Federal Register Vol. 82, No.197,

Federal Register Volume 82, Issue 197 (October 13, 2017)

Page Range47611-47952
FR Document

82_FR_197
Current View
Page and SubjectPDF
82 FR 47951 - Leif Erikson Day, 2017PDF
82 FR 47949 - Columbus Day, 2017PDF
82 FR 47947 - National Manufacturing Day, 2017PDF
82 FR 47945 - National School Lunch Week, 2017PDF
82 FR 47943 - Fire Prevention Week, 2017PDF
82 FR 47777 - Sunshine Act Meeting NoticePDF
82 FR 47693 - Notice of Request for Revision to and Extension of Approval of an Information Collection; Gypsy Moth Identification Worksheet and ChecklistPDF
82 FR 47691 - Notice of Request for Extension of Approval of an Information Collection; Black Stem Rust; Identification Requirements for Addition of Rust-Resistant VarietiesPDF
82 FR 47775 - Sunshine Act; Notice of Agency MeetingPDF
82 FR 47779 - Sunshine Act Meeting NoticePDF
82 FR 47777 - Sunshine Act Meeting; National Science BoardPDF
82 FR 47731 - Certain New Chemicals or Significant New Uses; Statements of Findings for July 2017PDF
82 FR 47790 - Fiscal Year 2016 Service Contract InventoryPDF
82 FR 47765 - Agency Information Collection Activities; Submission to the Office of Management and Budget for Review and Approval; Oil and Gas Drilling OperationsPDF
82 FR 47733 - Pesticide Program Dialogue Committee; Notice of Public MeetingPDF
82 FR 47788 - Notice of Release and Permanent Closure of the St. Clair Regional Airport, St. Clair, MissouriPDF
82 FR 47694 - Availability of a Final Environmental Assessment and Finding of No Significant Impact for a Release of Three Parasitoids for Biological Control of the Lily Leaf BeetlePDF
82 FR 47616 - Safety Zone, Brandon Road Lock and Dam to Lake Michigan Including Des Plaines River, Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal, Chicago River, and Calumet-Saganashkee Channel, Chicago, ILPDF
82 FR 47779 - New Postal ProductsPDF
82 FR 47688 - Notice of Request for Revision to and Extension of Approval of an Information Collection; Importation of Fresh Blueberry Fruit From Morocco Into the Continental United StatesPDF
82 FR 47689 - Notice of Request for Revision to and Extension of Approval of an Information Collection; Importation of Pine Shoot Beetle Host Material From CanadaPDF
82 FR 47692 - Notice of Request for Revision to and Extension of Approval of an Information Collection; Karnal Bunt; Importation of Wheat and Related ArticlesPDF
82 FR 47690 - Notice of Request for Revision to and Extension of Approval of an Information Collection; Importation of Mangoes From Jamaica Into the Continental United StatesPDF
82 FR 47687 - Request for Extension of and Revision to a Currently Approved Information CollectionPDF
82 FR 47717 - Nominations to the Marine Fisheries Advisory CommitteePDF
82 FR 47616 - Safety Zone; Main Branch of the Chicago River, Oktoberfest, Chicago, ILPDF
82 FR 47623 - Civil Monetary Penalty Inflation Adjustment RulePDF
82 FR 47764 - Notice of Realty Action: Classification and Segregation for Lease/Conveyance for Recreation and Public Purposes for a School in Washoe County, NVPDF
82 FR 47731 - Braintree Electric Light Department; Notice of Petition For Limited WaiverPDF
82 FR 47763 - Agency Information Collection Activities; Submission to the Office of Management and Budget for Review and Approval; Mineral Materials DisposalPDF
82 FR 47659 - New Mailing Standards for Domestic Mailing Services ProductsPDF
82 FR 47641 - Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; 2017 Commercial Accountability Measure and Closure for South Atlantic Vermilion SnapperPDF
82 FR 47640 - Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; 2017 Commercial Accountability Measures and Closure for South Atlantic Greater AmberjackPDF
82 FR 47766 - Meeting of the CJIS Advisory Policy BoardPDF
82 FR 47776 - Meetings of Humanities PanelPDF
82 FR 47747 - Agency Information Collection Activities: Proposed Collection; Comment RequestPDF
82 FR 47743 - Proposed Data Collection Submitted for Public Comment and RecommendationsPDF
82 FR 47696 - Approval of Expansion of Subzone 124D; LOOP LLC; Lafourche and St. James Parishes, LouisianaPDF
82 FR 47697 - 100- to 150-Seat Large Civil Aircraft from Canada: Preliminary Affirmative Determination of Sales at Less Than Fair ValuePDF
82 FR 47740 - Proposed Data Collections Submitted for Public Comment and RecommendationsPDF
82 FR 47744 - Proposed Data Collection Submitted for Public Comment and RecommendationsPDF
82 FR 47738 - Proposed Data Collection Submitted for Public Comment and RecommendationsPDF
82 FR 47741 - Agency Forms Undergoing Paperwork Reduction Act ReviewPDF
82 FR 47737 - Agency Forms Undergoing Paperwork Reduction Act ReviewPDF
82 FR 47746 - Agency Forms Undergoing Paperwork Reduction Act ReviewPDF
82 FR 47749 - ``Determining Whether To Submit an Abbreviated New Drug Application or a 505(b)(2) Application;'' Draft Guidance for Industry; AvailabilityPDF
82 FR 47729 - Notice of Public Meetings of the Draft Environmental Impact Statement/Overseas Environmental Impact Statement for Hawaii-Southern California Training and TestingPDF
82 FR 47697 - Sensors and Instrumentation Technical Advisory Committee; Notice of Partially Closed MeetingPDF
82 FR 47697 - Materials Processing Equipment Technical Advisory Committee; Notice of Open MeetingPDF
82 FR 47748 - Assessing User Fees Under the Prescription Drug User Fee Amendments of 2017; Draft Guidance for Industry; AvailabilityPDF
82 FR 47615 - Special Local Regulation; Fautasi Ocean Challenge Canoe Race, Pago Pago Harbor, American SamoaPDF
82 FR 47727 - Procurement List; DeletionsPDF
82 FR 47663 - Revisions to Reporting Requirements Governing Hearing Aid-Compatible Mobile HandsetsPDF
82 FR 47770 - Comment RequestPDF
82 FR 47669 - Toll Free Assignment Modernization; Toll Free Service Access CodesPDF
82 FR 47628 - Domestic Competitive Products Pricing and Mailing Standards ChangesPDF
82 FR 47735 - Information Collection Being Reviewed by the Federal Communications Commission Under Delegated AuthorityPDF
82 FR 47734 - Information Collection Being Reviewed by the Federal Communications Commission Under Delegated AuthorityPDF
82 FR 47683 - Amendment of the Commission's Rules Regarding Maintenance of Copies of FCC RulesPDF
82 FR 47656 - Standards for the Growing, Harvesting, Packing, and Holding of Produce for Human Consumption; Extension of Compliance Dates for Subpart E; CorrectionPDF
82 FR 47789 - Notice of OFAC Sanctions ActionsPDF
82 FR 47864 - Change in Rates of General Applicability for Competitive ProductsPDF
82 FR 47789 - Notice of OFAC Sanctions Actions; Sanctions Actions Pursuant to Executive Order 13581PDF
82 FR 47774 - Notice of Information CollectionPDF
82 FR 47772 - Nevada State Plan; Change in Level of Federal Enforcement: Private-Sector Employment on Military BasesPDF
82 FR 47752 - Orthopaedic and Rehabilitation Devices Panel of the Medical Devices Advisory Committee; Notice of MeetingPDF
82 FR 47750 - Agricultural Biotechnology Education and Outreach Initiative; Public Meetings; Request for CommentsPDF
82 FR 47763 - Agency Information Collection Activities; North American Woodcock Singing Ground SurveyPDF
82 FR 47615 - Drawbridge Operation Regulation; Willamette River, Portland, ORPDF
82 FR 47618 - Safety Zone; Upper Mississippi River, St. Louis, MOPDF
82 FR 47768 - Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposed eCollection eComments Requested; New Collection: State and Local Justice Agencies Serving Tribal Lands (SLJASTL): Survey of Prosecutor Offices in PL-280 States Serving Tribal Lands (SSLPOSTL)PDF
82 FR 47767 - Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposed eCollection eComments Requested; New Collection: State and Local Justice Agencies Serving Tribal Lands (SLJASTL): Survey of State and Local Law Enforcement Agencies in PL 280 States Serving Tribal Lands (SSLLEASTL)PDF
82 FR 47773 - Division of Coal Mine Workers' Compensation; Proposed Extension of Existing Collection; Comment RequestPDF
82 FR 47772 - Division of Coal Mine Workers' Compensation; Proposed Extension of Existing Collection; Comment RequestPDF
82 FR 47696 - Notice of Public Meeting of the Tennessee Advisory CommitteePDF
82 FR 47759 - Senior Executive Service Performance Review BoardPDF
82 FR 47784 - Self-Regulatory Organizations; The NASDAQ Stock Market LLC; Notice of Filing and Immediate Effectiveness of Proposed Rule Change To Reduce the Fees for Certain Investment Management Entities and Eligible Portfolio CompaniesPDF
82 FR 47780 - Self-Regulatory Organizations; The NASDAQ Stock Market LLC; Notice of Filing and Immediate Effectiveness of Proposed Rule Change To Waive Nasdaq's Entry Fee When a New Entity Lists in Connection With Certain Transactions Between Two or More Nasdaq-Listed CompaniesPDF
82 FR 47782 - Self-Regulatory Organizations; C2 Options Exchange, Incorporated; Notice of Filing and Immediate Effectiveness of a Proposed Rule Change To Amend the Fees SchedulePDF
82 FR 47757 - Prospective Grant of Exclusive Patent License: Devices and Systems For Treating Valvular RegurgitationPDF
82 FR 47756 - Submission for OMB Review; 30-Day Comment Request; Specimen Resource Locator (NCI)PDF
82 FR 47642 - Pacific Island Pelagic Fisheries; 2017 U.S. Territorial Longline Bigeye Tuna Catch LimitsPDF
82 FR 47695 - Information Collection; Small Business Timber Sale Set-Aside Program; Appeal Procedures on Recomputation of SharesPDF
82 FR 47717 - Takes of Marine Mammals Incidental to Specified Activities; Taking Marine Mammals Incidental to the Gary Paxton Industrial Park Dock Modification Project.PDF
82 FR 47761 - Agency Information Collection Activities; Revision of a Currently Approved Collection: Application for Employment AuthorizationPDF
82 FR 47788 - Notice of Determinations; Culturally Significant Objects Imported for Exhibition Determinations: “Sunken Cities: Egypt's Lost Worlds” ExhibitionPDF
82 FR 47788 - Notice of Determinations; Culturally Significant Objects Imported for Exhibition Determinations: “Repentant Monk: Illusion and Disillusion in the Art of Chen Hongshou” ExhibitionPDF
82 FR 47759 - Prospective Grant of Exclusive Patent License: Use of Pharmaceutical and Biological Compositions Comprising Gram-Negative Bacteria for the Topical Treatment of Dermatological Diseases and Dermatological ConditionsPDF
82 FR 47755 - Government-Owned Inventions; Availability for LicensingPDF
82 FR 47753 - Government-Owned Inventions; Availability for LicensingPDF
82 FR 47700 - Takes of Marine Mammals Incidental to Specified Activities; Taking Marine Mammals Incidental to the Haines Ferry Terminal Modification ProjectPDF
82 FR 47778 - Information Collection: Licensing Requirements for the Independent Storage of Spent Nuclear Fuel, High-Level Radioactive Waste and Reactor-Related Greater than Class C WastePDF
82 FR 47777 - Information Collection: 10 CFR Part 81, “Standard Specifications for Granting of Patent Licenses”PDF
82 FR 47755 - National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke; Notice of Closed MeetingsPDF
82 FR 47757 - National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute; Notice of Closed MeetingPDF
82 FR 47758 - Center for Scientific Review; Notice of Closed MeetingsPDF
82 FR 47754 - Center for Scientific Review; Notice of Closed MeetingsPDF
82 FR 47736 - Notice of Proposals To Engage in or To Acquire Companies Engaged in Permissible Nonbanking ActivitiesPDF
82 FR 47736 - Change in Bank Control Notices; Acquisitions of Shares of a Bank or Bank Holding CompanyPDF
82 FR 47736 - Formations of, Acquisitions by, and Mergers of Bank Holding CompaniesPDF
82 FR 47688 - Revision of a Currently Approved CollectionPDF
82 FR 47645 - Reducing Unnecessary Regulatory BurdenPDF
82 FR 47936 - Air Plan Approval; South Carolina; Cross-State Air Pollution RulePDF
82 FR 47930 - Air Plan Approval; Georgia; Cross-State Air Pollution RulePDF
82 FR 47630 - Air Plan Approval; Connecticut; Nonattainment New Source Review Permit Requirements for the 2008 8-Hour Ozone StandardPDF
82 FR 47613 - Benefits Payable in Terminated Single-Employer Plans; Interest Assumptions for Paying BenefitsPDF
82 FR 47630 - Air Plan Approval; Vermont; Regional Haze Five-Year Progress Report; Withdrawal of Direct Final RulePDF
82 FR 47634 - Air Plan Approval: South Carolina; Standards for Volatile Organic Compounds and Oxides of NitrogenPDF
82 FR 47636 - Air Plan Approval: South Carolina; Miscellaneous Revisions to Multiple RulesPDF
82 FR 47612 - Amendment of Class E Airspace; Medford, WI and Waupaca, WIPDF
82 FR 47611 - Amendment of Class D and Class E Airspace; Elizabeth City, NCPDF
82 FR 47662 - Air Plan Approval; Florida; Stationary Sources Emissions MonitoringPDF
82 FR 47636 - Air Plan Approval; Florida; Stationary Sources Emissions MonitoringPDF
82 FR 47775 - Agency Information Collection Activities: Proposed Collection; Comment Request; Generic Clearance for the Collection of Qualitative Feedback on Agency Service DeliveryPDF
82 FR 47640 - Air Plan Approval: SC: Multiple Revisions to Air Pollution Control StandardsPDF
82 FR 47733 - Disapproval of Pesticide Product Registrations for Special Local NeedsPDF
82 FR 47634 - Air Plan Approval; North Carolina; Air Curtain BurnersPDF
82 FR 47631 - Air Plan Approval; AL; VOC Definitions and Particulate EmissionsPDF
82 FR 47635 - Air Plan Approval; AL; VOC Definitions and Particulate EmissionsPDF
82 FR 47629 - Air Plan Approval: North Carolina; Transportation ConformityPDF
82 FR 47761 - Environmental Planning and Historic Preservation ProgramPDF
82 FR 47769 - Proposed Extension of Information Collection Request Submitted for Public Comment; Coverage of Certain Preventive Services Under the Affordable Care Act-Private SectorPDF
82 FR 47780 - Product Change-Priority Mail Negotiated Service AgreementPDF
82 FR 47663 - Federal Travel Regulation (FTR); Clarification of Payment in Kind for Speakers at Meetings and Similar Functions; WithdrawalPDF
82 FR 47645 - Children's Products, Children's Toys, and Child Care Articles: Determinations Regarding Lead, ASTM F963 Elements, and Phthalates for Engineered Wood ProductsPDF
82 FR 47620 - Safety Zone, Delaware River; DredgingPDF
82 FR 47623 - Safety Zone; Patapsco River, Northwest and Inner Harbors; Baltimore, MDPDF
82 FR 47728 - Notice of Intent To Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement for the Peckman River Basin Flood Risk Management StudyPDF
82 FR 47658 - Religious Exemptions and Accommodations for Coverage of Certain Preventive Services Under the Affordable Care Act; Proposed RulemakingPDF
82 FR 47656 - Moral Exemptions and Accommodations for Coverage of Certain Preventive Services Under the Affordable Care Act; Proposed RulemakingPDF
82 FR 47838 - Moral Exemptions and Accommodations for Coverage of Certain Preventive Services Under the Affordable Care ActPDF
82 FR 47792 - Religious Exemptions and Accommodations for Coverage of Certain Preventive Services Under the Affordable Care ActPDF

Issue

82 197 Friday, October 13, 2017 Contents Agricultural Marketing Agricultural Marketing Service NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals, 47687-47688 2017-22134 2017-22221 Agriculture Agriculture Department See

Agricultural Marketing Service

See

Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service

See

Forest Service

Animal Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: Black Stem Rust; Identification Requirements for Addition of Rust-Resistant Varieties; Extension, 47691-47692 2017-22346 Gypsy Moth Identification Worksheet and Checklist; Revision and Extension, 47693-47694 2017-22348 Importation of Fresh Blueberry Fruit from Morocco Into the Continental United States, 47688-47689 2017-22225 Importation of Mangoes From Jamaica Into the Continental United States, 47690-47691 2017-22222 Importation of Pine Shoot Beetle Host Material From Canada, 47689-47690 2017-22224 Karnal Bunt; Importation of Wheat and Related Articles, 47692-47693 2017-22223 Environmental Assessments; Availability, etc.: Release of Three Parasitoids for Biological Control of the Lily Leaf Beetle, 47694-47695 2017-22228 Safety Enviromental Enforcement Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: Oil and Gas Drilling Operations, 47765-47766 2017-22244 Centers Disease Centers for Disease Control and Prevention NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals, 47737-47747 2017-22197 2017-22198 2017-22199 2017-22200 2017-22201 2017-22202 2017-22206 Centers Medicare Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals, 47747-47748 2017-22207 Civil Rights Civil Rights Commission NOTICES Meetings: Tennessee Advisory Committee, 47696 2017-22162 Coast Guard Coast Guard RULES Drawbridge Operations: Willamette River, Portland, OR, 47615-47616 2017-22169 Safety Zones: Brandon Road Lock and Dam to Lake Michigan including Des Plaines River, Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal, Chicago River, and Calumet-Saganashkee Channel, Chicago, IL, 47616 2017-22227 Delaware River; Dredging, 47620-47623 2017-21979 Main Branch of the Chicago River, Oktoberfest, Chicago, IL, 47616-47618 2017-22219 Patapsco River, Northwest and Inner Harbors; Baltimore, MD, 47623 2017-21959 Upper Mississippi River, St. Louis, MO, 47618-47620 2017-22168 Special Local Regulations: Fautasi Ocean Challenge Canoe Race, Pago Pago Harbor, American Samoa, 47615 2017-22191 Commerce Commerce Department See

Foreign-Trade Zones Board

See

Industry and Security Bureau

See

International Trade Administration

See

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Committee for Purchase Committee for Purchase From People Who Are Blind or Severely Disabled NOTICES Procurement List; Additions and Deletions, 47727-47728 2017-22190 Consumer Product Consumer Product Safety Commission PROPOSED RULES Children's Products, Children's Toys, and Child Care Articles: Determinations Regarding Lead, ASTM F963 Elements, and Phthalates for Engineered Wood Products, 47645-47656 2017-21980 Defense Department Defense Department See

Engineers Corps

See

Navy Department

Employee Benefits Employee Benefits Security Administration RULES Moral Exemptions and Accommodations for Coverage of Certain Preventive Services under the Affordable Care Act, 47084 2017-21852 Religious Exemptions and Accommodations for Coverage of Certain Preventive Services under the Affordable Care Act, 47792-47835 2017-21851 NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: Coverage of Certain Preventive Services under the Affordable Care Act--Private Sector, 47769-47770 2017-22064 Energy Department Energy Department See

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission

Engineers Engineers Corps RULES Civil Monetary Penalty Inflation Adjustment Rule, 47623-47628 2017-22218 NOTICES Environmental Impact Statements; Availability, etc.: Peckham River Basin Flood Risk Management Study, 47728-47729 2017-21933 Environmental Protection Environmental Protection Agency RULES Air Quality State Implementation Plans; Approvals and Promulgations: Alabama; Volatile Organic Compounds Definitions and Particulate Emissions, 47631-47633, 47635 2017-22098 2017-22099 Florida; Stationary Sources Emissions Monitoring, 47636-47640 2017-22114 Georgia; Cross-State Air Pollution Rule, 47930-47934 2017-22126 North Carolina; Air Curtain Burners, 47634-47635 2017-22101 North Carolina; Transportation Conformity, 47629-47630 2017-22094 South Carolina; Cross-State Air Pollution Rule, 47936-47940 2017-22128 South Carolina; Miscellaneous Revisions to Multiple Rules, 47636 2017-22120 South Carolina; Multiple Revisions to Air Pollution Control Standards, 47640 2017-22103 South Carolina; Standards for Volatile Organic Compounds and Oxides of Nitrogen, 47634 2017-22122 Withdrawal of Conneccticut: Nonattainment New Source Review Permit Requirements for the 2008 8-Hour Ozone Standard, 47630 2017-22125 Withdrawal of Direct Final Rule; Vermont; Regional Haze Five-Year Progress Report, 47630-47631 2017-22123 PROPOSED RULES Air Quality State Implementation Plans; Approvals and Promulgations: Stationary Sources Emissions Monitoring, 47662-47663 2017-22116 NOTICES Certain New Chemicals or Significant New Uses: Statements of Findings for July 2017, 47731-47732 2017-22249 Meetings: Pesticide Program Dialogue Committee, 47733-47734 2017-22237 Pesticide Product Registrations; Disapprovals: Special Local Needs, 47733 2017-22102 Federal Aviation Federal Aviation Administration RULES Amendment of Class D and Class E Airspace: Elizabeth City, NC, 47611-47612 2017-22118 Amendment of Class E Airspace: Medford, WI and Waupaca, WI, 47612-47613 2017-22119 NOTICES Permanent Closures: St. Clair Regional Airport, St. Clair, MO, 47788-47789 2017-22231 Federal Bureau Federal Bureau of Investigation NOTICES Meetings: Criminal Justice Information Services Advisory Policy Board, 47766 2017-22209 Federal Communications Federal Communications Commission PROPOSED RULES Maintenance of Copies of FCC Rules, 47683-47686 2017-22183 Revisions to Reporting Requirements Governing Hearing Aid-Compatible Mobile Handsets, 47663-47669 2017-22189 Toll Free Assignment Modernization; Toll Free Service Access Codes, 47669-47683 2017-22187 NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals, 47734-47736 2017-22184 2017-22185 Federal Energy Federal Energy Regulatory Commission NOTICES Petitions for Waivers: Braintree Electric Light Department, 47731 2017-22214 Federal Reserve Federal Reserve System NOTICES Changes in Bank Control: Acquisitions of Shares of a Bank or Bank Holding Company, 47736 2017-22137 Formations of, Acquisitions by, and Mergers of Bank Holding Companies, 47736-47737 2017-22136 Proposals to Engage in or to Acquire Companies Engaged in Permissible Nonbanking Activities, 47736 2017-22138 Fish Fish and Wildlife Service NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: North American Woodcock Singing Ground Survey, 47763 2017-22171 Food and Drug Food and Drug Administration PROPOSED RULES Standards for the Growing, Harvesting, Packing, and Holding of Produce for Human Consumption; Correction, 47656 2017-22182 NOTICES Guidance: Assessing User Fees Under the Prescription Drug User Fee Amendments of 2017, 47748-47749 2017-22192 Determining Whether to Submit an Abbreviated New Drug Application or a 505(b)(2) Application, 47749-47750 2017-22196 Meetings: Agricultural Biotechnology Education and Outreach Initiative, 47750-47752 2017-22172 Orthopaedic and Rehabilitation Devices Panel of the Medical Devices Advisory Committee, 47752-47753 2017-22174 Foreign Assets Foreign Assets Control Office NOTICES Blocking or Unblocking of Persons and Properties, 47789-47790 2017-22178 2017-22180 Foreign Trade Foreign-Trade Zones Board NOTICES Subzone Expansions; Approvals: LOOP LLC, Subzone 124D, Lafourche and St. James Parishes, LA, 47696-47697 2017-22204 Forest Forest Service NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: Small Business Timber Sale Set-Aside Program; Appeal Procedures on Recomputation of Shares, 47695-47696 2017-22154 General Services General Services Administration PROPOSED RULES Federal Travel Regulations: Clarification of Payment in Kind for Speakers at Meetings and Similar Functions; Withdrawal, 47663 2017-22016 Health and Human Health and Human Services Department See

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

See

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services

See

Food and Drug Administration

See

National Institutes of Health

RULES Moral Exemptions and Accommodations for Coverage of Certain Preventive Services under the Affordable Care Act, 47084 2017-21852 Religious Exemptions and Accommodations for Coverage of Certain Preventive Services under the Affordable Care Act, 47792-47835 2017-21851
Homeland Homeland Security Department See

Coast Guard

See

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services

NOTICES Environmental Planning and Historic Preservation Program, 47761 2017-22077 Senior Executive Service Performance Review Board, 47759-47761 2017-22161
Industry Industry and Security Bureau NOTICES Meetings: Materials Processing Equipment Technical Advisory Committee, 47697 2017-22193 Sensors and Instrumentation Technical Advisory Committee, 47697 2017-22194 Institute of Museum and Library Services Institute of Museum and Library Services NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: Generic Clearance for the Collection of Qualitative Feedback on Agency Service Delivery, 47775-47776 2017-22109 Interior Interior Department See

Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement

See

Fish and Wildlife Service

See

Land Management Bureau

Internal Revenue Internal Revenue Service RULES Moral Exemptions and Accommodations for Coverage of Certain Preventive Services under the Affordable Care Act, 47084 2017-21852 Religious Exemptions and Accommodations for Coverage of Certain Preventive Services under the Affordable Care Act, 47792-47835 2017-21851 PROPOSED RULES Moral Exemptions and Accommodations for Coverage of Certain Preventive Services under the Affordable Care Act, 47656-47657 2017-21854 Religious Exemptions and Accommodations for Coverage of Certain Preventive Services under the Affordable Care Act, 47658-47659 2017-21856 International Trade Adm International Trade Administration NOTICES Determinations of Sales at Less Than Fair Value: 100- to 150-Seat Large Civil Aircraft from Canada, 47697-47700 2017-22203 Justice Department Justice Department See

Federal Bureau of Investigation

NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: State and Local Justice Agencies Serving Tribal Lands: Survey of Prosecutor Offices in PL-280 States Serving Tribal Lands, 47768-47769 2017-22167 State and Local Justice Agencies Serving Tribal Lands: Survey of State and Local Law Enforcement Agencies in PL 280 States Serving Tribal Lands, 47767-47768 2017-22166
Labor Department Labor Department See

Employee Benefits Security Administration

See

Labor Statistics Bureau

See

Occupational Safety and Health Administration

See

Workers Compensation Programs Office

Labor Statistics Labor Statistics Bureau NOTICES Comment Requests: Occupational Injury and Illness Classification System, 47770-47772 2017-22188 Land Land Management Bureau NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: Mineral Materials Disposal, 47763-47764 2017-22213 Realty Actions: Classification and Segregation for Lease/Conveyance for Recreation and Public Purposes for a School in Washoe County, NV, 47764-47765 2017-22217 NASA National Aeronautics and Space Administration NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals, 47774-47775 2017-22177 National Credit National Credit Union Administration NOTICES Meetings; Sunshine Act, 47775 2017-22345 National Foundation National Foundation on the Arts and the Humanities See

Institute of Museum and Library Services

NOTICES Meetings: Humanities Panel, 47776 2017-22208
National Institute National Institutes of Health NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: Specimen Resource Locator, 47756-47757 2017-22156 Exclusive Patent Licenses: Devices and Systems for Treating Valvular Regurgitation, 47757-47758 2017-22157 Government-Owned Inventions; Availability for Licensing, 47753-47755 2017-22146 2017-22147 Meetings: Center for Scientific Review, 47754-47755, 47758-47759 2017-22139 2017-22140 National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, 47757 2017-22141 National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, 47755-47756 2017-22142 Proposed Exclusive Patent Licenses: Use of Pharmaceutical and Biological Compositions Comprising Gram-Negative Bacteria, 47759 2017-22148 National Labor National Labor Relations Board NOTICES Meetings; Sunshine Act, 47777 2017-22371 National Oceanic National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration RULES Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic: South Atlantic Greater Amberjack; Commercial Accountability Measures and Closure, 47640-47641 2017-22210 South Atlantic Vermilion Snapper; Commercial Accountability Measure and Closure, 47641-47642 2017-22211 Pacific Island Pelagic Fisheries: U.S. Territorial Longline Bigeye Tuna Catch Limits, 47642-47644 2017-22155 NOTICES Requests for Nominations: Marine Fisheries Advisory Committee, 47717 2017-22220 Takes of Marine Mammals Incidental to Specified Activities: Gary Paxton Industrial Park Dock Modification Project, 47717-47727 2017-22153 Haines Ferry Terminal Modification Project, 47700-47717 2017-22145 National Science National Science Foundation NOTICES Meetings; Sunshine Act, 47777 2017-22260 Navy Navy Department NOTICES Environmental Impact Statements; Availability, etc.: Hawaii-Southern California Training and Testing; Meetings, 47729-47731 2017-22195 Nuclear Regulatory Nuclear Regulatory Commission NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: Licensing Requirements for the Independent Storage of Spent Nuclear Fuel, High-Level Radioactive Waste and Reactor-Related Greater than Class C Waste, 47778-47779 2017-22144 Standard Specifications for Granting of Patent Licenses, 47777-47778 2017-22143 Meetings; Sunshine Act, 47779 2017-22316 Occupational Safety Health Adm Occupational Safety and Health Administration NOTICES Change in Level of Federal Enforcement: Nevada State Plan; Private-Sector Employment on Military Bases, 47772 2017-22175 Pension Benefit Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation RULES Benefits Payable in Terminated Single-Employer Plans: Interest Assumptions for Paying Benefits, 47613-47615 2017-22124 Postal Regulatory Postal Regulatory Commission NOTICES New Postal Products, 47779-47780 2017-22226 Postal Service Postal Service RULES Domestic Competitive Products Pricing and Mailing Standards Changes, 47628-47629 2017-22186 PROPOSED RULES New Mailing Standards for Domestic Mailing Services Products, 47659-47662 2017-22212 NOTICES Change in Rates of General Applicability for Competitive Products, 47864-47927 2017-22179 Product Changes: Priority Mail Negotiated Service Agreement, 47780 2017-22038 Presidential Documents Presidential Documents PROCLAMATIONS Special Observances: Columbus Day (Proc. 9656), 47949-47950 2017-22423 Fire Prevention Week (Proc. 9653), 47941-47944 2017-22417 Leif Erikson Day (Proc. 9657), 47951-47952 2017-22424 National Manufacturing Day (Proc. 9655), 47947-47948 2017-22420 National School Lunch Week (Proc. 9654), 47945-47946 2017-22419 Securities Securities and Exchange Commission NOTICES Self-Regulatory Organizations; Proposed Rule Changes: C2 Options Exchange, Inc., 47782-47784 2017-22158 The NASDAQ Stock Market LLC, 47780-47782, 47784-47787 2017-22159 2017-22160 Small Business Small Business Administration PROPOSED RULES Reducing Unnecessary Regulatory Burden, 47645 2017-22130 State Department State Department NOTICES Culturally Significant Objects Imported for Exhibition: Repentant Monk: Illusion and Disillusion in the Art of Chen Hongshou, 47788 2017-22149 Sunken Cities: Egypt's Lost Worlds, 47788 2017-22150 Transportation Department Transportation Department See

Federal Aviation Administration

Treasury Treasury Department See

Foreign Assets Control Office

See

Internal Revenue Service

NOTICES Fiscal Year 2016 Service Contract Inventory, 47790 2017-22248
U.S. Citizenship U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: Application for Employment Authorization, 47761-47762 2017-22151 Workers' Workers Compensation Programs Office NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals, 47772-47774 2017-22163 2017-22164 Separate Parts In This Issue Part II Health and Human Services Department, 47792-47835 2017-21851 Labor Department, Employee Benefits Security Administration, 47792-47835 2017-21851 Treasury Department, Internal Revenue Service, 47792-47835 2017-21851 Part III Health and Human Services Department, 47084 2017-21852 Labor Department, Employee Benefits Security Administration, 47084 2017-21852 Treasury Department, Internal Revenue Service, 47084 2017-21852 Part IV Postal Service, 47864-47927 2017-22179 Part V Environmental Protection Agency, 47930-47934 2017-22126 Part VI Environmental Protection Agency, 47936-47940 2017-22128 Part VII Presidential Documents, 47941-47952 2017-22423 2017-22417 2017-22424 2017-22420 2017-22419 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.

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82 197 Friday, October 13, 2017 Rules and Regulations DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION Federal Aviation Administration 14 CFR Part 71 [Docket No. FAA-2016-0384; Airspace Docket No. 17-ASO-14] Amendment of Class D and Class E Airspace; Elizabeth City, NC AGENCY:

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), DOT.

ACTION:

Final rule.

SUMMARY:

This action removes the Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) part-time status from the legal description of the Class E airspace area designated as an extension at Elizabeth City CGAS/Regional Airport, Elizabeth City, NC, and adds NOTAM part-time language information to Class E surface area airspace. This action brings the airspace descriptions in line with the airspace hours listed in the applicable Chart Supplement. This action also updates the geographic coordinates of the airport and the Woodville non-directional radio beacon (NDB) in the associated Class D and E airspace. Also, an editorial change is made to the Class D and E surface area airspace legal descriptions, 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 7400.11A at NARA, call (202)-741-6030, or go to https://www.archives.gov/federal-register/cfr/ibr-locations.html.

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

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

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

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 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 D and Class E airspace at Elizabeth City CGAS/Regional Airport, Elizabeth City, NC, to ensure the efficient use of airspace within the National Airspace System.

History

The FAA published a notice of proposed rulemaking in the Federal Register (82 FR 33837, July 21, 2017) Docket No. FAA-2016-0384 to amend Class D airspace, Class E surface area airspace, Class E airspace designated as an extension to a Class D surface area, and Class E airspace extending upward from 700 feet or more above the surface at Elizabeth City CGAS/Regional Airport, Elizabeth City, NC.

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 D and E airspace designations are published in paragraph 5000, 6002, 6004, and 6005, respectively, of FAA Order 7400.11B dated August 3, 2017, and effective September 15, 2017, which is incorporated by reference in 14 CFR part 71.1. The Class D and 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 action amends Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) part 71 by amending Class D airspace, Class E surface area airspace, Class E airspace designated as an extension to a Class D surface area, and Class E airspace extending upward from 700 feet or more above the surface at Elizabeth City CGAS/Regional Airport, Elizabeth City, NC. The NOTAM part-time status is removed from the Class E airspace area designated as an extension to a Class D surface area.

For the associated Class D and E airspace areas, the geographic coordinates of the airport and Woodville NDB are adjusted to coincide with the FAAs aeronautical database.

Also, this action replaces the outdated term Airport/Facility Directory with the term Chart Supplement in the associated Class D and E airspace legal descriptions.

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. Therefore, this regulation: (1) Is not a “significant regulatory action” under Executive Order 12866; (2) is not a “significant rule” under DOT Regulatory Policies and Procedures (44 FR 11034; February 26, 1979); and (3) does not warrant preparation of a regulatory evaluation as the anticipated impact is so minimal. Since this is a routine matter that only affects air traffic procedures and air navigation, it is certified that this rule, when promulgated, does not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities under the criteria of the Regulatory Flexibility Act.

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 5-6.5a. This airspace action is not expected to cause any potentially significant environmental impacts, and no extraordinary circumstances exist that warrant preparation of an environmental assessment.

Lists of Subjects in 14 CFR Part 71

Airspace, Incorporation by reference, Navigation (air).

Adoption of the Amendment

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

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

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

§ 71.1 [Amended]
2. The incorporation by reference in 14 CFR 71.1 of Federal Aviation Administration Order 7400.11B, Airspace Designations and Reporting Points, dated August 3, 2017, effective September 15, 2017, is amended as follows: Paragraph 5000 Class D Airspace. ASO NC D Elizabeth City, NC [Amended] Elizabeth City CGAS/Regional Airport, NC (Lat. 36°15′38″ N., long. 76°10′28″ W.)

That airspace extending upward from the surface to and including 2,500 feet within a 4.1-mile radius of Elizabeth City CGAS/Regional Airport. This Class D airspace area is effective during the specific dates and times established in advance by a Notice to Airmen. The effective date and time will thereafter be continuously published in the Chart Supplement.

Paragraph 6002 Class E Surface Area Airspace. ASO NC E2 Elizabeth City, NC [Amended] Elizabeth City CGAS/Regional Airport, NC (Lat. 36°15′38″ N., long. 76°10′28″ W.)

Within a 4.1-mile radius of Elizabeth City CGAS/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 date and time will thereafter be continuously published in the Chart Supplement.

Paragraph 6004 Class E Airspace Designated as an Extension to a Class D Surface Area. ASO NC E4 Elizabeth City, NC [Amended] Elizabeth City CGAS/Regional Airport, NC (Lat. 36°15′38″ N., long. 76°10′28″ W.) Elizabeth City VOR/DME (Lat. 36°15′27″ N., long. 76°10′32″ W.) Woodville NDB (Lat. 36°15′47″ N., long. 76°17′53″ W.)

That airspace extending upward from the surface within 1.6 miles each side of Elizabeth City VOR/DME 189° radial, extending from the 4.1-mile radius of Elizabeth City CGAS/Regional Airport to 9.5 miles south of the VOR/DME; within 3.3 miles each side of Elizabeth City VOR/DME 357° radial, extending from the 4.1-mile radius of Elizabeth City CGAS/Regional Airport to 7 miles north of the VOR/DME; within 1.2 miles each side of the 079° bearing from the Woodville NDB, extending from 4.1-mile radius of the airport to the NDB.

Paragraph 6005 Class E Airspace Areas Extending Upward From 700 Feet or More Above the Surface of the Earth. ASO NC E5 Elizabeth City, NC [Amended] Elizabeth City CGAS/Regional Airport, NC (Lat. 36°15′38″ N., long. 76°10′28″ W.) Elizabeth City VOR/DME (Lat. 36°15′27″ N., long. 76°10′32″ W.)

That airspace extending upward from 700 feet above the surface within a 7-mile radius of Elizabeth City CGAS/Regional Airport, and within 8 miles east and 4 miles west of Elizabeth City VOR/DME 189° radial, extending from the VOR/DME to 9.5 miles south of the VOR/DME.

Issued in College Park, Georgia, on October 4, 2017. Ryan W. Almasy, Manager, Operations Support Group, Eastern Service Center, Air Traffic Organization.
[FR Doc. 2017-22118 Filed 10-12-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4910-13-P
DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION Federal Aviation Administration 14 CFR Part 71 [Docket No. FAA-2017-0388; Airspace Docket No. 17-AGL-13] Amendment of Class E Airspace; Medford, WI and Waupaca, WI AGENCY:

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), DOT.

ACTION:

Final rule.

SUMMARY:

This action amends Class E airspace extending upward from 700 feet above the surface at Taylor County Airport, Medford, WI and Waupaca Municipal Airport, Waupaca, WI, to accommodate new standard instrument approach procedures for instrument flight rules (IFR) operations at these airports. This action is necessary due to the decommissioning of the Medford and Waupaca non directional radio beacons (NDB), and cancellation of NDB approaches. Also, an error in the geographic coordinates of Waupaca Municipal Airport and Taylor County Airport are corrected. This action enhances the safety and management of IFR operations at these airports.

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 https://www.archives.gov/federal-register/cfr/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 would amend controlled airspace to support IFR operations at Taylor County and Waupaca Municipal airports.

History

The FAA published in the Federal Register a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) (82 FR 26408, June 7, 2017) Docket No. FAA-2017-0388 to modify Class E airspace extending upward from 700 feet above the surface at Taylor County Airport, Medford, WI. Interested parties were invited to participate in this rulemaking effort by submitting written comments on the proposal to the FAA. No comments were received. Subsequent to publication, the FAA found the geographic coordinates for Waupaca Municipal Airport, Waupaca, WI, were incorrect and makes the correction in this rule. 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.

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 from the 6.8-mile radius of Taylor County Airport, Medford, WI by removing the segment within 2.7 miles each side of the 162° bearing from the airport extending from the 6.8-mile radius to 7 miles southeast of the airport due to the decommissioning of the Medford NDB and cancellation of the NDB approach.

This action also modifies Class E airspace extending upward from 700 feet above the surface at Waupaca Municipal Airport, Waupaca, WI to within a 6.6-mile (from a 6.4-mile) radius of the airport and removes the segment within 2.7 miles each side of the 118° bearing from the airport, extending from the 6.4-mile radius to 7 miles southeast of the airport due to the decommissioning of the Waupaca NDB and cancellation of the NDB approach. Also, the geographic coordinates are corrected to be in concert with the FAA's aeronautical database.

This action enhances the safety and management of standard instrument approach procedures for IFR operations at these airports.

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 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 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 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 WI E5 Medford, WI [Amended] Taylor County Airport, WI (Lat. 45°06′05″ N., long. 90°18′01″ W.)

That airspace extending upward from 700 feet above the surface within a 6.8-mile radius of Taylor County Airport.

AGL WI E5 Waupaca, WI [Amended] Waupaca Municipal Airport, WI (Lat. 44°20′00″ N., long. 89°01′11″ W.)

That airspace extending upward from 700 feet above the surface within a 6.6-mile radius of Waupaca Municipal Airport.

Issued in Fort Worth, Texas, on October 5, 2017. Christopher L. Southerland, Acting Manager, Operations Support Group, ATO Central Service Center.
[FR Doc. 2017-22119 Filed 10-12-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4910-13-P
PENSION BENEFIT GUARANTY CORPORATION 29 CFR Part 4022 Benefits Payable in Terminated Single-Employer Plans; Interest Assumptions for Paying Benefits AGENCY:

Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation.

ACTION:

Final rule.

SUMMARY:

This final rule amends the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation's regulation on Benefits Payable in Terminated Single-Employer Plans to prescribe interest assumptions under the regulation for valuation dates in November 2017. The interest assumptions are used for paying benefits under terminating single-employer plans covered by the pension insurance system administered by PBGC.

DATES:

Effective November 1, 2017.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Daniel S. Liebman ([email protected]), Acting Assistant General Counsel for Regulatory Affairs, Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, 1200 K Street NW., Washington, DC 20005, 202-326-4400 ext. 6510. (TTY/TDD users may call the Federal relay service toll-free at 1-800-877-8339 and ask to be connected to 202-326-4400, ext. 6510.)

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

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

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

The interest assumptions are intended to reflect current conditions in the financial and annuity markets. Assumptions under the benefit payments regulation are updated monthly. This final rule updates the benefit payments interest assumptions for November 2017.1

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

The November 2017 interest assumptions under the benefit payments regulation will be 0.75 percent for the period during which a benefit is in pay status and 4.00 percent during any years preceding the benefit's placement in pay status. In comparison with the interest assumptions in effect for October 2017, these assumptions are unchanged.

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

Because of the need to provide immediate guidance for the payment of benefits under plans with valuation dates during November 2017, PBGC finds that good cause exists for making the assumptions set forth in this amendment effective less than 30 days after publication. PBGC has determined that this action is not a “significant regulatory action” under the criteria set forth in Executive Order 12866.

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

List of Subjects in 29 CFR Part 4022

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

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

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

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

2. In appendix B to part 4022, Rate Set 289 is added to the table to read as follows: Appendix B to Part 4022—Lump Sum Interest Rates for PBGC Payments Rate set For plans with a valuation
  • date
  • On or after Before Immediate
  • annuity rate
  • (percent)
  • Deferred annuities
  • (percent)
  • i 1 i 2 i 3 n 1 n 2
    *         *         *         *         *         *         * 289 11-1-17 12-1-17 0.75 4.00 4.00 4.00 7 8
    3. In appendix C to part 4022, Rate Set 289 is added to the table to read as follows: Appendix C to Part 4022—Lump Sum Interest Rates for Private-Sector Payments Rate set For plans with a valuation
  • date
  • On or after Before Immediate
  • annuity rate
  • (percent)
  • Deferred annuities
  • (percent)
  • i 1 i 2 i 3 n 1 n 2
    *         *         *         *         *         *         * 289 11-1-17 12-1-17 0.75 4.00 4.00 4.00 7 8

    Issued in Washington, DC.

    Daniel S. Liebman, Acting Assistant General Counsel for Regulatory Affairs, Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation.
    [FR Doc. 2017-22124 Filed 10-12-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 7709-02-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY Coast Guard 33 CFR Part 100 [Docket No. USCG-2017-0968] Special Local Regulation; Fautasi Ocean Challenge Canoe Race, Pago Pago Harbor, American Samoa AGENCY:

    Coast Guard, DHS.

    ACTION:

    Notice of enforcement of regulation.

    SUMMARY:

    The Coast Guard will enforce a Special Local Regulation for the Fautasi Ocean Challenge Canoe Race on the dates of November 10, 17, and 24, 2017, to safeguard the participants and spectators, including all crews, vessels, and persons on the water in Pago Pago Harbor during the event. This regulation will functionally close the port to vessel traffic during the race, but will not require the evacuation of any vessels from the harbor. Entry into, transiting, or anchoring in the harbor will be prohibited to all vessels not registered with the sponsor as participants or not part of the race patrol, unless specifically authorized by the Captain of the Port (COTP) Honolulu or a designated representative. Vessels that are already moored or anchored in the harbor seeking permission to remain there shall request permission from the COTP unless deemed a spectator vessel that is moored to a waterfront facility within the regulated area.

    DATES:

    The regulations in 33 CFR 100.1401 will be enforced from 7:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on the dates of November 10, 17, and 24, 2017.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    If you have questions about this notice of enforcement, call or email Lieutenant Commander John Bannon, Waterways Management Division, U.S. Coast Guard Sector Honolulu; telephone (808) 541-4359, email [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    The Coast Guard will enforce a Special Local Regulation in 33 CFR 100.1401 for the Fautasi Ocean Challenge Canoe Race from 7:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on the dates of November 10, 17, and 24, 2017. This action is being taken to safeguard the participants and spectators, including all crews, vessels, and persons on the water in Pago Pago Harbor during the event. This regulation for the marine events, which will encompass portions of Pago Pago Harbor. During the enforcement periods, as reflected in 33 CFR 100.1401(c), if you are the operator of a vessel in the regulated area you must comply with directions from the Captain of the Port (COTP) Honolulu or a designated representative.

    This notice of enforcement is issued under authority of 33 CFR 100 and 5 U.S.C. 552 (a). In addition to this notice of enforcement in the Federal Register, the Coast Guard plans to provide notification of this enforcement period via the Local Notice to Mariners and Broadcast Notice to Mariners.

    Dated: October 6, 2017. M.C. Long, Captain, U.S. Coast Guard, Captain of the Port Honolulu.
    [FR Doc. 2017-22191 Filed 10-12-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 9110-04-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY Coast Guard 33 CFR Part 117 [Docket No. USCG-2017-0960] Drawbridge Operation Regulation; Willamette River, Portland, OR AGENCY:

    Coast Guard, DHS.

    ACTION:

    Notice of deviation from drawbridge regulation.

    SUMMARY:

    The Coast Guard has issued a temporary deviation from the operating schedule that governs the upper deck of the Steel Bridge across the Willamette River, mile 12.1, in Portland, OR. The deviation is necessary to support the Annual Run Like Hell Half Marathon event. This deviation allows the upper lift span of the bridge to remain in the closed-to-navigation position to ensure the safety of construction crew members.

    DATES:

    This deviation is effective from 8 a.m. until 11:30 a.m. on October 22, 2017.

    ADDRESSES:

    The docket for this deviation, USCG-2017-0960, is available at http://www.regulations.gov. Type the docket number in the “SEARCH” box and click “SEARCH.” Click on Open Docket Folder on the line associated with this deviation.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    If you have questions on this temporary deviation, call or email Mr. Steven Fischer, Bridge Administrator, Thirteenth Coast Guard District; telephone 206-220-7282, email [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Union Pacific Railroad Company (UPRR), bridge owner, has requested a temporary deviation from the operating schedule for the Steel Bridge across the Willamette River, at mile 12.1, in Portland, OR. The deviation is necessary to accommodate the Annual Run Like Hell Half Marathon event. The City of Portland is sponsoring the race and event. The Steel Bridge is a double-deck lift bridge with a lower lift deck and an upper lift deck which operate independent of each other. To facilitate this paving operation, the upper deck will remain in the closed-to-navigation position. When the lower deck is in the closed-to-navigation position, the bridge provides 26 feet of vertical clearance above Columbia River Datum 0.0; and in open-to-navigation position, the vertical clearance is 71 feet above Columbia River Datum 0.0. The deviation period is from 8 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. on October 22, 2017. The lower deck for the Steel Bridge will continue to operate in accordance with 33 CFR 117.897(c)(3)(ii), and at the end of this deviation period, the upper deck of the Steel Bridge will resume operating in accordance with 33 CFR 117.897(c)(3)(ii).

    Waterway usage on this part of the Willamette River includes vessels ranging from commercial tug and barge to small pleasure craft. Vessels able to pass through the bridge with the lower deck in the open-to-navigation position or upper deck in the closed-to-navigation position may do so at anytime. The upper lift and lower lift of the Steel Bridge will be able to open for emergencies, and there is no immediate alternate route for vessels to pass. The Coast Guard has conducted public outreach regarding this closure of the upper deck on the subject bridge to known mariners that transit on the river. The Coast Guard has not received any objections to this temporary deviation from the operating schedule. The Coast Guard will also inform the users of the waterways through our Local and Broadcast Notices to Mariners of the change in operating schedule for the bridge so that vessel operators can arrange their transits to minimize any impact caused by the temporary deviation.

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

    Dated: October 5, 2017. Steven Michael Fischer, Bridge Administrator, Thirteenth Coast Guard District.
    [FR Doc. 2017-22169 Filed 10-12-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 9110-04-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY Coast Guard 33 CFR Part 165 [Docket No. USCG-2011-0228] Safety Zone, Brandon Road Lock and Dam to Lake Michigan Including Des Plaines River, Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal, Chicago River, and Calumet-Saganashkee Channel, Chicago, IL AGENCY:

    Coast Guard, DHS.

    ACTION:

    Notice of enforcement of regulation.

    SUMMARY:

    The Coast Guard will enforce a segment of the Safety Zone; Brandon Road Lock and Dam to Lake Michigan including Des Plaines River, Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal, Chicago River, Calumet-Saganashkee Channel on all waters of the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal and South Branch of the Chicago River between mile marker 318.9 and mile marker 321.9 from 7 a.m. until 2 p.m. on October 29, 2017. This action is necessary to protect the waterway and vessels from the potential hazards associated with a rowing competition.

    DATES:

    The regulations in 33 CFR 165.930 will be enforced from 7 a.m. until 2 p.m. on October 29, 2017.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    If you have questions about this notice of enforcement, call or email LT John Ramos, Waterways Management Division, Marine Safety Unit Chicago, at 630-986-2155, email address [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    The Coast Guard will enforce a segment of the Safety Zone; Brandon Road Lock and Dam to Lake Michigan including Des Plaines River, Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal, Chicago River, Calumet-Saganashkee Channel, Chicago, IL, listed in 33 CFR 165.930. Specifically, the Coast Guard will enforce this safety zone on all waters of the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal and South Branch of the Chicago River between mile marker 318.9 and mile marker 321.9. Enforcement will occur from 7 a.m. until 2 p.m. on October 29, 2017. During the enforcement period, no vessel may transit this regulated area without approval from the Captain of the Port Lake Michigan or a Captain of the Port Lake Michigan designated representative. Vessels and persons granted permission to enter the safety zone shall obey all lawful orders or directions of the Captain of the Port Lake Michigan, or his or her on-scene representative.

    This notice of enforcement is issued under the authority of 33 CFR 165.930 and 5 U.S.C. 552(a). In addition to this publication in the Federal Register, the Captain of the Port Lake Michigan will also provide notice through other means, which will include Broadcast Notice to Mariners, Local Notice to Mariners, distribution in leaflet form, and on-scene oral notice. Additionally, the Captain of the Port Lake Michigan may notify representatives from the maritime industry through telephonic and email notifications. If the Captain of the Port or a designated representative determines that the regulated area need not be enforced for the full duration stated in this notice, he or she may use a Broadcast Notice to Mariners to grant general permission to enter the regulated area. The Captain of the Port Lake Michigan or a designated on-scene representative may be contacted via Channel 16, VHF-FM or at (414) 747-7182.

    Dated: October 6, 2017. Thomas J. Stuhlreyer, Captain, U.S. Coast Guard, Captain of the Port Lake Michigan.
    [FR Doc. 2017-22227 Filed 10-12-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 9110-04-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY Coast Guard 33 CFR Part 165 [Docket Number USCG-2017-0917] RIN 1625-AA00 Safety Zone; Main Branch of the Chicago River, Oktoberfest, Chicago, IL AGENCY:

    Coast Guard, DHS.

    ACTION:

    Temporary final rule.

    SUMMARY:

    The Coast Guard is establishing a temporary safety zone on the Main Branch of the Chicago River, Chicago, IL. This action is necessary and intended to ensure safety of life on the navigable waters of the United States immediately prior to, during, and after a bridge based pyrotechnics display. Entry of vessels or persons into this zone is prohibited unless specifically authorized by the Captain of the Port Lake Michigan.

    DATES:

    This rule is effective from 7:15 p.m. through 7:45 p.m. on October 13, 2017.

    ADDRESSES:

    To view documents mentioned in this preamble as being available in the docket, go to http://www.regulations.gov, type USCG-2017-0917 in the “SEARCH” box and click “SEARCH.” Click on Open Docket Folder on the line associated with this rule.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    If you have questions about this rule, call or email LT John Ramos, Marine Safety Unit Chicago, U.S. Coast Guard; telephone (630) 986-2155, email [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

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

    The Coast Guard is issuing this temporary rule without prior notice and opportunity to comment pursuant to authority under section 4(a) of the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) (5 U.S.C. 553(b)). This provision authorizes an agency to issue a rule without prior notice and opportunity to comment when the agency for good cause finds that those procedures are “impracticable, unnecessary, or contrary to public interest.” Under 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(B), the Coast Guard finds that good cause exists for not publishing a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) with respect to this rule because doing so would be impracticable. The Coast Guard did not receive the final details for this event until there was insufficient time remaining before the event to publish a NPRM. Thus, delaying the effective date of this rule to wait for a comment period to run would be impracticable because it would inhibit the Coast Guard's ability to protect the public and vessels from the hazards associated with bridge based fireworks displays on October 13, 2017.

    We are issuing this rule, and under 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3), the Coast Guard finds that good cause exists for making this temporary rule effective less than 30 days after publication in the Federal Register. For the same reasons discussed in the preceding paragraph, waiting for a 30-day notice period to run would be impracticable.

    III. Legal Authority and Need for Rule

    The legal basis for the rule is the Coast Guard's authority to establish safety zones: 33 U.S.C. 1231; 33 CFR 1.05-1, 160.5; Department of Homeland Security Delegation No. 0170.1.

    On October 13, 2017 a bridge based pyrotechnics display will take place on the Main Branch of the Chicago River between the Wells Street Bridge and the Wabash Avenue Bridge in Chicago, IL. The Captain of the Port Lake Michigan has determined that the pyrotechnics display will pose a significant risk to public safety and property. Such hazards include premature and accidental detonations, falling and burning debris, and collisions among spectator vessels.

    IV. Discussion of the Rule

    With the aforementioned hazards in mind, the Captain of the Port Lake Michigan has determined that this temporary safety zone is necessary to ensure the safety of the public during the bridge based pyrotechnics displays on the Main Branch of the Chicago River. This safety zone will be enforced from 7:15 p.m. through 7:45 p.m. on October 13, 2017. This zone will encompass all waters of the Main Branch of the Chicago River between the Wells Street Bridge and the Wabash Avenue Bridge in Chicago, IL.

    Entry into, transiting, or anchoring within the safety zone is prohibited unless authorized by the Captain of the Port Lake Michigan, or a designated on-scene representative. The Captain of the Port or a designated on-scene representative may be contacted via VHF Channel 16 or contact Sector Lake Michigan at (414) 747-7182.

    V. Regulatory Analyses

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

    A. Regulatory Planning and Review

    Executive Orders 12866 and 13563 direct agencies to assess the costs and benefits of available regulatory alternatives and, if regulation is necessary, to select regulatory approaches that maximize net benefits. Executive Order 13563 emphasizes the importance of quantifying both costs and benefits, of reducing costs, of harmonizing rules, and of promoting flexibility. Executive Order 13771 (“Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs”), directs agencies to reduce regulation and control regulatory costs and provides that “for every one new regulation issued, at least two prior regulations be identified for elimination, and that the cost of planned regulations be prudently managed and controlled through a budgeting process.” This rule has not been designated a “significant regulatory action,” under Executive Order 12866. Accordingly, it has not been reviewed by the Office of Management and Budget.

    As this rule is not a significant regulatory action, this rule is exempt from the requirements of Executive Order 13771. See OMB's Memorandum titled “Interim Guidance Implementing Section 2 of the Executive Order of January 30, 2017 titled `Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs' ” (February 2, 2017).

    We conclude that this rule is not a significant regulatory action because we anticipate that it will have minimal impact on the economy, will not interfere with other agencies, will not adversely alter the budget of any grant or loan recipients, and will not raise any novel legal or policy issues. The safety zone created by this rule will be relatively small and enforced from 7:15 p.m. through 7:45 p.m. on October 13, 2017. Under certain conditions, moreover, vessels may still transit through the safety zone when permitted by the Captain of the Port.

    B. Impact on Small Entities

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

    Under the Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 601-612), we have considered the impact of this temporary rule on small entities. This rule will affect the following entities, some of which might be small entities: The owners or operators of vessels intending to transit on a portion of the Main Branch of the Chicago River from 7:15 p.m. through 7:45 p.m. on October 13, 2017.

    This safety zone will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities for the reasons cited in the Regulatory Planning and Review section above. Additionally, before the enforcement of the zone, we will issue local Broadcast Notice to Mariners and Local Notice to Mariners so vessel owners and operators can plan accordingly.

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

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

    C. Collection of Information

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

    D. Federalism and Indian Tribal Governments

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

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

    E. Unfunded Mandates Reform Act

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

    F. Environment

    We have analyzed this rule under Department of Homeland Security Management Directive 023-01 and Commandant Instruction M16475.lD, which guide the Coast Guard in complying with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (42 U.S.C. 4321-4370f), and have determined that this action is one of a category of actions that do not individually or cumulatively have a significant effect on the human environment. This rule involves the establishment of a safety zone for a bridge based pyrotechnics display on the Main Branch of the Chicago River in Chicago, IL. It is categorically excluded from further review under paragraph 34(g) of Figure 2-1 of the Commandant Instruction. A Record of Environmental Consideration (REC) supporting this determination is available in the docket where indicated in the ADDRESSES section of this preamble. We seek any comments or information that may lead to the discovery of a significant environmental impact from this rule.

    G. Protest Activities

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

    List of Subjects in 33 CFR Part 165

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

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

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

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

    2. Add § 165.T09-0917 to read as follows:
    § 165.T09-0614 Safety Zone; Main Branch of the Chicago River, Oktoberfest, Chicago, IL.

    (a) Location. All U.S. navigable waters of the Main Branch of the Chicago River, between the Wells Street Bridge and Wabash Avenue Bridge in Chicago, IL.

    (b) Enforcement period. This rule will be enforced from 7:15 p.m. through 7:45 p.m. on October 13, 2017.

    (c) Regulations. (1) In accordance with the general regulations in § 165.23 of this part, entry into, transiting, or anchoring within this safety zone is prohibited unless authorized by the Captain of the Port Lake Michigan or a designated on-scene representative.

    (2) This safety zone is closed to all vessel traffic, except as may be permitted by the Captain of the Port Lake Michigan or a designated on-scene representative.

    (3) The “on-scene representative” of the Captain of the Port Lake Michigan is any Coast Guard commissioned, warrant or petty officer who has been designated by the Captain of the Port Lake Michigan to act on his or her behalf.

    (4) Vessel operators desiring to enter or operate within the safety zone shall contact the Captain of the Port Lake Michigan or an on-scene representative to obtain permission to do so.

    The Captain of the Port Lake Michigan or an on-scene representative may be contacted via VHF Channel 16 or contact Sector Lake Michigan at (414) 747-7182. Vessel operators given permission to enter or operate in the safety zone must comply with all directions given to them by the Captain of the Port Lake Michigan, or an on-scene representative.

    Dated: October 5, 2017. Thomas J. Stuhlreyer, Captain, U.S. Coast Guard, Captain of the Port, Lake Michigan.
    [FR Doc. 2017-22219 Filed 10-12-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 9110-04-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY Coast Guard 33 CFR Part 165 [Docket Number USCG-2017-0942] RIN 1625-AA00 Safety Zone; Upper Mississippi River, St. Louis, MO AGENCY:

    Coast Guard, DHS.

    ACTION:

    Temporary final rule.

    SUMMARY:

    The Coast Guard is establishing a temporary safety zone for all navigable waters on the Upper Mississippi River between mile marker (MM) 183.7 and MM 185.1. This temporary safety zone is necessary to provide for the safety of life and property on all navigable waters near St. Louis, MO for dredging being conducted in the navigational channel at the lower entrance of the Chain of Rocks Canal by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. During the period of enforcement, entry into the safety zone is prohibited unless specifically authorized by the Captain of the Port Sector Upper Mississippi River (COTP) or other designated representative.

    DATES:

    This rule is effective without actual notice from October 13, 2017 through 7 a.m. on October 21, 2017. For the purposes of enforcement, actual notice will be used from 5 p.m. on October 8, 2017 through October 13, 2017.

    ADDRESSES:

    To view documents mentioned in this preamble as being available in the docket, go to http://www.regulations.gov, type USCG-2017-0942 in the “SEARCH” box and click “SEARCH.” Click on Open Docket Folder on the line associated with this rule.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    If you have questions on this rule, call or email LCDR Sean Peterson, Chief of Prevention, Sector Upper Mississippi River, U.S. Coast Guard; telephone 314-269-2332, email [email protected].

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

    The Coast Guard is issuing this temporary rule without prior notice and opportunity to comment pursuant to authority under section 4(a) of the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) (5 U.S.C. 553(b)). This provision authorizes an agency to issue a rule without prior notice and opportunity to comment when the agency for good cause finds that those procedures are “impracticable, unnecessary, or contrary to the public interest.” Under 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(B), the Coast Guard finds that good cause exists for not publishing a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) with respect to this rule because it is impracticable.

    The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers notified the Coast Guard on September 28, 2017 that dredging would begin October 8, 2017 at 5 p.m. at the lower entrance to the Chain of Rocks Canal, which would obstruct the navigational channel to vessel traffic. Due to the risks associated with this work in the navigational channel, a safety zone is needed. We must establish this temporary safety zone by October 8, 2017 and lack sufficient time to provide a reasonable comment period and then consider those comments before issuing the rule.

    We are issuing this rule, and under 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3), the Coast Guard finds that good cause exists for making it effective less than 30 days after publication in the Federal Register. Delaying the effective date of the rule is contrary to the public interest because immediate action is necessary to prevent possible loss of life and property from the hazards associated with dredging in the navigational channel.

    III. Legal Authority and Need for Rule

    The Coast Guard is issuing this rule under authority in 33 U.S.C. 1231. The Captain of the Port Sector Upper Mississippi River (COTP) has determined that potential hazards associated with dredging in the navigational channel from 5 p.m. on October 8, 2017 through 7 a.m. on October 21, 2017 will be a safety concern for all navigable waters of the Upper Mississippi River between mile marker (MM) 183.7 and MM 185.1. The purpose of this rule is to ensure safety of life on the navigable waters in the temporary safety zone before, during, and after the dredging.

    IV. Discussion of the Rule

    This rule establishes a safety zone each day from 5 p.m. to 7 a.m. beginning on October 8, 2017 and ending on October 21, 2017, or until conditions allow for safe navigation, whichever occurs earlier. The safety zone will cover all navigable waters between MM 183.7 and MM 185.1 on the Upper Mississippi River in St. Louis, MO. The safety zone is intended to ensure the safety of vessels and these navigable waters during channel dredging operations. No vessel or person will be permitted to enter the safety zone without obtaining permission from the COTP or a designated representative. Exact times of the closures and any changes to the planned schedule will be communicated to mariners using Broadcast and Local Notice to Mariners.

    V. Regulatory Analyses

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

    A. Regulatory Planning and Review

    Executive Orders 12866 and 13563 direct agencies to assess the costs and benefits of available regulatory alternatives and, if regulation is necessary, to select regulatory approaches that maximize net benefits. Executive Order 13771 directs agencies to control regulatory costs through a budgeting process. This rule has not been designated a “significant regulatory action,” under Executive Order 12866. Accordingly, this rule has not been reviewed by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), and pursuant to OMB guidance it is exempt from the requirements of Executive Order 13771.

    This regulatory action determination is based on the size, location, duration, and time-of-year of the safety zone. This temporary final rule establishes a safety zone impacting a mile and a half area on the Upper Mississippi River for a limited time period of fourteen hours on fourteen separate days. During the enforcement period, vessels are prohibited from entering into or remaining within the safety zone unless specifically authorized by the COTP or other designated representative.

    Additionally, notice of the safety zone or any changes in the planned schedule will be made via Broadcast and Local Notice to Mariners. Entry into this safety zone may be requested from the COTP or other designated representative and will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

    B. Impact on Small Entities

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

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

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

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

    C. Collection of Information

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

    D. Federalism and Indian Tribal Governments

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

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

    E. Unfunded Mandates Reform Act

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

    F. Environment

    We have analyzed this rule under Department of Homeland Security Management Directive 023-01 and Commandant Instruction M16475.lD, which guide the Coast Guard in complying with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (42 U.S.C. 4321-4370f), and have determined that this action is one of a category of actions that do not individually or cumulatively have a significant effect on the human environment. This rule involves a safety zone lasting fourteen hours on fourteen separate nights that will prohibit entry from MM 183.7 to MM 185.1 on the UMR from October 8, 2017 to October 21, 2017. It is categorically excluded from further review under paragraph 34(g) of Figure 2-1 of the Commandant Instruction. A Record of Environmental Consideration supporting this determination is available in the docket where indicated under ADDRESSES.

    G. Protest Activities

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

    List of Subjects in 33 CFR Part 165

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

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

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

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

    2. Add § 165.T08-0942 to read as follows:
    § 165.08-0942 Safety Zone; Upper Mississippi River, St. Louis, MO.

    (a) Location. The following area is a safety zone: All navigable waters of the Upper Mississippi River between mile marker (MM) 183.7 to MM 185.1, St. Louis, MO.

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

    (c) Regulations. (1) Under the general safety zone regulations in § 165.23 of this part, you may not enter the safety zone described in paragraph (a) of this section unless authorized by the COTP or a designated representative.

    (2) To seek permission to enter, contact the COTP or the COTP's representative via VHF-FM channel 16, or through Coast Guard Sector Upper Mississippi River by telephone at 314-269-2332. Those in the safety zone must comply with all lawful orders or directions given to them by the COTP or a designated representative.

    (d) Enforcement period. This section will be enforced from 5 p.m. on October 8, 2017, through 7 a.m. on October 21, 2017. It will be enforced daily from 5 p.m. through 7 a.m.

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

    Dated: October 6, 2017. Scott A. Stoermer, Captain, U.S. Coast Guard, Captain of the Port Sector Upper Mississippi River.
    [FR Doc. 2017-22168 Filed 10-12-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 9110-04-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY Coast Guard 33 CFR Part 165 [Docket Number USCG-2017-0947] RIN 1625-AA00 Safety Zone, Delaware River; Dredging AGENCY:

    Coast Guard, DHS.

    ACTION:

    Temporary final rule.

    SUMMARY:

    The Coast Guard is establishing temporary safety zones in portions of New Castle Range and Cherry Island Range on the Delaware River as well as the Christina River in order to facilitate the annual maintenance dredging of the Federal Navigation Channel. The safety zones will be established for the waters in the vicinity of the dredge, dredge equipment, and associated pipeline. This regulation is necessary to provide for the safety of life on navigable waters of the Delaware River and the Christina River in the vicinity of dredging activity and is intended to protect mariners from the hazards associated with pipe-laying and dredging operations.

    DATES:

    This rule is effective without actual notice from October 13, 2017 through January 10, 2018. For the purposes of enforcement, actual notice will be used from October 6, 2017, through October 13, 2017.

    ADDRESSES:

    To view documents mentioned in this preamble as being available in the docket, go to http://www.regulations.gov, type USCG-2017-0947 in the “SEARCH” box and click “SEARCH.” Click on Open Docket Folder on the line associated with this rule.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    If you have questions on this rule, call or email Petty Officer Edmund Ofalt, Waterways Management Branch, U.S. Coast Guard Sector Delaware Bay; telephone (215) 271-4814, email [email protected]

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

    The Coast Guard is issuing this temporary rule without prior notice and opportunity to comment pursuant to authority under section 4(a) of the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) (5 U.S.C. 553(b)). This provision authorizes an agency to issue a rule without prior notice and opportunity to comment when the agency for good cause finds that those procedures are “impracticable, unnecessary, or contrary to the public interest.” Under 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(B), the Coast Guard finds that good cause exists for not publishing a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) with respect to this rule because Sector Delaware Bay received the final details of the project on October 2, 2017 and dredging operations are scheduled to commence on October 6, 2017. It is impracticable and contrary to the public interest to publish an NPRM to provide a notice and opportunity for comment period because we must establish these safety zones by October 6, 2017, to ensure the safety of life on navigable waters in the vicinity of dredging activity and protect mariners from the hazards associated with pipe-laying and dredging operations. Specific risks to safety include submerged and floating pipeline, dredge booster assemblies and the dredge itself which may be placed within or in close proximity to the navigational channel and Pea Patch Island Anchorage 5 on the Delaware River.

    Under 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3), the Coast Guard finds that good cause exists for making this rule effective less than 30 days after publication in the Federal Register. Delaying the effective date of this rule would be impracticable and contrary to the public interest because immediate action is needed to mitigate the hazards presented to safety of life on the Delaware and Christina Rivers by the presence of dredge equipment and dredging operations.

    III. Legal Authority and Need for Rule

    The Coast Guard is issuing this rule under authority in 33 U.S.C. 1231. The Captain of the Port (COTP) Delaware Bay has determined that potential hazards associated with dredging and pipe laying operations beginning on October 6, 2017, will be a safety concern for vessels attempting to transit the Delaware River, along New Castle Range, Cherry Island Range, and the Christina River. This rule is needed to protect personnel, vessels, and the marine environment on the navigable waters within the safety zones while dredging is being conducted.

    IV. Discussion of the Rule

    This rule establishes safety zones on portions of the Delaware River and Christina River from October 6, 2017, through January 10, 2018, unless cancelled earlier by the COTP, to facilitate maintenance dredging being conducted in New Castle Range, Cherry Island Range and the Christina River. Maintenance dredging in the channel will be conducted with the cutter suction dredge ILLINOIS and associated pipeline. The pipeline will be a combination of floating hoses immediately behind the dredge connected to a submerged pipeline leading to upland disposal areas. Due to the hazards related to cutter suction dredging, the associated pipeline, and the location of the submerged pipeline, safety zones will be established in the following areas:

    (1) Safety zone 1 includes all waters within 150 yards of the dredge and all related dredge equipment. Entry into or transiting within safety zone 1 is prohibited unless vessels obtain permission from the Captain of the Port, via VHF-FM channel 16, or make satisfactory passing arrangements, via VHF-FM channels 07 or 13, with the dredge ILLINOIS per this section and the Rules of the Road (33 CFR subchapter E). The safety zone will be established for the duration of the maintenance project. Vessels requesting to transit shall contact the dredge ILLINOIS on VHF channel 07 or 13, at least 1 hour, as well as 30 minutes, prior to arrival.

    (2) Safety zone 2 includes all the waters of Pea Patch Island Anchorage No. 5 found in 33 CFR 110.157(a)(6), where submerged pipeline(s) will be located which poses a risk to anchored vessels. The safety zone will be in place only during the time in which the dredge ILLINOIS is conducting dredging operations in New Castle Range. Vessels requesting to anchor in Pea Patch Island Anchorage No. 5, during the enforcement of safety zone 2, are required to obtain permission from the COTP prior to entry into the anchorage.

    The COTP will terminate each safety zone individually once all submerged pipeline has been recovered and dredging operations are completed in each range respectively. Notice of the termination of each safety zone will be made in accordance with 33 CFR 165.7.

    V. Regulatory Analyses

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

    A. Regulatory Planning and Review

    Executive Orders 12866 and 13563 direct agencies to assess the costs and benefits of available regulatory alternatives and, if regulation is necessary, to select regulatory approaches that maximize net benefits. Executive Order 13771 directs agencies to control regulatory costs through a budgeting process. This rule has not been designated a “significant regulatory action,” under Executive Order 12866. Accordingly, this rule has not been reviewed by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), and pursuant to OMB guidance it is exempt from the requirements of Executive Order 13771.

    This regulatory action determination is based on the size, location, and duration of the safety zones. Although this regulation will restrict access to regulated areas, the effect of this rule will not be significant because there are a number of alternate anchorages available. Furthermore, vessels may be permitted to transit through the safety zone with the permission of the COTP or make satisfactory passing arrangements with the dredge ILLINOIS in accordance with this rule and the Rules of the Road (33 CFR subchapter E). Extensive notification of the safety zones to the maritime public will be made via maritime advisories allowing mariners to alter their plans accordingly.

    B. Impact on Small Entities

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

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

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

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

    C. Collection of Information

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

    D. Federalism and Indian Tribal Governments

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

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

    E. Unfunded Mandates Reform Act

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

    F. Environment

    We have analyzed this rule under Department of Homeland Security Management Directive 023-01 and Commandant Instruction M16475.lD, which guide the Coast Guard in complying with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (42 U.S.C. 4321-4370f), and have determined that this action is one of a category of actions that do not individually or cumulatively have a significant effect on the human environment. This rule involves safety zones that encompass all navigable waters within 150 yards of a dredge, dredging pipeline and all dredge related equipment. It is categorically excluded from further review under paragraph 34(g) of Figure 2-1 of the Commandant Instruction. A Record of Environmental Consideration supporting this determination is available in the docket where indicated under ADDRESSES.

    G. Protest Activities

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

    List of Subjects in 33 CFR Part 165

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

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

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

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

    2. Add § 165.T05-0947, to read as follows:
    § 165.T05-0947 Safety Zones, Delaware River; Dredging.

    (a) Location. The following areas are safety zones:

    (1) Safety zone 1. Safety zone 1 includes all navigable waters within 150 yards of the dredge ILLINOIS and all related dredge equipment.

    (2) Safety zone Safety zone 2 includes all the waters of Pea Patch Island Anchorage No. 5 found in 33 CFR 110.157(a)(6), where submerged pipeline will be located causing a hazard to anchoring vessels.

    (b) Definitions—(1) Captain of the Port means the Commander Sector Delaware Bay or any Coast Guard commissioned, warrant, or petty officer who has been authorized by the Captain of the Port to act on his behalf.

    (2) Designated representative means any Coast Guard commissioned, warrant or petty officer who has been authorized by the Captain of the Port, Delaware Bay, to assist with the enforcement of safety zones described in paragraph (a) of this section.

    (c) Regulations. The general safety zone regulations found in 33 CFR part 165 subpart C apply to the safety zones created by this section.

    (1) Entry into or transiting within safety zone 1 is prohibited unless vessels obtain permission from the Captain of the Port, via VHF-FM channel 16, or make satisfactory passing arrangements, via VHF-FM channels 07 or 13, with the dredge ILLINOIS per this section and the Rules of the Road (33 CFR subchapter E). Vessels requesting to transit shall contact the dredge ILLINOIS on VHF-FM channel 07 or 13, at least 1 hour, as well as 30 minutes, prior to arrival.

    (2) Entry into, transiting, or anchoring within safety zone 2 is prohibited unless vessels obtain permission from the Captain of the Port via VHF-FM channel 16.

    (3) Vessels granted permission to enter and transit through the safety zone(s) must do so in accordance with any directions or orders of the Captain of the Port, his designated representative, or the dredge ILLINOIS as appropriate. No person or vessel may enter or remain in a safety zone without permission from the Captain of the Port or the dredge ILLINOIS as applicable.

    (4) At least one side of the main navigational channel will be kept clear for safe passage of vessels in the vicinity of safety zone 1. At no time will the main navigational channel be closed to vessel traffic.

    (5) This section applies to all vessels that intend to transit through either safety zone except vessels that are engaged in the following operations: enforcement of laws; service of aids to navigation, and emergency response.

    (d) Enforcement period. This section is enforced from October 6, 2017, through January 10, 2018.

    (1) Zone 1. Zone 1 will be enforced at all times during which the dredge ILLINOIS is conducting dredging operations in New Castle Range, Cherry Island Range, and the Christina River.

    (2) Zone 2. Zone 2 will be enforced only during those times that dredge ILLINOIS is conducting dredging operations in New Castle Range.

    (3) Notifications. The Captain of the Port will notify the maritime community of specific times and locations during which these safety zones will be enforced by providing advance notice via marine safety information bulletins, broadcast notice to mariners and local notice to mariners.

    Dated: October 5, 2017. Scott E. Anderson, Captain, U.S. Coast Guard, Captain of the Port, Delaware Bay.
    [FR Doc. 2017-21979 Filed 10-12-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 9110-04-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY Coast Guard 33 CFR Part 165 [Docket Number USCG-2017-0808] RIN 1625-AA00 Safety Zone; Patapsco River, Northwest and Inner Harbors; Baltimore, MD AGENCY:

    Coast Guard, DHS.

    ACTION:

    Temporary final rule; correction.

    SUMMARY:

    The Coast Guard is correcting a temporary final rule that appeared in the Federal Register on October 3, 2017. The document issued a temporary safety zone for certain waters of the Patapsco River, Northwest Harbor and Inner Harbor in association with the movement of the historic sloop-of-war USS CONSTELLATION on October 26, 2017 (rain date of October 27, 2017).

    DATES:

    This correction is effective from 8 a.m. on October 26, 2017, through 1 p.m. on October 27, 2017.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    If you have questions on this rule, call or email Mr. Ronald L. Houck, at Sector Maryland-National Capital Region, Waterways Management Division, U.S. Coast Guard; telephone 410-576-2674, email [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    In FR Doc. 2017-21180 appearing on page 45981 of Wednesday, October 3, 2017, the following corrections are made:

    § 165.T05-0808 [Corrected]
    1. On page 45984, in the 1st column, in § 165.T05-0808, correct paragraph (e) to read as follows:

    “(e) Enforcement period. This section will be enforced from 8 a.m. through 1 p.m. on October 26, 2017, and, if necessary due to inclement weather, from 8 a.m. through 1 p.m. on October 27, 2017.”

    Dated: October 4, 2017. Lonnie P. Harrison, Jr. Captain, U.S. Coast Guard, Captain of the Port Maryland-National Capital Region.
    [FR Doc. 2017-21959 Filed 10-12-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 9110-04-P
    DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE Department of the Army, Corps of Engineers 33 CFR Part 326 [COE-2017-0008] RIN 0710-AA77 Civil Monetary Penalty Inflation Adjustment Rule AGENCY:

    U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Department of Defense

    ACTION:

    Direct final rule.

    SUMMARY:

    The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) is issuing this final rule to adjust its civil monetary penalties under the Clean Water Act (CWA) and the National Fishing Enhancement Act to account for inflation. This action is mandated by the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act of 1990, as amended by the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvements Act of 2015 (Inflation Adjustment Act), which requires agencies to adjust the levels of civil monetary penalties with an initial “catch-up” adjustment followed by annual adjustments for inflation. The Inflation Adjustment Act prescribes a formula for adjusting statutory civil penalties to reflect inflation, maintain the deterrent effect of statutory civil penalties, and promote compliance with the law. Using the adjustment criteria provided in the Inflation Adjustment Act for the initial “catch-up” adjustment and the December 16, 2016, Office of Management and Budget Memorandum regarding the “Implementation of the 2017 annual adjustment pursuant to the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvements Act of 2015”, the 2016 catch-up adjustment and 2017 annual adjustment for inflation will increase the Class I civil penalty under Section 309 of the Clean Water Act to $20,966 per violation, and the maximum civil penalty increases to $52,414. The judicial civil penalty under Section 404(s) of the Clean Water Act increases to $52,414 per day for each violation. Under the National Fishing Enhancement Act, the Class I civil penalty increases to $22,957 per violation.

    DATES:

    This rule is effective December 12, 2017 without further notice, unless the Corps receives substantive adverse comment by November 13, 2017. If we receive such adverse comment, we will publish a timely withdrawal in the Federal Register informing the public that this rule will not take effect.

    ADDRESSES:

    You may submit comments, identified by docket number COE-2017-0008, by any of the following methods:.

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

    Email: [email protected] Include the docket number, COE-2017-0008, in the subject line of the message.

    Mail: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, ATTN: CECW-CO (Stacey M. Jensen), 441 G Street NW., Washington, DC 20314-1000.

    Hand Delivery/Courier: Due to security requirements, we cannot receive comments by hand delivery or courier.

    Instructions: Direct your comments to docket number COE-2017-0008. All comments received will be included in the public docket without change and may be made available on-line at http://www.regulations.gov, including any personal information provided, unless the commenter indicates that 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 regulations.gov or email. The regulations.gov Web site is an anonymous access system, which means we will not know your identity or contact information unless you provide it in the body of your comment. If you send an email directly to the Corps without going through 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, we recommend 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 we cannot read your comment because of technical difficulties and cannot contact you for clarification, we may not be able to consider your comment. Electronic comments should avoid the use of any special characters, any form of encryption, and be free of any defects or viruses.

