Order 12866.

    Authority:

    16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.

    Dated: September 20, 2017. Emily H. Menashes, Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service.
    [FR Doc. 2017-20428 Filed 9-20-17; 4:15 pm] BILLING CODE 3510-22-P
    82 184 Monday, September 25, 2017 Proposed Rules DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION Federal Aviation Administration 14 CFR Part 39 [Docket No. FAA-2017-0505; Product Identifier 2017-NE-15-AD] RIN 2120-AA64 Airworthiness Directives; Zodiac Aerotechnics, Oxygen Mask Regulators AGENCY:

    Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), DOT.

    ACTION:

    Notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM).

    SUMMARY:

    We propose to adopt a new airworthiness directive (AD) for certain Zodiac Aerotechnics oxygen mask regulators. This proposed AD was prompted by reports that certain silicon harness inflation hoses, installed on certain flight crew quick donning mask harnesses, have shown an unusually high premature rupture rate. This proposed AD would require inspection and replacement of oxygen mask regulator harness inflation hoses. We are proposing this AD to address the unsafe condition on these products.

    DATES:

    We must receive comments on this NPRM by November 9, 2017.

    ADDRESSES:

    You may send comments by any of the following methods:

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

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

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

    Fax: 202-493-2251.

    For service information identified in this proposed AD, contact Zodiac Aerotechnics, 61 rue Pierre Curie BP 1, 78373 Plaisir, CEDEX, France; phone: +33 1 6486 6964; email: [email protected] or [email protected] You may view this service information at the FAA, Engine and Propeller Standards Branch, Policy and Innovation Division, 1200 District Avenue, Burlington, MA. For information on the availability of this material at the FAA, call 781-238-7125.

    Examining the AD Docket

    You may examine the AD docket on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov by searching for and locating Docket No. FAA-2017-0505; or in person at the Docket Operations office between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays. The AD docket contains this proposed AD, the mandatory continuing airworthiness information (MCAI), the regulatory evaluation, any comments received, and other information. The address for the Docket Office (phone: 800-647-5527) is in the ADDRESSES section. Comments will be available in the AD docket shortly after receipt.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Erin Hulverson, Aerospace Engineer, FAA, Boston ACO Branch, Compliance and Airworthiness Division, 1200 District Avenue, Burlington, MA 01803; phone: 781-238-7655; fax: 781-238-7199; email: [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Comments Invited

    We invite you to send any written relevant data, views, or arguments about this proposed AD. Send your comments to an address listed under the ADDRESSES section. Include “Docket No. FAA-2017-0505; Product Identifier 2017-NE-15-AD” at the beginning of your comments. We specifically invite comments on the overall regulatory, economic, environmental, and energy aspects of this proposed AD. We will consider all comments received by the closing date and may amend this proposed AD because of those comments.

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

    Discussion

    The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), which is the Technical Agent for the Member States of the European Community, has issued EASA AD 2014-0142, Revision 1, dated June 11, 2014 (referred to hereinafter as “the MCAI”), to correct an unsafe condition for the specified products. The MCAI states:

    Recent reported occurrences have shown that for harness hoses P/N 445952, installed on certain flight crew quick donning mask harnesses (also known as `comfort' harness) having P/N MXH21-1, suspected silicon batches may have been used during manufacture, which have shown an unusually high premature rupture rate. The affected P/N MXH21-1 inflatable harness assembly consists of two main parts that can be disassembled; the harness itself and the harness inflation hose, P/N 445952.

    This condition, if not detected and corrected, could lead, in case of a sudden depressurization event, to a harness rupture, thereby providing inadequate protection against hypoxia of the affected flight crew member, possibly resulting in unconsciousness and consequent reduced control of the aeroplane.

    You may obtain further information by examining the MCAI in the AD docket on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov by searching for and locating Docket No. FAA-2017-0505.

    Related Service Information Under 1 CFR Part 51

    Zodiac Aerotechnics has issued Service Bulletin (SB) No. MC10-35-274, Revision 2, dated June 25, 2014. The SB describes procedures for inspecting and replacing, if necessary, oxygen mask regulator inflatable harnesses. This service information is reasonably available because the interested parties have access to it through their normal course of business or by the means identified in the ADDRESSES section.

    FAA's Determination and Requirements of This Proposed AD

    This product has been approved by EASA, and is approved for operation in the United States. Pursuant to our bilateral agreement with the European Community, EASA has notified us of the unsafe condition described in the MCAI and service information referenced above. We are proposing this AD because we evaluated all information provided by EASA and determined the unsafe condition exists and is likely to exist or develop on other products of the same type design. This proposed AD would require inspection and preventive replacement, if necessary, of potentially defective oxygen mask regulator inflatable harnesses.

    Costs of Compliance

    We estimate that this proposed AD affects an unknown number of oxygen mask regulators installed on, but not limited to, various aircraft of U.S. registry.

    We estimate the following costs to comply with this proposed AD:

    Estimated Costs Action Labor cost Parts cost Cost per
  • product
  • Date of manufacturing code review 0.1 work-hours × $85 per hour = $8.50 $0 $8.50 Hose replacement 0.3 work-hours × $85 per hour = $25.50 1,465.00 1,490.50
    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 engines, propellers, and associated appliances to the Manager, Engine and Propeller Standards Branch, Policy and Innovation Division.

    Regulatory Findings

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

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

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

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

    (3) Will not affect intrastate aviation in Alaska to the extent that it justifies making a regulatory distinction, and

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

    List of Subjects in 14 CFR Part 39

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

    The Proposed Amendment

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

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

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

    § 39.13 [Amended]
    2. The FAA amends § 39.13 by adding the following new airworthiness directive (AD): Zodiac Aerotechnics (formerly Intertechnique): Docket No. FAA-2017-0505; Product Identifier 2017-NE-15-AD. (a) Comments Due Date

    We must receive comments by November 9, 2017.

    (b) Affected ADs

    None.

    (c) Applicability

    This AD applies to Zodiac Aerotechnics MC10 series crew oxygen mask regulators fitted with an inflatable harness assembly, part number (P/N) MXH20-1 or MXH21-1, fitted with harness inflation hose, P/N 445186 or P/N 445952.

    (d) Subject

    Joint Aircraft System Component (JASC) Code 3510, Crew Oxygen System.

    (e) Reason

    This AD was prompted by reports that certain silicon harness inflation hoses, installed on certain flight crew quick donning mask harnesses (also known as `comfort' harness), have shown an unusually high premature rupture rate. We are issuing this AD to prevent a harness rupture during a sudden depressurization event that could result in hypoxia and subsequent unconsciousness of the affected flight crew member, and consequent reduced control of the aircraft.

    (f) Compliance

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

    (g) Required Actions

    (1) Within 24 months after the effective date of this AD, determine the date of manufacturing (DMF) code of each inflatable harness assembly, P/N MXH20-1 and MXH21-1, fitted to a flight crew oxygen mask regulator, having a P/N listed in Section 1.A.(1) of Zodiac Aerotechnics Service Bulletin (SB) MC10-35-274, Revision 2, dated June 25, 2014. A review of airplane delivery or maintenance records is acceptable to make the determination as specified in this paragraph, provided those records can be relied upon for that purpose, and the DMF of the inflatable harness assembly, P/N MXH20-1 or P/N MXH21-1, as applicable, can be conclusively identified from that review.

    (2) If during the review required by paragraph (g)(1) of this AD, the DMF code of the inflatable harness assembly, P/N MXH20-1 or P/N MXH21-1, is found to be between 0850-S and 1051-S (inclusive): Within 24 months after the effective date of this AD, replace the harness inflation hose, P/N 445186 or P/N 445952, as applicable, with a part eligible for installation, or remove the inflatable harness assembly from the mask regulator and replace it with an inflatable harness assembly eligible for installation.

    (3) An oxygen mask regulator equipped with an inflatable harness assembly, P/N MXH20-1 or P/N MXH21-1, having a DMF code of November 2008 (0845-S or 08/45-S) or earlier, and those with a DMF code of January 2011 (1101-S or 11/01-S) or later, is excluded from the review and replacement requirements of this AD, provided it can be demonstrated that neither the inflatable harness assembly, nor the harness inflation hose, P/N 445186 or P/N 445952, as applicable, was replaced on that mask. A review of airplane delivery or maintenance records is acceptable to make the determination, provided those records can be relied upon for that purpose.

    (h) Installation Prohibition

    (1) After the effective date of this AD, do not install on any airplane a flight crew oxygen mask regulator with a P/N listed in Planning Information, Section 1.A.(1) of Zodiac Aerotechnics SB MC10-35-274, Revision 2, dated June 25, 2014.

    (2) After the effective date of this AD, an inflatable harness assembly, with a P/N identified in Section 1.A.(1) of Zodiac Aerotechnics SB MC10-35-274, is eligible for installation, provided it has been determined that a P/N MXH20-1 or P/N MXH21-1 inflatable harness installed on that flight crew oxygen mask regulator has been inspected, and re-marked with an “I” as required by Material Information, Section 2.E. of Zodiac Aerotechnics SB MC10-35-274, Revision 2, dated June 25, 2014.

    (3) After the effective date of this AD, an inflatable harness assembly, with a P/N identified in Section 1.A.(1) of Zodiac Aerotechnics SB MC10-35-274, is eligible for installation, provided it has been determined that an inflatable harness, P/N MXH21-31, is installed, or that the inflatable harness, P/N MXH20-1 or P/N MXH21-1, installed on that flight crew oxygen mask regulator has been corrected, and re-marked with a “W” as required by Accomplishment Instructions, Section 3.C. of Zodiac Aerotechnics SB MC10-35-274, Revision 2, dated June 25, 2014.

    (i) Alternative Methods of Compliance (AMOCs)

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

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

    (j) Related Information

    (1) For more information about this AD, contact Erin Hulverson, Aerospace Engineer, FAA, Boston ACO Branch, Compliance and Airworthiness Division, 1200 District Avenue, Burlington, MA 01803; phone: 781-238-7655; fax: 781-238-7199; email: [email protected]

    (2) Refer to MCAI EASA AD 2014-0142, Revision 1, dated June 11, 2014, for more information. You may examine the MCAI in the AD docket on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov by searching for and locating it in Docket No. FAA-2017-0505.

    (3) Zodiac Aerotechnics SB MC10-35-274, Revision 2, dated June 25, 2014, can be obtained from Zodiac Aerotechnics, using the contact information in paragraph (j)(4) of this proposed AD.

    (4) For service information identified in this proposed AD, contact Zodiac Aerotechnics, 61 rue Pierre Curie BP 1, 78373 Plaisir, CEDEX, France; phone: +33 1 6486 6964; email: [email protected] or [email protected]

    (5) You may view this service information at the FAA, Engine and Propeller Standards Branch, Policy and Innovation Division, 1200 District Avenue, Burlington, MA. For information on the availability of this material at the FAA, call 781-238-7125.

    Issued in Burlington, Massachusetts, on September 11, 2017. Robert J. Ganley, Manager, Engine and Propeller Standards Branch, Aircraft Certification Service.
    [FR Doc. 2017-20267 Filed 9-22-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4910-13-P
    DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION Federal Aviation Administration 14 CFR Part 71 [Docket No. FAA-2017-0721; Airspace Docket No. 17-AGL-15] Proposed Amendment of Class E Airspace; Charlotte, MI AGENCY:

    Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), DOT.

    ACTION:

    Notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM).

    SUMMARY:

    This action proposes to modify Class E airspace extending upward from 700 feet above the surface at Fitch H. Beach Airport, Charlotte, MI. The FAA is proposing this action due to the decommissioning of the Lansing VHF omnidirectional range (VOR) and collocated tactical air navigation (TACAN), which provided navigation guidance for the instrument procedures to this airport. The VOR/TACAN is being decommissioned as part of the VOR Minimum Operational Network (MON) Program. This action would enhance safety and management of instrument flight rules (IFR) operations at this airport. Additionally, the geographic coordinates of the airport would be adjusted to coincide with the FAA's aeronautical database.

    DATES:

    Comments must be received on or before November 9, 2017.

    ADDRESSES:

    Send comments on this proposal to the U.S. Department of Transportation, Docket Operations, West Building Ground Floor, Room W12-140, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC 20590; telephone (202) 366-9826, or (800) 647-5527. You must identify FAA Docket No. FAA-2017-0721; Airspace Docket No. 17-AGL-15, at the beginning of your comments. You may also submit comments through the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov. You may review the public docket containing the proposal, any comments received, and any final disposition in person in the Dockets Office between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays.

    FAA Order 7400.11B, Airspace Designations and Reporting Points, and subsequent amendments can be viewed online at http://www.faa.gov/air_traffic/publications/. For further information, you can contact the Airspace Policy Group, Federal Aviation Administration, 800 Independence Avenue SW., Washington, DC 20591; telephone: (202) 267-8783. The Order is also available for inspection at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). For information on the availability of FAA Order 7400.11B at NARA, call (202) 741-6030, or go to http://www.archives.gov/federal_register/code_of_federal-regulations/ibr_locations.html.

    FAA Order 7400.11, Airspace Designations and Reporting Points, is published yearly and effective on September 15.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

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

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Authority for This Rulemaking

    The FAA's authority to issue rules regarding aviation safety is found in Title 49 of the United States Code. Subtitle I, Section 106 describes the authority of the FAA Administrator. Subtitle VII, Aviation Programs, describes in more detail the scope of the agency's authority. This rulemaking is promulgated under the authority described in Subtitle VII, Part A, Subpart I, Section 40103. Under that section, the FAA is charged with prescribing regulations to assign the use of airspace necessary to ensure the safety of aircraft and the efficient use of airspace. This regulation is within the scope of that authority as it would amend Class E airspace extending upward from 700 feet above the surface at Fitch H. Beach Airport, Charlotte, MI, to support IFR operations for instrument approach procedures at the airport.

    Comments Invited

    Interested parties are invited to participate in this proposed rulemaking by submitting such written data, views, or arguments, as they may desire. Comments that provide the factual basis supporting the views and suggestions presented are particularly helpful in developing reasoned regulatory decisions on the proposal. Comments are specifically invited on the overall regulatory, aeronautical, economic, environmental, and energy-related aspects of the proposal. Communications should identify both docket numbers and be submitted in triplicate to the address listed above. Commenters wishing the FAA to acknowledge receipt of their comments on this notice must submit with those comments a self-addressed, stamped postcard on which the following statement is made: “Comments to Docket No. FAA-2017-0721/Airspace Docket No. 17-AGL-15.” The postcard will be date/time stamped and returned to the commenter.

    All communications received before the specified closing date for comments will be considered before taking action on the proposed rule. The proposal contained in this notice may be changed in light of the comments received. A report summarizing each substantive public contact with FAA personnel concerned with this rulemaking will be filed in the docket.

    Availability of NPRMs

    An electronic copy of this document may be downloaded through the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov. Recently published rulemaking documents can also be accessed through the FAA's Web page at http://www.faa.gov/air_traffic/publications/airspace_amendments/.

    You may review the public docket containing the proposal, any comments received, and any final disposition in person in the Dockets Office (see the ADDRESSES section for the address and phone number) between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, except federal holidays. An informal docket may also be examined during normal business hours at the Federal Aviation Administration, Air Traffic Organization, Central Service Center, Operations Support Group, 10101 Hillwood Parkway, Fort Worth, TX 76177.

    Availability and Summary of Documents for Incorporation by Reference

    This document proposes to amend FAA Order 7400.11B, Airspace Designations and Reporting Points, dated August 3, 2017, and effective September 15, 2017. FAA Order 7400.11B is publicly available as listed in the ADDRESSES section of this document. FAA Order 7400.11B lists Class A, B, C, D, and E airspace areas, air traffic service routes, and reporting points.

    The Proposal

    The FAA is proposing an amendment to Title 14, Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) part 71 by modifying Class E airspace area extending upward from 700 feet above the surface within a 6.4-mile radius (increased from a 6.3-mile radius) at Fitch H. Beach, Charlotte, MI, and updating the geographic coordinates of the airport to coincide with the FAA's aeronautical database. The exclusionary language contained in the airspace description is being removed to comply with FAA Order 7400.2L, Procedures for Handling Airspace Matters.

    Class E airspace designations are published in paragraph 6005 of FAA Order 7400.11B, dated August 3, 2017, and effective September 15, 2017, which is incorporated by reference in 14 CFR 71.1. The Class E airspace designations listed in this document will be published subsequently in the Order.

    Regulatory Notices and Analyses

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

    Environmental Review

    This proposal will be subject to an environmental analysis in accordance with FAA Order 1050.1F, “Environmental Impacts: Policies and Procedures” prior to any FAA final regulatory action.

    List of Subjects in 14 CFR Part 71

    Airspace, Incorporation by reference, Navigation (air).

    The Proposed Amendment

    Accordingly, pursuant to the authority delegated to me, the Federal Aviation Administration proposes to amend 14 CFR part 71 as follows:

    PART 71—DESIGNATION OF CLASS A, B, C, D, AND E AIRSPACE AREAS; AIR TRAFFIC SERVICE ROUTES; AND REPORTING POINTS 1. The authority citation for 14 CFR part 71 continues to read as follows: Authority:

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

    § 71.1 [Amended]
    2. The incorporation by reference in 14 CFR 71.1 of FAA Order 7400.11B, Airspace Designations and Reporting Points, dated August 3, 2017, and effective September 15, 2017, is amended as follows: Paragraph 6005 Class E Airspace Areas Extending Upward From 700 Feet or More Above the Surface of the Earth. AGL MI E5 Charlotte, MI [Amended] Charlotte, Fitch H. Beach Airport, MI (Lat. 42°34′27″ N., long. 84°48′44″ W.)

    That airspace extending upward from 700 feet above the surface within a 6.4-mile radius of the Fitch H. Beach Airport.

    Issued in Fort Worth, Texas, on September 13, 2017. Walter Tweedy, Acting Manager, Operations Support Group, ATO Central Service Center.
    [FR Doc. 2017-20329 Filed 9-22-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4910-13-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES Food and Drug Administration 21 CFR Part 573 [Docket No. FDA-2017-F-5528] Idemitsu Kosan, Cp. Ltd.; Filing of Food Additive Petition (Animal Use) AGENCY:

    Food and Drug Administration, HHS.

    ACTION:

    Notification; petition for rulemaking.

    SUMMARY:

    The Food and Drug Administration (FDA or we) is announcing that Idemitsu Kosan, Cp. Ltd. has filed a petition proposing that the food additive regulations be amended to provide for the safe use of silicon dioxide as a carrier for flavors for use in animal feed.

    DATES:

    The food additive petition was filed on August 7, 2017.

    ADDRESSES:

    For access to the docket, go to https://www.regulations.gov and insert the docket number, found in brackets in the heading of this document, into the “Search” box and follow the prompts; and/or go to the Dockets Management Staff, 5630 Fishers Lane, Rm. 1061, Rockville, MD 20852.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Chelsea Trull, Center for Veterinary Medicine, Food and Drug Administration, 7519 Standish Pl., Rockville, MD 20855, 240-402-6729, [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (section 409(b)(5) (21 U.S.C. 348(b)(5))), notice is given that a food additive petition (FAP 2304) has been filed by Idemitsu Kosan, Cp. Ltd., Agri-Bio Business Dept., 1-1 Marunouchi 3-Chome, Chiyoda-Ku, Tokyo 1000-8321, Japan. The petition proposes to amend Title 21 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) in part 573 (21 CFR part 573) Food Additives Permitted in Feed and Drinking Water of Animals to provide for the safe use of silicon dioxide (21 CFR 573.940) as a carrier for flavors for use in animal feed.

    The petitioner has claimed that this action is categorically excluded under 21 CFR 25.32(r) because it is of a type that does not individually or cumulatively have a significant effect on the human environment. In addition, the petitioner has stated that, to their knowledge, no extraordinary circumstances exist. If FDA determines a categorical exclusion applies, neither an environmental assessment nor an environmental impact statement is required. If FDA determines a categorical exclusion does not apply, we will request an environmental assessment and make it available for public inspection.

    Dated: September 19, 2017. Anna K. Abram, Deputy Commissioner for Policy, Planning, Legislation, and Analysis.
    [FR Doc. 2017-20385 Filed 9-22-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4164-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY Internal Revenue Service 26 CFR Parts 1, 5f, and 46 [REG-125374-16] RIN 1545-BN60 Guidance on the Definition of Registered Form Correction

    In proposed rule document 2017-19753, appearing on pages 43720 through 43730, in the issue of Tuesday, September 19, 2017, make the following correction:

    On page 43725, in the second column, at the bottom of the column, under the heading “Partial Withdrawal of Notice of Proposed Rulemaking,” on the second line of the paragraph, “5f.163-1(b)(2)” should read “§ 5f.163-1(b)(2)”.

    [FR Doc. C1-2017-19753 Filed 9-22-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 1301-00-D
    ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY 40 CFR Part 52 [EPA-R04-OAR-2009-0226; FRL-9968-16-Region 4] Air Plan Approval; GA: Emission Reduction Credits AGENCY:

    Environmental Protection Agency.

    ACTION:

    Proposed rule.

    SUMMARY:

    The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing to approve changes to the Georgia State Implementation Plan (SIP) to update the emission reduction credits regulation. EPA is proposing to approve portions of the SIP revision submitted by the State of Georgia, through the Georgia Department of Natural Resources' Environmental Protection Division on September 15, 2008. This action is being taken pursuant to the Clean Air Act.

    DATES:

    Written comments must be received on or before October 25, 2017.

    ADDRESSES:

    Submit your comments, identified by Docket ID No. EPA-R04-OAR-2009-0226 at http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the online instructions for submitting comments. Once submitted, comments cannot be edited or removed from Regulations.gov. EPA may publish any comment received to its public docket. Do not submit electronically any information you consider to be Confidential Business Information (CBI) or other information whose disclosure is restricted by statute. Multimedia submissions (audio, video, etc.) must be accompanied by a written comment. The written comment is considered the official comment and should include discussion of all points you wish to make. EPA will generally not consider comments or comment contents located outside of the primary submission (i.e. on the web, cloud, or other file sharing system). For additional submission methods, the full EPA public comment policy, information about CBI or multimedia submissions, and general guidance on making effective comments, please visit http://www2.epa.gov/dockets/commenting-epa-dockets.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Sean Lakeman, Air Regulatory Management Section, Air Planning and Implementation Branch, Air, Pesticides and Toxics Management Division, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 4, 61 Forsyth Street SW., Atlanta, Georgia 30303-8960. Mr. Lakeman can be reached via telephone at (404) 562-9043 or via electronic mail at [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    In the Final Rules section of this Federal Register, EPA is approving the State's implementation plan revision as a direct final rule without prior proposal because the Agency views this as a noncontroversial submittal and anticipates no adverse comments. A detailed rationale for the approval is set forth in the direct final rule. If no adverse comments are received in response to this rule, no further activity is contemplated. If EPA receives adverse comments, the direct final rule will be withdrawn and all public comments received will be addressed in a subsequent final rule based on this proposed rule. EPA will not institute a second comment period on this document. Any parties interested in commenting on this document should do so at this time.

    Dated: September 13, 2017. Onis “Trey” Glenn, III, Regional Administrator, Region 4.
    [FR Doc. 2017-20337 Filed 9-22-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560-50-P
    ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY 40 CFR Part 52 [EPA-R03-OAR-2016-0574; FRL-9968-14-Region 3] Approval and Promulgation of Air Quality Implementation Plans; West Virginia; Removal of Clean Air Interstate Rule Trading Programs Replaced by Cross-State Air Pollution Rule Trading Programs AGENCY:

    Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

    ACTION:

    Proposed rule.

    SUMMARY:

    The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposes to approve two state implementation plan (SIP) revisions submitted by the State of West Virginia. These submittals seek to remove from the West Virginia SIP two West Virginia regulations that established trading programs under the Clean Air Interstate Rule (CAIR). The EPA-administered trading programs under CAIR were discontinued on December 31, 2014 upon the implementation of the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR), which was promulgated by EPA to replace CAIR. CSAPR established federal implementation plans (FIPs) for 23 states, including West Virginia. The submitted SIP revisions request removal of two regulations that implemented the CAIR annual NOX and annual sulfur dioxide (SO2) trading programs from the West Virginia SIP. In the Final Rules section of this Federal Register, EPA is approving the State's SIP submittals as a direct final rule without prior proposal because the Agency views these as noncontroversial submittals and anticipates no adverse comments. A detailed rationale for the approval is set forth in the direct final rule. If no adverse comments are received in response to this action, no further activity is contemplated. If EPA receives adverse comments, the direct final rule will be withdrawn and all public comments received will be addressed in a subsequent final rule based on this proposed rule. EPA will not institute a second comment period. Any parties interested in commenting on this action should do so at this time.

    DATES:

    Comments must be received in writing by October 25, 2017.

    ADDRESSES:

    Submit your comments, identified by Docket ID No. EPA-R03-OAR-2016-0574 at http://www.regulations.gov, or via email to [email protected] For comments submitted at Regulations.gov, follow the online instructions for submitting comments. Once submitted, comments cannot be edited or removed from Regulations.gov. For either manner of submission, 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. 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, please contact the person identified in the For Further Information Contact section. For the full EPA public comment policy, information about CBI or multimedia submissions, and general guidance on making effective comments, please visit http://www2.epa.gov/dockets/commenting-epa-dockets.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Marilyn Powers, (215) 814-2308, or by email at [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    For further information, please see the information provided in the direct final action, with the same title, that is located in the “Rules and Regulations” section of this Federal Register publication. Please note that if EPA receives adverse comment on an amendment, paragraph, or section of this rule and if that provision may be severed from the remainder of the rule, EPA may adopt as final those provisions of the rule that are not the subject of an adverse comment.

    Dated: September 11, 2017. Cecil Rodrigues, Acting Regional Administrator, Region III.
    [FR Doc. 2017-20339 Filed 9-22-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560-50-P
    ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY 40 CFR Part 52 [EPA-R03-OAR-2017-0149; FRL-9967-89-Region 3] Approval and Promulgation of Air Quality Implementation Plans; Maryland; 2011 Base Year Inventory for the 2008 8-Hour Ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standard for the Maryland Portion of the Philadelphia-Wilmington-Atlantic City Nonattainment Area AGENCY:

    Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

    ACTION:

    Proposed rule.

    SUMMARY:

    The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposes to approve, as a state implementation plan (SIP) revision, the 2011 base year inventory for the 2008 8-hour ozone national ambient air quality standard (NAAQS) for the Maryland portion of the Philadelphia-Wilmington-Atlantic City marginal nonattainment area submitted by the State of Maryland through the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE). In the Final Rules section of this Federal Register, EPA is approving the State's SIP submittal as a direct final rule without prior proposal because the Agency views this as a noncontroversial submittal and anticipates no adverse comments. A more detailed description of the state submittal and EPA's evaluation is included in a technical support document (TSD) prepared in support of this rulemaking action. A copy of the TSD is available, upon request, from the EPA Regional Office listed in the ADDRESSES section of this document or is also available electronically within the Docket for this rulemaking action. If no adverse comments are received in response to this action, no further activity is contemplated. If EPA receives adverse comments, the direct final rule will be withdrawn and all public comments received will be addressed in a subsequent final rule based on this proposed rule. EPA will not institute a second comment period. Any parties interested in commenting on this action should do so at this time.

    DATES:

    Comments must be received in writing by October 25, 2017.

    ADDRESSES:

    Submit your comments, identified by Docket ID No. EPA-R03-OAR-2017-0149 at https://www.regulations.gov, or via email to [email protected]. For comments submitted at Regulations.gov, follow the online instructions for submitting comments. Once submitted, comments cannot be edited or removed from Regulations.gov. For either manner of submission, 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. 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, please contact the person identified in the For Further Information Contact section. For 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:

    Sara Calcinore, (215) 814-2043, or by email at [email protected].

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    For further information, please see the information provided in the direct final action, with the same title, that is located in the “Rules and Regulations” section of this Federal Register publication.

    Dated: September 8, 2017. Cecil Rodrigues, Acting Regional Administrator, Region III.
    [FR Doc. 2017-20323 Filed 9-22-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560-50-P
    ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY 40 CFR Part 271 [EPA-R10-RCRA-2017-0285; FRL-9966-74-Region 10] Washington: Proposed Authorization of State Hazardous Waste Management Program Revisions AGENCY:

    Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

    ACTION:

    Proposed rule; reopening of the comment period.

    SUMMARY:

    The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is reopening the comment period for a proposed rulemaking to authorize a revision to the State of Washington's federally authorized hazardous waste management program pursuant to the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), as amended. The EPA has reviewed Washington's application, and we have determined that these changes satisfy all requirements needed to qualify for final authorization and are proposing to authorize the State's changes. EPA is reopening the public comment period until October 25, 2017.

    DATES:

    This comment period is for the proposed rule published on July 13, 2017 (82 FR 32305). All comments received on or before October 25, 2017 will be entered into the public record and considered by the EPA before final action is taken on this proposed rule.

    ADDRESSES:

    Submit your comments, identified by Docket ID No. EPA-R10-RCRA-2017-0285, at 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:

    Barbara McCullough, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 10, Office of Air and Waste (OAW-150), 1200 Sixth Avenue, Suite 900, Seattle, Washington 98101, phone number: (206) 553-2416, email: [email protected] or from the Washington State Department of Ecology, 300 Desmond Drive, Lacey, Washington 98503, contact: Robert Rieck, phone number: (360) 407-6751, email: [email protected]

    Dated: August 21, 2017. Michelle Pirzadeh, Acting Regional Administrator, Region 10.
    [FR Doc. 2017-20314 Filed 9-22-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560-50-P
    ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY 40 CFR Part 300 [EPA-HQ-SFUND-1992-0007; FRL-9967-36-Region 10] National Oil and Hazardous Substances Pollution Contingency Plan; National Priorities List: Deletion of the Vancouver Water Station #4 Superfund Site AGENCY:

    Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

    ACTION:

    Proposed rule; notification of intent.

    SUMMARY:

    The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 10 is issuing a Notice of Intent to Delete the Vancouver Water Station #4 Contamination Superfund Site (Site) located in Vancouver, Washington, from the National Priorities List (NPL) and requests public comments on this proposed action. The NPL, promulgated pursuant to section 105 of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) of 1980, as amended, is an appendix of the National Oil and Hazardous Substances Pollution Contingency Plan (NCP). The EPA and the State of Washington, through the Department of Ecology have determined that all appropriate response actions under CERCLA, have been completed. However, this deletion does not preclude future actions under Superfund.

    DATES:

    Comments must be received by October 25, 2017.

    ADDRESSES:

    Submit your comments, identified by Docket ID no. EPA-HQ-SFUND-1992-0007 by one of the following methods:

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

    (2) Email: Laura Knudsen, Community Involvement Coordinator, at [email protected]

    (3) Mail: Laura Knudsen, U.S. EPA Region 10, 1200 Sixth Avenue, Suite 900, RAD-202-3, Seattle, Washington 98101.

    (4) Hand delivery: USEPA Region 10 Records Center, 1200 Sixth Avenue, Suite 900, Seattle, Washington. Such deliveries are only accepted during the Docket's normal hours of operation, and special arrangements should be made for deliveries of boxed information.

    Instructions: Direct your comments to Docket ID no. EPA-HQ-SFUND-1992-0007. EPA's policy is that all comments received will be included in the public docket without change and may be made available online at http://www.regulations.gov, including any personal information provided, unless the comment includes information claimed to be Confidential Business Information (CBI) or other information whose disclosure is restricted by statute. Do not submit information that you consider to be CBI or otherwise protected through http://www.regulations.gov or email. The http://www.regulations.gov Web site is an “anonymous access” system, which means EPA will not know your identity or contact information unless you provide it in the body of your comment. If you send an email comment directly to EPA without going through http://www.regulations.gov, your email address will be automatically captured and included as part of the comment that is placed in the public docket and made available on the Internet. If you submit an electronic comment, EPA recommends that you include your name and other contact information in the body of your comment and with any disk or CD-ROM you submit. If EPA cannot read your comment due to technical difficulties and cannot contact you for clarification, EPA may not be able to consider your comment. Electronic files should avoid the use of special characters, any form of encryption, and be free of any defects or viruses.

    Docket: All documents in the docket are listed in the http://www.regulations.gov index. Although listed in the index, some information is not publicly available, e.g., CBI or other information whose disclosure is restricted by statute. Certain other material, such as copyrighted material, will be publicly available only in the hard copy. Publicly available docket materials are available either electronically in http://www.regulations.gov or in hard copy at:

    USEPA Region 10 Records Center, 1200 Sixth Avenue, Suite 900, Seattle, Washington, Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays, between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m.

    City of Vancouver Water Resources Education Center, 4600 SE Columbia Way, Vancouver, Washington, Monday through Friday, except holidays, between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. and Saturday between noon and 5:00 p.m., Phone: 360-487-7111.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Jeremy Jennings, Remedial Project Manager, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 10, ECL-122, 1200 Sixth Avenue, Suite 900, Seattle, Washington 98101, 206-553-2724, email [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

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

    EPA Region 10 announces its intent to delete the Vancouver Water Station #4 Contamination Superfund Site from the National Priorities List (NPL) and requests public comment on this proposed action. The NPL constitutes Appendix B of 40 CFR part 300 which is the National Oil and Hazardous Substances Pollution Contingency Plan (NCP), which EPA promulgated pursuant to section 105 of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) of 1980, as amended. EPA maintains the NPL as the list of sites that appear to present a significant risk to public health, welfare, or the environment. Sites on the NPL may be the subject of remedial actions financed by the Hazardous Substance Superfund (Fund). As described in 40 CFR 300.425(e)(3) of the NCP, sites deleted from the NPL remain eligible for Fund-financed remedial actions if future conditions warrant such actions.

    EPA will accept comments on the proposal to delete this Site for thirty (30) days after publication of this document in the Federal Register.

    Section II of this document explains the criteria for deleting sites from the NPL. Section III discusses procedures that EPA is using for this action. Section IV discusses the Vancouver Water Station #4 Contamination Superfund Site and demonstrates how it meets the deletion criteria.

    II. NPL Deletion Criteria

    The NCP establishes the criteria that EPA uses to delete sites from the NPL. In accordance with 40 CFR 300.425(e), sites may be deleted from the NPL where no further response is appropriate. In making such a determination pursuant to 40 CFR 300.425(e), EPA will consider, in consultation with the State, whether any of the following criteria have been met:

    (1) Responsible parties or other persons have implemented all appropriate response action required;

    (2) all appropriate Fund-financed response under CERCLA has been implemented, and no further response action by responsible parties is appropriate; or

    (3) the remedial investigation has shown that the release poses no significant threat to public health or the environment and, therefore, the taking of remedial measures is not appropriate.

    Pursuant to CERCLA section 121(c) and the NCP, EPA conducts five-year reviews to ensure the continued protectiveness of remedial actions where hazardous substances, pollutants, or contaminants remain at a site above levels that allow for unlimited use and unrestricted exposure. EPA conducts such five-year reviews even if a site is deleted from the NPL. EPA may initiate further action to ensure continued protectiveness at a deleted site if new information becomes available that indicates it is appropriate. Whenever there is a significant release from a site deleted from the NPL, the deleted site may be restored to the NPL without application of the hazard ranking system.

    III. Deletion Procedures

    The following procedures apply to deletion of the Site:

    (1) EPA consulted with the State before developing this Notice of Intent to Delete.

    (2) EPA has provided the State 30 working days for review of this notice prior to publication of it today.

    (3) In accordance with the criteria discussed above, EPA has determined that no further response is appropriate.

    (4) The State of Washington, through the Department of Ecology, has concurred with deletion of the Site from the NPL.

    (5) Concurrently with the publication of this Notice of Intent to Delete in the Federal Register, a notice is being published in a major local newspaper, The Columbian. The newspaper notice announces the 30-day public comment period concerning the Notice of Intent to Delete the Site from the NPL.

    (6) The EPA placed copies of documents supporting the proposed deletion in the deletion docket and made these items available for public inspection and copying at the Site information repositories identified previously.

    If comments are received within the 30-day public comment period on this document, EPA will evaluate and respond appropriately to the comments before making a final decision to delete. If necessary, EPA will prepare a Responsiveness Summary to address any significant public comments received. After the public comment period, if EPA determines it is still appropriate to delete the Site, the Regional Administrator will publish a final Notice of Deletion in the Federal Register. Public notices, public submissions and copies of the Responsiveness Summary, if prepared, will be made available to interested parties and in the Site information repositories listed previously.

    Deletion of a site from the NPL does not itself create, alter, or revoke any individual's rights or obligations. Deletion of a site from the NPL does not in any way alter EPA's right to take enforcement actions, as appropriate. The NPL is designed primarily for informational purposes and to assist EPA management. Section 300.425(e)(3) of the NCP states that the deletion of a site from the NPL does not preclude eligibility for future response actions, should future conditions warrant such actions.

    IV. Basis for Intended Site Deletion

    The following information provides EPA's rationale for deleting the Site from the NPL:

    Site Background and History

    The Vancouver Water Station #4 Contamination Superfund Site (EPA ID: WAD988475158) is a public water supply wellfield located approximately 1/2 mile north of the Columbia River in the City of Vancouver, Clark County, Washington. Water Station #4 (WS4) has been owned by the City of Vancouver (City) and managed as part of their drinking water supply system for over 50 years. WS4 is approximately 1/2 acre in size and includes six production wells, two air stripping towers and several support buildings. Groundwater is pumped from approximately 200 feet below ground surface and blended with water from several other wellfields to provide drinking water to approximately 230,000 people in the Vancouver region.

    In 1988, pursuant to the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA), the City began monitoring volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in water supplied from all of its water stations. These tests showed tetrachloroethylene (PCE) at several WS4 wells at levels above the maximum contaminant level (MCL) established under the SDWA. The City notified the public and modified the pumping rates at individual wells so that PCE levels in the drinking water delivered to customers were consistently below the MCL. In January 1992, the City began operating an air stripping treatment system to further reduce PCE levels.

    On July 29, 1991, EPA proposed WS4 for listing on the NPL (56 FR 35840). The NPL listing for the Site was finalized on October 14, 1992 (59 FR 47180).

    The City continues to use the water from the WS4 production wells as part of their drinking water supply system.

    Remedial Investigation and Feasibility Study (RI/FS)

    A baseline risk assessment completed by EPA quantified potential carcinogenic risks to future residents consuming untreated water ranged from 5E-6 to 2E-5 cancer risk (5 to 20 excess cancers in 1,000,000 people) and non-cancer risk from a hazard index of 0.02 to 0.2. EPA found it was necessary to take action at WS4 because the groundwater had been shown to have persistent concentrations of PCE above the MCL.

    Starting in 1989, the City and EPA conducted several investigations into the source or sources of PCE at WS4 including sampling of private wells, nearby surface waters and industrial sumps; conducting soil gas surveys; and inspecting local dry cleaners and other places of business where PCE may have been used. In 1992, PCE concentrations suddenly increased, peaked at 520 µg/L in 1993 and then decreased over the next several years. Although multiple potential sources of PCE (e.g., dry cleaners) were located, no source was identified as primarily responsible for the sustained high concentrations and for which any additional source control actions could be taken. EPA concluded that there was not an on-going source of PCE and there was a strong likelihood that an unidentified source was responsible for the elevated PCE levels.

    Selected Remedy

    On September 1, 1999, the EPA issued a Record of Decision (ROD) for the Site. PCE was identified as the only Contaminant of Concern. Remedial Action Objectives were established to protect human health by reducing concentrations of PCE in the groundwater and drinking water to below the MCL (5.0 µg/L).

    The selected remedy for the Site included pumping the production wells at a rate consistent with customer demand until such time as the PCE level in the groundwater at all production wells was below the MCL. The extracted water was to be treated using the air stripping towers and distributed to customers as drinking water. Monitoring of the quality of the groundwater at the production wells and the water following treatment was also required. Since no sources were identified and no other drinking water wells were located in the area, no source control actions or institutional controls were included.

    Response Actions

    The City's production wells were used to pump contaminated groundwater, which was then treated in air stripping towers. This treatment system reduced PCE to nondetectable levels, so the water could then be delivered to customers for use as drinking water. This pump, treat, and delivery system began in 1992 and has operated continuously for 25 years. Throughout this period, the City monitored PCE concentrations in the aquifer, which declined gradually over time.

    The PCE levels in the groundwater at all wells are currently below the MCL. Thus, the remedial action objectives have been attained and the human health exposure pathways have been eliminated.

    A Preliminary Close Out Report documenting the completion of construction activities was signed by EPA on September 8, 1999. The Site was identified as “Sitewide Ready for Anticipated Use” on March 11, 2014. A Final Close Out Report documenting completion of all remedial activities was signed by EPA on June 12, 2017.

    Cleanup Levels

    The 1999 ROD requires treatment and monitoring until the PCE concentrations in groundwater at all production wells are below the MCL. As there have been no changes to the federal or state drinking water standards for PCE or changes in the toxicity factors for PCE since the ROD was issued, this cleanup level remains protective of human health and the environment.

    In June 2017 the EPA reviewed the monitoring data and found that PCE concentrations have been below the MCL since October 2011. Based on this evaluation, EPA determined that all remedial activities at the Site were complete and remedial action objectives have been achieved. All drinking water delivered from the wellfield must continue to meet the requirements of the SDWA.

    Five-Year Review

    Three policy five-year reviews have been completed at the Site, the last one in September 2013.

    No issues or follow-up actions were identified as part of the 2013 Five Year Review. The protectiveness statement stated that the remedy at Vancouver WS4 was “protective of human health and the environment because the treatment system is functioning as intended and human and ecological risks are under control. Long-term protectiveness of the remedial action will be verified by regular monitoring by the City of Vancouver.”

    The analysis conducted since the last FYR indicates that the remedy has been fully implemented and the remedial action objectives and related cleanup levels have been attained. No hazardous substances, pollutants or contaminants remain above levels that could prevent unlimited use and unrestricted exposure. Therefore, no further five-year reviews are required.

    Community Involvement

    Public participation activities have been satisfied as required in CERCLA Section 113(k), 42 U.S.C. 9613(k) and CERCLA Section 117, 42 U.S.C. 9617. Throughout the remedial process, the EPA has kept the public informed of activities being conducted at the Site by way of informational meetings, fact sheets and public meetings.

    Documents in the deletion docket which the EPA relied on for the recommendation for deletion from the NPL are available to the public in the information repositories identified previously. A notice of availability of the Notice of Intent for Deletion has been published in The Columbian.

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

    The EPA, with concurrence of the State of Washington through the Department of Ecology, has determined that the implemented remedy achieves the degree of cleanup or protection specified in the ROD for all pathways of exposure. All selected remedial and removal action objectives and associated cleanup levels are consistent with agency policy and guidance. No further Superfund response is needed to protect human health and the environment.

    In accordance with 40 CFR 300.425(e), sites may be deleted from the NPL where all appropriate response actions have been implemented and where no further response is appropriate. Consistent with this, the EPA is proposing deletion of this Site from the NPL.

    List of Subjects in 40 CFR Part 300

    Environmental protection, Air pollution control, Chemicals, Hazardous waste, Hazardous substances, Intergovernmental relations, Penalties, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Superfund, Water pollution control, Water supply.

    Authority:

    33 U.S.C. 1321(d); 42 U.S.C. 9601-9657; E.O. 13626, 77 FR 56749, 3 CFR, 2013 Comp., p. 306; E.O. 12777, 56 FR 54757, 3 CFR, 1991 Comp., p. 351; E.O. 12580, 52 FR 2923, 3 CFR, 1987 Comp., p. 193.

    Dated: August 25, 2017. Sheryl Bilbrey, Director—Region 10 Office of Environmental Cleanup.
    [FR Doc. 2017-20448 Filed 9-22-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560-50-P
    ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY 40 CFR Part 300 [EPA-HQ-SFUND-2005-0011; FRL-9967-24-Region 5] National Oil and Hazardous Substances Pollution Contingency Plan; National Priorities List: Deletion of the Nutting Truck & Caster Co. Superfund Site AGENCY:

    Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

    ACTION:

    Proposed rule; notification of intent.

    SUMMARY:

    The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 5 is issuing a Notice of Intent to Delete the Nutting Truck & Caster Co. Superfund Site (Site) located in Faribault, Minnesota, from the National Priorities List (NPL) and requests public comments on this proposed action. The NPL, promulgated pursuant to Section 105 of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) of 1980, as amended, is an appendix of the National Oil and Hazardous Substances Pollution Contingency Plan (NCP). The EPA and the State of Minnesota, through the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, have determined that all appropriate response actions under CERCLA have been completed. However, this deletion does not preclude future actions under Superfund.

    DATES:

    Comments must be received by October 25, 2017.

    ADDRESSES:

    Submit your comments, identified by Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-SFUND-2005-0011, by mail to Randolph Cano, NPL Deletion Coordinator, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 5 (SR-6J), 77 West Jackson Boulevard, Chicago, IL 60604. Comments may also be submitted electronically or through hand delivery/courier by following the detailed instructions in the ADDRESSES section of the direct final rule located in the rules section of this Federal Register.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Randolph Cano, NPL Deletion Coordinator, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 5 (SR-6J), 77 West Jackson Boulevard, Chicago, IL 60604, (312) 886-6036, email: [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

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

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

    List of Subjects in 40 CFR Part 300

    Environmental protection, Air pollution control, Chemicals, Hazardous waste, Hazardous substances, Intergovernmental relations, Penalties, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Superfund, Water pollution control, Water supply.

    Authority:

    33 U.S.C. 1321(d); 42 U.S.C. 9601-9657; E.O. 13626, 77 FR 56749, 3 CFR, 2013 Comp., p. 306; E.O. 12777, 56 FR 54757, 3 CFR, 1991 Comp., p. 351; E.O. 12580, 52 FR 2923, 3 CFR, 1987 Comp., p. 193.

    Dated: August 21, 2017. Robert A. Kaplan, Acting Regional Administrator, Region 5.
    [FR Doc. 2017-20346 Filed 9-22-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560-50-P
    ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY 40 CFR Part 300 [EPA-HQ-SFUND-1994-0009; FRL-9967-38-Region 10] National Oil and Hazardous Substances Pollution Contingency Plan; National Priorities List: Deletion of the Vancouver Water Station #1 Superfund Site AGENCY:

    Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

    ACTION:

    Proposed rule; notification of intent.

    SUMMARY:

    The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 10 is issuing a Notice of Intent to Delete the Vancouver Water Station #1 Contamination Superfund Site (Site) located in Vancouver, Washington, from the National Priorities List (NPL) and requests public comments on this proposed action. The NPL, promulgated pursuant to section 105 of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) of 1980, as amended, is an appendix of the National Oil and Hazardous Substances Pollution Contingency Plan (NCP). The EPA and the State of Washington, through the Department of Ecology have determined that all appropriate response actions under CERCLA, have been completed. However, this deletion does not preclude future actions under Superfund.

    DATES:

    Comments must be received by October 25, 2017.

    ADDRESSES:

    Submit your comments, identified by Docket ID no. EPA-HQ-SFUND-1994-0009, by one of the following methods:

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

    (2) Email: Laura Knudsen, Community Involvement Coordinator, at [email protected]

    (3) Mail: Laura Knudsen, U.S. EPA Region 10, 1200 Sixth Avenue, Suite 900, RAD-202-3, Seattle, Washington 98101.

    (4) Hand delivery: USEPA Region 10 Records Center, 1200 Sixth Avenue, Suite 900, Seattle, Washington. Such deliveries are only accepted during the Docket's normal hours of operation, and special arrangements should be made for deliveries of boxed information.

    Instructions: Direct your comments to Docket ID no. EPA-HQ-SFUND-1994-0009. EPA's policy is that all comments received will be included in the public docket without change and may be made available online at http://www.regulations.gov, including any personal information provided, unless the comment includes information claimed to be Confidential Business Information (CBI) or other information whose disclosure is restricted by statute. Do not submit information that you consider to be CBI or otherwise protected through http://www.regulations.gov or email. The http://www.regulations.gov Web site is an “anonymous access” system, which means EPA will not know your identity or contact information unless you provide it in the body of your comment. If you send an email comment directly to EPA without going through http://www.regulations.gov, your email address will be automatically captured and included as part of the comment that is placed in the public docket and made available on the Internet. If you submit an electronic comment, EPA recommends that you include your name and other contact information in the body of your comment and with any disk or CD-ROM you submit. If EPA cannot read your comment due to technical difficulties and cannot contact you for clarification, EPA may not be able to consider your comment. Electronic files should avoid the use of special characters, any form of encryption, and be free of any defects or viruses.

    Docket: All documents in the docket are listed in the http://www.regulations.gov index. Although listed in the index, some information is not publicly available, e.g., CBI or other information whose disclosure is restricted by statute. Certain other material, such as copyrighted material, will be publicly available only in the hard copy. Publicly available docket materials are available either electronically in http://www.regulations.gov or in hard copy at:

    USEPA Region 10 Records Center, 1200 Sixth Avenue, Suite 900, Seattle, Washington, Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays, between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. City of Vancouver Water Resources Education Center, 4600 SE Columbia Way, Vancouver, Washington, Monday through Friday, except holidays, between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. and Saturday between noon and 5:00 p.m., Phone: 360-487-7111.
    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Jeremy Jennings, Remedial Project Manager, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 10, ECL-122, 1200 Sixth Avenue, Suite 900, Seattle, Washington 98101, 206-553-2724, email [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Table of Contents I. Introduction II. NPL Deletion Criteria III. Deletion Procedures IV. Basis for Intended Site Deletion I. Introduction

    EPA Region 10 announces its intent to delete the Vancouver Water Station #1 Contamination Superfund Site from the National Priorities List (NPL) and requests public comment on this proposed action. The NPL constitutes Appendix B of 40 CFR part 300 which is the National Oil and Hazardous Substances Pollution Contingency Plan (NCP), which EPA promulgated pursuant to section 105 of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) of 1980, as amended. EPA maintains the NPL as the list of sites that appear to present a significant risk to public health, welfare, or the environment. Sites on the NPL may be the subject of remedial actions financed by the Hazardous Substance Superfund (Fund). As described in 40 CFR 300.425(e)(3) of the NCP, sites deleted from the NPL remain eligible for Fund-financed remedial actions if future conditions warrant such actions.

    EPA will accept comments on the proposal to delete this Site for thirty (30) days after publication of this document in the Federal Register.

    Section II of this document explains the criteria for deleting sites from the NPL. Section III discusses procedures that EPA is using for this action. Section IV discusses the Vancouver Water Station #1 Contamination Superfund Site and demonstrates how it meets the deletion criteria.

    II. NPL Deletion Criteria

    The NCP establishes the criteria that EPA uses to delete sites from the NPL. In accordance with 40 CFR 300.425(e), sites may be deleted from the NPL where no further response is appropriate. In making such a determination pursuant to 40 CFR 300.425(e), EPA will consider, in consultation with the State, whether any of the following criteria have been met:

    (1) Responsible parties or other persons have implemented all appropriate response actions required;

    (2) all appropriate Fund-financed response under CERCLA has been implemented, and no further response action by responsible parties is appropriate; or

    (3) the remedial investigation has shown that the release poses no significant threat to public health or the environment and, therefore, the taking of remedial measures is not appropriate.

    Pursuant to CERCLA section 121(c) and the NCP, EPA conducts five-year reviews to ensure the continued protectiveness of remedial actions where hazardous substances, pollutants, or contaminants remain at a site above levels that allow for unlimited use and unrestricted exposure. EPA conducts such five-year reviews even if a site is deleted from the NPL. EPA may initiate further action to ensure continued protectiveness at a deleted site if new information becomes available that indicates it is appropriate. Whenever there is a significant release from a site deleted from the NPL, the deleted site may be restored to the NPL without application of the hazard ranking system.

    III. Deletion Procedures

    The following procedures apply to deletion of the Site:

    (1) EPA consulted with the State before developing this Notice of Intent to Delete.

    (2) EPA has provided the State 30 working days for review of this notice prior to publication of it today.

    (3) In accordance with the criteria discussed above, EPA has determined that no further response is appropriate.

    (4) The State of Washington, through the Department of Ecology, has concurred with deletion of the Site from the NPL.

    (5) Concurrently with the publication of this Notice of Intent to Delete in the Federal Register, a notice is being published in a major local newspaper, The Columbian. The newspaper notice announces the 30-day public comment period concerning the Notice of Intent to Delete the site from the NPL.

    (6) The EPA placed copies of documents supporting the proposed deletion in the deletion docket and made these items available for public inspection and copying at the Site information repositories identified previously.

    If comments are received within the 30-day public comment period on this document, EPA will evaluate and respond appropriately to the comments before making a final decision to delete. If necessary, EPA will prepare a Responsiveness Summary to address any significant public comments received. After the public comment period, if EPA determines it is still appropriate to delete the Site, the Director of EPA's Region 10 Office of Environmental Cleanup will publish a final Notice of Deletion in the Federal Register. Public notices, public submissions and copies of the Responsiveness Summary, if prepared, will be made available to interested parties and in the site information repositories listed previously.

    Deletion of a site from the NPL does not itself create, alter, or revoke any individual's rights or obligations. Deletion of a site from the NPL does not in any way alter EPA's right to take enforcement actions, as appropriate. The NPL is designed primarily for informational purposes and to assist EPA management. Section 300.425(e)(3) of the NCP states that the deletion of a site from the NPL does not preclude eligibility for future response actions, should future conditions warrant such actions.

