Federal Register Vol. 82, No.205,

Federal Register Volume 82, Issue 205 (October 25, 2017)

Page Range49275-49483
FR Document

82_FR_205
Current View
Page and SubjectPDF
82 FR 49275 - Continuation of the National Emergency With Respect to the Democratic Republic of the CongoPDF
82 FR 49425 - Sunshine Act MeetingPDF
82 FR 49300 - Removing Barriers for Religious and Faith-Based Organizations To Participate in HHS Programs and Receive Public FundingPDF
82 FR 49314 - Information Systems Technical Advisory Committee: Notice of Partially Closed Meeting-RevisedPDF
82 FR 49418 - Agency Information Collection Activities; 30 CFR 550, Subpart C, Pollution Prevention and ControlPDF
82 FR 49475 - Harley-Davidson Motor Company, Inc., Grant of Petition for Decision of Inconsequential NoncompliancePDF
82 FR 49476 - Porsche Cars North America, Inc., Grant of Petition for Decision of Inconsequential NoncompliancePDF
82 FR 49482 - Agency Information Collection Activity: State Application for Interment Allowance Under 38 U.S.C. Chapter 23PDF
82 FR 49404 - Privacy Act of 1974; System of RecordsPDF
82 FR 49410 - Privacy Act of 1974; System of RecordsPDF
82 FR 49407 - Privacy Act of 1974; System of RecordsPDF
82 FR 49471 - Notice of Final Federal Agency Actions of Proposed Highway/Interchange Improvement in Ohio; Statute of Limitations on ClaimsPDF
82 FR 49472 - Automated Driving Systems 2.0: A Vision for Safety; Listening SessionPDF
82 FR 49375 - Deciding When To Submit a 510(k) for a Change to an Existing Device; Guidance for Industry and Food and Drug Administration Staff; AvailabilityPDF
82 FR 49382 - Deciding When To Submit a 510(k) for a Software Change to an Existing Device; Guidance for Industry and Food and Drug Administration Staff; AvailabilityPDF
82 FR 49373 - Breakthrough Devices Program; Draft Guidance for Industry and Food and Drug Administration Staff; AvailabilityPDF
82 FR 49370 - Formations of, Acquisitions by, and Mergers of Bank Holding CompaniesPDF
82 FR 49417 - Call for Nominations and Applications, North Slope Science Initiative, Science Technical Advisory Panel, AlaskaPDF
82 FR 49354 - Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council (MAFMC); MeetingPDF
82 FR 49332 - North Pacific Fishery Management Council; Public MeetingPDF
82 FR 49355 - Government-Industry Advisory Panel; Notice of Federal Advisory Committee MeetingPDF
82 FR 49411 - 30 Day Notice of Proposed Information Collection for Public Comment on the: Resident Opportunity and Self-Sufficiency Service Coordinator (ROSS-SC) Program EvaluationPDF
82 FR 49414 - 30-Day Notice of Proposed Information Collection: HUD Supportive Services Demonstration/Integrated Wellness in Supportive Housing-IWISHPDF
82 FR 49416 - 30-Day Notice of Proposed Information Collection: Form 50900: Elements for the Annual Moving to Work Plan and Annual Moving to Work ReportPDF
82 FR 49413 - 30-Day Notice of Proposed Information Collection: Congressional EarmarksPDF
82 FR 49415 - 30-Day Notice of Proposed Information Collection: Record of Employee InterviewPDF
82 FR 49462 - Presidential Declaration Amendment of a Major Disaster for the State of TexasPDF
82 FR 49470 - Petition for Exemption; Summary of Petition ReceivedPDF
82 FR 49462 - Presidential Declaration Amendment of a Major Disaster for Public Assistance Only for the State of GeorgiaPDF
82 FR 49387 - National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences; Notice of Closed MeetingPDF
82 FR 49387 - National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences; Notice of Closed MeetingsPDF
82 FR 49388 - Government-Owned Inventions; Availability for LicensingPDF
82 FR 49389 - Government-Owned Inventions; Availability for LicensingPDF
82 FR 49386 - Center for Scientific Review; Notice of Closed MeetingsPDF
82 FR 49386 - Prospective Grant of an Exclusive Patent License: Computer-Aided Diagnosis of Prostate Cancer in Multi-Parametric MRIPDF
82 FR 49425 - Information Collection: Licensing Requirements for the Independent Storage of Spent Nuclear Fuel, High-Level Radioactive Waste and Reactor-Related Greater Than Class C Waste; CorrectionPDF
82 FR 49377 - Animal Generic Drug User Fee Act; Recommendations; Request for Comments; Extension of Comment PeriodPDF
82 FR 49380 - Animal Drug User Fee Act; Recommendations; Request for Comments; Extension of Comment PeriodPDF
82 FR 49481 - Notification of Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee October 25, 2017, Public MeetingPDF
82 FR 49358 - Notice of Orders Issued Under Section 3 of the Natural Gas Act During July 2017PDF
82 FR 49418 - Cancellation of the October 12, 2017, Meeting of the Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park Advisory CommissionPDF
82 FR 49398 - Florida; Emergency and Related DeterminationsPDF
82 FR 49357 - Senior Executive Service Performance Review BoardPDF
82 FR 49361 - Senior Executive Service Performance Review BoardPDF
82 FR 49395 - Changes in Flood Hazard DeterminationsPDF
82 FR 49399 - Final Flood Hazard DeterminationsPDF
82 FR 49360 - Meeting of the Fusion Energy Sciences Advisory CommitteePDF
82 FR 49356 - Meeting of Environmental Management Site-Specific Advisory Board, Savannah River SitePDF
82 FR 49357 - Meeting of the Environmental Management Site-Specific Advisory Board, PaducahPDF
82 FR 49360 - Meeting of the Environmental Management Site-Specific Advisory Board, Northern New MexicoPDF
82 FR 49360 - Meeting of the Environmental Management Site-Specific Advisory Board, NevadaPDF
82 FR 49361 - Meeting of the Environmental Management Site-Specific Advisory Board, HanfordPDF
82 FR 49358 - Meeting of the Biomass Research and Development Technical Advisory CommitteePDF
82 FR 49480 - Availability of Draft DOT Strategic Plan for FY 2018-2022 and Request for Public CommentPDF
82 FR 49356 - Availability of a Draft Integrated Feasibility Report (Feasibility Report/Environmental Impact Statement), Aliso Creek Mainstem Ecosystem Restoration Study, Orange County, CaliforniaPDF
82 FR 49356 - Inland Waterways Users Board Meeting NoticePDF
82 FR 49425 - Notice Pursuant to the National Cooperative Research and Production Act of 1993-American Society of Mechanical EngineersPDF
82 FR 49424 - Notice Pursuant to the National Cooperative Research and Production Act of 1993-ASTM International StandardsPDF
82 FR 49370 - Agency Information Collection Activities: Announcement of Board Approval Under Delegated Authority and Submission to OMBPDF
82 FR 49394 - Final Flood Hazard DeterminationsPDF
82 FR 49402 - Final Flood Hazard DeterminationsPDF
82 FR 49313 - Proposed Information Collection; Comment Request; 2018 Estimates of Compact of Free Association (COFA) MigrantsPDF
82 FR 49303 - Petition for Reconsideration of Action in Rulemaking ProceedingPDF
82 FR 49354 - Governor's Opt-Out Notice To Conduct State Radio Access NetworkPDF
82 FR 49462 - Social Security Ruling 16-3p Titles II And XVI: Evaluation Of Symptoms In Disability ClaimsPDF
82 FR 49390 - Collection of Information Under Review by Office of Management and Budget; OMB Control Number: 1625-0057PDF
82 FR 49277 - Federal Employees' Retirement System; Government CostsPDF
82 FR 49393 - Collection of Information Under Review by Office of Management and Budget; OMB Control Number: 1625-0078PDF
82 FR 49391 - Meeting of the National Offshore Safety Advisory CommitteePDF
82 FR 49392 - Collection of Information Under Review by Office of Management and Budget; OMB Control Number: 1625-0062PDF
82 FR 49481 - Agency Information Collection Activity Under OMB Review: The PRA Submission Describes the Nature of the Information Collection and its Expected Cost and Burden; it Includes the Actual Data Collection InstrumentPDF
82 FR 49482 - Agency Information Collection Activity: Report of Income From Property or BusinessPDF
82 FR 49332 - Takes of Marine Mammals Incidental to Specified Activities; Taking Marine Mammals Incidental to Boost-Back and Landing of Falcon 9 RocketsPDF
82 FR 49297 - Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Atlantic Sea Scallop Fishery; State Waters ExemptionPDF
82 FR 49314 - Takes of Marine Mammals Incidental to Specified Activities; Taking Marine Mammals Incidental to a Low-Energy Geophysical Survey in the Northeastern Pacific OceanPDF
82 FR 49303 - Atlantic Highly Migratory Species; Individual Bluefin Quota Program; Accountability for Bluefin Tuna CatchPDF
82 FR 49312 - Meeting of the National Advisory Committee for Implementation of the National Forest System Land Management Planning RulePDF
82 FR 49388 - National Library of Medicine; Notice of Closed MeetingPDF
82 FR 49388 - National Institute on Drug Abuse; Notice of Closed MeetingsPDF
82 FR 49385 - National Institute on Aging; Notice of Closed MeetingPDF
82 FR 49380 - Determination That OVRETTE (Norgestrel) Tablet, 0.075 Milligrams, Was Not Withdrawn From Sale for Reasons of Safety or EffectivenessPDF
82 FR 49473 - Traffic Records Program Assessment Advisory; Public CommentPDF
82 FR 49433 - Self-Regulatory Organizations; Chicago Stock Exchange, Inc.; Notice of Filing of Amendments No. 1 and No. 2 and Order Granting Accelerated Approval of a Proposed Rule Change, as Modified by Amendments No. 1 and No. 2, To Adopt the CHX Liquidity Enhancing Access Delay on a Pilot BasisPDF
82 FR 49456 - Self-Regulatory Organizations; The Options Clearing Corporation; Notice of Filing of Proposed Rule Change Related to a Comprehensive Risk Management FrameworkPDF
82 FR 49447 - Self-Regulatory Organizations; Nasdaq MRX, LLC; Notice of Filing and Immediate Effectiveness of Proposed Rule Change To Amend the Exchange's Schedule of FeesPDF
82 FR 49431 - Self-Regulatory Organizations; Bats BZX Exchange, Inc.; Notice of Filing and Immediate Effectiveness of a Proposed Rule Change Related to Transaction Fees for the Exchange's Equity PlatformPDF
82 FR 49450 - Self-Regulatory Organizations; Nasdaq ISE, LLC; Notice of Filing and Immediate Effectiveness of Proposed Rule Change To Amend the Exchange's Schedule of FeesPDF
82 FR 49453 - Self-Regulatory Organizations; Nasdaq GEMX, LLC; Notice of Filing and Immediate Effectiveness of Proposed Rule Change To Amend the Exchange's Schedule of FeesPDF
82 FR 49426 - Self-Regulatory Organizations; NYSE Arca, Inc.; Notice of Filing and Immediate Effectiveness of Proposed Rule Change To Amend the NYSE Arca Equities Fees and ChargesPDF
82 FR 49428 - Options Price Reporting Authority; Notice of Filing and Immediate Effectiveness of Proposed Amendment To Modify the OPRA Fee Schedule To Eliminate the Enterprise Rate Non-Professional Subscriber Fee and Amend the Non-Professional Subscriber FeePDF
82 FR 49429 - Options Price Reporting Authority; Notice of Filing and Immediate Effectiveness of Proposed Amendment To Modify the OPRA Fee Schedule To Amend the Professional Subscriber Device-Based FeePDF
82 FR 49366 - Notice of Application for Surrender of License, Soliciting Comments, Motions To Intervene, And Protests; Far West Power CorporationPDF
82 FR 49363 - Notice of Application for Partial Transfer of License and Soliciting Comments, Motions To Intervene, and Protests: Virginia Electric and Power Company d/b/a Dominion Energy Virginia; Allegheny Generating Company; Bath County Energy, LLCPDF
82 FR 49362 - Notice of Staff Attendance at the Southwest Power Pool Regional Entity Trustee, Regional State Committee, Members' Committee and Board of Directors' MeetingsPDF
82 FR 49364 - Notice of Institution of Section 206 Proceeding and Refund Effective Date; Southwest Power Pool, Inc.PDF
82 FR 49364 - Notice of Petition for Declaratory Order; Constitution Pipeline Company, LLCPDF
82 FR 49361 - Notice of Application; Gulf South Pipeline Company, LPPDF
82 FR 49364 - Notice of Intent To Prepare an Environmental Assessment for the Proposed Riverdale South to Market Project, and Request for Comments on Environmental Issues; Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line Company, LLCPDF
82 FR 49422 - Certain Reusable Diapers, Components Thereof, and Products Containing the Same; Institution of InvestigationPDF
82 FR 49421 - Certain Magnetic Data Storage Tapes and Cartridges Containing the Same (II); Institution of InvestigationPDF
82 FR 49420 - Certain Electrochemical Glucose Monitoring Systems and Components Thereof; Institution of InvestigationPDF
82 FR 49425 - Technical Advisory Committee; Notice of Meeting and AgendaPDF
82 FR 49371 - In Vitro Metabolism- and Transporter-Mediated Drug-Drug Interaction Studies, and Clinical Drug Interaction Studies-Study Design, Data Analysis, and Clinical Implications; Draft Guidances for Industry; AvailabilityPDF
82 FR 49312 - Notice of Public Meeting of the Indiana Advisory Committee To Prepare for Its Public Meeting on Voting RightsPDF
82 FR 49480 - Agency Information Collection Activities; Submission for OMB Review; Comment Request; Multiple IRS Information Collection RequestsPDF
82 FR 49423 - Certain Circular Welded Wipe and Wube (CWP) From Brazil, India, Korea, Mexico, Taiwan, Thailand, and Turkey; Scheduling of Expedited Five-Year ReviewsPDF
82 FR 49469 - Request for Comments and Public Hearing About the Administration's Action Following a Determination of Import Injury With Regard to Certain Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaic CellsPDF
82 FR 49369 - Notice of Agreements FiledPDF
82 FR 49286 - Rules Regarding Availability of InformationPDF
82 FR 49311 - National Organic Program: Notice of Interim Instruction, Maintaining the Integrity of Organic ImportsPDF
82 FR 49384 - Notice of Interest Rate on Overdue DebtsPDF
82 FR 49385 - Office of the Assistant Secretary for Administration; Statement of Organization, Functions, and Delegations of AuthorityPDF
82 FR 49367 - Information Collection Being Submitted for Review and Approval to the Office of Management and BudgetPDF
82 FR 49368 - Information Collection Being Submitted for Review and Approval to the Office of Management and BudgetPDF
82 FR 49424 - Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposed eCollection eComments Requested; Revision of a Currently Approved Collection; Records and Supporting Data: Importation, Receipt, Storage, and Disposition by Explosives Importers, Manufacturers, Dealers, and Users Licensed Under Title 18 U.S.C. Chapter 40 ExplosivesPDF
82 FR 49282 - Multi-Family Housing Program Requirements To Reduce Financial Reporting RequirementsPDF
82 FR 49287 - Voluntary Consensus Standards Update; Formaldehyde Emission Standards for Composite Wood ProductsPDF
82 FR 49302 - Voluntary Consensus Standards Update; Formaldehyde Emission Standards for Composite Wood ProductsPDF
82 FR 49468 - Delegation to the Assistant Secretary for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs of Authorities for International Fisheries Organizations and Related IssuesPDF
82 FR 49295 - Revisions to the Cost-of-Capital Composite Railroad CriteriaPDF
82 FR 49478 - Establishment of Interim National Multimodal Freight NetworkPDF
82 FR 49331 - National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS), NIDIS Executive Council MeetingPDF

Issue

82 205 Wednesday, October 25, 2017 Contents Agricultural Marketing Agricultural Marketing Service NOTICES National Organic Program: Interim Instruction, Maintaining the Integrity of Organic Imports, 49311-49312 2017-23093 Agriculture Agriculture Department See

Agricultural Marketing Service

See

Forest Service

See

Rural Housing Service

Alcohol Tobacco Firearms Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives Bureau NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: Records and Supporting Data: Importation, Receipt, Storage, and Disposition by Explosives Importers, Manufacturers, Dealers, and Users, 49424 2017-23086 Antitrust Division Antitrust Division NOTICES Changes under National Cooperative Research and Production Act: American Society of Mechanical Engineers, 49425 2017-23152 ASTM International, 49424-49425 2017-23151 Census Bureau Census Bureau NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: 2018 Estimates of Compact of Free Association Migrants, 49313-49314 2017-23147 Civil Rights Civil Rights Commission NOTICES Meetings: Indiana Advisory Committee, 49312-49313 2017-23101 Coast Guard Coast Guard NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals, 49390-49394 2017-23137 2017-23139 2017-23142 Meetings: National Offshore Safety Advisory Committee, 49391-49392 2017-23138 Commerce Commerce Department See

Census Bureau

See

Industry and Security Bureau

See

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

See

National Telecommunications and Information Administration

Defense Department Defense Department See

Engineers Corps

NOTICES Meetings: Government-Industry Advisory Panel, 49355-49356 2017-23189
Energy Department Energy Department See

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission

NOTICES Import/Export Authorizations: Delfin LNG, LLC; Louisian LNG Energy, LLC; BNP Paribas Energy Canda Corp.; et al., 49358-49359 2017-23170 Meetings: Biomass Research and Development Technical Advisory Committee, 49358 2017-23156 Environmental Management Site-Specific Advisory Board, Hanford, 49361 2017-23157 Environmental Management Site-Specific Advisory Board, Nevada, 49360-49361 2017-23158 Environmental Management Site-Specific Advisory Board, Northern New Mexico, 49360 2017-23159 Environmental Management Site-Specific Advisory Board, Paducah, 49357 2017-23160 Environmental Management Site-Specific Advisory Board, Savannah River Site, 49356-49357 2017-23161 Fusion Energy Sciences Advisory Committee, 49360 2017-23162 Senior Executive Service Performance Review Board, 49357-49358, 49361 2017-23165 2017-23166
Engineers Engineers Corps NOTICES Environmental Impact Statements; Availability, etc.: Aliso Creek Mainstem Ecosystem Restoration Study, Orange County, CA, 49356 2017-23154 Meetings: Inland Waterways Users Board; Correction, 49356 2017-23153 Environmental Protection Environmental Protection Agency RULES Voluntary Consensus Standards Update; Formaldehyde Emission Standards for Composite Wood Products, 49287-49295 2017-23062 PROPOSED RULES Voluntary Consensus Standards Update; Formaldehyde Emission Standards for Composite Wood Products, 49302-49303 2017-23061 Federal Aviation Federal Aviation Administration NOTICES Petitions for Exemptions; Summaries, 49470-49471 2017-23182 Federal Communications Federal Communications Commission PROPOSED RULES Petitions for Reconsideration of Action in Rulemaking Proceeding, 49303 2017-23146 NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals, 49367-49369 2017-23088 2017-23089 Federal Emergency Federal Emergency Management Agency NOTICES Emergency and Related Determinations: Florida, 49398-49399 2017-23167 Flood Hazard Determinations, 49394-49395, 49399-49403 2017-23148 2017-23149 2017-23163 Flood Hazard Determinations; Changes, 49395-49398 2017-23164 Federal Energy Federal Energy Regulatory Commission NOTICES Applications: Far West Power Corp., 49366-49367 2017-23113 Gulf South Pipeline Company, LP, 49361-49362 2017-23108 Environmental Assessments; Availability, etc.: Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line Company, LLC, Riverdale South to Market Project, 49364-49366 2017-23107 Institution of Section 206 Proceedings: Southwest Power Pool, Inc., 49364 2017-23110 Partial Transfer of Licenses; Applications: Virginia Electric and Power Co. d/b/a Dominion Energy Virginia, Allegheny Generating Co., Bath County Energy, LLC, 49363-49364 2017-23112 Petitions for Declaratory Orders: Constitution Pipeline Company, LLC, 49364 2017-23109 Staff Attendances, 49362-49363 2017-23111 Federal Highway Federal Highway Administration NOTICES Final Federal Agency Actions of Proposed Highway/Interchange Improvement in Ohio, 49471-49472 2017-23202 Federal Maritime Federal Maritime Commission NOTICES Agreements Filed, 49369-49370 2017-23097 Federal Reserve Federal Reserve System RULES Rules Regarding Availability of Information, 49286-49287 2017-23095 NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals, 49370-49371 2017-23150 Formations of, Acquisitions by, and Mergers of Bank Holding Companies, 49370 2017-23194 Food and Drug Food and Drug Administration NOTICES Determinations that Products Were Not Withdrawn from Sale for Reasons of Safety or Effectiveness: OVRETTE (Norgestrel) Tablet, 0.075 Milligrams, 49380 2017-23125 Guidance: Breakthrough Devices Program, 49373-49375 2017-23195 Deciding When To Submit a 510(k) for a Change to an Existing Device, 49375-49377 2017-23197 Deciding When To Submit a 510(k) for a Software Change to an Existing Device, 49382-49384 2017-23196 In Vitro Metabolism- and Transporter-Mediated Drug-Drug Interaction Studies, and Clinical Drug Interaction Studies—Study Design, Data Analysis, and Clinical Implications, 49371-49373 2017-23102 Requests for Comments: Animal Drug User Fee Act; Recommendations; Extension of Comment Period, 49380-49382 2017-23172 Animal Generic Drug User Fee Act; Recommendations; Extension of Comment Period, 49377-49379 2017-23173 Forest Forest Service NOTICES Meetings: National Advisory Committee National Forest System Land Management Planning, 49312 2017-23130 Health and Human Health and Human Services Department See

Food and Drug Administration

See

National Institutes of Health

PROPOSED RULES Removing Barriers for Religious and Faith-Based Organizations to Participate in HHS Programs and Receive Public Funding, 49300-49302 2017-23257 NOTICES Interest Rate on Overdue Debts, 49384-49385 2017-23092 Statements of Organization, Functions, and Delegations of Authority, 49385 2017-23091
Homeland Homeland Security Department See

Coast Guard

See

Federal Emergency Management Agency

NOTICES Privacy Act; System of Records, 49404-49411 2017-23203 2017-23204 2017-23205
Housing Housing and Urban Development Department NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: Congressional Earmarks, 49413 2017-23185 Elements for the Annual Moving to Work Plan and Annual Moving to Work Report, 49416-49417 2017-23186 HUD Supportive Services Demonstration/Integrated Wellness in Supportive Housing, 49414-49415 2017-23187 Record of Employee Interview, 49415-49416 2017-23184 Resident Opportunity and Self-Sufficiency Service Coordinator Program Evaluation, 49411-49413 2017-23188 Industry Industry and Security Bureau NOTICES Meetings: Information Systems Technical Advisory Committee, 49314 2017-23220 Interior Interior Department See

Land Management Bureau

See

National Park Service

See

Ocean Energy Management Bureau

International Trade Com International Trade Commission NOTICES Investigations; Determinations, Modifications, and Rulings, etc.: Certain Circular Welded Wipe and Wube from Brazil, India, Korea, Mexico, Taiwan, Thailand, and Turkey, 49423-49424 2017-23099 Certain Electrochemical Glucose Monitoring Systems and Components Thereof, 49420-49421 2017-23104 Certain Magnetic Data Storage Tapes and Cartridges Containing the Same (II), 49421-49422 2017-23105 Certain Reusable Diapers, Components Thereof, and Products Containing the Same, 49422-49423 2017-23106 Justice Department Justice Department See

Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives Bureau

See

Antitrust Division

Labor Department Labor Department See

Labor Statistics Bureau

Labor Statistics Labor Statistics Bureau NOTICES Meetings: Technical Advisory Committee, 49425 2017-23103 Land Land Management Bureau NOTICES Requests for Nominations: North Slope Science Initiative, Science Technical Advisory Panel, Alaska, 49417-49418 2017-23192 National Highway National Highway Traffic Safety Administration NOTICES Meetings: Automated Driving Systems 2.0: A Vision for Safety; Listening Session, 49472-49473 2017-23198 Petitions for Decisions of Inconsequential Noncompliance; Approvals: Harley-Davidson Motor Company, Inc., 49475-49476 2017-23209 Porsche Cars North America, Inc., 49476-49478 2017-23208 Traffic Records Program Assessment Advisory, 49473-49475 2017-23124 National Institute National Institutes of Health NOTICES Exclusive Patent Licenses: Computer-Aided Diagnosis of Prostate Cancer in Multi-parametric MRI, 49386-49387 2017-23175 Government-Owned Inventions; Availability for Licensing, 49388-49390 2017-23177 2017-23178 Meetings: Center for Scientific Review, 49386 2017-23126 2017-23176 National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, 49387-49388 2017-23179 2017-23180 National Institute on Aging, 49385 2017-23127 National Institute on Drug Abuse, 49388-49389 2017-23128 National Library of Medicine, 49388 2017-23129 National Oceanic National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration RULES Fisheries of the Northeastern United States: Atlantic Sea Scallop Fishery; State Waters Exemption, 49297-49299 2017-23133 PROPOSED RULES Atlantic Highly Migratory Species: Individual Bluefin Quota Program; Accountability for Bluefin Tuna Catch, 49303-49310 2017-23131 NOTICES Meetings: Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council, 49354 2017-23191 National Integrated Drought Information System Executive Council, 49331-49332 2017-21577 North Pacific Fishery Management Council, 49332 2017-23190 Takes of Marine Mammals Incidental to Specified Activities: Low-Energy Geophysical Survey in the Northeastern Pacific Ocean, 49314-49331 2017-23132 Takes of Marine Mammals: Incidental to Boost-Back and Landing of Falcon 9 Rockets, 49332-49354 2017-23134 National Park National Park Service NOTICES Meetings: Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park Advisory Commission; Cancellation, 49418 2017-23169 National Telecommunications National Telecommunications and Information Administration NOTICES Governor's Opt-Out Notice to Conduct State Radio Access Network, 49354-49355 2017-23144 National Transportation National Transportation Safety Board NOTICES Meetings; Sunshine Act, 49425 2017-23274 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; Correction, 49425-49426 2017-23174 Ocean Energy Management Ocean Energy Management Bureau NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: Pollution Prevention and Control, 49418-49420 2017-23210 Personnel Personnel Management Office RULES Federal Employees' Retirement System; Government Costs, 49277-49282 2017-23141 Presidential Documents Presidential Documents ADMINISTRATIVE ORDERS Congo, Democratic Republic of the; Continuation of National Emergency (Notice of October 23, 2017), 49275 2017-23324 Rural Housing Service Rural Housing Service RULES Multi-Family Housing Program Requirements to Reduce Financial Reporting Requirements, 49282-49286 2017-23082 Securities Securities and Exchange Commission NOTICES Self-Regulatory Organizations; Proposed Rule Changes: Bats BZX Exchange, Inc., 49431-49433 2017-23119 Chicago Stock Exchange, Inc., 49433-49447 2017-23122 Nasdaq GEMX, LLC, 49453-49456 2017-23117 Nasdaq ISE, LLC, 49450-49453 2017-23118 Nasdaq MRX, LLC, 49447-49450 2017-23120 NYSE Arca, Inc., 49426-49428 2017-23116 Options Price Reporting Authority, 49428-49431 2017-23114 2017-23115 The Options Clearing Corp., 49456-49462 2017-23121 Small Business Small Business Administration NOTICES Disaster Declarations: Georgia; Amendment 2, 49462 2017-23181 Texas; Amendment 7, 49462 2017-23183 Social Social Security Administration NOTICES Rulings: Titles II and XVI; Evaluation of Symptoms in Disability Claims, 49462-49468 2017-23143 State Department State Department NOTICES Delegations of Authority, 49468-49469 2017-23043 Surface Transportation Surface Transportation Board RULES Revisions to the Cost-Of-Capital Composite Railroad Criteria, 49295-49297 2017-22894 Trade Representative Trade Representative, Office of United States NOTICES Hearings: Administration's Action Following a Determination of Import Injury with Regard to Certain Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaic Cells, 49469-49470 2017-23098 Transportation Department Transportation Department See

Federal Aviation Administration

See

Federal Highway Administration

See

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

NOTICES Draft Strategic Plan for FY 2018-2022, 49480 2017-23155 Establishment of Interim National Multimodal Freight Network, 49478-49480 2017-22315
Treasury Treasury Department See

United States Mint

NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals, 49480-49481 2017-23100
U.S. Mint United States Mint NOTICES Meetings: Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee, 49481 2017-23171 Veteran Affairs Veterans Affairs Department NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals, 49481-49482 2017-23136 Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: Report of Income from Property or Business, 49482 2017-23135 State Application for Interment Allowance, 49482-49483 2017-23207 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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82 205 Wednesday, October 25, 2017 Rules and Regulations OFFICE OF PERSONNEL MANAGEMENT 5 CFR Parts 831, 839, 841, 842, and 847 RIN 3206-AN22 Federal Employees' Retirement System; Government Costs AGENCY:

Office of Personnel Management.

ACTION:

Final rule.

SUMMARY:

The Office of Personnel Management amends this rule to clarify the manner OPM uses for determining a supplemental liability under the Federal Employees' Retirement System (FERS), and to clarify the process by which the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) and the U.S. Department of the Treasury (Treasury) may request reconsideration of OPM's valuation of the supplemental liability. The rule also clarifies the employee categories OPM uses to compute the FERS normal cost percentages. The rule also amends the definitions of actuary, present value factor, and actuarial present value to ensure these definitions are uniform and appropriate.

DATES:

This rule is effective October 25, 2017.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Roxann Johnson, (202) 606-0299 or [email protected]

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

OPM's determination of the FERS normal cost percentage necessary to fund the Civil Service Retirement and Disability Fund (CSRDF) is subject to appeal by agencies with at least 1,000 employees in the general category of employees or 500 employees in any of the special categories of employees. The Secretary of the Treasury or the Postmaster General may request the Board of Actuaries of the Civil Service Retirement System (the Board) to reconsider the amount determined to be payable with respect to any supplemental liability in accordance with 5 U.S.C. 8423(c) and 5 CFR 841.409. The regulations at 5 CFR 841.401 through 5 CFR 841.411 establish the time limits and requirements for an agency appeal of OPM's determination of a normal cost percentage. OPM has added regulations under 5 CFR part 841 to clarify the process by which the Secretary of the Treasury and the Postmaster General may file a request for the Board to reconsider an amount determined to be payable to the CSRDF with respect to a supplemental liability.

OPM's final rule amends its definition of “actuary” provided under 5 CFR 841.402. The prior definition was limited to “an associate or fellow in the Society of Actuaries and one who is enrolled under section 3042 of Public Law 93-406, the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974” (ERISA). Because this definition no longer reflected professional standards generally required of an actuary for this subpart, and was overly narrow because it worked to exclude knowledgeable and experienced actuaries who may not be enrolled under ERISA but who are well qualified to issue statements of opinion with regard to the CSRDF, OPM has amended the definition of “actuary” to include those who meet the qualification standards to issue a statement of actuarial opinion in regard to defined benefit retirement plans in the United States.

OPM's final rule amends its regulations under 5 CFR 841.403 to make clear that it determines separate normal cost percentages for employees covered under Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS), FERS Revised Annuity Employees (FERS-RAE), and FERS Further Revised Annuity Employees (FERS-FRAE) in compliance with section 5001 of the “Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012,” Public Law 112-96, 126 Stat. 199 (Feb. 22, 2012), and section 401 of the “Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013,” Public Law 113-67, 127 Stat. 1165 (Dec. 26, 2013). This legislation defined FERS-RAE and FERS-FRAE employees for whom increased retirement deductions apply, which results in increased outlays from the CSRDF in refund and lump-sum payments of employee contributions. For that reason, the normal cost percentages for FERS-RAE and FERS-FRAE employees are expected to exceed the normal cost percentages for other FERS employees. The legislation also reduced the benefit accrual rates for Members and Congressional employees (other than Capitol Police) subject to FERS-RAE and FERS-FRAE, resulting in lower associated normal cost percentages. To ensure regulations reflect current statutory language, OPM has amended 5 CFR 841.403 to clearly establish separate normal cost percentages for FERS, FERS-RAE and FERS-FRAE employees within each employee category listed under 5 CFR 841.403.

OPM's final rule amends 5 CFR 841.403 to make clear that it will include members of the Capitol Police as “Congressional Employees” for purposes of deriving separate normal cost percentages for this employee group. OPM includes members of the Capitol Police with Congressional employees when deriving the normal cost percentages for this employee group because, in part, 5 U.S.C. 2107(4) defines “a member or employee of the Capitol Police” as “a Congressional employee.” The Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2014 eliminated for FERS-RAE and FERS-FRAE employees the higher annuity accrual rates for Congressional employees provided under 5 U.S.C. 8415(c) (see 5 U.S.C. 8415(d)) but did not eliminate the higher annuity accrual rates under 5 U.S.C. 8415(e) for members of the Capitol Police subject to FERS-RAE and FERS-FRAE. The annuity benefits of members of the Capitol Police are more closely comparable to another of the special employee groups—law enforcement officers, whose annuities are computed under 5 U.S.C. 8415(e)—for the purpose of determining their FERS normal cost percentage. However, because a member of the Capitol Police is not within the FERS definition of “law enforcement officer” under 5 U.S.C. 8401(17), members of the Capitol Police are not included in the special category of “law enforcement officers” under 5 U.S.C. 8423(a)(1)(B) and, therefore, are not subject to the normal cost percentage applicable to that group. The only special category listed in 5 U.S.C. 8423(a)(1)(B) that does apply to members of the Capitol Police is “Congressional employees.” Thus, despite the fact that the other Congressional employees subject to FERS-RAE and FERS-FRAE do not receive enhanced annuity accrual rates, OPM must include Capitol Police in the Congressional employee normal cost percentage calculation under 5 U.S.C. 8423(a)(1)(B). Therefore, OPM's final rule amends 5 CFR 841.403(b) to reflect all Congressional employees including members of the Capitol Police in determining the FERS, FERS-RAE and FERS-FRAE normal cost percentages for the “Congressional Employees” category.

OPM's final rule amends 5 CFR 841.403 to include U.S. Postal Service employees as a separate category for which OPM will derive normal cost percentages. OPM has determined a Government-wide normal cost percentage for each category of employee, and U.S. Postal Service employees have been included in the category of either “all other employees” or “law enforcement officer” under 5 CFR 841.403(c) and (g). Because of the separate U.S. Postal Service funding provisions established under 5 U.S.C. 8423(b), and as a result of recommendations from the Board, OPM's final rule amends its regulations to provide for the use of U.S. Postal Service-specific assumptions regarding demographic factors in the calculation of the U.S. Postal Service supplemental liability and in the determination of the normal cost percentage for U.S. Postal Service employees who do not fall under the category of “law enforcement officer.” OPM's final rule amends regulations at 5 CFR 841.414, which will provide specific guidance on the calculation of the supplemental liability; and OPM's final rule adds employees of the U.S. Postal Service, who are not “law enforcement officers” under 5 CFR 841.403(c), as a separate category for which OPM will derive normal cost percentages under 5 CFR 841.403. OPM's final rule removes references to the term “Government-wide normal cost percentage” from 5 CFR part 841 in order to conform with the normal cost percentages established for various categories of employees as provided under this part, and to clarify that an agency may appeal a published normal cost percentage even if the normal cost percentage applies to a category of employee that exists predominately or exclusively within a single agency.

OPM's final rule also adds 5 CFR 841.415 through 841.417 to the regulations. These sections establish the procedures and requirements for filing a request for reconsideration of a supplemental liability determination filed by the Secretary of the Treasury or the Postmaster General. Under 5 CFR 841.417, and consistent with recommendations from the Board, OPM's final rule requires that the actuarial analysis submitted with the request for reconsideration must demonstrate a difference in the supplemental liability of at least 2 percent of the present value of future benefits calculated in OPM's computation of the supplemental liability.

Additionally, OPM's final rule refines the definitions of present value factor and actuarial present value under 5 CFR parts 831, 839, 842, and 847 to ensure that these definitions are uniform and appropriate. OPM's final rule clarifies, under 5 CFR 831.303, 831.603, 831.2202, 839.102, 842.602, 842.702, and 847.103, that the present value factors are computed by using a composite of sex-distinct factors based upon mortality assumptions for annuitant populations. The factors reflect an increase in benefit payments at an assumed rate of cost-of living adjustment, where appropriate. OPM removed 5 CFR 847.602, which provided a separate description of present value factors for purposes of subpart F of part 847 in order to include a definition of “present value factor” for all of part 847, and OPM added 5 CFR 842.616 to describe when the present value factors will be published. OPM's final rule clarifies under 5 CFR 842.602 and 842.702 that separate present value factors apply to FERS annuities that receive cost-of-living adjustments before the retiree attains age 62 versus annuities that do not receive cost-of-living adjustments before age 62.

Comments

OPM received comments on its proposed rule from the U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General (OIG) and the U.S. Postal Service General Counsel's Office (OGC). The U.S. Postal Service OIG indicated that it “support[ed] the Proposed Rule as far as it goes,” and the U.S. Postal Service OGC indicated that OPM's proposed changes were a “welcomed step,” but both organizations recommended that the rule require not only the use of U.S. Postal Service-specific demographic factors but also the use of U.S. Postal Service-specific economic factors related to general salary growth assumptions in determining the normal costs and the supplemental liability.

OPM has determined that this change is unnecessary. Currently, the regulations under 5 CFR 841.405 provide that the normal cost percentages will be based on the economic assumptions determined by the Board, and OPM's final rule amends 5 CFR 841.414 to provide that each supplemental liability will be computed based on the economic assumptions determined by the Board for the most recent valuation of FERS. Therefore, nothing in the regulations would prevent the Board from using general salary growth and wage assumptions specific to U.S. Postal Service employees when, in the Board's judgment, doing so would be appropriate.

OPM disagrees with the U.S. Postal Service OGC's assertion that 5 U.S.C. 8401(27)(A), 8423(b)(1), and 8348(h)(1)(A) require OPM to establish regulations that direct the Board to select general salary growth economic assumptions specific to the U.S. Postal Service for use in determining the normal costs and supplemental liabilities. The provisions under 5 U.S.C. 8401(23), 8401(27)(B)(iv), and 8348(h)(1)(A) require OPM to determine the normal costs and supplemental liabilities by applying “generally accepted actuarial principles,” and 5 U.S.C. 8347(f) and 8423(a)(5) require the Board to “furnish its advice and opinion on matters referred to it by the Office” and to make recommendations that “in the Board's judgment are necessary to protect the public interest and maintain the System on a sound financial basis.” The selection of economic assumptions used to determine the normal costs or the supplemental liability is inherently actuarial in nature. OPM finds that requiring the use of general salary growth economic assumptions specific to the U.S. Postal Service for use in determining the normal costs and supplemental liabilities would unnecessarily limit the Board's discretion in making these determinations. As a result, OPM declines to adopt the U.S. Postal Service OGC's recommendation to require the Board to select U.S. Postal Service-specific economic assumptions for use in determining the normal costs and the supplemental liability. To the extent the U.S. Postal Service would like to submit for the Board's consideration any information regarding the actuarial merits of selecting U.S. Postal Service-specific economic assumptions for use in determining the normal cost and the supplement liability, it may do so in accordance with the requirements of Board meeting notices.

The U.S. Postal Service OGC also requested that OPM make clear in its final rule that, in instances where OPM has computed a separate normal cost percentage, an agency's right to appeal and submit the evidence necessary to support the appeal should be related to OPM's determination of that normal cost percentage rather than any Government-wide normal cost percentage. OPM agrees, and has adopted the Postal Service OGC's recommendation by amending 5 CFR 841.406, 841.409, 841.410, 841.411, and 841.412, to make clear the requirements for appealing a normal cost percentage apply for each category where OPM computes a normal cost percentage as specified under 5 CFR 841.403.

Finally, the U.S. Postal Service OGC requested that OPM not impose the 2 percent threshold requirement necessary for the Board to sustain a request for reconsideration of its supplemental liability determinations. The amended regulations under 5 CFR 841.147 provide that the Board cannot sustain a request for reconsideration unless the difference in the supplemental liability amount is at least 2 percent of the present value of future benefits calculated in OPM's computation of the supplemental liability. OPM included this threshold requirement as a result of a recommendation from the Board advising OPM that any threshold be set as a difference in present value of future benefits. OPM's actuaries tested the effect of what might be considered substantive changes in the demographic assumptions and produced results within a range of 0 percent to a decrease of 5.9 percent. Therefore, OPM has determined that the 2 percent threshold provided is a reasonable basis for sustaining a request for reconsideration, and therefore, OPM declines to adopt the U.S. Postal Service OGC's recommendation to eliminate this threshold.

Executive Order 12866, Regulatory Review

This rule has been reviewed by the Office of Management and Budget in accordance with Executive Order (E.O.) 12866, as amended by E.O. 13258 and E.O. 13422.

Regulatory Flexibility Act

I certify that this regulation will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities.

Executive Orders 12866 and 13563

Executive Orders (E.O.s) 12866 and 13563 direct agencies to assess all costs and benefits of available regulatory alternatives and, if regulation is necessary, to select regulatory approaches that maximize net benefits (including potential economic, environmental, public health and safety effects, distributive impacts, and equity). E.O. 13563 emphasizes the importance of quantifying both costs and benefits, of reducing costs, of harmonizing rules, and of promoting flexibility. This is not a significant regulatory action and, therefore, was not subject to review under section 6(b) of E.O. 12866, Regulatory Planning and Review, dated September 30, 1993. This rule is not a major rule under 5 U.S.C. 804.

List of Subjects 5 CFR Part 831

Firefighters, Government employees, Income taxes, Intergovernmental relations, Law enforcement officers, Pensions, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Retirement.

5 CFR Part 839

Administrative practice and procedure, Claims, Employment taxes, Government employees, Pensions, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Retirement, Social Security.

5 CFR Part 841

Administrative practice and procedure, Air traffic controllers, Claims, Disability benefits, Firefighters, Government employees, Income taxes, Intergovernmental relations, Law enforcement officers, Pensions, Retirement.

5 CFR Part 842

Air traffic controllers, Alimony, Firefighters, Law enforcement officers, Pensions, Retirement.

5 CFR Part 847

Administrative practice and procedure, Disability benefits, Government employees, Pensions, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Retirement.

U.S. Office of Personnel Management. Kathleen M. McGettigan, Acting Director.

For the reasons stated in the preamble, the Office of Personnel Management amends 5 CFR parts 831, 839, 841, 842, and 847 as set forth below:

PART 831—RETIREMENT 1. The authority citation for part 831 continues to read as follows: Authority:

5 U.S.C. 8347; Sec. 831.102 also issued under 5 U.S.C. 8334; Sec. 831.106 also issued under 5 U.S.C. 552a; Sec. 831.108 also issued under 5 U.S.C. 8336(d)(2); Sec. 831.114 also issued under 5 U.S.C. 8336(d)(2), and Sec. 1313(b)(5) of Pub. L. 107-296, 116 Stat. 2135; Sec. 831.201(b)(1) also issued under 5 U.S.C. 8347(g); Sec. 831.201(b)(6) also issued under 5 U.S.C. 7701(b)(2); Sec. 831.201(g) also issued under Secs. 11202(f), 11232(e), and 11246(b) of Pub. L. 105-33, 111 Stat. 251; Sec. 831.201(g) also issued under Sec. 7(b) and (e) of Pub. L. 105-274, 112 Stat. 2419; Sec. 831.201(i) also issued under Secs. 3 and 7(c) of Pub. L. 105-274, 112 Stat. 2419; Sec. 831.204 also issued under Sec. 102(e) of Pub. L. 104-8, 109 Stat. 102, as amended by Sec. 153 of Pub. L. 104-134, 110 Stat. 1321; Sec. 831.205 also issued under Sec. 2207 of Pub. L. 106-265, 114 Stat. 784; Sec. 831.206 also issued under Sec. 1622(b) of Pub. L. 104-106, 110 Stat. 515; Sec. 831.301 also issued under Sec. 2203 of Pub. L. 106-265, 114 Stat. 780; Sec. 831.303 also issued under 5 U.S.C. 8334(d)(2) and Sec. 2203 of Pub. L. 106-235, 114 Stat. 780; Sec. 831.502 also issued under 5 U.S.C. 8337, and Sec. 1(3), E.O. 11228, 3 CFR 1965-1965 Comp. p. 317; Sec. 831.663 also issued under 5 U.S.C. 8339(j) and (k)(2); Secs. 831.663 and 831.664 also issued under Sec. 11004(c)(2) of Pub. L. 103-66, 107 Stat. 412; Sec. 831.682 also issued under Sec. 201(d) of Pub. L. 99-251, 100 Stat. 23; Sec. 831.912 also issued under Sec. 636 of Appendix C to Pub. L. 106-554, 114 Stat. 2763A-164; Subpart P also issued under Sec. 535(d) of Title V of Division E of Pub. L. 110-161, 121 Stat. 2042; Subpart V also issued under 5 U.S.C. 8343a and Sec. 6001 of Pub. L. 100-203, 101 Stat. 1330-275; Sec. 831.2203 also issued under Sec. 7001(a)(4) of Pub. L. 101-508, 104 Stat. 1388-328.

Subpart A—Administration and General Provisions 2. Add § 831.117 to subpart A to read as follows:
§ 831.117 Computation of the supplemental liability.

(a) OPM will compute each supplemental liability of the Fund using demographic factors specific to the populations for which the supplemental liability applies.

(b) The supplemental liability will be computed based on the economic assumptions used by the Board of Actuaries of the Civil Service Retirement System for the most recent valuation of the System.

(c) Each supplemental liability shall be rounded to the nearest one hundred million dollars.

Subpart C—Credit for Service 3. Amend § 831.303 by revising paragraphs (c)(3) and (d)(3) to read as follows:
§ 831.303 Civilian service.

(c) * * *

(3) For the purpose of paragraph (b)(2) of this section, the term “present value factor” has the same meaning as defined in § 831.603 and “time of retirement” has the same meaning as defined in § 831.2202.

(d) * * *

(3) For the purpose of paragraph (d)(2) of this section, the term “present value factor” has the same meaning as defined in § 831.603 and “time of retirement” has the same meaning as defined in § 831.2202.

Subpart F—Survivor Annuities 4. Amend § 831.603 by revising the definition of “present value factor” to read as follows:
§ 831.603 Definitions.

Present value factor means the amount of money (earning interest at an assumed rate) required at the time of annuity commencement to fund an annuity that starts at the rate of $1 a month and is payable in monthly installments for the annuitant's lifetime based on mortality rates for annuitants paid from the Civil Service Retirement and Disability Fund; and increases each year at an assumed rate of cost of living adjustment. Assumed rates of interest, mortality, and cost-of-living adjustments used in computing the present value are those used by the Board of Actuaries of the Civil Service Retirement System for valuation of the System based on dynamic assumptions. The present value factors are unisex factors obtained as a composite of sex-distinct present value factors.

Subpart V—Alternative Forms of Annuities 5. Amend § 831.2202 by revising the definition of “present value factor” to read as follows:
§ 831.2202 Definitions.

Present value factor has the same meaning in this subpart as defined in § 831.603.

PART 839—CORRECTION OF RETIREMENT COVERAGE ERRORS UNDER THE FEDERAL ERRONEOUS RETIREMENT COVERAGE CORRECTIONS ACT 6. The authority citation for part 839 continues to read as follows: Authority:

Title II, Pub. L. 106-265, 114 Stat. 770.

Subpart A—General Provisions 7. Amend § 839.102 by revising the definition of “present value factor” to read as follows:
§ 839.102 Definitions.

Present value factor has the same meaning in this subpart as defined in § 831.603.

PART 841—FEDERAL EMPLOYEES RETIREMENT SYSTEM—GENERAL ADMINSTRATION 8. The authority citation for part 841 continues to read as follows: Authority:

5 U.S.C. 8461; Sec. 841.108 also issued under 5 U.S.C. 552a; Secs. 841.110 and 841.111 also issued under 5 U.S.C. 8470(a); subpart D also issued under 5 U.S.C. 8423; Sec. 841.504 also issued under 5 U.S.C. 8422; Sec. 841.507 also issued under section 505 of Pub. L. 99-335; subpart J also issued under 5 U.S.C. 8469; Sec. 841.506 also issued under 5 U.S.C. 7701(b)(2); Sec. 841.508 also issued under section 505 of Pub. L. 99-335; Sec. 841.604 also issued under Title II, Pub. L. 106-265, 114 Stat. 780.

Subpart D—Government Costs 9. Amend § 841.401 by revising paragraphs (b)(3) and (4) and adding paragraph (b)(5) to read as follows:
§ 841.401 Purpose and scope.

(b) * * *

(3) Agency appeals of rate determinations;

(4) Methodology for determining the amount due from each agency; and

(5) Requests for reconsideration of the supplemental liability.

10. Amend § 841.402 by revising the definition of “actuary” to read as follows:
§ 841.402 Definitions.

Actuary means a professional who meets the qualification standards to issue a statement of actuarial opinion in regard to defined benefit retirement plans in the United States.

11. Amend § 841.403 by revising the introductory text, paragraph (b), paragraph (g), and adding paragraph (h) to read as follows:
§ 841.403 Categories of employees for computation of normal cost percentages.

Separate normal cost percentages for FERS, FERS-RAE and FERS-FRAE will be determined for each of the following groups of employees:

(b) Congressional employees, including members of the Capitol Police;

(g) Other employees of the United States Postal Service;

(h) All other employees.

12. Revise § 841.406(a) to read as follows:
§ 841.406 Determination of normal cost percentages.

(a) OPM will determine the normal cost percentages for each category of employees. These normal cost percentages will be used by all agencies that have not been granted a single agency rate under § 841.412.

13. Revise § 841.407(b)(1) to read as follows:
§ 841.407 Notice of normal cost percentage determinations.

(b) * * *

(1) The normal cost percentages and any single agency rates for each category of employees;

14. Revise § 841.409 to read as follows:
§ 841.409 Agency right to appeal normal cost percentage.

(a) An agency with at least 1,000 employees in the general category of employees or 500 employees in any of the special categories may appeal to the Board the normal cost percentage for that category as applied to that agency.

(b) No appeal will be considered by the Board unless the agency files, no later than 6 months after the date of publication of the notice of normal cost percentages under § 841.407, a petition for appeal that meets all the requirements of § 841.410.

15. Amend § 841.410 by revising the section heading and revising the introductory text of paragraph (c) and revising paragraph (c)(3) to read as follows:
§ 841.410 Contents of petition for appeal of normal cost percentage.

(c) The actuarial report must contain a detailed actuarial analysis of the normal cost of FERS benefits as applied to the employees of that agency in the category of employees for which the agency is appealing. The actuarial report must—

(3) Specifically address and consider each of the demographic factors listed in § 841.404. The appealing agency is responsible for developing data relating to the first nine demographic factors as they relate to the category of agency employees for which the appeal is being filed. OPM's demographic factors (available from OPM) will be presumed to be sufficient and reliable for factors 10 through 13 unless the appealing agency is able to demonstrate, through sufficient and reliable data relating to its employees or former employees, the use of alternative factors is appropriate. The fourteenth factor, administrative expenses, will be supplied by OPM.

16. Amend § 841.411 by revising the section heading and revising paragraph (a), (b), and (d)(3) and (4) to read as follows:
§ 841.411 Appeals procedure for normal cost percentage.

(a) The normal cost percentages as published under § 841.407 are presumed to apply to all agencies. Any agency appealing application of a published normal cost percentage to any category of employees in its workforce must demonstrate to the satisfaction of the Board that the normal cost percentage for that category of employees in that agency is sufficiently different from the published normal cost percentage.

(b) While an agency has an appeal pending, the published normal cost percentage continues to apply to that agency.

(d) * * *

(3) When all relevant factors are considered together, there is a demonstrated difference between the published normal cost percentage being appealed and the normal cost percentage for the group at issue; and

(4) The difference is at least 10 percent of the published normal cost percentage being appealed.

17. Revise § 841.412(c) to read as follows:
§ 841.412 Rates determined by appeal.

(c) A single agency rate may be higher or lower than the published normal cost percentage and will remain in force for not less than 3 years.

18. Add § 841.414 to subpart D to read as follows:
§ 841.414 Computation of the supplemental liability.

(a) OPM will compute each supplemental liability of the Civil Service Retirement and Disability Fund using demographic factors consistent with those used for the computation of the normal cost percentages under § 841.403.

(b) The supplemental liability will be computed based on the economic assumptions determined by the Board for the most recent valuation of the Federal Employees Retirement System.

(c) Each supplemental liability will be rounded to the nearest one hundred million dollars.

19. Add § 841.415 to subpart D to read as follows:
§ 841.415 Right to request reconsideration of the supplemental liability.

(a) The Secretary of the Treasury or the Postmaster General may request the Board to reconsider a determination of the amount payable with respect to any supplemental liability.

(b) No request for reconsideration will be considered by the Board unless the Secretary of the Treasury or the Postmaster General files, no later than 6 months after the date of receipt of the first notice of the amount payable with respect to the supplemental liability, a request for reconsideration that meets all the requirements of § 841.416.

20. Add § 841.416 to subpart D to read as follows:
§ 841.416 Contents of a request for reconsideration of the supplemental liability.

(a) To request reconsideration of the amount payable with respect to the supplemental liability, the Secretary of the Treasury or the Postmaster General must file with OPM—

(1) A signed letter of appeal summarizing the basis of the request; and

(2) An actuarial report that contains a detailed actuarial analysis of the request.

(b) The actuarial report must—

(1) Be signed by an actuary;

(2) Specifically present any data and development of assumptions related to the request for reconsideration;

(3) Use each of the demographic factors listed in § 841.404; and

(4) Use the economic assumptions under § 841.414(b). When a request is based in whole or in part on a pattern of merit salary increases, the report may include an analysis of the economic assumptions concerning salary and wage growth to take into account the combined effect of merit and general wage and salary growth.

21. Add § 841.417 to subpart D to read as follows:
§ 841.417 Reconsideration of the supplemental liability.

(a) The Board cannot sustain a request for reconsideration unless the Board finds that—

(1) The data used in the actuarial report required by § 841.416 are sufficient and reliable;

(2) The assumptions used in the actuarial report required by § 841.416 are justified; and

(3) The difference in the supplemental liability amount is at least 2 percent of the present value of future benefits calculated in OPM's computation of the supplemental liability.

(b) If the Board sustains a request for reconsideration of the supplemental liability, OPM will recompute the supplemental liability according to the economic and demographic assumptions recommended by the Board.

PART 842—FEDERAL EMPLOYEES RETIREMENT SYSTEM—BASIC ANNUITY 22. The authority citation for part 842 continues to read as follows: Authority:

5 U.S.C. 8461(g); Secs. 842.104 and 842.106 also issued under 5 U.S.C. 8461(n); Sec. 842.104 also issued under Secs. 3 and 7(c) of Pub. L. 105-274, 112 Stat. 2419; Sec. 842.105 also issued under 5 U.S.C. 8402(c)(1) and 7701(b)(2); Sec. 842.106 also issued under Sec. 102(e) of Pub. L. 104-8, 109 Stat. 102, as amended by Sec. 153 of Pub. L. 104-134, 110 Stat. 1321-102; Sec. 842.107 also issued under Secs. 11202(f), 11232(e), and 11246(b) of Pub. L. 105-33, 111 Stat. 251, and Sec. 7(b) of Pub. L. 105-274, 112 Stat. 2419; Sec. 842.108 also issued under Sec. 7(e) of Pub. L. 105-274, 112 Stat. 2419; Sec. 842.109 also issued under Sec. 1622(b) of Public Law 104-106, 110 Stat. 515; Sec. 842.208 also issued under Sec. 535(d) of Title V of Division E of Pub. L. 110-161, 121 Stat. 2042; Sec. 842.213 also issued under 5 U.S.C. 8414(b)(1)(B) and Sec. 1313(b)(5) of Pub. L. 107-296, 116 Stat. 2135; Secs. 842.304 and 842.305 also issued under Sec. 321(f) of Pub. L. 107-228, 116 Stat. 1383, Secs. 842.604 and 842.611 also issued under 5 U.S.C. 8417; Sec. 842.607 also issued under 5 U.S.C. 8416 and 8417; Sec. 842.614 also issued under 5 U.S.C. 8419; Sec. 842.615 also issued under 5 U.S.C. 8418; Sec. 842.703 also issued under Sec. 7001(a)(4) of Pub. L. 101-508, 104 Stat. 1388; Sec. 842.707 also issued under Sec. 6001 of Pub. L. 100-203, 101 Stat. 1300; Sec. 842.708 also issued under Sec. 4005 of Pub. L. 101-239, 103 Stat. 2106 and Sec. 7001 of Pub. L. 101-508, 104 Stat. 1388; Subpart H also issued under 5 U.S.C. 1104; Sec. 842.810 also issued under Sec. 636 of Appendix C to Pub. L. 106-554 at 114 Stat. 2763A-164; Sec. 842.811 also issued under Sec. 226(c)(2) of Public Law 108-176, 117 Stat. 2529; Subpart J also issued under Sec. 535(d) of Title V of Division E of Pub. L. 110-161, 121 Stat. 2042.