    Docket: For access to the docket to read background documents or comments received, go to www.regulations.gov. All documents in the docket are listed. Although listed in the index, some information is not publicly available, such as CBI or other information whose disclosure is restricted by statute. Certain other material, such as copyrighted material, is not placed on the Internet and will be publicly available only in hard copy form.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Ms. Stacey M. Jensen at 202-761-5856 or by email at [email protected] or access the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Regulatory Home Page at http://www.usace.army.mil/Missions/CivilWorks/RegulatoryProgramandPermits.aspx.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Executive Summary

    The Corps is publishing this final rule to adjust its civil monetary penalties for inflation pursuant to the Inflation Adjustment Act. This law requires the Corps to publish an initial “catch-up” adjustment with subsequent annual adjustments for inflation. The purpose of the Inflation Adjustment Act is to maintain the deterrent effect of civil penalties by translating originally enacted statutory civil penalty amounts to today's dollars and rounding statutory civil penalties to the nearest dollar. Although the Inflation Adjustment Act required agencies to make an initial “catch-up” adjustment through an interim final rule to be published by July 1, 2016, and to publish annual adjustments beginning no later than January 15, 2017, the Corps has not yet made either adjustment. Accordingly, the Corps is combining both the “catch-up” adjustment that would have become effective by August 1, 2016, and the first annual adjustment that would have become effective by January 15, 2017, in this final rule. The rule will apply prospectively, to penalty assessments beginning on its effective date. Subsequently, the Corps intends to publish annual adjustments as required by the Inflation Adjustment Act, no later than January 15 of each calendar year.

    Pursuant to the Inflation Adjustment Act, the Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(3)(B), and guidance issued by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB),1 the Corps finds that good cause exists for issuing this final rule without prior notice and comment. The Inflation Adjustment Act does not require agencies to implement the required adjustments through a notice and comment process unless proposing an adjustment of less than the amount otherwise required, and the Corps is not exercising any discretion it may have to make a lesser adjustment. For the annual adjustments beginning in 2017, the Inflation Adjustment Act provides a clear formula for adjustment of the civil penalties, and the Corps has no discretion to vary the amount of the adjustment to reflect any views or suggestions provided by commenters. The Inflation Adjustment Act further provides that the increased penalty levels apply to penalties assessed after the effective date of the increase. For these reasons, the Corps finds that notice and comment would be impracticable and unnecessary in this situation and contrary to the language of the Inflation Adjustment Act. The Corps also notes that as we have no discretion on this action, comments received on this civil penalty rulemaking will generally not be viewed as “adverse,” but the 30-day delayed effective date period does provide the opportunity for the public to voice their concerns if we have overlooked anything.

    1 See Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Memoranda M-16-06 (Feb. 24, 2016) and M-17-11 (Dec. 16, 2016).

    Section 4 of the Inflation Adjustment Act directs federal agencies to publish annual penalty inflation adjustments. In accordance with Section 553 of the Administrative Procedures Act (APA), most rules are subject to notice and comment and are effective no earlier than 30 days after publication in the Federal Register. However, because the Inflation Adjustment Act directed agencies to make the initial “catch-up” adjustment through an interim final rule, agencies were not required to complete a notice and comment process prior to promulgating that adjustment.2 Section 4(b)(2) of the Inflation Adjustment Act further provides that each agency shall make the annual inflation adjustments “notwithstanding section 553” of the APA. According to the December 2016 OMB guidance issued to Federal agencies on the implementation of the 2017 annual adjustment, the phrase “notwithstanding section 553” means that “the public procedure the APA generally provides—notice, an opportunity for comment, and a delay in effective date—is not required for agencies to issue regulations implementing the annual adjustment.” Consistent with the language of the Inflation Adjustment Act and OMB's implementation guidance, this rule is not subject to notice and opportunity for public comment. As the Corps did not previously publish an interim final rule, the Corps is delaying the effective date of this final rule for 30 days following publication.

    2 Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act of 1990, Pub. L. 101-410, 4(b)(1)(A), 104 Stat. 890 (amended 2015) (codified as amended at 28 U.S.C. 2461 note); OMB Memorandum No. M-16-06 at 3.

    Background

    On August 3, 2011, the Deputy Secretary of Defense delegated to the Secretary of the Army the authority and responsibility to adjust penalties administered by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. On August 29, 2011, the Secretary of the Army delegated that authority and responsibility to the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works.

    On November 2, 2015, the President signed into law the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvements Act of 2015, Pub. L. 114-74, 701 (Inflation Adjustment Act), which further amended the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act of 1990 as previously amended by the 1996 Debt Collection Improvement Act (DCIA; collectively, “prior inflation adjustment Acts”), to improve the effectiveness of civil monetary penalties and to maintain their deterrent effect. The Inflation Adjustment Act requires agencies to do the following: (1) Adjust the level of civil monetary penalties with an initial “catch-up” adjustment, through an interim final rule to be published by July 1, 2016; and (2) beginning no later than January 15, 2017, make subsequent annual adjustments for inflation. The Inflation Adjustment Act does not alter an agency's statutory authority, to the extent it exists, to assess penalties below the maximum level. This final rule implements the initial “catch-up” adjustment mandated by the Inflation Adjustment Act as well as the 2017 annual inflation adjustment mandated by the Act.

    The Inflation Adjustment Act amends prior inflation adjustment Acts by substantially revising the method of calculating inflation adjustments. Prior inflation adjustment Acts required adjustments to civil penalties to be rounded significantly. For example, a penalty increase that was greater than $1,000, but less than or equal to $10,000, would be rounded to the nearest multiple of $1,000. While this allowed penalties to be kept at round numbers, it meant that agencies often would not increase penalties at all if the inflation factor was not large enough. Furthermore, increases to penalties were capped at 10 percent, which meant that longer periods without an inflation adjustment could cause a penalty to rapidly lose value in real terms. Over time, this formula caused agency civil penalties to lose value relative to total inflation, thereby undermining Congress' original purpose in enacting statutory civil monetary penalties to be a deterrent and to promote compliance with the law. The Inflation Adjustment Act has removed these rounding rules. Penalties now are simply rounded to the nearest dollar. This rounding ensures that penalties will be increased each year to more effectively keep up with inflation.

    The Inflation Adjustment Act required a “catch-up” adjustment that reset the inflation calculations by excluding prior inflationary adjustments under prior inflation adjustment Acts, and subsequent, annual adjustments to all civil penalties under the laws implemented by that agency. With this rule, the new statutory maximum penalty levels listed in Table 1 will apply to all statutory civil penalties assessed on or after the effective date of this rule.

    Calculation of “Catch-Up” Adjustment

    OMB issued guidance on calculating the initial “catch-up” adjustment in February 2016. That guidance included a table of multipliers to adjust the penalty level based on the year that the penalty was established or last adjusted by statute or regulation (other than the Inflation Adjustment Act).

    Table 1 shows the calculation of the initial catch-up adjustment based on the guidance provided by OMB. Column (1) contains the United States Code citations for the penalty statute. Column (2) contains the dollar amount most recently established by law (other than prior inflation adjustment Acts) for each civil monetary penalty. Column (3) sets out the year the Corps' civil monetary penalties were enacted or last adjusted by law (other than adjustments under the Inflation Adjustment Act). Column (4) sets out the factor determined by OMB to adjust for inflation from October of the corresponding year in column (3) to October 2015. Column (5) sets out the adjusted civil monetary penalty resulting from multiplying the dollar amount of the civil monetary penalty set out in Column (2) by the inflation factor in column (4). Column (6) sets out the civil monetary penalty that was in effect on November 2, 2015. Column (7) sets out the maximum catch-up penalty—an amount that is 250 percent of the 2015 penalty—which is calculated by multiplying the penalty amount in Column (6) by 2.5 (to achieve a 150 percent increase for a total of 250 percent of the 2015 penalty). Column (8) sets out the initial catch-up penalty amount, which is the lesser of the adjusted civil monetary penalty in Column (5) or the maximum civil monetary penalty in Column (7).

    Calculation of 2017 Annual Inflation Adjustment

    The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued guidance on calculating the 2017 annual inflation adjustment. See December 16, 2016, Memorandum for the Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies, from Shaun Donovan, Director, OMB, Subject: Implementation of the 2017 annual adjustment pursuant to the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvements Act of 2015. The OMB provided to agencies the cost-of-living adjustment multiplier for 2017, based on the CPI-U for the month of October 2016, not seasonally adjusted, which is 1.01636. Agencies are to adjust “the maximum civil monetary penalty or the range of minimum and maximum civil monetary penalties, as applicable, for each civil monetary penalty by the cost-of-living adjustment.” For 2017, agencies multiply each applicable penalty by the multiplier, 1.01636, and round to the nearest dollar. The multiplier should be applied to the most recent penalty amount, i.e., the one that includes the initial catch-up adjustment mandated by the Inflation Adjustment Act. Column (9) in Table 1 sets out the 2017 Inflation Adjustment Multiplier while Column (10) sets out the new penalty levels which take effect upon the effective date of this adjustment, on December 12, 2017.

    Table 1 Citation Current civil monetary
  • penalty
  • (CMP) amount established by law
  • Year CMP
  • enacted
  • or last
  • adjusted
  • by law
  • Inflation factor for year in column
  • (3)
  • Adjusted CMP—$ amount in
  • column (2) × factor in column (4)
  • CMP amount as of Nov. 2, 2015 CMP Cap—
  • 2.5 × amount in column (6)
  • Catch-up CMP—lesser of column (5) or (7) 2017
  • Inflation
  • adjustment
  • multiplier
  • CMP amount as of December 12, 2017
    CWA, 33 U.S.C. 1319(g)(2)(A) $10,000 per violation, with a maximum of $25,000 1987 2.06278 $20,628 per violation, with a maximum of $51,570 $11,000 per violation, with a maximum of $32,500 $27,500 per violation, with a maximum of $81,250 $20,628 per violation, with a maximum of $51,570 1.01636 $20,966 per violation, with a maximum of $52,414. CWA, 33 U.S.C. 1344(s)(4) Maximum of $25,000 per day for each violation 1987 2.06278 Maximum of $51,570 per day for each violation Maximum of $25,000 per day for each violation Maximum of $81,250 per day for each violation Maximum of $51,570 per day for each violation 1.01636 Maximum of $52,414 per day for each violation. National Fishing Enhancement Act, 33 U.S.C. 2104(e) Maximum of $10,000 per violation 1984 2.25867 Maximum of $22,587 per violation Maximum of $11,000 per violation Maximum of $27,500 per violation Maximum of $22,587 per violation 1.01636 Maximum of $22,957 per violation.

    In sum, under this final rule the minimum Class I civil penalty for violations under CWA Section 309(g)(2)(A), 33 U.S.C. 1319(g)(2)A), will increase from $11,000 per violation to $20,966, and the maximum penalty will increase from $32,500 per violation to $52,414. Judicially-imposed civil penalties under CWA Section 404(s)(4), 33 U.S.C. 1344(s)(4), will increase from a maximum of $25,000 per day for each violation to $52,414. Finally, the Class I civil penalty for violations of Section 205(e) of the National Fishing Enhancement Act, 33 U.S.C. 2104(e), will increase from a maximum of $11,000 per violation to $22,957.

    This rule will not result in any additional costs to implement the Corps Regulatory Program because the Class I civil penalties and judicial civil penalties have been in effect since 1990 when the Corps first promulgated regulations regarding such penalties (Class I civil penalties were first established by statute in 1987). This rule merely adjusts the value of current statutory civil penalties to reflect and keep pace with the levels originally set by Congress when the statutes were enacted, as required by the Inflation Adjustment Act. This rule will result in additional costs to members of the regulated public who do not comply with the terms and conditions of issued Department of the Army permits and either receive a final Class I civil administrative penalty order from a District Engineer or are subject to a judicial civil penalty because it increases the minimum and maximum penalty amounts to $20,966 and $52,414 for Class I civil administrative penalties under the Clean Water Act, to a maximum of $52,414 for judicially-imposed civil penalties under the Clean Water Act, and to a maximum of $22,957 for Class I civil administrative penalties under the National Fishing Enhancement Act. The benefit of this rule will be to improve the effectiveness of Corps civil monetary penalties by maintaining their deterrent effect and promoting compliance with the law.

    Administrative Requirements Plain Language

    In compliance with the principles in the President's Memorandum of June 1, 1998, regarding plain language, this preamble is written using plain language. The use of “we” in this notice refers to the Corps and the use of “you” refers to the reader. We have also used the active voice, short sentences, and common everyday terms except for necessary technical terms.

    Paperwork Reduction Act

    This final rule will not impose any new information collection burden under the provisions of the Paperwork Production Act (44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.). This action merely increases the level of statutory civil penalties that could be imposed in the context of a federal civil administrative enforcement action or civil judicial case for violations of Corps-administered statutes and their implementing regulations.

    Burden means the total time, effort, or financial resources expended by persons to generate, maintain, retain, or disclose or provide information to or for a Federal agency. This includes the time needed to review instructions; develop, acquire, install, and utilize technology and systems for the purposes of collecting, validating, and verifying information, processing and maintaining information, and disclosing and providing information; adjust the existing ways to comply with any previously applicable instructions and requirements; train personnel to be able to respond to a collection of information; search data sources; complete and review the collection of information; and transmit or otherwise disclose the information.

    An agency may not conduct or sponsor, and a person is not required to respond to, a collection of information unless it displays a currently valid OMB control number. For the Corps regulatory program under Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899, Section 404 of the Clean Water Act, and Section 103 of the Marine Protection, Research and Sanctuaries Act of 1972, the current OMB approval number for information requirements is maintained by the Corps of Engineers (OMB approval number 0710-0003). However, there are no new approval or application processes required as a result of this rulemaking that necessitate a new Information Collection Request (ICR). The regulation would not impose reporting or recordkeeping requirements. Therefore, this action is not subject to the Paperwork Reduction Act.

    Executive Order 12866 and Executive Order 13563, “Improving Regulation and Regulatory Review”

    The OMB has not designated this final rule a “significant regulatory action” under Executive Order 12866. Accordingly, OMB has not reviewed this rule. Moreover, this final rule makes nondiscretionary adjustments to existing civil monetary penalties in accordance with the Inflation Adjustment Act and OMB guidance. The Corps, therefore, did not consider alternatives and does not have the flexibility to alter the adjustments of the civil monetary penalty amounts as provided in this rule. To the extent this rule increases civil monetary penalties, it would result in an increase in transfers from persons or entities assessed a civil monetary penalty to the government.

    Executive Order 13132

    Executive Order 13132, entitled “Federalism” (64 FR 43255, August 10, 1999), requires the Corps to develop an accountable process to ensure “meaningful and timely input by State and local officials in the development of regulatory policies that have Federalism implications.” The phrase “policies that have Federalism implications” is defined in the Executive Order to include regulations that 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.”

    This rule does not have Federalism implications. This nondiscretionary action is required by the Inflation Adjustment Act and will have no substantial direct effects on the States, on the relationship between the Federal government and the States, or on the distribution of power and responsibilities among the various levels of government. Therefore, Executive Order 13132 does not apply to this rule.

    Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA), as Amended by the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996 (SBREFA), 5 U.S.C. 601 et seq.

    The RFA generally requires an agency to prepare a regulatory flexibility analysis of any rule subject to notice-and-comment rulemaking requirements under the Administrative Procedure Act or any other statute unless the agency certifies that the rule will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. Small entities include small businesses, small organizations and small governmental jurisdictions.

    The Regulatory Flexibility Act applies only to rules subject to notice-and-comment rulemaking requirements under the Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. 553, or any other statute. See 5 U.S.C. 601-612. The Regulatory Flexibility Act does not apply to this final rule because a notice-and-comment rulemaking process is not required for the reasons stated above.

    Unfunded Mandates Reform Act

    Title II of the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 (UMRA), Public Law 104-4, establishes requirements for Federal agencies to assess the effects of their regulatory actions on State, local, and Tribal governments and the private sector. Under Section 202 of the UMRA, the agencies generally must prepare a written statement, including a cost-benefit analysis, for proposed and final rules with “Federal mandates” that may result in expenditures to State, local, and Tribal governments, in the aggregate, or to the private sector, of $100 million or more in any one year. Before promulgating a rule for which a written statement is needed, section 205 of the UMRA generally requires the agencies to identify and consider a reasonable number of regulatory alternatives and adopt the least costly, most cost-effective or least burdensome alternative that achieves the objectives of the rule. The provisions of section 205 do not apply when they are inconsistent with applicable law. Moreover, section 205 allows the Corps to adopt an alternative other than the least costly, most cost-effective, or least burdensome alternative if the agency publishes with the final rule an explanation why that alternative was not adopted. Before the Corps establishes any regulatory requirements that may significantly or uniquely affect small governments, including Tribal governments, they must have developed under Section 203 of the UMRA a small government agency plan. The plan must provide for notifying potentially affected small governments, enabling officials of affected small governments to have meaningful and timely input in the development of regulatory proposals with significant Federal intergovernmental mandates, and informing, educating, and advising small governments on compliance with the regulatory requirements.

    We have determined that this final rule does not impose new substantive requirements and therefore does not contain a Federal mandate that may result in expenditures of $100 million or more for State, local, and Tribal governments, in the aggregate, or the private sector in any one year. Therefore, this rule is not subject to the requirements of Sections 202 and 205 of the UMRA. For the same reasons, we have determined that this final rule contains no regulatory requirements that might significantly or uniquely affect small governments. Therefore, this final rule is not subject to the requirements of Section 203 of UMRA. Therefore, no actions are deemed necessary under the provisions of the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995.

    National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act

    Section 12(d) of the National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act of 1995 (NTTAA), Public Law 104-113, section 12(d) (15 U.S.C. 272 note) directs us to use voluntary consensus standards in our regulatory activities, unless to do so would be inconsistent with applicable law or otherwise impractical. Voluntary consensus standards are technical standards (e.g., materials specifications, test methods, sampling procedures, and business practices) that are developed or adopted by voluntary consensus standards bodies. The NTTAA directs us to provide Congress, through OMB, explanations when we decide not to use available and applicable voluntary consensus standards.

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

    Executive Order 13045

    Executive Order 13045, “Protection of Children from Environmental Health Risks and Safety Risks” (62 FR 19885, April 23, 1997), applies to any rule that: (1) Is determined to be “economically significant” as defined under Executive Order 12866, and (2) concerns an environmental health or safety risk that we have reason to believe may have a disproportionate effect on children. If the regulatory action meets both criteria, we must evaluate the environmental health or safety effects of the rule on children, and explain why the regulation is preferable to other potentially effective and reasonably feasible alternatives.

    This rule is not subject to this Executive Order because it is not economically significant as defined in Executive Order 12866. In addition, it does not concern an environmental or safety risk that we have reason to believe may have a disproportionate effect on children.

    Executive Order 13175

    Executive Order 13175, entitled “Consultation and Coordination with Indian Tribal Governments” (65 FR 67249, November 6, 2000), requires agencies to develop an accountable process to ensure “meaningful and timely input by tribal officials in the development of regulatory policies that have tribal implications.” The phrase “policies that have tribal implications” is defined in the Executive Order to include regulations that have “substantial direct effects on one or more Indian tribes, on the relationship between the Federal government and the Indian tribes, or on the distribution of power and responsibilities between the Federal government and Indian tribes.”

    This rule does not have tribal implications. The rule imposes no new substantive obligations on tribal governments but instead merely adjusts the value of current statutory civil monetary penalties to reflect and keep pace with the levels originally set by Congress when the statutes were enacted. The calculation of the increases is formula-driven and prescribed by statute and OMB guidance, and the Corps has no discretion to vary the amount of the adjustment to reflect any views or suggestions provided by commenters. Therefore, Executive Order 13175 does not apply to this rule.

    Environmental Documentation

    The Corps prepares appropriate environmental documentation, including Environmental Impact Statements when required, for all permit decisions. Therefore, environmental documentation under the National Environmental Policy Act is not required for this rule. This final rule does not constitute a major Federal action significantly affecting the quality of the human environment because it merely increases the value of statutory civil monetary penalties to reflect and keep pace with the levels originally set by Congress when the statutes were enacted. The calculation of the increases is formula-driven and prescribed by statute and OMB guidance, and the Corps has no discretion to vary the amount of the adjustment.

    Appropriate environmental documentation has been, or will be, prepared for each permit action that is subject to the civil penalty process. Therefore, environmental documentation under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) is not required for this final rule.

    Congressional Review Act

    The Congressional Review Act, 5 U.S.C. 801 et seq., as amended 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. We will submit a report containing this rule and other required information to the U.S. Senate, the U.S. House of Representatives, and the Comptroller General of the United States. A major rule cannot take effect until 60 days after it is published in the Federal Register. This rule is not a “major rule” as defined by 5 U.S.C. 804(2).

    Executive Order 12898

    Executive Order 12898 requires that, to the greatest extent practicable and permitted by law, each Federal agency must make achieving environmental justice part of its mission. Executive Order 12898 provides that each Federal agency conduct its programs, policies, and activities that substantially affect human health or the environment in a manner that ensures that such programs, policies, and activities do not have the effect of excluding persons (including populations) from participation in, denying persons (including populations) the benefits of, or subjecting persons (including populations) to discrimination under such programs, policies, and activities because of their race, color, or national origin. This rule is not expected to negatively impact any community, and therefore is not expected to cause any disproportionately high and adverse impacts to minority or low-income communities. This rule relates solely to the adjustments to civil penalties to account for inflation.

    Executive Order 13211

    This rule is not a “significant energy action” as defined in Executive Order 13211, “Actions Concerning Regulations That Significantly Affect Energy Supply, Distribution, or Use” (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. This rule relates only to the adjustments to civil penalties to account for inflation. This rule is consistent with current agency practice, does not impose new substantive requirements, and therefore will not have a significant adverse effect on the supply, distribution, or use of energy.

    List of Subjects in 33 CFR Part 326

    Administrative practice and procedure, Intergovernmental relations, Investigations, Law enforcement, Navigation (water), Water pollution control, Waterways.

    Dated: October 4, 2017. Douglas W. Lamont, Senior Official Performing the Duties of the Assistant Secretary of the Army (Civil Works).

    For the reasons set forth in the preamble, the Corps amends 33 CFR part 326 as follows:

    PART 326—ENFORCEMENT 1. The authority citation for part 326 continues to read as follows: Authority:

    33 U.S.C. 401 et seq.; 33 U.S.C. 1344; 33 U.S.C. 1413; 33 U.S.C. 2104; 33 U.S.C. 1319; 28 U.S.C. 2461 note.

    2. Amend § 326.6 by revising paragraph (a)(1) to read as follows:
    § 326.6 Class I administrative penalties.

    (a) Introduction. (1) This section sets forth procedures for initiation and administration of Class I administrative penalty orders under Section 309(g) of the Clean Water Act, judicially-imposed civil penalties under Section 404(s) of the Clean Water Act, and Section 205 of the National Fishing Enhancement Act. Under Section 309(g)(2)(A) of the Clean Water Act, Class I civil penalties may not exceed $20,966 per violation, except that the maximum amount of any Class I civil penalty shall not exceed $52,414. Under Section 404(s)(4) of the Clean Water Act, judicially-imposed civil penalties may not exceed $52,414 per day for each violation. Under Section 205(e) of the National Fishing Enhancement Act, penalties for violations of permits issued in accordance with that Act shall not exceed $22,957 for each violation.

    Environmental statute and U.S. code citation Statutory civil monetary penalty amount for violations that occurred after November 2, 2015, and are assessed on or after
  • [Insert Effective Date]
  • Clean Water Act (CWA), Section 309(g)(2)(A), 33 U.S.C. 1319(g)(2)(A) $20,966 per violation, with a maximum of $52,414. CWA, Section 404(s)(4), 33 U.S.C. 1344(s)(4) Maximum of $52,414 per day for each violation. National Fishing Enhancement Act, Section 205(e), 33 U.S.C. 2104(e) Maximum of $22,957 per violation.
    [FR Doc. 2017-22218 Filed 10-12-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3720-58-P
    POSTAL SERVICE 39 CFR Part 111 Domestic Competitive Products Pricing and Mailing Standards Changes AGENCY:

    Postal ServiceTM.

    ACTION:

    Final rule.

    SUMMARY:

    The Postal Service is amending Mailing Standards of the United States Postal Service, Domestic Mail Manual (DMM®), to reflect changes to prices for competitive products. There are no mailing standards changes scheduled for competitive products.

    DATES:

    Effective: January 21, 2018.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Karen Key at (202) 268-7492, or Garry Rodriguez at (202) 268-7281.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    This final rule describes new prices for competitive products, by class of mail, established by the Governors of the United States Postal Service®. New prices are available under Docket Number CP2018-8 on the Postal Regulatory Commission's (PRC) Web site at http://www.prc.gov, and also located on the Postal Explorer® Web site at http://pe.usps.com.

    The Postal Service will revise Mailing Standards of the United States Postal Service, Domestic Mail Manual (DMM), to reflect changes to prices for the following competitive products:

    • Priority Mail Express®.

    • Priority Mail®.

    • First-Class Package Service—Retail®.

    • First-Class Package Service—Commercial®.

    • Parcel Select®.

    • USPS Retail Ground®.

    • Extra Services.

    • Return Services.

    • Mailer Services.

    • Recipient Services.

    Competitive product prices are identified by product as follows:

    Priority Mail Express Prices

    Overall, Priority Mail Express prices will increase 3.9 percent. Priority Mail Express will continue to offer zoned and Flat Rate Retail, Commercial BaseTM, and Commercial PlusTM pricing.

    Retail prices will increase an average of 3.9 percent. The Flat Rate Envelope price will increase to $24.70, the Legal Flat Rate Envelope will increase to $24.90, and the Padded Flat Rate Envelope will increase to $25.40.

    Commercial Base prices offer lower prices to customers who use authorized postage payment methods. Commercial Base prices will increase an average of 3.7 percent. Commercial Base pricing offers an average 11.3 percent discount off retail prices.

    Commercial Plus prices were matched to the Commercial Base prices in the 2016 price change and will continue to be matched in 2018.

    Priority Mail Prices

    Overall, Priority Mail prices will increase 3.9 percent. Priority Mail will continue to offer zoned and Flat Rate Retail, Commercial Base, and Commercial Plus pricing.

    Retail prices will increase an average of 0.8 percent. The Flat Rate Envelope price will increase to $6.70, the Legal Flat Rate Envelope will increase to $7.00, and the Padded Flat Rate Envelope will increase to $7.25. The Small Flat Rate Box price will increase to $7.20 and the Medium Flat Rate Boxes will increase to $13.65. The Large Flat Rate Box will increase to $18.90, and the APO/FPO/DPO Large Flat Rate Box will increase to $17.40.

    Commercial Base prices offer lower prices to customers who use authorized postage payment methods. Commercial Base prices will increase an average of 6.2 percent. Commercial Base pricing offers an average 9.4 percent discount off retail prices.

    The Commercial Plus price category offers price incentives to large volume customers who have a customer commitment agreement with USPS. Commercial Plus prices will increase an average of 6.1 percent. Commercial Plus pricing offers an average 12.7 percent discount off retail prices.

    First-Class Package Service—Retail Prices

    Overall, First-Class Package Service—Retail prices will increase 14.5 percent.

    First-Class Package Service—Commercial Prices

    Overall, First-Class Package Service—Commercial prices will increase 3.9 percent.

    Parcel Select Prices

    Parcel Select Destination Entry and Ground prices will increase an average of 4.9 percent. The prices for Parcel Select Lightweight® (PSLW) will increase an average of 7.0 percent.

    USPS Retail Ground

    Overall, USPS Retail Ground prices will increase an average of 3.9 percent.

    Extra Services Adult Signature Service

    Adult Signature Required and Adult Signature Restricted Delivery service prices are increasing 3.4 and 3.3 percent, respectively. The price for Adult Signature Required will increase to $6.10, and Adult Signature Restricted Delivery will increase to $6.35.

    Return Services Parcel Return Service

    Overall, Parcel Return Service (PRS) prices will increase an average of 4.9 percent.

    Return Sectional Center Facility (RSCF) prices will increase an average of 5.2 percent, and Return Delivery Unit (RDU) prices will increase an average of 4.6 percent.

    Mailer Services Pickup on Demand Service

    The Pickup on Demand® service fee will continue to be $22.00.

    Recipient Services Post Office Box Service

    The competitive Post Office BoxTM service prices will increase an average of 6.5 percent within the existing price ranges.

    Premium Forwarding Service

    Premium Forwarding Service® (PFS®) prices will increase an average of 3.9 percent. The enrollment fee paid at the retail counter for PFS-Residential will increase to $20.10, and the PFS-Residential and PFS-Commercial enrollment fee paid online will increase to $18.45 per application. The price of the weekly shipment charge for PFS-Residential will increase to $20.10.

    USPS Package Intercept

    The USPS Package InterceptTM fee will increase 3.9 percent to $13.45.

    Other Address Enhancement Service

    Address Enhancement Service competitive product prices will be increasing between 2.7 and 4.2 percent.

    Zone Charts Revision: Priority Mail to APO/FPO/DPO Processing at Chicago ISC

    The Postal Service will revise all zone charts to reflect that Priority Mail to APO/FPO/DPO destinations will be processed only at the Chicago ISC. Additional information can be found in the New Mailing Standards for Domestic Mailing Services Products, Federal Register Notice.

    Resources

    The Postal Service provides additional resources to assist customers with this price change for competitive products. These tools include price lists, downloadable price files, and Federal Register Notices, which may be found on the Postal Explorer® Web site at http://pe.usps.com.

    List of Subjects in 39 CFR Part 111

    Administrative practice and procedure, Postal service.

    The Postal Service adopts the following changes to Mailing Standards of the United States Postal Service, Domestic Mail Manual (DMM), incorporated by reference in the Code of Federal Regulations. See 39 CFR 111.1.

    Accordingly, 39 CFR part 111 is amended as follows:

    PART 111—[AMENDED] 1. The authority citation for 39 CFR part 111 continues to read as follows: Authority:

    5 U.S.C. 552(a); 13 U.S.C. 301-307; 18 U.S.C. 1692-1737; 39 U.S.C. 101, 401, 403, 404, 414, 416, 3001-3011, 3201-3219, 3403-3406, 3621, 3622, 3626, 3632, 3633, and 5001.

    2. Revise the Mailing Standards of the United States Postal Service, Domestic Mail Manual (DMM) as follows: Mailing Standards of the United States Postal Service, Domestic Mail Manual (DMM) Notice 123 (Price List) [Revise prices as applicable.]

    We will publish an appropriate amendment to 39 CFR part 111 to reflect these changes.

    Stanley F. Mires, Attorney, Federal Compliance.
    [FR Doc. 2017-22186 Filed 10-12-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 7710-12-P
    ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY 40 CFR Part 52 [EPA-R04-OAR-2017-0454; FRL-9969-28-Region 4] Air Plan Approval: North Carolina; Transportation Conformity AGENCY:

    Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

    ACTION:

    Withdrawal of direct final rule.

    SUMMARY:

    Due to the receipt of an adverse comment, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is withdrawing the August 16, 2017, direct final rule that approves a North Carolina state implementation plan (SIP) revision related to transportation conformity requirements. EPA will address the comment in a subsequent final action based upon the proposed rulemaking action, also published on August 16, 2017. EPA will not institute a second comment period on this action.

    DATES:

    The direct final rule published at 82 FR 38838, on August 16, 2017, is withdrawn, effective October 13, 2017.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Kelly Sheckler, Air Regulatory Management Section, Air Planning and Implementation Branch, Air, Pesticides and Toxics Management Division, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 4, 61 Forsyth Street SW., Atlanta, Georgia 30303-8960. The telephone number is (404) 562-9222. Ms. Sheckler can also be reached via electronic mail at [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    On August 16, 2017 (82 FR 38838), EPA published a direct final rule approving portions of a SIP revision submitted by the State of North Carolina through the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources (now the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality) to clarify the applicability of the State's transportation conformity rules. EPA took a direct final action to approve changes to regulation 15A NCAC Subchapter 2D, section .2001, purpose, scope and applicability related to North Carolina's transportation conformity provisions.

    In the direct final rule, EPA explained that the Agency was publishing the rule without prior proposal because the Agency viewed the submittal as a non-controversial SIP amendment and anticipated no adverse comments. Further, EPA explained that the Agency was publishing a separate document in the proposed rules section of the Federal Register to serve as the proposal to approve the SIP revision should an adverse comment be filed. EPA also noted that the rule would be effective generally 30 days after the close of the public comment period, without further notice unless the Agency received adverse comment by the close of the public comment period. EPA explained that if the Agency received such comments, then EPA would publish a document withdrawing the final rule and informing the public that the rule would not take effect. It was also explained that all public comments received would then be addressed in a subsequent final rule based on the proposed rule, and that EPA would not institute a second comment period on this action.

    EPA received one adverse comment from a single Commenter on the aforementioned rule. As a result of the comment received, EPA is withdrawing the direct final rule approving the aforementioned changes to the North Carolina SIP. EPA will address the comment in a separate final action based on the proposed action also published on August 16, 2017 (82 FR 38864). EPA will not open a second comment period for this action.

    List of Subjects in 40 CFR Part 52

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

    Dated: September 29, 2017. Onis “Trey” Glenn, III, Regional Administrator, Region 4. PART 52—APPROVAL AND PROMULGATION OF IMPLEMENTATION PLANS Accordingly, the amendment to 40 CFR 52.1770(c) published on August 16, 2017 (82 FR 38838), is withdrawn effective October 13, 2017.
    [FR Doc. 2017-22094 Filed 10-12-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560-50-P
    ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY 40 CFR Part 52 [EPA-R01-OAR-2017-0150; FRL-9969-54-Region 1] Air Plan Approval; Connecticut; Nonattainment New Source Review Permit Requirements for the 2008 8-Hour Ozone Standard AGENCY:

    Environmental Protection Agency.

    ACTION:

    Withdrawal of direct final rule.

    SUMMARY:

    Due to the receipt of an adverse comment, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is withdrawing the August 14, 2017, direct final rule approving a State Implementation Plan (SIP) revision submitted by the State of Connecticut. The revision addresses the nonattainment new source review (NNSR) requirements for the 2008 8-hour ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS). This action is being taken in accordance with the Clean Air Act.

    DATES:

    The direct final rule published on August 14, 2017 (82 FR 37819), is withdrawn effective October 13, 2017.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Donald Dahl, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, EPA New England Regional Office, Office of Ecosystem Protection, Air Permits, Toxics, and Indoor Programs Unit, 5 Post Office Square—Suite 100, (Mail code OEP05-2), Boston, MA 02109-3912. Mr. Dahl's telephone number is (617) 918-1657; email address: [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    In the direct final rule, EPA stated that if adverse comments were submitted by September 13, 2017, the rule would be withdrawn and not take effect. EPA received an adverse comment prior to the close of the comment period and, therefore, is withdrawing the direct final rule. EPA will address the comment in a subsequent final action based upon the proposed rule also published on August 14, 2017 (82 FR 37829). EPA will not institute a second comment period on this action.

    List of Subjects in 40 CFR Part 52

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

    Dated: September 27, 2017. Deborah A. Szaro, Acting Regional Administrator, EPA New England. PART 52—APPROVAL AND PROMULGATION OF IMPLEMENTATION PLANS Accordingly, the amendments to 40 CFR 52.377 published in the Federal Register on August 14, 2017 (82 FR 37819), on page 37822 are withdrawn effective October 13, 2017.
    [FR Doc. 2017-22125 Filed 10-12-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560-50-P
    ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY 40 CFR Part 52 [EPA-R01-OAR-2016-0626; A-1-FRL-9969-56-Region 1] Air Plan Approval; Vermont; Regional Haze Five-Year Progress Report; Withdrawal of Direct Final Rule AGENCY:

    Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

    ACTION:

    Withdrawal of direct final rule.

    SUMMARY:

    Due to the receipt of an adverse comment, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is withdrawing the August 16, 2017, direct final rule approving a State Implementation Plan (SIP) revision submitted by the State of Vermont. Vermont's SIP revision addresses requirements of the Clean Air Act (CAA) and EPA's rules that require states to submit periodic reports describing the progress toward reasonable progress goals (RPGs) established for regional haze and a determination of adequacy of the State's existing regional haze SIP. This action is being taken in accordance with the Clean Air Act.

    DATES:

    The direct final rule published on August 16, 2017 (82 FR 38834), is withdrawn effective October 13, 2017.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Anne K. McWilliams, Air Quality Planning Unit, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, New England Regional Office, 5 Post Office Square—Suite 100, (Mail code OEP05-2), Boston, MA 02109—3912, telephone (617) 918-1697, facsimile (617) 918-0697, email [email protected].

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    In the direct final rule, EPA stated that if adverse comments were submitted by September 15, 2017, the rule would be withdrawn and not take effect. EPA received an adverse comment prior to the close of the comment period and, therefore, is withdrawing the direct final rule. EPA will address the comment in a subsequent final action based upon the proposed rule also published on August 16, 2017 (82 FR 38864). EPA will not institute a second comment period on this action.

    Dated: September 27, 2017. Deborah A. Szaro, Acting Regional Administrator, EPA New England. PART 52—APPROVAL AND PROMULGATION OF IMPLEMENTATION PLANS Accordingly, the amendments to 40 CFR 52.2370 published in the Federal Register on August 16, 2017 (82 FR 38834), on page 38838 are withdrawn effective October 13, 2017.
    [FR Doc. 2017-22123 Filed 10-12-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560-50-P
    ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY 40 CFR Part 52 [EPA-R04-OAR-2017-0436; FRL-9969-36-Region 4] Air Plan Approval; AL; VOC Definitions and Particulate Emissions AGENCY:

    Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

    ACTION:

    Final rule.

    SUMMARY:

    The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is taking final action to approve changes to the Alabama State Implementation Plan (SIP) to revise the definition of “volatile organic compounds” (VOCs), correct a typographical error, and remove control of particulate emissions and opacity limits for Talladega County. EPA is approving the SIP revisions submitted by the State of Alabama, through the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM), on May 19, 2017. This action is being taken pursuant to the Clean Air Act (CAA or Act).

    DATES:

    This rule is effective November 13, 2017.

    ADDRESSES:

    EPA has established a docket for this action under Docket Identification No. EPA-R04-OAR-2017-0436. 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, i.e., 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 in hard copy at the 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. EPA requests that if at all possible, you contact the person listed in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section to schedule your inspection. The Regional Office's official hours of business are Monday through Friday 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., excluding Federal holidays.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Richard Wong, 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. The telephone number is (404) 562-8726. Mr. Wong can be reached via electronic mail at [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: I. What action is the Agency taking?

    In this rulemaking, EPA is approving changes to the Alabama SIP, submitted by the State on May 19, 2017. The submission revises ADEM Rule 335-3-1-.02—Definitions and Rule 335-3-4-.08—Wood Waste Boilers. Specifically, this rulemaking revises the definition of VOCs, corrects a typographical error and removes particulate emission and opacity limits for Talladega County.

    II. Background

    On August 16, 2017 (82 FR 38865), EPA proposed to approve the aforementioned changes, among others, to the SIP. This proposed rule accompanied a direct final rule published on the same day in the Federal Register (82 FR 38841). EPA received an adverse comment on the direct final rulemaking only on the changes made to Rule 335-3-1-.02 and Rule 335-3-4-.08. Accordingly, EPA is withdrawing the direct final action through a separate action published elsewhere in this issue of the Federal Register and is taking final action on the changes to Rule 335-3-1-.02 and Rule 335-3-4-.08 in this final rule.

    A. Rule 335-3-1-.02—Definitions

    On November 29, 2004, and August 1, 2016, EPA issued final rules revising the definition of VOCs by adding new compounds (tertiary butyl acetate (or t-Butyl acetate) and 1,1,2,2-Tetrafluoro-1-(2,2,2-trifluoroethoxyl) ethane) to the list of those that are considered to be negligibly reactive compounds, and on February 25, 2016 (81 FR 9339), EPA issued a final rule removing recordkeeping, emissions reporting, photochemical dispersion modeling, and inventory requirements for t-Butyl acetate. The State's May 19, 2017, SIP revision adds these compounds to the list of negligibly reactive compounds under ADEM Rule 335-3-1-.02 subpart (gggg). The SIP revision also removes the recordkeeping, emissions reporting, photochemical dispersion modeling, and inventory requirements requirement for t-Butyl acetate. Additionally, the submittal makes a typographical correction under subpart (gggg)(iii). EPA proposes to approve these revisions because they are consistent with the definition of VOC at 40 CFR 51.100(s).

    The State's addition of exemptions from the definition of VOCs and removal of recordkeeping, emissions reporting, photochemical dispersion modeling, and inventory requirements for t-butyl acetate are approvable under section 110(l) because they reflect changes to Federal regulations based on findings that the exempted compounds are negligibly reactive. The typographical error correction makes ministerial changes for consistency.

    B. Rule 335-3-4-.08—Wood Waste Boilers

    Rule 335-3-4-.08—Wood Waste Boilers was adopted into the Alabama SIP on April 23, 1974 (39 FR 14338), to provide emission limits based on available control technologies and included a 0.30 grain per dry standard cubic foot (gr/dscf) emissions limit for boilers burning a combination of wood waste and fossil fuels. On November 24, 1981 (46 FR 57484), EPA finalized a SIP revision allowing pulp mills to operate boilers that burn only wood waste in Talladega County. This change allowed a particulate matter emissions concentration of 0.45 gr/dscf when burning wood waste alone (but total emissions would remain the same provided boilers operate on a reduced rate). On July 11, 1986 (51 FR 25198), EPA approved a revision adding a new paragraph 3 at Rule 335-3-4-.08 that relaxed the allowable emission limit to 0.60 gr/dscf for wood waste boiler sources that operate up to 300 million British thermal unit per hour and tightened allowable emissions for other types of sources in Talladega County. Compliance with the emission limit was determined by an annual stack test. Additionally, an opacity limit of 76 percent was established and would be measured by a transmissometer.

    The May 19, 2017, SIP revision removes paragraph 3, applicable only to sources in Talladega County, because the type of source no longer exists in the County or anywhere else in the State. Moreover, if such a source were to begin operating in the future, it would be subject to more stringent requirements under Rule 335-3-4-.08 paragraph 2.

    EPA believes that these changes to the regulatory portion of the SIP are consistent with section 110 of the CAA and meet the regulatory requirements pertaining to SIPs. Pursuant to CAA section 110(l), the Administrator shall not approve a revision of a plan if the revision would interfere with any applicable requirement concerning attainment and reasonable further progress (as defined in CAA section 171), or any other applicable requirement of the Act. The State's removal of emissions and opacity requirements for Talladega County is an approvable change under section 110(l) because, should these sources start operating, they would fall under more stringent rules in the SIP.

    III. Response to Comments

    Comment: EPA received one adverse comment on the direct final rule published on August 16, 2017 (82 FR 38841), and this comment has been included in the Docket for this action. The Commenter stated that EPA should not remove t-Butyl acetate (TBAC) from the list of “volatile organic compounds because “this compound is particularly dangerous and can cause deformations and brain injuries.” The Commenter stated that EPA should maintain the recordkeeping and reporting provisions “to determine whether states are causing deformations or brain injuries in nearby communities.” The Commenter also stated EPA should not remove wood burning rules.

    Response: The State is merely updating the SIP to align with EPA's past rulemakings and reflect the definitions in 40 CFR 51.100(s). EPA issued a final rulemaking on November 29, 2004 (69 FR 69298) that revised the definition of VOC to exclude TBAC as a negligibly reactive compound. Additionally, EPA issued a final rule on February 25, 2016 (81 FR 9339), that removed TBAC recordkeeping, emissions reporting, photochemical dispersion modeling, and inventory requirements for TBAC. EPA acknowledges the comments regarding the health risks associated with TBAC and is continuing to take steps to assess potential risks associated with this compound. In the 2016 EPA rule, EPA discussed the efforts surrounding any future determinations about the health risks associated with TBAC, including noting that data collected through the recordkeeping and reporting requirements did not appear relevant to any such future determinations and that EPA was assessing the health risks from TBAC through its Integrated Risk Information System. This effort is on-going, and we refer the Commenter to EPA's previous 2016 rulemaking (81 FR 9339, 9341) for more information regarding health risks.

    The State removes Rule 335-3-4-.08 paragraph 3, particulate matter emissions limit for wood waste boilers applicable only to Talladega County because such sources no longer operate in the County. If such a source were to begin operating in the future, it would be subject to more stringent requirements under Rule 335-3-4-.08 paragraph 2, applicable statewide. Therefore, the Commenter's statement that such sources should be subject to tighter requirements is true, and EPA has determined that any new source would be subjected to tighter emissions limits, currently approved in the SIP.

    IV. 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 Rule 335-3-1-.02—Definitions and Rule 335-3-4-.08—Wood Waste Boilers, effective June 9, 2017. 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, these materials have been approved by EPA for inclusion in the SIP, have 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.1

    1 62 FR 27968 (May 22, 1997).

    V. Final Action

    EPA is taking final action to approve portions of Alabama's May 19, 2017, submission submitted by the State of Alabama through ADEM. The submission revises Rule 335-3-1-.02—Definitions and Rule 335-3-4-.08—Wood Waste Boilers.

    VI. 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. 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 (Public Law 104-4);

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

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

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

    • is not subject to requirements of section 12(d) of the National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act of 1995 (15 U.S.C. 272 note) because application of those requirements would be inconsistent with the 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 December 12, 2017. Filing a petition for reconsideration by the Administrator of this final rule does not affect the finality of this action for the purposes of judicial review nor does it extend the time within which a petition for judicial review may be filed, and shall not postpone the effectiveness of such rule or action. This action may not be challenged later in proceedings to enforce its requirements. See section 307(b)(2).

    List of Subjects in 40 CFR Part 52

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

    Dated: September 29, 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 B—Alabama 2. Section 52.50(c) is amended by revising the entries for “Section 335-3-1-.02” and “Section 335-3-4-.08” to read as follows:
    § 52.50 Identification of plan.

    (c) * * *

    EPA Approved Alabama Regulations State citation Title/subject State
  • effective date
  • EPA approval date Explanation
    Chapter No. 335-3-1 General Provision *         *         *         *         *         *         * Section 335-3-1-.02 Definitions 6/9/2017 10/13/2017; [Insert citation of publication] *         *         *         *         *         *         * Chapter 335-3-4 Control of Particulate Emissions *         *         *         *         *         *         * Section 335-3-4-.08 Wood Waste Boilers 6/9/2017 10/13/2017; [Insert citation of publication] *         *         *         *         *         *         *
    [FR Doc. 2017-22099 Filed 10-12-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560-50-P
    ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY 40 CFR Part 52 [EPA-R04-OAR-2017-0388; FRL-9969-31-Region 4] Air Plan Approval: South Carolina; Standards for Volatile Organic Compounds and Oxides of Nitrogen AGENCY:

    Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

    ACTION:

    Withdrawal of direct final rule.

    SUMMARY:

    Due to the receipt of an adverse comment, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is withdrawing a portion of the August 16, 2017, direct final rule that approves changes to South Carolina's state implementation plan (SIP) related to the regulation of volatile organic compounds (VOC) and oxides of nitrogen (NOX). EPA will address the comment in a separate final action based upon the proposed rulemaking action, also published on August 16, 2017. EPA will not institute a second comment period on this action.

    DATES:

    The amendment to 40 CFR 52.2120(c) at Regulation 62.5, Standard No. 5.2 (amendatory instruction 2.b) published at 82 FR 38828, on August 16, 2017, is withdrawn, effective October 13, 2017.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    D. Brad Akers, 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. Akers can be reached via telephone at (404) 562-9089 or via electronic mail at [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    On August 16, 2017 (82 FR 38825), EPA published a direct final rule approving portions of several SIP revisions submitted by the State of South Carolina, through the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control, on October 1, 2007, June 17, 2013, and January 20, 2016. EPA took a direct final action to approve portions of the October 1, 2007, June 17, 2013, and January 20, 2016, submissions that made changes to Regulation 61-62.5, Standard No. 5—“Volatile Organic Compounds,” and Regulation 61-62.5, Standard No. 5.2—“Control of Oxides of Nitrogen (NOX).”

    In the direct final rule, EPA explained that the Agency was publishing the rule without prior proposal because the Agency viewed the submittal as a non-controversial SIP amendment and anticipated no adverse comments. Further, EPA explained that the Agency was publishing a separate document in the proposed rules section of the Federal Register to serve as the proposal to approve the SIP revisions should an adverse comment be filed. EPA also noted that the rule would be effective generally 30 days after the close of the public comment period, without further notice unless the Agency received adverse comment by the close of the public comment period. EPA explained that if the Agency received such comments, then EPA would publish a document withdrawing the final rule and informing the public that the rule would not take effect. EPA specified, however, that if a comment were received 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. It was also explained that all public comments received would then be addressed in a subsequent final rule based on the proposed rule, and that EPA would not institute a second comment period on this action.

    EPA received one adverse comment from a single Commenter on the portion of the direct finale rule that made changes to Regulation 61-62.5, Standard No. 5.2 only. As a result of the comment received, EPA is withdrawing only the portion of the direct final rule approving changes to the South Carolina SIP at Regulation 61-62.5, Standard No. 5.2, as submitted in the October 1, 2007, SIP revision. The EPA will address the comment in a separate final action based on the proposed action also published on August 16, 2017 (82 FR 38865). EPA will not open a second comment period for this action.

    List of Subjects in 40 CFR Part 52

    Environmental protection, Air pollution control, Incorporation by reference, Nitrogen dioxide, Volatile organic compounds.

    Dated: September 29, 2017. Onis “Trey” Glenn, III, Regional Administrator, Region 4. Accordingly, the amendments to 40 CFR 52.2120(c) at Regulation 62.5, Standard No. 5.2 (amendatory instruction 2.b) published on August 16, 2017 (82 FR 38825), which were to become effective October 16, 2017, are withdrawn.
    [FR Doc. 2017-22122 Filed 10-12-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560-50-P
    ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY 40 CFR Part 52 [EPA-R04-OAR-2007-0085; FRL-9969-33-Region 4] Air Plan Approval; North Carolina; Air Curtain Burners AGENCY:

    Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

    ACTION:

    Withdrawal of direct final rule.

    SUMMARY:

    Due to receipt of an adverse comment, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is withdrawing the August 17, 2017, direct final rule that approves portions of North Carolina State Implementation Plan (SIP) revisions related to changes to an air curtain burner regulation. EPA stated in the direct final rules that if EPA received adverse comments by the close of the public comment period, the rules would be withdrawn and not take effect. EPA will address the comment in a subsequent final action based upon the proposed rulemaking action, also published on August 17, 2017.

    DATES:

    The direct final rule published August 17, 2017 at 82 FR 39027 is withdrawn, effective October 13, 2017.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Nacosta C. Ward, Air Regulatory Management Section, Air Planning and Implementation Branch, Air, Pesticides and Toxics Management Division, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 4, 61 Forsyth Street SW., Atlanta, Georgia 30303-8960. Ms. Ward can be reached via telephone at (404) 562-9140, or via electronic mail at [email protected].

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    On August 17, 2017 (82 FR 39027), EPA published a direct final rulemaking approving portions of SIP revisions submitted by State of North Carolina through the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (formerly the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources), Division of Air Quality. Specifically, EPA took direct final action to approve portions of North Carolina's October 14, 2004, March 24, 2006, and January 31, 2008 submissions that make changes to Regulation 15A NCAC Subchapter 2D—Air Pollution Control Requirements, Section .1904, Air Curtain Burners. These SIP revisions were submitted to make changes to the requirements for permits obtained for air curtain burners as defined by 40 CFR 60.2245 through 60.2265, permanent burning sites or materials transported from burning site to burning site; make clarifications to existing text regarding air quality forecast areas in order to address all pollutants instead of only ozone; and expand the scope of the types of air curtain burners for which air quality permits must be issued.

    In the direct final rulemaking, EPA explained that the Agency was publishing the rule without prior proposal because the Agency viewed the submittal as a non-controversial SIP amendment and anticipated no adverse comments. Further, EPA explained that the Agency was publishing a separate document in the proposed rules section of the Federal Register to serve as the proposal to approve the SIP revision should an adverse comment be filed (see 82 FR 39097). EPA also noted that the rule would be effective generally 30 days after the close of the public comment period, without further notice unless the Agency received adverse comment by the close of the public comment period. EPA explained that if the Agency received such comments, then EPA would publish a document withdrawing the final rule and informing the public that the rule would not take effect. It was also explained that all public comments received would then be addressed in a subsequent final rule based on the proposed rule, and that EPA would not institute a second comment period on this action.

    EPA received one adverse comment from a single Commenter on the aforementioned rule. As a result of the comment received, EPA is withdrawing the direct final rule approving the aforementioned changes to the North Carolina SIP. If EPA determines that it is appropriate to finalize the proposed approval of the aforementioned changes to the North Carolina SIP, EPA will publish a final rule which will include a response to the comments received. In the event that EPA determines that it is not appropriate to finalize the proposed approval related to these changes, EPA may issue a subsequent proposal with a different course of action.

    List of Subjects in 40 CFR Part 52

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

    Dated: September 29, 2017. Onis “Trey” Glenn, III, Regional Administrator, Region 4. PART 52—APPROVAL AND PROMULGATION OF IMPLEMENTATION PLANS Accordingly, the amendment to 40 CFR 52.1770(c), Table 1, published August 17, 2017 (82 FR 39027), is withdrawn effective October 13, 2017.
    [FR Doc. 2017-22101 Filed 10-12-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560-50-P
    ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY 40 CFR Part 52 [EPA-R04-OAR-2017-0436; FRL-9969-35-Region 4] Air Plan Approval; AL; VOC Definitions and Particulate Emissions AGENCY:

    Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

    ACTION:

    Withdrawal of direct final rule.

    SUMMARY:

    Due to the receipt of an adverse comment, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is withdrawing the August 16, 2017, direct final rule that approves an Alabama state implementation plan (SIP) revision related to “volatile organic compounds” (VOCs) and particulate emissions. EPA will address the comment in a subsequent final action based upon the proposed rulemaking action, also published on August 16, 2017. EPA will not institute a second comment period on this action.

    DATES:

    The direct final rule published at 82 FR 38841, on August 16, 2017, is withdrawn, effective October 13, 2017.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Richard Wong, 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. The telephone number is (404) 562-8726. Mr. Wong can also be reached via electronic mail at [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    On August 16, 2017 (82 FR 38841), EPA published a direct final rule approving a SIP revision submitted by the State of Alabama, through the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM). EPA took a direct final action to approve the May 19, 2017, submission that revises ADEM Rule 335-3-1-.02—Definitions and Rule 335-3-4-.08—Wood Waste Boilers. The rulemaking also revises the definition of VOCs, corrects a typographical error and removes particulate emission and opacity limits for Talladega County.

    In the direct final rule, EPA explained that the Agency was publishing the rule without prior proposal because the Agency viewed the submittal as a non-controversial SIP amendment and anticipated no adverse comments. Further, EPA explained that the Agency was publishing a separate document in the proposed rules section of the Federal Register to serve as the proposal to approve the SIP revision should an adverse comment be filed. EPA also noted that the rule would be effective generally 30 days after the close of the public comment period, without further notice unless the Agency received adverse comment by the close of the public comment period. EPA explained that if the Agency received such comments, then EPA would publish a document withdrawing the final rule and informing the public that the rule would not take effect. It was also explained that all public comments received would then be addressed in a subsequent final rule based on the proposed rule, and that EPA would not institute a second comment period on this action.

    EPA received one adverse comment from a single Commenter on the aforementioned rule. As a result of the comment received, EPA is withdrawing the direct final rule approving the aforementioned changes to the Alabama SIPs. EPA will address the comment in a separate final action based on the proposed action also published on August 16, 2017 (82 FR 38865). EPA will not open a second comment period for this action.

    List of Subjects in 40 CFR Part 52

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

    Dated: September 29, 2017. Onis “Trey” Glenn, III, Regional Administrator, Region 4. PART 52—APPROVAL AND PROMULGATION OF IMPLEMENTATION PLANS Accordingly, the amendments to 40 CFR 52.50(c) published on August 16, 2017 (82 FR 38841), are withdrawn effective October 13, 2017.
    [FR Doc. 2017-22098 Filed 10-12-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560-50-P
    ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY 40 CFR Part 52 [EPA-R04-OAR-2017-0387; FRL-9969-41-Region 4] Air Plan Approval: South Carolina; Miscellaneous Revisions to Multiple Rules AGENCY:

    Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

    ACTION:

    Withdrawal of direct final rule.

    SUMMARY:

    Due to the receipt of an adverse comment, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is withdrawing portions of the August 21, 2017, direct final rule that approves changes to South Carolina's state implementation plan (SIP) related to definitions and open burning. EPA will address the comment in a separate final action based upon the proposed rulemaking action, also published on August 21, 2017. EPA will not institute a second comment period on this action.

    DATES:

    The amendments to 40 CFR 52.2120(c) at Regulation 62.1 and Regulation No. 62.2 (amendatory instructions 2.A and B.) published at 82 FR 39537, on August 21, 2017, are withdrawn, effective October 13, 2017.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    D. Brad Akers, 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. Akers can be reached via telephone at (404) 562-9089 or via electronic mail at [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    On August 21, 2017 (82 FR 39537), EPA published a direct final rule approving portions of several SIP revisions submitted by the State of South Carolina, through the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control, on July 18, 2011, June 17, 2013, April 10, 2014, August 8, 2014, January 20, 2016, and July 27, 2016. EPA took a direct final action to approve portions of the July 18, 2011, June 17, 2013, April 10, 2014, August 8, 2014, January 20, 2016, and July 27, 2016, submissions that made changes to Regulation 61-62.1, Section I—“Definitions,” and Regulation 61-62.2—“Prohibition of Open Burning,” among other changes.

    In the direct final rule, EPA explained that the Agency was publishing the rule without prior proposal because the Agency viewed the submittal as a non-controversial SIP amendment and anticipated no adverse comments. Further, EPA explained that the Agency was publishing a separate document in the proposed rules section of the Federal Register to serve as the proposal to approve the SIP revision should an adverse comment be filed. EPA also noted that the rule would be effective generally 30 days after the close of the public comment period, without further notice unless the Agency received adverse comment by the close of the public comment period. EPA explained that if the Agency received such comments, then EPA would publish a document withdrawing the final rule and informing the public that the rule would not take effect. EPA specified, however, that if a comment were received 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. It was also explained that all public comments received would then be addressed in a subsequent final rule based on the proposed rule, and that EPA would not institute a second comment period on this action.

    EPA received one adverse comment from a single Commenter on the portions of the direct final rule that made changes to Regulation 61-62.1, Section I and Regulation 61-62.2 only. As a result of the comment received, EPA is withdrawing only the portions of the direct final rule approving changes to the South Carolina SIP at Regulation 61-62.1, Section I, as submitted in the July 18, 2011, June 17, 2013, April 10, 2014, and July 27, 2016, SIP revision, and Regulation 61-62.2, as submitted in the April 10, 2014, SIP revision. EPA will address the comment in a separate final action based on the proposed action also published on August 21, 2017 (82 FR 39551). EPA will not open a second comment period for this action.

    List of Subjects in 40 CFR Part 52

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

    Dated: September 29, 2017. Onis “Trey” Glenn, III, Regional Administrator, Region 4. Accordingly, the amendments to 40 CFR 52.2120(c) at Regulation 62.1 and Regulation No. 62.2 (amendatory instructions 2.A and B.) published on August 21, 2017 (82 FR 39541), which were to become effective October 20, 2017, are withdrawn.
    [FR Doc. 2017-22120 Filed 10-12-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560-50-P
    ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY 40 CFR Part 52 [EPA-R04-OAR-2017-0500; FRL-9969-39-Region 4] Air Plan Approval; Florida; Stationary Sources Emissions Monitoring AGENCY:

    Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

    ACTION:

    Direct final rule.

    SUMMARY:

    The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is taking direct final action to approve a portion of a State Implementation Plan (SIP) revision submitted by the State of Florida, through the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) on February 1, 2017, for the purpose of revising Florida's requirements and procedures for emissions monitoring at stationary sources. Florida's February 1, 2017, SIP submittal includes amendments to three Florida Administrative Code (F.A.C.) rule sections, as well as the removal of one F.A.C. rule section from the Florida SIP in order to eliminate redundant language and make updates to the requirements for emissions monitoring at stationary sources. Additionally, this action includes a correction to remove an additional F.A.C. rule that was previously approved for removal from the SIP in a separate action but was never removed. EPA is taking action on Florida's February 1, 2017, SIP submittal as a direct final rule without prior proposal because the Agency views this as a noncontroversial submittal and anticipates no adverse comments. This action is being taken pursuant to the Clean Air Act (CAA or Act).

    DATES:

    This direct final rule is effective December 12, 2017 without further notice, unless EPA receives adverse comment by November 13, 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-2017-0500 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:

    Andres Febres of the 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. Febres can be reached via telephone at (404) 562-8966 or via electronic mail [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: I. What actions is EPA taking today?

    On February 1, 2017, FDEP submitted to EPA for adoption a SIP revision for the purpose of updating Florida's requirements and procedures for emissions monitoring at stationary sources. Florida's February 1, 2017, SIP submittal included amendments to three F.A.C. rule sections and the removal of one F.A.C. rule section from the Florida SIP.1 Specifically, these changes to Florida's rules included the amendments of Rule 62-297.310, F.A.C.—“General Emissions Test Requirement;” 2 Rule 62-297.440, F.A.C.—“Supplementary Test Procedures;” and Rule 62-297.450, F.A.C.—“EPA VOC Capture Efficiency Test Procedures.” In addition, Florida's February 1, 2017, SIP submittal includes the removal of one of Florida's rule sections from the SIP. Specifically, Florida requested to remove Rule 62-297.401, F.A.C.—“Compliance Test Methods” from the State's implementation plan because it has been repealed at the state level, and, according to the submittal, the section is unnecessary, obsolete or duplicative of other F.A.C. Rules.

    1 Florida Administrative Code, “62-297,” for example, is a rule chapter, and “62-297.310” is a rule section, commonly written as “Chapter 62-297, F.A.C.,” and “Rule 62-297.310, F.A.C.,” respectively. Throughout this rulemaking, we will use this nomenclature to refer to rule chapter and rule sections.

    2 Although referenced in the February 1, 2017, SIP submittal by the title of “General Emissions Test Requirements,” the current SIP-approved Rule 62-297.310, F.A.C., is titled “General Test Requirements.” The renaming of this Rule is included in the February 1, 2017, SIP submittal and is being acted on in a separate rulemaking.

    Through this rulemaking, EPA is approving the portions of Florida's February 1, 2017, SIP submittal regarding amendments to Rule 62-297.440, F.A.C., and Rule 62-297.450, F.A.C., as well as the removal of Rules 62-297.401, F.A.C., from the State's implementation plan. The portion of the SIP regarding Rule 62-297.310 is being discussed in a separate rulemaking that is proposing approval of portions of several SIP submittals making administrative and recodification changes to Florida's SIP. See 82 FR 37379 (August 10, 2017).

    In addition to the removal of Rule 62-297.401, F.A.C., EPA is removing Rule 62-297.400, F.A.C.—“EPA Methods Adopted by Reference” from the Florida SIP. The removal of this rule section was previously approved by EPA, but was never reflected in Florida's SIP-approved rules table in 40 CFR 52.520(c). For more detail on the approval to remove Rule 62-297.400, F.A.C., see the June 16, 1999, rulemaking (64 FR 32346).

    II. Analysis of State Submittal

    As mentioned in Section I above, Florida submitted to EPA a SIP revision on February 1, 2017, which includes amendments to three of its rules to address requirements for emissions monitoring at stationary sources and proposed to remove one of its SIP-approved rules. Specifically, Florida proposed amendments to Rules 62-297.310, 62-297.440, and 62-297.450, F.A.C., and proposed to remove Rule 62-297.401, F.A.C., from the State's implementation plan. A description of the changes proposed to these Rules and our analyses of these changes is included below.

    A. Rule 62-297.401, F.A.C.—“Compliance Test Methods”

    In its February 1, 2017, SIP submittal, Florida requested that Rule 62-297.401, F.A.C.—“Compliance Test Methods” be removed from the State's implementation plan. This rule section listed the air emissions test methods that were to be used whenever a compliance test was required by another rule or a permit. These test methods are now prescribed in each individual rule that requires a compliance test, and as a result, Rule 62-297.401 is no longer needed as its own separate list. In addition, Florida incorporates by reference all the necessary EPA test methods in Rule 62-204.800, F.A.C—“Federal Regulations Adopted by Reference.” Consequently, Florida has since repealed Rule 62-297.401, F.A.C., state effective on July 10, 2014. EPA is approving the removal of the aforementioned rule from Florida's SIP because the requirements are still in place in other state rules, and we believe this repealed rule is no longer necessary.

    B. Rule 62-297.440, F.A.C.—“Supplementary Test Procedures”

    In Florida's February 1, 2017, SIP submittal the State proposed several revisions to Rule 62-297.440, F.A.C.—“Supplementary Test Procedures,” which became state effective on July 10, 2014. This rule section listed additional testing methods that could be used in conjunction and as a supplement to all other required test methods. In its February 1, 2017, SIP submittal, Florida is requesting the removal of several subsections because they contain test methods that are either adopted by reference in other rule sections or are now obsolete. Florida proposed to remove the following subsections from Rule 62-297.440, F.A.C.: (1)—“ASTM Methods,” (3)—“American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists, Recommended Practices—Industrial Ventilation: A Manual of Recommended Practice—Equipment Specifications,” (5)—“Technical Association of Pulp and Paper Industry (TAPPI), Test Methods,” (6)—“Sulphur Development Institute of Canada (SUDIC) Sampling and Testing Sulphur Forms,” and (7)—“EPA VOC Capture Efficiency Test Procedures.”

    With the exception of the language from subsection (7)—“EPA VOC Capture Efficiency Test Procedures” (which are now included in Rule 62-297.450, F.A.C.—“EPA VOC Capture Efficiency Test Procedures”), all other subsections mentioned in the paragraph above were repealed because they are obsolete and unnecessary. Given that these test methods were supplementary and that all required test methods are still in place and prescribed in each section or permit that requires testing, as mentioned in Section II.B. above, EPA agrees with the amendments and is approving the removal of these five subsections from Rule 62-297.440, F.A.C.

    C. Rule 62-297.450, F.A.C.—“EPA VOC Capture Efficiency Test Procedures”

    In its February 1, 2017, SIP submittal, Florida proposed several revisions to Rule 62-297.450, F.A.C—“EPA VOC Capture Efficiency Test Procedures,” which became state effective on July 10, 2014. This rule section lists procedures for determining the capture efficiency of a VOC capture system. The February 1, 2017, SIP submittal makes clarifying changes to this rule by reformatting the rule, but did not change the requirements that had to be met in order to determine the capture efficiency of a VOC capture system. Some subsections of the rule were removed, and instead, the State references EPA's Emissions Measurement Technical Information Center Guideline Document GD-035—“Guideline for Determining Capture Efficiency,” January 9, 1995.3 In addition, amendments to Rule 62-297.450, F.A.C., add language removed from subsection 62-297.440(7) mentioned above.

    3 EPA document GD-035, “Guidelines for Determining Capture Efficiency,” dated January 9, 1995, is available at: https://www3.epa.gov/ttn/emc/guidlnd/gd-035.pdf.

    EPA is approving the changes provided in Florida's February 1, 2017, SIP submittal to Rule 62-297.450, F.A.C., on the basis that these changes are simply to clarify and simplify the language in the rule, and are consistent with EPA's VOC capture efficiency test procedure guidelines, as established in the agency's GD-035 guideline.

    III. Removal of 62-297.400 From the Florida SIP

    In an April 15, 1996, SIP submittal, Florida requested, among other things, the removal of several Rule sections from the State's SIP. Specifically, Florida requested to remove fourteen sections from Rule Chapter 62-297, F.A.C., including Rules 62-297.400, 62-297.411, 62-297.412, 62-297.413, 62-297.414, 62-297.415, 62-297.416, 62-297.417, 62-297.418, 62-297.419, 62-297.421, 62-297.422, 62-297.423, and 62-297.424, F.A.C. In a June 16, 1999 (64 FR 32346), rulemaking, EPA approved the removal of these Florida rule sections from the State's SIP at the same time that the agency added a table of SIP-approved rules at 40 CFR 52.520.4 However, when creating this table, EPA inadvertently included some of the rules that were being removed from Florida's SIP. The rules that were mistakenly left in the table under Chapter 62-297, F.A.C., are Rules 62-297.400, 62-297.411, 62-297.412, 62-297.413, 62-297.415, 62-297.416, 62-297.417, and 62-297.423, F.A.C.

    4 The list of EPA-approved regulations in Florida's SIP can be found in Table (c) of 40 CFR part 52, Subsection 520 [40 CFR 52.520(c)].

    On November 29, 2012, Florida submitted to EPA a letter requesting that corrections be made to the table at 40 CFR 52.520(c), including the removal of those rules that were approved for removal but left in the table. As a response to the November 29, 2012, letter, EPA published a Correcting Amendments rulemaking on June 20, 2013 (78 FR 37132), to make the requested corrections to Rule Chapter 62-297 in table 52.520(c) of the Florida SIP. In the June 20, 2013, correction, EPA removed all remaining rules that were previously approved for removal with the exception of Rule 62-297.400, F.A.C.

    Although not requested by Florida in their February 1, 2017, SIP submittal, EPA is making the correction to the table at 40 CFR 52.520 regarding Rule 62-297.400, F.A.C., at this time. At the time of the repeal of this rule, the latest SIP-approved version of Rule 62-297.400, F.A.C., included references to Rule 62-297.401, F.A.C., and Rules 62-297.411 through 62-297.424, F.A.C., which are either removed from the SIP or are being approved for removal in this rulemaking. If Rule 62-297.400, F.A.C., was left in the Florida SIP, it would continue to make reference to SIP-approved rules that no longer exist in the State's implementation plan and could lead to confusion. Since this rule was previously approved for removal in the June 16, 1999, rulemaking, EPA is now removing the aforementioned rule from the Florida SIP.

    IV. 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 Rule 62-297.440, F.A.C., entitled “Supplementary Test Procedures” and Rule 62-297.450, F.A.C., entitled “EPA VOC Capture Efficiency Test Procedures,” both state effective on July 19, 2014. 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, these materials have been approved by EPA for inclusion in the State's implementation plan, have 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.5

    5 62 FR 27968 (May 22, 1997).

    V. Final Action

    EPA is taking direct final action to approve the aforementioned changes to the SIP, as submitted to us in Florida's February 1, 2017, SIP revision. Specifically, EPA is approving the amendments to Rule 62-297.440, F.A.C., and Rule 62-297.450, F.A.C., both state effective on July 19, 2014, as well as the removal of Rule 62-297.401, F.A.C., from Florida's SIP. In addition, EPA is removing Rule 62-297.400, F.A.C., from Florida's SIP as approved in a previous rulemaking.6 This action is limited to the two rule revisions and two rule removals mentioned above and does not act on other portions of the February 1, 2017, submittal that are covered under a separate rulemaking.

    6 See Section III of this rulemaking for details on Rule 62-297.400.

    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 December 12, 2017 without further notice unless the Agency receives adverse comments by November 13, 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 December 12, 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.

    VI. 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. 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 December 12, 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, Intergovernmental relations, Lead, Nitrogen dioxide, Ozone, Particulate matter, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Sulfur oxides, Volatile organic compounds.

    Dated: September 29, 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 K—Florida 2. Section 52.520(c) is amended under “Chapter 62-297 Stationary Sources—Emissions Monitoring” by removing the entries for “62-297.400” and “62-297.401” and revising the entries for “62-297.440” and “62-297.450” to read as follows:
    § 52.520 Identification of plan.

    (c) * * *

    EPA-Approved Florida Regulations State citation
  • (section)
  • Title/subject State
  • effective
  • date
  • EPA approval
  • date
  • Explanation
    *         *         *         *         *         *         * Chapter 62-297 Stationary Sources—Emissions Monitoring *         *         *         *         *         *         * 62-297.440 Supplementary Test Procedures 7/10/2014 10/13/2017, [Insert citation of publication] 62-297.450 EPA VOC Capture Efficiency Test Procedures 7/10/2014 10/13/2017, [Insert citation of publication] *         *         *         *         *         *         *
    [FR Doc. 2017-22114 Filed 10-12-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560-50-P
    ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY 40 CFR Part 52 [EPA-R04-OAR-2017-0385; FRL-9969-29-Region 4] Air Plan Approval: SC: Multiple Revisions to Air Pollution Control Standards AGENCY:

    Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

    ACTION:

    Withdrawal of direct final rule.

    SUMMARY:

    Due to the receipt of an adverse comment, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is withdrawing the August 16, 2017, direct final rule that approves portions of the South Carolina state implementation plan (SIP) revisions for miscellaneous rules covering air pollution control standards. EPA will address the comment in a subsequent final action based upon the proposed rulemaking action, also published on August 16, 2017. EPA will not institute a second comment period on this action.

    DATES:

    The direct final rule published at 82 FR 38828, on August 16, 2017, is withdrawn, effective October 13, 2017.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Richard Wong, 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. The telephone number is (404) 562-8726. Mr. Wong can also be reached via electronic mail at [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    On August 16, 2017 (82 FR 38828), EPA published a direct final rule approving SIP revisions submitted by the State of South Carolina, through the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SC DHEC). EPA took a direct final action to approve portions of the October 1, 2007, July 18, 2011, June 17, 2013, August 8, 2014, August 12, 2015, July 27, 2016, and November 4, 2016, submissions that revise Regulation 61-62.5, Standard No. 1—“Emissions From Fuel Burning Operations” and Regulation 61-62.5, Standard No. 4—“Emissions From Process Industries.”

    In the direct final rule, EPA explained that the Agency was publishing the rule without prior proposal because the Agency viewed the submittal as a non-controversial SIP amendment and anticipated no adverse comments. Further, EPA explained that the Agency was publishing a separate document in the proposed rules section of the Federal Register to serve as the proposal to approve the SIP revision should an adverse comment be filed. EPA also noted that the rule would be effective generally 30 days after the close of the public comment period, without further notice unless the Agency received adverse comment by the close of the public comment period. EPA explained that if the Agency received such comments, then EPA would publish a document withdrawing the final rule and informing the public that the rule would not take effect. It was also explained that all public comments received would then be addressed in a subsequent final rule based on the proposed rule, and that EPA would not institute a second comment period on this action.

    EPA received one adverse comment from a single Commenter on the direct final rule on both the changes to Regulation 61-62.5, Standard No. 1 and to Standard No. 4. As a result of the comment received, EPA is withdrawing the direct final rule approving the aforementioned changes to the South Carolina SIP at Regulation 61-62.5, Standard No. 1 and Regulation 61-62.5, Standard No. 4. EPA will address the comment in a separate final action based on the proposed action also published on August 16, 2017 (82 FR 38874). EPA will not open a second comment period for this action.

    List of Subjects in 40 CFR Part 52

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

    Dated: September 29, 2017. Onis “Trey” Glenn, III, Regional Administrator, Region 4. Accordingly, the amendments to 40 CFR 52.2120(c) published on August 16, 2017 (82 FR 38828), which were to become effective October 16, 2017, are withdrawn.
    [FR Doc. 2017-22103 Filed 10-12-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560-50-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 622 [Docket No. 100812345-2142-03] RIN 0648-XF729 Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; 2017 Commercial Accountability Measures and Closure for South Atlantic Greater Amberjack AGENCY:

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

    ACTION:

    Temporary rule; closure.

    SUMMARY:

    NMFS implements accountability measures (AMs) for commercial greater amberjack in the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of the South Atlantic. NMFS projects commercial landings of greater amberjack will reach the commercial annual catch limit (ACL) by October 18, 2017. Therefore, NMFS closes the commercial sector for greater amberjack in the South Atlantic EEZ on October 18, 2017, and it will remain closed until the start of the next fishing year on March 1, 2018. This closure is necessary to protect the greater amberjack resource.

    DATES:

    This rule is effective at 12:01 a.m., local time, October 18, 2017, until 12:01 a.m., local time, March 1, 2018.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Mary Vara, NMFS Southeast Regional Office, telephone: 727-824-5305, email: [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    The snapper-grouper fishery of the South Atlantic includes greater amberjack and is managed under the Fishery Management Plan for the Snapper-Grouper Fishery of the South Atlantic Region (FMP). The FMP was prepared by the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council and is implemented by NMFS under the authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act) by regulations at 50 CFR part 622.

    The commercial ACL for greater amberjack is equivalent to the commercial quota. The commercial quota for greater amberjack in the South Atlantic is 769,388 lb (348,989 kg), gutted weight, as specified in 50 CFR 622.190(a)(3).

    Under 50 CFR 622.193(k)(1), NMFS is required to close the commercial sector for greater amberjack when the commercial ACL (commercial quota) is reached, or is projected to be reached, by filing a notification to that effect with the Office of the Federal Register. NMFS projects that commercial landings of South Atlantic greater amberjack will reach the commercial ACL by October 18, 2017. Accordingly, the commercial sector for South Atlantic greater amberjack is closed effective at 12:01 a.m., local time, October 18, 2017, until 12:01 a.m., local time, March 1, 2018.

    The operator of a vessel with a valid Federal commercial vessel permit for South Atlantic snapper-grouper with greater amberjack on board must have landed and bartered, traded, or sold such greater amberjack prior to 12:01 a.m., local time, October 18, 2017. During the commercial closure, harvest and possession of greater amberjack in or from the South Atlantic EEZ is limited to the recreational bag and possession limits, as specified in § 622.187(b)(1) and (c)(1). Also during the commercial closure, the sale or purchase of greater amberjack taken from the South Atlantic EEZ is prohibited. The prohibition on sale or purchase does not apply to greater amberjack that were harvested, landed ashore, and sold prior to 12:01 a.m., local time, October 18, 2017, and were held in cold storage by a dealer or processor, as specified in § 622.190(c)(1)(i).

    For a person on board a vessel that has been issued a valid Federal commercial or charter vessel/headboat permit for the South Atlantic snapper-grouper fishery, the bag and possession limits and the sale and purchase provisions of the commercial closure for greater amberjack apply regardless of whether the fish are harvested in state or Federal waters, as specified in 50 CFR 622.190(c)(1)(ii).

    Classification

    The Regional Administrator, Southeast Region, NMFS, has determined this temporary rule is necessary for the conservation and management of greater amberjack and the South Atlantic snapper-grouper fishery and is consistent with the Magnuson-Stevens Act and other applicable laws.

    This action is taken under 50 CFR 622.193(k)(1) and is exempt from review under Executive Order 12866.

    These measures are exempt from the procedures of the Regulatory Flexibility Act, because the temporary rule is issued without opportunity for prior notice and comment.

    This action responds to the best scientific information available. The Assistant Administrator for NOAA Fisheries (AA) finds that the need to immediately implement this action to close the commercial sector for greater amberjack constitutes good cause to waive the requirements to provide prior notice and opportunity for public comment pursuant to the authority set forth in 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(B), as such procedures would be unnecessary and contrary to the public interest. Such procedures are unnecessary because the AMs have already been subject to notice and comment, and all that remains is to notify the public of the closure. Such procedures are contrary to the public interest because of the need to immediately implement this action to protect greater amberjack since the capacity of the fishing fleet allows for rapid harvest of the commercial ACL (commercial quota). Prior notice and opportunity for public comment would require time and would potentially result in a harvest well in excess of the established commercial ACL (commercial quota).

    For the aforementioned reasons, the AA also finds good cause to waive the 30-day delay in the effectiveness of this action under 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3).

    Authority:

    16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.

    Dated: October 10, 2017. Emily H. Menashes, Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service.
    [FR Doc. 2017-22210 Filed 10-12-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-22-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 622 [Docket No. 130312235-3658-02] RIN 0648-XF730 Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; 2017 Commercial Accountability Measure and Closure for South Atlantic Vermilion Snapper AGENCY:

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

    ACTION:

    Temporary rule; closure.

    SUMMARY:

    NMFS implements an accountability measure (AM) for the commercial sector for vermilion snapper in the South Atlantic exclusive economic zone (EEZ). NMFS projects that commercial landings of vermilion snapper will reach the commercial annual catch limit (ACL) for the July through December 2017 fishing period by October 17, 2017. Therefore, NMFS closes the commercial sector for vermilion snapper in the South Atlantic EEZ on October 17, 2017, and it will remain closed until January 1, 2018, the start of the January through June commercial fishing season. This closure is necessary to protect the South Atlantic vermilion snapper resource.

    DATES:

    This rule is effective from 12:01 a.m., local time, October 17, 2017, until 12:01 a.m., local time, January 1, 2018.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Mary Vara, NMFS Southeast Regional Office, telephone: 727-824-5305, email: [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    The snapper-grouper fishery of the South Atlantic includes vermilion snapper and is managed under the Fishery Management Plan for the Snapper-Grouper Fishery of the South Atlantic Region (FMP). The FMP was prepared by the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council and is implemented by NMFS under the authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act) by regulations at 50 CFR part 622.

    The commercial ACL (equivalent to the commercial quota) for vermilion snapper in the South Atlantic is divided into separate quotas for two 6-month periods each year, January through June and July through December. The commercial quota for vermilion snapper in the South Atlantic is 388,703 lb (176,313 kg), gutted weight (431,460 lb (195,707 kg), round weight), for the July 1 through December 31, 2017, fishing period, as specified in 50 CFR 622.190(a)(4)(ii)(D).

    On September 28, 2017 (82 FR 45207), NMFS published a temporary rule in the Federal Register to reduce the commercial trip limit for vermilion snapper in or from the South Atlantic EEZ to 500 lb (227 kg), gutted weight, effective at 12:01 a.m., local time, October 2, 2017, until January 1, 2018, or until the commercial quota was reached and the commercial sector closed, whichever would occur first.

    In accordance with regulations at 50 CFR 622.193(f)(1), NMFS is required to close the commercial sector for vermilion snapper when the commercial quota for that 6-month period of the fishing year has been reached, or is projected to be reached, by filing a notification to that effect with the Office of the Federal Register. NMFS has determined that the commercial quota for South Atlantic vermilion snapper for the July through December fishing period will be reached by October 17, 2017. Accordingly, the commercial sector for South Atlantic vermilion snapper is closed effective at 12:01 a.m., local time, October 17, 2017, until 12:01 a.m., local time, January 1, 2018.