    IV. Basis for Intended Site Deletion

    The following information provides EPA's rationale for deleting the Site from the NPL:

    Site Background and History

    The Vancouver Water Station #1 Contamination Superfund Site (EPA ID: WAD988519708) is located within Waterworks Park near the center of the City of Vancouver, Clark County, Washington. Water Station #1 (WS1) is a public water supply wellfield made up of ten groundwater production wells, five air-stripping towers and a holding reservoir. Water from WS1 is blended with water from several other wellfields to provide drinking water to approximately 230,000 people in the Vancouver region.

    The Water Station has been owned by the City of Vancouver (City) and managed as part of their drinking water supply system for over 60 years. In 1988, pursuant to the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA), the City began monitoring volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in water supplied from all of its water stations. These tests found tetrachloroethylene (PCE) to be present in several of the WS1 wells at levels above the maximum contaminant level (MCL) established under the SDWA. The City notified the public and modified the pumping rates at individual wells so that PCE levels in the drinking water delivered to customers was consistently below the MCL.

    Groundwater samples collected between 1988 and 1992 indicated levels of PCE in the groundwater as high as 30 µg/L. While the City managed the drinking water system such that the drinking water distributed to customers remained below the MCL of 5 µg/L, elevated concentrations of PCE continued to be present in the groundwater. In 1993, the City installed five air stripping towers at the Site and began routing all the water extracted from the WS1 wellfield through the air strippers prior to distribution to customers. This treatment reduced PCE levels to below analytical detection limits.

    On June 23, 1993, EPA proposed WS1 for listing on the NPL (58 FR 34018). The NPL listing for the Site was finalized on May 31, 1994 (59 FR 27989).

    The City continues to use the water from the WS1production wells as part of their drinking water supply system. A park has been developed on the land surrounding the wellfield.

    Remedial Investigation and Feasibility Study (RI/FS)

    A baseline risk assessment quantified the potential risks to future residents consuming untreated water ranged to be from 1E-06 to 6E-06 (1 to 6 excess cancers in 1,000,000 people). EPA found it was necessary to take action at WS1 because the groundwater at several production wells had been shown to have persistent concentrations of PCE above the MCL.

    In 1989 and 1990, several investigations were conducted by the City and EPA. No pattern was found in the soil or groundwater data that might indicate the location of the potential source of PCE. Based on these results, EPA concluded that the likelihood of identifying a significant source was low and that further investigation into source identification was not warranted.

    Selected Remedy

    On September 11, 1998, the EPA issued a Record of Decision (ROD) for the Site. PCE was identified as the only Contaminant of Concern. Remedial Action Objectives were established to protect human health by reducing concentrations of PCE in the groundwater drinking water to below the MCL (5.0 µg/L).

    The selected remedy for the Site included pumping the production wells at a rate consistent with customer demand until such time as the PCE level in the groundwater at all production wells was below the MCL. The extracted water was to be treated using the air stripping towers and distributed to customers as drinking water. Monitoring of the quality of the groundwater at the production wells and the water following treatment was also required. Since no sources were identified and no other drinking water wells were located in the area, no source control actions or institutional controls were included.

    Response Actions

    The City's production wells were used to pump contaminated groundwater, which was then treated in air stripping towers. This treatment system reduced PCE to nondetectable levels, so the water could then be delivered to customers for use as drinking water. This pump, treat, and delivery system began in 1993 and has operated continuously for 24 years. Throughout this period, the City monitored PCE concentrations in the aquifer, which declined gradually over time.

    The PCE levels in the groundwater at all wells are currently below the MCL. Thus, the remedial action objectives have been attained and the human health exposure pathways have been eliminated.

    A Preliminary Close Out Report documenting the completion of construction activities was signed by EPA on September 25, 1998. The Site was identified as “Sitewide Ready for Anticipated Use” on September 28, 2012. A Final Close Out Report documenting completion of all remedial activities was signed by EPA on April 27, 2017.

    Cleanup Levels

    The 1998 ROD requires treatment and monitoring until the PCE concentrations in groundwater at all production wells are below the MCL. As there have been no changes to the federal or state drinking water standards for PCE or changes in the toxicity factors for PCE since the ROD was issued, this cleanup level remains protective of human health and the environment.

    In April 2017 the EPA reviewed the monitoring data and found that PCE concentrations at 11 of the 12 production wells had been below the cleanup level of 5 µg/L since 2013. A further statistical analysis of data collected from the other well indicated a downward trend and a 95% Upper Confidence Level of 4.41 µg/L, below the cleanup level of 5 µg/L. Based on this evaluation, EPA determined that all remedial activities at the Site were complete, remedial action objectives had been achieved and the use of the treatment system was no longer required for the CERCLA remedy. All drinking water delivered from the wellfield must continue to meet the requirements of the SDWA.

    Five-Year Review

    Three policy five-year reviews have been completed at the Site, the last one in September 2013.

    No issues or follow-up actions were identified as part of the 2013 Five Year Review. The protectiveness statement stated “The remedy at Vancouver WS1 is protective of human health and the environment because the treatment system is functioning as intended and human and ecological risks are under control. Long-term protectiveness of the remedial action will be verified by regular monitoring by the City of Vancouver.”

    The analysis conducted since the last FYR indicates that the remedy has been fully implemented and the remedial action objectives and related cleanup levels have been attained. No hazardous substances, pollutants or contaminants remain above levels that could prevent unlimited use and unrestricted exposure. Therefore, no further five-year reviews are required.

    Community Involvement

    Public participation activities have been satisfied as required in CERCLA Section 113(k), 42 U.S.C. 9613(k) and CERCLA Section 117, 42 U.S.C. 9617. Throughout the remedial process, the EPA has kept the public informed of activities being conducted at the Site by way of informational meetings, fact sheets and public meetings.

    Documents in the deletion docket which the EPA relied on for the recommendation for deletion from the NPL are available to the public at the information repositories identified previously. A notice of availability of the Notice of Intent for Deletion has been published in The Columbian.

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

    The EPA, with concurrence of the State of Washington through the Department of Ecology, has determined that the implemented remedy achieves the degree of cleanup or protection specified in the ROD for all pathways of exposure. All selected remedial and removal action objectives and associated cleanup levels are consistent with agency policy and guidance. No further Superfund response is needed to protect human health and the environment.

    In accordance with 40 CFR 300.425(e), sites may be deleted from the NPL where all appropriate response actions have been implemented and where no further response is appropriate. Consistent with this, the EPA is proposing deletion of this Site from the NPL.

    List of Subjects in 40 CFR Part 300

    Environmental protection, Air pollution control, Chemicals, Hazardous waste, Hazardous substances, Intergovernmental relations, Penalties, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Superfund, Water pollution control, Water supply.

    Authority:

    33 U.S.C. 1321(d); 42 U.S.C. 9601-9657; E.O. 13626, 77 FR 56749, 3 CFR, 2013 Comp., p. 306; E.O. 12777, 56 FR 54757, 3 CFR, 1991 Comp., p. 351; E.O. 12580, 52 FR 2923, 3 CFR, 1987 Comp., p. 193.

    Dated: August 25, 2017. Sheryl Bilbrey, Director—Region 10 Office of Environmental Cleanup.
    [FR Doc. 2017-20449 Filed 9-22-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560-50-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 622 [Docket No. 170505465-7465-01] RIN 0648-BG87 Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; Reef Fish Fishery of the Gulf of Mexico; Gray Triggerfish Management Measures; Amendment 46 AGENCY:

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

    ACTION:

    Proposed rule; request for comments.

    SUMMARY:

    NMFS proposes to implement management measures described in Amendment 46 to the Fishery Management Plan for the Reef Fish Resources of the Gulf of Mexico (FMP), as prepared by the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council (Council) (Amendment 46). For gray triggerfish, this proposed rule would revise the recreational fixed closed season, recreational bag limit, recreational minimum size limit, and commercial trip limit. Additionally, Amendment 46 would establish a new rebuilding time period for the Gulf of Mexico (Gulf) gray triggerfish stock. The purpose of this proposed rule is to implement management measures to assist in rebuilding the Gulf gray triggerfish stock and achieve optimum yield (OY).

    DATES:

    Written comments must be received on or before October 25, 2017.

    ADDRESSES:

    You may submit comments on the amendment identified by “NOAA-NMFS-2017-0080” by either of the following methods:

    Electronic Submission: Submit all electronic public comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. Go to www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-2017-0080, click the “Comment Now!” icon, complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments.

    Mail: Submit written comments to Lauren Waters, Southeast Regional Office, NMFS, 263 13th Avenue South, St. Petersburg, FL 33701.

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

    Electronic copies of Amendment 46, which includes an environmental assessment, a fishery impact statement, a Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) analysis, and a regulatory impact review, may be obtained from the Southeast Regional Office Web site at http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/sustainable_fisheries/gulf_fisheries/reef_fish/2017/am46_gray_trigger/documents/pdfs/gulf_reef_am46_gray_trigg_final.pdf.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Lauren Waters, Southeast Regional Office, NMFS, telephone: 727-824-5305; email: [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    NMFS and the Council manage the Gulf reef fish fishery, which includes gray triggerfish, under the FMP. The Council prepared the FMP and NMFS implements the FMP through regulations at 50 CFR part 622 under the authority of the Magnuson Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act) (16 U.S.C 1801 et seq.).

    Background

    The Magnuson-Stevens Act requires NMFS and regional fishery management councils to prevent overfishing and achieve, on a continuing basis, the OY from federally managed fish stocks. These mandates are intended to ensure that fishery resources are managed for the greatest overall benefit to the nation, particularly with respect to providing food production and recreational opportunities, and protecting marine ecosystems. To further this goal, the Magnuson-Stevens Act requires fishery managers to rebuild overfished stocks.

    Status of the Gray Triggerfish Stock

    The first Southeast Data, Assessment, and Review (SEDAR) benchmark stock assessment for gray triggerfish was completed in 2006 (SEDAR 9). SEDAR 9 indicated that the gray triggerfish stock was both overfished and possibly undergoing overfishing. Subsequently, Amendment 30A to the FMP established a gray triggerfish rebuilding plan beginning in the 2008 fishing year (73 FR 38139, July 3, 2008). In 2011, a SEDAR 9 update stock assessment for gray triggerfish determined that the gray triggerfish stock was still overfished and was undergoing overfishing, and had not made adequate progress toward rebuilding. As a result of the SEDAR 9 update and to end overfishing, the final rule for Amendment 37 to the FMP revised the gray triggerfish commercial and recreational sector annual catch limits (ACLs) and annual catch targets (ACTs), revised the gray triggerfish recreational sector accountability measures (AMs), revised the gray triggerfish recreational bag limit, established a commercial trip limit for gray triggerfish, and established a fixed closed season for the gray triggerfish commercial and recreational sectors (78 FR 27084, May 5, 2013). Additionally, Amendment 37 revised the rebuilding plan and projected that the stock would be rebuilt in 5 years, or by the end of 2017 fishing year.

    Since implementation of Amendment 37 in 2013, commercial harvest has not exceeded the commercial ACL, while the recreational sector has exceeded the recreational ACL or adjusted recreational ACL (that resulted from a ACL overage adjustment) in the 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016 fishing years. The most recent stock assessment for gray triggerfish was completed and reviewed by the Council's Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC) in October 2015 (SEDAR 43). SEDAR 43 indicated that the gray triggerfish stock was not experiencing overfishing but remained overfished and would not be rebuilt by the end of 2017 as previously projected. On November 2, 2015, NMFS notified the Council that the gray triggerfish stock was not making adequate progress toward rebuilding, and the Council subsequently began development of Amendment 46 to establish a new rebuilding time period and other management measures to achieve OY and rebuild the stock.

    Management Measures Contained in This Proposed Rule

    For gray triggerfish, this proposed rule would revise the recreational fixed closed season, recreational bag limit, recreational minimum size limit, and commercial trip limit. NMFS and the Council are proposing the changes to the recreational management measures to help constrain recreational landings to the recreational ACT to avoid triggering accountability measures (AMs) resulting in an in-season closure or post-season payback that would occur if landings exceed the recreational ACL. NMFS and the Council are proposing the increase in the commercial trip limit to allow those commercial fishermen who encounter gray triggerfish to harvest more fish per trip while continuing to constrain commercial landings to the commercial ACT.

    Recreational Seasonal Closure

    The current recreational seasonal closure for gray triggerfish in the Gulf is from June 1 through July 31, and was established in Amendment 37 to protect gray triggerfish during the peak spawning season and help constrain landings to the recreational ACT (78 FR 27084, May 5, 2013). However, as explained above, recreational landings have exceed the recreational ACL or adjusted ACL the last 4 years. This proposed rule would establish an additional recreational fixed closed season for gray triggerfish from January 1 through the end of February, which is expected to reduce recreational landings and help rebuild the stock within the rebuilding time period established in Amendment 46.

    Recreational Bag Limit

    The current recreational bag limit was set in Amendment 37 and is a 2-fish per person per day limit within the overall 20-fish aggregate reef fish bag limit. This proposed rule would reduce the recreational gray triggerfish bag limit to 1 fish per person per day within the 20-fish aggregate reef fish bag limit.

    As described in Amendment 46, from 2013 through 2015, approximately 10 percent of recreational trips with reef fish landings harvested 2 gray triggerfish within the 20-fish aggregate bag limit. NMFS expects the proposed change to the bag limit to reduce recreational landings by 15 percent, which will help constrain harvest to the recreational ACT to allow the sector to remain open through the end of the fishing year.

    Recreational Size Limit

    The current recreational minimum size limit for gray triggerfish is 14 inches (35.6 cm), fork length (FL), and was established in Amendment 30A to the FMP (73 FR 38139, July 3, 2008). The proposed rule would increase the minimum size limit to 15 inches (38.1 cm), FL. Increasing the recreational minimum size limit would increase the gray triggerfish spawning potential by maintaining larger-sized fish, which are more fecund, in the stock, and is expected to help slow recreational harvest.

    Commercial Trip Limit

    The current commercial trip limit is 12 fish per trip, and was established in Amendment 37 to help constrain commercial harvest to the commercial ACT and avoid an in-season closure as a result of the AMs being triggered (78 FR 27084, May 5, 2013). This proposed rule would increase the trip limit to 16 fish per trip.

    As described in Amendment 46, since implementation of the 12 fish commercial trip limit in 2013, commercial landings have been consistently below the commercial ACT. Analysis of commercial trips demonstrated that 80 percent of trips caught 10 gray triggerfish or less. This indicates that gray triggerfish is primarily a non-target species by the commercial sector and that increasing the commercial trip limit would likely result in only a small change in the weight projected to be landed during a fishing year. However, increasing the commercial trip limit would allow those fishermen who encounter the species the opportunity to harvest more fish. This would help achieve OY for the stock while continuing to constrain commercial landings to the commercial ACT.

    Measures in Amendment 46 Not in This Proposed Rule

    In addition to the measures proposed to be implemented through this proposed rule, Amendment 46 contains actions to set a rebuilding timeframe and to consider alternatives for the commercial and recreational ACTs and ACLs.

    Rebuilding Time Period and Commercial and Recreational ACTs and ACLs

    Amendment 37 established a 5-year rebuilding time period, expiring in 2017, and the current gray triggerfish commercial and recreational ACTs and ACLs. The current commercial ACT is 60,900 lb (27,624 kg), round weight, and the commercial ACL is 64,100 lb (29,075 kg), round weight. The current recreational ACT is 217,000 lb (98,475 kg), round weight, and the recreational ACL is 242,200 lb (109,406 kg), round weight. Amendment 46 would establish a new rebuilding time period for the Gulf gray triggerfish stock as a result of the stock status determined through SEDAR 43, and maintain the current commercial and recreational ACLs and ACTs.

    The Council's SSC reviewed SEDAR 43 and recommended alternative rebuilding time periods of 8, 9, or 10 years and the acceptable biological catch (ABC) yield streams for each period. There is a 60 percent probability of rebuilding the stock within these time periods if landings are appropriately constrained to the recommended catch levels. In Amendment 46, the Council considered these rebuilding time periods and their associated catch levels, as well as a 6-year period, which would be the time needed to rebuild the stock in the absence of fishing mortality. The Council determined that the 9-year rebuilding time period was as short as possible, taking into account the status and biology of the stock and the needs of the associated fishing communities. Although the ABC recommendation associated with the 9-year time period allowed for an increase in harvest, the Council chose to adopt a more conservative approach and maintain the current commercial and recreational ACLs and ACTs for gray triggerfish that were set through the final rule for Amendment 37 (78 FR 27084, May 9, 2013).

    Classification

    Pursuant to section 304(b)(1)(A) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the NMFS Assistant Administrator has determined that this proposed rule is consistent with the FMP, the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and other applicable law, subject to further consideration after public comment.

    This proposed rule has been determined to be not significant for purposes of Executive Order 12866.

    The Chief Counsel for Regulation of the Department of Commerce certified to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business Administration (SBA) that this proposed rule, if adopted, would not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. The factual basis for this certification follows.

    A description of this proposed rule, why it is being considered, and the objectives of, and legal basis for this proposed rule are contained in the preamble. The Magnuson-Stevens Act provides the statutory basis for this proposed rule.

    This proposed rule would directly affect commercial and recreational fishing for gray triggerfish in Gulf Federal waters. Anglers are not considered small entities as that term is defined in the RFA (5 U.S.C. 601(6)). Consequently, estimates of the number of anglers directly affected by the rule and the impacts on them are not provided here.

    NMFS estimates an average of 223 commercial fishing vessels harvest gray triggerfish in Gulf Federal waters annually, and the number of businesses that own these vessels ranges from 166 to 223. The average vessel harvested 164 lb (74.4 kg), gutted weight, of gray triggerfish annually with a dockside value of $331 (2015 dollars), and that average vessel's annual dockside revenue from all landings is $158,804 (2015 dollars).

    For RFA purposes, NMFS has established a small business size standard for businesses, including their affiliates, whose primary industry is commercial fishing (50 CFR 200.2). A business primarily involved in commercial fishing (NAICS 11411) 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 its combined annual receipts are not in excess of $11 million for all of its affiliated operations worldwide. Based on the average annual revenue for a vessel that lands gray triggerfish, it is concluded that most to all of the businesses that harvest gray triggerfish from the Gulf are small businesses.

    Amendment 46 would establish a rebuilding time period of 9 years or by the end of 2025, and this revised time period would have no direct impact on any small business.

    The proposed rule would retain the current commercial ACL and commercial ACT for gray triggerfish, which have been in effect since 2013 (78 FR 27084, May 9, 2013). These status quo measures would have no additional impact on any small business.

    The proposed rule would increase the commercial trip limit for gray triggerfish. A 12-fish trip limit has been in effect since 2013, and this proposed rule would allow for up to four more gray triggerfish to be landed per trip. The average weight of a commercially sized gray triggerfish is estimated to be 4.113 lb (1.866 kg), gutted weight. In 2015, the average dockside price of gray triggerfish was $2.12 per pound, gutted weight. At that price, the proposed rule could increase dockside revenue to as much as $34.88 per trip. It is estimated that the average annual beneficial impact would range from $0 to $135 per vessel, which represents from 0.00 percent to 0.08 percent of the average vessel's annual dockside revenue from all landings.

    Therefore, this proposed rule would not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities, and an initial regulatory flexibility analysis is not required and none has been prepared.

    List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 622

    Commercial, Fisheries, Fishing, Gray triggerfish, Gulf, Recreational.

    Dated: September 18, 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 622 is proposed to be amended as follows:

    PART 622—FISHERIES OF THE CARIBBEAN, GULF, AND SOUTH ATLANTIC 1. The authority citation for part 622 continues to read as follows: Authority:

    16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.

    2. In § 622.34, revise paragraph (f) to read as follows:
    § 622.34 Seasonal and area closures designed to protect Gulf reef fish.

    (f) Seasonal closures for gray triggerfish. The recreational sector for gray triggerfish in or from the Gulf EEZ is closed from January 1 through the end of February, and from June 1 through July 31, each year. During a recreational closure, the bag and possession limits for gray triggerfish in or from the Gulf EEZ are zero. The commercial sector for gray triggerfish in or from the Gulf EEZ is closed from June 1 through July 31, each year. During the period of both the commercial and recreational closure, all harvest or possession in or from the Gulf EEZ of gray triggerfish is prohibited and the sale and purchase of gray triggerfish taken from the Gulf EEZ is prohibited.

    3. In § 622.37, revise paragraph (c)(1) to read as follows:
    § 622.37 Size limits.

    (c) * * *

    (1) Gray triggerfish. (i) For a person not subject to the bag limit specified in § 622.38(b)(5)-14 inches (35.6 cm), fork length.

    (ii) For a person subject to the bag limit specified in § 622.38(b)(5)-15 inches (38.1 cm), fork length.

    4. In § 622.38, revise paragraph (b)(5) to read as follows:
    § 622.38 Bag and possession limits.

    (b) * * *

    (5) Gulf reef fish, combined, excluding those specified in paragraphs (b)(1) through (b)(4) and paragraphs (b)(6) through (b)(7) of this section—20. In addition, within the 20-fish aggregate reef fish bag limit, no more than 1 fish may be gray triggerfish and no more than 10 fish may be vermilion snapper.

    5. In § 622.43, revise paragraph (b) to read as follows:
    § 622.43 Commercial trip limits.

    (b) Gray triggerfish. Until the commercial ACT (commercial quota) specified in § 622.39(a)(1)(vi) is reached—16 fish. See § 622.39(b) for the limitations regarding gray triggerfish after the commercial ACT (commercial quota) is reached.

    [FR Doc. 2017-20351 Filed 9-22-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-22-P
    82 184 Monday, September 25, 2017 Notices DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Rural Business-Cooperative Service Inviting Applications for the Delta Health Care Services Grant Program AGENCY:

    Rural Business-Cooperative Service, USDA.

    ACTION:

    Notice of extension of application deadline to clarify the requirement that Consortium members be located in the Delta Region.

    SUMMARY:

    The Rural Business-Cooperative Service (RBS) extends the original deadline (July 24, 2017) for submitting applications for grant funds to help provide financial assistance to address the continued unmet health needs in the Delta Region announced in a Notice published May 22, 2017 in the Federal Register. This action is taken to clarify the requirement in the Notice that Consortium members be located in the Delta Region.

    DATES:

    The deadline for submitting applications under the Notice published May 22, 2017, is extended to October 10, 2017.

    ADDRESSES:

    Applications may be submitted via mail, courier, or hand delivery to the relevant RD State Office or electronically via http://www.grants.gov, in accordance with instructions published in the Federal Register Notice on May 22, 2017. Contact information for RD State Offices can be found at http://www.rd.usda.gov/contact-us/state-offices.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Grants Division, Cooperative Programs, Rural Business-Cooperative Service, 1400 Independence Avenue SW., Stop 3253, Washington, DC 20250-3253; or call (202) 690-1374.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Background and Discussion of Extension of Application Deadline

    RBS published a Notice on May 22, 2017 in Vol. 82, No. 97 (82 FR 23176) of the Federal Register with an application deadline of July 24, 2017. Subsequently, the Agency received multiple inquiries in regard to the definition of Consortium included in the Notice. RBS is extending the deadline to clarify the requirement in the Notice that Consortium members be located in the Delta Region.

    The term `Consortium' is defined on page 23177 of the Notice published on May 22, 2017 in Vol. 82, No. 97 (82 FR 23176) as “a group of three or more entities that are regional Institutions of Higher Education, Academic Health and Research Institutes, and/or Economic Development Entities located in the Delta Region that have at least 1 year of prior experience in addressing the health care issues in the region. At least one of the consortium members must be legally organized as an incorporated organization or other legal entity and have legal authority to contract with the Federal Government.”

    However, there were a number of potential applicants that requested further clarification on the requirement that Consortium members be located in the Delta Region. Specifically, if an organization has contractors working in the Delta Region, but the organization does not have a physical address and/or headquarters located in the Delta Region, would the organization be considered an eligible Consortium member.

    Consortium members must have a physical address and/or headquarters located in the Delta Region to be eligible to apply for the Delta Health Care Services grant program. Delta Region means the 252 counties and parishes within the states of Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, and Tennessee that are served by the Delta Regional Authority

    To ensure that all applicants are treated fairly, applicants who submitted an application in accordance with the original deadline may revise and resubmit their applications as necessary. Applicants who wish to revise their applications must resubmit their application by October 10, 2017.

    Chad Parker, Acting Administrator, Rural Business-Cooperative Service.
    [FR Doc. 2017-20345 Filed 9-22-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3410-XY-P
    DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Rural Utilities Service Information Collection Activity; Comment Request AGENCY:

    Rural Utilities Service, USDA.

    ACTION:

    Notice and request for comments.

    SUMMARY:

    In accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, the United States Department of Agriculture's Rural Utilities Service (RUS), invites comments on this information collection for which the Agency intends to request approval from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).

    DATES:

    Comments on this notice must be received by November 24, 2017.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Thomas P. Dickson, Acting Director, Program Development and Regulatory Analysis, USDA Rural Utilities Service, 1400 Independence Avenue SW., STOP 1522, Room 5164-S, Washington, DC 20250-1522. Telephone: (202) 690-4492, Fax: (202) 720-3485. Email: [email protected].

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    The Office of Management and Budget's (OMB) regulation (5 CFR 1320) implementing provisions of the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (Pub. L. 104-13) requires that interested members of the public and affected agencies have an opportunity to comment on information collection and recordkeeping activities (see 5 CFR 1320.8(d)). This notice identifies an existing information collection that the Agency is submitting to OMB for extension.

    Comments are invited on: (a) Whether this 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 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 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 Thomas P. Dickson, Acting Director, Program Development and Regulatory Analysis, USDA Rural Utilities Service, 1400 Independence Avenue SW., Stop 1522, Washington, DC 20250-1522. Telephone: (202) 690-4492, Fax: (202) 720-3485, Email: [email protected]

    Title: 7 CFR part 1724, Electric Engineering, Architectural Services and Design Policies and Procedures.

    OMB Control Number: 0572-0118.

    Type of Request: Extension of a currently approved collection.

    Abstract: The Agency requires borrowers to use standard contract forms under certain circumstances. The use of standard forms helps assure the Agency that appropriate standards and specifications are maintained, that the Agency's loan security is not adversely affected, and that loan and loan guarantee funds are used effectively and for the intended purpose. Standardization of forms by the Agency results in substantial savings to Borrowers. If standard forms were not used, borrowers would be required to prepare documents and the government would require extensively and costly review by both the Agency and the Office of General Counsel. The contract forms included in this collection of information are RUS Form 211, “Engineering Service Contract for the Design and Construction of a Generating Plant,” RUS Form 220, “Architectural Services Contract,” and RUS Form 236, Engineering Service Contract, “Electric System Design and Construction.”

    Estimate of Burden: Public reporting burden for this collection of information is estimated to average 1.07 hours per response.

    Respondents: Businesses, not-for-profit institutions and others.

    Estimated Number of Respondents: 59.

    Estimated Number of Responses per Respondent: 1.

    Estimated Total Annual Burden on Respondents: 63 hours.

    Copies of this information collection can be obtained from Rebecca Hunt, Program Development and Regulatory Analysis, at (202) 205-3660. Fax: (202) 720-3485.

    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 8, 2017. Christopher A. McLean, Acting Administrator, Rural Utilities Service.
    [FR Doc. 2017-20340 Filed 9-22-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE Economic Development Administration Notice of Petitions by Firms for Determination of Eligibility To Apply for Trade Adjustment Assistance AGENCY:

    Economic Development Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce.

    ACTION:

    Notice and opportunity for public comment.

    SUMMARY:

    The Economic Development Administration (EDA) has received petitions for certification of eligibility to apply for Trade Adjustment Assistance from the firms listed below. Accordingly, EDA has initiated investigations to determine whether increased imports into the United States of articles like or directly competitive with those produced by each of these firms contributed importantly to the total or partial separation of the firm's workers, or threat thereof, and to a decrease in sales or production of each petitioning firm.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    List of Petitions Received by EDA for Certification of Eligibility To Apply for Trade Adjustment Assistance [9/9/2017 through 9/19/2017] Firm name Firm address Date accepted for

  • investigation
  • Product(s) Poyant Signs, Inc. 125 Samuel Barnett Boulevard, New Bedford, MA 02745 9/12/2017 The firm manufactures custom, lighted signs for both interior and exterior applications. SES America, Inc. 21 Quinton Street, Warwick, RI 02888 9/15/2017 The firm manufactures high-quality, energy-efficient, illuminated signs and Dynamic Message Signs which are illuminated, digital signs mainly used by Departments of Transportation. MSI Mold Builders Southeast, Inc. 12300 6th Street Southwest, Cedar Rapids, IA 52404 9/19/2017 The firm manufactures industrial molds.

    Any party having a substantial interest in these proceedings may request a public hearing on the matter. A written request for a hearing must be submitted to the Trade Adjustment Assistance for Firms Division, Room 71030, Economic Development Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce, Washington, DC 20230, no later than ten (10) calendar days following publication of this notice. These petitions are received pursuant to section 251 of the Trade Act 1974, as amended.

    Please follow the requirements set forth in EDA's regulations at 13 CFR 315.9 for procedures to request a public hearing. The Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance official number and title for the program under which these petitions are submitted is 11.313, Trade Adjustment Assistance for Firms.

    Irette Patterson, Program Analyst.
    [FR Doc. 2017-20390 Filed 9-22-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-WH-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE First Responder Network Authority [Docket Number 170912896-7896-01] RIN 0660-XC037 National Telecommunications and Information Administration; Notice of Intent To Prepare a Supplemental Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement and Conduct Scoping for the Nationwide Public Safety Broadband Network AGENCY:

    First Responder Network Authority, National Telecommunications and Information Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce.

    ACTION:

    Notice of intent.

    SUMMARY:

    The First Responder Network Authority (“FirstNet”) announces its intent to prepare a Supplemental Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (“PEIS”) and conduct scoping for the Nationwide Public Safety Broadband Network. The Supplemental PEIS will address the processes FirstNet will follow for National Environmental Policy Act (“NEPA”) compliance and assessing potential impacts at the site-specific scale.

    DATES:

    The scoping period for this notice will begin on September 25, 2017 and will end on October 24, 2017. Submit comments on or before October 24, 2017.

    ADDRESSES:

    The public is invited to submit written comments to this Notice. Written comments may be submitted electronically via email to [email protected] or by mail (to the address listed in FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT). Comments received will be made part of the public record and may be posted to FirstNet's Web site (www.firstnet.gov) without change. Comments should be machine readable and should not be copy-protected. All personally identifiable information (e.g., name, address) voluntarily submitted by the commenter may be publicly accessible. Do not submit confidential business information or otherwise sensitive or protected information.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Amanda Goebel Pereira, NEPA Coordinator, First Responder Network Authority, National Telecommunications and Information Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce, 12201 Sunrise Valley Drive, M/S 243, Reston, VA 20192.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    The Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 (Pub. L. 112-96, Title VI, 126 Stat. 256 (codified at 47 U.S.C. 1401 et seq.)) (the “Act”) created and authorized FirstNet to take all actions necessary to ensure the building, deployment, and operation of an interoperable, nationwide public safety broadband network (“NPSBN”) based on a single, national network architecture. The Act meets a longstanding and critical national infrastructure need, to create a single, nationwide network that will, for the first time, allow police officers, fire fighters, emergency medical service professionals, and other public safety entities to effectively communicate with each other across agencies and jurisdictions. The NPSBN is intended to enhance the ability of the public safety community to perform more reliably, effectively, and safely; increase situational awareness during an emergency; and improve the ability of the public safety community to effectively engage in those critical activities.

    The National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (42 U.S.C. 4321-4347) (“NEPA”) requires federal agencies to undertake an assessment of environmental effects of their proposed actions prior to making a final decision and implementing the action. NEPA requirements apply to any federal project, decision, or action that may have a significant impact on the quality of the human environment. NEPA also establishes the Council on Environmental Quality (“CEQ”), which issued regulations implementing the procedural provisions of NEPA (40 CFR parts 1500-1508).

    Due to the geographic scope of FirstNet (all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and five territories) and the diversity of ecosystems potentially traversed by the project, FirstNet has prepared, and is in the process of publishing, five regional Final PEISs. The five Final PEISs are divided into the East, Central, West, South, and Non-Contiguous Regions, and each analyzes potential impacts of the deployment and operation of the NPSBN on the natural and human environment based on impact significance criteria developed at the programmatic level. FirstNet has also recently prepared and published for public and agency comment a draft document outlining its revised Procedures for Implementing the National Environmental Policy Act, the public comment period for which ended July 24, 2017.

    Now that FirstNet has selected a network partner for building out the NPSBN and the draft revised implementing procedures have been published, a Supplemental PEIS will be prepared that will (1) incorporate the final version of FirstNet's revised implementing procedures and will assess any changes to potential impacts to the human or natural environment at the programmatic level as a result of those revised procedures and (2) will describe the processes FirstNet will follow in accordance with NEPA to assess potential impacts at the site-specific scale using impact significance criteria to be developed using a resource-appropriate framework.

    Dated: September 20, 2017. Amanda Goebel Pereira, NEPA Coordinator, First Responder Network Authority.
    [FR Doc. 2017-20408 Filed 9-22-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-TL-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE Foreign-Trade Zones Board [B-58-2017] Foreign-Trade Zone (FTZ) 23—Erie County, New York; Notification of Proposed Production Activity; Cummins, Inc.; (Diesel and Gas Engines); Lakewood and Jamestown, New York

    The Erie County Industrial Development Agency, grantee of FTZ 23, submitted a notification of proposed production activity to the FTZ Board on behalf of Cummins, Inc. (Cummins), located within Subzone 23D in Lakewood and Jamestown, New York. The notification conforming to the requirements of the regulations of the FTZ Board (15 CFR 400.22) was received on August 28, 2017.

    The Cummins facility is used for the production of diesel and gas engines. Pursuant to 15 CFR 400.14(b), FTZ activity would be limited to the specific foreign-status materials and components and specific finished products described in the submitted notification (as described below) and subsequently authorized by the FTZ Board.

    Production under FTZ procedures could exempt Cummins from customs duty payments on the foreign-status components used in export production. On its domestic sales, for the foreign-status materials/components noted below, Cummins would be able to choose the duty rates during customs entry procedures that apply to: Automotive diesel and natural gas engines; industrial diesel engines; stationary generator diesel engines; and, recreational marine diesel engines (duty free to 2.5%). Cummins would be able to avoid duty on foreign-status components which become scrap/waste. Customs duties also could possibly be deferred or reduced on foreign-status production equipment.

    The components and materials sourced from abroad include: Accumulators; adapters (air inlet/filter head/hydraulic pump/spline); cylinder blocks; steel and iron braces (bracket/fuel pump/gear housing/tube); brackets (belt tensioner/breather/electronic control module/lifting/shipping/transfer pump); main bearing caps; steel injector clamps; ignition coils; exhaust collars; connections (air intake/exhaust transfer/fuel block/turbo oil drain/water inlet/water outlet/water transfer/injector fuel supply); electronic control coolers; oil coolers; covers (access hole/hand hole/rocker lever/starter flange); valve crossheads; viscous vibration dampers; steel and rubber gaskets (accessory drive support//carrier/cover plate/cylinder head/gear housing/oil pan/oil transfer connection/thermostat housing); gears (camshaft/flywheel ring/hydraulic pump/idler); electronic control module wiring harnesses; wiring harnesses; corrosion resistor heads; fuel filter heads; lubricating oil filter heads; intake air heaters; silicone rubber hump hoses; silicone rubber hoses; housings (flywheel/gear/oil cooler/rocker lever/thermostat/thermostat top level assembly); levers (cam follower/rocker/rocker top level assembly); adjusting links; air manifolds; exhaust manifolds; fuel drain manifolds; ignition control modules; oil pans; steel air inlet pipes; exhaust outlet pipes; plates (clamping/cooler/cover); flanged o-ring plugs; threaded plugs; pulleys (accessory drive/alternator/crankshaft/idler); pumps (fuel transfer/lubricating oil/water); injector fuel support connector retainers; engine connecting rods; push rods; valve rotators; rubber corrosion resistor seals; rubber seals (flywheel housing/front cover/gear housing/oil cooler housing/oil filter head/rocker level housing); sensors (engine speed/humidity/position); shafts (gar accessory drive/cam follower/idler/rocker lever); steel injector sleeves; aluminum/steel/nylon spacers; cylinder block stiffeners; steel/aluminum/cast iron supports (accessory/air compressor/alternator/breather/camshaft/exhaust/recirculation cooler/front engine/fuel pump/rocker lever/thermostat housing); temperature switches; steel tubes (compressor air inlet/injector fuel supply/lubricating oil suction/oil gauge/vent); turbocharger; solenoid valves; and, aluminum exhaust gas recirculation venturi (duty rates range from free to 4.7%).

    Public comment is invited from interested parties. Submissions shall be addressed to the Board's Executive Secretary at the address below. The closing period for their receipt is November 6, 2017.

    A copy of the notification will be available for public inspection at the Office of the Executive Secretary, Foreign-Trade Zones Board, Room 21013, U.S. Department of Commerce, 1401 Constitution Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20230-0002, and in the “Reading Room” section of the Board's Web site, which is accessible via www.trade.gov/ftz.

    For further information, contact Diane Finver at [email protected] or (202) 482-1367.

    Dated: September 20, 2017. Andrew McGilvray, Executive Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2017-20403 Filed 9-22-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-DS-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE Foreign-Trade Zones Board [S-147-2017] Foreign-Trade Zone 61—San Juan, Puerto Rico; Application for Subzone; Plaza Warehousing & Realty Corporation; Caguas, Puerto Rico

    An application has been submitted to the Foreign-Trade Zones Board (the Board) by the Puerto Rico Trade and Export Company, grantee of FTZ 61, requesting subzone status for the facility of Plaza Warehousing & Realty Corporation located in Caguas, Puerto Rico. The application was submitted pursuant to the provisions of the Foreign-Trade Zones Act, as amended (19 U.S.C. 81a-81u), and the regulations of the Board (15 CFR part 400). It was formally docketed on September 20, 2017.

    The proposed subzone (15.5 acres) is located at Road #1, Km. 27.9, Barrio Río Cañas, Caguas, Puerto Rico. No authorization for production activity has been requested at this time. The proposed subzone would be subject to the existing activation limit of FTZ 61.

    In accordance with the Board's regulations, Camille Evans of the FTZ Staff is designated examiner to review the application and make recommendations to the Executive Secretary.

    Public comment is invited from interested parties. Submissions shall be addressed to the Board's Executive Secretary at the address below. The closing period for their receipt is November 6, 2017. Rebuttal comments in response to material submitted during the foregoing period may be submitted during the subsequent 15-day period to November 20, 2017.

    A copy of the application will be available for public inspection at the Office of the Executive Secretary, Foreign-Trade Zones Board, Room 21013, U.S. Department of Commerce, 1401 Constitution Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20230-0002, and in the “Reading Room” section of the Board's Web site, which is accessible via www.trade.gov/ftz.

    For further information, contact Camille Evans at [email protected] or (202) 482-2350.

    Dated: September 20, 2017. Andrew McGilvray, Executive Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2017-20402 Filed 9-22-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-DS-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE International Trade Administration [C-533-874] Certain Cold-Drawn Mechanical Tubing of Carbon and Alloy Steel From India: Preliminary Affirmative Countervailing Duty Determination AGENCY:

    Enforcement and Compliance, International Trade Administration, Department of Commerce.

    SUMMARY:

    The Department of Commerce (the Department) preliminarily determines that countervailable subsidies are being provided to producers and exporters of certain cold-drawn mechanical tubing of carbon and alloy steel (cold-drawn mechanical tubing) from India. The period of investigation is April 1, 2016, through March 31, 2017.

    DATES:

    Applied September 25, 2017.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Ryan Mullen or Carrie Bethea, AD/CVD Operations, Office V, Enforcement and Compliance, International Trade Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce, 1401 Constitution Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20230; telephone: (202) 482-5260 or (202) 482-1491, respectively.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Background

    This preliminary determination is made in accordance with section 703(b) of the Tariff Act of 1930, as amended (the Act). The Department published the notice of initiation of this investigation on May 16, 2017.1 On June 19, 2017, the Department postponed the preliminary determination of this investigation and the revised deadline is now September 18, 2017.2 For a complete description of the events that followed the initiation of this investigation, see the Preliminary Decision Memorandum.3 A list of topics discussed in the Preliminary Decision Memorandum is included as Appendix II to this notice. The Preliminary Decision Memorandum is a public document and is on file electronically via Enforcement and Compliance's Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Centralized Electronic Service System (ACCESS). ACCESS is available to registered users at http://access.trade.gov, and is available to all parties in the Central Records Unit, Room B8024 of the main Department of Commerce building. In addition, a complete version of the Preliminary Decision Memorandum can be accessed directly at http://enforcement.trade.gov/frn/. The signed and electronic versions of the Preliminary Decision Memorandum are identical in content.

    1See Certain Cold-Drawn Mechanical Tubing of Carbon and Alloy Steel from India and the People's Republic of China: Initiation of Countervailing Duty Investigations, 82 FR 22486 (May 16, 2017) (Initiation Notice).

    2See Certain Cold-Drawn Mechanical Tubing of Carbon and Alloy Steel from India and the People's Republic of China: Postponement of Preliminary Determination in the Countervailing Duty Investigations, 82 FR 28641 (June 23, 2017).

    3See Memorandum, “Decision Memorandum for the Preliminary Determination of the Countervailing Duty Investigation of Certain Cold-Drawn Mechanical Tubing of Carbon and Alloy Steel from India,” dated concurrently with, and hereby adopted by, this notice (Preliminary Decision Memorandum).

    Scope of the Investigation

    The product covered by this investigation is cold-drawn mechanical tubing from India. For a complete description of the scope of this investigation, see Appendix I.

    Scope Comments

    In accordance with the preamble to the Department's regulations,4 the Initiation Notice set aside a period of time for parties to raise issues regarding product coverage, (i.e., scope).5 Certain interested parties commented on the scope of the investigation as it appeared in the Initiation Notice. The Department intends to issue its preliminary decision regarding comments concerning the scope of the AD and CVD investigations in the preliminary determination of the companion AD investigation.

    4See Antidumping Duties; Countervailing Duties, Final Rule, 62 FR 27296, 27323 (May 19, 1997).

    5See Initiation Notice.

    Methodology

    The Department is conducting this investigation in accordance with section 701 of the Act. For each of the subsidy programs found countervailable, the Department preliminarily determines that there is a subsidy, i.e., a financial contribution by an “authority” that gives rise to a benefit to the recipient, and that the subsidy is specific.6

    6See sections 771(5)(B) and (D) of the Act regarding financial contribution; section 771(5)(E) of the Act regarding benefit; and section 771(5A) of the Act regarding specificity.

    Facts Otherwise Available

    The Department relied, in part, on facts otherwise available on the record in making its determinations, pursuant to section 776(a)(1) and 776(a)(2)(A)(B) & (C) of the Act, because the Government of India withheld necessary information which had been requested by the Department, thereby significantly impeding the proceeding. Furthermore, because the Government of India failed to act to the best of its ability in providing information requested for 11 subsidy programs, the Department drew an adverse inference where appropriate in selecting from among the facts otherwise available.7 For further information, see “Use of Facts Otherwise Available and Adverse Inferences” in the Preliminary Decision Memorandum.

    7See section 776(b) of the Act.

    All-Others Rate

    Sections 703(d) and 705(c)(5)(A) of the Act provide that in the preliminary determination, the Department shall determine an estimated all-others rate for companies not individually examined. This rate shall be an amount equal to the weighted average of the estimated subsidy rates established for those companies individually examined, excluding any zero and de minimis rates and any rates based entirely under section 776 of the Act.

    In this investigation, the Department calculated individual estimated countervailable subsidy rates for Goodluck India Limited (Goodluck) and Tube Investments of India Limited (Tube Investments) that are not zero, de minimis, or based entirely on facts otherwise available. The Department calculated the all-others rate using a weighted average of the individual estimated subsidy rates calculated for the examined respondents using each company's publicly-ranged values for the merchandise under consideration.8

    8 With two respondents under examination, the Department normally calculates (A) a weighted-average of the estimated subsidy rates calculated for the examined respondents; (B) a simple average of the estimated subsidy rates calculated for the examined respondents; and (C) a weighted-average of the estimated subsidy rates calculated for the examined respondents using each company's publicly-ranged U.S. sale quantities for the merchandise under consideration. The Department then compares (B) and (C) to (A) and selects the rate closest to (A) as the most appropriate rate for all other producers and exporters. See, e.g., Ball Bearings and Parts Thereof from France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the United Kingdom: Final Results of Antidumping Duty Administrative Reviews, Final Results of Changed-Circumstances Review, and Revocation of an Order in Part, 75 FR 53661, 53663 (September 1, 2010). As complete publicly ranged sales data were available, the Department based the all-others rate on the publicly ranged sales data of the mandatory respondents. For a complete analysis of the data, please see the All-Others Rate Calculation Memorandum.

    Preliminary Determination

    The Department preliminarily determines that the following estimated countervailable subsidy rates exist:

    Company Subsidy rate
  • (%)
  • Goodluck India Limited 8.09 Tube Investments of India Limited 3.04 All-Others 5.99
    Suspension of Liquidation

    In accordance with section 703(d)(1)(B) and (d)(2) of the Act, the Department will direct U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to suspend liquidation of entries of subject merchandise as described in the scope of the investigation section entered, or withdrawn from warehouse, for consumption on or after the date of publication of this notice in the Federal Register. Further, pursuant to 19 CFR 351.205(d), the Department will instruct CBP to require a cash deposit equal to the rates indicated above.

    Disclosure

    The Department intends to disclose its calculations and analysis performed to interested parties in this preliminary determination within five days of its public announcement, or if there is no public announcement, within five days of the date of this notice in accordance with 19 CFR 351.224(b).

    Verification

    As provided in section 782(i)(1) of the Act, the Department intends to verify the information relied upon in making its final determination.

    Public Comment

    Case briefs or other written comments may be submitted to the Assistant Secretary for Enforcement and Compliance no later than seven days after the date on which the last verification report is issued in this investigation. Rebuttal briefs, limited to issues raised in case briefs, may be submitted no later than five days after the deadline date for case briefs.9 Pursuant to 19 CFR 351.309(c)(2) and (d)(2), parties who submit case briefs or rebuttal briefs in this investigation are encouraged to submit with each argument: (1) A statement of the issue; (2) a brief summary of the argument; and (3) a table of authorities.

    9See 19 CFR 351.309; see also 19 CFR 351.303 (for general filing requirements).

    Pursuant to 19 CFR 351.310(c), interested parties who wish to request a hearing, limited to issues raised in the case and rebuttal briefs, must submit a written request to the Assistant Secretary for Enforcement and Compliance, U.S. Department of Commerce within 30 days after the date of publication of this notice. Requests should contain the party's name, address, and telephone number, the number of participants, whether any participant is a foreign national, and a list of the issues to be discussed. If a request for a hearing is made, the Department intends to hold the hearing at the U.S. Department of Commerce, 1401 Constitution Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20230, at a time and date to be determined. Parties should confirm by telephone the date, time, and location of the hearing two days before the scheduled date.

    International Trade Commission Notification

    In accordance with section 703(f) of the Act, the Department will notify the International Trade Commission (ITC) of its determination. If the final determination is affirmative, the ITC will determine before the later of 120 days after the date of this preliminary determination or 45 days after the final determination.

    Notification to Interested Parties

    This determination is issued and published pursuant to sections 703(f) and 777(i) of the Act and 19 CFR 351.205(c).

    Dated: September 18, 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 I Scope of the Investigation

    The scope of this investigation covers cold-drawn mechanical tubing of carbon and alloy steel (cold-drawn mechanical tubing) of circular cross-section, in actual outside diameters less than 331 mm, and regardless of wall thickness, surface finish, end finish or industry specification. The subject cold-drawn mechanical tubing is a tubular product with a circular cross-sectional shape that has been cold-drawn or otherwise cold-finished after the initial tube formation in a manner that involves a change in the diameter or wall thickness of the tubing, or both. The subject cold-drawn mechanical tubing may be produced from either welded (e.g., electric resistance welded, continuous welded, etc.) or seamless (e.g., pierced, pilgered or extruded, etc.) carbon or alloy steel tubular products. It may also be heat treated after cold working. Such heat treatments may include, but are not limited to, annealing, normalizing, quenching and tempering, stress relieving or finish annealing. Typical cold-drawing methods for subject merchandise include, but are not limited to, drawing over mandrel, rod drawing, plug drawing, sink drawing and similar processes that involve reducing the outside diameter of the tubing with a die or similar device, whether or not controlling the inside diameter of the tubing with an internal support device such as a mandrel, rod, plug or similar device.

    Subject cold-drawn mechanical tubing is typically certified to meet industry specifications for cold-drawn tubing including but not limited to:

    (1) American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) or American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) specifications ASTM A-512, ASTM A-513 Type 3 (ASME SA513 Type 3), ASTM A-513 Type 4 (ASME SA513 Type 4), ASTM A-513 Type 5 (ASME SA513 Type 5), ASTM A-513 Type 6 (ASME SA513 Type 6), ASTM A-519 (cold-finished);

    (2) SAE International (Society of Automotive Engineers) specifications SAE J524, SAE J525, SAE J2833, SAE J2614, SAE J2467, SAE J2435, SAE J2613;

    (3) Aerospace Material Specification (AMS) AMS T-6736 (AMS 6736), AMS 6371, AMS 5050, AMS 5075, AMS 5062, AMS 6360, AMS 6361, AMS 6362, AMS 6371, AMS 6372, AMS 6374, AMS 6381, AMS 6415;

    (4) United States Military Standards (MIL) MIL-T-5066 and MIL-T-6736;

    (5) foreign standards equivalent to one of the previously listed ASTM, ASME, SAE, AMS or MIL specifications including but not limited to:

    (a) German Institute for Standardization (DIN) specifications DIN 2391-2, DIN 2393-2, DIN 2394-2);

    (b) European Standards (EN) EN 10305-1, EN 10305-2, EN 10305-4, EN 10305-6 and European national variations on those standards (e.g. British Standard (BS EN), Irish Standard (IS EN) and German Standard (DIN EN) variations, etc.);

    (c) Japanese Industrial Standard (JIS) JIS G 3441 and JIS G 3445; and

    (6) proprietary standards that are based on one of the above-listed standards.

    The subject cold-drawn mechanical tubing may also be dual or multiple certified to more than one standard. Pipe that is multiple certified as cold-drawn mechanical tubing and to other specifications not covered by this scope, is also covered by the scope of this investigation when it meets the physical description set forth above.

    Steel products included in the scope of this investigation are products in which: (1) Iron predominates, by weight, over each of the other contained elements; and (2) the carbon content is 2 percent or less by weight.

    For purposes of this scope, the place of cold-drawing determines the country of origin of the subject merchandise. Subject merchandise that is subject to minor working in a third country that occurs after drawing in one of the subject countries including, but not limited to, heat treatment, cutting to length, straightening, nondestruction testing, deburring or chamfering, remains within the scope of the investigation.

    All products that meet the written physical description are within the scope of this investigation unless specifically excluded or covered by the scope of an existing order. Merchandise that meets the physical description of cold-drawn mechanical tubing above is within the scope of the investigation even if it is also dual or multiple certified to an otherwise excluded specification listed below. The following products are outside of, and/or specifically excluded from, the scope of the investigation:

    (1) cold-drawn stainless steel tubing, containing 10.5 percent or more of chromium by weight and not more than 1.2 percent of carbon by weight;

    (2) products certified to one or more of the ASTM, ASME or American Petroleum Institute (API) specifications listed below:

    • ASTM A-53;

    • ASTM A-106;

    • ASTM A-179 (ASME SA 179);

    • ASTM A-192 (ASME SA 192);

    • ASTM A-209 (ASME SA 209);

    • ASTM A-210 (ASME SA 210);

    • ASTM A-213 (ASME SA 213);

    • ASTM A-334 (ASME SA 334);

    • ASTM A-423 (ASME SA 423);

    • ASTM A-498;

    • ASTM A-496 (ASME SA 496);

    • ASTM A-199;

    • ASTM A-500;

    • ASTM A-556;

    • ASTM A-565;

    • API 5L; and

    • API 5CT

    except that any cold-drawn tubing product certified to one of the above excluded specifications will not be excluded from the scope if it is also dual- or multiple-certified to any other specification that otherwise would fall within the scope of the investigation.

    The products subject to the investigation are currently classified in the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS) under item numbers: 7304.31.3000, 7304.31.6050, 7304.51.1000, 7304.51.5005, 7304.51.5060, 7306.30.5015, 7306.30.5020, 7306.50.5030. Subject merchandise may also enter under numbers 7306.30.1000 and 7306.50.1000. The HTSUS subheadings above are provided for convenience and customs purposes only. The written description of the scope of the investigation is dispositive.