Subpart F—Survivor Elections 23. Amend § 842.602 by revising the definition of “present value factor” to read as follows:
§ 842.602 Definitions.

Present value factor means the amount of money (earning interest at an assumed rate) required at the time of annuity commencement to fund an annuity that starts at the rate of $1 a month and is payable in monthly installments for the annuitant's lifetime based on mortality rates for annuitants paid from the Civil Service Retirement and Disability Fund; and increases each year at an assumed rate of cost-of-living adjustment. Assumed rates of interest, mortality, and cost-of-living adjustments used in computing the present value are those used by the Board of Actuaries of the Civil Service Retirement System for valuation of the Federal Employees' Retirement System based on dynamic assumptions. The present value factors are unisex factors obtained as a composite of sex-distinct present value factors. Separate present value factors apply for FERS annuities that receive cost-of-living adjustments before the retiree attains age 62, versus FERS annuities that do not receive cost-of-living adjustments before the retiree attains age 62.

24. Add § 842.616 to subpart F to read as follows:
§ 842.616 Publication of present value factors.

When OPM publishes in the Federal Register notice of normal cost percentages under § 841.407, it will also publish updated present value factors.

Subpart G—Alternative Forms of Annuities 25. Amend § 842.702 by revising the definition of “present value factor” to read as follows:
§ 842.702 Definitions.

Present value factor has the same meaning in this subpart as defined in § 842.602.

PART 847—ELECTIONS OF RETIREMENT COVERAGE BY CURRENT AND FORMER EMPLOYEES OF NONAPPROPRIATED FUND INSTRUMENTALITIES 26. The authority citation for part 847 continues to read as follows: Authority:

5 U.S.C. 8332(b)(17) and 8411(b)(6) and sections 1131 and 1132 of Pub. L. 107-107, December 28, 2001, 115 Stat 1242; 5 U.S.C. 8347(a) and 8461(g) and section 1043(b) of Pub. L. 104-106, Div. A, Title X, Feb. 10, 1996, 110 Stat. 434. Subpart B also issued under 5 U.S.C. 8347(q) and 8461(n).

Subpart A—General Provisions 27. Amend § 847.103(b) to revise the definition of “actuarial present value” and to add the definition of “present value factor” in alphabetical order as follows:
§ 847.103 Definitions.

(b) * * *

Actuarial present value means the amount of monthly annuity at time of retirement multiplied by the applicable present value factor.

* * *

Present value factor has the same meaning in this part as defined in § 842.602.

Subpart F—Additional Employee Costs Under the Retroactive Provisions
§ 847.602 [Removed and Reserved]
28. Remove and reserve § 847.602.
[FR Doc. 2017-23141 Filed 10-24-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6325-38-P
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Rural Housing Service 7 CFR Part 3560 RIN 0575-AC98 Multi-Family Housing Program Requirements To Reduce Financial Reporting Requirements AGENCY:

Rural Housing Service, USDA.

ACTION:

Final rule.

SUMMARY:

The Rural Housing Service (RHS) is revising its existing regulations regarding financial reporting. This action is necessary to align RHS requirements with those of the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) utilizing a risk-based threshold reporting which will reduce the burden on the borrower to produce multiple financial reports; focus on high-risk properties; and, reduce the financial cost of reporting on properties.

DATES:

This rule is effective November 24, 2017.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Janet Stouder, Deputy Director, Multi-Family Housing Portfolio Management Division, Rural Housing Service, Room 1237S—STOP 0782, 1400 Independence Avenue SW., Washington, DC 20250-0782, Telephone: (202) 720-9728.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Executive Order 12866, Classification

This final rule has been determined to be non-significant and, therefore was not reviewed by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) under Executive Order 12866.

Authority

The Multi-Family Housing program (MFH) is administered, subject to appropriations, by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) as authorized under Sections 514, 515, 516 and 521 of the Housing Act of 1949, as amended (42 U.S.C. 1484, 1485, 1486, and 1490).

Environmental Impact Statement

This document has been reviewed in accordance with 7 CFR part 1970, “Environmental Program.” RHS has determined that this action does not constitute a major Federal action significantly affecting the quality of the environment. In accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, Public Law 91-190, an Environmental Impact Statement is not required.

Regulatory Flexibility Act

This final rule has been reviewed with regard to the requirements of the Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 601-612). The undersigned has determined and certified by signature on this document that this rule will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities since this rulemaking action does not involve a new or expanded program nor does it require any more action on the part of a small business than required of a large entity.

Executive Order 13132, Federalism

The policies contained in this rule do not have any substantial direct effect on 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 impose substantial direct compliance costs on State and local Governments; therefore, consultation with the States is not required.

Executive Order 12988, Civil Justice Reform

This rule has been reviewed under Executive Order 12988. In accordance with this rule: (1) Unless otherwise specifically provided, all State and local laws that are in conflict with this rule will be preempted; (2) no retroactive effect will be given to this rule except as specifically prescribed in the rule; and (3) administrative proceedings of the National Appeals Division of the Department of Agriculture (7 CFR part 11) must be exhausted before bringing suit in court that challenges action taken under this rule.

Unfunded Mandate Reform Act (UMRA)

Title II of the 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 on the private sector. Under section 202 of the UMRA, Federal Agencies generally must prepare a written statement, including cost-benefit analysis, for proposed and Final Rules with “Federal mandates” that may result in expenditures to State, local, or tribal Governments, in the aggregate, or to the private sector, of $100 million or more in any one-year. When such a statement is needed for a rule, section 205 of the UMRA generally requires a Federal Agency to identify and consider a reasonable number of regulatory alternatives and adopt the least costly, more cost-effective, or least burdensome alternative that achieves the objectives of the rule.

This rule contains no Federal mandates (under the regulatory provisions of title II of the UMRA) for State, local, and tribal Governments or for the private sector. Therefore, this rule is not subject to the requirements of sections 202 and 205 of the UMRA.

Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995

The information collection requirements contained in this regulation have been approved by OMB and have been assigned OMB control number 0575-0189. This final rule contains no new reporting or recordkeeping requirements that would require approval under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. Chapter 35).

E-Government Act Compliance

RHS is committed to complying with the E-Government Act to promote the use of the Internet and other information technologies to provide increased opportunities for citizen access to Government information and services and for other purposes.

Programs Affected

The programs affected by this regulation are listed in the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance under number 10.405—Farm Labor Housing Loans and Grants (Sections 514 and 516); 10.415—Rural Rental Housing Loans (Section 515); and 10.427—Rural Rental Assistance Payments (Section 521).

Executive Order 13175, Consultation and Coordination With Indian Tribal Governments

This executive order imposes requirements on RHS in the development of regulatory policies that have tribal implications or preempt tribal laws. RHS has determined that the final rule does not have a substantial direct effect on one or more Indian tribe(s) or on either the relationship or the distribution of powers and responsibilities between the Federal Government and the Indian tribes. Thus, the final rule is not subject to the requirements of Executive Order 13175. If tribal leaders are interested in consulting with RHS on this final rule, they are encouraged to contact USDA's Office of Tribal Relations or Rural Development's Native American Coordinator at (720) 544-2911 or [email protected] to request such consultation.

Executive Order 12372, Intergovernmental Consultation

These loans are subject to the provisions of Executive Order 12372 which require intergovernmental consultation with State and local officials. RHS conducts intergovernmental consultations for each loan in accordance with 2 CFR part 415, subpart C.

Non-Discrimination Policy

In accordance with Federal civil rights law and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) civil rights regulations and policies, the USDA, its Agencies, offices, and employees, and institutions participating in or administering USDA programs are prohibited from discriminating based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, gender identity (including gender expression), sexual orientation, disability, age, marital status, family/parental status, income derived from a public assistance program, political beliefs, or reprisal or retaliation for prior civil rights activity, in any program or activity conducted or funded by USDA (not all bases apply to all programs). Remedies and complaint filing deadlines vary by program or incident.

Persons with disabilities who require alternative means of communication for program information (e.g., Braille, large print, audiotape, American Sign Language, etc.) should contact the responsible Agency or USDA's TARGET Center at (202) 720-2600 (voice and TTY) or contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877-8339. Additionally, program information may be made available in languages other than English.

To file a program discrimination complaint, complete the USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form, AD-3027, found online at http://www.ascr.usda.gov/complaint_filing_cust.html and at any USDA office or write a letter addressed to USDA and provide in the letter all of the information requested in the form. To request a copy of the complaint form, call (866) 632-9992. Submit your completed form or letter to USDA by:

(1) Mail: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue SW., Washington, DC 20250-9410;

(2) Fax: (202) 690-7442; or

(3) Email: [email protected]

USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer, and lender.

I. Background

Section 515(z)(1) of the Housing Act of 1949, as amended states that the Secretary shall require that borrowers in programs authorized by this section maintain accounting records in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles for all MFH projects that receive funds from loans made or guaranteed by the Secretary. Since RHS considers Sections 514 Farm Labor Housing loans to have similar risks as Section 515 Rural Rental Housing loans, the regulatory accounting requirements apply to both types of loans. See 7 CFR 3560.578.

RHS published the financial reporting proposed rule in the Federal Register on August 6, 2015, (80 FR 46853-46855). A 60-day comment period was provided that ended October 5, 2015. The Agency received twenty-two comments from ten stakeholders, including Certified Public Accountant (CPA) groups, USDA employees, and MFH owners/borrowers.

RHS proposed to remove engagement requirements, as well as unit-based requirements from 7 CFR 3560.11, 3560.301, 3560.302, 3560.303 and 3560.308 and replace it with risk-based requirements for audits utilizing a modified version of the HUD Office of Inspector General's (OIG) Consolidated Audit Guide standard. This proposed change was a result of RHS's participation in the White House's Domestic Policy Council's Rental Policy Working Group (RPWG) on an initiative to reduce duplication of requirements on customers, eliminate conflicting administrative requirements, and align program requirements in the affordable rental housing industry. RHS believes that high-risk properties should receive more stringent evaluation of financial performance and that it can be accomplished in a more cost-effective manner. Implementation of this rule will reduce cost to properties, eliminate duplicate reporting to federal agencies, and further alignment objectives. HUD will accept the RHS audit in compliance with their requirements for Section 8 subsidized properties. High-risk properties are those with combined Federal financial assistance above $750,000 for non-profit entities and $500,000 involving for-profit entities.

Combined Federal financial assistance includes a combination of any or all of the sources identified below:

• The outstanding beginning principal balance of a USDA Mortgage, a mortgage insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) or HUD-held mortgages or loans (including flexible subsidy loans);

• Any RHS Rental Assistance or Project-based Section 8 assistance received during the fiscal year;

• Interest reduction payments received during the year (interest subsidy) and/or;

• Federal grant funds received during the year.

The thresholds established in the proposed rule for non-profits are herein modified in order to conform to thresholds established by the Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards, 2 CFR parts 200 and 400.

The threshold level for the non-profit ownership audit reporting requirement has been changed to $750,000 from $500,000. For non-profit borrowers that receive $750,000 or more in Federal financial assistance, RHS will accept the audit required under 2 CFR part 200 as compliance with RHS financial reporting requirements; non-profit borrowers that receive less than $750,000 in Federal financial assistance must submit owner certified prescribed forms on the accrual method of accounting in accordance with Statements for Account and Review Services promulgated by the Accounting and Review Services Committee of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.

There has been no change to the threshold requirement for for-profit ownership entities and it remains at $500,000.

Through this rule change, the Agency has removed requirements for an engagement that examines records using agreed upon procedures established by the Agency as part of the annual financial reporting requirements. Although the Section 514 and Section 515 proposals for new development are still subject to the agreed upon cost certification procedures set-forth in 7 CFR 3560.72(b).

In addition to the changes in the annual reporting requirements outlined herein, the Agency is adding three additional certifications to the Performance Standards required under 7 CFR 3560.308(c). The proposed rule included two certifications: The borrower would be required to certify there have been no changes in project ownership other than those approved by the Agency and identified in the certification; and that real estate taxes are paid in accordance with stateand/or local requirements and are current. This rule adds a third certification that Replacement Reserve accounts were used only for authorized purposes. This revision simply reflects what is required in the borrower's Loan Agreement and therefore does not constitute an additional burden on the borrower.

II. Summary of Comments 7 CFR 3560.302(b)(1) and (2) and § 3560.308

Two comments received indicated there is disparity and possible confusion in the citation as it relates to the establishment of a project's financial management procedures: i.e. “. . . various methods of accounting are allowed (accrual, cash, or modified accrual); however, § 3560.308 then requires that financial statements must be prepared in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP). Why keep the accounting records on one bases of accounting, only to be forced to convert to generally-accepted accounting principles for annual reporting? It would be helpful if this section indicated what the annual financial reports must include.”

The Agency appreciates the comments received and to alleviate disparity and confusion at both § 3560.302(b)(1) and § 3560.308, RHS has revised § 3560.302(b)(1) to indicate that the accrual accounting method is required. The Agency will revise § 3560.308(a)(1) and (a)(2) to indicate the documentation required to provide a complete financial report under 2 CFR parts 200 and 400. Federal financial assistance is defined in accordance with 2 CFR 200.40.

Section 3560.303(Q) Housing Project Budgets and § 3560.308(a)(2) Annual Financial Reports

Five comments were received regarding the requirements of “owner-certified financial statements” and expressed concern about the impact this may have on smaller property owners and the potential of increased CPA fees on project operating budgets.

The Agency agrees with the commenters' concerns and has amended the requirements for those for-profit borrowers receiving less than $500,000 in combined Federal financial assistance, and non-profit borrowers receiving less than $750,000 in combined Federal financial assistance, to a compilation of prescribed forms. The compilation of prescribed forms will include Form RD 3560-7, “MFH Project Budget/Utility Allowance” and Form RD 3560-10, “MFH Borrower Balance Sheet”, and include supporting schedules for those forms within the report package. It is believed this will be more cost effective for smaller property owners that do not have other audit requirements. Language at § 3560.308 (a)(2) is revised as stated in the preceding comment.

Three comments were received regarding the Agency's modified version of the HUD OIG Consolidated Audit Guide. The comments expressed concern about when the “modified version” of the HUD OIG Consolidated Audit Guide would be released and that it had not been shared in the proposed rule. The commenters felt that it would be beneficial to release, as soon as possible, a draft version of the proposed HUD audit guide in order to better assess any possible changes in audit fees as well as the cost of preparing owner-certified statements.

The HUD OIG Consolidated Audit Guide is not being modified for the purpose of this rule. The Agency anticipates additional cost savings to MFH property owners as the Agency will not utilize the HUD Chart of Accounts, nor will the report require the CPA to review tenant files, as that compliance test is being conducted by MFH field staff during supervisory visits and annual improper payment auditing. HUD has agreed to accept the RHS audit in lieu of a HUD audit for those projects where RHS and HUD have financing in common (i.e. Section 8/Section 515 properties). No changes were made to the proposed rule regarding this comment.

One commenter questioned the requirement within the Audit Guide, wherein CPAs are tasked with assessing housing quality standards as “. . . this is not typically in their skillset.”

The Agency does not expect CPAs to have a skillset that qualifies them to determine whether physical standards are met. However, RHS anticipates that upon determining whether the owner (borrower) or management agent has responded to all Agency management review reports, physical inspections, and inquiries regarding financial statements or monthly accounting reports (reference § 3.5 M. 2. E of the Audit Guide), the auditor can make a reasonable determination that the housing meets physical standards. The auditor should be reviewing all known reports, inspections, management reviews, etc. from each Agency holding an interest in the housing, to include RHS, HUD, Housing Finance Agencies, and Investors/Syndicators. The auditor would rely on these organizations to point out deficiencies in the repair and condition of the housing. The auditor would report on any uncorrected deficiencies within the report on audit findings, on compliance, and/or with a major program report on compliance.

Three comments were received regarding the threshold standard. OMB has established a new reporting threshold for non-profit organizations that are required to file a single audit. The audit threshold is $750,000, in accordance with Part 200, Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards, Subpart F Audit Requirements. Commenters believed HUD would likely make changes in guidance to follow that threshold.

The Agency recognizes the change in the reporting threshold. HUD and RHS jointly determined that they would establish similar audit thresholds for financial reporting of its financed or insured properties. Since issuance of the proposed rule, RHS and HUD agreed to modify the threshold to avoid potential conflicts in implementation. The preceding comments reflecting this change are in alignment between the two agencies.

One comment was received requesting clarification of the agreed-upon-procedure (AUP) requirements for annual operating audits and that these will no longer be required.

This is correct. AUPs will no longer be required as part of the annual financial reporting requirements. It is noted, however, new construction projects for Section 514 and Section 515 are still subject to the agreed upon cost certification procedures as set-forth in 7 CFR 3560.72(b). As a result, no changes were made to the proposed rule regarding this comment.

One comment was received regarding “non-cash interest subsidy” and whether this should be included in addition to interest reduction payments as part of the combined Federal financial assistance?

The Agency interprets the `interest reduction payments' to be the equivalent of the “non-cash” interest subsidy the borrower receives annually and is included in the calculation of Federal financial assistance. Since this comment was simply requesting a clarification, no changes have been made to the rule.

One comment was received asking if there was a “. . . minimum amount of combined Federal financial assistance that would not require financial statements presented in accordance with GAAP?”

From earlier comments received in response to the owner-certification requirements, the Agency has agreed to amend the requirements for those for-profit borrowers, and non-profit borrowers receiving less than $750,000 in combined Federal assistance, and with no other audit requirements, to the receipt of a compilation of prescribed forms. As a result the Agency revised the proposed language at 7 CFR 3560.308(a)(2). Please see preceding comments reflecting this change.

Section 3560.308(b)(8) Performance Standards

One comment was received regarding the Performance Standards at 7 CFR 3560.308(b)(8), which was proposed to read that no unauthorized change in ownership have taken place. The commenter requested the regulation set forth what is expected to be identified as a change (i.e. the Borrower entity; partners/managers within the entity; limited partnership with a large financial backing).

In accordance with 7 CFR 3560.405(b)(1) and (2), borrowers must notify the Agency prior to the implementation of any changes in a borrower entity's organizational structure or to a change in a borrower entity's controlling interest. The Agency has decided that no revision to the rule is needed.

Section 3560.308(d)(3) Other Financial Reports

One commenter questioned “. . . in a situation where the USDA loan may be below the threshold and is subordinate to a large private mortgage or a Section 538 Guaranteed Rural Housing (GRRH) loan, other funding sources will likely still require an audit. Although not required by the Agency, will the Agency continue to require these same financial reports be provided for review?”

7 CFR 3560.308(d)(3) states, “. . . any audits independently obtained by the borrower must also be submitted to the Agency.” As a note, the existence of the Section 538 GRRH loan constitutes “Federal financial assistance” and should be added to the total when calculating the threshold requirement.

General Comments

One commenter requested a general clarification of determining combined Federal financial assistance, “. . . should the beginning of the year or end of the year principal balance be used?”

Since the auditor reports on activity from the beginning of the reporting year to the end, it is appropriate that the combined Federal financial assistance shall be deemed the outstanding principal balances at the beginning of the borrower's fiscal reporting period. No change to the rule is needed.

One commenter requested the anticipated implementation date for submission under the new financial reporting requirements.

The Agency anticipates the new rule will be effective for borrowers with fiscal years beginning January 1, 2018 and thereafter. No change is needed to the proposed rule.

One commenter asked whether financial reports would be electronically submitted through the Real Estate Assessment Center (REAC).

RHS reports are not submitted to REAC, which is owned by HUD. No change to the rule is needed.

List of Subjects in 7 CFR Part 3560

Aged loan programs-Agriculture, loan programs-Housing and Community Development, Low- and moderate-income housing, Public Housing, rent subsidies.

For the reasons set forth in the preamble, chapter XXXV, Title 7 of the Code of Federal Regulations will be amended as follows:

PART 3560—DIRECT MULTI-FAMILY HOUSING LOANS AND GRANTS 1. The authority citation for Part 3560 continues to read as follows: Authority:

42 U.S.C. 1480.

Subpart A—General Provisions and Definitions
§ 3560.11 [Amended]
2. Amend § 3560.11 by removing the definition of “Engagement”. Subpart G—Financial Management 3. Section 3560.301 is revised to read as follows:
§ 3560.301 General.

This subpart contains requirements for the financial management of Agency-financed multi-family housing (MFH) projects, including accounts, budgets, and reports. Financial management systems and procedures must cover all housing operations and provide adequate documentation to ensure that program objectives are met.

4. Amend § 3560.302 by revising paragraphs (a), (b)(1) and (2), and (e)(1) to read as follows:
§ 3560.302 Accounting, bookkeeping, budgeting, and financial management systems.

(a) General. Borrowers must establish the accounting, bookkeeping, budgeting and financial management procedures necessary to conduct housing project operations in a financially safe and sound manner. Borrowers must maintain records in a manner suitable for an audit, and must be able to report accurate operational results to the Agency from these accounts and records.

(b) * * *

(1) Borrowers are required to use the accrual method of accounting in preparing annual financial reports, as identified in § 3560.308.

(2) Borrowers must describe their accounting, bookkeeping, budget preparation, and financial reporting procedures in their management plan.

(e) * * *

(1) Borrowers must retain all housing project financial records, books, and supporting material for at least three years after the issuance of their financial reports. Upon request, these materials will immediately be made available to the Agency, its representatives, the USDA Office of Inspector General (OIG), or the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

5. Amend § 3560.303 by revising paragraph (b)(1)(vi)(Q)to read as follows:
§ 3560.303 Housing project budgets.

(b) * * *

(1) * * *

(vi) * * *

(Q) Professional service contracts (audits, owner-certified submissions in accordance with § 3560.308(a)(2), tax returns, energy audits, utility allowances, architectural, construction, rehabilitation and inspection contracts, etc.)

6. Amend § 3560.308 by: a. Revising paragraph (a). b. Removing paragraph (b). c. Redesignating paragraphs (c) and (d) as (b) and (c) respectively. d. Revising the newly redesignated paragraph (b) introductory text. e. Adding paragraphs (b)(8),(b)(9), and (b)(10). f. Revising the newly redesignated paragraph (c)(1).

The revisions and additions read as follows:

§ 3560.308 Annual financial reports.

(a) General. (1) For-profit borrowers that receive $500,000 or more in combined Federal financial assistance must include an independent auditor's report that includes, financial statements and notes to the financial statements, supplemental information containing Agency approved forms for project budgets and borrower balance sheets, a report on internal control over financial reporting and on compliance and other matters based on an audit of financial statements in accordance with Government Auditing Standards; a report on compliance for each major program and internal control over compliance (if applicable). Federal Financial Assistance is defined in accordance with 2 CFR 200.40.

(2) Non-profit borrowers that receive $750,000 or more in combined Federal financial assistance must meet the audit requirements set forth by OMB, Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards, found at 2 CFR parts 200 and 400. Borrowers must provide a copy of this audit to RHS in compliance with these financial reporting requirements.

(3) Non-profit borrowers that receive less than $750,000, and for-profit borrowers that receive less than $500,000in combined Federal financial assistance will submit annual owner certified prescribed forms on the accrual method of accounting in accordance with the Statements on Standards for Accounting and Review Services promulgated by the Accounting and Review Services Committee of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA). Borrowers may use a CPA to prepare this compilation report of the prescribed forms.

(b) Performance standards. All Borrowers must certify that the housing meets the performance standards below:

(8) There have been no changes in project ownership other than those approved by the Agency and identified in the certification.

(9) Real estate taxes are paid in accordance with state and/or local requirements and are current.

(10) Replacement Reserve accounts have been used for only authorized purposes.

(c) * * *

(1) Non-profit and public borrower entities subject to OMB Uniform Guidance: Cost Principles, Audit, and Administrative Requirements for Federal Awards, must submit audits in accordance with 2 CFR parts 200 and 400.

Dated: September 28, 2017. Richard A. Davis, Acting Administrator, Rural Housing Service.
[FR Doc. 2017-23082 Filed 10-24-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3410-XV-P
FEDERAL RESERVE SYSTEM 12 CFR Part 261 [Docket No. R-1556] RIN 7100-AE65 Rules Regarding Availability of Information AGENCY:

Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (“Board”).

ACTION:

Final rule.

SUMMARY:

The Board is finalizing its interim final rule amending its regulations for processing requests under the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”) pursuant to the FOIA Improvement Act of 2016 (the “Act”). The amendments clarify and update procedures for requesting information from the Board, extend the deadline for administrative appeals, and add information on dispute resolution services. The interim final rule became effective on December 27, 2016. This rulemaking finalizes the interim rule with minor edits.

DATES:

This final rule is effective on November 24, 2017.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Katherine Wheatley, Associate General Counsel, (202) 452-3779, or Misty Mirpuri, Counsel, (202) 452-2597, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, 20th and C Streets NW., Washington, DC 20551. Users of telecommunications device for the hearing impaired, please call (202) 263-4869.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

I. Overview of Final Rule

On December 27, 2016, the Board published an interim final rule 1 amending its existing Rules found at 12 CFR part 261, in order to comply with the statutory changes required by the FOIA Improvement Act of 2016 (“Improvement Act”).2 Amendments to the Rules adopted statutory exemptions and exceptions as required by the Improvement Act. The interim final rule became effective on December 27, 2016, and the Board accepted comments through February 27, 2017. The Board is finalizing the interim rule with minor changes to paragraph 261.13(i)(4) in response to a public comment.

1 81 FR 94932 (Dec. 27, 2016).

2 Public Law 114-185, 130 Stat. 538 (enacted June 30, 2016).

II. Summary of Public Comments and Final Rule

Interested persons were afforded the opportunity to participate in the rulemaking process through submission of written comments on the interim final rule during the open comment period. The Board is adopting a minor revision to the interim final rule in response to a comment from the Office of Government Information Services within the National Archives and Records Administration (“OGIS”).3

3 The Board received a second comment requesting that it amend the rule in a manner unrelated to the amendments required by the Improvement Act. While the Board intends to make more extensive amendments to its FOIA Rule at a later time, the interim final rule only addressed the matters required by the Improvement Act, and further changes to the Rule will be preceded by a request for public comment.

OGIS asked the Board to revise section 261.13(i)(4) of the Rules to require that a determination letter on an appeal inform appellants of the availability of OGIS's dispute resolution services. Although not required by the FOIA statute, this change is consistent with guidance issued by the Department of Justice's Office of Information Policy. Accordingly, the Board has determined to edit the language in paragraph (i)(4) of section 261.13 to notify an appealing party of the availability of OGIS's dispute resolution services as a nonexclusive alternative to litigation.

The Board has determined not to adopt two other suggestions by OGIS. OGIS's proposed amendment would add a statement that “[d]ispute resolution is a voluntary process.” This sentence appears to be unnecessary and repetitive given that the Board is already advising appellants that dispute resolution services are available as a “nonexclusive alternative to litigation.” OGIS also proposed language stating that the Board will “actively engage as a partner to the process in an attempt to resolve the dispute” if the Board participates in the OGIS dispute resolution process. Although active engagement in attempting to resolve a FOIA dispute is of course not unreasonable, the proposed sentence could create additional legal obligations not required under the FOIA. Accordingly, aside from adding in language regarding the availability of OGIS's dispute resolution services as a nonexclusive alternative to litigation, the Board is adopting section 261.13(i)(4) in the final rule without any further change.

III. Regulatory Requirements

As the Board noted in its interim rule, Congress required that the substantive changes to the Board's Rules under the Improvement Act become effective by December 27, 2016, and the other amendments to the Board's Rules were technical in nature. Thus, the Board determined that the prior notice and comment requirements of the Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. 553(b), did not apply to the rule. Because no notice of proposed rulemaking is required, these regulations are not a “rule” as defined by the Regulatory Flexibility Act, 5 U.S.C. 601(2), and no initial or final regulatory flexibility analysis is required.

List of Subjects in 12 CFR Part 261

Administrative practice and procedure, Confidential business information, Freedom of information, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements.

Authority and Issuance

For the reasons stated above, the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System adopts the interim final rule published on December 27, 2016, at 81 FR 94932, as final with the following change:

PART 261—RULES REGARDING AVAILABILITY OF INFORMATION 1. The authority citation for part 261 continues to read as follows: Authority:

5 U.S.C. 552; 12 U.S.C. 248(i) and (k), 321 et seq., 611 et seq., 1442, 1467a, 1817(a)(2)(A), 1817(a)(8), 1818(u) and (v), 1821(o), 1821(t), 1830, 1844, 1951 et seq., 2601, 2801 et seq., 2901 et seq., 3101 et seq., 3401 et seq.; 15 U.S.C. 77uuu(b), 78q(c)(3); 29 U.S.C. 1204; 31 U.S.C. 5301 et seq.; 42 U.S.C. 3601; 44 U.S.C. 3510.

2. In § 261.13 paragraph (i)(4) is revised to read as follows:
§ 261.13 Processing requests.

(i) * * *

(4) The Board shall make a determination regarding any appeal within 20 working days of actual receipt of the appeal by the Freedom of Information Office. If an adverse determination is upheld on appeal, in whole or in part, the determination letter shall notify the appealing party of the right to seek judicial review and of the availability of dispute resolution services from the Office of Government Information Services as a nonexclusive alternative to litigation.

By order of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, October 19, 2017. Ann E. Misback, Secretary of the Board.
[FR Doc. 2017-23095 Filed 10-24-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE P
ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY 40 CFR Part 770 [EPA-HQ-OPPT-2017-0245; FRL-9962-84] RIN 2070-AK36 Voluntary Consensus Standards Update; Formaldehyde Emission Standards for Composite Wood Products AGENCY:

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

ACTION:

Direct final rule.

SUMMARY:

EPA is taking direct final action on a revision to the formaldehyde standards for composite wood products final rule, published in the Federal Register on December 12, 2016. The revision will update multiple voluntary consensus standards that have been updated, superseded, or withdrawn since publication of the notices of proposed rulemaking on June 10, 2013 and will amend an existing regulatory provision regarding the correlation of quality control test methods.

DATES:

This final rule is effective on December 11, 2017 without further notice, unless EPA receives relevant adverse comment by November 9, 2017. If EPA receives adverse comment, the Agency will publish a timely withdrawal in the Federal Register informing the public that the rule will not take effect. The incorporation by reference of certain publications listed in the regulations is approved by the Director of the Federal Register as of December 11, 2017.

ADDRESSES:

The docket for this action, identified by docket identification (ID) number EPA-HQ-OPPT-2017-0245, is available at http://www.regulations.gov or at the Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics Docket (OPPT Docket), Environmental Protection Agency Docket Center (EPA/DC), West William Jefferson Clinton Bldg., Rm. 3334, 1301 Constitution Ave. NW., Washington, DC. The Public Reading Room is open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, excluding legal holidays. The telephone number for the Public Reading Room is (202) 566-1744, and the telephone number for the OPPT Docket is (202) 566-0280. Please review the visitor instructions and additional information about the docket available at http://www.epa.gov/dockets.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

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

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

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: I. Does this action apply to me?

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

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

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

• Prefabricated wood building manufacturing (NAICS code 321992).

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

• Furniture merchant wholesalers (NAICS code 42321).

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

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

• Furniture stores (NAICS code 4421).

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

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

• Motor home manufacturing (NAICS code 336213).

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

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

• Recreational vehicle merchant wholesalers (NAICS code 423110).

• Engineering services (NAICS code 541330).

• Testing laboratories (NAICS code 541380).

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

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

• All other support services (NAICS code 561990).

• Business associations (NAICS code 813910).

• Professional organizations (NAICS code 813920).

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

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

EPA is updating the references for multiple voluntary consensus standards that were incorporated by reference in the December 12, 2016 formaldehyde emission standards for composite wood products final rule because they have been updated, superseded, and/or withdrawn by their respective organization. Table 1 in this Unit outlines only the voluntary consensus standards being addressed in this rulemaking and their respective updated versions. All other standards in the formaldehyde emission standards for composite wood products final rule will continue to be incorporated by reference as they appear in that final rule, and any future versions would be considered in a later rulemaking.

Table 1—Voluntary Consensus Standards Comparison Current standard established by final rule
  • (81 FR 89674)
  • Status Update to be promulgated effective December 11, 2017
    ANSI/AITC A190.1-2002 American National Standard for Structural Glued Laminated Timber 1 Updated version ANSI A190.1-2017 Standard for Wood Products—Structural Glued Laminated Timber.1 ANSI A208.1-2009 American National Standard for Particleboard Updated version ANSI A208.1-2016 American National Standard for Particleboard. ANSI A208.2-2009 American National Standard for Medium Density Fiberboard for Interior Applications Updated version ANSI A208.2-2016 American National Standard for Medium Density Fiberboard for Interior Applications. ANSI-HPVA HP-1-2009 American National Standard for Hardwood and Decorative Plywood Updated version ANSI-HPVA HP-1-2016 American National Standard for Hardwood and Decorative Plywood. ASTM D5055-05 Standard Specification for Establishing and Monitoring Structural Capacities of Prefabricated Wood I-Joists Updated version ASTM D5055-16 Standard Specification for Establishing and Monitoring Structural Capacities of Prefabricated Wood I-Joists. ASTM D5456-06 Standard Specification for Evaluation of Structural Composite Lumber Products Updated version ASTM D5456-14b Standard Specification for Evaluation of Structural Composite Lumber Products. ASTM D5582-00 Standard Test Method for Determining Formaldehyde Levels from Wood Products Using a Desiccator Updated version ASTM D5582-14 Standard Test Method for Determining Formaldehyde Levels from Wood Products Using a Desiccator. ASTM D6007-02 Standard Test Method for Determining Formaldehyde Concentrations in Air from Wood Products Using a Small-Scale Chamber Updated version ASTM D6007-14 Standard Test Method for Determining Formaldehyde Concentrations in Air from Wood Products Using a Small-Scale Chamber. ASTM E1333-10 Standard Test Method for Determining Formaldehyde Concentration in Air and Emission Rates from Wood Products Using a Large Chamber Updated version ASTM E1333-14 Standard Test Method for Determining Formaldehyde Concentration in Air and Emission Rates from Wood Products Using a Large Chamber. BS EN 717-2: 1995 Wood-based panels—Determination of formaldehyde release—Part 2: Formaldehyde release by the gas analysis method Withdrawn, superseded by BS EN ISO 12460-3:2015 BS EN ISO 12460-3:2015 Wood-based panels—Determination of formaldehyde release. Part 3: Gas analysis method. BS EN 120: 1992 Wood-based panels. Determination of formaldehyde content—Extraction method called the perforator method Withdrawn, superseded by BS EN ISO 12460-5:2015 BS EN ISO 12460-5:2015 Wood-based panels—Determination of formaldehyde release. Part 5: Extraction method (called the perforator method). JIS A1460:2001(E) Building boards-determination of formaldehyde emission—Desiccator method Updated version JIS A1460:2015 Determination of the emission of formaldehyde from building boards—Desiccator method. PS-1-07 Structural Plywood Updated version PS-1-09 Structural Plywood. PS-2-04 Performance Standard for Wood-Based Structural-Use Panels Updated version PS-2-10 Performance Standard for Wood-Based Structural-Use Panels. 1 Note that the ANSI/AITC 190.1-2002 Standard is no longer under the American Institute of Timber Construction purview in its 2017 version, and is now an APA—the Engineered Wood Association managed standard.

    EPA intends to adopt all of the updated versions of the standards referenced in Table 1 at this time. Any future versions or updates to withdrawn/superseded standards will be announced by EPA through a separate Federal Register document with opportunity for public comment.

    Additionally, EPA is updating the existing reference in the regulatory text from International Organization for Standardization (ISO)/International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) 17020: 1998(E)—Conformity assessment—Requirements for the operation of various types of bodies performing inspection (i.e., ISO/IEC 17020: 1998) to the 2012 version of this standard that was previously incorporated by reference (i.e., ISO/IEC 17020:2012(E)). ISO/IEC 17020:2012(E) was approved for incorporation by reference, but not all of the existing references were updated to reflect the new version.

    EPA is also revising § 770.20(d)(2)(i) to state that the Agency will allow the correlation of the tests conducted through the quality control methods listed in § 770.20(b) to either ASTM E1333-14 or, upon a showing of equivalence, ASTM D6007-14 test chamber tests. The California Air Resources Board (CARB) under its Air Toxic Control Measure has approved the use of ASTM D6007-14 test chambers that have previously shown equivalence under § 770.20(d) to an ASTM E1333-14 test chamber to be correlated to other mill quality control method tests listed in § 770.20(b). According to CARB staff, this is the commonly used method for conducting correlation between test methods based on the greater availability of ASTM D6007-14 test chambers. Several third-party certifiers, regulated entities and their associations expressed the importance of allowing mill quality control tests to be correlated to ASTM D6007 test chambers. EPA agrees that significant disruptions would occur, including testing and TSCA Title VI product certification capacity shortfalls, if the correlation of mill quality control tests were allowed only through the use of ASTM E1333-14 test chambers. Based on consultations with CARB staff, allowing correlation to be established through the use of ASTM D6007-14 test chambers in addition to the ASTM E1333-14 test chambers does not result in a decrease in testing reliability and yields comparable results if the ASTM D6007 test chambers have shown equivalence to the ASTM E1333 test chambers. To maintain consistency with this revision, EPA is also updating the definition of quality control limit (QCL) to allow for the use of the ASTM E1333 test chamber, or, upon showing equivalence, the ASTM D6007 test chamber.

    1. Direct Final Rule. Following the publication of the original notices of proposed rulemaking (see 78 FR 34796 and 78 FR 34820) and subsequent promulgation of EPA's final rule addressing formaldehyde emission standards for composite wood products (81 FR 89674), multiple voluntary consensus standards that were incorporated by reference have been updated or withdrawn and superseded. EPA will incorporate by reference current versions of the voluntary consensus standards assembled by:

    • APA—the Engineered Wood Association,

    • Composite Panel Association (CPA),

    • American National Standards Institute (ANSI),

    • American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM),

    • International Organization for Standardization (ISO),

    • Japanese Standards Association (JIS), and

    • National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) into the regulations at 40 CFR part 770.

    EPA is specifically updating the voluntary consensus standards in the formaldehyde emission standards for composite wood products final rule to reflect the current editions that are in-use by regulated entities and industry stakeholders. EPA believes that this action is warranted to facilitate regulated entities using the most up-to-date voluntary consensus standards to comply with the final rule.

    2. Proposed Rule. EPA believes that the proposed amendment is non-controversial and does not expect to receive any relevant adverse comments. However, in addition to this direct final rule, elsewhere in this issue of the Federal Register, EPA is promulgating the amendment as a notice of proposed rulemaking. If EPA receives no relevant adverse comment, the Agency will not take further action on the proposed rule and the direct final rule will become effective as provided in this action. If EPA receives relevant adverse comment, the Agency will publish a timely withdrawal in the Federal Register informing the public that this direct final action will not take effect. EPA would then address all relevant adverse public comments in a response to comments document in a subsequent final rule, based on the proposed rule.

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

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

    III. Statutory and Executive Order Reviews

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

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

    This action is not a significant regulatory action and was therefore not submitted to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review under Executive Orders 12866 and 13563.

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

    This action is not an Executive Order 13771 regulatory action because this action is not significant under Executive Order 12866.

    C. Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA)

    This action does not impose any new information collection burden under the PRA, 44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq., because it does not create any new reporting or recordkeeping obligations. OMB has previously approved the information collection activities contained in the existing regulations and has assigned OMB control number 2070-0185.

    D. Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA)

    I certify that this action will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities under the RFA, 5 U.S.C. 601 et seq. In making this determination, the impact of concern is any significant adverse economic impact on small entities. An agency may certify that a rule will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities if the rule relieves regulatory burden, has no net burden or otherwise has a positive economic effect on the small entities subject to the rule. This rule updates the voluntary consensus standards that were incorporated by reference in the final rule to the most current versions. The updated versions of the standards are substantially similar to the previous versions. EPA expects that many small entities are already complying with the updated versions of the standards listed in Table 1. This action would relieve these entities of the burden of having to also demonstrate compliance with outdated versions of these standards. This action will relieve or have no net regulatory burden for directly regulated small entities.

    E. Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (UMRA)

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

    F. Executive Order 13132: Federalism

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

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

    This action does not have tribal implications as specified in Executive Order 13175. This final rule will not impose substantial direct compliance costs on Indian tribal governments. Thus, Executive Order 13175 does not apply to this action.

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

    This action is not subject to Executive Order 13045 because it does not concern an environmental health risk or safety risk. This action is not subject to Executive Order 13045 because it is not economically significant as defined in Executive Order 12866, and because EPA does not believe the environmental health or safety risks addressed by this action present a disproportionate risk to children. As addressed in Unit II.A., this action would not materially alter the final rule as published, and will update existing voluntary consensus standards incorporated by reference in the final rule, to their current versions.

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

    This action is not subject to Executive Order 13211, because it is not a significant regulatory action under Executive Order 12866.

    J. National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act (NTTAA)

    This action involves technical standards, many of which EPA is directed to use by TSCA Title VI. Technical standards identified in the statute have been updated since publication of the original notice of proposed rulemaking (78 FR 34795) by the technical standard management bodies which antiquates the statute required versions. Pursuant to NTTAA section 12(d), 15 U.S.C. 272 note, EPA has reviewed the updated versions of the technical standards published in the final rule (81 FR 89674) and determined them to be appropriate, and readily available for use by regulated entities.

    EPA is updating voluntary consensus standards originally published in the final rule (81 FR 89674) as issued by ASTM International, ANSI, APA, HPVA, NIST, BSI, and JIS. Copies of the standards referenced in the regulatory text have been placed in the docket for this rule. Additionally, each of these standards is available for inspection at the OPPT Docket in the EPA Docket Center (EPA/DC) at Rm. 3334, EPA, West Bldg., 1301 Constitution Ave. NW., Washington, DC. The EPA/DC Public Reading Room hours of operation are 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, excluding legal holidays. The telephone number of the EPA/DC Public Reading room is (202) 566-1744, and the telephone number for the OPPT Docket is (202) 566-0280. The following voluntary consensus standards are being updated:

    a. APA, CPA, and HPVA standards. Copies of these standards may be obtained from the specific publisher, as noted below, or from the American National Standards Institute, 1899 L Street NW., 11th Floor, Washington, DC 20036, or by calling (202) 293-8020, or at http://ansi.org. Note that ANSI/APA A190.1-2017 is published by APA—the Engineered Wood Association, ANSI A208.1-2016 and ANSI A208.2-2016 are published by the Composite Panel Association, and ANSI ANSI/HPVA-HP-1-2016 is published by the Hardwood Plywood Veneer Association.

    1. ANSI/APA A190.1-2017, Structural Glued Laminated Timber. This standard describes minimum requirements for the manufacture and production of structural glued laminated timber, including size tolerances, grade combinations, lumber, adhesives, and appearance grades.

    2. ANSI A208.1-2016, American National Standard, Particleboard. This standard describes the requirements and test methods for dimensional tolerances, physical and mechanical properties and formaldehyde emissions for particleboard, along with methods of identifying products conforming to the standard.

    3. ANSI A208.2-2016, American National Standard, Medium Density Fiberboard (MDF) for Interior Applications. This standard describes the requirements and test methods for dimensional tolerances, physical and mechanical properties and formaldehyde emissions for MDF, along with methods of identifying products conforming to the standard.

    4. ANSI/HPVA HP-1-2016, American National Standard for Hardwood and Decorative Plywood. This standard details the specific requirements for all face, back, and inner ply grades of hardwood plywood as well as formaldehyde emission limits, moisture content, tolerances, sanding, and grade marking.

    b. ASTM materials. Copies of these materials may be obtained from ASTM International, 100 Barr Harbor Dr., P.O. Box C700, West Conshohocken, PA 19428-2959, or by calling (877) 909-ASTM, or at http://www.astm.org.

    1. ASTM E1333-14, Determining Formaldehyde Concentrations in Air and Emission Rates from Wood Products Using a Large Chamber. This test method measures the formaldehyde concentration in air and emission rate from wood products containing formaldehyde under conditions designed to simulate product use. The concentration in air and emission rate is determined in a large chamber under specific test conditions of temperature and relative humidity. The general procedures are also intended for testing product combinations at product-loading ratios and at air-exchange rates typical of the indoor environment.

    2. ASTM D6007-14, Determining Formaldehyde Concentrations in Air from Wood Products Using a Small-Scale Chamber. This test method measures the formaldehyde concentrations in air from wood products under defined test conditions of temperature and relative humidity. Results obtained from this small-scale chamber test method are intended to be comparable to results obtained testing larger product samples by the large chamber test method for wood products, Test Method E 1333.

    3. ASTM D5582-14, Determining Formaldehyde Levels from Wood Products Using a Dessicator. This test method describes a small scale procedure for measuring formaldehyde emissions potential from wood products. The formaldehyde level is determined by collecting airborne formaldehyde in a small distilled water reservoir within a closed desiccator. The quantity of formaldehyde is determined by a chromotropic acid test procedure.

    4. ASTM D5456-14b, Evaluation of Structural Composite Lumber Products. This specification describes initial qualification sampling, mechanical and physical tests, analysis, and design value assignments. Requirements for a quality-control program and cumulative evaluations are included to ensure maintenance of allowable design values for the product.

    5. ASTM D5055-16, Establishing and Monitoring Structural Capacities of Prefabricated Wood I-Joists. This specification gives procedures for establishing, monitoring, and reevaluating structural capacities of prefabricated wood I-joists, such as shear, moment, and stiffness. The specification also provides procedures for establishing common details and itemizes certain design considerations specific to wood I-joists.

    c. CEN materials. Copies of these materials are not directly available from the European Committee for Standardization, but from one of CEN's National Members, Affiliates, or Partner Standardization Bodies. To purchase a standard, go to CEN's Web site, http://www.cen.eu, and select “Products” for more detailed information.

    1. BS EN 12460-3: 2015, Wood-based Panels—Determination of Formaldehyde Release [Part 3: Gas Analysis Method]. This British Version of the European standard describes a procedure for determination of accelerated formaldehyde release from wood-based panels.

    2. BS EN 12460-5: 2015, Wood-based Panels—Determination of Formaldehyde Release [Part 5: Extraction Method (Called the Perforator Method)]. This British Version of the European standard describes an extraction method, known as the perforator method, for determining the formaldehyde content of unlaminated and uncoated wood-based panels.

    d. Japanese Industrial Standards material. Copies of JIS A 1460: 2015, Determination of the Emission of Formaldehyde from Building Boards—Desiccator Method, English Version, may be obtained from Japanese Industrial Standards, 1-24, Akasaka 4, Minatoku, Tokyo 107-8440, Japan, or by calling +81-3-3583-8000, or at http://www.jsa.or.jp. This method describes a method for testing formaldehyde emissions from construction boards by measuring the concentration of formaldehyde absorbed in distilled or deionized water from samples of a specified surface area placed in a glass desiccator for 24 hours.

    e. NIST materials. Copies of these materials may be obtained from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) by calling (800) 553-6847 or from the U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO). To purchase a NIST publication you must have the order number. Order numbers may be obtained from the Public Inquiries Unit at (301) 975-NIST. Mailing address: Public Inquiries Unit, NIST, 100 Bureau Dr., Stop 1070, Gaithersburg, MD 20899-1070. If you have a GPO stock number, you can purchase printed copies of NIST publications from GPO. GPO orders may be mailed to: U.S. Government Printing Office, P.O. Box 979050, St. Louis, MO 63197-9000, placed by telephone at (866) 512-1800 (DC Area only: (202) 512-1800), or faxed to (202) 512-2104. Additional information is available online at: http://www.nist.gov.

    1. PS 1-09, Structural Plywood. This standard describes the principal types and grades of structural plywood, covering the wood species, veneer grading, adhesive bonds, panel construction and workmanship, dimensions and tolerances, marking, moisture content and packaging of structural plywood intended for construction and industrial uses. Test methods to determine compliance and a glossary of trade terms and definitions are included, as is a quality certification program involving inspection, sampling, and testing of products identified as complying with this standard by qualified testing agencies.

    2. PS 2-10, Performance Standard for Wood-Based Structural-Use Panels. This standard covers performance requirements, adhesive bond performance, panel construction and workmanship, dimensions and tolerances, marking, and moisture content of structural-use panels, such as plywood, waferboard, oriented strand board (OSB), structural particle board, and composite panels. The standard includes test methods, a glossary of trade terms and definitions, and a quality certification program involving inspection, sampling, and testing of products for qualification under the standard.

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

    EPA has determined that the human health or environmental risk addressed by this action will not have potential disproportionately high and adverse human health or environmental effects on minority, low-income or indigenous populations, as specified in Executive Order 12898. As addressed in Unit II.A., this action would not materially alter the final rule as published, and will update existing voluntary consensus standards incorporated by reference in the final rule, to their current versions.

    L. Congressional Review Act (CRA)

    This action is subject to the CRA, 5 U.S.C. 801 et seq., and the EPA will submit a rule report to each House of the Congress and to the Comptroller General of the United States.

    List of Subjects in 40 CFR Part 770

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

    Dated: October 12, 2017. E. Scott Pruitt, Administrator.

    For the reasons set out in the preamble, title 40, chapter I, subchapter R, of the Code of Federal Regulations is amended as follows:

    PART 770—FORMALDEHYDE STANDARDS FOR COMPOSITE WOOD PRODUCTS 1. The authority citation for part 770 continues to read as follows: Authority:

    15 U.S.C. 2697(d).

    2. In § 770.1, paragraphs (c)(3), (4), (5), (7), and (8) are revised to read as follows:
    § 770.1 Scope and applicability.

    (c) * * *

    (3) Structural plywood, as specified in PS 1-09, Structural Plywood (incorporated by reference, see § 770.99).

    (4) Structural panels, as specified in PS 2-10, Performance Standard for Wood-Based Structural-Use Panels (incorporated by reference, see § 770.99).

    (5) Structural composite lumber, as specified in ASTM D5456-14b, Standard Specification for Evaluation of Structural Composite Lumber Products (incorporated by reference, see § 770.99).

    (7) Glued laminated lumber, as specified in ANSI A190.1-2017, Standard for Wood Products—Structural Glued Laminated Timber (incorporated by reference, see § 770.99).

    (8) Prefabricated wood I-joists, as specified in ASTM D5055-16, Standard Specification for Establishing and Monitoring Structural Capacities of Prefabricated Wood I-Joists (incorporated by reference, see § 770.99).

    3. In § 770.3: a. In the terms “EPA TSCA Title VI Product Accreditation Body or EPA TSCA Title VI Product AB” and “TPC laboratory”, remove “1998(E)” and add in its place “2012(E)”; and b. Revise the terms “Hardboard,” “Hardwood plywood,” “Medium-density fiberboard,” “Particleboard,” and “Quality control limit”.

    The revisions read as follows:

    § 770.3 Definitions.

    Hardboard means a composite panel composed of cellulosic fibers, consolidated under heat and pressure in a hot press by: A wet process; or a dry process that uses a phenolic resin, or a resin system in which there is no formaldehyde as part of the resin cross-linking structure; or a wet formed/dry pressed process; and that is commonly or commercially known, or sold, as hardboard, including any product conforming to one of the following ANSI standards: Basic Hardboard (ANSI A135.4-2012) (incorporated by reference, see § 770.99), Prefinished Hardboard Paneling (ANSI A135.5-2012) (incorporated by reference, see § 770.99), Engineered Wood Siding (ANSI A135.6-2012) (incorporated by reference, see § 770.99), or Engineered Wood Trim (ANSI A135.7-2012) (incorporated by reference, see § 770.99). There is a rebuttable presumption that products emitting more than 0.06 ppm formaldehyde as measured by ASTM E1333-14 (incorporated by reference, see § 770.99) or ASTM D6007-14 (incorporated by reference, see § 770.99) are not hardboard.

    Hardwood plywood means a hardwood or decorative panel that is intended for interior use and composed of (as determined under ANSI/HPVA HP-1-2016 (incorporated by reference, see § 770.99)) an assembly of layers or plies of veneer, joined by an adhesive with a lumber core, a particleboard core, a medium-density fiberboard core, a hardboard core, a veneer core, or any other special core or special back material. Hardwood plywood does not include military-specified plywood, curved plywood, or any plywood specified in PS 1-09, Structural Plywood (incorporated by reference, see § 770.99), or PS 2-10, Performance Standard for Wood-Based Structural-Use Panels (incorporated by reference, see § 770.99). In addition, hardwood plywood includes laminated products except as provided at § 770.4.

    Medium-density fiberboard means a panel composed of cellulosic fibers made by dry forming and pressing a resinated fiber mat (as determined under ANSI A208.2-2016 (incorporated by reference, see § 770.99)).

    Particleboard means a panel composed of cellulosic material in the form of discrete particles (as distinguished from fibers, flakes, or strands) that are pressed together with resin (as determined under ANSI A208.1-2016 (incorporated by reference, see § 770.99)). Particleboard does not include any product specified in PS 2-10 (incorporated by reference, see § 770.99).

    Quality control limit or QCL means the value from the quality control method test that is the correlative equivalent to the applicable emission standard based on the ASTM E1333-14 method (incorporated by reference, see § 770.99) or, upon showing equivalence in accordance with § 770.20(d), the ASTM D6007-14 method (incorporated by reference, see § 770.99).

    4. In § 770.7: a. In paragraphs (a)(5)(i)(A) introductory text, (b)(1)(iv), (c)(1)(iii), (c)(2)(v), and (c)(4)(i)(F), remove “1998(E)” and add in its place “2012(E)”; and b. Revise paragraphs (a)(5)(i)(D) and (F), (b)(5)(i) introductory text, (c)(1)(ii) and (v), (c)(2)(iv) and (viii), (c)(4)(i)(B), and (c)(4)(v)(C).

    The revisions read as follows:

    § 770.7 Third-party certification.

    (a) * * *

    (5) * * *

    (i) * * *

    (D) A review of the approach that the TPC laboratory will use for establishing correlation or equivalence between ASTM E1333-14 and ASTM D6007-14, if used, (incorporated by reference, see § 770.99) or allowable formaldehyde test methods listed under § 770.20.

    (F) A review of the accreditation credentials of the TPC laboratory, including a verification that the laboratory has been accredited to ISO/IEC 17025:2005(E) (incorporated by reference, see § 770.99) with a scope of accreditation to include this part—Formaldehyde Standards for Composite Wood Products and the formaldehyde test methods ASTM E1333-14 and ASTM D6007-14, if used, by an EPA TSCA Title VI Laboratory AB (incorporated by reference, see § 770.99).