    The operator of a vessel with a valid commercial vessel permit for South Atlantic snapper-grouper with vermilion snapper on board must have landed and bartered, traded, or sold such vermilion snapper prior to 12:01 a.m., local time, October 17, 2017. During the commercial closure, the recreational bag limit specified in 50 CFR 622.187(b)(5) and the possession limits specified in 50 CFR 622.187(c)(1) apply to all harvest or possession of vermilion snapper in or from the South Atlantic EEZ. Also during the commercial closure, the sale or purchase of vermilion snapper taken from the EEZ is prohibited. As specified in 50 CFR 622.190(c)(1)(i), the prohibition on sale or purchase does not apply to the sale or purchase of vermilion snapper that were harvested, landed ashore, and sold prior to 12:01 a.m., local time, October 17, 2017, and were held in cold storage by a dealer or processor. For a person on board a vessel issued a Federal commercial or charter vessel/headboat permit for the South Atlantic snapper-grouper fishery, the recreational bag and possession limits and the sale and purchase provisions of the commercial closure for vermilion snapper apply regardless of whether the fish are harvested in state or Federal waters, as specified in 50 CFR 622.190(c)(1)(ii).

    Classification

    The Regional Administrator for the NMFS Southeast Region has determined this temporary rule is necessary for the conservation and management of South Atlantic vermilion snapper and is consistent with the Magnuson-Stevens Act and other applicable laws.

    This action is taken under 50 CFR 622.193(f)(1) and is exempt from review under Executive Order 12866.

    This action responds to the best scientific information available. The Assistant Administrator for NOAA Fisheries (AA) finds that the need to immediately implement this action to close the commercial sector for vermilion snapper constitutes good cause to waive the requirements to provide prior notice and opportunity for public comment pursuant to the authority set forth in 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(B), as such procedures would be unnecessary and contrary to the public interest. Such procedures are unnecessary because the final rule implementing the AM has been subject to public notice and comment, and all that remains is to notify the public of the closure. Allowing prior notice and opportunity for public comment is contrary to the public interest because of the need to immediately implement this action to protect vermilion snapper, since the capacity of the fishing fleet allows for rapid harvest of the commercial quota. Prior notice and opportunity for public comment would require time and could result in a harvest well in excess of the established commercial quota.

    For the aforementioned reasons, the AA also finds good cause to waive the 30-day delay in the effectiveness of this action under 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3).

    Authority:

    16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.

    Dated: October 10, 2017. Emily H. Menashes, Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service.
    [FR Doc. 2017-22211 Filed 10-12-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-22-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 665 [Docket No. 170109046-7933-02] RIN 0648-XF156 Pacific Island Pelagic Fisheries; 2017 U.S. Territorial Longline Bigeye Tuna Catch Limits AGENCY:

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

    ACTION:

    Final specifications.

    SUMMARY:

    In this final rule, NMFS specifies a 2017 limit of 2,000 mt of longline-caught bigeye tuna for each U.S. participating territory (American Samoa, Guam, and the Northern Mariana Islands). NMFS will allow each territory to allocate up to 1,000 mt each year to U.S. longline fishing vessels in a valid specified fishing agreement. As an accountability measure, NMFS will monitor, attribute, and restrict (if necessary), catches of longline-caught bigeye tuna, including catches made under a specified fishing agreement. These catch limits and accountability measures support the long-term sustainability of fishery resources of the U.S. Pacific Islands and fisheries development in the U.S. territories.

    DATES:

    The final specifications are effective October 10, 2017, through December 31, 2017. The deadline to submit a specified fishing agreement pursuant to 50 CFR 665.819(b)(3) for review is December 11, 2017.

    ADDRESSES:

    Copies of the Fishery Ecosystem Plan for Pelagic Fisheries of the Western Pacific (Pelagic FEP) are available from the Western Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council), 1164 Bishop St., Suite 1400, Honolulu, HI 96813, tel 808-522-8220, fax 808-522-8226, or www.wpcouncil.org.

    NMFS prepared environmental analyses that describe the potential impacts on the human environment that would result from the action. Copies of those analyses, identified by NOAA-NMFS-2017-0004, are available from www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-2017-0004, or from Michael D. Tosatto, Regional Administrator, NMFS Pacific Islands Region (PIR), 1845 Wasp Blvd., Bldg. 176, Honolulu, HI 96818.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Jarad Makaiau, NMFS PIRO Sustainable Fisheries, 808-725-5176.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    NMFS is specifying a catch limit of 2,000 mt of longline-caught bigeye tuna for each U.S. participating territory in 2017. NMFS is also authorizing each territory to allocate up to 1,000 mt of its 2,000-mt bigeye tuna limit to U.S. longline fishing vessels permitted to fish under the Pelagic FEP. NMFS will monitor catches of longline-caught bigeye tuna by the longline fisheries of each territory, including catches made by U.S. longline vessels operating under specified fishing agreements. The criteria that a specified fishing agreement must meet, and the process for attributing longline-caught bigeye tuna, will follow the procedures in 50 CFR 665.819—Territorial catch and fishing effort limits. When NMFS projects that a territorial catch or allocation limit will be reached, NMFS will, as an accountability measure, prohibit the catch and retention of longline-caught bigeye tuna by vessels in the applicable territory (territorial catch limit), and/or vessels in a specified fishing agreement (allocation limit).

    You may find additional background information on this action in the preamble to the proposed specifications published on August 31, 2017 (82 FR 41388).

    Comments and Responses

    On August 31, 2017, NMFS published the proposed specifications and request for public comments (82 FR 41388); the comment period closed on September 15, 2017.

    In addition to the proposed catch limit specification, NMFS specifically invited public comments that would address the impact of the proposed action on cultural fishing rights in American Samoa. On March 20, 2017, in Territory of American Samoa v. NMFS, et al. (16-cv-95, D. Haw), a Federal judge vacated and set aside a NMFS rule that amended the American Samoa Large Vessel Prohibited Area (LVPA) for eligible longliners. The Court held that the action was inconsistent with the “other applicable law” provision of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act) by not considering the protection and preservation of cultural fishing rights in American Samoa under the Instruments of Cession. The Instruments of Cession do not specifically mention cultural fishing rights, and the Court's decision, although recognizing the need to protect those rights, does not define them. The Council is currently reevaluating the LVPA rule, including options to define cultural fishing rights in American Samoa that are subject to preservation and protection.

    NMFS received five comment submissions on the proposed specifications, from individuals and the fishing industry. NMFS considered the public comments in making its decision on this action, and responds below to comments.

    Comments on the Proposed Specifications

    NMFS responds to comments on the proposed specifications, as follows:

    Comment 1: Several commenters expressed support for the proposed 2017 longline bigeye tuna catch limit of 2,000 mt and said the limit is sustainable and balances the needs of the communities that rely on bigeye tuna, and the ability of the stock to repopulate.

    Response: NMFS agrees and is satisfied that this action, which is identical to the catch and allocation limits we implemented in 2016 (81 FR 63145, September 14, 2016), addresses the conservation and management needs of the bigeye tuna in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean (WCPO) while taking into account the needs of fishing communities of the U.S. Pacific Islands.

    Comment 2: One commenter said NOAA should allow for a maximum catch limit of 500 mt to account for unreported catches by poachers. The commenter also expressed concern that NOAA does not have sufficient enforcement resources to catch poachers, and that the proposed 2,000 mt catch limit will result in the species extinction.

    Response: NMFS disagrees that it should reduce the limit to account for poaching by U.S. longline fishing vessels. NMFS has no evidence that poaching is an issue of management concern, and therefore has no basis to reduce the allocation limit. Regulations implementing the Pelagic FEP include numerous measures that minimize the potential for illegal and unreported catch in U.S. longline fisheries. Specifically, NMFS requires all U.S. longline vessels owners to install and maintain operational vessel monitoring systems. This allows NMFS to track the location of fishing vessels at all times and ensure vessels do not fish within any restricted fishing area or during a fishery closure.

    NMFS also places a scientific observer on board longline vessels to document and record all catches made during observed fishing trips. Longline vessel operators must also maintain an accurate daily log of all catches, which NMFS can cross validate with observer records and market sales reports. Together, these measures provide NMFS with a reliable means to track the amount of fish caught by U.S. longline vessels from sea to market, and minimize the potential for illegal and unreported catch in the fishery.

    NMFS also disagrees that the proposed action would result in the extinction of bigeye tuna. Bigeye tuna is not a species listed as, or proposed to be listed as, threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), nor is it a candidate species for ESA listing. Moreover, NMFS has determined that the proposed action is consistent with the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission's (WCPFC) objectives to conserve bigeye tuna at sustainable levels.

    Comment 3: One commenter said the NMFS should state where exactly the authority to create catch limits comes from instead of just supplying the statute number.

    Response: Bigeye tuna is managed by the WCPFC, of which the United States is a member. In Conservation and Management Measure (CMM) 2016-01, the WCPFC established bigeye longline catch limits for the United States and other members, while exempting small island developing states and Participating Territories to the WCPFC, including American Samoa, Guam, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, from catch limits. CMM 2016-01 also provides that qualifying longline catches of vessels operated under contracts and leases with Participating Territories are to be attributed to those Territories. This action establishes bigeye longline limits for the three U.S. participating territories, a limited portion of which may be allocated to eligible vessels under specified fishing agreements, consistent with the WCPFC's conservation objectives for bigeye tuna. NMFS clarifies here that the authority to promulgate these fishing regulations arises from the Magnuson-Stevens Act (16 U.S.C. 1801, et seq.) and implementing regulations at 50 CFR 665.819.

    Comment 4: One commenter said that vessels in the U.S. pelagic longline fishery have existing specified fishing agreements with U.S. territories but are unable to fish for bigeye tuna under those agreements until NMFS finalizes the proposed action.

    Response: Specified fishing agreements may not be given effect until NMFS determines that the proposed catch and allocation limits are consistent with the Pelagic FEP, WCPFC decisions, other provisions of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and other applicable laws. While the 2017 proposed catch and allocation limits are identical to the limits NMFS implemented in 2016, NMFS received new information relevant to the environmental analyses in the 2015 EA and 2016 Supplemental EA. NMFS was required to complete its analysis of this information and other relevant impacts prior to taking final action on the proposed catch and allocation limit specifications.

    Comment 5: One commenter questions whether there is a factual basis to limit each territory to a 1,000 mt allocation limit, particularly in light of the 2017 Stock Assessment.

    Response: The Council recommended the 1,000 mt allocation limit for each U.S. territory prior to the availability of the 2017 stock assessment for bigeye tuna, which was completed in August 2017. Utilizing the best scientific information available, NMFS has determined that this allocation limit is consistent with WCPFC objectives to conserve the bigeye stock. Although the new 2017 stock assessment may describe a somewhat more optimistic conservation status for bigeye tuna, NMFS considers its use for this management action to be premature. NMFS expects stock assessment authors to present the assessment results to the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) at its December 2017 meeting. We also expect the Council will consider the 2017 stock assessment and WCPFC decisions when recommending the future catch and allocation limits for territorial longline fisheries.

    Comment 6: One commenter said that cultural fishing rights are an important topic that needs recognition and that the proposed action can achieve the financial and cultural goals of the American Samoa vessels and protect populations of tuna.

    Response: NMFS agrees and recognizes the importance of fishing to U.S. Pacific Island cultures. The action limits the amount of bigeye tuna that the U.S. territories may allocate to eligible vessels through specified fishing agreements to ensure that a sufficient amount of bigeye tuna is available to territorial fisheries. NMFS is satisfied that the catch and allocation limits addresses the conservation and management needs of the bigeye tuna in the WCPO while taking into account the needs of fishing communities.

    Classification

    The Regional Administrator, NMFS PIR, determined that this action is necessary for the conservation and management of Pacific Island fishery resources, and that it is consistent with the Magnuson-Stevens Act and other applicable laws.

    The Chief Counsel for Regulation of the Department of Commerce certified to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business Administration during the proposed rule stage that this action would not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. NMFS published the factual basis for the certification in the proposed rule, and we do not repeat it here. NMFS received no comments on this certification; as a result, a regulatory flexibility analysis is not required, and none has been prepared.

    On December 29, 2015, NMFS issued a final rule establishing a small business size standard of $11 million in annual gross receipts for all businesses primarily engaged in the commercial fishing industry (NAICS 11411) for Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) compliance purposes only (80 FR 81194, December 29, 2015). The $11 million standard became effective on July 1, 2016, and is to be used in place of the U.S. Small Business Administration's (SBA) current standards of $20.5 million, $5.5 million, and $7.5 million for the finfish (NAICS 114111), shellfish (NAICS 114112), and other marine fishing (NAICS 114119) sectors of the U.S. commercial fishing industry in all NMFS rules subject to the RFA after July 1, 2016.

    Pursuant to the RFA and prior to July 1, 2016, NMFS developed a certification for this regulatory action using SBA size standards. NMFS has reviewed the analyses prepared for this regulatory action in light of the new size standard. All of the entities directly regulated by this regulatory action are commercial fishing businesses and were considered small under the SBA size standards and, thus, they all would continue to be considered small under the new standard. Accordingly, NMFS has determined that the new size standard does not affect analyses prepared for this regulatory action.

    This rule it is not subject to the 30-day delayed effectiveness provision of the Administrative Procedure Act pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(1) because it is a substantive rule that relieves a restriction. This rule allows all U.S. vessels identified in a valid specified fishing agreement to resume fishing in the western and central Pacific Ocean (WCPO) after NMFS closed the longline fishery for bigeye tuna both there and in the eastern Pacific Ocean (EPO).

    NMFS closed the U.S. pelagic longline fishery for bigeye tuna in the WCPO on September 1, 2017, because the fishery reached the 2017 catch limit (82 FR 37824, August 14, 2017). In addition, on September 8, 2017, NMFS closed the U.S. pelagic longline fishery for bigeye tuna for vessels greater than 24 m in the EPO because the fishery reached the 2017 catch limit (82 FR 41562, September 1, 2017). This final rule would relieve the restriction of the fishery closure in the WCPO by allowing all U.S. vessels to fish for bigeye tuna in the WCPO under a valid specified fishing agreement with one or more U.S territory. This would alleviate some of the impacts to the U.S. pelagic longline fishery resulting from the two fishery closures, and may provide positive economic benefits for the fishery and associated businesses, and net benefits to the public and the Nation.

    This action is exempt from review under E.O. 12866 because it contains no implementing regulations.

    Authority:

    16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.

    Dated: October 6, 2017. Samuel D. Rauch III, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine Fisheries Service.
    [FR Doc. 2017-22155 Filed 10-10-17; 4:15 pm] BILLING CODE 3510-22-P
    82 197 Friday, October 13, 2017 Proposed Rules SMALL BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION [Docket No. SBA-2017-0005] 13 CFR Chapter I Reducing Unnecessary Regulatory Burden AGENCY:

    U.S. Small Business Administration.

    ACTION:

    Request for information; extension of comment period.

    SUMMARY:

    On August 15, 2017, the Small Business Administration (SBA or Agency) published in the Federal Register a request for information seeking input from the public on identifying which of the Agency's regulations should be repealed, replaced or modified because they are obsolete, unnecessary, ineffective, or burdensome. That request established a 60-day comment period closing on October 16, 2017. SBA is extending the public comment period for 30 days, until November 15, 2017.

    DATES:

    The comment period for the request for information published on August 15, 2017 (82 FR 38617) is extended. Comments are requested on or before November 15, 2017.

    ADDRESSES:

    You may submit comments, identified by Docket Number SBA-2017-0005, using any of the following methods:

    Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. Identify comments by “Docket Number SBA-2017-0005, Reducing Regulatory Burden RFI,” and follow the instructions for submitting comments.

    Mail: Holly Turner, Regulatory Reform Officer, U.S. Small Business Administration, 409 Third Street SW., Washington, DC 20416.

    SBA will post all comments on http://www.regulations.gov. If you wish to submit confidential business information (CBI) as defined in the User Notice at http://www.regulations.gov, please submit the information to Holly Turner, 409 Third Street SW., Washington, DC 20416. Highlight the information that you consider to be CBI, and explain why you believe this information should be held confidential. SBA will review the information and make the final determination as to whether to publish the information.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Holly Turner, (202) 205-6335, 409 Third Street SW., Washington, DC 20416; email address: [email protected].

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    On August 15, 2017, in accordance with Executive Order 13777, “Enforcing the Regulatory Reform Agenda,” SBA published a request for information seeking input from the public on identifying which of the Agency's regulations should be repealed, replaced or modified because they are obsolete, unnecessary, ineffective, or burdensome (82 FR 38617). That request established a 60-day comment period, closing on October 16, 2017. To ensure that all interested parties are provided ample time and opportunity to submit comments, SBA is extending the public comment period for an additional 30 days. Comments must be submitted to SBA no later than November 15, 2017.

    Authority:

    15 U.S.C. 634(b)(6); E.O. 13771; E.O. 13777.

    Dated: October 6, 2017. Holly Turner, Regulatory Reform Officer.
    [FR Doc. 2017-22130 Filed 10-12-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 8025-01-P
    CONSUMER PRODUCT SAFETY COMMISSION 16 CFR Part 1252 [Docket No. CPSC-2017-0038] Children's Products, Children's Toys, and Child Care Articles: Determinations Regarding Lead, ASTM F963 Elements, and Phthalates for Engineered Wood Products AGENCY:

    U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

    ACTION:

    Notice of proposed rulemaking.

    SUMMARY:

    The Consumer Product Safety Commission (Commission, or CPSC) is proposing a rule to determine that certain untreated and unfinished engineered wood products (EWPs), specifically, particleboard, hardwood plywood, and medium-density fiberboard, made from virgin wood or pre-consumer waste wood would not contain lead, the ASTM F963 elements, or specified phthalates that exceed the limits set forth under the CPSC's statutes for children's products, children's toys, and child care articles. Based on these proposed determinations, the specified EWPs would not be required to have third party testing for compliance with the requirements for lead, ASTM F963 elements, or phthalates for children's products, children's toys, and child care articles.

    DATES:

    Submit comments by December 27, 2017.

    ADDRESSES:

    You may submit comments, identified by Docket No. CPSC-2017-0038, by any of the following methods:

    Electronic Submissions: Submit electronic comments to the Federal eRulemaking Portal at: http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments. The Commission does not accept comments submitted by electronic mail (email), except through regulations.gov. The Commission encourages you to submit electronic comments by using the Federal eRulemaking Portal, as described above.

    Written Submissions: Submit written comments by mail/hand delivery/courier to: Office of the Secretary, Consumer Product Safety Commission, Room 820, 4330 East West Highway, Bethesda, MD 20814; telephone (301) 504-7923.

    Instructions: All submissions received must include the agency name and docket number. All comments received may be posted without change, including any personal identifiers, contact information, or other personal information provided, to: http://www.regulations.gov. Do not submit confidential business information, trade secret information, or other sensitive or protected information that you do not want to be available to the public. If furnished at all, such information should be submitted in writing by mail/hand delivery/courier.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Jacqueline Campbell, Senior Textile Technologist, Office of Hazard Identification and Reduction, U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, 5 Research Place, Rockville, MD 20850: Telephone 301-987-2024; email: [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    A. Background 1. Third Party Testing and Burden Reduction

    Section 14(a) of the Consumer Product Safety Act, (CPSA), as amended by the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (CPSIA), requires that manufacturers of products subject to a consumer product safety rule or similar rule, ban, standard, or regulation enforced by the CPSC, must certify that the product complies with all applicable CPSC-enforced requirements. 15 U.S.C. 2063(a). For children's products, children's toys, and child care articles, certification must be based on testing conducted by a CPSC-accepted third party conformity assessment body. Id. Public Law 112-28 (August 12, 2011) directed the CPSC to seek comment on “opportunities to reduce the cost of third party testing requirements consistent with assuring compliance with any applicable consumer product safety rule, ban, standard, or regulation.” Public Law 112-28 also authorized the Commission to issue new or revised third party testing regulations if the Commission determines “that such regulations will reduce third party testing costs consistent with assuring compliance with the applicable consumer product safety rules, bans, standards, and regulations.” Id. 2063(d)(3)(B).

    To provide opportunities to reduce the cost of third party testing requirements consistent with assuring compliance with any applicable consumer product safety rule, ban, standard, or regulations, the CPSC assessed whether children's products, children's toys, and child care articles manufactured with three engineered wood products, specifically, particleboard, hardwood plywood, and medium-density fiberboard (collectively referred to as EWPs), would comply with CPSC's requirements for lead, ASTM F963 elements or phthalates. If the Commission determines that such materials will comply with CPSC's requirements with a high degree of assurance, manufacturers do not need to have those materials tested by a third party testing laboratory to issue a Children's Product Certificate (CPC).

    2. CPSC's Lead Standard

    Section 101 of the CPSIA has two requirements associated with lead in children's products. 15 U.S.C. 1278a. First, no accessible part of a children's product may contain more than 100 parts per million (ppm) lead content. Second, paint or other surface coatings on children's products and furniture intended for consumer use may not contain lead in concentrations greater than 90 ppm. Manufacturers of children's products must certify, based on third party testing, that their products comply with all relevant children's product safety rules. Thus, products subject to the lead content or paint/surface coating limits require passing test results from a CPSC-accepted third party laboratory for the manufacturer to issue a CPC, before the products can be entered into commerce.

    To alleviate some of the third testing burdens associated with lead in the accessible component parts of children's products, the Commission determined that certain materials, including gemstones, precious metals, wood, paper, CMYK process printing inks, textiles, and specified stainless steel, do not exceed the 100 ppm lead content limit under section 101 of the CPSIA. Based on this determination, such materials do not require third party testing for the lead content limits. The determinations regarding lead content for certain materials are set forth in 16 CFR 1500.91.

    3. ASTM F963 Elements

    Section 106 of the CPSIA provides that the provisions of ASTM International, Consumer Safety Specifications for Toy Safety (ASTM F963), shall be considered to be consumer product safety standards issued by the Commission.1 15 U.S.C. 2056b. The Commission has issued a rule that incorporates by reference the relevant provisions of ASTM F963. 16 CFR part 1250. Thus, children's toys subject to ASTM F963 must be tested by a CPSC-accepted third party laboratory and demonstrate compliance with all applicable CPSC requirements for the manufacturer to issue a CPC before the children's toys can be entered into commerce.

    1 ASTM F963 is a consumer product safety standard, except for section 4.2 and Annex 4, or any provision that restates or incorporates an existing mandatory standard or ban promulgated by the Commission or by statute.

    Section 4.3.5 of ASTM F963 requires that surface coating materials and accessible substrates of children's toys that can be sucked, mouthed, or ingested 2 must comply with the solubility limits of eight elements given in Table 1 of the toy standard. The materials and their solubility limits are shown in Table 1. We refer to these eight elements as “ASTM F963 elements.”

    2 ASTM F963 contains the following note regarding the scope of the solubility requirement: NOTE 4—For the purposes of this requirement, the following criteria are considered reasonably appropriate for the classification of children's toys or parts likely to be sucked, mouthed or ingested: (1) All toy parts intended to be mouthed or contact food or drink, components of children's toys which are cosmetics, and components of writing instruments categorized as children's toys; (2) Children's toys intended for children less than 6 years of age, that is, all accessible parts and components where there is a probability that those parts and components may come into contact with the mouth.

    Table 1—Maximum Soluble Migrated Element in ppm (mg/kg) for Surface Coatings and Substrates Included as Part of a Toy Elements Solubility
  • limit,
  • (ppm) 3
  • Antimony (Sb) 60 Arsenic (As) 25 Barium (Ba) 1,000 Cadmium (Cd) 75 Chromium (Cr) 60 Lead (Pb) 90 Mercury (Hg) 60 Selenium (Se) 500

    The third party testing burden could be reduced only if all elements listed in section 4.3.5 have concentrations below their solubility limits. Because third party conformity assessment bodies typically run one test for all of the ASTM F963 elements, no testing burden reduction would be achieved if any one of the elements requires testing.

    3 The method to assess the solubility of a listed element is detailed in section 8.3.2, Method to Dissolve Soluble Matter for Surface Coatings, of ASTM F963. Modeling clays included as part of a toy have different solubility limits for several of the elements.

    To alleviate some of the third testing burdens associated with the ASTM F963 elements in the accessible component parts of children's toys, the Commission determined that certain unfinished and untreated trunk wood does not contain ASTM F963 elements that would exceed the limits specified in section 106 of the CPSIA. Based on this determination, unfinished and untreated trunk wood would not require third party testing for the ASTM F963 elements. The determinations regarding the ASTM F963 elements limits for certain materials is set forth in 16 CFR 1251.2.

    4. Phthalates

    Section 108(a) of the CPSIA permanently prohibits the manufacture for sale, offer for sale, distribution in commerce, or importation into the United States of any “children's toy or child care article” that contains concentrations of more than 0.1 percent of di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP), dibutyl phthalate (DBP), or butyl benzyl phthalate (BBP). 15 U.S.C. 2057c(a). Section 108(b)(1) prohibits on an interim basis (i.e., until the Commission promulgates a final rule), the manufacture for sale, offer for sale, distribution in commerce, or importation into the United States of “any children's toy that can be placed in a child's mouth” or “child care article” containing concentrations of more than 0.1 percent of diisononyl phthalate (DINP), diisodecyl phthalate (DIDP), or di-n-octyl phthalate (DnOP). 15 U.S.C. 2057c(b)(1). Children's toys and child care articles subject to the content limits in section 108 of the CPSIA require third party testing for compliance with the phthalate content limits before the manufacturer can issue a CPC and enter the children's toys or child care articles into commerce.

    The CPSIA required the Commission to appoint a Chronic Hazard Advisory Panel (CHAP) to “study the effects on children's health of all phthalates and phthalate alternatives as used in children's toys and child care articles.” 15 U.S.C. 2057c(b)(2). The CHAP issued its report in July 2014.4 Based on the CHAP report, the Commission published a notice of proposed rulemaking (Phthalates NPR),5 proposing to permanently prohibit children's toys and child care articles containing concentrations of more than 0.1 percent of DINP, and proposing to lift the interim statutory prohibitions with respect to DIDP and DnOP. In addition, the Phthalates NPR proposed adding four new phthalates, DIBP, DPENP, DHEXP, and DCHP, to the list of phthalates that cannot exceed 0.1 percent concentration in accessible component parts of children's toys and child care articles. The Commission has not finalized its proposal on phthalates in children's toys and child care articles.

    4http://www.cpsc.gov/PageFiles/169902/CHAP-REPORT-With-Appendices.pdf.

    5https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2014/12/30/2014-29967/prohibition-of-children's-toys-and-child-care-articles-containing-specified-phthalates.

    Tests for phthalate concentration are among the most expensive certification tests to conduct on a product, and each accessible component part subject to section 108 of the CPSIA must be tested.6 Third party testing burden reductions can occur only if each phthalate's concentration is below 0.1 percent (1000 ppm). Because laboratories typically run one test for all of the specified phthalates, no testing burden reduction likely is achieved if any one of the phthalates requires compliance testing.

    6 Test costs for the content of all the specified phthalates have been reported to range from $125 to $350 per component, depending upon where the tests are conducted and any discounts that might apply.

    To alleviate some of the third testing burdens associated with plastics in the accessible component parts of children's toys and child care articles, the Commission determined that products made with general purpose polystyrene (GPPS), medium-impact polystyrene (MIPS), high-impact polystyrene (HIPS), and super high-impact polystyrene (SHIPS) with specified additives do not exceed the phthalates content limits under section 108 of the CPSIA. 82 FR 41163 (August 30, 2017). Based on this determination, materials used in children's toys and child care articles that use these specified plastics and additives would not require third party testing for the phthalates content limits. The plastics determinations are set forth in the Commission's regulations at 16 CFR part 1308.

    The research that provides the basis for the phthalates determination covers the six phthalates subject to the statutory prohibition and the additional phthalates that the Commission proposed to prohibit from use in children's toys and child care articles. After the Commission finalizes its phthalates rule, the Commission will revise its phthalate determination rule to reflect the phthalates restricted by the final phthalates rule.

    B. Contractor's Research

    CPSC contracted with the Toxicology Excellence for Risk Assessment (TERA) 7 who authored literature review reports on the content issues related to certain natural materials, plastics, and EWPs. The following reports produced by TERA formed the basis for the proposed EWP determinations: Task 9, Concentrations of Selected Elements in Unfinished Wood and Other Natural Materials; Task 11, Exposure Assessment: Composition, Production, and Use of Phthalates; and Task 14, Final Report for CPSC Task 14, which summarized the available information on the production of the EWPs. Each report is discussed below.

    7 After conducting the contract reports for the CPSC, TERA reorganized as the Risk Science Center at the University of Cincinnati: https://med.uc.edu/eh/centers/rsc.

    1. TERA Task 9 Report

    In the Task 9 Report, TERA conducted a literature search on whether unfinished wood and other natural materials could be determined not to contain any of the ASTM F963 elements in concentrations greater than the ASTM F963 solubility limits.8 The materials researched included unfinished woods (ash, beech, birch, cherry, maple, oak, pine, poplar, and walnut); bamboo; beeswax; undyed and unfinished fibers and textiles (cotton, wool, linen, and silk); and uncoated or coated paper (wood or other cellulosic fiber).

    8http://www.cpsc.gov/Global/Research-and-Statistics/TechnicalReports/Toys/TERAReportASTMElements.pdf.

    To assess the presence of the ASTM F963 elements' concentrations in the materials, TERA looked at several factors. The factors reviewed included the presence and concentrations of the elements in the environmental media (e.g., soil, water, air), and in the base materials for the textiles and paper; whether processing has the potential to introduce any of the ASTM F963 elements into the material under study; and the potential for contamination after production, such as through packaging. From this report, the Commission determined that untreated and unfinished woods from tree trunks do not contain any of the elements in ASTM F963 in concentrations greater than their respective solubility limits, and thus, they are not required to be third party tested to ensure compliance with the specified solubility test.9 TERA relied on this information in TERA Task Report 14 to determine that the virgin wood material used in the manufacture of EWPs does not, and will not, contain any of the elements in ASTM F963 in concentrations greater than their respective solubility limits.

    9 80 FR 78651 (Dec. 17, 2015).

    2. TERA Task 11 Report

    In the Task 11 Report, TERA conducted a literature search on the production and use of 11 specified phthalates in consumer products.10 The 11 phthalates researched by TERA were based on the recommendations made in the CHAP report. Table 2 lists the phthalates researched by TERA. TERA's research focused on the following factors:

    10http://www.cpsc.gov//Global/Research-and-Statistics/Technical-Reports/Other%20Technical%20Reports/TERAReportPhthalates.pdf.

    • The raw materials used in the production of the specified phthalates;

    • The manufacturing processes used worldwide to produce the specified phthalates;

    • Estimated annual production of the specified phthalates;

    • Physical properties of the specified phthalates (e.g., vapor pressure, flashpoint, water solubility, temperature at which chemical breakdown occurs);

    • Applications for phthalates use in materials and consumer and non-consumer products; and

    • Other potential routes by which phthalates can be introduced into an otherwise phthalates-free material (e.g., migration from packaging, recycling, reuse, product breakdown).

    Table 2—Phthalates Researched in the Task 11 Report Phthalate CASRN 11 DEHP: di-(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate 117-81-7 DBP: dibutyl phthalate 84-74-2 BBP: benzyl butyl phthalate 85-68-7 DINP: diisononyl phthalate 28553-12-0, 68515-48-0 DIDP: diisodecyl phthalate 26761-40-0, 68515-49-1 DnOP: di-n-octyl phthalate 117-84-0 DIOP: diisooctyl phthalate 27554-26-3 DIBP: diisobutyl phthalate 84-69-5 DPENP: di-n-pentyl phthalate 131-18-0 DHEXP: di-n-hexyl phthalate 84-75-3 DCHP: dicyclohexyl phthalate 84-61-7

    TERA found that phthalates are used generally as plasticizers or softeners of certain plastics, primarily polyvinyl chloride (PVC), as solvents, and as component parts of inks, paints, adhesives, and sealants.

    11 A CAS Registry Number is assigned to a substance when it enters the CAS REGISTRY database. https://www.cas.org/content/chemical-substances/faqs.

    3. TERA Task 14 Report

    In the Task 14 Report, TERA conducted a literature search on the production of three EWPs: Particleboard, hardwood plywood, and medium-density fiberboard.12 TERA first researched authoritative sources, such as reference books and textbooks, along with Internet resources, for general information about EWPs, adhesives, raw materials, manufacturing processes, and the potential use of recycled materials. TERA used this information and consulted technical experts to identify key words for searching the literature. These key words were then used to conduct primary literature searches for research studies and publications. In addition, TERA searched for Safety Data Sheets (SDS) for information on raw materials. TERA researched the possibility of the raw materials or finished products in the three EWPs to contain:

    12https://www.cpsc.gov/s3fs-public/ManufacturedWoodsTERATask14Report.pdf.

    • Lead in concentrations exceeding 100 ppm;

    • Any of the specified elements that are included in the safety standard for children's toys, ASTM F963, Standard Consumer Safety Specification for Toy Safety, in concentrations exceeding specified solubility limits; or

    • Any of 10 specified phthalates in concentrations greater than 0.1 percent (1000 ppm), listed in Table 3.13

    13 The TERA research providing the basis for this determination covers the six phthalates subject to the statutory prohibition, as well as the additional phthalates the Commission proposed to prohibit in children's toys and child care articles. The phthalates determination lists only the six phthalates subject to the statutory prohibition. However, when the Commission issues a final rule for the specified phthalates in children's toys and child care articles, the Commission could revise the phthalates determination, if needed.

    Table 3—Phthalates Researched in the Task 14 Report 14 Phthalate CASRN DEHP: di-(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate 117-81-7 DBP: dibutyl phthalate 84-74-2 BBP: benzyl butyl phthalate 85-68-7 DINP: diisononyl phthalate 28553-12-0, 68515-48-0 DIDP: diisodecyl phthalate 26761-40-0, 68515-49-1 DnOP: di-n-octyl phthalate 117-84-0 DIBP: diisobutyl phthalate 84-69-5 DPENP: di-n-pentyl phthalate 131-18-0 DHEXP: di-n-hexyl phthalate 84-75-3 DCHP: dicyclohexyl phthalate 84-61-7

    TERA found that, generally, the processes for manufacturing the three EWPs are similar; wood fibers, chips, layers, or a similar raw wood product are processed with various adhesive formulations (sometimes referred to as binders or resins) along with other additives to create uniform sheets with known characteristics and performance qualities. The main difference among the three types of EWPs relates primarily to the size and morphology (shape and surface characteristics) of the wood material used in their production.

    14 While included in the Task 11 Report, DIOP was not included in the Task 14 Report because the ban on DIOP was proposed to be removed in the Phthalates NPR.

    TERA reviewed the literature to assess whether the specified EWPs might contain lead or one or more of the other elements at levels that exceed the ASTM solubility limits, or any of the specified phthalates in concentrations greater than the specified limits. TERA reported that no studies found lead, the ASTM F963 elements, or the specified phthalates in concentrations greater than their limits in particleboard, hardwood plywood, or medium-density fiberboard, that are unfinished and untreated, and made from virgin wood or pre-consumer wood waste.

    In the Task 14 Report, TERA described an unfinished EWP as one that does not have any surface treatments applied at manufacture, such as factory-applied coatings. An untreated EWP is one that does not have any additional finishes applied at manufacture such as flame retardants or rot resistant finishes. TERA described virgin wood as wood logs, fibers, chips, or layers that have not been recycled from a previous use. TERA described pre-consumer wood waste as wood materials that have been recycled from an industrial process before being made available for consumer use. Examples of this type of waste include trimmings from EWP panel manufacturing, sawdust from cutting logs, or remaining wood pieces from sawing a log into framing lumber.

    The TERA report highlighted the potential for lead, the ASTM F963 elements, or the specified phthalates to be present in concentrations greater than those specified through the use of contaminated recycled material in EWPs made from recycled wood waste or EWPs that have post-manufacturing treatments or finishes. Recycled wood waste may be made from reclaimed or post-consumer wood waste. Post-consumer wood waste is described as wood waste that is comprised of materials that are recovered from their original use and subsequently used in a new product. Examples of this type of waste include recycled demolition wood, packaging materials such as pallets and crates, used wood from landscape care (i.e., from urban and highway trees, hedges, and gardens), discarded furniture, and waste wood from industrial, construction, and commercial activities.

    The three types of EWPs reviewed by TERA are discussed below.

    a. Particleboard

    Particleboard is a composite of wood chips, adhesives, and other additives pressed into a board. Adhesive formulations are used to bond wood chips, which are then formed into mats that are layered to create uniform boards in a range of dimensions. Particleboard is used widely in furniture making and other interior (or nonstructural) uses. The constituent parts of particleboard reported by TERA can include (by weight):

    • Wood (60-99+ percent);

    • Adhesive formulation (0-17 percent, with 5-11 percent most common)

    • May include phenol-formaldehyde (uncommon but potential for use), urea-formaldehyde, melamine-urea-formaldehyde, polymeric methylene-diphenyl-diisocyanate (pMDI);

    • Waxes (0.3-1 percent);

    • Other additives (up to 2 percent); or

    • Scavengers or additional unspecified materials.

    TERA researched the possibility of lead, the ASTM F963 elements, or the specified phthalates, in concentrations greater than their specified limits in particleboard. TERA identified little information on measurements of lead and the ASTM F963 elements in particleboard and no studies that measured the specified phthalates. TERA identified two references where particleboard made from both untreated and copper chromate arsenic-(CCA) treated wood chips was tested. Arsenic and chromium were undetected in the particleboards made from virgin wood chips. However, the particleboard composed of 25 percent wood chips from reclaimed CCA-treated wood products contained 895 and 832 ppm of arsenic and chromium, respectively, without adversely affecting the mechanical performance of the board. Another study that discussed “recycled particleboard” was identified as wood waste obtained from a wood recycling plant.

    Apart from the studies on particleboard made from wood waste that may contain post-consumer wood waste or post-manufacturing treatments, TERA reported that no studies found lead, the ASTM F963 elements, or the specified phthalates in concentrations greater than the specified limits in untreated and unfinished particleboard.

    b. Hardwood Plywood

    Plywood is a layered board of wood veneers where the layers have alternating, perpendicular wood grain directions. Less commonly, the board might have a core of other EWPs with wood veneers as the outer layers. Hardwood plywood, addressed in this report, is a type of plywood that is composed of angiosperms (i.e., “hardwoods,” such as oak or maple) and used primarily in furniture and other interior (nonstructural) uses, as well as in playground equipment, sports equipment, and musical instruments. The constituent parts of hardwood plywood reported by TERA can include (by weight):

    • Wood (75-99+ percent);

    • Adhesive formulation (0.02-20 percent, with 1 percent to 5 percent most common)

    • May include phenol-formaldehyde or phenol-resorcinol-formaldehyde (likely for use in structural plywood but potential for application to hardwood plywood), urea-formaldehyde, melamine-formaldehyde, or melamine-urea-formaldehyde, or polyvinyl acetate (PVAc); or

    • Other additives (less than 2 percent).

    TERA researched the possibility of lead, the ASTM F963 elements, or the specified phthalates in concentrations greater than those specified in hardwood plywood. TERA identified only one study that measured lead and the ASTM F963 elements in plywood and no studies that measured the specified phthalates. Concentrations of cadmium, chromium, and lead, were all less than the solubility limits, in “plain” plywood. In addition, because hardwood plywood is made from sheets of wood veneer, it is less likely to contain recycled wood content, unless it incorporates a core of some other EWP, such as particleboard or medium-density fiberboard.

    Aside from the studies on recycled wood waste that may contain post-consumer wood waste or post-manufacturing treatments in a particleboard, medium-density fiberboard, or other EWP core, TERA reported that no studies found lead, the ASTM F963 elements, or the specified phthalates in concentrations greater than the specified limits in untreated and unfinished hardwood plywood. However, TERA identified research which indicated that polyvinyl acetate (PVAc) can be used as an adhesive system for hardwood plywood as discussed in section (d) below.

    c. Medium-Density Fiberboard

    Medium-density fiberboard (MDF) is a composite of wood fibers, an adhesive formulation, and other additives pressed into a board. MDF is a similar product to particleboard, differing mostly due to the use of fiber rather than chips. It is used primarily in furniture and other interior (nonstructural) uses. The constituent parts of MDF reported by TERA can include (by weight):

    • Wood (73-99+ percent);

    • Adhesive formulation (0-25 percent with most common 5-12 percent);

    • May include phenol-formaldehyde (uncommon, but potentially used for moisture resistance), urea-formaldehyde (most commonly identified), methylene-diphenyl-diisocyanate (pMDI), melamine-formaldehyde, or melamine-urea-formaldehyde;

    • Waxes (less than 1 percent); or

    • Other additives (10-30 percent).

    TERA researched the possibility of lead, the ASTM F963 elements, or the specified phthalates in concentrations greater than those specified in MDF. TERA did not identify any references that reported the presence of lead, the ASTM F963 elements, or the specified phthalates in MDF made with virgin wood.

    Aside from the studies on recycled wood waste that may contain post-consumer wood waste or post-manufacturing treatments, TERA reported that no studies found lead, the ASTM F963 elements, or the specified phthalates in concentrations greater than the specified limits in untreated and unfinished MDF.

    d. TERA's Findings on EWP Constituent Parts

    Because few references were found directly addressing lead, the ASTM F963 elements, and the specified phthalates in EWPs, TERA also researched the constituent parts that could be used to manufacture EWPs, including wood and adhesives.

    Wood

    According to the manufacturing process information provided by TERA, virgin wood and wood residues are the main source of wood fiber used in North America to manufacture EWPs. Typically, these sources include low value logs, industrial wood residues, or scraps and trim from furniture and EWP production. For example, hardwood plywood requires the trunks of trees to obtain the thin layers of veneer used to construct a sheet. TERA relied on the Task 9 Report and Commission findings on unfinished and untreated wood (80 FR 78651 (Dec. 17, 2015)) to determine that untreated and unfinished wood from the trunks of trees do not contain lead or the ASTM F963 elements in concentrations greater than the specified solubility limits. TERA also noted that, although phthalates can be taken up by trees and plants, the concentrations are negligible and less than the specified limit (0.1 percent).

    Although TERA reported that the majority of EWPs are manufactured with virgin wood or pre-consumer wood waste fiber or chips, the wood component also can originate from recycled material. For EWPs made from recycled wood waste that may contain post-consumer wood waste, the TERA report highlighted the potential for lead, the ASTM F963 elements, or the specified phthalates to be present in concentrations greater than those specified through the use of contaminated recycled material. The TERA report cited multiple examples of the use of reclaimed or post-consumer wood material used to produce EWPs, both domestically and internationally. Specifically, TERA found studies showing that reclaimed lumber and wood waste could contain a myriad of contaminants, such as surface treatments (e.g., paints, stains), metals, glues and adhesives, glass, paper, plastic, rubber and chemical treatments. Metals and organic materials may be present in paints, stains, varnishes, and polishes that are used on wood products (e.g., furniture, window frames) and nails, screws, and other metal hardware might be attached to the recycled and recovered wood. These contaminants are intimately attached to the wood, and therefore, some contaminants may pass through cleaning systems, contaminating the entire recovered wood stream.

    TERA also reviewed another study, based in Italy that evaluated the “recyclability” of used wood by conducting elemental analysis of wood residues from wood recycling plants using a handheld fast energy dispersive X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy (ED-XRF) device. TERA found that the study provided some indication of types and levels of contamination in various kinds of post-consumer wood waste. Elemental analysis results were compared to EU Community Ecolabel limits.15 For all wood products tested, 16 percent exceeded one or more of the Ecolabel limits, with the highest concentrations from lead, chromium, chlorine, copper, cadmium, and mercury. No samples had levels of arsenic over the 25 ppm limit (except a CCA-treated utility pole). Barium and lead were found in 10 percent to 20 percent of the samples, chromium and cadmium in 3 percent to 4 percent, and antimony, mercury, and arsenic ranged from 0.3 percent to 1.2 percent of samples. The sources most contaminated with non-wood content were from furniture and building materials, while pallets and shipping containers were least likely to be contaminated.16

    15 Ecolabel element concentrations are less than 25 mg/kg of arsenic, 25 mg/kg of mercury, 25 mg/kg of chromium, 50 mg/kg cadmium, 90 mg/kg lead, and 40 mg/kg copper (EU, 2004). Ecolabel limits are similar to ASTM solubility limits for the ASTM F963 elements.

    16 Twenty-four percent of furniture and 18 percent of building materials had one or more ASTM F963 elements exceeding the limits which may be due to manufacturing processes such as painting, preservation, and overlaying, which are common with furniture and building materials. The most polluted types of wood waste were particleboard (37% exceeded Ecolabel limits), recycled particleboard (25% exceeded), and plywood (18% exceeded); while fiberboard (MDF and HDF) exceeded limits in 9 percent of samples.

    TERA concluded that, with an increased interest and use of post-consumer recycled materials in EWP production, potential contamination by the specified elements and phthalates must be considered. To ensure that EWPs made from used wood fibers do not contain ASTM F963 elements or phthalates the exceed the specified limits, TERA indicated that the materials would need to be sorted carefully and tested to be assured that they are not contaminated.

    Adhesive Formulations

    Adhesive formulations hold the wood chips, layers, or fibers together to make EWP mats and sheets. Some of the formulations use a metal catalyst during the curing process. TERA identified a number of references describing the presence of the ASTM F963 elements in adhesive formulations. However, TERA found very few references that would implicate EWPs. Although the use of barium was noted in multiple references, only one study appeared to be relevant to EWPs. This study suggested that barium, when used as a catalyst in an adhesive, could result in an EWP that exceeded the ASTM solubility level for barium.17 However, this method does not appear to be used currently in EWP production. TERA also noted studies that indicate the possible use of chromium as a catalyst in phenol formaldehyde resin as well as the possible use of antimony or arsenic in a drier formulation for certain polymeric coatings. However, no references included information on concentrations or appeared relevant to EWPs.

    17 Wang and Zhang (2011) studied the use of calcium hydroxide, Ba(OH)2, and magnesium hydroxide and their effect on cure times for phenol formaldehyde adhesive formulations, finding that the use of Ba(OH)2 could be a viable means to speed up cure times. Both calcium hydroxide and Ba(OH)2 had similar cure times and are about the same price in bulk. Because the compounds would be used in an adhesive system, the catalyst is not expected to be recovered and so would remain in situ once curing is complete. If the catalyst remained in the adhesive, it could result in concentrations of barium exceeding the ASTM solubility limits.

    Although many different adhesive formulations may be used in hardwood plywood, TERA noted that PVAc can be used as an adhesive system for hardwood plywood. The report cited sources (The Handbook of Adhesive Technology, USDA) that mentioned the use of some of the specified phthalates in PVAc adhesive formulations.18 TERA also identified research papers which included the use of DBP and DEHP in PVAc at concentrations greater than 0.1 percent.

    18 The USDA publication Wood Handbook: Wood as an Engineering Material (2010) explains that “Plasticizers, for example dibutyl phthalate, are used to soften the brittle vinyl acetate homopolymer in poly(vinyl acetate) emulsion adhesives. This is necessary to facilitate adhesive spreading and formation of a flexible adhesive film from the emulsion at and below room temperature.”

    C. CPSC Staff Analysis of TERA Reports 1. EWPs Made From Virgin Wood or Pre-Consumer Wood Waste

    CPSC staff reviewed the TERA Task 9, 11 and 14 Reports. CPSC staff also examined TERA's source references to better understand the reports' findings. CPSC's review of TERA's Task 14 Report showed that there were few studies characterizing the content of EWPs, as manufactured, in relation to lead and the ASTM F963 elements, and no studies were found on the phthalates of interest. Where there were studies, staff's review of the TERA report showed there was no evidence that untreated and unfinished EWPs made from virgin wood or pre-consumer wood waste, using generally used manufacturing practices and materials, had content levels greater than the specified limits.

    Staff finds that, based on the TERA reports, untreated and unfinished EPWs (particleboard, hardwood plywood, and medium-density fiberboard) made from virgin wood or pre-consumer wood waste, do not contain lead, or any of the specified elements in ASTM F963 that exceed the specified limits. In addition, with the exception of hardwood plywood that contains PVAc adhesive formulations, discussed further in this section, the specified EWPs do not contain any of the specified phthalates in concentrations greater than 0.1 percent.

    2. EWPs Made From Reclaimed or Post-Consumer Wood Waste

    The TERA Task 14 Report highlighted the risk of introducing materials contaminated with lead, the ASTM F963 elements, and the specified phthalates when using reclaimed or post-consumer wood waste to manufacture EWPs. Staff is aware that there is increasing interest in using recycled materials, rather than landfilling. Environmentally oriented initiatives encourage recycled wood content, especially in the European Union (E.U.). The E.U. Waste Framework Directive requires recycling or reuse of at least 70 percent of construction and demolition waste in member states by 2020.19

    19http://ec.europa.eu/environment/waste/construction_demolition.htm.

    Staff's review of TERA's reclaimed or post-consumer waste assessment in EWPs indicates that, although most manufacturing in the Americas currently does not use post-consumer wood waste as a constituent part, EWPs with post-consumer wood content are not only technologically feasible, but also are currently available. Although the majority of the post-consumer wood waste used to manufacture EWPs is “clean,” consisting of wood pallets, spools, or shipping crates, reclaimed materials could be contaminated with paint, coatings, or chemical treatments. There are some standards (e.g., European Panel Federation, E.U. Community Ecolabel) for EWPs with content requirements that roughly align with the ASTM F963 requirements; however, many are voluntary and have no third party testing requirements.

    Staff notes that manufacturers do have an incentive to avoid contamination of EWPs because the addition of recycled materials could be detrimental to manufacturing equipment or the finished product's performance. Surface coatings, such as paint or stains, metals from nails or fasteners, adhesive formulations, such as resins or glues, and other non-wood content can potentially damage equipment, stop a production line, or adversely impact the uniformity of the product. However, staff is not aware of any current manufacturer processing protocols that would keep unwanted contaminants out of EWP manufacturing. Because of the contamination issues identified, the staff does not have a high degree of assurance that EWPs made from post-consumer wood waste are compliant with sections 101, 106, or 108 of the CPSIA at this time.

    3. EWPs With Post-Manufacturing Treatments or Finishes

    Staff's review of the Task 14 Report shows that most consumer products made from EWPs will have some additional treatments or finishes that are applied to the EWPs after their manufacture. TERA's report identified that certain surface treatments (e.g., paints, stains), metals, glues and adhesives, glass, paper, plastic, rubber and chemical treatments may be added to EWPs. Metals and organic materials may be present in paints, stains, varnishes, and polishes that are used on wood products (e.g., furniture, window frames) and nails, screws, and other metal hardware might be attached to the recycled and recovered wood.

    Staff's review shows that post-manufacturing treatments or finishes made be applied to EWPs manufactured from virgin or pre-consumer wood waste, as well as EWPs manufactured from post-consumer wood waste. Such treatments or finishes may include paint or similar surface coating materials, flame retardants, rot resistant finishes, wood glue, or metal fasteners. The TERA report indicated that coatings, finishes, and chemical treatments, such flame-retardant coatings or rot resistant finishes, are a potential source of phthalates or the ASTM F963 elements. Staff's review of EWPs that have post-manufacturing treatments or finishes shows that there is potential for lead, the ASTM F963 elements, or the specified phthalates to be present in concentrations greater than at the specified levels. Unless a post-manufacture treatment or finish has been determined by the CPSC to be compliant with sections 101, 106, or 108 of the CPSIA,20 staff does not have a high degree of assurance that EWPs that have post-manufacturing treatments or finishes are compliant with sections 101, 106, or 108 of the CPSIA at this time.

    20See 16 CFR 1500.91; 16 CFR 1250.2; 16 CFR part 1308.

    4. Adhesive Formulations in EWPs

    The Task 14 Report generally found that there was little evidence to suggest that the ASTM F963 elements are likely to be present in any of the commonly used adhesives in concentrations greater than the ASTM solubility limits. Staff notes, that although one study suggested that barium, when used as a catalyst in an adhesive, could result in an EWP that exceeded the ASTM solubility level for barium, this method does not appear to be used currently in EWP production.

    Staff's review of the Task 11 Report indicates that phthalates could be used in some adhesive formulations, including in PVAc adhesives, such as wood or craft glues. In addition, the Task 14 Report identified the adhesive formulations used in the manufacture of EWPs and found that one, PVAc, could contain at least one of the specified phthalates. TERA also reported that PVAc could be used in hardwood plywood manufacturing. However, TERA was unable to identify whether the specific PVAc adhesive formulations used currently in the manufacture of hardwood plywood contained any of the specified phthalates in concentrations greater than the specified limits.

    CPSC staff research indicates that PVAc may be associated with the manufacture of hardwood plywood, consistent with TERA's finding. One manufacturer of EWP adhesive formulations provided information through a contact at the USDA Forest Products Laboratory. The manufacturer confirmed that, while current formulations no longer use phthalates, PVAc adhesive formulations they manufacture contained phthalates in the past. The manufacturer also stated that there is greater use of PVAc adhesive formulations in hardwood plywood than indicated in the TERA report, perhaps due to an increasing interest in lowering formaldehyde emissions from EWPs. Because of the lack of information regarding the use of PVAc adhesives containing the specified phthalates in concentrations greater than those allowed, staff does not have a high degree of assurance that EWPs that include PVAc adhesive formulations in hardwood plywood are compliant with sections 101, 106, or 108 of the CPSIA at this time.

    D. Determinations for EWPs 1. Legal Requirements for a Determination

    As discussed in section A.1. of the preamble, section 14(a)(2) of the CPSA requires third party testing for children's products that are subject to a children's product safety rule. 15 U.S.C. 2063(a)(2). Children's products must comply with the lead limits in section 101 of the CPSIA. 15 U.S.C. 1278a. Children's toys must comply with the solubility limits for elements under the ASTM toy standard in section 106 of the CPSIA. 15 U.S.C. 2056b. Children's toys and child care articles must comply with the phthalates prohibitions in section 108 of the CPSIA. 15 U.S.C. 2057c. In response to statutory direction, the Commission has investigated approaches that would reduce the burden of third party testing while also assuring compliance with CPSC requirements. As part of that endeavor, the Commission has considered whether certain materials used in children's products, children's toys, and child care articles would not require third party testing.

    To issue a determination that an EWP does not require third party testing, the Commission must have sufficient evidence to conclude that the product consistently complies with the CPSC requirements to which the EWP is subject so that third party testing is unnecessary to provide a high degree of assurance of compliance. Under 16 CFR part 1107 section 1107.2, “a high degree of assurance” is defined as “an evidence-based demonstration of consistent performance of a product regarding compliance based on knowledge of a product and its manufacture.”

    For accessible component parts of children's products, children's toys, and child care articles subject to sections 101, 106, and 108 of the CPSIA, compliance to the specified content limits is always required, irrespective of any testing exemptions. Thus, a manufacturer or importer who certifies a children's product, toy or child care article, must assure the product's compliance. The presence of lead, the ASTM F963 elements, or the specified phthalates does not have to be intended to require compliance. The presence of these chemicals, whether for any functional purpose, as a trace material, or as a contaminant, must be in concentrations less than the specified content or solubility limits for the material to be compliant. Additionally, the manufacturer or importer must have a high degree of assurance that the product has not been adulterated or contaminated to an extent that would render it noncompliant. For example, if a manufacturer or importer is relying on a determination that an EWP does not contain lead, ASTM F963 elements, or specified phthalates in concentrations greater than the specified limits in a children's product, children's toy, or child care article, the manufacturer must ensure that the EWP is one on which a determination has been made.

    Furthermore, under the proposed rule, any determinations that are made on EWPs are limited to unfinished and untreated EWPs made from virgin wood or pre-consumer wood waste. Children's products, children's toys, and child care articles made from these EWPs may have other materials that are applied to or added on to the EWP after it is manufactured, such as treatments and finishes. Such component parts fall outside of the scope of the proposed determinations and would be subject to third party testing requirements, unless the component part has a separate determination which does not require third-party testing for certification purposes. Finally, even if a determination is in effect and third party testing is not required, a certifier must still issue a certificate.

    The three engineered woods for which the determinations are proposed are: Particleboard, hardwood plywood, and medium-density fiberboard. Based on staff's review of the TERA reports as discussed in section C. of the preamble, the Commission is proposing determinations that there is a high degree of assurance that these three EWPs in an untreated and unfinished state made from virgin or pre-consumer wood waste will not contain lead, the ASTM F963 elements, or the specified phthalates in excess of allowable levels. Specifically, the Commission is proposing determinations that would find that particleboard and MDF that is untreated and unfinished and made with virgin wood or pre-consumer wood waste, would not contain lead, the ASTM F963 elements, or the specified phthalates (DEHP, DBP, BBP, DINP, DIDP, or DnOP) in concentrations greater than their specified limits.

    In addition, with the exception of hardwood plywood that contains PVAc adhesive formulations, untreated and unfinished hardwood plywood made with virgin wood or pre-consumer wood waste would be determined not to contain lead, the ASTM F963 elements, and the specified phthalates in concentrations greater than their specified limits.

    These determinations would mean that, for the specified EWPs, third party testing is not required to assure compliance with sections 101, 106, and 108 of the CPSIA. The Commission proposes to make these determinations to reduce the third party testing burden on children's product certifiers while continuing to assure compliance.

    2. Statutory Authority

    Section 3 of the CPSIA grants the Commission general rulemaking authority to issue regulations, as necessary, to implement the CPSIA. Public Law 110-314, sec. 3, Aug. 14, 2008. Section 14 of the CPSA, which was amended by the CPSIA, requires third party testing for children's products subject to a children's product safety rule. 15 U.S.C. 2063(a)(2). Section 14(d)(3)(B) of the CPSA, as amended by Public Law 112-28, gives the Commission the authority to “prescribe new or revised third party testing regulations if it determines that such regulations will reduce third party testing costs consistent with assuring compliance with the applicable consumer product safety rules, bans, standards, and regulations.” Id. 2063(d)(3)(B). These statutory provisions authorize the Commission to propose a rule determining that certain EWPs would not be determined to contain lead, the ASTM F963 elements, and the specified phthalates (DEHP, DBP, BBP, DINP, DIDP, or DnOP) 21 in concentrations greater than their specified limits, and thus, are not required to be third party tested to assure compliance with sections 101, 106, and 108 of the CPSIA.

    21See supra note 13.

    The proposed determinations would relieve the three specified EWPs from the third party testing requirement of section 14 of the CPSA for purposes of supporting the required certification. However, the proposed determinations would not be applicable to any other EWPs beyond those listed in the proposed rule. Moreover, the proposed determinations are not applicable to EWPs that are not made of virgin wood or pre-consumer wood waste, or to EWPs that have post-manufacture treatments or finishes. The proposed determinations also are not applicable to hardwood plywood that contain PVAc adhesive formulations. The proposed determinations would only relieve the manufacturers' obligation to have the specified EWPs tested by a CPSC accepted third party conformity assessment body. Children's products, children's toys, and child care articles must still comply with the substantive content limits in section 101, 106, and 108 of the CPSIA regardless of any relief on third party testing requirements.

    3. Description of the Proposed Rule

    This proposed rule would create a new Part 1252 for “Children's Products, Children's toys, and Child Care Articles: Determinations Regarding Lead, ASTM F963 Elements, and Phthalates for Engineered Wood Products.” The proposed rule would determine that the specified three EWPs do not contain lead in concentrations exceeding 100 ppm, any of the ASTM F963 elements in excess of specified concentrations, and any of the statutorily prohibited phthalates (DEHP, DBP, BBP, DINP, DIDP, DnOP) in concentrations greater than 0.1 percent. As discussed in section A.4. of the preamble, the agency is currently involved in rulemaking to determine whether to continue the interim prohibitions in section 108 and whether to prohibit any other phthalates in children's toys or child care articles. TERA's examination covered all phthalates that are subject to the current permanent and interim prohibitions, as well as the additional phthalates the Commission proposed restricting in the Phthalates NPR. If the Commission issues a final rule in the phthalates rulemaking before finalizing this determinations rulemaking, the final determinations rule for EPWs would cover the same phthalates restricted by the final phthalates rule.

    Section 1252.1(a) of the proposed rule explains the statutorily-created requirements that limit lead in children's products under the CPSIA and the third party testing requirements for children's products.

    Section 1252.1(b) of the proposed rule explains the statutorily-created requirements for limiting the ASTM F963 elements in children's toys under the CPSIA and the third party testing requirements for children's toys.

    Section 1252.1(c) of the proposed rule explains the statutorily-created requirements limiting phthalates for children's toys and child care articles under the CPSIA and the third party testing requirements for children's toys and child care articles.

    Section 1252.2 of the proposed rule would provide definitions that apply to part 1252.

    Section 1252.3(a) of the proposed rule would establish the Commission's determinations that specified EWPs do not exceed the lead content limits with a high degree of assurance as that term is defined in 16 CFR part 1107.

    Section 1252.3(b) of the proposed rule would establish the Commission's determinations that specified EWPs do not exceed the solubility limits for ASTM F963 elements with a high degree of assurance as that term is defined in 16 CFR part 1107.

    Section 1252.3(c) of the proposed rule would establish the Commission's determinations that specified EWPs do not exceed the phthalates content limits, with the exception of hardwood plywood containing PVAc, with a high degree of assurance as that term is defined in 16 CFR part 1107.

    Section 1252.3(d) of the proposed rule states that accessible component parts of children's products, children's toys, and child care articles made with the specified EWPs, are not required to be third party tested pursuant to section 14(a)(2) of the CPSA and 16 CFR part 1107.

    Section 1252.3(e) of the proposed rule states that accessible component parts of children's products, children's toys, and child care articles that are not specifically listed in the determinations in proposed § 1252.3(a) through (c) are required to be third party tested pursuant to section 14(a)(2) of the CPSA and 16 CFR part 1107.

    4. Comments on the Proposed Rule

    The Commission seeks comments on all aspects of the proposed rule. In particular, comments of the following topics are welcome.

    • Are there any data or examples that indicate that the EWPs identified in the proposed rule can and do contain lead, the ASTM F963 elements, or prohibited phthalates at levels that are not compliant? Please provide data supporting your assertion.

    • The TERA Task 14 Report identified the use of some of the ASTM F963 elements as catalysts in adhesive formulations used to manufacture EWPs. Please provide any information that supports or refutes the claim that these elements will not be present in concentrations greater than their specified limits in EWPs.

    • CPSC staff has heard from a manufacturer of PVAc adhesive formulations used in the manufacture of hardwood plywood that, although phthalates are no longer used in domestic production, they were once used. What phthalates were used in PVAc in the past? Could any of the specified phthalates be used? Why or why not? Are any of the specified phthalates used in domestic or international manufacturing of EWPs? Why or why not?

    • How can one determine if a hardwood plywood sheet contains a PVAc adhesive system? How can one determine whether a PVAc adhesive system used in the manufacture of hardwood plywood contains a specified phthalate in concentrations greater than the specified limits? Can this type of information be found on labels, SDSs, company Web sites, or in some other way?

    • Other than PVAc, are there additional adhesive formulations used in the manufacture of EWPs that could contain the specified phthalates in concentrations greater than those specified? If yes, what phthalates are used and at what concentration?

    • Are there any post-consumer recycled EWPs that consistently comply with the limits for lead, ASTM F963 elements, or prohibited phthalates?

    • Please describe the methods used to determine whether post-consumer recycled material is used in the manufacture of EWPs. How can this type of information be found (on labels, SDSs, company Web sites, or in some other way)?

    • In addition to particleboard, hardwood plywood, and medium-density fiberboard, are there other EWPs widely used in children's products, children's toys, and child care articles that have not been identified in the proposed rule that do not, and will not, contain lead, the ASTM F963 elements, or prohibited phthalates in concentrations greater than the mandatory limits? Please provide supporting data.

    E. Effective Date

    The Administrative Procedure Act (APA) generally requires that a substantive rule must be published not less than 30 days before its effective date. 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(1). Because the proposed rule would provide relief from existing testing requirements under the CPSIA, the Commission proposes a 30 day effective date for the final rule.

    F. Regulatory Flexibility Act 1. Introduction

    The Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) requires that agencies review a proposed rule for the rule's potential economic impact on small entities, including small businesses. Section 603 of the RFA generally requires that agencies prepare an initial regulatory flexibility analysis (IRFA) and make the analysis available to the public for comment when the agency is required to publish a notice of proposed rulemaking, unless the agency certifies that the proposed rule will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. The IRFA must describe the impact of the proposed rule on small entities and identify any alternatives which accomplish the statutory objectives and may reduce the significant economic impact of the proposed rule on small entities. We provide a summary of the IRFA.

    2. Small Entities to Which the Proposed Rule Would Apply

    The proposed rule would apply to small entities that manufacture or import children's products, children's toys, and child care articles that contain particleboard, hardwood plywood, or medium-density fiberboard. The number of domestic manufacturers classified in the North American Industrial Classification System (NAICS) categories that could manufacture children's products, children's toys, or child care articles that may contain accessible particleboard, hardwood plywood, or medium-density fiberboard component parts and would be responsible for the certification of these products may include 7,059 firms that can be categorized as small.22 Of these, 3,705 have fewer than 5 employees. However, it is doubtful that all of the firms in some of these categories produce children's products. Moreover, of those firms that do produce children's products, we do not know how many of the firms manufacture products with accessible particleboard, hardwood plywood, or medium-density fiberboard component parts.

    22 The numbers of small firms for each NAICS code are from the Census Bureau and generally based on the SBA criteria for small firms.

    The number of domestic wholesalers by NAICS code that could distribute children's products, children's toys, or child care articles that may contain accessible particleboard, hardwood plywood, or medium-density fiberboard component parts may include 26,113 firms that can be categorized as small. Of these, 15,947 have less than 5 employees. Wholesalers who obtain their products strictly from domestic manufacturers or from other wholesalers would not be impacted by the rule because the manufacturer or importer would be responsible for certifying the products. Although importers are responsible for the certification of the children's products that they import, they may rely upon third party testing performed by their foreign suppliers for purposes of certification. The number of small wholesalers that import children's products, children's toys, or child care articles as opposed to obtaining their product from domestic sources is not known. Also unknown is the number of small importers that must obtain or pay for the third party testing of their products.

    The number of domestic retailers by NAICS code that could sell children's products, children's toys, or child care articles that may contain accessible particleboard, hardwood plywood, or medium-density fiberboard component parts may include 49,358 firms that can be categorized as small. Of these, 27,506 have less than 5 employees. Although there are almost 50,000 retailers in the NAICS categories, the only retailers that would be directly impacted by the proposed rule are those that import children's products themselves. Retailers that obtain all of their products from domestic manufacturers or wholesalers will not be directly impacted by the rule because the manufacturers or wholesalers would be responsible for certifying the products.

    Although comprehensive estimates of the number of children's products, children's toys, and child care articles that contain component parts made from the specified engineered woods are not available, there is evidence that these engineered woods are used in children's furniture, sporting equipment, children's toys, and some musical instruments. Based on the number of domestic toy manufacturers that are classified as small businesses by the U.S. Bureau of the Census and evidence that the specified engineered woods are used in children's products, children's toys, and child care articles, the Commission believes a substantial number of small entities would be impacted by this regulation.

    3. Reporting, Recordkeeping, and Other Compliance Requirements and Impact on Small Businesses

    The proposed rule would determine that there is a high degree of assurance that the certain EWPs be determined not to contain lead, the ASTM F963 elements, and the specified phthalates (DEHP, DBP, BBP, DINP, DIDP, or DnOP) in concentrations greater than their specified limits. Under this proposed determination, manufacturers, importers, and private labelers of children's products, children's toys, and child care articles that have accessible component parts that consist of these engineered woods would not require third party testing for certification that these components comply with the lead, ASTM F963 elements, or phthalate requirements.

    The proposed rule would not impose any reporting, recordkeeping, or other compliance requirements on small entities. In fact, because the proposed rule would eliminate a testing requirement, there would be a small reduction in some of the recordkeeping burden under 16 CFR parts 1107 and 1109 because manufacturers would no longer have to maintain records of third party tests for the component parts manufactured from these engineered woods for lead, the ASTM F963 elements, or the specified phthalates.

    The impact of the determinations on small businesses would be to reduce the burden of third party testing for the content of lead, the ASTM F963 elements, and the specified phthalates and would be expected to be entirely beneficial. The cost of lead testing ranges from $50 to more than $100 per component through Inductively Coupled Plasma testing (ICP). If one uses X-ray fluorescence spectrometry (XRF), which is an acceptable method for certification of third-party testing for lead content, the costs can be greatly reduced to approximately $5 per component part. If a component part made with one of the specified engineered woods is painted, the component part would be exempt from the third party testing requirement, but the paint would still require lead testing.

    Based on published invoices and price lists, the cost of a third party test for the ASTM F963 elements ranges from around $60 in China, up to around $190 in the United States using ICP. This cost can be greatly reduced with the use of high definition X-ray fluorescence spectrometry (HDXRF), which is an acceptable method for certification of third-party testing for the presence of the ASTM F963 elements. The cost can be reduced to about $40 per component. It should be noted that lead is one of the ASTM F963 elements, so this testing would also cover the cost of lead testing for component parts.

    The cost of phthalate testing is relatively high: Between about $125 and $350 per component part, depending upon where the testing is conducted and any discounts that are applicable. Because one product might have multiple component parts that require testing, the cost of testing a single product for phthalates could exceed $1,000 in some cases. Moreover, more than one sample might have to be tested to provide a high degree of assurance of compliance with the requirements for testing. To the extent that small businesses have lower production or sales volumes than larger businesses, these determinations would be expected to have a disproportionately beneficial impact on small businesses. This beneficial impact is due to spreading the costs of the testing over fewer units; and the benefit of the Commission making the determinations would be greater on a per unit basis for small businesses. Additionally, some testing laboratories may offer their larger customers discounts that might not be available to small businesses that need fewer third party tests. Making the determinations for these engineered woods could potentially significantly benefit a substantial number of firms.

    On the other hand, the benefit of making the determinations could be less than might be expected. For example, some firms might have been able to substantially reduce their third party testing costs by using component part testing as allowed under 16 CFR 1109, so the marginal benefit that might be derived from making the determinations might be low. Also, some firms have reduced their testing costs by using XRF or HDXRF technology, which is less expensive than ICP, and would reduce the marginal benefit of these determinations. The Commission seeks public comments on the potential impact of the proposed rule on small entities. Comments are especially welcome on the following topics:

    • The extent to which particleboard, hardwood plywood, and medium-density fiberboard are used in children's products, children's toys, and child care articles, especially those manufactured or imported by small firms;

    • The potential reduction in third party testing costs that might be provided by the Commission making the determinations, including the extent to which component part testing is already being used and the current cost of testing components made from these engineered woods for compliance with the lead, ASTM F963 elements, and phthalate requirements;

    • Any situations or conditions in the proposed rule that would make it difficult to make use of the determinations to reduce third party testing costs; and

    • Although the Commission expects that the impact of the proposed rule will be entirely beneficial, any potential negative impacts of the proposed rule.

    4. Alternatives Considered To Reduce the Burden on Small Entities

    Under section 603(c) of the RFA, an initial regulatory flexibility analysis should “contain a description of any significant alternatives to the proposed rule which accomplish the stated objectives of the applicable statutes and which minimize any significant impact of the proposed rule on small entities.” Because the proposed rule is intended to reduce the cost of third party testing on small businesses and will not impose any additional burden, the Commission did not consider alternatives to the proposed rule that would reduce the burden of this rule on small businesses.

    G. Environmental Considerations

    The Commission's regulations provide a categorical exclusion for Commission rules from any requirement to prepare an environmental assessment or an environmental impact statement because they “have little or no potential for affecting the human environment.” 16 CFR 1021.5(c)(2). This rule falls within the categorical exclusion, so no environmental assessment or environmental impact statement is required. The Commission's regulations state that safety standards for products normally have little or no potential for affecting the human environment. 16 CFR 1021.5(c)(1). Nothing in this rule alters that expectation.

    List of Subjects in 16 CFR Part 1252

    Business and industry, Consumer protection, Imports, Infants and children, Product testing and certification, Toys.

    For the reasons stated in the preamble, the Commission proposes to amend title 16 of the CFR to add part 1252 to read as follows:

    PART 1252—CHILDREN'S PRODUCTS, CHILDREN'S TOYS, AND CHILD CARE ARTICLES: DETERMINATIONS REGARDING LEAD, ASTM F963 ELEMENTS, AND PHTHALATES FOR ENGINEERED WOOD PRODUCTS Sec. 1252.1 Children's products, children's toys, and child care articles containing lead, ASTM F963 elements, and phthalates in engineered wood products and testing requirements. 1252.2 Definitions. 1252.3 Determinations for engineered wood products. Authority:

    Sec. 3, Pub. L. 110-314, 122 Stat. 3016; 15 U.S.C. 2063(d)(3)(B).

    § 1252.1 Children's products, children's toys, and child care articles containing lead, ASTM F963 elements, and phthalates in engineered wood products and testing requirements.

    (a) Section 101(a) of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (CPSIA) provides that any children's product, material, or component part or a children's product must comply with a lead content limit that does not exceed 100 parts per million. Materials used in children's products subject to section 101 of the CPSIA must comply with the third party testing requirements of section 14(a)(2) of the Consumer Product Safety Act (CPSA), unless listed in 16 CFR 1500.91.

    (b) Section 106 of the CPSIA made provisions of ASTM F963, Consumer Product Safety Specifications for Toy Safety, a mandatory consumer product safety standard. Among the mandated provisions is section 4.3.5 of ASTM F963 which requires that surface coating materials and accessible substrates of children's toys that can be sucked, mouthed, or ingested, must comply with solubility limits that the toy standard establishes for eight elements. Materials used in children's toys subject to section 4.3.5 of the toy standard must comply with the third party testing requirements of section 14(a)(2) of the CPSA, unless listed in 16 CFR 1251.2.

    (c) Section 108(a) of the CPSIA permanently prohibits any children's toy or child care article that contains concentrations of more than 0.1 percent of di-(2-ethylhexl) phthalate (DEHP), dibutyl phthalate (DBP), or benzyl butyl phthalate (BBP). Section 108(b)(1) of the CPSIA prohibits on an interim basis any children's toy that can be placed in a child's mouth or child care article that contains concentrations of more than 0.1 percent of diisononyl phthalate (DINP), diisodecyl phthalate (DIDP), or di-n-octyl phthalate (DnOP). Materials used in children's toys and child care articles subject to section 108(a) and (b)(1) of the CPSIA must comply with the third party testing requirements of section 14(a)(2) of the CPSA, unless listed in 16 CFR part 1308.

    § 1252.2 Definitions.

    In addition to the definitions given in sections 101, 106, and 108 of the CPSIA, the following definitions apply for this part 1252.

    (a) Post-consumer wood waste describes wood waste that is comprised of materials that are recovered from their original use and subsequently used in a new product. Examples of this type of waste include recycled demolition wood, packaging materials such as pallets and crates, used wood from landscape care (i.e., from urban and highway trees, hedges, and gardens), discarded furniture, and waste wood from industrial, construction, and commercial activities.

    (b) Pre-consumer wood waste describes wood materials that have been recycled from an industrial process before being made available for consumer use. Examples of this type of waste include trimmings from engineered wood product (EWP) panel manufacturing, sawdust from cutting logs, or remaining wood pieces from sawing a log into framing lumber.

    (c) Unfinished means an EWP that does not have any surface treatments applied at manufacture, such as factory-applied coatings. Examples of such treatments may include paint or similar surface coating materials, wood glue, or metal fasteners, such as nails or screws.

    (d) Untreated means an EWP that does not have any additional finishes applied at manufacture. Examples of such finishes may include flame retardants or rot resistant finishes.

    (e) Virgin wood describes wood logs, fibers, chips, or layers that have not been recycled from a previous use.

    § 1252.3 Determinations for engineered wood products.

    (a) The following engineered wood products do not exceed the lead content limits with a high degree of assurance as that term is defined in 16 CFR part 1107:

    (i) Particleboard that is untreated and unfinished made from virgin wood or pre-consumer wood waste;

    (ii) Hardwood plywood that is untreated and unfinished made from virgin wood or pre-consumer wood waste; and

    (iii) Medium-density fiberboard that is untreated and unfinished made from virgin wood or pre-consumer wood waste.

    (b) The following engineered wood products do not exceed the ASTM F963 elements solubility limits set forth in 16 CFR part 1250 with a high degree of assurance as that term is defined in 16 CFR part 1107:

    (i) Particleboard that is untreated and unfinished made from virgin wood or pre-consumer wood waste;

    (ii) Hardwood plywood that is untreated and unfinished made from virgin wood or pre-consumer wood waste; and

    (iii) Medium-density fiberboard that is untreated and unfinished made from virgin wood or pre-consumer wood waste.

    (c) The following engineered wood products do not exceed the phthalates content limits with a high degree of assurance as that term is defined in 16 CFR part 1107:

    (i) Particleboard that is untreated and unfinished made from virgin wood or pre-consumer wood waste;

    (ii) Hardwood plywood that is untreated and unfinished made from virgin wood or pre-consumer wood waste and does not contain PVAc adhesive formulations; and

    (iii) Medium-density fiberboard that is untreated and unfinished made from virgin wood or pre-consumer wood waste.

    (d) Accessible component parts of children's products, children's toys, and child care articles made with EWPs, listed in paragraphs (a) through (c) of this section are not required to be third party tested pursuant to section 14(a)(2) of the CPSA and 16 CFR part 1107.

    (e) Accessible component parts of children's products, children's toys, and child care articles made with engineered wood products not listed in paragraphs (a)-(c) of this section are required to be third party tested pursuant to section 14(a)(2) of the CPSA and 16 CFR part 1107.

    Alberta E. Mills, Acting Secretary, Consumer Product Safety Commission.
    [FR Doc. 2017-21980 Filed 10-12-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6355-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES Food and Drug Administration 21 CFR Part 112 [Docket No. FDA-2011-N-0921] RIN 0910-ZA50 Standards for the Growing, Harvesting, Packing, and Holding of Produce for Human Consumption; Extension of Compliance Dates for Subpart E; Correction AGENCY:

    Food and Drug Administration, HHS.

    ACTION:

    Proposed rule; correction.

    SUMMARY:

    The Food and Drug Administration (FDA, the Agency, or we) is correcting a proposed rule that published in the Federal Register of September 13, 2017. That proposed rule proposes to extend, for covered produce other than sprouts, the dates for compliance with the agricultural water provisions in the “Standards for the Growing, Harvesting, Packing, and Holding of Produce for Human Consumption” regulation. We are placing a corrected copy of the proposed rule in the docket.

    DATES:

    October 13, 2017.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Samir Assar, Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (HFS-317), Food and Drug Administration, 5001 Campus Dr., College Park, MD 20740, 240-402-1636.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    In the Federal Register of September 13, 2017 (82 FR 42963), FDA published the proposed rule “Standards for the Growing, Harvesting, Packing, and Holding of Produce for Human Consumption; Extension of Compliance Dates for Subpart E” with an omission.

    In FR Doc. 2017-19434, appearing on page 42963 in the Federal Register of September 13, 2017, the following correction is made:

    On page 42967, in the third column, the paragraph above the table is corrected to include the fourth sentence as follows: “There would be a reduction in benefits associated with extending the compliance dates as described previously. Consumers eating non-sprout covered produce would not enjoy the potential health benefits (i.e., reduced risk of illness) provided by the provisions of subpart E until 2 to 4 years (depending on the specific provision) later than originally established in the produce safety regulation. Thus, the annualized total benefits to consumers, discounted at 3 percent over 10 years, would decrease by $108 million from $1.033 billion to $925 million. Taking into consideration both the reduction in costs and the reduction in benefits, using a 3 (7) percent discount rate, the proposed rule would have negative annualized net benefits of $96 ($97) million. Estimated changes in benefits and costs as a result of this proposed extension are summarized in the following table.”

    Dated: October 10, 2017. Anna K. Abram, Deputy Commissioner for Policy, Planning, Legislation, and Analysis.
    [FR Doc. 2017-22182 Filed 10-12-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4164-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY Internal Revenue Service 26 CFR Part 54 [REG-129631-17] RIN 1545-BN91 Moral Exemptions and Accommodations for Coverage of Certain Preventive Services Under the Affordable Care Act; Proposed Rulemaking AGENCY:

    Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Treasury.

    ACTION:

    Notice of proposed rulemaking by cross-reference to temporary regulations.

    SUMMARY:

    In this issue of the Federal Register, the Department of Treasury and the IRS are issuing two sets of temporary regulations related to section 9815 of the Internal Revenue Code. The first set of temporary regulations, as published in TD 9827, amends final regulations published under the provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (the Affordable Care Act) and relates to expanded exemptions to protect religious beliefs for entities and individuals with objections based on religious beliefs whose health plans are subject to a mandate of contraceptive coverage through guidance issued pursuant to the Affordable Care Act. These proposed regulations refer to the second set of temporary regulations, as published in TD 9828, which amends the first set of temporary regulations, as published in TD 9827, to add an exemption to protect moral convictions for entities and individuals with objections based on those beliefs whose health plans are subject to the mandate of contraceptive coverage.

    DATES:

    Written or electronic comments and requests for a public hearing must be received by December 5, 2017.

    ADDRESSES:

    Send submissions to: CC:PA:LPD:PR (REG-129631-17), Room 5205, Internal Revenue Service, P.O. Box 7604, Ben Franklin Station, Washington, DC 20044. Submissions may be hand-delivered to: CC:PA:LPD:PR (REG-129631-17), Courier's Desk, Internal Revenue Service, 1111 Constitution Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20224. Alternatively, taxpayers may submit comments electronically via the Federal eRulemaking Portal at http://www.regulations.gov (IRS REG-129631-17).