    Appendix II List of Topics Discussed in the Preliminary Decision Memorandum I. Summary II. Background III. Scope Comments IV. Scope of the Investigation V. Injury Test VI. Subsidies Valuation VII. Benchmarks and Interest Rates VIII. Use of Facts Otherwise Available IX. Analysis of Programs X. Calculation of the All-Others Rate XI. ITC Notification XII. Disclosure and Public Comment XIII. Verification XIV. Conclusion
    [FR Doc. 2017-20412 Filed 9-22-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-DS-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE International Trade Administration [A-485-805] Certain Small Diameter Carbon and Alloy Seamless Standard, Line and Pressure Pipe From Romania: Final Results of Antidumping Duty Administrative Review; 2015-2016 AGENCY:

    Enforcement and Compliance, International Trade Administration, Department of Commerce.

    SUMMARY:

    On June 7, 2017, the Department of Commerce (the Department) published the preliminary results of the administrative review of the antidumping duty order on certain small diameter carbon and alloy seamless standard, line and pressure pipe from Romania. The review covers one producer/exporter of the subject merchandise, S.C. Silcotub S.A. (Silcotub). The period of review (POR) is August 1, 2015, through July 31, 2016.

    No interested party submitted comments on the preliminary results. We made no changes to the margin calculations for the final results of this review. Therefore, the final results do not differ from the preliminary results. The final weighted-average dumping margin for Silcotub is listed below in the “Final Results of Review” section of this notice.

    DATES:

    Applied September 25, 2017.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Katherine Johnson or Denisa Ursu, AD/CVD Operations, Office VIII, Enforcement and Compliance, International Trade Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce, 1401 Constitution Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20230; telephone: (202) 482-4929 or (202) 482-2285, respectively.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Background

    This review covers one producer/exporter of the subject merchandise, Silcotub. On June 7, 2017, the Department published the Preliminary Results in the Federal Register.1 We invited parties to comment on the Preliminary Results. 2 No interested party submitted comments. Further, no party submitted a request for a hearing in the instant review. The Department conducted this administrative review in accordance with section 751(a) of the Tariff Act of 1930, as amended (the Act).

    1See Certain Small Diameter Carbon and Alloy Seamless Standard, Line and Pressure Pipe from Romania: Preliminary Results of Antidumping Duty Administrative Review; 2015-2016, 82 FR 26452 (June 7, 2017) (Preliminary Results), and accompanying Memorandum “Certain Small Diameter Carbon and Alloy Seamless Standard, Line and Pressure Pipe from Romania: Decision Memorandum for Preliminary Results of Antidumping Duty Administrative Review; 2015-2016,” dated June 1, 2017 (Preliminary Decision Memorandum).

    2Preliminary Results, 82 FR at 26453.

    Scope of the Order

    The merchandise subject to the Order3 is small diameter seamless pipe. The product is currently classified under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS) subheadings 7304.10.10.20, 7304.10.50.20, 7304.19.10.20, 7304.19.50.20, 7304.31.30.00, 7304.31.60.50, 7304.39.00.16, 7304.39.00.20, 7304.39.00.24, 7304.39.00.28, 7304.39.00.32, 7304.51.50.05, 7304.51.50.60, 7304.59.60.00, 7304.59.80.10, 7304.59.80.15, 7304.59.80.20, and 7304.59.80.25. The HTSUS subheadings are provided for convenience and customs purposes only; the written product description of the scope of the Order is dispositive.4

    3See Notice of Amended Final Determination of Sales at Less Than Fair Value and Antidumping Duty Order: Certain Small Diameter Carbon and Alloy Seamless Standard, Line and Pressure Pipe from Romania, 65 FR 48963 (August 10, 2000) (the Order).

    4See Preliminary Decision Memorandum for a complete description of the scope of the Order.

    Changes Since the Preliminary Results

    As no parties submitted comments on the margin calculation methodology used in the Preliminary Results, the Department made no adjustments to that methodology in the final results of this review.

    Final Results of the Review

    As a result of this review, the Department determines that the following weighted-average dumping margin exists for entries of subject merchandise that were produced and/or exported by the following company during the POR:

    Manufacturer/exporter Weighted-average margin (percent) S.C. Silcotub S.A. 0.00 Assessment Rates

    The Department shall determine, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) shall assess, antidumping duties on all appropriate entries of subject merchandise in accordance with the final results of this review, pursuant to section 751(a)(2)(C) of the Act and 19 CFR 351.212(b). Because we calculated a zero margin for Silcotub in the final results of this review, we intend to instruct CBP to liquidate without regard to antidumping duties all shipments of subject merchandise manufactured and exported by Silcotub, entered or withdrawn from warehouse during the POR.

    The Department intends to issue the appropriate assessment instructions to CBP 15 days after the date of publication of these final results of review.

    Cash Deposit Requirements

    The following cash deposit requirements will be effective upon publication of the notice of these final results for all shipments of certain small diameter carbon and alloy seamless standard, line and pressure pipe from Romania entered, or withdrawn from warehouse, for consumption on or after the publication date as provided by section 751(a)(2) of the Act: (1) The cash deposit rate for entries of subject merchandise manufactured and/or exported by Silcotub will be zero; (2) for merchandise exported by manufacturers or exporters not covered in this review but covered in a completed prior segment of the proceeding, the cash deposit rate will continue to be the company-specific rate published for the most recentlycompleted segment; (3) if the exporter is not a firm covered in this review, a prior review, or the original investigation, but the manufacturer is, the cash deposit rate will be the rate established for the most recently- completed segment for the manufacturer of the merchandise; (4) the cash deposit rate for all other manufacturers or exporters will continue to be 13.06 percent, the all-others rate established in the Order. These cash deposit requirements, when imposed, shall remain in effect until further notice.

    Notification to Importers

    This notice also serves as a final reminder to importers of their responsibility under 19 CFR 351.402(f)(2) to file a certificate regarding the reimbursement of antidumping duties prior to liquidation of the relevant entries during this POR. Failure to comply with this requirement could result in the Department's presumption that reimbursement of antidumping duties has occurred and the subsequent assessment of double antidumping duties.

    Administrative Protective Order

    In accordance with 19 CFR 351.305(a)(3), this notice also serves as a reminder to parties subject to administrative protective order (APO) of their responsibility concerning the return or destruction of proprietary information disclosed under the APO, which continues to govern business proprietary information in this segment of the proceeding. Timely written notification of the return or destruction of APO materials or conversion to judicial protective order is hereby requested. Failure to comply with the regulations and terms of an APO is a violation subject to sanction.

    Notification to Interested Parties

    We intend to issue and publish these results in accordance with sections 751(a)(1) and 777(i)(1) of the Act and 19 CFR 351.213(h) and 351.221(b)(5).

    Dated: September 19, 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.
    [FR Doc. 2017-20401 Filed 9-22-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-DS-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE International Trade Administration [C-570-059] Certain Cold-Drawn Mechanical Tubing of Carbon and Alloy Steel From the People's Republic of China: Preliminary Affirmative Countervailing Duty Determination AGENCY:

    Enforcement and Compliance, International Trade Administration, Department of Commerce.

    SUMMARY:

    The Department of Commerce (the Department) preliminarily determines that countervailable subsidies are being provided to producers and exporters of certain cold-drawn mechanical tubing of carbon and alloy steel (cold-drawn mechanical tubing) from the People's Republic of China (PRC). The period of investigation is January 1, 2016, through December 31, 2016.

    DATES:

    Applied September 25, 2017.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Shanah Lee at (202) 482-6386 or Laurel LaCivita at (202) 482-4243, AD/CVD Operations, Enforcement and Compliance, International Trade Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce, 1401 Constitution Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20230.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Background

    This preliminary determination is made in accordance with section 703(b) of the Tariff Act of 1930, as amended (the Act). The Department published the notice of initiation of this investigation on May 16, 2017.1 On June 23, 2017, the Department postponed the preliminary determination of this investigation and the revised deadline is now September 18, 2017.2 For a complete description of the events that followed the initiation of this investigation, see the Preliminary Decision Memorandum.3 A list of topics discussed in the Preliminary Decision Memorandum is included as Appendix II to this notice. The Preliminary Decision Memorandum is a public document and is on file electronically via Enforcement and Compliance's Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Centralized Electronic Service System (ACCESS). ACCESS is available to registered users at http://access.trade.gov, and is available to all parties in the Central Records Unit, room B8024 of the main Department of Commerce building. In addition, a complete version of the Preliminary Decision Memorandum can be accessed directly at http://enforcement.trade.gov/frn/. The signed and electronic versions of the Preliminary Decision Memorandum are identical in content.

    1See Certain Cold-Drawn Mechanical Tubing of Carbon and Alloy Steel from India and the People's Republic of China: Initiation of Countervailing Duty Investigations, 82 FR 22486 (May 16, 2017) (Initiation Notice).

    2See Certain Cold-Drawn Mechanical Tubing of Carbon and Alloy Steel from India and the People's Republic of China: Postponement of Preliminary Determinations of Countervailing Duty Investigations, 82 FR 28641 (June 23, 2017).

    3See Memorandum, “Decision Memorandum for the Preliminary Affirmative Determination: Countervailing Duty Investigation of Certain Cold-Drawn Mechanical Tubing of Carbon and Alloy Steel from the People's Republic of China,” dated concurrently with, and hereby adopted by, this notice (Preliminary Decision Memorandum).

    Scope of the Investigation

    The product covered by this investigation is cold-drawn mechanical tubing from the PRC. For a complete description of the scope of this investigation, see Appendix I.

    Scope Comments

    In accordance with the preamble to the Department's regulations,4 the Initiation Notice set aside a period of time for parties to raise issues regarding product coverage, (i.e., scope).5 Certain interested parties commented on the scope of the investigation as it appeared in the Initiation Notice, as well as additional language proposed by the Department. The Department intends to issue its preliminary decision regarding comments concerning the scope of the antidumping duty (AD) and countervailing duty (CVD) investigations in the preliminary determination of the companion AD investigation.

    4See Antidumping Duties; Countervailing Duties, Final Rule, 62 FR 27296, 27323 (May 19, 1997).

    5See Initiation Notice, 82 FR at 22486, 22487.

    Methodology

    The Department is conducting this investigation in accordance with section 701 of the Act. For each of the subsidy programs found countervailable, the Department preliminarily determines that there is a subsidy, i.e., a financial contribution by an “authority” that gives rise to a benefit to the recipient, and that the subsidy is specific.6

    6See sections 771(5)(B) and (D) of the Act regarding financial contribution; section 771(5)(E) of the Act regarding benefit; and section 771(5A) of the Act regarding specificity.

    The Department notes that in making these findings, it relied, in part, on facts available and, because it finds that one or more respondents did not act to the best of their ability to respond to the Department's requests for information, it drew an adverse inference where appropriate in selecting from among the facts otherwise available.7 For further information, see “Use of Facts Otherwise Available and Adverse Inferences” in the Preliminary Decision Memorandum.

    7See sections 776(a) and (b) of the Act.

    All-Others Rate

    Sections 703(d) and 705(c)(5)(A) of the Act provide that in the preliminary determination, the Department shall determine an estimated all-others rate for companies not individually examined. This rate shall be an amount equal to the weighted average of the estimated subsidy rates established for those companies individually examined, excluding any zero and de minimis rates and any rates based entirely under section 776 of the Act. In this investigation, the Department calculated individual estimated countervailable subsidy rates for Jiangsu Hongyi Steel Pipe Co., Ltd. (Hongyi) and Zhangjiagang Huacheng Import & Export Co., Ltd. (Huacheng I&E) that are not zero, de minimis, or based entirely on facts otherwise available. The Department calculated the all-others” rate using a simple average of the individual estimated subsidy rates calculated for the examined respondents.8

    8 With two respondents under examination, the Department normally calculates (A) a weighted-average of the estimated subsidy rates calculated for the examined respondents; (B) a simple average of the estimated subsidy rates calculated for the examined respondents; and (C) a weighted-average of the estimated subsidy rates calculated for the examined respondents using each company's publicly-ranged values for the merchandise under consideration. The Department then compares (B) and (C) to (A) and selects the rate closest to (A) as the most appropriate rate for all other producers and exporters. See, e.g., Ball Bearings and Parts Thereof from France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the United Kingdom: Final Results of Antidumping Duty Administrative Reviews, Final Results of Changed-Circumstances Review, and Revocation of an Order in Part, 75 FR 53661, 53663 (September 1, 2010). As complete publicly ranged sales data was available, the Department based the all-others rate on the publicly ranged sales data of the mandatory respondents. For a complete analysis of the data, please see the All-Others” Rate Calculation Memorandum.

    Preliminary Determination

    The Department preliminarily determines that the following estimated countervailable subsidy rates exist:

    Company Subsidy rate
  • (%)
  • Jiangsu Hongyi Steel Pipe Co., Ltd 9 35.69 Zhangjiagang Huacheng Import & Export Co., Ltd 10 33.31 All-Others 34.5

    9 As discussed in the Preliminary Decision Memorandum, the Department finds the following companies to be cross-owned with Hongyi: Jiangsu Hongren Precision Pipe Manufacturing Co., Ltd. and Changzhou Kemeng Mechanical Equipment Co., Ltd.

    10 As discussed in the Preliminary Decision Memorandum, the Department finds the following companies to be cross-owned with Huacheng I&E: Zhangjiagang Huacheng Industry Pipe Making Corporation, Zhangjiagang Salem Fine Tubing Co., Ltd., Zhangjiagang Huacheng Investment Holding Co., Ltd., Zhangjiagang HZB Special Material Technology Co., Ltd. and Zhangjiagang Huacheng Special Materials Corporation.

    Suspension of Liquidation

    In accordance with section 703(d)(1)(B) and (d)(2) of the Act, the Department will direct U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to suspend liquidation of entries of subject merchandise as described in the scope of the investigation section entered, or withdrawn from warehouse, for consumption on or after the date of publication of this notice in the Federal Register. Further, pursuant to 19 CFR 351.205(d), the Department will instruct CBP to require a cash deposit equal to the rates indicated above.

    Disclosure

    The Department intends to disclose its calculations and analysis performed to interested parties in this preliminary determination within five days of its public announcement, or if there is no public announcement, within five days of the date of this notice in accordance with 19 CFR 351.224(b).

    Verification

    As provided in section 782(i)(1) of the Act, the Department intends to verify the information relied upon in making its final determination.

    Public Comment

    Case briefs or other written comments may be submitted to the Assistant Secretary for Enforcement and Compliance no later than seven days after the date on which the last verification report is issued in this investigation. Rebuttal briefs, limited to issues raised in case briefs, may be submitted no later than five days after the deadline date for case briefs.11 Pursuant to 19 CFR 351.309(c)(2) and (d)(2), parties who submit case briefs or rebuttal briefs in this investigation are encouraged to submit with each argument: (1) A statement of the issue; (2) a brief summary of the argument; and (3) a table of authorities.

    11See 19 CFR 351.309; see also 19 CFR 351.303 (for general filing requirements).

    Pursuant to 19 CFR 351.310(c), interested parties who wish to request a hearing, limited to issues raised in the case and rebuttal briefs, must submit a written request to the Assistant Secretary for Enforcement and Compliance, U.S. Department of Commerce, within 30 days after the date of publication of this notice. Requests should contain the party's name, address, and telephone number, the number of participants, and a list of the issues to be discussed. If a request for a hearing is made, the Department intends to hold the hearing at the U.S. Department of Commerce, 1401 Constitution Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20230, at a time and date to be determined. Parties should confirm by telephone the date, time, and location of the hearing two days before the scheduled date.

    International Trade Commission Notification

    In accordance with section 703(f) of the Act, the Department will notify the International Trade Commission (ITC) of its determination. If the final determination is affirmative, the ITC will determine before the later of 120 days after the date of this preliminary determination or 45 days after the final determination.

    Notification to Interested Parties

    This determination is issued and published pursuant to sections 703(f) and 777(i) of the Act and 19 CFR 351.205(c).

    Dated: September 18, 2017. Gary Taverman, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Operations performing the non-exclusive duties of the Assistant Secretary for Enforcement and Compliance. Appendix I Scope of the Investigation

    The scope of this investigation covers cold-drawn mechanical tubing of carbon and alloy steel (cold-drawn mechanical tubing) of circular cross-section, in actual outside diameters less than 331 mm, and regardless of wall thickness, surface finish, end finish or industry specification. The subject cold-drawn mechanical tubing is a tubular product with a circular cross-sectional shape that has been cold-drawn or otherwise cold-finished after the initial tube formation in a manner that involves a change in the diameter or wall thickness of the tubing, or both. The subject cold-drawn mechanical tubing may be produced from either welded (e.g., electric resistance welded, continuous welded, etc.) or seamless (e.g. , pierced, pilgered or extruded, etc.) carbon or alloy steel tubular products. It may also be heat treated after cold working. Such heat treatments may include, but are not limited to, annealing, normalizing, quenching and tempering, stress relieving or finish annealing. Typical cold-drawing methods for subject merchandise include, but are not limited to, drawing over mandrel, rod drawing, plug drawing, sink drawing and similar processes that involve reducing the outside diameter of the tubing with a die or similar device, whether or not controlling the inside diameter of the tubing with an internal support device such as a mandrel, rod, plug or similar device.

    Subject cold-drawn mechanical tubing is typically certified to meet industry specifications for cold-drawn tubing including but not limited to:

    (1) American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) or American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) specifications ASTM A-512, ASTM A-513 Type 3 (ASME SA513 Type 3), ASTM A-513 Type 4 (ASME SA513 Type 4), ASTM A-513 Type 5 (ASME SA513 Type 5), ASTM A-513 Type 6 (ASME SA513 Type 6), ASTM A-519 (cold-finished);

    (2) SAE International (Society of Automotive Engineers) specifications SAE J524, SAE J525, SAE J2833, SAE J2614, SAE J2467, SAE J2435, SAE J2613;

    (3) Aerospace Material Specification (AMS) AMS T-6736 (AMS 6736), AMS 6371, AMS 5050, AMS 5075, AMS 5062, AMS 6360, AMS 6361, AMS 6362, AMS 6371, AMS 6372, AMS 6374, AMS 6381, AMS 6415;

    (4) United States Military Standards (MIL) MIL-T-5066 and MIL-T-6736;

    (5) foreign standards equivalent to one of the previously listed ASTM, ASME, SAE, AMS or MIL specifications including but not limited to:

    (a) German Institute for Standardization (DIN) specifications DIN 2391-2, DIN 2393-2, DIN 2394-2);

    (b) European Standards (EN) EN 10305-1, EN 10305-2, EN 10305-4, EN 10305-6 and European national variations on those standards (e.g., British Standard (BS EN), Irish Standard (IS EN) and German Standard (DIN EN) variations, etc.);

    (c) Japanese Industrial Standard (JIS) JIS G 3441 and JIS G 3445; and

    (6) proprietary standards that are based on one of the above-listed standards.

    The subject cold-drawn mechanical tubing may also be dual or multiple certified to more than one standard. Pipe that is multiple certified as cold-drawn mechanical tubing and to other specifications not covered by this scope, is also covered by the scope of this investigation when it meets the physical description set forth above.

    Steel products included in the scope of this investigation are products in which:

    (1) Iron predominates, by weight, over each of the other contained elements; and

    (2) the carbon content is 2 percent or less by weight.

    For purposes of this scope, the place of cold-drawing determines the country of origin of the subject merchandise. Subject merchandise that is subject to minor working in a third country that occurs after drawing in one of the subject countries including, but not limited to, heat treatment, cutting to length, straightening, nondestruction testing, deburring or chamfering, remains within the scope of the investigation.

    All products that meet the written physical description are within the scope of this investigation unless specifically excluded or covered by the scope of an existing order. Merchandise that meets the physical description of cold-drawn mechanical tubing above is within the scope of the investigation even if it is also dual or multiple certified to an otherwise excluded specification listed below. The following products are outside of, and/or specifically excluded from, the scope of this investigation:

    (1) Cold-drawn stainless steel tubing, containing 10.5 percent or more of chromium by weight and not more than 1.2 percent of carbon by weight;

    (2) products certified to one or more of the ASTM, ASME or American Petroleum Institute (API) specifications listed below:

    • ASTM A-53;

    • ASTM A-106;

    • ASTM A-179 (ASME SA 179);

    • ASTM A-192 (ASME SA 192);

    • ASTM A-209 (ASME SA 209);

    • ASTM A-210 (ASME SA 210);

    • ASTM A-213 (ASME SA 213);

    • ASTM A-334 (ASME SA 334);

    • ASTM A-423 (ASME SA 423);

    • ASTM A-498;

    • ASTM A-496 (ASME SA 496);

    • ASTM A-199;

    • ASTM A-500;

    • ASTM A-556;

    • ASTM A-565;

    • API 5L; and

    • API 5CT

    except that any cold-drawn tubing product certified to one of the above excluded specifications will not be excluded from the scope if it is also dual-or multiple-certified to any other specification that otherwise would fall within the scope of this investigation.

    The products subject to the investigation are currently classified in the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS) under item numbers: 7304.31.3000, 7304.31.6050, 7304.51.1000, 7304.51.5005, 7304.51.5060, 7306.30.5015, 7306.30.5020, 7306.50.5030. Subject merchandise may also enter under numbers 7306.30.1000 and 7306.50.1000. The HTSUS subheadings above are provided for convenience and customs purposes only. The written description of the scope of the investigation is dispositive.

    Appendix II List of Topics Discussed in the Preliminary Decision Memorandum I. Summary II. Background III. Scope Comments IV. Scope of the Investigation V. Injury Test VI. Application of the CVD Law to Imports from the PRC VII. Subsidies Valuation VIII. Benchmarks and Interest Rates IX. Use of Facts Otherwise Available and Adverse Inferences X. Analysis of Programs XI. ITC Notification XII. Disclosure and Public Comment XIII. Verification XIV. Conclusion
    [FR Doc. 2017-20413 Filed 9-22-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-DS-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE International Trade Administration Advisory Committee on Supply Chain Competitiveness; Notice of Public Meetings AGENCY:

    International Trade Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce.

    ACTION:

    Notice of open meetings.

    SUMMARY:

    This notice sets forth the schedule and proposed topics of discussion for public meetings of the Advisory Committee on Supply Chain Competitiveness (Committee).

    DATES:

    The meetings will be held on October 18, 2017, from 12:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m., and October 19, 2017, from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Eastern Standard Time (EST).

    ADDRESSES:

    The meetings on October 18 and 19 will be held at the U.S. Department of Commerce, 1401 Constitution Avenue NW., Research Library (Room 1894), Washington, DC 20230.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Richard Boll, Office of Supply Chain, Professional & Business Services (OSCPBS), International Trade Administration. (Phone: (202) 482-1135 or Email: [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Background: The Committee was established under the discretionary authority of the Secretary of Commerce and in accordance with the Federal Advisory Committee Act (5 U.S.C. App.). It provides advice to the Secretary of Commerce on the necessary elements of a comprehensive policy approach to supply chain competitiveness designed to support U.S. export growth and national economic competitiveness, encourage innovation, facilitate the movement of goods, and improve the competitiveness of U.S. supply chains for goods and services in the domestic and global economy; and provides advice to the Secretary on regulatory policies and programs and investment priorities that affect the competitiveness of U.S. supply chains. For more information about the Committee visit: http://trade.gov/td/services/oscpb/supplychain/acscc/.

    Matters to Be Considered: Committee members are expected to continue to discuss the major competitiveness-related topics raised at the previous Committee meetings, including trade and competitiveness; freight movement and policy; trade innovation; regulatory issues; finance and infrastructure; and workforce development. The Committee's subcommittees will report on the status of their work regarding these topics. The agenda may change to accommodate other Committee business. The Office of Supply Chain, Professional & Business Services will post the final detailed agendas on its Web site, http://trade.gov/td/services/oscpb/supplychain/acscc/, at least one week prior to the meeting.

    The meetings will be open to the public and press on a first-come, first-served basis. Space is limited. The public meetings are physically accessible to people with disabilities. Individuals requiring accommodations, such as sign language interpretation or other ancillary aids, are asked to notify Mr. Richard Boll, at (202) 482-1135 or [email protected] five (5) business days before the meeting.

    Interested parties are invited to submit written comments to the Committee at any time before and after the meeting. Parties wishing to submit written comments for consideration by the Committee in advance of this meeting must send them to the Office of Supply Chain, Professional & Business Services, 1401 Constitution Ave. NW., Room 11014, Washington, DC 20230, or email to [email protected]

    For consideration during the meetings, and to ensure transmission to the Committee prior to the meetings, comments must be received no later than 5:00 p.m. EST on October 10, 2017. Comments received after October 10, 2017, will be distributed to the Committee, but may not be considered at the meetings. The minutes of the meetings will be posted on the Committee Web site within 60 days of the meeting.

    Dated: September 19, 2017. Maureen Smith, Director, Office of Supply Chain.
    [FR Doc. 2017-20386 Filed 9-22-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-DR-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Institute of Standards and Technology Visiting Committee on Advanced Technology AGENCY:

    National Institute of Standards and Technology, Department of Commerce.

    ACTION:

    Notice of partially closed meeting.

    SUMMARY:

    The Visiting Committee on Advanced Technology (VCAT or Committee), National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), will meet Monday, October 23, 2017 from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Eastern Time and Tuesday, October 24, 2017 from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Eastern Time. The VCAT is composed of not fewer than 9 members appointed by the NIST Director, a majority of whom are eminent in such fields as business, research, new product development, engineering, labor, education, management consulting, environment, and international relations.

    DATES:

    The VCAT will meet on Monday, October 23, 2017 from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Eastern Time and Tuesday, October 24, 2017 from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Eastern Time. The portion of the meeting that is closed to the public will take place on Tuesday, October 24, 2017 from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.

    ADDRESSES:

    The meeting will be held in the Portrait Room, Administration Building, at NIST, 100 Bureau Drive, Gaithersburg, Maryland, 20899. Please note admittance instructions under the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section of this notice.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Serena Martinez, VCAT, NIST, 100 Bureau Drive, Mail Stop 1060, Gaithersburg, Maryland 20899-1060, telephone number 301-975-2661. Mrs. Martinez's email address is [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Authority: 15 U.S.C. 278, as amended, and the Federal Advisory Committee Act, as amended, 5 U.S.C. App.

    The purpose of this meeting is for the VCAT to review and make recommendations regarding general policy for NIST, its organization, its budget, and its programs within the framework of applicable national policies as set forth by the President and the Congress. The agenda will include an update on major programs at NIST. In addition, the meeting will include presentations and discussions on priorities for the NIST Laboratory Programs over the next decade. The Committee will also be briefed on plans to improve research services and support. During a closed session on October 24, 2017 from 8:30 a.m. until 10:30 a.m., the VCAT will discuss NIST's security posture, including recent incidents and planned improvements. The agenda may change to accommodate Committee business. The final agenda will be posted on the NIST Web site at http://www.nist.gov/director/vcat/agenda.cfm.

    Individuals and representatives of organizations who would like to offer comments and suggestions related to the Committee's affairs are invited to request a place on the agenda. On Monday, October 23, approximately one-half hour in the afternoon will be reserved for public comments and speaking times will be assigned on a first-come, first-serve basis. The amount of time per speaker will be determined by the number of requests received, but is likely to be about 3 minutes each. The exact time for public comments will be included in the final agenda that will be posted on the NIST Web site at http://www.nist.gov/director/vcat/agenda.cfm. Questions from the public will not be considered during this period. Speakers who wish to expand upon their oral statements, those who had wished to speak but could not be accommodated on the agenda, and those who were unable to attend in person are invited to submit written statements to VCAT, NIST, 100 Bureau Drive, MS 1060, Gaithersburg, Maryland 20899, via fax at 301-216-0529 or electronically by email to [email protected].

    All visitors to the NIST site are required to pre-register to be admitted. Please submit your name, time of arrival, email address and phone number to Serena Martinez by 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Friday, October 13, 2017. Non-U.S. citizens must submit additional information; please contact Mrs. Martinez. Mrs. Martinez's email address is [email protected] and her phone number is 301-975-2661. For participants attending in person, please note that federal agencies, including NIST, can only accept a state-issued driver's license or identification card for access to federal facilities if such license or identification card is issued by a state that is compliant with the REAL ID Act of 2005 (Pub. L. 109-13), or by a state that has an extension for REAL ID compliance. NIST currently accepts other forms of federal-issued identification in lieu of a state-issued driver's license. For detailed information please contact Mrs. Martinez at 301-975-2661 or visit: http://nist.gov/public_affairs/visitor/.

    Kevin Kimball, NIST Chief of Staff.
    [FR Doc. 2017-20374 Filed 9-22-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-13-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration RIN 0648-XF330 Takes of Marine Mammals Incidental to Specified Activities; Taking Marine Mammals Incidental to a Geophysical Survey in the Central Pacific Ocean AGENCY:

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

    ACTION:

    Notice; Issuance of an Incidental Harassment Authorization.

    SUMMARY:

    In accordance with the regulations implementing the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) as amended, notification is hereby given that NMFS has issued an incidental harassment authorization (IHA) to the University of Hawaii (UH) to incidentally take, by Level A and Level B harassment only, marine mammals during a marine geophysical survey in the Central Pacific Ocean.

    DATES:

    This Authorization is valid from September 14, 2017 through September 13, 2018.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Jordan Carduner, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, (301) 427-8401. Electronic copies of the application and supporting documents, as well as a list of the references cited in this document, may be obtained online at: www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/incidental/research.htm. In case of problems accessing these documents, please call the contact listed above.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Background

    Sections 101(a)(5)(A) and (D) of the MMPA (16 U.S.C. 1361 et seq.) direct the Secretary of Commerce (as delegated to NMFS) to allow, upon request, the incidental, but not intentional, taking of small numbers of marine mammals by U.S. citizens who engage in a specified activity (other than commercial fishing) within a specified geographical region if certain findings are made and either regulations are issued or, if the taking is limited to harassment, a notice of a proposed authorization is provided to the public for review.

    An authorization for incidental takings shall be granted if NMFS finds that the taking will have a negligible impact on the species or stock(s), will not have an unmitigable adverse impact on the availability of the species or stock(s) for subsistence uses (where relevant), and if the permissible methods of taking and requirements pertaining to the mitigation, monitoring and reporting of such takings are set forth.

    NMFS has defined “negligible impact” in 50 CFR 216.103 as an impact resulting from the specified activity that cannot be reasonably expected to, and is not reasonably likely to, adversely affect the species or stock through effects on annual rates of recruitment or survival.

    The MMPA states that the term “take” means to harass, hunt, capture, kill or attempt to harass, hunt, capture, or kill any marine mammal.

    Except with respect to certain activities not pertinent here, the MMPA defines “harassment” as: Any act of pursuit, torment, or annoyance which (i) has the potential to injure a marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild (Level A harassment); or (ii) has the potential to disturb a marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild by causing disruption of behavioral patterns, including, but not limited to, migration, breathing, nursing, breeding, feeding, or sheltering (Level B harassment).

    National Environmental Policy Act

    To comply with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA; 42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.) and NOAA Administrative Order (NAO) 216-6A, NMFS must review our proposed action (i.e., the issuance of an incidental harassment authorization) with respect to potential impacts on the human environment. Accordingly, NMFS prepared an Environmental Assessment (EA) to consider the environmental impacts associated with the issuance of the IHA to UH. We reviewed all comments submitted in response to the Federal Register notice for the proposed IHA (82 FR 34352; July 24, 2017) prior to concluding our NEPA process and deciding whether or not to issue a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI). NMFS concluded that issuance of an IHA to UH would not significantly affect the quality of the human environment and prepared and issued a FONSI in accordance with NEPA and NAO 216-6A. NMFS' EA and FONSI for this activity are available on our Web site at: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/incidental.

    Summary of Request

    On March 15, 2016, NMFS received a request from the UH for an IHA to take marine mammals incidental to conducting a marine geophysical survey in the central Pacific Ocean. On May 16, 2017, we deemed UH's application for authorization to be adequate and complete. UH's request is for take of a small number of 24 species of marine mammals by Level B harassment and Level A harassment. Neither UH nor NMFS expects mortality to result from this activity, and, therefore, an IHA is appropriate. The planned activity is not expected to exceed one year, hence, we do not expect subsequent MMPA incidental harassment authorizations would be issued for this particular activity.

    Description of Activity Overview

    UH, in collaboration with the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC), proposes to conduct a marine seismic survey north of Hawaii in the central Pacific Ocean over the course of five and a half days in September 2017. The survey would occur north of the Hawaiian Islands, in the approximate area 22.6-25.0° N and 153.5-157.4° W (See Figure 1 in IHA application). The project area is partly within the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of the United States and partly in adjacent international waters. Water depths in the area range from 4,000 to 5,000 meters (m). The survey would involve one source vessel, the Japan-flagged R/V (research vessel) Kairei. The Kairei would deploy a 32-airgun array with a total volume of ~7800 cubic inches (in3) as an energy source. A detailed description of UH's planned activity is provided in the Federal Register notice for the proposed IHA (82 FR 34352; July 24, 2017). Since that time, no changes have been made to the planned activities. Therefore, a detailed description is not provided here. Please refer to that Federal Register notice for the description of the specific activity.

    Comments and Responses

    NMFS published a notice of proposed IHA in the Federal Register on July 24, 2017 (82 FR 34352; July 24, 2017). During the 30-day public comment period, NMFS received a comment letter from the Marine Mammal Commission (Commission) as well as one comment from a member of the general public. NMFS has posted the comments online at: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/incidental. NMFS addresses any comments specific to UH's application related to the statutory and regulatory requirements or findings that NMFS must make under the MMPA in order to issue an Authorization. The following is a summary of the public comments and NMFS' responses.

    Comment 1: The Commission expressed concerns regarding UH's method to estimate the extent of the Level A and B harassment zones and the numbers of marine mammal takes. The Commission stated that the model is not the best available science because it assumes spherical spreading, a constant sound speed, and no bottom interactions for surveys in deep water. In light of their concerns, the Commission recommended that NMFS require UH, in collaboration with Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University (LDEO) (which performed the modeling of Level A and Level B harassment zones and estimated takes) to re-estimate the Level A and Level B harassment zones and associated takes of marine mammals using both operational (including number/type/spacing of airguns, tow depth, source level/operating pressure, operational volume) and site-specific environmental (including sound speed profiles, bathymetry, and sediment characteristics at a minimum) parameters. The Commission also expressed concern that LDEO used a high-pass filter for modeling the unweighted peak sound pressure level (SPLpeak) thresholds, and stated that use of the full bandwidth is appropriate given that the thresholds themselves were based on responses of the animals to the full frequency spectrum of the airgun pulses, not a filtered bandwidth.

    Response: NMFS acknowledges the Commission's concerns about LDEO's current modeling approach for estimating Level A and Level B harassment zones and takes. UH's application (LGL, 2017) and the Federal Register notice for the proposed IHA (82 FR 34352; July 24, 2017) describe the applicant's approach to modeling Level A and Level B harassment zones. The model LDEO currently uses does not allow for the consideration of environmental and site-specific parameters as requested by the Commission. NMFS continues to work with LDEO to address the issue of incorporating site-specific information to further inform the analysis and development of mitigation measures in oceanic and coastal areas for future seismic surveys. The use of models for estimating the size of ensonified areas and for developing take estimates is not a requirement of the MMPA incidental take authorization process, and NMFS does not provide specific guidance on model parameters nor prescribe a specific model for applicants at this time. We recognize that there is no model or approach that is always the most appropriate and that there may be multiple approaches that may be considered acceptable and, in this case, LDEO's current modeling approach represents the best available information to inform authorized take levels and also NMFS' determinations under the MMPA. NMFS finds that the Level A and Level B harassment zone calculations conducted by LDEO are reasonable for use in this particular IHA. Further, the results of modeling (e.g., take estimates) is just one component of the analysis during the MMPA authorization process as NMFS also takes into consideration other factors associated with the activity (e.g., geographic location, duration of activities, context, sound source intensity, etc.).

    With regard to the Commission's concern regarding LDEO's use of a high-pass filter for modeling the unweighted SPLpeak thresholds, NMFS has reviewed the best available information and we agree that the Commission's concern is valid. Since the thresholds were based on responses of the animals to the full frequency spectrum of the airgun pulses, not a filtered bandwidth, we agree that use of the full bandwidth is appropriate. Therefore, we have revised the modeled distances to the Level A harassment threshold (SPLpeak) that we rely on for estimating Level A takes, from those described in the Federal Register notice for the proposed IHA (82 FR 34352; July 24, 2017) to those shown in Table 6 in this document, which have no band pass filtering applied.

    Comment 2: The Commission expressed concern that the method used to estimate the numbers of takes, which summed fractions of takes for each species across project days, does not account for and negates the intent of NMFS' 24-hour reset policy.

    NMFS Response: We appreciate the Commission's ongoing concern in this matter. Calculating predicted takes is not an exact science and there are arguments for taking different mathematical approaches in different situations, and for making qualitative adjustments in other situations. We believe, however, that the methodology used for take calculation in this IHA remains appropriate and is not at odds with the 24-hour reset policy the Commission references.

    Comment 3: The Commission questioned why NMFS did not propose to prohibit the use of power downs and recommended that NMFS use a consistent approach for requiring all geophysical survey operators to abide by the same general mitigation measures, including prohibiting UH from using power downs during its survey.

    NMFS Response: NMFS agrees with the Commission that consistency in mitigation measures across ITAs for similar activities is a worthwhile goal, to the extent practicable. NMFS also agrees with the Commission that limiting the use of power downs can be beneficial in reducing the overall sound input in the marine environment from geophysical surveys; as such, NMFS is requiring that power downs in this IHA occur for no more than a maximum of 30 minutes at any time. The requirement for a 30 minute maximum for power downs represents a change to the mitigation measures from those proposed in the Federal Register notice of the proposed IHA (82 FR 34352, July 24, 2017) and is reflected in the mitigation measures in the issued IHA. NMFS is still in the process of determining best practice, via solicitation of public comment, for the use of power downs as a mitigation measure in ITAs for geophysical surveys. We will take into consideration the Commission's recommendation that power downs be eliminated as a mitigation measure as we work toward a determination on best practices for the use of power downs in IHAs for marine geophysical surveys. We will also review the comments received in response to the Federal Register notice for proposed IHAs for marine geophysical surveys in the Atlantic Ocean (82 FR 26244, June 6, 2017) to help inform that determination; we are still reviewing those comments at this time. Ultimately our determination will be based on the best available science and will be communicated clearly to ITA applicants.

    Comment 4: The Commission expressed concern that reporting of the manner of taking and the numbers of animals incidentally taken should account for all animals in the various survey areas, including those animals directly on the trackline that are not detected and how well animals are detected based on the distance from the observer (accounted for by g(0) and f(0) values). The Commission has recommended a method for estimating the number of cetaceans in the vicinity of geophysical surveys based on the number of groups detected and recommended that NMFS require UH to use this method for estimating g(0) and f(0) values to better estimate the numbers of marine mammals taken by Level A and Level B harassment.

    NMFS response: NMFS agrees that reporting of the manner of taking and the numbers of animals incidentally taken should account for all animals taken, including those animals directly on the trackline that are not detected and how well animals are detected based on the distance from the observer, to the extent practicable. NMFS has provided the Commission's recommended method for estimating g(0) and f(0) values to previous applicants for similar activities (i.e., research-based geophysical surveys). We have received feedback in response that those applicants are concerned with some aspects of the Commission's method, including that the probability values recommended by the Commission's recommended method involve assumptions that are not met by the surveys conducted aboard research geophysical vessels and that, as such, derived f(0) values for research geophysical surveys would not be suitable for refining the number of cetaceans potentially taken incidentally during these surveys. NMFS requires in this IHA that takes reported in UH's monitoring report include an estimate that accounts for all animals incidentally taken, including those on the trackline but not detected, but at this time we do not prescribe a particular method for accomplishing this task.

    Description of Marine Mammals in the Area of Specified Activities

    Section 4 of the application summarizes available information regarding status and trends, distribution and habitat preferences, and behavior and life history, of the potentially affected species. Additional information regarding population trends and threats may be found in NMFS' Stock Assessment Reports (SAR; www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/sars/), and more general information about these species (e.g., physical and behavioral descriptions) may be found on NMFS' Web site (www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/species/mammals/).

    Table 1 lists all species with expected potential for occurrence in the central Pacific Ocean and summarizes information related to the population or stock, including regulatory status under the MMPA and ESA and potential biological removal (PBR), where known. For taxonomy, we follow Committee on Taxonomy (2016). PBR is defined by the MMPA as the maximum number of animals, not including natural mortalities, that may be removed from a marine mammal stock while allowing that stock to reach or maintain its optimum sustainable population (as described in NMFS' SARs). While no mortality is anticipated or authorized here, PBR and annual serious injury and mortality from anthropogenic sources are included here as gross indicators of the status of the species and other threats.

    Marine mammal abundance estimates presented in this document represent the total number of individuals that make up a given stock or the total number estimated within a particular study or survey area. NMFS' stock abundance estimates for most species represent the total estimate of individuals within the geographic area, if known, that comprises that stock. For some species, this geographic area may extend beyond U.S. waters. All managed stocks in this region are assessed in NMFS' U.S. Pacific SARs (e.g., Carretta et al., 2017). All values presented in Table 1 are the most recent available at the time of publication and are available in the 2016 SARs (Carretta et al., 2017), available online at: www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/sars, except where noted otherwise.

    Table 1—Marine Mammals That Could Occur in the Project Area Species Stock ESA/MMPA
  • status;
  • strategic
  • (Y/N) 1
  • Stock abundance 2
  • (CV, Nmin, most recent
  • abundance survey) 3
  • PBR 4 Relative occurrence
  • in project area
  • Order Cetartiodactyla—Cetacea—Superfamily Mysticeti (baleen whales) Family: Balaenopteridae Humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) 5 Central North Pacific -/-; N 10,103 (0.300; 7,890; 2006) 83 Seasonal; throughout known breeding grounds during winter and spring (most common November through April). Blue Whale (Balaenoptera musculus) Central North Pacific E/D; Y 81 (1.14; 38; 2010) 0.1 Seasonal; infrequent winter migrant; few sightings, mainly fall and winter; considered rare. Fin whale (Balaenoptera physalus Hawaii E/D; Y 58 (1.12; 27; 2010) 0.1 Seasonal, mainly fall and winter; considered rare. Sei whale (Balaenoptera borealis) Hawaii E/D; Y 178 (0.90; 93; 2010) 0.2 Rare; limited sightings of seasonal migrants that feed at higher latitudes. Bryde's whale (Balaenoptera brydei/edeni) Hawaii -/-; N 798 (0.28; 633; 2010) 6.3 Uncommon; distributed throughout the Hawaiian Exclusive Economic Zone. Minke whale (Balaenoptera acutorostrata) Hawaii -/-; N n/a (n/a; n/a; 2010) Undet. Seasonal, mainly fall and winter; considered rare. Order Cetartiodactyla—Cetacea—Superfamily Odontoceti (toothed whales, dolphins, and porpoises) Family: Physeteridae Sperm whale (Physeter macrocephalus) Hawaii E/D; Y 3,354 (0.34; 2,539; 2010) 10.2 Widely distributed year round. Order Cetartiodactyla—Cetacea—Superfamily Odontoceti (toothed whales, dolphins, and porpoises) Family: Kogiidae Pygmy sperm whale 6 (Kogia breviceps) Hawaii -/-; N 7,139 (2.91; n/a; 2006) Undet. Widely distributed year round. Dwarf sperm whale 6 (Kogia sima) Hawaii -/-; N 17,519 (7.14; n/a; 2006) Undet. Widely distributed year round. Order Cetartiodactyla—Cetacea—Superfamily Odontoceti (toothed whales, dolphins, and porpoises) Family delphinidae Killer whale (Orcinus orca) Hawaii -/-; N 101 (1.00; 50; 2010) 1 Uncommon; infrequent sightings. False killer whale (Pseudorca crassidens) Hawaii Pelagic -/-; N 1,540 (0.66; 928; 2010) 9.3 Regular. Pygmy killer whale (Feresa attenuata) Hawaii -/-; N 3,433 (0.52; 2,274; 2010) 23 Year-round resident. Short-finned pilot whale (Globicephala macrorhynchus) Hawaii -/-; N 12,422 (0.43; 8,872; 2010) 70 Commonly observed around Main Hawaiian Islands and Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. Melon headed whale (Peponocephala electra) Hawaiian Islands -/-; N 5,794 (0.20; 4,904; 2010) 4 Regular. Bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) Hawaii pelagic -/-; N 5,950 (0.59; 3,755; 2010) 38 Common in deep offshore waters. Pantropical spotted dolphin (Stenella attenuata) Hawaii pelagic -/-; N 15,917 (0.40; 11,508; 2010) 115 Common; primary occurrence between 100 and 4,000 m depth. Striped dolphin (Stenella coeruleoala) Hawaii -/-; N 20,650 (0.36; 15,391; 2010) 154 Occurs regularly year round but infrequent sighting during survey. Spinner dolphin 6 (Stenella longirostris) Hawaii pelagic -/-; N 3,351 (0.74; n/a; 2006) Undet. Common year-round in offshore waters. Rough-toothed dolphin (Steno bredanensis) Hawaii -/-; N 6,288 (0.39; 4,581; 2010) 46 Common throughout the Main Hawaiian Islands and Hawaiian Islands EEZ. Fraser's dolphin (Lagenodelphis hosei) Hawaii -/-; N 16,992 (0.66; 10,241; 2010) 102 Tropical species only recently documented within Hawaiian Islands EEZ (2002 survey). Risso's dolphin (Grampus griseus) Hawaii -/-; N 7,256 (0.41; 5,207; 2010) 42 Previously considered rare but multiple sightings in Hawaiian Islands EEZ during various surveys conducted from 2002-2012. Order Cetartiodactyla—Cetacea—Superfamily Odontoceti (toothed whales, dolphins, and porpoises) Family: Ziphiidae Cuvier's beaked whale (Ziphius cavirostris) Hawaii -/-; N 1,941 (n/a; 1,142; 2010) 11.4 Year-round occurrence but difficult to detect due to diving behavior. Blainville's beaked whale (Mesoplodon densirostris) Hawaii -/-; N 2,338 (1.13; 1,088; 2010) 11 Year-round occurrence but difficult to detect due to diving behavior. Longman's beaked whale (Indopacetus pacificus) Hawaii -/-; N 4,571 (0.65; 2,773; 2010) 28 Considered rare; however, multiple sightings during 2010 survey. 1 Endangered Species Act (ESA) status: Endangered (E), Threatened (T)/MMPA status: Depleted (D). A dash (-) indicates that the species is not listed under the ESA or designated as depleted under the MMPA. Under the MMPA, a strategic stock is one for which the level of direct human-caused mortality exceeds PBR (see footnote 3) or which is determined to be declining and likely to be listed under the ESA within the foreseeable future. Any species or stock listed under the ESA is automatically designated under the MMPA as depleted and as a strategic stock. 2 Abundance estimates from Carretta et al. (2017) unless otherwise noted. 3 CV is coefficient of variation; Nmin is the minimum estimate of stock abundance. In some cases, CV is not applicable. For certain stocks, abundance estimates are actual counts of animals and there is no associated CV. The most recent abundance survey that is reflected in the abundance estimate is presented; there may be more recent surveys that have not yet been incorporated into the estimate. 4 Potential biological removal (PBR), defined by the MMPA as the maximum number of animals, not including natural mortalities, that may be removed from a marine mammal stock while allowing that stock to reach or maintain its optimum sustainable population size (OSP). 5 Values for humpback whale are from the 2015 Alaska SAR (Muto et al., 2015). 6 Values for spinner dolphin, dwarf and pygmy sperm whale are from Barlow et al. (2006).

    All species that could potentially occur in the survey area are included in Table 1. We have reviewed UH's species descriptions, including life history information, distribution, regional distribution, diving behavior, and acoustics and hearing, for accuracy and completeness. We refer the reader to Section 4 of UH's IHA application, rather than reprinting the information here. A detailed description of the species likely to be affected by UH's survey, including brief introductions to the species and relevant stocks as well as available information regarding population trends and threats, and information regarding local occurrence, were provided in the Federal Register notice for the proposed IHA (82 FR 34352; July 24, 2017). Since that time, we are not aware of any changes in the status of these species and stocks; therefore, detailed descriptions are not provided here. Please refer to that Federal Register notice for these descriptions. Please also refer to NMFS' Web site (www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/species/mammals/) for generalized species accounts

    Potential Effects of Specified Activities on Marine Mammals and Their Habitat

    The effects of underwater noise from marine geophysical survey activities have the potential to result in behavioral harassment and, in a limited number of instances, auditory injury (PTS) of marine mammals in the vicinity of the action area. The Federal Register notice for the proposed IHA (82 FR 34352; July 24, 2017) included a discussion of the effects of anthropogenic noise on marine mammals and their habitat, therefore that information is not repeated here; please refer to the Federal Register notice (82 FR 34352; July 24, 2017) for that information. No instances of serious injury or mortality are expected as a result of UH's survey activities.

    Estimated Take

    This section provides an estimate of the number of incidental takes authorized through the IHA, which informs both NMFS' consideration of whether the number of takes is “small” and the negligible impact determination.

    Harassment is the only type of take expected to result from these activities. Except with respect to certain activities not pertinent here, section 3(18) of the MMPA defines “harassment” as: any act of pursuit, torment, or annoyance which (i) has the potential to injure a marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild (Level A harassment); or (ii) has the potential to disturb a marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild by causing disruption of behavioral patterns, including, but not limited to, migration, breathing, nursing, breeding, feeding, or sheltering (Level B harassment).

    Authorized takes would primarily be by Level B harassment, as use of the seismic airguns have the potential to result in disruption of behavioral patterns for individual marine mammals. There is also some potential for auditory injury (Level A harassment) to result, primarily for mysticetes and high frequency cetaceans (i.e., kogiidae spp.), due to larger predicted auditory injury zones for those functional hearing groups. Auditory injury is unlikely to occur for mid-frequency species given very small modeled zones of injury for those species. The mitigation and monitoring measures are expected to minimize the severity of such taking to the extent practicable.

    As described previously, no mortality is anticipated or authorized for this activity. Below we describe how the take is estimated.

    Described in the most basic way, we estimate take by considering: (1) Acoustic thresholds above which NMFS believes the best available science indicates marine mammals will be behaviorally harassed or incur some degree of permanent hearing impairment; (2) the area or volume of water that will be ensonified above these levels in a day; (3) the density or occurrence of marine mammals within these ensonified areas; and (4) and the number of days of activities. Below, we describe these components in more detail and present the exposure estimate and associated numbers of take authorized.

    Acoustic Thresholds

    Using the best available science, NMFS has developed acoustic thresholds that identify the received level of underwater sound above which exposed marine mammals would be reasonably expected to be behaviorally harassed (equated to Level B harassment) or to incur permanent threshold shift (PTS) of some degree (equated to Level A harassment).

    Level B Harassment for non-explosive sources—Though significantly driven by received level, the onset of behavioral disturbance from anthropogenic noise exposure is also informed to varying degrees by other factors related to the source (e.g., frequency, predictability, duty cycle), the environment (e.g., bathymetry), and the receiving animals (hearing, motivation, experience, demography, behavioral context) and can be difficult to predict (Southall et al., 2007, Ellison et al., 2011). Based on the best available science and the practical need to use a threshold based on a factor that is both predictable and measurable for most activities, NMFS uses a generalized acoustic threshold based on received level to estimate the onset of behavioral harassment. NMFS predicts that marine mammals are likely to be behaviorally harassed in a manner we consider to fall under Level B harassment when exposed to underwater anthropogenic noise above received levels of 120 decibels (dB) re 1 micropascal (μPa) root mean square (rms) for continuous (e.g. vibratory pile-driving, drilling) and above 160 dB re 1 μPa (rms) for non-explosive impulsive (e.g., seismic airguns) or intermittent (e.g., scientific sonar) sources. UH's activity includes the use of impulsive seismic sources. Therefore, the 160 dB re 1 μPa (rms) criteria is applicable for analysis of level B harassment.

    Level A harassment for non-explosive sources—NMFS' Technical Guidance for Assessing the Effects of Anthropogenic Sound on Marine Mammal Hearing (NMFS, 2016) identifies dual criteria to assess auditory injury (Level A harassment) to five different marine mammal groups (based on hearing sensitivity) (Table 2) as a result of exposure to noise from two different types of sources (impulsive or non-impulsive). The Technical Guidance identifies the received levels, or thresholds, above which individual marine mammals are predicted to experience changes in their hearing sensitivity for all underwater anthropogenic sound sources, reflects the best available science, and better predicts the potential for auditory injury than does NMFS' historical criteria.

    Table 2—Marine Functional Mammal Hearing Groups and Their Generalized Hearing Ranges Hearing group Generalized hearing range * Low frequency (LF) cetaceans (baleen whales) 7Hz to 35 kHz. Mid-frequency (MF) cetaceans (dolphins, toothed whales, beaked whales, bottlenose whales) 150 Hz to 160 kHz. High-frequency (HF) cetaceans (true porpoises, Kogia, river dolphins, cephalorhynchid, Lagenorhynchus cruciger and L. australis) 275 Hz to 160 kHz. Phocid pinnipeds (PW) (underwater) (true seals) 50 Hz to 86 kHz. Otariid pinnipeds (OW) (underwater) (sea lions and fur seals) 60 Hz to 39 kHz. * Represents the generalized hearing range for the entire group as a composite (i.e., all species within the group), where individual species' hearing ranges are typically not as broad. Generalized hearing range chosen based on ~65 dB threshold from normalized composite audiogram, with the exception for lower limits for LF cetaceans (Southall et al., 2007) and PW pinniped (approximation).