    (b) * * *

    (5) * * *

    (i) Accreditation. EPA TSCA Title VI Laboratory ABs must determine the accreditation eligibility, and accredit if appropriate, each TPC seeking recognition under the EPA TSCA Title VI Third-Party Certification Program by performing an assessment of each TPC. The assessment must include an on-site assessment by the EPA TSCA Title VI Laboratory AB to determine whether the laboratory meets the requirements of ISO/IEC 17025:2005(E) (incorporated by reference, see §  770.99), is in conformance with ISO/IEC 17020:2012(E) (incorporated by reference, see §  770.99) and the EPA TSCA Title VI TPC requirements under this part including the formaldehyde test methods ASTM E1333-14 and ASTM D6007-14 (incorporated by reference, see §  770.99), if used. In performing the on-site assessment, the EPA TSCA Title VI Laboratory AB must:

    (c) * * *

    (1) * * *

    (ii) Be, or have a contract with a laboratory that is, accredited by an EPA TSCA Title VI Laboratory AB to ISO/IEC 17025:2005(E) (incorporated by reference, see § 770.99) with a scope of accreditation to include this part—Formaldehyde Standards for Composite Wood Products—and the formaldehyde test methods ASTM E1333-14 and ASTM D6007-14, if used (incorporated by reference, see § 770.99);

    (v) Have demonstrated experience in performing or verifying formaldehyde emissions testing on composite wood products, including experience with test method ASTM E1333-14 and ASTM D6007-14, if used, (incorporated by reference, see § 770.99), and experience evaluating correlation between test methods. Applicant TPCs that have demonstrated experience with test method ASTM D6007-14 only, must be contracting testing with a laboratory that has a large chamber and demonstrate its experience with ASTM E1333-14.

    (2) * * *

    (iv) A copy of the TPC laboratory's certificate of accreditation from an EPA TSCA Title VI Laboratory AB to ISO/IEC 17025:2005(E) (incorporated by reference, see § 770.99) with a scope of accreditation to include this part—Formaldehyde Standards for Composite Wood Products—and the formaldehyde test methods ASTM E1333-14 and ASTM D6007-14 (incorporated by reference, see § 770.99), if used;

    (viii) A description of the TPC's experience with test method ASTM E1333-14 and/or ASTM D6007-14, if used, (incorporated by reference, see § 770.99), and experience evaluating correlation between test methods. Applicant TPCs that have experience with test method ASTM D6007-14 only, must be contracting testing with a laboratory that has a large chamber and describe its experience with ASTM E1333-14; and

    (4) * * *

    (i) * * *

    (B) Verify each panel producer's quality control test results compared with test results from ASTM E1333-14 and ASTM D6007-14, if used, (incorporated by reference, see § 770.99) by having the TPC laboratory conduct quarterly tests and evaluate test method equivalence and correlation as required under § 770.20;

    (v) * * *

    (C) Notification of a panel producer exceeding its established QCL for more than two consecutive quality control tests within 72 hours of the time that the TPC becomes aware of the second exceedance. The notice must include the product type, dates of the quality control tests that exceeded the QCL, quality control test results, ASTM E1333-14 (incorporated by reference, see § 770.99) or ASTM D6007-14 method (incorporated by reference, see § 770.99) correlative equivalent values in accordance with § 770.20(d), the established QCL value(s) and the quality control method used.

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

    (b) The emission standards are based on test method ASTM E1333-14 (incorporated by reference, see § 770.99), and are as follows:

    6. In § 770.15, paragraphs (c)(1)(v) and (c)(2)(iii) are revised to read as follows:
    § 770.15 Composite wood product certification.

    (c) * * *

    (1) * * *

    (v) At least five tests conducted under the supervision of an EPA TSCA Title VI TPC pursuant to test method ASTM E1333-14 or ASTM D6007-14 (incorporated by reference, see § 770.99). Test results obtained by ASTM D6007-14 must include a showing of equivalence in accordance with § 770.20(d)(1);

    (2) * * *

    (iii) At least five tests conducted under the supervision of an EPA TSCA Title VI TPC pursuant to test method ASTM E1333-14 or ASTM D6007-14 (incorporated by reference, see § 770.99). Test results obtained by ASTM D6007-14 must include a showing of equivalence in accordance with § 770.20(d)(1);

    7. In § 770.17, paragraph (a)(3) is revised to read as follows:
    § 770.17 No-added formaldehyde-based resins.

    (a) * * *

    (3) At least one test conducted under the supervision of an EPA TSCA Title VI TPC pursuant to test method ASTM E1333-14 or ASTM D6007-14 (incorporated by reference, see § 770.99). Test results obtained by ASTM D6007-14 must include a showing of equivalence in accordance with § 770.20(d)(1); and

    8. In § 770.18, paragraph (a)(3) is revised to read as follows:
    § 770.18 Ultra low-emitting formaldehyde resins.

    (a) * * *

    (3) At least two tests conducted under the supervision of an EPA TSCA Title VI TPC pursuant to test method ASTM E1333-14 or ASTM D6007-14 (incorporated by reference, see § 770.99). Test results obtained by ASTM D6007-14 must include a showing of equivalence in accordance with § 770.20(d)(1); and

    9. In § 770.20, paragraphs (b)(1)(i) through (iii), (vi), and (vii), (c)(1), (d) introductory text, (d)(1), (d)(2) introductory text, and (d)(2)(i) are revised to read as follows:
    § 770.20 Testing requirements.

    (b) * * *

    (1) * * *

    (i) ASTM D6007-14 (incorporated by reference, see § 770.99).

    (ii) ASTM D5582-14 (incorporated by reference, see § 770.99).

    (iii) BS EN ISO 12460-3:2015 E (Gas Analysis Method) (incorporated by reference, see § 770.99).

    (vi) BS EN ISO 12460-5:2015 E (Perforator Method) (incorporated by reference, see § 770.99).

    (vii) JIS A 1460:2015(E) (24-hr Desiccator Method) (incorporated by reference, see § 770.99).

    (c) * * *

    (1) Allowable methods. Quarterly testing must be performed using ASTM E1333-14 (incorporated by reference, see § 770.99) or, with a showing of equivalence pursuant to paragraph (d) of this section, ASTM D6007-14 (incorporated by reference, see § 770.99).

    (d) Equivalence or correlation. Equivalence or correlation between ASTM E1333-14 (incorporated by reference, see § 770.99) and any other test method used for quarterly or quality control testing must be demonstrated by EPA TSCA Title VI TPCs or panel producers, respectively, at least once each year for each testing apparatus or whenever there is a significant change in equipment, procedure, or the qualifications of testing personnel. Once equivalence or correlation have been established for three consecutive years, equivalence or correlation must be demonstrated every two years or whenever there is a significant change in equipment, procedure, or the qualifications of testing personnel.

    (1) Equivalence between ASTM E1333-14 and ASTM D6007-14 when used by the TPC for quarterly testing. Equivalence must be demonstrated for at least five comparison sample sets, which compare the results of the two methods. Equivalence must be demonstrated for each small chamber used and for the ranges of emissions of composite wood products tested by the TPC.

    (i) Samples. (A) For the ASTM E1333-14 method (incorporated by reference, see § 770.99), each comparison sample must consist of the result of testing panels, using the applicable loading ratios specified in the ASTM E1333-14 method (incorporated by reference, see § 770.99), from similar panels of the same product type tested by the ASTM D6007-14 method (incorporated by reference, see § 770.99).

    (B) For the ASTM D6007-14 method (incorporated by reference, see § 770.99), each comparison sample shall consist of testing specimens representing portions of panels similar to the panels tested in the ASTM E1333-14 method (incorporated by reference, see § 770.99) and matched to their respective ASTM E1333-14 method (incorporated by reference, see § 770.99) comparison sample result. The ratio of air flow to sample surface area specified in ASTM D6007-14 (incorporated by reference, see § 770.99) must be used.

    (C) The five comparison sample must consist of testing a minimum of five sample sets as measured by the ASTM E1333-14 method (incorporated by reference, see § 770.99).

    (ii) Average and standard deviation. The arithmetic mean, x, and standard deviation, S, of the difference of all comparison sets must be calculated as follows:

    ER25OC17.000

    Where x = arithmetic mean; S = standard deviation; n = number of sets; D i = difference between the ASTM E1333-14 and ASTM D6007-14 method (incorporated by reference, see § 770.99) values for the ith set; and i ranges from 1 to n.

    (iii) Equivalence determination. The ASTM D6007-14 method (incorporated by reference, see § 770.99) is considered equivalent to the ASTM E1333-14 method (incorporated by reference, see § 770.99) if the following condition is met:

    ER25OC17.001

    Where C is equal to 0.026.

    (2) Correlation between ASTM E1333-14 and any quality control test method. Correlation must be demonstrated by establishing an acceptable correlation coefficient (“r” value).

    (i) Correlation. The correlation must be based on a minimum sample size of five data pairs and a simple linear regression where the dependent variable (Y-axis) is the quality control test value and the independent variable (X-axis) is the ASTM E1333-14 (incorporated by reference, see § 770.99) test value or, upon a showing of equivalence in accordance with paragraph (d) of this section, the equivalent ASTM D6007-14 (incorporated by reference, see § 770.99) test value. Either composite wood products or formaldehyde emissions reference materials can be used to establish the correlation.

    10. In § 770.99, paragraphs (a) introductory text, (a)(5) through (8), (b)(1) through (5), (c)(1) and (2), (f)(1), and (g)(1) and (2) are revised to read as follows:
    § 770.99 Incorporation by reference.

    (a) CPA, APA, and HPVA Materials. Copies of these materials may be obtained from the specific publisher, as noted in this paragraph (a), or from the American National Standards Institute, 1899 L Street NW., 11th Floor, Washington, DC 20036, or by calling (202) 293-8020, or at http://ansi.org/. Note that ANSI A190.1-2017 is published by APA—the engineered wood association. ANSI A135.4-2012, ANSI A135.5-2012, ANSI A135.6-2012, ANSI A135.7-2012, ANSI A208.1-2016 and ANSI A208.2-2016 are published by the Composite Panel Association; and ANSI/HPVA-HP-1-2016 is published by the Hardwood Plywood Veneer Association.

    (5) ANSI A190.1-2017, Standard for Wood Products—Structural Glued Laminated Timber, Approved January 24, 2017, IBR approved for § 770.1(c).

    (6) ANSI A208.1-2016, Particleboard, Approved May 12, 2016, IBR approved for § 770.3.

    (7) ANSI A208.2-2016, Medium Density Fiberboard (MDF) for Interior Applications, Approved May 12, 2016, IBR approved for § 770.3.

    (8) ANSI/HPVA HP-1-2016, American National Standard for Hardwood and Decorative Plywood, Approved January 12, 2016, IBR approved for § 770.3.

    (b) * * *

    (1) ASTM D5055-16, Standard Specification for Establishing and Monitoring Structural Capacities of Prefabricated Wood I-Joists, Approved June 1, 2016, IBR approved for § 770.1(c).

    (2) ASTM D5456-14b, Standard Specification for Evaluation of Structural Composite Lumber Products, Approved October 1, 2014, IBR approved for § 770.1(c).

    (3) ASTM D5582-14, Standard Test Method for Determining Formaldehyde Levels from Wood Products Using a Desiccator, Approved-August 1, 2014, IBR approved for § 770.20(b).

    (4) ASTM D6007-14, Standard Test Method for Determining Formaldehyde Concentrations in Air from Wood Products Using a Small-Scale Chamber, Approved October 1, 2014, IBR approved for §§ 770.3, 770.7(a) through (c), 770.15(c), 770.17(a), 770.18(a), and 770.20(b) through (d).

    (5) ASTM E1333-14, Standard Test Method for Determining Formaldehyde Concentrations in Air and Emission Rates from Wood Products Using a Large Chamber, Approved October 1, 2014, IBR approved for §§ 770.3, 770.7(a) through (c), 770.10(b), 770.15(c), 770.17(a), 770.18(a), and 770.20(c) and (d).

    (c) * * *

    (1) BS EN ISO 12460-3:2015 E, Wood-based panels.—Determination of formaldehyde release—Part 3: Gas analysis method, November 2015, IBR approved for § 770.20(b).

    (2) BS EN ISO 12460-5:2015 E, Wood based panels.—Determination of formaldehyde release—Part 5: Extraction method (called the perforator method), December 2015, IBR approved for § 770.20(b).

    (f) * * *

    (1) JIS A 1460:2015(E), Determination of the emission of formaldehyde from building boards—Desiccator method, First English edition, published 2015-10, IBR approved for § 770.20(b).

    (g) * * *

    (1) PS 1-09, Structural Plywood, May 2010, IBR approved for §§ 770.1(c) and 770.3.

    (2) PS 2-10, Performance Standard for Wood-Based Structural-Use Panels, June 2011, IBR approved for §§ 770.1(c) and 770.3.

    [FR Doc. 2017-23062 Filed 10-24-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560-50-P
    SURFACE TRANSPORTATION BOARD 49 CFR Chapter X [Docket No. EP 664 (Sub-No. 3)] Revisions to the Cost-of-Capital Composite Railroad Criteria AGENCY:

    Surface Transportation Board.

    ACTION:

    Final Action.

    SUMMARY:

    The Surface Transportation Board (STB or Board) is adopting a final action to update one of the screening criteria used to create the “composite railroad” for the Board's annual cost-of-capital determination. This final action requires a company's stock to be listed on either the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) or the Nasdaq Stock Market (NASDAQ), rather than on either the NYSE or American Stock Exchange (AMEX), as the AMEX no longer exists.

    DATES:

    This action is applicable on November 24, 2017.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Amy C. Ziehm, (202) 245-0391. Assistance for the hearing impaired is available through the Federal Information Relay Service (FIRS) at (800) 877-8339.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    As one of its regulatory responsibilities, the Board determines annually the railroad industry's cost of capital.1 The cost-of-capital figure represents the Board's estimate of the average rate of return needed to persuade investors to provide capital to the freight rail industry. The cost-of-capital determination is one component used in evaluating the adequacy of railroad revenues each year under the procedures and standards mandated by Congress in the Railroad Revitalization and Regulatory Reform Act of 1976, Public Law 94-210, 90 Stat. 31 (1976) and promulgated in Standards for Railroad Revenue Adequacy, 364 I.C.C. 803 (1981), modified, 3 I.C.C.2d 261 (1986), aff'd sub nom. Consol. Rail Corp. v. United States, 855 F.2d 78 (3d Cir. 1988). The cost-of-capital finding is also an essential component of many other Board regulatory proceedings.

    1 The cost of capital is calculated as the weighted average of the cost of debt and the cost of equity, with the weights determined by the railroad industry's capital structure (the fraction of capital from debt or equity on a market-value basis). See Methodology to be Employed in Determining R.R. Indus.'s Cost of Capital, EP 664, slip op. at 6 (STB served Jan. 17, 2008).

    The Board determines the railroad industry's cost of capital for a “composite railroad,” which is based on data from a sample of railroads. Pursuant to Railroad Cost of Capital—1984, 1 I.C.C.2d 989 (1985), the sample includes all railroads that meet the following criteria:

    —The company is a Class I line-haul railroad; —If the Class I railroad is controlled by another company, the controlling company is primarily a railroad company and is not already included in the study frame; 2

    2 A company is considered to be primarily in the railroad business if at least 50% of its total assets are devoted to railroad operations. R.R. Cost of Capital—1984, 1 I.C.C.2d at 1003-04.

    —The company's bonds are rated at least BBB by Standard & Poor's and Baa by Moody's; —The company's stock is listed on either the NYSE or the AMEX; and —The company has paid dividends throughout the review year. 1 I.C.C.2d at 1003-04; see also R.R. Cost of Capital—2015, EP 558 (Sub-No. 19), slip op. at 3 (STB served Aug. 5, 2016).

    On April 18, 2017, the Board issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) that proposed to update the fourth screening criterion used to create the “composite railroad” for the Board's annual cost-of-capital determination. Specifically, the Board proposed that its fourth screening criterion be modified to require a company's stock to be listed on either the NYSE or the NASDAQ, rather than on either the NYSE or AMEX, as the AMEX is no longer in existence. See NPRM, slip op. at 1-2.

    The Board sought comments on the NPRM by May 18, 2017, and replies by June 19, 2017. The Board received comments on the proposed action from the Association of American Railroads (AAR) and the Western Coal Traffic League (WCTL). No reply comments were filed. After consideration of the comments received, the Board is adopting the changes proposed in the NPRM as a final action.

    Comments

    In its comments, AAR states that it is supportive of the Board's proposal to update the “composite railroad” screening criteria to better reflect the current state of the marketplace. (AAR Comment 2.) AAR requests that the Board move expeditiously to adopt the proposal and prohibit any party from expanding the scope of this proceeding by offering proposals that would “manipulate” the cost-of-capital process. (Id.)

    WCTL generally supports the Board's proposal and states that expanding the screening criteria to include NASDAQ-listed companies, i.e., CSX Corporation (CSX),3 would result in a larger composite sample. (WCTL Comment 1-2.) WCTL, however, argues that the “composite railroad” sample is still rather small, consisting of just four companies—CSX; Kansas City Southern Corporation (KCS); Norfolk Southern Corporation (NSC); and Union Pacific Corporation (UPC)—that have significant differences. (Id. at 2.) WCTL also notes that the composite sample omits BNSF Railway Company (BNSF)—which, it asserts, is by some measures the largest railroad in the United States—because BNSF constitutes less than 50% of the assets of its parent company, Berkshire Hathaway. (Id.) According to WCTL, by including CSX in the composite sample (but omitting BNSF), the industry average cost of capital reflects roughly 59% western and 41% eastern railroads, even though in actuality western railroads—UPC, BNSF, and KCS—account for 73% of the industry, and the two eastern railroads—CSX and NSC—account for only 27%. (Id.) 4 WCTL argues that excluding CSX, along with BNSF, from the composite sample would actually result in an average that is more representative of the regional division (75% western and 25% eastern). (Id.) WCTL asserts that the Board's proposal could result in an average that is less representative of the industry as a whole, and a cost-of-capital figure that is more distorted. (Id. at 2-3.) Additionally, WCTL states that a “complicating factor” is that the second stage of the Board's Multi-Stage Discounted Cash Flow model (MSDCF) uses a simple average of the growth rates of the individual carriers, such that KCS counts just as much as UPC. (Id.)

    3 In the Board's cost of capital calculation for 2016, the Board waived its requirement that a company's stock be listed on either the NYSE or the AMEX, noting that CSX Corporation transferred its stock exchange listing from the NYSE to the NASDAQ in 2015. R.R. Cost of Capital—2016, EP 558 (Sub-No. 20), slip op. at 2 n.4 (STB served Aug. 7, 2017).

    4 WCTL's figures appear to be percentages of the total market capitalization of the railroad industry.

    Despite its criticisms, WCTL recommends that the Board adopt the proposed change, but “on a tentative or qualified basis that would allow the Board to revisit the matter, and allow parties to present relevant evidence, if inclusion of NASDAQ-traded carriers turns out to undermine the representativeness of the composite sample, or the accuracy of the cost-of-capital” figure. (Id.)

    The Final Action

    To reflect the current marketplace, the Board will adopt the changes proposed in the NPRM and now require, as its fourth screening criterion, that a company's stock be listed on either the NYSE or the NASDAQ. Commenters generally support the Board's proposal and agree that the NASDAQ is a suitable replacement for the AMEX in the cost-of-capital determination. As noted in the NPRM, when the Board's predecessor adopted the fourth screening criterion, it did so to “insure the availability of stock price data.” R.R. Cost of Capital—1984, 1 I.C.C.2d at 1004. By requiring applicable carriers to trade on either the NYSE or the NASDAQ, the Board will continue to ensure the availability of stock price data for use in the Board's computation of the rail industry's cost of capital.

    Although WCTL supports the Board's proposal and states that expanding the screening criteria to include NASDAQ-listed companies, i.e., CSX, would result in a larger composite group, it argues that the Board's proposed change could result in an average cost-of-capital figure that is less representative of the regional division of rail assets than it is now. The Board, however, is unpersuaded by WCTL's argument. The purpose of including only carriers listed on particular stock exchanges in the “composite group” is to ensure the availability of stock price data for the annual cost-of-capital determinations for carriers that satisfy the other criteria. See R.R. Cost of Capital—1984, 1 I.C.C.2d 989, 1004 (1984). Here, there is no debate that CSX meets the other criteria and that NASDAQ is a reliable source of stock price data. Excluding a carrier that meets the other criteria and has a reliable source of stock data, in an effort to achieve a “balance” between eastern and western carriers, is unwarranted.

    In any event, railroads operating in different parts of the United States may confront different markets, traffic mixes, densities, and topography. As a consequence, there are differences in the cost structures of eastern and western carriers. These physical and cost structure differences, however, do not imply variances in the cost of capital on a regional basis. Investors deploy capital around the world, looking to obtain the highest possible return, while incurring the lowest possible risk. WCTL has not provided evidence to demonstrate that there is any difference in the rate of return investors demand—i.e., the cost of capital—when investing in eastern and western rail carriers. Therefore, the Board believes that it is better to include CSX in the composite-industry cost of capital, as it was in previous years when it was listed on NYSE, to ensure a larger sample size.

    With respect to WCTL's argument that another “complicating factor” is that the second stage of the Board's MSDCF uses a simple average of the growth rates of individual carriers, such that KCS counts as much as UP, the Board finds such an argument to be outside the scope of this proceeding. The core issue here is whether, for purposes of the cost-of-capital calculation, it is appropriate to replace a defunct stock exchange (AMEX) with a stock exchange in current and prevalent use (NASDAQ). WCTL's growth rate argument does not relate to that issue and is a collateral attack on other components of the Board's approved methodology.

    Finally, the Board declines WCTL's request to adopt the final action on a conditional or tentative basis, purportedly to allow parties to present additional evidence after implementation. If parties have concerns in the future that inclusion of NASDAQ-traded carriers ultimately results in a less representative composite sample, they may file a petition to modify or revisit the composite group criteria regulation.

    Regulatory Flexibility Act Statement

    The Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980 (RFA), 5 U.S.C. 601-612, generally requires a description and analysis of new rules that would have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. In drafting a rule, an agency is required to: (1) Assess the effect that its regulation will have on small entities; (2) analyze effective alternatives that may minimize a regulation's impact; and (3) make the analysis available for public comment. 5 U.S.C. 601-604. Under § 605(b), an agency is not required to perform an initial or final regulatory flexibility analysis if it certifies that the proposed or final rules will not have a “significant impact on a substantial number of small entities.”

    Because the goal of the RFA is to reduce the cost to small entities of complying with federal regulations, the RFA requires an agency to perform a regulatory flexibility analysis of small entity impacts only when a rule directly regulates those entities. In other words, the impact must be a direct impact on small entities “whose conduct is circumscribed or mandated” by the proposed rule. White Eagle Coop. Ass'n v. Conner, 553 F.3d 467, 478, 480 (7th Cir. 2009). An agency has no obligation to conduct a small entity impact analysis of effects on entities that it does not regulate. United Distrib. Cos. v. FERC, 88 F.3d 1105, 1170 (D.C. Cir. 1996).

    In the NPRM, the Board already certified under 5 U.S.C. 605(b) that the proposed change would not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities within the meaning of the RFA. The Board explained that a change in the listing requirement for inclusion in the composite railroad would not have a significant economic impact on the railroads included; likewise, the Board articulated that, whether or not a railroad would be included in the composite group would have no significant economic impact on that individual railroad. A copy of the NPRM was served on the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).

    The final action changes one of the criteria for a railroad's inclusion in the data sample that the Board uses to calculate the annual cost of capital. By definition, that group of railroads is limited to Class I carriers, which are not small businesses under the Board's definition for RFA purposes.5 Thus, the action does not place any additional burden on small entities. Therefore, the Board certifies under 5 U.S.C. 605(b) that the final action will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities within the meaning of the RFA. A copy of this decision will be served upon the Chief Counsel for Advocacy, Office of Advocacy, U.S. Small Business Administration, Washington, DC 20416.

    5 Effective June 30, 2016, for the purpose of RFA analysis for rail carriers subject to our jurisdiction, the Board defines a “small business” as a rail carrier classified as a Class III rail carrier under 49 CFR part 1201. See Small Entity Size Standards Under the Regulatory Flexibility Act, EP 719 (STB served June 30, 2016) (with Board Member Begeman dissenting). Class III carriers have annual operating revenues of $20 million or less in 1991 dollars, or $35,809,698 or less when adjusted for inflation using 2016 data. Class II carriers have annual operating revenues of less than $250 million in 1991 dollars or $ less than $447,621,226 when adjusted for inflation using 2016 data. The Board calculates the revenue deflator factor annually and publishes the railroad revenue thresholds on its Web site. 49 CFR part 1201.

    It is ordered:

    1. The final action described above is adopted and will be applicable on November 24, 2017.

    2. Notice of the action adopted here will be published in the Federal Register.

    3. A copy of this decision will be served upon the Chief Counsel for Advocacy, Office of Advocacy, U.S. Small Business Administration.

    4. This decision is effective on the date of service.

    Decided: October 17, 2017.

    By the Board, Board Members Begeman and Miller.

    Kenyatta Clay, Clearance Clerk.
    [FR Doc. 2017-22894 Filed 10-24-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4915-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 648 [Docket No. 170301213-7869-02] RIN 0648-BG70 Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Atlantic Sea Scallop Fishery; State Waters Exemption AGENCY:

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

    ACTION:

    Final rule.

    SUMMARY:

    NMFS approves and implements an exemption for vessels with Federal Limited Access General Category Individual Fishing Quota permits from the State of Maine and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. This exemption enables the vessels to continue fishing in their respective state waters once NMFS has announced that the Federal Northern Gulf of Maine total allowable catch has been fully harvested in a given year. Additionally, Massachusetts has requested that Federal Limited Access General Category Northern Gulf of Maine permits also be included in its exemption. Both states have requested this exemption as part of the Scallop State Water Exemption Program. This program specifies that a state may be eligible for a state waters exemption to specific Federal regulations if it has a scallop fishery and a scallop conservation program that does not jeopardize the biomass and fishing mortality/effort limit objectives of the Atlantic Sea Scallop Fishery Management Plan. Based on the information that Maine and Massachusetts have submitted, NMFS has determined that both states qualify for this exemption and that this exemption will not have an impact on the effectiveness of Federal management measures for the scallop fishery overall or within the Northern Gulf of Maine management area.

    DATES:

    Effective October 25, 2017.

    ADDRESSES:

    Documents supporting this action, including the State of Maine and Commonwealth of Massachusetts requests for the exemption, the Categorical Exclusion, and Framework Adjustment 28 to the Atlantic Sea Scallop Fishery Management Plan (FMP) are available upon request from John K. Bullard, Regional Administrator, NMFS, Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office, 55 Great Republic Drive, Gloucester, MA 01930.

    Copies of the Permit Holder Letter are available from John K. Bullard, Regional Administrator, NMFS, Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office, 55 Great Republic Drive, Gloucester, MA 01930-2298, or available on the Internet at http://www.greateratlantic.fisheries.noaa.gov/sustainable/species/scallop/.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Shannah Jaburek, Fisheries Management Specialist, 978-282-8456.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Background

    The Scallop State Waters Exemption Program, described at § 648.54, specifies that a state with a scallop fishery may be eligible for state waters exemptions if it has a scallop conservation program that does not jeopardize the biomass and fishing mortality and effort limit objectives of the Scallop FMP. Under the Program, if NMFS determines that a state is eligible, federally permitted scallop vessels fishing in state waters may be exempted from specific Federal scallop regulations. One of these exemptions enables some scallop vessels to continue to fish in state waters within the Northern Gulf of Maine (NGOM) management area once the Federal NGOM total allowable catch (TAC) is reached. Any state interested in applying for this exemption must identify the scallop-permitted vessels that would be subject to the exemption (i.e., limited access, limited access general category (LAGC) individual fishing quota (IFQ), LAGC incidental, or LAGC NGOM). No vessel is permitted to fish for scallops in the Federal portion of the NGOM once the TAC is harvested. We provided a broader description of the Scallop State Waters Exemption Program in the preamble of the proposed rule (82 FR 29470; June 29, 2017) for this action. We are not repeating that information here.

    We received a request from Maine to expand its current exemptions to allow the four IFQ-permitted vessels with Maine state-waters permits to fish in the Maine state-waters portion of the NGOM management area once we project the Federal TAC to be fully harvested. Massachusetts also sent a request to exempt LAGC IFQ and NGOM-federally permitted vessels that also hold a state permit. Only the northern portion of Massachusetts state waters, approximately Boston and north, fall within the NGOM management area. The fishery in this area has traditionally been split between a handful of state-only vessels and 12 vessels with both Federal and state permits to fish for scallops. Of these LAGC vessels with dual permits, six traditionally fish in both Federal and state waters while the other six only fish in Federal waters. We do not anticipate any other vessels would fish under this exemption because it would not be economically beneficial. This provision allows vessels to continue to fish in state waters along with state permitted vessels that do not have Federal permits.

    Scallop effort has increased in the NGOM in recent years as the stock has improved in both state and Federal waters. In 2016, the NGOM management area TAC was fully harvested and was closed for the first time since the management area was created in 2008. In 2017, the area was closed on March 23, just over three weeks into the new fishing year and approximately two months earlier than in 2016. State-only permitted scallop vessels are able to fish in state waters after the Federal closure and this provision would allow those vessels with the requested Federal permit to continue to fish in state waters along with vessels without Federal permits.

    Based on the information Maine and Massachusetts submitted regarding their scallop conservation programs, and considering comments received during the public comment period, we determined that both states qualify for the NGOM state waters exemption under the Scallop FMP. Maine's regulations are the same as when they applied for this exemption for NGOM-permitted vessels in 2015. Massachusetts restricts scallop fishing activity in its waters with limited entry by requiring the state Coastal Access Permit, for which there is currently a moratorium and is only transferrable with the approval of the Director of Marine Fisheries. Therefore, increased additional effort in the future is not a significant concern. Vessels fishing for scallops in Massachusetts state waters also have a daily scallop possession limit of 200 lb (90.7 kg). This possession limit is equivalent to the NGOM management area, but more restrictive than the 600-lb (272.2-kg) Federal possession limit for IFQ vessels south of the NGOM area in Federal waters. Both Maine and Massachusetts's scallop fishery restrictions are as restrictive as Federal scallop fishing regulations and this exemption will not jeopardize the biomass and fishing mortality and effort limit objectives of the FMP. Allowing for this NGOM exemption will have no impact on the effectiveness of Federal management measures for the scallop fishery overall or within the NGOM management area because the NGOM Federal TAC is set based only on the Federal portion of the resource. In addition, LAGC IFQ vessels cannot land scallops beyond the vessel's yearly allocation or any additional quota that is leased in. Maine and Massachusetts are the only states that have requested a NGOM closure exemption, and only for state permit holders that also hold a Federal LAGC IFQ or NGOM scallop permit. As such, all other federally permitted scallop vessels would be prohibited from retaining, possessing, and landing scallops from within the NGOM management area, in both Federal and state waters, once the NGOM TAC is fully harvested.

    Comments and Responses

    We received eight comments on the proposed rule during the public comment period. Four of the eight comments were from industry members. Two were from industry-based organizations (the Maine Coast Fishermen's Association (MCFA) and The Cape Cod Commercial Fisherman's Alliance (CCCFA)). Two comments from the public had no relevance to the rule and are not addressed further.

    Comment 1: One industry member commented that IFQ vessels should be allowed to land scallops beyond their IFQ allocations when fishing in state waters because scallops from within state waters are not considered in setting the NGOM TAC or the overall overfishing limit/annual biological catch.

    Response: Extending the exemption to allow LAGC IFQ permits land scallops over their IFQ limits was not requested by Maine or Massachusetts. Even if it were, extending the exemption is beyond the scope of the state waters exemption program because it would alter the underpinnings of the current LAGC IFQ program and would require consideration by the New England Fishery Management Council, likely as part of an amendment to the FMP. Moreover, allowing harvesting of scallops over the limit of the Federal quota for these vessels would not be consistent with the current Federal management program.

    Comment 2: The CCCFA, MCFA, and two members of the industry commented that these exemptions would give the industry members more flexibility and stability, and it will support shoreside operations and businesses.

    Response: We agree.

    Comment 3: MCFA's comment implied that Limited Access permits were included in the exemption, in addition to LAGC IFQ and NGOM permits.

    Response: To clarify MCFS's comment, the exemption in this rule only includes NGOM and LAGC IFQ-permitted vessels. Maine did not request any exemptions for limited access vessels. Limited access vessels fishing in state waters in Maine currently are not subject to days at sea, but have no other exemptions in state waters or in other states.

    Comment 4: One member of the industry expressed frustration with the disparity of how we manage the NGOM Management Area between the LAGC and Limited Access (LA) fleets in relation to the NGOM TAC.

    Response: The allocations for the NGOM TAC for both the LA and LAGC fleets and how they are currently managed is beyond the scope of the state waters exemption program and this rule. However, for the 2018-2019 scallop fishing year, the New England Fishery Management Council has made the future management of the NGOM a priority.

    Changes From the Proposed Rule

    There are no changes from the proposed rule.

    Classification

    Pursuant to section 304(b)(1)(A) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the NMFS Assistant Administrator has determined that this final rule is consistent with the FMP, other provisions of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and other applicable law.

    The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has determined that this rule is not significant according to Executive Order (E.O.) 12866.

    This final rule does not contain policies with federalism or “takings” implications, as those terms are defined in E.O. 13132 and E.O. 12630, respectively.

    The Assistant Administrator for Fisheries has determined that the need to implement these measures in an expedited manner, in order to relieve restrictions on the scallop fleet, constitutes good cause, under authority contained in 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(1) and (3) to waive the 30-day delay in effectiveness so that the State Waters Program exemptions become effective upon publication in the Federal Register.

    The exemptions approved under this final rule for the State Waters Program will allow Maine and Massachusetts permitted scallop LAGC and NGOM vessels to continue fishing operations that would not be possible without this rule. The NGOM area was closed to fishing by LAGC vessels on March 23, 2017, and without this exemption would remain closed to these vessels until April 1, 2018. As long as this area is closed, the LAGC NGOM permitted vessels can no longer fish in the NGOM, including in state waters. LAGC IFQ vessels with homeports north of the NGOM boundary must now travel further from home in order to harvest scallops. Longer trips mean more operating expenses and less profits for individual vessels. Delaying the implementation of the exemptions in this rule would delay the positive economic benefits of resumed fishing activity to these vessels. For these reasons, there is good cause to implement this rule immediately.

    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. The factual basis for the certification was published in the proposed rule and is not repeated here. No comments were received regarding this certification. As a result, a regulatory flexibility analysis was not required and none was prepared.

    This final rule is considered an E.O. 13771 deregulatory action. As noted above and in the proposed rule, this rule will allow Maine vessels with an LAGC IFQ permit and Massachusetts vessels with LAGC IFQ and NGOM permits to continue fishing in their respective state's waters after the federal NGOM TAC has been harvested. When the NGOM TAC is harvested and the area closes, the LAGC NGOM permitted vessels can no longer fish and the LAGC IFQ vessels must travel further from home in order to harvest scallops; therefore, the vessel's individual income is affected. Massachusetts estimates that with this exemption, vessels could harvest up to an additional 100,000 lb worth an estimated $1.23 million dollars per year at a 2015 average price of $12.26/lb. Maine estimates that with this exemption, the four vessels would save on fuel, food, and maintenance costs associated with steaming to fishing grounds outside of the NGOM management area by fishing closer to individual homeports. These cost savings would vary by individual vessel, the number of vessels that participate in the exemption, and the given fishing year, but will have an overall positive economic benefit.

    List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 648

    Fisheries, Fishing, Recordkeeping and reporting requirements.

    Dated: October 19, 2017. Samuel D. Rauch III, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine Fisheries Service.

    For the reasons set out in the preamble, 50 CFR part 648 is amended as follows:

    PART 648—FISHERIES OF THE NORTHEASTERN UNITED STATES 1. The authority citation for part 648 continues to read as follows: Authority:

    16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.

    2. In § 648.54, paragraph (a)(4) is revised to read as follows:
    § 648.54 State waters exemption.

    (a) * * *

    (4) The Regional Administrator has determined that the State of Maine and Commonwealth of Massachusetts both have a scallop fishery conservation program for its scallop fishery that does not jeopardize the biomass and fishing mortality/effort limit objectives of the Scallop FMP. A vessel fishing in State of Maine waters may fish under the State of Maine state waters exemption, subject to the exemptions specified in paragraphs (b) and (c) of this section, provided the vessel is in compliance with paragraphs (e) through (g) of this section. In addition, a vessel issued a Federal Northern Gulf of Maine or Limited Access General Category Individual Fishing Quota permit fishing in State of Maine or Commonwealth of Massachusetts waters may fish under their respective state waters exemption specified in paragraph (d) of this section, provided the vessel is in compliance with paragraphs (e) through (g) of this section.

    [FR Doc. 2017-23133 Filed 10-24-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-22-P
    82 205 Wednesday, October 25, 2017 Proposed Rules DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES Office of the Secretary 21 CFR Chapter I 42 CFR Chapters I and IV 45 CFR Subtitle A and Subtitle B, Chapters II, III, IV, X, and XIII [HHS-9928-RFI] Removing Barriers for Religious and Faith-Based Organizations To Participate in HHS Programs and Receive Public Funding AGENCY:

    Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, Office of Intergovernmental and External Affairs, HHS.

    ACTION:

    Request for information.

    SUMMARY:

    The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is committed to delivering services to the public as efficiently and effectively as possible. Religious and faith-based organizations (hereafter “faith-based organizations”) are important partners with unique expertise that is crucial to advancing HHS's mission of protecting and enhancing the health and well-being of Americans. HHS seeks comment from faith-based organizations and other interested parties to inform HHS on how it may best identify and remove regulatory or other barriers in order for these institutions to participate in HHS-funded or regulated programs, strengthen partnerships with faith-based organizations to improve service delivery to the American people, and ensure faith-based organizations are affirmatively accommodated and not excluded from publicly funded or conducted programs or activities because of HHS requirements that burden or interfere with their religious character or exercise.

    DATES:

    Comments must be submitted on or before November 24, 2017.

    ADDRESSES:

    You may submit comments in one of four ways (please choose only one of the ways listed):

    1. Electronically. You may submit electronic comments through http://www.regulations.gov.

    2. By email. You may submit email comments to the following email address ONLY: [email protected]

    3. By regular mail. You may mail written comments to the following address ONLY: Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, Office of Intergovernmental and External Affairs, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Attention: RFI Regarding Faith-Based Organizations, Hubert H. Humphrey Building, 200 Independence Avenue SW., Washington, DC 20201. Please allow sufficient time for mailed comments to be received before the close of the comment period.

    4. By express or overnight mail. You may send written comments to the following address ONLY: Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, Office of Intergovernmental and External Affairs, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Attention: RFI Regarding Faith-Based Organizations, Hubert H. Humphrey Building, 200 Independence Avenue SW., Washington, DC 20201.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Shannon Royce, (202) 690-6060.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    All submissions made must include the Agency name HHS-9928-RFI. All comments received may be posted without change to http://www.regulations.gov, including any personal information provided.

    I. Background

    Executive Orders 13279 and 13559, issued by President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama, respectively, direct Federal agencies to “ensure equal protection under the laws for faith-based and community organizations” and “to strengthen the capacity of faith-based and other neighborhood organizations to deliver services effectively to those in need.” Further, in Executive Order 13798, President Donald Trump declared that “the Founders envisioned a Nation in which religious voices and views were integral to a vibrant public square, and in which religious people and institutions were free to practice their faith without fear of discrimination or retaliation by the Federal Government . . . Federal law protects the freedom of Americans and their organizations to exercise religion and participate fully in civic life without undue interference by the Federal Government. The executive branch will honor and enforce those protections.” The President further declared that it will be “the policy of the executive branch to vigorously enforce Federal law's robust protections for religious freedom.” 1

    1See also Memorandum from Attorney Gen. Jeff Sessions for All Executive Departments and Agencies, “Federal Law Protections for Religious Liberty” (Attorney General Memorandum) at 1 (Oct. 6, 2017), https://www.justice.gov/opa/press-release/file/1001891/download (“[r]eligious liberty is a foundational principle of enduring importance in America, enshrined in our Constitution and other sources of federal law”).

    This commitment to faith-based organizations has extended across administrations because faith-based organizations have a long history of providing an array of important services to people and communities in need of health care, education, social services, and other charitable services in the United States. Religious faith, in its many expressions, is a key aspect of American life and culture. Because so many people live their lives through their faith commitments, faith-based organizations are uniquely positioned to understand and serve their neighbors and communities in culturally competent ways. These organizations are driven by faith to serve people of all faiths or none with compassion and commitment, and to provide them with food, housing, health care, family support, mental health support, addiction recovery, counseling, education, and other essential services. According to a study by researchers at Georgetown University and the Newseum Institute, over 150 million Americans are members of over 344,000 religious congregations which sponsor a combined 1,621,000 health and social service programs.2 The study estimated that religious organizations provide about $1.2 trillion in socio-economic value to the U.S. every year.3 Furthermore, the mission driving these organizations can lead to improved services and innovative service delivery.

    2 Brian Grim and Melissa Grim, “The Socio-economic Contribution of Religion to American Society: An Empirical Analysis,” Interdisciplinary Journal of Research on Religion 12, no. 3 (2016), http://www.religjournal.com/pdf/ijrr12003.pdf.

    3 Ibid, Table 13.

    The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS” or “the Department”)—the Federal Government's largest grant-maker and the third largest Federal contracting agency—administers Federal funding with the overarching goal of delivering services, providing access to programs, and funding research that will improve the health and well-being of Americans. HHS's Federal funding opportunities span a wide range of activities: From providing health care services to particular populations, to aiding child welfare programs and providing resources to the elderly, to funding child care and nutrition programs and helping refugees and asylees connect with the resources they need to become self-sufficient, to supporting biomedical and other scientific research.

    Faith-based organizations have historically been a crucial component of HHS's efforts by delivering charitable care to Americans in need and engaging in other worthwhile initiatives with the assistance of grant and contract funding provided by the Department. For instance, HHS awarded over $817 million in funding to faith-based organizations across 65 competitive, non-formula grant programs in fiscal year 2007.4 Over half of all Continuing Care Retirement Communities in the country were faith-based in 2013; almost 60 percent of the emergency shelter beds for the homeless in eleven major cities were provided by faith-based organizations in 2016; and one in six hospital patients were cared for in Catholic hospitals in 2015, to name just a few of the industries in which these groups are invaluable in advancing the Department's objectives.5 Faith-based organizations also provide significant assistance in natural disasters and emergencies.

    4 The White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, “Federal Competitive Funding to Faith-Based and Secular Non-Profits Fiscal Year 2007,” last accessed September 29, 2017, https://georgewbush-whitehouse.archives.gov/government/fbci/data-collection-2007.html.

    5 Lisa McCracken, “Faith and the Not-For-Profit Provider,” Ziegler Investment Banking, August 25, 2014, http://image.exct.net/lib/ff021271746401/d/4/zNews_Featured_082514.pdf; Byron Johnson, William H. Wubbenhorst, and Alfreda Alvarez, “Assessing the Faith-Based Response to Homelessness in America: Findings from Eleven Cities,” Baylor Institute for Studies of Religion, (2017), available at http://www.baylorisr.org/wp-content/uploads/ISR-Homeless-FINAL-01092017-web.pdf; Catholic Health Association of the United States, “Catholic Health Care in the United States,” last updated January 2017, https://www.chausa.org/about/about/facts-statistics.

    HHS is dedicated to engaging in partnerships with a broad range of private sector organizations, some of which are faith-based and some of which are not, and we aim to administer our programs and funding without discrimination on the basis of religion. As part of achieving the Department's overall goals, HHS is fully committed to fostering robust and thriving partnerships with faith-based organizations that serve as either recipients or sub-recipients of Department funding or as partners with state or local agencies funded or regulated by HHS. This commitment is bolstered by the Attorney General's Memorandum for All Executive Departments and Agencies, “Federal Law Protections for Religious Liberty,” issued on October 6, 2017 pursuant to Executive Order 13798. The Attorney General instructed that, “to the greatest extent practicable and permitted by law, religious observance and practice should be reasonably accommodated in all government activity, including employment, contracting, and programming,” provided twenty principles to guide administrative agencies and executive departments in carrying out such tasks, and also provided guidance to such agencies and department in implementing such religious liberty principles.6 Given the regulatory nature of many of HHS's programs, HHS notes that the Attorney General's guidance directed that, “[i]n formulating rules, regulations, and policies, administrative agencies should also proactively consider potential burdens on the exercise of religion and possible accommodations of those burdens.” 7 Similarly, with respect to grants and contracts, the Attorney General's guidance instructs that “[a]gencies also must not discriminate against religious organizations in their contracting or grant-making activities,” noting that “[a]bsent unusual circumstances, agencies should not condition receipt of a government contract or grant on the effective relinquishment of a religious organization's Section 702 exemption for religious hiring practices, or any other constitutional or statutory protection for religious organizations.” 8

    6 Attorney General Memorandum at 1.

    7Id. at 7.

    8Id. at 8.

    Given the importance of faith-based organizations in carrying out the Department's mission of improving Americans' health and well-being, and the principles and directives in the Attorney General's Memorandum for All Executive Departments and Agencies, HHS solicits comments, through this request for information, to determine whether its existing regulations and guidance advance the Department's priority of cultivating partnerships with faith-based organizations that provide services to people in need or conduct other meaningful work. Because HHS primarily partners with faith-based organizations through grant and contract funding, HHS specifically seeks to identify any regulatory, guidance-based, or other requirements or conditions for grants or contracts that present barriers for faith-based organizations to participate in HHS-funded programs, and methods to ensure faith-based organizations are affirmatively accommodated, and not excluded from HHS-funded or conducted programs or activities because of HHS requirements that burden or interfere with their religious character or exercise.

    In this request for information, HHS seeks input from the public and relevant stakeholders on potential changes that could be made to existing HHS regulations or guidance to ensure that faith-based organizations and their religious beliefs and moral convictions are properly accommodated, that faith-based organizations are not required to act contrary to their religious beliefs or moral convictions (as a recipient, sub-recipient, contractor, sub-contractor, or otherwise) or are otherwise not restricted, excluded, substantially burdened, discriminated against, or disproportionately disadvantaged in HHS-conducted or funded programs or activities (including those administered by state and local governments) because of their religious character, identity, beliefs, or moral convictions.

    HHS also seeks input on whether faith-based organizations could face potential obstacles to participation in state or locally funded programs, or restrictions on their privately funded activities, because of HHS requirements imposed on state and local governments as a condition of receiving HHS funding.

    Finally, HHS seeks input on what policies, procedures, and assessment tools HHS should develop to affirmatively further the accommodation, equal treatment, and respect for the religious exercise of faith-based organizations interacting with HHS or HHS-funded entities.

    II. Solicitation of Comments

    HHS solicits comments on potential changes to existing regulations or guidance that affirmatively assure the equal treatment of faith-based organizations and on the extent to which faith-based organizations are beneficial to furthering the mission of the Department. Specifically, HHS seeks information that would assist it in pursuing the following objectives:

    1. To remove obstacles to participation by faith-based organizations in the delivery of publicly funded services and activities. What changes in HHS regulations, guidance, or other documents (e.g., contracts and funding opportunity announcements) or processes might encourage faith-based organizations to participate in HHS-funded programs and services? What existing regulations, guidance, or other documents or processes deter such participation?

    2. To ensure faith-based organizations—particularly those with a history of providing health, education, and other support to low-income people—are not excluded from eligibility for HHS funding. Which provisions in HHS regulations, guidance, or other documents directly or indirectly inhibit faith-based organizations from receiving HHS funds? How can the Department improve these regulations, guidance, or other documents? Are any faith-based organizations being restricted, excluded, substantially burdened, discriminated against, or disproportionately disadvantaged by HHS, an HHS grantee or contractor, or a state or local government entity administering an HHS-funded program or activity because of their religious character, identity, beliefs, or moral convictions?

    3. To ensure that faith-based organizations receive accommodation, equal treatment, and respect for their religious beliefs and moral convictions from HHS or HHS-funded entities. What regulations, guidance documents, policies, procedures, and/or assessment tools should HHS develop to affirmatively further the accommodation, equal treatment, and respect for the religious exercise of faith-based organizations interacting with HHS or HHS funded entities?

    4. To improve our understanding of the role of faith-based organizations in implementing programs and activities that advance the goals and objectives of HHS. Describe the value, whether qualitative or quantitative, that faith-based organizations provide in improving the health and well-being of Americans and other populations eligible for public benefits and services. What would the consequences be if these organizations were no longer able to participate in the Department's programs or services or were denied eligibility for Federal funding? Do faith-based organizations provide unique value that could not easily be replicated by other recipients? Would adequate services be available to people in need in the absence of Federal partnerships with faith-based organizations?

    This is a request for information only. Respondents are encouraged to provide complete but concise responses to any or all of the questions outlined above. This request for information is issued solely for information and planning purposes; it does not constitute a notice of proposed rulemaking or request for proposals, applications, proposal abstracts, or quotations, nor does it suggest that the Department will undertake any particular action in response to comments. This request for information does not commit the United States Government (“Government”) to contract for any supplies or services or make a grant award. Further, HHS is not seeking proposals through this request for information and will not accept unsolicited proposals. Respondents are advised that the Government will not pay for any information or administrative costs incurred in response to this request for information; all costs associated with responding to this request for information will be solely at the interested party's expense. Not responding to this request for information does not preclude participation in any future rulemaking or procurement, if conducted. It is the responsibility of the potential responders to monitor this request for information announcement for additional information pertaining to this request. We also note that HHS will not respond to questions about the policy issues raised in this request for information. HHS may or may not choose to contact individual responders. Such communications would only serve to further clarify written responses. Contractor support personnel may be used to review the responses submitted under this request for information. Responses to this notice are not offers and cannot be accepted by the Government to form a binding contract or issue a grant. Information obtained as a result of this request for information may be used by the Government for program planning on a non-attribution basis. Respondents should not include any information that might be considered proprietary or confidential. This request for information should not be construed as a commitment or authorization to incur cost for which reimbursement would be required or sought. All submissions become Government property and will not be returned. HHS may publicly post the comments received, or a summary thereof. While responses to this request for information do not bind HHS to any further actions related to the response, all comments may be posted online on http://www.regulations.gov.

    III. Collection of Information Requirements

    This document does not impose information collection requirements; that is, reporting, recordkeeping or third-party disclosure requirements. This request for information constitutes a general solicitation of comments. In accordance with the implementing regulations of the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA) at 5 CFR 1320.3(h)(4), information subject to the PRA does not generally include “facts or opinions submitted in response to general solicitations of comments from the public, published in the Federal Register or other publications, regardless of the form or format thereof, provided that no person is required to supply specific information pertaining to the commenter, other than that necessary for self-identification, as a condition of the agency's full consideration of the comment.” Consequently, this document need not be reviewed by the Office of Management and Budget under the authority of the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.).

    Dated: October 20, 2017. Jane E. Norton, Director, Office of Intergovernmental & External Affairs, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
    [FR Doc. 2017-23257 Filed 10-24-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4120-01-P
    ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY 40 CFR Part 770 [EPA-HQ-OPPT-2017-0245; FRL-9962-80] RIN 2070-AK36 Voluntary Consensus Standards Update; Formaldehyde Emission Standards for Composite Wood Products AGENCY:

    Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

    ACTION:

    Proposed rule.

    SUMMARY:

    EPA is proposing to amend the formaldehyde emission standards for composite wood products final rule, published in the Federal Register on December 12, 2016 (81 FR 89674). The proposed amendment would update multiple voluntary consensus standards that have been updated, superseded, or withdrawn since publication of the notices of proposed rulemaking on June 10, 2013 (78 FR 34796 and 78 FR 34820) and would amend an existing regulatory provision regarding the correlation of quality control test methods.

    DATES:

    Comments must be received on or before November 9, 2017. Comments postmarked after the close of the comment period will be stamped “late” and may or may not be considered by the Agency.

    ADDRESSES:

    Submit your comments, identified by docket identification (ID) number EPA-HQ-OPPT-2017-0245, by one of the following methods:

    Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the online instructions for submitting comments. Do not submit electronically any information you consider to be Confidential Business Information (CBI) or other information whose disclosure is restricted by statute.

    Mail: Document Control Office (7407M), Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics (OPPT), Environmental Protection Agency, 1200 Pennsylvania Ave. NW., Washington, DC 20460-0001.

    Hand Delivery: To make special arrangements for hand delivery or delivery of boxed information, please follow the instructions at http://www.epa.gov/dockets/contacts.html.

    Additional instructions on commenting or visiting the docket, along with more information about dockets generally, is available at http://www.epa.gov/dockets.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

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

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

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    For further information about the proposed changes to the voluntary consensus standards and the correlation of quality control test methods, please see the information provided in the direct final action, with the same title, that is located in the “Rules and Regulations” section of this Federal Register publication. For the reasons set out in the preamble to that direct final action, this proposed rule would amend title 40, chapter I, subchapter R, of the Code of Federal Regulations as provided in that direct final action.

    List of Subjects in 40 CFR Part 770

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

    Dated: October 12, 2017. E. Scott Pruitt, Administrator.
    [FR Doc. 2017-23061 Filed 10-24-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560-50-P
    FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION 47 CFR Part 64 [CG Docket Nos. 03-123 and 10-51; DA 17-980] Petition for Reconsideration of Action in Rulemaking Proceeding AGENCY:

    Federal Communications Commission.

    ACTION:

    Petition for reconsideration.

    SUMMARY:

    A Petition for Reconsideration (Petition) has been filed in the Commission's rulemaking proceeding by the Interstate Telecommunications Relay Service Advisory Council.

    DATES:

    Comments to the Petition must be filed on or before November 9, 2017. Reply Comments must be filed on or before November 20, 2017.

    ADDRESSES:

    Federal Communications Commission, 445 12th Street SW., Washington, DC 20554.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Michael Scott, Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau, email: [email protected]; phone: (202) 418-1264.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    This is a summary of the Commission's document DA 17-980, released October 6, 2017. The full text of the Petition is available for viewing and copying at the FCC Reference Information Center, 445 12th Street SW., Room CY-A257, Washington, DC 20554 or may be accessed online via the Commission's Electronic Comment Filing System at: https://ecfsapi.fcc.gov/file/10921132140710/Interstate%20TRS%20Advisory%20Council%20PFR%209.21.2017%20filed.pdf. The Commission will not send a Congressional Review Act (CRA) submission to Congress or the Government Accountability Office pursuant to the CRA, 5.U.S.C. 801(a)(1)(A), because no rules are being adopted by the Commission.

    Subject: Telecommunications Relay Services and Speech-to-Speech Services for Individuals with Hearing and Speech Disabilities; Structure and Practices of the Video Relay Service Program, FCC 17-86, published at 82 FR 39673, August 22, 2017 in CG Docket Nos. 03-123 and 10-51. This document is being published pursuant to 47 CFR 1.429(e). See also 47 CFR 1.4(b)(1) and 1.429(f), (g).

    Number of Petitions Filed: 1.

    Federal Communications Commission. Karen Peltz Strauss, Deputy Chief, Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau.
    [FR Doc. 2017-23146 Filed 10-24-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6712-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 635 [Docket No. 170823804-7932-01] RIN 0648-BH17 Atlantic Highly Migratory Species; Individual Bluefin Quota Program; Accountability for Bluefin Tuna Catch AGENCY:

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

    ACTION:

    Proposed rule; request for comments and notice of public hearing.