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Concerning the regulations, Karen Levin at 202-317-5500; concerning submissions of comments, Regina Johnson at 202-317-6901 (not toll-free numbers).

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Background and Explanation of Provisions

    The temporary regulations published elsewhere in this issue of the Federal Register add §§ 54.9815-2713T and 54.9815-2713AT to the Miscellaneous Excise Tax Regulations, as published in TD 9827 in the Rules section of this issue of the Federal Register. The proposed and temporary regulations are being published as part of a joint rulemaking with the Department of Labor and the Department of Health and Human Services (the joint rulemaking). The temporary regulations provide guidance to certain entities and individuals whose health plans are subject to a mandate of contraceptive coverage and does not alter the discretion of the Health Resources and Services Administration, a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, to maintain the guidelines requiring contraceptive coverage where no regulatorily recognized objection exists. The temporary regulations also leave in place the accommodation process as an optional process for certain exempt entities that wish to use it voluntarily and does not alter other Federal programs that provide free or subsidized contraception for women at risk of unintended pregnancy. The preamble to the temporary regulations explains the temporary regulations and these proposed regulations.

    Special Analyses

    Certain IRS regulations, including this one, are exempt from the requirements of Executive Order 12866, as supplemented by Executive Order 13563. Therefore, a regulatory assessment is not required.

    For the applicability of the Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. Chapter 6), please see section VI.C. of the temporary regulations.

    Pursuant to section 7805(f) of the Internal Revenue Code, this notice of proposed rulemaking has been submitted to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business Administration for comment on the regulations' impact on small businesses.

    Comments and Requests for a Public Hearing

    Before these proposed regulations are adopted as final regulations, consideration will be given to any written comments (a signed original and eight (8) copies) or electronic comments that are submitted timely to the IRS. Comments are specifically requested on the clarity of the proposed regulations and how they may be made easier to understand. All comments will be available for public inspection and copying. A public hearing may be scheduled if requested in writing by a person that timely submits written comments. If a public hearing is scheduled, notice of the date, time, and place for the hearing will be published in the Federal Register.

    Drafting Information

    The principal author of these proposed regulations is Karen Levin, Office of the Division Counsel/Associate Chief Counsel (Tax Exempt and Government Entities), IRS. The proposed regulations, as well as the temporary regulations, have been developed in coordination with personnel from the U.S. Department of Labor and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

    List of Subjects in 26 CFR Part 54

    Excise taxes, Health care, Health insurance, Pensions, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements.

    Proposed Amendments to the Regulations

    Accordingly, 26 CFR part 54 is proposed to be amended as follows:

    PART 54—PENSION EXCISE TAXES Paragraph 1. The authority citation for part 54 continues to read in part as follows: Authority:

    26 U.S.C. 7805 * * *

    § 54.9815-2713T [Amended]
    Par 2. Section 54.9815-2713T, as added elsewhere in this issue of the Federal Register, is amended in paragraph (a)(1)(iv) by removing the language “147.131 and 147.132” adding in its place “147.131, 147.132, and 147.133”.
    § 54.9815-2713AT [Amended]
    Par. 3. Section 54.9815-2713AT, as added elsewhere in this issue of the Federal Register, is amended: a. In paragraph (a)(1) by removing the language “(ii)” and adding in its place “(ii), or 45 CFR 147.133(a)(1)(i) or (ii)”. b. In paragraph (a)(2) by adding the language “or 147.133(a)” after “147.132(a)”. c. In paragraph (b)(1)(ii) introductory text by removing the language “147.132” and adding in its place “147.132(ii) or 147.133”. d. In paragraph (b)(1)(ii)(B) by adding the language “or 147.133” after “147.132”. e. In paragraph (c)(1)(ii) introductory text by adding the language “or 147.133” after “147.132”. f. In paragraph (c)(1)(ii)(B) by adding the language “or 147.133” after “147.132”. g. In paragraph (c)(2) introductory text by adding the language “or 147.133” after “147.132”. Kirsten Wielobob, Deputy Commissioner for Services and Enforcement.
    [FR Doc. 2017-21854 Filed 10-6-17; 11:15 am] BILLING CODE 4830-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY Internal Revenue Service 26 CFR Part 54 [REG-115615-17] RIN 1545-BN92 Religious Exemptions and Accommodations for Coverage of Certain Preventive Services Under the Affordable Care Act; Proposed Rulemaking AGENCY:

    Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Treasury.

    ACTION:

    Notice of proposed rulemaking by cross-reference to temporary regulations.

    SUMMARY:

    In this issue of the Federal Register, the Department of Treasury and the IRS are issuing two sets of temporary regulations related to section 9815 of the Internal Revenue Code. The first set of temporary regulations, as published in TD 9827, amends final regulations published under the provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (the Affordable Care Act) and relates to expanded exemptions to protect religious beliefs for entities and individuals with objections based on religious beliefs whose health plans are subject to a mandate of contraceptive coverage through guidance issued pursuant to the Affordable Care Act. These proposed regulations refer to that first set of temporary regulations. The second set of temporary regulations, as published in TD 9828, amends the first set of temporary regulations, as published in TD 9827, to add an exemption to protect moral convictions for entities and individuals with objections based on those beliefs whose health plans are subject to the mandate of contraceptive coverage.

    DATES:

    Written or electronic comments and requests for a public hearing must be received by December 5, 2017.

    ADDRESSES:

    Send submissions to: CC:PA:LPD:PR (REG-115615-17), Room 5205, Internal Revenue Service, P.O. Box 7604, Ben Franklin Station, Washington, DC 20044. Submissions may be hand-delivered to: CC:PA:LPD:PR (REG-115615-17), Courier's Desk, Internal Revenue Service, 1111 Constitution Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20224. Alternatively, taxpayers may submit comments electronically via the Federal eRulemaking Portal at http://www.regulations.gov (IRS REG-115615-17).

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Concerning the regulations, Karen Levin at 202-317-5500; concerning submissions of comments, Regina Johnson at 202-317-6901 (not toll-free numbers).

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Background and Explanation of Provisions

    The temporary regulations published elsewhere in this issue of the Federal Register amend §§ 54.9815-2713 and 54.9815-2713A of the Miscellaneous Excise Tax Regulations. The temporary regulations provide guidance to certain entities and individuals whose health plans are subject to a mandate of contraceptive coverage and do not alter the discretion of the Health Resources and Services Administration, a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, to maintain the guidelines requiring contraceptive coverage where no regulatorily recognized objection exists. The temporary regulations also leave in place the accommodation process as an optional process for certain exempt entities that wish to use it voluntarily and do not alter other Federal programs that provide free or subsidized contraception for women at risk of unintended pregnancy. The proposed and temporary regulations are being published as part of a joint rulemaking with the Department of Labor and the Department of Health and Human Services (the joint rulemaking). The text of those temporary regulations also serves as the text of these proposed regulations. The preamble to the temporary regulations further explains the temporary regulations and these proposed regulations.

    Special Analyses

    Certain IRS regulations, including this one, are exempt from the requirements of Executive Order 12866, as supplemented by Executive Order 13563. Therefore, a regulatory assessment is not required.

    For the applicability of the Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. Chapter 6), please see section VI.C. of the temporary regulations.

    Pursuant to section 7805(f) of the Internal Revenue Code, this notice of proposed rulemaking has been submitted to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business Administration for comment on the regulations' impact on small businesses.

    Comments and Requests for a Public Hearing

    Before these proposed regulations are adopted as final regulations, consideration will be given to any written comments (a signed original and eight (8) copies) or electronic comments that are submitted timely to the IRS. Comments are specifically requested on the clarity of the proposed regulations and how they may be made easier to understand. All comments will be available for public inspection and copying. A public hearing may be scheduled if requested in writing by a person that timely submits written comments. If a public hearing is scheduled, notice of the date, time, and place for the hearing will be published in the Federal Register.

    Drafting Information

    The principal author of these proposed regulations is Karen Levin, Office of the Division Counsel/Associate Chief Counsel (Tax Exempt and Government Entities), IRS. The proposed regulations, as well as the temporary regulations, have been developed in coordination with personnel from the U.S. Department of Labor and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

    List of Subjects in 26 CFR Part 54

    Excise taxes, Health care, Health insurance, Pensions, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements.

    Proposed Amendments to the Regulations

    Accordingly, 26 CFR part 54 is proposed to be amended as follows:

    PART 54—PENSION EXCISE TAXES Paragraph 1. The authority citation for part 54 continues to read in part as follows: Authority:

    26 U.S.C. 7805 * * *

    Par. 2. Section 54.9815-2713 is revised to read as follows:
    § 54.9815-2713 Coverage of preventive health services.

    [The text of proposed § 54.9815-2713 is the same as the text of § 54.9815-2713T(a) through (d) published elsewhere in this issue of the Federal Register].

    Par. 3. Section 54.9815-2713A is revised to read as follows:
    § 54.9815-2713A Accommodations in connection with coverage of preventive health services.

    [The text of proposed § 54.9815-2713A is the same as the text of § 54.9815-2713AT(a) through (f) published elsewhere in this issue of the Federal Register].

    Kirsten Wielobob, Deputy Commissioner for Services and Enforcement.
    [FR Doc. 2017-21856 Filed 10-6-17; 11:15 am] BILLING CODE 4830-01-P
    POSTAL SERVICE 39 CFR Part 111 New Mailing Standards for Domestic Mailing Services Products AGENCY:

    Postal ServiceTM.

    ACTION:

    Proposed rule.

    SUMMARY:

    On October 3, 2017, the Postal Service (USPS) filed a notice of mailing services price adjustments with the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC). The proposed price adjustments are scheduled to become effective on January 21, 2018. This proposed rule contains the revisions to Mailing Standards of the United States Postal Service, Domestic Mail Manual (DMM®) that we would adopt to implement rule changes coincident with the price adjustments.

    DATES:

    Submit comments on or before November 13, 2017.

    ADDRESSES:

    Mail or deliver written comments to the manager, Product Classification, U.S. Postal Service, 475 L'Enfant Plaza SW., Room 4446, Washington, DC 20260-5015. If sending comments by email, include the name and address of the commenter and send to [email protected], with a subject line of “January 2018 Domestic Mailing Services Proposal.” Faxed comments are not accepted. You may inspect and photocopy all written comments, by appointment only, at USPS® Headquarters Library, 475 L'Enfant Plaza SW., 11th Floor North, Washington, DC, 20260. These records are available for review on Monday through Friday, 9 a.m.-4 p.m., by calling 202-268-2906.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Jacqueline Erwin at (202) 268-2158, or Lizbeth Dobbins at (202) 268-3789.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Proposed prices will be available under Docket No. R2018-1 on the Postal Regulatory Commission's Web site at www.prc.gov. The Postal Service's proposed rule includes: Changes to prices, mail classification updates, modifications to mail preparation standards, and minor revisions to the DMM to condense language and/or eliminate redundancy.

    Add Bound Printed Matter Flats Up to 24 Ounces to Comail DSCF or DDU Only

    Currently, the USPS allows authorized mailers to combine USPS Marketing Mail flats and Periodicals flats in a single mailing. Each mailpiece must meet the standards for the mail class, and Periodicals publications must be authorized or pending original or additional entry at the office of mailing. Mailers must prepare pieces in bundles on pallets.

    The USPS proposes allowing Bound Printed Matter (BPM) Flats up to 24 ounces to be included in the current comailing structure which includes USPS Marketing Mail flats and Periodicals flats up to 24 ounces entered at a Destination Sectional Center Facility, (DSCF) or a Destination Delivery Unit, (DDU). The maximum weight of comailed BPM and Periodicals flats is 24 ounces per piece within the same bundle. Pieces within the bundle must be in line-of-travel, LOT, sequence. These bundles must not contain more than half of the heavier pieces. Note that comail bundles which contain all three classes of mail assume the service standard of USPS Marketing Mail. If bundles are made only of Periodicals and Bound Printed Matter Flats, then the service standard adopted will be the lesser of the two. This proposal includes CoPal, which allows the mixing of class-specific, bundles on the same pallet, which can also include mixed class bundles (comail). If BPM bundles are included on the same pallet, then this CoPal pallet must be DSCF or DDU entry only.

    Order of Pallet Preparation for Carrier Route (CR) Pallets in Non-FSS Zones

    Currently, the pallet preparation requirements for Carrier Route pallets in Non-FSS zones allows merged 5-digit scheme pallets as the first required sortation, followed by 5-digit scheme carrier routes, 5-digit scheme, and merged 5-digit pallets.

    The USPS is considering updating the order of pallet preparation, to increase the number of pure CR Pallets (as opposed to 5-Digit Merged Pallets) presented in non-FSS zones. This will be accomplished by moving 5-digit Scheme Carrier Route pallets ahead of Merged 5-digit Scheme pallets. This includes both USPS Marketing Mail and Periodicals. This change would increase the amount of mail eligible for a CR pallet discount, resulting in eligibility for lower prices on the mail.

    Zone Charts Revision: Priority Mail to APO/FPO/DPO Processing at Chicago ISC

    The Postal Service is proposing a change to all zone charts to reflect Priority Mail to APO/FPO/DPO destinations will only be processed at the Chicago ISC.

    List of Subjects in 39 CFR Part 111

    Administrative practice and procedure, Postal Service.

    Although we are exempt from the notice and comment requirements of the Administrative Procedure Act (5 U.S.C. 553(b), (c)) regarding proposed rulemaking by 39 U.S.C. 410(a), we invite public comments on the following proposed revisions to Mailing Standards of the United States Postal Service, Domestic Mail Manual (DMM), incorporated by reference in the Code of Federal Regulations. See 39 CFR 111.1. Accordingly, 39 CFR part 111 is proposed to be amended as follows:

    PART 111—[AMENDED] 1. The authority citation for 39 CFR part 111 continues to read as follows: Authority:

    5 U.S.C. 552(a); 13 U.S.C. 301-307; 18 U.S.C. 1692-1737; 39 U.S.C. 101, 401, 403, 404, 414, 416, 3001-3011, 3201-3219, 3403-3406, 3621, 3622, 3626, 3632, 3633, and 5001.

    2. Revise the following sections of Mailing Standards of the United States Postal Service, Domestic Mail Manual (DMM), as follows: Mailing Standards of the United States Postal Service, Domestic Mail Manual (DMM) 700 Special Standards 705 Advanced Preparation and Special Postage Payment Systems 10.0 Merging Bundles of Flats Using the City State Product 10.1 Periodicals 10.1.5 Pallet Preparation and Labeling

    [Revise the second sentence in the introductory text of 10.1.5 to read as follows:]

    * * * When sortation under this option is performed, mailers must prepare all 5-digit scheme carrier routes, merged 5-digit scheme, 5-digit carrier routes, and merged 5-digit pallets that are possible in the mailing based on the volume of mail to the destination using L001 and/or the City State Product. * * *

    [Reverse the order of items a. and b.; and revise the text of reordered items a. and b. to read as follows:]

    a. 5-digit scheme carrier routes, required; allowed with no minimum. May contain only carrier route bundles for carrier routes in an L001 scheme for which all of the 5-digit ZIP Codes in the scheme have a “B” or “D” indicator in the City State Product. Labeling:

    1. Line 1: Use L001, Column B.

    2. Line 2: “PER” or “NEWS” as applicable; followed by “FLTS”; followed by “CR-RTS SCHEME.”

    b. Merged 5-digit scheme, required and permitted only when there is at least one 5-digit ZIP Code in the scheme that has an “A” or “C” indicator in the City State Product. May contain carrier route bundles for any 5-digit ZIP Code(s) in a single scheme listed in L001 as well as machinable barcoded price 5-digit bundles and machinable nonbarcoded price 5-digit bundles for those 5-digit ZIP Codes in the scheme that have an “A” or “C” indicator in the City State Product. Labeling:

    1. Line 1: Use L001, Column B.

    2. Line 2: “PER” or “NEWS” as applicable; followed by “FLTS”; followed by “CR/5D SCHEME.”

    [Reverse the order of items c and d; and revise the text of reordered item c to read as follows:]

    c. 5-digit carrier routes, required; allowed with no minimum. May contain only carrier route price bundles for the same 5-digit ZIP Code for those 5-digit ZIP Codes that are not part of a scheme and that have a “B” or “D” indicator in the City State Product. Labeling:

    1. Line 1: Use city, state, and 5-digit ZIP Code destination (see 8.6.4 for military mail).

    2. Line 2: “PER” or “NEWS” as applicable; followed by “FLTS” followed by “CARRIER ROUTES” or “CR-RTS.”

    10.2 USPS Marketing Mail 10.2.5 Pallet Preparation and Labeling

    [Revise the second sentence in the introductory text of 10.2.5 to read as follows:]

    * * * After completing required carrier route pallets, mailers must prepare all merged 5-digit scheme, 5-digit scheme carrier routes, and merged 5-digit pallets that are possible in the mailing based on the volume of mail to the destination using L001 and/or the City State Product. * * *

    [Reverse the order of items a. and b.; and revise the text in reordered items a. and b. to read as follows:]

    a. 5-digit scheme carrier routes, required; allowed with no minimum. May contain only carrier route bundles for carrier routes in an L001 scheme for which all of the 5-digit ZIP Codes in the scheme have a “B” or “D” indicator in the City State Product. Labeling:

    1. Line 1: Use L001, Column B.

    2. Line 2: “MKT FLTS CR-RTS SCHEME.”

    b. Merged 5-digit scheme, required and permitted only when there is at least one 5-digit ZIP Code in the scheme that has an “A” or “C” indicator in the City State Product. May contain carrier route bundles for any 5-digit ZIP Code(s) in a single scheme listed in L001 as well as automation price 5-digit bundles and Presorted price 5-digit bundles for those 5-digit ZIP Codes in the scheme that have an “A” or “C” indicator in the City State Product. Labeling:

    1. Line 1: Use L001, Column B.

    2. Line 2: “MKT FLTS CR/5D SCHEME.”

    [Reverse the order of items c and d; and revise the text of reordered item c to read as follows:]

    c. 5-digit carrier routes, required; allowed with no minimum. May contain only carrier route price bundles for the same 5-digit ZIP Code for those 5-digit ZIP Codes that are not part of a scheme and that have a “B” or “D” indicator in the City State Product. Labeling:

    1. Line 1: Use city, state, and 5-digit ZIP Code destination (see 8.6.4 for military mail).

    2. Line 2: “MKT FLTS,” followed by “CARRIER ROUTES” or “CR-RTS.”

    12.0 Merging Bundles of Flats on Pallets Using a 5% Threshold 12.1 Periodicals 12.1.5 Pallet Preparation and Labeling

    [Revise the second sentence in the introductory text of 12.1.5 to read as follows:]

    * * * Mailers must prepare all 5-digit scheme carrier routes, merged 5-digit scheme, 5-digit scheme, 5-digit carrier routes and merged 5-digit pallets that are possible in the mailing based on the volume of mail to the destination using L001 and the 5% threshold, as applicable. * * *

    Prepare and label pallets as follows:

    [Reverse the order of items a. and b.; and revise the text of reordered items a. and b. to read as follows:]

    a. 5-digit scheme carrier routes, required; allowed with no minimum. May contain only carrier route bundles for all carrier routes in an L001 scheme. Labeling:

    1. Line 1: Kuse L001, Column B.

    2. Line 2: “PER” or “NEWS” as applicable; followed by “FLTS” or “IRREG” as applicable; followed by “CR-RTS SCHEME.”

    b. Merged 5-digit scheme, required; * * * For 5-digit ZIP Codes not included in a scheme, begin preparing pallets under 12.1.5e (merged 5-digit pallet). Labeling:

    1. Line 1: Use L001, Column B.

    Line 2: “PER” or “NEWS” as applicable; followed by “FLTS” or “IRREG” as applicable; followed by “CR/5D SCHEME.”

    [Reverse the order of items d and e; and revise the text of reordered item d to read as follows:]

    d. 5-digit carrier routes, required; allowed with no minimum. May contain only carrier route price bundles for the same 5-digit ZIP Code that is not part of a scheme. Labeling:

    1. Line 1: Use city, state, and 5-digit ZIP Code destination (see 8.6.4 for military mail).

    2. Line 2: “PER” or “NEWS” as applicable; followed by “FLTS” or “IRREG” as applicable; followed by “CARRIER ROUTES” or “CR-RTS.”

    [Add new heading 12.2, USPS Marketing Mail, renumber 12.1.6 through 12.1.8 as 12.2.1 through 12.2.3]

    12.2 USPS Marketing Mail 12.2.3 Pallet Preparation and Labeling

    [Revise the second sentence in the introductory text of renumbered 12.2.3 to read as follows:]

    * * * Mailers must prepare all 5-digit scheme carrier routes, merged 5-digit scheme, 5-digit carrier routes and merged 5-digit pallets that are possible in the mailing based on the volume of mail to the destination using L001 and the 5% threshold. * * *

    [Reverse the order of items a. and b.; and revise the text in reordered items a. and b. to read as follows:]

    a. 5-digit scheme carrier routes, required, allowed with no minimum. May contain only carrier route bundles for all carrier routes in an L001 scheme. Labeling:

    1. Line 1: Use L001, Column B.

    2. Line 2: “MKT FLTS CR-RTS SCHEME.”

    b. Merged 5-digit scheme, required, permitted only when 5-digit bundles for at least one 5-digit ZIP Code in the scheme may be merged with carrier route bundles under the 5% threshold standard in 12.2.2. * * * For 5-digit ZIP Codes not included in a scheme, begin preparing pallets under 12.2.3d (merged 5-digit pallet). Labeling:

    1. Line 1: Use L001, Column B.

    Line 2: “MKT FLTS CR/5D SCHEME.”

    [Reverse the order of items c and d; and revise the text of reordered item c to read as follows:]

    c. 5-digit carrier routes, required, allowed with no minimum. May contain only carrier route price bundles for the same 5-digit ZIP Code that is not part of a scheme. Labeling:

    1. Line 1: Use city, state, and 5-digit ZIP Code destination (see 8.6.4 for military mail).

    2. Line 2: “MKT FLTS”; followed by “CARRIER ROUTES” or “CR-RTS.”

    13.0 Merging Bundles of Flats on Pallets Using the City State Product and a 5% Threshold 13.1 Periodicals 13.1.5 Pallet Preparation and Labeling

    [Revise the second sentence in the introductory text of 13.1.5 to read as follows:]

    * * * Mailers must prepare all 5-digit scheme carrier routes, merged 5-digit scheme, 5-digit scheme, 5-digit carrier routes, and merged 5-digit pallets that are possible in the mailing based on the volume of mail to the destination (8.0) using L001, the City State Product, and the 5% threshold (13.1.4), as applicable. * * * Prepare and label pallets as follows:

    [Reverse the order of items a. and b.; and revise the text of reordered item a. to read as follows:]

    a. 5-digit scheme carrier routes, required, allowed with no minimum. May contain only carrier route bundles for all carrier routes in an L001 scheme for which all 5-digit ZIP Codes in the scheme have a “B” or “D” indicator.

    Labeling:

    1. Line 1: Use L001, Column B.

    2. Line 2: “PER” or “NEWS” as applicable; followed by “FLTS” or “IRREG” as applicable; and followed by “CR-RTS SCHEME.”

    [Reverse the order of items d and e; revise the text of reordered item d to read as follows:]

    d. 5-digit carrier routes, required; allowed with no minimum. May contain only carrier route price bundles for the same 5-digit ZIP Code that is not part of a scheme. Labeling:

    1. Line 1: Use city, state, and 5-digit ZIP Code destination (see 8.6.4 for military mail).

    2. Line 2: “PER” or “NEWS” as applicable; followed by “FLTS” or “IRREG” as applicable; and followed by “CARRIER ROUTES” or “CR-RTS.”

    13.2 USPS Marketing Mail 13.2.4 Pallet Preparation and Labeling

    [Revise the second sentence of the introductory text of 13.2.4 to read as follows:]

    * * * Mailers must prepare all 5-digit scheme carrier routes, merged 5-digit scheme, and merged 5-digit pallets that are possible in the mailing based on the volume of mail to the destination using L001, the City State Product, and the 5% threshold. Mailers must label pallets according to the Line 1 and Line 2 information listed below and under 8.6.

    [Reverse the order of items a. and b.; revise the text of reordered item a. to read as follows:]

    a. 5-digit scheme carrier routes, required, allowed with no minimum. May contain only carrier route bundles for all carrier routes in an L001 scheme. Labeling:

    1. Line 1: Use L001, Column B.

    2. Line 2: “MKT FLTS CR-RTS SCHEME.”

    [Reverse the order of items c and d; revise the text of reordered item c to read as follows:]

    c. 5-digit carrier routes, required, allowed with no minimum. May contain only carrier route price bundles for the same 5-digit ZIP Code that is not part of a scheme. Labeling:

    1. Line 1: Use city, state, and 5-digit ZIP Code destination (see 8.6.4 for military mail).

    2. Line 2: “MKT FLTS,” followed by “CARRIER ROUTES or “CR-RTS.”

    [Revise the heading of 15.0 to read as follows:]

    15.0 Combining USPS Marketing Mail Flats, Bound Printed Matter Flats, and Periodicals Flats 15.1 Basic Standards

    [Revise the introductory text of 15.1 to read as follows:]

    Authorized mailers may combine USPS Marketing Mail flats, Bound Printed Matter flats and Periodicals flats in a single mailing as follows:

    [Revise the text in item a, to read as follows:]

    a. Each mailpiece must meet the standards in 240 for USPS Marketing Mail, 260 for Bound Printed Matter, and 207 for Periodicals. Periodicals publications must be authorized or pending original or additional entry at the office of mailing.

    [Add new item h, to read as follows:]

    h. Each comailing containing Bound Printed Matter Flats must:

    1. Be entered at a Destination Sectional Center Facility, (DSCF) or a Destination Delivery Unit, (DDU)

    2. Not exceed the maximum weight of 24 ounces per piece within the same bundle, when comailed with Periodicals pieces. The maximum number of heavier pieces would be no more than half of each bundle.

    15.1.1 Service Objectives

    [Revise the text in 15.1.1 to read as follows:]

    The Postal Service processes combined mailings of USPS Marketing Mail flats, Bound Printed Matter Flats and Periodicals flats to the service standards of USPS Marketing Mail.

    15.1.2 Postage Payment

    [Revise the first sentence of 15.1.2 to read as follows:]

    Postage for all USPS Marketing Mail and Bound Printed Matter pieces must be paid with permit imprint using a special postage payment system in 2.0 through 4.0 at the Post Office location serving the mailer`s plant. * * *

    15.1.3 Documentation

    * * * In addition, mailers must provide:

    [Revise the text of item f to read as follows:]

    f. When requested, a copy of a notification document signed and dated by the Periodicals publisher, acknowledging their participation in a combined mailing of USPS Marketing Mail, Bound Printed Matter Mail and Periodicals and the potential for their mailpieces to receive deferred USPS handling.

    15.1.4 Authorization

    [Revise the first sentence in 15.1.4 to read as follows:]

    A mailer must submit a written request to the manager, Business Mailer Support (see 608.8.1 for address) to combine mailings of USPS Marketing Mail flats, Bound Printed Matter flats, and Periodicals flats. * * *

    15.1.5 Price Eligibility

    [Revise the introductory text in 15.1.5 to read as follows:]

    Apply prices based on the standards in 240 for USPS Marketing Mail and 260 for Bound Printed Matter flats. * * *

    [Revise the heading of 15.2 to read as follows:]

    15.2 Combining USPS Marketing Mail Flats, Bound Printed Matter Flats, and Periodicals Flats in the Same Bundle 15.2.2 Mailpiece and Bundle Identification

    [Revise the text in 15.2.2 to read as follows:]

    Each USPS Marketing Mail, Bound Printed Matter and Periodicals mailpiece prepared under a combined mailing of USPS Marketing Mail flats, Bound Printed Matter and Periodicals flats must be identified as being part of a mixed class mailing through the use of an optional endorsement line (OEL) in accordance with the standards in 203.7.1.8. “Post-print consolidators may use the following alternative:

    a. Mailings of USPS Marketing and Bound Printed Matter, using Permit Imprint, may include a “Co-Class” marking.

    [Revise the heading of 15.3 to read as follows:]

    15.3 Combining Bundles of USPS Marketing Mail Flats, Bound Printed Matter Flats, and Periodicals Flats on the Same Pallet 15.3.2 Mailpiece and Bundle Identification

    [Revise the introductory text in item a. in 15.3.2 to read as follows:]

    Each USPS Marketing Mail, Bound Printer Matter, and Periodicals mailpiece prepared under a combined mailing of USPS Marketing Mail flats, Bound Printed Matter flats, and Periodicals flats must be identified as being part of a mixed class mailing through the use of an optional endorsement line (OEL) in accordance with standards in 203.7.1.8. “Post-print consolidators may use the following alternative:

    a. Mailings of USPS Marketing and Bound Printed Matter, using Permit Imprint, may include a “Co-Class” marking.

    15.4 Pallet Preparation 15.4.1 Pallet Preparation, Sequence and Labeling

    [Revise the introductory text in 15.4.1 to read as follows:]

    When combining USPS Marketing Mail, Bound Printed Matter and Periodicals flats within the same bundle or combining bundles of USPS Marketing Mail flats, Bound Printed Matter flats and bundles of Periodicals flats on pallets, bundles must be placed on pallets. Preparation, sequence and labeling:

    a. 5-digit scheme carrier routes, required. * * * Labeling:

    [Revise item a. 2 to read as follows:]

    2. Line 2: “MKT/BPM/PER FLTS,” as applicable; * * *

    b. Merged 5-digit scheme, optional. * * * Labeling:

    [Revise item b. 2 to read as follows:]

    2. Line 2: “MKT/BPM/PER FLTS CR/5D,” as applicable * * *

    c. Merged 5-digit, optional. * * * Labeling:

    [Revise item c. 2 to read as follows:]

    2. Line 2: “MKT/BPM/PER FLTS,” as applicable; * * *

    d. 5-digit carrier routes, required. * * * Labeling:

    [Revise item d. 2 to read as follows:]

    2. Line 2: “MKT/BPM/PER FLTS,” as applicable; * * *

    e. 5-digit, required. * * * Labeling:

    [Revise item e. 2 to read as follows:]

    2. Line 2: “MKT/BPM/PER FLTS,” as applicable; * * *

    f. 3-digit, optional, * * * Labeling:

    [Revise item f. 2 to read as follows:]

    2. Line 2: “MKT/BPM/PER FLTS,” as applicable; * * *

    g. SCF, required. * * * Labeling:

    [Revise item g. 2 to read as follows:]

    2. Line 2: “MKT/BPM/PER FLTS,” as applicable; * * *

    h. ASF, required unless bundle reallocation used under 15.1.10. * * * Labeling:

    [Revise item h. 2 to read as follows:]

    2. Line 2: “MKT/BPM/PER FLTS NDC,” as applicable; * * *

    [Revise item i to read as follows:]

    i. NDC, required. Pallet may contain carrier route, automation or presorted mail for the 3-digit ZIP Code groups in L601. * * * Labeling:

    [Revise item i. 2 to read as follows:]

    2. Line 2: “MKT/BPM/PER FLTS NDC,” as applicable;* * *

    [Revise item j. to read as follows:]

    j. Mixed NDC, required, no minimum. Pallet may contain carrier route, automation or presorted mail. * * * Labeling:

    [Revise item j. 2 to read as follows:]

    Line 2: “MKT/BPM/PER FLTS,” as applicable;

    Notice 123 (Price List)

    [Revise prices as applicable.]

    We will publish an appropriate amendment to 39 CFR part 111 to reflect these changes, if our proposal is adopted.

    Stanley F. Mires, Attorney, Federal Compliance.
    [FR Doc. 2017-22212 Filed 10-12-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 7710-12-P
    ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY 40 CFR Part 52 [EPA-R04-OAR-2017-0500; FRL-9969-37-Region 4] Air Plan Approval; Florida; Stationary Sources Emissions Monitoring AGENCY:

    Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

    ACTION:

    Proposed rule.

    SUMMARY:

    The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing to approve a portion of a State Implementation Plan (SIP) revision submitted by the State of Florida, through the Florida Department of Environmental Protection on February 1, 2017, for the purpose of revising Florida's requirements and procedures for emissions monitoring at stationary sources. Florida's February 1, 2017, SIP submittal includes amendments to three Florida Administrative Code (F.A.C.) rule sections as well as the removal of one F.A.C. rule section from the Florida SIP in order to eliminate redundant language and makes updates to the requirements for emissions monitoring at stationary sources. Additionally, this action includes a correction to remove an additional F.A.C. rule that was previously approved for removal from the SIP in a separate action but was never removed. This action is being taken pursuant to the Clean Air Act (CAA).

    DATES:

    Written comments must be received on or before November 13, 2017.

    ADDRESSES:

    Submit your comments, identified by Docket ID No. EPA-R04-OAR-2017-0500 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:

    Andres Febres of the 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. Febres can be reached via telephone at (404) 562-8966 or via electronic mail [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    In the Final Rules Section of this Federal Register, EPA is approving the SIP 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 29, 2017. Onis “Trey” Glenn, III, Regional Administrator, Region 4.
    [FR Doc. 2017-22116 Filed 10-12-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560-50-P
    GENERAL SERVICES ADMINISTRATION 41 CFR Appendix C to Chapter 301 and Parts 304-2, 304-3, and 304-6 [FTR Case 2016-301; Docket No. 2016-0008, Sequence 1] RIN 3090-AJ69 Federal Travel Regulation (FTR); Clarification of Payment in Kind for Speakers at Meetings and Similar Functions; Withdrawal AGENCY:

    Office of Government-wide Policy, U.S. General Services Administration (GSA).

    ACTION:

    Proposed rule; withdrawal.

    SUMMARY:

    The General Services Administration (GSA) is withdrawing FTR Case 2016-301; Clarification of Payment in Kind for Speakers at Meetings and Similar Functions. This proposed rule is being withdrawn so that GSA can develop a comprehensive revision to the Federal Travel Regulation.

    DATES:

    The proposed rule published on August 15, 2016 (81 FR 53979) is withdrawn as of October 13, 2017.

    ADDRESSES:

    Regulatory Secretariat Division (MVCB), 1800 F Street NW., Washington, DC 20405, 202-501-4755.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    For clarification of content, contact Ms. Jill Denning, Program Analyst, Office of Government-wide Policy, at 202-208-7642. Contact the Regulatory Secretariat Division (MVCB), 1800 F Street NW., Washington, DC 20405, 202-501-4755, for information pertaining to status or publication schedules. Please cite FTR case 2016-301.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    List of Subjects in 41 CFR Appendix C to Chapter 301 and Parts 304-2, 304-3, and 304-6

    Government employees, Travel and transportation expenses.

    Authority:

    5 U.S.C. 5707, and 5 U.S.C. 5707; 31 U.S.C. 1353.

    Dated: October 5, 2017. Allison Fahrenkopf Brigati, Associate Administrator, Office of Government-wide Policy.
    [FR Doc. 2017-22016 Filed 10-12-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6820-14-P
    FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION 47 CFR Part 20 [WT Docket No. 17-228; FCC 17-123] Revisions to Reporting Requirements Governing Hearing Aid-Compatible Mobile Handsets AGENCY:

    Federal Communications Commission.

    ACTION:

    Proposed rule.

    SUMMARY:

    In this document, the Federal Communications Commission (Commission) seeks comment on proposals to provide relief to non-nationwide service providers by revising the Commission's wireless hearing aid compatibility reporting requirements.

    DATES:

    Interested parties may file comments on or before November 13, 2017, and reply comments on or before November 27, 2017.

    ADDRESSES:

    You may submit comments and reply comments on or before the dates indicated in the DATES section above. Comments may be filed using the Commission's Electronic Comment Filing System (ECFS). See Electronic Filing of Documents in Rulemaking Proceedings, 63 FR 24121 (1998). All filings related to this document shall refer to WT Docket No. 17-228.

    Electronic Filers: Comments may be filed electronically using the Internet by accessing the ECFS: http://apps.fcc.gov/ecfs/.

    Paper Filers: Parties who choose to file by paper must file an original and one copy of each filing.

    Filings can be sent by hand or messenger delivery, by commercial overnight courier, or by first-class or overnight U.S. Postal Service mail. All filings must be addressed to the Commission's Secretary, Office of the Secretary, Federal Communications Commission.

    All hand-delivered or messenger-delivered paper filings for the Commission's Secretary must be delivered to FCC Headquarters at 445 12th Street SW., Room TW-A325, Washington, DC 20554. The filing hours are 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. All hand deliveries must be held together with rubber bands or fasteners. Any envelopes and boxes must be disposed of before entering the building.

    Commercial overnight mail (other than U.S. Postal Service Express Mail and Priority Mail) must be sent to 9050 Junction Drive, Annapolis Junction, Annapolis, MD 20701.

    U.S. Postal Service first-class, Express, and Priority mail must be addressed to 445 12th Street SW., Washington, DC 20554.

    People with Disabilities. To request materials in accessible formats for people with disabilities (braille, large print, electronic files, audio format), send an email to [email protected] or call the Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau at 202-418-0530 (voice), 202-418-0432 (tty).

    For additional information on the rulemaking process, see the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section of this document.

    In addition to filing comments with the Secretary, a copy of any comments on the Paperwork Reduction Act information collection modifications proposed herein should be submitted to the Commission via email to [email protected] and to Nicholas A. Fraser, Office of Management and Budget, via email to [email protected] or via fax at 202-395-5167.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    For further information on this proceeding, contact Michael Rowan, Wireless Telecommunications Bureau, (202) 418-1883, email [email protected].

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    This is a summary of the Federal Communications Commission's Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, in WT Docket No. 17-228; FCC 17-123, adopted September 26, 2017, and released on September 27, 2017. This document is available for download at http://fjallfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/. The complete text of this document is also available for inspection and copying during normal business hours in the FCC Reference Information Center, Portals II, 445 12th Street SW., Room CY-A257, Washington, DC 20554. To request materials in accessible formats for people with disabilities (Braille, large print, electronic files, audio format), send an email to [email protected] or call the Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau at 202-418-0530 (voice), 202-418-0432 (TTY).

    I. Discussion

    1. The Commission seeks comment on whether to exempt a service provider that is not a Tier I carrier (Non-Tier I Service Provider) from the annual FCC Form 655 reporting requirements or otherwise to modify these requirements, while maintaining the reporting requirements for Tier I carriers and all handset manufacturers.

    2. The Commission seeks comment on whether the annual reporting requirements for Non-Tier I Service Providers are still necessary to achieve the Commission's objectives for adopting the reporting requirements and whether the burden of complying with these reporting requirements for Non-Tier I Service Providers outweighs the associated benefits. The Commission, in adopting these reporting requirements, stated that its reporting requirements serve several purposes: Providing information to the public, assisting efforts to verify compliance, and monitoring the general state of hearing aid-compatible handset deployment. The Commission asks commenters to address the contribution of Non-Tier I Service Provider reports to these objectives and whether these reports are still necessary to achieve these objectives.

    3. For example, the Commission seeks comment on the extent to which consumers rely on Non-Tier I Service Providers' annual reports for information about handset models. The Commission notes that the Commission's in-store testing and Web site posting requirements will continue to apply if the Commission adopts an exemption from the Form 655 reporting requirements. The Commission seeks comment on whether consumers will have sufficient information from service providers' ongoing compliance with these requirements. The Commission also seeks comment on whether the continued availability of Tier I carrier reports suggests that, in the aggregate, the informational benefit to consumers of Non-Tier I Service Provider reports will be minimal or otherwise supports exempting them from reporting requirements. Similarly, are consumers informed to a greater degree about the availability of handset models in the marketplace from the reports of device manufacturers?

    4. The Commission also seeks comment on whether consumers can obtain information from other third-party resources and whether they may be better or more accessible sources of information to the public about handset offerings than the status reports filed with the Commission. For instance, the Global Accessibility Reporting Initiative (GARI) is a project run by the Mobile & Wireless Forum that is designed to help consumers learn more about the accessibility features of mobile devices and to help them identify devices with the features that may assist them with their particular needs. Are these information sources sufficient? If not, commenters should provide specific examples of the information these sources are missing.

    5. With regard to monitoring the compliance of Non-Tier I Service Providers with the Commission's rules, the Commission seeks comment on whether the Commission should rely on its informal complaint process to help ensure Non-Tier I Service Providers continue to meet deployment benchmarks and other requirements. Given that these annual reports in recent years have reflected near universal compliance with the requirements, is detailed reporting from every small and regional service provider still justified to address any isolated instances of non-compliance by such providers? Would eliminating or modifying the reporting requirements help these service providers save costs without an appreciable negative impact on the Commission's enforcement objectives? For example, the Commission notes that the Commission already relies on the informal complaint process rather than reporting to monitor compliance with other hearing aid compatibility obligations, such as in-store testing requirements. The Commission solicits comment on whether our enforcement objectives can be met by continuing to monitor the reports from device manufacturers and Tier I carriers.

    6. The Commission seeks comment on whether Non-Tier I Service Provider reporting is necessary to meet the Commission's objective of gauging the overall state of access to wireless hearing aid-compatible handset models. Is it sufficient if the Commission only receives reports from manufacturers and Tier I carriers? For instance, the Commission has previously recognized that Non-Tier I Service Providers have difficulty obtaining the newest hearing aid-compatible handsets in comparison to the Tier I carriers, and the Commission seeks comment on whether the majority of newer compatible handset models on the market is reflected in Tier I carriers' status reports. Do Tier I carrier reports better reflect the feasibility of achieving hearing aid compatibility in handsets than the reports of Non-Tier I Service Providers? Additionally, the Commission in 2010 noted the “growing distribution of wireless handsets through channels other than service providers.” To what extent has this development reduced the importance of service provider reports in assessing access to compatible models? To monitor the state of hearing aid-compatible handset availability and technologies, the Commission also seeks comment on whether the Commission can rely on supplemental submissions for this type of information from stakeholders in open docket WT Docket No. 15-285.

    7. The Commission also seeks comment on the burdens on Non-Tier I Service Providers of complying with the Form 655 reporting requirements. Do special circumstances make annual status reporting particularly burdensome for small, rural, and regional carriers? If so, what are these circumstances and what is the burden or cost that results from them? 1 The Commission asks commenters to explain all such burdens in detail, including the costs in labor and wages of complying with the reporting requirements.

    1 To the extent parties support an alternative definition or size standard for a reporting exemption, we seek comment on the burdens applicable to providers meeting that definition or standard.

    8. The Commission seeks comment on all potential cost savings and other potential benefits of our proposed reporting exemption. The FCC Form 655 Instructions state “each response to this collection of information will take, on average, two and a half (2.5) hours.” Is this estimate accurate? Are there resources or measures not accounted for in this estimate that are needed for small providers specifically to meet the reporting requirements? Please explain all such burdens in detail. Because all non-reporting requirements under section 20.19 will continue to apply to Non-Tier I Service Providers in the event the Commission adopts an exemption from the reporting requirements, including the obligation to offer a sufficient number of hearing aid-compatible handset models to meet the applicable benchmarks, parties should be careful to distinguish burdens that will continue to be incurred in complying with our section 20.19 rules, even in the absence of reporting requirements, such as burdens related to ascertaining the hearing aid compatibility ratings of various handset models offered to meet deployment benchmarks.

    9. Alternative Size Standard. The Commission seeks comment on whether the scope of any exemption should be based on an alternative definition of carrier or size standard. Section 20.19 defines a Tier I carrier as “a CMRS provider that offers such service nationwide.” Accordingly, a Non-Tier I Service Provider exemption would cover all non-nationwide providers, including small and regional providers. Instead of exempting all non-nationwide service providers, the scope of the exemption could be based on the number of subscribers and apply if a service provider offers service to no more than, for example, 500,000 subscribers, the number of subscribers used to define small (i.e., “Tier III”) status in other proceedings. The Commission seeks comment on the feasibility of such an alternative approach, and whether it offers any advantages over using the Tier I standard that is already incorporated generally throughout the section 20.19 hearing aid compatibility rules. Would a subscriber-based reporting threshold rely on 2001 subscriber counts, which are used in the Tier III definition used elsewhere in the Commission's rules, or instead be based on a provider's subscriber count in a given reporting year? Are there any other alternatives that the Commission should consider, such as expanding the exemption to all service providers or limiting the exemption to providers meeting the small size standard that is incorporated in the de minimis exception rule, i.e., providers with 1,500 or fewer employees?

    10. Alternative Reporting Period or Certification. If the Commission determines that it would not serve the public interest to eliminate reporting requirements completely for Non-Tier I Service Providers, the Commission seeks comment on whether there are other ways to reduce the burdens associated with these requirements. Would it serve the public interest to require reporting less frequently? For instance, would requiring Non-Tier I Service Providers to file only once every three years instead of annually better balance the benefits of having such a reporting requirement against the burdens that it imposes? If so, what are the costs and benefits of revising the reporting requirements along these lines? Alternatively, rather than eliminating the reporting requirements or lengthening the interval between reports, would a better balance between the costs and benefits of the reporting requirements be achieved by requiring these service providers to submit a certification to the Commission, annually or otherwise, that they have met section 20.19 deployment benchmarks and other requirements, such as those on in-store testing and Web site postings? If so, should the certification form simply contain a box to check that the requirements have been met, or should the certification form request additional information, such as the web address of the hearing aid compatibility information published on the service provider's Web site, if applicable, and whether the service provider has received inquiries or complaints about the availability of hearing aid compatible handsets? What are the costs and benefits of using a certification approach instead of the existing reporting approach? Which approach better serves the public interest?

    11. Timing. Assuming that the Commission adopts a reporting exemption or modified reporting requirement, the Commission seeks comment on when such a change should become effective (e.g., as soon as is possible, after some period of time, or after some triggering event). Would it be in the public interest to have the change become effective as soon as possible, such that the Commission affords relief to Non-Tier I Service Providers at the soonest applicable filing deadline? Alternatively, would a better approach be to have the change become effective at some alternative point in time or after a certain trigger is met, (e.g., only after a Non-Tier I Service Provider meets either the 66 or 85 percent enhanced deployment benchmarks that the Commission adopted last year)? The Commission seeks commenters to explain how their proposed approach would best serve the public interest. The Commission also seeks comment on the costs and benefits of the various approaches.

    12. Related Changes. The Commission seeks comment on whether any changes to other aspects of the section 20.19 hearing aid compatibility requirements would be necessary or appropriate to accommodate or reflect a reporting exemption or modified reporting requirement for Non-Tier I Service Providers. For example, the de minimis exception rule, while otherwise exempting certain service providers from the requirements of the hearing aid compatibility rules, requires these providers to continue to submit annual FCC Form 655 reports. The Commission seeks comment on whether it makes sense to retain this requirement for service providers if only, e.g., Tier I carriers are required to submit annual FCC Form 655 reports. The Commission also seeks comment on any other changes to section 20.19 of the rules if the scope of the reporting requirement exemption depends on factors such as the number of subscribers. If the Commission adopts a reporting exemption or modified reporting requirement in this proceeding, what changes to the online FCC Form 655 or related instructions, if any, would be necessary or appropriate to implement the exemption?

    13. Other Updates. Finally, in light of various changes in the marketplace since these reporting requirements were adopted, the Commission seeks comment on additional ways to streamline or update hearing aid compatibility reporting for all service providers, including Tier I carriers. Commenters should provide quantitative and qualitative cost and benefit analyses to support their proposals and to evaluate whether any aspects of the reporting requirements are unnecessary and outdated or could be streamlined or simplified to reduce burdens. Commenters should address, for example, whether reporting of handset offerings on a month-to-month basis and the level of details reported under our rules and the current FCC Form 655 continue to remain appropriate to protect consumers, or whether they can be modified to reduce burdens while preserving benefits to consumers. For example, should the Commission continue to require service providers to provide the model number and FCC ID directly associated with each model that they are reporting as compatible, together with the M and T rating that each such model has been certified as achieving under the ANSI C63.19 standard? Should the reports continue to include the air interface(s) and frequency band(s) over which each reported handset model operates? Do such reports need to track compliance on a month-to-month basis in order to protect consumers? Commenters should consider all additional ways to streamline and improve the quality and usefulness of the Form 655 and whether there are alternative, less costly ways to ensure that current and future deployment benchmarks are being met. For instance, does or could the Commission obtain hearing aid compatibility information as part of other data collections, such as from the manufacturer applications for equipment certifications of handsets? If commenters find that the currently collected information is insufficient, they should explain why and how it can be improved, or whether this information can be combined with other sources to streamline the hearing aid compatibility reporting requirements. Further, can third party sources, such as GARI, replace some of the information the Commission requires? Commenters should provide specific information about what information collected in the Form 655 is duplicative to other available Commission or third party data. Any proposed changes should include an analysis of costs and benefits of current and proposed collections, and how the proposed changes will continue to preserve the benefits to consumers from our policy objectives.

    II. Procedural Matters A. Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis

    14. As required by the Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980, see 5 U.S.C. 603, the Commission has prepared an Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (IRFA) concerning the possible significant economic impact on small entities of the policies and rules proposed in this NPRM. Written public comments are requested on this IRFA. Comments must be identified as responses to the IRFA and must be filed by the deadlines for comments provided above. The Commission will send a copy of the NPRM, including this IRFA, to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business Administration (SBA).

    1. Need for, and Objectives of, the Proposed Rules

    15. For some time now, the Commission has required all covered device manufacturers and wireless service providers regardless of size to file annual reports on their offering of handsets that are compatible with hearing aids. Beginning in 2003, the Commission established a schedule requiring covered device manufacturers and wireless service providers to submit hearing aid compatibility reports every six months from 2004 through 2006, and then annually in 2007 and 2008. In 2008, the Commission extended annual reporting requirements on an open-ended basis for covered device manufacturers and wireless service providers in order to verify compliance with the hearing aid compatibility rules. The Commission required the same reporting content from all covered entities, regardless of size, including those that come under the de minimis exception in the hearing aid compatibility rules. These reporting requirements have helped the Commission fulfill its responsibilities in monitoring the status of access to hearing aid-compatible handsets, verifying compliance with the rules, and ensuring that the public has useful information on compatible handsets.

    16. In 2008, the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau (WTB), pursuant to delegated authority, made electronic FCC Form 655 available for service providers and device manufacturers to use in submitting hearing aid compatibility status reports, and made its use mandatory beginning with the filing deadline for device manufacturers on July 15, 2009.

    17. In this document, the Commission seeks comment on whether and to what extent to exempt wireless service providers that are not Tier I carriers (Non-Tier I Service Providers) from annual FCC Form 655 reporting requirements, while maintaining these requirements for Tier I carriers and all handset manufacturers. The Commission states that numerous parties, especially rural and small wireless service providers, have asserted for some time that preparing these annual reports is burdensome. The Commission seeks comment on the burdens of compliance with the Form 655 reporting requirements for Non-Tier I Service Providers, and whether the benefits of the reporting requirement as applied to these providers continues to outweigh the costs or burdens the reporting requirement places on them. Specifically, the Commission seeks comment on whether Non-Tier I Service Provider reporting is necessary to meet the Commission's objectives of providing information to the public, assisting efforts to verify compliance, and monitoring the general state of hearing aid-compatible handset deployment. With regard to monitoring the compliance of Non-Tier I Service Providers with the hearing aid compatibility rules, the Commission seeks comment on whether it should rely on the informal complaint process to help ensure Non-Tier I Service Providers continue to meet deployment benchmarks and other hearing aid compatibility requirements. The Commission also seeks comment on whether eliminating or modifying the reporting requirement would permit Non-Tier 1 Service Providers to save costs without an appreciable negative impact on the Commission's enforcement objectives.

    18. In this document, the Commission asks detailed questions to help it evaluate these issues, and asks parties to submit specific data in response to the Notice. In addition, the Commission seeks comment on the scope of the exemption, when the exemption should begin to apply, and whether other changes to the hearing aid compatibility rules or the FCC Form 655 may be necessary or appropriate to implement or reflect the new exemption.

    2. Legal Basis

    19. The proposed actions for which comments have been sought in this document is authorized under sections 4(i), 303(r), and 710 of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, 47 U.S.C. 154(i), 303(r), and 610.

    3. Description and Estimate of the Number of Small Entities to Which the Proposed Rules Will Apply

    20. The RFA directs agencies to provide a description of, and where feasible, an estimate of the number of small entities that may be affected by the proposed rules, if adopted. The RFA generally defines the term “small entity” as having the same meaning as the terms “small business,” “small organization,” and “small governmental jurisdiction.” In addition, the term “small business” has the same meaning as the term “small business concern” under the Small Business Act. A “small business concern” is one which: (1) Is independently owned and operated; (2) is not dominant in its field of operation; and (3) satisfies any additional criteria established by the SBA. Below, the Commission provides a description of such small entities, as well as an estimate of the number of such small entities, where feasible.

    21. Small Businesses, Small Organizations, Small Governmental Jurisdictions. Our actions, over time, may affect small entities that are not easily categorized at present. We therefore describe here, at the outset, three broad groups of small entities that could be directly affected herein. First, while there are industry specific size standards for small businesses that are used in the regulatory flexibility analysis, according to data from the SBA's Office of Advocacy, in general a small business is an independent business having fewer than 500 employees. These types of small businesses represent 99.9% of all businesses in the United States which translates to 28.8 million businesses.

    22. Next, the type of small entity described as a “small organization” is generally “any not-for-profit enterprise which is independently owned and operated and is not dominant in its field.” Nationwide, as of August 2016, there were approximately 356,494 small organizations based on registration and tax data filed by nonprofits with Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

    23. Finally, the small entity described as a “small governmental jurisdiction” is defined generally as “governments of cities, counties, towns, townships, villages, school districts, or special districts, with a population of less than fifty thousand.” U.S. Census Bureau data from the 2012 Census of Governments indicates that there were 90,056 local governmental jurisdictions consisting of general purpose governments and special purpose governments in the United States. Of this number, there were 37, 132 general purpose governments (county, municipal and town or township) with populations of less than 50,000 and 12,184 special purpose governments (independent school districts and special districts) with populations of less than 50,000. The 2012 U.S. Census Bureau data for most types of governments in the local government category shows that the majority of these governments have populations of less than 50,000. Based on this data we estimate that at least 49,316 local government jurisdictions fall in the category of “small governmental jurisdictions.”

    24. Radio and Television Broadcasting and Wireless Communications Equipment Manufacturing. This industry comprises establishments primarily engaged in manufacturing radio and television broadcast and wireless communications equipment, including unlicensed devices. Examples of products made by these establishments are: transmitting and receiving antennas, cable television equipment, GPS equipment, pagers, cellular phones, mobile communications equipment, radio and television studio and broadcasting equipment. The Small Business Administration has established a size standard for this industry of 750 employees or less. U.S. Census data for 2012, shows that 841 establishments operated in this industry in that year. Of that number, 828 establishments operated with fewer than 1,000 employees, 7 establishments operated with between 1,000 and 2,499 employees and 6 establishments operated with 2,500 or more employees. Based on this data, the Commission concludes that a majority of manufacturers in this industry is small.

    25. Part 15 Handset Manufacturers. The Commission has not developed a definition of small entities applicable to unlicensed communications handset manufacturers. The SBA category of Radio and Television Broadcasting and Wireless Communications Equipment Manufacturing is the closest NAICS code category for Part 15 Handset Manufacturers. The Radio and Television Broadcasting and Wireless Communications Equipment Manufacturing industry is comprised of establishments primarily engaged in manufacturing radio and television broadcast and wireless communications equipment. Examples of products made by these establishments are: Transmitting and receiving antennas, cable television equipment, GPS equipment, pagers, cellular phones, mobile communications equipment, and radio and television studio and broadcasting equipment.” The SBA has developed a small business size standard for Radio and Television Broadcasting and Wireless Communications Equipment Manufacturing, as firms having 750 or fewer employees. U.S. Census data for 2012, shows that 841 establishments operated in this industry in that year. Of that number, 828 establishments operated with fewer than 1,000 employees, 7 establishments operated with between 1,000 and 2,499 employees and 6 establishments operated with 2,500 or more employees. Thus, under this size standard, the majority of firms can be considered small.

    26. Wireless Telecommunications Carriers (Except Satellite). This industry comprises establishments engaged in operating and maintaining switching and transmission facilities to provide communications via the airwaves. Establishments in this industry have spectrum licenses and provide services using that spectrum, such as cellular phone services, paging services, wireless Internet access, and wireless video services.” The appropriate size standard under SBA rules is for the category Wireless Telecommunications Carriers (except Satellite) is that a business is small if it has 1,500 or fewer employees. For this industry, U.S. Census data for 2012 shows that there were 967 firms that operated for the entire year. Of this total, 955 firms had employment of 999 or fewer employees and 12 had employment of 1000 employees or more. Thus under this category and the associated size standard, the Commission estimates that the majority of wireless telecommunications carriers (except satellite) are small entities.

    27. The Commission's own data—available in its Universal Licensing System—indicate that, as of October 25, 2016, there are 280 Cellular licensees that will be affected by our actions today. The Commission does not know how many of these licensees are small, as the Commission does not collect that information for these types of entities. Similarly, according to Commission data, 413 carriers reported that they were engaged in the provision of wireless telephony, including cellular service, Personal Communications Service (PCS), and Specialized Mobile Radio (SMR) Telephony services. Of these, an estimated 261 have 1,500 or fewer employees and 152 have more than 1,500 employees. Thus, using available data, the Commission estimates that the majority of wireless firms can be considered small.

    28. Also included in this classification is Personal Radio Services, which provide short-range, low power radio for personal communications, radio signaling, and business communications not provided for in other services. The Personal Radio Services include spectrum licensed under part 95 of the Commission's rules. These services include Citizen Band Radio Service (“CB”), General Mobile Radio Service (“GMRS”), Radio Control Radio Service (“R/C”), Family Radio Service (“FRS”), Wireless Medical Telemetry Service (“WMTS”), Medical Implant Communications Service (“MICS”), Low Power Radio Service (“LPRS”), and Multi-Use Radio Service (“MURS”). The Commission notes that many of the licensees in these services are individuals, and thus are not small entities. In addition, due to the mostly unlicensed and shared nature of the spectrum utilized in many of these services, the Commission lacks direct information upon which to base a more specific estimation of the number of small entities under an SBA definition that might be directly affected by our action.

    29. Wireless Resellers. The SBA has not developed a small business size standard specifically for Wireless Resellers. The SBA category of Telecommunications Resellers is the closest NAICS code category for wireless resellers. The Telecommunications Resellers industry comprises establishments engaged in purchasing access and network capacity from owners and operators of telecommunications networks and reselling wired and wireless telecommunications services (except satellite) to businesses and households. Establishments in this industry resell telecommunications; they do not operate transmission facilities and infrastructure. Mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) are included in this industry. Under the SBA's size standard, such a business is small if it has 1,500 or fewer employees. U.S. Census data for 2012 shows that 1,341 firms provided resale services during that year. Of that number, all operated with fewer than 1,000 employees. Thus, under this category and the associated small business size standard, the majority of these resellers can be considered small entities.

    4. Description of Projected Reporting, Recordkeeping, and Other Compliance Requirements for Small Entities

    30. The Commission is not proposing to impose any additional reporting or record keeping requirements. Rather, as discussed in the next section, the Commission is seeking comment on whether and to what extent it can reduce burdens on small wireless service providers by exempting them from hearing aid compatibility reporting requirements. Presently, these requirements include filing electronic FCC Form 655 on an annual basis. However, the Commission also asks whether it should require those wireless service providers who qualify for the new exemption to file a certification, either annually or otherwise, that states that they meet the hearing aid compatibility deployment benchmarks and other requirements.

    5. Steps Taken To Minimize Significant Economic Impact on Small Entities and Significant Alternatives Considered

    31. The RFA requires an agency to describe any significant alternatives that it has considered in developing its approach, which may include the following four alternatives (among others): (1) The establishment of differing compliance or reporting requirements or timetables that take into account the resources available to small entities; (2) the clarification, consolidation, or simplification of compliance or reporting requirements under the rule for small entities; (3) the use of performance, rather than design, standards; and (4) an exemption from coverage of the rule, or any part thereof, for small entities.

    32. To assist the Commission's evaluation of the economic impact on small entities, as a result of actions that have been proposed in this Notice, and to better explore options and alternatives, the Commission has sought comment from the parties. In this Notice, the Commission has requested that commenters estimate the number of small entities that may be affected by any rule changes that might result from this Notice, to assist the Commission in analyzing the total number of potentially affected small entities. The Notice also seeks comment on whether and to what extent it should exempt wireless service providers that are not Tier I carriers from annual reporting requirements, while maintaining these requirements for Tier I carriers and all handset manufacturers. Under the Commission's current hearing aid compatibility rules, all covered wireless service providers regardless of size must electronically file FCC Form 655 with the Commission in January of each year. While these reports have helped the Commission meet several of its objectives, the Commission is seeking comment on whether the burden of filing this form for small wireless service providers outweighs the benefits that the form provides the Commission and the public. The Commission is seeking comment, in part, on whether and how this change would benefit small entities.

    33. The Commission expects to more fully consider the economic impact on small entities, following the review of comments filed in response to this document. In seeking comment on whether to exempt non-nationwide wireless service providers from annual reporting requirements, the Commission considers several alternatives and steps it could take to implement its proposal. For example, the Commission invites comment on whether the hearing aid compatibility rules should incorporate an alternative definition or size standard on which a reporting exemption for small, rural, or regional service providers could be based. Specifically, the Commission asks whether the exemption could be based on a threshold number of subscribers. The Commission also seeks comment on whether to limit the new exemption to wireless service providers who meet the small size standard that is incorporated in the de minimis rule, i.e., wireless service providers with 1500 or fewer employees. The Commission further seeks comment on the timing of when such an exemption should go into effect. Finally, the Commission asks whether to require those wireless service providers who qualify for the new exemption to file a certification, either annually or otherwise, that states that they meet the hearing aid compatibility deployment benchmarks and other requirements. The Commission invites comment on ways in which the Commission can achieve its goals, but at the same time further reduce the burdens on small entities.

    6. Federal Rules That May Duplicate, Overlap, or Conflict With the Proposed Rules

    34. None.

    B. Initial Paperwork Reduction Act Analysis

    35. This document contains proposed modified information collection requirements. The Commission, as part of its continuing effort to reduce paperwork burdens, invites the general public and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to comment on the information collection requirements contained in this document, as required by the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995. In addition, pursuant to the Small Business Paperwork Relief Act of 2002, the Commission seeks specific comment on how the Commission might further reduce the information collection burden for small business concerns with fewer than 25 employees.

    C. Other Procedural Matters 1. Ex Parte Rules—Permit-but-Disclose

    36. The proceeding that the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking initiates shall be treated as a “permit-but-disclose” proceeding in accordance with the Commission's ex parte rules. Persons making ex parte presentations must file a copy of any written presentation or a memorandum summarizing any oral presentation within two business days after the presentation (unless a different deadline applicable to the Sunshine period applies). Persons making oral ex parte presentations are reminded that memoranda summarizing the presentation must (1) list all persons attending or otherwise participating in the meeting at which the ex parte presentation was made, and (2) summarize all data presented and arguments made during the presentation. If the presentation consisted in whole or in part of the presentation of data or arguments already reflected in the presenter's written comments, memoranda or other filings in the proceeding, the presenter may provide citations to such data or arguments in his or her prior comments, memoranda, or other filings (specifying the relevant page and/or paragraph numbers where such data or arguments can be found) in lieu of summarizing them in the memorandum. Documents shown or given to Commission staff during ex parte meetings are deemed to be written ex parte presentations and must be filed consistent with rule 1.1206(b). In proceedings governed by rule 1.49(f) or for which the Commission has made available a method of electronic filing, written ex parte presentations and memoranda summarizing oral ex parte presentations, and all attachments thereto, must be filed through the electronic comment filing system available for that proceeding, and must be filed in their native format (e.g., .doc, .xml, .ppt, searchable .pdf). Participants in this proceeding should familiarize themselves with the Commission's ex parte rules.

    III. Ordering Clauses

    37. Accordingly, it is ordered, pursuant to sections 4(i), 303(r), and 710 of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended 47 U.S.C. 154(i), 303(r), and 610, that this Notice of Proposed Rulemaking is hereby adopted.

    38. It is further ordered that pursuant to applicable procedures set forth in sections 1.415 and 1.419 of the Commission's rules, 47 CFR 1.415, 1.419, interested parties may file comments on this Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on or before [thirty days after the date of publication in the Federal Register], and reply comments on or before [forty-five days after the date of publication in the Federal Register].

    39. It is further ordered that the Commission's Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau, Reference Information Center, shall send a copy of this Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, including the Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis, to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business Administration.

    List of Subjects in 47 CFR Part 20

    Communications common carriers, Communications equipment, Radio.

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

    For the reasons discussed in the preamble, the Federal Communications Commission proposes to amend part 20 of title 47 of the Code of Federal Regulations as follows:

    PART 20—COMMERCIAL MOBILE SERVICES 1. The authority citation for Part 20 continues to read as follows: Authority:

    47 U.S.C. 151, 152(a) 154(i), 157, 160, 201, 214, 222, 251(e), 301, 302, 303, 303(b), 303(r), 307, 307(a), 309, 309(j)(3), 316, 316(a), 332, 610, 615, 615a, 615b, 615c, unless otherwise noted.

    2. Section 20.19 is amended by revising paragraph (i)(1) to read as follows:
    § 20.19 Hearing aid-compatible mobile handsets.

    (i) Reporting requirements—(1) Reporting dates. Manufacturers shall submit reports on efforts toward compliance with the requirements of this section on an annual basis on July 15. Tier I carriers shall submit reports on an annual basis on January 15. Service providers that are not Tier I carriers are not required to submit reports. Information in the reports must be up-to-date as of the last day of the calendar month preceding the due date of the report.

    [FR Doc. 2017-22189 Filed 10-12-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6712-01-P
    FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION 47 CFR Part 52 [WC Docket No. 17-192, CC Docket No. 95-155; FCC 17-124] Toll Free Assignment Modernization; Toll Free Service Access Codes AGENCY:

    Federal Communications Commission.

    ACTION:

    Proposed rule.

    SUMMARY:

    In this document, a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) seeks comment on allowing the Commission to assign numbers by auction, on a first-come, first-served basis, by an alternative assignment methodology, or by a combination of methodologies. The NPRM seeks comment on allowing a secondary market for toll free numbers and on setting aside toll free numbers necessary to promote health and safety for use, without cost, by government agencies and non-profit health and safety organizations. The NPRM also seeks comment on whether to consider changes to overall toll free number administration. The intended effect of this NPRM is to make toll free numbers available on a more equitable and efficient basis by assigning mutually exclusive toll free numbers to the parties that value them most.

    DATES:

    Comments are due on or before November 13, 2017, and reply comments are due on or before December 12, 2017. Written comments on the Paperwork Reduction Act proposed information collection requirements must be submitted by the public, Office of Management and Budget (OMB), and other interested parties on or before December 12, 2017.

    ADDRESSES:

    You may submit comments, identified by both WC Docket No. 17-192, and CC Docket No. 95-155 by any of the following methods:

    Federal Communications Commission's Web site: http://apps.fcc.gov/ecfs/. Follow the instructions for submitting comments.

    Mail: Parties who choose to file by paper must file an original and one copy of each filing. If more than one docket or rulemaking number appears in the caption of this proceeding, filers must submit two additional copies for each additional docket or rulemaking number. Filings can be sent by hand or messenger delivery, by commercial overnight courier, or by first-class or overnight U.S. Postal Service mail. All filings must be addressed to the Commission's Secretary, Office of the Secretary, Federal Communications Commission. All hand-delivered or messenger-delivered paper filings for the Commission's Secretary must be delivered to FCC Headquarters at 445 12th St. SW., Room TW-A325, Washington, DC 20554. The filing hours are 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. All hand deliveries must be held together with rubber bands or fasteners. Any envelopes and boxes must be disposed of before entering the building. Commercial overnight mail (other than U.S. Postal Service Express Mail and Priority Mail) must be sent to 9050 Junction Drive, Annapolis Junction, MD 20701. U.S. Postal Service first-class, Express, and Priority mail must be addressed to 445 12th Street SW., Washington DC 20554.

    People with Disabilities: To request materials in accessible formats for people with disabilities (braille, large print, electronic files, audio format), send an email to [email protected] or call the Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau at 202-418-0530 (voice), 202-418-0432 (TTY).

    For detailed instructions for submitting comments and additional information on the rulemaking process, see the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section of this document. In addition to filing comments with the Secretary, a copy of any comments on the Paperwork Reduction Act information collection requirements contained herein should be submitted to the Federal Communications Commission via email to [email protected] and to Nicole Ongele, Federal Communications Commission, via email to [email protected]

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Wireline Competition Bureau, Competition Policy Division, E. Alex Espinoza, at (202) 418-0849, or [email protected] For additional information concerning the Paperwork Reduction Act information collection requirements contained in this document, send an email to [email protected] or contact Nicole Ongele at (202) 418-2991.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    This is a summary of the Commission's Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) in WC Docket No. 17-192, and CC Docket No. 95-155, adopted September 26, 2017, and released September 28, 2017. The full text of this document is available for public inspection during regular business hours in the FCC Reference Information Center, Portals II, 445 12th Street SW., Room CY-A257, Washington, DC 20554. It is available on the Commission's Web site at https://www.fcc.gov/document/fcc-proposes-modernize-toll-free-number-assignment. Pursuant to sections 1.415 and 1.419 of the Commission's rules, 47 CFR 1.415, 1.419, interested parties may file comments and reply comments on or before the dates indicated on the first page of this document. Comments may be filed using the Commission's Electronic Comment Filing System (ECFS). See Electronic Filing of Documents in Rulemaking Proceedings, 63 FR 24121 (1998), http://www.fcc.gov/Bureaus/OGC/Orders/1998/fcc98056.pdf.

    Electronic Filers: Comments may be filed electronically using the Internet by accessing the ECFS: https://www.fcc.gov/ecfs/.

    Paper Filers: Parties who choose to file by paper must file an original and one copy of each filing. If more than one docket or rulemaking number appears in the caption of this proceeding, filers must submit two additional copies for each additional docket or rulemaking number.

    Filings can be sent by hand or messenger delivery, by commercial overnight courier, or by first-class or overnight U.S. Postal Service mail. All filings must be addressed to the Commission's Secretary, Office of the Secretary, Federal Communications Commission.

    All hand-delivered or messenger-delivered paper filings for the Commission's Secretary must be delivered to FCC Headquarters at 445 12th St. SW., Room TW-A325, Washington, DC 20554. The filing hours are 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. All hand deliveries must be held together with rubber bands or fasteners. Any envelopes and boxes must be disposed of before entering the building.

    Commercial overnight mail (other than U.S. Postal Service Express Mail and Priority Mail) must be sent to 9050 Junction Drive, Annapolis Junction, MD 20701. U.S. Postal Service first-class, Express, and Priority mail must be addressed to 445 12th Street SW., Washington DC 20554.

    People with Disabilities: To request materials in accessible formats for people with disabilities (braille, large print, electronic files, audio format), send an email to [email protected] or call the Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau at 202-418-0530 (voice), 202-418-0432 (TTY).

    Synopsis I. Introduction

    1. Toll free calling originated in 1967, and to this day remains an important feature of the communications system. Even with the growth of e-commerce, many businesses, large and small, continue to use toll free numbers for sales and customer service, as well as for advertising and marketing purposes. Government organizations and non-profit health, safety, educational, or other non-profit public interest organizations also use toll free numbers to provide vital health and safety services to the public. While the Commission's current rule uses a first-come, first-served approach to the assignment of toll free numbers, to help ensure the continued usefulness and availability of this finite resource, we now examine alternative assignment methodologies. Specifically, we propose amending our rules to allow for use of an auction to assign certain toll free numbers—such as vanity and repeater numbers—in order to better promote the equitable and efficient use of numbers. With the opportunity afforded by the opening of the 833 toll free code, we propose to use an auction for assigning numbers for which mutually exclusive interest has been expressed. Mutually exclusive numbers are those toll free numbers for which there are two or more requests for assignment. In this Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (Notice), we also consider a variety of other means to modernize toll free number assignments that are consistent with our statutory mandate to make “numbers available on an equitable basis.”

    II. Background

    2. Since mandating the porting of toll free numbers and introducing the second toll free code, 888, to relieve exhaust of the original 800 code, the Commission has sought to assign numbers in a manner that is equitable and efficient, and that fosters a smooth introduction of a new code. Doing so required the Commission to address the treatment of vanity numbers, those numbers that spell a name or word of value to the number holder (e.g., 1-800-FLOWERS), as well as repeater numbers that are easy to remember (e.g., 1-800-222-2222), as new codes open. Attempting to assign these desirable numbers equitably, the Commission in 1997 initially permitted 800 number subscribers the right of first refusal to reserve corresponding numbers in the new 888 code. After the 888 code opening, however, the Commission adopted in 1998 the current first-come, first-served rule, codified in section 52.111 of the Commission's rules. Although the Commission considered auctions to be “generally efficient,” the Commission concluded at that time the first-come, first-served rule was a preferable mechanism for toll free number assignment. The Commission followed the first-come, first-served rule, with slight modifications made by the Wireline Competition Bureau (Bureau), for the next four code openings (877, 866, 855, and 844), as well as for those instances in which toll free numbers are released back into the pool of available numbers. For the 855 and 844 code openings, as well as the release of valuable 800 numbers that had been disconnected, the Bureau limited Responsible Organizations to obtaining 100 numbers per day for the first 30 days of the code opening to better ensure an efficient and equitable distribution of high value numbers in those two codes.

    3. In an attempt to extend the life of each toll free code, the Commission also prohibited warehousing, hoarding, and brokering of toll free numbers. Thus, the Commission's current rules prohibit “warehousing” of a toll free number, defined as the practice in which a Responsible Organization (RespOrg), an “entity chosen by a toll free subscriber to manage and administer the appropriate records in the toll free Service Management System for the toll free subscriber,” 47 CFR 52.101(b) either directly or indirectly through an affiliate, reserves a number from the toll free database without having an end user subscriber for whom the number is being reserved. Similarly, the Commission's rules prohibit the practice of “hoarding”—the acquisition by a toll free subscriber from a RespOrg of more toll free numbers than the toll free subscriber intends to use for the provision of toll free service. And, finally, the definition of hoarding also prohibits number brokering, which is the selling of a toll free number by a private entity for a fee.

    4. Almost 20 years ago, the Commission considered an auction approach to toll free number assignment in the 1998 Toll Free Order. In doing so, the Commission recognized that auctions “offer all participants an equal opportunity to obtain a particular vanity number.” The order also determined that although auctions are “generally efficient,” it could not “say on the present record that auctions of vanity numbers would produce efficiencies that would outweigh the practical difficulties,” such as cost, administration, and impact on the international membership of the North American Numbering Plan (NANP). Recently, however, with the opening of the 833 toll free code, the Commission took steps to reevaluate number assignment by establishing a series of pre-opening procedures to identify toll free numbers that could be part of an auction or other alternative assignment methodology. Specifically, the Bureau directed each RespOrg to “submit a single request for up to 2,000 individual preferred 833 toll numbers.” The Bureau then directed Somos, Inc., the Toll Free Numbering Administrator (TFNA), to review all 833 number requests and identify mutually exclusive numbers—those numbers for which there are two or more requests for assignment. Somos identified approximately 17,000 mutually exclusive numbers and placed these numbers in unavailable status pending the outcome of this proceeding. These mutually exclusive numbers include repeaters numbers (e.g., 833-333-333 and 833-888-8888) as well as numbers that spell memorable words and phrases (e.g., 833-DENTIST, 833-DIVORCE, 833-DOCTORS, 833-FLOWERS, 833-HOLIDAY, 833-INJURED, and 833-LAWYERS). Somos notes that 147 RespOrgs participated in the pre-code opening process and the top ten mutually exclusive toll free numbers were requested by 65 or more RespOrgs. The top 25 numbers were requested by 48 or more RespOrgs, and the top 50 numbers were requested by 43 or more RespOrgs. The remaining numbers were assigned as established in the Commission's existing rule, that is, on a first-come, first-served basis.

    III. Discussion A. Distribution of Toll Free Numbers

    5. We propose expanding the existing toll free number assignment rule to permit use of an auction methodology, among other assignment mechanisms, to assign toll free numbers. To do so, we propose to revise section 52.111 of our rules to allow the Commission to assign numbers in a manner that is equitable, including by auction, on a first-come, first-served basis, an alternative assignment methodology, or by a combination of the forgoing as circumstances require. We seek comment on this proposal.

    6. We also seek comment on conducting a single round, sealed-bid Vickrey auction for the roughly 17,000 numbers set aside, pursuant to the 833 Code Opening Order, for which there were mutually exclusive requests. If adopted, we intend to consider the outcome of the 833 auction to determine if changes need to be made to future code opening assignments. In addition, we propose—and seek comment on—revising our rules to promote development of a secondary market for toll free numbers.

    7. Equity Considerations. Section 251(e)(1) of the Communications Act directs the Commission to make numbers available on an equitable basis. The Commission has adopted rules to implement this obligation, as well as to serve the broader public interest in telephone number administration. We believe that toll free numbers generally can be made available equitably via an auction—under which RespOrgs bid for numbers valuable to them—and that in many cases, including with respect to the mutually exclusive 833 toll free numbers, such an auction approach would be more equitable than under the Commission's current first-come, first-served assignment rule. Parties who want particular toll free numbers often will have a better opportunity of acquiring those numbers, albeit for a price, in an auction than under the Commission's current rule, which does not take into account the need for or the value placed on particular numbers. As discussed above, with respect to 833 numbers, there are at least 65 RespOrgs that want the top-ten mutually exclusive numbers. This demonstrates that there is demand for certain mutually exclusive numbers, and thus we believe that auctioning these numbers would be a more equitable assignment mechanism than assigning them on a first-come, first-basis. We note that although a first-come, first-served system may randomly assign mutually exclusive numbers, it may also less equitably reward actors that invest in systems to increase their chances that their choices are received first by the TFNA. Moreover, if we allow for a secondary market for toll free numbers, it would be inequitable for a RespOrg or subscriber to get a valuable public resource for free, but then later be able to profit from it even when others would have paid for it initially.

    8. We note that the first-come, first-served rule has raised questions about whether recent toll free code openings were equitable because certain RespOrgs had enhanced connectivity to the toll free database that allowed them to quickly reserve desirable numbers. To address these concerns for the 855 and 844 toll free code openings, the Bureau directed the TFNA to limit the quantity of toll free numbers a RespOrg may reserve to 100 per day for the first 30 days. The Bureau found that this limited allocation would distribute desirable numbers more equitably. If the Commission adopts an auction approach for toll free numbers, such rationing of numbers would not be necessary. All bidders would have the same access to numbers in a new toll free code. We seek comment on whether this market-based auction approach would yield a more equitable outcome by allowing any RespOrg an opportunity to bid for numbers based on their valuations.

    9. Efficiency and Public Interest Considerations. In addition to meeting the statutory mandate of making numbers available on an equitable basis, an auction method of assigning toll free numbers is more efficient and serves the public interest in toll free number conservation. An auction assignment mechanism for mutually exclusive toll free numbers will promote efficiency by assigning these numbers to the parties that value them most. Moreover, toll free numbers are a limited resource that are often used inefficiently because there is no real cost associated with obtaining that resource. If subscribers and RespOrgs are required to pay for toll free numbers, they are more likely to acquire only the numbers they or their customers need; they will have no incentive to acquire numbers beyond those needed. Thus, we believe that a toll free number auction will help limit exhaust of toll free numbers and further the public interest. We seek comment on our analysis.

    1. Costs and Benefits of an Auction

    10. The investment by RespOrgs in enhanced connectivity to the database discussed above is evidence of strong competing demand among RespOrgs for toll free numbers. And the fact that the Commission places constraints on how many numbers a RespOrg can obtain at any point, and also on hoarding, suggests that certain toll free numbers are currently underpriced. We therefore believe that assignment via auction would more equitably and efficiently address this source of excess demand. Moreover, to the extent that, with the current assignment method, transaction costs impede or restrict the efficient assignment of toll free numbers, the public interest gains from implementing an efficient auction mechanism would be substantial. Thus, we believe that the equity and efficiency gains of an auction of mutually exclusive toll free numbers outweigh any costs of implementing an auction. We seek comment on this analysis. Also, if any commenters assert that an auction approach is inequitable, they should clearly explain why an auction approach would be inequitable, as well as how the current means of assignment, or some other means, would be more equitable.

    11. In arriving at our 833 number auction proposal, the Commission has considered the experience of the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) in auctioning toll free numbers. Between 2005 and 2015, the ACMA attempted to auction 1.8 million unreleased “freephone” (toll free) and “local-rate numbers,” considered desirable (as vanity numbers or repeaters), which were branded as “smartnumbers®.” The results of the auction show that the most desirable smartnumbers® were sold in highly competitive auctions early in the process. However, after the initial auctions within the first year of the most desirable numbers, the vast majority of smartnumbers® were uncontested and thus auctioned at set reserve prices. In reviewing the outcome of the ACMA auction, we propose, at least for the 833 code, to auction only mutually exclusive toll free numbers for which there is some demonstration of demand, and to assign the rest on a first-come, first-served basis. We seek comment on how the Commission has considered the results of the ACMA experience in developing our own auction model.