    These thresholds were developed by compiling and synthesizing the best available science and soliciting input multiple times from both the public and peer reviewers to inform the final product, and are provided in Table 3 below. The references, analysis, and methodology used in the development of the thresholds are described in NMFS 2016 Technical Guidance, which may be accessed at: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/acoustics/guidelines.htm. As described above, UH's activity includes the use of intermittent and impulsive seismic sources.

    Table 3—Thresholds Identifying the Onset of Permanent Threshold Shift in Marine Mammals Hearing Group PTS onset thresholds Impulsive * Non-impulsive Low-Frequency (LF) Cetaceans L pk,flat: 219 dB, L E,LF,24h: 183 dB L E,LF,24h: 199 dB. Mid-Frequency (MF) Cetaceans L pk,flat: 230 dB, L E,MF,24h: 185 dB L E,MF,24h: 198 dB. High-Frequency (HF) Cetaceans L pk,flat: 202 dB, L E,HF,24h: 155 dB L E,HF,24h: 173 dB. Note: * Dual metric acoustic thresholds for impulsive sounds: Use whichever results in the largest isopleth for calculating PTS onset. If a non-impulsive sound has the potential of exceeding the peak sound pressure level thresholds associated with impulsive sounds, these thresholds should also be considered. Note: Peak sound pressure (Lpk) has a reference value of 1 μPa, and cumulative sound exposure level (LE) has a reference value of 1μPa2s. In this Table, thresholds are abbreviated to reflect American National Standards Institute standards (ANSI 2013). However, peak sound pressure is defined by ANSI as incorporating frequency weighting, which is not the intent for this Technical Guidance. Hence, the subscript “flat” is being included to indicate peak sound pressure should be flat weighted or unweighted within the generalized hearing range. The subscript associated with cumulative sound exposure level thresholds indicates the designated marine mammal auditory weighting function (LF, MF, and HF cetaceans, and PW and OW pinnipeds) and that the recommended accumulation period is 24 hours. The cumulative sound exposure level thresholds could be exceeded in a multitude of ways (i.e., varying exposure levels and durations, duty cycle). When possible, it is valuable for action proponents to indicate the conditions under which these acoustic thresholds will be exceeded. Ensonified Area

    Here, we describe operational and environmental parameters of the activity that will feed into estimating the area ensonified above the acoustic thresholds.

    The survey would entail use of a 32-airgun array with a total discharge of 7,800 in3 at a tow depth of 10 m. The distance to the predicted isopleth corresponding to the threshold for Level B harassment (160 dB re 1 μPa) was calculated based on results of modeling performed by LDEO. Received sound levels were predicted by LDEO's model (Diebold et al. 2010) as a function of distance from the full 32-airgun array as well as for a single 100 in3 airgun, which would be used during power-downs. The LDEO modeling approach uses ray tracing for the direct wave traveling from the array to the receiver and its associated source ghost (reflection at the air-water interface in the vicinity of the array), in a constant-velocity half-space (infinite homogeneous ocean layer unbounded by a seafloor). LDEO's modeling methodology is described in greater detail in the IHA application (LGL 2017) and we refer to the reader to that document rather than repeating it here. The estimated distances to the Level B harassment isopleth for the Kairei's full airgun array and for the single 100-in3 airgun are shown in Table 4. The total area estimated to be ensonified to the Level B harassment threshold for the entire survey is 24,408 square kilometers (km2).

    Table 4—Predicted Radial Distances From R/V Kairei Seismic Source to Isopleth Corresponding to Level B Harassment Threshold Source and volume Predicted
  • distance to threshold
  • (160 dB re 1 μPa)
  • 1 airgun, 100 in 3 722 m. 4 strings, 32 airguns, 7800 in 3 9,289 m.

    Predicted distances to Level A harassment isopleths, which vary based on marine mammal hearing groups (Table 2), were calculated based on modeling performed by LDEO using the Nucleus software program and the NMFS User Spreadsheet, described below. The updated acoustic thresholds for impulsive sounds (such as airguns) contained in the Technical Guidance (NMFS 2016) were presented as dual metric acoustic thresholds using both cumulative sound exposure level (SELcum) and peak sound pressure metrics. As dual metrics, NMFS considers onset of PTS (Level A harassment) to have occurred when either one of the two metrics is exceeded (i.e., metric resulting in the largest isopleth). The SELcum metric considers both level and duration of exposure, as well as auditory weighting functions by marine mammal hearing group. In recognition of the fact that the requirement to calculate Level A harassment ensonified areas could be more technically challenging to predict due to the duration component and the use of weighting functions in the new SELcum thresholds, NMFS developed an optional User Spreadsheet that includes tools to help predict a simple isopleth that can be used in conjunction with marine mammal density or occurrence to facilitate the estimation of take numbers.

    The values for SELcum and peak SPL for the Kairei airgun array were derived from calculating the modified farfield signature (Table 5). The farfield signature is often used as a theoretical representation of the source level. To compute the farfield signature, the source level is estimated at a large distance below the array (e.g., 9 km), and this level is back projected mathematically to a notional distance of 1 m from the array's geometrical center. However, when the source is an array of multiple airguns separated in space, the source level from the theoretical farfield signature is not necessarily the best measurement of the source level that is physically achieved at the source (Tolstoy et al. 2009). Near the source (at short ranges, distances <1 km), the pulses of sound pressure from each individual airgun in the source array do not stack constructively, as they do for the theoretical farfield signature. The pulses from the different airguns spread out in time such that the source levels observed or modeled are the result of the summation of pulses from a few airguns, not the full array (Tolstoy et al. 2009). At larger distances, away from the source array center, sound pressure of all the airguns in the array stack coherently, but not within one time sample, resulting in smaller source levels (a few dB) than the source level derived from the farfield signature. Because the farfield signature does not take into account the large array effect near the source and is calculated as a point source, the modified farfield signature is a more appropriate measure of the sound source level for distributed sound sources, such as airgun arrays. UH used the acoustic modeling developed by LDEO (same as used for Level B takes) with a small grid step of 1 m in both the inline and depth directions (for example, see Figure 5 in the IHA application). The propagation modeling takes into account all airgun interactions at short distances from the source, including interactions between subarrays which are modeled using the NUCLEUS software to estimate the notional signature and MATLAB software to calculate the pressure signal at each mesh point of a grid.

    Table 5—Modeled Source Levels for R/V Kairei 7,800 in3 Airgun Array and 100 in3 Airgun Based on Modified Farfield Signature Functional hearing group 7,800 in3
  • airgun array
  • (peak SPLflat)
  • 7,800 in3
  • airgun array
  • (SELcum)
  • 100 in3 airgun
  • (peak SPLflat)
  • 100 in3 airgun
  • (SELcum)
  • Low frequency cetaceans (L pk,flat: 219 dB; L E,LF,24h: 183 dB) 256.36 dB 235.01 dB 229.46 dB 208.41 dB. Mid frequency cetaceans (L pk,flat: 230 dB; L E,MF,24h: 185 dB) 245.59 dB 235.12 dB 229.47 dB 208.44 dB. High frequency cetaceans (L pk,flat: 202 dB; L E,HF,24h: 155 dB) 256.26 dB 235.16 dB 229.59 dB 209.01 dB.

    In order to more realistically incorporate the Technical Guidance's weighting functions over the seismic array's full acoustic band, unweighted spectrum data for the Kairei's airgun array (modeled in 1 hertz (Hz) bands) was used to make adjustments (dB) to the unweighted spectrum levels, by frequency, according to the weighting functions for each relevant marine mammal hearing group. These adjusted/weighted spectrum levels were then converted to pressures (micropascals) in order to integrate them over the entire broadband spectrum, resulting in broadband weighted source levels by hearing group that could be directly incorporated within the User Spreadsheet (i.e., to override the Spreadsheet's more simple weighting factor adjustment). Using the User Spreadsheet's “safe distance” methodology for mobile sources (described by Sivle et al., 2014) with the hearing group-specific weighted source levels, and inputs assuming spherical spreading propagation, a source velocity of 2.315 meters/second, and shot interval of 21.59 seconds (LGL 2017), potential radial distances to auditory injury zones were then calculated for SELcum thresholds.

    To estimate Peak SPL thresholds, LDEO performed modeling for a single shot and then a high pass filter was applied for each hearing group. A high pass filter is a type of band band-pass filter, which pass frequencies within a defined range without reducing amplitude and attenuate frequencies outside that defined range (Yost 2007). In their IHA application (LGL 2017) UH presented modeled distances to level A isopleths (Peak SPL) both with and without the high pass filter applied. In the Federal Register notice for the proposed IHA (82 FR 34352; July 24, 2017) NMFS presented distances to the Level A harassment thresholds for Peak SPL based on LDEO's modeling, including the application of the high pass filter. At the time that Federal Register notice was published, we agreed that application of the high pass filter was appropriate, and we accepted LDEO's modeling methodology and its application for take estimation. However, in response to feedback we received in the form of public comments submitted in response to that Federal Register notice (see Comments and Responses section) we have subsequently determined that the application of the high pass filter is, in fact, not appropriate (see Comments and Responses section for further discussion of this issue). As such, the estimated distances to Level A harassment isopleths (for Peak SPL) shown in Table 6 have revised from those shown in the Federal Register notice for the proposed IHA (82 FR 34352; July 24, 2017) to reflect no band pass filtering.

    Inputs to the User Spreadsheet are shown in Table 5; outputs from the User Spreadsheet in the form of estimated distances to Level A harassment isopleths are shown in Table 6. The User Spreadsheet used by UH is shown in Table 3 of the IHA application.

    Table 6—Modeled Radial Distances From R/V Kairei 7800 in3 Airgun Array and 100 in3 Airgun to Isopleths Corresponding to Level A Harassment Thresholds Functional hearing group 7,800 in3
  • airgun array
  • (peak SPLflat)
  • 7,800 in3
  • airgun array
  • (SELcum)
  • 100 in3
  • airgun
  • (peak SPLflat)
  • 100 in3
  • airgun
  • (SELcum)
  • Low frequency cetaceans (L pk,flat: 219 dB; L E,LF,24h: 183 dB) 73.8 m 752.8 m 3.3 m 4.48 m Mid frequency cetaceans (L pk,flat: 230 dB; L E,MF,24h: 185 dB) 6.0 0.0 m 0.9 n/a High frequency cetaceans (L pk,flat: 202 dB; L E,HF,24h: 155 dB) 516.5 m 1.7 m 24 m n/a

    Note that because of some of the assumptions included in the methods used, isopleths produced may be overestimates to some degree, which will ultimately result in some degree of overestimate of Level A take. However, these tools offer the best way to predict appropriate isopleths when more sophisticated 3D modeling methods are not available, and NMFS continues to develop ways to quantitatively refine these tools and will qualitatively address the output where appropriate. For mobile sources, such as UH's survey, the User Spreadsheet predicts the closest distance at which a stationary animal would not incur PTS if the sound source traveled by the animal in a straight line at a constant speed.

    Marine Mammal Occurrence

    In this section we provide the information about the presence, density, or group dynamics of marine mammals that will inform the take calculations.

    The best available scientific information was considered in conducting marine mammal exposure estimates (the basis for estimating take). For most cetacean species, densities calculated by Bradford et al. (2017) from summer-fall vessel-based surveys that are part of the Hawaiian Island Cetacean Ecosystem Assessment Survey (HICEAS) were used. The surveys were conducted by NMFS' Southwest Fisheries Science Center (SWFSC) and Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center (PIFSC) in 2010 using two NOAA research vessels, one during August 13—December 1 and the other during September 2—October 29. The densities were estimated using a multiple-covariate line-transect approach (Buckland et al. 2001; Marques and Buckland 2004). Density estimates for pygmy and dwarf sperm whales and spinner dolphins, which were not calculated from the 2010 surveys, were derived from the “Outer EEZ stratum” of the vessel-based HICEAS survey conducted in summer-fall 2002 by SWFSC (Barlow 2006) using line-transect methodology (Buckland et al. 2001). The density estimate for the false killer whale was based on the pelagic stock density calculated by Bradford et al. (2015) using line-transect methodology (Buckland et al. 2001).

    All densities were corrected for trackline detection probability bias (f(0)) and availability (g(0)) bias by the authors. Bradford et al. (2017) used g(0) values estimated by Barlow (2015), whose analysis indicated that g(0) had previously been overestimated, particularly for high sea states. Barlow (2006) used earlier estimates of g(0), so densities used here for pygmy and dwarf sperm whales and spinner dolphins likely are underestimates. The density for the “Sei or Bryde's whale” category identified by Bradford et al. (2017) was allocated between sei and Bryde's whales according to their proportionate densities. Density estimates for humpback and minke whales were not available.

    There is some uncertainty related to the estimated density data and the assumptions used in their calculations, as with all density data estimates. However, the approach used is based on the best available data.

    Take Calculation and Estimation

    Here we describe how the information provided above is brought together to produce a quantitative take estimate. In order to estimate the number of marine mammals predicted to be exposed to sound levels that would result in Level B harassment or Level A harassment, radial distances to predicted isopleths corresponding to the Level A harassment and Level B harassment thresholds are calculated, as described above. We then use those distances to calculate the area(s) around the airgun array predicted to be ensonified to sound levels that exceed the Level A and Level B harassment thresholds. The total ensonified area for the survey is then calculated, based on the areas predicted to be ensonified around the array and the trackline distance. The marine mammals predicted to occur within these respective areas, based on estimated densities, are expected to be incidentally taken by UH's survey.

    To summarize, the estimated density of each marine mammal species within an area (animals/km2) is multiplied by the daily ensonified areas (km2) that correspond to the Level A and Level B harassment thresholds for the species. The product (rounded) is the number of instances of take for each species within one day. The number of instances of take for each species within one day is then multiplied by the number of survey days (plus 25 percent contingency, as described below). The result is an estimate of the number of instances that marine mammals are predicted to be exposed to airgun sounds above the Level B harassment threshold and the Level A harassment threshold over the duration of the survey. Estimated takes for all marine mammal species are shown in Table 7.

    The planned survey would occur both within the U.S. EEZ and outside the U.S. EEZ. We authorize incidental take that is expected to occur as a result of the survey both within and outside the U.S. EEZ.

    Table 7—Numbers of Incidental Take of Marine Mammals Authorized Species Estimated density
  • (#/1,000 km2)
  • Estimated
  • and authorized
  • Level A
  • takes
  • Estimated
  • Level B
  • takes
  • Authorized
  • Level B
  • takes
  • Total
  • authorized
  • Level A and
  • Level B takes
  • Total
  • authorized
  • Level A and
  • Level B
  • takes as a
  • percentage
  • of population
  • Humpback whale 1 0 0 0 2 2 <0.1 Minke whale 1 0 0 0 1 1 n/a Bryde's whale 0.97 2 25 25 27 3.4 Sei whale 0.22 0 6 6 6 3.4 Fin whale 0.06 0 2 2 2 3.4 Blue whale 1 0.05 0 1 3 3 3.7 Sperm whale 1.86 0 51 51 51 1.5 Cuvier's beaked whale 0.30 0 8 8 8 <0.1 Longman's beaked whale 3.11 0 85 85 85 1.9 Blainville's beaked whale 1.89 0 76 76 76 3.3 Rough-toothed dolphin 29.6 0 812 812 812 12.9 Bottlenose dolphin 8.99 0 246 246 246 4.1 Pantropical spotted dolphin 23.3 0 639 639 639 4.0 Spinner dolphin 1 0.83 0 23 32 32 0.9 Striped dolphin 25.0 0 685 685 685 3.3 Fraser's dolphin 21.0 0 577 577 577 3.4 Risso's dolphin 4.74 0 130 130 130 1.8 Melon-headed whale 3.54 0 97 97 97 1.7 Pygmy killer whale 4.35 0 119 119 119 3.5 False killer whale 0.60 0 16 16 16 1.0 Killer whale 1 0.06 0 2 5 5 4.9 Short-finned pilot whale 7.97 0 218 218 218 1.8 Pygmy sperm whale 3.19 7 87 87 94 7.4 Dwarf sperm whale 7.82 18 214 214 232 7.8 1 The number of authorized takes (Level B harassment only) for these species has been increased from the calculated take to mean group size. Sources for mean group sizes are as follows: blue whale (Bradford et al. 2017); minke whale (Jackson et al. 2008); humpback whale (Mobley et al. 2001); spinner dolphin (Barlow 2006); killer whale (Bradford et al. 2017).

    Species with Take Estimates Less than Mean Group Size: Using the approach described above to estimate take, the take estimates for the blue whale, killer whale, and spinner dolphin (Table 7) were less than the average group sizes estimated for these species. However, information on the social structures and life histories of these species indicates it is common for them to be encountered in groups. As the results of take calculations support the likelihood that UH's survey would be expected to encounter and to incidentally take these species, and we believe it is likely that these species may be encountered in groups, it is reasonable to conservatively assume that one group of each of these species will be taken during the survey. We therefore propose to authorize the take of the average (mean) group size for the blue whale, killer whale, and spinner dolphin to account for the possibility that UH's survey encounters a group of any of these species (Table 7).

    Species with No Available Density Data: No density data were available for humpback and minke whales. Both species would typically be found further north than the survey area during the time of year that the survey is planned to occur, based on sightings data around the Hawaiian Islands (Carretta et al. 2017). However, based on input from subject matter experts, we believe it is reasonable to assume that both species may be encountered by UH during the survey. Humpback whales have typically not been observed in the project area in the fall (Carretta et al. 2017). However, there are increasing anecdotal reports of confirmed sightings of humpback whales from early September through October in areas near the planned project area (pers. comm. E. Lyman, NOAA Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, to J. Carduner, NMFS, June 20, 2017). Like humpback whales, sightings data does not indicate that minke whales would typically be expected to be present in the project area in the fall (Carretta et al. 2017). However, detections of minke whales are common in passive acoustic recordings from various locations around the main Hawaiian Islands, including during the fall (pers. comm. E. Oleson, NOAA PIFSC, to J. Carduner, NMFS, June 20, 2017). Additionally, as minke whales in the North Pacific do not have a visible blow, they can be easily missed by visual observers, suggesting a lack of sightings is likely related to misidentification or low detection capability in poor sighting conditions (Rankin et al. 2007). Though no density data are available, we believe it is reasonable to conservatively assume that UH's survey may encounter and incidentally take minke and humpback whales. We therefore propose to authorize the take of the average (mean) group size (weighted by effort and rounded up) for the humpback and minke whale (Table 7).

    It should be noted that the take numbers shown in Table 7 are believed to be conservative for several reasons. First, in the calculations of estimated take, 25 percent has been added in the form of operational survey days (equivalent to adding 25 percent to the line km to be surveyed) to account for the possibility of additional seismic operations associated with airgun testing, and repeat coverage of any areas where initial data quality is sub-standard. Additionally, marine mammals would be expected to move away from a sound source that represents an aversive stimulus. However, the extent to which marine mammals would move away from the sound source is difficult to quantify and is therefore not accounted for in take estimates shown in Table 7.

    Level A take estimates (Table 7) have been revised from the take estimates provided in the Federal Register notice for the proposed IHA (82 FR 34352; July 24, 2017) based on our decision to rely on modeled distances to Level A harassment isopleths for Peak SPL (Table 6) without band pass filtering applied, as described above. The only species for which Level A take numbers were affected by this revision were the pygmy sperm whale and dwarf sperm whale (Level A takes changed from 0 to 7 and from 0 to 18, respectively).

    Mitigation

    In order to issue an IHA under Section 101(a)(5)(D) of the MMPA, NMFS must set forth the permissible methods of taking pursuant to such activity, and other means of effecting the least practicable impact on such species or stock and its habitat, paying particular attention to rookeries, mating grounds, and areas of similar significance, and on the availability of such species or stock for taking for certain subsistence uses (latter not applicable for this action). NMFS regulations require applicants for incidental take authorizations to include information about the availability and feasibility (economic and technological) of equipment, methods, and manner of conducting such activity or other means of effecting the least practicable adverse impact upon the affected species or stocks and their habitat (50 CFR 216.104(a)(11)).

    In evaluating how mitigation may or may not be appropriate to ensure the least practicable adverse impact on species or stocks and their habitat, as well as subsistence uses where applicable, we carefully consider two primary factors:

    (1) The manner in which, and the degree to which, the successful implementation of the measure(s) is expected to reduce impacts to marine mammals, marine mammal species or stocks, and their habitat. This considers the nature of the potential adverse impact being mitigated (likelihood, scope, range). It further considers the likelihood that the measure will be effective if implemented (probability of accomplishing the mitigating result if implemented as planned) the likelihood of effective implementation (probability implemented as planned); and

    (2) The practicability of the measures for applicant implementation, which may consider such things as cost, impact on operations, and, in the case of a military readiness activity, personnel safety, practicality of implementation, and impact on the effectiveness of the military readiness activity.

    UH has reviewed mitigation measures employed during seismic research surveys authorized by NMFS under previous incidental harassment authorizations, as well as recommended best practices in Richardson et al. (1995), Pierson et al. (1998), Weir and Dolman (2007), Nowacek et al. (2013), Wright (2014), and Wright and Cosentino (2015), and has incorporated a suite of mitigation measures into their project description based on the above sources.

    To reduce the potential for disturbance from acoustic stimuli associated with the activities, UH will implement the following mitigation measures for marine mammals:

    (1) Vessel-based visual mitigation monitoring;

    (2) Vessel-based passive acoustic monitoring;

    (3) Establishment of an exclusion zone;

    (4) Power down procedures;

    (5) Shutdown procedures;

    (6) Ramp-up procedures; and

    (7) Ship strike avoidance measures.

    Vessel-Based Visual Mitigation Monitoring

    Protected Species Observer (PSO) observations will take place during all daytime airgun operations and nighttime start ups (if applicable) of the airguns. Airgun operations will be suspended when marine mammals are observed within, or about to enter, designated Exclusion Zones (as described below). PSOs will also watch for marine mammals near the vessel for at least 30 minutes prior to the planned start of airgun operations. PSOs will monitor the entire extent of the modeled Level B harassment zone (Table 4) (or, as far as they are able to see, if they cannot see to the extent of the estimated Level B harassment zone). Observations will also be made during daytime periods when the Kairei is underway without seismic operations, such as during transits, to allow for comparison of sighting rates and behavior with and without airgun operations and between acquisition periods.

    During seismic operations, a minimum of four visual PSOs will be based aboard the Kairei. PSOs will be appointed by JAMSTEC with NMFS approval. During the majority of seismic operations, two PSOs will monitor for marine mammals around the seismic vessel. Use of two simultaneous observers will increase the effectiveness of detecting marine mammals around the source vessel. However, during meal times, only one PSO may be on duty. PSO(s) would be on duty in shifts of duration no longer than 4 hours. Other crew will also be instructed to assist in detecting marine mammals and in implementing mitigation requirements (if practical). Before the start of the seismic survey, the crew will be given additional instruction in detecting marine mammals and implementing mitigation requirements. The Kairei is a suitable platform for marine mammal observations. When stationed on the observation platform, PSOs will have a good view around the entire vessel. During daytime, the PSO(s) will scan the area around the vessel systematically with reticle binoculars (e.g., 7×50 Fujinon), Big-eye binoculars (25×150), and with the naked eye.

    The PSOs must have no tasks other than to conduct observational effort, record observational data, and communicate with and instruct relevant vessel crew with regard to the presence of marine mammals and mitigation requirements. PSO resumes will be provided to NMFS for approval. At least two PSOs must have a minimum of 90 days at-sea experience working as PSOs during a high energy seismic survey, with no more than eighteen months elapsed since the conclusion of the at-sea experience. One “experienced” visual PSO will be designated as the lead for the entire protected species observation team. The lead will coordinate duty schedules and roles for the PSO team and serve as primary point of contact for the vessel operator. The lead PSO will devise the duty schedule such that “experienced” PSOs are on duty with those PSOs with appropriate training but who have not yet gained relevant experience, to the maximum extent practicable.

    The PSOs must have successfully completed relevant training, including completion of all required coursework and passing a written and/or oral examination developed for the training program, and must have successfully attained a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university with a major in one of the natural sciences and a minimum of 30 semester hours or equivalent in the biological sciences and at least one undergraduate course in math or statistics. The educational requirements may be waived if the PSO has acquired the relevant skills through alternate training, including (1) secondary education and/or experience comparable to PSO duties; (2) previous work experience conducting academic, commercial, or government-sponsored marine mammal surveys; or (3) previous work experience as a PSO; the PSO should demonstrate good standing and consistently good performance of PSO duties.

    In summary, a typical daytime cruise will have scheduled two observers (visual) on duty from the observation platform, and an acoustic observer on the passive acoustic monitoring system.

    Vessel-Based Passive Acoustic Mitigation Monitoring

    Passive acoustic monitoring (PAM) will take place to complement the visual monitoring program. Visual monitoring typically is not effective during periods of poor visibility or at night, and even with good visibility, is unable to detect marine mammals when they are below the surface or beyond visual range. Acoustic monitoring can be used in addition to visual observations to improve detection, identification, and localization of cetaceans. The acoustic monitoring will serve to alert visual observers (if on duty) when vocalizing cetaceans are detected. It is only useful when marine mammals vocalize, but it can be effective either by day or by night and does not depend on good visibility. It will be monitored in real time so that visual observers can be alerted when marine mammals are detected acoustically.

    The PAM system consists of hardware (i.e., hydrophones) and software. The “wet end” of the system consists of a towed hydrophone array that is connected to the vessel by a tow cable. A deck cable will connect the tow cable to the electronics unit on board where the acoustic station, signal conditioning, and processing system would be located. The acoustic signals received by the hydrophones are amplified, digitized, and then processed by the software.

    At least one acoustic PSO (in addition to the four visual PSOs) will be on board. The towed hydrophones would be monitored 24 hours per day (either by the acoustic PSO or by a visual PSO trained in the PAM system if the acoustic PSO is on break) while at the seismic survey area during airgun operations, and during most periods when the Kairei is underway while the airguns are not operating. However, PAM may not be possible if damage occurs to the array or back-up systems during operations. One PSO will monitor the acoustic detection system at any one time, in shifts no longer than six hours, by listening to the signals via headphones and/or speakers and watching the real-time spectrographic display for frequency ranges produced by cetaceans.

    When a vocalization is detected, while visual observations are in progress, the acoustic PSO will contact the visual PSOs immediately, to alert them to the presence of marine mammals (if they have not already been detected visually), in order to facilitate a power down or shut down, if required. The information regarding the marine mammal acoustic detection will be entered into a database.

    Exclusion Zone and Buffer Zone

    An exclusion zone (EZ) is a defined area within which occurrence of a marine mammal triggers mitigation action intended to reduce the potential for certain outcomes, e.g., auditory injury, disruption of critical behaviors. The PSOs will establish a minimum EZ with a 500 m radius for the full array. The 500 m EZ will be based on radial distance from any element of the airgun array (rather than being based on the center of the array or around the vessel itself). With certain exceptions (described below), if a marine mammal appears within, enters, or appears on a course to enter this zone, the acoustic source will be powered down (see Power Down Procedures below). In addition to the 500 m EZ for the full array, a 100 m exclusion zone will be established for the single 100 in3 airgun. With certain exceptions (described below), if a marine mammal appears within, enters, or appears on a course to enter this zone the acoustic source will be shut down entirely (see Shutdown Procedures below). Additionally, power down of the full array will last no more than 30 minutes maximum at any given time; thus the array will be shut down entirely if, after 30 minutes of power down, a marine mammal remains inside the 500 m EZ.

    Potential radial distances to auditory injury zones were calculated on the basis of maximum peak pressure using values provided by the applicant (Table 6). The 500 m radial distance of the standard EZ is intended to be precautionary in the sense that it would be expected to contain sound exceeding peak pressure injury criteria for all cetacean hearing groups, while also providing a consistent, reasonably observable zone within which PSOs would typically be able to conduct effective observational effort. Although significantly greater distances may be observed from an elevated platform under good conditions, we believe that 500 m is likely regularly attainable for PSOs using the naked eye during typical conditions.

    An appropriate EZ based on cumulative sound exposure level (SELcum) criteria would be dependent on the animal's applied hearing range and how that overlaps with the frequencies produced by the sound source of interest (i.e., via marine mammal auditory weighting functions) (NMFS, 2016), and may be larger in some cases than the zones calculated on the basis of the peak pressure thresholds (and larger than 500 m) depending on the species in question and the characteristics of the specific airgun array. In particular, the EZ radii would be larger for low-frequency cetaceans, because their most susceptible hearing range overlaps the low frequencies produced by airguns, but the zones would remain very small for mid-frequency cetaceans (i.e., including the “small delphinoids” described below), whose range of best hearing largely does not overlap with frequencies produced by airguns.

    Consideration of exclusion zone distances is inherently an essentially instantaneous proposition—a rule or set of rules that requires mitigation action upon detection of an animal. This indicates that consideration of peak pressure thresholds is most relevant, as compared with cumulative sound exposure level thresholds, as the latter requires that an animal accumulate some level of sound energy exposure over some period of time (e.g., 24 hours). A PSO aboard a mobile source will typically have no ability to monitor an animal's position relative to the acoustic source over relevant time periods for purposes of understanding whether auditory injury is likely to occur on the basis of cumulative sound exposure and, therefore, whether action should be taken to avoid such potential. Therefore, definition of an exclusion zone based on SELcum thresholds is of questionable relevance given relative motion of the source and receiver (i.e., the animal). Cumulative SEL thresholds are likely more relevant for purposes of modeling the potential for auditory injury than they are for informing real-time mitigation. We recognize the importance of the accumulation of sound energy to an understanding of the potential for auditory injury and that it is likely that, at least for low-frequency cetaceans, some potential auditory injury is likely impossible to mitigate and should be considered for authorization.

    In summary, our intent in prescribing a standard exclusion zone distance is to (1) encompass zones for most species within which auditory injury could occur on the basis of instantaneous exposure; (2) provide additional protection from the potential for more severe behavioral reactions (e.g., panic, antipredator response) for marine mammals at relatively close range to the acoustic source; (3) provide consistency for PSOs, who need to monitor and implement the exclusion zone; and (4) to define a distance within which detection probabilities are reasonably high for most species under typical conditions.

    Our use of 500 m as the EZ is a reasonable combination of factors. This zone is expected to contain all potential auditory injury for all cetaceans (high-frequency, mid-frequency and low-frequency functional hearing groups) as assessed against peak pressure thresholds (NMFS, 2016) (Table 6), and to contain all potential auditory injury for high-frequency and mid-frequency cetaceans as assessed against SELcum thresholds (NMFS, 2016) (Table 6), It has also proven to be practicable through past implementation in seismic surveys conducted for the oil and gas industry in the Gulf of Mexico (as regulated by BOEM pursuant to the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA) (43 U.S.C. 1331-1356)). In summary, a practicable criterion such as this has the advantage of simplicity while still providing in most cases a zone larger than relevant auditory injury zones, given realistic movement of source and receiver.

    The PSOs will also establish and monitor a 1,000 m buffer zone. During use of the acoustic source, occurrence of marine mammals within the buffer zone (but outside the exclusion zone) will be communicated to the vessel operator to prepare for potential power down or shutdown of the acoustic source. The buffer zone is discussed further under Ramp Up Procedures below. PSOs will monitor the entire extent of the modeled Level B harassment zone (Table 4) (or, as far as they are able to see, if they cannot see to the extent of the estimated Level B harassment zone).

    Power Down Procedures

    A power down involves decreasing the number of airguns in use such that the radius of the mitigation zone is decreased to the extent that marine mammals are no longer in, or about to enter, the 500 m EZ. During a power down, one 100-in3 airgun would be operated. The continued operation of one 100-in3 airgun is intended to alert marine mammals to the presence of the seismic vessel in the area, and to allow them to leave the area of the seismic vessel if they choose. In contrast, a shutdown occurs when all airgun activity is suspended (shutdown procedures are discussed below). If a marine mammal is detected outside the 500 m EZ but appears likely to enter the 500 m EZ, the airguns will be powered down before the animal is within the 500 m EZ. Likewise, if a mammal is already within the 500 m EZ when first detected, the airguns will be powered down immediately. During a power down of the airgun array, the 100-in3 airgun will be operated.

    Following a power down, airgun activity will not resume until the marine mammal has cleared the 500 m EZ. The animal will be considered to have cleared the 500 m EZ if the following conditions have been met:

    • It is visually observed to have departed the 500 m EZ, or • it has not been seen within the 500 m EZ for 15 min in the case of small odontocetes, or • it has not been seen within the 500 m EZ for 30 min in the case of mysticetes and large odontocetes, including sperm, pygmy sperm, dwarf sperm, and beaked whales.

    This power down requirement will be in place for all marine mammals, with the exception of small delphinoids under certain circumstances. As defined here, the small delphinoid group is intended to encompass those members of the Family Delphinidae most likely to voluntarily approach the source vessel for purposes of interacting with the vessel and/or airgun array (e.g., bow riding). This exception to the power down requirement will apply solely to specific genera of small dolphins—Steno, Tursiops, Stenella and Lagenodelphis—and will only apply if the animals were traveling, including approaching the vessel. If, for example, an animal or group of animals is stationary for some reason (e.g., feeding) and the source vessel approaches the animals, the power down requirement applies. An animal with sufficient incentive to remain in an area rather than avoid an otherwise aversive stimulus could either incur auditory injury or disruption of important behavior. If there is uncertainty regarding identification (i.e., whether the observed animal(s) belongs to the group described above) or whether the animals are traveling, the power down will be implemented.

    We include this small delphinoid exception because power-down/shutdown requirements for small delphinoids under all circumstances represent practicability concerns without likely commensurate benefits for the animals in question. Small delphinoids are generally the most commonly observed marine mammals in the specific geographic region and would typically be the only marine mammals likely to intentionally approach the vessel. As described below, auditory injury is extremely unlikely to occur for mid-frequency cetaceans (e.g., delphinids), as this group is relatively insensitive to sound produced at the predominant frequencies in an airgun pulse while also having a relatively high threshold for the onset of auditory injury (i.e., permanent threshold shift). Please see Potential Effects of the Specified Activity on Marine Mammals above for further discussion of sound metrics and thresholds and marine mammal hearing.

    A large body of anecdotal evidence indicates that small delphinoids commonly approach vessels and/or towed arrays during active sound production for purposes of bow riding, with no apparent effect observed in those delphinoids (e.g., Barkaszi et al., 2012). The potential for increased shutdowns resulting from such a measure would require the Kairei to revisit the missed track line to reacquire data, resulting in an overall increase in the total sound energy input to the marine environment and an increase in the total duration over which the survey is active in a given area. Although other mid-frequency hearing specialists (e.g., large delphinoids) are no more likely to incur auditory injury than are small delphinoids, they are much less likely to approach vessels. Therefore, retaining a power-down/shutdown requirement for large delphinoids would not have similar impacts in terms of either practicability for the applicant or corollary increase in sound energy output and time on the water. We do anticipate some benefit for a power-down/shutdown requirement for large delphinoids in that it simplifies somewhat the total range of decision-making for PSOs and may preclude any potential for physiological effects other than to the auditory system as well as some more severe behavioral reactions for any such animals in close proximity to the source vessel.

    At any distance, power down of the acoustic source will also be required upon observation of a large whale (i.e., sperm whale or any baleen whale) with a calf, or upon observation of an aggregation of large whales of any species (i.e., sperm whale or any baleen whale) that does not appear to be traveling (e.g., feeding, socializing, etc.). These are the only two potential situations that would require power down of the array for marine mammals observed beyond the 500 m EZ.

    A power down could occur for no more than 30 minutes maximum at any given time. If, after 30 minutes of the array being powered down, marine mammals had not cleared the 500 m EZ (as described above), a shutdown of the array will be implemented (see Shut Down Procedures, below). Power down is only allowed in response to the presence of marine mammals within the designated EZ. Thus, the single 100 in3 airgun, which will be operated during power downs, may not be operated continuously throughout the night or during transits from one line to another.

    Shut Down Procedures

    The single 100-in3 operating airgun will be shut down if a marine mammal is seen within or approaching the 100 m EZ for the single 100-in3 airgun. Shutdown will be implemented if (1) an animal enters the 100 m EZ of the single 100-in3 airgun after a power down has been initiated, or (2) an animal is initially seen within the 100 m EZ of the single 100-in3 airgun when more than one airgun (typically the full array) is operating. Airgun activity will not resume until the marine mammal has cleared the 500 m EZ. Criteria for judging that the animal has cleared the EZ will be as described above. A shutdown of the array will be implemented if, after 30 minutes of the array being powered down, marine mammals have not cleared the 500 m EZ (as described above).

    The shutdown requirement, like the power down requirement, will be waived for dolphins of the following genera: Steno, Tursiops, Stenella and Lagenodelphis. The shutdown waiver only applies if the animals are traveling, including approaching the vessel. If animals are stationary and the source vessel approaches the animals, the shutdown requirement would apply. If there is uncertainty regarding identification (i.e., whether the observed animal(s) belongs to the group described above) or whether the animals are traveling, the shutdown would be implemented. A shutdown will be implemented if a North Pacific right whale is sighted, regardless of the distance from the Kairei. Ramp-up procedures would not be initiated until the right whale has not been seen at any distance for 30 minutes.

    Ramp-Up Procedures

    Ramp-up of an acoustic source is intended to provide a gradual increase in sound levels following a power down or shutdown, enabling animals to move away from the source if the signal is sufficiently aversive prior to its reaching full intensity. The ramp-up procedure involves a step-wise increase in the number of airguns firing and total array volume until all operational airguns are activated and the full volume is achieved. Ramp-up will be required after the array is powered down or shutdown due to mitigation. If the airgun array has been shut down for reasons other than mitigation (e.g., mechanical difficulty) for a period of less than 30 minutes, it may be activated again without ramp-up if PSOs have maintained constant visual and acoustic observation and no visual detections of any marine mammal have occurred within the buffer zone and no acoustic detections have occurred.

    Ramp-up will begin by activating a single airgun of the smallest volume in the array and would continue in stages by doubling the number of active elements at the commencement of each stage, with each stage of approximately the same duration.

    If airguns have been powered down or shut down due to PSO detection of a marine mammal within or approaching the 500 m EZ, ramp-up will not be initiated until all marine mammals have cleared the EZ, during the day or night. Visual and acoustic PSOs are required to monitor during ramp-up. If a marine mammal were detected by visual PSOs within or approaching the 500 m EZ during ramp-up, a power down (or shut down if appropriate) would be implemented as though the full array were operational. Criteria for clearing the EZ would be as described above.

    Thirty minutes of pre-clearance observation are required prior to ramp-up for any power down or shutdown of longer than 30 minutes (i.e., if the array were shut down during transit from one line to another). This 30 minute pre-clearance period may occur during any vessel activity (i.e., transit). If a marine mammal is observed within or approaching the 500 m EZ during this pre-clearance period, ramp-up will not be initiated until all marine mammals have cleared the EZ. Criteria for clearing the EZ will be as described above.

    Ramp-up will be planned to occur during periods of good visibility when possible. However, ramp-up will be allowed at night and during poor visibility if the 500 m EZ and 1,000 m buffer zone have been monitored by visual PSOs for 30 minutes prior to ramp-up and if acoustic monitoring has occurred for 30 minutes prior to ramp-up with no acoustic detections during that period.

    The operator will be required to notify a designated PSO of the planned start of ramp-up as agreed-upon with the lead PSO. A designated PSO must be notified again immediately prior to initiating ramp-up procedures and the operator must receive confirmation from the PSO to proceed. The operator must provide information to PSOs documenting that appropriate procedures were followed. Following deactivation of the array for reasons other than mitigation, the operator will be required to communicate the near-term operational plan to the lead PSO with justification for any planned nighttime ramp-up.

    Based on our evaluation of the applicant's proposed measures, NMFS has determined that the mitigation measures provide the means effecting the least practicable impact on the affected species or stocks and their habitat, paying particular attention to rookeries, mating grounds, and areas of similar significance.

    Monitoring and Reporting

    In order to issue an IHA for an activity, Section 101(a)(5)(D) of the MMPA states that NMFS must set forth, requirements pertaining to the monitoring and reporting of such taking. The MMPA implementing regulations at 50 CFR 216.104 (a)(13) indicate that requests for authorizations must include the suggested means of accomplishing the necessary monitoring and reporting that will result in increased knowledge of the species and of the level of taking or impacts on populations of marine mammals that are expected to be present in the action area. Effective reporting is critical both to compliance as well as ensuring that the most value is obtained from the required monitoring.

    Monitoring and reporting requirements prescribed by NMFS should contribute to improved understanding of one or more of the following:

    • Occurrence of marine mammal species or stocks in the area in which take is anticipated (e.g., presence, abundance, distribution, density).

    • Nature, scope, or context of likely marine mammal exposure to potential stressors/impacts (individual or cumulative, acute or chronic), through better understanding of: (1) Action or environment (e.g., source characterization, propagation, ambient noise); (2) affected species (e.g., life history, dive patterns); (3) co-occurrence of marine mammal species with the action; or (4) biological or behavioral context of exposure (e.g., age, calving or feeding areas).

    • Individual marine mammal responses (behavioral or physiological) to acoustic stressors (acute, chronic, or cumulative), other stressors, or cumulative impacts from multiple stressors.

    • How anticipated responses to stressors impact either: (1) Long-term fitness and survival of individual marine mammals; or (2) populations, species, or stocks.

    • Effects on marine mammal habitat (e.g., marine mammal prey species, acoustic habitat, or other important physical components of marine mammal habitat).

    • Mitigation and monitoring effectiveness.

    UH submitted a marine mammal monitoring and reporting plan in section XIII of their IHA application. Monitoring that is designed specifically to facilitate mitigation measures, such as monitoring of the EZ to inform potential power downs or shutdowns of the airgun array, are described above and are not repeated here.

    UH's monitoring and reporting plan includes the following measures:

    Vessel-Based Visual Monitoring

    As described above, PSO observations will take place during daytime airgun operations and nighttime start ups (if applicable) of the airguns. During seismic operations, at least four visual PSOs would be based aboard the Kairei. PSOs will be appointed by JAMSTEC with NMFS approval. During the majority of seismic operations, two PSOs will monitor for marine mammals around the seismic vessel. Use of two simultaneous observers would increase the effectiveness of detecting animals around the source vessel. However, during meal times, only one PSO may be on duty. PSOs will be on duty in shifts of duration no longer than 4 hours. Other crew will also be instructed to assist in detecting marine mammals and in implementing mitigation requirements (if practical). During daytime, PSOs will scan the area around the vessel systematically with reticle binoculars (e.g., 7×50 Fujinon), Big-eye binoculars (25×150), and with the naked eye.

    PSOs will record data to estimate the numbers of marine mammals exposed to various received sound levels and to document apparent disturbance reactions or lack thereof. Data will be used to estimate numbers of animals potentially `taken' by harassment (as defined in the MMPA). They will also provide information needed to order a power down or shutdown of airguns when a marine mammal is within or near the EZ.

    When a sighting is made, the following information about the sighting will be recorded:

    1. Species, group size, age/size/sex categories (if determinable), behavior when first sighted and after initial sighting, heading (if consistent), bearing and distance from seismic vessel, sighting cue, apparent reaction to the airguns or vessel (e.g., none, avoidance, approach, paralleling, etc.), and behavioral pace.

    2. Time, location, heading, speed, activity of the vessel, sea state, visibility, and sun glare.

    All observations and power downs or shutdowns will be recorded in a standardized format. Data will be entered into an electronic database. The accuracy of the data entry will be verified by computerized data validity checks as the data are entered and by subsequent manual checking of the database. These procedures will allow initial summaries of data to be prepared during and shortly after the field program and will facilitate transfer of the data to statistical, graphical, and other programs for further processing and archiving. The time, location, heading, speed, activity of the vessel, sea state, visibility, and sun glare will also be recorded at the start and end of each observation watch, and during a watch whenever there is a change in one or more of the variables.

    Results from the vessel-based observations will provide:

    1. The basis for real-time mitigation (airgun power down or shut down).

    2. Information needed to estimate the number of marine mammals potentially taken by harassment, which must be reported to NMFS.

    3. Data on the occurrence, distribution, and activities of marine mammals and turtles in the area where the seismic study is conducted.

    4. Information to compare the distance and distribution of marine mammals and turtles relative to the source vessel at times with and without seismic activity.

    5. Data on the behavior and movement patterns of marine mammals and turtles seen at times with and without seismic activity.

    Vessel-Based Passive Acoustic Monitoring

    PAM will take place to complement the visual monitoring program as described above. Please see the Mitigation section above for a description of the PAM system and the acoustic PSO's duties. The acoustic PSO will record data collected via the PAM system, including the following: An acoustic encounter identification number, whether it was linked with a visual sighting, date, time when first and last heard and whenever any additional information was recorded, position and water depth when first detected, bearing if determinable, species or species group (e.g., unidentified dolphin, sperm whale), types and nature of sounds heard (e.g., clicks, continuous, sporadic, whistles, creaks, burst pulses, strength of signal, etc.), and any other notable information. Acoustic detections will also be recorded for further analysis.

    Reporting

    A report will be submitted to NMFS within 90 days after the end of the cruise. The report will describe the operations that were conducted and sightings of marine mammals near the operations. The report will provide full documentation of methods, results, and interpretation pertaining to all monitoring. The 90-day report will summarize the dates and locations of seismic operations, and all marine mammal sightings (dates, times, locations, activities, associated seismic survey activities). The report will also include estimates of the number and nature of exposures that occurred above the harassment threshold based on PSO observations.

    Negligible Impact Analysis and Determination

    NMFS has defined negligible impact as an impact resulting from the specified activity that cannot be reasonably expected to, and is not reasonably likely to, adversely affect the species or stock through effects on annual rates of recruitment or survival (50 CFR 216.103). A negligible impact finding is based on the lack of likely adverse effects on annual rates of recruitment or survival (i.e., population-level effects). An estimate of the number of takes alone is not enough information on which to base an impact determination. In addition to considering estimates of the number of marine mammals that might be “taken” through harassment, NMFS considers other factors, such as the likely nature of any responses (e.g., intensity, duration), the context of any responses (e.g., critical reproductive time or location, migration), as well as effects on habitat, and the likely effectiveness of the mitigation. We also assess the number, intensity, and context of estimated takes by evaluating this information relative to population status. Consistent with the 1989 preamble for NMFS' implementing regulations (54 FR 40338; September 29, 1989), the impacts from other past and ongoing anthropogenic activities are incorporated into this analysis via their impacts on the environmental baseline (e.g., as reflected in the regulatory status of the species, population size and growth rate where known, ongoing sources of human-caused mortality, or ambient noise levels).

    To avoid repetition, our analysis applies to all the species listed in Table 1, given that NMFS expects the anticipated effects of the planned seismic survey to be similar in nature. Where there are meaningful differences between species or stocks, or groups of species, in anticipated individual responses to activities, impact of expected take on the population due to differences in population status, or impacts on habitat, NMFS has identified species-specific factors to inform the analysis.

    NMFS does not anticipate that serious injury or mortality would occur as a result of UH's survey, even in the absence of mitigation. Thus the authorization does not authorize any mortality. Non-auditory physical effects, stranding, and vessel strike are not expected to occur.

    We authorize a limited number of instances of Level A harassment of three marine mammal species (Table 7). However, we believe that any PTS incurred in marine mammals as a result of the activity would be in the form of only a small degree of PTS and not total deafness that would not be likely to affect the fitness of any individuals, because of the constant movement of both the Kairei and of the marine mammals in the project area, as well as the fact that the vessel is not expected to remain in any one area in which individual marine mammals would be expected to concentrate for an extended period of time (i.e., since the duration of exposure to loud sounds will be relatively short). Also, as described above, we expect that marine mammals would be likely to move away from a sound source that represents an aversive stimulus, especially at levels that would be expected to result in PTS, given sufficient notice of the Kairei's approach due to the vessel's relatively low speed when conducting the survey. We expect that the majority of takes would be in the form of short-term Level B behavioral harassment in the form of temporary avoidance of the area or decreased foraging (if such activity were occurring), reactions that are considered to be of low severity and with no lasting biological consequences (e.g., Southall et al., 2007).

    Potential impacts to marine mammal habitat were discussed in the Federal Register noticed for the proposed IHA (82 FR 34352; July 24, 2017) (see Potential Effects of the Specified Activity on Marine Mammals and their Habitat). Marine mammal habitat may be impacted by elevated sound levels, but these impacts would be temporary. Feeding behavior is not likely to be significantly impacted, as marine mammals appear to be less likely to exhibit behavioral reactions or avoidance responses while engaged in feeding activities (Richardson et al., 1995). Prey species are mobile and are broadly distributed throughout the project area; therefore, marine mammals that may be temporarily displaced during survey activities are expected to be able to resume foraging once they have moved away from areas with disturbing levels of underwater noise. Because of the temporary nature of the disturbance, the availability of similar habitat and resources in the surrounding area, and the lack of important or unique marine mammal habitat, the impacts to marine mammals and the food sources that they utilize are not expected to cause significant or long-term consequences for individual marine mammals or their populations. In addition, there are no mating or calving areas known to be biologically important to marine mammals within the project area.

    The activity is expected to impact a very small percentage of all marine mammal stocks that would be affected by UH's survey (less than two percent for all marine mammal stocks). Additionally, the acoustic “footprint” of the survey would be very small relative to the ranges of all marine mammals that would potentially be affected. Sound levels would increase in the marine environment in a relatively small area surrounding the vessel compared to the range of the marine mammals within the survey area. The seismic array would be active 24 hours per day throughout the duration of the survey. However, the very brief overall duration of the survey (5.5 days) would further limit potential impacts that may occur as a result of the activity.

    The mitigation measures are expected to reduce the number and/or severity of takes by allowing for detection of marine mammals in the vicinity of the vessel by visual and acoustic observers, and by minimizing the severity of any potential exposures via power downs and/or shutdowns of the airgun array. Based on previous monitoring reports for substantially similar activities that have been previously authorized by NMFS, we expect that the mitigation will be effective in preventing at least some extent of potential PTS in marine mammals that may otherwise occur in the absence of mitigation.

    Of the marine mammal species under our jurisdiction that are likely to occur in the project area, the following species are listed as endangered under the ESA: blue, fin, sei, and sperm whales. There are currently insufficient data to determine population trends for blue, fin, sei, and sperm whales (Carretta et al., 2016); however, we are authorizing very small numbers of takes for these species (Table 7), relative to their population sizes, therefore we do not expect population-level impacts to any of these species. The other marine mammal species that may be taken by harassment during UH's seismic survey are not listed as threatened or endangered under the ESA. There is no designated critical habitat for any ESA-listed marine mammals within the project area; and of the non-listed marine mammals for which we propose to authorize take, none are considered “depleted” or “strategic” by NMFS under the MMPA.

    NMFS concludes that exposures to marine mammal species and stocks due to UH's seismic survey would result in only short-term (temporary and short in duration) effects to individuals exposed. Animals may temporarily avoid the immediate area, but are not expected to permanently abandon the area. Major shifts in habitat use, distribution, or foraging success are not expected. NMFS does not anticipate the take estimates to impact annual rates of recruitment or survival.

    In summary and as described above, the following factors primarily support our determination that the impacts resulting from this activity are not expected to adversely affect the marine mammal species or stocks through effects on annual rates of recruitment or survival:

    • No mortality is anticipated or authorized;

    • The anticipated impacts of the activity on marine mammals would primarily be temporary behavioral changes due to avoidance of the area around the survey vessel. The relatively short duration of the survey (5.5 days) would further limit the potential impacts of any temporary behavioral changes that would occur;

    • PTS is only anticipated to occur for one species and the number of instances of PTS that may occur are expected to be very small in number (Table 7). Instances of PTS that are incurred in marine mammals would be of a low level, due to constant movement of the vessel and of the marine mammals in the area, and the nature of the survey design (not concentrated in areas of high marine mammal concentration);

    • The availability of alternate areas of similar habitat value for marine mammals to temporarily vacate the survey area during the survey to avoid exposure to sounds from the activity;

    • The project area does not contain areas of significance for mating or calving;

    • The potential adverse effects on fish or invertebrate species that serve as prey species for marine mammals from the survey would be temporary and spatially limited;

    • The mitigation measures, including visual and acoustic monitoring, power-downs, and shutdowns, are expected to minimize potential impacts to marine mammals.

    Based on the analysis contained herein of the likely effects of the specified activity on marine mammals and their habitat, and taking into consideration the implementation of the monitoring and mitigation measures, NMFS finds that the total marine mammal take from the planned activity will have a negligible impact on all affected marine mammal species or stocks.

    Small Numbers

    As noted above, only small numbers of incidental take may be authorized under Section 101(a)(5)(D) of the MMPA for specified activities other than military readiness activities. The MMPA does not define small numbers; so, in practice, where estimated numbers are available, NMFS compares the number of individuals taken to the most appropriate estimation of abundance of the relevant species or stock in our determination of whether an authorization is limited to small numbers of marine mammals. Additionally, other qualitative factors may be considered in the analysis, such as the temporal or spatial scale of the activities. Table 7 provides numbers of take by Level A harassment and Level B harassment authorized. These are the numbers we use for purposes of the small numbers analysis.