    SUMMARY:

    NMFS proposes to modify the Atlantic highly migratory species (HMS) regulations to require vessels in the pelagic longline fishery to account for bycatch of bluefin tuna (bluefin) using Individual Bluefin Quota (IBQ) on a quarterly basis instead of before commencing any fishing trip with less than the minimum required IBQ balance or with quota debt. Specifically, vessels would be allowed to fish with an IBQ balance below the minimum amount currently required to depart on a fishing trip with pelagic longline gear, or with quota debt incurred by exceeding their IBQ balance, during a given calendar quarter; however, vessels would be required to reconcile quota debt and satisfy the minimum IBQ requirement prior to departing on a pelagic longline fishing trip in the subsequent calendar quarter. The action will further optimize fishing opportunity in the directed pelagic longline fishery for target species such as tuna and swordfish and improve the functionality of the IBQ Program and its accounting provisions, consistent with the objectives of Amendment 7 to the 2006 Consolidated HMS Fishery Management Plan (FMP).

    DATES:

    Written comments must be received on or before November 24, 2017. NMFS will host an operator-assisted public hearing conference call and webinar on October 31, 2017, from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. EDT, providing an opportunity for individuals from all geographic areas to participate. See SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION for further details.

    ADDRESSES:

    You may submit comments on this document, identified by “NOAA-NMFS-2017-0119,” by either of the following methods:

    Electronic Submission: Submit all electronic public comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. Go to www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-2017-0119, click the “Comment Now!” icon, complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments.

    Mail: Submit written comments to Thomas Warren, Highly Migratory Species (HMS) Management Division, Office of Sustainable Fisheries (F/SF1), NMFS, 55 Great Republic Drive, Gloucester, MA 01930.

    Instructions: Comments sent by any other method, to any other address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period, may not be considered by NMFS. All comments received are a part of the public record and generally will be posted for public viewing on www.regulations.gov without change. All personal identifying information (e.g., name, address, etc.), confidential business information, or otherwise sensitive information submitted voluntarily by the sender will be publicly accessible. NMFS will accept anonymous comments (enter “N/A” in the required fields if you wish to remain anonymous).

    The public hearing conference call information is phone number (888) 391-7048; participant passcode 8277768. Participants are strongly encouraged to log/dial in 15 minutes prior to the meeting. NMFS will show a brief presentation via webinar followed by public comment. To join the webinar, go to: https://noaaevents3.webex.com/noaaevents3/onstage/g.php?MTID=e54f7226a1f5760de0610e7545c3e472e; meeting number: 990 093 099; password: NOAA. Participants who have not used WebEx before will be prompted to download and run a plug-in program that will enable them to view the webinar.

    Supporting documents, including the Regulatory Impact Review and Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis, may be downloaded from the HMS Web site at www.nmfs.noaa.gov/sfa/hms/. These documents also are available by contacting Thomas Warren at the mailing address specified above.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Thomas Warren, 978-281-9260; or Carrie Soltanoff, 301-427-8503.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Regulations implemented under the authority of the Atlantic Tunas Convention Act (ATCA; 16 U.S.C. 971 et seq.) and the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act; 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.) governing the harvest of BFT by persons and vessels subject to U.S. jurisdiction are found at 50 CFR part 635. Section 635.27 subdivides the U.S. BFT quota recommended by the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) among the various domestic fishing categories, per the allocations established in the 2006 Consolidated Atlantic Highly Migratory Species Fishery Management Plan (2006 Consolidated HMS FMP) (71 FR 58058, October 2, 2006), as amended by Amendment 7 to the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP (Amendment 7) (79 FR 71510, December 2, 2014), and in accordance with implementing regulations. The current baseline U.S. BFT quota and subquotas were established and analyzed in the BFT quota final rule (80 FR 52198, August 28, 2015). NMFS is required under ATCA and the Magnuson-Stevens Act to provide U.S. fishing vessels with a reasonable opportunity to harvest the ICCAT-recommended quota.

    Background

    Bluefin fishing is managed domestically through a quota system (on a calendar-year basis), in conjunction with other management measures including permitting, reporting, gear restrictions, minimum fish sizes, closed areas, trip limits, and catch shares. NMFS implements the ICCAT U.S. quota recommendation, and divides the quota among U.S. fishing categories (i.e., the General, Angling, Harpoon, Purse Seine, Longline, and Trap categories) and the Reserve category on an annual basis. Vessels fishing with pelagic longline gear, which catch bluefin incidentally while fishing for target species (primarily swordfish and yellowfin tuna), hold limited access Atlantic Tunas Longline permits and utilize Longline category quota. Through Amendment 7, NMFS established the IBQ Program, a catch share program that identified 136 permit holders as IBQ share recipients based on specified criteria, including historical target species landings and the bluefin catch-to-target species ratios from 2006 through 2012. The objectives of the IBQ Program include limiting the amount of BFT landings and dead discards in the pelagic longline fishery; providing strong incentives for the vessel owner and operator to avoid bluefin interactions and thus reduce bluefin dead discards; and balancing the objective of limiting bluefin landings and dead discards with the objective of optimizing fishing opportunities and maintaining profitability.

    IBQ share recipients receive an annual allocation of the Longline category quota based on the percentage share they received through Amendment 7 but only if their permit is associated with a vessel in the subject year (i.e., only “qualified IBQ share recipients” receive annual allocations). Permit holders that did not receive IBQ shares through Amendment 7 may still fish, but they are required to lease IBQ. Leasing occurs through the IBQ electronic system. Through rulemaking, NMFS modified the regulations to optimize quota transferred inseason by authorizing distribution of quota only to permitted Atlantic Tunas Longline vessels with recent fishing activity (81 FR 95903; December 29, 2016). Every vessel must have a minimum amount of quota allocation to fish (described below), whether obtained through their shares or by leasing, and every vessel must individually account for its bluefin landings and dead discards through the IBQ electronic system.

    Delayed effective dates for some of the regulations implemented through Amendment 7 assisted in the transition to measures adopted in Amendment 7, which substantially increased individual vessel accountability for bluefin bycatch (landings and dead discards) in the Longline fishery. During 2015, the first year of implementation of the IBQ Program, a pelagic longline vessel that had insufficient IBQ to account for its landings and dead discards (i.e., went into “quota debt”) was allowed to continue to fish, however any additional landings and dead discards continued to accrue, and the cumulative quota debt needed to be accounted for no later than December 31, 2015. A vessel that did not resolve its quota debt by December 31, would retain the quota debt into 2016, and its quota debt would be deducted from its annual IBQ allocation (allocated January 1 to shareholders associated with permitted vessels). In contrast, as of January 1, 2016, a vessel fishing with pelagic longline gear onboard must have a minimum IBQ allocation to embark on a trip. A minimum allocation required to fish is 0.25 mt (551 lb) whole weight (ww) for a trip in the Gulf of Mexico and 0.125 mt ww (276 lb ww) for a trip in the Atlantic. Pelagic longline vessels may lease IBQ allocation from other such vessels or from Purse Seine fishery participants in the IBQ Program to obtain sufficient allocation for their trips or to account for quota debt.

    The IBQ Program has been operating since its implementation (both in 2015 under annual accountability and in 2016 and 2017 under trip-level accountability). Pelagic longline vessel owners have been accounting for bluefin catch using the IBQ Program and leasing quota among themselves (and from Purse Seine fishery participants) as needed in order to fully account for bluefin catch using IBQ. Notably, estimates of 2015 and 2016 dead discards of bluefin (17.1 mt and 22.6 mt, respectively) by the pelagic longline fishery indicate substantial reductions of greater than 50 percent compared to the pre-2015 levels (159.6 mt on average for 2006 through 2014). However, since implementation, pelagic longline fishery participants have consistently requested additional flexibility due to the constraints and costs associated with the accounting and leasing requirements of the IBQ Program, which affects profitability of target species catch (primarily swordfish and yellowfin tuna) and causes uncertainty in a vessel owner's short-term and long-term plans. Vessel owners stated that their ability to account for bluefin using allocated IBQ or IBQ leased at an affordable price is key to the success of the IBQ Program. A vessel that has below the minimum amount of IBQ to fish or is in quota debt is uncertain about their ability to depart on a subsequent fishing trip. Specifically, vessels have been concerned that the IBQ Program, including the trip-level accountability requirements, could negatively impact vessel operations and finances given the timing restrictions, lease pricing of IBQ, the distribution of quota among permit holders as implemented by Amendment 7, and the behavior of some permit holders who, for example, do not appear to be actively fishing nor engaged in any leasing activities. They also say that the expense of leasing IBQ allocation when needed can impact other operational costs such as crew pay. If availability of IBQ is limited, or costs are prohibitive, the operational impacts increase. IBQ Program data generally reflect that, for leasing transactions that occurred, sales revenue received per pound approximated the cost per pound of leasing IBQ. However, IBQ Program participants (which include any permit holder or vessel that leases quota to facilitate pelagic longline operations) and potential lessees have communicated that there were instances where the cost at which lessors were willing to lease their IBQ was prohibitive and leasing did not occur and this information would not be reflected in NMFS data. Furthermore, expanded opportunities to fish with pelagic longline gear within the available swordfish quota are contingent on access to additional quota to account for bluefin bycatch and discards. Longline fishery participants requested that NMFS take further steps to provide more flexibility regarding timing for vessel owners to lease IBQ needed to cover bluefin catch.

    Therefore, pelagic longline fishery participants consistently requested additional flexibility in the regulations due to the dynamics and costs associated with leasing IBQ described above, which can affect profitability of target species catch, increase uncertainty, and negatively affect the ability to plan their business. Such effects may be compounded by the impacts of other constraints associated with Amendment 7, including additional gear restricted areas and VMS and electronic monitoring requirements, as well as non-Amendment 7 related constraints (e.g., market demands etc.).

    In light of these challenges facing the fishery, as well as the Amendment 7 objectives which include “minimizing constraints on fishing for target species,” as well as “optimizing fishing opportunities and maintaining profitability,” NMFS has utilized its authority to transfer quota inseason to the Longline category (80 FR 45098; July 29, 2015; 81 FR 19; January 4, 2106; 82 FR 12296; March 2, 2017) to foster conditions in which vessel owners become more willing to lease IBQ, optimize fishing opportunity, and reduce uncertainty in the fishery.

    During its May 2017 Advisory Panel Meeting, pelagic longline vessel owners acknowledged the effectiveness of NMFS' actions in support of the IBQ Program objectives, but reiterated the need for additional flexibility and offered suggestions for high priority regulatory changes to achieve such flexibility.

    NMFS received requests, among other suggestions about the IBQ Program and management of the pelagic longline fishery, to allow more time for vessel owners to resolve quota debt and achieve a minimum balance of IBQ, rather than require vessels to have a minimum balance of IBQ as a prerequisite of every longline trip. In light of past fishery dynamics under the IBQ Program and public input regarding the need for additional flexibility, this rule proposes to modify the accountability provisions of the IBQ Program as a reasonable means to provide some additional flexibility for individual vessel owners, while achieving a balance among the IBQ Program objectives.

    The pelagic longline fishery is a diverse fishing fleet, with a variety of vessel sizes and types of operations distributed from the waters off Nova Scotia to the Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean, and South America. Timing of fishing trips are typically based on the availability of target species, weather, moon phase, markets, crew and bait availability, and other factors. Quarterly accountability may achieve a better balance between minimizing constraints on fishing for target species and ensuring accountability for incidental bluefin catch, due to the fact that it allows a vessel owner to determine the timing of lease transactions or level of quota debt they are comfortable maintaining over a longer period. Alleviation of the timing constraint associated with trip-level accountability would provide additional flexibility. A vessel owner may need flexibility to pay costs associated with fishing (fuel, bait, ice, labor, repairs, etc.), including the cost of leasing IBQ, on a timeline unique to their operation and finances. The opportunity to fish with a low IBQ balance or with quota debt may enable a vessel owner to continue to obtain revenue during the time period when they are looking for quota to lease and accommodate different types of fishing operations and financial obligations. Quarterly accountability would require vessel owners to resolve quota debt and obtain the minimum amount of IBQ prior to fishing for the first time in a subsequent calendar quarter.

    Request for Comments

    NMFS solicits comments on this proposed rule through November 24, 2017. See instructions in ADDRESSES section.

    Public Hearing Conference Call

    NMFS will hold a public hearing conference call and webinar on October 31, 2017, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. EDT, to allow for an additional opportunity for interested members of the public from all geographic areas to submit verbal comments on the proposed rule.

    The public is reminded that NMFS expects participants at public hearings and on conference calls to conduct themselves appropriately. At the beginning of the conference call, a representative of NMFS will explain the ground rules (all comments are to be directed to the agency on the proposed action; attendees will be called to give their comments in the order in which they registered to speak; each attendee will have an equal amount of time to speak; and attendees should not interrupt one another). The NMFS representative will attempt to structure the meeting so that all attending members of the public will be able to comment, if they so choose, regardless of the controversial nature of the subject matter. If attendees do not respect the ground rules, they will be asked to leave the conference call.

    Classification

    The NMFS Assistant Administrator has determined that the proposed rule is consistent with the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP and its amendments, the Magnuson-Stevens Act, ATCA, and other applicable law, subject to further consideration after public comment.

    This proposed rule has been determined to be not significant for purposes of Executive Order 12866.

    This action has been preliminarily determined to be categorically excluded from the requirement to prepare an environmental assessment in accordance with NOAA Administrative Order (NAO) 216-6A, subject to further consideration after public comment. This action may appropriately be categorically excluded from the requirement to prepare either an environmental assessment or environmental impact statement in accordance with CE A1 of the Companion Manual for NAO 216-6A for an action that is a technical correction or a change to a fishery management action or regulation, which does not result in a substantial change in any of the following: Fishing location, timing, effort, authorized gear types, access to fishery resources or harvest levels. By somewhat altering the timing of the accounting for bluefin tuna by individual pelagic longline vessels, the changes in the proposed action could also be expected to alter some fishing timing, and this is the intent of the additional flexibility offered by the changes proposed in the action. We expect this to result in some minor alterations in fishing trip timing by individual vessel owners. Timing would not, however, be altered in a way that would constitute a substantial change. In practice, this action would give some individual vessels flexibility to alter the timing of some of their fishing trips within a three-month period. Given the size of the fleet and the number of fishing trips taken, such minor variations in individual fishing trips would not result in substantial changes to fishing timing overall. Moreover, the level of fishing remains capped by the U.S. bluefin tuna quota; the timing of the fishing is substantively managed by the various subquota categories, inseason actions (e.g., regarding retention limits) and seasons. Any minor modifications in individual vessel practice will not increase or decrease the quota nor the fishing mortality associated with that quota or have any other environmental effects. The annual U.S. bluefin tuna quota and subquota allocations to the Longline category would not be affected by this action. A final determination will be made prior to publication of the final rule for this action.

    NMFS has prepared a Regulatory Impact Review (RIR) and an Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (IRFA), which present and analyze anticipated social and economic impacts of the alternatives contained in this proposed rule. The list of alternatives and their analyses are provided in the draft RIR and are not repeated here in their entirety. A copy of the draft RIR prepared for this proposed rule is available from NMFS (see ADDRESSES).

    An IRFA was prepared, as required by section 603 of the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA, 5 U.S.C. 603 et seq.), and is included below. The IRFA describes the economic impact this proposed rule, if adopted, would have on small entities. A description of the action, why it is being considered, and the legal basis for this action are contained in the SUMMARY section of the preamble.

    The goal of the RFA is to analyze the economic burden of federal regulations on small entities. To that end, the RFA directs federal agencies to assess whether the proposed regulation is likely to result in significant economic impacts to a substantial number of small entities, and identify and analyze any significant alternatives to the proposed rule that accomplish the objectives of applicable statutes and minimizes any significant effects on small entities.

    Description of the Reasons Why Action Is Being Considered

    In compliance with section 603(b)(1) of the RFA, the purpose of this proposed rulemaking is, consistent with the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP objectives, the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act), and other applicable law, to require vessels in the pelagic longline fishery to account for bycatch of bluefin tuna using IBQ on a quarterly basis instead of before commencing any fishing trip while in quota debt or with less than the minimum required IBQ balance.

    Current regulations require permitted Atlantic Tunas Longline vessels to possess a minimum amount of IBQ to depart on a fishing trip with pelagic longline gear and account for bluefin tuna catch (fish retained or discarded dead) using IBQ (0.25 mt for a trip in the Gulf of Mexico and 0.125 mt for a trip in the Atlantic). At the end of a trip on which bluefin tuna are caught, a vessel's IBQ balance is reduced by the amount caught. If the trip catch exceeds the vessel's available quota, the vessel will incur quota debt (i.e., exceeding its available IBQ balance). In this case, the regulations currently require the vessel to obtain additional IBQ through leasing to resolve that quota debt and to acquire the minimum IBQ amount before departing on a subsequent trip using pelagic longline gear. Thus, a pelagic longline vessel owner who takes consecutive trips must account for bluefin tuna catch in almost real time, effectively creating a system of “trip-level accountability” for those vessels.

    This action would modify these rules to require vessels to resolve quota debt on a quarterly basis (i.e., they must balance the debt and obtain the minimum amount required to depart on a fishing trip before going on a trip in the next quarter). Vessels would be allowed to fish with a low IBQ balance or with quota debt during a calendar quarter. Vessels would still be required to report bluefin tuna catch at the end of each trip (and account for it with IBQ), but this regulatory change would provide the flexibility to fish even if the vessel has less than the minimum amount of IBQ, including quota debt, until the first fishing trip in each calendar quarter. For example, under the new measure, if a vessel has a low balance or quota debt in January 2018, the vessel would be allowed to fish without first resolving that low balance or quota debt through March 31, 2018. In order to depart on a pelagic longline fishing trip in the following quarter, starting April 1, 2018, that vessel would need to lease additional IBQ resolve the quota debt and acquire the minimum amount of IBQ required to fish.

    The rule would provide flexibility for two important operational business decisions made by vessel owners: decisions regarding quota balance and quota debt (subject to full accounting quarterly) and decisions regarding the timing and price at which they lease additional quota. Importantly, this regulatory change would maintain vessel accountability for bluefin tuna catch and the associated incentives for vessel operators to minimize catch of bluefin tuna. By changing the timing of the accountability, however, the proposed rule would provide some additional flexibility in vessel operations and thus provide vessel owners more of a reasonable opportunity to catch available quota for target species (i.e., swordfish and yellowfin tuna).

    Statement of the Objectives of, and Legal Basis for, the Proposed Rule

    In compliance with section 603(b)(2) of the RFA, the objective of this proposed rulemaking is to provide additional flexibility regarding the timing of accounting for bluefin tuna in the IBQ Program in a manner that maintains accountability for bluefin tuna and a strong incentive for pelagic longline vessels to avoid interactions with bluefin tuna, while minimizing constraints on fishing for target species and, to the greatest extent possible, the socioeconomic impacts on affected fisheries.

    The legal basis for this proposed rule stems from the dual authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Act and the Atlantic Tunas Convention Act (ATCA). Under the Magnuson-Stevens Act, NMFS must, consistent with ten National Standards, manage fisheries to maintain optimum yield (OY) by rebuilding overfished fisheries and preventing overfishing. Under ATCA, NMFS is authorized to promulgate regulations as may be necessary and appropriate to carry out binding recommendations of ICCAT. Additionally, any management measures must be consistent with other domestic laws including the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the Endangered Species Act (ESA), the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), and the Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA).

    Description and Estimate of the Number of Small Entities To Which the Proposed Rule Would Apply

    Section 603(b)(3) of the RFA requires agencies to provide an estimate of the number of small entities to which the rule would apply. The Small Business Administration (SBA) has established size criteria for all major industry sectors in the United States, including fish harvesters. Provision is made under SBA's regulations for an agency to develop its own industry-specific size standards after consultation with the SBA Office of Advocacy and an opportunity for public comment (see 13 CFR 121.903(c)). Under this provision, NMFS may establish size standards that differ from those established by the SBA Office of Size Standards, but only for use by NMFS and only for the purpose of conducting an analysis of economic effects in fulfillment of the agency's obligations under the RFA. To utilize this provision, NMFS must publish such size standards in the Federal Register (FR), which NMFS did on December 29, 2015 (80 FR 81194, December 29, 2015).

    In this final rule effective on July 1, 2016, NMFS established a small business size standard of $11 million in annual gross receipts for all businesses in the commercial fishing industry (NAICS 11411) for RFA compliance purposes. NMFS considers all HMS Atlantic Tunas Longline permit holders (280 as of October 2016) to be small entities because these vessels have reported annual gross receipts of less than $11 million for commercial fishing. The average annual gross revenue per active pelagic longline vessel was estimated to be $187,000 based on the 170 active vessels between 2006 and 2012 that produced an estimated $31.8 million in revenue annually. The maximum annual revenue for any pelagic longline vessel between 2006 and 2015 was $1.9 million, well below the NMFS small business size threshold of $11 million in gross receipts for commercial fishing. Therefore, NMFS considers all Atlantic Tunas Longline permit holders to be small entities.

    NMFS has determined that this proposed rule would apply to the small businesses associated with the 136 Atlantic Tunas Longline permits with IBQ shares and the additional permitted Atlantic Tunas Longline vessels that fish with quota leased through the IBQ Program. NMFS has determined that this action would not likely directly affect any small organizations or small government jurisdictions defined under the RFA.

    Description of the Projected Reporting, Recordkeeping, and Other Compliance Requirements of the Proposed Rule, Including an Estimate of the Classes of Small Entities Which Would Be Subject to the Requirements of the Report or Record

    Section 603(b)(4) of the RFA requires agencies to describe any new reporting, record-keeping and other compliance requirements. This proposed rule does not contain any new collection of information, reporting, or record-keeping requirements but only modifies existing requirements.

    Identification of All Relevant Federal Rules Which May Duplicate, Overlap, or Conflict With the Proposed Rule

    Under section 603(b)(5) of the RFA, agencies must identify, to the extent practicable, relevant Federal rules which duplicate, overlap, or conflict with the proposed action. Fishermen, dealers, and managers in these fisheries must comply with a number of international agreements, domestic laws, and other FMPs. These include, but are not limited to, the Magnuson-Stevens Act, ATCA, High Seas Fishing Compliance Act, MMPA, ESA, NEPA, Paperwork Reduction Act, and CZMA. This proposed action has been determined not to duplicate, overlap, or conflict with any of these statutes or Federal rules.

    Description of Any Significant Alternatives to the Proposed Rule That Accomplish the Stated Objectives of the Applicable Statutes and That Minimize Any Significant Economic Impact of the Proposed Rule on Small Entities

    One of the requirements of an IRFA is to describe any significant alternatives to the proposed rule which accomplish the stated objectives of applicable statutes and which minimize any significant economic impact of the proposed rule on small entities. The analysis shall discuss significant alternatives such as:

    1. Establishment of differing compliance or reporting requirements or timetables that take into account the resources available to small entities;

    2. Clarification, consolidation, or simplification of compliance and reporting requirements under the rule for such small entities;

    3. Use of performance rather than design standards; and

    4. Exemptions from coverage of the rule, or any part thereof, for small entities.

    These categories of alternatives are described at 5 U.S.C. 603(c)(1)-(4)). NMFS examined each of these categories of alternatives. Regarding the first and fourth categories, NMFS cannot establish differing compliance or reporting requirements for small entities or exempt small entities from coverage of the rule or parts of it because all of the businesses impacted by this rule are considered small entities and thus the requirements are already designed for small entities. NMFS examined alternatives that fall under the second category, which requires agencies to consider whether they can clarify, consolidate, or simplify compliance and reporting requirements under the proposed rule for small entities. The quarterly and annual accountability alternatives in the proposed rule would reduce the burden of complying with the existing trip level accountability requirement and thus would fall into this category of alternatives by simplifying compliance and reporting requirements for small entities. The IBQ Program was designed to adhere to performance standards, the third category above; modifications to the regulations implementing the IBQ Program simply make adjustments to the administration of those underlying performance standards. Thus, NMFS has considered the significant alternatives to the proposed rule and focused on simplifying compliance and reporting requirements associated with IBQ accountability in order to minimize any significant economic impact of the proposed rule on small entities.

    NMFS analyzed several different alternatives in this proposed rulemaking, and the rationale that NMFS used to determine the alternative for achieving the desired objectives is described below.

    The first alternative is the “no action” (status quo) alternative. The second alternative, the preferred alternative, would adjust the Atlantic HMS regulations to require the pelagic longline fishery to account for bycatch of bluefin tuna using IBQ on a quarterly basis instead of before embarking on a trip after incurring quota debt. The third alternative would adjust the Atlantic HMS regulations to require the pelagic longline fishery to account for bycatch of bluefin tuna using IBQ on an annual basis instead of before embarking on a trip after incurring quota debt. The economic impacts of these three alternatives are detailed below. Under all three alternatives, a vessel's IBQ balance would be reduced to account for bluefin tuna discarded dead or retained immediately after the catch is reported in the IBQ system. The difference among the alternatives is the timing of when quota debt or a low balance of IBQ precludes fishing and must be resolved prior to departing on a subsequent trip using pelagic longline gear (trip level, quarterly, or annually).

    Under the “no action” alternative, NMFS would maintain the current regulations regarding accounting for bluefin tuna catch and prerequisites for departing on a fishing trip with pelagic longline gear on board. Current regulations require permitted Atlantic Tunas Longline vessel owners (or vessel operators, where applicable) to possess a minimum amount of IBQ to depart on a fishing trip with pelagic longline gear and account for bluefin tuna caught (retained or discarded dead) using IBQ at the end of the trip. Therefore, at the end of a trip on which bluefin tuna are caught, a vessel owner's balance of IBQ would be reduced, possibly below the minimum amount needed for a subsequent trip, or the vessel owner may incur quota debt by exceeding their IBQ balance. In either of these cases, the vessel owner must obtain additional IBQ through leasing in order to satisfy the minimum requirement (and resolve any quota debt they may have) prior to departing on another trip using pelagic longline gear. The net effect of these rules is that a pelagic longline vessel owner that takes multiple sequential trips must account for bluefin tuna in real-time, which NMFS refers to as “trip-level accountability.”

    This approach was implemented by Amendment 7, but effectiveness was delayed until January 1, 2016, in contrast to most of the other Amendment 7 measures that were effective on January 1, 2015. During 2016, there were 1,025 pelagic longline trips by 85 vessels, which deployed 6,885 sets and 5,217,547 hooks. During 2016, there were 81 IBQ lease transactions with a total of 141,183 lb IBQ leased and an average price of $ 2.52 per pound (weighted average). There were a total of 17 vessels that incurred quota debt at some time during the year, with a total amount of 40,237 lb of debt incurred and resolved. Mean revenue per trip during 2016 based on logbook, dealer, and weigh out data was $ 24,707.

    During 2016, pelagic longline vessel owners successfully accounted for bluefin tuna catch using the IBQ Program and leasing quota among themselves (and from Purse Seine fishery participants) as needed in order to fully account for bluefin tuna catch using IBQ. However, since implementation, pelagic longline fishery participants have consistently requested some additional flexibility due to the costs associated with leasing IBQ, which can affect profitability of target species catch, as well as the concern that vessel owners appear to be unwilling to lease IBQ at certain times, uncertainties regarding the availability of IBQ to lease, and the impacts of other constraints associated with Amendment 7, including additional gear restricted areas and VMS and electronic monitoring requirements. The ability of vessel owners to account for bluefin tuna using allocated quota or IBQ leased at an affordable price is key to the success of the IBQ Program. A trend that may in part reflect the uncertainties and constraints associated with trip-level accountability is the lower amount of fishing effort in 2016 compared to 2015 (despite the active IBQ leasing market in 2016). For example, the number of trips, active vessels, longline sets and hooks fished were all lower in 2016 than they were in 2015. The No Action alternative would not, however, provide the timing flexibility benefits that could facilitate better operational and economic decisions and options for individual vessel owners who need to lease IBQ, and NMFS therefore does not prefer the no action alternative.

    Under the second alternative (preferred), NMFS would adjust the Atlantic HMS regulations to require the pelagic longline fishery to account for bycatch of bluefin tuna using IBQ on a quarterly basis instead of before commencing any fishing trip while in quota debt or with less than the minimum required IBQ balance. The preferred alternative would provide flexibility for two important operational business decisions made by vessel owners. First, decisions regarding quota balance and quota debt (subject to full accounting quarterly); and second, decisions regarding the timing and price at which they lease additional quota. It is likely that the vessels would take advantage of increased operational flexibility as a result of removal of the constraints associated with the trip-level accountability. Specifically, operational flexibility associated with the preferred alternative may enable vessels to fish at more optimal times and avoid delay in the timing of a trip due to a low IBQ balance and issues related to availability of quota to lease; lease IBQ at a lower price by providing the flexibility for a vessel owner to `shop around'; reduce uncertainty in the IBQ market such that vessels are willing to plan and undertake fishing trips they previously may not have; and improve their cash flow by allowing fishing while in quota debt (i.e., accrual of revenue with which to lease additional IBQ). In 2016, each additional trip earned vessels on average $24,707 in revenue.

    NMFS used the available data on the IBQ lease markets to estimate the potential reduction in transaction costs (mainly labor costs) associated with moving from trip-level accountability to quarterly accountability. There were 33 vessels that leased quota in 2016 and they were involved in 81 transactions. On average, that is almost 2.5 transactions per vessel that entered the IBQ lease market. Under the quarterly accountability requirement of Alternative 2, these vessels might be able to reduce their number of lease transactions to one lease per quarter, which would reduce business costs and have economic and operational benefits. Based on data from 2016 and the first-half of 2017, quarterly accountability could lead to 51 fewer lease transactions if vessel owners reduced their number of lease transaction to one per quarter under this alternative. Each lease transaction costs vessel owners additional labor time to search for available IBQ, contact potential lessors, negotiate prices, and complete the transactions. NMFS estimates that could involve approximately four hours per transaction. Using the Bureau of Labor Statistics mean hourly wage rate for first-line supervisors of farming, fishing and forestry workers of $23 per hour in 2016 (https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes451011.htm), NMFS estimates the value of the time involved in these additional 51 leases to be approximately worth $4,692 (51 transactions × 4 hours × $23/hr). Since this amount is based on six quarters, the annual estimated savings in the time associated with these leases is approximately $3,128 per year ($4,692/1.5 years). Given that 33 vessels were involved in leasing in 2016, the per vessel savings per year would be approximately $95 per vessel.

    Although it is not possible to precisely quantify the economic impacts of the preferred alternative, the no action alternative with trip-level accountability (i.e., the regulations implemented in 2016) and the third alternative with annual accountability (i.e., the regulations implemented in 2015) may be informative about the likely impacts of the proposed alternatives. The amount of flexibility to account for bluefin tuna catch afforded by the proposed alternative is likely somewhere in between the two other alternatives: Trip-level accountability (no action alternative) and annual accountability (third alternative).

    Under the third alternative, there would be no minimum amount of IBQ required to fish and vessels would only be required to account for their catch at the end of the year. The third alternative is the same as the IBQ accounting regulations that were in effect during 2015. During 2015, there were 1,124 pelagic longline trips, by 104 vessels, which deployed 7,769 sets and 5,549,451 hooks. During 2015, there were 49 IBQ lease transactions from 24 distinct vessels with a total of 126,407 lb IBQ leased, and an average price of $3.46 per pound (weighted average). There were a total of 16 vessels that incurred quota debt, with a total amount of 42,746 lb. The mean revenue per trip during 2015 based on dealer data was $17,603 (not including bluefin tuna or dolphin revenue). Although it is possible to glean some insights from data from 2015 as the basis for evaluating potential economic impacts of the third alternative, the fishing behavior of the pelagic longline fleet during 2015, the first year of Amendment 7 regulations, was likely heavily influenced by the newness of the regulations and the relatively high amount of uncertainty in 2015.

    There were approximately 2.0 lease transactions per vessel in 2015 versus 2.5 leases per vessel in 2016. Assuming the 33 vessels that leased in 2016 only leased 2 times per year under annual accountability, the number of leases would be reduced from 81 to 66, a reduction of 15 transactions. This reduction in 15 transactions taking approximately 4 hours of an owner's time would be worth $1,380 in labor costs per year (15 × 4 hours × $23/hr). Given the 33 vessels that leased in 2016, the per vessel cost savings would be approximately $42 per vessel per year. Alternatively, if vessel owners could reduce the number of leases to one per year, the number of lease transactions could be reduced down to 33 transactions based on 2016 lease activity. This would result in 48 fewer transactions, and would result in a savings of up to $4,416 per year for the whole fleet or $134 per vessel that leased. However, based on the 2015 IBQ lease data under annual accountability that year, it is unlikely that the number of lease transactions would be reduced by this much. It is likely that there would be more leasing activity associated with this alternative than occurred during 2015, since 2015 was the initial implementation of the IBQ Program and participants were just learning how the IBQ lease market worked and which IBQ Program participants were interested in leasing IBQ, as well as a lower average price per pound for leased IBQ.

    There is uncertainty as to the full impact of moving from trip-level accountability to annual accountability. Annual accountability might cause vessel owners to wait until December to try to lease quota. Quota available for lease in December might become scarcer and this holiday period might cause fewer IBQ shareholders to participate in the market. This increased scarcity of IBQ available for lease and the tight end of the year timeframe might result in spikes in the price for IBQ, thus driving up costs and potentially leaving some vessel owners unable to resolve their quota debt at the last minute as the year ends. NMFS prefers to incrementally move to quarterly accountability under Alternative 2 to avoid some of the risks associated with Alternative 3.

    List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 635

    Fisheries, Fishing, Fishing vessels, Foreign relations, Imports, Penalties, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Treaties.

    Dated: October 19, 2017. Samuel D. Rauch, III, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine Fisheries Service.

    For the reasons set out in the preamble, 50 CFR part 635 is proposed to be amended as follows:

    PART 635—ATLANTIC HIGHLY MIGRATORY SPECIES 1. The authority citation for part 635 continues to read as follows: Authority:

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

    2. In § 635.15, revise paragraphs (b)(3), (b)(4)(i) and (ii), (b)(5)(i) and (ii), and (b)(8)(i), to read as follows:
    § 635.15 Individual bluefin tuna quotas.

    (b) * * *

    (3) Minimum IBQ allocation. For purposes of this paragraph (b), calendar year quarters start on January 1, April 1, July 1, and October 1.

    (i) First fishing trip in a calendar year quarter. Before departing on the first fishing trip in a calendar year quarter, a vessel with an eligible Atlantic Tunas Longline category permit that fishes with or has pelagic longline gear onboard must have the minimum IBQ allocation for either the Gulf of Mexico or Atlantic, depending on fishing location. The minimum IBQ allocation for a vessel fishing in the Gulf of Mexico, or departing for a fishing trip in the Gulf of Mexico, is 0.25 mt ww (551 lb ww). The minimum IBQ allocation for a vessel fishing in the Atlantic or departing for a fishing trip in the Atlantic is 0.125 mt ww (276 lb ww). A vessel owner or operator may not declare into or depart on the first fishing trip in a calendar year quarter with pelagic longline gear onboard unless it has the relevant required minimum IBQ allocation for the region in which the fishing activity will occur.

    (ii) Subsequent fishing trips in a calendar year quarter. Subsequent to the first fishing trip in a calendar year quarter, a vessel owner or operator may declare into or depart on other fishing trips with pelagic longline gear onboard with less than the minimum IBQ allocation, but only within that same calendar year quarter.

    (4) Accounting for bluefin tuna caught. (i) With the exception of vessels fishing in the NED, in compliance with the requirements of paragraph (b)(8) of this section, all bluefin tuna catch (dead discards and landings) must be deducted from the vessel's IBQ allocation at the end of each pelagic longline trip.

    (ii) If the amount of bluefin tuna catch on a particular trip exceeds the amount of the vessel's IBQ allocation or results in an IBQ balance less than the minimum amount described in paragraph (b)(3) of this section, the vessel may continue to fish, complete the trip, and depart on subsequent trips within the same calendar year quarter. The vessel must resolve any quota debt (see paragraph (b)(5) of this section) before declaring into or departing on a fishing trip with pelagic longline gear onboard in a subsequent calendar year quarter by acquiring adequate IBQ allocation to resolve the debt and acquire the needed minimum allocation through leasing, as described in paragraph (c) of this section.

    (5) * * *

    (i) Quarter level quota debt. A vessel with quota debt incurred in a given calendar year quarter cannot depart on a trip with pelagic longline gear onboard in a subsequent calendar year quarter until the vessel leases and applies allocation for the appropriate region (see paragraph (c) of this section) to settle the quota debt such that the vessel has the minimum quota allocation required to fish (see paragraph (b)(3) of this section) as a result of additional allocation (see paragraph (f) of this section). For example, a vessel with quota debt incurred during January through March may not depart on a trip with pelagic longline gear onboard during April through June (or subsequent quarters) until the quota debt has been resolved such that the vessel has the minimum quota allocation required to fish.

    (ii) Annual level quota debt. If, by the end of the fishing year, a permit holder does not have adequate allocation to settle its vessel's quota debt through leasing or additional allocation (see paragraphs (c) and (f) of this section), the vessel's allocation will be reduced in the amount equal to the quota debt in the subsequent year or years until the quota debt is fully accounted for. A vessel may not depart on any pelagic longline trips if it has outstanding quota debt from a previous fishing year.

    (8) * * *

    (i) When NED bluefin quota is available. Permitted vessels fishing with pelagic longline gear may fish in the NED, and any bluefin catch will count toward the ICCAT-allocated separate NED quota until the NED quota has been filled. Permitted vessels fishing in the NED must still fish in accordance with the minimum IBQ allocation requirements, specified under paragraph (b)(3) of this section to depart on a trip using pelagic longline gear.

    3. In § 635.71, revise paragraphs (b)(48) and (b)(56) to read as follows:
    § 635.71 Prohibitions.

    (b) * * *

    (48) Depart on a fishing trip or deploy or fish with any fishing gear from a vessel with a pelagic longline on board without accounting for bluefin caught as specified in § 635.15(b)(4).

    (56) Fish with or have pelagic longline gear on board if any quota debt associated with the permit from a preceding calendar year quarter has not been settled as specified at § 635.15(b)(5)(i).

    [FR Doc. 2017-23131 Filed 10-24-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-22-P
    82 205 Wednesday, October 25, 2017 Notices DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Agricultural Marketing Service [Doc. No. AMS-NOP-17-0043; NOP-17-07] National Organic Program: Notice of Interim Instruction, Maintaining the Integrity of Organic Imports AGENCY:

    Agricultural Marketing Service, USDA.

    ACTION:

    Notice of availability of interim instruction with request for comments.

    SUMMARY:

    The Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) is announcing the availability of an interim instruction document intended for use by USDA-accredited organic certifying agents (certifiers). The interim instruction is entitled as follows: Maintaining the Integrity of Organic Imports (NOP 4013). This interim instruction explains the USDA organic regulations' current requirements for certifiers engaged in the oversight of organic products imported into the United States. It also recommends best practices that certifiers may use in order to comply with the existing regulations. AMS invites organic handlers, certifying agents, importers, consumers, and other interested parties to submit comments on the interim instruction. Specifically, comments should address the parts of the instruction that recommend best practices that certifiers may use to ensure compliance with the USDA organic regulations. This document is not intended to request comments on the existing USDA organic regulations found at 7 CFR part 205.

    DATES:

    Comments must be submitted on or before December 26, 2017.

    ADDRESSES:

    Submit written requests for hard copies of this interim instruction to Paul I. Lewis, Ph.D., Standards Division Director, National Organic Program (NOP), USDA-AMS-NOP, 1400 Independence Ave. SW., Room 2646—So., Ag Stop 0268, Washington, DC 20250-0268. See the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section for electronic access to the draft guidance document.

    You may submit comments on this interim instruction by any of the following methods:

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

    Mail: Paul I. Lewis, Ph.D., Standards Division Director, National Organic Program, USDA-AMS-NOP, 1400 Independence Ave. SW., Room 2646—So., Ag Stop 0268, Washington, DC 20250-0268.

    Instructions: Written comments responding to this request should be identified with the document number AMS-NOP-17-0043; NOP-17-07. You should clearly indicate your position and the reasons supporting your position. If you are suggesting changes to the draft instruction document, you should include recommended language changes, as appropriate, along with any relevant supporting documentation. AMS is specifically requesting that stakeholders comment and quantify any impacts that the instruction will have on certified operations.

    USDA intends to make available all comments, including names and addresses when provided, regardless of submission procedure used, on www.regulations.gov and at USDA, AMS, NOP, Room 2646—South Building, 1400 Independence Ave. SW., Washington, DC, from 9 a.m. to noon and from 1 to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday (except official Federal holidays). Persons wanting to visit the USDA South building to view comments from the public to this notice are requested to make an appointment by calling (202) 720-3252.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Paul I. Lewis, Ph.D., Standards Division Director, National Organic Program (NOP), USDA-AMS-NOP, 1400 Independence Ave. SW., Room 2646—So., Ag Stop 0268, Washington, DC 20250-0268; Telephone: (202) 720-3252; Fax: (202) 260-9151; Email: [email protected]; or visit the NOP Web site at: www.ams.usda.gov/nop.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: I. Background

    The interim instruction announced via this notice explains the current regulatory requirements for organic certification and documentation needed to import organic products into the United States, and certifiers' responsibilities in reviewing or issuing import related documents. The instruction also recommends best practices that certifiers may use in order to comply with existing regulatory requirements.

    The USDA AMS National Organic Program (NOP) facilitates international trade of organic products by authorizing certifiers around the world to certify farms and businesses to the USDA organic regulations and by establishing trade arrangements with foreign countries. Foreign operations are subject to the same requirements as domestic operations, and organic products verified to be in compliance with these regulations or arrangements can be imported for sale into the United States.

    The interim instruction is available from AMS on its Web site at http://www.ams.usda.gov/rules-regulations/organic. When finalized, the final instruction will be available in “The Program Handbook: Guidance and Instructions for Accredited Certifying Agents (ACAs) and Certified Operations”. This Handbook provides those who own, manage, or certify organic operations with guidance and instructions that can assist them in complying with the USDA organic regulations. The current edition of the Program Handbook is available online at http://www.ams.usda.gov/rules-regulations/organic/handbook.

    II. Significance of Guidance

    This interim instruction is being issued in accordance with the Office of Management and Budget Bulletin on Agency Good Guidance Practices (GGPs) (January 25, 2007, 72 FR 3432-3440).

    The purpose of GGPs is to ensure that program guidance documents are developed with adequate public participation, are readily available to the public, and are not applied as binding requirements. The interim instruction represents AMS' efforts to clarify and strengthen compliance with existing regulations on these topics. It does not create or confer any rights for, or on, any person and does not operate to create additional regulatory requirements that legally bind AMS or the public. Guidance documents are intended to provide a uniform method for achieving compliance with the USDA organic regulations, thereby reducing the burden on certified organic operations to develop their own methods and simplifying audits and inspections. Alternative approaches that can demonstrate compliance with the Organic Foods Production Act, as amended (7 U.S.C. 6501-6522), and its implementing regulations are also acceptable.

    III. Electronic Access

    Persons with access to Internet may obtain the interim instruction at either AMS' Web site at http://www.ams.usda.gov/nop or http://www.regulations.gov. Requests for hard copies of the interim instruction can be obtained by submitting a written request to the person listed in the ADDRESSES section of this Notice.

    Authority:

    7 U.S.C. 6501-6522.

    Dated: October 19, 2017. Bruce Summers, Acting Administrator, Agricultural Marketing Service.
    [FR Doc. 2017-23093 Filed 10-24-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3410-02-P
    DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Forest Service Meeting of the National Advisory Committee for Implementation of the National Forest System Land Management Planning Rule AGENCY:

    Forest Service, USDA.

    ACTION:

    Notice of meetings.

    SUMMARY:

    The National Advisory Committee for Implementation of the National Forest System Land Management Planning Rule Committee (Committee) will meet in El Dorado Hills, California. Attendees may also listen via webinar and conference call. The Committee operates in compliance with the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA). Additional information relating to the Committee, including the meeting summary/minutes, can be found by visiting the Committee's Web site at: http://www.fs.usda.gov/main/planningrule/committee.

    DATES:

    The meetings will be held in-person and streamed via webinar/conference call on the following dates and times:

    • Tuesday, November 7, 2017, from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. PST • Wednesday, November 8, 2017, from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. PST • Thursday, November 9, 2017, from 8:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. PST

    All meetings are subject to cancellation. For updated status of meetings prior to attendance, please contact the person listed under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT.

    ADDRESSES:

    The meeting will be held at the Holiday Inn Express & Suites, 4360 Town Center Boulevard, El Dorado Hills, California 95762. For anyone who would like to attend via webinar and/or conference call, please visit the Web site listed above or contact the person listed in the section titled FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT. Written comments may be submitted as described under Supplementary Information. All comments, including names and addresses, when provided, are placed in the record and available for public inspection and copying. The public may inspect comments received at the USDA Forest Service Washington Office—Yates Building, 201 14th Street SW., Mail Stop 1104, Washington, DC 20250-1104. Please call ahead to facilitate entry into the building.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Crystal Merica, Committee Coordinator, by phone at 202-205-3562, or by email at [email protected] Individuals who use telecommunication devices for the deaf (TDD) may call the Federal Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 1-800-877-8339 between 8:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m., Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    The purpose of this meeting is to provide:

    1. Continued deliberations on formulating advice for the Secretary,

    2. Discussion of Committee work group findings,

    3. Hearing public comments, and

    4. Administrative tasks.

    This meeting is open to the public. The agenda will include time for people to make oral comments of three minutes or less. Individuals wishing to make an oral comment should submit a request in writing by November 3, 2017, to be scheduled on the agenda. Anyone who would like to bring related matters to the attention of the Committee may file written statements with the Committee's staff before or after the meeting. Written comments and time requests for oral comments must be sent to Crystal Merica, USDA Forest Service, Ecosystem Management Coordination, 201 14th Street SW., Mail Stop 1104, Washington, DC 20250-1104, or by email at [email protected] The agenda and summary of the meeting will be posted on the Committee's Web site within 21 days of the meeting.

    Meeting Accommodations: If you are a person requiring reasonable accommodation, please make requests in advance for sign language interpreting, assistive listening devices or other reasonable accommodation for access to the facility or proceedings by contacting the person listed in the section titled FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT. All reasonable accommodation requests are managed on a case by case basis.

    Dated: October 16, 2017. Christopher French, Associate Deputy Chief, National Forest System.
    [FR Doc. 2017-23130 Filed 10-24-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3411-15-P
    COMMISSION ON CIVIL RIGHTS Notice of Public Meeting of the Indiana Advisory Committee To Prepare for Its Public Meeting on Voting Rights AGENCY:

    U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.

    ACTION:

    Announcement of meeting.

    SUMMARY:

    Notice is hereby given, pursuant to the provisions of the rules and regulations of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights (Commission) and the Federal Advisory Committee Act that the Indiana Advisory Committee (Committee) will hold a meeting on Wednesday November 1, 2017, at 3:00 p.m. EST for the purpose of approving a project proposal and preparing for its public meeting on voting rights issues in the state.

    DATES:

    The meeting will be held on Wednesday, November 1, 2017, at 3:00 p.m. EST.

    Public Call Information: Dial: 877-397-0292, Conference ID: 2237390.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Melissa Wojnaroski, DFO, at [email protected] or 312-353-8311.

    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: 877-397-0292, conference ID: 2237390. Any interested member of the public may call this number and listen to the meeting. An open comment period will be provided to allow members of the public to make a statement as time allows. The conference call operator will ask callers to identify themselves, the organization they are affiliated with (if any), and an email address prior to placing callers into the conference room. Callers can expect to incur regular charges for calls they initiate over wireless lines, according to their wireless plan. The Commission will not refund any incurred charges. Callers will incur no charge for calls they initiate over land-line connections to the toll-free telephone number. Persons with hearing impairments may also follow the proceedings by first calling the Federal Relay Service at 1-800-977-8339 and providing the Service with the conference call number and conference ID number.

    Members of the public are also entitled to submit written comments; the comments must be received in the regional office within 30 days following the meeting. Written comments may be mailed to the Regional Programs Unit Office, U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, 55 W. Monroe St., Suite 410, Chicago, IL 60615. They may also be faxed to the Commission at (312) 353-8324, or emailed to Carolyn Allen at [email protected] Persons who desire additional information may contact the Regional Programs Unit Office at (312) 353-8311.

    Records generated from this meeting may be inspected and reproduced at the Regional Programs Unit 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, Indiana Advisory Committee link (http://www.facadatabase.gov/committee/meetings.aspx?cid=247). Persons interested in the work of this Committee are directed to the Commission's Web site, http://www.usccr.gov, or may contact the Regional Programs Unit Office at the above email or street address.

    Agenda Welcome and Roll Call Discussion: Project Proposal on Voting Rights in Indiana Discussion: Substantive and Logistical Questions for the Public Meeting Public Comment Future Plans and Actions Adjournment Dated: October 19, 2017. David Mussatt, Supervisory Chief, Regional Programs Unit.
    [FR Doc. 2017-23101 Filed 10-24-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE U.S. Census Bureau Proposed Information Collection; Comment Request; 2018 Estimates of Compact of Free Association (COFA) Migrants AGENCY:

    U.S. Census Bureau, Commerce.

    ACTION:

    Notice.

    SUMMARY:

    The Department of Commerce, as part of its continuing effort to reduce paperwork and respondent burden, invites the general public and other Federal agencies to take this opportunity to comment on proposed and/or continuing information collections, as required by the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995.

    DATES:

    To ensure consideration, written comments must be submitted on or before December 26, 2017.

    ADDRESSES:

    Direct all written comments to Jennifer Jessup, Departmental Paperwork Clearance Officer, Department of Commerce, Room 6616, 14th and Constitution Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20230 (or via the Internet at [email protected]).

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Requests for additional information or copies of the information collection instrument(s) and instructions should be directed to Oliver P. Fischer via U.S. Census Bureau, 4600 Silver Hill Road, Room 6H189, Washington, DC 20233, or (301) 763.6249, or by email at [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    I. Abstract

    The U.S. Census Bureau plans to request clearance from the Office of Management and Budget to survey residents of Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) to collect basic demographic data to meet the needs of the Compact of Free Association (COFA).

    The COFA defines the relationship between the United States Government and the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Palau. The COFA became effective for the Republic of the Marshall Islands and the Federated States of Micronesia in 1986 and for the Republic of Palau in 1994.

    The 2003 COFA Amendments Act appropriated $30 million annually in funding “to aid in defraying costs incurred by affected jurisdictions as a result of increased demands. . .due to the residence in affected jurisdictions of qualified nonimmigrants from the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Palau.” The “affected jurisdictions” in the 2003 COFA Amendments Act are American Samoa, CNMI, Guam, and Hawaii.

    COFA migrants (also referred to as qualified nonimmigrants) are migrants, or their children under the age of 18, admitted or resident in one of the affected jurisdictions, who migrated from the Federated States of Micronesia or the Republic of the Marshall Islands during or after 1986, and from the Republic of Palau during or after 1994.

    In order to disburse the appropriated funds to the affected jurisdictions, the COFA Amendments Act of 2003 requires an enumeration of COFA migrants residing within the affected jurisdictions no less than every five years. The most recent enumeration of COFA migrants took place in 2013. The 2013 estimates of COFA migrants were derived using data from the 2010 Decennial Census for American Samoa, CNMI, and Guam, and 2009—2011 American Community Survey (ACS) data for Hawaii. These data sources were determined by stakeholders to produce the most accurate, reliable, and cost-effective estimates for the purposes of the 2013 enumeration. The next enumeration is set to take place in 2018. The Department of the Interior has provided the Census Bureau funding for the work required to produce the estimates.

    The Census Bureau proposes that the 2018 Estimates of COFA migrants follow the methodology used to produce the 2008 Estimates of COFA migrants. The approach is three-pronged due to differences between the jurisdictions in overall population, expected number of COFA migrants, and currently available data.

    The methodology consists of the following:

    1. Conduct independent sample surveys for CNMI and Guam. Field enumeration will be required for CNMI and Guam since the Census Bureau has no other reliable up-to-date demographic data source for these areas beyond the 2010 Decennial Census. The survey for CNMI will only include Saipan since the 2010 Decennial Census data indicates low numbers of COFA migrants living in others parts of CNMI. The sample surveys will obtain data on place of birth, residential tenure, age, sex, and relationship to head of household of all members of selected households. The sample will be designed to yield estimates with a margin of error similar to that of three years of ACS data.

    2. Perform special tabulations on a three-year average of results from 2015 to 2017 ACS data to create estimates for Hawaii (all islands).

    3. Use the 2010 Decennial Census results for American Samoa, and CNMI's Rota and Tinian islands as estimates of the 2018 counts. It would not be cost effective to conduct an independent survey in these areas due to the low numbers of COFA migrants as indicated by the 2010 Decennial Census and the negligible impact these low numbers will have on the overall distribution of the $30 million in Compact funds.

    II. Method of Collection

    In Guam, approximately 45 sample blocks totaling about 3,300 sample addresses will be listed and enumerated. In CNMI, approximately 30 sample blocks totaling about 2,000 sample addresses will be listed and enumerated. The data will be collected via in-person interviews. A content re-interview will be conducted to assess the accuracy and reliability of the data collected. For the re-interview, a sample of approximately 400 respondents will be selected and contacted for a follow-up interview via a telephone number they provided during the original interview.

    III. Data

    OMB Control Number: 0607-XXXX.

    Form Number(s): XXXX.

    Type of Review: Regular submission.

    Affected Public: Residents of Guam and CNMI.

    Estimated Number of Respondents: Approximately 4,770 respondents.

    Estimated Time per Response: 32 minutes.

    Estimated Total Annual Burden Hours: 2,544.

    Estimated Total Annual Cost to Public: There is no cost to the respondents other than their time.

    Respondent's Obligation: Voluntary.

    Legal Authority: Title 13 U.S.C. Section 8(b) and Public Law 108-188, The Compact of Free Association Amendments Act of 2003.

    IV. Request for Comments

    Comments are invited on: (a) Whether the proposed collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the agency, including whether the information shall have practical utility; (b) the accuracy of the agency's estimate of the burden (including hours and cost) of the proposed collection of information; (c) ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and (d) ways to minimize the burden of the collection of information on respondents, including through the use of automated collection techniques or other forms of information technology.

    Comments submitted in response to this notice will be summarized and/or included in the request for OMB approval of this information collection; they also will become a matter of public record.

    Sheleen Dumas, Departmental PRA Lead, Office of the Chief Information Officer.
    [FR Doc. 2017-23147 Filed 10-24-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-07-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE Bureau of Industry and Security Information Systems Technical Advisory Committee: Notice of Partially Closed Meeting—Revised

    The Information Systems Technical Advisory Committee (ISTAC) will meet on November 1 and 2, 2017, 9:00 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 information systems equipment and technology.

    Wednesday, November 1 Open Session 1. Welcome and Introductions 2. Working Group Reports 3. Old Business 4. Industry Presentations: Basic Buffer Overflows 5. NIST IoT Cybersecurity Program 6. New business Thursday, November 2 Closed Session 6. 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 25, 2017.

    A limited number of seats will be available for the public session. Reservations are not accepted. To the extent 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 Committee members, the Committee suggests that public presentation materials or comments be forwarded before the meeting to Ms. Springer.

    The Assistant Secretary for Administration, with the concurrence of the delegate of the General Counsel, formally determined on February 27, 2017, pursuant to Section 10(d) of the Federal Advisory Committee Act, as amended (5 U.S.C. app. 2 (l0)(d))), that the portion of the meeting concerning trade secrets and commercial or financial information deemed privileged or confidential as described in 5 U.S.C. 552b(c)(4) and the portion of the meeting concerning matters the disclosure of which would be likely to frustrate significantly implementation of an agency action as described in 5 U.S.C. 552b(c)(9)(B) shall be exempt from the provisions relating to public meetings found in 5 U.S.C. app. 2 10(a)(1) and l0(a)(3). The remaining portions of the meeting will be open to the public.

    For more information, call Yvette Springer at (202) 482-2813.