    2. Auction Procedures for 833

    12. As discussed above, the Commission proposes to assign toll free numbers in a manner that is equitable, including by auction, on a first-come, first-served basis, by alternative assignment methodologies, or by a combination of these methods, as circumstances require. In this section, we seek comment on certain auction procedures for the roughly 17,000 mutually exclusive numbers, which were set-aside in our 833 Code Opening Procedures Order. Specifically, we propose to use a single round, sealed-bid Vickrey auction, as discussed below. We emphasize that our proposal discussed herein is limited to the set-aside 833 mutually exclusive toll free numbers. If adopted, we intend to consider the 833 auction process and outcomes in deciding how to make future toll free assignments. In particular, we may decide whether to use the single round, sealed-bid Vickrey auction model or another auction model, to employ the current first-come, first-served policy, or an alternative assignment method, or combination of these methods, as circumstances require. We seek comment on these proposals.

    a. Single Round, Sealed-Bid Vickrey Auction

    13. Single Round, Sealed-Bid Auction. We propose to assign numbers using a single round, sealed-bid auction. This methodology would be used for the roughly 17,000 numbers set aside in the 833 code. In such an auction, a bidder submits bids for individual numbers privately to the auctioneer. We propose use of a single round, sealed-bid auction here because such auctions are relatively easy to implement and to bid in and, therefore, less costly to both the auctioneer and participants than more complex multi-round auctions.

    14. We further propose an auction in which participants simultaneously submit separate bids for each number they are interested in, with the winning bid for each number being determined solely by bids for that number, independent of the bids for any other number. Thus, the proposed auction will not allow for package bids—bids for combinations of numbers. Thus, if a bidder values one number at, say $10, and another at $20, and the two together at $50, the bidder cannot place three bids, one of $10 for the first number, a second of $20 for the second, and a third of $50 for both. Instead, only two bids can be placed, one for each of the two numbers, with no guarantee both numbers will be won. While it is likely that some bidders may demand more than one number in an auction, we do not believe valuation synergies, to the extent they exist, warrant allowing package bids. We seek comment on this proposal. We further seek comment on other advantages or disadvantages of allowing package bids.

    15. Vickrey (Single Round, Sealed-Bid) Auction. To assign 833 mutually exclusive toll free numbers, we also propose to incorporate a Vickrey auction into the 833 auction procedures. In a Vickrey auction, the highest bidder for a number wins and pays the second-highest bid for the number. If we determine that package bids are allowed in an auction, then the bidders who maximize overall revenue from the auction win and pay the opportunity costs (highest alternative value) of their bids as discussed in more detail in section IV below.

    16. A Vickrey auction could result in an equitable and efficient assignment of mutually exclusive toll free numbers. For example, in a Vickrey auction for one object, such as a toll free number, because the winner pays the second highest bid, the winner's surplus (the winner's value minus the amount paid), does not depend on the winner's bid. Since the amount paid is not a function of the winner's bid, it is optimal for bidders in this type of auction to bid their valuation. This result rests on the assumption that bidder values are independent, i.e., a bidder's payoff is only a function of that bidder's estimates of value, and not a function of the opponents' estimates of value. With interdependent valuations, bidding one's value is typically not optimal. Independence implies bidders do not interact in a future circumstance, where any information gained by observing the auction's outcomes (notably, if bid amounts are later made public) could be used. The result also assumes the auction's rules are enforced. Similarly, bidders in a Vickrey auction with package bidding can do no better in equilibrium than to bid their valuations. As a consequence of truthful bidding, a Vickrey auction allocates the numbers efficiently to the bidders who hold the highest valuations. We do note that although a Vickrey auction may lead to an efficient outcome, are there disadvantages or costs to this approach? Furthermore, it might be undesirable for bidders in a Vickrey auction to fully reveal their valuations in the auction, particularly when some bids become public information. We seek comment on using the Vickrey auction methodology for the 833 mutually exclusive numbers and ask parties to elaborate on the advantages and disadvantages of this proposal.

    17. Reserve Prices. Reserve prices (or minimum acceptable bids for a number) can help to improve revenue in an auction. However, our objective is primarily to increase the efficiency of toll-free number assignments. Since the numbers that are not auctioned are offered on a first-come, first-served basis at zero price, we recognize that an equitable assignment of numbers in the auction may be inconsistent with the imposition of a reserve price. Furthermore, establishing a level of the reserve price that is in the public interest may require precise information that is unavailable prior to running a first auction for toll free numbers. We seek comment on whether a reserve price should be imposed in the auction, and generally on the potential advantages and disadvantages of reserve prices in an auction of toll-free numbers. If a reserve price is imposed in the auction, what factors should we consider in determining a level of the reserve price that is in the public interest?

    b. Alternative Auction Methodologies

    18. Pay-Your-Bid Auction. An alternative methodology is a pay-your-bid auction whereby the highest bidder wins and pays his or her bid. A pay-your-bid auction also has benefits. This type of auction is generally straightforward because, as the name suggests, the highest bidder for a number wins the auction and pays his or her bid. Moreover, the pay-your-bid auction may yield significantly higher revenues than the generalized Vickrey second-price auction. On the other hand, the pay-your-bid auction may give rise to an inefficient toll free number assignment because in a pay-your-bid auction, bidding to reflect true valuations is not usually optimal. Bidding one's valuation in a pay-your-bid auction guarantees zero payoff: the difference between value and bid (the bidder's surplus) is equal to zero whether one wins or not. As a result, to ensure a positive expected payoff, bidding below one's value is optimal in the pay-your-bid auction.

    19. Open Auction. Although we propose a Vickrey auction, we seek comment on the use of an open auction. Open auctions can help bidders form more accurate expectations of the value of an object in environments in which bidders possess different and uncertain information about the objects for sale. Examples of open auctions include the traditional English auction where the auctioneer calls increasing prices, eBay auctions where ascending bids are placed over a period of time, and the simultaneous multi-round auction employed by the Commission for the allocation of electromagnetic spectrum. Open auctions offer bidders the opportunity for price discovery and can lead to more efficient outcomes. However, these types of auctions may be more costly to implement, and we expect the bidders' valuations for toll free numbers will not be subject to significant uncertainty, as discussed in more detail in section IV below. Idiosyncratic is a term of art. An example of idiosyncratic valuations is where one person values a painting because it evokes certain memories, another values it because of the artist's composition and technique, and a third values the painting because it fits well in a pre-selected space. The valuation that each person attaches to the painting is not changed by knowing whether or why the other persons like it. We seek comment on this issue. Would bidders change their valuations if they knew more about other bidders' valuations? Would this new information be central to an increase in the efficiency of the auction? Are there other advantages and disadvantages of an open auction that we should consider?

    20. Other Auction Designs. Other than the auction designs and procedures discussed above, we seek comment on whether there are other auction designs we should consider. We believe that the auction design best suited to yield an outcome that is in the public interest depends in large measure on the institutional details of the toll free number market. We therefore seek comment from industry and interested stakeholders about the essential characteristics of the toll free number market that might be helpful to develop an auction design most suitable to serve that market and the broader public interest. We invite parties to provide any alternatives or offer further economic, legal, or logistical insights about these and other auction designs and procedures.

    3. Auction Eligibility

    21. We propose to allow only RespOrgs to bid in an auction; potential subscribers seeking mutually exclusive toll free numbers would need to approach one or more RespOrgs about placing a bid on their behalf. We seek comment on this proposal. We think our proposal is consistent with the RespOrg's role as manager and administrator of toll free records in the TFNA database. Our proposal also reflects in part the importance of RespOrgs as market makers. Further, RespOrgs may have strengths in maximizing the valuation of certain numbers, for example, by piecing together geographic coalitions of subscribers who may be unable to coordinate by themselves. We seek comment on this proposal. We also seek comment on whether we should consider allowing subscribers to directly participate in an auction. Are there benefits to allowing their participation? Would an auction that includes both subscribers and RespOrgs be difficult to implement? Assuming we use an auction methodology for future code openings or other toll free assignments and identify mutually exclusive numbers, how should we define mutual exclusivity? Should we consider mutually exclusive numbers those numbers which two or more RespOrgs have requested, or numbers that have been requested by two or more subscribers? If mutual exclusivity means toll free numbers requested by two or more RespOrgs, is there a way to determine how many of these numbers are sought by more than one subscriber? Are there legal restrictions to allowing subscribers to circumvent their relationship with RespOrgs to participate directly in an auction, and would other provisions in our existing toll free rules need to be revised to allow participation by subscribers?

    22. The greater the number of auction participants, the more effective the 833 number auction and subsequent toll free number auctions will be. We seek comment on ways to notify potential subscribers about auctions and encourage their participation through their chosen RespOrg(s). Should we consider including subscriber information in the TFNA database? Currently, the TFNA can notify RespOrgs about auctions—because the toll free database identifies the RespOrg for each number assigned—but it cannot notify subscribers potentially interested in bidding for a number because the database does not contain subscriber information. Would inclusion of subscriber information in the toll free database provide greater market transparency for auction bidders, improving the efficiency of the auction? Are the costs of including this information in the database significant? Would having subscriber information in the database be useful for other reasons, such as helping the TFNA and the Commission resolve disputes over the use of a toll free number or helping law enforcement agencies identify the subscriber for a number being used for unlawful purposes? Are there privacy or other considerations that would militate against including subscriber information in the database that would be visible to other bidders (as opposed to being visible just to TFNA)?

    23. We propose not to limit the quantity of toll free numbers RespOrgs can acquire through the auction and seek comment on this proposal. We think that limiting the number of bids that can be placed by a RespOrg in the auction may hamper efficiency because it may constrain primarily the bidders who hold the highest valuations. Do parties agree with this belief? If subscribers are allowed to bid for numbers, should we impose limits on the quantity of 833 numbers they can acquire in the auction?

    4. Auctioneer

    24. We seek comment on the characteristics of an auctioneer who would be able to put in practice the auction process we propose above at the lowest cost. Should we designate the TFNA as the auctioneer?

    5. Treatment of Auction Funds

    25. We propose that the net proceeds from any toll free number auction proposed in this Notice be directed to defray the costs of number administration. Specifically, we propose that auction funds be applied to offset the costs of toll free numbering administration by the TFNA within the NANP for the benefit of all RespOrgs and subscribers. This approach would include the administrative costs of implementing numbering auctions should the Commission designate the responsibility to the TFNA. The TFNA administers toll free numbers, which are part of the NANP numbering resources. The NANP is comprised of 20 member countries. We propose that the auction proceeds from any toll free auction be applied to offset the costs of the TFNA to equally benefit RespOrgs and subscribers in those member countries to the extent they pay fees to the TFNA. Commenters should address whether this approach is the best method of applying the proceeds from the auction, or whether alternative methods are preferable. We also seek comment on any legal, logistical, or international implications of this proposal, given the international composition of the NANP. Further, we do not believe that applying auction funds to offset the TFNA costs, within the NANP, implicates any U.S. fiscal statutes. Pursuant to our authority under section 251(e), the Commission has used a number of different approaches to collect funds to defray the costs of numbering administration without implicating, for example, the Miscellaneous Receipts Act (MRA). None of these cost recovery mechanisms implicated the MRA, and we do not believe that applying auction funds to offset the TFNA costs, within the NANP, would implicate the MRA, due to the Commission's authority under section 251(e). We seek comment on this view.

    26. We also seek comment on implementation issues from applying auction funds to offset the TFNA. We currently require that the TFNA's tariffed rates charged to RespOrgs be based on the cost of providing its services, determined on a year-by-year basis. What is the best way to factor in auction revenues? Because the TFNA is limited to recovering its revenue requirement, and must budget and adjust its fees accordingly each year, how should it account for additional revenues from a number auction? Should we create a system whereby auction proceeds realized in a given calendar year are held and remitted to the TFNA in the beginning of the following year (early January)? Or, are there alternative remittance systems that are preferable?

    27. If an auction generates more revenue than the TFNA revenue requirement for a particular year, parties should comment on how to allocate those additional funds. Should the TFNA retain any excess auction revenues, and apply them to the revenue requirements of future years? Alternatively, should such remaining auction proceeds instead be remitted to the NANP Administrator (NANPA) to defray the general costs of administering it? Would directing any excess proceeds in this manner benefit all users of the NANP across the 20 countries that comprise it? Are any of the federal statutes discussed above implicated if we handle additional auctions proceeds in this manner?

    6. Alternative Assignment Methodologies

    28. The Commission seeks comment on the costs and benefits of other possible assignment approaches for desirable 833 numbers. We classify assignment approaches as either market-based, such as an auction, or administrative, such as a lottery or first-come, first-served. Notwithstanding our proposal to adopt the market-based auction approach described above, an administrative approach may also have value. Therefore, we also seek comment on possible benefits and drawbacks of administrative assignments.

    29. We wish to use any 833 auction as an experiment to ensure that we develop well-tested rules going forward. After we review the record in response to this Notice, we anticipate adopting rules for auctioning the 833 mutually exclusive numbers. Upon completion of any 833 auction, the Bureau will report to the Commission on the outcomes of the auction and lessons learned. As we draw on the experience of the 833 auction, the Bureau will refresh the record in this proceeding before the Commission considers adopting final rules for the distribution of other toll free numbers going forward.

    B. Secondary Markets for Toll Free Numbers

    30. Consistent with the market-based approach for assigning mutually exclusive toll free numbers, we seek comment on revising our current rules to promote development of a secondary market for toll free numbers generally. A secondary market would allow subscribers to reassign their toll free numbers to other subscribers for a fee (or other compensation) the parties negotiate. Under the Commission's rules, RespOrgs are responsible for managing and administering toll free records on behalf of subscribers. See 47 CFR 52.101(b). We do not propose to change those responsibilities in this Notice. We are mindful of long-standing Commission and legal precedent that a telephone number is a public resource that is not privately owned and cannot be sold. We seek comment, however, on whether we should change our rules so that even though a subscriber does not own a toll free number, he or she may reassign the right to use that number for a fee. For example, in a secondary market, a business owner who wants to sell his or her business may sell the right to use the toll free number associated with the business. This reassignment would benefit both the seller and buyer of the business. Therefore, a secondary market may be more equitable and promote economic efficiencies as the number would be better utilized by the new business owner than if it were returned to the pool of available toll free numbers and subject to first-come, first-served assignment.

    31. Current market realities appear to support a secondary market as an efficient and productive use of numbers. Despite the fact that toll free numbers are a public resource and neither carriers nor subscribers “own” their numbers, it takes little effort to find toll free numbers advertised for sale. An Internet search for “toll free numbers for sale” produces numerous options to presumably buy and sell toll free numbers, as do online auction site searches for “toll free number.” Indeed, the Enforcement Bureau has taken action against an individual who, through his company, engaged in multiple rule violations, including brokering “15 toll free numbers for fees ranging from $10,000 to $17,500 per number” to a pharmaceutical company. The fact that some parties are willing to take the risk of participating in a black market to obtain toll free numbers suggests that there is significant demand for such numbers. We believe that creating a framework for lawful transactions in these secondary markets would be beneficial by permitting subscribers to legally obtain numbers which they value. Even outside the context of a business ownership change, RespOrgs and subscribers may wish to buy and sell toll free numbers among themselves based on the usefulness of the numbers. We seek comment on our proposal, and in particular, the impact of a rule change on our public resource precedent.

    32. We also seek comment on whether the TFNA should receive any transaction proceeds or charge any fees to offset number administration costs. Such funds could be used for the same purpose as we propose for auction funds: to offset the costs of toll free numbering administration by the TFNA within the NANP for the benefit of all RespOrgs and subscribers. Would this be an efficient use of funds? If we did charge a transaction fee for the transfer of toll free numbers in the secondary market, what amount should be charged? Are there legal constraints in charging a transaction fee for the transfer of toll free numbers? Are there international concerns if such fees went to offset costs of the NANP? Additionally, we seek comment on whether a RespOrg should be able to charge a fee for such transfers, and on whether such fees, if charged, should be regulated. Or, should we put in place some other mechanisms to prevent the abuse of any market power RespOrgs might have? Would a secondary market have an impact on settling trademark or branding disputes in desirable toll free numbers?

    33. Interested parties should further comment on what types of information the TFNA would need from the buyer and seller to document a reassignment. Would the TFNA need to develop an online system to record any reassignments in the secondary market? How will parties know when a number is available for reassignment, i.e., when a RespOrg or subscriber wishes to sell it? Should the Commission or the TFNA maintain a database that potential buyers could check, or should buyers be responsible for their own advertising of numbers for sale? How could the Commission or the TFNA help ensure members of the public are able to verify that an entity is in fact a RespOrg? Are there additional roles or functions the TFNA could perform or provide that would benefit functioning of a secondary market or market participants?

    C. Toll Free Number Administration 1. Toll Free Number Rule Revisions

    34. We propose revising certain toll free number rules to support our market approach to assigning certain toll free numbers for new code openings, recovered toll free numbers, and in the secondary market. Specifically, we propose revising the first-come, first-served rule, and seek comment on eliminating the brokering rule entirely. We also seek comment on revising the warehousing and hoarding rules.

    35. First-Come, First-Served Rule. We propose revising section 52.111 of our rules to allow for the assignment of toll free telephone numbers to RespOrgs and subscribers on an equitable basis by auction, on a first-come, first-served basis, by using an alternative assignment methodology, or by a combination of these approaches as circumstances require. We seek comment on this proposal. Are different or more specific parameters needed? It has been nearly 20 years since the adoption of the first-come, first-served rule. Are there other revisions to that rule we should consider?

    36. Brokering Rule. The Commission's brokering rule prohibits RespOrgs and subscribers from selling a toll free number for a fee. We seek comment on eliminating the brokering rule as it directly precludes a secondary market for toll free numbers. Alternatively, we seek comment on whether the Commission should relax or suspend the brokering rule in any way. Commenters should address whether these approaches are consistent with the public resource nature of toll free numbers, while still promoting the economic efficiencies of a secondary market in toll free numbers. The brokering rule was adopted with the intention of equitably assigning numbers and minimizing number exhaust. However, we now question whether the brokering rule was a useful way to achieve those ends. We seek comment on whether there are any other modifications we should make to the rule in lieu of eliminating it to avoid any undesirable or unforeseen outcomes.

    37. Warehousing and Hoarding Prohibitions. The warehousing and hoarding prohibitions are intended to limit exhaust of toll free numbers by ensuring that numbers, once removed from the pool of available numbers, are used efficiently. We seek comment on whether these rules effectively serve their purpose or whether we should revise or eliminate these rules. If numbers could be stored, and traded, would market forces ensure their efficient assignment? Without these rules, will RespOrgs and subscribers hold numbers they no longer need, hoping to sell them later at higher prices? If they were to do so, could we discourage this practice by limiting the amount of time a RespOrg or subscriber may hold a toll free number without either using or selling it? That is, should we require that a number be “in use” within a certain time after it is obtained? What constitutes number “use” in this context? What time limit should we impose and how should we enforce that limitation? Should we consider increasing administrative fees on RespOrgs (which would be passed on to subscribers) to limit the amount of time a number is held? In the alternative, should the Commission eliminate these warehousing and hoarding prohibitions, along with the brokering prohibition, and rely instead on market forces to determine if and when toll free numbers are sold in the secondary market?

    38. Other Rule Revisions. We also seek comment on whether the Commission should eliminate or revise any other toll free rules. For example, should the Commission revise the definition of the Service Management System (SMS) Database in section 52.101(d) to include subscriber information as discussed above? Moreover, section 52.103 of the rules contains a number of definitions and rules pertaining to the “status” of toll free numbers in the database and when these numbers are available for assignment to subscribers. The term “status” refers to whether and how a toll free number is being used. What revisions, if any, to these categories should we consider to promote a secondary market?

    2. Toll Free Numbers Used for Public Purposes

    39. We seek comment on whether certain desirable toll free numbers necessary to promote health, safety, education, and other public interest goals should be set aside for use, without cost, by government (federal, state, local and Tribal) agencies as well as by non-profit health, safety, education, or other non-profit public interest organizations. Numerous organizations use desirable toll free numbers for a variety of purposes, such as for contacting the organization for information or assistance and for fundraising. For example, the Department of Health and Human Services uses 800-SUICIDE to support a network of suicide prevention hotlines. Parties should address the advantages and disadvantages of granting an exemption for certain governmental and non-profit health, safety, education, and other non-profit public interest purposes. How would such a system be implemented and administered? Would this system raise any First Amendment, statutory, or other legal issues? For example, how should such non-profit health, safety, education, and other non-profit public interest organizations be defined; should definitions from other sections of the Act or the Commission's rules be used? Should entities other than the ones described above—non-profit health, safety, education, or other non-profit public interest organizations—be included in this definition or receive similar treatment? Should the Commission treat these purposes differently from other purposes for which desirable numbers are used? What are the pros and cons of each approach?

    3. Abuse of Toll Free Numbers

    40. We also seek comment on ways the Commission may address possible abuse of toll free numbers after they have been assigned to a non-profit health, safety, education, or other non-profit public interest organizations or any purchaser in an auction or in the secondary market? Should the Commission propose a rule stating its ability to reclaim any toll free number that is used for fraudulent or otherwise unlawful purposes? Also, should the Commission create, or direct the TFNA to create, any terms and conditions for use of a toll free number purchased in an auction or the secondary market? Should the Commission codify its authority to reassign a number to another subscriber if there is a strong public interest need to use the number for another purpose. For example, following Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the Commission reassigned 800-RED-CROSS from a for-profit corporation to the American Red Cross so it could facilitate the Nation's response to the disaster wrought by Hurricane Katrina.

    4. Toll Free Number Assignment Management

    41. In light of the proposed changes to the toll free number assignment methodology in this Notice, we seek comment on whether the Commission should consider changes to overall toll free number administration. Since the Commission required designation of an impartial entity to administer toll free numbers, the TFNA has evolved from a Bell Operating Company operated organization, to a non-profit membership corporation. Somos, Inc., the TFNA—organized as an independent, non-profit corporation—administers the toll free SMS. Somos provides access to the SMS pursuant to the SMS Tariff that sets forth the regulations, rates, and charges applicable to SMS services, and describes the features and functions of the SMS.

    42. SMS 800 Tariff. Should we consider a different mechanism for toll free number administration than the tariff mechanism described above? The TFNA currently files a tariff that outlines the features and functions of the SMS, establishes RespOrg responsibilities and eligibility criteria, and sets forth the rates for service. The tariff also lists both the monthly and non-recurring charges for database access and other SMS services. In the 1993 CompTel Declaratory Ruling, the Commission declared that RespOrg access to the SMS database “is a Title II common carrier service and shall be provided subject to tariff.” Subsequently, in 2013, the Commission found that the reorganized toll free administrator, now Somos, met the neutrality requirements required by section 251(e) of the Act and the Commission's rules, so long as it files and maintains the tariff.

    43. Should the Commission consider a different regulatory treatment for SMS service? How, given the central role of the TFNA in the administration of toll free numbers, would we ensure the public is protected from unreasonable rates, terms, and conditions? Alternatively, if the Commission adheres to the current TFNA model, including its filing of a tariff, should the Commission require more transparency in Somos's operations and budget? Are there other ways to make Somos's financial information more transparent? Although the public tariff outlines Somos's general operating procedures, certain information may be difficult to discern and other information is provided to the Commission under confidential cover. As a non-profit organization, Somos is only allowed to recover operating costs. Part of the Commission's rationale in allowing Somos to reorganize as a non-profit membership was “any savings realized as a result of SMS/800, Inc.'s corporate restructuring is likely to be reflected in lower tariffed rates for RespOrgs, which should in turn lead to lower charges for toll free subscribers.” Would a more transparent, or itemized accounting of Somos's costs further this goal and also better inform RespOrgs and subscribers of the costs of acquiring toll free numbers? We seek comment and ideas from industry on the roles of the TFNA and tariff as an important means to help us modernize toll free number assignment.

    D. Legal Authority

    44. The Commission has consistently found that the Act requires the Commission to ensure the equitable, efficient, and orderly assignment of toll free numbers. As noted above, section 251(e)(1) of the Act gives the Commission “exclusive jurisdiction over those portions of the North American Numbering Plan that pertain to the United States” and provides that numbers must be made “available on an equitable basis.” Accordingly, the Commission retains “authority to set policy with respect to all facets of numbering administration in the United States.” In addition, the Commission has stated that sections 201(b) and 251(e)(1) of the Act “empower the Commission to ensure that toll free numbers, which are a scarce and valuable national public resource, are allocated in an equitable and orderly manner that serves the public interest.” This exclusive jurisdiction over numbering policy enables the Commission to act flexibly and expeditiously on important numbering matters. We note the Commission has also relied on sections 1 and 4(i) of the Act to assign toll free numbers on an equitable and efficient basis.

    45. The Commission has promulgated toll free number rules to satisfy these congressional mandates. The proposed actions in this Notice—including the proposal to use a new simple, low-cost auction method of assigning toll free numbers; and modifications to our current rules to allow a secondary market for toll free numbers that would support market forces after a code opening—are intended to further and better satisfy these mandates.

    46. As we noted in the background section of this Notice, in 1998, the Commission previously considered using an auction approach to toll free number assignment. In the 1998 Toll Free Order, the Commission recognized that auctions are both an equitable and a “generally efficient” assignment mechanism.” At that time, however, the Commission could not say “based on the present record that auctions of vanity numbers would produce efficiencies that would outweigh the practical difficulties,” such as cost, administration, and impact on the international membership of the NANP. Our proposal to implement auctions for mutually exclusive toll free numbers is consistent with the Commission's previous finding that auctions are generally equitable and efficient. We believe that auctions would now be a more equitable and efficient approach to assignment of mutually exclusive toll free numbers and that the benefits of such auctions would outweigh any practical difficulties. We seek comment on this assessment. With nearly two more decades of experience and increased demand for toll free numbers, we seek to develop a new record which we believe will show that the efficiencies produced by the proposed auction will outweigh any practical difficulties.

    47. For the reasons previously discussed in this Notice, we believe the proposals herein are consistent with and further the Commission's statutory mandate to make “numbers available on an equitable basis.” These proposals include a more efficient and market-driven approach to assigning toll free numbers, better promote productive use of numbers, and reflect current market realities. We invite comment on the sources of authority discussed above.

    IV. Toll Free Auction Design

    48. In this Appendix, to assist interested stakeholders in preparing focused and detailed comments on the Notice, the Commission provides additional information on our interest in how potential bidders determine the value of toll free numbers, and on the Vickrey auction.

    Toll Free Number Valuations

    49. The way potential bidders in our proposed auction determine their valuations of coveted numbers, such as 1-833-FLOWERS, can determine whether there are benefits from having a multi-round auction. One possibility is individuals' valuations are idiosyncratic, that is, are inherent to the specific bidder, without commonalities or interdependencies in how subscriber valuations are determined. For example, potential bidders may develop their valuations based on the size of their merchant network, and their business models, and these valuations would not be changed if they were to discover a different bidder valued the same number differently.

    50. RespOrgs act as intermediaries in the toll free market. RespOrgs' gains or surpluses from supplying a toll free number may be characterized by significant commonalities or interdependencies, that is, RespOrg valuations of toll free numbers may not be idiosyncratic. Instead, a RespOrg that observed another RespOrg with a significantly higher or lower valuation than its own might wonder if it was misinformed, and the other RespOrg knows something about the value of the number that it does not. A RespOrg derives surplus from acquiring a toll free number only to the extent that it can profitably supply it to a subscriber. This surplus is equal to the difference between the price the RespOrg obtains for the number, and the cost of supplying it. Differences in the technologies RespOrgs use to supply numbers, for example, to provide geographic-based calling, or in the markets the RespOrgs address may give rise to idiosyncratic differences in cost. However, if RespOrgs generally compete with other similar RespOrgs using the same technologies, seeking to supply the same subscribers with largely the same service, then the key factor that might lead such RespOrgs' valuations of a number to differ is their assessment of the highest price that a subscriber is willing to pay for the number (since the relevant RespOrg's have similar costs, and are supplying essentially the same service). While the Commission recognizes many RespOrgs have different business models, it also considers that in general RespOrgs largely use the same technologies to supply the same services to customers with a demand for certain types of valuable toll free numbers. For any such RespOrgs, the Commission does not view differences in the cost of supplying toll free number or their business models as giving rise to significant differences in competing RespOrgs' surpluses from supplying a given toll free number. The Notice seeks comment on the extent to which this conclusion is correct, that is, on whether differences in the cost structure or business plans of various RespOrgs competing for the same customers using similar technologies may cause their surpluses from supplying a given toll free number to vary idiosyncratically.

    51. If the Commission is right about competing RespOrgs largely using the same technologies to satisfy the same business models, then the surpluses of different RespOrgs from supplying a toll free number are not likely to differ significantly ex post. However, the RespOrgs' ex ante valuations of a toll free number may be uncertain. In particular, while many RespOrgs likely have a deep understanding of the market for toll free number, and, consequently, their valuations of a given toll free number might be fairly precise, other competing RespOrgs may not have a similar understanding of the market, and their valuations of a given number might be uncertain to some degree. If it is true that at least some competing RespOrgs have materially different estimates of customers' valuations of certain toll free numbers than others, then an open auction might allow bidding RespOrgs to refine their value of the number or numbers they are bidding. However, the Commission believes that, overall, the RespOrgs' valuations of a toll-free number are only slightly affected by uncertainty. We seek to understand the degree to which uncertainty affects some of the RespOrgs' valuations of a toll-free number.

    The Vickrey Auction

    52. To formulate their views on a Vickrey auction with no package bids, as proposed in the Notice, commenters may find this example helpful. Suppose there are two bidders, A and B, and two toll free numbers to be assigned Number 1 and Number 2. Bids are indicated by the dollar amounts in the table below. These bids should not be treated as indicative in any way of the expected value of any of the numbers auctioned, and are provided only as an example.

    Bidding Example Table Bidder/No. 1 2 {1,2} A $10 $20 $32 B 16 8 25

    53. In a Vickrey auction without package bids, but which allows simultaneous bidding over more than one number, only columns 1 and 2 are relevant. Bidder A obtains Number 2 because it bid the highest amount ($20). Bidder A pays the highest non-winning bid for Number 2 ($8). Bidder B obtains Number 1, because it bid the highest amount ($16). Bidder 2 pays the highest non-winning bid for Number 1 ($10). Moreover, our expectation is that the four bids reflect the bidders' true valuation of each number. This is because regardless of what other bids are made, a bidder can always do better by bidding its true value. If instead the bidder underbids, it may lose when it could have won by paying no more and potentially less than his value. If it overbids, it may win and potentially pay more than the object is worth to it. Therefore, it is optimal to bid his value. This assumes the rules of the auction are fully enforceable, and truth revelation in this auction would not be harmful to the bidders in other contexts. Consequently, if each number's valuation was independent of the other, the auction would be economically efficient. It would assign the numbers to maximize value to the bidders.

    54. In a generalized Vickrey auction with package bids, given the bids found in the table, the numbers are also assigned as in in the non-package generalized Vickrey auction. A different allocation would emerge, for example, if Bidder A valued both numbers at 37. Then Bidder A would get both numbers. In this case, however, the payments required of the winning bidders change. As in the case of the non-package auction, the payments in the generalized Vickrey auction are equal to the opportunity cost (highest alternative value) of the items won by each bidder. However, as is the case in the table, this changes the opportunity cost of the bid. The payments required in the package auction are determined as follows:

    If Number 2 is assigned to Bidder B instead of Bidder A, then Bidder B would realize a value of $25 (because Bidder B would have obtained both numbers). By assigning Number 2 to Bidder A, the (opportunity) cost for Bidder B is $9 ($25 minus $16, the value for Bidder B from obtaining Number 1). If Number 1 is assigned to Bidder A instead of Bidder B, then Bidder A would realize a value of $32. By assigning Number 1 to Bidder B, the (opportunity) cost for Bidder A is $12 ($32 minus $20). Thus, the outcome of the generalized Vickrey auction is as follows: Bidder A obtains Number 2, for which it pays $9. Bidder B obtains Number 1, for which it pays $12.

    55. Further, in such auctions, by similar reasoning to that provided for the non-package auction, the bidders best strategy is to bid their valuations. Accordingly, the highest value can be realized by assigning Number 2 to Bidder A and Number 1 to Bidder B. In this case, that value is $36: $20 for Bidder A and $16 for Bidder B. If Number 1 is assigned to Bidder A, and Number 2 to Bidder B, then the value of the assignment is $18. If both numbers are assigned to Bidder A, the value of the assignment is $32. If both numbers are assigned to Bidder B, the value of the assignment is $25. The generalized Vickrey auction assigns the two numbers to maximize value. Accordingly, the generalized Vickrey auction assigns Number 2 to Bidder A and Number 1 to Bidder B. Thus, the generalized Vickrey auction with package bids is economically efficient allocating the numbers to maximize the value to bidders.

    V. Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis

    56. As required by the Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980, as amended (RFA), the Commission has prepared this Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (IRFA) of the possible significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities by the policies and rules proposed in this Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (Notice). The Commission requests written public comments on this IRFA. Comments must be identified as responses to the IRFA and must be filed by the deadlines for comments provided on the first page of the Notice. The Commission will send a copy of the Notice, including this IRFA, to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business Administration (SBA). In addition, the Notice and IRFA (or summaries thereof) will be published in the Federal Register.

    A. Need for, and Objectives of, the Proposed Rules

    57. In this Notice, we propose changes to, and seek comment on, our toll free number administration and assignment rules. While the Commission's current rule uses a first-come, first-served approach to the assignment of toll free numbers, to help ensure the continued usefulness and availability of this finite resource, we now examine alternative assignment methodologies. The objective of the proposed rules is to create a more efficient method of toll free number assignment that is consistent with our statutory mandate to make “numbers available on an equitable basis.” Specifically, we propose amending our rules to allow for use of an auction to assign certain toll free numbers—such as vanity and repeater numbers—in order to better promote the equitable and efficient, use of numbers. With the opportunity afforded by the opening of the 833 toll free code, we propose to use an auction for assigning numbers for which mutually exclusive interest has been expressed. We seek comment on repealing or relaxing the prohibition on number brokering, thereby allowing toll free number secondary markets, and consider a variety of other means to modernize toll free number assignments.

    B. Legal Basis

    58. The legal basis for any action that may be taken pursuant to this Notice is contained in sections 1, 4(i), 201(b), and 251(e)(1) of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, 47 U.S.C. 151, 154(i), 201(b), and 251(e)(1).

    C. Description and Estimate of the Number of Small Entities to Which the Proposed Rules Will Apply

    59. The RFA directs agencies to provide a description of, and where feasible, an estimate of the number of small entities that may be affected by the proposed rule revisions, if adopted. The RFA generally defines the term “small entity” as having the same meaning as the terms “small business,” “small organization,” and “small governmental jurisdiction.” In addition, the term “small business” has the same meaning as the term “small-business concern” under the Small Business Act. A “small-business concern” is one which: (1) Is independently owned and operated; (2) is not dominant in its field of operation; and (3) satisfies any additional criteria established by the SBA.

    60. Small Businesses, Small Organizations, Small Governmental Jurisdictions. Our actions, over time, may affect small entities that are not easily categorized at present. We therefore describe here, at the outset, three comprehensive small entity size standards that could be directly affected herein. First, while there are industry specific size standards for small businesses that are used in the regulatory flexibility analysis, according to data from the SBA's Office of Advocacy, in general a small business is an independent business having fewer than 500 employees. These types of small businesses represent 99.9% of all businesses in the United States which translates to 28.8 million businesses. Next, the type of small entity described as a “small organization” is generally “any not-for-profit enterprise which is independently owned and operated and is not dominant in its field.” Nationwide, as of 2007, there were approximately 1,621,215 small organizations. Finally, the small entity described as a “small governmental jurisdiction” is defined generally as “governments of cities, towns, townships, villages, school districts, or special districts, with a population of less than fifty thousand.” U.S. Census Bureau data published in 2012 indicate that there were 89,476 local governmental jurisdictions in the United States. We estimate that, of this total, as many as 88,761 entities may qualify as “small governmental jurisdictions.” Thus, we estimate that most governmental jurisdictions are small.

    61. Wired Telecommunications Carriers. The U.S. Census Bureau defines this industry as “establishments primarily engaged in operating and/or providing access to transmission facilities and infrastructure that they own and/or lease for the transmission of voice, data, text, sound, and video using wired communications networks. Transmission facilities may be based on a single technology or a combination of technologies. Establishments in this industry use the wired telecommunications network facilities that they operate to provide a variety of services, such as wired telephony services, including VoIP services, wired (cable) audio and video programming distribution, and wired broadband internet services. By exception, establishments providing satellite television distribution services using facilities and infrastructure that they operate are included in this industry.” The SBA has developed a small business size standard for Wired Telecommunications Carriers, which consists of all such companies having 1,500 or fewer employees. Census data for 2012 show that there were 3,117 firms that operated that year. Of this total, 3,083 operated with fewer than 1,000 employees. Thus, under this size standard, the majority of firms in this industry can be considered small.

    62. Local Exchange Carriers (LECs). Neither the Commission nor the SBA has developed a size standard for small businesses specifically applicable to local exchange services. The closest applicable NAICS Code category is Wired Telecommunications Carriers as defined above. Under the applicable SBA size standard, such a business is small if it has 1,500 or fewer employees. According to Commission data, census data for 2012 shows that there were 3,117 firms that operated that year. Of this total, 3,083 operated with fewer than 1,000 employees. The Commission therefore estimates that most providers of local exchange carrier service are small entities that may be affected by the rules adopted.

    63. Incumbent LECs. Neither the Commission nor the SBA has developed a small business size standard specifically for incumbent local exchange services. The closest applicable NAICS Code category is Wired Telecommunications Carriers as defined above. Under that size standard, such a business is small if it has 1,500 or fewer employees. According to Commission data, 3,117 firms operated in that year. Of this total, 3,083 operated with fewer than 1,000 employees. Consequently, the Commission estimates that most providers of incumbent local exchange service are small businesses that may be affected by the rules and policies adopted. Three hundred and seven (307) Incumbent Local Exchange Carriers reported that they were incumbent local exchange service providers. Of this total, an estimated 1,006 have 1,500 or fewer employees.

    64. Competitive Local Exchange Carriers (Competitive LECs), Competitive Access Providers (CAPs), Shared-Tenant Service Providers, and Other Local Service Providers. Neither the Commission nor the SBA has developed a small business size standard specifically for these service providers. The appropriate NAICS Code category is Wired Telecommunications Carriers, as defined above. Under that size standard, such a business is small if it has 1,500 or fewer employees. U.S. Census data for 2012 indicate that 3,117 firms operated during that year. Of that number, 3,083 operated with fewer than 1,000 employees. Based on this data, the Commission concludes that the majority of Competitive LECS, CAPs, Shared-Tenant Service Providers, and Other Local Service Providers, are small entities. According to Commission data, 1,442 carriers reported that they were engaged in the provision of either competitive local exchange services or competitive access provider services. Of these 1,442 carriers, an estimated 1,256 have 1,500 or fewer employees. In addition, 17 carriers have reported that they are Shared-Tenant Service Providers, and all 17 are estimated to have 1,500 or fewer employees. Also, 72 carriers have reported that they are Other Local Service Providers. Of this total, 70 have 1,500 or fewer employees. Consequently, based on internally researched FCC data, the Commission estimates that most providers of competitive local exchange service, competitive access providers, Shared-Tenant Service Providers, and Other Local Service Providers are small entities.

    65. We have included small incumbent LECs in this present RFA analysis. As noted above, a “small business” under the RFA is one that, inter alia, meets the pertinent small business size standard (e.g., a telephone communications business having 1,500 or fewer employees), and “is not dominant in its field of operation.” The SBA's Office of Advocacy contends that, for RFA purposes, small incumbent LECs are not dominant in their field of operation because any such dominance is not “national” in scope. We have therefore included small incumbent LECs in this RFA analysis, although we emphasize that this RFA action has no effect on Commission analyses and determinations in other, non-RFA contexts.

    66. Interexchange Carriers (IXCs). Neither the Commission nor the SBA has developed a definition for Interexchange Carriers. The closest NAICS Code category is Wired Telecommunications Carriers as defined above. The applicable size standard under SBA rules is that such a business is small if it has 1,500 or fewer employees. U.S. Census data for 2012 indicates that 3,117 firms operated during that year. Of that number, 3,083 operated with fewer than 1,000 employees. According to internally developed Commission data, 359 companies reported that their primary telecommunications service activity was the provision of interexchange services. Of this total, an estimated 317 have 1,500 or fewer employees. Consequently, the Commission estimates that the majority of IXCs are small entities that may be affected by our proposed rules.

    67. Local Resellers. The SBA has developed a small business size standard for the category of Telecommunications Resellers. The Telecommunications Resellers industry comprises establishments engaged in purchasing access and network capacity from owners and operators of telecommunications networks and reselling wired and wireless telecommunications services (except satellite) to businesses and households. Establishments in this industry resell telecommunications; they do not operate transmission facilities and infrastructure. Mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) are included in this industry. Under that size standard, such a business is small if it has 1,500 or fewer employees. Census data for 2012 show that 1,341 firms provided resale services during that year. Of that number, all operated with fewer than 1,000 employees. Thus, under this category and the associated small business size standard, the majority of these prepaid calling card providers can be considered small entities.

    68. Toll Resellers. The Commission has not developed a definition for Toll Resellers. The closest NAICS Code Category is Telecommunications Resellers. The Telecommunications Resellers industry comprises establishments engaged in purchasing access and network capacity from owners and operators of telecommunications networks and reselling wired and wireless telecommunications services (except satellite) to businesses and households. Establishments in this industry resell telecommunications; they do not operate transmission facilities and infrastructure. Mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) are included in this industry. The SBA has developed a small business size standard for the category of Telecommunications Resellers. Under that size standard, such a business is small if it has 1,500 or fewer employees. Census data for 2012 show that 1,341 firms provided resale services during that year. Of that number, 1,341 operated with fewer than 1,000 employees. Thus, under this category and the associated small business size standard, the majority of these resellers can be considered small entities. According to Commission data, 881 carriers have reported that they are engaged in the provision of toll resale services. Of this total, an estimated 857 have 1,500 or fewer employees. Consequently, the Commission estimates that the majority of toll resellers are small entities.

    69. Other Toll Carriers. Neither the Commission nor the SBA has developed a definition for small businesses specifically applicable to Other Toll Carriers. This category includes toll carriers that do not fall within the categories of interexchange carriers, operator service providers, prepaid calling card providers, satellite service carriers, or toll resellers. The closest applicable NAICS Code category is for Wired Telecommunications Carriers as defined above. Under the applicable SBA size standard, such a business is small if it has 1,500 or fewer employees. Census data for 2012 shows that there were 3,117 firms that operated that year. Of this total, 3,083 operated with fewer than 1,000 employees. Thus, under this category and the associated small business size standard, the majority of Other Toll Carriers can be considered small. According to internally developed Commission data, 284 companies reported that their primary telecommunications service activity was the provision of other toll carriage. Of these, an estimated 279 have 1,500 or fewer employees. Consequently, the Commission estimates that most Other Toll Carriers are small entities that may be affected by rules adopted pursuant to the Second Further Notice.

    70. Prepaid Calling Card Providers. The SBA has developed a definition for small businesses within the category of Telecommunications Resellers. Under that SBA definition, such a business is small if it has 1,500 or fewer employees. According to the Commission's Form 499 Filer Database, 500 companies reported that they were engaged in the provision of prepaid calling cards. The Commission does not have data regarding how many of these 500 companies have 1,500 or fewer employees. Consequently, the Commission estimates that there are 500 or fewer prepaid calling card providers that may be affected by the rules.

    71. Wireless Telecommunications Carriers (except Satellite). This industry comprises establishments engaged in operating and maintaining switching and transmission facilities to provide communications via the airwaves. Establishments in this industry have spectrum licenses and provide services using that spectrum, such as cellular services, paging services, wireless internet access, and wireless video services. The appropriate size standard under SBA rules is that such a business is small if it has 1,500 or fewer employees. For this industry, U.S. Census data for 2012 show that there were 967 firms that operated for the entire year. Of this total, 955 firms had employment of 999 or fewer employees and 12 had employment of 1000 employees or more. Thus under this category and the associated size standard, the Commission estimates that the majority of wireless telecommunications carriers (except satellite) are small entities.

    72. The Commission's own data—available in its Universal Licensing System—indicate that, as of October 25, 2016, there are 280 Cellular licensees that will be affected by our actions today. The Commission does not know how many of these licensees are small, as the Commission does not collect that information for these types of entities. Similarly, according to internally developed Commission data, 413 carriers reported that they were engaged in the provision of wireless telephony, including cellular service, Personal Communications Service, and Specialized Mobile Radio Telephony services. Of this total, an estimated 261 have 1,500 or fewer employees, and 152 have more than 1,500 employees. Thus, using available data, we estimate that the majority of wireless firms can be considered small.

    73. Wireless Communications Services. This service can be used for fixed, mobile, radiolocation, and digital audio broadcasting satellite uses. The Commission defined “small business” for the wireless communications services (WCS) auction as an entity with average gross revenues of $40 million for each of the three preceding years, and a “very small business” as an entity with average gross revenues of $15 million for each of the three preceding years. The SBA has approved these definitions.

    74. Wireless Telephony. Wireless telephony includes cellular, personal communications services, and specialized mobile radio telephony carriers. As noted, the SBA has developed a small business size standard for Wireless Telecommunications Carriers (except Satellite). Under the SBA small business size standard, a business is small if it has 1,500 or fewer employees. According to Commission data, 413 carriers reported that they were engaged in wireless telephony. Of these, an estimated 261 have 1,500 or fewer employees and 152 have more than 1,500 employees. Therefore, a little less than one third of these entities can be considered small.

    75. Cable and Other Subscription Programming. This industry comprises establishments primarily engaged in operating studios and facilities for the broadcasting of programs on a subscription or fee basis. The broadcast programming is typically narrowcast in nature (e.g., limited format, such as news, sports, education, or youth-oriented). These establishments produce programming in their own facilities or acquire programming from external sources. The programming material is usually delivered to a third party, such as cable systems or direct-to-home satellite systems, for transmission to viewers. The SBA has established a size standard for this industry stating that a business in this industry is small if it has 1,500 or fewer employees. The 2012 Economic Census indicates that 367 firms were operational for that entire year. Of this total, 357 operated with less than 1,000 employees. Accordingly we conclude that a substantial majority of firms in this industry are small under the applicable SBA size standard.

    76. Cable Companies and Systems (Rate Regulation). The Commission has developed its own small business size standards for the purpose of cable rate regulation. Under the Commission's rules, a “small cable company” is one serving 400,000 or fewer subscribers nationwide. Industry data indicate that there are currently 4,600 active cable systems in the United States. Of this total, all but eleven cable operators nationwide are small under the 400,000-subscriber size standard. In addition, under the Commission's rate regulation rules, a “small system” is a cable system serving 15,000 or fewer subscribers. Current Commission records show 4,600 cable systems nationwide. Of this total, 3,900 cable systems have fewer than 15,000 subscribers, and 700 systems have 15,000 or more subscribers, based on the same records. Thus, under this standard as well, we estimate that most cable systems are small entities.

    77. Cable System Operators (Telecom Act Standard). The Communications Act also contains a size standard for small cable system operators, which is “a cable operator that, directly or through an affiliate, serves in the aggregate fewer than 1 percent of all subscribers in the United States and is not affiliated with any entity or entities whose gross annual revenues in the aggregate exceed $250,000,000.” There are approximately 52,403,705 cable video subscribers in the United States today. Accordingly, an operator serving fewer than 524,037 subscribers shall be deemed a small operator if its annual revenues, when combined with the total annual revenues of all its affiliates, do not exceed $250 million in the aggregate. Based on available data, we find that all but nine incumbent cable operators are small entities under this size standard. We note that the Commission neither requests nor collects information on whether cable system operators are affiliated with entities whose gross annual revenues exceed $250 million. Although it seems certain that some of these cable system operators are affiliated with entities whose gross annual revenues exceed $250 million, we are unable at this time to estimate with greater precision the number of cable system operators that would qualify as small cable operators under the definition in the Communications Act.

    78. All Other Telecommunications. The “All Other Telecommunications” industry is comprised of establishments that are primarily engaged in providing specialized telecommunications services, such as satellite tracking, communications telemetry, and radar station operation. This industry also includes establishments primarily engaged in providing satellite terminal stations and associated facilities connected with one or more terrestrial systems and capable of transmitting telecommunications to, and receiving telecommunications from, satellite systems. Establishments providing Internet services or voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) services via client-supplied telecommunications connections are also included in this industry. The SBA has developed a small business size standard for “All Other Telecommunications,” which consists of all such firms with gross annual receipts of $32.5 million or less. For this category, U.S. Census data for 2012 show that there were 1,442 firms that operated for the entire year. Of these firms, a total of 1,400 had gross annual receipts of less than $25 million. Thus a majority of “All Other Telecommunications” firms potentially affected by our action can be considered small.

    D. Description of Projected Reporting, Recordkeeping, and Other Compliance Requirements for Small Entities

    79. The Notice proposes and seeks comment on rule changes that will affect toll free number assignment and administration. In particular, we propose expanding the existing toll free number assignment rule to permit use of an auction methodology, among other assignment mechanisms, to assign toll free numbers. To do so, we propose to revise section 52.111 of our rules to allow the Commission to assign numbers in a manner that is equitable, including by auction, on a first-come, first-served basis, an alternative assignment methodology, or by a combination of the forgoing as circumstances require. We also seek comment on conducting a sealed, single round, sealed-bid Vickrey auction for the roughly 17,000 numbers set aside, pursuant to the 833 Code Opening Order, for which there were mutually exclusive requests. Auction procedure compliance will affect the toll free auction administrator and all RespOrgs, including those considered small entities, as described above.

    80. In addition, we seek comment on revising our rules to promote development of a secondary market for toll free numbers. We seek comment on what types of information would be needed from the buyer and seller to document a reassignment, whether an online recording system is needed to record reassignments in the secondary market, and whether there should be a database for potential buyers. The Notice also seeks comment on whether the Toll Free Numbering Administrator (TFNA) should keep toll free number subscriber records and whether we should consider including subscriber information in a TFNA database.

    E. Steps Taken To Minimize the Significant Economic Impact on Small Entities, and Significant Alternatives Considered

    81. The RFA requires an agency to describe any significant, specifically small business, alternatives that it has considered in reaching its proposed approach, which may include the following four alternatives (among others): (1) The establishment of differing compliance or reporting requirements or timetables that take into account the resources available to small entities; (2) the clarification, consolidation, or simplification of compliance and reporting requirements under the rules for such small entities; (3) the use of performance rather than design standards; and (4) an exemption from coverage of the rule, or any part thereof, for such small entities.

    82. This Notice invites comment on a number of proposals and alternatives to modify the present toll free number administration and assignment method rules. The Notice proposes expanding the existing toll free number assignment rule to permit use of an auction methodology, among other assignment mechanisms, to assign toll free numbers. To do so, we propose to revise section 52.111 of our rules to allow the Commission to assign numbers in a manner that is equitable, including by auction, on a first-come, first-served basis, an alternative assignment methodology, or by a combination of the forgoing as circumstances require. The Notice also seeks comment on types of auction methods that should be employed and on the advantages and disadvantages of these auction methods.

    83. The Notice also seeks comment on repealing or relaxing the prohibition against brokering and open number distribution to secondary markets. Theses proposal could minimize burdens on current and future toll free subscribers, some of which may be small entities. Finally, in the Notice, we seek comment on whether certain desirable toll free numbers necessary to promote health and safety be set aside for use, without cost, by government (federal, state, local and Tribal) agencies as well as by non-profit health, safety, educational, or other non-profit public interest. We also seek comment on whether other entities such as non-profit educational and charitable organizations be included in this definition or receive similar treatment. These organizations could include small entities and such set asides would ensure that these organizations could receive certain numbers with minimal effort.

    F. Federal Rules That May Duplicate, Overlap, or Conflict With the Proposed Rules

    84. None.

    VI. Procedural Matters A. Comment Filing Procedures

    85. Pursuant to sections 1.415 and 1.419 of the Commission's rules, 47 CFR 1.415, 1.419, interested parties may file comments and reply comments on or before the dates indicated on the first page of this document in Dockets WC 17-192, and CC 95-155. Comments may be filed using the Commission's Electronic Comment Filing System (ECFS). See Electronic Filing of Documents in Rulemaking Proceedings, 63 FR 24121 (1998).

    Electronic Filers: Comments may be filed electronically using the Internet by accessing the ECFS: http://apps.fcc.gov/ecfs/.

    Paper Filers: Parties who choose to file by paper must file an original and one copy of each filing. If more than one docket or rulemaking number appears in the caption of this proceeding, filers must submit two additional copies for each additional docket or rulemaking number.

    Filings can be sent by hand or messenger delivery, by commercial overnight courier, or by first-class or overnight U.S. Postal Service mail. All filings must be addressed to the Commission's Secretary, Office of the Secretary, Federal Communications Commission.

    All hand-delivered or messenger-delivered paper filings for the Commission's Secretary must be delivered to FCC Headquarters at 445 12th St. SW., Room TW-A325, Washington, DC 20554. The filing hours are 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. All hand deliveries must be held together with rubber bands or fasteners. Any envelopes and boxes must be disposed of before entering the building.

    Commercial overnight mail (other than U.S. Postal Service Express Mail and Priority Mail) must be sent to 9050 Junction Drive, Annapolis Junction, MD 20701.

    U.S. Postal Service first-class, Express, and Priority mail must be addressed to 445 12th Street SW., Washington DC 20554.

    People with Disabilities: To request materials in accessible formats for people with disabilities (braille, large print, electronic files, audio format), send an email to [email protected] or call the Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau at 202-418-0530 (voice), 202-418-0432 (TTY).

    86. This proceeding shall be treated as a “permit-but-disclose” proceeding in accordance with the Commission's ex parte rules. Persons making ex parte presentations must file a copy of any written presentation or a memorandum summarizing any oral presentation within two business days after the presentation (unless a different deadline applicable to the Sunshine period applies). Persons making oral ex parte presentations are reminded that memoranda summarizing the presentation must (1) list all persons attending or otherwise participating in the meeting at which the ex parte presentation was made, and (2) summarize all data presented and arguments made during the presentation. If the presentation consisted in whole or in part of the presentation of data or arguments already reflected in the presenter's written comments, memoranda or other filings in the proceeding, the presenter may provide citations to such data or arguments in his or her prior comments, memoranda, or other filings (specifying the relevant page and/or paragraph numbers where such data or arguments can be found) in lieu of summarizing them in the memorandum. Documents shown or given to Commission staff during ex parte meetings are deemed to be written ex parte presentations and must be filed consistent with rule 1.1206(b). In proceedings governed by Rule 1.49(f) or for which the Commission has made available a method of electronic filing, written ex parte presentations and memoranda summarizing oral ex parte presentations, and all attachments thereto, must be filed through the electronic comment filing system available for that proceeding, and must be filed in their native format (e.g., .doc, .xml, .ppt, searchable .pdf). Participants in this proceeding should familiarize themselves with the Commission's ex parte rules.

    B. Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis

    87. Pursuant to the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA), the Commission has prepared an Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (IRFA) of the possible significant economic impact on small entities of the policies and actions considered in this Notice of Proposed Rulemaking. The text of the IRFA is set forth in section V above. Written public comments are requested on this IRFA. Comments must be identified as responses to the IRFA and must be filed by the deadlines for comment on the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking. The Commission's Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau, Reference Information Center, will send a copy of this Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, including the IRFA, to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business Administration (SBA).

    C. Paperwork Reduction Act

    88. This document contains proposed new information collection requirements. The Commission, as part of its continuing effort to reduce paperwork burdens, invites the general public and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to comment on the information collection requirements contained in this document, as required by the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, Public Law 104-13. In addition, pursuant to the Small Business Paperwork Relief Act of 2002, Public Law 107-198, we seek specific comment on how we might further reduce the information collection burden for small business concerns with fewer than 25 employees.

    D. Contact Person

    89. For further information about this proceeding, please contact E. Alex Espinoza, FCC Wireline Competition Bureau, Competition Policy Division, Room 5-C211, 445 12th Street SW., Washington, DC 20554, at (202) 418-0849 or [email protected]

    VII. Ordering Clauses

    90. Accordingly, it is ordered, pursuant to sections 1, 4(i), 201(b), and 251(e)(1) of the Communication Act of 1934, as amended, 47 U.S.C. 151, 154(i), 201(b), and 251(e)(1) that this Notice of Proposed Rulemaking is adopted.

    91. It is further ordered that the Commission's Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau, Reference Information Center, shall send a copy of this Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, including the IRFA, to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business Administration.

    List of Subjects in 47 CFR Part 52

    Telephone.

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

    For the reasons discussed in the preamble, the Federal Communications Commission proposes to amend 47 CFR part 52 as follows:

    PART 52—NUMBERING 1. The authority citation for part 52 continues to read as follows: Authority:

    Secs. 1, 2, 4, 5, 48 Stat. 1066, as amended; 47 U.S.C. 151, 152, 154 and 155 unless otherwise noted. Interpret or apply secs. 3, 4, 201-05, 207-09, 218, 225-27, 251-52, 271 and 332, 48 Stat. 1070, as amended, 1077; 47 U.S.C. 153, 154, 201-05, 207-09, 218, 225-27, 251-52, 271 and 332 unless otherwise noted.

    2. Section 52.111 is revised to read as follows:
    § 52.111 Toll free number assignment.

    Toll free telephone numbers must be made available to Responsible Organizations and subscribers on an equitable basis. The Commission will assign toll free numbers by auction, on a first-come, first-served basis, by an alternative assignment methodology, or by a combination of the foregoing options, as circumstances require.

    [FR Doc. 2017-22187 Filed 10-12-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6712-01-P
    FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION 47 CFR Parts 74, 76, 78 [MB Docket No. 17-231; FCC 17-121] Amendment of the Commission's Rules Regarding Maintenance of Copies of FCC Rules AGENCY:

    Federal Communications Commission.

    ACTION:

    Proposed rule.

    SUMMARY:

    In this document, the Federal Communications Commission (Commission) proposes to eliminate rules that require certain broadcast and cable entities to maintain paper copies of Commission regulations.

    DATES:

    Comments are due on or before November 13, 2017; reply comments are due on or before November 27, 2017.

    ADDRESSES:

    You may submit comments, identified by MB Docket No. 17-231, by any of the following methods:

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

    Federal Communications Commission's Web site: http://fjallfoss.fcc.gov/ecfs2/. Follow the instructions for submitting comments.

    Mail: Filings can be sent by hand or messenger delivery, by commercial overnight courier, or by first-class or overnight U.S. Postal Service mail. All filings must be addressed to the Commission's Secretary, Office of the Secretary, Federal Communications Commission.

    People with Disabilities: Contact the FCC to request reasonable accommodations (accessible format documents, sign language interpreters, CART, etc.) by email: [email protected] or phone: (202) 418-0530 or TTY: (202) 418-0432.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    For additional information on this proceeding, contact Raelynn Remy of the Policy Division, Media Bureau at [email protected], or (202) 418-2120.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    This is a summary of the Commission's Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, FCC 17-121, adopted and released on September 26, 2017. The full text is available for public inspection and copying during regular business hours in the FCC Reference Center, Federal Communications Commission, 445 12th Street SW., Room CY-A257, Washington, DC 20554. This document will also be available via ECFS at https://ecfsapi.fcc.gov/file/0926156892954/FCC-17-121A1.pdf. Documents will be available electronically in ASCII, Microsoft Word, and/or Adobe Acrobat. The complete text may be purchased from the Commission's copy contractor, 445 12th Street SW., Room CY-B402, Washington, DC 20554. Alternative formats are available for people with disabilities (Braille, large print, electronic files, audio format), by sending an email to [email protected] or calling the Commission's Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau at (202) 418-0530 (voice), (202) 418-0432 (TTY).

    Synopsis

    1. We propose to eliminate the requirement, set forth in section 74.769 of our rules, that licensees or permittees of low power TV, TV translator, and TV booster stations maintain “a current copy of Volume I and Volume III of the Commission's rules.” 1 In addition, we propose to eliminate a similar requirement, codified in section 74.1269 of our rules, that licensees or permittees of FM translator and FM booster stations maintain “a current copy of Volumes I (parts 0, 1, 2 and 17) and III (parts 73 and 74) of the Commission's rules.” 2 The Commission adopted these requirements more than forty years ago as part of its regulation of then recently established broadcast translator services.3 As NAB asserts, such obligations no longer appear necessary given the immediate availability of Commission rules online.4 NAB maintains that “[b]roadcasters can easily access and review the rules online, and download and print copies of any rules as needed.” 5 We agree with NAB and tentatively conclude that the requirement to maintain paper copies of rules, which the publisher of the CFR updates annually, no longer remains necessary. We seek comment on this tentative conclusion.

    1 47 CFR 74.769.

    2 47 CFR 74.1269.

    3Amendment of Part 74 and Other Parts of the Commission's Rules and Regulations Pertaining to Television Broadcast Translator Stations, Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, 27 FCC 2d 94, para. 1 (1971) (proposing to revise and harmonize rules governing FM and television translator stations). See also id. at 98, para. 12 (adopting section 74.769); id. at 101, Appendix, para. 8 (same); Amendment of Part 74 of the Commission's Rules and Regulations to Permit the Operation of Low Power FM Broadcast Translator and Booster Stations, Report and Order, 35 FR 15383, 15388 (1970) (adopting section 74.1269).

    4 NAB Comments at 23-24.

    5Id. at 24.

    2. We also tentatively conclude that we should eliminate the requirement, set forth in section 76.1714(a), that certain cable operators maintain a current copy of part 76 of the Commission's rules and, if subject to the Emergency Alert System (EAS) rules contained in part 11 of those rules, an EAS Operating Handbook.6 Although we recognize the public safety importance of having the EAS Handbook in close proximity, we note that section 11.15 requires that a copy of the handbook “be located at normal duty positions or EAS equipment locations when an operator is required to be on duty and be immediately available to staff responsible for authenticating messages and initiating actions.” 7 Given this separate requirement, we see no need for a duplicate EAS requirement in section 76.1714(a). We seek comment on this tentative conclusion. In addition, we tentatively conclude that we should eliminate from sections 76.1714(c) and 78.67 of the Commission's rules the requirement that CARS licensees maintain a current copy of part 78 of the Commission's rules and, in cases where aeronautical obstruction markings of antennas are required, part 17 of such rules.8 The Commission adopted these requirements decades ago when it established a comprehensive regulatory framework to govern then-nascent cable television service.9 Like the rules applicable to broadcasters discussed above, we believe these rules have outlived their usefulness and no longer serve the public interest because, as ACA notes, the Commission's rules are available online in the electronic CFR.10 Thus, we tentatively conclude that these obligations are no longer necessary. We seek comment on this tentative conclusion.

    6 47 CFR 76.1714(a). The requirements of section 76.1714(a) do not apply to any cable television system serving fewer than 1000 subscribers. 47 CFR 76.1714(b).

    7 47 CFR 11.15.

    8 47 CFR 76.1714(c), 78.67.

    9Amendment of Part 74, Subpart K, of the Commission's Rules and Regulations Relative to Community Antenna Television Systems, Cable Television Report and Order, 36 FCC 2d 141, 242, Appendix A (1972) (adopting a requirement that cable television system operators maintain a copy of Part 76 of the Commission's rules). See also id. at 257, Appendix A (adopting section 78.67 of the Commission's rules).

    10 ACA Comments at 12.

    3. Parties opposing elimination of any rules discussed in this NPRM should explain how the benefits derived from such rules, if any, outweigh the costs.11 We note that no party in the media modernization proceeding has asserted that any of these rules should be retained.

    11 We are not proposing to eliminate the provisions in sections 74.769, 74.1269, 76.1714, and 78.67 that obligate the subject broadcast and cable entities to be familiar with the rules governing their respective operations.

    Initial Paperwork Reduction Act Analysis

    4. This document does not contain proposed new or revised information collection requirements subject to the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, Public Law 104-13 (44 U.S.C. 3501 through 3520). In addition, therefore, it does not contain any new or modified “information burden for small business concerns with fewer than 25 employees” pursuant to the Small Business Paperwork Relief Act of 2002, Public Law 107-198, 44 U.S.C. 3506(c)(4).

    Ex Parte Rules

    5. Permit-But-Disclose. This proceeding shall be treated as a “permit-but-disclose” proceeding in accordance with the Commission's ex parte rules.12 Persons making ex parte presentations must file a copy of any written presentation or a memorandum summarizing any oral presentation within two business days after the presentation (unless a different deadline applicable to the Sunshine period applies). Persons making oral ex parte presentations are reminded that memoranda summarizing the presentation must (1) list all persons attending or otherwise participating in the meeting at which the ex parte presentation was made, and (2) summarize all data presented and arguments made during the presentation. If the presentation consisted in whole or in part of the presentation of data or arguments already reflected in the presenter's written comments, memoranda or other filings in the proceeding, the presenter may provide citations to such data or arguments in his or her prior comments, memoranda, or other filings (specifying the relevant page and/or paragraph numbers where such data or arguments can be found) in lieu of summarizing them in the memorandum. Documents shown or given to Commission staff during ex parte meetings are deemed to be written ex parte presentations and must be filed consistent with rule 1.1206(b). In proceedings governed by rule 1.49(f) or for which the Commission has made available a method of electronic filing, written ex parte presentations and memoranda summarizing oral ex parte presentations, and all attachments thereto, must be filed through the electronic comment filing system available for that proceeding, and must be filed in their native format (e.g., .doc, .xml, .ppt, searchable .pdf). Participants in this proceeding should familiarize themselves with the Commission's ex parte rules.

    12 47 CFR 1.1200 et seq.

    Filing Requirements

    6. Comments and Replies. Pursuant to sections 1.415 and 1.419 of the Commission's rules, 47 CFR 1.415, 1.419, interested parties may file comments and reply comments on or before the dates indicated on the first page of this document. Comments may be filed using the Commission's Electronic Comment Filing System (ECFS). Electronic Filing of Documents in Rulemaking Proceedings, 63 FR 24121 (1998).

    Electronic Filers: Comments may be filed electronically using the Internet by accessing the ECFS: http://fjallfoss.fcc.gov/ecfs2/.

    Paper Filers: Parties who choose to file by paper must file an original and one copy of each filing. If more than one docket or rulemaking number appears in the caption of this proceeding, filers must submit two additional copies for each additional docket or rulemaking number.

    • Filings can be sent by hand or messenger delivery, by commercial overnight courier, or by first-class or overnight U.S. Postal Service mail. All filings must be addressed to the Commission's Secretary, Office of the Secretary, Federal Communications Commission.

    7. Availability of Documents. Comments, reply comments, and ex parte submissions will be available for public inspection during regular business hours in the FCC Reference Center, Federal Communications Commission, 445 12th Street SW., CY-A257, Washington, DC 20554. These documents will also be available via ECFS. Documents will be available electronically in ASCII, Microsoft Word, and/or Adobe Acrobat.

    8. People with Disabilities. To request materials in accessible formats for people with disabilities (Braille, large print, electronic files, audio format), send an email to [email protected] or call the FCC's Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau at (202) 418-0530 (voice), (202) 418-0432 (TTY).

    Additional Information

    9. For additional information on this proceeding, contact Raelynn Remy of the Policy Division, Media Bureau, at [email protected], or (202) 418-2120.

    Initial Regulatory Flexibility Act Analysis

    10. As required by the Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980, as amended (RFA) 13 the Commission has prepared this Initial Regulatory Flexibility Act Analysis (IRFA) concerning the possible significant economic impact on small entities by the rules proposed in this Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM). Written public comments are requested on this IRFA. Comments must be identified as responses to the IRFA and must be filed by the deadlines for comments provided on the first page of the NPRM. The Commission will send a copy of the NPRM, including this IRFA, to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business Administration (SBA).14 In addition, the NPRM and IRFA (or summaries thereof) will be published in the Federal Register.15

    13 5 U.S.C. 603. The RFA, 5 U.S.C. 601 through 612, has been amended by the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996 (SBREFA), Public Law 104-121, Title II, 110 Stat. 857 (1996).

    14 5 U.S.C. 603(a).

    15Id.

    A. Need for, and Objectives of, the Proposed Rules

    11. The proposed rule changes stem from a Public Notice issued by the Commission in May 2017 launching an initiative to modernize the Commission's media regulations.16 Two parties in the proceeding, the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) and the American Cable Association (ACA), have argued for elimination of the recordkeeping requirements at issue as outdated and unnecessary. The NPRM proposes to eliminate provisions of the Commission's rules that obligate certain broadcasters and cable entities to maintain paper copies of Commission rules.

    16Commission Launches Modernization of Media Regulation Initiative, MB Docket No. 17-105, Public Notice, FCC 17-58 (MB May 18, 2017) (initiating a review of rules applicable to media entities to eliminate or modify regulations that are outdated, unnecessary or unduly burdensome).

    12. Specifically, the NPRM proposes to eliminate: (i) The requirement that licensees or permittees of low power TV, TV translator, and TV booster stations maintain a copy of Volume I and Volume III of the Commission's rules; 17 (ii) the requirement that licensees or permittees of FM translator and FM booster stations maintain a copy of Volumes I (parts 0, 1, 2 and 17) and III (parts 73 and 74) of the Commission's rules; 18 (iii) the requirement that certain cable operators maintain a copy of part 76 of the Commission's rules and, if subject to the Emergency Alert System (EAS) rules contained in part 11 of such rules, an EAS Operating Handbook; 19 and (iv) the requirements that cable television relay station (CARS) licensees maintain a copy of part 76 of the Commission's rules and, in cases where aeronautical obstruction markings of antennas are required, part 17 of such rules.20 These proposals are intended to reduce outdated regulations and unnecessary regulatory burdens that can impede competition and innovation in media markets.

    17 47 CFR 74.769.

    18 47 CFR 74.1269.

    19 47 CFR 76.1714(a).

    20 47 CFR 76.1714(c), 78.67. The NPRM also proposes to make conforming changes to sections 74.789, 74.787(a)(5)(viii) and 76.1700(d) if the Commission eliminates the specified requirements in sections 74.769 and 76.1714.

    B. Legal Basis

    13. The proposed action is authorized pursuant to sections 1, 4(i), and 4(j) of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, 47 U.S.C. 151, 154(i), and 154(j).

    C. Description and Estimate of the Number of Small Entities to Which the Proposed Rules Will Apply

    14. The RFA directs agencies to provide a description of and, where feasible, an estimate of the number of small entities that may be affected by the proposed rules, if adopted.21 The RFA generally defines the term “small entity” as having the same meaning as the terms “small business,” “small organization,” and “small governmental jurisdiction.” 22 In addition, the term “small business” has the same meaning as the term “small business concern” under the Small Business Act.23 A small business concern is one which: (1) Is independently owned and operated; (2) is not dominant in its field of operation; and (3) satisfies any additional criteria established by the SBA.24 The rules proposed herein will directly affect certain small television and radio broadcast stations, and cable entities. Below, we provide a list of such small entities.

    21 5 U.S.C. 603(b)(3).

    22 5 U.S.C. 601(6).

    23 5 U.S.C. 601(3) (incorporating by reference the definition of “small business concern” in 15 U.S.C. 632). Pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 601(3), the statutory definition of a small business applies “unless an agency, after consultation with the Office of Advocacy of the Small Business Administration and after opportunity for public comment, establishes one or more definitions of such term which are appropriate to the activities of the agency and publishes such definition(s) in the Federal Register.” 5 U.S.C. 601(3).

    24 15 U.S.C. 632. Application of the statutory criteria of dominance in its field of operation and independence are sometimes difficult to apply in the context of broadcast television. Accordingly, the Commission's statistical account of television stations may be over-inclusive.

    • Television Broadcasting • Radio Stations • Cable Companies and Systems • Cable System Operators • Cable antenna relay service licensees D. Description of Projected Reporting, Recordkeeping, and Other Compliance Requirements

    15. Reporting Requirements. The NPRM does not propose to adopt reporting requirements.

    16. Recordkeeping Requirements. The NPRM does not propose to adopt recordkeeping requirements.

    17. Other Compliance Requirements. The NPRM does not propose to adopt other compliance requirements.

    18. Because no commenter provided information specifically quantifying the costs and administrative burdens of complying with the existing recordkeeping requirements, we cannot precisely estimate the impact on small entities of eliminating them. The proposed rule revisions, if adopted, will afford all affected Commission regulatees, including small entities, greater flexibility in the manner by which they access and stay familiar with Commission rules governing their services. No party in the proceeding has opposed the proposals set forth in the NPRM. We thus find it reasonable to conclude that the benefits of eliminating the rules at issue will outweigh any costs.

    E. Steps Taken To Minimize Significant Economic Impact on Small Entities and Significant Alternatives Considered

    19. The RFA requires an agency to describe any significant, specifically small business, alternatives that it has considered in reaching its proposed approach, which may include the following four alternatives (among others): (1) The establishment of differing compliance or reporting requirements or timetables that take into account the resources available to small entities; (2) the clarification, consolidation, or simplification of compliance and reporting requirements under the rule for such small entities; (3) the use of performance, rather than design, standards; and (4) an exemption from coverage of the rule, or any part thereof, for small entities.

    20. The NPRM proposes to eliminate the obligation, imposed on certain broadcasters and cable regulatees, to maintain paper copies of Commission rules. Eliminating these requirements is intended to modernize the Commission's regulations and reduce costs and recordkeeping burdens for affected entities, include small entities. Whereas under the current rules, affected entities must expend time and resources maintaining and updating hard copies of Commission rules, such entities will be able to maintain their familiarity with Commission rules by accessing those rules online. As noted, the proposed rule revisions are unopposed. Thus, we anticipate that affected small entities only stand to benefit from such revisions, if adopted.

    F. Federal Rules That May Duplicate, Overlap, or Conflict With the Proposed Rule

    21. None.

    22. We adopt this NPRM pursuant to the authority found in sections 1, 4(i), and 4(j) of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, 47 U.S.C. 151, 154(i), and 154(j).

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

    For the reasons discussed in the preamble, the Federal Communications Commission proposes to amend 47 CFR parts 74, 76 and 78 as follows:

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

    47 U.S.C. 154, 302a, 303, 307, 309, 310, 336, and 554.

    2. Section 74.769 is revised to read as follows:
    § 74.769 FCC Rules.

    Each licensee or permittee of a station authorized under this subpart shall be familiar with rules relating to stations governed by this subpart.

    3. Section 74.787 is amended by revising paragraph (a)(5)(viii) introductory text and the table entry for § 74.769 to read as follows:
    § 74.787 Digital Licensing.

    (a) * * *

    (5) * * *

    (viii) The following sections are applicable to analog-to-digital and digital-to-digital replacement television translator stations:

    Applicable Rule Sections *    *    *    *    * § 74.769 FCC Rules. *    *    *    *    *
    § 74.789 [Amended]
    4. Section 74.789 is amended by removing § 74.769 Copies of Rules and adding § 74.769 FCC Rules. 5. Section 74.1269 is revised to read as follows:
    § 74.1269 FCC Rules.

    Each licensee or permittee of a station authorized under this subpart shall be familiar with rules relating to stations governed by this subpart.

    PART 76—MULTICHANNEL VIDEO AND CABLE TELEVISION SERVICE 1. The authority citation for part 76 continues to read as follows: Authority:

    47 U.S.C. 151, 152, 153, 154, 301, 302, 302a, 303, 303a, 307, 308, 309, 312, 315, 317, 325, 339, 340, 341, 503, 521, 522, 531, 532, 534, 535, 536, 537, 543, 544, 544a, 545, 548, 549, 552, 554, 556, 558, 560, 561, 571, 572 and 573.

    2. Section 76.1700 is amended by revising paragraph (d) to read as follows:
    § 76.1700 Records to be maintained by cable system operators.

    (d) Exceptions to the public inspection file requirements. The operator of every cable television system having fewer than 1,000 subscribers is exempt from the online public file and from the public record requirements contained in § 76.1701 (political file); § 76.1702 (EEO records available for public inspection); § 76.1703 (commercial records for children's programming); § 76.1704 (proof-of-performance test data); § 76.1706 (signal leakage logs and repair records); § 76.1714 (FCC rules); and § 76.1715 (sponsorship identification).

    3. Section 76.1714 is amended by revising paragraphs (a) and (c) to read as follows:
    § 6.1714 FCC Rules.

    (a) The operator of a cable television system is expected to be familiar with the rules governing cable television systems and, if subject to the Emergency Alert System (EAS) rules contained in part 11 of this chapter, the EAS.

    (c) Both the licensee of a cable television relay station (CARS) and the operator or operators responsible for the proper operation of the station are expected to be familiar with the rules governing cable television relay stations.

    PART 78—CABLE TELEVISION RELAY SERVICE 1. The authority citation for part 78 continues to read as follows: Authority:

    47 U.S.C. 152, 153, 154, 301, 303, 307, 308, 309.

    2. Section 78.67 is revised to read as follows:
    § 78.67 FCC Rules.

    Both the licensee of a cable television relay station (CARS) and the operator or operators responsible for the proper operation of the station are expected to be familiar with the rules governing CARS stations.

    [FR Doc. 2017-22183 Filed 10-12-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6712-01-P
    82 197 Friday, October 13, 2017 Notices DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Agricultural Marketing Service [Doc. No. AMS-LPS-17-0059] Request for Extension of and Revision to a Currently Approved Information Collection AGENCY:

    Agricultural Marketing Service, USDA.

    ACTION:

    Notice; request for comments.

    SUMMARY:

    In accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, this notice announces the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service's (AMS) intent to request approval from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for an extension of and revision to the currently approved information collection used in support of the Regulations Governing the Inspection of Eggs (as authorized by the Egg Products Inspection Act (EPIA)), which is commonly referred to as the Shell Egg Surveillance Program.

    DATES:

    Comments must be received by December 12, 2017.

    ADDRESSES:

    Interested persons are invited to submit comments concerning this notice by using the electronic process available at www.regulations.gov. Written comments may also be submitted to Quality Assessment Division; Livestock, Poultry, and Seed Program; Agricultural Marketing Service, USDA; 1400 Independence Avenue SW., Room 3932-S, Stop 0258, Washington, DC 20250-0258; or by facsimile to (202) 690-2746. All comments should reference the docket number AMS-LPS-17-0059, the date, and the page number of this issue of the Federal Register. All comments received will be posted without change, including any personal information provided, at www.regulations.gov and will be included in the record and made available to the public.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Michelle Degenhart, Assistant to the Director, Quality Assessment Division; (202) 260-8417; or [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Title: Regulations for the Inspection of Eggs (Egg Products Inspection Act).

    OMB Number: 0581-0113.

    Expiration Date of Approval: May 31, 2018.

    Type of Request: Request for extension of and revision to a currently approved information collection.

    Abstract: Congress enacted the EPIA (21 U.S.C. 1031-1056) to provide, in part, a mandatory inspection program to control the disposition of dirty and checked shell eggs; to control unwholesome, adulterated, and inedible shell eggs that are unfit for human consumption; and to control the movement and disposition of imported shell eggs.

    The EPIA authorized USDA to issue regulations describing how this function would be carried out to ensure that only eggs fit for human consumption are used for such purposes. To this end, USDA published the EPIA, commonly referred to as the Shell Egg Surveillance Program, in 7 CFR part 57.

    Under the Shell Egg Surveillance Program, shell egg handlers and hatcheries are required to register with USDA. A state or Federal surveillance inspector visits each registered handler quarterly to verify that shell eggs packed for consumer use are in compliance with the regulations (e.g., restricted eggs are not used for human consumption, storage temperatures are maintained at 45 degrees ambient, etc.), that restricted eggs are being disposed of properly, and that adequate records are being maintained.

    The information and recordkeeping requirements in this request are essential to carry out the intent of Congress, to administer the mandatory inspection program, and to take regulatory action, in accordance with the regulations and the EPIA. The forms within this collection package require the minimum information necessary to effectively carry out the requirements of the regulations, and their use is necessary to fulfill the intent of the EPIA.

    The information collected is used only by authorized representatives of the AMS Livestock, Poultry, and Seed Program's Quality Assessment Division, which includes state agencies authorized to conduct inspections on AMS's behalf. The information is only used to verify compliance with the EPIA and the regulations, and it is used to facilitate regulatory action. The Agency is the primary user of the information; secondary users include each authorized state agency that have a cooperative agreement with AMS.

    Estimate of Burden: Public reporting burden for this collection of information is estimated to average .30 hours per response.

    Respondents: Businesses or other for-profits, and small businesses or organizations.

    Estimated Number of Respondents: 805.

    Estimated Number of Responses per Respondent: 8.

    Estimated Total Annual Responses: 6,434.50.

    Estimated Total Annual Burden on Respondents: 1,942.28 hours.

    Comments are invited on: (1) Whether the proposed collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the Agency, including whether the information will have practical utility; (2) the accuracy of the Agency's estimate of the burden of the proposed collection of information including the validity of the methodology and assumptions used; (3) ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and (4) ways to minimize the burden of the collection of information on those who are to respond, including the use of appropriate automated, electronic, mechanical, or other technological collection techniques or other forms of information technology.

    All responses to this notice will be summarized and included in the request for OMB approval. All responses will become a matter of public record, including any personal information provided.

    Dated: October 10, 2017. Bruce Summers, Acting Administrator, Agricultural Marketing Service.
    [FR Doc. 2017-22221 Filed 10-12-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3410-02-P
    DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Agricultural Marketing Service [Docket No. AMS-DA-17-0062] Revision of a Currently Approved Collection AGENCY:

    Agricultural Marketing Service, USDA.

    ACTION:

    Notice and request for comments.

    SUMMARY:

    In accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, this notice announces the Agricultural Marketing Service's (AMS) intention to request approval from the Office of Management and Budget, for a revision of a currently approved collection for the Regulations Governing the Inspection and Grading of Manufactured or Processed Dairy Products—Recordkeeping (Subpart B).

    DATES:

    Comments received by December 12, 2017 will be considered.

    Additional Information or Comments: Contact Camia Lane, Dairy Grading and Standardization Division, Dairy Programs, Agricultural Marketing Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Room 2968—South Building, 1400 Independence Avenue SW., Washington, DC 20250-0230; Telephone: 202-720-1671, Fax: 202-720-2643, [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Title: Regulations Governing the Inspection and Grading of Manufactured or Processed Dairy Products—Record Keeping (Subpart B).

    OMB Number: 0581-0110.

    Expiration Date of Approval: April 30, 2018.