    The numbers of marine mammals that we authorize to be taken, for all species and stocks, would be considered small relative to the relevant stocks or populations (approximately 13 percent for rough-toothed dolphin, and less than 8 percent for all other species and stocks). For the blue whale, killer whale, humpback whale, minke whale and spinner dolphin we propose to authorize take resulting from a single exposure of one group of each species or stock, as appropriate (using best available information on mean group size for these species or stocks). We believe that a single incident of take of one group of any of these species represents take of small numbers for that species

    Based on the analysis contained herein of the activity (including the mitigation and monitoring measures) and the anticipated take of marine mammals, NMFS finds that small numbers of marine mammals will be taken relative to the population size of the affected species or stocks.

    Unmitigable Adverse Impact Analysis and Determination

    There are no relevant subsistence uses of the affected marine mammal stocks or species implicated by this action. Therefore, NMFS has determined that the total taking of affected species or stocks would not have an unmitigable adverse impact on the availability of such species or stocks for taking for subsistence purposes.

    Endangered Species Act (ESA)

    Section 7(a)(2) of the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (ESA: 16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.) requires that each Federal agency insure that any action it authorizes, funds, or carries out is not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of any endangered or threatened species or result in the destruction or adverse modification of designated critical habitat. To ensure ESA compliance for the issuance of IHAs, NMFS consults internally, in this case with the ESA Interagency Cooperation Division, whenever we propose to authorize take for endangered or threatened species.

    We (the NMFS OPR Permits and Conservation Division) are authorizing the incidental take of four species of marine mammals which are listed under the ESA: The sei, fin, blue and sperm whale. Under Section 7 of the ESA, we initiated consultation with the NMFS OPR Interagency Cooperation Division for the issuance of this IHA. In September, 2017, the NMFS OPR Interagency Cooperation Division issued a Biological Opinion with an incidental take statement, which concluded that the issuance of the IHA was not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of sei, fin, blue and sperm whales. The Biological Opinion also concluded that the issuance of the IHA would not destroy or adversely modify designated critical habitat for these species.

    Authorization

    NMFS has issued an IHA to the University of Hawaii for the potential harassment of small numbers of 24 marine mammal species incidental to a marine geophysical survey in the central Pacific Ocean, provided the previously mentioned mitigation, monitoring and reporting requirements are incorporated.

    Dated: September 19, 2017. Donna S. Wieting, Director, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service.
    [FR Doc. 2017-20362 Filed 9-22-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-22-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Proposed Information Collection; Comment Request; Alaska Pacific Halibut Fisheries: Charter Permits AGENCY:

    National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), 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:

    Written comments must be submitted on or before November 24, 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]).

    An electronic copy of the most recent supporting statement for this information collection is available from http://www.cio.noaa.gov/itmanagement/pdfs/0592ext14.pdf.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Requests for additional information or copies of the information collection instrument and instructions should be directed to Kurt Iverson (907) 586-7228 or [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: I. Abstract

    This request is for an extension of a currently approved information collection.

    The Alaska Pacific Halibut Charter Program established Federal Charter Halibut Permits (CHPs) for operators in the charter halibut fishery in IPHC regulatory Areas 2C (Southeast Alaska) and 3A (Central Gulf of Alaska). Since February 1, 2011, all vessel operators in Areas 2C and 3A with charter anglers onboard catching and retaining Pacific halibut must have a valid CHP onboard during every charter vessel fishing trip. CHPs must be endorsed with the appropriate regulatory area and number of anglers.

    The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) implemented this program based on recommendations by the North Pacific Fishery Management Council to meet allocation objectives in the charter halibut fishery. This program provides stability in the fishery by limiting the number of charter vessels that may participate in Areas 2C and 3A and decreasing the overall number of available CHPs over time. The program goals are to increase the value of the resource, limit boats to qualified active participants in the guided sport halibut sector, and enhance economic stability in rural coastal communities.

    II. Method of Collection

    Methods of submittal include mail and facsimile transmission of paper forms. Fillable pdfs are available on the NMFS Alaska Region Web page and may be downloaded, completed, and printed out prior to submission.

    III. Data

    OMB Control Number: 0648-0592.

    Form Number: None.

    Type of Review: Regular submission (extension of a currently approved collection).

    Affected Public: Business or other for-profit organizations.

    Estimated Number of Respondents: 68.

    Estimated Time per Response: 2 hours for Application for Transfer of Charter Halibut Permit; 0.5 hours for Application for Military Charter Permit; 2 hours for Application for Transfer between IFQ and Guided Angler Fish (GAF); and 4 hours for Appeals if an Application for Transfer between IFQ and GAF is denied by NMFS.

    Estimated Total Annual Burden Hours and Equivalent Labor Costs to the Public: 98 hours and $3,626 per year ($37 per hour for preparing and submitting applications and $125/hr for preparing an appeal).

    Estimated Total Annual Cost to Public: $196 in recordkeeping/reporting costs for photocopying, obtaining a notarized signature, faxing, or mailing applications.

    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.

    Dated: September 20, 2017. Sarah Brabson, NOAA PRA Clearance Officer.
    [FR Doc. 2017-20398 Filed 9-22-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-22-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration RIN 0648-XF539 Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; Reef Fish Fishery of the Gulf of Mexico; Amendment 44 AGENCY:

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

    ACTION:

    Notice of availability; request for comments.

    SUMMARY:

    The Gulf of Mexico (Gulf) Fishery Management Council (Council) has submitted Amendment 44 to the Fishery Management Plan for the Reef Fish Resources of the Gulf of Mexico (FMP) for review, approval, and implementation by NMFS. Amendment 44 would revise minimum stock size thresholds (MSST) for seven stocks in the Gulf of Mexico (Gulf) reef fish fishery management unit. The MSST would be revised for the gag, red grouper, red snapper, vermilion snapper, gray triggerfish, greater amberjack, and hogfish stocks. The need for Amendment 44 is to provide a sufficient buffer between spawning stock biomass at maximum sustainable yield (BMSY) and MSST to reduce the likelihood that stock status changes frequently between overfished and not overfished as a result of scientific uncertainty or naturalfluctuations in biomass levels.

    DATES:

    Written comments on Amendment 44 must be received by November 24, 2017.

    ADDRESSES:

    You may submit comments on Amendment 44 identified by “NOAA-NMFS-2017-0101” by either of the following methods:

    Electronic Submission: Submit all electronic public comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. Go to www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-2017-0101, click the “Comment Now!” icon, complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments.

    Mail: Submit written comments to Peter Hood, NMFS Southeast Regional Office, 263 13th Avenue South, St. Petersburg, FL 33701.

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

    Electronic copies of Amendment 44 may be obtained from www.regulations.gov or the Southeast Regional Office Web site at http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov. Amendment 44 includes an environmental assessment and a fishery impact statement.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Peter Hood, NMFS Southeast Regional Office, telephone: 727-824-5305, or email: [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    The Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act) requires each regional fishery management council to submit any FMP or amendment to NMFS for review and approval, partial approval, or disapproval. The Magnuson-Stevens Act also requires that NMFS, upon receiving a plan or amendment, publish an announcement in the Federal Register notifying the public that the FMP or amendment is available for review and comment.

    Amendment 44 to the FMP was prepared by the Council and, if approved, would be incorporated into the management of Gulf reef fish through the FMP.

    Background

    In 1999, the Council submitted the Generic Sustainable Fisheries Act Amendment to comply with status determination criteria (SDC) requirements of the Sustainable Fisheries Act of 1996. NMFS approved most of the fishing mortality threshold (MFMT) criteria, but disapproved all of the definitions for maximum sustainable yield (MSY), optimum yield (OY), and MSST. The Council subsequently began establishing these reference points and SDC on a species-specific basis as stock assessments were later conducted, and is currently preparing a plan amendment to address all of the unassessed reef fish stocks. Amendment 44 focuses on those assessed stocks with MSSTs, which are gag, red grouper, red snapper, vermilion snapper, gray triggerfish, greater amberjack, and hogfish. Red snapper, gray triggerfish, and greater amberjack are currently considered overfished and are under rebuilding plans. The other 4 stocks are not considered overfished (gag, red grouper, vermilion snapper, and hogfish).

    For most of the assessed federally managed reef fish stocks in the Gulf with defined MSSTs, the overfished status, when applied, has been evaluated using the formula:

    (1−M) * BMSY (M is the natural mortality rate and B is a measure of stock biomass). For some stocks that have a very low natural mortality rate, the formula (1−M) * BMSY results in an MSST that is very close to the BMSY. For example, red snapper is a moderately long-lived fish that has a natural mortality rate of about 0.1. The above formula results in an MSST of 90 percent of BMSY. In such situations it can be difficult to determine if a stock is actually less than MSST due to the imprecision and accuracy of the data used in stock assessments. In addition, natural fluctuations in stock biomass levels around the BMSY level may temporarily reduce the stock biomass to be less than MSST. Setting a greater buffer between BMSY and MSST can reduce the risk of mistakenly declaring a stock overfished.

    In Amendment 44, the Council evaluated MSSTs ranging from 0.85*BMSY (or proxy) to 0.50*BMSY (or proxy), and selected 0.50*BMSY (or proxy) as its preferred alternative. This is consistent with the National Standard 1 guidelines and reduces the likelihood of a stock being declared overfished as a result of scientific uncertainty or natural fluctuations in biomass levels. Setting the MSST at this level could result in a very restrictive rebuilding plan if the biomass level of a stock drops below the MSST and NMFS declares that the stock is overfished. However, the Council determined that the requirements for overfishing limits, annual catch limits, and accountability measures, reduce the probability that sustained overfishing would occur and cause a stock to fall below the MSST.

    The MSST proposed in Amendment 44 is used for at least some stocks managed by three of the other regional fishery management councils (New England, Mid-Atlantic, and North Pacific). If this MSST definition is approved, NMFS expects that the Gulf red snapper and gray triggerfish stocks would be reclassified as not overfished, but rebuilding, because the biomass for these two stocks is currently estimated to be greater than 50 percent of BMSY. The greater amberjack stock would remain classified as overfished.

    Procedural Aspects of Amendment 44

    The Council has submitted Amendment 44 for Secretarial review, approval, and implementation. NMFS' decision to approve, partially approve, or disapprove Amendment 44 will be based, in part, on consideration of comments, recommendations, and information received during the comment period on this notice of availability. After consideration of these factors, and consistency with the Magnuson-Stevens Act and other applicable laws, NMFS will publish a notice of agency action in the Federal Register announcing the Agency's decision to approve, partially approve, or disapprove Amendment 44. Because none of the measures included in the amendment involve regulatory changes, no proposed or final rule is required at this time. If approved, the provisions of Amendment 44 would not be specified in regulations but would be considered an amendment to the FMP.

    Consideration of Public Comments

    Comments on Amendment 44 must be received by November 24, 2017. Comments received during the comment period for this notice of availability will be considered by NMFS in its decision to approve, partially approve, or disapprove Amendment 44. Comments received after the comment period will not be considered by NMFS in this decision. All comments received by NMFS during the comment period will be addressed in the notice of agency action.

    Authority:

    16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.

    Dated: September 19, 2017. Samuel D. Rauch, III, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine Fisheries Service.
    [FR Doc. 2017-20396 Filed 9-22-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-22-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Proposed Information Collection; Comment Request; Alaska Rockfish Program: Permits and Reports AGENCY:

    National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), 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:

    Written comments must be submitted on or before November 24, 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]).

    An electronic copy of the most recent supporting statement for this information collection is available from http://www.cio.noaa.gov/itmanagement/pdfs/0545ext15.pdf.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Requests for additional information or copies of the information collection instrument and instructions should be directed to Sally Bibb, (907) 586-7228 or [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: I. Abstract

    This request is an extension of a currently approved information collection.

    The Central Gulf of Alaska Rockfish Program (RP) was designed to enhance resource conservation and improve economic efficiency in the rockfish fisheries conducted in the Central Gulf of Alaska by establishing cooperatives that receive exclusive harvest privileges. Through the RP, National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) (1) assigns rockfish quota share (QS) and cooperative quota to participants for rockfish primary and secondary species; (2) allows a participant holding a License Limitation Program (LLP) license with rockfish QS to form a rockfish cooperative with other persons; (3) allows holders of catcher/processor LLP licenses to opt-out of rockfish cooperatives each year; (4) includes an entry level longline fishery; (5) establishes sideboard limits, which are limits designed to prevent participants in the RP from increasing their historical effort in other Gulf of Alaska groundfish fisheries; and (6) includes monitoring and enforcement provisions. The Rockfish Program is authorized for until December 31, 2021.

    II. Method of Collection

    Forms are available on the NMFS Alaska Region Web site at https://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov/fisheries/central-goa-rockfish-program. The Application for Rockfish Cooperative Fishing Quota (CQ) must be submitted by mail, hand delivery, or fax. The Application for Inter-Cooperative Transfer of Rockfish CQ, the Rockfish Vessel Check-in/Checkout Report, and the Termination of Fishing Declaration must be submitted to NMFS online through eFISH on the NMFS Alaska Region Web site at https://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov/webapps/efish/login.

    III. Data

    OMB Control Number: 0648-0545.

    Form Number(s): None.

    Type of Review: Regular submission (extension of a current information collection).

    Affected Public: Business or other for-profit organizations; Individuals or households.

    Estimated Number of Respondents: 9.

    Estimated Time per Response: 2 hours for Application for Rockfish Cooperative Fishing Quota (CQ); 10 minutes for Application for Inter-Cooperative Transfer of Rockfish CQ; and 10 minutes for Rockfish Vessel Check-in/Checkout Report with Termination of Fishing Declaration.

    Estimated Total Annual Burden Hours and Equivalent Labor Costs to the Public: 34 hours and $1,300 per year ($37 per hour).

    Estimated Total Annual Cost to Public: $47 in recordkeeping/reporting costs for photocopying, faxing, and postage for the annual Application for Rockfish CQ.

    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.

    Dated: September 20, 2017. Sarah Brabson, NOAA PRA Clearance Officer.
    [FR Doc. 2017-20397 Filed 9-22-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-22-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Science Advisory Board (SAB); Public Meeting of the NOAA Science Advisory Board AGENCY:

    Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research (OAR), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Department of Commerce (DOC).

    ACTION:

    Notice of open meeting.

    SUMMARY:

    The Science Advisory Board (SAB) was established by a Decision Memorandum dated September 25, 1997, and is the only Federal Advisory Committee with responsibility to advise the Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere on strategies for research, education, and application of science to operations and information services. SAB activities and advice provide necessary input to ensure that National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) science programs are of the highest quality and provide optimal support to resource management.

    DATES:

    The meeting will be held Monday, October 30, 2017, from 9:45 a.m. EDT to 5 p.m. EDT and on Tuesday, October 31, 2017, from 9 a.m. EDT to 12 p.m. EDT. These times and the agenda topics described below are subject to change. Please refer to the Web page www.sab.noaa.gov/SABMeetings.aspx for the most up-to-date meeting times and agenda.

    ADDRESSES:

    The meeting will be held at The Sheraton Silver Spring Hotel, 8777 Georgia Ave., Silver Spring, MD, 20910.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Dr. Cynthia Decker, Executive Director, Science Advisory Board, NOAA, Room 11230, 1315 East-West Highway, Silver Spring, MD 20910. Email: [email protected]; or visit the NOAA SAB Web site at http://www.sab.noaa.gov.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    The meeting will be open to public participation with a 15-minute public comment period on October 30th from 4:45-5:00 p.m. EDT (check Web site to confirm time). The SAB expects that public statements presented at its meetings will not be repetitive of previously submitted verbal or written statements. In general, each individual or group making a verbal presentation will be limited to a total time of two (2) minutes. Individuals or groups planning to make a verbal presentation should contact the SAB Executive Director by October 23, 2017 to schedule their presentation. Written comments should be received in the SAB Executive Director's Office by October 23, 2017, to provide sufficient time for SAB review. Written comments received by the SAB Executive Director after October 23, 2017, will be distributed to the SAB, but may not be reviewed prior to the meeting date. Seating at the meeting will be available on a first-come, first-served basis.

    Special Accommodations: These meetings are physically accessible to people with disabilities. Requests for special accommodations may be directed no later than 12:00 p.m. on October 23, 2017, to Dr. Cynthia Decker, SAB Executive Director, SSMC3, Room 11230, 1315 East-West Highway, Silver Spring, MC 20910; Email: [email protected]

    Matters to be Considered: The meeting will include the following topics: (1) Discussion of SAB Review of the NOAA Policy on Partnerships in the Provision of Environmental Information; (2) Discussion of SAB Review of Indigenous and Local Ecological Knowledge; (3) Quantification and documentation of the value of information gathered by NOAA; (4) Better understanding of how information is used, and (5) Updates from the Acting NOAA Administrator and Acting Chief Scientist.

    Dated: September 15, 2017. David Holst, Acting Chief Financial Officer/CAO, Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
    [FR Doc. 2017-20395 Filed 9-22-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-KD-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE United States Patent and Trademark Office Submissions for OMB Review; Comment Request; “Submissions Regarding Correspondence and Regarding Attorney Representation (Trademarks)”

    The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) will submit to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for clearance the following proposal for collection of information under the provisions of the Paperwork Reduction Act (44 U.S.C. Chapter 35).

    Agency: United States Patent and Trademark Office, Commerce.

    Title: Submissions Regarding Correspondence and Regarding Attorney Representation (Trademarks).

    OMB Control Number: 0651-0056.

    Form Number(s):

    • PTO Form 2196 • PTO Form 2201

    Type of Request: Regular.

    Number of Respondents: 84,291 per year.

    Average Hours per Response: The USPTO estimates that it will take the public approximately between 5 minutes (0.08 hours) to 30 minutes (0.50 hours) to complete this information, depending on the complexity of the document. This includes the time to gather the necessary information, prepare the request, and submit them to the USPTO. The time estimates shown for the electronic forms in this collection are based on the average amount of time needed to complete and electronically file the associated form.

    Burden Hours: 7,840.77 hours.

    Cost Burden: $82.81 (postage costs).

    Needs and Uses: The USPTO needs the information described in this collection to manage the various actions concerning the appointments and retention of attorneys and domestic representatives for trademark applications. The information in this collection is also a matter of public record and is utilized by the public for a variety of private business purposes related to establishing and enforcing trademark rights. The information is accessible online, through the USPTO Web site, as well as through various USPTO facilities. Additionally, the USPTO provides the information to the public through the Patent and Trademark Depository Library (PTDLs) System.

    Affected Public: Businesses or other for-profits; not-for-profit institutions; individuals.

    Frequency: On occasion.

    Respondent's Obligation: Required to Obtain or Retain Benefits.

    OMB Desk Officer: Nicholas A. Fraser, email: [email protected] Once submitted, the request will be publicly available in electronic format through www.reginfo.gov. Follow the instructions to view Department of Commerce collections currently under review by OMB.

    Further information can be obtained by:

    Email: [email protected] Include “0651-0056 copy request” in the subject line of the message.

    Mail: Marcie Lovett, Records and Information Governance Division Director, Office of the Chief Technology Officer, United States Patent and Trademark Officer, P.O. Box 1450, Alexandria, VA 22313-1450.

    Written comments and recommendations for the proposed information collection should be sent on or before October 25, 2017 to Nicholas A. Fraser, OMB Desk Officer, via email to [email protected], or by fax to 202-395-5167, marked to the attention of Nicholas A. Fraser.

    Marcie Lovett, Records and Information Governance Division Director, OCTO, United States Patent and Trademark Office.
    [FR Doc. 2017-20368 Filed 9-22-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-16-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE United States Patent and Trademark Office Patent and Trademark Resource Centers Metrics ACTION:

    Proposed information collection; comment request.

    SUMMARY:

    The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), as required by the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1996, invites comments on a proposed extension of an existing information collection: 0651-0068 (Patent and Trademark Resource Center Metrics).

    DATES:

    Written comments must be submitted on or before November 24, 2017.

    ADDRESSES:

    You may submit comments by any of the following methods:

    Email: [email protected] Include “0651-0068 comment” in the subject line of the message.

    Federal Register Portal: https://www.regulations.gov.

    Mail: Marcie Lovett, Records and Information Governance Division Director, Office of the Chief Technology Officer, United States Patent and Trademark Office, P.O. Box 1450, Alexandria, VA 22313-1450.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Requests for additional information should be directed to Robert Berry, Manager, Patent and Trademark Resource Center Program, Office of the Chief Information Officer, United States Patent and Trademark Office, P.O. Box 1450, Alexandria, VA 22313-1450; by telephone at (571) 272-7152; or by email at [email protected] with “0651-0068 comment” in the subject line. Additional information about this collection is also available at http://www.reginfo.gov under “Information Collection Review.”

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    I. Abstract

    The USPTO seeks to collect from Patent Trademark Resource Centers (PTRC) information about the public's use of and training on the tools provided through the centers. Specifically, the USTPO seeks metrics concerning the public's use of patent and trademark services and the public outreach efforts provided by the PTRCs.

    The PTRC Program is authorized under the provision of 35 U.S.C. 2(a)(2), which provides that the USPTO shall be responsible for disseminating information with respect to patents and trademarks to the public. The PTRC Program is made up public, state, and academic libraries. Once a library has been designated as a PTRC, each participating library must fulfill the following requirements: assist the public in the efficient use of patent and trademark information resources; provide free access to patent and trademark resources provided by the USPTO; and send representatives to attend the USPTO-hosted PTRC training seminars. At present, there are 86 libraries that are a part of the growing PTRC Program.

    The PTRC Program requirements stipulate that all participating libraries must submit periodic metrics on the public's use of the patent and trademark services through the PTRCs and the public outreach efforts provided by the PTRCs. To facilitate this requirement, the USPTO has developed a worksheet to collect the metrics. A third-party vendor will collect the metrics on a quarterly basis. The information will only be collected electronically. The PTRCs will be given a password to input their information.

    This information collection will enable the USPTO to ascertain what types of services the PTRCs should offer and to train PTRC staff more effectively, as the PTRCs continue to move away from the physical distribution of hard copy information. Collection of this information will enable the USPTO to service its current customers while more effectively planning for the future.

    II. Method of Collection

    The metrics will be submitted electronically to the USPTO.

    III. Data

    OMB Number: 0651-0068.

    IC Instruments and Forms: No forms are associated with this collection of information.

    Type of Review: Revision of an existing information collection.

    Affected Public: Businesses or other for-profits; not-for-profit institutions.

    Estimated Number of Respondents: 344 responses per year. The USPTO estimates that there will be up to 88 libraries reporting their metrics once per quarter, resulting in a total of 352 responses per year. This estimate includes possible growth in the PTRC program above the 86 libraries that are currently reporting.

    Estimated Time per Response: The USPTO estimates that it will take the public approximately 30 minutes (0.50 hours) to gather the necessary information, prepare the worksheet, and submit it to the USPTO.

    Estimated Total Annual Respondent Burden Hours: 176 hours.

    Estimated Total Annual Respondent Cost Burden: $5,536.96 The USPTO expects that the information in this collection will be prepared by library staff, at an estimated hourly rate of $31.46. This is the mean hourly wage for college librarians according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment Statistics (OES 25-4021). Using this hourly rate, the USPTO estimates that the respondent cost burden for this collection will be approximately $5,536.96 per year.

    Table 1—Hourly Burden IC No. Item Estimated time
  • for response
  • (hour)
  • Estimated
  • annual
  • responses
  • Estimated annual burden Rate
  • ($/hr)
  • Estimated
  • annual
  • respondent
  • cost burden
  • (a) (b) (c) = (a) × (b) (d) (e) = (c) × (d) 1 PTRC Metric Worksheet 0.50 (30 minutes) 352 176 $31.46 $5,53611.96 Total 352 176 5,536.96

    Estimated Total Annual Non-Hour Respondent Cost Burden: $0. There are no filing fees, capital start-up, maintenance, operation, or postage costs associated with this collection.

    IV. Request for Comments

    Comments submitted in response to this notice will be summarized or included in the request for OMB approval of this information collection. They also will become a matter of public record.

    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, e.g., the use of automated collection techniques or other forms of information technology.

    Marcie Lovett, Records and Information Governance Division Director, OCTO, United States Patent and Trademark Office.
    [FR Doc. 2017-20369 Filed 9-22-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-16-P
    BUREAU OF CONSUMER FINANCIAL PROTECTION [Docket No. CFPB-2017-0025] Disclosure of Loan-Level HMDA Data AGENCY:

    Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection.

    ACTION:

    Notice of proposed policy guidance with request for public comment.

    SUMMARY:

    The Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection (Bureau) is proposing policy guidance that would describe modifications that the Bureau intends to apply to the loan-level HMDA data that financial institutions will report under the Home Mortgage Disclosure (Regulation C) before the data is disclosed to the public. The proposed policy guidance applies to HMDA data to be reported under Regulation C effective January 1, 2018. The Bureau will make this data available to the public beginning in 2019.

    DATES:

    Comments must be received on or before November 24, 2017.

    ADDRESSES:

    You may submit comments, identified by Docket No. CFPB-2017-0025, by any of the following methods:

    Email: [email protected] Include Docket No. CFPB-2017-0025 in the subject line of the email.

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

    Mail: Monica Jackson, Office of the Executive Secretary, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, 1700 G Street NW., Washington, DC 20552.

    Hand Delivery/Courier: Monica Jackson, Office of the Executive Secretary, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, 1700 G Street NW., Washington, DC 20552.

    Instructions: All submissions should include the agency name and docket number or Regulatory Information Number (RIN). Because paper mail in the Washington, DC area and at the Bureau is subject to delay, commenters are encouraged to submit comments electronically. In general, all comments received will be posted without change to http://www.regulations.gov. In addition, comments will be available for public inspection and copying at 1700 G Street NW., Washington, DC 20552, on official business days between the hours of 10 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time. You can make an appointment to inspect the documents by telephoning 202-435-7275.

    All comments, including attachments and other supporting materials, will become part of the public record and subject to public disclosure. Sensitive personal information, such as account numbers or Social Security numbers, should not be included. Comments will not be edited to remove any identifying or contact information.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    David Jacobs, Counsel, or Laura Stack, Senior Counsel, Office of Regulations, at 202-435-7700 or https://reginquiries.consumerfinance.gov/.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    I. Summary

    The Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA) requires certain financial institutions to collect, report, and disclose data about their mortgage lending activity on an ongoing basis to both Federal regulators and the general public. The home mortgage market is the country's single largest market for consumer financial products and services, with $10 trillion outstanding.1 It is a critical source of wealth-building for both individual families and communities, and has a substantial impact on the nation's economy as evidenced by its role in triggering in 2008, the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. As of 2015, 48 million consumers had a mortgage, representing 65 percent of all owner-occupied homes.2

    1 Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (US), “Mortgage Debt Outstanding by Type of Property: One- to Four-Family Residences (MDOTP1T4FR),” https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/MDOTP1T4FR (last updated June 9, 2017).

    2 U.S. Census Bureau, “Selected Housing Characteristics: 2011-2015 American Community Survey 5-Year Characteristics,” https://factfinder.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml?src=bkmk (last visited Aug. 31, 2017).

    HMDA is implemented by Regulation C, which describes its purposes as helping to determine whether financial institutions are serving the housing needs of their communities; assisting public officials in distributing public-sector investment so as to attract private investment to areas where it is needed; and assisting in identifying possible discriminatory lending patterns and enforcing antidiscrimination statutes. As described further below, public disclosure of HMDA data is central to the achievement of the statutory goals established by Congress.

    In 2010, Congress enacted the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (Dodd-Frank Act), which amended HMDA to require collection of additional mortgage market data and transferred HMDA rulemaking authority and other functions from the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (Board) to the Bureau. On October 28, 2015, the Bureau published a final rule amending Regulation C (2015 HMDA Final Rule) to implement the Dodd-Frank Act amendments. In the 2015 HMDA Final Rule, the Bureau interpreted HMDA, as amended by the Dodd-Frank Act, to require that the Bureau use a balancing test to determine whether and how HMDA data should be modified prior to its disclosure to the public in order to protect applicant and borrower privacy while also fulfilling HMDA's public disclosure purposes. The Bureau interpreted HMDA to require that public HMDA data be modified when the release of the unmodified data creates risks to applicant and borrower privacy interests that are not justified by the benefits of such release to the public in light of the statutory purposes.

    This proposed Policy Guidance describes the Bureau's application of the balancing test to date and the loan-level HMDA data that it proposes to make available to the public beginning in 2019, with respect to data compiled by financial institutions in or after 2018, including modifications that the Bureau intends to apply to the data. In developing this guidance, the Bureau has consulted with the prudential regulators—Board, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the National Credit Union Administration, and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency—the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the Federal Housing Finance Agency. The Bureau proposes to publicly disclose the loan-level HMDA data reported under the 2015 HMDA Final Rule with the following modifications. First, the Bureau proposes to modify the public loan-level HMDA data to exclude: The universal loan identifier; the date the application was received or the date shown on the application form; the date of action taken by the financial institution on a covered loan or application; the address of the property securing the loan or, in the case of an application, proposed to secure the loan; the credit score or scores relied on in making the credit decision; the unique identifier assigned by the Nationwide Mortgage Licensing System and Registry for the mortgage loan originator; and the result generated by the automated underwriting system used by the financial institution to evaluate the application. The Bureau also intends to exclude free-form text fields used to report the following data: Applicant or borrower race; applicant or borrower ethnicity; the name and version of the credit scoring model used to generate each credit score or credit scores relied on in making the credit decision; the principal reason or reasons the financial institution denied the application, if applicable; and the automated underwriting system name.

    Second, the Bureau proposes to modify the public loan-level HMDA data to reduce the precision of most of the values reported for the following data fields. With respect to the amount of the covered loan or the amount applied for, the Bureau proposes to disclose the midpoint for the $10,000 interval into which the reported value falls. The Bureau also proposes to indicate whether the reported value exceeds the applicable dollar amount limitation on the original principal obligation in effect at the time of application or origination as provided under 12 U.S.C. 1717(b)(2) and 12 U.S.C. 1454(a)(2). With respect to the age of an applicant or borrower, the Bureau proposes to bin reported values into the following ranges, as applicable: 25 to 34, 35 to 44, 45 to 54, 55 to 64, and 65 to 74; bottom-code reported values under 25; top-code reported values over 74; and indicate whether the reported value is 62 or higher. With respect to the ratio of the applicant's or borrower's total monthly debt to the total monthly income relied on in making the credit decision, the Bureau proposes to disclose without modification reported values greater than or equal to 40 percent and less than 50 percent; bin reported values into the following ranges, as applicable: 20 percent to less than 30 percent; 30 percent to less than 40 percent; and 50 percent to less than 60 percent; bottom-code reported values under 20 percent; and top-code reported values of 60 percent or higher. With respect to the value of the property securing the covered loan or, in the case of an application, proposed to secure the covered loan, the Bureau proposes to disclose the midpoint for the $10,000 interval into which the reported value falls.

    This proposed Policy Guidance is exempt from notice and comment rulemaking requirements under the Administrative Procedure Act pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 553(b). It is non-binding in part to preserve flexibility to revise the modifications to be applied to the public loan-level HMDA data as necessary to maintain a proper balancing of the privacy risks and benefits of disclosure, especially in the event the Bureau becomes aware of new facts and circumstances that might contribute to privacy risks. However, the Bureau invites public comment on the proposed Policy Guidance to provide transparency, obtain public feedback on its application of the balancing test, and improve the Bureau's decisionmaking. This proposal does not re-open any portion of the 2015 HMDA Final Rule, and the Bureau does not intend in this proposal to revisit any decisions made in that rulemaking.

    II. Background A. HMDA's Purposes and the Public Disclosure of HMDA Data

    The Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA), 12 U.S.C. 2801 et seq., requires certain financial institutions to collect, report, and disclose data about their mortgage lending activity on an ongoing basis to both Federal regulators and the general public. HMDA is implemented by Regulation C, 12 CFR part 1003. HMDA identifies its purposes as providing the public and public officials with sufficient information to enable them to determine whether financial institutions are serving the housing needs of the communities in which they are located, and to assist public officials in their determination of the distribution of public sector investments in a manner designed to improve the private investment environment.3 In 1989, Congress expanded HMDA to require, among other things, financial institutions to report racial characteristics, gender, and income information on applicants and borrowers.4 In light of these amendments, the Board subsequently recognized a third HMDA purpose of identifying possible discriminatory lending patterns and enforcing antidiscrimination statutes, which now appears with HMDA's other purposes in Regulation C.5

    3 12 U.S.C. 2801(b).

    4 Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery, and Enforcement Act, Public Law 101-73, section 1211, 103 Stat. 183, 524-26 (1989).

    5 54 FR 51356, 51357 (Dec. 15, 1989) (codified at 12 CFR 1003.1(b)(1)) (Bureau's post-Dodd-Frank Act Regulation C).

    Public disclosure of HMDA data is central to the achievement of HMDA's goals. Since HMDA's enactment in 1975, the data financial institutions are required to disclose under HMDA and Regulation C have been expanded, public access to HMDA data has increased, and the formats in which HMDA data have been disclosed to the public have evolved to provide more useful information to the public and public officials. Amendments to the statute and Regulation C over time illustrate the importance of public access to HMDA data to fulfill the statute's purposes.

    As originally promulgated, HMDA and Regulation C required a covered financial institution to make available to the public at its home and branch offices a “disclosure statement” reflecting aggregates of certain mortgage loan data.6 In 1980, Congress amended HMDA to increase the public's access to and the utility of the aggregated HMDA data. First, Congress amended HMDA section 304 to require that the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC) implement a system to facilitate public access to the data required to be disclosed under the statute, and provided that such system must include arrangements for a “central depository of data” in each standard metropolitan statistical area (MSA).7 In amending Regulation C to implement this requirement, the Board noted that “the principal benefit of the central repository system is that users of HMDA data will be able to obtain all of the various institutions' disclosure statements at one location. The current system requires users to contact the institutions on an individual basis to obtain the disclosure data.8 Second, the 1980 HMDA amendments required that the FFIEC compile annually for each MSA aggregate data by census tract for all financial institutions required to disclose data under HMDA, and produce tables indicating, for each MSA, aggregate lending patterns for various categories of census tracts grouped according to location, age of housing stock, income level, and racial characteristics.9 A principal benefit cited to support these requirements was that the utility of individual institutions' disclosure statements “would be enhanced if they could be compared to aggregate [MSA] lending patterns.” 10

    6 12 CFR part 203.

    7 Housing and Community Development Act, Public Law 96-399, section 340, 94 Stat. 1614 (1980).

    8 46 FR 11780, 11786 (Feb. 10, 1981).

    9 Housing and Community Development Act, Public Law 96-399, section 34010, § 340, 94 Stat. 1614 (1980).

    10 46 FR 11780, 11786 (Feb. 10, 1981).

    In 1989, as noted above, Congress amended HMDA to expand the data financial institutions were required to disclose to the public.11 In addition to requiring that financial institutions disclose data concerning the race, sex, and income of applicants and borrowers, the 1989 amendments required that institutions disclose data on loan applications in addition to originations and purchases. In implementing these amendments in Regulation C, the Board required financial institutions to report HMDA data to their supervisory agencies on a loan-by-loan and application-by-application basis using the “loan/application register” format.12 Commenters on the Board's proposal to amend Regulation C to implement the 1989 amendments urged the Board to require that financial institutions make their loan/application registers available to the public to provide for more meaningful analysis of the data than that permitted by the required aggregate disclosures.13 The Board declined to require that financial institutions make available to the public their loan/application registers, but in 1990 the FFIEC announced that it believed public disclosure of the reported loan-level HMDA data to be “consistent with the congressional intent to maximize the utilization of lending data” and that it would make all reported HMDA data available to the public in a loan-level format, after deleting three fields to protect applicant and borrower privacy.14 The FFIEC first disclosed the reported loan-level HMDA data to the public in October 1991.

    11 Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery and Enforcement Act, Public Law 101-73, section 1211, 103 Stat. 183 (1989).

    12 12 CFR 203.4, 203.5; see also 54 FR 51356, 51359-60 (Dec. 15, 1989).

    13 54 FR 51356, 51360-61 (Dec. 15, 1989).

    14 55 FR 27886, 27888 (July 6, 1990). In announcing that the loan-level data submitted to the supervisory agencies on the loan/application register would be made available to the public, the FFIEC noted that “[a]n unedited form of the data would contain information that could be used to identify individual loan applicants” and that the data would be edited prior to public release to remove the application identification number, the date of application, and the date of final action.

    The following year, Congress amended HMDA to require that each financial institution make available to the public its “loan application register information” for each year as early as March 31 of the succeeding year, as required under regulations prescribed by the Board.15 New section 304(j) directed the Board to require such deletions from the loan application register information made available to the public as the Board determined to be appropriate to protect any privacy interest of any applicant, and identified as appropriate for deletion the same three fields the FFIEC had determined should be deleted from the loan-level HMDA data it disclosed to the public.16 A House Report characterizes the 1992 amendment to HMDA as making “changes . . . to ensure that the public receives useful and timely information regarding the lending records of financial institutions.” 17 The Board implemented this amendment by requiring that financial institutions make their “modified” loan/application registers available to the public after deleting the same fields deleted from the loan-level HMDA data disclosed by the FFIEC.18

    15 Housing and Community Development Act, Public Law 102-550, section 932, 106 Stat. 3672 (1992).

    16 HMDA section 304(j) identifies as appropriate for deletion “the applicant's name and identification number, the date of the application, and the date of any determination by the institution with respect to such application.”

    17 H. Rept. 102-760 (1992).

    18See 12 CFR 1003.5(c) (Bureau's successor Regulation C, which restates the Board's predecessor Regulation C). Section 1003.5(c) requires that, before making its loan/application register available to the public, a financial institution must delete three fields to protect applicant and borrower privacy: Application or loan number, the date that the application was received, and the date action was taken.

    Today, HMDA data are the preeminent data source that regulators, researchers, economists, industry, and advocates use to achieve HMDA's purposes and to analyze the mortgage market. HMDA and current Regulation C 19 continue to require that data be made available to the public in both aggregate and loan-level formats. Each financial institution is required to make its modified loan/application register available to the public, with three fields deleted to protect applicant and borrower privacy,20 and also make available to the public a disclosure statement prepared by the FFIEC that shows the financial institution's HMDA data in aggregate form.21 In addition, the FFIEC makes available to the public disclosure statements for each financial institution,22 aggregate reports for each MSA and metropolitan division (MD) showing lending patterns by certain property and applicant characteristics,23 and the loan-level dataset containing all reported HMDA data for the preceding calendar year, modified to protect applicant and borrower privacy (the agencies' loan-level release).24

    19 Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA), 12 U.S.C. 2801 et seq., as implemented by Regulation C, 12 CFR part 1003. “Current Regulation C” as used herein refers to Regulation C in effect as of the date of publication of this proposed Policy Guidance.

    20 HMDA section 304(j)(2)(B); 12 CFR 1003.5(c).

    21 HMDA section 304(k); 12 CFR 1003.5(b).

    22 HMDA section 304(f); 12 CFR 1003.5(f).

    23 HMDA section 310; 12 CFR 1003.5(f).

    24 55 FR 27886 (July 6, 1990) (announcing that the loan-level HMDA data submitted on the loan/application register would be made available to the public after deletion of three fields to protect applicant and borrower privacy).

    B. The Dodd-Frank Act and Amendments to HMDA and Regulation C

    In 2010, the Dodd-Frank Act, which amended HMDA and also transferred HMDA rulemaking authority and other functions from the Board to the Bureau, was enacted into law.25 Among other changes, the Dodd-Frank Act again expanded the scope of information relating to mortgage applications and loans that must be collected, reported, and disclosed under HMDA and authorized the Bureau to require financial institutions to collect, report, and disclose additional information. The Dodd-Frank Act amendments to HMDA also added new section 304(h)(1)(E), which directs the Bureau to develop regulations, in consultation with the agencies identified in section 304(h)(2),26 that “modify or require modification of itemized information, for the purpose of protecting the privacy interests of the mortgage applicants or mortgagors, that is or will be available to the public.” Section 304(h)(3)(B), also added by the Dodd-Frank Act, directs the Bureau to “prescribe standards for any modification under paragraph (1)(E) to effectuate the purposes of [HMDA], in light of the privacy interests of mortgage applicants or mortgagors. Where necessary to protect the privacy interests of mortgage applicants or mortgagors, the Bureau shall provide for the disclosure of information . . . in aggregate or other reasonably modified form, in order to effectuate the purposes of [HMDA].” 27

    25 Dodd Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, Public Law 111-203, 124 Stat. 1376, 1980, 2035-38, 2097-101 (2010).

    26 These agencies are the prudential regulators—the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the National Credit Union Administration, and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency—and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Together with the Bureau, these agencies are referred to herein as “the agencies.”

    27 Section 304(h)(3)(A) provides that a modification under section 304(h)(1)(E) shall apply to information concerning “(i) credit score data . . . in a manner that is consistent with the purpose described in paragraph (1)(E); and (ii) age or any other category of data described in paragraph (5) or (6) of subsection (b), as the Bureau determines to be necessary to satisfy the purpose described in paragraph (1)(E), and in a manner consistent with that purpose.”

    On August 29, 2014, the Bureau published proposed amendments to Regulation C (2014 HMDA Proposed Rule) to implement the Dodd-Frank Act amendments and to make additional changes.28 After careful consideration of comments received on its proposal, the Bureau published a final rule on October 28, 2015 (2015 HMDA Final Rule) amending Regulation C.29 The 2015 HMDA Final Rule implements the Dodd-Frank Act amendments and makes other changes to Regulation C. Most provisions of the 2015 HMDA Final Rule go into effect on January 1, 2018 30 and apply to data financial institutions will collect beginning in 2018 and will report beginning in 2019.31

    28 79 FR 51732 (Aug. 29, 2014).

    29 Home Mortgage Disclosure (Regulation C), 80 FR 66128 (Oct. 28, 2015); see also 80 FR 69567 (Nov. 10, 2015) (making technical corrections).

    30 Certain amendments to the definition of financial institution went into effect on January 1, 2017. See 12 CFR 1003.2; 80 FR 66128, 66308 (Oct. 28, 2015).

    31 Beginning in 2018, with respect to data compiled in 2017 and later, financial institutions will file their HMDA data with the Bureau. The Bureau will collect and process HMDA data on behalf of the FFIEC and the agencies.

    The 2015 HMDA Final Rule addressed the public disclosure of HMDA data in two ways. First, the 2015 HMDA Final Rule made changes to financial institutions' public disclosure obligations under Regulation C. Under the 2015 HMDA Final Rule, the public disclosure of HMDA data is shifted entirely to the agencies. Effective with respect to HMDA data compiled in 2017 and later, financial institutions will no longer be required to provide their modified loan/application registers and disclosure statements directly to the public and will be required instead to provide only a notice advising members of the public seeking their data that it may be obtained on the Bureau's Web site. In addition to reducing burden on financial institutions associated with their disclosure of HMDA data, the 2015 HMDA Final Rule eliminates risks to financial institutions associated with errors in preparing their modified loan/application registers that could result in the unintended disclosure of data. Further, the 2015 HMDA Final Rule allows decisions with respect to what to include on the modified loan/application register to be made in conjunction with decisions regarding the agencies' loan-level data release, providing flexibility and allowing for consistency with respect to both releases. This shift of responsibility also permits the Bureau to consider modifications to protect applicant and borrower privacy that preserve data utility but that may be burdensome for financial institutions to implement. Finally, shifting the disclosure of HMDA data to the agencies will allow for easier adjustment of privacy protections applied to disclosures of loan-level HMDA data as privacy risks and potential uses of HMDA data evolve.

    Also in the 2015 HMDA Final Rule, in consultation with the agencies and after notice and comment, the Bureau interpreted HMDA, as amended by the Dodd-Frank Act, to require that the Bureau use a balancing test to determine whether and how HMDA data should be modified prior to its disclosure to the public in order to protect applicant and borrower privacy while also fulfilling HMDA's public disclosure purposes. The Bureau interpreted HMDA to require that public HMDA data be modified when the release of the unmodified data creates risks to applicant and borrower privacy interests that are not justified by the benefits of such release to the public in light of the statutory purposes.32 In such circumstances, the need to protect the privacy interests of mortgage applicants or mortgagors requires that the itemized information be modified. This binding interpretation implemented HMDA sections 304(h)(1)(E) and 304(h)(3)(B) because it prescribed standards for requiring modification of itemized information, for the purpose of protecting the privacy interests of mortgage applicants and borrowers, that is or will be available to the public.33 The 2015 HMDA Final Rule's interpretation of HMDA section 304(h)(1)(E) and 304(h)(3)(B) to require a balancing test is a regulation that limits the Bureau's discretion with respect to public release of HMDA data. The standards impose binding obligations on the Bureau to evaluate the HMDA data, individually and in combination, to assess whether and how HMDA data should be modified prior to its disclosure to the public in order to protect applicant and borrower privacy while also fulfilling HMDA's public disclosure purposes. The standards for modification of itemized information that is or will be available to the public apply to all data reported under the 2015 HMDA Final Rule.34

    32 80 FR 66128, 66134 (Oct. 28, 2015).

    33Id.

    34Id. at 66133, 66252 (noting that the Bureau's application of the balancing test would include data fields currently disclosed on the modified loan/application register and in the agencies' loan-level release).

    Part III of this proposed Policy Guidance describes the Bureau's application of the balancing test to date and its proposals concerning the public disclosure of the loan-level HMDA data that will be reported to the agencies pursuant to Regulation C as amended by the 2015 HMDA Final Rule.35 Part IV of this proposed Policy Guidance addresses other considerations related to the disclosure of HMDA data, including the disclosure of aggregate HMDA data.36

    35 The Bureau received some comments on the 2014 HMDA Proposed Rule suggesting that disclosure of certain HMDA data fields could reveal confidential business information and that such data fields should not be disclosed to the public in order to protect such information. The Bureau notes that HMDA requires modification of the HMDA data to protect the privacy interests of applicants and borrowers without mentioning the protection of confidential business information. Although the balancing test adopted in the 2015 HMDA Final Rule addresses risks to applicant and borrower privacy created by the disclosure of HMDA data, the modifications resulting from its application may mitigate some of the confidentiality concerns raised by commenters.

    36 As discussed above and also below in part IV.C, HMDA and Regulation C require the FFIEC to make available to the public certain aggregated data. The FFIEC, the Bureau, and the other agencies continue to evaluate options for disclosure of the required aggregates of data that will be reported under the 2015 HMDA Final Rule.

    III. Application of the Balancing Test A. The Balancing Test

    As noted above, in the 2015 HMDA Final Rule, the Bureau interpreted HMDA to require that public HMDA data be modified when the disclosure of the unmodified data creates risks to applicant and borrower privacy interests that are not justified by the benefits of such disclosure to the public in light of the statutory purposes. Considering the public disclosure of the loan-level HMDA dataset as a whole, risks to applicant and borrower privacy interests arise under the balancing test only where the disclosure of the unmodified loan-level HMDA dataset may both substantially facilitate the identification of an applicant or borrower in the data and disclose information about the applicant or borrower that is not otherwise public and may be harmful or sensitive.37 Thus, under the balancing test, risks to applicant and borrower privacy interests would not arise if a loan-level dataset substantially facilitated the identification of applicants and borrowers in the data but revealed no information about applicants and borrowers that was harmful or sensitive and not otherwise public. Alternatively, risks to applicant and borrower privacy interests would not arise under the balancing test if a loan-level dataset contained harmful or sensitive information about applicants and borrowers that was not otherwise public but it was not possible to identify an applicant or borrower in the dataset.

    37 80 FR 66128, 66134 (Oct. 28, 2015).

    Accordingly, under the balancing test, the disclosure of the loan-level HMDA dataset creates risks to applicant and borrower privacy interests only where at least one data field or a combination of data fields in the dataset substantially facilitates the identification of an applicant or borrower, and at least one data field or combination of data fields discloses information about the applicant or borrower that is not otherwise public and may be harmful or sensitive. At the individual data field level, a field may create “re-identification risk” by substantially facilitating the identification of an applicant or borrower in the HMDA data (for example, as discussed below, because it may be used to match a HMDA record to an identified record), or may create “risk of harm or sensitivity” by disclosing information about the applicant or borrower that is not otherwise public and may be harmful or sensitive. Assessing the risks to applicant and borrower privacy under the balancing test requires an evaluation of the unmodified HMDA dataset as a whole and of the individual data fields contained in the dataset.

    Where the public disclosure of the unmodified loan-level HMDA dataset would create risks to applicant and borrower privacy, the balancing test requires that the Bureau consider the benefits of disclosure to HMDA's purposes and, where these benefits do not justify the privacy risks the disclosure would create, modify the dataset to appropriately balance the privacy risks and disclosure benefits. An individual data field is a candidate for potential modification under the balancing test if its disclosure in unmodified form would create a risk of re-identification or a risk of harm or sensitivity.

    As discussed further below, with respect to the HMDA data that will be reported to the agencies under the 2015 HMDA Final Rule and based on its analysis to date, the Bureau believes that public disclosure of the unmodified loan-level dataset, as a whole, would create risks to applicant and borrower privacy interests under the HMDA balancing test. This is due to the presence in the dataset of individual data fields that the Bureau believes would create re-identification risk and the presence of individual data fields that the Bureau believes are not currently public and would create a risk of harm or sensitivity. The Bureau thus has applied the balancing test to determine whether and how it should modify the HMDA data that will be reported under the 2015 HMDA Final Rule before it is disclosed to the public. Based on its analysis, the Bureau believes that the balancing test requires the loan-level HMDA dataset to be modified before it is disclosed to the public to reduce risks to applicant and borrower privacy created by disclosure and appropriately balance them with the benefits of disclosure for HMDA's purposes. The Bureau proposes to modify the public loan-level dataset as described in this proposed Policy Guidance.38 The Bureau believes that the modifications to the loan-level HMDA dataset proposed in this Policy Guidance would reduce risks to applicant and borrower privacy and appropriately balance them with the benefits of disclosure for HMDA's purposes. The Bureau seeks comment on all aspects of this proposed Policy Guidance, including its analysis of risks to applicant and borrower privacy, its application of the balancing test, and its proposed modifications.

    38 With respect to data compiled in 2018 or later, this proposed Policy Guidance describes the modifications the Bureau proposes to apply to the agencies' loan-level release and to each financial institution's modified loan/application register. The terms “loan-level dataset” and “loan-level data” used herein refer to HMDA data disclosed on the loan level, whether the data are those submitted by an individual financial institution or by all reporting financial institutions.

    This part III.A describes the benefits of public disclosure of the data that will be reported under the 2015 HMDA Final Rule, the risks to applicant and borrower privacy that may be created by the public disclosure of the unmodified HMDA data that the Bureau has considered, and the Bureau's approach to balancing these benefits and risks. Part III.B describes the application of the balancing test to the data that will be reported under the 2015 HMDA Final Rule and the Bureau's proposed modifications to the loan-level HMDA data that will be disclosed to the public.

    Disclosure Benefits

    Under the balancing test, the Bureau considers the benefits of disclosure of the loan-level HMDA data to the public. As described above, HMDA has a long history of providing the public with information about mortgage lending activity, and Congress has repeatedly amended the statute to increase the scope and utility of the data disclosed to the public. Users of HMDA data have relied on this information to help achieve HMDA's purposes: Helping to determine whether financial institutions are serving the housing needs of their communities; assisting public officials in distributing public-sector investment so as to attract private investment to areas where it is needed; and assisting in identifying possible discriminatory lending patterns and enforcing antidiscrimination statutes. Today, HMDA data are the preeminent data source that regulators, researchers, economists, industry, and advocates rely on to achieve HMDA's purposes and to analyze the mortgage market.39

    39 For more information about the history and benefits of HMDA, see the supplementary information to the Bureau's 2014 HMDA Proposed Rule, 79 FR 51732, 51735-36 (Aug. 29, 2014), and the Bureau's 2015 HMDA Final Rule, 80 FR 66128, 66129-31 (Oct. 28, 2015).

    Community groups, researchers, and public officials have used HMDA data to help determine whether financial institutions are serving the housing needs of their communities. For example, HMDA data have enabled community groups to understand the magnitude of disinvestment within minority neighborhoods.40 Public officials have relied on HMDA data to compare the lending activity of financial institutions to the credit needs of communities and to examine whether minority communities were disproportionately affected by foreclosures following the financial crisis.41 Further, community groups relied on HMDA data to document the rise in subprime lending among minority communities in the years before the financial crisis.42

    40See John Goering and Ron Wienk, “Mortgage Lending, Racial Discrimination and Federal Policy,” at 10 (Urban Inst. Press 1996).

    41 Robert B. Avery & Thomas M. Buynak, “Economic Review—Mortgage Redlining: Some New Evidence,” at 18-32 (Fed. Reserve Bank of Cleveland, Working Paper No. 0013-0281, 1981), available at https://fraser.stlouisfed.org/scribd/?item_id=4183&filepath=/files/docs/publications/frbclevreview/rev_frbclev_198102.pdf; Carolina Reid and Elizabeth Laderman, “The Untold Costs of Subprime Lending: Examining the Links Among Higher-Priced Lending, Foreclosures and Race in California” (Fed. Reserve Bank of S.F., Working Paper No. 2009-09, 2009), available at https://iasp.brandeis.edu/pdfs/Author/reid-carolina/The%20Untold%20Costs%20of%20Subprime%20Lending%203.pdf.