    Yvette Springer, Committee Liaison Officer.
    [FR Doc. 2017-23220 Filed 10-24-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-JT--P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration RIN 0648-XF329 Takes of Marine Mammals Incidental to Specified Activities; Taking Marine Mammals Incidental to a Low-Energy Geophysical Survey in the Northeastern Pacific Ocean AGENCY:

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

    ACTION:

    Notice; Issuance of an Incidental Harassment Authorization.

    SUMMARY:

    In accordance with the regulations implementing the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) as amended, notification is hereby given that NMFS has issued an incidental harassment authorization (IHA) to the Scripps Institution of Oceanography (SIO) to incidentally harass, by Level A and Level B harassment, marine mammals during a low-energy marine geophysical survey in the northeastern Pacific Ocean.

    DATES:

    This Authorization is valid from September 22, 2017, through September 19, 2018.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Jordan Carduner, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, (301) 427-8401. Electronic copies of the application and supporting documents, as well as a list of the references cited in this document, may be obtained online at: www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/incidental/research.htm. In case of problems accessing these documents, please call the contact listed above.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Background

    Sections 101(a)(5)(A) and (D) of the MMPA (16 U.S.C. 1361 et seq.) direct the Secretary of Commerce (as delegated to NMFS) to allow, upon request, the incidental, but not intentional, taking of small numbers of marine mammals by U.S. citizens who engage in a specified activity (other than commercial fishing) within a specified geographical region if certain findings are made and either regulations are issued or, if the taking is limited to harassment, a notice of a proposed authorization is provided to the public for review.

    An authorization for incidental takings shall be granted if NMFS finds that the taking will have a negligible impact on the species or stock(s), will not have an unmitigable adverse impact on the availability of the species or stock(s) for subsistence uses (where relevant), and if the permissible methods of taking and requirements pertaining to the mitigation, monitoring and reporting of such takings are set forth.

    NMFS has defined “negligible impact” in 50 CFR 216.103 as an impact resulting from the specified activity that cannot be reasonably expected to, and is not reasonably likely to, adversely affect the species or stock through effects on annual rates of recruitment or survival.

    The MMPA states that the term “take” means to harass, hunt, capture, kill or attempt to harass, hunt, capture, or kill any marine mammal.

    Except with respect to certain activities not pertinent here, the MMPA defines “harassment” as: Any act of pursuit, torment, or annoyance which (i) has the potential to injure a marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild (Level A harassment); or (ii) has the potential to disturb a marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild by causing disruption of behavioral patterns, including, but not limited to, migration, breathing, nursing, breeding, feeding, or sheltering (Level B harassment).

    National Environmental Policy Act

    To comply with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA; 42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.) and NOAA Administrative Order (NAO) 216-6A, NMFS must review our proposed action (i.e., the issuance of an incidental harassment authorization) with respect to potential impacts on the human environment. Accordingly, NMFS prepared an Environmental Assessment (EA) to consider the environmental impacts associated with the issuance of the IHA to SIO. We reviewed all comments submitted in response to the Federal Register notice for the proposed IHA (82 FR 39276; August 17, 2017) prior to concluding our NEPA process and deciding whether or not to issue a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI). NMFS concluded that issuance of an IHA to SIO would not significantly affect the quality of the human environment and prepared and issued a FONSI in accordance with NEPA and NAO 216-6A. NMFS's EA and FONSI for this activity are available on our Web site at: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/incidental.

    Summary of Request

    On March 20, 2017, NMFS received a request from SIO for an IHA to take marine mammals incidental to conducting a low-energy marine geophysical survey in the northeastern Pacific Ocean. On July 5, 2017, we deemed SIO's application for authorization to be adequate and complete. SIO's request is for take of a small number of 27 species of marine mammals by Level B harassment and Level A harassment. Neither SIO nor NMFS expects mortality to result from this activity, and, therefore, an IHA is appropriate. The planned activity is not expected to exceed one year, hence, we do not expect subsequent MMPA incidental harassment authorizations would be issued for this particular activity.

    Description of Specified Activity

    A detailed description of SIO's low-energy geophysical survey is provided in the Federal Register notice for the proposed IHA (82 FR 39276; August 17, 2017). Since that time, no changes have been made to the planned activities. Therefore, a detailed description is not provided here. Please refer to that Federal Register notice for the description of the specific activity.

    Comments and Responses

    NMFS published a notice of proposed IHA in the Federal Register on August 17, 2017 (82 FR 39276). During the 30-day public comment period, NMFS received a comment letter from the Marine Mammal Commission (Commission) as well as one comment from a member of the general public. NMFS has posted the comments online at: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/incidental. NMFS addresses any comments specific to SIO's application related to the statutory and regulatory requirements or findings that NMFS must make under the MMPA in order to issue an Authorization. The following is a summary of the public comments and NMFS' responses.

    Comment 1: A comment received from a member of the general public expressed concern that the survey would result in the deaths of marine mammals.

    Response: NMFS does not anticipate that SIO's survey will result in the deaths of marine mammals and the authorization does not permit serious injury or mortality of marine mammals.

    Comment 2: The Commission expressed concerns regarding SIO's method to estimate the extent of the Level A and Level B harassment zones and the numbers of marine mammal takes. The Commission stated that the model is not the best available science because it assumes spherical spreading, a constant sound speed, and no bottom interactions for surveys in deep water. In light of their concerns, the Commission recommended that NMFS require SIO, in collaboration with Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University (L-DEO) (which performed the modeling of Level A and Level B harassment zones) to re-estimate the Level A and Level B harassment zones and associated takes of marine mammals using both operational (including number/type/spacing of airguns, tow depth, source level/operating pressure, operational volume) and site-specific environmental (including sound speed profiles, bathymetry, and sediment characteristics at a minimum) parameters.

    Response: NMFS acknowledges the Commission's concerns about LDEO's current modeling approach for estimating Level A and Level B harassment zones and takes. SIO's application (LGL, 2017) and the Federal Register notice of the proposed IHA (82 FR 39276; August 17, 2017) describe the applicant's approach to modeling Level A and Level B harassment zones. The model L-DEO currently uses does not allow for the consideration of environmental and site-specific parameters as requested by the Commission.

    L-DEO's application (LGL, 2017) describes their approach to modeling Level A and Level B harassment zones. In summary, L-DEO acquired field measurements for several array configurations at shallow, intermediate, and deep-water depths during acoustic verification studies conducted in the northern Gulf of Mexico in 2007 and 2008 (Tolstoy et al., 2009). Based on the empirical data from those studies, L-DEO developed a sound propagation modeling approach that predicts received sound levels as a function of distance from a particular airgun array configuration in deep water. For this survey, L-DEO modeled Level A and Level B harassment zones based on the empirically-derived measurements from the Gulf of Mexico calibration survey (Appendix H of NSF-USGS 2011). For deep water (>1000 m), L-DEO used the deep-water radii obtained from model results down to a maximum water depth of 2,000 m (Figure 2 and 3 in Appendix H of NSF-USGS 2011); the radii for intermediate water depths (100-1,000 m) were derived from the deep-water ones by applying a correction factor (multiplication) of 1.5, such that observed levels at very near offsets fall below the corrected mitigation curve (Fig. 16 in Appendix H of the NSF-USGS 2011).

    In 2015, L-DEO explored the question of whether the Gulf of Mexico calibration data described above adequately informs the model to predict exclusion isopleths in other areas by conducting a retrospective sound power analysis of one of the lines acquired during L-DEO's seismic survey offshore New Jersey in 2014 (Crone, 2015). NMFS presented a comparison of the predicted radii (i.e., modeled exclusion zones) with radii based on in situ measurements (i.e., the upper bound [95th percentile] of the cross-line prediction) in a previous notice of issued Authorization for Lamont-Doherty (see 80 FR 27635, May 14, 2015, Table 1). Briefly, the anlysis presented in Crone (2015), specific to the survey site offshore New Jersey, confirmed that in-situ, site specific measurements and estimates of 160 dB and 180 dB isopleths collected by the hydrophone streamer of the R/V Marcus Langseth in shallow water were smaller than the modeled (i.e., predicted) zones for two seismic surveys conducted offshore New Jersey in shallow water in 2014 and 2015. In that particular case, Crone's (2015) results showed that L-DEO's modeled 180 dB and 160 dB zones were approximately 28 percent and 33 percent smaller, respectively, than the in-situ, site-specific measurements, thus confirming that L-DEO's model was conservative in that case.

    The following is a summary of two additional analyses of in-situ data that support L-DEO's use of the modeled Level A and Level B harassment zones zones in this particular case. In 2010, L-DEO assessed the accuracy of their modeling approach by comparing the sound levels of the field measurements acquired in the Gulf of Mexico study to their model predictions (Diebold et al., 2010). They reported that the observed sound levels from the field measurements fell almost entirely below the predicted mitigation radii curve for deep water (greater than 1,000 m; 3280.8 ft) (Diebold et al., 2010). In 2012, L-DEO used a similar process to model distances to isopleths corresponding to the isopleths corresponding to Level A and Level B harassment thresholds for a shallow-water seismic survey in the northeast Pacific Ocean offshore Washington State. L-DEO conducted the shallow-water survey using the same airgun configuration planned for the surveys considered in this IHA (i.e., 6,600 in3) and recorded the received sound levels on both the shelf and slope using the Langseth's 8 km hydrophone streamer. Crone et al. (2014) analyzed those received sound levels from the 2012 survey and confirmed that in-situ, site specific measurements and estimates of the 160 dB and 180 dB isopleths collected by the Langseth's hydrophone streamer in shallow water were two to three times smaller than L-DEO's modeling approach had predicted. While the results confirmed bathymetry's role in sound propagation, Crone et al. (2014) were also able to confirm that the empirical measurements from the Gulf of Mexico calibration survey (the same measurements used to inform L-DEO's modeling approach for the planned surveys in the southwest Pacific Ocean) overestimated the size of the exclusion and buffer zones for the shallow-water 2012 survey off Washington State and were thus precautionary, in that particular case.

    NMFS continues to work with L-DEO to address the issue of incorporating site-specific information for future authorizations for seismic surveys. However, L-DEO's current modeling approach (supported by the three data points discussed previously) represents the best available information for NMFS to reach determinations for this IHA. As described earlier, the comparisons of L-DEO's model results and the field data collected in the Gulf of Mexico, offshore Washington State, and offshore New Jersey illustrate a degree of conservativeness built into L-DEO's model for deep water, which NMFS expects to offset some of the limitations of the model to capture the variability resulting from site-specific factors. Based upon the best available information (i.e., the three data points, two of which are peer-reviewed, discussed in this response), NMFS finds that the Level A and Level B harassment zone calculations are appropriate for use in this particular IHA.

    L-DEO has conveyed to NMFS that additional modeling efforts to refine the process and conduct comparative analysis may be possible with the availability of research funds and other resources. Obtaining research funds is typically accomplished through a competitive process, including those submitted to U.S. Federal agencies. The use of models for calculating buffer and exclusion zone radii and for developing take estimates is not a requirement of the MMPA incidental take authorization process. Furthermore, NMFS does not provide specific guidance on model parameters nor prescribe a specific model for applicants as part of the MMPA incidental take authorization process at this time, although we do review methods to ensure adequate for prediction of take. There is a level of variability not only with parameters in the models, but also the uncertainty associated with data used in models, and therefore, the quality of the model results submitted by applicants. NMFS considers this variability when evaluating applications and the take estimates and mitigation measures that the model informs. NMFS takes into consideration the model used, and its results, in determining the potential impacts to marine mammals; however, it is just one component of the analysis during the MMPA authorization process as NMFS also takes into consideration other factors associated with the activity (e.g., geographic location, duration of activities, context, sound source intensity, etc.).

    Comment 3: The Commission expressed concern that the method used to estimate the numbers of takes, which summed fractions of takes for each species across project days, does not account for and negates the intent of NMFS' 24-hour reset policy.

    NMFS Response: We appreciate the Commission's ongoing concern in this matter. Calculating predicted takes is not an exact science and there are arguments for taking different mathematical approaches in different situations, and for making qualitative adjustments in other situations. We believe, however, that the methodology used for take calculation in this IHA remains appropriate and is not at odds with the 24-hour reset policy the Commission references.

    Comment 4: The Commission expressed concern that information was missing in NMFS's Federal Register notice of proposed IHA (82 FR 39276; August 17, 2017) and SIO's application, including operating frequency of the multibeam echosounder (MBES) and sub-bottom profiler (SBP) and information regarding densities, Level A daily ensonified areas, and number of days of activities that informed NMFS's analysis.

    NMFS Response: We appreciate the Commission pointing out the deficiencies in the Federal Register notice of proposed IHA (82 FR 39276; August 17, 2017). In response to the Commisison's concerns we have done the following, as recommended by the Commission: (1) Used the Dall's porpoise density derived from Beaufort sea states (BSS) of 0-5 rather than 0-3; (2) ensured that pinniped densities are based on the best available information; and (3) ensured the estimated numbers of Level A and B harassment takes are correct based on the relevant densities, daily ensonified areas, and number of days of activities (Table 8). The MBES will operate at 12 kilohertz (kHz) and the SBP will operate at 3.5 kHz.

    Description of Marine Mammals in the Area of Specified Activities

    Section 4 of the IHA application summarizes available information regarding status and trends, distribution and habitat preferences, and behavior and life history, of the potentially affected species. Additional information regarding population trends and threats may be found in NMFS' Stock Assessment Reports (SAR; www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/sars/), and more general information about these species (e.g., physical and behavioral descriptions) may be found on NMFS' Web site (www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/species/mammals/).

    Table 1 lists all species with expected potential for occurrence in the northeastern Pacific Ocean and summarizes information related to the population or stock, including regulatory status under the MMPA and Endangered Species Act (ESA) and potential biological removal (PBR), where known. For taxonomy, we follow Committee on Taxonomy (2016). PBR is defined by the MMPA as the maximum number of animals, not including natural mortalities, that may be removed from a marine mammal stock while allowing that stock to reach or maintain its optimum sustainable population (as described in NMFS' SARs). While no mortality is anticipated or authorized here, PBR and annual serious injury and mortality from anthropogenic sources are included here as gross indicators of the status of the species and other threats.

    Marine mammal abundance estimates presented in this document represent the total number of individuals that make up a given stock or the total number estimated within a particular study or survey area. NMFS' stock abundance estimates for most species represent the total estimate of individuals within the geographic area, if known, that comprises that stock. For some species, this geographic area may extend beyond U.S. waters. All managed stocks in this region are assessed in NMFS' U.S. Pacific SARs (e.g., Carretta et al., 2017). All values presented in Table 1 are the most recent available at the time of publication and are available in the 2017 SARs (Carretta et al., 2017), available online at: www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/sars, except where noted otherwise.

    Table 1—Marine Mammals That Could Occur in the Project Area Species Stock ESA/MMPA status;
  • strategic
  • (Y/N) 1
  • Stock abundance 2
  • (CV, Nmin, most
  • recent abundance
  • survey) 3
  • PBR 4 Relative Occurrence
  • in project area
  • Order Cetartiodactyla—Cetacea—Superfamily Mysticeti (baleen whales) Family: Balaenopteridae North Pacific right whale 5 (Eubalaena japonica) Eastern North Pacific E/D; Y 31 0.1 Rare. Gray whale 5 (Eschrichtius robustus) Eastern North Pacific -/-; N 20,990 (0.05; 20,125; 2011) 3.1 Common in nearshore areas, rare elsewhere. Humpback whale 6 (Megaptera novaeangliae) California/Oregon/Washington E/T/D; N 1,918 (0.03; 1,876; 2014) 11 Common in nearshore areas, rare elsewhere. Minke whale (Balaenoptera acutorostrata) California/Oregon/Washington -/-; N 636 (0.72; 369; 2014) 3.5 Rare. Sei whale (Balaenoptera borealis) Eastern N Pacific E/D; Y 519 (0.4; 374; 2014) 0.75 Rare. Fin whale (Balaenoptera physalus) California/Oregon/Washington E/D; Y 9,029 (0.12; 8,127; 2014) 81 Common. Blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus) Eastern N Pacific E/D; Y 1,647 (0.07; 1,551; 2011) 2.3 Rare. Order Cetartiodactyla—Cetacea—Superfamily Odontoceti (toothed whales, dolphins, and porpoises) Family: Physeteridae Sperm whale (Physeter macrocephalus) California/Oregon/Washington E/D; Y 2,106 (0.58; 1,332; 2014) 2.7 Common. Order Cetartiodactyla—Cetacea—Superfamily Odontoceti (toothed whales, dolphins, and porpoises) Family: Kogiidae Pygmy sperm whale (Kogia breviceps) California/Oregon/Washington -/-; N 4,111 (1.12; 1,924; 2014) 19 Rare. Dwarf sperm whale (Kogia sima) California/Oregon/Washington -/-; N unknown (unknown; unknown; 2014) Undet. Rare. Order Cetartiodactyla—Cetacea—Superfamily Odontoceti (toothed whales, dolphins, and porpoises) Family: delphinidae Killer whale (Orcinus orca) West coast transient -/-; N 243 (n/a; 243; 2009) 2.4 Rare. Eastern North Pacific offshore -/-; N 240 (0.49; 162; 2014) 1.6 Rare. False killer whale 7 (Pseudorca crassidens) Hawaii Pelagic -/-; N 1,540 (0.66; 928; 2010) 9.3 Rare. Short-finned pilot whale (Globicephala macrorhynchus) California/Oregon/Washington -/-; N 836 (0.79; 466; 2014) 4.5 Rare. Harbor porpoise (Phocoena phocoena) Northern Oregon/Washington Coast -/-; N 21,487 (0.44; 15,123; 2011) 151 Abundant. Northern California/Southern Oregon -/-; N 35,769 (0.52; 23,749; 2011) 475 Abundant. Dall's porpoise (Phocoena dalli) California/Oregon/Washington -/-; N 25,750 (0.45; 17,954; 2014) 172 Abundant. Bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) California/Oregon/Washington Offshore -/-; N 1,924 (0.54; 1,255; 2014) 11 Rare. Striped dolphin (Stenella coeruleoala) California/Oregon/Washington -/-; N 29,211 (0.2; 24,782; 2014) 238 Rare. Risso's dolphin (Grampus griseus) California/Oregon/Washington -/-; N 6,336 (0.32; 4,817; 2014) 46 Common. Short-beaked common dolphin (Delphinus delphis) California/Oregon/Washington -; N 969,861 (0.17; 839,325; 2014) 8,393 Common. Pacific white-sided dolphin (Lagenorhynchus obliquidens) California/Oregon/Washington -; N 26,814 (0.28; 21,195; 2014) 191 Abundant. Northern right whale dolphin (Lissodelphis borealis) California/Oregon/Washington -; N 26,556 (0.44; 18,608; 2014) 179 Common. Order Cetartiodactyla—Cetacea—Superfamily Odontoceti (toothed whales, dolphins, and porpoises) Family: Ziphiidae Cuvier's beaked whale (Ziphius cavirostris) California/Oregon/Washington -/-; N 6,590 (0.55; 4,481; 2008) 45 Common. Baird's beaked whale (Berardius bairdii) California/Oregon/Washington -; N 847 (0.81; 466; 2008) 4.7 Common. Mesoplodont beaked whales 8 California/Oregon/Washington -/-; N 694 (0.65; 389; 2008) 3.9 Rare. Order Carnivora—Superfamily Pinnipedia Family: Otariidae (eared seals and sea lions) California sea lion (Zalophus californianus) U.S. -; N 296,750 (n/a; 153,337; 2011) 9,200 Rare. Steller sea lion (Eumetopias jubatus) Eastern U.S. -; N 41,638 (n/a; 41,638; 2015) 2,498 Common in nearshore areas, rare elsewhere. Family: Phocidae (earless seals) Harbor seal 9 (Phoca vitulina) Oregon/Washington Coast -; N 24,732 (unk; unk; n/a) Unknown Common in nearshore areas, rare elsewhere. Northern elephant seal (Mirounga angustirostris) California breeding -; N 179,000 (n/a; 81,368; 2010) 4,882 Common in nearshore areas, rare elsewhere. Northern fur seal (Callorhinus ursinus) California -; N 14,050 (n/a; 7,524; 2013) 451 Common in nearshore areas, rare elsewhere. 1 Endangered Species Act (ESA) status: Endangered (E), Threatened (T)/MMPA status: Depleted (D). A dash (-) indicates that the species is not listed under the ESA or designated as depleted under the MMPA. Under the MMPA, a strategic stock is one for which the level of direct human-caused mortality exceeds PBR (see footnote 3) or which is determined to be declining and likely to be listed under the ESA within the foreseeable future. Any species or stock listed under the ESA is automatically designated under the MMPA as depleted and as a strategic stock. 2 Abundance estimates from Carretta et al. (2017) unless otherwise noted. 3 CV is coefficient of variation; Nmin is the minimum estimate of stock abundance. In some cases, CV is not applicable. For certain stocks, abundance estimates are actual counts of animals and there is no associated CV. The most recent abundance survey that is reflected in the abundance estimate is presented; there may be more recent surveys that have not yet been incorporated into the estimate. 4 Potential biological removal (PBR), defined by the MMPA as the maximum number of animals, not including natural mortalities, that may be removed from a marine mammal stock while allowing that stock to reach or maintain its optimum sustainable population size (OSP). 5 Values for gray whale and North Pacific right whale are from Muto et al. (2016). 6 Humpback whales in the survey area could originate from either the ESA threatened Mexico DPS or from the ESA endangered Central America DPS. 7 NMFS does not have a defined stock for false killer whales off the West Coast of the U.S. as they are considered uncommon visitors to the area; any false killer whales observed off the West Coast of the U.S. would likely be part of the eastern North Pacific population. Of the stocks defined by NMFS, the Hawaii Pelagic stock is the most likely to include individuals in the eastern North Pacific population. 8 Includes the following species: Blainville's beaked whale (M. densirostris), Perrin's beaked whale (M. perrini), Lesser beaked whale (M. peruvianus), Stejneger's beaked whale (M. stejnegeri), Gingko-toothed beaked whale (M. gingkodens), and Hubbs' beaked whale (M. carlhubbsi). 9 The most recent abundance estimate is from 1999. This is the best available information, but because this abundance estimate is >8 years old, there is no current estimate of abundance available for this stock.

    All species that could potentially occur in the planned survey area are included in Table 1. However, as described below, the spatial occurrence of the North Pacific right whale and dwarf sperm whale are such that take is not expected to occur for these species. The North Pacific right whale is one of the most endangered species of whale in the world (Carretta et al., 2017). Only 82 sightings of right whales in the entire eastern North Pacific were reported from 1962 to 1999, with the majority of these occurring in the Bering Sea and adjacent areas of the Aleutian Islands (Brownell et al. 2001). Most sightings in the past 20 years have occurred in the southeastern Bering Sea, with a few in the Gulf of Alaska (Wade et al. 2011). Despite many miles of systematic aerial and ship-based surveys for marine mammals off the coasts of Washington, Oregon and California over several years, only seven documented sightings of right whales were made from 1990 to 2000 (Waite et al. 2003). Because of the small population size and the fact that North Pacific right whales spend the summer feeding in high latitudes, the likelihood that the planned survey would encounter a North Pacific right whale is discountable. Along the U.S. west coast, no at-sea sightings of dwarf sperm whales have ever been reported despite numerous vessel surveys of this region (Barlow 1995; Barlow and Gerrodette 1996; Barlow and Forney 2007; Forney 2007; Barlow 2010, Barlow 2016). Therefore, based on the best available information, we believe the likelihood of the survey encountering a dwarf sperm whale is discountable. SIO requested authorization for the incidental take of dwarf sperm whales (the request was for a combined two takes of pygmy and/or dwarf sperm whales). However as we have determined the likelihood of take of dwarf sperm whales is discountable, we do not authorize take of dwarf sperm whales. Thus, the North Pacific right whale and dwarf sperm whale are not discussed further in this document.

    A detailed description of the of the species likely to be affected by SIO's survey, including brief introductions to the species and relevant stocks as well as available information regarding population trends and threats, and information regarding local occurrence, were provided in the Federal Register notice for the proposed IHA (82 FR 39276; August 17, 2017); since that time, we are not aware of any changes in the status of these species and stocks; therefore, detailed descriptions are not provided here. Please refer to that Federal Register notice for these descriptions. Please also refer to NMFS' Web site for generalized species accounts: www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/species/mammals/.

    Potential Effects of Specified Activities on Marine Mammals and Their Habitat

    The effects of underwater noise from marine geophysical survey activities have the potential to result in behavioral harassment and, in a limited number of instances, auditory injury (PTS) of marine mammals in the vicinity of the action area. The Federal Register notice of proposed IHA (82 FR 39276; August 17, 2017) included a discussion of the effects of anthropogenic noise on marine mammals and their habitat, therefore that information is not repeated here; please refer to that Federal Register notice for that information. No instances of serious injury or mortality are expected as a result of SIO's survey activities.

    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 by Level B harassment, as use of the seismic airguns have the potential to result in disruption of behavioral patterns for individual marine mammals. There is also some potential for auditory injury (Level A harassment) to result, primarily for high frequency cetaceans and phocid pinnipeds. Auditory injury is unlikely to occur for low- and mid-frequency species given very small modeled zones of injury for those species. The mitigation and monitoring measures are expected to minimize the severity of such taking to the extent practicable. As described previously, no mortality is anticipated or authorized for this activity. Below we describe how the take is estimated.

    Described in the most basic way, we estimate take by considering: (1) Acoustic thresholds above which NMFS believes the best available science indicates marine mammals will be behaviorally harassed or incur some degree of permanent hearing impairment; (2) the area or volume of water that will be ensonified above these levels in a day; (3) the density or occurrence of marine mammals within these ensonified areas; and (4) and the number of days of activities. Below, we describe these components in more detail and present the exposure estimate and associated numbers of take authorized.

    Acoustic Thresholds

    Using the best available science, NMFS has developed acoustic thresholds that identify the received level of underwater sound above which exposed marine mammals would be reasonably expected to be behaviorally harassed (equated to Level B harassment) or to incur PTS of some degree (equated to Level A harassment).

    Level B Harassment for non-explosive sources—Though significantly driven by received level, the onset of behavioral disturbance from anthropogenic noise exposure is also informed to varying degrees by other factors related to the source (e.g., frequency, predictability, duty cycle), the environment (e.g., bathymetry), and the receiving animals (hearing, motivation, experience, demography, behavioral context) and can be difficult to predict (Southall et al., 2007, Ellison et al. 2011). Based on the best available science and the practical need to use a threshold based on a factor that is both predictable and measurable for most activities, NMFS uses a generalized acoustic threshold based on received level to estimate the onset of behavioral harassment. NMFS predicts that marine mammals are likely to be behaviorally harassed in a manner we consider to fall under Level B harassment when exposed to underwater anthropogenic noise above received levels of 120 decibedl (dB) re 1 micropascal (μPa) root mean square (rms) for continuous (e.g. vibratory pile-driving, drilling) and above 160 dB re 1 μPa (rms) for non-explosive impulsive (e.g., seismic airguns) or intermittent (e.g., scientific sonar) sources. SIO's planned activity includes the use of impulsive seismic sources. Therefore, the 160 dB re 1 μPa (rms) criteria is applicable for analysis of level B harassment.

    Level A harassment for non-explosive sources—NMFS' Technical Guidance for Assessing the Effects of Anthropogenic Sound on Marine Mammal Hearing (NMFS 2016) identifies dual criteria to assess auditory injury (Level A harassment) to five different marine mammal groups (based on hearing sensitivity) as a result of exposure to noise from two different types of sources (impulsive or non-impulsive). The Technical Guidance identifies the received levels, or thresholds, above which individual marine mammals are predicted to experience changes in their hearing sensitivity for all underwater anthropogenic sound sources, reflects the best available science, and better predicts the potential for auditory injury than does NMFS' historical criteria.

    These thresholds were developed by compiling and synthesizing the best available science and soliciting input multiple times from both the public and peer reviewers to inform the final product, and are provided in Table 3 below. The references, analysis, and methodology used in the development of the thresholds are described in NMFS 2016 Technical Guidance, which may be accessed at: www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/acoustics/guidelines.htm. As described above, SIO's planned activity includes the use of intermittent and impulsive seismic sources.

    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 (Table 2). Generalized hearing ranges were chosen based on the approximately 65 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 kHz, with best hearing estimated to be from 100 Hz to 8 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, with best hearing from 10 to less than 100 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, with best hearing between 1-50 kHz;

    • Pinnipeds in water; Otariidae (eared seals): Generalized hearing is estimated to occur between 60 Hz and 39 kHz, with best hearing between 2-48 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).

    Table 2—Marine Functional Mammal Hearing Groups and Their Generalized Hearing Ranges Hearing group Generalized hearing range * Low frequency (LF) cetaceans (baleen whales) 7Hz to 35 kHz. Mid-frequency (MF) cetaceans (dolphins, toothed whales, beaked whales, bottlenose whales) 150 Hz to 160 kHz. High-frequency (HF) cetaceans (true porpoises, Kogia, river dolphins, cephalorhynchid, Lagenorhynchus cruciger and L. australis) 275 Hz to 160 kHz. Phocid pinnipeds (PW) (underwater) (true seals) 50 Hz to 86 kHz. Otariid pinnipeds (OW) (underwater) (sea lions and fur seals) 60 Hz to 39 kHz. * Represents the generalized hearing range for the entire group as a composite (i.e., all species within the group), where individual species' hearing ranges are typically not as broad. Generalized hearing range chosen based on ~65 dB threshold from normalized composite audiogram, with the exception for lower limits for LF cetaceans (Southall et al., 2007) and PW pinniped (approximation).

    For more detail concerning these groups and associated frequency ranges, please see NMFS (2016) for a review of available information. Twenty four marine mammal species (all cetaceans) have the reasonable potential to co-occur with the planned survey activities. Please refer to Table 1. Of the cetacean species that may be present, 6 are classified as low-frequency cetaceans (i.e., all mysticete species), 16 are classified as mid-frequency cetaceans (i.e., all delphinid and ziphiid species and the sperm whale), and 2 are classified as high-frequency cetaceans (i.e., Kogia spp.).

    Table 3—Thresholds Identifying the Onset of Permanent Threshold Shift in Marine Mammals Hearing group PTS onset thresholds Impulsive * Non-impulsive Low-Frequency (LF) Cetaceans L pk,flat: 219 dB, L E,LF,24h: 183 dB L E,LF,24h: 199 dB. Mid-Frequency (MF) Cetaceans L pk,flat: 230 dB, L E,MF,24h: 185 dB L E,MF,24h: 198 dB. High-Frequency (HF) Cetaceans L pk,flat: 202 dB, L E,HF,24h: 155 dB L E,HF,24h: 173 dB. Phocid Pinnipeds (PW)(Underwater) L pk,flat: 218 dB, L E,PW,24h: 185 dB L E,PW,24h: 201 dB. Otariid Pinnipeds (OW) (Underwater) L pk,flat: 232 dB, L E,OW,24h: 203 dB L E,OW,24h: 219 dB. Note: * Dual metric acoustic thresholds for impulsive sounds: Use whichever results in the largest isopleth for calculating PTS onset. If a non-impulsive sound has the potential of exceeding the peak sound pressure level thresholds associated with impulsive sounds, these thresholds should also be considered. Note: Peak sound pressure (Lpk) has a reference value of 1 μPa, and cumulative sound exposure level (LE) has a reference value of 1μPa2s. In this Table, thresholds are abbreviated to reflect American National Standards Institute standards (ANSI 2013). However, peak sound pressure is defined by ANSI as incorporating frequency weighting, which is not the intent for this Technical Guidance. Hence, the subscript “flat” is being included to indicate peak sound pressure should be flat weighted or unweighted within the generalized hearing range. The subscript associated with cumulative sound exposure level thresholds indicates the designated marine mammal auditory weighting function (LF, MF, and HF cetaceans, and PW and OW pinnipeds) and that the recommended accumulation period is 24 hours. The cumulative sound exposure level thresholds could be exceeded in a multitude of ways (i.e., varying exposure levels and durations, duty cycle). When possible, it is valuable for action proponents to indicate the conditions under which these acoustic thresholds will be exceeded. Ensonified Area

    Here, we describe operational and environmental parameters of the activity that will feed into estimating the area ensonified above the acoustic thresholds.

    The planned survey would entail the use of a 2-airgun array with a total discharge of 90 cubic inches (in3) at a tow depth of 3 meters (m). The distance to the predicted isopleth corresponding to the threshold for Level B harassment (160 dB re 1 μPa) was calculated based on results of modeling performed by LDEO. Received sound levels were predicted by LDEO's model (Diebold et al. 2010) as a function of distance from the airgun array. The LDEO modeling approach uses ray tracing for the direct wave traveling from the array to the receiver and its associated source ghost (reflection at the air-water interface in the vicinity of the array), in a constant-velocity half-space (infinite homogeneous ocean layer unbounded by a seafloor). In addition, propagation measurements of pulses from a 36-airgun array at a tow depth of 6 m have been reported in deep water (~1,600 m), intermediate water depth on the slope (~600-1100 m), and shallow water (~50 m) in the Gulf of Mexico in 2007-2008 (Tolstoy et al. 2009; Diebold et al. 2010). The estimated distances to the Level B harassment isopleth for the Revelle airgun array are shown in Table 4.

    Table 4—Predicted Radial Distances From R/V Revelle 90 in3 Seismic Source to Isopleth Corresponding to Level B Harassment Threshold Water depth Predicted distance
  • to threshold
  • (160 dB re 1 μPa)
  • >1000 m 448 m. 100-1,000 m 672 m.

    For modeling of radial distances to predicted isopleths corresponding to harassment thresholds in deep water (>1,000 m), LDEO used the deep-water radii for various Sound Exposure Levels obtained from LDEO model results down to a maximum water depth of 2,000 m (see Figure 2 in the IHA application). Radial distances to predicted isopleths corresponding to harassment thresholds in intermediate water depths (100-1,000 m) were derived by LDEO from the deep-water distances by applying a correction factor (multiplication) of 1.5, such that observed levels at very near offsets fall below the corrected mitigation curve (Fig. 16 in Appendix H of NSF-USGS 2011). LDEO's modeling methodology is described in greater detail in the IHA application (LGL 2017) and we refer the reader to that document rather than repeating it here.

    Predicted distances to Level A harassment isopleths, which vary based on marine mammal functional hearing groups (Table 2), were calculated based on modeling performed by LDEO using the Nucleus software program and the NMFS User Spreadsheet, described below. The updated acoustic thresholds for impulsive sounds (such as airguns) contained in the Technical Guidance (NMFS 2016) were presented as dual metric acoustic thresholds using both cumulative sound exposure level (SELcum) and peak sound pressure level (SPL) metrics. As dual metrics, NMFS considers onset of PTS (Level A harassment) to have occurred when either one of the two metrics is exceeded (i.e., metric resulting in the largest isopleth). The SELcum metric considers both level and duration of exposure, as well as auditory weighting functions by marine mammal hearing group. In recognition of the fact that the requirement to calculate Level A harassment ensonified areas could be more technically challenging to predict due to the duration component and the use of weighting functions in the new SELcum thresholds, NMFS developed an optional User Spreadsheet that includes tools to help predict a simple isopleth that can be used in conjunction with marine mammal density or occurrence to facilitate the estimation of take numbers.

    The values for SELcum and peak SPL for the Revelle airgun array were derived from calculating the modified farfield signature (Table 5). The farfield signature is often used as a theoretical representation of the source level. To compute the farfield signature, the source level is estimated at a large distance below the array (e.g., 9 kilometers (km)), and this level is back projected mathematically to a notional distance of 1 m from the array's geometrical center. However, when the source is an array of multiple airguns separated in space, the source level from the theoretical farfield signature is not necessarily the best measurement of the source level that is physically achieved at the source (Tolstoy et al. 2009). Near the source (at short ranges, distances <1 km), the pulses of sound pressure from each individual airgun in the source array do not stack constructively, as they do for the theoretical farfield signature. The pulses from the different airguns spread out in time such that the source levels observed or modeled are the result of the summation of pulses from a few airguns, not the full array (Tolstoy et al. 2009). At larger distances, away from the source array center, sound pressure of all the airguns in the array stack coherently, but not within one time sample, resulting in smaller source levels (a few dB) than the source level derived from the farfield signature. Because the farfield signature does not take into account the array effect near the source and is calculated as a point source, the modified farfield signature is a more appropriate measure of the sound source level for distributed sound sources, such as airgun arrays. Though the array effect is not expected to be as pronounced in the case of a 2-airgun array as it would be with a larger airgun array, the modified farfield method is considered more appropriate than use of the theoretical farfield signature.

    Table 5—Modeled Source Levels Using Modified Farfield Method for R/V Revelle 90-in3 Airgun Array Functional hearing group Peak SPLflat SELcum Low frequency cetaceans (L pk,flat: 219 dB; L E,LF,24h: 183 dB) 232.805 dB 206.0165 dB. Mid frequency cetaceans (L pk,flat: 230 dB; L E,MF,24h: 185 dB) 229.89 dB 205.9638 dB. High frequency cetaceans (L pk,flat: 202 dB; L E,HF,24h: 155 dB) 232.867 dB 206.384 dB. Phocid Pinnipeds (Underwater) (L pk,flat: 218 dB; L E,HF,24h: 185 dB) 232.356 dB 205.9638 dB. Otariid Pinnipeds (Underwater) (L pk,flat: 232 dB; L E,HF,24h: 203 dB) 224.7897 dB 206.806 dB.

    In order to more realistically incorporate the Technical Guidance's weighting functions over the seismic array's full acoustic band, unweighted spectrum data for the Revelle's airgun array (modeled in 1 Hz bands) was used to make adjustments (dB) to the unweighted spectrum levels, by frequency, according to the weighting functions for each relevant marine mammal hearing group. These adjusted/weighted spectrum levels were then converted to pressures (μPa) in order to integrate them over the entire broadband spectrum, resulting in broadband weighted source levels by hearing group that could be directly incorporated within the User Spreadsheet (i.e., to override the Spreadsheet's more simple weighting factor adjustment). Using the User Spreadsheet's “safe distance” methodology for mobile sources (described by Sivle et al., 2014) with the hearing group-specific weighted source levels, and inputs assuming spherical spreading propagation, a source velocity of 2.57 m/second, and shot interval of 7.78 seconds (LGL 2017), potential radial distances to auditory injury zones were then calculated for SELcum thresholds. Inputs to the User Spreadsheet are shown in Table 5. Outputs from the User Spreadsheet in the form of estimated distances to Level A harassment isopleths are shown in Table 6. As described above, the larger distance of the dual criteria (SELcum or Peak SPLflat) is used for estimating takes by Level A harassment. The weighting functions used are shown in Table 3 of the IHA application.

    Table 6—Modeled Radial Distances (m) From R/V Revelle 90-in3 Airgun Array to Isopleths Corresponding to Level A Harassment thresholds Functional hearing group
  • (Level A harassment thresholds)
  • Peak SPLflat SELcum
    Low frequency cetaceans (L pk,flat: 219 dB; L E,LF,24h: 183 dB) 4.9 7.9 Mid frequency cetaceans (L pk,flat: 230 dB; L E,MF,24h: 185 dB) 1.0 0 High frequency cetaceans (L pk,flat: 202 dB; L E,HF,24h: 155 dB) 34.9 0 Phocid Pinnipeds (Underwater) (L pk,flat: 218 dB; L E,HF,24h: 185 dB) 5.2 0.1 Otariid Pinnipeds (Underwater) (L pk,flat: 232 dB; L E,HF,24h: 203 dB) 0.4 0

    Note that because of some of the assumptions included in the methods used, isopleths produced may be overestimates to some degree, which will ultimately result in some degree of overestimate of Level A take. However, these tools offer the best way to predict appropriate isopleths when more sophisticated 3D modeling methods are not available, and NMFS continues to develop ways to quantitatively refine these tools and will qualitatively address the output where appropriate. For mobile sources, such as the planned seismic survey, the User Spreadsheet predicts the closest distance at which a stationary animal would not incur PTS if the sound source traveled by the animal in a straight line at a constant speed.

    Marine Mammal Occurrence

    In this section we provide the information about the presence, density, or group dynamics of marine mammals that will inform the take calculations.

    The best available scientific information was considered in conducting marine mammal exposure estimates (the basis for estimating take). For most cetacean species, densities calculated by Barlow (2016) were used. These represent the most comprehensive and recent density data available for cetacean species in slope and offshore waters of Oregon and Washington and are based on data collected via NMFS Southwest Fisheries Science Center (SWFSC) ship-based surveys in 1991, 1993, 1996, 2001, 2005, 2008, and 2014. The surveys were conducted up to ~556 km from shore from June or August to November or December. The densities from NMFS SWFSC vessel-based surveys were corrected by the authors for both trackline detection probability and availability bias. Trackline detection probability bias is associated with diminishing sightability with increasing lateral distance from the trackline and is measured by f(0). Availability bias refers to the fact that there is less than 100 percent probability of sighting an animal that is present along the survey trackline, and it is measured by g(0). Abundance and density were not estimated for gray whales or harbor porpoises in the NMFS SWFSC surveys because their inshore habitats were inadequately covered in those studies. Gray whale density is derived from the abundance of gray whales that remain between Oregon and British Columbia in summer (updated based on abundance calculated by Calambokidis et al. 2014) and the area out to 43 km from shore, using the U.S. Navy (2010) method. Harbor porpoise densities are based on data from aerial line-transect surveys during 2007-2012 for the Northern Oregon/Washington Coast stock (Forney et al. 2014).

    Systematic, offshore, at-sea survey data for pinnipeds are more limited than those for cetaceans. Densities for pinnipeds were calculated as the estimated number of animals at sea divided by the area encompassing their range. Densities for the Steller sea lion, California sea lion, northern elephant seal, and northern fur seal were calculated using the methods in U.S. Navy (2010) with updated abundance estimates from Carretta et al. (2016) and Muto et al. (2016), when appropriate. For the harbor seal, densities were calculated using the population estimate for the Oregon/Washington Coastal stock and the range for that stock from Carretta et al. (2016).

    In the Federal Register notice of the proposed IHA (82 FR 39276; August 17, 2017), areas encompassing the ranges of pinniped species, which were used to estimate pinniped densities, were based on areas reported in U.S. Navy (2010). However, after publication of the notice of the proposed IHA, the Commission noted in their comment letter that the best available data on areas encompassing the ranges of pinniped species in the project area is presented in U.S. Navy (2014). We have reviewed U.S. Navy (2014) and have revised densities in the final IHA from those shown in the proposed IHA accordingly, to reflect the best available information on areas encompassing the ranges of pinniped species. The estimates of the numbers of animals at sea that were used to estimate densities in the proposed IHA remains the best available information for all five pinniped species expected to occur in the survey area; thus, in revising estimated densities we used the updated areas from U.S. Navy 2014 (when updated areas were available), and the same estimates of the numbers of animals at sea as those that were used to estimate density in the proposed IHA. For three species (Steller sea lion, northern elephant seal, and northern fur seal) the areas reported in U.S. Navy (2014) were the same as those in U.S. Navy (2010); therefore, there was no need to revise densities for these species. For harbor seal and California sea lion, areas reported in U.S. Navy (2014) were different than those reported in U.S. Navy (2010); therefore, we have revised density estimates of these two species to reflect the best available information. Note that correction factors were applied in some cases in the calculations of density estimates for pinnipeds (see footnotes in Table 8).

    There is some uncertainty related to the estimated density data and the assumptions used in their calculations, as with all density data estimates. However, the approach used is based on the best available data.

    Take Calculation and Estimation

    Here we describe how the information provided above is brought together to produce a quantitative take estimate. In order to estimate the number of marine mammals predicted to be exposed to sound levels that would result in Level A harassment or Level B harassment, radial distances from the airgun array to predicted isopleths corresponding to the Level A harassment threshold and Level B harassment threshold are calculated, as described above. Those radial distances are then used to calculate the area(s) around the airgun array predicted to be ensonified to sound levels that exceed the Level A harassment and Level B harassment thresholds. The area estimated to be ensonified to those thresholds in a single day of the survey is then calculated (Table 7), based on the areas predicted to be ensonified around the array and the estimated trackline distance traveled per day. This number is then multiplied by the number of survey days (i.e., 5). The product is then multiplied by 1.25 to account for the additional 25 percent contingency, as described above. This results in an estimate of the total areas in square kilometers (km2) expected to be ensonified to the Level A harassment and Level B harassment thresholds (Table 7). For purposes of Level B take calculations, areas estimated to be ensonified to Level A harassment thresholds are subtracted from total areas estimated to be ensonified to Level B harassment thresholds in order to avoid double counting the animals taken (i.e., if an animal is taken by Level A harassment, it is not also counted as taken by Level B harassment). The marine mammals predicted to occur within these respective areas, based on estimated densities, are assumed to be incidentally taken. Areas estimated to be ensonified to the Level B harassment threshold for the planned survey are shown in Table 7. Estimated takes for all marine mammal species are shown in Table 8.

    Table 7— Areas (km 2) Estimated To Be Ensonified to Level A and Level B Harassment Thresholds Over the Duration of the Survey Level B harassment threshold Level A harassment threshold 1 All marine
  • mammals
  • Low frequency
  • cetaceans
  • Mid frequency
  • cetaceans
  • High
  • frequency
  • cetaceans
  • Otariid
  • Pinnipeds
  • Phocid
  • Pinnipeds
  • 1,276.25 21.1 2.6 96.2 1.2 13.9 Note: Estimated areas based on five survey days and include additional 25 percent contingency (effectively resulting in 6.25 survey days). Level A ensonified areas are estimated based on the greater of the distances calculated to Level A isopleths using dual criteria (SELcum and peakSPL).

    Take estimates for Dall's porpoise and harbor porpoise have been been revised from those reflected in the Federal Register notice of proposed IHA (82 FR 39276; August 17, 2017). For Dall's porpoise, we have adopted the Commission's suggestion that the take estimate should be based on the density for the species that was derived in BSS of 0-5 (58.3 animals per km2) versus the density that was derived in BSS of 0-3 (54.4 animals per km2) which was used in the take stimate shown in the proposed IHA, based on the fact that previous geophysical surveys in waters of northern California, Oregon, and Washington have occurred in BSSs of 0-7 during the same season. Additionally, for species for which Level A take is being authorized, the Commission correctly noted that Level A estimates should be subtracted from Level B estimates when calculating the total number of authorized takes (to avoid double counting the animals taken by Level A harassment, as described above); this step had mistakenly not been performed for the take estimates reflected in the proposed IHA. These revisions resulted in a revised estimate of 69 Level B takes (versus 68 as shown in the proposed IHA) and a revised estimate of 74 total takes (versus 73 as shown in the proposed IHA). Harbor porpoise takes were recalculated due to a mathematical error in the take estimate reflected in the proposed IHA, and were also revised to avoid double counting of takes (as described for Dall's porpoise above). This resulted in a revised estimate of 552 Level B takes (versus 582) and a revised estimate of 596 total takes (versus 627).

    Take estimates for harbor porpoise and California sea lion have been also been revised based on use of revised density estimates for these species as described above. As noted above, in response to concerns raised by the Commission, density estimates used to estimate take for harbor seal and California sea lion have been revised to reflect the best available information on the range of those species (represented by U.S. Navy (2014)). As areas representing the range of the species for harbor seal and California sea lion reported in U.S. Navy (2014) were greater than those reported in U.S. Navy (2010), and estimates of the numbers of animals at sea remained the same for both species, this resulted in lower estimated densities, and lower estimated take numbers, for both species. For Caifornia sea lion, density was revised from 283.3 animals per 1,000 km2 to 33.3 animals per 1,000 km2. This resulted in a revised take estimate of 43 takes by Level B harassment (versus the previous estimate of 362 takes by Level B harassment) (Table 8). For harbor seal, density was revised from 292 animals per 1,000 km2 to 279 animals per 1,000 km2. This resulted in a revised take estimate of 356 takes by Level B harassment; however, as Level A estimates are subtracted from Level B estimates when calculating the total number of authorized takes (to avoid double counting the animals taken by Level A harassment, as described above) the revised take estimate for harbor seals is 352 takes by Level B harassment and 4 takes by Level A harassment (versus the previous estimate of 367 takes by Level B harassment) (Table 8).

    Table 8—Numbers of Potential Incidental Take of Marine Mammals Authorized Species Density
  • (#/1,000 km2)
  • Estimated and
  • authorized
  • Level A takes
  • Estimated Level B takes Authorized Level B takes Total
  • authorized takes
  • Total
  • authorized Level A and Level B takes as a percentage of
  • population
  • Gray whale 2.6 0 4 4 4 <0.1 Humpback whale 2.1 0 3 3 3 0.2 Minke whale 1.3 0 2 2 2 0.3 Sei whale 1 0.4 0 1 2 2 0.4 Fin whale 4.2 0 6 6 6 <0.1 Blue whale 0.3 0 1 1 1 <0.1 Sperm whale 1 0.9 0 2 6 6 0.3 Pygmy sperm whale 1.6 0 2 2 2 <0.1 Killer whale 1 0.9 0 2 8 8 West coast transient stock 3.3 Eastern No. Pacific offshore stock 3.3 False killer whale 1 0 0 0 5 5 0.3 Short-finned pilot whale 1 0.2 0 1 18 18 2.2 Harbor porpoise 467.0 44 552 552 596 No.California/So. Oregon stock 1.7 Northern Oregon/Washington coast stock 2.7 Dall's porpoise 58.3 5 69 69 74 0.3 Bottlenose dolphin 1 0 0 0 13 13 6.8 Striped dolphin 1 7.7 0 10 109 109 3.7 Risso's dolphin 1 11.8 0 16 28 28 4.4 Short-beaked common dolphin 1 69.2 0 89 286 286 <0.1 Pacific white sided dolphin 1 40.7 0 52 62 62 2.3 Northern right whale dolphin 1 46.4 0 60 63 63 2.5 Cuvier's beaked whale 2.8 0 4 4 4 <0.1 Baird's beaked whale 10.7 0 14 14 14 1.7 Mesoplodont beaked whales 2 1.2 0 2 2 2 2.9 Northern fur seal 3 83.4 0 107 107 107 0.8 California sea lion 4 33.3 0 43 43 43 <0.1 Steller sea lion 5 15.0 0 20 20 20 <0.1 Harbor seal 6 292.3 4 352 352 356 1.4 Northern elephant seal 7 83.1 1 105 105 106 <0.1 1 The number of authorized takes (Level B harassment only) for these species has been increased from the estimated take to mean group size (as reported in Barlow (2016)). 2 May be any of the following: Blainville's beaked whale, Perrin's beaked whale, Lesser beaked whale, Stejneger's beaked whale, Gingko-toothed beaked whale, or Hubb's beaked whale. 3 Estimated density based on abundance of Eastern Pacific stock from Muto et al. (2016) plus California stock from Carretta et al. (2017) subtracting pups for Eastern Pacific stock (Muto et al. 2016) and subtracting pups for San Miguel Island (Carretta et al. 2017) as it was assumed that pups would not be at sea during the survey. Area representing range of the stock is 6,165,000 km2 (U.S. Navy 2014). 4 Estimated density based on abundance estimate from Jeffries et al. (2000). Area representing range of the stock is 150,000 km2 (U.S. Navy 2014). 5 Estimated density based on abundance estimate from Muto et al. (2016); abundance estimate was multiplied by 0.25, as an estimate of the percentage of the population at sea (Bonnell and Bowlby 1992; U.S. Navy 2014). Area representing range of the stock is 1,244,000 km2 (U.S. Navy 2014). 6 Estimated density based on abundance estimate from Carretta et al. (2017); abundance estimate was multiplied by 0.35, as 35 percent of the population is estimated to be in the water at any given time (Huber et al. 2001; U.S. Navy 2014). Area representing range of the stock is 31,000 km2 (U.S. Navy 2014). 7 Estimated density based on abundance estimate from Carretta et al. (2017), with adult males assumed to be at rookeries subtracted from abundance estimate (U.S. Navy, 2014). Area representing range of the stock is 2,032,000 km2 (U.S. Navy 2014).

    Species with Take Estimates Less than Mean Group Size: Using the approach described above to estimate take, the take estimates for the sei whale, sperm whale, killer whale, short-finned pilot whale, false killer whale, bottlenose dolphin, short beaked common dolphin, striped dolphin, Pacific white sided dolphin, Risso's dolphin and Northern right whale dolphin were less than the average group sizes estimated for these species (Table 8). However, information on the social structures and life histories of these species indicates it is common for these species to be encountered in groups. The results of take calculations support the likelihood that SIO's survey is expected to encounter and to incidentally take these species, and we believe it is likely that these species may be encountered in groups, therefore it is reasonable to conservatively assume that one group of each of these species will be taken during the planned survey. We therefore authorize the take of the average (mean) group size for these species and stocks to account for the possibility that SIO's survey encounters a group of any of these species or stocks (Table 8).

    No density data were available for the false killer whale or the bottlenose dolphin in the planned survey area, as these species are not typically observed in the planned survey area (Carretta et al., 2017). However, we believe it is possible that these species may be encountered by SIO during the planned survey. Though false killer whales are a tropical species that is usually found in waters warmer than those typical of the planned survey area, they have been observed off the U.S. west coast during warm-water periods. Several sightings were made off California during 2014-2016, when waters were unusually warm, and historically there are very rare records farther north (pers. comm. K. Forney, NMFS Southwest Fisheries Science Center, to J. Carduner, NMFS, July 27, 2017). Bottlenose dolphins have not been observed off the coast of Oregon and Washington (Carretta et al., 2017). However, they occur frequently off the coast of California, and they may range into Oregon and Washington waters during warm-water periods. (Carretta et al., 2017). Though no density data are available, we believe it is reasonable to conservatively assume that SIO's planned survey may encounter and incidentally take false killer whales and bottlenose dolphins. We therefore authorize the take of the average (mean) group size for both species (Table 8).

    It should be noted that the take numbers shown in Table 8 are believed to be conservative for several reasons. First, in the calculations of estimated take, 25 percent has been added in the form of operational survey days (equivalent to adding 25 percent to the planned line km to be surveyed) to account for the possibility of additional seismic operations associated with airgun testing, and repeat coverage of any areas where initial data quality is sub-standard. Additionally, marine mammals would be expected to move away from a loud sound source that represents an aversive stimulus, potentially reducing the number of Level A takes. However, the extent to which marine mammals would move away from the sound source is difficult to quantify and is therefore not accounted for in take estimates shown in Table 8.

    For some marine mammal species, we authorize a different number of incidental takes than the number of incidental takes requested by SIO (see Table 7 in the IHA application for requested take numbers). For instance, for several species, SIO increased the take request from the calculated take number to 1 percent of the estimated population size. However, we do not believe it is likely that 1 percent of the estimated population size of those species will be taken by SIO's planned survey, therefore we authorize take numbers as shows in Table 8, which we believe are based on the best available information.

    To calculate distances to isopleths corresponding to Level A harassment thresholds using Peak SPLflat, LDEO first ran the modeling for a single shot and then applied a high pass filter for each hearing group based on the group's generalized hearing range. A high pass filter is a type of band-pass filter, which pass frequencies within a defined range without reducing amplitude and attenuate frequencies outside that defined range (Yost 2007). LDEO ran the modeling both with and without the application of the high pass filter and SIO included information on isopleths corresponding to Level A harassment thresholds both with and without the high pass filter in their IHA application. The Technical Guidance referred to auditory weighting functions based on a generic band-pass filter (NMFS 2016). However, it is important to note that the two datasets relied upon to define peak SPL thresholds, either directly or as a surrogate means to derive thresholds for groups where no data are available (i.e., a beluga exposed to seismic water gun and harbor porpoise exposed to a single airgun) did not use a filter of any kind (i.e., thresholds provided were flat across the entire spectrum of the sound source). Therefore, for the purposes of modeling isopleths corresponding to Level A harassment thresholds using Peak SPLflat, NMFS believes that sound produced from the Revelle airgun array should be considered flat to result in no weighting/high pass filtering of any type at this time. Therefore, for the purposes of the take calculation, we rely on the distances to isopleths corresponding to Level A harassment thresholds using Peak SPLflat based on modeling performed by LDEO without the high pass filter applied. Thus, the Level A take numbers shown in Table 8 for harbor porpoise, Dall's porpoise and harbor seal are higher than the Level A take numbers requested by SIO as they are the result of modeling of isopleths corresponding to Level A harassment thresholds using Peak SPLflat with no weighting/high pass filtering applied. Level A take numbers for other species are not affected.