    Type of Request: Revision of a currently approved collection.

    Abstract: The Agricultural Marketing Act (AMA) of 1946 (7 U.S.C. 1621 et seq.) directs the Department to develop programs which will provide for and facilitate the marketing of agricultural products. One of these programs is the USDA voluntary inspection and grading program for dairy products (7 CFR part 58).

    Dairy products are graded according to U.S. grade standards by a USDA grader. Dairy processors, buyers, retailers, institutional users, and consumers have requested that such a program be developed to assure the uniform quality of dairy products purchased. In order for any service program to perform satisfactorily, there are regulations for the provider and user. For these reasons, the dairy inspection and grading program regulations were developed and issued under the authority of the AMA. These regulations are essential to administer the program to meet the needs of the user and to carry out the purposes of the AMA.

    The information collection requirements in this request are essential to carry out the intent of the AMA to ensure that dairy products are produced under sanitary conditions and buyers are purchasing a quality product. In order for the General Specifications for Dairy Plants Approved for USDA Inspection and Grading Service to serve the government, industry, and the consumer, laboratory test results must be recorded.

    Respondents are not required to submit information to the agency. The records are to be evaluated by a USDA inspector at the time of an inspection. These records include quality tests of each producer, plant records of required tests and analysis, and starter and cheese make records. As an offsetting benefit, the records required by USDA are also records that are routinely used by the inspected facility for their own supervisory and quality control purposes.

    Estimate of Burden: Public recordkeeping burden for this collection of information is estimated to average 2.73 hours per response.

    Respondents: Dairy products manufacturing facilities.

    Estimated Number of Respondents: 369.

    Estimated Number of Responses: 369.

    Estimated Number of Responses per Respondent: 1.

    Estimated Total Annual Burden on Respondents: 1007.

    Comments are invited on: (1) Whether the proposed collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the agency, including whether the information will have practical utility; (2) the accuracy of the agency's estimate of the burden of the proposed collection of information including the validity of the methodology and assumptions used; (3) ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and (4) ways to minimize the burden of the collection of information on those who are to respond, including the use of appropriate automated, electronic, mechanical, or other technological collection techniques or other forms of information technology.

    All responses to this notice will be summarized and included in the request for OMB approval. All comments will become a matter of public record.

    Dated: October 6, 2017. Bruce Summers, Acting Administrator, Agricultural Marketing Service.
    [FR Doc. 2017-22134 Filed 10-12-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3410-02-P
    DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service [Docket No. APHIS-2017-0078] Notice of Request for Revision to and Extension of Approval of an Information Collection; Importation of Fresh Blueberry Fruit From Morocco Into the Continental United States ACTION:

    Revision to and extension of approval of an information collection; comment request.

    SUMMARY:

    In accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, this notice announces the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service's intention to request a revision to and extension of approval of an information collection associated with the regulations for the importation of fresh blueberry fruit from Morocco into the continental United States.

    DATES:

    We will consider all comments that we receive on or before December 12, 2017.

    ADDRESSES:

    You may submit comments by either of the following methods:

    Federal eRulemaking Portal: Go to http://www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=APHIS-2017-0078.

    Postal Mail/Commercial Delivery: Send your comment to Docket No. APHIS-2017-0078, Regulatory Analysis and Development, PPD, APHIS, Station 3A-03.8, 4700 River Road Unit 118, Riverdale, MD 20737-1238.

    Supporting documents and any comments we receive on this docket may be viewed at http://www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=APHIS-2017-0078 or in our reading room, which is located in room 1141 of the USDA South Building, 14th Street and Independence Avenue SW., Washington, DC. Normal reading room hours are 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, except holidays. To be sure someone is there to help you, please call (202) 799-7039 before coming.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    For information on the regulations related to the importation of fresh blueberries from Morocco into the continental United States, contact Ms. Dorothy Wayson, Senior Regulatory Specialist, Plant Health Programs, Plant Protection and Quarantine, APHIS, 4700 River Road Unit 40, Riverdale, MD 20737-1236; (301) 851-2036. For copies of more detailed information on the information collection, contact Ms. Kimberly Hardy, APHIS' Information Collection Coordinator, at (301) 851-2483.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Title: Importation of Fresh Blueberry Fruit from Morocco Into the Continental United States.

    OMB Control Number: 0579-0421.

    Type of Request: Revision to and extension of approval of an information collection.

    Abstract: The Plant Protection Act (PPA, 7 U.S.C. 7701 et seq.) authorizes the Secretary of Agriculture to restrict the importation, entry, or interstate movement of plants, plant products, and other articles to prevent the introduction of plant pests into the United States or their dissemination within the United States. As authorized by the PPA, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service regulates the importation of fruits and vegetables into the United States from certain parts of the world as provided in “Subpart—Fruits and Vegetables” (7 CFR 319.56-1 through 319.56-80).

    In accordance with § 319.56-69, blueberries from Morocco may be imported into the continental United States under certain conditions to prevent the introduction of plant pests into the United States. These conditions require the use of certain information collection activities, including application for permits to import plants and plant products, appeal of denial or revocation of permit, emergency action notification, notice of arrival, registration of production sites, inspections of crops, and remedial actions by production sites. Also, each consignment of blueberries must be accompanied by a phytosanitary certificate issued by the national plant protection organization (NPPO) of Morocco with an additional declaration stating that the provisions of § 319.56-69 have been met, and that the consignment was inspected prior to export and found free of Monilinia fructigena. These actions allow the importation of blueberries from Morocco while continuing to protect the United States against the introduction of plant pests.

    We are asking the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to approve our use of these information collection activities, as described, for an additional 3 years.

    The purpose of this notice is to solicit comments from the public (as well as affected agencies) concerning our information collection. These comments will help us:

    (1) Evaluate whether the collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the Agency, including whether the information will have practical utility;

    (2) Evaluate the accuracy of our estimate of the burden of the collection of information, including the validity of the methodology and assumptions used;

    (3) Enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and

    (4) Minimize the burden of the collection of information on those who are to respond, through use, as appropriate, of automated, electronic, mechanical, and other collection technologies; e.g., permitting electronic submission of responses.

    Estimate of burden: The public burden for this collection of information is estimated to average 0.63 hours per response.

    Respondents: Growers and importers of blueberry fruit from Morocco and the NPPO of Morocco.

    Estimated annual number of respondents: 15.

    Estimated annual number of responses per respondent: 9.

    Estimated annual number of responses: 130.

    Estimated total annual burden on respondents: 82 hours. (Due to averaging, the total annual burden hours may not equal the product of the annual number of responses multiplied by the reporting burden per response.)

    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.

    Done in Washington, DC, this 6th day of October 2017 . Michael C. Gregoire, Acting Administrator, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.
    [FR Doc. 2017-22225 Filed 10-12-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3410-34-P
    DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service [Docket No. APHIS-2017-0079] Notice of Request for Revision to and Extension of Approval of an Information Collection; Importation of Pine Shoot Beetle Host Material From Canada AGENCY:

    Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, USDA.

    ACTION:

    Revision to and extension of approval of an information collection; comment request.

    SUMMARY:

    In accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, this notice announces the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service's intention to request a revision to and extension of approval of an information collection associated with the regulations for the importation of pine nursery stock and various pine products from Canada to prevent the spread of pine shoot beetle into noninfested areas of the United States.

    DATES:

    We will consider all comments that we receive on or before December 12, 2017.

    ADDRESSES:

    You may submit comments by either of the following methods:

    Federal eRulemaking Portal: Go to http://www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=APHIS-2017-0079.

    Postal Mail/Commercial Delivery: Send your comment to Docket No. APHIS-2017-0079, Regulatory Analysis and Development, PPD, APHIS, Station 3A-03.8, 4700 River Road Unit 118, Riverdale, MD 20737-1238.

    Supporting documents and any comments we receive on this docket may be viewed at http://www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=APHIS-2017-0079 or in our reading room, which is located in room 1141 of the USDA South Building, 14th Street and Independence Avenue SW., Washington, DC. Normal reading room hours are 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, except holidays. To be sure someone is there to help you, please call (202) 799-7039 before coming.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    For information on the regulations for the importation of pine shoot beetle host material from Canada, contact Mr. Tyrone Jones, Trade Director, PHP, PPQ, APHIS, 4700 River Road Unit 137, Riverdale, MD 20737; (301) 851-2128. For copies of more detailed information on the information collection, contact Ms. Kimberly Hardy, APHIS' Information Collection Coordinator, at (301) 851-2483.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Title: Importation of Pine Shoot Beetle Host Material From Canada.

    OMB Control Number: 0579-0257.

    Type of request: Revision to and extension of approval of an information collection.

    Abstract: The Plant Protection Act (PPA, 7 U.S.C. 7701 et seq.) authorizes the Secretary of Agriculture to restrict the importation, entry, or interstate movement of plants, plant products, and other articles to prevent the introduction of plant pests into the United States or their dissemination within the United States.

    As authorized by the PPA, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) regulates the importation of plants for planting into the United States from certain parts of the world as provided in “Subpart—Plants for Planting” (7 CFR 319.37 through 319.37-14). This subpart restricts, among other things, the importation of living plants, plant parts, and seeds for propagation. In addition, APHIS regulates the importation of lumber and other wood articles as provided in “Subpart—Logs, Lumber, and Other Wood Articles” (7 CFR 319.40-1 through 319.40-11). This subpart lists requirements for the importation of various logs, lumber, and other unmanufactured wood products into the United States. Both subparts contain regulations that help prevent the introduction and spread of pine shoot beetle (Tomicus piniperda), a pest of pine trees, into noninfested areas of the United States and contain several information collection requirements including phytosanitary certificates with an additional declaration, statements of origin and movement, compliance agreements, and processes of appeal.

    We are asking the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to approve our use of these information collection activities, as described, for an additional 3 years.

    The purpose of this notice is to solicit comments from the public (as well as affected agencies) concerning our information collection. These comments will help us:

    (1) Evaluate whether the collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the Agency, including whether the information will have practical utility;

    (2) Evaluate the accuracy of our estimate of the burden of the collection of information, including the validity of the methodology and assumptions used;

    (3) Enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and

    (4) Minimize the burden of the collection of information on those who are to respond, through use, as appropriate, of automated, electronic, mechanical, and other collection technologies; e.g., permitting electronic submission of responses.

    Estimate of burden: The public burden for this collection of information is estimated to average 0.04 hours per response.

    Respondents: Christmas tree industry, nursery industry, and foreign government.

    Estimated annual number of respondents: 20.

    Estimated annual number of responses per respondent: 120.

    Estimated annual number of responses: 2,402.

    Estimated total annual burden on respondents: 94 hours. (Due to averaging, the total annual burden hours may not equal the product of the annual number of responses multiplied by the reporting burden per response.)

    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.

    Done in Washington, DC, this 6th day of October 2017 . Michael C. Gregoire, Acting Administrator, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.
    [FR Doc. 2017-22224 Filed 10-12-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3410-34-P
    DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service [Docket No. APHIS-2017-0082] Notice of Request for Revision to and Extension of Approval of an Information Collection; Importation of Mangoes From Jamaica Into the Continental United States AGENCY:

    Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, USDA.

    ACTION:

    Revision to and extension of approval of an information collection; comment request.

    SUMMARY:

    In accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, this notice announces the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service's intention to request a revision to and extension of approval of an information collection associated with the regulations for the importation of mangoes from Jamaica into the continental United States.

    DATES:

    We will consider all comments that we receive on or before December 12, 2017.

    ADDRESSES:

    You may submit comments by either of the following methods:

    Federal eRulemaking Portal: Go to http://www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=APHIS-2017-0082.

    Postal Mail/Commercial Delivery: Send your comment to Docket No. APHIS-2017-0082, Regulatory Analysis and Development, PPD, APHIS, Station 3A-03.8, 4700 River Road Unit 118, Riverdale, MD 20737-1238.

    Supporting documents and any comments we receive on this docket may be viewed at http://www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=APHIS-2017-0082 or in our reading room, which is located in room 1141 of the USDA South Building, 14th Street and Independence Avenue SW., Washington, DC. Normal reading room hours are 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, except holidays. To be sure someone is there to help you, please call (202) 799-7039 before coming.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    For information on the regulations for the importation of mangoes from Jamaica, contact Mr. Tony Roman, Senior Regulatory Policy Specialist, PPQ, APHIS, 4700 River Road Unit 133, Riverdale, MD 20737; (301) 851-2242. For copies of more detailed information on the information collection, contact Ms. Kimberly Hardy, APHIS' Information Collection Coordinator, at (301) 851-2483.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Title: Importation of Mangoes From Jamaica Into the Continental United States.

    OMB Control Number: 0579-0419.

    Type of Request: Revision to and extension of approval of an information collection.

    Abstract: The Plant Protection Act (PPA, 7 U.S.C. 7701 et seq.) authorizes the Secretary of Agriculture to restrict the importation, entry, or interstate movement of plants, plant products, and other articles to prevent the introduction of plant pests into the United States or their dissemination within the United States. As authorized by the PPA, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service regulates the importation of fruits and vegetables into the United States from certain parts of the world as provided in “Subpart—Fruits and Vegetables” (7 CFR 319.56-1 through 319.56-80).

    In accordance with § 319.56-71, mangoes may be imported from Jamaica into the continental United States under certain conditions to prevent the introduction of plant pests into the United States. As a condition of entry, mangoes have to be produced in accordance with a systems approach employing a combination of mitigation measures for the pests listed in § 319.56-71 and be inspected prior to export from Jamaica and found free of these pests and diseases. Mangoes must be accompanied by a phytosanitary certificate with an additional declaration that the conditions for importation have been met. These regulations also require the use of certain information collection activities that include operational workplans, production site registrations, pest detection investigations and reinstatement, heat treatment facility certifications, heat treatment monitoring and inspections, trust fund agreements, inspections, and emergency action notifications.

    We are asking the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to approve our use of these information collection activities, as described, for an additional 3 years.

    The purpose of this notice is to solicit comments from the public (as well as affected agencies) concerning our information collection. These comments will help us:

    (1) Evaluate whether the collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the Agency, including whether the information will have practical utility;

    (2) Evaluate the accuracy of our estimate of the burden of the collection of information, including the validity of the methodology and assumptions used;

    (3) Enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and

    (4) Minimize the burden of the collection of information on those who are to respond, through use, as appropriate, of automated, electronic, mechanical, and other collection technologies; e.g., permitting electronic submission of responses.

    Estimate of burden: The public burden for this collection of information is estimated to average 1 hour per response.

    Respondents: Facilities, production sites, importers, and the national plant protection organization of Jamaica.

    Estimated annual number of respondents: 5.

    Estimated annual number of responses per respondent: 80.

    Estimated annual number of responses: 398.

    Estimated total annual burden on respondents: 427 hours. (Due to averaging, the total annual burden hours may not equal the product of the annual number of responses multiplied by the reporting burden per response.)

    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.

    Done in Washington, DC, this 6th day of October 2017 . Michael C. Gregoire, Acting Administrator, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.
    [FR Doc. 2017-22222 Filed 10-12-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3410-34-P
    DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service [Docket No. APHIS-2017-0080] Notice of Request for Extension of Approval of an Information Collection; Black Stem Rust; Identification Requirements for Addition of Rust-Resistant Varieties AGENCY:

    Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, USDA.

    ACTION:

    Extension of approval of an information collection; comment request.

    SUMMARY:

    In accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, this notice announces the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service's intention to request an extension of approval of an information collection associated with the black stem rust quarantine and regulations.

    DATES:

    We will consider all comments that we receive on or before December 12, 2017.

    ADDRESSES:

    You may submit comments by either of the following methods:

    Federal eRulemaking Portal: Go to http://www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=APHIS-2017-0080.

    Postal Mail/Commercial Delivery: Send your comment to Docket No. APHIS-2017-0080, Regulatory Analysis and Development, PPD, APHIS, Station 3A-03.8, 4700 River Road, Unit 118, Riverdale, MD 20737-1238.

    Supporting documents and any comments we receive on this docket may be viewed at http://www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=APHIS-2017-0080 or in our reading room, which is located in room 1141 of the USDA South Building, 14th Street and Independence Avenue SW., Washington, DC. Normal reading room hours are 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, except holidays. To be sure someone is there to help you, please call (202) 799-7039 before coming.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    For information on the black stem rust quarantine and regulations, contact Dr. Richard N. Johnson, National Policy Manager, PHP, PPQ, APHIS, 4700 River Road, Unit 26, Riverdale, MD 20737; (301) 851-2109. For copies of more detailed information on the information collection, contact Ms. Kimberly Hardy, APHIS' Information Collection Coordinator, at (301) 851-2483.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Title: Black Stem Rust; Identification Requirements for Addition of Rust-Resistant Varieties.

    OMB Control Number: 0579-0186.

    Type of Request: Extension of approval of an information collection.

    Abstract: Under the Plant Protection Act (7 U.S.C. 7701 et seq.), the Secretary of Agriculture is authorized to prohibit or restrict the importation, entry, or interstate movement of plants, plant products, and other articles to prevent the introduction of plant pests into the United States or their dissemination within the United States.

    Black stem rust is one of the most destructive plant diseases of small grains that is known to exist in the United States. The disease is caused by a fungus that reduces the quality and yield of infected wheat, oat, barley, and rye crops by robbing host plants of food and water. In addition to infecting small grains, the fungus lives on a variety of alternate host plants that are species of the genera Berberis, Mahoberberis, and Mahonia. The fungus is spread from host to host by wind-borne spores.

    The black stem rust quarantine and regulations, contained in 7 CFR 301.38 through 301.38-8 (referred to below as the regulations), quarantine the conterminous 48 States and the District of Columbia and govern the interstate movement of certain plants of the genera Berberis, Mahoberberis, and Mahonia, known as barberry plants. The species of these plants are categorized as either rust-resistant or rust-susceptible. Rust-resistant plants do not pose a risk of spreading black stem rust or of contributing to the development of new races of rust; rust-susceptible plants do pose such risks.

    Paragraph (b) of § 301.38-2 provides the requirements for the submission of a request to the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service to add a variety to the list of rust-resistant barberry varieties in the regulations. A request must include a description of the variety, including a written description and color pictures that can be used by an inspector to clearly identify the variety and distinguish it from other varieties. This requirement helps to ensure that State plant inspectors can clearly determine whether plants moving into or through their States are rust-resistant varieties listed in 7 CFR 301.38-2.

    We are asking the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to approve our use of this information collection activity for an additional 3 years.

    The purpose of this notice is to solicit comments from the public (as well as affected agencies) concerning our information collection. These comments will help us:

    (1) Evaluate whether the collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the Agency, including whether the information will have practical utility;

    (2) Evaluate the accuracy of our estimate of the burden of the collection of information, including the validity of the methodology and assumptions used;

    (3) Enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and

    (4) Minimize the burden of the collection of information on those who are to respond, through use, as appropriate, of automated, electronic, mechanical, and other collection technologies; e.g., permitting electronic submission of responses.

    Estimate of burden: The public burden for this collection of information is estimated to average 4 hours per response.

    Respondents: Nurseries.

    Estimated annual number of respondents: 4.

    Estimated annual number of responses per respondent: 2.

    Estimated annual number of responses: 8.

    Estimated total annual burden on respondents: 32 hours. (Due to averaging, the total annual burden hours may not equal the product of the annual number of responses multiplied by the reporting burden per response.)

    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.

    Done in Washington, DC, this 11th day of October 2017. Michael C. Gregoire, Acting Administrator, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.
    [FR Doc. 2017-22346 Filed 10-12-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3410-34-P
    DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service [Docket No. APHIS-2017-0081] Notice of Request for Revision to and Extension of Approval of an Information Collection; Karnal Bunt; Importation of Wheat and Related Articles AGENCY:

    Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, USDA.

    ACTION:

    Revision to and extension of approval of an information collection; comment request.

    SUMMARY:

    In accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, this notice announces the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service's intention to request a revision to and extension of approval of an information collection associated with the regulations for the importation of wheat and related articles from regions affected with Karnal bunt.

    DATES:

    We will consider all comments that we receive on or before December 12, 2017.

    ADDRESSES:

    You may submit comments by either of the following methods:

    Federal eRulemaking Portal: Go to http://www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=APHIS-2017-0081.

    Postal Mail/Commercial Delivery: Send your comment to Docket No. APHIS-2017-0081, Regulatory Analysis and Development, PPD, APHIS, Station 3A-03.8, 4700 River Road Unit 118, Riverdale, MD 20737-1238.

    Supporting documents and any comments we receive on this docket may be viewed at http://www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=APHIS-2017-0081 or in our reading room, which is located in room 1141 of the USDA South Building, 14th Street and Independence Avenue SW., Washington, DC. Normal reading room hours are 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, except holidays. To be sure someone is there to help you, please call (202) 799-7039 before coming.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    For information on Karnal bunt and the importation of wheat and related articles, contact Mr. George Galasso, National Trade Director, PPQ, APHIS, 4700 River Road Unit 140, Riverdale, MD 20737; (301) 851-2050. For copies of more detailed information on the information collection, contact Ms. Kimberly Hardy, APHIS' Information Collection Coordinator, at (301) 851-2483.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Title: Karnal Bunt; Importation of Wheat and Related Articles.

    OMB Control Number: 0579-0240.

    Type of Request: Revision to and extension of approval of an information collection.

    Abstract: Under the Plant Protection Act (7 U.S.C. 7701 et seq.), the Secretary of Agriculture is authorized, among other things, to prohibit or restrict the importation, entry, or interstate movement of plants, plant products, biological control organism, noxious weeds, means of conveyances, and other articles to prevent the introduction of plant pests or noxious weeds into the United States or their dissemination within the United States. This authority has been delegated to the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS).

    Karnal bunt is a fungal disease of wheat (Triticum aestivum), durum wheat (Triticum durum), and triticale (Triticum aestivum X Secale cereale), a hybrid of wheat and rye. Karnal bunt is caused by the smut fungus Tilletia indica (Mitra) Mundkhur and is spread by spores, primarily through movement of infected seed.

    To prevent the introduction and spread of various wheat diseases, including Karnal bunt, APHIS' regulations in “Subpart—Wheat Diseases” (7 CFR 319.59-1 through 319.59-4) prohibit the importation of wheat seed, plants, straw, and other products into the United States from regions affected with Karnal bunt.

    The regulations require that certain regulated articles imported from Karnal bunt-free areas within regions regulated for Karnal bunt be accompanied by a phytosanitary certificate that must be completed by an official of the national plant protection organization (NPPO) of the region of origin. The certificate must include a declaration stating that the regulated articles originated in areas where Karnal bunt is not known to occur, as attested to either by survey results or by testing for bunted kernels or spores. In addition, there are other information collection activities including notices of arrival, disinfection documents, and emergency action notice.

    We are asking the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to approve our use of these information collection activities, as described, for an additional 3 years.

    The purpose of this notice is to solicit comments from the public (as well as affected agencies) concerning our information collection. These comments will help us:

    (1) Evaluate whether the collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the Agency, including whether the information will have practical utility;

    (2) Evaluate the accuracy of our estimate of the burden of the collection of information, including the validity of the methodology and assumptions used;

    (3) Enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and

    (4) Minimize the burden of the collection of information on those who are to respond, through use, as appropriate, of automated, electronic, mechanical, and other collection technologies; e.g., permitting electronic submission of responses.

    Estimate of burden: The public burden for this collection of information is estimated to average 0.8 hours per response.

    Respondents: Importers/exporters of wheat and related articles and the NPPO of the region of origin.

    Estimated annual number of respondents: 4.

    Estimated annual number of responses per respondent: 56.

    Estimated annual number of responses: 224.

    Estimated total annual burden on respondents: 186 hours. (Due to averaging, the total annual burden hours may not equal the product of the annual number of responses multiplied by the reporting burden per response.)

    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.

    Done in Washington, DC, this 6th day of October 2017. Michael C. Gregoire, Acting Administrator, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.
    [FR Doc. 2017-22223 Filed 10-12-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3410-34-P
    DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service [Docket No. APHIS-2017-0077] Notice of Request for Revision to and Extension of Approval of an Information Collection; Gypsy Moth Identification Worksheet and Checklist AGENCY:

    Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, USDA.

    ACTION:

    Revision to and extension of approval of an information collection; comment request.

    SUMMARY:

    In accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, this notice announces the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service's intention to request a revision to and extension of approval of an information collection associated with the gypsy moth program.

    DATES:

    We will consider all comments that we receive on or before December 12, 2017.

    ADDRESSES:

    You may submit comments by either of the following methods:

    Federal eRulemaking Portal: Go to http://www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=APHIS-2017-0077.

    Postal Mail/Commercial Delivery: Send your comment to Docket No. APHIS-2017-0077, Regulatory Analysis and Development, PPD, APHIS, Station 3A-03.8, 4700 River Road, Unit 118, Riverdale, MD 20737-1238.

    Supporting documents and any comments we receive on this docket may be viewed at http://www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=APHIS-2017-0077 or in our reading room, which is located in room 1141 of the USDA South Building, 14th Street and Independence Avenue SW., Washington, DC. Normal reading room hours are 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, except holidays. To be sure someone is there to help you, please call (202) 799-7039 before coming.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    For information on the gypsy moth program, contact Mr. Paul Chaloux, National Policy Manager, PHP, PPQ, APHIS, 4700 River Road, Unit 137, Riverdale, MD 20737; (301) 851-2064. For copies of more detailed information on the information collection, contact Ms. Kimberly Hardy, APHIS' Information Collection Coordinator, at (301) 851-2483.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Title: Gypsy Moth Identification Worksheet and Checklist.

    OMB Control Number: 0579-0104.

    Type of Request: Revision to and extension of approval of an information collection.

    Abstract: Under the Plant Protection Act (7 U.S.C. 7701 et seq.), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), either independently or in cooperation with the States, is authorized to carry out operations or measures to detect, eradicate, suppress, control, prevent, or retard the spread of plant pests new to the United States or not widely distributed throughout the United States. The USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is the delegated authority to carry out this mission.

    As part of the mission, APHIS' Plant Protection and Quarantine (PPQ) program engages in detection surveys to monitor for the presence of, among other things, the European gypsy moth and the Asian gypsy moth. The European gypsy moth is one of the most destructive pests of fruit and ornamental trees as well as hardwood forests. First introduced into the United States in Medford, MA, in 1869, the European gypsy moth has gradually spread to infest the entire northeastern portion of the country. The gypsy moth regulations can be found in 7 CFR 301.45 through 301.45-12.

    Heavily infested European gypsy moth areas are inundated with actively crawling larvae that cover trees, fences, vehicles, and houses during their search for food. Entire areas may be stripped of all foliage, often resulting in heavy damage to trees. The damage can have long-lasting effects, depriving wildlife of food and shelter, and severely limiting the recreational value of forested areas.

    The Asian gypsy moth is an exotic strain of gypsy moth that is closely related to the European variety already established in the United States. While the Asian gypsy moth has been introduced into the United States on several occasions, it is currently not established in the United States. However, due to behavioral differences, the Asian gypsy moth is considered to pose an even greater threat to trees and forested areas than the European gypsy moth.

    Unlike the flightless European gypsy moth female adult, the Asian gypsy moth female adult is capable of strong directed flight between mating and egg deposition, significantly increasing its ability to spread over a much greater area and become widely established within a short time. In addition, Asian gypsy moth larvae feed on a much wider variety of hosts, allowing them to exploit more areas and cause more damage than the European gypsy moth.

    To determine the presence and extent of a European gypsy moth or an Asian gypsy moth infestation, APHIS sets traps in high-risk areas to collect specimens. Once an infestation is identified, control and eradication work (usually involving State cooperation) is initiated to eliminate the moths.

    APHIS personnel, with assistance from State/local officials, check traps for the presence of gypsy moths. If a suspicious moth is found in the trap, it is sent to APHIS laboratories at the Otis Methods Development Center in Massachusetts so that it can be correctly identified through DNA analysis. DNA analysis is the only way to accurately identify these insects because the European gypsy moth and the Asian gypsy moth are strains of the same species, and they cannot be visually distinguished from each other.

    The PPQ or State/local officials submitting the moth for analysis must complete a specimen worksheet, which accompanies the insect to the laboratory. The worksheet enables Federal and State/local officials to identify and track specific specimens through the DNA identification tests that are conducted. In addition, the information provided by the gypsy moth identification worksheets is vital to APHIS' ability to monitor, detect, and eradicate gypsy moth infestations.

    The gypsy moth regulations (§ 301.45-4(a)) also require the inspection of outdoor household articles that are to be moved from a gypsy moth quarantined area to a non-quarantined area to ensure that they are free of all life stages of gypsy moth. Individuals may use a self-inspection checklist, “It's the Law; Before Moving, Check For Gypsy Moth.” The completed checklist must be signed by the person who performed the inspection and must be kept in the vehicle used to move the outdoor household articles in the event that USDA or State/local officials request it during the movement of the articles. In addition, it is recommended that individuals maintain a copy of the signed checklist for at least 5 years.

    We are asking the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to approve these information collection activities, as described, for an additional 3 years.

    The purpose of this notice is to solicit comments from the public (as well as affected agencies) concerning our information collection. These comments will help us:

    (1) Evaluate whether the collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the Agency, including whether the information will have practical utility;

    (2) Evaluate the accuracy of our estimate of the burden of the collection of information, including the validity of the methodology and assumptions used;

    (3) Enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and

    (4) Minimize the burden of the collection of information on those who are to respond, through use, as appropriate, of automated, electronic, mechanical, and other collection technologies; e.g., permitting electronic submission of responses.

    Estimate of burden: The public burden for this collection of information is estimated to average 0.54 hours per response.

    Respondents: Individuals who complete the self-inspection checklist and State and local officials.

    Estimated annual number of respondents: 2,500,020.

    Estimated annual number of responses per respondent: 2.

    Estimated annual number of responses: 5,000,260.

    Estimated total annual burden on respondents: 2,707,565 hours. (Due to averaging, the total annual burden hours may not equal the product of the annual number of responses multiplied by the reporting burden per response.)

    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.

    Done in Washington, DC, this 11th day of October 2017. Michael C. Gregoire, Acting Administrator, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.
    [FR Doc. 2017-22348 Filed 10-12-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3410-34-P
    DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service [Docket No. APHIS-2017-0025] Availability of a Final Environmental Assessment and Finding of No Significant Impact for a Release of Three Parasitoids for Biological Control of the Lily Leaf Beetle AGENCY:

    Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, USDA.

    ACTION:

    Notice of availability.

    SUMMARY:

    We are advising the public that an environmental assessment and finding of no significant impact have been prepared by the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service relative to the release of three parasitoids, Diaparsis jucunda, Lemophagus errabundus, and Tetrastichus setifer, for the biological control of the lily leaf beetle in the contiguous United States. Based on its finding of no significant impact, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service has determined that an environmental impact statement need not be prepared.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Dr. Colin D. Stewart, Assistant Director, Pests, Pathogens, and Biocontrol Permits, Permitting and Compliance Coordination, PPQ, APHIS, 4700 River Road, Unit 133, Riverdale, MD 20737-1231; (301) 851-2237, email: [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    The lily leaf beetle, Lilioceris lilii (Coleptera:Chrysomelidae), an aggressive pest of lilies and fritillaries, has expanded its range rapidly over the past decade, and is now found in several northeastern and central States, across Canada, and in Washington State. Further expansion is expected based on its historical distribution in nearly all of Europe and parts of North Africa. The Washington State Department of Agriculture is proposing to release three insect parasitoid species for the biological control of the lily leaf beetle; none of these species have been previously released or established in Washington State. The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is proposing to issue permits for the field release of the parasitoids Diaparsis jucunda, Lemophagus errabundus, and Tetrastichus setifer into the contiguous United States to reduce the severity of lily leaf beetle infestations.

    On July 13, 2017, we published in the Federal Register (82 FR 32317-32318, Docket No. APHIS-2017-0025) a notice 1 in which we announced the availability, for public review and comment, of an environmental assessment (EA) that examined the potential environmental impacts associated with the proposed release of these biological control agents into the contiguous United States.

    1 To view the notice, environmental assessment, finding of no significant impact, and the comment we received, go to https://www.regulations.gov/docket?D=APHIS-2017-0025.

    We solicited comments on the EA for 30 days ending August 14, 2017. We received one comment by that date. The commenter was opposed to the release of the organism on principle, but did not raise any specific or substantive issues.

    In this document, we are advising the public of our finding of no significant impact (FONSI) regarding the release of Diaparsis jucunda, Lemophagus errabundus, and Tetrastichus setifer into the contiguous United States for the biological control of the lily leaf beetle. The finding, which is based on the EA, reflects our determination that release of these biological control agents will not have a significant impact on the quality of the human environment.

    The EA and FONSI may be viewed on the Regulations.gov Web site (see footnote 1). Copies of the EA and FONSI are also available for public inspection at USDA, Room 1141, South Building, 14th Street and Independence Avenue SW., Washington, DC, between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, except holidays. Persons wishing to inspect copies are requested to call ahead on (202) 799-7039 to facilitate entry into the reading room. In addition, copies may be obtained by calling or writing to the individual listed under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT.

    The EA and FONSI have been prepared in accordance with: (1) The National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA), as amended (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.); (2) regulations of the Council on Environmental Quality for implementing the procedural provisions of NEPA (40 CFR parts 1500-1508); (3) USDA regulations implementing NEPA (7 CFR part 1b); and (4) APHIS' NEPA Implementing Procedures (7 CFR part 372).

    Done in Washington, DC, this 6th day of October 2017. Michael C. Gregoire, Acting Administrator, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.
    [FR Doc. 2017-22228 Filed 10-12-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3410-34-P
    DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Forest Service Information Collection; Small Business Timber Sale Set-Aside Program; Appeal Procedures on Recomputation of Shares AGENCY:

    Forest Service, USDA.

    ACTION:

    Notice; request for comment.

    SUMMARY:

    In accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, the Forest Service is seeking comments from all interested individuals and organizations on the extension with no revision of a currently approved information collection, Small Business Timber Sale Set-Aside Program; Appeal Procedures on Recomputation of Shares.

    DATES:

    Comments must be received in writing on or before December 12, 2017 to be assured of consideration. Comments received after that date will be considered to the extent practicable.

    ADDRESSES:

    Comments concerning this notice should be addressed to Director, Forest Management, Mail Stop 1103, Forest Service, USDA, 1400 Independence Avenue SW., Washington, DC 20250.

    Comments also may be submitted via facsimile to (703) 605-1575, or by email to [email protected]

    Comments submitted in response to this notice may be made available to the public through relevant Web sites and upon request. For this reason, please do not include in your comments information of a confidential nature, such as sensitive personal information or proprietary information. If you send an email comment, 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. Please note that responses to this public comment request containing any routine notice about the confidentiality of the communication will be treated as public comments that may be made available to the public notwithstanding the inclusion of the routine notice.

    The public may inspect the draft supporting statement and/or comments received at Forest Service, USDA, Forest Management Office, Third Floor SW Wing, 201 14th Street SW., Washington DC, during normal business hours. Visitors are encouraged to call ahead to (202) 205-1766 to facilitate entry to the building. The public may request an electronic copy of the draft supporting statement and/or any comments received be sent via return email. Requests should be emailed to [email protected]

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Sharon Nygaard-Scott, Forest Management Staff, by phone (202) 205-1766 or by email at [email protected] Individuals who use telecommunication devices for the deaf (TDD) may call the Federal Relay Service (FRS) at 1-800-877-8339 twenty-four hours a day, every day of the year, including holidays.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Title: Small Business Timber Sale Set-Aside Program; Appeal Procedures on Recomputation of Shares.

    OMB Number: 0596-0141.

    Expiration Date of Approval: 4/30/2018.

    Type of Request: Extension without change of a currently approved information collection.

    Abstract: The Forest Service adopted the Small Business Timber Sale Set-Aside Program (Set-Aside Program) on July 26, 1990 (55 FR 30485). The Agency administers the Set-Aside Program in cooperation with the Small Business Administration (SBA) under the authorities of the Small Business Act (15 U.S.C. 631), the National Forest Management Act of 1976, and SBA regulations in 13 CFR part 121. The Set-Aside Program is designed to ensure that small business timber purchasers have the opportunity to purchase a fair proportion of National Forest System timber offered for sale.

    Under the Set-Aside Program, the Forest Service must recompute the shares of timber sales to be set aside for qualifying small businesses every 5 years based on the actual volume of sawtimber that has been purchased by small businesses. Additionally, shares must be recomputed if there is a change in manufacturing capability, if the purchaser size class changes, or if certain purchasers discontinue operations.

    In 1992, the Agency adopted new administrative appeal procedures (36 CFR part 215), which excluded the Set-Aside Program. Prior to adoption of 36 CFR part 215, the Agency had accepted appeals of recomputation decisions under 36 CFR part 217; and therefore decided to establish procedures for providing notice to affected purchasers offering an opportunity to comment on the recomputation of shares (61 FR 7468). The Conference Report accompanying the 1997 Omnibus Appropriation Act (Pub. L. 104-208) directed the Forest Service to reinstate an appeals process for decisions concerning recomputation of Small Business Set-Aside shares, structural recomputations of SBA shares, or changes in policies impacting the Set-Aside Program prior to December 31, 1996. The Small Business Timber Sale Set-Aside Program; Appeal Procedures on Recomputation of Shares (36 CFR 223.118; 64 FR 411, January 5, 1999) outlines the types of decisions that are subject to appeal, who may appeal decisions, the procedures for appeal decisions, the timelines for appeal, and the contents of the notice of appeal.

    The Forest Service provides qualifying timber sale purchasers 30-days for predecisional review and comment on draft decisions to reallocate shares, including the data used in making the proposed recomputation decision. Within 15 days after the close of the 30-day predecisional review period, an Agency official makes a decision on the shares to be set aside for small businesses and gives written notice of the decision to all parties on the national forest timber sale bidders list for the affected area. The written notice provides the date by which the appeal may be filed and how to obtain information on appeal procedures.

    Only those timber sale purchasers, or their representatives, who are affected by small business share timber sale set-aside recomputation decisions and who have submitted predecisional comments, may appeal recomputation decisions. The appellant must file a notice of appeal with the appropriate Forest Service official within 20 days of the date on the notice of decision. The notice of appeal must include:

    1. The appellant's name, mailing address, and daytime telephone number;

    2. The title or type of recomputation decision involved and date of the decision;

    3. The name of the responsible Forest Service official;

    4. A brief description and date of the decision being appealed;

    5. A statement of how the appellant is adversely affected by the decision being appealed;

    6. A statement of facts in dispute regarding the issue(s) raised by the appeal;

    7. Specific references to law, regulation, or policy that the appellant believes have been violated (if any) and the basis for such an allegation;

    8. A statement as to whether and how the appellant has tried to resolve the appeal issues with the responsible Forest Service official, including evidence of submission of written comments at the predecisional stage; and

    9. A statement of the relief the appellant seeks.

    The data gathered in this information collection is not available from other sources.

    Estimate of Annual Burden: 9 hours.

    Type of Respondents: Timber sale purchasers, or their representatives, who are affected by recomputations of the small business share of timber sales.

    Estimated Annual Number of Respondents: 40.

    Estimated Annual Number of Responses per Respondent: 2.

    Estimated Total Annual Burden on Respondents: 720 hours..

    Comment Is Invited

    Comment is invited on: (1) Whether this collection of information is necessary for the stated purposes and the proper performance of the functions of the agency, including whether the information will have practical or scientific utility; (2) the accuracy of the agency's estimate of the burden of the collection of information, including the validity of the methodology and assumptions used; (3) ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and (4) ways to minimize the burden of the collection of information on respondents, including the use of automated, electronic, mechanical, or other technological collection techniques or other forms of information technology.

    All comments received in response to this notice, including names and addresses when provided, will be a matter of public record. Comments will be summarized and included in the submission request toward Office of Management and Budget approval.

    Dated: September 22, 2017. Glenn Casamassa, Associate Deputy Chief, National Forest System.
    [FR Doc. 2017-22154 Filed 10-12-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3411-15-P
    COMMISSION ON CIVIL RIGHTS Notice of Public Meeting of the Tennessee Advisory Committee AGENCY:

    U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.

    ACTION:

    Notice of meeting.

    SUMMARY:

    Notice is hereby given, pursuant to the provisions of the rules and regulations of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights (Commission) and the Federal Advisory Committee Act that the Tennessee (State) Advisory Committee will hold a meeting on Wednesday, November 8, 2017 to continue the review and discussion of the hearing transcript on civil asset forfeiture.

    DATES:

    The meeting will be held on Wednesday, November 8, 2017, 12:30 p.m. EST.

    ADDRESSES:

    The meeting will be by teleconference. Toll-free call-in number: 877-440-5788, conference ID: 6324926.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Jeff Hinton, DFO, at [email protected] or (404) 562-7006.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Members of the public can listen to the discussion. This meeting is available to the public through the following toll-free call-in number: (877) 440-5788, conference ID: 6324926. Any interested member of the public may call this number and listen to the meeting. Callers can expect to incur charges for calls they initiate over wireless lines, and the Commission will not refund any incurred charges. Callers will incur no charge for calls they initiate over land-line connections to the toll-free telephone number. Persons with hearing impairments may also follow the proceedings by first calling the Federal Relay Service at 1 (800) 977-8339 and providing the Service with the conference call number and conference ID number.

    Members of the public are also entitled to submit written comments; the comments must be received in the regional office by November 3, 2017. Written comments may be mailed to the Southern Regional Office, U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, 61 Forsyth Street, Suite 16T126, Atlanta, GA 30303. They may also be faxed to the Commission at (404) 562-7005, or emailed to Regional Director, Jeffrey Hinton at [email protected] Persons who desire additional information may contact the Southern Regional Office at (404) 562-7000.

    Records generated from this meeting may be inspected and reproduced at the Southern Regional Office, as they become available, both before and after the meeting. Records of the meeting will be available via www.facadatabase.gov under the Commission on Civil Rights, Tennessee Advisory Committee link. Persons interested in the work of this Committee are directed to the Commission's Web site, http://www.usccr.gov, or may contact the Southern Regional Office at the above email or street address.

    Agenda Welcome and Call to Order Diane DiIanni, Tennessee SAC Chairman Jeff Hinton, Regional Director Regional Update—Jeff Hinton New Business: Continuation of the review and discussion of the hearing transcript on civil asset forfeiture Diane DiIanni, Tennessee SAC Chairman/Staff/Advisory Committee Public Participation Adjournment Dated: October 6, 2017. David Mussatt, Supervisory Chief, Regional Programs Unit.
    [FR Doc. 2017-22162 Filed 10-12-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE Foreign-Trade Zones Board [Order No. 2040] Approval of Expansion of Subzone 124D; LOOP LLC; Lafourche and St. James Parishes, Louisiana

    Pursuant to its authority under the Foreign-Trade Zones Act of June 18, 1934, as amended (19 U.S.C. 81a-81u), the Foreign-Trade Zones Board (the Board) adopts the following Order:

    Whereas, the Foreign-Trade Zones (FTZ) Act provides for “. . . the establishment . . . of foreign-trade zones in ports of entry of the United States, to expedite and encourage foreign commerce, and for other purposes,” and authorizes the Foreign-Trade Zones Board to grant to qualified corporations the privilege of establishing foreign-trade zones in or adjacent to U.S. Customs and Border Protection ports of entry;

    Whereas, the Board's regulations (15 CFR part 400) provide for the establishment of subzones for specific uses;

    Whereas, the Port of South Louisiana, grantee of Foreign-Trade Zone 124, has made application to the Board to expand Subzone 124D—Site 2 on behalf of LOOP LLC to include an adjacent 70.761 acres in St. James, Louisiana (FTZ Docket B-30-2017, docketed May 8, 2017);

    Whereas, notice inviting public comment has been given in the Federal Register (82 FR 25238, June 1, 2017) and the application has been processed pursuant to the FTZ Act and the Board's regulations; and,

    Whereas, the Board adopts the findings and recommendations of the examiner's memorandum, and finds that the requirements of the FTZ Act and the Board's regulations are satisfied;

    Now, therefore, the Board hereby approves the expansion of Subzone 124D on behalf of LOOP LLC as described in the application and Federal Register notice, subject to the FTZ Act and the Board's regulations, including Section 400.13.

    Dated: October 6, 2017. Gary Taverman, Deputy Assistant Secretary for AD/CVD Operations performing the duties of the Assistant Secretary for Enforcement & Compliance, Alternate Chairman, Foreign-Trade Zones Board.
    [FR Doc. 2017-22204 Filed 10-12-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-DS-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE Bureau of Industry and Security Sensors and Instrumentation Technical Advisory Committee; Notice of Partially Closed Meeting

    The Sensors and Instrumentation Technical Advisory Committee (SITAC) will meet on October 25, 2017, 9:30 a.m., in the Herbert C. Hoover Building, Room 3884, 14th Street between Constitution and Pennsylvania Avenues NW., Washington, DC. The Committee advises the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Export Administration on technical questions that affect the level of export controls applicable to sensors and instrumentation equipment and technology.

    Agenda Public Session: 1. Welcome and Introductions 2. Remarks from the Bureau of Industry and Security Management 3. Industry Presentations 4. New Business Closed Session: 5. Discussion of matters determined to be exempt from the provisions relating to public meetings found in 5 U.S.C. app. 2 §§ 10(a)(1) and 10(a)(3) The open session will be accessible via teleconference to 20 participants on a first come, first serve basis. To join the conference, submit inquiries to Ms. Yvette Springer at [email protected] no later than October 18, 2017.

    A limited number of seats will be available during the public session of the meeting. Reservations are not accepted. To the extent that time permits, members of the public may present oral statements to the Committee. The public may submit written statements at any time before or after the meeting. However, to facilitate distribution of public presentation materials to the Committee members, the Committee suggests that the materials be forwarded before the meeting to Ms. Springer.

    The Assistant Secretary for Administration, with the concurrence of the General Counsel, formally determined on August 30, 2017 pursuant to Section 10(d) of the Federal Advisory Committee Act, as amended (5 U.S.C. app. 2 § 10(d), that the portion of this meeting dealing with pre-decisional changes to the Commerce Control List and U.S. export control policies shall be exempt from the provisions relating to public meetings found in 5 U.S.C. app. 2 §§ 10(a)(1) and 10(a)(3). The remaining portions of the meeting will be open to the public.

    For more information contact Yvette Springer on (202) 482-2813.

    Yvette Springer, Committee Liaison Officer.
    [FR Doc. 2017-22194 Filed 10-12-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE Bureau of Industry and Security Materials Processing Equipment Technical Advisory Committee; Notice of Open Meeting

    The Materials Processing Equipment Technical Advisory Committee (MPETAC) will meet on October 24, 2017, 9:00 a.m., Room 3884, in the Herbert C. Hoover Building, 14th Street between Pennsylvania and Constitution Avenues NW., Washington, DC. The Committee advises the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Export Administration with respect to technical questions that affect the level of export controls applicable to materials processing equipment and related technology.

    Agenda Open Session: 1. Opening remarks and introductions 2. Presentation of papers and comments by the Public 3. Discussions on results from last, and proposals from last Wassenaar meeting 4. Report on proposed and recently issued changes to the Export Administration Regulations 5. Other business The open session will be accessible via teleconference to 20 participants on a first come, first serve basis. To join the conference, submit inquiries to Ms. Yvette Springer at [email protected], no later than October 17, 2017.

    A limited number of seats will be available for the public session. Reservations are not accepted. To the extent that time permits, members of the public may present oral statements to the Committee. The public may submit written statements at any time before or after the meeting. However, to facilitate the distribution of public presentation materials to the Committee members, the Committee suggests that presenters forward the public presentation materials prior to the meeting to Ms. Springer via email.

    For more information, call Yvette Springer at (202) 482-2813.

    Yvette Springer, Committee Liaison Officer.
    [FR Doc. 2017-22193 Filed 10-12-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4310-JT-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE International Trade Administration [A-122-859] 100- to 150-Seat Large Civil Aircraft from Canada: Preliminary Affirmative Determination of Sales at Less Than Fair Value AGENCY:

    Enforcement and Compliance, International Trade Administration, Department of Commerce.

    SUMMARY:

    The Department of Commerce (the Department) preliminarily determines that 100- to 150-seat large civil aircraft (aircraft) from Canada is being, or is likely to be, sold in the United States at less than fair value (LTFV). The period of investigation (POI) is April 1, 2016, through March 31, 2017.

    DATES:

    Applicable October 13, 2017.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Drew Jackson or Lilit Astvatsatrian, AD/CVD Operations, Office IV, Enforcement and Compliance, International Trade Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce, 1401 Constitution Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20230; telephone: (202) 482-4406 or (202) 482-6412, respectively.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Background

    This preliminary determination is made in accordance with section 733(b) of the Tariff Act of 1930, as amended (the Act). The Department published the notice of initiation of this investigation on May 26, 2017.1 For a complete description of the events that followed the initiation of this investigation, see the Preliminary Decision Memorandum.2 A list of topics included 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 https://access.trade.gov, and 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 the electronic versions of the Preliminary Decision Memorandum are identical in content.

    1See 100- to 150-Seat Large Civil Aircraft From Canada: Initiation of Less-Than-Fair-Value Investigation, 82 FR 24296 (May 26, 2017) (Initiation Notice).

    2See Memorandum, “Decision Memorandum for the Preliminary Determination in the Less Than Fair Value Investigation of 100- To 150-Seat Large Civil Aircraft from Canada,” dated concurrently with, and hereby adopted by, this notice (Preliminary Decision Memorandum).

    Scope of the Investigation

    The product covered by this investigation is aircraft from Canada. 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,3 in the Initiation Notice, the Department set aside a period of time for parties to raise issues regarding product coverage (i.e., scope).4 Certain interested parties commented on the scope of the investigation as it appeared in the Initiation Notice. For a summary of the product coverage comments and rebuttal responses submitted to the record for this preliminary determination, and accompanying discussion and analysis of all scope comments timely received, see the Scope Comments Decision Memorandum for the Preliminary Determination.5 The Department is not preliminarily modifying the scope language as it appeared in the Initiation Notice. See the scope in Appendix I to this notice.

    3See Antidumping Duties; Countervailing Duties, Final Rule, 62 FR 27296, 27323 (May 19, 1997).

    4See Initiation Notice.

    5See Memorandum, “100- To 150-Seat Large Civil Aircraft from Canada: Scope Comments Decision Memorandum for the Preliminary Determination” (Preliminary Scope Decision Memorandum), dated concurrently with this preliminary determination.

    Adverse Facts Available

    Bombardier Inc. (Bombardier) is the sole mandatory respondent in this investigation, and failed to provide information requested in the Department's questionnaire. Accordingly, we preliminarily determine to base Bombardier's dumping margin on adverse facts available (AFA), in accordance with sections 776(a) and (b) of the Act and 19 CFR 351.308. As AFA, we applied the highest dumping margin calculated for Canadian exports of subject merchandise contained in the Petition, which is 79.82 percent.6 For further discussion, see the Preliminary Decision Memorandum.7

    6See Letter to the Honorable Wilbur L. Ross, Jr., Secretary of Commerce, from the petitioner, concerning, “Petitions for the Imposition of Antidumping and Countervailing Duties On 100- To 150-Seat Large Civil Aircraft from Canada,” dated April 27, 2017 (the Petition); see also Letter to the Honorable Wilbur L. Ross, Jr., Secretary of Commerce from the petitioner, concerning, “100-To 150-Seat Large Civil Aircraft from Canada—Petitioner's Response to AD Supplemental Questionnaire,” dated May 2, 2017” (May 4, 2017) (Petition Supplement).

    7See also memorandum, “Application of Adverse Facts Available to Bombardier Inc.,” dated October 4, 2017.

    Methodology

    The Department is conducting this investigation in accordance with section 731 of the Act. Pursuant to section 776(a) and (b) of the Act, the Department has preliminarily relied upon facts otherwise available with adverse inferences for Bombardier. For a full description of the methodology underlying the preliminary determination, see the Preliminary Decision Memorandum.

    All-Others Rate

    Sections 733(d)(1)(ii) and 735(c)(5)(A) of the Act provide that in the preliminary determination the Department shall determine an estimated all-others rate for all exporters and producers not individually examined. This rate shall be an amount equal to the weighted average of the estimated weighted-average dumping margins established for exporters and producers individually investigated, excluding any zero and de minimis dumping margins, and any dumping margins determined entirely under section 776 of the Act. Pursuant to section 735(c)(5)(B) of the Act, if the estimated weighted-average dumping margins established for all exporters and producers individually examined are zero, de minimis or determined based entirely on facts otherwise available, the Department may use any reasonable method to establish the estimated weighted-average dumping margin for all-other producers or exporters.

    The Department has preliminarily determined the estimated weighted-average dumping margin for the individually examined respondent entirely under section 776 of the Act. Consequently, pursuant to section 735(c)(5)(B) of the Act, the Department's normal practice under these circumstances has been to calculate the “all-others”` rate as a simple average of the alleged dumping margins from the Petition.8 The Petition for this investigation included a single alleged dumping margin. Therefore, for purposes of determining the “all-others” rate and pursuant to section 735(c)(5)(B) of the Act, we are using the alleged dumping margin in the Petition as the estimated weighted-average dumping margin assigned to all other producers and exporters of subject merchandise. For a full description of the methodology underlying the Department's analysis, see the Preliminary Decision Memorandum.

    8See, e.g., Notice of Preliminary Determination of Sales at Less Than Fair Value: Sodium Nitrite from the Federal Republic of Germany, 73 FR 21909, 21912 (April 23, 2008), unchanged in Notice of Final Determination of Sales at Less Than Fair Value: Sodium Nitrite from the Federal Republic of Germany, 73 FR 38986, 38987 (July 8, 2008), and accompanying Issues and Decision Memorandum at Comment 2; see also Notice of Final Determination of Sales at Less Than Fair Value: Raw Flexible Magnets from Taiwan, 73 FR 39673, 39674 (July 10, 2008); Steel Threaded Rod from Thailand: Preliminary Determination of Sales at Less Than Fair Value and Affirmative Preliminary Determination of Critical Circumstances, 78 FR 79670, 79671 (December 31, 2013), unchanged in Steel Threaded Rod from Thailand: Final Determination of Sales at Less Than Fair Value and Affirmative Final Determination of Critical Circumstances, 79 FR 14476, 14477 (March 14, 2014).

    Preliminary Determination

    The Department preliminarily determines that the following estimated weighted-average dumping margins exist:

    Exporter/producer Estimated
  • weighted-
  • average
  • dumping
  • margin
  • (percent)
  • Cash deposit rate (adjusted for subsidy offset(s))
  • (percent)
  • Bombardier, Inc 79.82 Not Applicable. All-Others 79.82 Not Applicable.
    Suspension of Liquidation

    In accordance with section 733(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 Appendix I, entered, or withdrawn from warehouse, for consumption on or after the date of publication of this notice in the Federal Register. Further, pursuant to section 733(d)(1)(B) of the Act and 19 CFR 351.205(d), the Department will instruct CBP to require a cash deposit equal to the estimated weighted-average dumping margin or the estimated all-others rate, as follows: (1) The cash deposit rate for the respondent listed above will be equal to the company-specific estimated weighted-average dumping margin determined in this preliminary determination; (2) if the exporter is not the respondent identified above, but the producer is, then the cash deposit rate will be equal to the company-specific estimated weighted-average dumping margin established for that producer of the subject merchandise; and (3) the cash deposit rate for all other producers and exporters will be equal to the all-others estimated weighted-average dumping margin.

    The Department normally adjusts cash deposits for estimated antidumping duties by the amount of export subsidies countervailed in a companion countervailing duty (CVD) proceeding, when CVD provisional measures are in effect. However, because the Department has not made a preliminary affirmative determination for countervailable export subsidies in the companion CVD proceeding, the Department has not adjusted the estimated weighted-average dumping margin to offset countervailable export subsidies.

    Disclosure

    Normally, the Department discloses to interested parties the calculations performed in connection with a preliminary determination within five days of any public announcement or, if there is no public announcement, within five days of the date of publication of the notice of preliminary determination in the Federal Register, in accordance with 19 CFR 351.224(b). However, because the Department preliminarily applied total AFA to the individually examined company, Bombardier, in this investigation, in accordance with section 776 of the Act, and the applied AFA rate is based solely on the Petition, there are no calculations to disclose.

    Verification

    Because the examined respondent in this investigation did not provide information requested by the Department, and the Department preliminarily determines the examined respondent to have been uncooperative, we will not conduct verification.

    Public Comment

    Case briefs or other written comments may be submitted to the Assistant Secretary for Enforcement and Compliance no later than 21 days after the date of publication of the preliminary determination, unless the Secretary alters the time limit. 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.

    Final Determination

    Section 735(a)(1) of the Act and 19 CFR 351.210(b)(1) provide that the Department will issue the final determination within 75 days after the date of its preliminary determination. Accordingly, the Department intends to make its final determination no later than 75 days after the signature date of this preliminary determination.

    International Trade Commission Notification

    In accordance with section 733(f) of the Act, the Department will notify the International Trade Commission (ITC) of its preliminary 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 whether imports of the subject merchandise are materially injuring, or threaten material injury to, the U.S. industry.

    Notification to Interested Parties

    This determination is issued and published in accordance with sections 733(f) and 777(i)(1) of the Act and 19 CFR 351.205(c).

    Dated: October 4, 2017. Carole Showers, Executive Director, Office of Policy performing the duties of the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Enforcement and Compliance. Appendix I Scope of the Investigation

    The merchandise covered by this investigation is aircraft, regardless of seating configuration, that have a standard 100- to 150-seat two-class seating capacity and a minimum 2,900 nautical mile range, as these terms are defined below.

    “Standard 100- to 150-seat two-class seating capacity” refers to the capacity to accommodate 100 to 150 passengers, when eight passenger seats are configured for a 36-inch pitch, and the remaining passenger seats are configured for a 32-inch pitch. “Pitch” is the distance between a point on one seat and the same point on the seat in front of it.

    “Standard 100- to 150-seat two-class seating capacity” does not delineate the number of seats actually in a subject aircraft or the actual seating configuration of a subject aircraft. Thus, the number of seats actually in a subject aircraft may be below 100 or exceed 150.

    A “minimum 2,900 nautical mile range” means:

    (i) Able to transport between 100 and 150 passengers and their luggage on routes equal to or longer than 2,900 nautical miles; or

    (ii) covered by a U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) type certificate or supplemental type certificate that also covers other aircraft with a minimum 2,900 nautical mile range.

    The scope includes all aircraft covered by the description above, regardless of whether they enter the United States fully or partially assembled, and regardless of whether, at the time of entry into the United States, they are approved for use by the FAA.

    The merchandise covered by this investigation is currently classifiable under Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS) subheading 8802.40.0040. The merchandise may alternatively be classifiable under HTSUS subheading 8802.40.0090. Although these HTSUS subheadings are provided for convenience and customs purposes, 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. Period of Investigation IV. Scope of the Investigation V. Scope Comments VI. Application of Facts Available and Use of Adverse Inference A. Application of Facts Available B. Use of Adverse Inference C. Preliminary Estimated Weighted-Average Dumping Margin Based on Adverse Facts Available D. Corroboration of the AFA Rate VII. Conclusion
    [FR Doc. 2017-22203 Filed 10-12-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-DS-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration XRIN 0648-XF547 Takes of Marine Mammals Incidental to Specified Activities; Taking Marine Mammals Incidental to the Haines Ferry Terminal Modification Project AGENCY:

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

    ACTION:

    Proposed incidental harassment authorization; request for comments.

    SUMMARY:

    NMFS has received a request from the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities (ADOT&PF) for authorization to take marine mammals incidental to the Haines Ferry Terminal Modification Project in Haines, Alaska. Pursuant to the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), NMFS is requesting comments on its proposal to issue an incidental harassment authorization (IHA) to incidentally take marine mammals during the specified activities.

    DATES:

    Comments and information must be received no later than November 13, 2017.

    ADDRESSES:

    Comments should be addressed to Jolie Harrison, Chief, Permits and Conservation Division, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service. Physical comments should be sent to 1315 East-West Highway, Silver Spring, MD 20910 and electronic comments should be sent to [email protected]

    Instructions: NMFS is not responsible for comments sent by any other method, to any other address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period. Comments received electronically, including all attachments, must not exceed a 25-megabyte file size. Attachments to electronic comments will be accepted in Microsoft Word or Excel or Adobe PDF file formats only. All comments received are a part of the public record and will generally be posted online at www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/incidental/construction.htm without change. All personal identifying 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:

    Jaclyn Daly, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, (301) 427-8401. Electronic copies of the applications 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/construction.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 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.”

    NMFS has defined “unmitigable adverse impact” in 50 CFR 216.103 as “an impact resulting from the specified activity:

    (1) That is likely to reduce the availability of the species to a level insufficient for a harvest to meet subsistence needs by: (i) Causing the marine mammals to abandon or avoid hunting areas; (ii) directly displacing subsistence users; or (iii) placing physical barriers between the marine mammals and the subsistence hunters; and

    (2) That cannot be sufficiently mitigated by other measures to increase the availability of marine mammals to allow subsistence needs to be met.

    The 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 with respect to environmental consequences on the human environment.

    Accordingly, NMFS has preliminarily determined that the issuance of the proposed IHA qualifies to be categorically excluded from further NEPA review. This action is consistent with categories of activities identified in CE B4 of the Companion Manual for NOAA Administrative Order 216-6A, which do not individually or cumulatively have the potential for significant impacts on the quality of the human environment and for which we have not identified any extraordinary circumstances that would preclude this categorical exclusion.

    We will review all comments submitted in response to this notice prior to concluding our NEPA process or making a final decision on the IHA request.

    Summary of Request

    On January 9, 2017, NMFS received a request from ADOT&PF for an IHA to take marine mammals incidental to conducting improvements at the Haines Ferry Terminal. On February 3, 2017, NMFS requested additional information and ADOT&PF submitted a revised application on March 27, 2017, which NMFS deemed adequate and complete. However, after further discussions, ADOT&PF submitted a final application on May 30, 2017, and then subsequently sent a request on August 17, 2017, to change the effective dates in the application to accommodate a delayed construction schedule. ADOT&PF's request is for harassment only and NMFS concurs that serious injury or mortality is not expected to result from this activity. Therefore, an IHA is appropriate.

    ADOT&PF's request is for take of humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae), harbor seals (Phoca vitulina), harbor porpoise (Phocoena phocoena), and Dall's porpoise (Phocoenoides dalli) by Level A and Level B harassment, and an additional two species, Steller sea lion (Eumetopias jubatus) and killer whale (Orcinus orca) by Level B harassment only. Pile driving would occur for 19 days and pile removal would take 2 additional days (total of 21 days) over the course of 4 months from October 1, 2018, through September 30, 2019, but excluding March 1 through May 31, 2019. No subsequent IHA would be necessary to complete the project.

    Description of Proposed Activity Overview

    ADOT&PF is proposing to construct two new berths and associated infrastructure adjacent at the existing Haines Ferry Terminal (see Attachment 1 in ADOT&PF's application for project drawings). The project includes impact and vibratory pile driving and vibratory pile removal. Sounds resulting from pile driving and removal may result in the incidental take of marine mammals by Level A and Level B harassment up to approximately 4.78 and 21.1 square kilometers (km2), respectively, around the terminal. The terminal is located in southeast Alaska in Lutak Inlet.

    Dates and Duration

    The IHA would be valid from October 1, 2018, through September 30, 2019; however, pile driving and removal would occur for only 21 days over the course of four months during this time period and work would not occur from March 1 through May 31, 2019. ADOT&PF anticipates up to 1 hour of vibratory pile driving and 15 to 30 minutes of impact pile driving per day.

    Specified Geographic Region

    The northern part of Lynn Canal braids into several inlets including Chilkat, Chilkoot, Taiya and Lutak Inlets. Tanani Point marks the confluence of Lutak Inlet and Chilkoot Inlet and is located approximately one mile (mi) southeast of the terminal. The Terminal is located near the mouth of Lutak Inlet, approximately four miles north of the town of Haines, in northern Southeast Alaska at 59°16′54″ N., 135°27′44.6″ W. (see Figures 1-1 and 1-2 in ADOT's application). At the terminal where pile driving may occur, Lutak Inlet is approximately 1.3 miles (mi) wide and water depth ranges from 20-40 feet (ft; 6-9 meters (m)); however, water depth in Lynn Canal reaches over 300 ft (91 m). Lutak Inlet is a glacial scoured fiord, characterized by a typical U-shaped glacial valley. The sediment is homogeneous, consisting of dark gray, silty gravel material, as well as cobbles and boulders. Other than the terminal, the region is not industrialized and is surrounded by several state parks and the Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve.

    Detailed Description of Specific Activities

    The Terminal is a multi-use dock used by Alaska Marine Highway Systems (AMHS) mainline and fast ferries, Alaska Marine Lines (AML) (tug and barge), and Delta Western (tug and barge). It is the second busiest AMHS port of call and can see up to four ferries coming and going during any given day in summer. The AMHS provides a transportation link for Alaska residents and businesses, as well as for non-residents visiting the state.

    The Haines Ferry Terminal Modification Project involves constructing an AMHS End Berth Facility adjacent to the existing dock. The expansion is necessary because the current configuration does not allow for operation of the new Alaska Class vessels, which are expected to be operational in 2018. Specifically, modification work includes removing an existing structure and installing moorings, vehicle transfer float, float restraint structures, steel transfer bridges and associated abutment and bearing structure, berthing structures, catwalks and gangways, and a pile-supported passenger waiting shelter. The structure to be removed with a vibratory hammer is comprised of four 30-inch (in) cylindrical steel pipe piles. To construct the new infrastructure, ADOT&PF would install 37 new piles. Fifteen piles would be 36-in diameter with 1 in. wall thickness. The remaining 22 piles would be 30-in diameter and 3/4 in thick. To minimize noise propagation, the steel piles would be driven with a vibratory hammer, as practicable, except for final proofing, which would require use of an impact hammer. Based on previous pile driving work at the Terminal in 2015, ADOT&PF anticipates each pile would require up 45 to 60 minutes of vibratory driving (to account for proper placement and alignment of the pile) followed by an average of 700 strikes of the impact hammer for a total average installation time of 60-90 minutes. One pile driver would be used onsite; therefore, only one pile would be installed at a time. A construction barge may be used during the project to facilitate pile driving and removal; however, the barge would be anchored.

    All pile driving and removal would occur within 500 feet (152 meters) of the shoreline. Assuming two 30 in diameter piles could be removed each day, pile removal would take two days. Pile driving the 30-in piles is expected to take 11 days while an additional 8 days would be necessary to install the 36-in piles. In total, ADOT&PF would be elevating noise levels around the project area for 21 days (two days of pile removal plus 19 days of pile driving) of the 4 month construction window (four months from October 1, 2018, through September 30, 2019, excluding March 1, 2019 through May, 31 2019).

    Other work for the project includes using a clamshell bucket dredge to remove sediment around the terminal. However, dredging is not anticipated to result in the taking of marine mammals; therefore, this activity will not be discussed further.

    Proposed mitigation, monitoring, and reporting measures are described in detail later in this document (please see the Proposed Mitigation and Proposed Monitoring and Reporting sections).

    Description of Marine Mammals in the Area of Specified Activities

    Sections 3 and 4 of the application summarize 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 Lynn Canal 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's U.S. Alaska SARs (Muto et al. 2017). All values presented in Table 1 are the most recent available at the time of publication and are available in the draft 2016 SARs (available online at: www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/sars/draft.htm).

    Three cetacean species have ranges near the terminal but are unlikely to occur in the project area: The Pacific white-sided dolphin (Lagenorhynchus obliquidens), gray whale (Eschrichtius robustus), and minke whale (Balaenopera acutorostrata). The range of Pacific white-sided dolphin is suggested to overlap with Lynn Canal (Angliss and Allen, 2015), but no sightings have been documented in the project area (Dahlheim et al. 2009, MOS 2016). Gray whale sightings in this northern portion of Southeast Alaska are very rare; there have only been eight sightings since 1997 (MOS 2016). These observations were made in the lower portions of Lynn Canal and were not close to the Lutak Inlet/upper Lynn Canal area. Finally, only one minke whale has been observed in Taiya Inlet over the past five years (MOS 2016).

    Table 1—Marine Mammals Potentially Present Within Upper Lynn Canal During the Specified Activity Common name Scientific name MMPA Stock ESA/MMPA
  • status;
  • Strategic
  • (Y/N) 1
  • Stock abundance Nbest, (CV, Nmin, most recent
  • abundance survey) 2
  • PBR Annual M/SI 3
    Order Cetartiodactyla—Cetacea—Superfamily Mysticeti (baleen whales) Family Balaenidae Humpback whale Megaptera novaeangliae Central North Pacific E, D,Y 10,103 (0.3, 7,890, 2006) 83 24 Superfamily Odontoceti (toothed whales, dolphins, and porpoises) Family Delphinidae Killer whale Orcinus orca Alaska Resident -, N 2,347 (N/A, 2,347, 2012) 4 24 1 Northern Resident -, N 261 (N/A, 261, 2011) 4 1.96 0 Gulf of Alaska, Aleutian Islands, Bering Sea -, N 587 (N/A, 587, 2012) 4 5.9 1 West Coast Transient -, N 243 (N/A, 243, 2009) 4 2.4 0 Family Phocoenidae (porpoises) Harbor porpoise Phocoena phocoena Southeast Alaska -, Y 975 (0.10, 896, 2012) 5 8.9 5 34 Dall's porpoise Phocoenoides dalli Alaska -,N 83,400 (0.097, N/A, 1993) Undet 38 Order Carnivora—Superfamily Pinnipedia Family Otariidae (eared seals and sea lions) Steller sea lion Eumetopias jubatus Western U.S. E, D; Y 49,497 (2014) 297 233 Eastern U.S. -, D, Y 60,131-74,448 (2013) 1,645 92.3 Family Phocidae (earless seals) Harbor seal Phoca vitulina richardii Lynn Canal/Stephens Passage -, N 9,478 (8,605, 2011) 155 50 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 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 NMFS marine mammal stock assessment reports online at: www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/sars/. CV is coefficient of variation; Nmin is the minimum estimate of stock abundance. In some cases, CV is not applicable (N/A). 3 These values, found in NMFS's SARs, represent annual levels of human-caused mortality plus serious injury from all sources combined (e.g., commercial fisheries, ship strike). Annual M/SI often cannot be determined precisely and is in some cases presented as a minimum value or range. A CV associated with estimated mortality due to commercial fisheries is presented in some cases. 4 N is based on counts of individual animals identified from photo-identification catalogs. 5 In the 2016 SAR for harbor porpoise, NMFS identified population estimates and PBR for porpoises within inland southeast Alaska waters (these abundance estimates have not been corrected for g(0); therefore, they are likely conservative). The Annual M/SI value provided is for all Alaska fisheries, not just inland waters of southeast Alaska.
    Pinnipeds Steller Sea Lion

    Steller sea lion populations that primarily occur west of 144° W. (Cape Suckling, Alaska) comprise the western Distinct Population Segment (wDPS), while all others comprise the eastern DPS (eDPS); however, there is regular movement of both DPSs across this boundary (Muto et al. 2017). Both of these populations may occur in the action area. Steller sea lions were listed as threatened range-wide under the ESA on 26 November 1990 (55 FR 49204). Steller sea lions were subsequently partitioned into the western and eastern DPSs in 1997 (Muto et al. 2017), with the wDPS being listed as endangered under the ESA and the eDPS remaining classified as threatened (62 FR 24345) until it was delisted in November 2013. In August 1993, NMFS published a final rule designating critical habitat for the Steller sea lion as a 20-nautical mile buffer around all major haul-outs and rookeries, as well as associated terrestrial, air and aquatic zones, and three large offshore foraging areas (50 CFR 226.202). There is no Steller sea lion critical habitat in the action area.

    In Lynn Canal, Steller sea lions are most likely part of the eDPS; however, wDPS animals have moved into the area over the past several years. The first western DPS Steller sea lion documented in Lynn Canal occurred in 2003 at Benjamin Island in southern Lynn Canal (approximately 97 km or 60 miles south from the Ferry Terminal and 40 km or 25 miles north of Juneau, Alaska). This animal was subsequently re-sighted in 2003 and 2004. Two additional animals have been observed at Benjamin Island in 2005 and 2006. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) has documented 88 western DPS Steller sea lions in the eastern region, of which 40 percent were female, and nine of these animals gave birth at rookeries in the eastern region. Data suggest five out of these nine females have permanently immigrated to the eastern region. Branded individuals from the western DPS have also been observed at Gran Point located about 22.5 km (14 mi) southeast of the project area. The eDPS stock has been increasing (Muto et al. 2017). Pup counts for the wDPS have been decreasing; however, this could be due to movement of adult females out of the region (suggesting some level of permanent emigration) indicating that sea lions may have responded to meso-scale (on the order of 100s of kilometers) variability in their environment (Muto et al. 2017).

    Steller sea lions use terrestrial haulout sites to rest and take refuge. They also gather on well-defined, traditionally used rookeries to pup and breed. These habitats are typically gravel, rocky, or sand beaches; ledges; or rocky reefs (Allen and Angliss, 2013). Gran Point, which is located 14 mi (22.5 km) southeast of the project area, is the closest year-round Steller sea lion haulout. However, during the spring eulachon run, a seasonal haulout site is located on Taiya Point at the southern tip of Taiya Inlet (approximately 5 km or 3.1 mi from Haines Terminal). The eulachon run (which occurs for approximately three to four weeks during mid-March through May) in Lutak Inlet is extremely important to Steller sea lions for seasonal foraging. These spawning aggregations of forage fish provide densely aggregated, high-energy prey for Steller sea lions (and harbor seals) for brief time periods and influence haulout use (Sigler et al. 2004; Womble et al. 2005; Womble and Sigler 2006). The pre-spawning aggregations and spawning season for many forage fish species occur between March and May in Southeast Alaska just prior to the breeding season of sea lions (Pitcher et al. 2001; Womble and Sigler 2006). After May, Steller sea lion presence in the action area declines (see section 4.2 in ADOT&PF's application for more detailed information on fish runs and corresponding Steller sea lion presence).

    Steller sea lions are included in subsistence harvests. From 2011-2012, an average of 50 animals from this stock were harvested each year, which is higher than previous estimates of 30 animals, on average, per year from 2004-2008 (Muto and Angliss, 2015). Incidental entanglement in fishing gear and marine debris is the biggest contributor to their annual human-caused mortality rate. In addition, since 2012, known cases of intentional mortality (e.g., gunshot, explosives) have also contributed to this rate with an average of 15 animals per year from 2012 through 2015 (Muto et al. 2016).

    Harbor Seal

    Harbor seals generally are nonmigratory, with local movements associated with such factors as tides, weather, season, food availability, and reproduction (Scheffer and Slipp 1944, Fisher 1952, Bigg 1969, 1981, Hastings et al. 2004).

    Harbor seals are included in subsistence harvests. From 2011-2012, an average of 50 seals from the Lynn Canal/Stephens Passage stock were harvested each year, which is higher than previous estimates of 30 animals, on average, per year from 2004-2008 (Muto et al. 2017). Entanglement is the biggest contributor to their annual human-caused mortality. Lynn Canal/Stephens Passage harbor seals are not listed as depleted or strategic under the MMPA and are not listed under the ESA.

    Cetaceans Humpback Whale

    Under the MMPA, there are three stocks of humpback whales in the North Pacific: (1) The California/Oregon/Washington and Mexico stock, consisting of winter/spring populations in coastal Central America and coastal Mexico which migrate to the coast of California to southern British Columbia in summer/fall (Calambokidis et al. 1989, Steiger et al. 1991, Calambokidis et al. 1993); (2) the central North Pacific stock, consisting of winter/spring populations of the Hawaiian Islands which migrate primarily to northern British Columbia/Southeast Alaska, the Gulf of Alaska, and the Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands (Perry et al. 1990, Calambokidis et al. 1997); and (3) the western North Pacific stock, consisting of winter/spring populations off Asia which migrate primarily to Russia and the Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands. The central North Pacific stock is the only stock that is found near the project activities.

    On September 8, 2016, NMFS published a final decision changing the status of humpback whales under the ESA (81 FR 62259), effective October 11, 2016. Previously, humpback whales were listed under the ESA as an endangered species worldwide. In the 2016 decision, NMFS recognized the existence of 14 DPSs, classified four of those as endangered and one as threatened, and determined that the remaining nine DPSs do not warrant protection under the ESA. WNP DPS whales do not occur in Southeast Alaska. Whales from the Mexico DPS, which is a threatened species, have a 6.1 percent probability of occurrence in Southeast Alaska. Humpback whales in Southeast Alaska are most likely to be from the Hawaii DPS (93.9 percent probability), which is not protected under the ESA.

    Humpback whales are not common in the action area but, if they are sighted, are generally present during mid- to late spring (mid-May through June) and vacate the area by July to follow large aggregations of forage fish in lower Lynn Canal. However, in recent years humpback whales have been observed at the entrance to Taiya Inlet throughout the fall months (MOS 2016). Four to five whales were observed in the area from spring 2015 to November (MOS 2016).

    Killer Whale

    Based on data regarding association patterns, acoustics, movements, and genetic differences, eight killer whale stocks are now recognized: (1) The Alaska Resident stock; (2) the Northern Resident stock; (3) the Southern Resident stock; (4) the Gulf of Alaska, Aleutian Islands, and Bering Sea Transient stock; (5) the AT1 Transient stock; (6) the West Coast transient stock, occurring from California through southeastern Alaska; and (7) the Offshore stock, and (8) the Hawaiian stock. Only the Alaska resident; Northern resident; Gulf of Alaska, Aleutian Islands, and Bering Sea Transient (Gulf of Alaska transient); and the West coast transient stocks are considered in this application because other stocks occur outside the geographic area under consideration. Any of these four stocks could be seen in the action area; however, the Northern resident stock is most likely to occur in the area.

    The Alaska resident stock is found from southeastern Alaska to the Aleutian Islands and Bering Sea. Intermixing of Alaska residents have been documented among the three areas, at least as far west as the eastern Aleutian Islands (Allen and Angliss, 2013). The Northern resident stock occurs from Washington State through part of southeastern Alaska. The Northern Resident stock is a transboundary stock and includes killer whales that frequent British Columbia, Canada and southeastern Alaska (Dahlheim et al., 1997; Ford et al., 2000). The Gulf of Alaska transient stock occurs mainly from Prince William Sound through the Aleutian Islands and Bering Sea. The West coast transient stock includes animals that occur in California, Oregon, Washington, British Columbia and southeastern Alaska.

    Transient killer whales occur in smaller, less matrilineal groupings than resident killer whales. They are also more likely to rely on stealth tactics when foraging, making fewer and less conspicuous calls, and edging along shorelines and around headlands in order to hunt their prey, including, Steller sea lions, harbor seals, and smaller cetaceans, in highly coordinated attacks (Barrett-Lennard et al. 2011). Residents often travel in much larger and closer knit groups within which they share any fish they catch.

    Data from Lutak Inlet suggests that a small number of killer whales infrequently enter the inlet, generally during spring fish runs when large aggregations of pinnipeds are also present (K. Hastings, pers. comm.). Up to 15 to 20 killer whales have been observed in Taiya Inlet 4 to 5 times a year from early spring through fall (MOS 2016). Transient killer whales have also been observed in Lutak Inlet in front of the Terminal when sea lions are present (K. Hastings, pers. comm.), presumably following their preferred food source. The mean group size of four to six animals documented by Dahlheim et al. (2009) is consistent with 4 to 5 sightings of up to 20 whales outside Taiya (MOS 2016) and Lutak Inlets.

    Harbor Porpoise

    In Alaska, harbor porpoises are currently divided into three stocks, based primarily on geography. These are (1) the Southeast Alaska stock—occurring from the northern border of British Columbia to Cape Suckling, Alaska, (2) the Gulf of Alaska stock—occurring from Cape Suckling to Unimak Pass, and (3) the Bering Sea stock—occurring throughout the Aleutian Islands and all waters north of Unimak Pass (Allen and Angliss 2014). Only the Southeast Alaska stock is considered in this application because the other stocks are not found in the geographic area under consideration. The total estimated annual level of human-caused mortality and serious injury (M/SI) for harbor porpoise in Alaska (n=34) exceeds the calculated PBR of 8.9 harbor porpoise. However, this calculated PBR is based on the minimum population estimate for harbor porpoise in inland waters of southeast Alaska only (n=896) while the annual level of human caused M/SI is derived from take in all fisheries throughout Alaska. Therefore, PBR represents the total amount of animals that can be removed from all harbor porpoise stocks in Alaska combined. No mortality or serious injury of harbor porpoise from the Southeast Alaska stock has been observed incidental to U.S. commercial fisheries in Alaska in 2010-2014 (Breiwick 2013; MML unpubl. data). Population trends and status of this stock relative to its optimum sustainable population are currently unknown.

    In Lynn Canal, observations of harbor porpoise are not frequent and occur primarily in lower Lynn Canal; however, the species has been observed as far north as Haines during the summer surveys (Dahlheim et al. 2009). At the Haines Ferry Terminal, one small pod of harbor porpoise were observed on September 22, 2015 (ADOT&PF 2015). In addition, approximately 30 individuals have been observed in multiple groups of two or three, from spring through fall (MOS 2016).

    There are no subsistence use of this species; however, entanglement in fishing gear contributes to human-caused mortality and serious injury. Muto et al. (2016) also reports harbor porpoise are vulnerable to physical modifications of nearshore habitats resulting from urban and industrial development (including waste management and nonpoint source runoff) and activities such as construction of docks and other over-water structures, filling of shallow areas, dredging, and noise (Linnenschmidt et al. 2013).

    Dall's Porpoise

    Currently one stock of Dall's porpoise is recognized in Alaskan waters (Muto et al. 2015). Dall's porpoise have not been observed in the waters of Lutak Inlet immediately adjacent to the Terminal but may be present in northern Lynn Canal. Local observers have observed only three to six Dall's porpoises in Taiya Inlet during the early spring and late fall (MOS 2016).