    42 “Home Mortgage Disclosure Act: Newly Collected Data and What It Means,” Hearing on the 2004 Home Mortgage Disclosure Act before the Subcomm. on Fin. Servs. and Consumer Credit of the H. Comm. on Fin. Servs., 109th Cong. 4 (2006) (written testimony of Calvin Bradford, President, Calvin Bradford Assocs., Ltd., on behalf of the Nat'l Fair Hous. Alliance).

    Public officials also have used HMDA data to develop and allocate housing and community development investments. For example, local governments have used HMDA data to characterize neighborhoods for purposes of determining the most effective use of housing grants, to select financial institutions for contracts and participation in local programs, and to identify a need for homebuyer counseling and education.43 Similarly, the Department of Housing and Urban Development used HMDA data to develop the formula by which funding would be provided to communities suffering from foreclosures and abandonment under the Neighborhood Stabilization Program.44

    43See City of Albuquerque, Dep't of Family and Comty. Hous., “Five Year Consolidated Housing Plan and Workforce Housing Plan (2008-2012),” at 100 (2008), available at http://www.cabq.gov/family/documents/ConsolidatedWorkforceHousingPlan20082012final.pdf; City of Antioch, Cal., “Fiscal Year 2012-2013: Consolidated Annual Performance Evaluation Report,” at 29 (2012), available at http://ci.antioch.ca.us/CitySvcs/CDBGdocs/CAPER%20FY%2012-13.pdf; City of Lawrence, Mass., “HUD Consolidated Plan 2010-2015,” at 68 (2010), available at http://www.cityoflawrence.com/Data/Sites/1/documents/cd/Lawrence_Consolidated_Plan_Final.pdf.

    44See U.S. Dep't of Housing and Urban Dev., “Neighborhood Stabilization Program Formula Methodology” (2008), available at https://www.huduser.gov/portal/datasets/NSP.html.

    HMDA data have also been used by public officials, researchers, and community groups to identify potentially discriminatory lending patterns and to enforce antidiscrimination statutes. For example, researchers, journalists, and public officials relied on HMDA data along with other publicly available data to identify racial disparities in mortgage lending between neighborhoods in Atlanta, Detroit, and Boston.45 Since Congress amended HMDA to require reporting of the race, gender, and income of individual applicants and borrowers,46 the expanded HMDA data have been used to identify potential discriminatory lending practices.47 Community groups have used the data to monitor fair lending within their communities and enter into agreements with financial institutions to ensure that the local needs were being served in a responsible manner.48 HMDA data also played an important role in recent enforcement actions by the Illinois and New York Attorneys General related to discriminatory mortgage lending.49 The Bureau and other regulators regularly rely on HMDA data in fair lending analyses, including in identifying possible discriminatory practices such as illegal redlining.50

    45 Bill Dedman, “The Color of Money,” (parts 1-4), Atlanta Journal-Const., May 1-4, 1988; David Everett et al., “The Race for Money,” (parts 1-4), Detroit Free Press, July 24-27, 1988; Bill Dedman, “Blacks Turned Down for Home Loans from S&Ls Twice as Often as Whites,” Atlanta Journal-Const., Jan. 22, 1989; Katharine Bradbury et al., “Geographic Patterns of Mortgage Lending in Boston, 1982-1987,” New Eng. Econ. Rev., (1989). These reports and studies helped motivate Congress to amend HMDA to improve publicly available information about lending practices through the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery, and Enforcement Act of 1989.

    46 Federal Institutions Reform, Recovery, and Enforcement Act, Public Law 101-73, section 1211, § 304, 103 Stat. 183, 524-26 (1989).

    47 For example, researchers have found evidence that, in many cases, an applicant's race alone influenced whether the applicant was denied credit. See, e.g., Alicia H. Munnell et al., “Mortgage Lending in Boston: Interpreting the HMDA Data,” at 22 (Am. Econ. Rev., Fed. Reserve Bank of Boston Working Paper 92-7 (1992); James H. Carr & Isaac F. Megbolugbe, “The Federal Reserve Bank of Boston: Study on Mortgage Lending Revisited,” 4 J. of Hous. Res. 2, at 277 (1993).

    48See Adam Rust, “A Principle-Based Redesign of HMDA and CRA Data in Revisiting the Community Reinvestment Act: Perspectives on the Future of the Community Reinvestment Act,” at 179 (Fed. Reserve Banks of Bos. and S.F. 2009).

    49 Yana Kunichoff, “Lisa Madigan credits Reporter with initiating largest discriminatory lending settlements in U.S. history,” Chicago Rep. (June 14, 2013), available at http://www.chicagonow.com/chicago-muckrakers/2013/06/lisa-madigan-credits-reporter-with-initiating-largest-discriminatory-lending-settlements-in-u-s-history/; Press Release, N.Y. State Off. of the Att'y Gen., “Attorney General Cuomo Obtains Approximately $1 Million For Victims Of Greenpoint's Discriminatory Lending Practices” (July 16, 2008), available at http://www.ag.ny.gov/press-release/attorney-general-cuomo-obtains-approximately-1-million-victims-greenpoints.

    50 Although certain regulators have access to the non-public HMDA data, their analyses also rely heavily on data fields that are publicly disclosed.

    In enacting the Dodd-Frank Act in 2010, Congress expanded the data financial institutions are required to collect, report, and disclose under HMDA and authorized the Bureau to require additional information. The Bureau's 2015 HMDA Final Rule amended Regulation C to implement the Dodd-Frank Act amendments and address the informational shortcomings exposed by the financial crisis to better meet the needs of the public, public officials, and regulators. Although the 2015 HMDA Final Rule did not address the specific data fields that would be disclosed to the public in the loan-level HMDA data, the rule required the collection and reporting of a number of data fields which, if publicly disclosed, would improve the ability of HMDA data users to fulfill HMDA's purposes.

    For example, mandatory reporting of information about the reasons for denial of a loan application, combined with data fields used to make underwriting decisions, would improve the ability to understand lenders' decision-making and to identify possible discriminatory lending patterns in underwriting. Pricing information, such as rate spread for additional types of loans, total loan costs, total discount points, lender credits, and interest rate, would allow users to better understand pricing decisions and the cost of credit to mortgage borrowers. Information about manufactured housing and multifamily financing would allow users to better understand important sources of housing for low-income and potentially financially vulnerable borrowers, which helps users determine whether financial institutions are serving the housing needs of their communities and helps public officials target public investment to better attract private investment. Information about the ages of applicants or borrowers and disaggregated racial and ethnic information would assist in identifying potentially discriminatory lending patterns and help determine whether financial institutions are serving the housing needs of their communities. Data fields about occupancy status and home-equity lines of credit provide information about potentially speculative purchases of housing and the degrees of leverage borrowers are undertaking. This information would better allow users to identify trends in the mortgage market that may increase systemic risk to the overall economy. Understanding these risks helps public officials distribute public-sector investment and helps users determine whether financial institutions are serving the housing needs of their communities.

    Today, HMDA data represent a public good that responds to the fact that private lenders do not, in the ordinary course, make information about their loans and lending decisions publicly available. HMDA provides the only source of loan-level mortgage data with comprehensive national coverage that is free and easily accessible to the public. Other publicly available mortgage datasets lack information crucial for HMDA's purposes that is found in the HMDA data, such as the race, ethnicity, and sex of applicants and borrowers. Private data vendors sell several large datasets that typically contain data collected from the largest mortgage loan servicers or securitizers, but none of these datasets match the coverage of the HMDA data. These private datasets also typically lack information that identifies individual lenders and therefore cannot be used to study whether specific lenders are meeting community needs or may be making discriminatory credit decisions. Additionally, the Bureau is aware of no private dataset that includes information about applications that do not result in originated loans. By including applications in addition to originated and purchased loans, HMDA provides a near-census of the mortgage market that allows users to draw a detailed picture of the supply and demand of mortgage credit at various levels of geographic and lender aggregation. Finally, unlike the HMDA data, private datasets are costly for subscribers, creating a substantial hurdle for many community groups, government agencies, and researchers that wish to access them.

    HMDA data also benefit users by addressing the information asymmetries present in credit markets. The degree of control that lenders exercise over the mortgage lending process gives them a significant information advantage over borrowers, researchers, and other members of the public. This advantage can contribute to certain types of lender behavior, such as discrimination or predatory lending, that conflict with the best interests of borrowers and the housing needs of communities. The relative difference in information may also lead to herding behavior where both lenders and consumers pursue risky mortgage loans based primarily on the popularity of these products, creating substantial systemic risk to the mortgage market and the financial system. Publicly available mortgage data increase transparency in the mortgage market, narrowing the information gap between lenders and borrowers, community groups, and public officials. Greater information can enable these latter parties to advocate for financial institutions to maintain fair practices and serve the housing needs of their communities, and can increase the prospect of self-correction by financial institutions. Additional information also helps to reduce the herding behavior of both lenders and borrowers, reducing systemic risk.

    Risks to Applicant and Borrower Privacy Interests

    The Bureau has considered the risks to applicant and borrower privacy that may be created by the public disclosure of the HMDA data that will be reported to the agencies under the 2015 HMDA Final Rule. Based on its analysis to date, the Bureau believes that public disclosure of the unmodified loan-level dataset, as a whole, would create risks to applicant and borrower privacy interests under the HMDA balancing test. As described in more detail below, this is due to the presence in the dataset of individual data fields that the Bureau believes would create re-identification risk and the presence of individual data fields that the Bureau believes would create a risk of harm or sensitivity. However, the Bureau believes that the modifications to the loan-level HMDA dataset proposed in this Policy Guidance would reduce these risks to applicant and borrower privacy and appropriately balance them with the benefits of disclosure for HMDA's purposes.

    Re-Identification Risk

    In evaluating the potential re-identification risk presented by the disclosure of the unmodified loan-level HMDA data that will be reported under the 2015 HMDA Final Rule, the Bureau has considered the data fields contained in the dataset, the likely methods by which applicants and borrowers could be identified in the dataset, the nature and availability of additional datasets that may be useful to the re-identification of HMDA data, and the incentives and capabilities of persons interested in re-identification. The Bureau uses the term “adversary” when referring to such persons.51 The term is not intended to indicate that the adversary's motives are necessarily malicious or adverse to the interests of the individuals in the dataset.

    51See, e.g., Nat'l Inst. of Standards & Tech., “De-Identification of Personal Information (2015),” available at http://nvlpubs.nist.gov/nistpubs/ir/2015/NIST.IR.8053.pdf (using “adversary” to refer to an entity attempting to re-identify data).

    In the HMDA context, the Bureau is concerned about two re-identification scenarios. First, an adversary may use common data fields to match a HMDA record to a record in another dataset that contains the identity of the applicant or borrower. Second, an individual may rely on pre-existing personal knowledge to recognize an applicant or borrower's record in the unmodified HMDA data.

    Under the first scenario, it may be possible to match a HMDA record to a record from an identified dataset directly, or data fields from additional datasets may need to be matched to the HMDA record to complete the match to the identified record. However, successfully re-identifying a HMDA record would require several steps and may present a significant challenge. First, an adversary generally would have to isolate a record that is unique within the HMDA data. A HMDA record is unique when the values of the data fields associated with it are shared by no other HMDA record. But a HMDA record's uniqueness alone would not automatically result in its re-identification; an adversary would have to find a record corresponding to the applicant or borrower in another dataset that shares data fields with the unique HMDA record that permit the records to be matched. Once a unique HMDA record has been matched to a corresponding record, an adversary would possess any additional fields found in the corresponding record but not found in the HMDA record, such as the identity of the applicant or borrower.52 However, even after accomplishing such a match, an adversary might not have accurately re-identified the true applicant or borrower to whom the HMDA record relates.53

    52 If the corresponding record lacks the name of the applicant or borrower, an adversary may be able to use data fields from the corresponding record to match to a record in another identified dataset.

    53 For example, if the corresponding record is not the only record in the other dataset that shares certain data fields with the unique HMDA record, an adversary would have to make a probabilistic determination as to which corresponding record belongs to the applicant or borrower. Also, depending on the coverage of the other dataset, a corresponding record may be unique in the other dataset but not unique in the general population.

    The HMDA data that will be reported under the 2015 HMDA Final Rule, like the data reported under current Regulation C, contain data fields that create re-identification risk. First, the HMDA data display a high level of record uniqueness.54 As explained above, record uniqueness alone does not mean that a record can be re-identified, but a unique HMDA record could be matched to a corresponding record in another dataset that is available to an adversary. In the HMDA context, the Bureau believes that particularly relevant sources of identified data for matching purposes are publicly available real estate transaction records and property tax records. Although there is variance by jurisdiction, such records are often available electronically and typically identify a borrower through documents such as the mortgage or deed of trust. These documents typically include the loan amount, the financial institution, the unique identifier assigned to the mortgage originator, the borrower's name, and the property address, and may include other information. Because some of these data fields are also present in the HMDA data, the Bureau believes that the release of loan-level HMDA data without any modifications would create a risk that these public records could be directly matched to a HMDA record to re-identify an applicant 55 or borrower.

    54 In 2005, researchers at the Board found that “[m]ore than 90 percent of the loan records in a given year's HMDA data are unique—that is, an individual lender reported only one loan in a given census tract for a specific loan amount.” Robert B. Avery et al., “New Information Reported under HMDA and Its Application in Fair Lending Enforcement,” at 367 Fed. Reserve Bulletin (Summer 2005), available at http://www.federalreserve.gov/pubs/bulletin/2005/3-05hmda.pdf.

    55 None of the public or private datasets discussed herein include information about applications that do not result in originated mortgage loans. The Bureau believes that the lack of public information about applications would significantly reduce the likelihood that an adversary could match the record of a HMDA loan application that was not originated to an identified record in another dataset. Therefore, the Bureau believes that the risk of re-identification to applicants is significantly lower than the risk to borrowers. However, some of the information contained in the unmodified HMDA data for applicants may permit an adversary to re-identify an applicant despite the lack of publicly available real estate records reflecting the transaction. For example, if an applicant withdraws an application and obtains a loan secured by the same property from another institution, it may be possible to link the HMDA data for the withdrawn application with the data for the origination, as much of the property and borrower information will be identical.

    Other publicly available sources of data similar to those included in the HMDA data that will be reported under the 2015 HMDA Final Rule include loan-level performance datasets made available by the Government-Sponsored Enterprises (GSEs) and mortgage-backed securities datasets made available by the Securities and Exchange Commission through the Electronic Data Gathering, Analysis, and Retrieval (EDGAR) system.56 The loan-level performance datasets include data fields similar to those that will be included in the unmodified HMDA data, such as credit score, loan amount, interest rate, debt-to-income ratio, combined loan-to-value ratio, and loan-to-value ratio. The mortgage-backed securities dataset includes similar information, such as the credit score, loan amount, lien status, property value, and debt-to-income ratio. These datasets are available online with limited restrictions on access. But these datasets do not include the name of the borrower; as described above, this means that an adversary who is able to match a record in one of these datasets to a record in HMDA would need to make an additional match to an identified dataset to re-identify a borrower. And some of these datasets contain restrictions on use, such as a prohibition on attempting to re-identify individual borrowers.57

    56 SE.C., “Electronic Data Gathering, Analysis, and Retrieval (EDGAR),” https://www.sec.gov/edgar.shtml (last visited January 26, 2017); Fannie Mae, “Fannie Mae Single-Family Loan Performance Dataset,” http://www.fanniemae.com/portal/funding-the-market/data/loan-performance-data.html (last visited Jan. 26, 2017); Freddie Mac, “Single Family Loan-Level Dataset,”http://www.freddiemac.com/news/finance/sf_loanlevel_dataset.html (last visited Jan. 26, 2017); Ginnie Mae, “Data Dictionaries,” http://www.ginniemae.gov/investors/disclosures_and_reports/Pages/Disclosure-Data-Dictionaries.aspx (last visited Jan. 26, 2017).

    57See, e.g., Freddie Mac, “Terms for Single-Family Loan-Level Dataset Registration and Login Pages,” https://freddiemac.embs.com/FLoan/HistoricalDataTerms.html (last visited Mar. 20, 2017).

    Private datasets that could be matched to the HMDA data are also available. For example, data brokers collect information about consumers from a wide range of sources and sell it for a variety of purposes, including marketing, identity verification, and fraud detection.58 These datasets typically include data collected from commercial, government, and other publicly available sources and may contain data about mortgage loan borrowers, including age, income, loan-to-value ratio, property value, loan amount, address, race, ethnicity, and origination date. Other datasets specific to mortgage loans are provided for purposes of evaluating mortgage-backed securities, identifying marketing opportunities, or analyzing market trends. These datasets may include loan amount, interest rate, credit score, negative amortization features, and closing date. Some of these datasets include the names of consumers, although others contain de-identified loan-level mortgage data. However, these datasets may contain contractual restrictions on use and re-disclosure, including prohibiting their use for re-identification purposes, and may be cost-prohibitive for many potential adversaries.

    58See generally Fed. Trade Comm'n, “Data Brokers: A Call for Transparency and Accountability,” (May 2014), available at https://www.ftc.gov/system/files/documents/reports/data-brokers-call-transparency-accountability-report-federal-trade-commission-may-2014/140527databrokerreport.pdf (describing the types of products offered and the data sources used by data brokers).

    In addition to considering the steps an adversary would need to complete to re-identify the HMDA data and the various data sources that may be required to accomplish re-identification, including their limitations, the Bureau also has considered the capacity, incentives, and characteristics of potential adversaries, including those that may attempt re-identification for harmful purposes. The Bureau believes that some potential adversaries may be interested in re-identifying the HMDA data for marketing or other commercial purposes. For example, the unmodified HMDA data contain information about applicants and borrowers, and features of the loans they obtained or applied for, that the Bureau believes would have commercial appeal for marketing and advertising. Although extensive data about identified consumers is already available to marketers, the Bureau believes that at least some of the HMDA data that may be useful to marketers are typically not publicly available from any source for marketing purposes, are available in limited circumstances,59 or may be less reliable or precise than the HMDA data may be perceived to be.60 These potential adversaries could possess the resources to use private datasets in addition to publicly available records to re-identify the HMDA data. However, the Bureau has considered the extent to which much of the commercial benefit to be obtained by re-identifying the HMDA data may be more readily available from private datasets to which these potential adversaries already have access without the need for recourse to the HMDA data. In many cases, information from other datasets may be timelier than that found in the HMDA data, where the delay between action taken on a loan and disclosure of the loan-level HMDA data ranges from 3 to 15 months. Further, some of these potential adversaries may refrain from re-identifying the HMDA data for reputational reasons or because they have agreed to restrictions on using data from the additional datasets described above for re-identification purposes.

    59 For example, a marketer currently may obtain from a consumer reporting agency a “prescreened” list of consumers meeting certain criteria, such as a minimum credit score, only for the purpose of making a “firm offer of credit or insurance.” 15 U.S.C. 1681b(c), 1681a(l).

    60 For example, private datasets may only contain an estimate of the household income, while the HMDA data contains the gross annual income relied on by the financial institution, which may be more accurate.

    Additionally, although most academics, researchers, and journalists use HMDA data only for HMDA purposes or market monitoring, some may be interested in re-identifying the HMDA data for purposes of research. These persons may differ in their capacity to re-identify an applicant or borrower in the HMDA data. The Bureau believes that those who lack resources are likely to attempt to match a HMDA record to publicly available datasets such as real estate transaction records, while those with relatively greater resources may also rely on private datasets. However, as mentioned above, some private datasets may have contractual terms prohibiting their use for re-identification purposes. Further, those academics or journalists with significant resources may be affiliated with organizations that have reputational or institutional interests that would not be served by re-identifying the HMDA data. These factors may reduce the risk of re-identification by such persons.

    The Bureau has considered whether parties intending to commit identity theft or financial fraud may have the incentive and capacity to re-identify the HMDA data. As discussed further below, the Bureau believes that the HMDA data would be of minimal use for these purposes. For example, the HMDA data will not include information typically required to open new accounts in a consumer's name, such as Social Security number, date of birth, place of birth, passport number, or driver's license number, nor will they include information useful to perpetrate existing account fraud, such as account numbers or passwords. Further, these potential adversaries are not law abiding and may have easier, albeit illegal, ways to secure data for these purposes than attempting to re-identify loan-level HMDA data. The resources of these potential adversaries likely vary, so some may be able to use private datasets in addition to publicly available records to re-identify the HMDA data were they to attempt to do so.

    In addition to the possibility of re-identifying borrowers through matching HMDA data to other datasets, some potential adversaries may be able to re-identify a particular applicant or borrower in the HMDA data by relying on personal knowledge about the applicant or borrower. As noted above, the Bureau believes that the HMDA data display a high level of record uniqueness, and the unmodified HMDA data include location and demographic information, such as race, sex, ethnicity, and age, that may be known to a potential adversary who is familiar with a specific applicant or borrower. Therefore, such a potential adversary may be able to re-identify a known applicant or borrower even if traditionally identifying information is not disclosed and without attempting to match a HMDA record to an identified record. This potential adversary could include a neighbor or acquaintance of the applicant or borrower, and the interest in re-identification may range from mere curiosity to the desire to embarrass or otherwise harm the applicant or borrower. Although these potential adversaries may lack the sophistication or resources required to re-identify a HMDA record by matching it to other datasets, they may possess a high level of specific knowledge about the characteristics of a particular applicant or borrower. Because the pre-existing personal knowledge possessed by such a potential adversary is typically limited to information about a single individual, or a small number of individuals, any re-identification attempt by such a potential adversary would likely target or impact a limited number of individuals. Although the Bureau believes that location and demographic information may be more likely to be known than other information in the HMDA data, it is impossible to predict the exact content of any pre-existing personal knowledge that such a potential adversary may possess. This uncertainty creates challenges for evaluating the degree to which individual data fields contribute to the risk of re-identification by such a potential adversary.61

    61 For example, although the Bureau is aware of no dataset with detailed information on mortgage loan applicants, an adversary with personal knowledge of an applicant could identify an applicant in the HMDA data.

    Risk of Harm or Sensitivity

    The Bureau has considered whether, if a loan-level record in the HMDA dataset were re-identified, HMDA data that will be reported under the 2015 HMDA Final Rule would disclose information about the applicant or borrower that is not otherwise public and may be harmful or sensitive. To the extent a HMDA record could be associated with an identified applicant or borrower and could also be successfully matched to another de-identified dataset to re-identify such a dataset, harmful or sensitive information in that dataset that is not otherwise public may also be disclosed. The Bureau has considered whether the HMDA data could be used for harmful purposes such as perpetrating fraud or identity theft against an applicant or borrower or for targeted marketing of products and services that may pose risks that are not apparent. The Bureau has also considered whether certain HMDA data fields may be viewed as sensitive if associated with a particular applicant or borrower, even where the disclosure of the data field is unlikely to lead to financial or other tangible harms. In evaluating the potential sensitivity of a data field, the Bureau has also considered whether disclosure of the data field could cause dignity or reputational harm or embarrassment, or could be considered outside of societal or cultural expectations with respect to what information is available to the general public.

    As noted above, today, significant amounts of identifiable data concerning consumers is available to the general public, including in public records. Identifiable consumer information is also available from commercial data sources with varying barriers to access and restrictions on use. In evaluating the risk of harm or sensitivity created by the public disclosure of loan-level HMDA data, the Bureau's analysis has considered the degree to which such disclosure would increase these risks to applicant and borrower privacy compared to the risks that already exist, absent the public availability of the data in HMDA. Accordingly, the Bureau has considered whether the data that will be reported under the 2015 HMDA Final Rule are typically publicly available in an identifiable form and, if so, any barriers to accessing the information or restrictions on its use. Depending on the nature and extent of the public availability of a particular data field, the Bureau generally considers public availability to reduce any risk of harm or sensitivity that may be created by the public disclosure of the data field in the loan-level HMDA data. For example, although some borrowers may consider the amount of their mortgage to be sensitive, the Bureau believes that this information is often publicly available and considers such availability to reduce the risk of harm or sensitivity that may be created by the disclosure of this unmodified data field in the HMDA data. In other words, if potentially harmful or sensitive information about an applicant or borrower is already available to the general public, disclosure of that information in the loan-level HMDA data creates less risk of additional harm or sensitivity than if the data were otherwise not publicly available about the applicant or borrower.

    In evaluating the risk of harm or sensitivity created by the disclosure of the loan-level HMDA data, the Bureau also has considered the likelihood that the loan-level HMDA data would be re-identified and used for harmful purposes or to embarrass or damage the reputation of an applicant or borrower. As discussed above, the Bureau generally believes that successful re-identification of loan-level HMDA data would require several steps and may represent a significant challenge. Even where an adversary is able to match a HMDA record to a record in an identified dataset, the adversary still may not have accurately identified the true applicant or borrower to whom the HMDA record relates. To the extent that the risk that re-identification would be accomplished is low, the risk of disclosing harmful or sensitive information is reduced.

    The Bureau believes that the unmodified loan-level HMDA data that will be reported under the 2015 HMDA Final Rule would be of minimal use for purposes of perpetrating identity theft or financial fraud against applicants and borrowers. As noted above, the HMDA data will not include information typically required to open new accounts in a consumer's name, such as Social Security number, date of birth, place of birth, passport number, or driver's license number, nor do they include information useful to perpetrate existing account fraud, such as account numbers or passwords.62 Although almost any information relating to an individual could at least theoretically be used by an adversary seeking to steal the identity of or commit fraud against the individual, the Bureau does not believe that disclosure of the HMDA data would be likely to increase information available for these purposes. For example, the HMDA data will include the name of the financial institution and other details about the loan terms that could be used in a phishing attack against an applicant or borrower by a perpetrator pretending to be the financial institution,63 but data that could be used for this purpose are often already available in publicly available real estate transaction records. The Bureau has also considered whether the HMDA data could be used for knowledge-based authentication purposes,64 but believes the data are unlikely to increase information available that is typically used for such purposes.

    62 As noted above, however, to the extent a HMDA record could be associated with an identified applicant or borrower and could also successfully be matched to a de-identified dataset to re-identify such a dataset, harmful or sensitive information in that dataset that is not otherwise public may also be disclosed.

    63 Phishing is an attempt by a perpetrator to obtain sensitive information, such as account numbers or passwords, by masquerading as a legitimate company. Phishing is typically conducted by fraudulent email messages appearing to come from a legitimate company that direct the recipient to a spoofed Web site or otherwise get the recipient to divulge private information. The perpetrators then use this private information to commit identity theft.

    64 Knowledge-based authentication (KBA) is a method of authentication which seeks to prove the identity of someone accessing a service, such as an account at a financial institution. KBA requires the knowledge of information about a particular individual to prove that a person attempting to access a service is the individual. “Static” KBA, also known as “shared secrets,” relies on information initially shared by the individual to the provider of the service, such as an answer to a question, which is later retrieved when an individual seeks to access the service. “Dynamic” KBA uses knowledge questions to verify identity but does not require the individual to have provided the questions and answers beforehand. Dynamic KBA questions are compiled from data known to or obtained by the institution, such as transaction history or data from credit reports.

    The Bureau believes that some of the unmodified loan-level HMDA data would provide information that is not already public and could be used to target applicants and borrowers for marketing, including marketing for products and services that may pose risks that are not apparent. As noted above, the unmodified HMDA data would provide information about an applicant's or borrower's financial condition and, with respect to a borrower, details about the loan obtained. The Bureau believes that, at least for a period of time after the loan-level HMDA data are disclosed, this information may be useful to those looking to offer financial products and services or otherwise improve market segmentation. Although these data could be used to market products and services that would be beneficial for applicants and borrowers, perhaps increasing competition among lenders that could help consumers receive the best loan terms possible, they could also be used to target potentially vulnerable consumers with marketing for products and services that may pose risks that are not apparent. For example, certain information about a loan might be perceived to reveal information about a borrower's sophistication as a consumer of financial products and services, and information about a borrower's financial condition may suggest vulnerability to scams relating to debt relief or credit repair.

    Finally, the Bureau believes that some of the unmodified loan-level HMDA data that will be reported to the agencies under the 2015 HMDA Final Rule would be considered sensitive by most consumers. In assessing whether a data field creates a risk of sensitivity, the Bureau has considered if its disclosure could lead to dignity or reputational harm or embarrassment, or could be considered outside of societal or cultural expectations with respect to what information is available to the general public.

    Balancing Risks and Benefits

    In applying the balancing test, the Bureau has considered the risks to applicant and borrower privacy interests that would be created by the public disclosure of the unmodified loan-level HMDA data that will be reported under the 2015 HMDA Final Rule and the benefits of such disclosure in light of HMDA's purposes. As discussed above, assessing risks to applicant and borrower privacy under the balancing test requires an evaluation of the unmodified HMDA dataset as a whole and of the individual data fields contained in the dataset. In developing this proposal, the Bureau reviewed the contribution of each data field, individually and in combination, toward the potential re-identification of an applicant or borrower in the HMDA dataset. As described above, for purposes of the HMDA balancing test, a significant re-identification risk is created by uniqueness in the HMDA data among data fields that are also found in other records that identify an applicant or borrower. The Bureau has reviewed the availability of public records in several jurisdictions and has also considered qualitative factors such as the capacity, incentives, and characteristics of potential adversaries that may be interested in re-identification, the public availability of HMDA data fields in other datasets, the barriers to obtaining these datasets, and the degree to which the other datasets are identifiable. The Bureau has also considered whether certain data fields may be more likely than others to be known by a potential adversary with personal knowledge about the applicant or borrower.

    The Bureau also considered whether disclosure of the loan-level HMDA data, if it were to be re-identified, would reveal information about the applicant or borrower that is not otherwise public and may be harmful or sensitive. As described above, this consideration involved reviewing the potential for disclosure to cause financial fraud or identity theft, harmful targeted marketing, or sensitivity concerns. The Bureau considered the nature of potential harms that might result from disclosure of each data field individually and in combination, and the strength of the field's contribution to such harms. The Bureau also considered whether each data field is typically publicly available in identified records and, if so, any barriers to accessing the information or restrictions on its use.

    In addition, the Bureau evaluated the contribution of the data fields, both individually and in combination, toward the purposes of HMDA: Helping to determine whether financial institutions are serving the housing needs of their communities; assisting public officials in distributing public-sector investment so as to attract private investment to areas where it is needed; and assisting in identifying possible discriminatory lending patterns and enforcing antidiscrimination statutes. Every HMDA data field provides benefits to achieving the statutory purposes, but different data fields may provide more value for certain statutory purposes or types of analyses. Data fields were examined for both current and potential uses.

    For data fields the public disclosure of which the Bureau preliminarily believes would create risks to applicant and borrower privacy interests, either because a field increases re-identification risk or poses a risk of harm or sensitivity, the Bureau has weighed these risks against the benefits of disclosure. Where the Bureau has preliminarily determined that the disclosure of an individual data field, alone or in combination with other fields, would create risks to applicant and borrower privacy that are not justified by the benefits of disclosure to HMDA's purposes, the Bureau has considered whether it could appropriately balance the privacy risks and disclosure benefits through strategies such as binning, rounding, and top- and bottom-coding,65 or whether the public dataset should be modified by excluding the field. The Bureau has also evaluated the risks and benefits of disclosing a data field in light of the proposed modifications considered for the other data fields. The Bureau is mindful of the connection between the risk of re-identification and the risk of harm or sensitivity. To the extent that the risk of re-identification created by disclosure of the HMDA data is reduced, the risk of disclosing harmful or sensitive information is also reduced. Conversely, to the extent that the public loan-level HMDA data do not disclose information that is harmful or sensitive, the consequences of re-identification are reduced. Where the Bureau has preliminarily determined that some modification of a data field is appropriate, the Bureau's consideration of the available forms of modification for the HMDA data is also informed by the operational challenges associated with various forms of modification and the need to make financial institutions' modified loan/application registers available to the public by March 31 following the calendar year for which the data are reported.66

    65 Binning, sometimes known as recoding or interval recoding, allows data to be shown clustered into ranges rather than as precise values. Top- and bottom-coding masks the precise values of a data field that appear above or below a certain threshold.

    66 As discussed below in part IV.B, the Bureau will make a modified loan/application register for each financial institution available on its Web site by March 31 following the calendar year for which the information was compiled. With respect to data compiled in 2018 or later, this proposed Policy Guidance describes the modifications the Bureau proposes to apply to each financial institution's modified loan/application register, with the possible exception of modifications to reflect whether the loan amount is above the applicable dollar amount limitation on the original principal obligation in effect at the time of application or origination as provided under 12 U.S.C. 1717(b)(2) and 12 U.S.C. 1454(a)(2), which may be disclosed later than March 31. HMDA data is reported by March 1 of the year following the calendar year for which the information was compiled, leaving the Bureau as little as 30 days to prepare each financial institution's modified loan/application register.

    B. Application of the Balancing Test to Loan-Level HMDA Data

    As described above, the Bureau has interpreted HMDA to require that public HMDA data be modified when the release of the unmodified data creates risks to applicant and borrower privacy interests that are not justified by the benefits of such release to the public in light of HMDA's purposes. Based on its analysis to date, the Bureau believes that public disclosure of the unmodified loan-level data that will be reported to the agencies under the 2015 HMDA Final Rule, as a whole, would create risks to applicant and borrower privacy interests under the HMDA balancing test. This is due to the presence in the data of individual data fields that the Bureau believes would create re-identification risk and the presence of individual data fields that the Bureau believes would create a risk of harm or sensitivity. The Bureau has applied the balancing test to determine whether and how to modify the HMDA data that will be reported under the 2015 HMDA Final Rule before it is disclosed to the public and is seeking comment on its proposed modifications.

    For the reasons discussed below, based on its application of the balancing test, the Bureau proposes to exclude or otherwise modify the following data fields in the loan-level HMDA data disclosed to the public: Universal loan identifier (ULI), application date, loan amount, action taken date, property address, age, credit score, debt-to-income ratio, property value, the unique identifier assigned by the Nationwide Mortgage Licensing System and Registry for the mortgage loan originator (NMLS ID); and automated underwriting system (AUS) result. The Bureau also proposes to exclude the content of free-form text fields used in certain instances to report the following data: Race, ethnicity, name and version of credit score model, reason for denial, and AUS system name. The Bureau proposes to publicly disclose without modification the remaining data reported to the agencies under the 2015 HMDA Final Rule. As discussed above, HMDA and Regulation C require the FFIEC to make available to the public certain aggregated data. The Bureau, in consultation with the other agencies, intends to evaluate options for providing the HMDA data, including the modified data, to the public in aggregated form, including through the aggregated data products the FFIEC is required to make available and other vehicles.67

    67See part IV.C, below.

    The Bureau acknowledges that the proposed modifications would not completely eliminate risks to applicant and borrower privacy that would likely be created by the disclosure of loan-level HMDA data, but the Bureau believes that these modifications would reduce such risks to the extent necessary to appropriately balance them with the benefits of disclosure for HMDA's purposes. The Bureau believes that, to the extent that the public disclosure of the loan-level HMDA data, modified as proposed, would create risks to applicant and borrower privacy, such risks would be justified by the benefits of such release to the public in light of HMDA's purposes.

    The Bureau has considered whether, in light of what it believes to be a reduced risk of re-identification for HMDA records reflecting an application where no loan was originated, more data could be disclosed without modification for those records. As discussed above, the Bureau believes that the lack of publicly available information about applications would make it significantly more difficult for an adversary to re-identify an applicant by matching a HMDA record to a record from an identified dataset. However, the Bureau believes that some risk of re-identification by matching may remain in some circumstances,68 and notes that an adversary's personal knowledge may also permit re-identification of an application record. Further, the possibility that transactions could be reported as applications in error and be subsequently corrected in a resubmission would create risk that the previously-applied modifications would no longer be appropriate; the previously-disclosed HMDA data would have revealed information creating risks to applicant and borrower privacy that would not be justified by the benefits of disclosure. Finally, an approach requiring that different types of records in the dataset are subject to different modifications would be operationally challenging and costly to implement. In light of these privacy and operational concerns, the Bureau is not proposing this approach at this time, but invites comment on it.

    68See supra note 53.

    The Bureau seeks comment on all aspects of its analysis and the modifications it proposes to apply to the public loan-level HMDA dataset under the balancing test. The Bureau notes that, even after it finalizes this Policy Guidance, it intends to continue to monitor developments affecting the application of the balancing test to the HMDA data. The privacy landscape is constantly evolving, and risks to applicant and borrower privacy created by the disclosure of loan-level HMDA data may change as the result of technological advances and other external developments. For example, a new source of publicly available records may become available, increasing or decreasing privacy risks under the balancing test, or the Bureau may discover evidence suggesting that individuals are using the HMDA data in unforeseen, potentially harmful ways. Potential uses of the loan-level HMDA data in furtherance of the statute's purposes may also evolve, such that the benefits associated with the disclosure of certain data may increase to an extent that justifies providing more information to the public. For example, a new loan program may emerge with debt-to-income ratio requirements that increase the benefits of releasing more precise information about the debt-to-income ratios of applicants or borrowers than the Bureau proposes herein to release. Such developments and other changed circumstances may require that, even after this proposed Policy Guidance is finalized, the Bureau revisit the conclusions previously reached based on the application of the balancing test in order to ensure the appropriate protection of applicant and borrower privacy in light of HMDA's purposes.

    The Bureau is proposing this Policy Guidance to provide transparency, obtain public feedback, and improve the Bureau's decisionmaking. This proposed Policy Guidance and any final Policy Guidance concerning the public disclosure of loan-level HMDA data are non-binding in part because flexibility to revise the modifications proposed to apply to the public loan-level HMDA data is necessary to maintain a proper balancing of the privacy risks and benefits of disclosure, especially in the event the Bureau becomes aware of new facts and circumstances that might contribute to privacy risks. However, except where not practical, unnecessary, or where public interest requires otherwise, the Bureau intends to seek public input on any future revisions to modifications to the public loan-level HMDA it might consider.

    Data To Be Disclosed in the Loan-Level HMDA Data Without Modification

    As discussed above, the 2015 HMDA Final Rule requires financial institutions to report information about originations and purchases of mortgage loans, as well as mortgage loan applications that do not result in originations. The Bureau proposes to disclose the following data fields to the public as reported, without modification:69

    69 As mentioned above and discussed further below, the Bureau proposes not to disclose free-form text fields used in certain instances to report the following data: The name and version of the credit scoring model, race, ethnicity, reasons for denial, and AUS name.

    • The following information about applicants, borrowers, and the underwriting process: Income, sex, race, ethnicity, name and version of the credit scoring model, reasons for denial, and AUS name.

    • The following information about the property securing the loan: Census tract, State, county, occupancy type, construction method, manufactured housing secured property type, manufactured housing land property interest, and total units.

    • The following information about the application or loan: Loan term, loan type, loan purpose, application channel, whether the loan was initially payable to the financial institution, whether a preapproval was requested, action taken, type of purchaser, lien status, prepayment penalty term, introductory rate period, interest rate, rate spread, total loan costs or total points and fees, origination charges, total discount points, lender credits, HOEPA status, balloon payment, interest-only payment, negative amortization, other non-amortizing features, combined loan-to-value ratio, open-end line of credit flag, business or commercial flag, and reverse mortgage flag.

    • The following information about the lender: Legal Entity Identifier (LEI), and financial institution name.70

    70See 12 CFR 1003.4(a)(2)-(7), (a)(8)(i), a(9)(ii), (a)(10)(i), (a)(10)(iii), (a)(11)-(14), (a)(15)(i) (name of scoring model), (a)(16)-(22), (a)(24)-(27), (a)(29)-(33), (a)(35)(i) (name of system), (a)(36)-(38) (effective Jan. 1, 2018).

    Many of these data fields were adopted in the 2015 HMDA Final Rule, while several are already required to be reported under current Regulation C. All of the data fields required by current Regulation C listed above are currently disclosed as reported without modification in the modified loan/application register that each financial institution makes available to the public and in the agencies' loan-level release.71 For the reasons discussed below, the Bureau proposes to publicly disclose the data fields listed above without modification in the loan-level HMDA data and requests comment on its proposal.

    71 The only data fields excluded from the public loan-level HMDA data under current Regulation C are the identifying number for the loan or loan application, the application date, and the action taken date.

    With the exception of LEI, financial institution name, census tract, income, action taken (where the loan is denied), and reasons for denial, which are discussed further below, the Bureau believes that disclosure of the data fields listed above would likely present low risk to applicant and borrower privacy. First, the Bureau believes that, if the HMDA data were re-identified, disclosure of most of these data fields would likely create minimal, if any, risk of harm or sensitivity to applicants or borrowers. These fields include basic information about the features of the loan or the property securing the loan—such as the application channel, loan term, and lien status—rather than information about personal characteristics or financial condition of the applicant or borrower, and the Bureau believes that applicants and borrowers are unlikely to consider the disclosure of this information to be sensitive. Further, the Bureau is aware of no clear advantage provided by most of these data fields for targeted marketing of products and services that may pose risks that are not apparent. The Bureau believes that certain fields about the loan, such as the pricing data fields, and certain fields about the borrower, such as ethnicity and race, may create relatively more risk of harm or sensitivity, but that these fields still present low privacy risk. Second, the Bureau believes that disclosure of most of these data fields would likely create minimal, if any, risk of substantially facilitating the re-identification of applicants and borrowers in the HMDA data. Most of these data fields are not found in publicly available sources of records that contain the identity of an applicant or borrower; without such an identified publicly available record, an adversary would experience substantial difficulty attempting to re-identify an applicant or borrower by matching a HMDA record using these data fields. Certain data fields may create relatively more risk of re-identification because they contain values that are not widely shared among applicants or borrowers, such as an ethnic and racial category, but the Bureau believes these fields still present low re-identification risk.72 As described above, public disclosure of these low-risk data fields benefits users in determining whether financial institutions are serving the housing needs of their communities; in distributing public-sector investment so as to attract private investment to areas where it is needed; and in identifying possible discriminatory lending patterns and enforcing antidiscrimination statutes. To the extent that disclosure of these fields would create risk to applicant and borrower privacy, the Bureau believes the risks would be justified by the benefits of disclosure.

    72 Although the Bureau believes that ethnic and racial categories are not found in publicly available sources of identified records, comparing the ethnicity and race found in the HMDA record to the surname found in an identified public record may help an adversary narrow the range of public records against which to match a HMDA record. Information on surnames, in other contexts, has proven useful to proxy for ethnicity or race. The Bureau also believes that ethnicity and racial category may be more likely to be known by adversaries with personal knowledge of the applicant or borrower than other fields listed above. The Bureau seeks comment in particular on whether this risk is heightened with respect to disaggregated ethnicity and race and whether these disaggregated fields should be treated differently than aggregated ethnicity and race.

    The Bureau believes that disclosure of the following data fields listed above would likely substantially facilitate the re-identification of applicants or borrowers: LEI, financial institution name, and census tract. The Bureau believes that publicly available real estate transaction records such as mortgages and deeds of trust typically contain the identity of the borrower, the name of the financial institution, and the property address, from which an adversary may derive the census tract. Although the uniqueness of a HMDA record will vary by census tract, the Bureau believes that these data fields could be used by an adversary to match a HMDA record to an identified public record.

    The Bureau also believes that, if the HMDA data were re-identified, disclosure of the following data fields listed above would likely create a risk of harm or sensitivity: Income, action taken (where the loan is denied), and reasons for denial. These data fields are not otherwise available to the general public in an identified form without barriers to access or use restrictions.73 The Bureau believes that these data fields would likely be considered sensitive by many if not most consumers. Many consumers avoid sharing their incomes, even with personal acquaintances.74 The fact that a financial institution denied an application and some of the reasons for denial, such as employment history, credit history, debt-to-income ratio, or insufficient cash, could reveal negative details about a consumer's personal financial situation.75 The Bureau also believes that these data fields could be used for harmful purposes, such as targeted marketing of products and services that may pose risks that are not apparent.

    73 The Bureau believes that, although estimates of income may be available in private datasets, reliable income information typically is not available to the general public without barriers to access or use restrictions. The HMDA data will include the gross annual income relied on in making the credit decision, which may be more accurate.

    74 The Bureau believes that consumers may still consider income information to be sensitive even though it is rounded to the nearest thousand when reported by financial institutions.

    75 The Bureau notes that the fact that a loan was denied and the reasons for denial are reported only for applications that have been denied. As discussed above, the Bureau believes that the risk of re-identification of applicants where a loan is not originated is significantly lower than the risk to borrowers. Because these data fields are difficult to associate with an identified applicant or borrower, the Bureau believes that the risk of harm or sensitivity created by their disclosure is reduced.

    The Bureau nonetheless believes that these risks to applicant and borrower privacy are justified by the benefits of disclosure in light of HMDA's purposes. For years, these data fields have proven critical for furthering HMDA's purposes.76 For example, the ability to identify the financial institution by name is critical for users to evaluate the lending practices of a financial institution.77 The census tract is essential for users to determine the availability of credit in certain communities and to identify potentially discriminatory lending patterns at the community level. Information about income ensures that users who are evaluating potential disparities in underwriting or pricing are comparing applicants or borrowers with similar incomes, thereby controlling for a factor that might provide a legitimate explanation for such disparities. Income data can also allow users to determine the availability of credit to consumers and communities of various income levels. Finally, action taken and reasons for denial, combined with underwriting information, help users compare the outcomes received by applicants and borrowers to identify potential disparities between similarly qualified applicants. The reasons for denial also help users understand why a particular loan application was denied and identify potential barriers in access to credit.

    76 Several data fields adopted in the 2015 HMDA Final Rule are closely related to, or extensions of, data fields reported under current Regulation C. Specifically, the LEI will replace the current reporter's ID, and reasons for denial may currently be reported at the option of the financial institution. However, financial institutions supervised by the OCC and the FDIC currently are required by those agencies to report denial reasons. 12 CFR 27.3(a)(1)(i), 128.6, 390.147.

    77 The LEI would enhance identification by allowing users to link the reporting financial institution to its corporate family. If the financial institution name is publicly disclosed, the LEI creates minimal, if any, additional privacy risk.

    The Bureau believes that, under the balancing test, the benefits of public disclosure of these data fields to HMDA's purposes would justify the risks to applicant and borrower privacy such disclosure would likely create. In forming its proposal to publicly disclose these data fields without modification, the Bureau considered modifications that would reduce the risks to applicant and borrower privacy while preserving the benefits of disclosure. However, with the exception of income and census tract, which have for years proven critical for furthering HMDA's purposes, no modifications other than exclusion from the public loan-level HMDA data are reasonably available for these data fields. Therefore, modification in these circumstances would eliminate public utility of these data fields entirely. The Bureau seeks comment on its proposal to publicly disclose these fields without modification in the loan-level HMDA data.

    Data To Be Excluded or Otherwise Modified in the Loan Level HMDA Data Universal Loan Identifier

    The 2015 HMDA Final Rule requires financial institutions to report a universal loan identifier (ULI) for each covered loan or application that can be used to identify and retrieve the application file.78 The 2015 HMDA Final Rule sets forth detailed requirements concerning the ULI to be assigned and reported.79 A ULI must begin with the financial institution's LEI, followed by up to 23 additional characters to identify the covered loan or application, and then end with a two-character check digit calculated according to the methodology prescribed in appendix C of the 2015 HMDA Final Rule.80 In addition, a ULI must be unique within the institution and must not contain any information that could be used to directly identify the application or borrower.81 Institutions reporting a loan for which a ULI was previously assigned and reported must report the ULI that was previously assigned and reported for the loan. The ULI will be submitted as an alphanumeric field.82 The requirement to report a ULI replaces the requirement under current Regulation C that a financial institution report an identifying number for the loan or loan application.83 The loan or loan application number is currently excluded from both the modified loan/application register that each financial institution makes available to the public and the agencies' loan-level release. The Bureau added the requirement to report a ULI to implement the Dodd-Frank Act's amendment to HMDA providing for the collection and reporting of, “as the Bureau may determine to be appropriate, a universal loan identifier.” 84

    78 12 CFR 1003.4(a)(1)(i) (effective January 1, 2018).

    79Id.

    80 12 CFR 1003.4(a)(1)(i)(A) through (C).

    81 12 CFR 1003.4(a)(1)(i)(B)(3).

    82 Bureau of Consumer Fin. Prot., “Filing instructions guide for HMDA data collected in 2018—OMB Control #3170-0008,” at 14, 48 (Jan. 2017), available at http://www.consumerfinance.gov/data-research/hmda/static/for-filers/2018/2018-HMDA-FIG.pdf.

    83See 12 CFR 1003.4(a)(1).

    84 12 U.S.C. 2803(b)(6)(G).

    For the reasons given below, the Bureau believes that, depending on how financial institutions will use ULIs once they are adopted for HMDA purposes, disclosing the ULI in the loan-level HMDA data could substantially facilitate the re-identification of an applicant or borrower and that this risk would not be justified by the benefits of the disclosure. Therefore, until information is available concerning how financial institutions use ULIs other than for HMDA purposes, the Bureau proposes to modify the loan-level HMDA dataset made available to the public by excluding the ULI.

    A ULI would allow users to track over time a loan reported in HMDA data by different financial institutions. Using a ULI, a user could identify a loan originated by a HMDA reporter that is later purchased by another HMDA reporter, then sold and purchased again by yet another HMDA reporter. Understanding a loan's history would assist in identifying whether financial institutions are serving the housing needs of their communities. Widespread adoption of ULIs to identify mortgage loans in other datasets also could allow users to track a loan from “cradle to grave,” i.e., to link information disclosed in the public HMDA data with information found in other datasets, such as datasets reflecting loan performance.

    The Bureau believes that, depending on how financial institutions use ULIs other than for HMDA purposes, public disclosure of a ULI in the loan-level HMDA data could create a significant risk of re-identification. If financial institutions include ULIs on loan documents that are made publicly available, the Bureau believes that disclosure of the ULI in the public loan-level HMDA data would substantially facilitate the re-identification of HMDA records. As discussed above, many jurisdictions publicly disclose real estate transaction records in an identified form, such as mortgages and deeds of trust, and the Bureau believes that many financial institutions include loan numbers on these publicly-recorded documents.85 The Bureau believes that financial institutions may replace the loan numbers currently assigned to mortgage loans with ULIs 86 and that, if they do, the ULI likely will be included on publicly-recorded loan documents. Especially in light of the uniqueness of a ULI, a ULI on a publicly-recorded loan document could be used to match a HMDA record to an identified public record directly and reliably.

    85 For example, in response to concerns about implications under the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA) of the “longstanding common practice for a mortgage lender to place the borrower's account number on a mortgage loan document to enable the document to be tracked and place in the proper file once the document is recorded and returned from the recording office,” Federal regulators issued guidance in 2001 opining that such practice does not violate the GLBA. See Letter from Fed. Reserve Board, Fed. Dep. Ins. Corp., Nat'l Credit Union Admin., Off. of the Comptroller of the Currency, Off. of Thrift Supervision, and Fed. Trade Comm'n (Sept. 4, 2001).

    86 In response to comments, the Bureau noted in the supplementary information to the 2015 HMDA Final Rule that a financial institution may use a ULI for both HMDA purposes and the loan identification number prescribed by Regulation Z § 1026.37(a)(12). 80 FR 66128, 66177 (Oct. 28, 2015).

    The Bureau notes that the FFIEC excluded identifying numbers for loans and applications from the agencies' loan-level HMDA data release because the data field could be used to identify an applicant or borrower in the data.87 Similarly, Congress later identified applicant “identification number” as a field that the Board should consider deleting from the modified loan/application register in order to protect the privacy of applicants and borrowers.88 In implementing this amendment to HMDA, the Board required that financial institutions remove “application or loan number” from the modified loan/application register before making it available to the public.89

    87 The FFIEC noted that “[a]n unedited form of the data would contain information that could be used to identify individual loan applicants” and that the data would be edited prior to public release to remove the application identification number, the date of application, and the date of final action. 55 FR 27886, 27888 (July 6, 1990).

    88 HMDA section 304(j), added by the Housing and Community Development Act, section 932(a), 106 Stat. 3672, 3889 (1992).

    89 12 CFR 1003.5(c).

    The Bureau believes that a ULI would disclose minimal, if any, information about an applicant or borrower that may be harmful or sensitive. A ULI is associated with a particular application or loan. As noted above, the 2015 HMDA Final Rule prohibits a financial institution from including in a ULI assigned to an application or loan information about the applicant or borrower that could be used to directly identify the applicant or borrower. Commentary to this provision clarifies that “information that could be used to directly identify the applicant or borrower includes but is not limited to the applicant's or borrower's name, date of birth, Social Security number, official government-issued driver's license or identification number, alien registration number, government passport number, or employer or taxpayer identification number.” 90 Although the Bureau believes that financial institutions may include information within a ULI that is pertinent to the institution's operations, as some do now with respect to loan numbers, it does not believe that such information would be considered sensitive or could be used for harmful purposes.

    90 Comment 4(a)(1)(i)-2 (effective Jan. 1, 2018).

    The Bureau has considered whether a modification to the public loan-level HMDA dataset other than exclusion of the ULI would appropriately reduce the privacy risks created by the disclosure of the ULI in the loan-level data while maintaining some utility for HMDA's purposes. For example, the Bureau has considered whether it could, in the loan-level HMDA data disclosed to the public, replace the reported ULI with a different unique number, such as a hashed value.91 The Bureau also has considered whether it might use some other means to link HMDA records sharing the same ULI without revealing the ULI itself. The Bureau is unable to identify a feasible modification at this time, however. The Bureau believes at this time that, under the balancing test, excluding the ULI is a modification to the public loan-level HMDA data that appropriately balances the risks to applicant and borrower privacy and the benefits of disclosure. The Bureau seeks comment on this proposal.