    Mitigation

    In order to issue an IHA under Section 101(a)(5)(D) of the MMPA, NMFS must set forth the permissible methods of taking pursuant to such activity, and other means of effecting the least practicable impact on such species or stock and its habitat, paying particular attention to rookeries, mating grounds, and areas of similar significance, and on the availability of such species or stock for taking for certain subsistence uses (latter not applicable for this action). NMFS regulations require applicants for incidental take authorizations to include information about the availability and feasibility (economic and technological) of equipment, methods, and manner of conducting such activity or other means of effecting the least practicable adverse impact upon the affected species or stocks and their habitat (50 CFR 216.104(a)(11)).

    In evaluating how mitigation may or may not be appropriate to ensure the least practicable adverse impact on species or stocks and their habitat, as well as subsistence uses where applicable, we carefully consider two primary factors:

    (1) The manner in which, and the degree to which, the successful implementation of the measure(s) is expected to reduce impacts to marine mammals, marine mammal species or stocks, and their habitat. This considers the nature of the potential adverse impact being mitigated (likelihood, scope, range). It further considers the likelihood that the measure will be effective if implemented (probability of accomplishing the mitigating result if implemented as planned) the likelihood of effective implementation (probability implemented as planned), and

    (2) the practicability of the measures for applicant implementation, which may consider such things as cost, impact on operations, and, in the case of a military readiness activity, personnel safety, practicality of implementation, and impact on the effectiveness of the military readiness activity.

    SIO has reviewed mitigation measures employed during seismic research surveys authorized by NMFS under previous incidental harassment authorizations, as well as recommended best practices in Richardson et al. (1995), Pierson et al. (1998), Weir and Dolman (2007), Nowacek et al. (2013), Wright (2014), and Wright and Cosentino (2015), and has incorporated a suite of mitigation measures into their project description based on the above sources.

    To reduce the potential for disturbance from acoustic stimuli associated with the activities, SIO will implement the following mitigation measures for marine mammals:

    (1) Vessel-based visual mitigation monitoring;

    (2) Establishment of an exclusion zone and buffer zone;

    (3) Shutdown procedures;

    (4) Ramp-up procedures; and

    (5) Ship strike avoidance measures.

    In addition to these measures, NMFS proposed the following additional mitigation measures:

    (1) Shutdown for a killer whale observed at any distance; and

    (2) Shutdown for a north Pacific right whale observed at any distance.

    Vessel-Based Visual Mitigation Monitoring

    Protected Species Observer (PSO) observations will take place during all daytime airgun operations and nighttime start ups (if applicable) of the airguns. If airguns are operating throughout the night, observations will begin 30 minutes prior to sunrise. If airguns are operating after sunset, observations will continue until 30 minutes following sunset. Following a shutdown for any reason, observations will occur for at least 30 minutes prior to the planned start of airgun operations. Observations will also occur for 30 minutes after airgun operations cease for any reason. Observations will also be made during daytime periods when the Revelle is underway without seismic operations, such as during transits, to allow for comparison of sighting rates and behavior with and without airgun operations and between acquisition periods. Airgun operations will be suspended when marine mammals are observed within, or about to enter, the designated Exclusion Zone (EZ) (as described below).

    During seismic operations, at least three visual PSOs will be based aboard the Revelle. PSOs will be appointed by SIO with NMFS approval. During the majority of seismic operations, two PSOs will monitor for marine mammals around the seismic vessel. A minimum of one PSO must be on duty at all times when the array is active. PSO(s) will be on duty in shifts of duration no longer than 4 hours. Other crew will also be instructed to assist in detecting marine mammals and in implementing mitigation requirements (if practical). Before the start of the seismic survey, the crew will be given additional instruction in detecting marine mammals and implementing mitigation requirements.

    The Revelle is a suitable platform from which PSOs will watch for marine mammals. The Revelle has been used for that purpose during the routine California Cooperative Oceanic Fisheries Investigations surveys. Observing stations are located at the 02 level, with the observer eye level at ~10.4 m above the waterline. At a forward-centered position on the 02 deck, the view is ~240° an aft-centered view includes the 100-m radius area around the GI airguns. The observer eye level on the bridge is ~15 m above sea level. Standard equipment for marine mammal observers will be 7 x 50 reticule binoculars and optical range finders. At night, night-vision equipment will be available. The observers will be in communication with ship's officers on the bridge and scientists in the vessel's operations laboratory, so they can advise promptly of the need for avoidance maneuvers or seismic source shutdown.

    The PSOs must have no tasks other than to conduct observational effort, record observational data, and communicate with and instruct relevant vessel crew with regard to the presence of marine mammals and mitigation requirements. PSO resumes have been be provided to NMFS for approval. At least one PSO must have a minimum of 90 days at-sea experience working as PSOs during a seismic survey. One “experienced” visual PSO will be designated as the lead for the entire protected species observation team. The lead will serve as primary point of contact for the vessel operator.

    The PSOs must have successfully completed relevant training, including completion of all required coursework and passing a written and/or oral examination developed for the training program, and must have successfully attained a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university with a major in one of the natural sciences and a minimum of 30 semester hours or equivalent in the biological sciences and at least one undergraduate course in math or statistics. The educational requirements may be waived if the PSO has acquired the relevant skills through alternate training, including (1) secondary education and/or experience comparable to PSO duties; (2) previous work experience conducting academic, commercial, or government-sponsored marine mammal surveys; or (3) previous work experience as a PSO; the PSO should demonstrate good standing and consistently good performance of PSO duties.

    Exclusion Zone and Buffer Zone

    An EZ is a defined area within which occurrence of a marine mammal triggers mitigation action intended to reduce the potential for certain outcomes, e.g., auditory injury, disruption of critical behaviors. The PSOs will establish a minimum EZ with a 100 m radius for the airgun array. The 100 m EZ will be based on radial distance from any element of the airgun array (rather than being based on the center of the array or around the vessel itself). With certain exceptions (described below), if a marine mammal appears within, enters, or appears on a course to enter this zone, the acoustic source will be shut down (see Shut Down Procedures below).

    The 100 m radial distance of the standard EZ is precautionary in the sense that it would be expected to contain sound exceeding peak pressure injury criteria for all marine mammal hearing groups (Table 6) while also providing a consistent, reasonably observable zone within which PSOs would typically be able to conduct effective observational effort. In this case, the 100 m radial distance would also be expected to contain sound that would exceed the Level A harassment threshold based on sound exposure level (SELcum) criteria for all marine mammal hearing groups (Table 6). In the 2011 Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement for marine scientific research funded by NSF or the U.S. Geological Survey (NSF-USGS 2011), Alternative B (the Preferred Alternative) conservatively applied a 100 m EZ for all low-energy acoustic sources in water depths >100 m, with low-energy acoustic sources defined as any towed acoustic source with a single or a pair of clustered airguns with individual volumes of ≤250 in3. Thus the 100 m EZ for this survey is consistent with the PEIS.

    Our intent in prescribing a standard exclusion zone distance is to (1) encompass zones within which auditory injury could occur on the basis of instantaneous exposure; (2) provide additional protection from the potential for more severe behavioral reactions (e.g., panic, antipredator response) for marine mammals at relatively close range to the acoustic source; (3) provide consistency for PSOs, who need to monitor and implement the EZ; and (4) define a distance within which detection probabilities are reasonably high for most species under typical conditions.

    PSOs will also establish and monitor a 200 m buffer zone. During use of the acoustic source, occurrence of marine mammals within the buffer zone (but outside the exclusion zone) will be communicated to the operator to prepare for potential shutdown of the acoustic source. The buffer zone is discussed further under Ramp Up Procedures below. PSOs will also monitor the entire extent of the Level B zone, or as far as possible if the extent of the Level B zone is not visible.

    Shutdown Procedures

    If a marine mammal is detected outside the EZ but is likely to enter the EZ, and if the vessel's speed and/or course cannot be changed to avoid having the animal enter the EZ, the airguns will be shut down before the animal is within the EZ. Likewise, if a marine mammal is already within the EZ when first detected, the airguns will be shut down immediately.

    Following a shutdown, airgun activity will not resume until the marine mammal has cleared the 100 m EZ. The animal will be considered to have cleared the 100 m EZ if the following conditions have been met:

    • It is visually observed to have departed the 100 m EZ, or

    • it has not been seen within the 100 m EZ for 15 minutes in the case of small odontocetes, or

    • it has not been seen within the 100 m EZ for 30 minutes in the case of mysticetes and large odontocetes, including sperm, pygmy sperm, dwarf sperm, and beaked whales.

    This shutdown requirement will be in place for all marine mammals, with the exception of small delphinoids under certain circumstances. As defined here, the small delphinoid group is intended to encompass those members of the Family Delphinidae most likely to voluntarily approach the source vessel for purposes of interacting with the vessel and/or airgun array (e.g., bow riding). This exception to the shutdown requirement will apply solely to specific genera of small dolphins—Tursiops, Stenella, Delphinus, Lagenorhynchus and Lissodelphis—and will only apply if the animals were traveling, including approaching the vessel. If, for example, an animal or group of animals is stationary for some reason (e.g., feeding) and the source vessel approaches the animals, the shutdown requirement applies. An animal with sufficient incentive to remain in an area rather than avoid an otherwise aversive stimulus could either incur auditory injury or disruption of important behavior. If there is uncertainty regarding identification (i.e., whether the observed animal(s) belongs to the group described above) or whether the animals are traveling, the shutdown will be implemented.

    We include this small delphinoid exception because shutdown requirements for small delphinoids under all circumstances represent practicability concerns without likely commensurate benefits for the animals in question. Small delphinoids are generally the most commonly observed marine mammals in the specific geographic region and would typically be the only marine mammals likely to intentionally approach the vessel. As described below, auditory injury is extremely unlikely to occur for mid-frequency cetaceans (e.g., delphinids), as this group is relatively insensitive to sound produced at the predominant frequencies in an airgun pulse while also having a relatively high threshold for the onset of auditory injury (i.e., permanent threshold shift). Please see “Potential Effects of the Specified Activity on Marine Mammals” above for further discussion of sound metrics and thresholds and marine mammal hearing.

    A large body of anecdotal evidence indicates that small delphinoids commonly approach vessels and/or towed arrays during active sound production for purposes of bow riding, with no apparent effect observed in those delphinoids (e.g., Barkaszi et al., 2012). The potential for increased shutdowns resulting from such a measure would require the Revelle to revisit the missed track line to reacquire data, resulting in an overall increase in the total sound energy input to the marine environment and an increase in the total duration over which the survey is active in a given area. Although other mid-frequency hearing specialists (e.g., large delphinoids) are no more likely to incur auditory injury than are small delphinoids, they are much less likely to approach vessels. Therefore, retaining a shutdown requirement for large delphinoids would not have similar impacts in terms of either practicability for the applicant or corollary increase in sound energy output and time on the water. We do anticipate some benefit for a shutdown requirement for large delphinoids in that it simplifies somewhat the total range of decision-making for PSOs and may preclude any potential for physiological effects other than to the auditory system as well as some more severe behavioral reactions for any such animals in close proximity to the source vessel.

    At any distance, shutdown of the acoustic source will also be required upon observation of any of the following:

    • A killer whale;

    • a large whale (i.e., sperm whale or any baleen whale) with a calf;

    • a north Pacific right whale; or

    • an aggregation of large whales of any species (i.e., sperm whale or any baleen whale) that does not appear to be traveling (e.g., feeding, socializing, etc.).

    These are the only potential situations that would require shutdown of the array for marine mammals observed beyond the 100 m EZ. Killer whales belonging to the Southern Resident distinct population segment (DPS) are not expected to occur in the area of the planned survey as the easternmost track lines of the planned survey (those that approach nearest to shore) are further west than the migratory range of the Southern Resident stock off Oregon and southern Washington (pers. comm., B. Hanson, NMFS Northwest Fishery Science Center to J. Carduner, NMFS Office of Protected Resources (OPR), April 12, 2017). As the Eastern North Pacific Southern Resident stock would be expected to occur closer to shore than the planned survey area, the survey is not expected to encounter any individuals from this stock. However, as the known migratory range of the Southern Resident DPS occurs near the planned survey area, and due to the precarious conservation status of the Southern Resident killer whale DPS, NMFS believes it is reasonable to implement measures that are conservative and also practicable in order to prevent the potential for a Southern Resident killer whale to be exposed to airgun sounds. Thus the requirement to shut down the array upon observation of a killer whale at any distance is designed to avoid any potential for harassment of any Southern Resident killer whales.

    As described above, we do not expect the survey to encounter a north Pacific right whale and take of north Pacific right whales is not authorized. However, in the extremely rare event that a north Pacific right whale was observed at any distance, the array would be shut down and would not be activated until 30 minutes had elapsed since the most recent sighting.

    Ramp-Up Procedures

    Ramp-up of an acoustic source is intended to provide a gradual increase in sound levels following a shutdown, enabling animals to move away from the source if the signal is sufficiently aversive prior to its reaching full intensity. Ramp-up will be required after the array is shut down for any reason. Ramp-up will begin with the activation of one 45 in3 airgun, with the second 45 in3 airgun activated after 5 minutes.

    PSOs are required to monitor during ramp-up. During ramp up, the PSOs will monitor the EZ, and if marine mammals were observed within or approaching the 100 m EZ, a shutdown will be implemented as though the full array were operational. If airguns have been shut down due to PSO detection of a marine mammal within or approaching the 100 m EZ, ramp-up will not be initiated until all marine mammals have cleared the EZ, during the day or night. Criteria for clearing the EZ will be as described above.

    Thirty minutes of pre-clearance observation are required prior to ramp-up for any shutdown of longer than 30 minutes (i.e., if the array were shut down during transit from one line to another). This 30 minute pre-clearance period may occur during any vessel activity (i.e., transit). If a marine mammal were observed within or approaching the 100 m EZ during this pre-clearance period, ramp-up will not be initiated until all marine mammals cleared the EZ. Criteria for clearing the EZ will be as described above. If the airgun array has been shut down for reasons other than mitigation (e.g., mechanical difficulty) for a period of less than 30 minutes, it may be activated again without ramp-up if PSOs have maintained constant visual observation and no detections of any marine mammal have occurred within the EZ or buffer zone. Ramp-up will be planned to occur during periods of good visibility when possible. However, ramp-up is allowed at night and during poor visibility if the 100 m EZ and 200 m buffer zone have been monitored by visual PSOs for 30 minutes prior to ramp-up.

    The operator will be required to notify a designated PSO of the planned start of ramp-up as agreed-upon with the lead PSO; the notification time should not be less than 60 minutes prior to the planned ramp-up. A designated PSO must be notified again immediately prior to initiating ramp-up procedures and the operator must receive confirmation from the PSO to proceed. The operator must provide information to PSOs documenting that appropriate procedures were followed. Following deactivation of the array for reasons other than mitigation, the operator is required to communicate the near-term operational plan to the lead PSO with justification for any planned nighttime ramp-up.

    Speed or Course Alteration

    If a marine mammal is detected outside the EZ, based on its position and the relative motion, is likely to enter the EZ, the vessel's speed and/or direct course could be changed. This will be done if operationally practicable while minimizing the effect on the planned science objectives. The activities and movements of the marine mammal (relative to the seismic vessel) will then be closely monitored to determine whether the animal is approaching the EZ. If the animal appears likely to enter the EZ, a shutdown of the seismic source will cocur. Typically, during seismic operations, the source vessel is unable to change speed or course and one or more alternative mitigation measures (as described above) will need to be implemented.

    Based on our evaluation of the mitigation measures as described above, 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 planned 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); and

    • Mitigation and monitoring effectiveness.

    SIO submitted a marine mammal monitoring and reporting plan in section XIII of their IHA application. Monitoring that is designed specifically to facilitate mitigation measures, such as monitoring of the EZ to inform potential shutdowns of the airgun array, are described above and are not repeated here.

    SIO's monitoring and reporting plan includes the following measures:

    Vessel-Based Visual Monitoring

    As described above, PSO observations will take place during daytime airgun operations and nighttime start ups (if applicable) of the airguns. During seismic operations, three visual PSOs will be based aboard the Revelle. PSOs will be appointed by SIO with NMFS approval. During the majority of seismic operations, one PSO will monitor for marine mammals around the seismic vessel. PSOs will be on duty in shifts of duration no longer than 4 hours. Other crew will also be instructed to assist in detecting marine mammals and in implementing mitigation requirements (if practical). During daytime, PSOs will scan the area around the vessel systematically with reticle binoculars (e.g., 7×50 Fujinon), Big-eye binoculars (25×150), and with the naked eye.

    PSOs will record data to estimate the numbers of marine mammals exposed to various received sound levels and to document apparent disturbance reactions or lack thereof. Data will be used to estimate numbers of animals potentially `taken' by harassment (as defined in the MMPA). They will also provide information needed to order a shutdown of the airguns when a marine mammal is within or near the EZ. When a sighting is made, the following information about the sighting will be recorded:

    1. Species, group size, age/size/sex categories (if determinable), behavior when first sighted and after initial sighting, heading (if consistent), bearing and distance from seismic vessel, sighting cue, apparent reaction to the airguns or vessel (e.g., none, avoidance, approach, paralleling, etc.), and behavioral pace.

    2. Time, location, heading, speed, activity of the vessel, sea state, visibility, and sun glare.

    All observations and shutdowns will be recorded in a standardized format. Data will be entered into an electronic database. The accuracy of the data entry will be verified by computerized data validity checks as the data are entered and by subsequent manual checking of the database. These procedures will allow initial summaries of data to be prepared during and shortly after the field program and will facilitate transfer of the data to statistical, graphical, and other programs for further processing and archiving. The time, location, heading, speed, activity of the vessel, sea state, visibility, and sun glare will also be recorded at the start and end of each observation watch, and during a watch whenever there is a change in one or more of the variables.

    Results from the vessel-based observations will provide:

    1. The basis for real-time mitigation (airgun shutdown);

    2. Information needed to estimate the number of marine mammals potentially taken by harassment, which must be reported to NMFS;

    3. Data on the occurrence, distribution, and activities of marine mammals in the area where the seismic study is conducted;

    4. Information to compare the distance and distribution of marine mammals relative to the source vessel at times with and without seismic activity; and

    5. Data on the behavior and movement patterns of marine mammals seen at times with and without seismic activity.

    Reporting

    A report will be submitted to NMFS within 90 days after the end of the cruise. The report will describe the operations that were conducted and sightings of marine mammals near the operations. The report will provide full documentation of methods, results, and interpretation pertaining to all monitoring. The 90-day report will summarize the dates and locations of seismic operations, and all marine mammal sightings (dates, times, locations, activities, associated seismic survey activities). The report will also include estimates of the number and nature of exposures that occurred above the harassment threshold based on PSO observations, including an estimate of those on the trackline but not detected.

    Negligible Impact Analysis and Determination

    NMFS has defined negligible impact as an impact resulting from the specified activity that cannot be reasonably expected to, and is not reasonably likely to, adversely affect the species or stock through effects on annual rates of recruitment or survival (50 CFR 216.103). A negligible impact finding is based on the lack of likely adverse effects on annual rates of recruitment or survival (i.e., population-level effects). An estimate of the number of takes alone is not enough information on which to base an impact determination. In addition to considering estimates of the number of marine mammals that might be “taken” through harassment, NMFS considers other factors, such as the likely nature of any responses (e.g., intensity, duration), the context of any responses (e.g., critical reproductive time or location, migration), as well as effects on habitat, and the likely effectiveness of the mitigation. We also assess the number, intensity, and context of estimated takes by evaluating this information relative to population status. Consistent with the 1989 preamble for NMFS' implementing regulations (54 FR 40338; September 29, 1989), the impacts from other past and ongoing anthropogenic activities are incorporated into this analysis via their impacts on the environmental baseline (e.g., as reflected in the regulatory status of the species, population size and growth rate where known, ongoing sources of human-caused mortality, or ambient noise levels).

    To avoid repetition, our analysis applies to all the species listed in Table 1, given that NMFS expects the anticipated effects of the planned seismic survey to be similar in nature. Where there are meaningful differences between species or stocks, or groups of species, in anticipated individual responses to activities, impact of expected take on the population due to differences in population status, or impacts on habitat, NMFS has identified species-specific factors to inform the analysis.

    NMFS does not anticipate that serious injury or mortality will occur as a result of SIO's planned seismic survey, even in the absence of mitigation. Thus the authorization does not authorize any mortality. As discussed in the Potential Effects section, non-auditory physical effects, stranding, and vessel strike are not expected to occur.

    We authorize a limited number of instances of Level A harassment (Table 8) for four species. However, we believe that any PTS incurred in marine mammals as a result of the planned activity will be in the form of only a small degree of PTS, not total deafness, and would be unlikely to affect the fitness of any individuals, because of the constant movement of both the Revelle and of the marine mammals in the project area, as well as the fact that the vessel is not expected to remain in any one area in which individual marine mammals would be expected to concentrate for an extended period of time (i.e., since the duration of exposure to loud sounds will be relatively short). Also, as described above, we expect that marine mammals are likely to move away from a sound source that represents an aversive stimulus, especially at levels that would be expected to result in PTS, given sufficient notice of the Revelle's approach due to the vessel's relatively low speed when conducting seismic surveys. We expect that the majority of takes will be in the form of short-term Level B behavioral harassment in the form of temporary avoidance of the area or decreased foraging (if such activity were occurring), reactions that are considered to be of low severity and with no lasting biological consequences (e.g., Southall et al., 2007).

    Potential impacts to marine mammal habitat were discussed previously in this document (see Potential Effects of the Specified Activity on Marine Mammals and their Habitat). Marine mammal habitat may be impacted by elevated sound levels, but these impacts will be temporary. Feeding behavior is not likely to be significantly impacted, as marine mammals appear to be less likely to exhibit behavioral reactions or avoidance responses while engaged in feeding activities (Richardson et al., 1995). Prey species are mobile and are broadly distributed throughout the project area; therefore, marine mammals that may be temporarily displaced during survey activities are expected to be able to resume foraging once they have moved away from areas with disturbing levels of underwater noise. Because of the temporary nature of the disturbance, the availability of similar habitat and resources in the surrounding area, and the lack of important or unique marine mammal habitat, the impacts to marine mammals and the food sources that they utilize are not expected to cause significant or long-term consequences for individual marine mammals or their populations. In addition, there are no mating or calving areas known to be biologically important to marine mammals within the planned project area.

    The activity is expected to impact a very small percentage of all marine mammal stocks affected by SIO's planned survey (less than 7 percent each for all marine mammal stocks). Additionally, the acoustic “footprint” of the planned survey will be very small relative to the ranges of all affected marine mammals . Sound levels will increase in the marine environment in a relatively small area surrounding the vessel compared to the range of the marine mammals within the planned survey area. The seismic array will be active 24 hours per day throughout the duration of the planned survey. However, the very brief overall duration of the planned survey (five days) will further limit potential impacts that may occur as a result of the planned activity. As noted above, take estimates for four species have been revised since we published the proposed IHA. Our analysis reflects these revised numbers (Table 8).

    The mitigation measures are expected to reduce the number and/or severity of takes by allowing for detection of marine mammals in the vicinity of the vessel by visual and acoustic observers, and by minimizing the severity of any potential exposures via shutdowns of the airgun array. Based on previous monitoring reports for substantially similar activities that have been previously authorized by NMFS, we expect that the mitigation measures will be effective in preventing at least some extent of potential PTS in marine mammals that may otherwise occur in the absence of the mitigation measures.

    Of the marine mammal species under our jurisdiction that are likely to occur in the project area, the following species are listed as endangered under the ESA: Humpback, blue, fin, sei, and sperm whales. Population estimates for humpback whales for the North Pacific have increased substantially from 1,200 in 1966 to approximately 18,000-20,000 whales in 2004 to 2006 (Calambokidis et al. 2008) indicating a growth rate of 6-7 percent (Carretta et al., 2017). There are currently insufficient data to determine population trends for blue, fin, sei, and sperm whales (Carretta et al., 2017); however, we are proposing to authorize very small numbers of takes for these species (Table 8), relative to their population sizes, therefore we do not expect population-level impacts to any of these species. The other marine mammal species that may be taken by harassment during SIO's seismic survey are not listed as threatened or endangered under the ESA. There is no designated critical habitat for any ESA-listed marine mammals within the project area; and of the non-listed marine mammals for which we authorize take, none are considered “depleted” or “strategic” by NMFS under the MMPA.

    NMFS concludes that exposures to marine mammal species and stocks due to SIO's planned seismic survey will result in only short-term (temporary and short in duration) effects to individuals exposed, or some small degree of PTS to a very small number of individuals of four species. Animals may temporarily avoid the immediate area, but are not expected to permanently abandon the area. Major shifts in habitat use, distribution, or foraging success are not expected. NMFS does not anticipate the take estimates to impact annual rates of recruitment or survival.

    In summary and as described above, the following factors primarily support our determination that the impacts resulting from this activity are not expected to adversely affect the marine mammal species or stocks through effects on annual rates of recruitment or survival:

    • No mortality is anticipated or authorized;

    • The anticipated impacts of the planned activity on marine mammals will primarily be temporary behavioral changes due to avoidance of the area around the survey vessel. The relatively short duration of the planned survey (5 days) will further limit the potential impacts of any temporary behavioral changes that may occur;

    • The number of instances of PTS that may occur are expected to be very small in number (Table 8). Instances of PTS that are incurred in marine mammals would be of a low level, due to constant movement of the vessel and of the marine mammals in the area, and the nature of the survey design (not concentrated in areas of high marine mammal concentration);

    • The availability of alternate areas of similar habitat value for marine mammals to temporarily vacate the survey area during the planned survey to avoid exposure to sounds from the activity;

    • The planned survey area does not contain areas of significance for feeding, mating or calving;

    • The potential adverse effects on fish or invertebrate species that serve as prey species for marine mammals from the planned survey would be temporary and spatially limited;

    • The mitigation measures, including visual and acoustic monitoring and shutdowns, are expected to minimize potential impacts to marine mammals.

    Based on the analysis contained herein of the likely effects of the specified activity on marine mammals and their habitat, and taking into consideration the implementation of the monitoring and mitigation measures, NMFS finds that the total marine mammal take from the planned activity will have a negligible impact on all affected marine mammal species or stocks.

    Small Numbers

    As noted above, only small numbers of incidental take may be authorized under Section 101(a)(5)(D) of the MMPA for specified activities other than military readiness activities. The MMPA does not define small numbers; so, in practice, where estimated numbers are available, NMFS compares the number of individuals taken to the most appropriate estimation of abundance of the relevant species or stock in our determination of whether an authorization is limited to small numbers of marine mammals. Additionally, other qualitative factors may be considered in the analysis, such as the temporal or spatial scale of the activities. Table 8 provides numbers of take by Level A harassment and Level B harassment authorized. These are the numbers we use for purposes of the small numbers analysis.

    The numbers of marine mammals that we authorize to be taken, for all species and stocks, would be considered small relative to the relevant stocks or populations (less than 7 percent for all species and stocks). Based on the analysis contained herein of the planned activity (including the mitigation and monitoring measures) and the anticipated take of marine mammals, NMFS finds that small numbers of marine mammals will be taken relative to the population size of the affected species or stocks.

    Unmitigable Adverse Impact Analysis and Determination

    There are no relevant subsistence uses of the affected marine mammal stocks or species implicated by this action. Therefore, NMFS has determined that the total taking of affected species or stocks 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 (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.) requires that each Federal agency insure that any action it authorizes, funds, or carries out is not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of any endangered or threatened species or result in the destruction or adverse modification of designated critical habitat. To ensure ESA compliance for the issuance of IHAs, NMFS consults internally, in this case with the ESA Interagency Cooperation Division, whenever we propose to authorize take for endangered or threatened species.

    The NMFS Permits and Conservation Division are authorizing the incidental take of 5 species of marine mammals which are listed under the ESA: The humpback whale (Mexico DPS), sei whale, fin whale, blue whale and sperm whale. Under Section 7 of the ESA, we initiated consultation with the NMFS OPR Interagency Cooperation Division for the issuance of this IHA. In September, 2017, the NMFS OPR Interagency Cooperation Division issued a Biological Opinion with an incidental take statement, which concluded that the issuance of the IHA was not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of the humpback whale (Mexico DPS), sei whale, fin whale, blue whale and sperm whale. The Biological Opinion also concluded that the issuance of the IHA would not destroy or adversely modify designated critical habitat for these species.

    Authorization

    NMFS has issued an IHA to the SIO for the potential harassment of small numbers of 27 marine mammal species incidental to a low-energy marine geophysical survey in the northeast Pacific Ocean, provided the previously mentioned mitigation, monitoring and reporting requirements are incorporated.

    Dated: October 19, 2017. Donna S. Wieting, Director, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service.
    [FR Doc. 2017-23132 Filed 10-24-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-22-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS), NIDIS Executive Council Meeting AGENCY:

    Climate Program Office (CPO), Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research (OAR), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Department of Commerce (DOC).

    ACTION:

    Notice of open meeting.

    SUMMARY:

    The National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS) Program Office will hold an organizational meeting of the NIDIS Executive Council on October 24, 2017.

    DATES:

    The meeting will be held Tuesday, October 24, 2017 from 9:00 a.m. EST to 4:00 p.m. EST. These times and the agenda topics described below are subject to change.

    ADDRESSES:

    The meeting will be held at the National Association of Counties, 660 North Capitol St. NW., Washington, DC 20001.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Veva Deheza, NIDIS Executive Director, David Skaggs Research Center, Room GD102, 325 Broadway, Boulder CO 80305. Email: [email protected]; or visit the NIDIS Web site at www.drought.gov.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Status: This meeting will be open to public participation. Individuals interested in attending should register at https://cpaess.ucar.edu/meetings/2017/fall-2017-nidis-executive-council-meeting. Please refer to this Web page for the most up-to-date meeting times and agenda. Seating at the meeting will be available on a first-come, first-served basis.

    Special Accommodations: This meeting is physically accessible to people with disabilities. Requests for special accommodations may be directed no later than 12:00 p.m. on October 18, 2017, to Elizabeth Ossowski, Program Coordinator, David Skaggs Research Center, Room GD102, 325 Broadway, Boulder CO 80305; Email: [email protected]

    Matters To Be Considered: The meeting will include the following topics: (1) NIDIS implementation updates and 2017—2018 priorities, (2) Executive Council member updates and 2017—2018 priorities, (3) Federal coordination around drought early warning, (4) Sub-seasonal to seasonal prediction, (5) Private sector and non-governmental partner engagement, and (6) open discussion on advancing the goals of the NIDIS Public Law and Reauthorization.

    The National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS) was established by Public Law 109-430 on December 20, 2006, and reauthorized by Public Law 113-86 on March 6, 2014, with a mandate to provide an effective drought early warning system for the United States; coordinate, and integrate as practicable, Federal research in support of a drought early warning system; and build upon existing forecasting and assessment programs and partnerships. See 15 U.S.C. 313d. The Public Law also calls for consultation with “relevant Federal, regional, State, tribal, and local government agencies, research institutions, and the private sector” in the development of NIDIS. 15 U.S.C. 313d(c). The NIDIS Executive Council provides the NIDIS Program Office with an opportunity to engage in individual consultation with senior resource officials from NIDIS's Federal partners, as well as leaders from state and local government, academia, nongovernmental organizations, and the private sector.

    Dated: September 28, 2017. David Holst, Acting Chief Financial Officer/CAO, Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
    [FR Doc. 2017-21577 Filed 10-23-17; 11:15 am] BILLING CODE 3510-KD-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration RIN 0648-XF788 North Pacific Fishery Management Council; Public Meeting AGENCY:

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

    ACTION:

    Notice of public meeting.

    SUMMARY:

    The North Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) Groundfish Plan Team will meet November 13 through November 17, 2017.

    DATES:

    The meeting will be held on Monday, November 13, 2017 to Friday, November 17, 2017, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Pacific Time.

    ADDRESSES:

    The meeting will be held at the Alaska Fishery Science Center, Traynor Room 2076, 7600 Sand Point Way NE., Building 4, Seattle, WA 98115.

    Council address: North Pacific Fishery Management Council, 605 W. 4th Ave., Suite 306, Anchorage, AK 99501-2252; telephone: (907) 271-2809.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Diana Stram or Jim Armstrong, Council staff; telephone: (907) 271-2809.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Agenda Monday, November 13 to Friday, November 17, 2017

    The Plan Teams will compile and review the annual Groundfish Stock Assessment and Fishery Evaluation (SAFE) reports, (including the Economic Report, the Ecosystems/assessment and status report, and the stock assessments for BSAI and GOA groundfishes), and recommend final groundfish harvest specifications for 2017/2018.

    The Agenda is subject to change, and the latest version will be posted at http://www.npfmc.org/fishery-management-plan-team/goa-bsai-groundfish-plan-team/.

    Special Accommodations

    These meetings are physically accessible to people with disabilities. Requests for sign language interpretation or other auxiliary aids should be directed to Shannon Gleason at (907) 271-2809 at least 7 working days prior to the meeting date.

    Dated: October 20, 2017. Tracey L. Thompson, Acting Deputy Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service.
    [FR Doc. 2017-23190 Filed 10-24-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-22-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration RIN 0648-XF507 Takes of Marine Mammals Incidental to Specified Activities; Taking Marine Mammals Incidental to Boost-Back and Landing of Falcon 9 Rockets AGENCY:

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

    ACTION:

    Notice; proposed incidental harassment authorization; request for comments.

    SUMMARY:

    NMFS has received a request from Space Exploration Technology Corporation (SpaceX) for authorization to take marine mammals incidental to boost-back and landing of Falcon 9 rockets at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, and at contingency landing locations in the Pacific Ocean. Pursuant to the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), NMFS is requesting comments on its proposal to issue an incidental harassment authorization (IHA) to SpaceX to incidentally take marine mammals, by Level B harassment only, during the specified activity. NMFS will consider public comments prior to making any final decision on the issuance of the requested MMPA authorizations and agency responses will be summarized in the final notice of our decision.

    DATES:

    Comments and information must be received no later than November 24, 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/research.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:

    Jordan Carduner, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, (301) 427-8401. Electronic copies of the application and supporting documents, as well as a list of the references cited in this document, may be obtained online at: www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/incidental/research.htm. In case of problems accessing these documents, please call the contact listed above.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Background

    Sections 101(a)(5)(A) and (D) of the MMPA (16 U.S.C. 1361 et seq.) direct the Secretary of Commerce to allow, upon request, the incidental, but not intentional, taking of small numbers of marine mammals by U.S. citizens who engage in a specified activity (other than commercial fishing) within a specified geographical region if certain findings are made and either regulations are issued or, if the taking is limited to harassment, a notice of a proposed authorization is provided to the public for review.

    An authorization for incidental takings shall be granted if NMFS finds that the taking will have a negligible impact on the species or stock(s), will not have an unmitigable adverse impact on the availability of the species or stock(s) for subsistence uses (where relevant), and if the permissible methods of taking and requirements pertaining to the mitigation, monitoring and reporting of such takings are set forth.

    NMFS has defined “negligible impact” in 50 CFR 216.103 as an impact resulting from the specified activity that cannot be reasonably expected to, and is not reasonably likely to, adversely affect the species or stock through effects on annual rates of recruitment or survival.

    The MMPA states that the term “take” means to harass, hunt, capture, kill or attempt to harass, hunt, capture, or kill any marine mammal.

    Except with respect to certain activities not pertinent here, the MMPA defines “harassment” as: Any act of pursuit, torment, or annoyance which (i) has the potential to injure a marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild (Level A harassment); or (ii) has the potential to disturb a marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild by causing disruption of behavioral patterns, including, but not limited to, migration, breathing, nursing, breeding, feeding, or sheltering (Level B harassment).

    National Environmental Policy Act

    To comply with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA; 42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.) and NOAA Administrative Order (NAO) 216-6A, NMFS must review our proposed action with respect to potential impacts on the human environment.

    This action is consistent with categories of activities identified in CE B4 of the Companion Manual for NAO 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. Accordingly, NMFS has preliminarily determined that the issuance of the proposed IHA qualifies to be categorically excluded from further NEPA review.

    We will review all comments submitted in response to this notice prior to concluding our NEPA process in making a final decision on the IHA request.

    Summary of Request

    NMFS received a request from SpaceX for an IHA to take marine mammals incidental to Falcon 9 First Stage recovery activities, including in-air boost-back maneuvers and landings of the First Stage of the Falcon 9 rocket at Vandenberg Air Force Base (VAFB) in California, and at contingency landing locations offshore. SpaceX's request was for harassment only and NMFS concurs that mortality is not expected to result from this activity. Therefore, an IHA is appropriate.

    SpaceX's application for incidental take authorization was received on July 11, 2017. SpaceX submitted a revised version of the request on October 13, 2017. This revised version of the application was deemed adequate and complete. The planned activity may exceed one year, hence subsequent MMPA incidental harassment authorizations may be requested for this particular activity.

    The planned activities include in-air boost-back maneuvers and landings of the First Stage of the Falcon 9 rocket. The action may occur as many as 12 times and may occur at any time of year. Species that are expected to be taken by the planned activity include harbor seal, California sea lion, Steller sea lion, northern elephant seal, northern fur seal, and Guadalupe fur seal. SpaceX's activities are expected to produce noise, in the form of sonic booms, that are expected to result in harassment of marine mammals that are hauled out of the water. Take by Level B harassment only is expected; no injury or mortality of marine mammals is expected to result from the proposed activity.

    If issued, this would be the second IHA issued for this activity. SpaceX applied for, and was granted, an IHA in 2016 that was valid from June 30, 2016 through June 29, 2017 (81 FR 34984, June 30, 2016). SpaceX complied with all the requirements (e.g., mitigation, monitoring, and reporting) of the previous IHA.

    Description of Proposed Activity Overview

    The Falcon 9 is a two-stage rocket designed and manufactured by SpaceX for transport of satellites and SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft into orbit. SpaceX currently operates the Falcon Launch Vehicle Program at Space Launch Complex 4E (SLC-4E) at VAFB. SpaceX proposes regular employment of First Stage recovery by returning the Falcon 9 First Stage to SLC-4 West (SLC-4W) at VAFB for potential reuse, up to twelve times per year. This includes performing boost-back maneuvers (in-air) and landings of the Falcon 9 First Stage on the pad at SLC-4W. The reuse of the Falcon 9 First Stage enables SpaceX to efficiently conduct lower cost launch missions from VAFB in support of commercial and government clients.

    Although SLC-4W is the preferred landing location, SpaceX has identified the need for contingency landing locations should it not be feasible to land the First Stage at SLC-4W. The first contingency landing option is on a barge located at least 27 nautical miles (nm) (50 kilometers (km) offshore of VAFB. The second contingency landing option is on a barge within the Iridium Landing Area, an area approximately 33,153 square kilometers (km2) area that is located approximately 122 nm (225 km) southwest of San Nicolas Island and 133 nm (245 km) southwest of San Clemente Island (see Figure 1-3 in the IHA application).

    During descent, a sonic boom (overpressure of high-energy impulsive sound) would be generated when the First Stage reaches a rate of travel that exceeds the speed of sound. Sonic booms would occur in proximity to the landing areas and may be heard during or briefly after the boost-back and landing, depending on the location of the observer. Sound from the sonic boom would have the potential to result in harassment of marine mammals, either on the mainland at or near VAFB, or at the Northern Channel Islands (NCI), as described in more detail later in this document.

    Dates and Duration

    The planned project would occur from December 1, 2017 through November 30, 2018. Up to twelve Falcon 9 First Stage recovery activities would occur per year. Precise dates of Falcon 9 First Stage recovery activities are not known. Falcon 9 First Stage recovery activities may take place at any time of year and at any time of day. The IHA, if issued, would be valid from December 1, 2017 through November 30, 2018.

    Specified Geographic Region

    Falcon 9 First Stage recovery activities will originate at VAFB. Areas potentially affected include VAFB, areas on the coastline surrounding VAFB and the NCI. VAFB operates as a missile test base and aerospace center, supporting west coast space launch activities for the U.S. Air Force (USAF), Department of Defense, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and commercial contractors. VAFB is the main west coast launch facility for placing commercial, government, and military satellites into polar orbit on expendable (unmanned) launch vehicles, and for testing and evaluating intercontinental ballistic missiles and sub-orbital target and interceptor missiles.

    VAFB occupies approximately 99,100 acres of central Santa Barbara County, California. VAFB is divided by the Santa Ynez River and State Highway 246 into two distinct parts: North Base and South Base. SLC-4W is located on South Base, approximately 0.5 mile (0.8 km) inland from the Pacific Ocean (see Figure 1-2 in SpaceX's IHA application). SLC-4E, the launch facility for SpaceX's Falcon 9 program, is located approximately 427 meters (m) to the east of SLC-4W, the proposed landing site for the Falcon 9 First Stage (see Figure 1-2 in SpaceX's IHA application).

    Although SLC-4W is the preferred landing location, SpaceX has identified the need for a contingency landing option. As described above, a contingency landing would occur on a barge located either at a pre-determined location at least 27 nautical miles (nm) (50 km) offshore of VAFB (see Figure 1-7 in the IHA application) or within the Iridium Landing Area located approximately 122 nm (225 km) southwest of San Nicolas Island and 133 nm (245 km) southwest of San Clemente Island (see Figure 1-8 in the IHA application). The NCI are also considered part of the project area for the purposes of this proposed authorization, as landings at VAFB could result in sonic booms that impact the NCI. The NCI are four islands (San Miguel, Santa Rosa, Santa Cruz, and Anacapa) located approximately 50 km south of Point Conception, which is located on the mainland approximately 6.5 km south of the southern border of VAFB. The closest part of the NCI to VAFB (Harris Point on San Miguel Island (SMI)) is located more than 55 km south-southeast of SLC-4E, the launch facility for the Falcon 9 rocket.

    Detailed Description of Specific Activities

    The Falcon 9 is a two-stage rocket designed and manufactured by SpaceX for transport of satellites and SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft into orbit. The First Stage of the Falcon 9 is designed to be reusable, while the second stage is not reusable. The Falcon 9 First Stage is 12 feet (ft.) in diameter and 160 ft. in height, including the interstage that would remain attached during landing. The proposed action includes up to twelve Falcon 9 First Stage recoveries, including in-air boost-back maneuvers and landings of the First Stage, at VAFB or at a contingency landing location as described above.

    After launch of the Falcon 9, the boost-back and landing sequence begins when the rocket's First Stage separates from the second stage and the Merlin engines of the First Stage cut off. After First Stage engine cutoff, rather than dropping the First Stage in the Pacific Ocean, exoatmospheric cold gas thrusters would be triggered to flip the First Stage into position for retrograde burn. Three of the nine First Stage Merlin engines would be restarted to conduct the retrograde burn in order to reduce the velocity of the First Stage and to place the First Stage in the correct angle to land. Once the First Stage is in position and approaching its landing target, the three engines would cut off to end the boost-back burn. The First Stage would then perform a controlled descent using atmospheric resistance to slow the stage down and guide it to the landing pad target. The First Stage is outfitted with grid fins that allow cross range corrections as needed. The landing legs on the First Stage would then deploy in preparation for a final single engine burn that would slow the First Stage to a velocity of zero before landing on the landing pad at SLC-4W.

    During descent, a sonic boom (overpressure of high-energy impulsive sound) would be generated when the First Stage reaches a rate of travel that exceeds the speed of sound. Sonic booms would occur in proximity to the landing area with the highest sound levels generated from sonic booms generally focused in the direction of the landing area, and may be heard during or briefly after the boost-back and landing, depending on the location of the observer. Sound from the sonic booms would have the potential to result in harassment of marine mammals, as described in greater detail later in this document. Based on model results, a boost-back and landing of the Falcon 9 First Stage at SLC-4W would produce sonic booms with overpressures that would potentially be as high as 8.5 pounds per square foot (psf) at VAFB and potentially as high as 3.1 psf at the NCI. Sonic boom modeling indicates that landings that occur at either of the proposed contingency landing locations offshore would result in sonic booms below 1.0 psf. Take of marine mammals that are hauled out of the water are expected to occur only when those hauled out marine mammals experience sonic booms greater than 1.0 psf (this is discussed in greater detail below in the section on Estimated Take by Incidental Harassment). Therefore, take of marine mammals may occur as a result of landings that occur at VAFB; however, take of marine mammals is not expected to occur as a result of landings that occur at either of the proposed contingency landing locations offshore. Please see Figure 1-4 in the IHA application for a graphical depiction of the boost-back and landing sequence, and see Figure 1-5 in the IHA application for an example of the boost-back trajectory of the First Stage and the second stage trajectory.

    As a contingency action to landing the Falcon 9 First Stage on the SLC-4W pad at VAFB, SpaceX proposes to return the Falcon 9 First Stage booster to a barge in the Pacific Ocean (Figure 1-6 in the IHA application). The barge is specifically designed to be used as a First Stage landing platform and would be located at least 27 nm (50 km) offshore of VAFB (Figure 1-7 in the IHA application) or within the Iridium Landing Area (Figure 1-8 in the IHA application). These contingency landing locations would be used when landing at SLC-4W would not be feasible. The maneuvering and landing process described above for a pad landing would be the same for a barge landing. Three vessels would be required to support a barge landing, if it were required: A barge/landing platform (300 ft long and 150 ft wide); a support vessel (165 ft long research vessel); and an ocean tug (120 ft long open water commercial tug).

    Landing Noise

    Landing noise would be generated during each boost-back event. SpaceX proposes to use a three-engine burn during landing. This engine burn, lasting approximately 17 seconds, would generate noise between 70 and 110 decibels (dB) re 20 µPa (non-pulse, in-air noise) centered on SLC-4W, but affecting an area up to 15 nm (27.8 km) offshore of VAFB (Figure 2-10 in the IHA application). This landing noise event would be of short duration (approximately 17 seconds). Although, during a landing event at SLC-4W, landing noise between 70 and 90 dB would be expected to overlap pinniped haulout areas at and near Point Arguello and Purisima Point, no pinniped haulouts would experience landing noises of 90 dB or greater (see Figure 2-10 in the IHA application).

    NMFS's recommended acoustic thresholds for in-air acoustic impacts assume that Level B harassment of harbor seals occurs at 90 dB rms re 20 µPa and Level B harassment of all other pinnipeds occurs at 100 dB rms re 20 µPa (Table 1). Therefore, harassment of marine mammals hauled out at VAFB from engine noise generated during landings is not expected to occur. Engine noise would also be produced during a contingency barge landing of the Falcon 9 First Stage. Engine noise during a barge landing is expected to be between 70 and 110 dB re 20 µPa affecting a radial area up to 15 nm (27.8 km) around the contingency landing location (Figure 2-11 in the IHA application) and the Iridium 38 Landing Area (Figure 2-12 in the IHA application). No pinniped haulouts are located within the areas predicted to experience engine noise of 90 dB and above during Falcon 9 First Stage landings at contingency landing locations and the Iridium Landing Area (Figures 2-11 and 2-12 in the IHA application). Therefore, the likelihood of engine noise associated with the landing of the Falcon 9 First Stage resulting in take of marine mammals is considered so low as to be discountable, and landing noise is therefore not discussed further in this document.

    Table 1—Recommended Criteria for Pinniped Harassment From Exposure to Airborne Sound Species Level B harassment threshold Harbor seals 90 dB re 20 µPa. All other pinniped species 100 dB re 20 µPa. Unsuccessful Barge Landing

    In the event of an unsuccessful barge landing, the First Stage would explode upon impact with the barge. The direct sound from an explosion would last less than a second. Furthermore, the proposed activities would be dispersed in time, with maximum of twelve barge landing attempts occurring within a twelve month time period. If an explosion occurred on the barge, as in the case of an unsuccessful barge landing attempt, some amount of the explosive energy would be transferred through the ship's structure and would enter the water and propagate away from the ship.

    There is very little published literature on the ratio of explosive energy that is absorbed by a ship's hull versus the amount of energy that is transferred through the ship into the water. However, based on the best available information, we have determined that exceptionally little of the acoustic energy from the explosion would transmit into the water (Yagla and Stiegler, 2003). An explosion on the barge would create an in-air blast that propagates away in all directions, including toward the water's surface; however the barge's deck would act as a barrier that would attenuate the energy directed downward toward the water (Yagla and Stiegler, 2003). Most sound enters the water in a narrow cone beneath the sound source (within 13 degrees of vertical). Since the explosion would occur on the barge, most of this sound would be reflected by the barge's surface, and sound waves would approach the water's surface at angles higher than 13 degrees, minimizing transmission into the ocean. An explosion on the barge would also send energy through the barge's structure, into the water, and away from the barge. This effect was investigated in conjunction with the measurements described in Yagla and Steigler (2003). Yagla and Steigler (2003) reported that the energy transmitted through a ship to the water for the firing of a typical 5-inch round was approximately six percent of that from the air blast impinging on the water (Yagla and Stiegler, 2003). Therefore, sound transmitted from the blast through the hull into the water was a minimal component of overall firing noise, and would likewise be expected to be a minimal component of an explosion occurring on the surface of the barge.

    Depending on the amount of fuel remaining in the booster at the time of the explosion, the intensity of the explosion would likely vary. Based on previous Falcon 9 boost-back and landing activities, the explosive equivalence of the First Stage with maximum fuel and oxidizer would be expected to be approximately 500 lb. of trinitrotoluene (TNT). Explosion shock theory has proposed specific relationships for the peak pressure and time constant in terms of the charge weight and range from the detonation position (Pater 1981; Plotkin et al. 2012). For an in-air explosion equivalent to 500 lb. of TNT, at 0.5 feet the explosion would be approximately 250 dB re 20 µPa. Based on the assumption that the structure of the barge would absorb and reflect approximately 94 percent of this energy, with approximately six percent of the energy from the explosion transmitted into the water (Yagla and Stiegler, 2003), the amount of energy that would be transmitted into the water would be far less than the lowest threshold for Level B harassment for both pinnipeds and cetaceans based on NMFS's current acoustic criteria for in-water explosive noise (160 dB re 1 µpa). As a result, the likelihood of in-water sound generated by an explosion of the Falcon 9 First Stage during an unsuccessful barge landing attempt resulting in take of marine mammals is considered so low as to be discountable and is therefore not discussed further in this document.

    As discussed above, in the event of an unsuccessful contingency landing attempt, the First Stage would be expected to explode upon impact with the barge. SpaceX has experience performing recovery operations after water and unsuccessful barge landings for previous Falcon 9 First Stage landing attempts. This experience, in addition to the debris catalog that identifies all floating debris, has revealed that approximately 25 pieces of debris remain floating after an unsuccessful barge landing. The approximately 25 pieces of debris would primarily be made of Carbon Over Pressure Vessels (COPVs), the liquid oxygen fill line, and carbon fiber constructed legs. The vast majority of debris would be recovered. All other debris is expected to sink to the bottom of the ocean. Denser debris that would not float on the surface would sink relatively quickly and is composed of inert materials which would not affect water quality or bottom substrate potentially used by marine mammals. The rate of deposition would vary with the type of debris; however, none of the debris is so dense or large that benthic habitat would be degraded.

    The surface area potentially impacted with debris would be less than 0.46 km2. Since the area impacted by debris is very small, the likelihood of adverse effects to marine mammals is very low. During previous landing attempts in other locations, SpaceX has performed successful debris recovery. All of the recovered debris would be transported back to Long Beach Harbor for proper disposal. Most of the fuel remaining in the First Stage would be released onto the barge deck at the location of impact. Therefore, the likelihood of take of marine mammals as a result of contact with exploded First Stage materials is considered so low as to be discountable, and explosion of the Falcon 9 First Stage is therefore not discussed further in this document.

    In the event that a contingency landing action is required, there is the potential that the Falcon 9 First Stage would miss the barge entirely and land instead in the ocean. However, the likelihood of the First Stage missing the barge entirely and landing in the Pacific Ocean is considered so unlikely as to be discountable. This is supported by several previous attempts by SpaceX at Falcon 9 First Stage barge landings, none of which have missed the barge. Therefore, the likelihood of take of marine mammals associated with a Falcon 9 First Stage landing in the ocean is considered so low as to be discountable, and landing of the Falcon 9 First Stage in the ocean is not considered further in this document.

    NMFS has previously issued regulations and Letters of Authorization (LOA) that authorize the take of marine mammals, by Level B harassment, incidental to launches of up to 50 rockets per year (including the Falcon 9) from VAFB (79 FR 10016, February 24, 2014). The regulations, titled “Taking of Marine Mammals Incidental to U.S. Air Force Launches, Aircraft and Helicopter Operations, and Harbor Activities Related to Vehicles from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California,” published February 24, 2014, are effective from March 2014 to March 2019. The activities proposed by SpaceX are limited to Falcon 9 First Stage recovery events (Falcon 9 boost-back maneuvers and landings); launches of the Falcon 9 rocket are not part of the proposed activities, and incidental take (Level B harassment) resulting from Falcon 9 rocket launches from VAFB is already authorized in the above referenced LOA. As such, NMFS does not propose to authorize take of marine mammals incidental to launches of the Falcon 9 rocket; incidental take resulting from Falcon 9 rocket launches is therefore not analyzed further in this document. The LOA application (USAF 2013a), and links to the Federal Register notice of the final rule (79 FR 10016, February 24, 2014) and the Federal Register notice of issuance of the LOA (79 FR 18528, April 2, 2014), can be found on the NMFS Web site at: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/incidental/research.

    Proposed mitigation, monitoring, and reporting measures are described in detail later in this document (please see “Proposed Mitigation” and “Proposed Monitoring and Reporting”).

    Description of Marine Mammals in the Area of Specified Activities

    There are six marine mammal species with expected occurrence in the project area (including at VAFB, on the NCI, and in the waters surrounding VAFB, the NCI and the contingency landing location) that are expected to be affected by the specified activities. These include the Steller sea lion (Eumetopias jubatus), northern fur seal (Callorhinus ursinus), northern elephant seal (Mirounga angustirostris), Guadalupe fur seal (Arctocephalus philippii townsendi), California sea lion (Zalophus californianus), and Pacific harbor seal (Phoca vitulina richardii). This section provides summary information regarding local occurrence of these species. We have reviewed SpaceX's detailed species descriptions, including life history information, for accuracy and completeness and refer the reader to Section 3 of SpaceX's IHA application, as well as to NMFS's Stock Assessment Reports (SAR; www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/sars/), rather than reprinting all of the information here. Additional general information about these species (e.g., physical and behavioral descriptions) may be found on NMFS's Web site (www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/species/mammals/).

    There are an additional 28 species of cetaceans with expected or possible occurrence in the project area. However, we have determined that the only potential stressor associated with the activity that could result in take of marine mammals (sonic booms) only has the potential to result in harassment of marine mammals that are hauled out of the water. Therefore, we have concluded that the likelihood of the proposed activities resulting in the harassment of any cetacean to be so low as to be discountable. As we have concluded that the likelihood of any cetacean being taken incidentally as a result of SpaceX's proposed activities to be so low as to be discountable, cetaceans are not considered further in this proposed authorization. Please see Table 3-1 in SpaceX's IHA application for a complete list of species with expected or potential occurrence in the project area.