    At present, there is no reliable information on trends in abundance for the Alaska stock of Dall's porpoise (Muto et al. 2015). From 2009 to 2013, no mortality or serious injury of Dall's porpoise was reported to the NMFS Alaska. There are also no subsistence uses of this species (Muto et al. 2015). Dall's porpoise are vulnerable to physical modifications of nearshore habitats resulting from urban and industrial development, including waste management and nonpoint source runoff) and noise (Linnenschmidt et al. 2013).

    Marine Mammal Hearing

    Hearing is the most important sensory modality for marine mammals underwater, and exposure to anthropogenic sound can have deleterious effects. To appropriately assess the potential effects of exposure to sound, it is necessary to understand the frequency ranges marine mammals are able to hear. Current data indicate that not all marine mammal species have equal hearing capabilities (e.g., Richardson et al., 1995; Wartzok and Ketten, 1999; Au and Hastings, 2008). To reflect this, Southall et al. (2007) recommended that marine mammals be divided into functional hearing groups based on directly measured or estimated hearing ranges on the basis of available behavioral response data, audiograms derived using auditory evoked potential techniques, anatomical modeling, and other data. Note that no direct measurements of hearing ability have been successfully completed for mysticetes (i.e., low-frequency cetaceans). Subsequently, NMFS (2016) described generalized hearing ranges for these marine mammal hearing groups. Generalized hearing ranges were chosen based on the approximately 65 decibels (dB) threshold from the normalized composite audiograms, with the exception for lower limits for low-frequency cetaceans where the lower bound was deemed to be biologically implausible and the lower bound from Southall et al. (2007) retained. The functional groups and the associated frequencies are indicated below (note that these frequency ranges correspond to the range for the composite group, with the entire range not necessarily reflecting the capabilities of every species within that group):

    • Low-frequency cetaceans (mysticetes): generalized hearing is estimated to occur between approximately 7 hertz (Hz) and 35 kilohertz (kHz);

    • Mid-frequency cetaceans (larger toothed whales, beaked whales, and most delphinids): Generalized hearing is estimated to occur between approximately 150 Hz and 160 kHz;

    • High-frequency cetaceans (porpoises, river dolphins, and members of the genera Kogia and Cephalorhynchus; including two members of the genus Lagenorhynchus, on the basis of recent echolocation data and genetic data): Generalized hearing is estimated to occur between approximately 275 Hz and 160 kHz;

    • Pinnipeds in water; Phocidae (true seals): generalized hearing is estimated to occur between approximately 50 Hz to 86 kHz; and

    • Pinnipeds in water; Otariidae (eared seals): generalized hearing is estimated to occur between 60 Hz and 39 kHz.

    The pinniped functional hearing group was modified from Southall et al. (2007) on the basis of data indicating that phocid species have consistently demonstrated an extended frequency range of hearing compared to otariids, especially in the higher frequency range (Hemilä et al., 2006; Kastelein et al., 2009; Reichmuth and Holt, 2013).

    For more detail concerning these groups and associated frequency ranges, please see NMFS (2016) for a review of available information. Six marine mammal species (four cetacean and two pinniped (one otariid and one phocid) species) have the reasonable potential to co-occur with the proposed survey activities. Of the cetacean species that may be present, one is classified as a low-frequency cetacean (i.e., all mysticete species), one is classified as a mid-frequency cetacean (i.e., all delphinid and ziphiid species and the sperm whale), and two are classified as high-frequency cetaceans (i.e., porpoise and Kogia spp.).

    Potential Effects of Specified Activities on Marine Mammals and Their Habitat

    This section includes a summary and discussion of the ways that components of the specified activity may impact marine mammals and their habitat. The “Estimated Take by Incidental Harassment” section later in this document will include a quantitative analysis of the number of individuals that are expected to be taken by this activity. The “Negligible Impact Analysis and Determination” section will consider the content of this section, the “Estimated Take by Incidental Harassment” section, and the “Proposed Mitigation” section, to draw conclusions regarding the likely impacts of these activities on the reproductive success or survivorship of individuals and how those impacts on individuals are likely to impact marine mammal species or stocks.

    The introduction of anthropogenic noise into the aquatic environment from pile driving and removal is the primary means by which marine mammals may be harassed from ADOT&PF's specified activity. Animals exposed to natural or anthropogenic sound may experience physical and psychological effects, ranging in magnitude from none to severe (Southall et al. 2007). In general, exposure to pile driving noise has the potential to result in auditory threshold shifts and behavioral reactions (e.g., avoidance, temporary cessation of foraging and vocalizing, changes in dive behavior). Exposure to anthropogenic noise can also lead to non-observable physiological responses such an increase in stress hormones. Additional noise in a marine mammal's habitat can mask acoustic cues used by marine mammals to carry out daily functions such as communication and predatory and prey detection. The effects of pile driving noise on marine mammals are dependent on several factors, including, but not limited to, sound type (e.g., impulsive vs. non-impulsive), the species, age and sex class (e.g., adult male vs. mom with calf), duration of exposure, the distance between the pile and the animal, received levels, behavior at time of exposure, and previous history with exposure (Southall et al., 2007, Wartzok et al. 2004). Here we discuss physical auditory effects (threshold shifts) followed by behavioral effects and potential impacts on habitat.

    NMFS defines a noise-induced threshold shift (TS) as “a change, usually an increase, in the threshold of audibility at a specified frequency or portion of an individual's hearing range above a previously established reference level” (NMFS, 2016). The amount of threshold shift is customarily expressed in dB (ANSI 1995, Yost 2007). A TS can be permanent or temporary. As described in NMFS (2016), there are numerous factors to consider when examining the consequence of TS, including, but not limited to, the signal temporal pattern (e.g., impulsive or non-impulsive), likelihood an individual would be exposed for a long enough duration or to a high enough level to induce a TS, the magnitude of the TS, time to recovery (seconds to minutes or hours to days), the frequency range of the exposure (i.e., spectral content), the hearing and vocalization frequency range of the exposed species relative to the signal's frequency spectrum (i.e., how animal uses sound within the frequency band of the signal; e.g., Kastelein et al. 2014b), and the overlap between the animal and the source (e.g., spatial, temporal, and spectral). When analyzing the auditory effects of noise exposure, it is often helpful to broadly categorize sound as either impulsive—noise with high peak sound pressure, short duration, fast rise-time, and broad frequency content—or non-impulsive. When considering auditory effects, vibratory pile driving is considered to be non-impulsive source while impact pile driving is treated as an impulsive source.

    Permanent Threshold Shift (PTS)—NMFS defines PTS as a permanent, irreversible increase in the threshold of audibility at a specified frequency or portion of an individual's hearing range above a previously established reference level (NMFS, 2016). Available data from humans and other terrestrial mammals indicate that a 40 dB threshold shift approximates PTS onset (see Ward et al. 1958, 1959; Ward 1960; Kryter et al. 1966; Miller 1974; Ahroon et al. 1996; Henderson et al. 2008).

    With the exception of a single study unintentionally inducing PTS in a harbor seal (Kastak et al., 2008), there are no empirical data measuring PTS in marine mammals largely due to the fact that, for various ethical reasons, experiments involving anthropogenic noise exposure at levels inducing PTS are not typically pursued or authorized (NMFS, 2016).

    Temporary Threshold Shift (TTS)—A temporary, reversible increase in the threshold of audibility at a specified frequency or portion of an individual's hearing range above a previously established reference level (NMFS, 2016). Based on data from cetacean TTS measurements (see Southall et al. 2007 for a review), a TTS of 6 dB is considered the minimum threshold shift clearly larger than any day-to-day or session-to-session variation in a subject's normal hearing ability (Schlundt et al. 2000; Finneran et al. 2000; Finneran et al. 2002). As described in Finneran (2016), marine mammal studies have shown the amount of TTS increases with cumulative sound exposure level (SELcum) in an accelerating fashion: At low exposures with lower SELcum, the amount of TTS is typically small and the growth curves have shallow slopes. At exposures with higher higher SELcum, the growth curves become steeper and approach linear relationships with the noise SEL.

    Depending on the degree (elevation of threshold in dB), duration (i.e., recovery time), and frequency range of TTS, and the context in which it is experienced, TTS can have effects on marine mammals ranging from discountable to serious (similar to those discussed in auditory masking, below). For example, a marine mammal may be able to readily compensate for a brief, relatively small amount of TTS in a non-critical frequency range that takes place during a time when the animal is traveling through the open ocean, where ambient noise is lower and there are not as many competing sounds present. Alternatively, a larger amount and longer duration of TTS sustained during time when communication is critical for successful mother/calf interactions could have more serious impacts. We note that reduced hearing sensitivity as a simple function of aging has been observed in marine mammals, as well as humans and other taxa (Southall et al., 2007), so we can infer that strategies exist for coping with this condition to some degree, though likely not without cost.

    The potential for TTS from impact pile driving exists. After exposure to playbacks of impact pile driving sounds (rate 2760 strikes/hour) in captivity, mean TTS increased from 0 dB after 15 minute exposure to 5 dB after 360 minute exposure; recovery occurred within 60 minute (Kastelein et al. 2016). However, one must consider duration of exposure in the field. Installing piles at the Haines terminal requires 700 strikes per pile (average 15 minutes) with re-set time and one hour of vibratory pile driving before impact driving the second pile. Given marine mammals are likely moving through the action area and not remaining for extended periods of time, the potential for TTS declines.

    Behavioral Harassment

    Exposure to noise from pile driving and removal also has the potential to behavioral disturb marine mammals. Disturbance may result in changing durations of surfacing and dives, number of blows per surfacing, or moving direction and/or speed; reduced/increased vocal activities; changing/cessation of certain behavioral activities (such as socializing or feeding); visible startle response or aggressive behavior (such as tail/fluke slapping or jaw clapping); avoidance of areas where sound sources are located. Pinnipeds may increase their haul-out time, possibly to avoid in-water disturbance (Thorson and Reyff, 2006). These potential behavioral responses to sound are highly variable and context-specific and reactions, if any, depend on species, state of maturity, experience, current activity, reproductive state, auditory sensitivity, time of day, and many other factors (Richardson et al., 1995; Wartzok et al., 2003; Southall et al., 2007). For example, animals that are resting may show greater behavioral change in response to disturbing sound levels than animals that are highly motivated to remain in an area for feeding (Richardson et al., 1995; NRC, 2003; Wartzok et al., 2003).

    If a marine mammal does react to an underwater sound by changing its behavior or moving a small distance, the impacts of that change may not be important to the individual, the stock, or the species as a whole. However, if a sound source displaces marine mammals from an important feeding or breeding area for a prolonged period, impacts on the animals could be important. In general, pinnipeds seem more tolerant of, or at least habituate more quickly to, potentially disturbing underwater sound than do cetaceans, and generally seem to be less responsive to exposure to industrial sound than most cetaceans.

    In 2016, ADOT&PF documented observations of marine mammals during construction activities (i.e., pile driving and down-hole drilling) at the Kodiak Ferry Dock (see 80 FR 60636 for Final IHA Federal Register notice). In the marine mammal monitoring report for that project (ABR 2016), 1,281 Steller sea lions were observed within the Level B disturbance zone during pile driving or drilling (i.e., documented as Level B take). Of these, 19 individuals demonstrated an alert behavior, 7 were fleeing, and 19 swam away from the project site. All other animals (98 percent) were engaged in activities such as milling, foraging, or fighting and did not change their behavior. In addition, two sea lions approached within 20 meters of active vibratory pile driving activities. Three harbor seals were observed within the disturbance zone during pile-driving activities; none of them displayed disturbance behaviors. Fifteen killer whales and three harbor porpoise were also observed within the Level B harassment zone during pile driving. The killer whales were travelling or milling while all harbor porpoises were travelling. No signs of disturbance were noted for either of these species. Given the similarities in activities and habitat and the fact the same species are involved, we expect similar behavioral responses of marine mammals to the specified activity. That is, disturbance, if any, is likely to be temporary and localized (e.g., small area movements).

    Masking and Acoustic Habitat

    Masking is the obscuring of sounds of interest to an animal by other sounds, typically at similar frequencies. It may be caused by both natural (e.g., wind, waves, other animals) or anthropogenic (e.g., pile driving) sources. Marine mammals are highly dependent on sound, and their ability to recognize sound signals amid other sound is important in communication and detection of both predators and prey. Masking may partially or entirely reduce the audibility of acoustic signals (Southall et al. 2007). Background ambient sound may interfere with or mask the ability of an animal to detect a sound signal even when that signal is above its absolute hearing threshold.

    Masking of natural sounds can result when human activities produce high levels of background sound at frequencies important to marine mammals. Conversely, if the background level of underwater sound is high (e.g., on a day with strong wind and high waves), an anthropogenic sound source would not be detectable as far away as would be possible under quieter conditions and would itself be masked. Masking is also likely to result in more severe consequences when continuous. At the Haines terminal, pile driving is intermittent. That is, vibratory hammering would occur for approximately one hour followed by a break before impact hammering to allow changes in equipment. There would also be another delay before driving the second pile. Further, pile driving would not occur for multiple consecutive days but instead would be spaced out over 19 days (plus 2 days for pile removal) over the course of approximately four months. Therefore, while masking may occur if a marine mammal if a marine mammal is in the terminal area, it would be of short duration. In addition, ADOT&PF would conduct pile driving outside of important foraging times (i.e., spring echelon runs) the action area does not support key reproduction or other vital areas. Therefore, the impact of masking is likely to be minimal.

    Marine Mammal Habitat Effects

    Construction activities at the Haines Ferry terminal could have localized, temporary impacts on marine mammal habitat and their prey by increasing in-water sound pressure levels and slightly decreasing water quality. Increased noise levels may adversely affect marine mammal prey in the vicinity of the project area. During impact pile driving, elevated levels of underwater noise would ensonify across Lutak Inlet where both fish and mammals occur and could affect foraging success. ADOT&PF would avoid pile driving during the more critical months (March 1 through May 31) when ephemeral fish run in the inlet, thereby avoiding the greatest densities of marine mammals.

    In-water pile driving, pile removal, and dredging activities would also cause short-term effects on water quality due to increased turbidity. Dredging is likely to cause the greatest increase in suspended solids; however, turbidity plumes created is localized to about 7.6 m (25 ft) and could last from a few minutes to several hours. Any contaminants associated with the re-suspended sediments would be tightly bound to the sediment matrix. Because of the relatively small dredge area, turbidity plumes would be limited to the immediate vicinity of the terminal and adjacent portion of the inlet. ADOT&PF would employ standard construction best management practices (BMPs; see section 9 and 11.1 in ADOT's application), thereby, reducing any impacts. Therefore, the impact from increased turbidity levels is expected to be discountable.

    Estimated Take

    This section provides an estimate of the number of incidental takes proposed for authorization through this IHA, which will inform 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 impact and vibratory hammers has the potential to result in disruption of behavioral patterns and/or TTS for individual marine mammals. Impact pile driving may also result in auditory injury (Level A harassment) for mysticetes, high frequency cetaceans, and phocids due to modeled auditory injury zones based on exposure to noise from installing two piles per day. However, there are multiple hours between impact pile driving each pile; therefore, these zones are conservative as animals are not known to linger in the area. Therefore, PTS potential is low and, if occurs, would likely be minimal (e.g., PTS onset). Auditory injury is not expected for mid-frequency species and otariids as the accumulation of energy does not reach NMFS' PTS thresholds. The death of a marine mammal is also a type of incidental take. However, as described previously, no mortality is anticipated or proposed to be 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 may 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) the number of days of activities. Below, we describe these components in more detail and present the proposed take estimate.

    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 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 (e.g., hearing, motivation, experience, demography, behavioral context) making effects difficult to predict (Southall et al., 2007, Ellison et al., 2011). Based on what the available science indicates 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 Level B harassment when exposed to underwater anthropogenic noise above received levels of 120 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, impact pile driving) or intermittent (e.g., scientific sonar) sources. ADOT&PF includes the use of continuous (vibratory pile driving) and impulsive (impact pile driving); therefore, the 120 and 160 dB re 1 μPa (rms) thresholds are applicable.

    Level A harassment for non-explosive sources—NMFS' Technical Guidance for Assessing the Effects of Anthropogenic Sound on Marine Mammal Hearing (Technical Guidance, 2016) identifies dual criteria to assess auditory injury (Level A harassment) for five different marine mammal groups (based on hearing sensitivity) as a result of exposure to noise from two different types of sources (impulsive or non-impulsive).

    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 2. 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.

    Table 2—Thresholds Identifying the Onset of Permanent Threshold Shift Hearing group PTS onset acoustic thresholds *
  • (received level)
  • Impulsive Non-impulsive
    Low-Frequency (LF) Cetaceans Cell 1: L pk,flat : 219 dB; L E,LF,24h : 183 dB Cell 2: L E,LF,24h : 199 dB. Mid-Frequency (MF) Cetaceans Cell 3: L pk,flat : 230 dB; L E,MF,24h : 185 dB Cell 4: L E,MF,24h : 198 dB. High-Frequency (HF) Cetaceans Cell 5: L pk,flat : 202 dB; L E,HF,24h : 155 dB Cell 6: L E,HF,24h : 173 dB. Phocid Pinnipeds (PW) (Underwater) Cell 7: L pk,flat : 218 dB; L E,PW,24h : 185 dB Cell 8: L E,PW,24h : 201 dB. Otariid Pinnipeds (OW) (Underwater) Cell 9: L pk,flat : 232 dB; L E,OW,24h : 203 dB Cell 10: L E,OW,24h : 219 dB. * 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 (L pk) has a reference value of 1 μPa, and cumulative sound exposure level (L E) 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 identifying the area ensonified above the acoustic thresholds.

    ADOT&PF prepared an acoustic modeling report that discusses their modeling approach and identifies modeled source levels and harassment zones for the Haines Ferry Terminal project (Quijano et al., 2016). A summary of the methods of the modeling effort is presented here; the full report is available at http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/incidental/construction.htm.

    To assess potential underwater noise exposure of marine mammals during pile driving, ADOT&PF used two models: A Pile Driving Source Model (PDSM) to estimate the sound radiation generated by the pile driver acting upon the pile (i.e., source levels), and a Full Waveform Range-dependent Acoustic Model (FWRAM) to simulate sound propagation away from the pile. The modeling considered the effect of pile driving equipment, bathymetry, water sound speed profile, and seabed geoacoustic parameters to predict the acoustic footprint from impact and vibratory pile driving of cylindrical pipe piles with respect to NMFS Level A and Level B thresholds. The report presents scenarios in which one pile or two piles are driven per day; however, for purposes here, NMFS considered only the two pile scenario since ADOT&PF has indicated that up to two piles could be driven per day. The resulting Level A harassment distances represent the location at which an animal would remain for the entire duration it takes to drive one pile, reset, and then drive another pile that, in reality, occurs over multiple hours in one day. The Level B isopleth distances represent instantaneous exposure to the Level B harassment criterion.

    To model sounds resulting from impact and vibratory pile driving of 30-in and 36-in cylindrical pipe pipes, the PDSM was used in conjunction with GRL Engineer's Wave Equation Analysis Program (GRLWEAP) pile driving simulation software to obtain an equivalent pile source signature (i.e., source level) consisting of a vertical array of discrete point sources (Table 3). This signature accounts for several parameters that describe the operation: Pile type, material, size, and length; the pile driving equipment; and approximate pile penetration rate. The amplitude and phase of the point sources along the array were computed so that they collectively mimicked the time-frequency characteristics of the acoustic wave at the pile wall that results from a hammer strike (impact driving) or from forced vibration (vibratory driving) at the top end of the pile. This approach estimates spectral levels within the band 10-800 Hz where most of the energy from pile driving is concentrated. An extrapolation method (Zykov et al. 2016) was used to extend modeled levels in 1/3-octave-bands up to 25 kHz, by applying a −2 dB per 1/3-octave-band roll-off coefficient to the SEL value starting at the 800 Hz band. This was done to estimate the acoustic energy at higher frequencies to compare to NMFS thresholds.

    Once the pile source signature was computed, the FWRAM sound propagation modeling code was used to determine received levels as a function of depth, range, and azimuth direction. FWRAM is a time-domain acoustic model that used, as input, the PDSM-generated array of point sources representing the pile and computes synthetic pressure waveforms. To exclude sound field outliers, NMFS uses the maximum range at which the given sound level was encountered after excluding 5 percent of the farthest such points (R95%) to estimate harassment threshold distances. To account for hearing groups, full-spectrum frequency-dependent weighting functions were applied at each frequency. The model also showed the transition from down-slope to up-slope propagation as the sound crosses Lutak Inlet, resulting in a sound field that decays at a constant rate with range.

    Steel cylindrical pipe piles 41 m (135 ft) long with 1/2 in thick walls were modeled for a total penetration of 14 m (46 ft) into the sediment. In the case of vibratory pile driving, both pile sizes were assumed to be driven by an ICE-44B vibratory pile driver. For impact pile driving, the parameters corresponding to the Delmag D30-32 and D36-32 impact pile drivers were used to model scenarios with 30-in and 36-in diameter piles, respectively. Sound energy was accumulated over a specified number of hammer strikes, not as a function of time. The number of strikes required to install a single pile (assumed to be 700 strikes per pile) was estimated based on pile driving logs from another pile driving project at Haines. Sound footprints were calculated for the installation of two piles (thus, accumulated over 1400 strikes). For vibratory pile driving, sound energy was accumulated for the two piles that could be installed or removed in a 24-hour period.

    Modeled source levels and distances to NMFS acoustic thresholds based on these source levels and the sound propagation model are presented in Table 3 and 4.

    Table 3—Impact Pile Driving: Modeled Source Levels and Harassment Zones for Impact Driving Two Piles per Day [A dash indicates the threshold was not reached*] Hearing group Level A threshold
  • distance
  • (R95%) (km)
  • Level A threshold area (km2) Level B (160 dB) threshold distance (km) Level B threshold area (km2)
    30 inch piles: modeled SL = 179.5 dB SEL Low-frequency cetacean 1.65 3.17 1.98 4.52 Mid-frequency cetacean High-frequency cetacean 1.45 1.13 Phocid pinniped 0.26 0.09 Otarrid pinniped 36 inch piles: modeled SL = 180.9 dB SEL Low-frequency cetacean 2.04 4.78 2.67 6.79 Mid-frequency cetacean High-frequency cetacean 1.49 2.17 Phocid pinniped 0.33 0.15 Otarrid pinniped * NMFS also considers peak sound pressure levels; however, in no case were these thresholds reached or greater than the SEL distances.
    Table 4—Vibratory Pile Driving: Modeled Source Levels and Harassment Zones for Vibratory Driving Two Piles per Day [A dash indicates the threshold was not reached*] Hearing group Level A threshold
  • Distance
  • (R95%) (km)
  • Level A threshold area (km2) Level B (160 dB) threshold distance (km) Level B threshold area (km2)
    30 inch piles: modeled SL = 177.6 dB rms ALL 5.61 21.14 36 inch piles: modeled SL = 179.8 dB rms Low-frequency cetacean 0.02 <0.01 5.62 21.17 Mid-frequency cetacean High-frequency cetacean Phocid pinniped Otarrid pinniped * NMFS also considers peak sound pressure levels; however, in no case were these thresholds reached or greater than the SEL distances.

    The modeling approach described above and in ADOT&PF's application constitutes a new approach in that it models both source levels and propagation loss to estimate distances to NMFS harassment thresholds. Some preliminary data comparing measured sound levels to those produced by the models has been presented, but no peer reviewed analysis has been undertaken. To test the validity of the model, NMFS has included a proposed requirement that ADOT&PF conduct a source source verification (SSV) study upon the onset of pile driving to validate the model or, if necessary, adjust the harassment zones based on measured data. This SSV study will also provide the first measurements of sound levels generated by 36-in piles driven by ADOT&PF. ADOT&PF has prepared a draft acoustic monitoring plan which can be found at www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/incidental/construction.htm. We welcome comments on the ADOT&PF's source level modeling approach and the acoustic monitoring plan.

    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 data on marine mammals in this area are diverse and fairly robust due mostly to ADF&G surveys. Strong seasonal occurrence of marine mammals in this area is well documented; therefore, density estimates for each species were calculated by month rather than averaged throughout the year. For example, we have already discussed the seasonality of Steller sea lions and how prey aggregations affect their abundance. Monthly Steller sea lion densities were calculated based on abundance surveys conducted at Gran Point (ADF&G, pers. comm). Considering the Steller sea lion data used to calculate density is from Gran Point, ADOT&PF used this location to mark the southern boundary of the action area. The area from Gran Point north that encompasses Lutak Inlet and Lynn Canal is 91.3 km2; this area was used for all species' density estimates. For species other than Steller sea lion, average sighting rate was used to calculate density (i.e., species occurrence rate per month/91.3km2). Harbor seals are generally present in the action area throughout the year, but their local abundance is clearly defined by the presence of available prey. During mid-March through mid-June, they are abundant in Lutak Inlet. For these months, an average of 100 seals per day in the inlet is considered a conservative estimate. For all other months, an estimate of 10 seals per month was incorporated into the density equation. Humpback whales are present in the action area from mid-April through June at a rate of five whales per month and given that a few whales have atypically remained in the area through the fall months (MOS 2016), we assumed two whales may remain within the action area from August through November. Densities for killer whales were calculated assuming five animals enter the area seasonally from one of the resident or transient stocks, and may remain from April through November. Harbor porpoise may be present in low numbers (average of five per month) throughout the year. Finally, Dall's porpoise are not sighted very frequently but tend to travel in larger groups; therefore, ten animals per for the four months of construction were considered in the density calculations. Table 5 provides the resulting marine mammal densities for months when terminal construction would occur (again, no pile activities would occur from March 1 through May 31 to avoid peak marine mammal abundance and critical foraging periods). Although the table provides all relevant months, we used the months with highest density to calculate estimated take for each species, thus producing the most conservative estimates. Please refer to section 6.6.1 in ADOT's application for supporting data information.

    Table 5—Marine Mammal Density Estimates (Animals/km 2) During Months When Pile Activities May Occur Species Jan Feb June July Aug Sept Oct Nov Dec Steller sea lion 2.06 1.87 7.55 1.35 0 0.01 1.85 1.59 2.47 Harbor seal 0.109 0.109 1.09 0.109 0.109 0.109 0.109 0.109 0.109 Humpback whale 0 0 0.054 0.054 0.022 0.022 0.022 0.022 0 Killer whale 0 0 0.054 0.054 0.054 0.054 0.054 0.054 0 Harbor porpoise 0.054 0.054 0.054 0.054 0.054 0.054 0.054 0.054 0.054 Dall's porpoise 0 0 0 0.03 0.03 0.03 0.03 0 0 Take Calculation and Estimation

    Here we describe how the information provided above is brought together to produce a quantitative take estimate.

    The following equation was used to calculate potential Level A take per species per pile type: Level A harassment zone/pile installation method/pile type * June density * # of pile driving days/pile type. As described above, there would be 19 days of pile driving and 2 days of pile removal for a total of 21 pile activity days. We used the June density because, when densities changed throughout the year, this is when the highest density of all species occurs in the project area within the project in-water work window (with the exception of Dall's porpoise-see below) and ADOT&PF could conduct activities during this month. Therefore, the resulting take estimates assume all work is conducted in June, producing conservative estimates. The resulting Level A takes by pile type (30-in and 36-in) were then added to generate a total take number. For Level B harassment, the equation is the same; however, we first subtracted any Level A area from its corresponding Level B zone so not to “double count” takes.

    ADOT&PF may take 1.9 humpback whales by Level A harassment when impact driving 30″ piles (i.e., 3.17 km2 * 0.054 animals/km2 * 11 days). ADOT&PF may take 2.1 humpback whales by Level A harassment when impact driving 36-in piles (i.e., 4.78 km2 * 0.054 animals/km2 * 8 days). Together, these equal 4 (i.e., 1.9 from 30-in + 2.1 from 36″) potential Level A takes (Table 6). The Level B harassment zone for impact driving 30″ piles was calculated as 4.52 km2−3.17 km2 = 1.35 km2. As such, potential take is calculated as 1.35 km2 * 0.054 animals/km2 * 11 days = 1 animal. To calculate take from impact driving 36” piles, the Level A zone (4.78 km2) was subtracted from the Level B zone (6.79 km2) and the process was repeated: 2.01 km2 * 0.054 animals/km2 * 8 days = 1 animal. These takes were then added for a total of 2 takes from Level B harassment from impact pile driving. Finally, we included the potential Level B takes from vibratory pile driving and removal (Level B area = 21.1 km2) using the method as described above. The resulting Level B takes (n = 24) were added to the impact pile driving Level B takes (n = 2) for a total Level B take of 26 humpback whales.

    For killer whales, Level B takes from vibratory pile driving were calculated using June density and the full 21.1 km2 Level B zone since no Level A takes are predicted: 21.1 km2 * 0.054 animals/km2 * 21 days = 24 animals. Level B take from impact driving 30-in piles is calculated as 4.52 km2 * 0.054 animals/km2 * 11 days = 2.7 killer whales. Level B take from impact driving was calculated as 6.79 km2 * 0.054 animals/km2 * 8 days = 2.9 killer whales. Together, we proposed to authorize Level B take of 30 killer whales over the 21 days of pile activity.

    For Dall's porpoise, we used the July density of 0.03 animals/km2 in the take equations. The resulting Level A take was lower than the average group size; therefore, we increased to the number of takes to represent the possibility one group of ten Dall's porpoise may come within the Level A zone during impact pile driving. For Level B take, calculated take fell between 10 and 20 animals; therefore, we assumed two groups of ten each may occur within the Level B zone and are proposing to authorize 20 Level B takes.

    Harbor porpoise take estimates were based on a density of .054 porpoise/km2 with a Level A isopleth of 1.13 km2 and 2.17 km2 for impact pile driving 30-in (11 days) and 36-in (8 days) piles, respectively. The resulting 1 animal is less than the average group size; therefore, we are proposing to authorize the take of three harbor porpoise. For Level B, calculated take was estimated at 28 animals. Level B take numbers for harbor porpoise were based on a 21.1km2 impact zone for vibratory pile driving while an isopleth of 4.62 km2 and 3.39 km2 were used for pile driving 30-in (11 days) and 36-in (8 days) piles.

    Harbor seal Level A take numbers were based on 1.09 seals/km2, a Level A zone of 0.09 and 0.15 km2 for impact pile driving 30-in (11 days) and 36-in (8 days) piles, respectively. In total, three Level A takes of harbor seals are expected. For Level B, a 21.1 km2 impact zone for vibratory pile driving was used whereas a 6.64 km2 and 4.43 km2 isopleth were used for impact pile driving 36-in and 30-in piles. In all, Level B take numbers for vibratory and impact pile driving were 598. It is important to note that given harbor seals are more likely to haul-out and linger within the Level B harassment zone, it is more likely that this number represents exposures and not individual seals. As with all other species, it is also likely animals will travel through the Level B zone heading up the inlet and then back down again. Because individual identification is not always possible, these separate sighting events would be counted as individual takes.

    For Steller sea lions, Level B takes from vibratory pile driving were calculated using the most conservative June density (assuming worst case scenario that all work occurs in June) and the full 21.1 km2 Level B zone since no Level A takes are predicted: 21.1 km2 * 7.55 animals/km2 * 21 days = 3345.4 animals. Level B take from impact driving 30-in piles was calculated as 4.52 km2 * 7.55 animals/km2 * 11 days = 375.4 sea lions. Level B take from impact driving 36-in piles was calculated as 6.79 km2 * 7.55 animals/km2 * 8 days = 410.1 sea lions. Together, NMFS proposes to authorize 4131 takes of sea lions over the 21 days of pile activity. This amount is not believed to be the number of individual Steller sea lions harassed but some lesser amount of individuals with repeated exposures.

    Table 6 includes the total proposed take levels, by species, manner of taking, and the percentage of stock potentially taken by Level B harassment (we did not include Level A take percentages as the proposed number of take is essentially zero percent for all stocks).

    Table 6—Estimated Take by Level A and Level B Harassment, by Species and Month, Resulting From Impact and Vibratory Pile Driving Species Stock or DPS Stock or DPS size 1 Level A Level B Level B % of stock/DPS Steller sea lion eastern U.S 60,131 0 2 4,131 6.7 western U.S 49,497 0 2 83 0.16 Harbor Seal Lynn
  • Canal/Stephens
  • Passage
  • 9,478 3 598 6.3
    Humpback whale Central North Pacific 10,103 4 3 26 0.3 Killer whale Alaska Resident 2,347 0 30 1.3-12.3 Northern Resident 261 0 Gulf of Alaska, Aleutian Islands, Bering Sea 587 0 West Coast Transient 243 0 Harbor porpoise Southeast Alaska 975 4 3 28 0.27 Dall's porpoise Alaska 83,400 4 10 4 20 0.04 1 Stock or DPS size here is Nbest according to NMFS 2016 Stock Assessment Reports. 2 Calculated Level B take of all SSL's is based on a June density of 7.55 animals which equals 4131 individuals. Based on the percent of branded animals at Gran Point and in consultation with the Alaska Regional Office, we used a 2 percent distinction factor to determine the number of animals potentially from the western DPS. 3 Calculated Level B take of all humpback whales is based on a June density of 0.054 animals which equals 4131 individuals. For ESA section 7 consultation purposes, 6.1 percent are designated to the Mexico DPS and the remaining are designated to the Hawaii DPS; therefore, we assigned 2 Level B takes to the Mexico DPS. 4 The calculated Level A take for harbor porpoise and Dall's porpoise is less than the average group size; therefore, we are proposing to authorize Level A take of one group of each species (i.e., 3 and 10 animals, respectively). For Dall's porpoise, we propose to authorize two groups (i.e., 20 animals) to be taken by Level B harassment. The calculated amount of Level B take for harbor porpoise is sufficient to cover multiple groups; therefore, no adjustments were made.
    Proposed 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, as well as subsistence uses. 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.

    The following mitigation measures are proposed in the IHA:

    Schedule: No pile driving or removal would occur from March 1 through May 31 to avoid peak marine mammals abundance periods and critical foraging periods.

    Pile Driving Delay/Shut-Down: If an animal comes within 10 m (33 ft) of a pile being driven or removed, ADOT&PF would shut down. Pile driving activities would only be conducted during daylight hours when it is possible to visually monitor for marine mammals. If poor environmental conditions restrict visibility (e.g., from excessive wind or fog, high Beaufort state), pile installation would be delayed. If a species for which authorization has not been granted or if a species for which authorization has been granted but the authorized takes are met, ADOT&PF would delay or shut-down pile driving if the marine mammals approaches or is observed within the Level A and/or B harassment zone. In the unanticipated event that the specified activity clearly causes the take of a marine mammal in a manner prohibited by the IHA, such as serious injury or mortality, the protected species observer (PSO) on watch would immediately call for the cessation of the specified activities and immediately report the incident to the Chief of the Permits and Conservation Division, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, and NMFS Alaska Regional Office.

    Soft-start: For all impact pile driving, a “soft start” technique will be used at the beginning of each pile installation to allow any marine mammal that may be in the immediate area to leave before hammering at full energy. The soft start requires ADOT&PF to provide an initial set of three strikes from the impact hammer at 40 percent energy, followed by a one-minute waiting period, then two subsequent 3-strike sets. If any marine mammal is sighted within the Level A zone designated for that species prior to pile-driving, or during the soft start, ADOT&PF will delay pile-driving until the animal is confirmed to have moved outside and on a path away from Level A zone or if 15 minutes have elapsed since the last sighting.

    Other best management practices: ADOT&PF will drive all piles with a vibratory hammer to the maximum extent possible (i.e., until a desired depth is achieved or to refusal) prior to using an impact hammer. ADOT&PF will also use the minimum hammer energy needed to safely install the piles. ADOT&PF will also utilize sound attenuation devices (e.g., pile caps/cushions) to reduce source levels and, by association, received levels. However, because the actual amount of reduction of sound energy from using those devices in unknown, ADOT&PF and NMFS used relied on unattenuated source levels to calculate harassment zones.

    Based on our evaluation of the applicant's proposed measures, as well as other measures considered by NMFS, we have preliminarily determined that the proposed 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.

    Proposed 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 proposed 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.

    Visual Monitoring

    Monitoring would be conducted 30 minutes before, during, and 30 minutes after pile driving and removal activities. In addition, observers shall record all incidents of marine mammal occurrence, regardless of distance from activity, and shall document any behavioral reactions in concert with distance from piles being driven or removed. Pile driving activities include the time to install or remove a single pile or series of piles, as long as the time elapsed between uses of the pile driving equipment is no more than thirty minutes.

    A primary PSO would be placed at the terminal where pile driving would occur and a second observer would be placed at Tanani Point, located approximately 1 mi (1.6 km) southeast of the terminal. This second observer is at an advantage to observe species prior to entering the Level A zone as they move up Chilkoot Inlet, covering a majority of the Level B zone. PSOs would scan the waters using binoculars, and/or spotting scopes, and would use a handheld GPS or range-finder device to verify the distance to each sighting from the project site. All PSOs would be trained in marine mammal identification and behaviors and are required to have no other project-related tasks while conducting monitoring. The following measures also apply to visual monitoring:

    (1) Monitoring will be conducted by qualified observers, who will be placed at the best vantage point(s) practicable to monitor for marine mammals and implement shutdown/delay procedures when applicable by calling for the shutdown to the hammer operator. Qualified observers are trained biologists, with the following minimum qualifications:

    (a) Visual acuity in both eyes (correction is permissible) sufficient for discernment of moving targets at the water's surface with ability to estimate target size and distance; use of binoculars may be necessary to correctly identify the target;

    (b) Advanced education in biological science or related field (undergraduate degree or higher required);

    (c) Experience and ability to conduct field observations and collect data according to assigned protocols (this may include academic experience);

    (d) Experience or training in the field identification of marine mammals, including the identification of behaviors;

    (e) Sufficient training, orientation, or experience with the construction operation to provide for personal safety during observations;

    (f) Writing skills sufficient to prepare a report of observations including but not limited to the number and species of marine mammals observed; dates and times when in-water construction activities were conducted; dates and times when in-water construction activities were suspended to avoid potential incidental injury from construction sound of marine mammals observed within a defined shutdown zone; and marine mammal behavior; and

    (g) Ability to communicate orally, by radio or in person, with project personnel to provide real-time information on marine mammals observed in the area as necessary.

    A draft marine mammal monitoring report would be submitted to NMFS within 90 days after the completion of pile driving and removal activities. It will include an overall description of work completed, a narrative regarding marine mammal sightings, and associated marine mammal observation data sheets. Specifically, the report must include:

    • Date and time that monitored activity begins or ends;

    • Construction activities occurring during each observation period;

    • Weather parameters (e.g., percent cover, visibility);

    • Water conditions (e.g., sea state, tide state);

    • Species, numbers, and, if possible, sex and age class of marine mammals;

    • Description of any observable marine mammal behavior patterns, including bearing and direction of travel and distance from pile driving activity;

    • Distance from pile driving activities to marine mammals and distance from the marine mammals to the observation point;

    • Locations of all marine mammal observations; and

    • Other human activity in the area.

    If no comments are received from NMFS within 30 days, the draft final report will constitute the final report. If comments are received, a final report addressing NMFS comments must be submitted within 30 days after receipt of comments.

    In the unanticipated event that the specified activity clearly causes the take of a marine mammal in a manner prohibited by the IHA (if issued), such as an injury, serious injury or mortality, ADOT&PF would immediately cease the specified activities and report the incident to the Chief of the Permits and Conservation Division, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, and the Alaska Regional Stranding Coordinator. The report would include the following information:

    • Description of the incident;

    • Environmental conditions (e.g., Beaufort sea state, visibility);

    • Description of all marine mammal observations in the 24 hours preceding the incident;

    • Species identification or description of the animal(s) involved;

    • Fate of the animal(s); and

    • Photographs or video footage of the animal(s) (if equipment is available).

    Activities would not resume until NMFS is able to review the circumstances of the prohibited take. NMFS would work with ADOT&PF to determine what is necessary to minimize the likelihood of further prohibited take and ensure MMPA compliance. ADOT&PF would not be able to resume their activities until notified by NMFS via letter, email, or telephone.

    In the event that ADOT&PF discovers an injured or dead marine mammal, and the lead PSO determines that the cause of the injury or death is unknown and the death is relatively recent (e.g., in less than a moderate state of decomposition as described in the next paragraph), ADOT&PF would immediately report the incident to the Chief of the Permits and Conservation Division, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, and the NMFS Alaska Stranding Hotline and/or by email to the Alaska Regional Stranding Coordinator. The report would include the same information identified in the paragraph above. Activities would be able to continue while NMFS reviews the circumstances of the incident. NMFS would work with ADOT&PF to determine whether modifications in the activities are appropriate.

    In the event that ADOT&PF discovers an injured or dead marine mammal and the lead PSO determines that the injury or death is not associated with or related to the activities authorized in the IHA (e.g., previously wounded animal, carcass with moderate to advanced decomposition, or scavenger damage), ADOT&PF would report the incident to the Chief of the Permits and Conservation Division, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, and the NMFS Alaska Stranding Hotline and/or by email to the Alaska Regional Stranding Coordinator, within 24 hours of the discovery. ADOT&PF would provide photographs or video footage (if available) or other documentation of the stranded animal sighting to NMFS and the Marine Mammal Stranding Network.

    Acoustic Monitoring

    ADOT&PF relied on source level and sound propagation models to estimate Level A and harassment zones. To validate the outputs of these models, ADOT&PF will conduct acoustic monitoring during the first two days of pile driving. The acoustic monitoring plan is available for review at http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/incidental/construction.htm. In summary, ADOT&PF will deploy three bottom-mounted Autonomous Multichannel Acoustic Recorders (AMARs) and conduct spot measurements with a hydrophone over the side of a vessel. The AMARs will be set 10 m, 1000m and 5,000 m from the pile. Within one week, ADOT&PF will provide NMFS a report of their acoustic measurements. NMFS will review the report and if empirical data demonstrates adjustments to Level A and B take zones are warranted, those adjustments will be made.

    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).

    The Level A harassment zones identified in Tables 3 and 4 are based upon an animal exposed to impact pile driving two piles per day. Considering duration of impact driving each pile (up to 15 minutes) and breaks between pile installations (to reset equipment and move pile into place), this means an animal would have to remain within the area estimated to be ensonified above the Level A harassment threshold for multiple hours. This is highly unlikely given marine mammal movement throughout the area. If an animal was exposed to accumulated sound energy, the resulting PTS would likely be small (e.g., PTS onset) at lower frequencies where pile driving energy is concentrated. Nevertheless, we propose authorizing a small amount of Level A take for four species which is considered in our analysis.

    Behavioral responses of marine mammals to pile driving and removal at the Terminal, if any, are expected to be mild and temporary. Marine mammals within the Level B harassment zone may not show any visual cues they are disturbed by activities (as noted during modification to the Kodiak Ferry Dock) or could become alert, avoid the area, leave the area, or display other mild responses that are not observable such as changes in vocalization patterns. Given the short duration of noise-generating activities per day and that pile driving and removal would occur on 21 days across 4 months, any harassment would be temporary. In addition, ADOT&PF would not conduct pile driving or removal during the spring eulachon and herring runs as well as the fall salmon runs, when marine mammals are in greatest abundance and engaging in concentrated foraging behavior.

    In summary and as described above, the following factors primarily support our preliminary determination that the impacts resulting from this activity are not expected to adversely affect the species or stock through effects on annual rates of recruitment or survival:

    • No mortality is anticipated or authorized.

    • ADOT&PF would avoid pile driving and removal during peak periods of marine mammals abundance and foraging (i.e., March 1 through May 31 eulachon and herring runs,).

    • ADOT&PF would implement mitigation measures such as vibratory driving piles to the maximum extent practicable, soft-starts, use of sound attenuation devices, and shut downs.

    • Monitoring reports from similar work in Alaska have documented little to no effect on individuals of the same species impacted by the specified activities.

    Based on the analysis contained herein of the likely effects of the specified activity on marine mammals and their habitat, and taking into consideration the implementation of the proposed monitoring and mitigation measures, NMFS preliminarily finds that the total marine mammal take from the proposed 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 and 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.

    The amount of take NMFS proposes to authorize is 0.03 to 12.3 percent of any stock's best population estimate. The 12.3 percent is based on the possibility all 30 takes of killer whales are from the West Coast Transient stock (population size 243) which is highly unlikely. The next lowest percent of stock is for the Steller sea lion eDPS at 6.7 percent; however, this is also conservative because it assumes all pile driving occurs in June which has the highest Steller sea lion density and assumes all takes are of individual animals which is likely not the case. Harbor seal takes represent 6.3 percent of the Lynn Canal/Stephens passage population while takes for the remaining five species, including the Steller sea lion wDPS, represent less than 1 percent of all stocks.

    Based on the analysis contained herein of the proposed activity (including the proposed mitigation and monitoring measures) and the anticipated take of marine mammals, NMFS preliminarily finds that small numbers of marine mammals will be taken relative to the population size of the affected species or stocks.

    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 NMFS Alaska Protected Resources Division Office, whenever we propose to authorize take for endangered or threatened species.

    NMFS is proposing to authorize take of the Steller sea lion wDPS and the Mexico humpback whale DPS which are listed under the ESA. The Permit and Conservation Division has requested initiation of Section 7 consultation with the Alaska Region for the issuance of this IHA. NMFS will conclude the ESA consultation prior to reaching a determination regarding the proposed issuance of the authorization.

    Proposed Authorization

    As a result of these preliminary determinations, NMFS proposes to issue an IHA to ADOT&PF for conducting pile driving and removal at the Haines Ferry Terminal, Alaska, from October 1, 2018 September 30, 2019 provided the previously mentioned mitigation, monitoring, and reporting requirements are incorporated. This section contains a draft of the IHA itself. The wording contained in this section is proposed for inclusion in the IHA (if issued).

    1. This IHA is valid from October 1 2018, through September 30, 2019.

    2. This IHA is valid only for pile driving and removal during the Haines Ferry Terminal Modification Project, Haines, Alaska.

    3. General Conditions.

    (a) A copy of this IHA must be in the possession of, its designees, and work crew personnel operating under the authority of this IHA.

    (b) The species authorized for taking is the Steller sea lions (Eumetopias jubatus), harbor seals (Phoca vitulina), harbor porpoise (Phocoena phocoena), and Dall's porpoise (Phocoenoides dalli) humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) and killer whale (Orcinus orca).

    (c) The taking, by harassment, is limited to the species listed in condition 3(b). See Table 6 for manner of taking and numbers of take authorized, by species.

    (d) The taking by serious injury or death of the species listed in condition 3(b) of this IHA or any taking of species of marine mammal not listed in condition 3(b) is prohibited and may result in the modification, suspension, or revocation of this IHA.

    (e) The taking of any marine mammal in a manner prohibited under this IHA must be reported immediately to the Office of Protected Resources, NMFS.

    (f) ADOT&PF shall conduct briefings between construction supervisors and crews, marine mammal monitoring team, and ADOT&PF staff prior to the start of pile driving and removal for the Haines Ferry Terminal Modification Project, and when new personnel join the work, in order to explain responsibilities, communication procedures, marine mammal monitoring protocol, and operational procedures.

    4. Mitigation

    The holder of this Authorization is required to implement the following mitigation measures:

    (a) Timing Restrictions: Pile driving and removal shall occur only during daylight hours from October 1, 2018, through September 30, 2019, excluding March 1, 2019, to May 31, 2019.

    (b) Weather Restrictions: If poor environmental conditions restrict visibility (e.g., from excessive wind or fog, high Beaufort state), the commencement of pile installation shall be delayed.

    (c) Pile Driving Operations

    (i) ADOT&PF shall drive all piles with a vibratory hammer to the maximum extent possible (i.e., until a desired depth is achieved or to refusal) prior to using an impact hammer. ADOT&PF shall also use the minimum hammer energy needed to safely install the piles.

    (ii) ADOT&PF shall use sound attenuation devices (e.g., pile caps/cushions) in an attempt to reduce source levels.

    (iii) ADOT&PF shall use a “soft start” technique at the beginning of impact pile driving to allow any marine mammal that may be in the immediate area to leave before hammering at full energy. The soft start requires ADOT&PF to provide an initial set of three strikes from the impact hammer at 40 percent energy, followed by a one-minute waiting period, then two subsequent 3-strike sets.

    (iv) ADOT&PF shall use a direct pull method as the primary removal method for piles and, if ineffective, then using a vibratory hammer;

    (d) Shut-down Procedures.

    (i) A shut-down zone of 10 m shall be established during impact pile driving. Pile driving shall not commence until marine mammals are not sighted within the shut-down zone for a 15-minute period. If a marine mammal enters the shut down zone during pile driving, the activity shall stop until the animal leaves the shut-down zone or until 15 minutes has elapsed without observation of the animal within the zone.

    (ii) If any marine mammal is sighted within the Level A zone (see Tables 3 and 4) designated for that species prior to pile-driving, or during the soft start, ADOT&PF shall delay pile-driving until the animal is confirmed to have moved outside and on a path away from Level A zone or if 15 minutes have elapsed since the last sighting.

    (iii) ADOT&PF shall use delay and shut-down procedures, if a species for which authorization has not been granted or if a species for which authorization has been granted but the authorized takes are met, approaches or is observed within the Level A and/or B harassment zone.

    (iv) ADOT&PF shall use delay and shut-down procedures, if a species for which authorization has not been granted or if a species for which authorization has been granted but the authorized takes are met, approaches or is observed within the Level A and/or B harassment zone (as appropriate).

    5. Monitoring.

    The holder of this Authorization is required to abide by the following monitoring conditions:

    (a) Two qualified Protected Species Observer (PSOs) shall be used to detect, document, and minimize impacts to marine mammals. One PSO shall be stationed at the Terminal and another shall be stationed at Tanani Point or other vantage point that allows visual line of sight across Chilkoot Inlet.

    (b) Qualifications for PSOs for visual monitoring include:

    (i) Visual acuity in both eyes (correction is permissible) sufficient for discernment of harbor seals on land or in the water with ability to estimate target size and distance; use of binoculars may be necessary to correctly identify the target;

    (ii) Advanced education in biological science or related field (undergraduate degree or higher required);

    (iii) Experience and ability to conduct field observations and collect data according to assigned protocols (this may include academic experience);

    (iv) Experience or training in the field identification of marine mammals, including the identification of behaviors;

    (v) Sufficient training, orientation, or experience with the construction operation to provide for personal safety during observations;

    (vi) Writing skills sufficient to prepare a report of observations including but not limited to the number and species of marine mammals observed; dates and times when construction activities were conducted; dates and times when construction activities were suspended to avoid potential incidental injury from construction sound or visual disturbance of marine mammals observed; and marine mammal behavior; and

    (vii) Ability to communicate orally, by radio or in person, with project personnel to provide real-time information on marine mammals observed in the area as necessary.

    (c) PSO Monitoring and Data Collection: Monitoring shall be conducted before, during, and after pile driving and removal activities. PSOs shall record all incidents of marine mammal occurrence, regardless of distance from activity, and shall document any behavioral reactions in concert with distance from construction activities. PSOs shall be placed at the best vantage point(s) practicable to monitor for marine mammals. The PSO shall also conduct biological resources awareness training for construction personnel. The awareness training shall be provided to brief construction personnel on identification of marine mammals (including neonates) and the need to avoid and minimize impacts to marine mammals. If new construction personnel are added to the project, the contractor shall ensure that the personnel receive the mandatory training before starting work. The PSO shall have authority to stop construction if marine mammals appear distressed (evasive maneuvers, rapid breathing, inability to flush) or in danger of injury.

    (d) Monitoring requirements also include:

    (i) The holder of this Authorization must designate at least one biologically-trained, on-site individual(s), approved in advance by NMFS, to monitor marine mammal species. The PSO shall be trained in marine mammal identification and behaviors and are required to have no other construction-related tasks while conducting monitoring.

    (ii) PSOs shall be provided with the equipment necessary to effectively monitor for marine mammals in order to record species, behaviors, and responses to construction activities.

    (iii) Pre-activity Monitoring: At least 30 minutes prior to the start of all pile driving, the PSO(s) must conduct observations on the number, type(s), location(s), and behavior(s) of marine mammals.

    (iv) Data collection during marine mammal monitoring shall consist of counts of all marine mammals by species and number (if possible, also include sex and age class), a description of behavior, location, direction of movement, type of construction that is occurring, time construction activities starts and ends, any noise or visual disturbance, and time of the observation. The type of take (i.e., Level A or B) and the assumed cause (whether related to construction activities or not) shall be noted. Environmental conditions such as weather, visibility, temperature, tide level, current, and sea state shall also be recorded. A written log of dates and times of monitoring activity shall be kept. The log shall report the following information:

    • Time of PSO arrival on site;

    • Time of the commencement of construction activities;

    • Distances to all marine mammals relative to the disturbance;

    • Observations, notes on marine mammal behavior during construction activities, as described above, and on the number and distribution observed in the project vicinity;

    • For observations of all other marine mammals (if observed) the time and duration of each animal's presence in the project vicinity; the number of animals observed; the behavior of each animal, including any response to construction activities;

    • Time of the cessation of construction activities;

    • Time of PSO departure from site; and

    • An estimate of the number (by species) of marine mammals that are known to have been disturbed by construction activities (based on visual observation) with a discussion of any specific behaviors those individuals exhibited. Disturbance must be recorded according to NMFS' three-point scale.

    (v) Post-activity Monitoring: At least 30 minutes following the cessation of pile driving for the day, the PSO(s) will continue to scan for marine mammals and document any sightings in accordance with section 4(c)(iv) of this IHA.

    (e) Acoustic Monitoring: ADOT&PF shall conduct acoustic monitoring at the onset of pile driving per the Acoustic Monitoring Plan. The data shall be analyzed to determine if any adjustments to the harassment zones are warranted.

    6. Reporting.

    (a) The ADOT&PF shall submit a draft report to NMFS within 90 days of the completion of marine mammal monitoring, or sixty days prior to the issuance of any subsequent IHA for this project (if required), whichever comes first. The report shall include marine mammal observations pre-activity, during-activity, and post-activity of construction, and shall also provide descriptions of any behavioral responses by marine mammals due to disturbance from construction activities and a complete description of total take estimate based on the number of marine mammals observed during the course of construction. If comments are received from the NMFS Office of Protected Resources on the draft report, a final report shall be submitted to NMFS within 30 days thereafter following resolution of comments on the draft report from NMFS. If no comments are received from NMFS, the draft report will be considered to be the final report. This report must contain the informational elements described above and in the monitoring plan of the application and at minimum shall also include:

    (b) Reporting injured or dead marine mammals:

    (i) In the unanticipated event that the specified activity clearly causes the take of a marine mammal in a manner prohibited by this IHA, such as serious injury or mortality, ADOT&PF shall immediately cease the specified activities and report the incident to the NMFS' Office of Protected Resources and the West Coast Regional Stranding Coordinator. The report must include the following information:

    • Time and date of the incident;

    • Description of the incident;

    • Environmental conditions (e.g., wind speed and direction, tidal conditions, cloud cover, and visibility);

    • Description of all marine mammal observations and active sound

    • Species identification or description of the animal(s) involved;

    • Fate of the animal(s); and

    • Photographs or video footage of the animal(s).

    Activities shall not resume until NMFS is able to review the circumstances of the prohibited take. NMFS will work with ADOT&PF to determine what measures are necessary to minimize the likelihood of further prohibited take and ensure MMPA compliance. ADOT&PF may not resume their activities until notified by NMFS.

    (ii) In the event that ADOT&PF discovers an injured or dead marine mammal, and the lead PSO determines that the cause of the injury or death is unknown and the death is relatively recent (e.g., in less than a moderate state of decomposition), ADOT&PF shall immediately report the incident to the NMFS' Office of Protected Resources and the Alaska Regional Stranding Coordinator. The report must include the same information identified in 6(b)(i) of this IHA. Activities may continue while NMFS reviews the circumstances of the incident. NMFS will work with the ADOT&PF to determine whether additional mitigation measures or modifications to the activities are appropriate.

    (iii) In the event that the ADOT&PF discovers an injured or dead marine mammal, and the lead PSO determines that the injury or death is not associated with or related to the activities authorized in the IHA (e.g., previously wounded animal, carcass with moderate to advanced decomposition, or scavenger damage), the ADOT&PF shall report the incident to the NMFS' Office of Protected Resources and the Alaska Regional Stranding Coordinator within 24 hours of the discovery. ADOT&PF shall provide photographs or video footage or other documentation of the stranded animal sighting to NMFS.

    7. This Authorization may be modified, suspended or withdrawn if the holder fails to abide by the conditions prescribed herein, or if NMFS determines the authorized taking is having more than a negligible impact on the species or stock of affected marine mammals.

    Request for Public Comments

    We request comment on our analyses, the draft authorization, and any other aspect of this Notice of Proposed IHA for the proposed Haines Ferry Terminal Dock Modification Project. Please include with your comments any supporting data or literature citations to help inform our final decision on the request for MMPA authorization.

    Dated: October 6, 2017. Donna S. Wieting, Director, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service.
    [FR Doc. 2017-22145 Filed 10-12-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-22-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration RIN 0648-XF739 Nominations to the Marine Fisheries Advisory Committee AGENCY:

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

    ACTION:

    Notice; request for nominations.

    SUMMARY:

    Nominations are being sought for appointment by the Secretary of Commerce to fill vacancies on the Marine Fisheries Advisory Committee (MAFAC or Committee) that are open or will be pending in February 2018. MAFAC is the only Federal advisory committee with the responsibility to advise the Secretary of Commerce (Secretary) on all matters concerning living marine resources that are the responsibility of the Department of Commerce. The Committee makes recommendations to the Secretary to assist in the development and implementation of Departmental regulations, policies, and programs critical to the mission and goals of NMFS. Nominations are encouraged from all interested parties involved with or representing interests affected by NMFS actions in managing living marine resources. Nominees should possess demonstrable expertise in a field related to the management of living marine resources and be able to fulfill the time commitments required for two annual meetings and year round subcommittee work. Individuals serve for a term of three years for no more than two consecutive terms if re-appointed. NMFS is seeking qualified nominees to fill upcoming vacancies being created by term limits.

    DATES:

    Nominations must be postmarked or have an email date stamp on or before November 27, 2017.

    ADDRESSES:

    Nominations should be sent to Heidi Lovett, MAFAC Assistant Director, NMFS Office of Policy, 14th Floor, 1315 East-West Highway, Silver Spring, MD 20910.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Heidi Lovett, MAFAC Assistant Director; (301) 427-8034; email: [email protected].

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    The MAFAC was approved by the Secretary on December 28, 1970, and subsequently chartered under the Federal Advisory Committee Act, 5 U.S.C. App. 2, on February 17, 1971. The Committee meets twice a year with supplementary subcommittee meetings as determined necessary by the Committee Chair and Subcommittee Chairs. No less than 15 and no more than 21 individuals may serve on the Committee. Membership is comprised of highly qualified, diverse individuals representing commercial, recreational, subsistence, and aquaculture fisheries interests; seafood industry; environmental organizations; academic institutions; tribal and consumer groups; and other living marine resource interest groups from a balance of U.S. geographical regions, including the Western Pacific and Caribbean.

    A MAFAC member cannot be a Federal employee, member of a Regional Fishery Management Council, registered Federal lobbyist, State employee, or agent of a foreign principal. Selected candidates must pass a security check and submit a financial disclosure form. Membership is voluntary, and except for reimbursable travel and related expenses, service is without pay.

    Each nomination submission should include the nominee's name, a cover letter describing the nominee's qualifications and interest in serving on the Committee, curriculum vitae or resume of the nominee, and no more than three supporting letters describing the nominee's qualifications and interest in serving on the Committee. Self-nominations are acceptable. The following contact information should accompany each nominee's submission: name, address, telephone number, fax number, and email address (if available).

    Nominations should be sent to Heidi Lovett (see ADDRESSES) and must be received by November 27, 2017. The full text of the Committee Charter and its current membership can be viewed at the NMFS' Web page at www.nmfs.noaa.gov/mafac.htm.

    Dated: October 10, 2017. Jennifer Lukens, Director for the Office of Policy, National Marine Fisheries Service.
    [FR Doc. 2017-22220 Filed 10-12-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-22-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration RIN 0648-XF535 Takes of Marine Mammals Incidental to Specified Activities; Taking Marine Mammals Incidental to the Gary Paxton Industrial Park Dock Modification Project. AGENCY:

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

    ACTION:

    Notice; issuance of incidental harassment authorization.

    SUMMARY:

    NMFS has issued an incidental harassment authorization (IHA) to the City and Borough of Sitka (CBS) for the taking marine mammals incidental to modifying the Gary Paxton Industrial Park (GPIP) dock in Sawmill Cove, Alaska.

    DATES:

    The IHA is valid from October 1, 2017 through December 31, 2017.

    ADDRESSES:

    Electronic copies of the applications 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/construction.htm.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Jaclyn Daly, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, (301) 427-8401.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Background

    Sections 101(a)(5)(A) and (D) of the MMPA (16 U.S.C. 1361 et seq.) direct the Secretary of Commerce to allow, upon request, the incidental, but not intentional, taking of small numbers of marine mammals by U.S. citizens who engage in a specified activity (other than commercial fishing) within a specified geographical region if certain findings are made and either regulations are issued or, if the taking is limited to harassment, a notice of a proposed authorization is provided to the public for review.

    An authorization for incidental takings shall be granted if NMFS finds that the taking will have a negligible impact on the species or stock(s), will not have an unmitigable adverse impact on the availability of the species or stock(s) for subsistence uses (where relevant), and if the permissible methods of taking and requirements pertaining to the mitigation, monitoring and reporting of such takings are set forth.

    NMFS has defined “negligible impact” in 50 CFR 216.103 as an impact resulting from the specified activity that cannot be reasonably expected to, and is not reasonably likely to, adversely affect the species or stock through effects on annual rates of recruitment or survival.

    NMFS has defined “unmitigable adverse impact” in 50 CFR 216.103 as an impact resulting from the specified activity:

    (1) That is likely to reduce the availability of the species to a level insufficient for a harvest to meet subsistence needs by: (i) Causing the marine mammals to abandon or avoid hunting areas; (ii) directly displacing subsistence users; or (iii) placing physical barriers between the marine mammals and the subsistence hunters; and

    (2) That cannot be sufficiently mitigated by other measures to increase the availability of marine mammals to allow subsistence needs to be met.

    The 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 with respect to environmental consequences on the human environment.

    Accordingly, NMFS has determined that the issuance of the IHA qualifies to be categorically excluded from further NEPA review. This action is consistent with categories of activities identified in CE B4 of the Companion Manual for NOAA Administrative Order 216-6A, which do not individually or cumulatively have the potential for significant impacts on the quality of the human environment and for which we have not identified any extraordinary circumstances that would preclude this categorical exclusion.

    Summary of Request

    On June 21, 2017, NMFS received a complete application from CBS requesting take of marine mammals incidental to the GPIP dock modification project in Sawmill Cove, Alaska. CBS is authorized to take six species of marine mammals, by Level B harassment, and three of those six species by Level A harassment. Pile driving and removal would occur for 16 days from October 1 through December 31, 2017 with the majority of work completed in October. No subsequent IHAs would be necessary to complete the project. No mortality or serious injury is expected or authorized.

    Description of Specified Activity Overview

    CBS is modifying an existing marine and commercial industrial site by removing existing aging docks and installing a new floating dock, small craft float, and transfer bridge. To do so, CBS must remove existing abandoned, creosote-treated piles and install new piles. Pile driving and pile removal associated with this work may result in auditory injury (Level A harassment) and behavioral harassment (Level B harassment) of select marine mammal species. All pile driving and removal would take place at the existing dock facility and occur for 16 days. The purpose of the project is to provide deep water port access, meet modern safety standards, and promote marine commerce in the region.

    Dates and Duration

    The IHA is valid from October 1, 2017, through December 31, 2017; however, the majority of work will occur in October. Removing old timber piles with a vibratory hammer will occur for up to 5 hours per day for 6 days. Removing the temporary template piles will occur for up to 1 hour on 2 additional days. Vibratory pile driving will occur for up to 2 hours per day for 6 days to install the permanent piles while impact pile driving will occur for up to 10 minutes a day for proofing following vibratory pile driving. In total, pile activities will occur for a maximum of 16 days .

    Specified Geographic Region

    Sawmill Cove is a small body of water located near Sitka, Alaska, at the mouth of Silver Bay,which opens to Sitka Sound and the Gulf of Alaska (see figures 1 and 2 in application). Bathymetry in Sawmill Cove shows a fairly even seafloor that gradually falls to a depth of approximately 50 feet (ft) (15 meters (m)). To the southeast, Silver Bay is approximately 0.5 miles (mi) (0.8 kilometers (km)) wide, 5.5 mi (8.9 km) long, and 150-250 ft (46-76 m) deep. The bay is uniform with few rock outcroppings or islands. To the southwest, the Eastern Channel opens to Sitka Sound, dropping off to depths of 400 ft (120 m) approximately 1.6 km (1 mi) southwest of the project site.

    Sawmill Cove is an active marine commercial and industrial area. The dock footprint is previously disturbed with abandoned dock structures associated with the former Alaska Pulp Mill. Silver Bay Seafoods processing plant is located adjacent to the project site. This plant processes herring and salmon (primarily pink salmon).

    Detailed Description of Specific Activities

    The purpose of the project is to construct a multipurpose docking area that will serve a wide variety of vessels, provide deep water port access to the GPIP, meet modern standards for safety, and promote marine commerce in the region. The Federal Register notice soliciting comments on the proposed IHA contains a complete description of the specified activities and we provide a summary here.

    The work includes removing 280 abandoned creosote-treated piles located in shallow water, installing a large floating deep-water dock (a repurposed barge measuring 250 ft (76.2 m) x 74 ft (22.6 m) x 19 ft (5.8 m)), small craft float (12 ft (3.7 m) x 100 ft (30.5 m)), and v-shaped float (see Figure 4 and 5 in CBS's application). To complete the new dock, CBS will construct two dolphin structures to support the floating dock. Each dolphin requires 6 temporary 30-in steel piles to act as a template for installing the permanent piles, 2 permanent 30-in steel batter piles (piles driven at an angle with the vertical to resist a lateral force) to act as the “legs” of the dolphin, and a single 48-in vertical steel piles which would constitute the center of the dolphin structure. CBS will use a vibratory and diesel impact hammer to install piles. The existing old timber piles associated with the old dock will be removed by the vibratory hammer if they cannot be pulled out mechanically. The 12 temporary piles used for the template will also be removed following dock completion.

    Comments and Responses

    A notice of NMFS' proposal to issue an IHA was published in the Federal Register on July 26, 2017 (82 FR 34632). During the 30-day public comment period, NMFS received comments from the Marine Mammal Commission (Commission) and the National Park Service (NPS). All comments specific to the CBS's application that address the statutory and regulatory requirements or findings NMFS must make to issue an IHA are addressed here.

    Comment 1: The Commission recommended distances to NMFS harassment isopleths from impact pile driving be recalculated using proxy single strike sound exposure levels (SELs) to estimate pile driving source levels and resulting distances to NMFS Level A harassment isopleths.

    NMFS Response: NMFS uses dual exposure criteria to estimate the impact distance from noise sources: Instantaneous peak sound pressure level (SPL) and 24-hour cumulative sound exposure level (SEL) that is specific to each of the five marine mammal hearing groups. Computation of cumulative SEL for impact pile driving can be easily obtained if a single strike SEL, the number of strikes required to install one pile, and the total number of piles to be installed in a given day are known. In their application, CBS used sound pressure levels (SPLs) measured during pile driving projects elsewhere in southeast Alaska as a proxy for estimated source levels during the GPIP project. These SPL source levels were considered using a 100 millisecond (ms) pulse duration which is the nominal time integration period that contains 90% of the pulse acoustic energy when measured at approximately 10 m from the pile. The use of root mean square (rms) SPL with 100 msec default pulse duration can either lead to under- or over-estimates of the impact zone (Guan et al., 2017). Although both processes are acceptable to NMFS to estimate threshold distances, NFMS recognizes a more straightforward way to determine cumulative SEL values is to use single-strike SELs, when known. Therefore, NMFS calculated estimated distances to impact pile driving harassment thresholds using median SEL values from two reports measuring pile driving noise in southeast Alaska. For 30-in piles, the source level NMFS used is 180.7 decibel (dB) SEL assuming that the measurements from Ketchikan most closely resembles those in Sawmill Cove (see Table 72 in Denes et al., 2016). For 48-in piles, Austin et al. (2016) reports a median value of 186.7 dB SEL for a diesel hammer without a sound attenuation device with measurements taken 11 meters from the pile. Using the SEL metric method resulted in decreased Level A harassment zones for impact pile driving from the proposed IHA notice. NMFS adjusted the Level A harassment zones (Table 3) and mitigation zones (Table 5) accordingly.

    Comment 2: The Commission questioned select mitigation measures proposed by CBS in their application and NMFS' proposed IHA notice. Specifically, they inquired why NMFS included a soft-start be implemented for vibratory pile driving and why the shut-down zone for otariids was smaller than for mid-frequency cetaceans when the Level A harassment isopleth for mid-frequency cetaceans is slightly (4.4 m) larger. The Commission also requested more information on the pile softening material CBS proposed to use between the pile and impact hammer. The Commission stated it is incumbent on NMFS to evaluate the appropriateness and necessity of various mitigation measures.

    NMFS Response: The applicant voluntarily proposed a soft-start to vibratory pile driving and the shut-down zones. The shut-down zones fully encompass the very small (less than 50 m) Level A harassment zones for both otariids and mid-frequency cetaceans and would be effective at eliminating the potential for Level A harassment. NMFS notes the Commission did not specify a mitigation recommendation (e.g., reduce both shut-down zones, increase both shut-down zones, etc.) and did not address the change to harassment isopleth distances based on using SEL source levels. In the final IHA, NMFS has reduced the shut-down zone for otariids and mid-frequency cetaceans to fully encompass the revised Level A harassment zone for both hearing groups. In addition, NMFS has increased the shut-down zone for low-frequency cetaceans to 380 m and 1,100 m for 30-in and 48-in piles, respectively, during impact pile driving to fully encompass the revised Level A harassment zones for this hearing group, avoiding all Level A take of humpback whales. NMFS also confirmed the softening material is a type of pile cushion. Finally, with respect to duties, section 101(a)(5)(D) of the MMPA requires NMFS to prescribe means of effecting the least practicable adverse impact on marine mammals. Here, the applicant has determined that the vibratory ramp-up mitigation measure is practicable. However, NMFS has not included the vibratory ramp-up measure in the requirements of the IHA.

    Comment 3: The Commission requested the following mitigation measure be included: Using delay and shut-down procedures, if a species for which authorization has not been granted or if a species for which authorization has been granted but the authorized takes are met, approaches or is observed within the Level A and/or B harassment zone.

    NMFS Response: NMFS has included this measure to provide clarity to the applicant that they are not authorized to take marine mammals beyond those identified in the IHA.

    Comment 4: The NPS provided information regarding the abundance of humpback whales present in the action area and their habitat use during the time when pile operations would occur (October-December). NPS expressed concern that many humpback whales are foraging intensely either in preparation for migrating or for over-wintering in Sitka Sound and that pile driving noise could adversely affect this behavior. The NPS recommended the work window be shifted outside of this time period.

    NMFS Response: NMFS consulted with a local researcher who has been conducting marine mammal surveys in the action area since 2001 and provided the humpback whale abundance and behavior data informing CBS's application. NMFS understands that whales start entering Sitka Sound around September with November marking the beginning of high habitat use (pers. comm. J. Straley, August 25, 2017). Furthermore, whale abundance can vary year to year with high concentrations some years and low concentrations in other years. NMFS then consulted with CBS who identified that the majority of work will be conducted in the month of October, prior to peak humpback whale foraging periods. However, because equipment and weather delays cannot be scheduled, NMFS is not requiring the applicant be completed by the end of October. Despite the potentially high concentration of humpback whales in the action area, the duration of pile activity is relatively short and pile driving would not occur on consecutive days. Finally, NMFS has included a new measure requiring CBS shut-down impact pile driving work should a humpback whale enter within the Level A harassment zone, avoiding Level A take of this species.

    Comment 5: The NPS identified that California sea lions, sea otters and silver-haired bats are known to be present in the action area and NMFS should consider these species.

    NMFS Response: Although not common in the action area, NMFS has included take authorization for California sea lions in the final IHA. Sea otters and silver-haired bats are not under NMFS' jurisdiction and the authorization to take marine mammals under NMFS' jurisdiction does not affect these species.

    Comment 6: NPS recommended a mitigation measure be included that requires pile driving to only proceed when the Protected Species Observers (PSOs) give a “notice to proceed.”

    NMFS Response: The IHA is conditioned such that pile driving delay and shut-down procedures be implemented for a variety of reasons, including, but not limited to, a marine mammal is within a designated shut-down zone or an animal would be taken in a manner not authorized if pile driving proceeded. The delay and shut-down measures would be triggered by a notice from both the land-based and boat-based PSO. NMFS has also included a measure that pile driving shall not begin until the PSO gives the recommended “notice to proceed”.

    Comment 7: NPS recommended that indirect and cumulative impacts under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) be considered, as the installation of the new dock would increase medium- and large-vessel traffic in and out of Silver Bay.

    NMFS Response: NMFS determined that the issuance of this IHA qualified for a Categorical Exclusion (CE); a CE is one way to meet the requirements and objectives of NEPA and efficiently complete the environmental review process for proposed actions that normally do not require a resource-intensive analysis. The CE category associated with the issuance of ITAs is CE B4, which is “Issuance of incidental harassment authorizations under section 101(a)(5)(A) and (D) of the MMPA for the incidental, but not intentional, take by harassment of marine mammals during specified activities and for which no serious injury or mortality is anticipated.” The scope of a CE determination is limited to the decision NMFS is responsible for, which is to consider authorizing “take” of marine mammals incidental to a specified activity. NMFS is not authorizing, funding or directing any other aspect of the applicant's activity and issuing a given IHA does not give NMFS the authority to authorize the applicant's activity under other laws or regulations.

    With respect to increased vessel traffic, the project would not significantly increase vessel traffic. Historically Sawmill Cove was used by the Alaska Pulp Corporation and outbound pulp shipments were frequent during the corporation's operations from 1959 to 1993. There are no identified manufacturing or processing activities that would achieve historic levels of use at the GPIP dock. Further, an assessment determined that Sitka's inbound and outbound cargo needs are being met at this time through a combination of private and public docks, and, given a flat population projection through 2035, no major changes in cargo shipments are expected (Northern Economics 2009). CBS does not have leases in place for use of the new GPIP dock. However, in the near future, the dock will likely be used to berth vessels associated with the existing commercial fishing industry but a net increase in vessels is not expected. In addition, moorings are part of the project; therefore, vessels may remain within Sawmill Cover instead of transiting to Sitka to dock overnight.

    Description of Marine Mammals in the Area of Specified Activities

    There are seven marine mammal species known to occur in the vicinity of the project area which may be subjected to take. These are the humpback whale, killer whale, Steller sea lion, harbor porpoise, harbor seal, California sea lion, and sea otter (Enhydra lutris nereis). The sea otter is under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS); therefore, this species is also not considered further in this document. NMFS notes the California sea lion was not included in the proposed IHA Federal Register notice (82 FR 34632; July 27, 2017) but has since been incorporated based on public comment.

    We have reviewed CBS's species descriptions, including life history information, for accuracy and completeness and refer the reader to Section 3 and 4 of CBS's application as well as the proposed incidental harassment authorization published in the Federal Register (82 FR 34632; July 27, 2017) instead of reprinting the information here. Please also refer to NMFS' Web site (www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/species/mammals) for generalized species accounts which provide information regarding the biology and behavior of the marine resources that occur in the vicinity of the project area. We provided additional information for the potentially affected stocks, including details of stock-wide status, trends, and threats, in our Federal Register notice of proposed authorization (82 FR 34632).

    Table 1 lists marine mammal stocks that could occur in the vicinity of the dock project and summarizes key information regarding stock status and abundance. Please see NMFS' Stock Assessment Reports (SAR), available at www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/sars, for more detailed accounts of these stocks' status and abundance.

    Table 1—Marine Mammals Expected To Occur Within Sitka Sound Common name Scientific name MMPA stock ESA/MMPA
  • status;
  • strategic
  • (Y/N) 1
  • Stock abundance Nbest,
  • (CV, Nmin, most recent abundance survey) 2
  • Occurrence PBR Annual
  • M/SI 3
  • Order Cetartiodactyla—Cetacea—Superfamily Mysticeti (baleen whales) Family Balaenidae Humpback whale Megaptera novaeangliae Central North Pacific E, D, Y 10,103 (0.3, 7,890, 2006) Frequent 83 21 Order Cetartiodactyla—Cetacea—Superfamily Odontoceti (toothed whales, dolphins, and porpoises) Family Delphinidae Killer whale Orcinus Orca Alaska Resident -, N 2,347 (N/A, 2,347, 2012) 4 Infrequent 23.4 1 Northern Resident -, N 261 (N/A, 261, 2011) 4 1.96 0 Gulf of Alaska, Aleutian Islands, Bering Sea Transient -, N 587 (N/A, 587, 2012) 4 5.9 0.6 West Coast Transient -, N 243 (N/A, 243, 2009) 4 2.4 1 Family Phocoenidae Harbor porpoise Phocoena phocoena Southeast Alaska -, Y 975 (0.10, 896, 2012) 5 Infrequent 5 8.9 5 34 Order Carnivora—Superfamily Pinnipedia Family Otariidae (eared seals and sea lions) Steller sea lion Eumetopias jubatus Western U.S. E, D; Y 49,497 (N/A, 49,497, 2014) Common 297 233 Eastern U.S. -, D, Y 60,131-74,448 (N/A, 36,551, 2013) 1,645 92.3 California sea lion 6 Zalophus californianus U.S. stock -, N 296,750 (N/A, 153,337, 2008) Infrequent 9,200 62 Family Phocidae (earless seals) Harbor seal Phoca vitulina richardii Sitka/Chatham Straight -, N 14,855 (-, 13,212, 2011) Common 555 77 1 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 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 NMFS marine mammal stock assessment reports online at: www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/sars/. CV is coefficient of variation; Nmin is the minimum estimate of stock abundance. In some cases, CV is not applicable (N/A). 3 These values, found in NMFS's SARs, represent annual levels of human-caused mortality plus serious injury from all sources combined (e.g., commercial fisheries, ship strike). 4 N is based on counts of individual animals identified from photo-identification catalogs. 5 In the SAR for harbor porpoise (NMFS 2017), NMFS identified population estimates and PBR for porpoises within inland Southeast Alaska waters (these abundance estimates have not been corrected for g(0); therefore, they are likely conservative). The calculated PBR is considered unreliable for the entire stock because it is based on estimates from surveys of only a portion (the inside waters of Southeast Alaska) of the range of this stock as currently designated. The Annual M/SI is for the entire stock, including coastal waters. 6 The California sea lion was added to the final IHA based on anecdotal evidence provided in public comment.
    Potential Effects of Specified Activities on Marine Mammals and Their Habitat

    The Federal Register notice of proposed authorization (82 FR 834632; July 26, 2017) provides a general background on sound relevant to the specified activity as well as a detailed description of marine mammal hearing and of the potential effects of these construction activities on marine mammals, and is not repeated here.

    The Federal Register notice of proposed authorization (82 FR 834632; July 26, 2017) also provides a description of the potential effects of the construction activities on marine mammal habitat, and is not repeated here. In summary, pile driving and removal will occur at an existing dock facility and will not have a measurable adverse impact on marine mammal habitat.

    Estimated Take

    This section provides an estimate of the number of incidental takes authorized through this IHA, which will inform 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 are primarily Level B harassment, as pile driving and removal has the potential to result in disruption of behavioral patterns and TTS for individual marine mammals. There is also some potential for auditory injury (Level A harassment) to result for high frequency species and harbor seals (phocids) due to larger predicted auditory injury zones. Auditory injury is unlikely to occur for all other hearing groups due to small zones or implementing shut-down mitigation. The mitigation and monitoring measures are expected to minimize the severity of such taking to the extent practicable. No mortality or serious injury is anticipated from the activity or authorized in the IHA. 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 take estimate.

    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 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 what the available science indicates 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 Level B harassment when exposed to underwater anthropogenic noise above received levels of 120 dB re 1 μPa (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. CBS's activity includes the use of continuous (vibratory pile driving and removal) and impulsive (impact pile driving) sources, and therefore the 120 dB and 160 dB re 1 μPa (rms) are applicable.

    Level A harassment for non-explosive sources—NMFS' Technical Guidance for Assessing the Effects of Anthropogenic Sound on Marine Mammal Hearing (Technical Guidance, 2016) identifies dual criteria to assess auditory injury (Level A harassment) to five different marine mammal groups (based on hearing sensitivity) as a result of exposure to noise from two different types of sources (impulsive or non-impulsive). CBS's activity includes the use of impulsive (impact pile driving) and non-impulsive (vibratory pile driving and removal) sources.

    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 2. 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.

    Table 2—Thresholds Identifying the Onset of Permanent Threshold Shift Hearing group PTS onset acoustic thresholds *
  • (received level)
  • Impulsive Non-impulsive
    Low-Frequency (LF) Cetaceans Cell 1: L pk,flat : 219 dB; L E,LF,24h : 183 dB Cell 2: L E,LF,24h : 199 dB. Mid-Frequency (MF) Cetaceans Cell 3: L pk,flat : 230 dB; L E,MF,24h : 185 dB Cell 4: L E,MF,24h : 198 dB. High-Frequency (HF) Cetaceans Cell 5: L pk,flat : 202 dB; L E,HF,24h : 155 dB Cell 6: L E,HF,24h : 173 dB. Phocid Pinnipeds (PW) (Underwater) Cell 7: L pk,flat : 218 dB; L E,PW,24h : 185 dB Cell 8: L E,PW,24h : 201 dB. Otariid Pinnipeds (OW) (Underwater) Cell 9: L pk,flat : 232 dB; L E,OW,24h : 203 dB Cell 10: L E,OW,24h : 219 dB. * 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 (L pk) has a reference value of 1 μPa, and cumulative sound exposure level (L E) 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.