    91 A hashed value would be based on the ULI and created by a secure hash algorithm. A hash algorithm is designed to be non-invertible, meaning that the original value, in this case the actual ULI, could not be derived from the hashed value. The hashed value would only appear in the HMDA data; as it would not appear in public records, it could not be used to re-identify the HMDA record.

    Application Date

    The 2015 HMDA Final Rule requires financial institutions to report, except for purchased covered loans, the date the application was received or the date shown on the application form.92 This date will be submitted by financial institutions as the exact year, month, and day, in the format of YYYYMMDD.93 Financial institutions are required to report this data field under current Regulation C. The Board amended Regulation C in 1989 to require reporting of the date the application was received as part of its implementation of the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery, and Enforcement Act of 1989 (FIRREA), which expanded HMDA to include data on applications, as well as data on the race, gender, and income of individual applicants and borrowers.94 The application date is currently excluded from both the modified loan/application register that each financial institution makes available to the public and the agencies' loan-level release.95

    92 12 CFR 1003.4(a)(1)(ii) (effective Jan. 1, 2018).

    93Supra note 83 at 49.

    94 Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery, and Enforcement Act, Public Law 101-73, section 1211, 103 Stat. 183, 524-26 (1989); 54 FR 51356 (Dec. 15, 1989).

    95See 12 U.S.C. 2803(j)(2)(B)(i); 12 CFR 1003.5(c).

    For the reasons given below, the Bureau believes that disclosing the application date in the loan-level HMDA data released to the public would likely substantially facilitate the re-identification of an applicant or borrower and that this risk would not be justified by the benefits of the disclosure. Therefore, the Bureau proposes to modify the loan-level HMDA data made available to the public by excluding the date the application was received.

    The application date may be useful for identifying possible discriminatory lending patterns and enforcing antidiscrimination statutes. In enacting the FIRREA amendments to HMDA, Congress sought to improve the ability of HMDA users to identify possible discriminatory lending patterns by expanding HMDA to allow for comparison of accepted and rejected applications.96 The date of application furthered the purposes underlying this expansion. The application date helps ensure that users are comparing applicants or borrowers who applied for loans during similar dates, thereby controlling for factors that might provide a legitimate explanation for disparities, such as different market interest rates over different time periods. Users of HMDA data may also use the application date, in combination with the action taken date, to screen for delays between application and action dates that appear to exist on prohibited bases.

    96 H. Rept. 101-209, at 463-65 (1989).

    The Bureau believes that public disclosure of application date would likely substantially facilitate the re-identification of an applicant or borrower in the HMDA data. Disclosing the date of application would increase the ability of an adversary to associate a HMDA record with an applicant or borrower by matching it to an identified publicly available record. As discussed above, many jurisdictions publicly disclose real estate transaction records in an identified form, such as mortgages or deeds of trust. These records contain the date that the lender and borrower entered into or executed the agreement. This date is correlated with the application date data field, which reflects either the date the application was received or the date shown on the application form. Therefore, an adversary could use the date of application, combined with other data fields, to narrow the range of identified public records against which to compare the HMDA data, increasing the likelihood of matching records.

    The Bureau notes that the FFIEC excluded the application date from the agencies' loan-level HMDA data release because the data field could be used to re-identify a particular applicant or borrower in the data.97 Similarly, when Congress directed that the Board require deletions from the loan-level HMDA data financial institutions must make available to the public to protect the privacy of applicants and borrowers, it identified the application date in particular as one field to be considered for deletion.98

    97 The FFIEC noted that “[a]n unedited form of the data would contain information that could be used to identify individual loan applicants” and that the data would be edited prior to public release to remove the application identification number, the date of application, and the date of final action. 55 FR 27886, 27888 (July 6, 1990).

    98 Housing and Community Development Act, Public Law 102-550, section 932(a), 106 Stat. 3672, 3889 (1992).

    If the HMDA data were re-identified, the Bureau believes that application date would likely disclose minimal, if any, information about an applicant or borrower that may be harmful or sensitive. Application date is not an inherently sensitive data field. Unlike other dates, such as date of birth, the date of application contains no intrinsic connection to an individual. Instead, the information is associated with an applicant or borrower for only a single transaction in the context of mortgage lending. Further, the Bureau believes that the date of application would be unlikely to be used for targeted marketing of products and services that may pose risks that are not apparent.

    HMDA data is disclosed annually based on the calendar year in which action is taken on an application. Although the Bureau proposes not to disclose the application date, the year of the loan-level HMDA data will often correspond to the year in which the application was received. The Bureau considered binning the values reported for the application date into quarterly or semi-annual intervals. However, the Bureau believes that quarterly intervals would fail to reduce re-identification risk adequately and that, compared to not disclosing application date, the gains in data utility that semi-annual intervals might allow do not justify the increase in privacy risk. Disclosing the date of application in quarterly intervals would provide an individual with a narrower range of identified public records against which to compare the HMDA data.99 And although disclosing application dates in semi-annual intervals would reduce re-identification risk as compared to quarterly intervals, the Bureau believes it would only marginally increase the utility over the current, annual intervals while still increasing privacy risk. Users would need a narrower range to help ensure that they were comparing applicants who applied under similar market conditions. The Bureau believes at this time that, under the balancing test, excluding the application date is a modification to the public loan-level HMDA data that appropriately balances the risks to applicant and borrower privacy and the benefits of disclosure. The Bureau seeks comment on this proposal.

    99 The Bureau previously identified quarterly release of the loan-level HMDA data as a potential privacy concern. 80 FR 66128, 66243 (Oct. 28, 2015).

    Loan Amount

    The 2015 HMDA Final Rule requires financial institutions to report the amount of the covered loan or the amount applied for.100 For closed-end mortgage loans, open-end lines of credit, and reverse mortgages, this amount is the amount to be repaid as disclosed on the legal obligation, the amount of credit available to the borrower, and the initial principal limit, respectively. The loan amount will be submitted by financial institutions in numeric form reflecting the exact dollar amount of the loan.101 Financial institutions are required to report this data field under current Regulation C rounded to the nearest thousand.102 Although HMDA has always required financial institutions to report information about the dollar amount of a financial institution's mortgage lending activity,103 the Board amended Regulation C in 1989 to require reporting of the loan amount on a loan-level basis as part of its implementation of FIRREA.104

    100 12 CFR 1003.4(a)(7) (effective Jan. 1, 2018).

    101Supra note 83, at 51.

    102 12 CFR 1003, Appendix A, I.A.20.

    103 12 U.S.C. 2803

    104 12 U.S.C. 2803

    For the reasons given below, the Bureau believes that disclosing the loan amount in the loan-level HMDA data released to the public would likely substantially facilitate the re-identification of an applicant or borrower and that this risk would not be justified by the benefits of the disclosure. Therefore, the Bureau proposes to modify the loan-level HMDA dataset disclosed to the public by disclosing the midpoint for the $10,000 interval into which the reported loan amount falls and by indicating whether the loan amount exceeds the applicable dollar amount limitation on the original principal obligation in effect at the time of application or origination as provided under 12 U.S.C. 1717(b)(2) and 12 U.S.C. 1454(a)(2) (“GSE conforming loan limit”).105 For example, for a reported loan amount of $117,834, the Bureau would disclose $115,000 as the midpoint between values equal to $110,000 and less than $120,000.

    105 The dollar amount limitation on the original principal obligation as provided under 12 U.S.C. 1717(b)(2) and 12 U.S.C. 1454(a)(2) refers to the annual maximum principal loan balance for a mortgage acquired by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (the “GSEs”). The Federal Housing Finance Agency is responsible for determining the maximum conforming loan limits for mortgages acquired by the GSEs. See Press Release, Fed. Hous. Fin. Agency, “FHFA Announces Increase in Maximum Conforming Loan Limits for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in 2017” (Nov. 23, 2016) https://www.fhfa.gov/Media/PublicAffairs/Pages/FHFA-Announces-Increase-in-Maximum-Conforming-Loan-Limits-for-Fannie-Mae-and-Freddie-Mac-in-2017.aspx.

    The loan amount is useful for determining whether financial institutions are serving the housing needs of their communities. By examining loan amount, users can better understand the amount of credit that financial institutions have made available to consumers in certain communities and the extent to which such institutions are providing credit in varying amounts. Loan amount is also beneficial for identifying possible discriminatory lending patterns and enforcing antidiscrimination statutes. For example, the loan amount allows users to divide the population of applicants or borrowers into segments that may be subject to different underwriting or pricing policies, such as those applying for non-conforming mortgage loans. Combined with the property value, the loan amount would also allow users to calculate a loan-to-value ratio, an important variable in underwriting. The loan amount and loan-to-value ratio would help ensure that users who are evaluating potential disparities in underwriting outcomes, pricing, or other terms and conditions are comparing applicants or borrowers who applied for or obtained loans with similar loan amount and loan-to-value ratios, thereby controlling for factors that might provide a legitimate explanation for disparities.

    The Bureau believes that disclosing the exact loan amount would likely substantially facilitate the re-identification of an applicant or borrower. The loan amount is a numeric data field that will often consist of at least six digits, which increases its contribution to the uniqueness of a particular HMDA record. As discussed above, this information is also found in identified real estate transaction records such as mortgages and deeds of trust that are publicly disclosed by many jurisdictions. Therefore, in many cases, an adversary could use the exact loan amount, combined with other fields, to match a HMDA record to an identified publicly available record.

    If the HMDA data were re-identified, the Bureau believes that loan amount would likely disclose minimal, if any, information about an applicant or borrower that may be harmful or sensitive. In some cases, high loan amounts, combined with other information, may be considered sensitive or may indicate financial vulnerability that could form the basis for targeted marketing of products and services that may pose risks that are not apparent. The loan amount may also at least theoretically be used for phishing attacks. However, the Bureau believes that loan amount is often already included in identified publicly available documents, such as the mortgage or deed of trust. The Bureau believes that this existing public availability decreases any potential sensitivity and harmfulness of disclosing loan amount in the HMDA data.

    The Bureau believes that the loan-level HMDA data may be modified to appropriately reduce the privacy risks created by the public disclosure of the loan amount while preserving much of the benefits of the data field. The Bureau believes that disclosing the midpoint for the $10,000 interval into which the reported loan amount falls, and indicating whether the loan amount exceeds the applicable GSE conforming loan limit, provides enough precision to allow users to rely on loan amount to achieve HMDA's purposes. For example, $10,000 intervals will allow users to segment applicants and borrowers that may be subject to different underwriting or pricing policies. In fact, for intervals that include the applicable GSE conforming loan limit, an indication of whether the loan amount is above the applicable limit may provide greater precision than is provided by the loan-level HMDA data currently disclosed to the public, in which certain loan amounts above and below the applicable limit will round to the same thousand. $10,000 intervals will not allow users to calculate an exact loan-to-value ratio, although users may still derive an estimated loan-to-value ratio. However, the Bureau believes that releasing the combined loan-to-value ratio, as it proposes to do, will be more beneficial for fair lending purposes than the loan-to-value ratio that users would have calculated from the exact loan amount and property value. Disclosing loan amount in $10,000 intervals also decreases the ability of adversaries to match HMDA data to identified public records by reducing the uniqueness of a data field common to both datasets. Because the Bureau is also proposing to modify reported property value similarly, adversaries will be unable to use the combined loan-to-value ratio to reduce the effectiveness of the proposed modification by deriving the reported loan amount. Although the proposed modifications do not entirely eliminate the risk of re-identification that the Bureau believes would likely be created by the disclosure of loan amount information, the Bureau believes that the remaining risk would be justified by the benefits of disclosing loan amount with the proposed modifications.

    Therefore, the Bureau believes at this time that, under the balancing test, modifying loan amount as described above appropriately balances the privacy risks and disclosure benefits. The Bureau seeks comment on this proposal, including the proposed $10,000 intervals to be used for binning, the proposal to disclose the midpoint for each interval, and the proposal to indicate whether the reported loan amount exceeds the applicable GSE conforming loan limit. Additionally, the Bureau seeks comment on whether to indicate that a reported loan amount exceeds the applicable limit for loans eligible for insurance by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA conforming loan limit).106 Factors not reflected in the HMDA data may affect the accuracy of any such indicator, such as whether the loan amount has been increased by the amount of any one-time or up-front mortgage insurance premium that will be financed as part of the loan, in which case the loan may be eligible for insurance despite appearing in the HMDA data to exceed the applicable FHA conforming loan limit.107 The Bureau seeks comment on the value of indicating whether the reported loan amount exceeds the FHA conforming loan limit in light of these limitations.

    106See 24 CFR 203.18.

    107 24 CFR 203.18c.

    Action Taken Date

    The 2015 HMDA Final Rule requires financial institutions to report the date of action taken by the financial institution on a covered loan or application.108 For originated loans, this date is generally the date of closing or account opening.109 Regulation C provides some flexibility in reporting the date for other types of actions taken, such as applications denied, withdrawn, or approved by the institution but not accepted by the applicant. For example, for applications approved but not accepted, a financial institution may report “any reasonable date, such as the approval date, the deadline for accepting the offer, or the date the file was closed,” provided it adopts a generally consistent approach.110 This date is submitted by financial institutions as the exact year, month, and day, in the format of YYYYMMDD.111 Financial institutions are required to report this data field under current Regulation C. As with the application date, the Board added the requirement to report the action taken date as part of the amendments to Regulation C that implemented FIRREA.112 The action taken date is also currently excluded from both the modified loan/application register that each financial institution makes available to the public and the agencies' loan-level release.113

    108 12 CFR 1003.4(a)(8)(ii) (effective Jan. 1, 2018).

    109 Comment 4(a)(8)(ii)-5 (effective Jan. 1, 2018).

    110 Comment 4(a)(8)(ii)-4 (effective Jan. 1, 2018).

    111Supra note 83, at 52.

    112 54 FR 51356 (Dec. 15, 1989).

    113See 12 U.S.C. 2803(j)(2)(B)(i); 12 CFR 1003.5(c).

    For the reasons given below, the Bureau believes that disclosing the action taken date in the loan-level HMDA data released to the public would likely substantially facilitate the identification of an applicant or borrower and that this risk would not be justified by the benefits of the disclosure. Therefore, the Bureau proposes to modify the loan-level HMDA dataset made available to the public by excluding the date of action taken by the financial institution.

    The action taken date may be useful for identifying possible discriminatory lending patterns and enforcing antidiscrimination statutes. The fair lending benefits provided by the date of action taken are similar to those provided by the date of application, described above. The action taken date helps ensure that users who are evaluating potential disparities in pricing or other terms and conditions are comparing applicants or borrowers who obtained loans on similar dates, thereby controlling for factors that might provide a legitimate explanation for such disparities, such as different market interest rates or different institutional practices over different time periods. Users of HMDA data may also use the date of action taken, in combination with application date, to screen for delays between application and action dates that appear to exist on prohibited bases.

    The Bureau believes that disclosing the action taken date would likely substantially facilitate the re-identification of an applicant or borrower in the HMDA data. Disclosing the action taken date would increase the ability of an adversary to associate a HMDA record with an individual by matching it to an identified publicly available record. As explained above, many jurisdictions publicly disclose real estate transaction records in an identified form, such as mortgages or deeds of trust. These records contain the date that the lender and borrower entered into or executed the agreement, which, like the application date, is closely correlated with the action taken date. Indeed, because the action taken date for originated loans is generally the date of closing or account opening, in most cases these dates will be identical. Therefore, in many cases, an adversary could use the action taken date, combined with other data fields, to match a HMDA record to an identified public record.

    The Bureau notes that, as with the application date, the FFIEC excluded the action taken date from the agencies' loan-level HMDA data release because the data field could be used to re-identify a particular applicant or borrower in the data.114 Similarly, Congress later identified the action taken date as one field that the Board should consider deleting from the modified loan/application register to protect the privacy of applicants and borrowers.115

    114 The FFIEC noted that “[a]n unedited form of the data would contain information that could be used to identify individual loan applicants” and that the data would be edited prior to public release to remove the application identification number, the date of application, and the date of final action. 55 FR 27886, 27888 (July 6, 1990).

    115 Housing and Community Development Act, Public Law 102-550, section 932(a), 106 Stat. 3672, 3889 (1992).

    If the HMDA data were re-identified, the Bureau believes that, similar to the application date, the action taken date would likely disclose minimal, if any, information about an applicant or borrower that may be harmful or sensitive. As with the application date, the action taken date is not an inherently sensitive data field; it is associated with an applicant or borrower for only a single transaction in the context of mortgage lending and does not reflect an intrinsic connection to an individual. Further, the Bureau believes that the action taken date would be unlikely to be used for targeted marketing of products and services that pose risks that may not be apparent.

    Although the Bureau proposes not to disclose the action taken date, the loan-level data will disclose the year in which final action was taken. As with application date, the Bureau considered binning the values reported for action taken date into quarterly or semi-annual intervals. However, the Bureau believes that quarterly intervals would fail to reduce re-identification risk adequately and that, compared to not disclosing action taken date, the gains in data utility that semi-annual intervals might allow do not justify the increase in privacy risk. Disclosing the action taken date in quarterly intervals would still provide an individual with a narrow range of identified public records against which to compare the HMDA data. And although disclosing action taken dates in semi-annual intervals would reduce re-identification risk as compared to quarterly intervals, it would only marginally increase the utility over the current, annual intervals, while still increasing privacy risk. Users would need a narrower range to help ensure that they were comparing borrowers who obtained loans under similar market conditions. The Bureau believes at this time that, under the balancing test, excluding action taken date is a modification to the public loan-level HMDA data that appropriately balances the risks to applicant and borrower privacy and the benefits of disclosure.116 The Bureau seeks comment on this proposal.

    116 However, as described above, the year of the loan-level HMDA data will disclose the year in which the action was taken. With respect to quarterly release of the HMDA data, the Bureau stated in the 2015 HMDA Final Rule that, based on its analysis to date, “disclosure of loan-level data with more granular date information than year of final action would create risks to applicant and borrower privacy that are not outweighed by the benefits of such disclosure.” 80 FR 66128, 66243 n.389 (Oct. 28, 2015).

    Property Address

    The 2015 HMDA Final Rule requires financial institutions to report the address of the property securing the loan or, in the case of an application, proposed to secure the loan.117 This address corresponds to the property identified on the legal obligation related to the covered loan.118 The format of the property address submitted by financial institutions will include, as applicable, the street address, city name, State name, and zip code.119 Financial institutions are not required to report this data field under current Regulation C. The Bureau added the requirement to report property address in the 2015 HMDA Final Rule to implement the Dodd-Frank Act's amendment to HMDA providing for the collection and reporting of, “as the Bureau may determine to be appropriate, the parcel number that corresponds to the real property pledged or proposed to be pledged as collateral.” 120

    117 12 CFR 1003.4(a)(9)(i) (effective Jan. 1, 2018).

    118 Comment 4(a)(9)(i)-1 (effective Jan. 1, 2018). For applications “the address should correspond to the location of the property proposed to secure the loan as identified by the applicant.”

    119 Comment 4(a)(9)(i)-2 (effective Jan. 1, 2018).

    120 12 U.S.C. 2803(b)(6)(H).

    For the reasons given below, the Bureau believes that disclosing the property address in the loan-level HMDA data released to the public would substantially facilitate the re-identification of an applicant or borrower and that this risk would not be justified by the benefits of the disclosure. Therefore, the Bureau proposes to modify the loan-level HMDA dataset made available to the public by excluding the property address.

    The address of the property securing the loan would be useful for identifying possible discriminatory lending patterns. With the exact property address, users could examine these patterns at a finer level of detail than that permitted by the census tract or other geographic boundaries. More precise geographic identification would also better allow public officials to target geographic areas that might benefit from public or private sector investment. Users could also better determine whether financial institutions are serving the housing needs of their communities with information that would enable identification of specific neighborhoods and communities smaller than census tracts. Finally, the property address would allow users to understand better the amount of equity retained in that property over time by tracking multiple liens associated with the same dwelling. This information would help identify communities with overleveraged properties.

    The Bureau believes that disclosure of the property address itself would likely present minimal, if any, risk of harm or sensitivity. Property owners' addresses are generally widely publicly available.121 As explained above, the Bureau considers this public availability to reduce the risk of harm and sensitivity from the release of this data field. However, the Bureau believes that the widespread availability of property addresses creates a significant risk of re-identification. The Bureau believes that adversaries could easily match the property address contained in the HMDA data to identified publicly available property address information. Property addresses are publicly available through a number of sources, including real estate transaction records, property tax records, reverse phone directories, online real estate databases, and online “people search” Web sites. Because the address disclosed under Regulation C typically would be identical to the address contained in these publicly available records, an adversary would know that any match was likely to be accurate. Therefore, disclosing the property address in the loan-level HMDA data would substantially facilitate the re-identification of an applicant or borrower. Further, even if disclosing the property address would not permit matching, the Bureau believes that the disclosure of the property address alone could be used in harmful ways. For example, disclosure of property address would allow an applicant or borrower to be targeted with marketing for products and services that may pose risks that are not apparent.

    121 The Bureau understands that some jurisdictions may allow borrowers to prevent their identities from being disclosed in public records, and some applicants or borrowers, such as victims of domestic violence, may hide their addresses to prevent certain individuals from locating them in person or to prevent other unwanted intrusions upon the sanctuary or seclusion of their homes.

    As an alternative to excluding the property address data field from the loan-level HMDA data released to the public, the Bureau considered releasing property address in a less granular form. For example, the Bureau could release geographic information that identifies the property securing the loan with less specificity. However, for most reportable transactions, Regulation C already requires reporting of three additional, less-precise geographic identifiers: (1) State; (2) county; and (3) census tract. As discussed above, the Bureau proposes to release these data fields without modification. Further, as discussed below in part IV.A, the Bureau proposes to identify in the public loan-level HMDA data the MSA or MD for each reported record. Other geographic identifiers exist with a level of precision between census tract and property address to which property addresses could be mapped, such as census block and census block group. However, the Bureau believes that these identifiers present similar re-identification risk to property address because they are sufficiently precise to enable an adversary to match them to publicly available property address information. The Bureau believes at this time that, under the balancing test, excluding property address is a modification to the public loan-level HMDA data that appropriately balances the risks to applicant and borrower privacy and the benefits of disclosure. The Bureau seeks comment on this proposal.

    Age

    The 2015 HMDA Final Rule requires financial institutions to report the age of an applicant or borrower.122 A financial institution complies with this requirement by reporting age, as of the application date reported, as the number of whole years derived from the date of birth as shown on the application form.123 The Bureau added the requirement in the 2015 HMDA Final Rule to report age to implement the Dodd-Frank Act's amendment to HMDA providing for the collection and reporting of age.124

    122 12 CFR 1003.4(a)(10)(ii) (effective Jan. 1, 2018).

    123 Comment 4(a)(1)(ii)-1 (effective Jan. 1, 2018).

    124 12 U.S.C. 2803(b)(4).

    For the reasons given below, the Bureau believes that disclosing the applicant or borrower age in the loan-level HMDA data released to the public would likely disclose information about the applicant or borrower that is not otherwise public and may be harmful or sensitive and that this risk would not be justified by the benefits of the disclosure. Therefore, the Bureau proposes to modify the loan-level HMDA dataset disclosed to the public by binning and top- and bottom-coding age and by indicating whether the reported value is 62 or higher.

    Applicant or borrower age would assist users in identifying possible discriminatory lending patterns and enforcing antidiscrimination statutes. Age would be useful to evaluate potential age discrimination in lending.125 Disclosure of applicant or borrower age also would assist in identifying whether financial institutions are serving the housing needs of their communities, including the needs of various age cohorts.

    125 For example, ECOA and Regulation B generally prohibit creditors from discriminating against applicants in credit transactions on the basis of age. 12 U.S.C. 1691(b)(1); 12 CFR 1002.4(a).

    The Bureau believes that, if the HMDA data were re-identified, disclosure of applicant or borrower age would likely reveal information about the applicant or borrower that is not otherwise public and may be harmful or sensitive. The Bureau believes that, although information about an individual's age may be available for purchase under some circumstances, birth and similarly reliable records reflecting age typically are not available to the general public without barriers to access or use restrictions. The Bureau believes that age likely would be considered sensitive by many if not most consumers and that disclosure of an identified applicant's or borrower's age could lead to dignity harm or embarrassment. The Bureau believes that many consumers would consider the disclosure of identified age to the general public to be outside of societal and cultural expectations. The Bureau also believes that identified age could be used to target marketing to applicants and borrowers, including marketing for products and services that may pose risks that are not apparent, and that the inclusion of this data field in the public loan-level HMDA data would increase the risk of such uses compared to today. The Bureau notes that in section 304(h)(3)(A), added by the Dodd-Frank Act, Congress specifically identified age as a data field to which a modification under section 304(h)(1)(E) should apply if the Bureau determines it to be necessary to protect the privacy interests of applicants or borrowers.126

    126 12 U.S.C. 2803(h)(3)(A)(ii).

    The Bureau believes that public disclosure in the loan-level HMDA dataset of unmodified applicant or borrower age may create some risk of facilitating the re-identification of applicants and borrowers in the HMDA data, but that this field likely would not substantially facilitate re-identification. For example, though information about an individual's age may be available for purchase under some circumstances, the Bureau believes that an adversary typically would face difficulty attempting to re-identify an applicant or borrower in the HMDA data by using age to match HMDA records to other identified records. An applicant's or borrower's age may be more likely to be known than other HMDA data by a person with pre-existing knowledge of a specific applicant or borrower, however, and may help such an adversary to re-identify a particular applicant or borrower.

    The Bureau believes that the loan-level HMDA data may be modified to appropriately reduce the privacy risks created by the public disclosure of age while preserving much of the benefits of the data field. The Bureau proposes to disclose age binned into the following ranges, as applicable: 25 to 34; 35 to 44; 45 to 54; 55 to 64; and 65 to 74. For example, a reported age of 52 would be shown in the public loan-level HMDA data as between 45 and 54. The Bureau also proposes to bottom-code age under 25 and to top-code age over 74. For example, a reported age of 22 would be shown in the public loan-level HMDA data as 24 or under. The Bureau proposes the particular intervals described above to allow HMDA data users to analyze HMDA data in combination with data found in other public data sources, such as U.S. Census Bureau data.127 Finally, the Bureau proposes to indicate whether a reported age is 62 or higher to enhance the utility of the data for identifying the particular fair lending risks that may be posed with regard to elderly populations. The Bureau recognizes that an effect of this indicator would be to divide the 55 to 64 bin into two bins, 55 to 61 and 62 to 64. The Bureau seeks comment on whether privacy risks created by such increased precision are justified by the benefits of disclosure in the proposed ranges. Specifically, the Bureau seeks comment on whether, instead of binning as proposed and indicating whether a reported age is 62 or higher, the Bureau should structure the bins to disclose reported ages of 55 to 74 in ranges of 55 to 61 and 62 to 74. The Bureau believes at this time that, under the balancing test, the proposed modifications to the public loan-level HMDA dataset would appropriately balance the risks to applicant and borrower privacy and the benefits of disclosure. The Bureau seeks comment on this proposal, including the proposal to bin age and the proposed intervals to be used for binning.

    127See, e.g., U.S. Census Bureau, “Age and Sex Composition: 2010,” at tbl. 2, available at https://www.census.gov/prod/cen2010/briefs/c2010br-03.pdf (disclosing age in five-year intervals, i.e., 25 to 29, 30 to 34, 35 to 40, etc.).

    Credit Score

    The 2015 HMDA Final Rule requires financial institutions to report, except for purchased covered loans, the credit score or scores relied on in making the credit decision and the name and version of the scoring model used to generate each credit score.128 It also provides that, for purposes of this requirement, “credit score” has the meaning set forth in section 609(f)(2)(A) of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).129 The credit score or scores relied on in making the credit decision will be submitted as a numeric field, e.g., 650.130 A financial institution will submit a code from a specified list to indicate the name and version of the scoring model used to generate each credit score reported.131 The Bureau added the requirement in the 2015 HMDA Final Rule to report information about the credit score or scores relied on to implement the Dodd-Frank Act's amendment to HMDA providing for the collection and reporting of “the credit score of mortgage applicants and mortgagors, in such form as the Bureau may prescribe.” 132

    128 12 CFR 1003.4(a)(15)(i) (effective Jan. 1, 2018).

    129 15 U.S.C. 1681g(f)(2)(A).

    130Supra note 83, at 62-63.

    131Supra note 83, at 63-64.

    132 12 U.S.C. 2803(b)(6)(I).

    For the reasons given below, the Bureau believes that disclosing the credit score or scores relied on in making the credit decision in the loan-level HMDA data released to the public would likely disclose information about the applicant or borrower that is not otherwise public and may be harmful or sensitive and that this risk would not be justified by the benefits of the disclosure. Therefore, the Bureau proposes to modify the public loan-level HMDA dataset by excluding the credit score or scores relied on in making the credit decision.133

    133 As noted above, the Bureau proposes to disclose without modification the reported name and version of the credit score model used.

    The credit score or scores relied on in making the credit decision would assist users in identifying possible discriminatory lending patterns and enforcing antidiscrimination statutes. Applicants' credit scores generally are considered to be important indicators of creditworthiness and are used in mortgage underwriting and pricing decisions. Disclosure of the credit score in the public loan-level HMDA data would help ensure that users are comparing applicants and borrowers with similar credit profiles, thereby controlling for factors that might provide a legitimate explanation for disparities in credit and pricing decisions. Credit scores would also assist in identifying whether financial institutions are serving the housing needs of their communities. For example, in order to serve the housing needs of particular communities, a financial institution may offer different types of loan products in communities with high numbers of borrowers with high credit scores than in communities with high numbers of borrowers with low credit scores.

    The Bureau believes that, if the HMDA data were re-identified, disclosure of the credit score relied on in making the credit decision would likely disclose information about the applicant or borrower that is not otherwise public and may be harmful or sensitive. A credit score is a numerical summary of a consumer's apparent creditworthiness, based on the consumer's credit report, and reflects the likelihood relative to other consumers that the consumer will default on a credit obligation. Identified consumer credit scores and the consumer reports upon which they are based are not available to the general public. To the extent credit scores based on consumer reports are available for commercial purposes, they may be obtained under limited circumstances and are subject to restrictions on their use.134 The Bureau believes that most consumers consider their credit score to be very sensitive information. The Bureau believes that public disclosure of an applicant's or borrower's identified credit score could lead to dignity or reputational harm or embarrassment, and that many consumers would consider the disclosure of identified credit scores to the general public to be outside of societal and cultural expectations. The Bureau also believes that an identified credit score could be used to target marketing to applicants and borrowers, including marketing for products and services that may pose risks that are not apparent, and that the inclusion of this data field in the public loan-level HMDA data would increase the risk of such uses compared to today.135 The Bureau notes that in section 304(h)(3)(A), added by the Dodd-Frank Act, Congress specifically identified credit score as a data field to which a modification under section 304(h)(1)(E) should apply if the Bureau determines it to be necessary to protect the privacy interests of applicants or borrowers.136

    134 Credit scores based on consumer credit reports are consumer reports for purposes of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). Accordingly, for example, they may be obtained from a consumer reporting agency only for a permissible purpose under the statute, such as in connection with an application for credit. See 12 U.S.C. 1681b(a).

    135 For example, a marketer currently may obtain from a consumer reporting agency a “prescreened” list of consumers meeting certain criteria, such as a minimum credit score, only for the purpose of making a “firm offer of credit or insurance.” 15 U.S.C. 1681b(c), 1681a(l).

    136 12 U.S.C. 2803(h)(3)(A)(i).

    The Bureau has considered the extent to which the age of the loan-level HMDA data at the time it is disclosed may reduce the risk of harm or sensitivity created by the public disclosure of credit score were the HMDA data to be re-identified. For example, as noted above, timely data are essential for most marketing or advertising efforts, and the delay between the date a reported credit score is obtained by the financial institutions and public disclosure of the loan-level HMDA data on the modified loan/application register ranges from to 3 to 15 months. An applicant's or borrower's credit score may change enough over these time periods to reduce the usefulness of a score disclosed in the public HMDA data for marketing purposes. However, the Bureau does not believe that the passage of these time periods would reduce the risk of sensitivity created by the disclosure of credit score. For example, the Bureau does not believe that a borrower would consider the disclosure of her identified six-month-old credit score to be much less sensitive than disclosure of her current credit score; the potential for dignity or reputational harm or embarrassment from a neighbor or other acquaintance learning the information remains significant.

    The Bureau believes that disclosure in the loan-level HMDA data of the credit score or scores relied on in making the credit decision creates minimal risk, if any, of substantially facilitating the re-identification of applicants and borrowers in the HMDA data. As discussed above, credit scores are not included in identified records available to the general public. A creditor or marketer may possess identified credit score information obtained in connection with, for example, an application for credit or a request for a prescreened list, but the Bureau does not believe that such information would be useful for purposes of re-identifying an applicant or borrower in the loan-level HMDA data. The variation in credit scoring models and versions, along with the likely difference in the dates that a credit score in the HMDA data and the credit score information in possession of a creditor or marketer were created, would make matching the credit score in loan-level HMDA data to such privately held information challenging and unreliable. The Bureau believes an adversary would face substantial difficulty attempting to re-identify an applicant or borrower by using credit score or scores relied on to match HMDA records to other identified records.

    The Bureau considered whether modifications to the public loan-level HMDA dataset other than excluding credit score, such as binning or rounding of credit score, would appropriately reduce the privacy risks created by the disclosure of credit score in the loan-level data while maintaining some utility for HMDA's purposes. However, the Bureau believes that these strategies would not appropriately reduce the risk of harm or sensitivity and that the gains in data utility that these strategies might allow would not justify the privacy risk created by the disclosure of the modified field. For example, the Bureau believes that, even if it were to disclose in the loan-level HMDA data the credit score for a particular record as being in one of two or three large bins, this information would still create a significant sensitivity risk if the record were re-identified. The Bureau believes that the utility to HMDA's purposes of such binned credit score information would not justify these risks. The Bureau believes at this time that, under the balancing test, excluding credit score is a modification to the public loan-level HMDA data that appropriately balances the risks to applicant and borrower privacy and the benefits of disclosure. The Bureau seeks comment on this proposal.

    Debt-to-Income Ratio

    The 2015 HMDA Final Rule requires financial institutions to report, except for purchased covered loans, the ratio of the applicant's or borrower's total monthly debt to the total monthly income relied on in making the credit decision (debt-to-income ratio).137 The debt-to-income ratio relied on in making the credit decision will be submitted as a percentage.138 The Bureau added the requirement in the 2015 HMDA Final Rule to report information about the debt-to-income ratio relied on using its discretionary authority to require the reporting of “such other information as the Bureau may require” provided by the Dodd-Frank Act's amendment to HMDA.139

    137 12 CFR 1003.4(a)(23) (effective Jan. 1, 2018).

    138Supra note 83, at 36, 38.

    139 HMDA section 304(b)(6).

    For the reasons given below, the Bureau believes that disclosing the debt-to-income ratio relied on in making the credit decision in the loan-level HMDA data released to the public would likely disclose information about the applicant or borrower that is not otherwise public and may be harmful or sensitive and that, for certain debt-to-income ratio values, this risk would not be justified by the benefits of the disclosure. Therefore, the Bureau proposes to modify the loan-level HMDA dataset by binning and top- and bottom-coding certain debt-to-income ratio values.

    The debt-to-income ratio relied on in making the credit decision would assist users in identifying possible discriminatory lending patterns and enforcing antidiscrimination statutes. Applicants' debt-to-income ratios generally are considered to be important indicators of ability to repay and are used in mortgage underwriting decisions and some pricing decisions. Disclosure of debt-to-income ratio in the public loan-level HMDA data would help ensure that users are comparing applicants and borrowers with similar profiles, thereby controlling for factors that might provide a legitimate explanation for disparities in credit and pricing decisions. Debt-to-income ratio values that are at or close to regulatory or program benchmarks are especially critical to identifying possible discriminatory lending patterns. These benchmarks include, for example, the 43 percent debt-to-income limit for a qualified mortgage under Regulation Z 140 and the debt-to-income ratio limits imposed by guarantors and investors.141 Disclosure of debt-to-income ratio also would assist in identifying whether financial institutions are serving the housing needs of their communities. For example, in order to serve the housing needs of particular communities, financial institutions may offer different types of loan products in communities with high numbers of borrowers with high debt-to-income ratios than in communities with high numbers of borrowers with low debt-to-income ratios.

    140 12 CFR 1026.43(e)(2)(vi).

    141See, e.g., Fannie Mae, “B3-6-02: Debt to Income Ratios,” (Aug. 30, 2016), available at https://www.fanniemae.com/content/guide/selling/b3/6/02.html.

    The Bureau believes that, if the HMDA data were re-identified, disclosure of an applicant's or borrower's debt-to-income ratio relied on in making the credit decision would likely disclose information about the applicant or borrower that is not otherwise public and may be harmful or sensitive. The debt-to-income ratio generally reflects the amount of an applicant's or borrower's monthly debt, including the payment for the mortgage loan sought or originated, relative to his or her monthly income. In addition, when combined with other information that the Bureau proposes to publicly disclose in the loan-level HMDA data, such as information about the mortgage loan sought or originated and applicant or borrower income relied on in making the credit decision, disclosure of debt-to-income ratio may permit a user to approximate the amount of the applicant's or borrower's monthly debt excluding mortgage debt. Information about a consumer's debt is not available to the general public without barriers to access and restrictions on use. The Bureau believes that most consumers consider information about their debt to be sensitive information and that the public disclosure of an identified applicant's or borrower's debt-to-income ratio, especially at higher ratios, could lead to dignity or reputational harm or embarrassment. The Bureau also believes that, especially with respect to higher or lower debt-to-income ratios, identified information about an identified applicant's or borrower's debt could be used to target marketing to the applicant or borrower, including marketing for products and services that may pose risks that are not apparent.

    The Bureau believes that disclosure in the loan-level HMDA data of the debt-to-income ratio relied on in making the credit decision creates minimal risk, if any, of substantially facilitating the re-identification of applicants and borrowers in the HMDA data. As mentioned above, information about a consumer's debts is not included in identified records available to the general public and, to the extent such information is available for commercial purposes, it generally may be obtained under limited circumstances and is subject to restrictions on its use. To the extent that a creditor possessed information about an applicant or borrower's debt or debt-to-income ratio, the Bureau does not believe that such information would be useful for purposes of re-identifying an applicant or borrower in the loan-level HMDA data. The variation in methods of calculating debt-to-income ratio along with changes in the ratio or the amount of debt over time would make using debt-to-income ratio in the public loan-level HMDA data to match to any privately held debt or debt-to-income ratio information challenging and unreliable. The Bureau believes an adversary would face substantial difficulty attempting to re-identify an applicant or borrower by using debt-to-income ratio or debt amount to match HMDA records to other identified records.

    The Bureau believes that disclosing unmodified debt-to-income ratio values in the loan-level HMDA data released to the public would create risks to applicant and borrower privacy but that, with respect to debt-to-income values greater than or equal to 40 percent and less than 50 percent, these risks would be justified by the benefits of disclosure to HMDA's purposes. Debt-to-income ratio values in this range are generally at or close to regulatory and guarantor and investor program benchmarks and are especially critical to identifying possible discriminatory lending patterns because they may reveal non-discriminatory explanations for differential treatment. Accordingly, the Bureau proposes to release reported debt-to-income values of greater than or equal to 40 percent and less than 50 percent without modification.

    With respect to all other debt-to-income ratio values, the Bureau believes that the risks to applicant and borrower privacy that would be created by the disclosure of the unmodified field likely would not be justified by the benefits of the disclosure, but that the loan-level HMDA data may be modified to appropriately reduce the privacy risks while preserving some of the benefits of the data field. The Bureau proposes to bin reported debt-to-income ratio values into the following ranges, as applicable: 20 percent to less than 30 percent; 30 percent to less than 40 percent; and 50 percent to less than 60 percent. For example, a reported debt-to-income ratio of 35 percent would be shown in the loan-level HMDA data disclosed to the public as a debt-to-income ratio of between 30 percent and less than 40 percent. The Bureau also proposes to bottom-code reported debt-to-income ratio values under 20 percent and to top-code reported debt-to-income ratios of 60 percent or higher. For example, a reported debt-to-income ratio of 63 percent would be shown in the public loan-level HMDA data as 61 percent or higher. The Bureau believes at this time that, under the balancing test, these modifications to the public loan-level HMDA data would appropriately balance the risks to applicant and borrower privacy and the benefits of disclosure.

    The Bureau has considered whether it should disclose debt-to-income ratio at or close to 36 percent without modification.142 It is the Bureau's understanding that, for many financial institutions, debt-to-income ratio of 36 percent serves as an internal underwriting benchmark, so that the ability to identify whether an applicant's debt-to-income ratio is above or below this value would help users seeking to identify possible discriminatory lending patterns to control for factors that might provide a legitimate explanation for disparities in credit or pricing decisions. The Bureau seeks comment on whether the benefits of disclosing more granular information concerning debt-to-income ratio values at or around 36 percent would justify the risks to applicant and borrower privacy such disclosure would likely create and how such information should be disclosed.

    142 For example, debt-to-income values of between 35 percent and 40 percent could be disclosed without modification, or the Bureau could indicate in the loan-level HMDA data disclosed to the public whether the reported debt-to-income ratio is 36 percent or higher.

    The Bureau seeks comment on this proposal, including both the proposal to bin and top- and bottom-code certain debt-to-income values and the proposed intervals to be used for binning.

    Property Value

    The 2015 HMDA Final Rule requires financial institutions to report the value of the property securing the covered loan or, in the case of an application, proposed to secure the covered loan.143 Financial institutions will report the value relied on in making the credit decision, such as an appraisal value or the purchase price of the property.144 The property value will be reported in numeric form reflecting the exact dollar amount of the value relied on.145 The Bureau added the requirement to report the property value relied on in the 2015 HMDA Final Rule to implement the Dodd-Frank Act's amendment to HMDA providing for the collection and reporting of the value of the real property pledged or proposed to be pledged as collateral.146

    143 12 CFR 1003.4(a)(28) (effective Jan. 1, 2018).

    144Id.

    145Supra note 83, at 71.

    146 Dodd-Frank Act section 1094(3)(A)(iv), 12 U.S.C. 2803(b)(6)(A).

    For the reasons given below, the Bureau believes that disclosing the property value in the loan-level HMDA data released to the public would likely substantially facilitate the re-identification of an applicant or borrower and that this risk would not be justified by the benefits of the disclosure. Therefore, the Bureau proposes to modify the loan-level HMDA data by disclosing the midpoint for the $10,000 interval into which the reported property value falls. For example, for a property value of $117,834, the Bureau would disclose $115,000 as the midpoint between values equal to $110,000 and less than $120,000.

    The property value data field would be useful for determining whether financial institutions are serving the housing needs of their communities. Users could better understand the values of properties for which financial institutions are (and are not) providing financing to consumers in certain communities. The property value, combined with the loan amount and combined loan-to-value ratio, can also be used to determine whether the property is subject to a second lien. Property value would also be beneficial for identifying possible discriminatory lending patterns and enforcing antidiscrimination statutes. Combined with the loan amount, the property value would allow users to calculate a loan-to-value ratio, an important variable in underwriting. The loan-to-value ratio would help ensure that users who are evaluating potential disparities in underwriting outcomes, pricing, or other terms and conditions are comparing applicants or borrowers who obtained or applied for loans with similar loan-to-value ratios, thereby controlling for factors that might provide a legitimate explanation for disparities.

    The Bureau believes that disclosing the exact property value would likely substantially facilitate the re-identification of an applicant or borrower. As with loan amount, property value is a numeric data field that will often consist of at least six digits, which increases its contribution to the uniqueness of a particular HMDA record. As discussed above, many jurisdictions publicly disclose property tax records or real estate transaction records in an identified form, such as mortgages or deeds of trust. These records contain estimates of property value or information that is closely related to property value. Although the value of the property reflected in these public records generally will not be identical to the property value relied on by the financial institution in making the credit decision, the Bureau believes that it may be close enough to permit matching. Therefore, in many cases, an adversary could use the exact property value, combined with other fields, to match a HMDA record to an identified publicly available record.

    If the HMDA data were re-identified, the Bureau believes that the property value would likely disclose minimal, if any, information about an applicant or borrower that may be harmful or sensitive. In some cases, the property value may be combined with other information to identify borrowers with high levels of equity, which information could be used to target borrowers with predatory lending offers. For most consumers, however, the Bureau believes that property value would be unlikely to be used for targeted marketing of products and services that pose risks that may not be apparent. Indeed, the Bureau believes that information about borrower equity is already available to many marketers and may be calculated or estimated from publicly available property tax or real estate transaction records that include loan amounts and property values, such as mortgages and real estate sales records. Estimates of property value are also available through online real estate databases.

    The Bureau believes that the loan-level HMDA data may be modified to appropriately reduce the privacy risks created by the public disclosure of the property value while preserving much of the benefits of the data field. The Bureau believes that disclosing the midpoint for the $10,000 interval into which the reported property value falls provides enough precision to allow users to rely on property value to achieve HMDA's purposes. For example, $10,000 intervals will provide general information about values of properties for which financial institutions are providing financing. Such intervals will not allow users to calculate an exact loan-to-value ratio, although users may still derive an estimated loan-to-value ratio. However, the Bureau believes that releasing the combined loan-to-value ratio, as it proposes to do, will be more beneficial for fair lending purposes than the loan-to-value ratio that users would have calculated from the exact loan amount and property value. Disclosing the midpoint for the $10,000 interval into which the reported property value falls also decreases the ability of adversaries to match HMDA data to identified public records by reducing the uniqueness of a data field common to both datasets. Because the Bureau is also proposing to bin loan amount similarly, adversaries will be unable to use the combined loan-to-value ratio to reduce the effectiveness of the proposed modification by deriving the reported property value. Although such modifications do not entirely eliminate the risk of re-identification, the Bureau believes that the remaining risk would be justified by the benefits of disclosing the property value in $10,000 intervals. Therefore, the Bureau believes at this time that, under the balancing test, modifying property value as described above appropriately balances the privacy risks and disclosure benefits. The Bureau seeks comment on this proposal, including both the proposed $10,000 intervals to be used for binning and the proposal to disclose the midpoint for each interval.

    Nationwide Mortgage Licensing System and Registry Identifier

    The 2015 HMDA Final Rule requires financial institutions to report “the unique identifier assigned by the Nationwide Mortgage Licensing System and Registry [NMLSR ID] for the mortgage loan originator, as defined in Regulation G, 12 CFR 1007.102, or Regulation H, 12 CFR 1008.23, as applicable.” 147 The NMLSR ID will be submitted by financial institutions in numeric form, such as 123450.148 The Bureau added the requirement to report the NMLSR ID in the 2015 HMDA Final Rule to implement the Dodd-Frank Act's requirement that financial institutions report, “as the Bureau may determine to be appropriate, a unique identifier that identifies the loan originator as set forth in section 1503 of the [Secure and Fair Enforcement for] Mortgage Licensing Act of 2008.” 149

    147 12 CFR 1003.4(a)(34) (effective Jan. 1, 2018).

    148Supra note 83, at 75.

    149  Dodd-Frank Act section 1094(3)(A)(iv), 12 U.S.C. 2803(b)(6)(F).

    For the reasons given below, the Bureau believes that disclosing the NMLSR ID in the loan-level HMDA data released to the public would likely substantially facilitate the re-identification of an applicant or borrower and that this risk would not be justified by the benefits of the disclosure. Therefore, the Bureau proposes to modify the loan-level HMDA data by excluding the NMLSR ID.

    The NMLSR ID would be useful for identifying possible discriminatory lending patterns and enforcing antidiscrimination statutes. The NMLSR ID would allow users to identify individual mortgage loan originators with primary responsibility over applications, originations, and purchased loans. This information would help public officials and members of the public to identify loan originators that are engaged in problematic business practices, which would provide a greater level of precision for understanding and correcting possible discriminatory lending patterns.

    The Bureau believes that disclosing the NMLSR ID would likely substantially facilitate the re-identification of an applicant or borrower in the HMDA data. The NMLSR ID is required to appear on various documents associated with the loan, including the security instrument.150 As explained above, many jurisdictions publicly disclose these real estate transaction records in an identified form. Although the NMLSR ID is not unique to an individual HMDA record, it is unique to the mortgage loan originator who is unlikely to be associated with many loans for which the other HMDA data fields are identical. Therefore, in many cases, an adversary could use the NMLSR ID, combined with other data fields, to match a HMDA record to an identified public record.

    150 12 CFR 1026.36(g).

    If the HMDA data were re-identified, the Bureau believes that the NMLSR ID would likely disclose minimal, if any, information about an applicant or borrower that may be harmful or sensitive. The Bureau understands that the NMLSR ID may allow users to determine information that loan originators may consider sensitive. However, as explained in the 2015 HMDA Final Rule, because the Dodd-Frank Act explicitly amended HMDA to add a loan originator identifier, while at the same time directing the Bureau to modify or require modification of itemized information “for the purpose of protecting the privacy interests of the mortgage applicants or mortgagors,” the Bureau believes it is reasonable to interpret HMDA as not requiring modifications of itemized information to protect the privacy interests of mortgage loan originators, and that that interpretation best effectuates the purposes of HMDA.151 Rather, under the balancing test, the Bureau evaluates the risks to applicant and borrower privacy interests and the benefits of public disclosure in light of the statutory purposes. Because the NMLSR ID conveys no sensitive information about applicants or borrowers, the Bureau believes that disclosure of this data field would create minimal, if any, risk of harm or sensitivity under the balancing test. However, because the Bureau believes that disclosing the NMLSR ID in the loan-level HMDA data released to the public would likely substantially facilitate the re-identification of an applicant or borrower and that this risk would not be justified by the benefits of the disclosure, the Bureau proposes not to disclose in the loan-level HMDA data the NMLSR ID.

    151 80 FR 66128, 66232 (Oct. 28, 2015).

    The Bureau has considered whether a modification to the public loan-level HMDA dataset other than exclusion of the NMLSR ID would appropriately reduce the privacy risks created by disclosure while maintaining some utility for HMDA's purposes. For example, as with the ULI, the Bureau has considered whether it could, in the loan-level HMDA data disclosed to the public, replace the NMLSR ID reported to the regulators with a different unique number, such as a hashed value. The Bureau is unable to identify a feasible modification at this time, however. The Bureau believes at this time that, under the balancing test, excluding the NMLSR ID is a modification to the public loan-level HMDA data that appropriately balances the risks to applicant and borrower privacy and the benefits of disclosure. The Bureau seeks comment on this proposal.

    Automated Underwriting System Result

    The 2015 HMDA Final Rule requires that, except for purchased covered loans, financial institutions report “the name of the automated underwriting system used by the financial institution to evaluate the application and the result generated by that automated underwriting system.” 152 The 2015 HMDA Final Rule defines “automated underwriting system” for the purposes of this requirement as “an electronic tool developed by a securitizer, Federal government insurer, or Federal government guarantor that provides a result regarding the credit risk of the applicant and whether the covered loan is eligible to be originated, purchased, insured, or guaranteed by that securitizer, Federal government insurer, or Federal government guarantor.” 153 A financial institution will submit a code from a specified list to indicate the result or results generated by the AUS or AUSs used.154 Up to five AUS names and five AUS results may be reported.155 The Bureau added these requirements in the 2015 HMDA Final Rule using its discretionary authority to require the reporting of “such other information as the Bureau may require” provided by the Dodd-Frank Act's amendment to HMDA.156

    152 12 CFR 1003.4(a)(35)(i) (effective Jan. 1, 2018).

    153 12 CFR 1003.4(a)(35)(ii) (effective Jan. 1, 2018).

    154Supra note 8, at 74-75. AUS result will be reported using the following codes: Code 1—Approve/Eligible; Code 2—Approve/Ineligible; Code 3—Refer/Eligible; Code 4—Refer/Ineligible; Code 5—Refer with Caution; Code 6—Out of Scope; Code 7—Error; Code 8—Accept; Code 9—Caution; Code 10—Ineligible; Code 11—Incomplete; Code 12—Invalid; Code 13—Refer; Code 14—Eligible; Code 15—Unable to Determine; Code 16—Other; Code 17—Not applicable. If the AUS result is not listed, the financial institution will submit code 16 for “other” and will report in a free-form text field the name and version of the scoring model used.

    155 Comment 4(a)(35)-3 (concerning reporting of multiple AUS results); supra note 83, at 37-39, 73.

    156 HMDA section 304(b)(6).

    For the reasons given below, the Bureau believes that disclosing in the loan-level HMDA data released to the public the AUS result field would likely disclose information about the applicant or borrower that is not otherwise public and may be harmful or sensitive and that this risk would not be justified by the benefits of the disclosure. Therefore, the Bureau proposes to modify the public loan-level HMDA dataset by excluding the AUS result field.157

    157 As discussed above, the Bureau proposes to disclose AUS name.

    The AUS result would assist users in identifying possible discriminatory lending patterns and enforcing antidiscrimination statutes. The AUS result would assist in understanding a financial institution's underwriting decision-making and would help ensure that users are comparing applicants and borrowers with similar profiles, thereby controlling for factors that might provide a legitimate explanation for disparities in credit and pricing decisions.