    Table 2 lists the marine mammal species with expected potential for occurrence in the vicinity of the project during the project timeframe that are likely to be affected by the specified activities, and summarizes information related to the population or stock, including PBR, where known. For taxonomy, we follow Committee on Taxonomy (2016). For status of species, we provide information regarding U.S. regulatory status under the MMPA and ESA. Abundance estimates presented here represent the total number of individuals that make up a given stock or the total number estimated within a particular study area. NMFS's 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. PBR, defined by the MMPA as the maximum number of animals, not including natural mortalities, that may be removed from a marine mammal stock while allowing that stock to reach or maintain its optimum sustainable population, is considered in concert with known sources of ongoing anthropogenic mortality to assess the population-level effects of the anticipated mortality from a specific project (as described in NMFS's SARs). While no mortality is anticipated or authorized here, PBR and annual serious injury and mortality are included here as gross indicators of the status of the species and other threats.

    All values presented in Table 2 are the most recent available at the time of publication and are available in NMFS's SARs (e.g., Carretta et al., 2017; Muto et al., 2017). Please see the SARs, available at www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/sars, for more detailed accounts of these stocks' status and abundance.

    Table 2—Marine Mammal Species Potentially Present in the Project Area Species Stock ESA/MMPA status;
  • Strategic
  • (Y/N) 1
  • Stock abundance
  • (CV, Nmin, most
  • recent
  • abundance survey) 2
  • PBR 3 Annual
  • M/SI 4
  • Relative occurrence in project area;
  • season of
  • occurrence
  • Order Carnivora—Superfamily Pinnipedia Family Otariidae (eared seals and sea lions) California sea lion U.S. -; N 296,750 (n/a; 153,337; 2011) 9,200 389 Abundant; year-round. Northern fur seal California -; N 14,050 (n/a; 7,524; 2013) 451 1.8 Abundant; year-round; peak occurrence during summer. Guadalupe fur seal n/a T/D; Y 20,000 (n/a; 15,830; 2010) 542 3.2 Rare; slightly more common in summer. Steller sea lion Eastern U.S. -; N 71,562 (n/a; 41,638; 2015) 2,498 108 Rare; year-round. Family Phocidae (earless seals) Harbor seal California -; N 30,968 (n/a; 27,348; 2012) 1,641 43 Abundant; year-round. Northern elephant seal California breeding -; N 179,000 (n/a; 81,368; 2010) 4,882 8.8 Abundant; year-round; peak occurrence during winter. 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. 3 Potential biological removal, defined by the MMPA as the maximum number of animals, not including natural mortalities, that may be removed from a marine mammal stock while allowing that stock to reach or maintain its optimum sustainable population size (OSP). 4 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 mortality/serious injury (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.
    Pacific Harbor Seal

    Harbor seals inhabit coastal and estuarine waters and shoreline areas of the northern hemisphere from temperate to polar regions. The eastern North Pacific subspecies is found from Baja California north to the Aleutian Islands and into the Bering Sea. Multiple lines of evidence support the existence of geographic structure among harbor seal populations from California to Alaska (Carretta et al., 2016). However, because stock boundaries are difficult to meaningfully draw from a biological perspective, three separate harbor seal stocks are recognized for management purposes along the west coast of the continental United States: (1) Washington inland waters, (2) Oregon and Washington coast, and (3) California (Carretta et al., 2016). In addition, harbor seals may occur in Mexican waters, but these animals are not considered part of the California stock. Only the California stock is considered in this proposed authorization due to the distribution of the stock and the geographic scope of the proposed activities. Although the need for stock boundaries for management is real and is supported by biological information, it should be noted that the exact placement of a boundary between California and Oregon for stock delineation purposes was largely a political/jurisdictional convenience (Carretta et al. 2015).

    Pacific harbor seals 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). In California, over 500 harbor seal haulout sites are widely distributed along the mainland and offshore islands, and include rocky shores, beaches and intertidal sandbars (Lowry et al. 2005). Harbor seals mate at sea and females give birth during the spring and summer, though the pupping season varies with latitude. Harbor seal pupping takes place at many locations and rookery size varies from a few pups to many hundreds of pups.

    Harbor seals are the most common marine mammal inhabiting VAFB, congregating on multiple rocky haulout sites along the VAFB coastline. They are local to the area, rarely traveling more than 50 km from haul-out sites. There are 12 harbor seal haulout sites on south VAFB; of these, 10 sites represent an almost continuous haulout area which is used by the same animals. Virtually all of the haulout sites at VAFB are used during low tides and are wave-washed or submerged during high tides. Additionally, the harbor seal is the only species that regularly hauls out near the VAFB harbor. The main harbor seal haulouts on VAFB are near Purisima Point and at Lion's Head (approximately 0.6 km south of Point Sal) on north VAFB and between the VAFB harbor north to South Rocky Point Beach on south VAFB (ManTech 2009).

    Pups are generally present in the region from March through July. Within the affected area on VAFB, a total of up to 332 adults and 34 pups have been recorded, at all haulouts combined, in monthly counts from 2013 to 2015 (ManTech 2015). Harbor seals also haul out, breed, and pup in isolated beaches and coves throughout the coasts of San Miguel, Santa Rosa, and Santa Cruz Islands (Lowry 2002). During aerial surveys conducted by NMFS in May 2002 and May and June of 2004, between 521 and 1,004 harbors seals were recorded at SMI, between 605 and 972 at Santa Rosa Island, and between 599 and 1,102 Santa Cruz Island (M. Lowry, NOAA Fisheries, unpubl. data).

    The harbor seal population at VAFB has undergone an apparent decline in recent years (USAF 2013b). This decline has been attributed to a series of natural landslides at south VAFB, resulting in the abandonment of many haulout sites. These slides have also resulted in extensive down-current sediment deposition, making these sites accessible to coyotes, which are now regularly seen in the area. Some of the displaced seals have moved to other sites at south VAFB, while others likely have moved to Point Conception, about 6.5 km south of the southern boundary of VAFB.

    Pacific harbor seals frequently use haul-out sites on the NCI, including San Miguel, Santa Rosa, Santa Cruz; and Anacapa. On SMI, they occur along the north coast at Tyler Bight and from Crook Point to Cardwell Point. Additionally, they regularly breed on SMI. On Santa Cruz Island, they inhabit small coves and rocky ledges along much of the coast. Harbor seals are scattered throughout Santa Rosa Island and also are observed in small numbers on Anacapa Island.

    California Sea Lion

    California sea lions range from the Gulf of California north to the Gulf of Alaska, with breeding areas located in the Gulf of California, western Baja California, and southern California. Five genetically distinct geographic populations have been identified: (1) Pacific Temperate, (2) Pacific Subtropical, (3) Southern Gulf of California, (4) Central Gulf of California and (5) Northern Gulf of California (Schramm et al., 2009). Rookeries for the Pacific Temperate population are found within U.S. waters and just south of the U.S.-Mexico border, and animals belonging to this population may be found from the Gulf of Alaska to Mexican waters off Baja California. Animals belonging to other populations (e.g., Pacific Subtropical) may range into U.S. waters during non-breeding periods. For management purposes, a stock of California sea lions comprising those animals at rookeries within the United States is defined (i.e., the U.S. stock of California sea lions) (Carretta et al., 2017). There are indications that the California sea lion may have reached or is approaching carrying capacity, although more data are needed to confirm that leveling in growth persists (Carretta et al., 2017).

    Beginning in January 2013, elevated strandings of California sea lion pups were observed in southern California, with live sea lion strandings nearly three times higher than the historical average. Findings to date indicate that a likely contributor to the large number of stranded, malnourished pups was a change in the availability of sea lion prey for nursing mothers, especially sardines. The Working Group on Marine Mammal Unusual Mortality Events determined that the ongoing stranding event meets the criteria for an Unusual Mortality Event (UME) and declared California sea lion strandings from 2013 through 2017 to be one continuous UME. The causes and mechanisms of this event remain under investigation. For more information on the UME, see: www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/health/mmume/californiasealions2013.htm.

    Rookery sites in southern California are limited to SMI and the southerly Channel Islands of San Nicolas, Santa Barbara, and San Clemente (Carretta et al., 2015). Males establish breeding territories during May through July on both land and in the water. Females come ashore in mid-May and June where they give birth to a single pup approximately four to five days after arrival and will nurse pups for about a week before going on their first feeding trip. Adult and juvenile males will migrate as far north as British Columbia, Canada while females and pups remain in southern California waters in the non-breeding season. In warm water (El Niño) years, some females are found as far north as Washington and Oregon, presumably following prey.

    California sea lions are common offshore of VAFB and haul out on rocks and beaches along the coastline of VAFB. At south VAFB, California sea lions haul out on north Rocky Point, with numbers often peaking in spring. They have been reported at Point Arguello and Point Pedernales (both on south VAFB) in the past, although none have been noted there over the past several years. Individual sea lions have been noted hauled out throughout the VAFB coast; these were transient or stranded specimens. They regularly haul out on Lion Rock, north of VAFB and immediately south of Point Sal, and occasionally haul out on Point Conception, south of VAFB. In 2014, counts of California sea lions at haulouts on VAFB increased substantially, ranging from 47 to 416 during monthly counts. Despite their prevalence at haulout sites at VAFB, California sea lions rarely pup on the VAFB coastline (ManTech 2015); no pups were observed in 2013 or 2014 (ManTech 2015) and 1 pup was observed in 2015 (VAFB, unpubl. data).

    Pupping occurs in large numbers on SMI at the rookeries found at Point Bennett on the west end of the island and at Cardwell Point on the east end of the island (Lowry 2002). Sea lions haul out at the west end of Santa Rosa Island at Ford Point and Carrington Point. A few California sea lions have been born on Santa Rosa Island, but no rookery has been established. On Santa Cruz Island, California sea lions haul out from Painted Cave almost to Fraser Point, on the west end. Fair numbers haul out at Gull Island, off the south shore near Punta Arena. Pupping appears to be increasing there. Sea lions also haul out near Potato Harbor, on the northeast end of Santa Cruz. California sea lions haul out by the hundreds on the south side of East Anacapa Island.

    During aerial surveys conducted by NMFS in February 2010 of the NCI, 21,192 total California sea lions (14,802 pups) were observed at haulouts on SMI and 8,237 total (5,712 pups) at Santa Rosa Island (M. Lowry, NOAA Fisheries, unpubl. data). During aerial surveys in July 2012, 65,660 total California sea lions (28,289 pups) were recorded at haulouts on SMI, 1,584 total (3 pups) at Santa Rosa Island, and 1,571 total (zero pups) at Santa Cruz Island (M. Lowry, NOAA Fisheries, unpubl. data).

    Northern Elephant Seal

    Northern elephant seals range in the eastern and central North Pacific Ocean, from as far north as Alaska and as far south as Mexico. They spend much of the year, generally about nine months, in the ocean. They spend much of their lives underwater, diving to depths of about 1,000 to 2,500 ft (330-800 m) for 20- to 30-minute intervals with only short breaks at the surface, and are rarely seen at sea for this reason. Northern elephant seals breed and give birth in California and Baja California (Mexico), primarily on offshore islands, from December to March (Stewart et al. 1994). Adults return to land between March and August to molt, with males returning later than females. Adults return to their feeding areas again between their spring/summer molting and their winter breeding seasons.

    Populations of northern elephant seals in the U.S. and Mexico are derived from a few tens or hundreds of individuals surviving in Mexico after being nearly hunted to extinction (Stewart et al., 1994). Given the recent derivation of most rookeries, no genetic differentiation would be expected. Although movement and genetic exchange continues between rookeries, most elephant seals return to their natal rookeries when they start breeding (Huber et al., 1991). The California breeding population is now demographically isolated from the Baja California population and is considered to be a separate stock.

    Northern elephant seals haul out sporadically on rocks and beaches along the coastline of VAFB; monthly counts in 2013 and 2014 recorded between 0 and 191 elephant seals within the affected area (ManTech 2015) and northern elephant seal pupping at VAFB was documented for the first time in January 2017 (Pers. comm., R. Evans, United States Air Force, to J. Carduner, NMFS, February 1, 2017). The nearest regularly used haul-out site on the mainland coast is at Point Conception. Eleven northern elephant seals were observed during aerial surveys of the Point Conception area by NMFS in February of 2010 (M. Lowry, NOAA Fisheries, unpubl. data).

    Point Bennett on the west end of SMI is the primary northern elephant seal rookery in the NCI, with another rookery at Cardwell Point on the east end of SMI (Lowry 2002). They also pup and breed on Santa Rosa Island, mostly on the west end. Northern elephant seals are rarely seen on Santa Cruz and Anacapa Islands. During aerial surveys of the NCI conducted by NMFS in February 2010, 21,192 total northern elephant seals (14,802 pups) were recorded at haulouts on SMI and 8,237 total (5,712 pups) were observed at Santa Rosa Island (M. Lowry, NOAA Fisheries, unpubl. data). None were observed at Santa Cruz Island (M. Lowry, NOAA Fisheries, unpubl. data).

    Steller Sea Lion

    Steller sea lions are distributed mainly around the coasts to the outer continental shelf along the North Pacific rim from northern Hokkaido, Japan through the Kuril Islands and Okhotsk Sea, Aleutian Islands and central Bering Sea, southern coast of Alaska and south to California (Loughlin et al., 1984). The species as a whole was ESA-listed as threatened in 1990 (55 FR 49204, November 26, 1990). In 1997, the species was divided into western and eastern distinct population segments (DPS), with the western DPS reclassified as endangered under the ESA and the eastern DPS retaining its threatened listing (62 FR 24345, May 5, 2997). On October 23, 2013, NMFS found that the eastern DPS has recovered; as a result of the finding, NMFS removed the eastern DPS from ESA listing. Only the eastern DPS is considered in this proposed authorization due to its distribution and the geographic scope of the action.

    Prior to 2012, there were no records of Steller sea lions observed at VAFB. In April and May 2012, Steller sea lions were observed hauled out at North Rocky Point on VAFB, representing the first time the species had been observed on VAFB during launch monitoring and monthly surveys conducted over the past two decades (Marine Mammal Consulting Group and Science Applications International Corporation 2013). Since 2012, Steller sea lions have been observed frequently in routine monthly surveys, with as many as 16 individuals recorded. In 2014, up to five Steller sea lions were observed in the affected area during monthly marine mammal counts (ManTech 2015) and a maximum of 12 individuals were observed during monthly counts in 2015 (VAFB, unpublished data). However, up to 16 individuals were observed in 2012 (SAIC 2012). Steller sea lions once had two small rookeries on SMI, but these were abandoned after the 1982-1983 El Niño event (DeLong and Melin 2000; Lowry 2002); these rookeries were once the southernmost colonies of the eastern stock of this species. In recent years, between two to four juvenile and adult males have been observed on a somewhat regular basis on SMI (pers. comm. Sharon Melin, NMFS Alaska Fisheries Science Center, to J. Carduner, NMFS, Feb 11, 2016). Steller sea lions are not observed on the other NCI.

    Northern Fur Seal

    Northern fur seals occur from southern California north to the Bering Sea and west to the Okhotsk Sea and Honshu Island, Japan. Due to differing requirements during the annual reproductive season, adult males and females typically occur ashore at different, though overlapping, times. Adult males occur ashore and defend reproductive territories during a three month period from June through August, though some may be present until November (well after giving up their territories). Adult females are found ashore for as long as six months (June-November). After their respective times ashore, fur seals of both sexes spend the next seven to eight months at sea (Roppel 1984). Peak pupping is in early July and pups are weaned at three to four months. Some juveniles are present year-round, but most juveniles and adults head for the open ocean and a pelagic existence until the next year. Northern fur seals exhibit high site fidelity to their natal rookeries. Two stocks of northern fur seals are recognized in U.S. waters: An eastern Pacific stock and a California stock (formerly referred to as the San Miguel Island stock). Only the California stock is considered in this proposed authorization due to its geographic distribution.

    Northern fur seals have rookeries on SMI at Point Bennett and on Castle Rock. Comprehensive count data for northern fur seals on SMI are not available. SMI is the only island in the NCI on which northern fur seals have been observed. Although the population at SMI was established by individuals from Alaska and Russian Islands during the late 1960s, most individuals currently found on San Miguel are considered resident to the island. No haulout or rookery sites exist for northern fur seals on the mainland coast. The only individuals that appear on mainland beaches are stranded animals.

    Guadalupe Fur Seal

    Guadalupe fur seals are found along the west coast of the United States. They were abundant prior to seal exploitation, when they were likely the most abundant pinniped species on the Channel Islands, but are considered uncommon in Southern California. They are typically found on shores with abundant large rocks, often at the base of large cliffs (Belcher and Lee 2002). Increased strandings of Guadalupe fur seals started occurring along the entire coast of California in early 2015. This event was declared a marine mammal UME. Strandings were eight times higher than the historical average, peaking from April through June 2015, and have since lessened but continue at a rate that is well above average. Most stranded individuals have been weaned pups and juveniles (1-2 years old). For more information on this UME, see: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/health/mmume/guadalupefurseals2015.html.

    Comprehensive survey data on Guadalupe fur seals in the NCI is not readily available. On SMI, one to several male Guadalupe fur seals had been observed annually between 1969 and 2000 (DeLong and Melin 2000) and juvenile animals of both sexes have been seen occasionally over the years (Stewart et al. 1987). The first adult female at SMI was seen in 1997. In June 1997, she gave birth to a pup in rocky habitat along the south side of the island and, over the next year, reared the pup to weaning age. This was apparently the first pup born in the Channel Islands in at least 150 years. Since 2008, individual adult females, subadult males, and between one and three pups have been observed annually on SMI. There are estimated to be approximately 20-25 individuals that have fidelity to San Miguel, mostly inhabiting the southwest and northwest ends of the island. A total of 14 pups have been born on the island since 2009, with no more than 3 born in any single season (pers. comm., S. Melin, NMFS National Marine Mammal Laboratory, to J. Carduner, NMFS, Aug. 28, 2015). Thirteen individuals and two pups were observed in 2015 (NMFS 2016). No haulout or rookery sites exist for Guadalupe fur seals on the mainland coast, including VAFB. The only individuals that do appear on mainland beaches are stranded animals.

    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. Subsequently, NMFS (2016) described generalized hearing ranges for these marine mammal hearing groups. Generalized hearing ranges were chosen based on the approximately 65 dB threshold from the normalized composite audiograms. The relevant 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):

    • Pinnipeds in water; Phocidae (true seals): Generalized hearing is estimated to occur between approximately 50 hertz (Hz) to 86 kilohertz (kHz), with best hearing between 1-50 kHz;

    • Pinnipeds in water; Otariidae (eared seals): Generalized hearing is estimated to occur between 60 Hz and 39 kHz, with best hearing between 2-48 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).

    Table 3—Relevant Marine Mammal Functional Hearing Groups and Their Generalized Hearing Ranges Hearing group Generalized
  • hearing range *
  • Phocid pinnipeds (PW) (underwater) (true seals) 50 Hz to 86 kHz. Otariid pinnipeds (OW) (underwater) (sea lions and fur seals) 60 Hz to 39 kHz. * Represents the generalized hearing range for the entire group as a composite (i.e., all species within the group), where individual species' hearing ranges are typically not as broad. Generalized hearing range chosen based on ~65 dB threshold from normalized composite audiogram, with the exception for lower limits for LF cetaceans (Southall et al., 2007) and PW pinniped (approximation).

    For more detail concerning these groups and associated frequency ranges, please see NMFS (2016) for a review of available information. Of the six marine mammal species that may be affected by the proposed activities, four are classified as otariids and two are classified as phocids.

    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. Potential effects of the proposed action include acoustic effects as well as visual stimuli.

    Acoustic Effects

    This section contains a brief technical background on sound, the characteristics of certain sound types, and on metrics used in this proposal inasmuch as the information is relevant to the specified activity and to a discussion of the potential effects of the specified activity on marine mammals found later in this document.

    Sound travels in waves, the basic components of which are frequency, wavelength, velocity, and amplitude. Frequency is the number of pressure waves that pass by a reference point per unit of time and is measured in Hz or cycles per second. Wavelength is the distance between two peaks or corresponding points of a sound wave (length of one cycle). Higher frequency sounds have shorter wavelengths than lower frequency sounds, and typically attenuate (decrease) more rapidly, except in certain cases in shallower water. Amplitude is the height of the sound pressure wave or the “loudness” of a sound and is typically described using the relative unit of the dB. A sound pressure level (SPL) in dB is described as the ratio between a measured pressure and a reference pressure and is a logarithmic unit that accounts for large variations in amplitude; therefore, a relatively small change in dB corresponds to large changes in sound pressure. The source level (SL) represents the SPL referenced at a distance of 1 m from the source while the received level is the SPL at the listener's position. Note that all airborne sound levels in this document are referenced to a pressure of 20 µPa.

    Root mean square (rms) is the quadratic mean sound pressure over the duration of an impulse. Root mean square is calculated by squaring all of the sound amplitudes, averaging the squares, and then taking the square root of the average (Urick, 1983). Root mean square accounts for both positive and negative values; squaring the pressures makes all values positive so that they may be accounted for in the summation of pressure levels (Hastings and Popper, 2005). This measurement is often used in the context of discussing behavioral effects, in part because behavioral effects, which often result from auditory cues, may be better expressed through averaged units than by peak pressures.

    Sound exposure level (SEL; represented as dB re 1 μPa2-s) represents the total energy contained within a pulse and considers both intensity and duration of exposure. Peak sound pressure (also referred to as zero-to-peak sound pressure or 0-p) is the maximum instantaneous sound pressure measurable in the water at a specified distance from the source and is represented in the same units as the rms sound pressure. Another common metric is peak-to-peak sound pressure (pk-pk), which is the algebraic difference between the peak positive and peak negative sound pressures. Peak-to-peak pressure is typically approximately 6 dB higher than peak pressure (Southall et al., 2007).

    A-weighting is applied to instrument-measured sound levels in an effort to account for the relative loudness perceived by the human ear, as the ear is less sensitive to low audio frequencies, and is commonly used in measuring airborne noise. The relative sensitivity of pinnipeds listening in air to different frequencies is more-or-less similar to that of humans (Richardson et al. 1995), so A-weighting may, as a first approximation, be relevant to pinnipeds listening to moderate-level sounds.

    The sum of the various natural and anthropogenic sound sources at any given location and time—which comprise “ambient” or “background” sound—depends not only on the source levels (as determined by current weather conditions and levels of biological and human activity) but also on the ability of sound to propagate through the environment. In turn, sound propagation is dependent on the spatially and temporally varying properties of the water column and sea floor, and is frequency-dependent. As a result of the dependence on a large number of varying factors, ambient sound levels can be expected to vary widely over both coarse and fine spatial and temporal scales. Sound levels at a given frequency and location can vary by 10-20 dB from day to day (Richardson et al., 1995). The result is that, depending on the source type and its intensity, sound from a given activity may be a negligible addition to the local environment or could form a distinctive signal that may affect marine mammals. Details of source types are described in the following text.

    Sounds are often considered to fall into one of two general types: Pulsed and non-pulsed (defined in the following). The distinction between these two sound types is important because they have differing potential to cause physical effects, particularly with regard to hearing (e.g., Ward, 1997 in Southall et al., 2007). Please see Southall et al. (2007) for an in-depth discussion of these concepts.

    Pulsed sound sources (e.g., airguns, explosions, gunshots, sonic booms, impact pile driving) produce signals that are brief (typically considered to be less than one second), broadband, atonal transients (ANSI, 1986, 2005; Harris, 1998; NIOSH, 1998; ISO, 2003) and occur either as isolated events or repeated in some succession. Pulsed sounds are all characterized by a relatively rapid rise from ambient pressure to a maximal pressure value followed by a rapid decay period that may include a period of diminishing, oscillating maximal and minimal pressures, and generally have an increased capacity to induce physical injury as compared with sounds that lack these features.

    Non-pulsed sounds can be tonal, narrowband, or broadband, brief or prolonged, and may be either continuous or non-continuous (ANSI, 1995; NIOSH, 1998). Some of these non-pulsed sounds can be transient signals of short duration but without the essential properties of pulses (e.g., rapid rise time). Examples of non-pulsed sounds include those produced by vessels, aircraft, machinery operations such as drilling or dredging, vibratory pile driving, and active sonar systems (such as those used by the U.S. Navy). The duration of such sounds, as received at a distance, can be greatly extended in a highly reverberant environment.

    The effects of sounds on marine mammals are dependent on several factors, including the species, size, behavior (feeding, nursing, resting, etc.), and, if underwater, depth of the animal; the intensity and duration of the sound; and the sound propagation properties of the environment. Impacts to marine species can result from physiological and behavioral responses to both the type and strength of the acoustic signature (Viada et al., 2008). The type and severity of behavioral impacts are more difficult to define due to limited studies addressing the behavioral effects of sounds on marine mammals. Potential effects from impulsive sound sources can range in severity from effects such as behavioral disturbance or tactile perception to physical discomfort, slight injury of the internal organs and the auditory system, or mortality (Yelverton et al., 1973).

    The effects of sounds from the proposed activities are expected to result in behavioral disturbance of marine mammals. Due to the expected sound levels of the activities proposed and the distance of the activity from marine mammal habitat, the effects of sounds from the proposed activities are not expected to result in temporary or permanent hearing impairment (TTS and PTS, respectively), non-auditory physical or physiological effects, or masking in marine mammals. Data from monitoring reports associated with IHAs issued previously for similar activities in the same location as the planned activities provides further support for the assertion that TTS, PTS, non-auditory physical or physiological effects, and masking are not likely to occur (USAF 2013b; SAIC 2012). Therefore, TTS, PTS, non-auditory physical or physiological effects, and masking are not discussed further in this section.

    Disturbance Reactions

    Disturbance includes a variety of effects, including subtle changes in behavior, more conspicuous changes in activities, and displacement. 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).

    Habituation can occur when an animal's response to a stimulus wanes with repeated exposure, usually in the absence of unpleasant associated events (Wartzok et al., 2003). Animals are most likely to habituate to sounds that are predictable and unvarying. The opposite process is sensitization, when an unpleasant experience leads to subsequent responses, often in the form of avoidance, at a lower level of exposure. Behavioral state may affect the type of response as well. 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).

    Controlled experiments with captive marine mammals have shown pronounced behavioral reactions, including avoidance of loud underwater sound sources (Ridgway et al., 1997; Finneran et al., 2003). Observed responses of wild marine mammals to loud pulsed sound sources (typically seismic guns or acoustic harassment devices) have been varied but often consist of avoidance behavior or other behavioral changes suggesting discomfort (Morton and Symonds, 2002; Thorson and Reyff, 2006; see also Gordon et al., 2004; Wartzok et al., 2003; Nowacek et al., 2007).

    The onset of noise can result in temporary, short term changes in an animal's typical behavior and/or avoidance of the affected area. These behavioral changes may include: Reduced/increased vocal activities; changing/cessation of certain behavioral activities (such as socializing or feeding); visible startle response or aggressive behavior; avoidance of areas where sound sources are located; and/or flight responses (Richardson et al., 1995).

    The biological significance of many of these behavioral disturbances is difficult to predict, especially if the detected disturbances appear minor. However, the consequences of behavioral modification could potentially be biologically significant if the change affects growth, survival, or reproduction. The onset of behavioral disturbance from anthropogenic sound depends on both external factors (characteristics of sound sources and their paths) and the specific characteristics of the receiving animals (hearing, motivation, experience, demography) and is difficult to predict (Southall et al., 2007).

    Marine mammals that occur in the project area could be exposed to airborne sounds associated with Falcon 9 boost-back and landing activities that have the potential to result in behavioral harassment, depending on an animal's distance from the sound. Airborne sound could potentially affect pinnipeds that are hauled out. Most likely, airborne sound would cause behavioral responses similar to those discussed above in relation to underwater sound. For instance, anthropogenic sound could cause hauled out pinnipeds to exhibit changes in their normal behavior, such as reduction in vocalizations, or cause them to temporarily abandon their habitat and move further from the source. Hauled out pinnipeds may flush from a haulout into the water. Though pup abandonment could theoretically result from these reactions, site-specific monitoring data (described below) indicate that pup abandonment is not likely to occur as a result of the specified activity.

    Description of Effects From the Specified Activity

    This section includes a discussion of the active acoustic sound sources associated with SpaceX's proposed activity and the likelihood for these sources to result in harassment of marine mammals. Potential acoustic sources associated with SpaceX's proposed activity include sonic booms, Falcon 9 First Stage landings, and potential explosions as a result of unsuccessful Falcon 9 First Stage landing attempts. Sounds produced by the proposed activities may be impulsive, due to sonic booms, and non-pulse (but short-duration) noise, due to combustion effects of the Falcon 9 First Stage. As described above, sounds associated with Falcon 9 First Stage landings and potential explosions as a result of unsuccessful Falcon 9 First Stage landing attempts are not expected to result in take of marine mammals and are therefore not addressed here.

    Sonic Boom

    As described above, during descent when the First Stage is supersonic, a sonic boom would be generated. The USAF has monitored pinniped responses to rocket launches from VAFB for nearly 20 years. Though rocket launches are not part of the proposed activities (as described above), the acoustic stimuli (sonic booms) associated with launches is expected to be substantially similar to those expected to occur with Falcon 9 boost-backs and landings; therefore, we rely on observational data on responses of pinnipeds to sonic booms associated with rocket launches from VAFB in making assumptions about expected pinniped responses to sonic booms associated with Falcon 9 boost-backs and landings.

    Observed reactions of pinnipeds at the NCI to sonic booms have ranged from no response to heads-up alerts, from startle responses to some movements on land, and from some movements into the water to occasional stampedes (especially involving California sea lions on the NCI). We therefore assume sonic booms generated during the return flight of the Falcon 9 First Stage may elicit an alerting or other short-term behavioral reaction, including flushing into the water if hauled out.

    Data from launch monitoring by the USAF on the NCI has shown that pinniped reactions to sonic booms are correlated with the level of the sonic boom. Low energy sonic booms (<1.0 psf have resulted in little to no behavioral responses, including head raising and briefly alerting but returning to normal behavior shortly after the stimulus (Table 5). More powerful sonic booms have resulted in pinnipeds flushing from haulouts. No pinniped mortalities have been associated with sonic booms. No sustained decreases in numbers of animals observed at haulouts have been observed after the stimulus. Table 5 presents a summary of monitoring efforts at the NCI from 1999 to 2014. These data show that reactions to sonic booms tend to be insignificant below 1.0 psf and that, even above 1.0 psf, only a portion of the animals present have reacted to the sonic boom. Time-lapse video photography during four launch events revealed that harbor seals that reacted to the rocket launch noise but did not leave the haul-out were all adults.

    Data from previous monitoring also suggests that for those pinnipeds that flush from haulouts in response to sonic booms, the amount of time it takes for those animals to begin returning to the haulout site, and for numbers of animals to return to pre-launch levels, is correlated with sonic boom sound levels. Pinnipeds may begin to return to the haul-out site within 2-55 min of the launch disturbance, and the haulout site usually returned to pre-launch levels within 45-120 min. Monitoring data from launches of the Athena IKONOS rocket from VAFB, with 107.3 and 107.8 dB (A-weighted SEL) recorded at the closest haul-out site, showed seals that flushed to the water on exposure to the sonic boom began to return to the haul-out approximately 16-55 minutes post-launch (Thorson et al., 1999a; 1999b). In contrast, in the cases of Atlas rocket launches and several Titan II rocket launches with SELs (A-weighted) ranging from 86.7 to 95.7 dB recorded at the closest haul-out, seals began to return to the haul-out site within 2-8 minutes post-launch (Thorson and Francine, 1997; Thorson et al., 2000).

    Monitoring data has consistently shown that reactions among pinnipeds vary between species, with harbor seals and California sea lions tending to be more sensitive to disturbance than northern elephant seals and northern fur seals (Table 5). Because Steller sea lions and Guadalupe fur seals occur in the project area relatively infrequently, no data has been recorded on their reactions to sonic booms). At VAFB, harbor seals generally alert to nearby launch noises, with some or all of the animals going into the water. Usually the animals haul out again from within minutes to two hours or so of the launch, provided rising tides or breakers have not submerged the haul-out sites. Post-launch surveys often indicate as many or more animals hauled out than were present at the time of the launch, unless rising tides, breakers or other disturbances are involved (SAIC 2012). When launches occurred during high tides at VAFB, no impacts have been recorded because virtually all haul-out sites were submerged.

    At the Channel Islands, California sea lions have been observed to react more strongly to sonic booms than other species present there. Pups sometimes react more than adults, either because they are more easily frightened or because their hearing is more acute. Harbor seals generally appear to be more sensitive to sonic booms than most other pinnipeds, often startling and fleeing into the water. Northern fur seals generally show little or no reaction. Northern elephant seals generally exhibit no reaction at all, except perhaps a heads-up response or some stirring, especially if sea lions in the same area or mingled with the elephant seals react strongly to the boom. Post-launch monitoring generally reveals a return to normal patterns within minutes up to an hour or two of each launch, regardless of species (SAIC 2012).

    Table 5 summarizes monitoring efforts at San Miguel Island during which acoustic measurements were successfully recorded and during which pinnipeds were observed. During more recent launches, night vision equipment was used. The table shows only launches during which sonic booms were heard and recorded. The table shows that little or no reaction from the four species usually occurs when overpressures are below 1.0 psf. In general, as described above, elephant seals do not react unless other animals around them react strongly or if the sonic boom is extremely loud, and northern fur seals seem to react similarly. Not enough data exist to draw conclusions about harbor seals, but considering their reactions to launch noise at VAFB, it is likely that they are also sensitive to sonic booms (SAIC 2012).

    Table 5—Observed Pinniped Responses to Sonic Booms at San Miguel Island Launch event Sonic boom
  • level (psf)
  • Monitoring location Species and associated reactions
    Athena II (April 27, 1999) 1.0 Adams Cove California sea lion—866 alerted; 232 (27%) flushed into water, Northern elephant seal—alerted but did not flush, Northern fur seal—alerted but did not flush. Athena II (September 24, 1999) 0.95 Point Bennett California sea lion—12 of 600 (2%) flushed into water, Northern elephant seal—alerted but did not flush, Northern fur seal—alerted but did not flush. Delta II 20 (November 20, 2000) 0.4 Point Bennett California sea lion—60 pups flushed into water; no reaction from focal group, Northern elephant seal—no reaction. Atlas II (September 8, 2001) 0.75 Cardwell Point California sea lion (Group 1)—no reaction (1,200 animals), California sea lion (Group 2)—no reaction (247 animals), Northern elephant seal—no reaction, Harbor seal—2 of 4 flushed into water. Delta II (February 11, 2002) 0.64 Point Bennett California sea lion and northern fur seal—no reaction among 485 animals in 3 groups, Northern elephant seal—no reaction among 424 animals in 2 groups. Atlas II (December 2, 2003) 0.88 Point Bennett California sea lion—approximately 40% alerted; several flushed to water (number unknown—night launch), Northern elephant seal—no reaction. Delta II (July 15, 2004) 1.34 Adams Cove California sea lion—10% alerted (number unknown—night launch). Atlas V (March 13, 2008) 1.24 Cardwell Point Northern elephant seal—no reaction (109 pups). Delta II (May 5, 2009) 0.76 West of Judith Rock California sea lion—no reaction (784 animals). Atlas V (April 14, 2011) 1.01 Cuyler Harbor Northern elephant seal—no reaction (445 animals). Atlas V (September 13, 2012) 2.10 Cardwell Point California sea lion—no reaction (460 animals), Northern elephant seal—no reaction (68 animals), Harbor seal—20 of 36 (56%) flushed into water. Atlas V (April 3, 2014) 0.74 Cardwell Point Harbor seal—1 of ~25 flushed into water; no reaction, from others. Atlas V (December 12, 2014) 1.16 Point Bennett Calif. sea lion—5 of ~225 alerted; none flushed.
    Physiological Responses to Sonic Booms

    To determine if harbor seals experience changes in their hearing sensitivity as a result of sounds associated with rocket launches (including sonic booms), Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR) testing was conducted on 14 harbor seals following four launches of the Titan IV rocket, one launch of the Taurus rocket, and two launches of the Delta IV rocket from VAFB, in accordance with NMFS scientific research permits. ABR tests have not yet been performed following Falcon 9 rocket landings nor launches, however results of ABR tests that followed launches of other rockets from VAFB are nonetheless informative as the sound source (sonic boom) is expected to be the same as that associated with the activities proposed by SpaceX.

    Following standard ABR testing protocol, the ABR was measured from one ear of each seal using sterile, sub-dermal, stainless steel electrodes. A conventional electrode array was used, and low-level white noise was presented to the non-tested ear to reduce any electrical potentials generated by the non-tested ear. A computer was used to produce the click and an eight kHz tone burst stimuli, through standard audiometric headphones. Over 1,000 ABR waveforms were collected and averaged per trial. Initially the stimuli were presented at SPLs loud enough to obtain a clean reliable waveform, and then decreased in 10 dB steps until the response was no longer reliably observed. Once response was no longer reliably observed, the stimuli were then increased in 10 dB steps to the original SPL. By obtaining two ABR waveforms at each SPL, it was possible to quantify the variability in the measurements.

    Good replicable responses were measured from most of the seals, with waveforms following the expected pattern of an increase in latency and decrease in amplitude of the peaks, as the stimulus level was lowered. Detailed analysis of the changes in waveform latency and waveform replication of the ABR measurements for the 14 seals showed no detectable changes in the seals' hearing sensitivity as a result of exposure to the launch noise. The delayed start (1.75 to 3.5 hours after the launches) for ABR testing allows for the possibility that the seals may have recovered from a TTS before testing began. However, it can be said with confidence that the post-launch tested animals did not have permanent hearing changes due to exposure to the launch noise from the sonic booms associated with launches of the rockets from VAFB (SAIC 2013).

    We also note that stress from long-term cumulative sound exposures can result in physiological effects on reproduction, metabolism, and general health, or on the animals' resistance to disease. However, this is not likely to occur as a result of the proposed activities because of the infrequent nature and short duration of the noise (up to twelve sonic booms annually). Research indicates that population levels at these haul-out sites have remained constant in recent years (with decreases only noted in some areas because of the increased presence of coyotes), giving support to this conclusion.

    In conclusion, based on data from numerous years of monitoring of similar activities to the activities proposed by SpaceX, in the same geographic area as the geographic area of the SpaceX's proposed activities, we expect that any behavioral responses by pinnipeds to sonic booms resulting from the proposed activities would range from no response to heads-up alerts, startle responses, some movements on land, and some movements into the water (flushing).

    Non-Acoustic Effects of the Proposed Activity

    This section includes a discussion of potential effects of SpaceX's proposed activity other than those related to sound.

    Visual Stimuli

    Visual stimuli resulting from Falcon 9 First Stage landings would have the potential to cause pinnipeds to lift their heads, move towards the water, or enter the water. However, SpaceX has determined that the trajectory of the return flight includes a nearly vertical descent to the SLC-4W landing pad (see Figure 1-7 and 1-8 in the IHA application) and the contingency landing location (see Figure 1-5 in the IHA application). As a result, the descending Falcon 9 First Stage would either be shielded by coastal bluffs (for a SLC-4W landing) or would be too far away from any pinniped haulouts to result in significant stimuli (in the case of a barge landing). Further, the visual stimulus of the Falcon 9 First Stage would not be coupled with the sonic boom, since the First Stage would be at significant altitude when the overpressure is produced, further decreasing the likelihood of a behavioral response. Therefore, the likelihood of takes of marine mammals resulting from visual stimuli associated with the proposed activity is so low as to be considered discountable. As such, visual stimuli associated with the proposed activity is not discussed further in this document.

    Effects on Marine Mammal Habitat

    We do not anticipate that the proposed activities would result in any temporary or permanent effects on the habitats used by the marine mammals in the proposed area, including the food sources they use (i.e. fish and invertebrates). Behavioral disturbance caused by in-air acoustic stimuli may result in marine mammals temporarily moving away from or avoiding the exposure area but are not expected to have long term impacts, as supported by over two decades of launch monitoring studies on the NCI by the U.S. Air Force (MMCG and SAIC 2012).

    The proposed activities would not result in in-water acoustic stimuli that would cause significant injury or mortality to prey species and would not create barriers to movement for marine mammal prey. As described above, in the event of an unsuccessful barge landing and a resulting explosion of the Falcon 9 First Stage, up to 25 pieces of debris would likely remain floating. SpaceX would recover all floating debris. Denser debris that would not float on the surface is anticipated to sink relatively quickly and would be composed of inert materials. The area of benthic habitat impacted by falling debris would be very small (approximately 0.000706 km2) (ManTech 2015) and all debris that would sink are composed of inert materials that would not affect water quality or bottom substrate potentially used by marine mammals. None of the debris would be so dense or large that benthic habitat would be degraded. As a result, debris from an unsuccessful barge landing that enters the ocean environment approximately 50 km offshore of VAFB would not have a significant effect on marine mammal habitat.

    In summary, since the acoustic impacts associated with the proposed activities are of short duration and infrequent (up to twelve events annually), the associated behavioral responses in marine mammals are expected to be temporary. Therefore, the proposed activities are unlikely to result in long term or permanent avoidance of the exposure areas or loss of habitat. The proposed activities are also not expected to result in any reduction in foraging habitat or adverse impacts to marine mammal prey. Thus, any impacts to marine mammal habitat are not expected to cause significant or long-term consequences for individual marine mammals or their populations.

    Estimated Take by Incidental Harassment

    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).

    All authorized takes would be by Level B harassment only, in the form of disruption of behavioral patterns for individual marine mammals resulting from exposure to sounds associated with the planned activities. Based on the nature of the activity, Level A harassment, serious injury, and mortality are neither anticipated nor proposed to be authorized.

    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; (2) the area 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 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 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). As described above, Level A harassment is not expected to occur as a result of the proposed activities and we do not propose to authorize take by Level A harassment, thus criteria and thresholds for Level A harassment are not discussed further. Thresholds have been developed identifying the received level of in-air sound above which exposed pinnipeds would likely be behaviorally harassed. In this case, we are concerned only with in-air sound as the proposed activities are not expected to result in harassment of marine mammals that are underwater. Thus only in-air thresholds are discussed further.

    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, 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 typically uses a generalized acoustic threshold based on received level to estimate the onset of behavioral harassment. As described above, for in-air sounds, NMFS expects that harbor seals exposed to sound above received levels of 90 dB re 20 μPa (rms) will be behaviorally harassed, and all other species of pinnipeds exposed to sound above received levels of 100 dB re 20 μPa (rms) will be behaviorally harassed (Table 1).

    Typically, NMFS relies on the acoustic criteria shown in Table 1 to estimate take as a result of exposure to airborne sound from a given activity. However, in this case we have the benefit of more than 20 years of observational data on pinniped responses to the stimuli associated with the proposed activity that we expect to result in harassment (sonic booms) in the particular geographic area of the proposed activity (VAFB and the NCI). Therefore, we consider these data to be the best available information in regard to estimating take based on modeled exposures among pinnipeds to sounds associated with the proposed activities. These data suggest that pinniped reactions to sonic booms are dependent on the species and the intensity of the sonic boom (Table 5).

    As described above, data from launch monitoring by the USAF on the NCI and at VAFB have shown that pinniped reactions to sonic booms are correlated to the level of the sonic boom. Low energy sonic booms (<1.0 psf) have typically resulted in little to no behavioral responses, including head raising and briefly alerting but returning to normal behavior shortly after the stimulus. More powerful sonic booms have flushed animals from haulouts (but not resulted in any mortality or sustained decreased in numbers after the stimulus). Table 5 presents a summary of monitoring efforts at the NCI from 1999 to 2014. These data show that reactions to sonic booms tend to be insignificant below 1.0 psf and that, even above 1.0 psf, only a portion of the animals present react to the sonic boom. Therefore, for the purposes of estimating the extent of take that is likely to occur as a result of the proposed activities, we assume that Level B harassment occurs when a pinniped (on land) is exposed to a sonic boom at or above 1.0 psf. Therefore the number of expected takes by Level B harassment is based on estimates of the numbers of animals that would be within the areas exposed to sonic booms at levels at or above 1.0 psf.

    The data recorded by USAF at VAFB and the NCI over the past 20 years has also shown that pinniped reactions to sonic booms vary between species. As described above, little or no reaction has been observed in northern fur seals and northern elephant seals when overpressures were below 1.0 psf. At the NCI sea lions have reacted more strongly to sonic booms than most other species. Harbor seals also appear to be more sensitive to sonic booms than most other pinnipeds, often resulting in startling and fleeing into the water. Northern fur seals generally show little or no reaction, and northern elephant seals generally exhibit no reaction at all, except perhaps a heads-up response or some stirring, especially if sea lions in the same area mingled with the elephant seals react strongly to the boom. No data is available on Steller sea lion or Guadalupe fur seal responses to sonic booms.

    Ensonified Area

    As described above, modeling was performed to estimate overpressure levels that would be created during the return flight of the Falcon 9 First Stage. The predicted acoustic footprint of the sonic boom was computed using the computer program PCBoom (Plotkin and Grandi 2002; Page et al. 2010). As described above, the highest sound generated by a sonic boom would generally be focused on the area where the Falcon 9 ultimately lands. Based on model results, a boost-back and landing of the Falcon 9 First Stage at SLC-4W would produce a sonic boom with overpressures as high as 8.5 psf at SLC-4W, which would attenuate to levels below 1.0 psf at approximately 15.90 mi. (25.59 km) from the landing area (Figure 2-2 in the IHA application). This estimate is based, in part, on actual observations from Falcon 9 boost-back and landing activities at Cape Canaveral, Florida. A boost-back and landing of the Falcon 9 First Stage at SLC-4W would produce a sonic boom with overpressures up to 3.1 psf on the NCI (San Miguel Island, Santa Rosa Island, and Santa Cruz Island) based on model results.

    During a contingency barge landing event, sonic boom overpressure would be directed at the ocean surface while the first-stage booster is supersonic. Model results indicate that sonic booms would not exceed 1.0 psf on any part of the NCI during a boost-back and landing of the Falcon 9 First Stage at the contingency landing location at least 27 nm (50 km) offshore (Figure 2-6 and Figure 2-7 in the IHA application). Additionally, First Stage boost-backs and landings within the Iridium Landing Area would not likely produce measurable overpressures at any land surface (Figure 2-8 and Figure 2-9 in the IHA application). Therefore, take of marine mammals is not expected to occur as a result of boost-back and landing activities at the contingency landing location at least 27 nm (50 km) offshore, nor within the Iridium Landing Area. Estimated takes are therefore based on the possibility of boost-back and landing activities occurring at SLC-4W.

    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. Data collected from marine mammal surveys, including monthly marine mammal surveys conducted by the USAF at VAFB as well as data collected by NMFS, represent the best available information on the occurrence of the six pinniped species expected to occur in the project area. The quality and amount of information available on pinnipeds in the project area varies depending on species; some species are surveyed regularly at VAFB and the NCI (e.g., California sea lion), while other species are surveyed less frequently (e.g., northern fur seals and Guadalupe fur seals). However, the best available data was used to estimate take numbers. Take estimates for all species are shown in Table 6.

    Harbor Seal—Pacific harbor seals are the most common marine mammal inhabiting VAFB, congregating on several rocky haulout sites along the VAFB coastline. They also haul out, breed, and pup in isolated beaches and coves throughout the coasts of the NCI. Harbor seals may be exposed to sonic booms above 1.0 psf on the mainland and the NCI. Take of harbor seals at VAFB was estimated based on the maximum count totals from monthly surveys of VAFB haulout sites from 2013-2016 (ManTech SRS Technologies, Inc., 2014, 2015, 2016; VAFB, unpubl. data). Take of harbor seals at the NCI and at Point Conception was estimated based on the maximum count totals from aerial survey data collected from 2002 to 2012 by the NMFS SWFSC (M. Lowry, NMFS SWFSC, unpubl. data).

    California sea lion—California sea lions are common offshore of VAFB and haul out on rocks and beaches along the coastline of VAFB, though pupping rarely occurs on the VAFB coastline. They haul out in large numbers on the NCI and rookeries exist on San Miguel and Santa Cruz islands. California sea lions may be exposed to sonic booms above 1.0 psf on the mainland and the NCI. Take of California sea lions at VAFB was estimated based on the maximum count totals from monthly surveys of VAFB haulout sites from 2013-2016 (ManTech SRS Technologies, Inc., 2014, 2015, 2016; VAFB, unpubl. data). Take of California sea lions at the NCI was estimated based on the maximum count totals from aerial survey data collected from 2002 to 2012 by the NMFS Southwest Fisheries Science Center (SWFSC) (M. Lowry, NMFS SWFSC, unpubl. data).

    Steller Sea Lion—Steller sea lions occur in small numbers at VAFB and on San Miguel Island. They have not been observed on the Channel Islands other than at San Miguel Island and they do not currently have rookeries at VAFB or the NCI. Steller sea lions may be exposed to sonic booms above 1.0 psf on the mainland and the NCI. Take of Steller sea lions at VAFB was estimated based on the largest count totals from monthly surveys of VAFB haulout sites from 2013-2016 (ManTech SRS Technologies, Inc., 2014, 2015, 2016; VAFB, unpubl. data). Steller sea lions haul out in very small numbers on the NCI, and comprehensive survey data for Steller sea lions in the NCI is not available. Take of Steller sea lions at the NCI was estimated based on subject matter expert input suggesting that as many as four Steller sea lions have been observed on San Miguel Island at a time (pers. comm., S. Melin, NMFS Marine Mammal Laboratory (MML), to J. Carduner, NMFS, Feb 11, 2016).

    Northern elephant seal—Northern elephant seals haul out sporadically on rocks and beaches along the coastline of VAFB and at Point Conception and have rookeries on San Miguel Island and Santa Rosa Island and at one location at VAFB. Northern elephant seals may be exposed to sonic booms above 1.0 psf on the mainland and the NCI. Take of northern elephant seals at VAFB was estimated based on the largest count totals from monthly surveys of VAFB haulout sites from 2013-2016 (ManTech SRS Technologies, Inc., 2014, 2015, 2016; VAFB, unpubl. data). Take of northern elephant seals at the NCI and at Point Conception was estimated based on the maximum count totals from aerial survey data collected from 2002 to 2012 by the NMFS Southwest Fisheries Science Center (SWFSC) (M. Lowry, NMFS SWFSC, unpubl. data).

    Northern fur seal—Northern fur seals have rookeries on San Miguel Island, the only island in the NCI on which they have been observed. No haulouts or rookeries exist for northern fur seals on the mainland coast, including VAFB, thus they may be exposed to sonic booms above 1.0 psf at the NCI but not on the mainland. Comprehensive survey data for northern fur seals in the project area is not available. Estimated take of northern fur seals was based on subject matter expert input which suggested a maximum of approximately 6,000-8,000 northern fur seals may be present on San Miguel Island at the height of breeding/pupping season (early July). After the height of the breeding/pupping season, numbers fluctuate but decrease as females go on foraging trips and males begin to migrate in late July/August. Numbers continue to decrease until November when most of the population is absent from the island until the following breeding/pupping period (starting the following June) (pers. comm., T. Orr, NMFS NMML, to J. Carduner, NMFS OPR, February 27, 2016). It was therefore conservatively estimated that numbers peak at 8,000 animals hauled out at any given time in July and decrease to a minimum of 2,000 animals hauled out at any given time in the winter, then increase again until the following July. This results in an average estimate of 5,000 northern fur seals hauled out at San Miguel Island at any given time over the course of the entire year.

    Guadalupe fur seal—There are estimated to be approximately 20-25 individual Guadalupe fur seals that have fidelity to San Miguel Island (pers. comm. S. Mellin, NMFS NMML, to J. Carduner, NMFS OPR, February 11, 2016). No haulouts or rookeries exist for Guadalupe fur seals on the mainland coast, including VAFB, thus they may be exposed to sonic booms above 1.0 psf at the NCI but not on the mainland. Comprehensive survey data on Guadalupe fur seals in the project area is not readily available. Estimated take of Guadalupe fur seals was based on the maximum number of Guadalupe fur seals observed at any one time on San Miguel Island (13) (pers. comm., J. LaBonte, ManTech SRS Technologies Inc., to J. Carduner, NMFS, Feb. 29, 2016); it was therefore conservatively assumed that 13 Guadalupe fur seals may be hauled out at San Miguel Island at any given time.

    Take Calculation and Estimation

    Here we describe how the information provided above is brought together to produce a quantitative take estimate.

    NMFS currently uses a three-tiered scale to determine whether the response of a pinniped on land to acoustic or visual stimuli is considered an alert, a movement, or a flush. NMFS considers the behaviors that meet the definitions of both movements and flushes to qualify as behavioral harassment. Thus a pinniped on land is considered by NMFS to have been behaviorally harassed if it moves greater than two times its body length, or if the animal is already moving and changes direction and/or speed, or if the animal flushes from land into the water. Animals that become alert without such movements are not considered harassed. See Table 4 for a summary of the pinniped disturbance scale.

    Table 4—Levels of Pinniped Behavioral Disturbance on Land Level Type of response Definition Characterized as behavioral
  • harassment
  • by NMFS
  • 1 Alert Seal head orientation or brief movement in response to disturbance, which may include turning head towards the disturbance, craning head and neck while holding the body rigid in a u-shaped position, changing from a lying to a sitting position, or brief movement of less than twice the animal's body length No. 2 Movement Movements away from the source of disturbance, ranging from short withdrawals at least twice the animal's body length to longer retreats over the beach, or if already moving a change of direction of greater than 90 degrees Yes. 3 Flush All retreats (flushes) to the water Yes.

    As described above, the likelihood of pinnipeds exhibiting responses to sonic booms that would be considered behavioral harassment (based on the levels of pinniped disturbance as shown in Table 4) is dependent on both the species and on the intensity of the sonic boom. Data from rocket launch monitoring by the USAF at VAFB and the NCI show that pinniped reactions to sonic booms are correlated to the level of the sonic boom, with low energy sonic booms (<1.0 psf) typically resulting in little to no behavioral responses, and higher energy sonic booms resulting in responses ranging from no response to heads-up alerts, startle responses, some movements on land, and some movements into the water (flushing). Based on model results, a boost-back and landing of the Falcon 9 First Stage at SLC-4W would produce a sonic boom with greater intensity at VAFB (overpressures potentially as high as 8.5 psf) than at the NCI (overpressures potentially as high as 3.1 psf). Responses of pinnipeds to sonic booms are also highly dependent on species, with harbor seals, California sea lions and Steller sea lions generally displaying greater sensitivity to sonic booms than northern elephant seals and northern fur seals (Table 5). We are not aware of any data on Guadalupe fur seal responses to sonic booms, but we assume responses by Guadalupe fur seal responses to be similar to those observed in northern fur seals as the two species are physiologically and behaviorally very similar.

    Take estimates were calculated by overlaying the modeled acoustic footprints of sonic booms from boost-back and landing events at SLC-4W with known pinniped haulouts on the mainland (including those at VAFB) and the NCI to determine the pinniped haulouts that would potentially be affected by sonic booms with overpressures of 1.0 psf and above. Only haulouts along northeastern San Miguel Island, northern and northwestern Santa Rosa Island, and northwestern Santa Cruz Island would be expected to experience overpressures greater than 1.0 psf during a boost-back and landing at SLC-4W (Figure 2-3, 2-4, 2-5 and 2-6 in the IHA application). Take estimates also account for the likely intensity of the sonic boom as well as the relative sensitivity of the marine mammal species present, based on monitoring data as described above.

    A boost-back and landing of the Falcon 9 First Stage at SLC-4W that results in a sonic boom of 1.0 psf and above at VAFB was conservatively estimated to result in behavioral harassment of 100 percent of all species hauled out at or near VAFB and Point Conception (Table 6). A boost-back and landing of the Falcon 9 First Stage at SLC-4W that results in a sonic boom of 1.0 psf and above at the NCI was estimated to result in the behavioral harassment of 100 percent of California sea lions, harbor seals, and Steller sea lions that are hauled out at the NCI and of five percent of northern elephant seals, northern fur seals, and Guadalupe fur seals that are hauled out at the NCI. The five percent adjustment in the take estimates for these species at the NCI is also considered conservative, as launch monitoring data shows that elephant seals and fur seals sometimes alert to sonic booms but have never been observed flushing to the water or responding in a manner that would be classified as behavioral harassment even when sonic booms were measured at >1.0 psf (see Table 5 for a summary of launch monitoring data).