    Distances to Level A and Level B thresholds were calculated based on various source levels for a given activity and pile type (e.g., impact hammering 48 in pile, vibratory removal of timber piles) and, for Level A harassment, accounted for the maximum duration of that activity per day using the spreadsheet tool developed by NMFS. Because we used a single strike SEL to calculate Level A harassment distances from impact pile driving instead of SPL as contained in the proposed IHA, we provide the calculation inputs here. For impact pile driving 30-in piles, the following inputs were used in the guidance spreadsheet: 182.1 dB SEL source level, 400 strikes per pile, 1 pile per day, a practical spreading loss constant (15 log R), and 10 m for distance of single-strike SEL measurement. For impact pile driving 48-in piles, we used a single-strike SEL value of 187.9 dB, 400 strikes per pile, 1 pile per day, a practical spreading loss constant (15 log R), and 11 m for distance of single-strike SEL measurement. The inputs and resulting isopleths for vibratory pile driving did not change from the proposed IHA stage. The Level B harassment distances also did not change. Table 3 contains all calculated distances to Level A and B harassment thresholds.

    Table 3—Distances to NMFS Level A and B Acoustic Thresholds Activity Source level Distance (m) to Level A and Level B thresholds Level A 3 Low-
  • frequency
  • cetaceans
  • Mid-
  • frequency
  • cetaceans
  • High-
  • frequency
  • cetaceans
  • Phocid Otariid Level B
    Vibratory Hammer 12 and 16-inch wood removal (5 hours per day) 155 SPL 8.0 0.7 11.8 4.8 0.3 2,154 30-inch steel temporary installation (3 hours per day) 166 SPL 30.6 2.7 45.3 18.6 1.3 4 11,659 30-inch steel temporary removal (1 hour per day) 166 SPL 14.7 1.3 21.8 8.9 0.6 4 11,659 30-inch steel permanent installation (2 hours per day) 166 SPL 23.4 2.1 34.5 14.2 1.0 4 11,659 48-inch steel permanent installation (2 hours per day) 168.2 SPL 32.7 2.9 48.4 19.9 1.4 4 16,343 Impact Hammer 30-inch steel permanent installation (10 minutes per day) 180.7 SEL 1/196 SPL 2 380.9 13.5 453.7 203.8 14.8 2,512 48-inch steel permanent installation (10 minutes per day) 186.7 SEL 1/198.6 SPL 2 1,052.4 37.4 1,253.5 563.2 41.0 3,744 1 Single strike sound exposure levels (SELs) are median measured source levels from the Port of Anchorage test pile project for 48-in piles (Austin et al. 2016) and Alaska Department of Transportation hydroacoustic studies for 30-in piles (Denes et al. 2016, Table 72). 2 SPL rms values were used to calculate distances to Level B harassment isopleths. 3 The values provided here represent the distances at which an animal may incur PTS if that animal remained at that distance for the entire duration of the activity. For example, a humpback whale (low frequency cetacean) would have to remain 8 meters from timber piles being removed for 5 hours for PTS to occur. 4 These represent calculated distances based on practical spreading model; however, land at the end of Silver Bay obstructs underwater sound transmission at approximately 9,500 m from the source.
    Marine Mammal Occurrence

    In this section, we provide the information about the presence, density, or group structure of marine mammals that will inform the take calculations.

    Data on marine mammals in the project area is limited. Land-based surveys conducted at Sitka's Whale Park occurred from September through May, annually, from 1994 to 2000 (Straley and Pendell, 2017). From 2000 to 2016, Straley also collected marine mammal data from small vessels throughout the year. There are no density data available; therefore, probability of occurrence based on group sightings and typical group sizes were used in take calculations (Table 4).

    Table 4—Marine Mammal Data From Land-Based Surveys at Sitka's Whale Park From September Through May, Annually, From 1994-2000 Species Months sighted Average count per month
  • (Oct, Nov, Dec)
  • Typical group size Max group size
    Humpback whale September-April 50, 116, 101 2-4 unknown. Killer whale October-March 12, 12, 4 4-8 8. Harbor porpoise September, March, April 7, 0, 0 5 8. Steller sea lion September-April 10, 12, 107 1-2 100. Harbor seal September-April 1, 1, 0 1-2 2. California sea lion 2 n/a n/a 1-2 2. 1 Only months when the project would occur are included here. For full counts, please see section 4 in CBS's application. 2 There are no documented sightings of California sea lions in research reports; however, anecdotal evidence suggests this species, while not common, is possible within the project area.

    Because density data are not available for Sitka Sound, we used group sighting data as an indicator of how often marine mammals may be present during the 16 days of pile driving/removing activity in consideration of the Level B harassment zones. We also considered typical group size to determine how many animals may be present on any given day. For all species, we used the following equation to estimate the number of animals, by species, potentially taken from exposure to pile driving and removing noise: Estimated Take = Number of animals × number of days animals are expected during pile activity by type (Table 5).

    The Sitka Whale Park surveys found humpback whale groups may include up to four individuals (Straley and Pendell 2017). Based on sighting frequency, this species is present more often during winter months when the project would occur and we conservatively estimate that a group of 4 humpback whales may occur within the Level B harassment zone on any of the 16 days of pile activities. Therefore, we have authorized 64 Level B takes of humpback whales. Due to the decreased Level A harassment isopleth from the proposed IHA stage, CBS will shut-down impact pile driving if a humpback whale comes within the established shut-down zone; therefore, no Level A take for this species is anticipated or authorized (see Mitigation section).

    For killer whales, it is assumed eight killer whales could be present within the Level B harassment zone on any two days of pile activity; therefore, we have authorized 16 takes. No Level A take is anticipated or authorized due to shut down mitigation measures (see Mitigation section).

    Harbor porpoise typically travel in groups of five and we anticipate a group could enter the Level A zone on two of the six days of impact pile driving and a group could be present within the Level B harassment zone on two days of the project. Therefore, we have authorized ten Level A takes (five animals × two days) and ten Level B takes (five animals × two days) of harbor porpoise.

    Steller sea lions are common in the area during the work with one to ten animals present on any given day of work. We assume that on any day of the 16 days of pile driving, 14 Steller sea lions could be within the Level B harassment zone on each day of pile driving. Therefore, over the course of 16 days of pile driving, we have authorized 224 sea lions may be taken (14 animals × 16 days); however, this is likely representative of the number of exposures, not individuals taken. No Level A takes of Steller sea lions are anticipated or authorized from impact pile driving due to the small harassment zone and mitigation shut down measures (see Mitigation section).

    Harbor seals are found in the action area throughout the year but in low numbers. Group size is typically one to two animals. It is anticipated that two harbor seals could be present within the Level A zone every other day of the six days of impact pile driving. It is also assumed that a group of 2 harbor seals could be encountered in the Level B harassment zone during the 16 days of pile driving. Therefore, we have authorized 6 Level A takes (2 animals × 3 days) and 32 Level B takes (2 animals × 16 days) of harbor seals.

    For harbor seals and Steller sea lions, the number of animals potentially present likely reflects the same individuals occurring over multiple days; therefore the number of takes likely represents exposures versus individuals. For all cetacean species, it is likely the calculated takes do reflect the number of individuals exposed because they would be expected to be transiting through the action area, not lingering like pinnipeds.

    NMFS has also included 16 Level B takes of California sea lions in the IHA. No Level A takes are authorized because the shut-down zone established for Steller sea lions would apply and California sea lions are in the same hearing group as Steller sea lions meaning the distance to Level A harassment is the same. As described above, no research reports include sightings of California sea lions and they were not included in the notice of the proposed IHA. However, during the public comment period, the NPS identified that California sea lions, while not common, could potentially be in the project area while pile activities will occur. Therefore, NMFS has authorized 16 Level B takes which is one half the amount of harbor seal takes, another species which may occur in the project area but is less likely to occur than Steller sea lions. Similar to humpback and other pinnipeds, this amount of take represents exposures and not necessarily the number of individuals exposed given California sea lions may linger in the action area.

    Table 5—Authorized Take of Marine Mammals, by Stock, Incidental to Pile Removal and Pile Driving Species Stock
  • (Nbest)
  • Level A Level B Percent of stock
    Humpback whale Hawaii DPS (11,398) 0 60 0.5 Mexico DPS (3,264) 0 4 0.12 Killer whale Alaska Resident (2,347) 0 16 1 0.67 Northern Resident (261) 1 6.1 Gulf of Alaska, Aleutian Islands, Bering Sea (587) 1 2.7 West Coast Transient (243) 1 6.6 Harbor porpoise Southeast Alaska (975) 10 10 1.0 Steller sea lion Western U.S. (36,551) 0 5 0.01 Eastern U.S. (49,497) 0 219 0.5 Harbor seal Sitka/Chatham Straight (14,855) 6 32 0.3 California sea lion U.S. Stock (296,750) 0 16 0.01 1 Under the MMPA, humpback whales are considered a single stock; however, we have divided them here to account for DPSs listed under the ESA. 2 These percentages assume all 16 takes comes from any given stock. 3 Of the 224 exposed Steller sea lions, we expect approximately 2 percent to be from the endangered WDPS (~3 takes) and the remainder to be from the EDPS based on recent observations of branded animals in the Sitka Alaska area (Jemison, 2017).
    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. 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 can 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—which considers the nature of the potential adverse impact being mitigated (likelihood, scope, range), as well as the likelihood that the measure will be effective if implemented; and the likelihood of effective implementation, 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.

    The following mitigation measures, designed to minimize noise exposure, are included in the IHA:

    • CBS shall not begin pile driving or removal until a PSO has given a notice to proceed.

    • CBS shall first attempt to direct pull old, abandoned piles that would minimize noise input into the marine environment; if those efforts prove to be ineffective, they may proceed with a vibratory hammer.

    • CBS shall operate the vibratory hammer at a reduced energy setting (30 to 50 percent of its rated energy).

    • CBS shall use a pile cushion during impact hammering.

    • CBS shall use a “soft start” technique when impact pile driving. CBS shall provide an initial set of three strikes from the impact hammer at 40 percent energy, followed by a one minute waiting period, then two subsequent 3-strike sets. If any marine mammal is sighted within a shut-down zone during the 30 minute survey prior to pile driving, or during the soft start, CBS shall delay pile-driving until the animal is confirmed to have moved outside and on a path away from the area or if 15 minutes (for pinnipeds or small cetaceans) or 30 minutes (for large cetaceans) have elapsed since the last sighting of the marine mammal within the shut-downzone. This soft-start shall be applied prior to beginning pile driving activities each day or when pile driving hammers have been idle for more than 30 minutes.

    • CBS shall drive all piles with a vibratory hammer to the maximum extent possible (i.e., until a desired depth is achieved or to refusal) prior to using an impact hammer. CBS shall also use the minimum impact hammer energy needed to safely install the piles.

    • CBS shall use delay and shut-down procedures, if a species for which authorization has not been granted or if a species for which authorization has been granted but the authorized takes are met, approaches or is observed within the Level A and/or B harassment zone.

    • CBS shall implement the shut-down zones identified in Table 6 to minimize harassment.

    Table 6—Pile Driving Shut Down Zones Designed To Minimize Level A Take Source Shut-down zones in meters Low-frequency cetaceans (humpback whales) Mid-frequency cetaceans
  • (killer whale)
  • High-
  • frequency cetaceans (harbor
  • porpoise)
  • Phocid pinnipeds
  • (harbor seal)
  • Otariid pinnipeds (steller and california sea lion)
    Vibratory Pile Driving/Removal All 10 m Impact Pile Driving 30-inch steel (installation) 1 380 1 25 200 150 1 25 48-inch steel (installation) 1 1,100 1 50 200 150 1 50 1 Indicates a shut-down zone that encompasses the entire Level A zone; therefore, no Level A take of species within these hearing groups are authorized.

    Based on our evaluation of the included 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 to both 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.

    Monitoring Protocols—Monitoring shall be conducted before, during, and after pile driving and removal activities. Monitoring will initiate 30 minutes prior to pile driving and removal through 30 minutes post-completion of pile activities. Pile driving activities include the time to install or remove a single pile or series of piles, as long as the time elapsed between uses of the pile driving equipment is no more than one hour.

    One land-based protected species observer (PSO) shall be present during all pile activity. A secondary boat-based PSO shall be on watch during all pile activity other than timber pile removal. The land-based PSO shall be located at the GPIP construction site and will be able to view the area across Silver Bay to the west and east of Sugarloaf Point and monitor the mouth of Silver Bay to determine whether marine mammals enter the action area from East Channel of Sitka Sound (the entrance monitoring zone). The PSO shall have no other primary duties than watching for and reporting on events related to marine mammals. The PSO shall scan the monitoring zone for the presence of listed species for 30 minutes before any pile driving or removal activities take place. Each day prior to commencing in-water work the PSO shall conduct a radio check with the construction foreman or superintendent. The PSO shall brief the foreman or supervisor as to the shut-down procedures if any marine mammals are observed likely to enter or within a shut-down zone, and shall have the foreman brief the crew, requesting that the crew notify the PSO when a marine mammal is spotted. To reduce fatigue, the PSO shall work in shifts lasting no longer than 4 hours with at least a 1-hour break between shifts, and shall not perform duties as an PSO for more than 12 hours in a 24‐hr period. The PSO shall continue monitoring each day for 15 minutes after all in-water pile driving/removal is completed.

    No less than 30 minutes prior to any pile driving or removal (other than timber pile removal), the boat-based PSO shall begin monitoring the Level A and B harassment zones. A boat-based PSO is not required during timber pile removal due to limited harassment zones. This PSO shall transit to the head of Silver Bay to ensure that there are no marine mammals for which take is not authorized or to document species for which take is authorized. The boat-based PSO shall communicate with the construction foreman or superintendent once the area is determined to be clear and pile driving activities can begin. The boat-based PSO shall then transit back to the construction site and spend the rest of the pile driving time monitoring the area from the boat (see Figure 3 in CBS's application).

    If any marine mammals are present within a shut-down zone, pile driving and removal activities shall not begin until the animal(s) has left the shut-down zone or no marine mammals have been observed in the shut-down zone for 15 minutes (for pinnipeds) or 30 minutes (for cetaceans). The boat-based PSO shall remain near the mouth of Sawmill Cove for the duration of pile driving to monitor for any animals approaching the area.

    The following measures also apply to visual monitoring:

    (1) Monitoring shall be conducted by independent (i.e., not construction personnel) qualified observers, who shall be placed at the best vantage point(s) practicable to monitor for marine mammals and implement shut-down/delay procedures when applicable by calling for the shut-down to the hammer operator. At least one observer must have prior experience working as an observer. Other observers may substitute education (undergraduate degree in biological science or related field) or training for experience. In addition, all PSOs must have:

    (a) Visual acuity in both eyes (correction is permissible) sufficient for discernment of moving targets at the water's surface with ability to estimate target size and distance; use of binoculars may be necessary to correctly identify the target;

    (b) Advanced education in biological science or related field (undergraduate degree or higher required);

    (c) Experience and ability to conduct field observations and collect data according to assigned protocols (this may include academic experience);

    (d) Experience or training in the field identification of marine mammals, including the identification of behaviors;

    (e) Sufficient training, orientation, or experience with the construction operation to provide for personal safety during observations;

    (f) Writing skills sufficient to prepare a report of observations including but not limited to the number and species of marine mammals observed; dates and times when in-water construction activities were conducted; dates and times when in-water construction activities were suspended to avoid potential incidental injury from construction sound of marine mammals observed within a defined shut-down zone; and marine mammal behavior; and

    (g) Ability to communicate orally, by radio or in person, with project personnel to provide real-time information on marine mammals observed in the area as necessary.

    In addition, CBS must submit to NMFS OPR the curriculum vitae (CV) of all observers prior to monitoring.

    Reporting

    The IHA requires CBS to submit a draft report to NMFS within ninety calendar days of the completion of marine mammal monitoring. A final report shall be prepared and submitted within thirty days following resolution of any comments on the draft report from NMFS. The report will contain, among other things, information on monitoring results, mitigation measure implementation, and number of animals, by species, taken. The CBS will also immediately report injured or dead marine mammals to NMFS and, if the specified activity clearly causes the take of a marine mammal in a manner prohibited by the IHA (e.g., serious injury or mortality), CBS will immediately cease pile activities and report the incident to NMFS.

    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's 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).

    Pile driving and removal would result in the harassment of marine mammals within the designated harassment zones due to increased noise levels during 16 days. Six days of work are dedicated to removing 280 old piles, which would emit low levels of noise into the aquatic environment if removed via a vibratory hammer. Vibratory pile driving, which also has relatively low source levels, would occur for only 2 hours per day and there would be at least one day in between pile driving activity when installing the permanent piles. Impact pile driving would result in the loudest sound levels; however, CBS would install only 6 piles with an impact hammer (4 30-in and 2 48-in piles) to proof the pile after driving it with a vibratory hammer. Proofing a pile is relatively short-term activity with 400 strikes occurring over 10 minutes per pile. Considering this and the fact only one pile would be installed per day, if PTS occurs, it is likely slight PTS (e.g., PTS onset). Due to the brief duration of expected exposure, any Level B harassment would be temporary and any behavioral changes as a result are expected to be minor.

    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 species or stock through effects on annual rates of recruitment or survival:

    • No mortality is anticipated or authorized.

    • The number of piles in the design has been reduced to the lowest amount practicable (other designs required more piles); therefore, the amount of pile activity is minimal at 16 days over the course of 3 months.

    • The majority of pile driving is scheduled to occur in October prior to peak humpback whale habitat use.

    • Shut-down zone mitigation designed to avoid Level A harassment of low frequency cetaceans and otariids will occur during impact pile driving.

    • Extremely limited impact pile driving would occur (ten minutes per day for six non-consecutive days).

    • The project and ensonified areas include a cove and dead-end bay (Silver Bay) with no significant marine mammal habitat.

    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 specified activity will have a negligible impact on all affected marine mammal species or stocks.

    Small Numbers

    As noted above, only small numbers of marine mammals may be authorized to be incidentally taken under Section 101(a)(5)(D) of the MMPA for specified activities other than military readiness activities. The MMPA does not define small numbers and so, in practice, 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.

    NMFS has authorized a very small amount of Level A takes of marine mammals. Level B takes are more numerous and still only constitute between 0.01 and 6.6 percent of a given stock (Table 5). For pinnipeds, the number of takes likely represents repeated exposures of a smaller number of animals; therefore, the percent of stock taken is likely even smaller. Finally, the area where these takes may occur represents a negligible area with respect to each stock's range; therefore, it is unlikely a larger percentage of a stock's population would move through the action area.

    Based on the analysis contained herein of the specified 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

    Alaska Natives have traditionally harvested subsistence resources, including sea lions and harbor seals. In 2012 (the most recent year for which information is available), the community of Sitka had an estimated subsistence take of 49 harbor seals and 1 Steller sea lion (Wolf et al. 2013). CBS contacted the Alaska Harbor Seal Commission, the Alaska Sea Otter and Steller Sea Lion Commission, and the Sitka Tribe of Alaska and these organizations expressed no concerns about the project. Therefore, NMFS has determined that the total taking of affected species or stocks will 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 Alaska Regional Office, whenever we propose to authorize take for endangered or threatened species.

    There are two marine mammal species under NMFS' jurisdiction that are listed as endangered or threatened under the ESA with confirmed or possible occurrence in the action area: the wDPS of Steller sea lions and the humpback whale Mexico DPS. NMFS issued a Biological Opinion concluding that the issuance of the IHA is likely to adversely affect, but is not likely to jeopardize, the continued existence of the threatened and endangered species under NMFS' jurisdiction and is not likely to result in the destruction or adverse modification of critical habitat. The Biological Opinion for this action is available on NMFS' Web site (http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/incidental/construction.htm).

    Authorization

    NMFS has issued an IHA to CBS authorizing the take of small numbers of six marine mammal species incidental to the GPIP dock modification project, Sawmill Cove, Alaska, containing the previously discussed mitigation, monitoring and reporting requirements.

    Dated: October 6, 2017. Donna S. Wieting, Director, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service.
    [FR Doc. 2017-22153 Filed 10-12-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-22-P
    COMMITTEE FOR PURCHASE FROM PEOPLE WHO ARE BLIND OR SEVERELY DISABLED Procurement List; Deletions AGENCY:

    Committee for Purchase From People Who Are Blind or Severely Disabled.

    ACTION:

    Deletions from the procurement list.

    SUMMARY:

    This action deletes products and services from the Procurement List previously furnished by nonprofit agencies employing persons who are blind or have other severe disabilities.

    DATES:

    Date deleted from the Procurement List: November 12, 2017.

    ADDRESSES:

    Committee for Purchase From People Who Are Blind or Severely Disabled, 1401 S. Clark Street, Suite 715, Arlington, Virginia, 22202-4149.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Amy B. Jensen, Telephone: (703) 603-7740, Fax: (703) 603-0655, or email [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Deletions

    On 9/8/2017 (82 FR 42546-42547), the Committee for Purchase From People Who Are Blind or Severely Disabled published notice of proposed deletions from the Procurement List.

    After consideration of the relevant matter presented, the Committee has determined that the products and services listed below are no longer suitable for procurement by the Federal Government under 41 U.S.C. 8501-8506 and 41 CFR 51-2.4.

    Regulatory Flexibility Act Certification

    I certify that the following action will not have a significant impact on a substantial number of small entities. The major factors considered for this certification were:

    1. The action will not result in additional reporting, recordkeeping or other compliance requirements for small entities.

    2. The action may result in authorizing small entities to furnish the products and services to the Government.

    3. There are no known regulatory alternatives which would accomplish the objectives of the Javits-Wagner-O'Day Act (41 U.S.C. 8501-8506) in connection with the products and services deleted from the Procurement List.

    End of Certification

    Accordingly, the following products and services are deleted from the Procurement List:

    Products NSN—Product Name: 2910-00-740-9419—Strap, Fuel Tank Mandatory Source of Supply: Employment Source, Inc., Fayetteville, NC Contracting Activity: Defense Logistics Agency Land and Maritime NSNs—Product Names: 8410-01-414-6979—Shirt, Tuck-in, Army, Women's, Short Sleeved, Green, 4 Regular 8410-01-414-6980—Shirt, Tuck-in, Army, Women's, Short Sleeved, Green, 6 Regular 8410-01-414-6981—Shirt, Tuck-in, Army, Women's, Short Sleeved, Green, 8 Regular 8410-01-414-7023—Shirt, Tuck-in, Army, Women's, Short Sleeved, Green, 10 Regular 8410-01-414-7105—Shirt, Tuck-in, Army, Women's, Short Sleeved, Green, 12 Regular 8410-01-414-7113—Shirt, Tuck-in, Army, Women's, Short Sleeved, Green, 14 Regular 8410-01-414-7116—Shirt, Tuck-in, Army, Women's, Short Sleeved, Green, 16 Regular 8410-01-414-7118—Shirt, Tuck-in, Army, Women's, Short Sleeved, Green, 18 Regular 8410-01-414-7120—Shirt, Tuck-in, Army, Women's, Short Sleeved, Green, 20 Regular 8410-01-414-7186—Shirt, Tuck-in, Army, Women's, Short Sleeved, Green, 22 Regular 8410-01-414-7232—Shirt, Tuck-in, Army, Women's, Short Sleeved, Green, 24 Regular 8410-01-414-7233—Shirt, Tuck-in, Army, Women's, Short Sleeved, Green, 26 Regular Mandatory Source of Supply: Middle Georgia Diversified Industries, Inc., Dublin, GA Contracting Activity: Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support NSN—Product Name: 1670-00-805-3522—Strap Set, Webbing Mandatory Source of Supply: Huntsville Rehabilitation Foundation, Huntsville, AL Contracting Activity: Defense Logistics Agency Aviation NSNs—Product Names: 8465-00-001-6487—Belt, Individual Equipment, Olive Drab, Large 8465-00-001-6488—Belt, Individual Equipment, LC-1, Olive Drab, Medium 8465-01-120-0674—Belt, Individual Equipment, USN/USA, LC-2, Olive Drab, Medium 8465-01-120-0675—Belt, Individual Equipment, Olive Drab, Large Mandatory Source of Supply: Mississippi Industries for the Blind, Jackson, MS Contracting Activity: Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support Services Service Type: Grounds Maintenance Service Mandatory for: Pennington Memorial U.S. Army Reserve Center: 2164 Harding Highway East, Marion, OH Mandatory Source of Supply: MARCA Industries, Inc., Marion, OH Contracting Activity: Dept. of the Army, W6QM MICC Ft McCoy (RC) Service Type: Mail and Messenger Service Mandatory for: Headquarters, Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFACENGCOM) Washington, DC Mandatory Source of Supply: ServiceSource, Inc., Oakton, VA Contracting Activity: Dept. of the Navy, U.S. Fleet Forces Command Service Type: Mailroom Operation Service Mandatory for: Food and Drug Administration: 5100 Paint Branch Parkway, College Park, MD Mandatory Source of Supply: Linden Resources, Inc., Arlington, VA Contracting Activity: Dept. of Health And Human Services/Food and Drug Administration Service Type: Mess Attendant Service Mandatory for: Willow Grove Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base: Liberty Dining Hall, Horsham, PA Mandatory Source of Supply: Occupational Training Center of Burlington County, Burlington, NJ Contracting Activity: Dept. of the Navy, U.S. Fleet Forces Command Patricia Briscoe, Deputy Director, Business Operations, Pricing and Information Management.
    [FR Doc. 2017-22190 Filed 10-12-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6353-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE Department of the Army, Corps of Engineers Notice of Intent To Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement for the Peckman River Basin Flood Risk Management Study AGENCY:

    U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, DOD.

    ACTION:

    Notice of Intent.

    SUMMARY:

    Pursuant to the requirements of section 102(2)(C) of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New York District (Corps) is preparing an integrated Feasibility Report/Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) laws for the proposed Peckman River Basin Flood Risk Management Feasibility Study. The study is assessing the feasibility of flood risk management alternatives to be implemented within the congressionally authorized study area with a specific emphasis on the Township of Little Falls and the Borough of Woodland Park in Passaic County, New Jersey.

    ADDRESSES:

    Pertinent information about the study can be found at: http://www.nan.usace.army.mil/Missions/Civil-Works/Projects-in-New-Jersey/Peckman-River-Basin-Flood-Risk-Management-Feasibility-Study/.

    Send written comments and suggestions concerning the scope of issues to be evaluated within the EIS to Kimberly Rightler, Project Biologist/NEPA Coordinator, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New York District, Planning Division, Environmental, 26 Federal Plaza, Room 2151, New York, NY 10279-0090; Phone: (917) 790-8722; email: [email protected]

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Questions about the overall Peckman River Basin Flood Risk Management Feasibility Study should be directed to Robert Greco, Project Manager, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New York District, Programs and Project Management Division, Civil Works Programs Branch, 26 Federal Plaza, Room 2127, New York, NY 10279-0090; Phone: (917) 790-8394; email: [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    1. Background

    The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps), in partnership with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) as the non-Federal sponsor is undertaking this study. Extensive development in the Peckman River Basin has resulted in flood damages with flooding occurring from intense thunderstorms and heavy rainfall. The District was authorized under U.S. House of Representatives Resolution Docket 2644, dated June 21, 2000 to identify recommendations in the interest of water resources development.

    A Feasibility Cost Sharing Agreement (FCSA) was executed in 2002 with the NJDEP in 2002. A Notice of Intent (NOI) to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) was published in the May 14, 2004 issue of the Federal Register (69 FR 26811). A NEPA scoping meeting held on February 11, 2004 in Little Falls, New Jersey at the initiation of the study. The alternative analysis was completed in 2014, and non-structural improvements located within the 10 year floodplain within Little Falls, N.J. with a bypass culvert designed to mitigate the flood risk from the Peckman River and floodwalls along Great Notch Brook in Woodland Park was identified as the Tentatively Selected National Economic Development Plan. The NJDEP requested a Locally Preferred Plan that consists of a levee/floodwall system in Little Falls along with the bypass culvert for the Peckman River and floodwalls along Great Notch Brook in Woodland Park. The LPP plan will be designed to protect Little Falls and Woodland Park from the 1% annual chance exceedance (100-yr) event from the Peckman River.

    2. Project Area

    The project area encompasses the portion of the Peckman River, Great Notch Brook and a portion of the Passaic River located in the Township of Little Falls and the Borough of Woodland Park in Passaic County, New Jersey.

    3. Public Participation

    The Corps and the NJDEP are currently anticipating hosting a NEPA Scoping Meeting in late November/early December 2017. Public notices announcing the meeting date, time, location and agenda will be published in the appropriate local newspapers, Little Falls Township Web page, Borough of Woodland Park Web page and on the Corps' New York District Web page (see STUDY WEBPAGE AND ADDRESSES) and will be distributed to the local stakeholders and known interested parties.

    A scoping comment period of 30 days will be established from the scheduled date of the meeting to allow agencies, organizations and individuals to submit comments, questions and/or concerns regarding the Feasibility Study. Comments, concerns and information submitted to the Corps will be evaluated and considered during the development of the Draft EIS.

    5. Lead and Cooperating Agencies

    The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is the lead federal agency for the preparation of the environmental impact statement (EIS) and meeting the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act and the NEPA Implementing Regulations of the President's Council on Environmental Quality (40 CFR 1500-1508). Federal agencies interested in participating as a Cooperating Agency are requested to submit a letter of intent to Colonel Thomas D. Asbery, District Engineer (see ADDRESSES). The preparation of the EIS will be coordinated with New Jersey State and local municipalities with discretionary authority relative to the proposed actions. The Draft integrated Feasibility Report/EIS is currently scheduled for distribution to the public March 2018.

    Dated: October 3, 2017. Peter M. Weppler, Chief, Environmental Analysis Branch, Planning Division.
    [FR Doc. 2017-21933 Filed 10-12-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3720-58-P
    DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE Department of the Navy Notice of Public Meetings of the Draft Environmental Impact Statement/Overseas Environmental Impact Statement for Hawaii-Southern California Training and Testing AGENCY:

    Department of the Navy, DoD.

    ACTION:

    Notice.

    SUMMARY:

    The Department of the Navy (DoN) has prepared and filed with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency a Draft Environmental Impact Statement/Overseas Environmental Impact Statement (EIS/OEIS). It is the role of DoN to maintain, train and equip combat ready naval forces capable of winning wars, deterring aggression, and maintaining freedom of the seas. To fulfil its role, the DoN will continue ongoing military readiness activities, which include training and research, development, testing, and evaluation activities (hereafter referred to as “training and testing”) conducted within the Hawaii-Southern California Training and Testing (HSTT) EIS/OEIS Study Area (hereafter referred to as the “Study Area”). In the Draft EIS/OEIS, the DoN re-evaluates potential environmental impacts associated with training and testing in the study area. The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) is a cooperating agency for this EIS/OEIS. This notice announces the dates and locations of the public meetings and provides supplementary information about the environmental planning effort.

    DATES and ADDRESSES:

    Public meetings will include an open-house information session, followed by a short presentation by the DoN and public oral comment session. DoN representatives will be available during the open-house information sessions to clarify information related to the Draft EIS/OEIS. Federal, state, and local agencies and officials, and interested organizations and individuals are encouraged to provide substantive comments on the Draft EIS/OEIS in writing during the public review period or in person at one of the scheduled public meetings.

    Public meetings will be held in Hawaii from 4:00 to 8:00 p.m. and in San Diego from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. A DoN presentation and public oral comment session will occur twice during the meetings. Public meetings will be held on the following dates and at the following locations:

    1. Monday, November 6, 2017, at Oahu Veterans Center, Fred Ballard Hall, 1298 Kukila St., Honolulu, HI 96818. 2. Tuesday, November 7, 2017, at Maui High School, Cafeteria, 660 S. Lono Ave., Kahului, HI 96732. 3. Wednesday, November 8, 2017, at Kauai Veterans Center, Main Ballroom, 3215 Kapule Highway, Lihue, HI 96766. 4. Thursday, November 9, 2017, at Waiakea High School, Cafeteria, 155 W. Kawili St., Hilo, HI 96720. 5. Monday, November 13, 2017, at Portuguese Hall, Main Hall, 2818 Avenida de Portugal, San Diego, CA 92106.

    Attendees will be able to submit oral and written comments during the public meetings. Oral comments from the public will be recorded by a court reporter and each speaker's comments will be limited to three (3) minutes. Equal weight will be given to oral and written statements. Comments may also be mailed to Naval Facilities Engineering Command Pacific, Attention: HSTT EIS/OEIS Project Manager, 258 Makalapa Drive, Suite 100, Pearl Harbor, HI 96860-3134, or electronically via the project Web site (www.HSTTEIS.com). All comments, oral or written, submitted during the 60-day public comment period will become part of the public record and substantive comments will be addressed in the Final EIS/OEIS. Comments must be postmarked or received online by December 12, 2017, for consideration in the Final EIS/OEIS.

    Concurrent with the NEPA public involvement process, the DoN is conducting National Historic Preservation Act section 106 consultations regarding potential effects of the Proposed Action on historic properties. Historic properties include districts, sites, buildings, structures, or objects listed or eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places. During each of the meetings, an information station will be available, where subject matter experts will explain the section 106 process and solicit public input.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Naval Facilities Engineering Command Pacific, Attention: HSTT EIS/OEIS Project Manager, 258 Makalapa Drive, Suite 100, Pearl Harbor, HI 96860-3134.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    A Notice of Intent to prepare this Draft EIS/OEIS was published in the Federal Register on November 12, 2015 (80 FR 59952).

    The Proposed Action is to conduct DoN training and testing activities within the Study Area. These activities include the use of active sonar and explosives while employing marine species protective mitigation measures. The purpose of the Proposed Action is to maintain a ready force, which is needed to ensure the DoN can accomplish its mission to maintain, train, and equip combat-ready naval forces capable of winning wars, deterring aggression, and maintaining freedom of the seas, consistent with Congressional direction in Section 5062 of Title 10 of the U.S. Code (U.S.C.).

    To achieve and maintain military readiness, the DoN proposes to: (1) Conduct training and testing activities at levels required to support DoN military readiness requirements beginning in 2018; and (2) Accommodate evolving mission requirements, including those resulting from the development, testing, and introduction of vessels, aircraft, and weapons systems into the fleet.

    Proposed training and testing activities are similar to those that have occurred in the Study Area for decades. The tempo and types of training and testing activities fluctuate because of the introduction of new technologies, the evolving nature of international events, advances in warfighting doctrine and procedures, and changes in force structure (organization of ships, weapons, and personnel). These factors can influence the frequency, duration, intensity, and location of training and testing activities. This EIS/OEIS reflects the most up-to-date compilation of training and testing activities deemed necessary to accomplish military readiness requirements. The types and numbers of activities included in the Proposed Action account for fluctuations in training and testing to meet evolving or emergent military readiness requirements.

    In the Draft EIS/OEIS, the DoN evaluates the potential environmental impacts of three alternatives, including a No Action Alternative. Under the No Action Alternative, the DoN would not conduct the proposed training and testing activities in the Study Area, and no authorizations or permits would be issued from NMFS. Under Alternative 1 (the DoN's preferred alternative), the DoN proposes to conduct military readiness training and testing activities, as needed to meet current and future readiness requirements, including new activities and activities subject to previous analysis that are ongoing and have historically occurred in the Study Area. Alternative 1 reflects a representative annual level of training and testing to account for the natural fluctuation of training cycles and deployment schedules that generally limit the maximum level of training from occurring year after year in any five-year period. Using a representative annual level of activity rather than a maximum level of training activity in every year has reduced the amount of active sonar estimated to be necessary to meet training requirements. Under Alternative 1, the DoN assumes that some unit-level training would be conducted using synthetic means (e.g., simulators). Alternative 2 includes new and ongoing training and testing activities to enable the DoN to meet the highest levels of required military readiness. Alternative 2 reflects the maximum number of training and testing activities that could occur within a given year, and assumes that the maximum level of activity would occur every year over any five-year period. Alternative 2 would allow for the greatest flexibility for the DoN to maintain readiness when considering potential changes in the national security environment, fluctuations in schedules, and anticipated demands.

    Additional project information, including details on the key differences between the 2013 Final EIS/OEIS and the 2017 Draft EIS/OEIS, can be found on the project Web site at www.HSTTEIS.com.

    Minimizing impacts on the marine environment from training and testing activities is an important goal for the DoN. The DoN will implement mitigation and monitoring measures to avoid or reduce environmental impacts from naval activities. Due to the exposure of marine mammals to underwater sound from sonar and explosives, NMFS has received an application from the DoN for a Marine Mammal Protection Act Letter of Authorization and governing regulations to authorize the unintentional takes of marine mammals incidental to the activities conducted in the Study Area. In accordance with section 7 of the Endangered Species Act, the DoN will consult with NMFS and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, as appropriate, on the potential impacts of training and testing activities on federally listed species. In accordance with the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, the DoN will consult with NMFS on federally managed species and their managed essential fish habitat, as appropriate. As applicable, the DoN will comply with the Coastal Zone Management Act, National Historic Preservation Act, and the National Marine Sanctuaries Act.

    The Draft EIS/OEIS was distributed to federal and local agencies in which the DoN consulted with. Copies of the Draft EIS/OEIS are available for public review at the following local public libraries:

    1. Hawaii State Library, 478 S. King St., Honolulu, HI 96813. 2. Hilo Public Library, 300 Waianuenue Ave., Hilo, HI 96720. 3. Kahului Public Library, 90 School St., Kahului, HI 96732. 4. Kailua-Kona Public Library, 75-138 Hualalai Road, Kailua-Kona, HI 96740. 5. Lihue Public Library, 4344 Hardy St., Lihue, HI 96766. 6. City of San Diego Central Library, 330 Park Blvd., San Diego, CA 92101. 7. Coronado Public Library, 640 Orange Ave., Coronado, CA 92118. 8. Long Beach Main Library, 101 Pacific Ave., Long Beach, CA 90822.

    The HSTT Draft EIS/OEIS is available for electronic viewing or download at www.HSTTEIS.com. A compact disc of the Draft EIS/OEIS will be made available upon written request by contacting: Naval Facilities Engineering Command Pacific, Attention: HSTT EIS/OEIS Project Manager, 258 Makalapa Drive, Suite 100, Pearl Harbor, HI 96860-3134.

    Authority:

    42 U.S.C. 4332, EO 12114, and 40 CFR 1500-1508.

    Dated: October 10, 2017. A.M. Nichols, Lieutenant Commander, Judge Advocate General's Corps, U.S. Navy, Federal Register Liaison Officer.
    [FR Doc. 2017-22195 Filed 10-12-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3810-FF-P
    DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY Federal Energy Regulatory Commission [Docket No. EL18-5-000] Braintree Electric Light Department; Notice of Petition For Limited Waiver

    Take notice that on October 5, 2017, pursuant to Rule 207(a)(5) of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's (Commission) Rules of Practice and Procedure, 18 CFR 385.207(a)(5) and section 554(e) of the Administrative Procedure Act (5 U.S.C. 554(e)), Braintree Electric Light Department filed a petition for the Commission to authorize a limited, one-time waiver of the October 1 deadline for delivery of notification to ISO New England, Inc. (ISO-NE) of its proposed participation in ISO-NE's 2017-2018 Winter Reliability Program, as more fully described in the filing.

    Any person desiring to intervene or to protest in any of the above proceedings must file in accordance with Rules 211 and 214 of the Commission's Rules of Practice and Procedure (18 CFR 385.211 and 385.214) on or before 5:00 p.m. Eastern time on the specified comment date. It is not necessary to separately intervene again in a subdocket related to a compliance filing if you have previously intervened in the same docket. Protests will be considered by the Commission in determining the appropriate action to be taken, but will not serve to make protestants parties to the proceeding. Anyone filing a motion to intervene or protest must serve a copy of that document on the Applicant. In reference to filings initiating a new proceeding, interventions or protests submitted on or before the comment deadline need not be served on persons other than the Applicant.

    The Commission encourages electronic submission of protests and interventions in lieu of paper, using the FERC Online links at http://www.ferc.gov. To facilitate electronic service, persons with Internet access who will eFile a document and/or be listed as a contact for an intervenor must create and validate an eRegistration account using the eRegistration link. Select the eFiling link to log on and submit the intervention or protests.

    Persons unable to file electronically should submit an original and 14 copies of the intervention or protest to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, 888 First St. NE., Washington, DC 20426.

    The filings in the above proceedings are accessible in the Commission's eLibrary system by clicking on the appropriate link in the above list. They are also available for review in the Commission's Public Reference Room in Washington, DC. There is an eSubscription link on the Web site that enables subscribers to receive email notification when a document is added to a subscribed docket(s). For assistance with any FERC Online service, please email [email protected], or call (866) 208-3676 (toll free). For TTY, call (202) 502-8659.

    Comment Date: 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time on October 26, 2017.

    Dated: October 6, 2017. Kimberly D. Bose, Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2017-22214 Filed 10-12-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6717-01-P
    ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY [EPA-HQ-OPPT-2017-0141; FRL-9966-70] Certain New Chemicals or Significant New Uses; Statements of Findings for July 2017 AGENCY:

    Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

    ACTION:

    Notice.

    SUMMARY:

    Section 5(g) of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) requires EPA to publish in the Federal Register a statement of its findings after its review of TSCA section 5(a) notices when EPA makes a finding that a new chemical substance or significant new use is not likely to present an unreasonable risk of injury to health or the environment. Such statements apply to premanufacture notices (PMNs), microbial commercial activity notices (MCANs), and significant new use notices (SNUNs) submitted to EPA under TSCA section 5. This document presents statements of findings made by EPA on TSCA section 5(a) notices during the period from July 1, 2017 to July 31, 2017.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    For technical information contact: Greg Schweer, Chemical Control Division (7405M), Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics, Environmental Protection Agency, 1200 Pennsylvania Ave. NW., Washington, DC 20460-0001; telephone number: 202-564-8469; 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. General Information A. Does this action apply to me?

    This action is directed to the public in general. As such, the Agency has not attempted to describe the specific entities that this action may apply to. Although others may be affected, this action applies directly to the submitters of the PMNs addressed in this action.

    B. How can I get copies of this document and other related information?

    The docket for this action, identified by docket identification (ID) number EPA-HQ-OPPT-2017-0141, 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.

    II. What action is the agency taking?

    This document lists the statements of findings made by EPA after review of notices submitted under TSCA section 5(a) that certain new chemical substances or significant new uses are not likely to present an unreasonable risk of injury to health or the environment. This document presents statements of findings made by EPA during the period from July 1, 2017 to July 31, 2017.

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

    TSCA section 5(a)(3) requires EPA to review a TSCA section 5(a) notice and make one of the following specific findings:

    • The chemical substance or significant new use presents an unreasonable risk of injury to health or the environment;

    • The information available to EPA is insufficient to permit a reasoned evaluation of the health and environmental effects of the chemical substance or significant new use;

    • The information available to EPA is insufficient to permit a reasoned evaluation of the health and environmental effects and the chemical substance or significant new use may present an unreasonable risk of injury to health or the environment;

    • The chemical substance is or will be produced in substantial quantities, and such substance either enters or may reasonably be anticipated to enter the environment in substantial quantities or there is or may be significant or substantial human exposure to the substance; or

    • The chemical substance or significant new use is not likely to present an unreasonable risk of injury to health or the environment.

    Unreasonable risk findings must be made without consideration of costs or other non-risk factors, including an unreasonable risk to a potentially exposed or susceptible subpopulation identified as relevant under the conditions of use. The term “conditions of use” is defined in TSCA section 3 to mean “the circumstances, as determined by the Administrator, under which a chemical substance is intended, known, or reasonably foreseen to be manufactured, processed, distributed in commerce, used, or disposed of.”

    EPA is required under TSCA section 5(g) to publish in the Federal Register a statement of its findings after its review of a TSCA section 5(a) notice when EPA makes a finding that a new chemical substance or significant new use is not likely to present an unreasonable risk of injury to health or the environment. Such statements apply to PMNs, MCANs, and SNUNs submitted to EPA under TSCA section 5.

    Anyone who plans to manufacture (which includes import) a new chemical substance for a non-exempt commercial purpose and any manufacturer or processor wishing to engage in a use of a chemical substance designated by EPA as a significant new use must submit a notice to EPA at least 90 days before commencing manufacture of the new chemical substance or before engaging in the significant new use.

    The submitter of a notice to EPA for which EPA has made a finding of “not likely to present an unreasonable risk of injury to health or the environment” may commence manufacture of the chemical substance or manufacture or processing for the significant new use notwithstanding any remaining portion of the applicable review period.

    IV. Statements of Administrator Findings Under TSCA Section 5(a)(3)(C)

    In this unit, EPA provides the following information (to the extent that such information is not claimed as Confidential Business Information (CBI)) on the PMNs, MCANs and SNUNs for which, during this period, EPA has made findings under TSCA section 5(a)(3)(C) that the new chemical substances or significant new uses are not likely to present an unreasonable risk of injury to health or the environment:

    • EPA case number assigned to the TSCA section 5(a) notice.

    • Chemical identity (generic name, if the specific name is claimed as CBI).

    • Web site link to EPA's decision document describing the basis of the “not likely to present an unreasonable risk” finding made by EPA under TSCA section 5(a)(3)(C).

    EPA Case Number: P-17-0293; Chemical identity: Substituted carbomonocycle, polymer with substituted carbonomoncycles, alkyl substituted- alkanediols, alkanediol, alkanedioic acid, and dialkylene glycol; polymer exemption flag (generic name); Web site link: https://www.epa.gov/reviewing-new-chemicals-under-toxic-substances-control-act-tsca/tsca-section-5a3c-determination-73.

    EPA Case Number: P-14-0314; Chemical identity: Poly aliphatic phosphate (generic name); Web site link: https://www.epa.gov/reviewing-new-chemicals-under-toxic-substances-control-act-tsca/tsca-section-5a3c-determination-72.

    EPA Case Number: J-17-0008-0013; Chemical identity: Modified microorganism (generic name); Web site link: https://www.epa.gov/reviewing-new-chemicals-under-toxic-substances-control-act-tsca/tsca-section-5a3c-determination-71.

    EPA Case Number: P-17-0117-0118; Chemical identity: (P-17-0117): 1,6,10-Dodecatriene, 7,11-dimethyl-3-methylene-, (6E)-, homopolymer, 2-hydroxypropyl-terminated (CASRN: 1898242-86-8); polymer exemption flag. (P-17-0118): 1,6,10-Dodecatriene, 7,11-dimethyl-3-methylene-, (6E)-, homopolymer, 2-hydroxyethyl-terminated (CASRN: 2007163-32-6); polymer exemption flag; Web site link: https://www.epa.gov/reviewing-new-chemicals-under-toxic-substances-control-act-tsca/tsca-section-5a3c-determination-70.

    EPA Case Number: P-17-0266; Chemical identity: Alcohols, C12-13-branched and linear, dimerized (CASRN: 2041102-78-5); Web site link: https://www.epa.gov/reviewing-new-chemicals-under-toxic-substances-control-act-tsca/tsca-section-5a3c-determination-69.

    EPA Case Number: P-17-0219; Chemical identity: Polyester of aliphatic glycols and aromatic diacids; polymer exemption flag (generic name); Web site link: https://www.epa.gov/reviewing-new-chemicals-under-toxic-substances-control-act-tsca/tsca-section-5a3c-determination-68.

    EPA Case Number: P-17-0112; Chemical identity: 1,4-Benzenedicarboxylic acid, polymer with hexanedioic acid and 1,6-hexanediol (CASRN: 84191-80-0); polymer exemption flag; Web site link: https://www.epa.gov/reviewing-new-chemicals-under-toxic-substances-control-act-tsca/tsca-section-5a3c-determination-67.

    Authority:

    15 U.S.C. 2601 et seq.

    Dated: September 29, 2017. Greg Schweer, Chief, New Chemicals Management Branch, Chemical Control Division, Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics.
    [FR Doc. 2017-22249 Filed 10-12-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560-50-P
    ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY [EPA-HQ-OPP-2017-0451; FRL-9966-72] Disapproval of Pesticide Product Registrations for Special Local Needs AGENCY:

    Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

    ACTION:

    Notice.

    SUMMARY:

    As provided under Section 24(c) of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), State-designated lead agencies may register pesticides, within their respective States, to meet special local needs. EPA's regulations require the State lead agencies to notify EPA of such special local need registrations. EPA may disapprove any such State registration. EPA's regulations require that notice of these actions be published in the Federal Register; this notice identifies special local need registrations which were disapproved by EPA on July 3, 2017.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Michael L. Goodis, Registration Division (7505P), Office of Pesticide Programs, Environmental Protection Agency, 1200 Pennsylvania Ave. NW., Washington, DC 20460-0001; main telephone number: (703) 305-7090; email address: [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: I. General Information A. Does this action apply to me?

    You may be potentially affected by this action if you are an agricultural producer, food manufacturer, or pesticide manufacturer. The following list of North American Industrial Classification System (NAICS) codes is not intended to be exhaustive, but rather provides a guide to help readers determine whether this document applies to them. Potentially affected entities may include:

    • Crop production (NAICS code 111).

    • Animal production (NAICS code 112).

    • Food manufacturing (NAICS code 311).

    • Pesticide manufacturing (NAICS code 32532).

    B. How can I get copies of this document and other related information?

    The docket for this action, identified by docket identification (ID) number EPA-HQ-OPP-2017-0451, is available at http://www.regulations.gov or at the OPP Docket in the Environmental Protection Agency Docket Center (EPA/DC), West William Jefferson Clinton Bldg., Rm. 3334, 1301 Constitution Ave. NW., Washington, DC 20460-0001. The Public Reading Room is open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, excluding legal holidays. The telephone number for the Public Reading Room is (202) 566-1744, and the telephone number for the OPP Docket is (703) 305-5805. Please review the visitor instructions and additional information about the docket available at http://www.epa.gov/dockets.

    II. Background

    Section 24(c) of FIFRA (7 U.S.C. 136v(c)) authorizes States to register “additional uses of federally registered pesticides to meet special local needs.” Pursuant to FIFRA section 24(c), EPA's regulations at 40 CFR 162.153(h) require States to notify EPA of such special local need registrations. EPA's regulations pertaining to such special local need registrations state that “the Administrator may disapprove, on any reasonable grounds, any state registration which, when compared to a federally registered product, does not have . . . a similar use pattern. . . .” 40 CFR 162.154(a)(1). The regulations define “similar use pattern” to mean “a use of a pesticide . . . which is (among other things) substantially the same as the federally registered use.” 40 CFR 162.151.

    III. Disapprovals of Special Local Need Registrations

    On July 3, 2017, EPA disapproved special local need registrations from the Nevada Department of Agriculture, for use on cannabis grown in Nevada, to control various insect pests, mites, and plant diseases, as follows:

    1. EPA SLN No. NV170003—General Hydroponics Prevasyn (EPA Reg. No. 91865-1); containing Capsicum oleoresin extract, garlic oil, & soybean oil.

    2. EPA SLN No. NV170004—General Hydroponics Exile (EPA Reg. No. 91865-2); containing potassium salts of fatty acids.

    3. EPA SLN No. NV170005—General Hydroponics Defguard (EPA Reg. No. 91865-3); containing Bacillus amyloliquefaciens strain D747.

    4. EPA SLN No. NV170006—General Hydroponics; Azamax (EPA Reg. No. 91865-4); containing azadirachtin.

    Additional information may be found in the docket for this action, docket ID number EPA-HQ-OPP-2017-0451, available at http://www.regulations.gov or at the OPP Docket in the Environmental Protection Agency Docket Center. Details on accessing the docket are given in Unit I.B. of this document.

    Authority:

    7 U.S.C. 136 et seq.

    Dated: September 14, 2017. Michael L. Goodis, Director, Registration Division, Office of Pesticide Programs.
    [FR Doc. 2017-22102 Filed 10-12-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560-50-P
    ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY [EPA-HQ-OPP-2017-0042; FRL-9968-59] Pesticide Program Dialogue Committee; Notice of Public Meeting AGENCY:

    Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

    ACTION:

    Notice.

    SUMMARY:

    Pursuant to the Federal Advisory Committee Act, the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA's) Office of Pesticide Programs is announcing a public meeting of the Pesticide Program Dialogue Committee (PPDC) on November 1-2, 2017. This meeting provides advice and recommendations to the EPA Administrator on issues associated with pesticide regulatory development and reform initiatives, evolving public policy and program implementation issues, and science issues associated with evaluating and reducing risks from use of pesticides.

    DATES:

    The meeting will be held on Wednesday, November 1, 2017, from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and Thursday, November 2, 2017, from 9 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

    Agenda: A draft agenda will be posted on or before October 18, 2017.

    Accommodations requests: To request accommodation of a disability, please contact the person listed under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT, preferably at least 10 days prior to the meeting, to give EPA as much time as possible to process your request.

    ADDRESSES:

    The PPDC Meeting will be held at 1 Potomac Yard South, 2777 S. Crystal Drive, Arlington, VA, in the lobby-level Conference Center.

    EPA's Potomac Yard South Bldg. is approximately 1 mile from the Crystal City Metro Station.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Dea Zimmerman, Office of Pesticide Programs (L-17J), Environmental Protection Agency, 77 W. Jackson Boulevard, Chicago, IL 60604; telephone number: (312) 353-6344; email address: [email protected].

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: I. General Information A. Does this action apply to me?

    You may be potentially affected by this action if you work in agricultural settings or if you are concerned about implementation of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA); the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA); and the amendments to both of these major pesticide laws by the Food Quality Protection Act (FQPA) of 1996; the Pesticide Registration Improvement Act, and the Endangered Species Act. Potentially affected entities may include, but are not limited to: Agricultural workers and farmers; pesticide industry and trade associations; environmental, consumer, and farm worker groups; pesticide users and growers; animal rights groups; pest consultants; State, local, and tribal governments; academia; public health organizations; and the public. If you have questions regarding the applicability of this action to a particular entity, consult the person listed under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT.

    B. How can I get copies of this document and other related information?

    The docket for this action, identified by docket identification (ID) number EPA-HQ-OPP-2017-0042, is available at http://www.regulations.gov or at the Office of Pesticide Programs Regulatory Public Docket (OPP Docket) in the Environmental Protection Agency Docket Center (EPA/DC), West William Jefferson Clinton Bldg., Rm. 3334, 1301 Constitution Ave. NW., Washington, DC 20460-0001. The Public Reading Room is open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, excluding legal holidays. The telephone number for the Public Reading Room is (202) 566-1744, and the telephone number for the OPP Docket is (703) 305-5805. Please review the visitor instructions and additional information about the docket available at http://www.epa.gov/dockets.

    II. Background

    The PPDC is a federal advisory committee chartered under the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA), Public Law 92-463. EPA established the PPDC in September 1995 to provide advice and recommendations to the EPA Administrator on issues associated with pesticide regulatory development and reform initiatives, evolving public policy and program implementation issues, and science issues associated with evaluating and reducing risks from use of pesticides. The following sectors are represented on the current PPDC: Environmental/public interest and animal rights groups; farm worker organizations; pesticide industry and trade associations; pesticide user, grower, and commodity groups; Federal and State/local/tribal governments; the general public; academia; and public health organizations.

    III. How can I request to participate in this meeting?

    PPDC meetings are free, open to the public, and no advance registration is required. Public comments may be made during the public comment session of each meeting or in writing to the person listed under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT.

    Authority:

    7 U.S.C. 136 et. seq.

    Dated: October 3, 2017. Arnold E. Layne, Acting Director, Office of Pesticide Programs.
    [FR Doc. 2017-22237 Filed 10-12-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560-50-P
    FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION [OMB 3060-0357] Information Collection Being Reviewed by the Federal Communications Commission Under Delegated Authority AGENCY:

    Federal Communications Commission.

    ACTION:

    Notice and request for comments.

    SUMMARY:

    As part of its continuing effort to reduce paperwork burdens, and as required by the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA), the Federal Communications Commission (FCC or Commission) invites the general public and other Federal agencies to take this opportunity to comment on the following information collections. Comments are requested concerning: Whether the proposed collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the Commission, including whether the information shall have practical utility; the accuracy of the Commission's burden estimate; ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information collected; ways to minimize the burden of the collection of information on the respondents, including the use of automated collection techniques or other forms of information technology; and ways to further reduce the information collection burden on small business concerns with fewer than 25 employees.

    The FCC may not conduct or sponsor a collection of information unless it displays a currently valid Office of Management and Budget (OMB) control number. No person shall be subject to any penalty for failing to comply with a collection of information subject to the PRA that does not display a valid OMB control number.

    DATES:

    Written comments should be submitted on or before December 12, 2017. If you anticipate that you will be submitting comments, but find it difficult to do so within the period of time allowed by this notice, you should advise the contacts below as soon as possible.

    ADDRESSES:

    Direct all PRA comments to Cathy Williams, FCC, via email [email protected] and to [email protected]

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    For additional information about the information collection, contact Cathy Williams at (202) 418-2918.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    As part of its continuing effort to reduce paperwork burdens, and as required by the PRA of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3501-3520), the FCC invites the general public and other Federal agencies to take this opportunity to comment on the following information collections. Comments are requested concerning: Whether the proposed collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the Commission, including whether the information shall have practical utility; the accuracy of the Commission's burden estimate; ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information collected; ways to minimize the burden of the collection of information on the respondents, including the use of automated collection techniques or other forms of information technology; and ways to further reduce the information collection burden on small business concerns with fewer than 25 employees.

    OMB Control No.: 3060-0357.

    Title: Recognized Private Operating Agency (RPOA), 47 CFR 63.701.

    Form Number: N/A.

    Type of Review: Extension of a currently approved collection.

    Respondents: Business or other for-profit.

    Number of Respondents: 10 respondents; 10 responses.

    Estimated Time per response: 2-5 hours.

    Frequency of Response: On occasion reporting requirement.

    Obligation To Respond: Required to obtain or retain benefits. The statutory authority for this collection is contained in 47 U.S.C. 154(j), 201, 214 and 403.

    Total Annual Burden: 35 hours.

    Annual Cost Burden: $18,800.

    Privacy Act Impact Assessment: No impact(s).

    Nature and Extent of Confidentiality: In general, there is no need for confidentiality with this collection of information.

    Needs and Uses: This collection will be submitted as an extension after the 60-day comment period to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) in order to obtain the full three-year clearance.

    The Commission requests this information in order to make recommendations to the U.S. Department of State for granting recognized private operating agency (RPOA) status to requesting entities. The Commission does not require entities to request RPOA status. Rather, this is a voluntary application process for use by companies that believe that obtaining RPOA status will be beneficial in persuading foreign governments to allow them to conduct business abroad. RPOA status also permits companies to join the International Telecommunication Union's (ITU's) Telecommunications Sector, which is the standards-setting body of the ITU.

    The information furnished in RPOA requests is collected pursuant to 47 CFR 63.701 of the Commission's rules. Entities submit these applications on a voluntary basis. The collection of information is a one-time collection for each respondent. Without this information collection, the Commission's policies and objectives for assisting unregulated providers of enhanced services to enter the market for international enhanced services would be thwarted.

    Federal Communications Commission. Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary, Office of the Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2017-22184 Filed 10-12-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6712-01-P
    FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION [OMB 3060-1242] Information Collection Being Reviewed by the Federal Communications Commission Under Delegated Authority AGENCY:

    Federal Communications Commission.

    ACTION:

    Notice and request for comments.

    SUMMARY:

    As part of its continuing effort to reduce paperwork burdens, and as required by the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA), the Federal Communications Commission (FCC or Commission) invites the general public and other Federal agencies to take this opportunity to comment on the following information collections. Comments are requested concerning: Whether the proposed collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the Commission, including whether the information shall have practical utility; the accuracy of the Commission's burden estimate; ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information collected; ways to minimize the burden of the collection of information on the respondents, including the use of automated collection techniques or other forms of information technology; and ways to further reduce the information collection burden on small business concerns with fewer than 25 employees.

    The FCC may not conduct or sponsor a collection of information unless it displays a currently valid Office of Management and Budget (OMB) control number. No person shall be subject to any penalty for failing to comply with a collection of information subject to the PRA that does not display a valid OMB control number.

    DATES:

    Written comments should be submitted on or before December 12, 2017. If you anticipate that you will be submitting comments, but find it difficult to do so within the period of time allowed by this notice, you should advise the contacts below as soon as possible.

    ADDRESSES:

    Direct all PRA comments to Cathy Williams, FCC, via email [email protected] and to [email protected]

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    For additional information about the information collection, contact Cathy Williams at (202) 418-2918.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    As part of its continuing effort to reduce paperwork burdens, and as required by the PRA of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3501-3520), the FCC invites the general public and other Federal agencies to take this opportunity to comment on the following information collections. Comments are requested concerning: Whether the proposed collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the Commission, including whether the information shall have practical utility; the accuracy of the Commission's burden estimate; ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information collected; ways to minimize the burden of the collection of information on the respondents, including the use of automated collection techniques or other forms of information technology; and ways to further reduce the information collection burden on small business concerns with fewer than 25 employees.

    OMB Control Number: 3060-1242.

    Title: Qualified 4G LTE Coverage Data Collection for Mobility Fund Phase II.

    Form Number: N/A.

    Type of Review: Extension of a currently approved information collection.

    Respondents: Business or other for-profit entities, not-for-profit institutions, and state, local or tribal governments.

    Estimated Number of Respondents and Responses: 50 respondents and 50 responses.

    Estimated Time per Response: 64 hours.

    Frequency of Response: One-time reporting requirement.

    Obligation to Respond: Required to obtain or retain benefits. Statutory authority for this information collection is contained in sections 154, 254, and 303(r) of the Communications Act, as amended, 47 U.S.C. 4, 254, 303(r).

    Estimated Total Annual Burden: 3,200 hours.

    Total Annual Costs: None.

    Nature and Extent of Confidentiality: To information collected under this collection is confidential and will not be made publicly available.

    Privacy Act Impact Assessment: No impact(s).

    Needs and Uses: A request for approval of this new information collection will be submitted to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) after this 60-day comment period in order to obtain the full three-year clearance from OMB. In its November 2011 USF/ICC Transformation Order (FCC 11-161), the Commission established the Mobility Fund, which consists of two phases. Mobility Fund Phase I (MF-I) provided one-time universal service support payments to immediately accelerate deployment of mobile broadband services. MF-II will use a reverse auction to provide ongoing universal service support payments to continue to advance deployment of such services. The Commission adopted the rules and framework for MF-I in the USF/ICC Transformation Order, and sought comment in an accompanying further notice of proposed rulemaking on the proposed framework for MF-II. In its February 2017 Mobility Fund II Report and Order (MF-II Report and Order) (FCC 17-11), the FCC adopted the rules and framework for moving forward expeditiously with the MF-II auction. Among other things, the Commission stated in the MF-II Report and Order that, prior to the auction, it would establish a map of areas presumptively eligible for MF-II support based on the most recently available FCC Form 477 mobile wireless coverage data, and provide a limited timeframe for parties to challenge those initial determinations during the pre-auction process.

    The Commission received serval petitions for reconsideration of the MF-II Report and Order, including one asking it to reconsider the decision to use existing FCC Form 477 data as the basis for determining the map of areas presumptively eligible for MF-II support, and offering an industry consensus proposal asking the Commission to undertake a new, one-time data collection with specified data parameters tailored to MF-II to determine the areas in which there is deployment of qualified Long Term Evolution (LTE). On August 4, 2017, the Commission released an Order on Reconsideration and Second Report and Order (FCC 17-102) in which it, among other things, reconsidered its earlier decision to use FCC Form 477 data to compile the map of areas presumptively eligible for MF-II support. The Commission decided it would instead conduct a new, one-time data collection of 4G LTE coverage data that will be used for this purpose, concluding that for purposes of implementing MF-II expeditiously, this approach will provide the Commission and interested parties with the best available starting point for the challenge process and should result in fewer and more narrowly-focused challenges regarding representations of coverage.

    Only those providers that have previously reported 4G LTE coverage in FCC Form 477 and have qualified 4G LTE coverage (defined by download speeds of 5 Mbps at the cell edge with 80 percent probability and a 30 percent loading factor) will be required to submit data under this new, one-time information collection. Such providers will be required to file propagation maps and model details with the Commission indicating their current 4G LTE coverage in accordance with a public notice that will be issued in advance of the start of period within which providers must make their filings that provides instructions for how to file the data submission, including a data specification, formatting information, and any other technical parameters that may be necessary for such filings. The Commission will use the new coverage data, in conjunction with subsidy data available from the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC), to create the map of areas presumptively eligible for MF-II support.

    Federal Communications Commission. Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary, Office of the Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2017-22185 Filed 10-12-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6712-01-P
    FEDERAL RESERVE SYSTEM Notice of Proposals To Engage in or To Acquire Companies Engaged in Permissible Nonbanking Activities

    The companies listed in this notice have given notice under section 4 of the Bank Holding Company Act (12 U.S.C. 1843) (BHC Act) and Regulation Y, (12 CFR part 225) to engage de novo, or to acquire or control voting securities or assets of a company, including the companies listed below, that engages either directly or through a subsidiary or other company, in a nonbanking activity that is listed in § 225.28 of Regulation Y (12 CFR 225.28) or that the Board has determined by Order to be closely related to banking and permissible for bank holding companies. Unless otherwise noted, these activities will be conducted throughout the United States.

    Each notice is available for inspection at the Federal Reserve Bank indicated. The notice also will be available for inspection at the offices of the Board of Governors. Interested persons may express their views in writing on the question whether the proposal complies with the standards of section 4 of the BHC Act.

    Unless otherwise noted, comments regarding the applications must be received at the Reserve Bank indicated or the offices of the Board of Governors not later than October 26, 2017.

    A. Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis (Brendan S. Murrin, Assistant Vice President) 90 Hennepin Avenue, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55480-0291:

    1. Tradition Bancshares, Inc., Edina, Minnesota; acquire 24 percent of the voting shares of Rock Creek Advisors, LLC, Rapid City, South Dakota, and thereby engage in investment advisory services pursuant to section 225.28(b)(6).

    Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, October 6, 2017. Ann Misback, Secretary of the Board.
    [FR Doc. 2017-22138 Filed 10-12-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE P
    FEDERAL RESERVE SYSTEM Change in Bank Control Notices; Acquisitions of Shares of a Bank or Bank Holding Company

    The notificants listed below have applied under the Change in Bank Control Act (12 U.S.C. 1817(j)) and § 225.41 of the Board's Regulation Y (12 CFR 225.41) to acquire shares of a bank or bank holding company. The factors that are considered in acting on the notices are set forth in paragraph 7 of the Act (12 U.S.C. 1817(j)(7)).

    The notices are available for immediate inspection at the Federal Reserve Bank indicated. The notices also will be available for inspection at the offices of the Board of Governors. Interested persons may express their views in writing to the Reserve Bank indicated for that notice or to the offices of the Board of Governors. Comments must be received not later than October 26, 2017.

    A. Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis (Brendan S. Murrin, Assistant Vice President) 90 Hennepin Avenue, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55480-0291:

    1. Edward Massee and Andrew Schmidt, both of Appleton, Minnesota; to acquire voting shares of MPS Investment Company, Appleton, Minnesota, and thereby indirectly acquire voting shares of Farmers & Merchants State Bank, Appleton, Minnesota.

    Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, October 6, 2017. Ann Misback, Secretary of the Board.
    [FR Doc. 2017-22137 Filed 10-12-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE P
    FEDERAL RESERVE SYSTEM Formations of, Acquisitions by, and Mergers of Bank Holding Companies

    The companies listed in this notice have applied to the Board for approval, pursuant to the Bank Holding Company Act of 1956 (12 U.S.C. 1841 et seq.) (BHC Act), Regulation Y (12 CFR part 225), and all other applicable statutes and regulations to become a bank holding company and/or to acquire the assets or the ownership of, control of, or the power to vote shares of a bank or bank holding company and all of the banks and nonbanking companies owned by the bank holding company, including the companies listed below.

    The applications listed below, as well as other related filings required by the Board, are available for immediate inspection at the Federal Reserve Bank indicated. The applications will also be available for inspection at the offices of the Board of Governors. Interested persons may express their views in writing on the standards enumerated in the BHC Act (12 U.S.C. 1842(c)). If the proposal also involves the acquisition of a nonbanking company, the review also includes whether the acquisition of the nonbanking company complies with the standards in section 4 of the BHC Act (12 U.S.C. 1843). Unless otherwise noted, nonbanking activities will be conducted throughout the United States.

    Unless otherwise noted, comments regarding each of these applications must be received at the Reserve Bank indicated or the offices of the Board of Governors not later than November 8, 2017.

    A. Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta (Kathryn Haney, Director of Applications) 1000 Peachtree Street NE., Atlanta, Georgia 30309. Comments can also be sent electronically to [email protected]:

    1. MBT Bancshares, Inc., Metairie, Louisiana; to become a bank holding company by acquiring 100 percent of the outstanding voting shares of Metairie Bank & Trust Company, Metairie, Louisiana.

    B. Federal Reserve Bank of Boston (Prabal Chakrabarti, Senior Vice President) 600 Atlantic Avenue, Boston, Massachusetts 02210-2204. Comments can also be sent electronically to [email protected]:

    1. 1831 Bancorp, MHC and 1831 Bancorp, Inc., both of Dedham, Massachusetts; to become a mutual holding company and a stock bank holding company, respectively, by acquiring 100 percent of the voting shares of Dedham Institution for Savings, Dedham, Massachusetts.

    C. Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond (Adam M. Drimer, Assistant Vice President) 701 East Byrd Street, Richmond, Virginia 23261-4528. Comments can also be sent electronically to or [email protected]:

    1. Select Bancorp, Inc., Dunn, North Carolina; to acquire 100 percent of the voting shares of Premara Financial, Inc., Charlotte, North Carolina, and thereby indirectly acquire Carolina Premier Bank, Charlotte, North Carolina.

    Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, October 6, 2017. Ann Misback, Secretary of the Board.
    [FR Doc. 2017-22136 Filed 10-12-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE P
    DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [30Day-17-0138] Agency Forms Undergoing Paperwork Reduction Act Review

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has submitted the following information collection request to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review and approval in accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995. CDC previously published a “Proposed Data Collection Submitted for Public Comment and Recommendations” notice on March 2, 2017 to obtain comments from the public and affected agencies. CDC did not receive comments related to the notice. The purpose of this notice is to allow an additional 30 days for public comments.

    Written comments and suggestions from the public and affected agencies concerning the proposed collection of information are encouraged. The Office of Management and Budget is particularly interested in comments that:

    (a) Evaluate whether the proposed collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the agency, including whether the information will have practical utility;

    (b) Evaluate the accuracy of the agencies estimate of the burden of the proposed collection of information, including the validity of the methodology and assumptions used;

    (c) Enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected;

    (d) Minimize the burden of the collection of information on those who are to respond, including, through the use of appropriate automated, electronic, mechanical, or other technological collection techniques or other forms of information technology, e.g., permitting electronic submission of responses; and

    (e) Assess information collection costs.

    To request additional information on the proposed project or to obtain a copy of the information collection plan and instruments, call (404) 639-7570 or send an email to [email protected] Direct written comments and/or suggestions regarding the items contained in this notice to the Attention: CDC Desk Officer, Office of Management and Budget, 725 17th Street NW., Washington, DC 20503 or by fax to (202) 395-5806. Provide written comments within 30 days of notice publication.

    Proposed Project

    Pulmonary Function Testing Course Approval Program (OMB Control Number 0920-0138, Expired 4/30/2017)—Reinstatement with Change—National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

    Background and Brief Description

    NIOSH has the responsibility under the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's Cotton Dust Standard, 29 CFR 1920.1043, for approving courses to train technicians to perform pulmonary function testing in the cotton industry. Successful completion of a NIOSH-approved course is mandatory under this Standard. In addition, regulations at 42 CFR 37.95(a) specify that persons administering spirometry tests for the national Coal Workers' Health Surveillance Program must successfully complete a NIOSH-approved spirometry training course and maintain a valid certificate by periodically completing NIOSH-approved spirometry refresher training courses. Also, 29 CFR 1910.1053(i)(2)(iv), 29 CFR 1910.1053(i)(3), 29 CFR 1926.1153(h)(2)(iv) and 29 CFR 1926.1153(h)(3) specify that pulmonary function tests for initial and periodic examinations in general industry and construction, performed under the respirable crystalline silica standard should be administered by a spirometry technician with a current certificate from a NIOSH-approved spirometry course. NIOSH is requesting a three-year approval.

    To carry out its responsibility, NIOSH maintains a Pulmonary Function Training Course Approval Program. The program consists of an application submitted by potential sponsors (universities, hospitals, and private consulting firms) who seek NIOSH approval to conduct courses, and if approved, notification to NIOSH of any course or faculty changes during the approval period, which is limited to five years. The primary focus of this program is to verify that each course sponsor maintains faculty expertise and curriculum content that supports the training of technicians to perform spirometry testing under current professional clinical-practice guidelines.

    NIOSH reviews the application form and added materials, including an agenda, curriculum vitae, and course materials to determine if the applicant has developed a program that adheres to the criteria required in the Standard. Following approval, course sponsors submit any subsequent changes to the course via letter or email. In addition, NIOSH staff review subsequent changes to assure that the changes in faculty or course content continue to meet course requirements. Course sponsors also voluntarily submit an annual report to inform NIOSH of their class activity level and any faculty changes.

    Sponsors who elect to have their approval renewed for an additional five-year period submit a renewal application and supporting documentation for review by NIOSH staff to ensure the course curriculum meets all current standard requirements. Approved courses that elect to offer NIOSH-Approved Spirometry Refresher Courses must submit a separate application and supporting documents for review by NIOSH staff. Institutions and organizations throughout the country voluntarily submit applications and materials to become course sponsors and carry out training. Submissions are required for NIOSH to evaluate a course and determine whether the course meets the Standard's criteria and whether technicians meet the training requirements.

    NIOSH will disseminate a one-time customer satisfaction survey to course directors and sponsor representatives to evaluate our service to courses, the effectiveness of the program changes implemented since 2005, and the usefulness of potential Program enhancements. The annualized figures slightly overestimate the actual burden, due to rounding of the number of respondents for even allocation over the three-year clearance period.

    The respondent burden hours have decreased from 201 burden hours to 147 burden hours. Over the last three-year period, there are fewer sponsors, fewer refresher course applications, and all collection instruments are now available in electronic submittal formats.

    There will be no cost to respondents.

    Estimated Annualized Burden Hours Type of respondents Form name Number of
  • respondents
  • Number of
  • responses
  • per
  • respondent
  • Average
  • burden per
  • response
  • (in hours)
  • Potential Sponsors Initial Application 3 1 3.5 Annual Report 30 1 30/60 Report for Course Changes 24 1 30/60 Renewal Application 13 1 6 Refresher Course Application 3 1 8 One-time Customer Satisfaction Survey 32 1 12/60
    Leroy A. Richardson, Chief, Information Collection Review Office, Office of Scientific Integrity, Office of the Associate Director for Science, Office of the Director, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
    [FR Doc. 2017-22198 Filed 10-12-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4163-18-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [60Day-17-17BAM; Docket No. CDC-2017-0080] Proposed Data Collection Submitted for Public Comment and Recommendations AGENCY:

    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

    ACTION:

    Notice with comment period.

    SUMMARY:

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as part of its continuing effort to reduce public burden and maximize the utility of government information, invites the general public and other Federal agencies the opportunity to comment on a proposed and/or continuing information collection, as required by the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995. This notice invites comment on a proposed information collection project entitled Implementing the 6|18 Initiative: Case Studies. CDC proposes to seek a three-year clearance to conduct semi-structured interviews with state public health department and Medicaid agency officials. CDC designed this information collection project to improve understanding of facilitators and barriers to increased utilization of evidence-based interventions for selected chronic and infectious diseases.

    DATES:

    CDC must receive written comments on or before December 12, 2017.

    ADDRESSES:

    You may submit comments, identified by Docket No. CDC-2017-0080 by any of the following methods:

    Federal eRulemaking Portal: Regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments.

    Mail: Leroy A. Richardson, Information Collection Review Office, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1600 Clifton Road NE., MS-D74, Atlanta, Georgia 30329.

    Instructions: All submissions received must include the agency name and Docket Number. CDC will post, without change, all relevant comments to Regulations.gov. Access Regulations.gov.

    Please note: Submit all public comments through the Federal eRulemaking portal (regulations.gov) or by U.S. mail to the address listed above.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    To request more information on the proposed project or to obtain a copy of the information collection plan and instruments, contact Leroy A. Richardson, Information Collection Review Office, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1600 Clifton Road NE., MS-D74, Atlanta, Georgia 30329; phone: 404-639-7570; Email: [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (PRA) (44 U.S.C. 3501-3520), Federal agencies must obtain approval from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for each collection of information they conduct or sponsor. In addition, the PRA also requires Federal agencies to provide a 60-day notice in the Federal Register concerning each proposed collection of information, including each new proposed collection, each proposed extension of existing collection of information, and each reinstatement of previously approved information collection before submitting the collection to OMB for approval. To comply with this requirement, we are publishing this notice of a proposed data collection as described below.

    The OMB is particularly interested in comments that will help:

    1. Evaluate whether the proposed collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the agency, including whether the information will have practical utility;

    2. Evaluate the accuracy of the agency's estimate of the burden of the proposed collection of information, including the validity of the methodology and assumptions used;

    3. Enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and

    4. Minimize the burden of the collection of information on those who are to respond, including through the use of appropriate automated, electronic, mechanical, or other technological collection techniques or other forms of information technology, e.g., permitting electronic submissions of responses.

    Proposed Project

    Implementing the 6|18 Initiative: Case Studies—New—Office of the Director (OD), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

    Background and Brief Description

    Major trends in health care are providing new opportunities to pay for and deliver prevention and to improve population health. New and alternative health care payment and delivery models are more patient-centered and facilitate the delivery of greater comprehensive care and prevention. Public health departments have been eager to leverage their skill sets and resources to complement those of the health care sector, to maximize impact for population health in this time of dynamic health system change and opportunity.

    In this context, CDC developed the CDC's 6|18 Initiative to provide health care purchasers, payers, and providers with rigorous evidence about high-burden health conditions and associated evidence-based interventions. With a focus on the greatest short-term health and potential cost impact (generally in less than five years), the evidence informs their coverage decisions.

    The name “6|18” comes from the initial focus on six common, costly and preventable health conditions (tobacco use, high blood pressure, diabetes, asthma, healthcare-associated infections and unintended pregnancies) and 18 evidence-based prevention and control interventions, which form the content of dialogue with health care purchasers, payers and providers. More information on the Initiative content and progress can be found at http://www.cdc.gov/sixeighteen.

    The 6|18 initiative links the health care and public health sectors by providing a shared focus across a spectrum of prevention interventions, from traditional clinical settings to care outside the clinical setting. Public health's strength in identifying and analyzing scientific evidence complements the purchaser, payer, and provider role of financing and delivering care.

    Since cross-sector public health-health care collaboration to improve population health is still not a standard practice, information regarding public-payer collaboration with public health agencies is scarce. There are few or no case studies related to public health-health care collaboration around increasing preventive service utilization. CDC intends to fill this knowledge gap through this data collection effort.

    As part of the 6|18 Initiative, CDC and its partners (Center for Health Care Strategies, Inc. (CHCS) and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS)) provided technical assistance to state teams (i.e., State Medicaid and Public Health Agencies), to support and accelerate their implementation of the 6|18 Initiative's interventions. In Year 1 of the 6|18 Initiative (2016), CDC and its partners worked with nine state teams. In Year 2 (2017), CDC and its partners will work with 8 new teams from 6 states, the District of Columbia, and a large city (hereafter, “states”). No data has been collected to date.

    To document qualitative lessons learned related to the collaboration, CDC and its cooperative agreement sub-contractor, George Washington University, plan to conduct in-person and telephone semi-structured individual interviews with state Public Health Department and State Medicaid Agency officials.

    Interview participants will have been directly involved in conceptualizing, planning, and/or implementing 6|18 Initiative-related activities, and will have participated in the cross-sector collaboration. CDC plans to engage up to 82 respondents (four to seven officials from each of the 17 state teams who participated in the 6|18 Initiative). The officials from each state team will be leadership and staff from public health agencies at the state, city, and tribal level. For each state, we will request interviews with: One Public Health Division Director, one to four Public Health Services Managers (one per health condition), one Medicaid Director, and one Medicaid Services Manager. When joining the 6|18 Initiative, each state selected one to four conditions from the list of 6|18 conditions, and assigned one public health manager to each condition.

    CDC plans to administer the interviews from 2018 to 2021, to allow time for unanticipated delays; and to accommodate state team schedules, busy seasons, and holidays. All participants will speak in their official capacity as state public health department or Medicaid agency officials. Prior to granting public access to written products, CDC will provide participants the opportunity to review written products.

    CDC anticipates using the interview findings: (1) To describe, disseminate, and scale best practices to participating and non-participating states, and (2) for program improvement of the CDC's 6|18 Initiative. CDC will disseminate findings via written products such as peer-reviewed manuscripts and in-depth written case studies. The written products, which will share lessons learned and effective approaches to collaboration, can inform and potentially accelerate related efforts by other state teams. In addition, 6|18 participants can use findings and written products to highlight their accomplishments to their stakeholders, such as their Medicaid leadership, and/or governors.

    Participants will have a maximum estimated burden of one hour and 15 minutes: One hour for the interview, and fifteen minutes for any needed preparation. CDC will base all interviews on the same interview guide.

    CDC will seek a three-year OMB approval for this information collectio