    The Bureau believes that, if the HMDA data were re-identified, disclosure of AUS result would likely disclose information about the applicant or borrower that is not otherwise public and may be harmful or sensitive. Applicants' AUS results are not available to the general public. An AUS result is based on a complex set of factors used to evaluate the credit risk associated with a loan. The traditional underwriting process often uses, among other things, loan-to-value ratio to evaluate collateral, credit score to evaluate creditworthiness and willingness to pay, and debt-to-income ratio to evaluate ability to pay. The result from an AUS reflects in a single indicator these and other factors used to evaluate the risk of the borrower and the eligibility of the loan to be purchased, insured, or guaranteed. The Bureau believes that, if a HMDA record were associated with an identifiable applicant or borrower, disclosure of a “negative” AUS result 158 would reveal information that would likely be perceived as reflecting negatively on the applicant or borrower's willingness or ability to pay. The Bureau believes that most consumers would consider such information sensitive and that disclosure of this information could lead to dignity harm or embarrassment. The Bureau believes that this field also could be used to target marketing to applicants or borrowers, including marketing of products and services that may pose risks that are not apparent.

    158 For example, a “refer with caution” result would indicate that the loan would need to be manually underwritten.

    The Bureau believes that disclosure in the loan-level HMDA data of AUS result would create minimal, if any, risk of facilitating the re-identification of applicants and borrowers in the HMDA data. The Bureau believes that AUS results are not included in any public records or found in other datasets available to the public and that an adversary would face substantial difficulty attempting to re-identify an applicant or borrower by using AUS result to match HMDA records to other identified records.

    The Bureau has considered whether modifications to the public loan-level HMDA data other than the exclusion of AUS result would appropriately reduce the privacy risks created by the disclosure of the AUS result while maintaining some utility for HMDA's purposes. However, the Bureau does not believe that AUS result can be modified in a manner that appropriately protects privacy and that also preserves utility. AUS result is a categorical field, as opposed to a numerical one, and thus cannot be binned or rounded. The Bureau believes at this time that, under the balancing test, excluding AUS result is a modification to the public loan-level HMDA data that appropriately balances the risks to applicant and borrower privacy and the benefits of disclosure. The Bureau seeks comment on this proposal.

    Free-Form Text Fields

    The 2015 HMDA Final Rule requires financial institutions to use free-form text fields to report certain data. For example, the 2015 HMDA Final Rule requires financial institutions to report, except for purchased covered loans, the credit score or scores relied on in making the credit decision and the name and version of the scoring model used to generate each credit score.159 A financial institution will submit a code from a specified list to indicate the name and version of the scoring model used to generate each credit score reported.160 If the name and version of the scoring model used to generate a credit score is not listed, the financial institution will submit the code for “other credit scoring model” and will report in a free-form text field the name and version of the scoring model used.161 Free-form text fields may also be used to report race,162 ethnicity,163 reason for denial,164 and AUS system name.165 The maximum number of characters for the AUS system name free-form text field and for the reason for denial free-form text field, including spaces, is 255; the maximum number of characters including spaces for all other free-form text fields is 100. Free-form text fields used to report race and ethnicity will be completed by applicants; 166 all other free-form text fields will be completed by the financial institution.

    159 12 CFR 1003.4(a)(15)(i) (effective Jan. 1, 2018).

    160Supra note 83, at 33-34, 63-64.

    161Id.

    162 12 CFR 1003.4(a)(10)(i); supra note 83, at 21-31.

    163 12 CFR 1003.4(a)(10)(i); supra note 83, at 17-20.

    164 12 CFR 1003.4(a)(16); supra note 83, at 35-36.

    165 12 CFR 1003.4(a)(35)(i); supra note 83, at 38-40.

    166 Appendix B, paragraph 8 (effective Jan. 1, 2018).

    Free-form text fields will allow the reporting of any information, including information that creates risks to applicant and borrower privacy. Given the volume of HMDA data reported each year, it will not be feasible for the Bureau to review the contents of each free-form text field submitted before disclosing the loan-level HMDA data to the public. The Bureau believes at this time that, under the balancing test, excluding free-form text fields is a modification to the public loan-level HMDA data that appropriately balances the risks to applicant and borrower privacy and the benefits of disclosure. The Bureau seeks comment on this proposal.

    IV. Other Considerations Related to Disclosure A. Additional Data

    Current Regulation C requires financial institutions to report the location of the property to which the loan or application relates, by MSA or by Metropolitan Division, by State, by county, and by census tract, if the institution has a home or branch office in that MSA or Metropolitan Division.167 To reduce burden on financial institutions, the 2015 HMDA Final Rule eliminates from this provision the requirement to report the MSA or Metropolitan Division in which the property is located.168 The Bureau proposes to identify for each loan and application subject to this provision the MSA or Metropolitan Division in which the property securing or proposed to secure the loan is located and to include this information in the loan-level HMDA data disclosed to the public so that the utility of these currently disclosed data fields are preserved. The Bureau seeks comment on this proposal.

    167 12 CFR 1003.4(a)(9).

    168 12 CFR 1003.4(a)(9)(ii) (effective Jan. 1, 2018); 80 FR 66128, 66187 (Oct. 28, 2015).

    The FFIEC currently includes with the agencies' loan-level release the following census and income data: Population (total population in tract); Minority Population Percent (percentage of minority population to total population for tract, carried to two decimal places); FFIEC Median Family Income (FFIEC Median family income in dollars for the MSA/MD in which the tract is located (adjusted annually by FFIEC)); Tract to MSA/MD Median Family Income Percentage (percentage of tract median family income compared to MSA/MD median family income, carried to two decimal places); Number of Owner Occupied Units (number of dwellings, including individual condominiums, that are lived in by the owner); and Number of 1- to 4-Family units (dwellings that are built to house fewer than five families).169 These data are intended to provide additional context to the reported HMDA data. The Bureau proposes to continue to include these data in the loan-level HMDA data disclosed to the public. The Bureau seeks comment on this proposal.

    169 For more information concerning these data, including the sources of these data, see Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council, “FFIEC Census and Demographic Data,” https://www.ffiec.gov/censusproducts.htm (last visited Mar. 20, 2017).

    The FFIEC also currently includes with the agencies' loan-level release an application date indicator reflecting whether the application date was before January 1, 2004, on or after January 1, 2004, or not available. The Bureau believes that this indicator is no longer useful to analysis of the HMDA data and proposes to no longer include the application date indicator in the loan-level HMDA data disclosed to the public. The Bureau seeks comment on this proposal.

    B. The Modified LAR and the Agencies' Loan-Level Release

    As discussed above, HMDA requires that financial institutions make available to the public, upon request, “loan application register information” as defined by the Bureau and in the form required under regulations prescribed by the Bureau.170 This information must be made available as early as March 31 following the calendar year for which the information was compiled.171 In addition to the loan-level data made available by each financial institution on its modified loan/application register, the FFIEC currently makes available in September of each year the agencies' loan-level release, which is a loan-level dataset containing all reported HMDA data for the preceding calendar year.

    170 HMDA section 304(j)(1). This requirement is implemented in 12 CFR 1003.5(c), which requires that each financial institution make available to the public its modified loan/application register, sometimes referred to as a “modified LAR.”

    171 HMDA section 304(j)(5).

    Under the 2015 HMDA Final Rule, financial institutions will no longer be required to provide their modified loan/application registers directly to the public and will be required instead to provide a notice advising members of the public seeking their data that it may be obtained on the Bureau's Web site.172 By March 31 following the calendar year for which the data was compiled, the Bureau will make available on the Bureau's Web site a modified loan/application register for each financial institution that timely submits its HMDA data.173 With respect to data compiled in 2018 or later, this proposed Policy Guidance describes the modifications the Bureau proposes to apply to each financial institution's modified loan/application register as well as to the agencies' loan-level release, with the possible exception of modifications to reflect whether the loan amount is above the applicable GSE conforming loan limit, which may be released later than March 31.174

    172 12 CFR 1003.5(c) (effective Jan. 1, 2018).

    173 With respect to data that is submitted late, the Bureau intends to make available a modified loan/application register by March 31 whenever possible, or as soon thereafter as is feasible.

    174 As noted above, HMDA data is reported by March 1 of the year following the calendar year for which the information was compiled, leaving the Bureau as little as 30 days to prepare each financial institution's modified loan/application register. The Bureau is exploring how best to provide the public with information concerning whether a loan is above the applicable GSE conforming loan limit.

    C. Aggregate and Disclosure Reports

    HMDA and Regulation C require the FFIEC to make available a disclosure statement for each financial institution each year.175 The statute and regulation also require the FFIEC to compile aggregate data by census tract for all financial institutions reporting under HMDA and to produce tables indicating aggregate lending patterns for various categories of census tracts grouped according to location, age of housing stock, income level, and racial characteristics.176 The FFIEC currently makes these aggregate data products available in September of each year reflecting HMDA data reported for the preceding calendar year.

    175 12 U.S.C. 2803(k); 12 CFR 1003.5(b)(1) (effective Jan. 1, 2018).

    176 12 U.S.C. 2809(a); 12 CFR 1003.5(f) (effective Jan. 1, 2018).

    The FFIEC, the Bureau, and the other agencies continue to evaluate options for making available the disclosure statements and aggregate data required by HMDA and the 2015 HMDA Final Rule. The Bureau may also consider making available other data products to enhance understanding of the HMDA data and otherwise further the goals of the statute.

    D. Restricted Access Program

    As indicated in the supplementary information to the 2014 HMDA Proposed Rule and the 2015 HMDA Final Rule, the Bureau believes that HMDA's public disclosure purposes may be furthered by allowing academics and industry and community researchers to access the unmodified HMDA dataset through a restricted access program, for research purposes. The Bureau continues to evaluate whether access to unmodified HMDA data should be permitted through such a program, the options for such a program, and the risks and costs that may be associated with such a program.

    V. Regulatory Requirements

    The Bureau concludes that the proposed Policy Guidance on Disclosure of Loan-Level HMDA Data is a non-binding general statement of policy and/or a rule of agency organization, procedure, or practice exempt from notice and comment rulemaking requirements under the Administrative Procedure Act pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 553(b). Notwithstanding this conclusion, the Bureau invites public comment on the proposed Policy Guidance. Because no notice of proposed rulemaking is required, the Regulatory Flexibility Act does not require an initial or final regulatory flexibility analysis.177 The existing information collections contained in Regulation C have been approved by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and assigned OMB control number 3170-0008. The Bureau has determined that this proposed Policy Guidance does not impose any new or revise any existing recordkeeping, reporting, or disclosure requirements on covered entities or members of the public that would be collections of information requiring OMB approval under the Paperwork Reduction Act, 44 U.S.C. 3501, et seq. The Bureau has a continuing interest in the public's opinions regarding this determination. At any time, comments regarding this determination may be sent to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (Attention: PRA Office), 1700 G Street NW., Washington, DC 20552, or by email to [email protected]

    177 5 U.S.C. 603(a), 604(a).

    VI. Proposed Policy Guidance on Disclosure of Loan-Level HMDA Data

    The text of the proposed Policy Guidance is as follows:

    Policy Guidance on Disclosure of Loan-Level HMDA Data A. Background

    The Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA), 12 U.S.C. 2801 et seq., requires certain financial institutions to collect, report, and disclose data about their mortgage lending activity. HMDA is implemented by Regulation C, 12 CFR part 1003. HMDA identifies its purposes as providing the public and public officials with sufficient information to enable them to determine whether financial institutions are serving the housing needs of the communities in which they are located, and to assist public officials in their determination of the distribution of public sector investments in a manner designed to improve the private investment environment.178 In 1989, the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (Board) recognized a third HMDA purpose of identifying possible discriminatory lending patterns and enforcing antidiscrimination statutes, which now appears with HMDA's other purposes in Regulation C.179

    178 12 U.S.C. 2801(b).

    179 54 FR 51356, 51357 (Dec. 15, 1989) (codified at 12 CFR 1003.1(b)(1)) (Bureau's post-Dodd-Frank Act Regulation C).

    In 2010, Congress enacted the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (Dodd-Frank Act).180 Among other changes, the Dodd-Frank Act expanded the scope of information relating to mortgage applications and loans that must be collected, reported, and disclosed under HMDA and authorized the Bureau to require financial institutions to collect, report, and disclose additional information. The Dodd-Frank Act amendments to HMDA also added new section 304(h)(1)(E), which directs the Bureau to develop regulations, in consultation with the agencies identified in section 304(h)(2),181 that “modify or require modification of itemized information, for the purpose of protecting the privacy interests of the mortgage applicants or mortgagors, that is or will be available to the public.” Section 304(h)(3)(B), also added by the Dodd-Frank Act, directs the Bureau to “prescribe standards for any modification under paragraph (1)(E) to effectuate the purposes of [HMDA], in light of the privacy interests of mortgage applicants or mortgagors. Where necessary to protect the privacy interests of mortgage applicants or mortgagors, the Bureau shall provide for the disclosure of information . . . in aggregate or other reasonably modified form, in order to effectuate the purposes of [HMDA].” 182

    180 Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, Public Law 111-203, 124 Stat. 1376, 1980, 2035-38, 2097-101 (2010).

    181 These agencies are the prudential regulators—the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the National Credit Union Administration, and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency—and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Together with the Bureau, these agencies are referred to herein as “the agencies.”

    182 Section 304(h)(3)(A) provides that a modification under section 304(h)(1)(E) shall apply to information concerning “(i) credit score data . . . in a manner that is consistent with the purpose described in paragraph (1)(E); and (ii) age or any other category of data described in paragraph (5) or (6) of subsection (b), as the Bureau determines to be necessary to satisfy the purpose described in paragraph (1)(E), and in a manner consistent with that purpose.”

    On October 28, 2015, the Bureau published a final rule amending Regulation C (2015 HMDA Final Rule) to implement the Dodd-Frank Act amendments and make other changes.183 Most provisions of the 2015 HMDA Final Rule go into effect on January 1, 2018,184 and apply to data financial institutions will collect beginning in 2018 and will report beginning in 2019.

    183 80 FR 66128 (Oct. 28, 2015); see also 80 FR 69567 (Nov. 10, 2015) (making technical corrections).

    184 Certain amendments to the definition of financial institution went into effect on January 1, 2017. See 12 CFR 1003.2 (effective Jan. 1, 2017); 80 FR 66128, 66308 (Oct. 28, 2015).

    B. The Balancing Test

    In the 2015 HMDA Final Rule, in consultation with the agencies and after notice and comment, the Bureau interpreted HMDA, as amended by the Dodd-Frank Act, to require that the Bureau use a balancing test to determine whether and how HMDA data should be modified prior to its disclosure to the public in order to protect applicant and borrower privacy while also fulfilling HMDA's public disclosure purposes. The Bureau interpreted HMDA to require that public HMDA data be modified when the release of the unmodified data creates risks to applicant and borrower privacy interests that are not justified by the benefits of such release to the public in light of the statutory purposes. In such circumstances, the need to protect the privacy interests of mortgage applicants or mortgagors requires that the itemized information be modified. This binding interpretation implemented HMDA sections 304(h)(1)(E) and 304(h)(3)(B) because it prescribed standards for requiring modification of itemized information, for the purpose of protecting the privacy interests of mortgage applicants and borrowers, that is or will be available to the public.185

    185 80 FR 66128, 66134 (Oct. 28, 2015).

    The Bureau has applied the balancing test to determine whether and how to modify the HMDA data reported under the 2015 HMDA Final Rule before it is disclosed on the loan level to the public. This Policy Guidance describes the loan-level HMDA data that the Bureau intends to make available to the public beginning in 2019, with respect to data compiled by financial institutions in or after 2018, including modifications that the Bureau intends to apply to the data. The Bureau intends to continue to monitor developments affecting the application of the balancing test to the HMDA data and may reconsider whether and how to modify the HMDA data, based on the application of the balancing test, in order to ensure the appropriate protection of applicant and borrower privacy in light of HMDA's purposes. This Policy Guidance is non-binding in part because flexibility to revise the modifications to be applied to the public loan-level HMDA data is necessary to maintain a proper balancing of the privacy risks and benefits of disclosure.

    C. Loan-Level HMDA Data To Be Disclosed to the Public

    The Bureau intends to publicly disclose loan-level HMDA data reported pursuant to the 2015 HMDA Rule as follows:

    1. Except as provided in paragraphs 2 through 6 below, the Bureau intends to disclose all data as reported, without modification.

    2. The Bureau intends to exclude the following from the public loan-level HMDA data:

    a. Universal loan identifier, collected pursuant to 12 CFR 1003.4(a)(1)(i);

    b. The date the application was received or the date shown on the application form, collected pursuant to 12 CFR 1003.4(a)(1)(ii);

    c. The date of action taken by the financial institution on a covered loan or application, collected pursuant to 12 CFR 1003.4(a)(8)(ii);

    d. The address of the property securing the loan or, in the case of an application, proposed to secure the loan, collected pursuant to 12 CFR 1003.4(a)(9)(i);

    e. The credit score or scores relied on in making the credit decision, collected pursuant to 12 CFR 1003.4(a)(15)(i);

    f. The unique identifier assigned by the Nationwide Mortgage Licensing System and Registry for the mortgage loan originator, as defined in Regulation G, 12 CFR 1007.102, or Regulation H, 12 CFR 1008.23, as applicable, collected pursuant to 12 CFR 1003.4(a)(34);

    g. The result generated by the automated underwriting system used by the financial institution to evaluate the application, collected pursuant to 12 CFR 1003.4(a)(35)(i); and

    h. Free-form text fields used to report the following data: Applicant or borrower race, collected pursuant to 12 CFR 1003.4(a)(10)(i); applicant or borrower ethnicity, collected pursuant to 12 CFR 1003.4(a)(10)(i); name and version of the credit scoring model used to generate each credit score or credit scores relied on in making the credit decision, collected pursuant to 12 CFR 1003.4(a)(15)(i); the principal reason or reasons the financial institution denied the application, if applicable, collected pursuant to 12 CFR 1003.4(a)(16); and automated underwriting system name, collected pursuant to 12 CFR 1003.4(a)(35)(i).

    3. With respect to the amount of the covered loan or the amount applied for, collected pursuant to 12 CFR 1003.4(a)(7), the Bureau intends to:

    a. Disclose the midpoint for the $10,000 interval into which the reported value falls, e.g., for a reported value of $117,834, disclose $115,000 as the midpoint between values equal to $110,000 and less than $120,000; and

    b. Indicate whether the reported value exceeds the applicable dollar amount limitation on the original principal obligation in effect at the time of application or origination as provided under 12 U.S.C. 1717(b)(2) and 12 U.S.C. 1454(a)(2).

    4. With respect to the age of an applicant or borrower, collected pursuant to 12 CFR 1003.4(a)(10)(ii), the Bureau intends to:

    a. Bin reported values into the following ranges, as applicable: 25 to 34; 35 to 44; 45 to 54; 55 to 64; and 65 to 74;

    b. Bottom-code reported values under 25;

    c. Top-code reported values over 74; and

    d. Indicate whether the reported value is 62 or higher.

    5. With respect to the ratio of the applicant's or borrower's total monthly debt to the total monthly income relied on in making the credit decision, collected pursuant to 12 CFR 1003.4(a)(23), the Bureau intends to:

    a. Bin reported values into the following ranges, as applicable: 20 percent to less than 30 percent; 30 percent to less than 40 percent; and 50 percent to less than 60 percent;

    b. Bottom-code reported values under 20 percent;

    c. Top-code reported values of 60 percent or higher; and

    d. Disclose, without modification, reported values greater than or equal to 40 percent and less than 50 percent.

    6. With respect to the value of the property securing the covered loan or, in the case of an application, proposed to secure the covered loan, collected pursuant to 12 CFR 1003.4(a)(28), the Bureau intends to disclose the midpoint for the $10,000 interval into which the reported value falls, e.g., for a reported value of $117,834, disclose $115,000 as the midpoint between values equal to $110,000 and less than $120,000.

    Dated: September 8, 2017. Richard Cordray, Director, Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection.
    [FR Doc. 2017-20409 Filed 9-22-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4810-AM-P
    ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY [FRL-9966-90-ORD] Ambient Air Monitoring Reference and Equivalent Methods: Designation of Three New Reference Methods AGENCY:

    Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

    ACTION:

    Notice.

    SUMMARY:

    Notice is hereby given that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has designated three new reference methods for measuring concentrations of PM2.5, PM10, and PM10-2.5 in the ambient air.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Robert Vanderpool, Exposure Methods and Measurement Division (MD-D205-03), National Exposure Research Laboratory, U.S. EPA, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina 27711. Phone: 919-541-7877. Email: [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    In accordance with regulations at 40 CFR part 53, the EPA evaluates various methods for monitoring the concentrations of those ambient air pollutants for which EPA has established National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQSs) as set forth in 40 CFR part 50. Monitoring methods that are determined to meet specific requirements for adequacy are designated by the EPA as either reference methods or equivalent methods (as applicable), thereby permitting their use under 40 CFR part 58 by States and other agencies for determining compliance with the NAAQSs.

    The EPA hereby announces the designation of three new reference methods for measuring concentrations of PM2.5, PM10, and PM10-2.5 in the ambient air. These designations are made under the provisions of 40 CFR part 53, as amended on August 31, 2011 (76 FR 54326- 54341).

    The new reference method for PM2.5 is a manual monitoring method based on a specific PM2.5 sampler and is identified as follows:

    RFPS-0717-245, “Met One Instruments, Inc. E-SEQ-FRM,” sequential sampler configured for multi-event filter sampling of ambient particulate matter using the U.S. EPA PM10 inlet specified in 40 CFR part 50, Appendix L, Figs. L-2 thru L-19, equipped with either a Mesa Laboratories VSCCTM cyclone or WINS PM2.5 fractionator, with a flow rate of 16.67 L/min, using 47 mm PTFE membrane filter media, and operating with firmware version R1.1.0 and later, and operated in accordance with the Met One E-SEQ-FRM PM2.5 operating manual. This designation applies to PM2.5 measurements only.

    The new reference method for PM10 is a manual monitoring method based on a specific PM10 sampler and is identified as follows:

    RFPS-0717-246, “Met One Instruments, Inc. E-SEQ-FRM,” sequential sampler configured for multi-event filter sampling of ambient particulate matter using the U.S. EPA PM10 inlet specified in 40 CFR part 50, Appendix L, Figs. L-2 thru L-19, equipped with either a Mesa Laboratories VSCCTM cyclone or WINS PM2.5 fractionator, with a flow rate of 16.67 L/min, using 47 mm PTFE membrane filter media, and operating with firmware version R1.1.0 and later, and operated in accordance with the Met One E-SEQ-FRM PM10 operating manual. This designation applies to PM10 measurements only.

    The new PM10-2.5 reference method utilizes a pair of filter samplers that have been designated individually as reference methods, one for PM2.5 and the other one for PM10, and have been shown to meet the requirements specified in appendix O of 40 CFR part 50. The PM2.5 and PM10 samplers are designated as reference methods RFPS-0717-245 and RFPS-0717-246, respectively. The newly designated PM10-2.5 sampler is identified as follows:

    RFPS-0717-247, “Met One Instruments, Inc. E-SEQ-FRM PM10 and E-SEQ-FRM PM2.5 Sampler Pair” for the determination of coarse particulate matter as PM10-2.5, consisting of a pair of Met One Instruments, Inc. E-SEQ-FRM samplers, with one being the E-SEQ-FRM PM2.5 sampler (RFPS-0717-245) and the other being the E-SEQ-FRM PM10 sampler (RFPS-0717-246). The units are to be collocated to within 1-4 meters of one another and sample concurrently. Both units are operated in accordance with the associated E-SEQ-FRM instruction manual. This designation applies to PM10-2.5 measurements only.

    The application for reference method determination for the PM2.5 method was received by the Office of Research and Development on May 17, 2017, the PM10 method application was received on June 5, 2017, and the PM10-2.5 method was received on July 25, 2017. These monitors are commercially available from the applicant, Met One Instruments, Inc., 1600 Washington Blvd., Grants Pass, OR 97526.

    Test monitors representative of these methods have been tested in accordance with the applicable test procedures specified in 40 CFR part 53, as amended on August 31, 2011. After reviewing the results of those tests and other information submitted in the applications, EPA has determined, in accordance with part 53, that these methods should be designated as reference methods. The information in the applications will be kept on file, either at EPA's National Exposure Research Laboratory, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina 27711 or in an approved archive storage facility, and will be available for inspection (with advance notice) to the extent consistent with 40 CFR part 2 (EPA's regulations implementing the Freedom of Information Act).

    As designated reference methods, these methods are acceptable for use by states and other air monitoring agencies under the requirements of 40 CFR part 58, Ambient Air Quality Surveillance. For such purposes, the methods must be used in strict accordance with the operation or instruction manuals associated with the methods and subject to any specifications and limitations (e.g., configuration or operational settings) specified in the applicable designated descriptions (see the identification of the methods above).

    Use of the methods also should be in general accordance with the guidance and recommendations of applicable sections of the “Quality Assurance Handbook for Air Pollution Measurement Systems, Volume I,” EPA/600/R-94/038a and “Quality Assurance Handbook for Air Pollution Measurement Systems, Volume II, Ambient Air Quality Monitoring Program” EPA-454/B-08-003, December, 2008. Provisions concerning modification of such methods by users are specified under Section 2.8 (Modifications of Methods by Users) of Appendix C to 40 CFR part 58.

    Consistent or repeated noncompliance should be reported to: Director, Exposure Methods and Measurement Division (MD-E205-01), National Exposure Research Laboratory, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina 27711.

    Designation of these new reference methods is intended to assist the States in establishing and operating their air quality surveillance systems under 40 CFR part 58. Questions concerning the commercial availability or technical aspects of the methods should be directed to the applicant.

    Dated: August 16, 2017. Timothy H. Watkins, Deputy Director, National Exposure Research Laboratory.
    [FR Doc. 2017-20447 Filed 9-22-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560-50-P
    ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY [9967-91-Region 3] Notice of Administrative Settlement Agreement Pursuant to the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act AGENCY:

    Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

    ACTION:

    Notice; request for public comment.

    SUMMARY:

    In accordance with the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (“CERCLA”), notice is hereby given that a proposed administrative settlement agreement for recovery of response costs (“Proposed Agreement”) associated with the New Jersey Fireworks Superfund Site, Elkton, Cecil County, Maryland was executed by the Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) and is now subject to public comment, after which EPA may modify or withdraw its consent if comments received disclose facts or considerations that indicate that the Proposed Agreement is inappropriate, improper, or inadequate. The Proposed Agreement would resolve potential EPA claims against the Estate of Louis Casale (“Settling Party”). The Proposed Agreement would require Settling Party to reimburse EPA $50,000 for response costs incurred by EPA for the Site.

    For thirty (30) days following the date of publication of this notice, EPA will receive written comments relating to the Proposed Agreement. EPA's response to any comments received will be available for public inspection at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region III, 1650 Arch Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103.

    DATES:

    Comments must be submitted on or before October 25, 2017.

    ADDRESSES:

    The Proposed Agreement and additional background information relating to the Proposed Agreement are available for public inspection at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region III, 1650 Arch Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103. A copy of the Proposed Agreement may be obtained from Andrew S. Goldman (3RC41), Senior Assistant Regional Counsel, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 1650 Arch Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103. Comments should reference the “New Jersey Fireworks Superfund Site, Proposed Settlement Agreement” and “EPA CERCLA Docket No. CERC-03-2017-0138CR,” and should be forwarded to Andrew S. Goldman at the above address.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Andrew S. Goldman (3RC41), U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 1650 Arch Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103, Phone: (215) 814-2487; [email protected]

    Dated: August 31, 2017. Karen Melvin, Director, Hazardous Site Cleanup Division, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region III.
    [FR Doc. 2017-20313 Filed 9-22-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560-50-P
    ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY [EPA-HQ-OPP-2017-0180; FRL-9967-59] FIFRA Scientific Advisory Panel; Notice of Public Meeting for the Clarification of Charge Questions on PBPK AGENCY:

    Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

    ACTION:

    Notice.

    SUMMARY:

    There will be a three-hour meeting of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act Scientific Advisory Panel (FIFRA SAP) to review and consider the scope and clarity of the draft charge questions for the October 24-27, 2017 SAP Meeting on physiologically-based pharmacokinetic (PBPK) modeling to address pharmacokinetic differences between and within species.

    DATES:

    The meeting will be held on October 2, 2017, from approximately 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. (EST). This is an open public meeting that will be conducted via webcast using Adobe Connect and telephone. Registration is required to attend this meeting. Please visit: http://www.epa.gov/sap to register.

    Comments. Written comments on the scope and clarity of the draft charge questions should be submitted by noon on September 27, 2017. FIFRA SAP may not be able to fully consider written comments submitted after noon on September 27, 2017. Requests to make oral comments at the meeting should be submitted on or before noon on September 27, 2017 by registering at http://www.epa.gov/sap. For additional instructions, see Unit I.C. of the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION or contact the Designated Federal Official (DFO) listed under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT.

    Webcast. This meeting will be webcast only. Please refer to the FIFRA SAP Web site at http://www.epa.gov/sap for information on how to access the webcast.

    Special accommodations. For information on access or services for individuals with disabilities, and to request accommodation of a disability, please contact the DFO listed under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT at least 10 days prior to the meeting to allow EPA time to process your request.

    ADDRESSES:

    Meeting: This meeting will be webcast only. Please refer to the following Web site to register and for information on how to access the webcast: http://www.epa.gov/sap.

    Comments. Submit your comments, identified by docket identification (ID) number EPA-HQ-OPP-2017-0180, by one of the following methods:

    Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the online instructions for submitting comments. Do not submit electronically any information you consider to be Confidential Business Information (CBI) or other information whose disclosure is restricted by statute.

    Mail: OPP Docket, Environmental Protection Agency Docket Center (EPA/DC), (28221T), 1200 Pennsylvania Ave. NW., Washington, DC 20460-0001.

    Hand Delivery: To make special arrangements for hand delivery or delivery of boxed information, please follow the instructions at http://www.epa.gov/dockets/contacts.html.

    Additional instructions on commenting or visiting the docket, along with more information about dockets generally, is available at http://www.epa.gov/dockets.

    Requests for special accommodations. Submit requests for special accommodations to the DFO listed under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Dr. Marquea D. King, DFO, Office of Science Coordination and Policy (7201M), Environmental Protection Agency, 1200 Pennsylvania Ave. NW., Washington, DC 20460-0001; telephone number: 202-564-3626; email address: [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    I. General Information A. Does this action apply to me?

    This action is directed to the public in general. This action may, however, be of interest to persons who are or may be required to conduct testing of chemical substances under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA) and FIFRA. Since other entities may also be interested, the Agency has not attempted to describe all the specific entities that may be affected by this action.

    B. What should I consider as I prepare my comments for EPA?

    1. Submitting CBI. Do not submit CBI information to EPA through regulations.gov or email. If your comments contain any information that you consider to be CBI or otherwise protected, please contact the DFO listed under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT to obtain special instructions before submitting your comments.

    2. Tips for preparing your comments. When preparing and submitting your comments, see the commenting tips at http://www.epa.gov/dockets/comments.html.

    C. How may I participate in this meeting?

    You may participate in this meeting by following the instructions in this unit. To ensure proper receipt by EPA, it is imperative that you identify docket ID number EPA-HQ-OPP-2017-0180 in the subject line on the first page of your request.

    1. Written comments. Written comments should be submitted, using the instructions in ADDRESSES and Unit I.B., on or before noon on September 27, 2017, to provide FIFRA SAP the time necessary to consider and review the written comments. FIFRA SAP may not be able to fully consider written comments submitted after noon on September 27, 2017.

    2. Oral comments. Registration is required to attend this meeting. Please visit: http://www.epag.gov/sap to register. Each individual or group wishing to make brief oral comments to FIFRA SAP may submit their request by registering on or before noon September 27, 2017. Oral comments before FIFRA SAP are limited to approximately 5 minutes due to the time constraints of this webcast.

    II. Background A. Purpose of FIFRA SAP Virtual Meeting on PBPK Charge Questions

    FIFRA SAP serves as the primary scientific peer review mechanism of EPA's Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention (OCSPP) and is structured to provide scientific advice, information and recommendations to the EPA Administrator on pesticides and pesticide-related issues as to the impact of regulatory actions on health and the environment. FIFRA SAP is a Federal advisory committee established in 1975 pursuant to FIFRA and operates in accordance with requirements of the Federal Advisory Committee Act (5 U.S.C. Appendix). FIFRA SAP is composed of a permanent panel consisting of seven members who are appointed by the EPA Administrator from nominees provided by the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation. The FIFRA SAP is assisted in their reviews by ad hoc participation from the Science Review Board (SRB). As a scientific peer review mechanism, FIFRA SAP provides comments, evaluations, and recommendations to improve the effectiveness and quality of analyses made by Agency scientists. The FIFRA SAP strives to reach consensus however, is not required to reach consensus in its recommendations to the Agency.

    B. Public Meeting

    During the meeting scheduled for October 2, 2017, the FIFRA SAP will review and consider the Charge Questions for the Panel's October 24-27, 2017 Meeting on Physiologically Based Pharmacokinetic (PBPK) Modeling. The SAP will receive a short background briefing including the EPA's history and current position on the use of PBPK modeling. In addition, the panel members will have the opportunity to comment on the scope and clarity of the draft charge questions. Subsequent to this meeting, final charge questions will be provided for the FIFRA SAP's deliberation on the white papers and supplemental information during the in-person meeting to be held on October 24-27, 2017.

    C. FIFRA SAP Documents and Meeting Minutes

    EPA's background documents, charge questions to the FIFRA SAP, and the meeting agenda will be available before or on September 13, 2017. In addition, the Agency may provide additional background documents as additional materials become available. You may obtain electronic copies of most meeting documents, including FIFRA SAP composition (i.e., members and ad hoc members for this meeting) and the meeting agenda, at http://www.regulations.gov and the FIFRA SAP Web site at http://www.epa.gov/sap.

    FIFRA SAP will prepare meeting minutes approximately 90 calendar days after the meeting. The meeting minutes will be posted on the FIFRA SAP Web site: http://www.epa.gov/sap and may be accessed in the docket at http://www.regulations.gov.

    Authority:

    7 U.S.C. 136 et seq.; 21 U.S.C. 301 et seq.

    Dated: September 11, 2017. Inza Graves, Acting, Director, Office of Science Coordination and Policy.
    [FR Doc. 2017-20430 Filed 9-22-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560-50-P
    ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY [FRL-9967-74-OLEM] Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) or Superfund, Section 128(a); Notice of Grant Funding Guidance for State and Tribal Response Programs for FY2018 AGENCY:

    Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

    ACTION:

    Notice.

    SUMMARY:

    The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will accept requests, from October 15, 2017 through December 15, 2017, for grants to establish and enhance State and Tribal Response Programs. This notice provides guidance on eligibility for funding, use of funding, grant mechanisms and process for awarding funding, the allocation system for distribution of funding, and terms and reporting under these grants. EPA has consulted with state and tribal officials in developing this guidance.

    The primary goal of this funding is to ensure that state and tribal response programs include, or are taking reasonable steps to include, certain elements of a response program and establishing a public record. Another goal is to provide funding for other activities that increase the number of response actions conducted or overseen by a state or tribal response program. This funding is not intended to supplant current state or tribal funding for their response programs. Instead, it is to supplement their funding to increase their response capacity.

    For fiscal year 2018, EPA will consider funding requests up to a maximum of $1.0 million per state or tribe. Subject to the availability of funds, EPA regional personnel will be available to provide technical assistance to states and tribes as they apply for and carry out these grants.

    DATES:

    This action is applicable as of October 15, 2017. EPA expects to make non-competitive grant awards to states and tribes which apply during fiscal year 2018.

    ADDRESSES:

    Mailing addresses for EPA Regional Offices and EPA Headquarters can be found at www.epa.gov/brownfields and at the end of this Notice. Funding requests may be submitted electronically to the EPA Regional Offices.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    EPA's Office of Land and Emergency Management, Office of Brownfields and Land Revitalization, (202) 566-2745 or the applicable EPA Regional Office listed at the end this Notice.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    I. General Information

    Section 128(a) of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), as amended, authorizes a noncompetitive $50 million grant program to establish and enhance state 1 and tribal 2 response programs. CERCLA section 128(a) response program grants are funded with categorical 3 State and Tribal Assistance Grant (STAG) appropriations. Section 128(a) cooperative agreements are awarded and administered by the EPA regional offices. Generally, these response programs address the assessment, cleanup, and redevelopment of brownfields sites and other sites with actual or perceived contamination. This document provides guidance that will enable states and tribes to apply for and use Fiscal Year 2018 section 128(a) funds.4

    1 The term “state” is defined in this document as defined in CERCLA section 101(27).

    2 The term “Indian tribe” is defined in this document as it is defined in CERCLA section 101(36). Intertribal consortia, as defined in the Federal Register Notice at 67 FR 67181, November 4, 2002, are also eligible for funding under CERCLA section 128(a).

    3 Categorical grants are issued by the U.S. Congress to fund state and local governments for narrowly defined purposes.

    4 The Agency may waive any provision of this guidance that is not required by statute, regulation, Executive Order or overriding Agency policies.

    The Catalogue of Federal Domestic Assistance entry for the section 128(a) State and Tribal Response Program cooperative agreements is 66.817. This grant program is eligible to be included in state and tribal Performance Partnership Grants under 40 CFR part 35 Subparts A and B, with the exception of funds used to capitalize a revolving loan fund for brownfield remediation under section 104(k)(3); or purchase environmental insurance or developing a risk sharing pool, an indemnity pool, or insurance mechanism to provide financing for response actions under a State or Tribal response program.

    Requests for funding will be accepted from October 15, 2017 through December 15, 2017. Requests EPA receives after December 15, 2017 will not be considered for FY2018 funding. Information that must be submitted with the funding request is listed in Section IX of this guidance. States or tribes that do not submit the request in the appropriate manner may forfeit their ability to receive funds. First time requestors are strongly encouraged to contact their Regional EPA Brownfields contacts, listed at the end of this guidance, prior to submitting their funding request. EPA will consider funding requests up to a maximum of $1.0 million per state or tribe for FY2018.

    Requests submitted by the December 15, 2017 request deadline are preliminary; final cooperative agreement work plans and budgets will be negotiated with the regional offices once final funding allocation determinations are made. As in previous years, EPA will place special emphasis on reviewing a cooperative agreement recipient's use of prior section 128(a) funding in making allocation decisions and unexpended balances are subject to 40 CFR 35.118 and 40 CFR 35.518 to the extent consistent with this guidance. Also, EPA will prioritize funding for recipients establishing their response programs.

    States and tribes requesting funds are required to provide a Dun and Bradstreet Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS) number with their cooperative agreement's final package. For more information, please go to www.grants.gov.

    II. Background

    State and tribal response programs oversee assessment and cleanup activities at brownfield sites across the country. The depth and breadth of these programs vary. Some focus on CERCLA related activities, while others are multi-faceted, addressing sites regulated by both CERCLA and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). Many states also offer accompanying financial incentive programs to spur cleanup and redevelopment. In enacting CERCLA section 128(a),5 Congress recognized the value of state and tribal response programs in cleaning up and redeveloping brownfield sites. Section 128(a) strengthens EPA's partnerships with states and tribes, and recognizes the response programs' critical role in overseeing cleanups.

    5 Section 128(a) was added to CERCLA in 2002 by the Small Business Liability Relief and Brownfields Revitalization Act (Brownfield Amendments).

    This funding is intended for those states and tribes that have the required management and administrative capacity within their government to administer a federal grant. The primary goal of this funding is to ensure that state and tribal response programs include, or are taking reasonable steps to include, certain elements of an environmental response program and that the program establishes and maintains a public record of sites addressed.

    Subject to the availability of funds, EPA regional personnel will provide technical assistance to states and tribes as they apply for and carry out section 128(a) cooperative agreements.

    III. Eligibility for Funding

    To be eligible for funding under CERCLA section 128(a), a state or tribe must:

    1. Demonstrate that its response program includes, or is taking reasonable steps to include, the four elements of a response program described in Section V of this guidance; or be a party to a voluntary response program Memorandum of Agreement (VRP MOA) 6 with EPA; AND

    6 States or tribes that are parties to VRP MOAs and that maintain and make available a public record are automatically eligible for section 128(a) funding.

    2. Maintain and make available to the public a record of sites at which response actions have been completed in the previous year and are planned to be addressed in the upcoming year (see CERCLA section 128(b)(1)(C)).

    IV. Matching Funds/Cost-Share

    States and tribes are not required to provide matching funds for cooperative agreements awarded under section 128(a), with the exception of section 128(a) funds a state or tribe uses to capitalize a Brownfields Revolving Loan Fund (RLF), for which there is a 20% cost share requirement. Section 128(a) funds uses to capitalize a RLF must be operated in accordance with CERCLA section 104(k)(3).

    V. The Four Elements—Section 128(a)(2)

    Section 128(a) recipients that do not have a VRP MOA with EPA must demonstrate that their response program includes, or is taking reasonable steps to include, the four elements described below. Achievement of the four elements should be viewed as a priority. Section 128(a) authorizes funding for activities necessary to establish and enhance the four elements, and to establish and maintain the public record requirement.

    The four elements of a response program are described below:

    1. Timely survey and inventory of brownfield sites in state or tribal land. The goal for this element is to enable the state or tribe to establish or enhance a system or process that will provide a reasonable estimate of the number, likely locations, and the general characteristics of brownfields sites in their state or tribal lands.

    EPA recognizes the varied scope of state and tribal response programs and will not require states and tribes to develop a “list” of brownfield sites. However, at a minimum, the state or tribe should develop and/or maintain a system or process that can provide a reasonable estimate of the number, likely location, and general characteristics of brownfield sites within their state or tribal lands. Inventories should evolve to a prioritization of sites based on community needs, planning priorities, and protection of human health and the environment. Inventories should be developed in direct coordination with communities, and particular attention should focus on communities with limited capacity to compete for and manage a competitive brownfield assessment, revolving loan, or cleanup cooperative agreement.

    Given funding limitations, EPA will negotiate work plans with states and tribes to achieve this goal efficiently and effectively, and within a realistic time frame. For example, many of EPA's Brownfields Assessment cooperative agreement recipients conduct inventories of brownfields sites in their communities or jurisdictions. EPA encourages states and tribes to work with these cooperative agreement recipients to obtain the information that they have gathered and include it in their survey and inventory.

    2. Oversight and enforcement authorities or other mechanisms and resources. The goal for this element is to have state and tribal response programs that include oversight and enforcement authorities or other mechanisms, and resources to ensure that:

    a. A response action will protect human health and the environment, and be conducted in accordance with applicable laws; and

    b. The state or tribe will complete the necessary response activities if the person conducting the response fails to complete them (this includes operation and maintenance and/or long-term monitoring activities).

    3. Mechanisms and resources to provide meaningful opportunities for public participation. 7 The goal for this element is to have states and tribes include in their response program mechanisms and resources for meaningful public participation, at the local level, including, at a minimum:

    7 States and tribes establishing this element may find useful information on public participation on EPA's community involvement Web site at https://www.epa.gov/superfund/superfund-community-involvement.

    a. Public access to documents and related materials that a state, tribe, or party conducting the cleanup is relying on or developing to make cleanup decisions or conduct site activities;

    b. Prior notice and opportunity for meaningful public comment on cleanup plans and site activities, including the input into the prioritization of sites; and

    c. A mechanism by which a person who is, or may be, affected by a release or threatened release of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant at a brownfield site—located in the community in which the person works or resides—may request that a site assessment be conducted. The appropriate state or tribal official must consider this request and appropriately respond.

    4. Mechanisms for approval of cleanup plans, and verification and certification that cleanup is complete. The goal for this element is to have states and tribes include in their response program mechanisms to approve cleanup plans and to verify that response actions are complete, including a requirement for certification or similar documentation from the state, the tribe, or a licensed site professional that the response action is complete. Written approval by a state or tribal response program official of a proposed cleanup plan is an example of an approval mechanism.

    VI. Public Record Requirement

    In order to be eligible for section 128(a) funding, states and tribes (including those with MOAs) must establish and maintain a public record system, as described below, to enable meaningful public participation (refer to Section V.3 above). Specifically, under section 128(b)(1)(C), states and tribes must:

    1. Maintain and update, at least annually or more often as appropriate, a public record that includes the name and location of sites at which response actions have been completed during the previous year;

    2. Maintain and update, at least annually or more often as appropriate, a public record that includes the name and location of sites at which response actions are planned in the next year; and

    3. Identify in the public record whether or not the site, upon completion of the response action, will be suitable for unrestricted use. If not, the public record must identify the institutional controls relied on in the remedy and include relevant information concerning the entity responsible for oversight, monitoring, and/or maintenance of the institutional and engineering controls; and how the responsible entity is implementing those activities (see Section VI.C).

    Section 128(a) funds may be used to maintain and make available a public record system that meets the requirements discussed above.

    A. Distinguishing the “Survey and Inventory” Element From the “Public Record”

    It is important to note that the public record requirement differs from the “timely survey and inventory” element described in the “Four Elements” section above. The public record addresses sites at which response actions have been completed in the previous year or are planned in the upcoming year. In contrast, the “timely survey and inventory” element, described above, refers to identifying brownfield sites regardless of planned or completed actions.

    B. Making the Public Record Easily Accessible

    EPA's goal is to enable states and tribes to make the public record and other information, such as information from the “survey and inventory” element, easily accessible. For this reason, EPA will allow states and tribes to use section 128(a) funding to make such information available to the public via the internet or other avenues. For example, the Agency would support funding state and tribal efforts to include detailed location information in the public record such as the street address, and latitude and longitude information for each site.8 States and tribes should ensure that all affected communities have appropriate access to the public record by making it available on-line, in print at libraries, or at other community gathering places.

    8 For further information on data quality requirements for latitude and longitude information, please see EPA's data standards Web site available at https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2015-06/documents/latlongstandard-v2a_10022014.pdf.

    In an effort to reduce cooperative agreement reporting requirements and increase public access to the public record, EPA encourages states and tribes to place their public record on the internet. If a state or tribe places the public record on the internet, maintains the substantive requirements of the public record, and provides EPA with the link to that site, EPA will, for purposes of cooperative agreement funding only, deem the public record reporting requirement met.

    C. Long-Term Maintenance of the Public Record

    EPA encourages states and tribes to maintain public record information, including data on institutional controls, on a long-term basis (more than one year) for sites at which a response action has been completed. Subject to EPA regional office approval, states or tribes may include development and operation of systems that ensure long-term maintenance of the public record, including information on institutional controls (such as ensuring the entity responsible for oversight, monitoring, and/or maintenance of the institutional and engineering controls is implementing those activities) in their work plans.9

    9 States and tribes may find useful information on institutional controls on the EPA's institutional controls Web site at http://www.epa.gov/superfund/policy/ic/index.htm.

    VII. Use of Funding A. Overview

    Section 128(a)(1)(B) describes the eligible uses of cooperative agreement funds by states and tribes. In general, a state or tribe may use funding to “establish or enhance” its response program. Specifically, a state or tribe may use cooperative agreement funds to build response programs that include the four elements outline in section 128(a)(2). Eligible activities include, but are not limited to, the following:

    • Developing legislation, regulations, procedures, ordinances, guidance, etc. that establish or enhance the administrative and legal structure of a response program;

    • Establishing and maintaining the required public record described in Section VI of this guidance;

    • Operation, maintenance and long-term monitoring of institutional controls and engineering controls;

    • Conducting site-specific activities, such as assessment or cleanup, provided such activities establish and/or enhance the response program and are tied to the four elements. In addition to the requirement under CERCLA section 128(a)(2)(C)(ii) to provide for public comment on cleanup plans and site activities, EPA strongly encourages states and tribes to seek public input regarding the priority of sites to be addressed-especially from local communities with health risks related to exposure to hazardous waste or other public health concerns, those in economically disadvantaged or remote areas, and those with limited experience working with government agencies. EPA will not provide section 128(a) funds solely for assessment or cleanup of specific brownfield sites; site-specific activities must be part of an overall section 128(a) work plan that includes funding for other activities that establish or enhance the four elements;

    • Capitalizing a revolving loan fund (RLF) for brownfields cleanup as authorized under CERCLA section 104(k)(3). These RLFs are subject to the same statutory requirements and cooperative agreement terms and conditions applicable to RLFs awarded under section 104(k)(3). Requirements include a 20 percent match (in the form of money, labor, material, or services from a non-federal source) on the amount of section 128(a) funds used for the RLF, a prohibition on using EPA cooperative agreement funds for administrative costs relating to the RLF, and a prohibition on using RLF loans or subgrants for response costs at a site for which the recipient may be potentially liable under section 107 of CERCLA. Other prohibitions relevant to CERCLA section 104(k)(4) also apply; and

    • Purchasing environmental insurance or developing a risk-sharing pool, indemnity pool, or insurance mechanism to provide financing for response actions under a state or tribal response program.

    B. Uses Related to Establishing a State or Tribal Response Program

    Under CERCLA section 128(a), establish includes activities necessary to build the foundation for the four elements of a state or tribal response program and the public record requirement. For example, a state or tribal response program may use section 128(a) funds to develop regulations, ordinances, procedures, guidance, and a public record.

    States and tribes also need to comply with Grants Policy Issuance (GPI) 17-01 Sustainability in EPA Cooperative Agreements.

    C. Uses Related to Enhancing a State or Tribal Response Program

    Under CERCLA section 128(a), enhancing a state or tribal response program includes related to activities that add to or improve a state or tribal response program or increase the number of sites at which response actions are conducted under such programs.

    The exact enhancement activities that may be allowable depend upon the work plan negotiated between the EPA regional office and the state or tribe. For example, regional offices and states or tribes may agree that section 128(a) funds may be used for outreach and training directly related to increasing awareness of its response program, and improving the skills of program staff. It may also include developing better coordination and understanding of other state response programs, (e.g., RCRA or Underground Storage Tanks (USTs)). As another example, states and tribal response program enhancement activities can also include outreach to local communities to increase awareness about brownfields, building a sustainable brownfields program, federal brownfields technical assistance opportunities 10 (e.g., holding workshops to assist communities to apply for federal Brownfields grant funding), and knowledge regarding the importance of monitoring engineering and institutional controls. Additionally, enhancement activities can include facilitating the participation of the state and local agencies (e.g., transportation, water, other infrastructure) in implementation of brownfields projects. States and tribes can also help local communities collaborate with local workforce development entities or Brownfields Environmental Workforce Development Job training recipients on the assessment and cleanup of brownfield sites.11 States and tribes also need to comply with Grants Policy Issuance (GPI) 17-01 Sustainability in EPA Cooperative Agreements. Other enhancement uses may be allowable as well.

    10 EPA expects states and tribes will familiarize themselves with US EPA's brownfields technical assistance opportunities for brownfields communities. For more information on technical assistance opportunities, please visit: https://www.epa.gov/brownfields.

    11 For more information about EPA's Brownfields Environmental Workforce Development and Job Training Program, please visit: https://www.epa.gov/brownfields/types-brownfields-grant-funding.

    D. Uses Related to Site-Specific Activities 1. Eligible Uses of Funds for Site-Specific Activities

    Site-specific assessment and cleanup activities should establish and/or enhance the response program and be tied to the four elements. Site-specific assessments and cleanups can be both eligible and allowable if the activities are included in the work plan negotiated between the EPA regional office and the state or tribe, but activities must comply with all applicable laws and are subject to the following restrictions:

    a. Section 128(a) funds can only be used for assessments or cleanups at sites that meet the definition of a brownfields site at CERCLA section 101(39). EPA encourages states and tribes to use site-specific funding to perform assessment (e.g., phase I, phase II, supplemental assessments and cleanup planning) and cleanup activities that will expedite the reuse and redevelopment of sites, and prioritize sites based on need.12 Furthermore, states and tribes that perform site-specific activities should plan to directly engage with and involve affected communities. For example, a Community Relations Plan (CRP) could be developed to provide reasonable notice about a planned cleanup, as well as opportunities for the public to comment on the cleanup. States and tribes should work towards securing additional funding for site-specific activities by leveraging resources from other sources such as businesses, non-profit organizations, education and training providers, and/or federal, state, tribal, and local governments;

    12 An example of prioritizing sites based on need can be focusing on environmental justice. EPA defines environmental justice as the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies. EPA has this goal for all communities and persons across the nation. Environmental justice will be achieved when everyone enjoys the same degree of protection from environmental and health hazards and equal access to the decision-making process to have a healthy environment in which to live, learn, and work. For more information, please visit www.epa.gov/environmentaljustice.

    b. Absent EPA approval, no more than $200,000 per site assessment can be funded with section 128(a) funds, and no more than $200,000 per site cleanup can be funded with section 128(a) funds;

    c. Absent EPA approval, the state/tribe may not use funds awarded under this agreement to assess and/or clean-up sites owned or operated by the recipient or held in trust by the United States Government for the recipient; and

    d. Assessments and cleanups cannot be conducted at sites where the state/tribe is a potentially responsible party pursuant to CERCLA section 107, except:

    • At brownfield sites contaminated by a controlled substance as defined in CERCLA section 101(39)(D)(ii)(I); or