    The take calculations presented in Table 6 are based on the best available information on marine mammal populations in the project location and responses among marine mammals to the stimuli associated with the proposed activities.

    Table 6—Estimated Numbers of Marine Mammals, and Percentage of Marine Mammal Populations, Potentially Taken as a Result of the Proposed Activities Species Geographic location Estimated
  • number of
  • Level B
  • harassment
  • exposures per
  • event, by location
  • Estimated
  • combined
  • number of
  • Level B
  • harassment
  • exposures per event
  • Total number of takes by Level B harassment
  • proposed for
  • authorization ^
  • Takes by Level B harassment
  • proposed for
  • authorization as
  • a percentage of population
  • Pacific Harbor Seal VAFB 366 1,384 1,384 4.4 Pt. Conception 516 San Miguel Island 310 Santa Rosa Island 192 Santa Cruz Island 0 California Sea Lion VAFB 416 4,561 54,732 18.4 Pt. Conception N/A San Miguel Island 2,134 Santa Rosa Island 1,200 Santa Cruz Island 811 Northern Elephant Seal VAFB 190 227 2,724 1.5 Pt. Conception 11 San Miguel Island * 18 Santa Rosa Island * 8 Santa Cruz Island 0 Steller Sea Lion VAFB 16 20 240 0.3 Pt. Conception N/A San Miguel Island 4 Santa Rosa Island N/A Santa Cruz Island N/A Northern Fur Seal VAFB N/A 250 3,000 21.4 Pt. Conception N/A San Miguel Island * 250 Santa Rosa Island N/A Santa Cruz Island N/A Guadalupe Fur Seal VAFB N/A 1 12 0.1 Pt. Conception N/A San Miguel Island * 1 Santa Rosa Island N/A Santa Cruz Island N/A ^ Based on twelve boost-back and landing events. * Number shown reflects five percent of total number of predicted potential exposures, i.e., five percent of animals exposed to sonic booms above 1.0 psf at these locations are assumed to experience Level B harassment.

    Take estimates are believed to be conservative based on the assumption that all twelve Falcon 9 First Stage recovery actions would result in landings at SLC-4W, with no landings occurring at the contingency barge landing location. However, some or all actual landing events may ultimately occur at the contingency landing location or within the Iridium Landing Area; as described above, landings at the contingency landing location or within the Iridium Landing Area would be expected to result in no takes of marine mammals. However, the number of landings at each location is not known in advance, therefore we assume all landings would occur at SLC-4W. In addition, as described above, it is conservatively assumed that 100 percent of all any species of pinnipeds hauled out on the mainland (VAFB and Point Conception) and 100 percent of harbor seals, California sea lions and Steller sea lions hauled out at the NCI would be harassed (Level B harassment only) by a Falcon 9 boost-back and landing events at SLC-4W that result in a psf of <1.0. However, it is possible that less than this percentage of hauled out pinnipeds will be behaviorally harassed by a Falcon 9 boost-back and landing at SLC-4W. While there may be some limited behavioral harassment of pinnipeds that occurs at psf levels <1.0, we account for that in the overall conservativeness of the total take number, as described above.

    Given the many uncertainties in predicting the quantity and types of impacts of sound on marine mammals, it is common practice to estimate how many animals are likely to be present within a particular distance of a given activity, or exposed to a particular level of sound. In practice, depending on the amount of information available to characterize daily and seasonal movement and distribution of affected marine mammals, it can be difficult to distinguish between the number of individuals harassed and the instances of harassment and, when duration of the activity is considered, it can result in a take estimate that overestimates the number of individuals harassed. For instance, an individual animal may accrue a number of incidences of harassment over the duration of a project, as opposed to each incident of harassment accruing to a new individual. This is especially likely if individual animals display some degree of residency or site fidelity and the impetus to use the site is stronger than the deterrence presented by the harassing activity.

    Take estimates shown in Table 6 are considered reasonable estimates of the number of instances of marine mammal exposures to sound resulting in Level B harassment that are likely to occur as a result of the proposed activities, and not necessarily the number of individual animals exposed.

    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 impact on species or stocks and their habitat, as well as subsistence uses where applicable, we carefully balance 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.

    Any mitigation measure(s) prescribed by NMFS should be able to accomplish, have a reasonable likelihood of accomplishing (based on current science), or contribute to the accomplishment of one or more of the general goals listed below:

    1. Avoidance or minimization of injury or death of marine mammals wherever possible (goals 2, 3, and 4 may contribute to this goal).

    2. A reduction in the numbers of marine mammals (total number or number at biologically important time or location) exposed to activities expected to result in the take of marine mammals (this goal may contribute to 1, above, or to reducing harassment takes only).

    3. A reduction in the number of times (total number or number at biologically important time or location) individuals would be exposed to activities expected to result in the take of marine mammals (this goal may contribute to 1, above, or to reducing harassment takes only).

    4. A reduction in the intensity of exposures (either total number or number at biologically important time or location) to activities expected to result in the take of marine mammals (this goal may contribute to 1, above, or to reducing the severity of harassment takes only).

    5. Avoidance or minimization of adverse effects to marine mammal habitat, paying special attention to the food base, activities that block or limit passage to or from biologically important areas, permanent destruction of habitat, or temporary destruction/disturbance of habitat during a biologically important time.

    6. For monitoring directly related to mitigation—an increase in the probability of detecting marine mammals, thus allowing for more effective implementation of the mitigation.

    Mitigation for Marine Mammals and Their Habitat

    SpaceX's IHA application contains descriptions of the mitigation measures proposed to be implemented during the specified activities in order to effect the least practicable adverse impact on the affected marine mammal species and stocks and their habitats.

    It should be noted that it would not be feasible to stop or divert an inbound Falcon 9 First Stage booster. Once the boost-back and landing sequence is underway, there would be no way for SpaceX to change the trajectory of the Falcon 9 First Stage to avoid potential impacts to marine mammals. The proposed mitigation measures include the following:

    • Unless constrained by other factors including human safety or national security concerns, launches would be scheduled to avoid boost-backs and landings during the harbor seal pupping season of March through June, when practicable.

    Based on our evaluation of SpaceX's proposed mitigation measures, NMFS has 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.

    Proposed Monitoring

    SpaceX submitted a monitoring plan as part of their IHA application. SpaceX's proposed marine mammal monitoring plan was created with input from NMFS and was based on similar plans that have been successfully implemented by other action proponents under previous authorizations for similar projects, specifically the USAF's monitoring of rocket launches from VAFB. The plan may be modified or supplemented based on comments or new information received from the public during the public comment period.

    Marine Mammal Monitoring

    SpaceX would determine a monitoring location for each boost-back and landing activity, taking into consideration predictions of the areas likely to receive the greatest sonic boom intensity as well as current haulout locations and the distribution of pinniped species and their behavior. The selection of the monitoring location would also be based on what species (if any) have pups at haulouts and which of those species would be expected to be the most reactive to sonic booms. SpaceX prioritizes the selection of rookery locations if they are expected to be impacted by a sonic boom and prioritizes the most reactive species if there are multiple species that are expected to be hauled out in the modeled sonic boom impact area. For instance, if harbor seals were pupping, SpaceX would tend to select a harbor seal rookery for monitoring because they tend to be the most reactive species to sonic booms. There is also thought given to the geography and wind exposure of the specific beaches that are predicted to be impacted, to avoid inadvertently selecting a portion of a beach that tends to be abandoned by pinnipeds every afternoon as a result high winds. As VAFB is an active military base, the selection of appropriate monitoring locations must also take into account security restrictions and human safety as unexploded ordnance is present in some areas.

    Marine mammal monitoring protocols would vary based on modeled sonic boom intensity, the location and the season. As described above, sonic boom modeling would be performed prior to all boost-back and landing activities. Although the same rockets would be used, other parameters specific to each launch would be incorporated into each model. These include direction and trajectory, weight, length, engine thrust, engine plume drag, position versus time from initiating boost-back to additional engine burns, among other aspects. Various weather scenarios would be analyzed from NOAA weather records for the region, then run through the model. Among other factors, these would include the presence or absence of the jet stream, and if present, its direction, altitude and velocity. The type, altitude, and density of clouds would also be considered. From these data, the models would predict peak amplitudes and impact locations. As described above, impacts to pinnipeds on the NCI, including pups, have been shown through more than two decades of monitoring reports to be minimal and temporary (MMCG and SAIC 2012a). Therefore monitoring requirements at the NCI would be dependent on modeled sonic boom intensity and would be based on the harbor seal pupping season, such that monitoring requirements would be greater when pups would be expected to be present. At the height of the pupping season (between March 1 and June 30) monitoring is required if sonic boom model results indicate a peak overpressure of 1.0 psf or greater is likely to impact one of the NCI. Between July 1 and September 30 monitoring is required if sonic boom model results indicate a peak overpressure of 1.5 psf or greater is likely to impact one of the NCI. Between October 1 and February 28, monitoring is required if sonic boom model results indicate a peak overpressure of 2.0 psf or greater is likely to impact one of the NCI.

    Marine mammal monitoring procedures would consist of the following:

    • To conduct monitoring of Falcon 9 First Stage boost-back and landing activities, SpaceX would designate qualified, on-site observers that would be approved in advance by NMFS;

    • If sonic boom model results indicate a peak overpressure of 1.0 psf or greater is likely to impact VAFB, then acoustic and biological monitoring at VAFB would be implemented;

    • If sonic boom model results indicate a peak overpressure of 1.0 psf or greater is likely to impact one of the NCI between March 1 and June 30; a peak overpressure of greater than 1.5 psf is likely to impact one of the NCI between July 1 and September 30, or a peak overpressure of greater than 2.0 psf is likely to impact one of the NCI between October 1 and February 28, then monitoring of haulout sites on the NCI would be implemented.

    • Monitoring would be conducted at the haulout site closest to the predicted sonic boom impact area;

    • Monitoring would commence at least 72 hours prior to the boost-back and continue until at least 48 hours after the event;

    • Monitoring would include multiple surveys each day that record the species; number of animals; general behavior; presence of pups; age class; gender; and reaction to noise associated with Falcon 9 First Stage recovery activities, sonic booms or other natural or human caused disturbances, in addition to recording environmental conditions such as tide, wind speed, air temperature, and swell;

    • If the boost-back and landing is scheduled during daylight, time lapse photography or video recording would be used to document the behavior of marine mammals during Falcon 9 First Stage recovery activities;

    • For Falcon 9 First Stage recovery activities scheduled during harbor seal pupping season (March through June), follow-up surveys would be conducted within two weeks of the boost-back and landing;

    • New northern elephant seal pupping location(s) at VAFB would be prioritized for monitoring when landings occur at SLC-4W during northern elephant seal pupping season (January through February) when practicable.

    Acoustic Monitoring

    Acoustic measurements of the sonic boom created during boost-back at the monitoring location would be recorded to determine the overpressure level. Typically this would entail use of a digital audio tape (DAT) recorder and a high quality microphone to monitor the sound environment and measure the sonic boom. This system would be specially tailored for recording the low frequency sound associated with rocket launches and sonic booms. The DAT system would record the launch noise and sonic boom digitally to tape, which would allow for detailed post‐analysis of the frequency content, and the calculation of other acoustic metrics, and would record the ambient noise and sonic boom. The DAT recorder would be placed near the marine mammal monitoring site when practicable.

    Proposed Reporting

    SpaceX would report data collected during marine mammal monitoring and acoustic monitoring as described above. The monitoring report would include a description of project related activities, counts of marine mammals by species, sex and age class, a summary of marine mammal species/count data, and a summary of observed marine mammal responses to project-related activities.

    A launch monitoring report would be submitted by SpaceX to the NMFS Office of Protected Resources and the NMFS West Coast Region within 60 days after each Falcon 9 First Stage recovery action. This report would contain information on the date(s) and time(s) of the Falcon 9 First Stage recovery action, the design of the monitoring program; and results of the monitoring program, including, but not necessarily limited to the following:

    • Numbers of pinnipeds present on the monitored haulout prior to the Falcon 9 First Stage recovery;

    • Numbers of pinnipeds that may have been harassed (based on observations of pinniped responses and the pinniped disturbance scale as shown in Table 4);

    • The length of time pinnipeds remained off the haulout or rookery for pinnipeds estimated to have entered the water as a result of Falcon 9 First Stage recovery noise;

    • Any other observed behavioral modifications by pinnipeds that were likely the result of Falcon 9 First Stage recovery activities, including sonic boom; and

    • Results of acoustic monitoring including comparisons of modeled sonic booms with actual acoustic recordings of sonic booms.

    In addition, a final monitoring report would be submitted by SpaceX to the NMFS Office of Protected Resources. A draft of the report would be submitted within 90 days of the expiration of the IHA, or, within 45 days of the requested renewal of the IHA (if applicable). A final version of the report would be submitted within 30 days following resolution of comments on the draft report from NMFS. The report would summarize the information from the 60-day post-activity reports (as described above), including but not necessarily limited to the following:

    • Date(s) and time(s) of the Falcon 9 First Stage recovery actions;

    • Design of the monitoring program; and

    • Results of the monitoring program, including the information components contained in the 60-day launch reports, as well as any documented cumulative impacts on marine mammals as a result of the activities, such as long term reductions in the number of pinnipeds at haulouts as a result of the activities.

    In the unanticipated event that the specified activity clearly causes the take of a marine mammal in a manner not authorized by the proposed IHA (if issued), such as a Level A harassment, or a take of a marine mammal species other than those proposed for authorization, SpaceX would immediately cease the specified activities and immediately report the incident to the NMFS Office of Protected Resources. The report would include the following information:

    • Time, date, and location (latitude/longitude) of the incident;

    • Description of the incident;

    • Status of all Falcon 9 First Stage recovery activities in the 48 hours preceding the incident;

    • Description of all marine mammal observations in the 48 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 SpaceX to determine what is necessary to minimize the likelihood of further prohibited take and ensure MMPA compliance. SpaceX would not be able to resume their activities until notified by NMFS via letter, email, or telephone.

    In the event that SpaceX discovers an injured or dead marine mammal, and the lead observer determines the cause of the injury or death is unknown and the death is relatively recent (i.e., in less than a moderate state of decomposition), SpaceX would immediately report the incident to the NMFS Office of Protected Resources and the NMFS West Coast Region Stranding Coordinator. The report would include the same information identified in the paragraph above. Authorized activities would be able to continue while NMFS reviews the circumstances of the incident. NMFS would work with SpaceX to determine whether modifications in the activities are appropriate.

    In the event that SpaceX discovers an injured or dead marine mammal, and the lead MMO determines 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), SpaceX would report the incident to the NMFS Office of Protected Resources and NMFS West Coast Region Stranding Coordinator, within 24 hours of the discovery. SpaceX would provide photographs or video footage (if available) or other documentation of the stranded animal sighting to NMFS and the Marine Mammal Stranding Network.

    If issued, this would be the second IHA issued to SpaceX for the proposed activity. SpaceX did not perform any Falcon 9 boost-back and landing activities that resulted in return flights to VAFB nor that generated sonic booms that impacted the NCI. SpaceX did perform boost-back and landing activities at a contingency landing location located offshore during the period of validity for the prior IHA, however the contingency landing location was located so far offshore that there were no impacts predicted to marine mammals by sonic boom modeling, thus marine mammal monitoring was not required.

    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).

    To avoid repetition, the discussion of our analyses applies to all the species listed in Table 2, given that the anticipated effects of this activity on these different marine mammal species are expected to be similar. Activities associated with the proposed Falcon 9 First Stage recovery project, as outlined previously, have the potential to disturb or displace marine mammals. Specifically, the specified activities may result in take, in the form of Level B harassment (behavioral disturbance) only, from airborne sounds of sonic booms. Potential takes could occur if marine mammals are hauled out in areas where a sonic boom above 1.0 psf occurs, which is considered likely given the modeled sonic booms of the proposed activities and the occurrence of pinnipeds in the project area. Based on the best available information, including monitoring reports from similar activities that have been authorized by NMFS, behavioral responses will likely be limited to reactions such as alerting to the noise, with some animals possibly moving toward or entering the water, depending on the species and the intensity of the sonic boom. Repeated exposures of individuals to levels of sound that may cause Level B harassment are unlikely to result in hearing impairment or to significantly disrupt foraging behavior. Thus, even repeated Level B harassment of some small subset of an overall stock is unlikely to result in any significant realized decrease in fitness to those individuals, and thus would not result in any adverse impact to the stock as a whole. Level B harassment would be reduced to the level of least practicable impact through use of mitigation measures described above.

    If a marine mammal responds to a stimulus by changing its behavior (e.g., through relatively minor changes in locomotion direction/speed), the response may or may not constitute taking at the individual level, and is unlikely to affect 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 animals or on the stock or species could potentially be significant (e.g., Lusseau and Bejder, 2007; Weilgart, 2007). Flushing of pinnipeds into the water has the potential to result in mother-pup separation, or could result in a stampede, either of which could potentially result in serious injury or mortality and thereby could potentially impact the stock or species. However, based on the best available information, including reports from over 20 years of launch monitoring at VAFB and the NCI, no serious injury or mortality of marine mammals is anticipated as a result of the proposed activities.

    Even in the instances of pinnipeds being behaviorally disturbed by sonic booms from rocket launches at VAFB, no evidence has been presented of abnormal behavior, injuries or mortalities, or pup abandonment as a result of sonic booms (SAIC 2013). These findings came as a result of more than two decades of surveys at VAFB and the NCI (MMCG and SAIC, 2012). Post-launch monitoring generally reveals a return to normal behavioral patterns within minutes up to an hour or two of each launch, regardless of species. For instance, a total of eight Delta II and Taurus space vehicle launches occurred from north VAFB, near the Spur Road and Purisima Point haulout sites, from February, 2009 through February, 2014. Of these eight launches, three occurred during the harbor seal pupping season. The continued use by harbor seals of the Spur Road and Purisima Point haulout sites indicates that it is unlikely that these rocket launches (and associated sonic booms) resulted in long-term disturbances of pinnipeds using the haulout sites. San Miguel Island represents the most important pinniped rookery in the lower 48 states, and as such extensive research has been conducted there for decades. From this research, as well as stock assessment reports, it is clear that VAFB operations (including associated sonic booms) have not had any significant impacts on San Miguel Island rookeries and haulouts (SAIC 2012).

    In summary, this negligible impact analysis is founded on the following factors:

    • No injury, serious injury, or mortality are anticipated or authorized;

    • The anticipated incidences of Level B harassment are expected to consist of, at worst, temporary modifications in behavior (i.e., short distance movements and occasional flushing into the water with return to haulouts within at most two days), which are not expected to adversely affect the fitness of any individuals;

    • The proposed activities are expected to result in no long-term changes in the use by pinnipeds of rookeries and haulouts in the project area, based on over 20 years of monitoring data; and

    • The presumed efficacy of planned mitigation measures in reducing the effects of the specified activity to the level of least practicable impact.

    In combination, we believe that these factors, as well as the available body of evidence from other similar activities, demonstrate that the potential effects of the specified activity will be short-term on individual animals. The specified activity is not expected to impact rates of recruitment or survival and will therefore not result in population-level impacts. 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 the 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, 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 numbers of proposed authorized takes would be considered small relative to the relevant stocks or populations (less than 22 percent for all species and stocks). It is important to note that the number of expected takes does not necessarily represent of the number of individual animals expected to be taken. Our small numbers analysis accounts for this fact. Multiple exposures to Level B harassment can accrue to the same individual animals over the course of an activity that occurs multiple times in the same area (such as SpaceX's proposed activity). This is especially likely in the case of species that have limited ranges and that have site fidelity to a location within the project area, as is the case with Pacific harbor seals.

    As described above, harbor seals are non-migratory, rarely traveling more than 50 km from their haul-out sites. Thus, while the estimated abundance of the California stock of Pacific harbor seals is 30,968 (Carretta et al. 2017), a substantially smaller number of individual harbor seals is expected to occur within the project area. We expect that, because of harbor seals' documented site fidelity to haulout locations at VAFB and the NCI, and because of their limited ranges, the same individuals are likely to be taken repeatedly over the course of the proposed activities (maximum of twelve Falcon 9 First Stage recovery actions). Therefore, the proposed number of instances of Level B harassment among harbor seals over the course of the proposed authorization (i.e., the total number of takes shown in Table 6) is expected to accrue to a much smaller number of individuals encompassing a small portion of the overall regional stock. Thus while we propose to authorize the instances of incidental take of harbor seals shown in Table 6, we believe that the number of individual harbor seals that would be incidentally taken by the proposed activities would, in fact, be substantially lower than this numbers. The maximum number of harbor seals expected to be taken by Level B harassment, per Falcon 9 First Stage recovery action, is 1,384. As we believe the same individuals are likely to be taken repeatedly over the duration of the proposed activities, we use the estimate of 1,165 individual animals taken per Falcon 9 First Stage recovery activity for the purposes of estimating the percentage of the stock abundance likely to be taken.

    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.

    Unmitigable Adverse Impact Analysis and Determination

    There are no relevant subsistence uses of the affected marine mammal stocks or species implicated by this action. Therefore, NMFS has determined that the total taking of affected species or stocks would not have an unmitigable adverse impact on the availability of such species or stocks for taking for subsistence purposes.

    Endangered Species Act (ESA)

    There is one marine mammal species (Guadalupe fur seal) listed under the ESA with confirmed occurrence in the area expected to be impacted by the proposed activities. The NMFS West Coast Region has determined that the NMFS OPR's proposed authorization of SpaceX's Falcon 9 First Stage recovery activities is not likely to adversely affect the Guadalupe fur seal. Therefore, formal ESA section 7 consultation on this proposed authorization is not required.

    Proposed Authorization

    As a result of these preliminary determinations, NMFS proposes to issue an IHA to SpaceX, to conduct Falcon 9 First Stage recovery activities at Vandenberg Air Force Base, in the Pacific Ocean offshore Vandenberg Air Force Base, and at the Northern Channel Islands, California, from December 1, 2017 through November 30, 2018, provided the previously mentioned mitigation, monitoring, and reporting requirements are incorporated. The proposed IHA language is provided next.

    This section contains a draft of the IHA itself. The wording contained in this section is proposed for inclusion in the IHA (if issued).

    1. This Incidental Harassment Authorization (IHA) is valid from December 1, 2017 through November 30, 2018.

    (a) This IHA is valid only for Falcon 9 First Stage recovery activities at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, and at auxiliary landing sites offshore.

    2. General Conditions.

    (a) A copy of this IHA must be in the possession of SpaceX, its designees, and work crew personnel operating under the authority of this IHA.

    (b) The species authorized for taking are the Pacific harbor seal (Phoca vitulina richardii), California sea lion (Zalophus californianus), Steller sea lion (Eumetopias jubatus), northern elephant seal (Mirounga angustirostris), northern fur seal (Callorhinus ursinus), and Guadalupe fur seal (Arctocephalus philippii townsendi).

    (c) The taking, by Level B harassment only, is limited to the species listed in condition 2(b). See Table 6 for numbers of take authorized.

    (d) The taking by injury (Level A harassment), serious injury, or death of any of the species listed in condition 2(b) of the Authorization or any taking of any other species of marine mammal is prohibited and may result in the modification, suspension, or revocation of this IHA.

    3. Mitigation Measures.

    The holder of this Authorization must implement the following mitigation measure: Unless constrained by other factors including human safety or national security concerns, launches must be scheduled to avoid, whenever possible, boost-backs and landings during the harbor seal pupping season of March through June.

    4. Monitoring.

    The holder of this Authorization mustconduct marine mammal and acoustic monitoring as described below.

    (a) SpaceX must notify the Administrator, West Coast Region, NMFS, by letter or telephone, at least two weeks prior to activities possibly involving the taking of marine mammals;

    (b) To conduct monitoring of Falcon 9 First Stage recovery activities, SpaceX must designate qualified, on-site individuals approved in advance by NMFS;

    (c) If sonic boom model results indicate that a peak overpressure of 1.0 psf or greater is likely to impact VAFB, then acoustic and biological monitoring at VAFB must be implemented;

    (d) If sonic boom model results indicate a peak overpressure of 1.0 psf or greater is likely to impact VAFB during January and February, then acoustic and biological monitoring must be implemented at northern elephant seal rookeries at VAFB, when practicable;

    (e) If sonic boom model results indicate that a peak overpressure of 1.0 psf or greater is predicted to impact the Channel Islands between March 1 and June 30, greater than 1.5 psf between July 1 and September 30, and greater than 2.0 psf between October 1 and February 28, monitoring of haulout sites on the Channel Islands must be implemented. Monitoring will be conducted at the haulout site closest to the predicted sonic boom impact area;

    (f) Monitoring will be conducted for at least 72 hours prior to any planned Falcon 9 First Stage recovery and continue until at least 48 hours after the event;

    (g) For Falcon 9 First Stage recovery activities that occur during March through June, follow-up surveys of harbor seal haulouts will be conducted within two weeks of the Falcon 9 First Stage recovery;

    (h) If Falcon 9 First Stage recovery activities are scheduled during daylight, time-lapse photography or video recording must be used to document the behavior of marine mammals during Falcon 9 First Stage recovery activities;

    (i) Monitoring will include multiple surveys each day that record the species, number of animals, general behavior, presence of pups, age class, gender and reaction to noise associated with Falcon 9 First Stage recovery, sonic booms or other natural or human caused disturbances, in addition to recording environmental conditions such as tide, wind speed, air temperature, and swell; and

    (j) Acoustic measurements of the sonic boom created during boost-back at the monitoring location must be recorded to determine the overpressure level.

    5. Reporting.

    The holder of this Authorization is required to:

    (a) Submit a report to the Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, and the West Coast Regional Administrator, NMFS, within 60 days after each Falcon 9 First Stage recovery action. This report must contain the following information:

    (1) Date(s) and time(s) of the Falcon 9 First Stage recovery action;

    (2) Design of the monitoring program; and

    (3) Results of the monitoring program, including, but not necessarily limited to:

    (i) Numbers of pinnipeds present on the haulout prior to the Falcon 9 First Stage recovery;

    (ii) Numbers of pinnipeds that may have been harassed as a result of Falcon 9 First Stage recovery activities;

    (iii) For pinnipeds estimated to have been harassed as a result of Falcon 9 First Stage recovery noise, the length of time pinnipeds remained off the haulout or rookery;

    (iv) Any other observed behavioral modifications by pinnipeds that were likely the result of Falcon 9 First Stage recovery activities, including sonic boom; and

    (v) Results of acoustic monitoring including comparisons of modeled sonic booms with actual acoustic recordings of sonic booms.

    (b) Submit an annual report on all monitoring conducted under the IHA. A draft of the annual report must be submitted within 90 calendar days of the expiration of this IHA, or, within 45 calendar days of the requested renewal of the IHA (if applicable). A final annual report must be prepared and submitted within 30 days following resolution of comments on the draft report from NMFS. The annual report will summarize the information from the 60-day post-activity reports, including but not necessarily limited to:

    (1) Date(s) and time(s) of the Falcon 9 First Stage recovery action;

    (2) Design of the monitoring program; and

    (3) Results of the monitoring program, including, but not necessarily limited to:

    (i) Numbers of pinnipeds present on the haulout prior to the Falcon 9 First Stage recovery;

    (ii) Numbers of pinnipeds estimated to have been harassed as a result of Falcon 9 First Stage recovery activities at the monitoring location;

    (iii) For pinnipeds estimated to have been harassed as a result of Falcon 9 First Stage recovery noise, the length of time pinnipeds remained off the haulout or rookery;

    (iv) Any other observed behavioral modifications by pinnipeds that were likely the result of Falcon 9 First Stage recovery activities, including sonic boom;

    (v) Any cumulative impacts on marine mammals as a result of the activities, such as long term reductions in the number of pinnipeds at haulouts as a result of the activities; and

    (vi) Results of acoustic monitoring including comparisons of modeled sonic booms with actual acoustic recordings of sonic booms.

    (c) Reporting injured or dead marine mammals:

    (1) In the unanticipated event that the specified activity clearly causes the take of a marine mammal in a manner prohibited by this IHA (as determined by the lead marine mammal observer), such as an injury (Level A harassment), serious injury, or mortality, SpaceX will immediately cease the specified activities and report the incident to the NMFS Office of Protected Resources and the NMFS West Coast Region Stranding Coordinator. The report must include the following information:

    A. Time and date of the incident;

    B. Description of the incident;

    C. Status of all Falcon 9 First Stage recovery activities in the 48 hours preceding the incident;

    D. Description of all marine mammal observations in the 48 hours preceding the incident;

    E. Environmental conditions (e.g., wind speed and direction, Beaufort sea state, cloud cover, and visibility);

    F. Species identification or description of the animal(s) involved;

    G. Fate of the animal(s); and

    H. Photographs or video footage of the animal(s).

    Activities will not resume until NMFS is able to review the circumstances of the prohibited take. NMFS will work with SpaceX to determine what measures are necessary to minimize the likelihood of further prohibited take and ensure MMPA compliance. SpaceX may not resume their activities until notified by NMFS via letter, email, or telephone.

    (2) In the event that SpaceX discovers an injured or dead marine mammal, and the lead observer 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), SpaceX will immediately report the incident to the NMFS Office of Protected Resources and the NMFS West Coast Region Stranding Coordinator. The report must include the same information identified in 5(c)(1) of this IHA. Activities may continue while NMFS reviews the circumstances of the incident and makes a final determination on the cause of the reported injury or death. NMFS will work with SpaceX to determine whether additional mitigation measures or modifications to the activities are appropriate.

    (3) In the event that SpaceX discovers an injured or dead marine mammal, and the lead observer 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, scavenger damage), SpaceX will report the incident to the NMFS Office of Protected Resources and the NMFS West Coast Region Stranding Coordinator, within 24 hours of the discovery. SpaceX will provide photographs or video footage or other documentation of the stranded animal sighting to NMFS. The cause of injury or death may be subject to review and a final determination by NMFS.

    6. Modification and suspension.

    (a) This IHA may be modified, suspended or withdrawn if the holder fails to abide by the conditions prescribed herein, or if NMFS determines that 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 analysis, the draft authorization, and any other aspect of this Notice of Proposed IHA for SpaceX Falcon 9 First Stage recovery activities. Please include with your comments any supporting data or literature citations to help inform our final decision on SpaceX's request for an MMPA authorization.

    Dated: October 19, 2017. Donna S. Wieting, Director, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service.
    [FR Doc. 2017-23134 Filed 10-24-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-22-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration RIN 0648-XF790 Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council (MAFMC); Meeting AGENCY:

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

    ACTION:

    Notice; public meeting.

    SUMMARY:

    The Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council (Council) will hold a public webinar meeting.

    DATES:

    The meeting will be held on Thursday November 9, 2017, from 10 a.m. to 12 noon.

    ADDRESSES:

    The meeting will be held via webinar with a telephone-only connection option. The webinar can be accessed at http://mafmc.adobeconnect.com/chub_hms_diet/. Audio can be accessed through the webinar link or by dialing 1-800-832-0736 and entering meeting room number 5068871.

    Council address: Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council, 800 N. State Street, Suite 201, Dover, DE 19901; telephone: (302) 674-2331; www.mafmc.org.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Christopher M. Moore, Ph.D., Executive Director, Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council, telephone: (302) 526-5255.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    The goal of this webinar is to understand the importance of Atlantic chub mackerel (Scomber colias) to the diets of highly migratory species (HMS) predators in U.S. waters, with a focus on recreationally-important predators such as large tunas and billfish. The objectives of the meeting are to: (1) Convene a panel of scientific experts on HMS diets, (2) clarify what is known about the importance of chub mackerel to HMS diets based on currently available data, and (3) develop recommendations for future studies to quantify the role of chub mackerel in HMS diets. Meeting these objectives will help the Council analyze the potential impacts of chub mackerel management alternatives on HMS predators as well as on recreational fisheries for those predators. The Council is developing a chub mackerel amendment to the Mackerel, Squid, and Butterfish Fishery Management Plan. More information on the amendment is available at: http://www.mafmc.org/actions/chub-mackerel-amendment. To facilitate productive discussions among the invited experts, public participation during this webinar will be limited to designated question and answer and comment periods. Members of the public are invited to email questions for the invited experts to Council staff ([email protected]) in advance of the meeting.

    Special Accommodations

    These meetings are physically accessible to people with disabilities. Requests for sign language interpretation or other auxiliary aid should be directed to M. Jan Saunders, (302) 526-5251, at least 5 days prior to the meeting date.

    Dated: October 20, 2017. Tracey L. Thompson, Acting Deputy Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service.
    [FR Doc. 2017-23191 Filed 10-24-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-22-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Telecommunications and Information Administration Governor's Opt-Out Notice To Conduct State Radio Access Network AGENCY:

    National Telecommunications and Information Administration, Department of Commerce.

    ACTION:

    Notice.

    SUMMARY:

    The Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 (Act) requires a Governor of a State to notify the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet), the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) of a State's decision to opt-out of participation in the deployment of the nationwide public safety broadband network (NPSBN) as proposed by FirstNet and to conduct its own deployment of a Radio Access Network in the State. This Notice provides instructions for such “opt-out” notices to NTIA.

    DATES:

    Applicable on October 25, 2017.

    ADDRESSES:

    All opt-out notices must be filed via the dedicated email address: [email protected], or via certified mail to the Office of Public Safety Communications, National Telecommunications and Information Administration, United States Department of Commerce, 1401 Constitution Ave NW., Washington, DC 20230, ATTN: Marsha MacBride.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Carolyn Dunn; Office of Public Safety Communications; National Telecommunications and Information Administration; U.S. Department of Commerce; 1401 Constitution Avenue NW; Washington, DC 20230; [email protected]; (202) 482-4103.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Under section 6302(e)(2) of the Act, the Governor of each State or Territory has 90 days from the receipt of notice by FirstNet under section 6302(e)(1) of the Act to decide whether to participate in the deployment of the NPSBN as proposed by FirstNet or whether to conduct its own deployment of a Radio Access Network in the State.1 Section 6302(e)(3)(A) of the Act requires a Governor of a State or Territory to notify FirstNet, NTIA, and the FCC of a State's decision to opt-out.2 This Notice provides the instructions and address for submission of such “opt-out” notices to NTIA.

    1 See 47 U.S.C. 1442(e).

    2 47 U.S.C. 1442(e)(3)(A). Please note that States that choose to participate in the deployment of the NPSBN as proposed by FirstNet are not required to file a notice of such participation with NTIA.

    All opt-out notices must be filed via the dedicated email address: [email protected], or via certified mail to the Office of Public Safety Communications, National Telecommunications and Information Administration, United States Department of Commerce, 1401 Constitution Ave NW., Washington, DC 20230, ATTN: Marsha MacBride.

    An opt-out notice must be made by the Governor or the Governors' duly authorized designee, and if made by the latter, evidence of such delegation must be provided to NTIA with the notice. An opt-out notice should also certify concurrent notification of the opt-out decision to FirstNet and the FCC.3

    3See also FCC, Public Notice, “Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau Announces 90-Day Deadline for Governors to Elect Whether to Opt Out of the FirstNet Radio Access Network,” DA 17-956, PS Dkt. No. 16-269 (rel. Oct. 2, 2017).

    Dated: October 20, 2017. Kathy D. Smith, Chief Counsel, National Telecommunications and Information Administration.
    [FR Doc. 2017-23144 Filed 10-24-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-60-P
    DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE Office of the Secretary Government-Industry Advisory Panel; Notice of Federal Advisory Committee Meeting AGENCY:

    Office of the Under Secretary of Defense (Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics), Department of Defense (DoD).

    ACTION:

    Federal advisory committee meeting notice.

    SUMMARY:

    The DoD is publishing this notice to announce the following Federal advisory committee meeting of the Government-Industry Advisory Panel. This meeting is open to the public.

    DATES:

    The meeting will be held from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday and Thursday, November 15 and 16, 2017. Public registration will begin at 8:45 a.m. on each day. For entrance into the meeting, you must meet the necessary requirements for entrance into the Pentagon. For more detailed information, please see the following link: http://www.pfpa.mil/access.html.

    ADDRESSES:

    Pentagon Library, Washington Headquarters Services, 1155 Defense Pentagon, Washington, DC 20301-1155. The meeting room will be displayed on the information screen for both days. The Pentagon Library is located in the Pentagon Library and Conference Center (PLC2) across the Corridor 8 bridge.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    LTC Robert McDonald, Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Acquisition), 3600 Defense Pentagon, Washington, DC 20301-3600, email: [email protected], phone: 571-256-9006 or Peter Nash, email: [email protected], phone: 703-693-5111.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Purpose of the Meetings: This meeting is being held under the provisions of the Federal Advisory Committee Act of 1972 (FACA) (5 U.S.C., Appendix, as amended), the Government in the Sunshine Act of 1976 (5 U.S.C. 552b, as amended), and 41 CFR 102-3.150. The Government-Industry Advisory Panel will review sections 2320 and 2321 of title 10, United States Code (U.S.C.), regarding rights in technical data and the validation of proprietary data restrictions and the regulations implementing such sections, for the purpose of ensuring that such statutory and regulatory requirements are best structured to serve the interest of the taxpayers and the national defense. The scope of the panel is as follows: (1) Ensuring that the DoD does not pay more than once for the same work, (2) Ensuring that the DoD contractors are appropriately rewarded for their innovation and invention, (3) Providing for cost-effective reprocurement, sustainment, modification, and upgrades to the DoD systems, (4) Encouraging the private sector to invest in new products, technologies, and processes relevant to the missions of the DoD, and (5) Ensuring that the DoD has appropriate access to innovative products, technologies, and processes developed by the private sector for commercial use.

    Agenda: This will be the twenty-second meeting of the Government-Industry Advisory Panel and continued recurring teleconference meetings. The panel will cover details of 10 U.S.C. 2320 and 2321, begin understanding the implementing regulations and detail the necessary groups within the private sector and government to provide supporting documentation for their review of these codes and regulations during follow-on meetings. Agenda items for this meeting will include the following: (1) Final review of tension point information papers; (2) Rewrite FY17 NDAA 2320 and 2321 language; (3) Review Report Framework and Format for Publishing; (4) Comment Adjudication & Planning for follow-on meeting.

    Availability of Materials for the Meeting: A copy of the agenda or any updates to the agenda for the November 15 and 16 meeting will be available as requested or at the following site: https://www.facadatabase.gov/committee/committee.aspx?cid=2561&aid=41. It will also be distributed upon request. Minor changes to the agenda will be announced at the meeting. All materials will be posted to the FACA database after the meeting.

    Public Accessibility to the Meeting: Pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 552b, as amended, and 41 CFR 102-3.140 through 102-3.165, and subject to the availability of space, this meeting is open to the public. Registration of members of the public who wish to attend the meeting will begin upon publication of this meeting notice and end three business days (November 9) prior to the start of the meeting. All members of the public must contact LTC McDonald or Mr. Nash at the phone number or email listed in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section to make arrangements for Pentagon escort, if necessary. Public attendees should arrive at the Pentagon's Visitor's Center, located near the Pentagon Metro Station's south exit and adjacent to the Pentagon Transit Center bus terminal with sufficient time to complete security screening no later than 8:30 a.m. on November 15 and 16. To complete security screening, please come prepared to present two forms of identification of which one must be a pictured identification card. Government and military DoD CAC holders are not required to have an escort, but are still required to pass through the Visitor's Center to gain access to the Building. Seating is limited and is on a first-to-arrive basis. Attendees will be asked to provide their name, title, affiliation, and contact information to include email address and daytime telephone number to the Designated Federal Officer (DFO) listed in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section. Any interested person may attend the meeting, file written comments or statements with the committee, or make verbal comments from the floor during the public meeting, at the times, and in the manner, permitted by the committee.

    Special Accommodations: The meeting venue is fully handicap accessible, with wheelchair access. Individuals requiring special accommodations to access the public meeting or seeking additional information about public access procedures, should contact LTC McDonald, the committee DFO, or Mr. Nash at the email address or telephone number listed in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section, at least five (5) business days prior to the meeting so that appropriate arrangements can be made.

    Written Comments or Statements: Pursuant to 41 CFR 102-3.105(j) and 102-3.140 and section 10(a)(3) of the Federal Advisory Committee Act, the public or interested organizations may submit written comments or statements to the Government-Industry Advisory Panel about its mission and/or the topics to be addressed in this public meeting. Written comments or statements should be submitted to LTC McDonald, the committee DFO, via electronic mail, the preferred mode of submission, at the email address listed in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section in the following formats: Adobe Acrobat or Microsoft Word. The comment or statement must include the author's name, title, affiliation, address, and daytime telephone number. Written comments or statements being submitted in response to the agenda set forth in this notice must be received by the committee DFO at least five (5) business days prior to the meeting so that they may be made available to the Government-Industry Advisory Panel for its consideration prior to the meeting. Written comments or statements received after this date may not be provided to the panel until its next meeting. Please note that because the panel operates under the provisions of the Federal Advisory Committee Act, as amended, all written comments will be treated as public documents and will be made available for public inspection.

    Verbal Comments: Members of the public will be permitted to make verbal comments during the meeting only at the time and in the manner allowed herein. If a member of the public is interested in making a verbal comment at the open meeting, that individual must submit a request, with a brief statement of the subject matter to be addressed by the comment, at least three (3) business days in advance to the committee DFO, via electronic mail, the preferred mode of submission, at the email address listed in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section. The committee DFO will log each request to make a comment, in the order received, and determine whether the subject matter of each comment is relevant to the panel's mission and/or the topics to be addressed in this public meeting. A 30-minute period near the end of the meeting will be available for verbal public comments. Members of the public who have requested to make a verbal comment and whose comments have been deemed relevant under the process described in this paragraph, will be allotted no more than five (5) minutes during this period, and will be invited to speak in the order in which their requests were received by the DFO.

    Dated: October 20, 2017. Aaron Siegel, Alternate OSD Federal Register Liaison Officer, Department of Defense.
    [FR Doc. 2017-23189 Filed 10-24-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 5001-06-P
    DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE Department of the Army, Corps of Engineers Availability of a Draft Integrated Feasibility Report (Feasibility Report/Environmental Impact Statement), Aliso Creek Mainstem Ecosystem Restoration Study, Orange County, California AGENCY:

    Department of the Army, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, DoD.

    ACTION:

    Notice; extension of comment period.

    SUMMARY:

    The comment period for the Availability of a Draft Integrated Feasibility Report (Feasibility Report/Environmental Impact Statement), Aliso Creek Mainstem Ecosystem Restoration Study, Orange County, CA published in the Federal Register on Friday, September 29, 2017 and required comments be submitted by November 13, 2017. The comment period has been extended to November 28, 2017.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Ms. Deborah Lamb, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Los Angeles District, phone number (213) 452-3798.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    None.

    Brenda S. Bowen, Army Federal Register Liaison Officer.
    [FR Doc. 2017-23154 Filed 10-24-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3720-58-P
    DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE Department of the Army, Corps of Engineers Inland Waterways Users Board Meeting Notice AGENCY:

    Department of the Army, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, DoD.

    ACTION:

    Notice; correction.

    SUMMARY:

    The notice of an open meeting scheduled for November 3, 2017 published in the Federal Register on September 29, 2017 (82 FR 45583) has a new meeting location. It will now be held at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Vicksburg District Office Building, main Multi-purpose Conference Room, 4155 East Clay Street, Vicksburg, MS 39183.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Mr. Mark R. Pointon, the Designated Federal Officer (DFO) for the committee, in writing at the Institute for Water Resources, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, ATTN: CEIWR-GM, 7701 Telegraph Road, Casey Building, Alexandria, VA 22315-3868; by telephone at 703-428-6438; and by email at [email protected] Alternatively, contact Mr. Kenneth E. Lichtman, the Alternate Designated Federal Officer (ADFO), in writing at the Institute for Water Resources, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, ATTN: CEIWR-GW, 7701 Telegraph Road, Casey Building, Alexandria, VA 22315-3868; by telephone at 703-428-8083; and by email at [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    None.

    Brenda S. Bowen, Army Federal Register Liaison Officer.
    [FR Doc. 2017-23153 Filed 10-24-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3720-58-P
    DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY Meeting of Environmental Management Site-Specific Advisory Board, Savannah River Site AGENCY:

    Department of Energy.

    ACTION:

    Notice of open meeting.

    SUMMARY:

    This notice announces a meeting of the Environmental Management Site-Specific Advisory Board (EM SSAB), Savannah River Site. The Federal Advisory Committee Act requires that public notice of this meeting be announced in the Federal Register.

    DATES:

    Monday, November 13, 2017, 1:00 p.m.-5:00 p.m. Tuesday, November 14, 2017, 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.

    ADDRESSES:

    Hilton Garden Inn, 1065 Stevens Creek Road, Augusta, GA 30907.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Susan Clizbe, Office of External Affairs, Department of Energy, Savannah River Operations Office, P.O. Box A, Aiken, SC, 29802; Phone: (803) 952-8281.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Purpose of the Board: The purpose of the Board is to make recommendations to DOE-EM and site management in the areas of environmental restoration, waste management, and related activities.

    Tentative Agenda Monday, November 13, 2017 Opening, Chair Update, and Agenda Review Agency Updates Break Administrative & Outreach Committee Update Facilities Disposition & Site Remediation Committee Update Nuclear Materials Committee Update Strategic & Legacy Management Committee Update Waste Management Committee Update Ad Hoc Committee on Balancing the Demands of EM Scope with Pension Funding Draft Recommendation Discussion Public Comments Recess Tuesday, November 14, 2017 Reconvene Agenda Review Presentations: • Annual Site Environmental Report • Radiological Education, Monitoring and Outreach Project • Tank Closure Cesium Removal Lunch Break Presentations: • Solid Waste Program and Waste Isolation Pilot Plant Update • 235-F Deactivation • EM Performance Metrics Public Comments Voting: • Chair and Vice Chair Election • Draft Recommendations Break Presentation: Continuous Improvement Adjourn

    Public Participation: The EM SSAB, Savannah River Site, welcomes the attendance of the public at its advisory committee meetings and will make every effort to accommodate persons with physical disabilities or special needs. If you require special accommodations due to a disability, please contact Susan Clizbe at least seven days in advance of the meeting at the phone number listed above. Written statements may be filed with the Board either before or after the meeting. Individuals who wish to make oral statements pertaining to agenda items should contact Susan Clizbe's office at the address or telephone listed above. Requests must be received five days prior to the meeting and reasonable provision will be made to include the presentation in the agenda. The Deputy Designated Federal Officer is empowered to conduct the meeting in a fashion that will facilitate the orderly conduct of business. Individuals wishing to make public comments will be provided a maximum of five minutes to present their comments.

    Minutes: Minutes will be available by writing or calling Susan Clizbe at the address or phone number listed above. Minutes will also be available at the following Web site: http://cab.srs.gov/srs-cab.html.

    Issued at Washington, DC, on October 19, 2017. LaTanya R. Butler, Deputy Committee Management Officer.
    [FR Doc. 2017-23161 Filed 10-24-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6450-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY Meeting of the Environmental Management Site-Specific Advisory Board, Paducah AGENCY:

    Department of Energy (DOE).

    ACTION:

    Notice of open meeting.

    SUMMARY:

    This notice announces a meeting of the Environmental Management Site-Specific Advisory Board (EM SSAB), Paducah. The Federal Advisory Committee Act requires that public notice of this meeting be announced in the Federal Register.

    DATES:

    Saturday, November 18, 2017, 11:00 a.m.

    ADDRESSES:

    West Kentucky Community and Technical College, Emerging Technology Center, 4810 Alben Barkley Drive, Paducah, Kentucky 42001.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Jennifer Woodard, Deputy Designated Federal Officer, Department of Energy Paducah Site Office, Post Office Box 1410, MS-103, Paducah, Kentucky 42001; telephone: (270) 441-6825.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Purpose of the Board: The purpose of the Board is to make recommendations to DOE-EM and site management in the areas of environmental restoration, waste management and related activities.

    Tentative Agenda:

    • Call to Order, Introductions, Review of Agenda • Administrative Issues • Public Comments (15 minutes) • Adjourn Breaks Taken As Appropriate

    Public Participation: The EM SSAB, Paducah, welcomes the attendance of the public at its advisory committee meetings and will make every effort to accommodate persons with physical disabilities or special needs. If you require special accommodations due to a disability, please contact Jennifer Woodard as soon as possible in advance of the meeting at the telephone number listed above. Written statements may be filed with the Board either before or after the meeting. Individuals who wish to make oral statements pertaining to agenda items should contact Jennifer Woodard at the telephone number listed above. Requests must be received as soon as possible prior to the meeting and reasonable provision will be made to include the presentation in the agenda. The Deputy Designated Federal Officer is empowered to conduct the meeting in a fashion that will facilitate the orderly conduct of business. Individuals wishing to make public comments will be provided a maximum of five minutes to present their comments. The EM SSAB, Paducah, will hear public comments pertaining to its scope (clean-up standards and environmental restoration; waste management and disposition; stabilization and disposition of non-stockpile nuclear materials; excess facilities; future land use and long-term stewardship; risk assessment and management; and clean-up science and technology activities). Comments outside of the scope may be submitted via written statement as directed above.

    Minutes: Minutes will be available by writing or calling Jennifer Woodard at the address and phone number listed above. Minutes will also be available at the following Web site: http://www.pgdpcab.energy.gov/2017_meetings.htm.

    Issued at Washington, DC, on October 19, 2017. LaTanya R. Butler, Deputy Committee Management Officer.
    [FR Doc. 2017-23160 Filed 10-24-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6450-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY Senior Executive Service Performance Review Board AGENCY:

    Department of Energy.

    ACTION:

    Designation of Performance Review Board Chair.

    SUMMARY:

    This notice provides the Performance Review Board Chair designee for the Department of Energy.

    This listing supersedes all previously published lists of Performance Review Board Chair.

    DATES:

    This appointment is applicable as of September 30, 2017: Dennis M. Miotla.

    Issued in Washington, DC, on September 26, 2017. Erin S. Moore, Director, Office of Corporate Executive Management, Office of the Chief Human Capital Officer.
    [FR Doc. 2017-23166 Filed 10-24-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6450-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY Meeting of the Biomass Research and Development Technical Advisory Committee AGENCY:

    Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Department of Energy.

    ACTION:

    Notice of open meeting.

    SUMMARY:

    This notice announces an open meeting of the Biomass Research and Development Technical Advisory Committee. The Federal Advisory Committee Act requires that agencies publish these notices in the Federal Register to allow for public participation.

    DATES:

    November 15, 2017, 8:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m.; November 16, 2017, 8:30 a.m.-2:00 p.m.

    ADDRESSES:

    Holiday Inn Washington DC—Capitol; 550 C St SW., Washington, DC 20024.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Dr. Mark Elless, Designated Federal Officer, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, U.S. Department of Energy, 1000 Independence Avenue SW., Washington, DC 20585; email: [email protected] and Roy Tiley at (410) 997-7778 ext. 220; email: [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Purpose of Meeting: To develop advice and guidance that promotes research and development leading to the production of biobased fuels and biobased products.

    Tentative Agenda: Agenda will include the following:

    • Update on USDA Biomass R&D Activities • Update on DOE Biomass R&D Activities • Presentations from industry, national laboratories, and federal agencies on improving feedstock supply chain cost and efficiency and upgrading of biomass into feedstocks.

    Public Participation: In keeping with procedures, members of the public are welcome to observe the business of the Biomass Research and Development Technical Advisory Committee. To attend the meeting and/or to make oral statements regarding any of the items on the agenda, you must contact Dr. Mark Elless at email: [email protected] and Roy Tiley at (410) 997-7778 ext. 220; email: [email protected] at least 5 business days prior to the meeting. Members of the public will be heard in the order in which they sign up at the beginning of the meeting. Reasonable provision will be made to include the scheduled oral statements on the agenda. The Co-chairs of the Committee will make every effort to hear the views of all interested parties. If you would like to file a written statement with the Committee, you may do so either before or after the meeting. The Co-chairs will conduct the meeting to facilitate the orderly conduct of business.

    Minutes: The summary of the meeting will be available for public review and copying at http://biomassboard.gov/committee/meetings.html.

    Issued at Washington, DC, on October 19, 2017. LaTanya R. Butler, Deputy Committee Management Officer.
    [FR Doc. 2017-23156 Filed 10-24-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6450-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY Notice of Orders Issued Under Section 3 of the Natural Gas Act During July 2017 FE Docket Nos. DELFIN LNG, LLC 13-147-LNG LOUISIANA LNG ENERGY LLC 14-19-LNG; 14-29-LNG BNP PARIBAS ENERGY CANADA CORP 15-176-NG NEW ENGLAND NG SUPPLY LIMITED 16-103-NG ALTAGAS MARKETING (U.S.) INC 17-74-NG OZARK GAS LLC 17-81-NG SEMPRA LNG INTERNATIONAL, LLC 17-78-NG CASTLETON COMMODITIES CANADA LP 17-75-NG CONOCOPHILLIPS COMPANY 17-76-NG TRAILSTONE ENERGY MARKETING DE MEXICO, S. DE R.L. DE C.V 17-80-NG OXY ENERGY CANADA, INC 17-77-NG CENOVUS ENERGY MARKETING SERVICES LTD 17-84-NG UNIPER GLOBAL COMMODITIES NORTH AMERICA LLC 17-83-NG ELEMENT MARKETS RENEWABLE ENERGY LLC 17-82-NG AVISTA CORPORATION 17-85-NG; 15-116-NG PENTAGON ENERGY, LLC 17-73-CNG TUSCAROWA TRADING, LLC 17-88-NG SEVEN GENERATIONS ENERGY (US) CORP 17-91-NG NEW WORLD GLOBAL, LLC 17-89-NG POTELCO, INC 17-92-LNG CITIGROUP ENERGY INC 17-94-LNG SAN DIEGO GAS & ELECTRIC COMPANY 17-93-NG REPSOL ENERGY NORTH AMERICA CORPORATION 17-95-NG STATOIL NATURAL GAS LLC 17-96-NG PORTLAND GENERAL ELECTRIC COMPANY 17-97-NG AGENCY:

    Office of Fossil Energy, Department of Energy.

    ACTION:

    Notice of orders.

    SUMMARY:

    The Office of Fossil Energy (FE) of the Department of Energy gives notice that during July 2017, it issued orders under section 3 of the Natural Gas Act, 15 U.S.C. 717b, as summarized in the attached appendix. These orders may be found on the FE Web site at http://energy.gov/fe/listing-doefe-authorizationsorders-issued-2017.

    They are also available for inspection and copying in the U.S. Department of Energy (FE-34), Division of Natural Gas Regulation, Office of Regulation and International Engagement, Office of Fossil Energy, Docket Room 3E-033, Forrestal Building, 1000 Independence Avenue SW., Washington, DC 20585, (202) 586-9478. The Docket Room is open between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays.

    Issued in Washington, DC, on October 20, 2017. John A. Anderson, Director, Office of Regulation and International Engagement, Office of Oil and Natural Gas. Appendix DOE/FE Orders Granting Import/Export Authorizations No Order Number Assigned 07/28/17 13-147-LNG Delfin LNG, LLC Order granting request for Rehearing for the Purpose of Further Consideration. 3482-A 07/24/17 14-19-LNG;
  • 14-29-LNG.
  • Louisiana LNG, Energy LLC Order 3482-A vacating long-term, Multi-contract authority to export LNG by vessel to Free Trade Agreement Nations and Dismissing Application to export LNG by vessel to Non-free Trade Agreement Nations.
    3776-A 07/28/17 15-176-NG BNP Paribas Energy Canada Corp Order 3776-A vacating authority to import/export natural gas from/to Canada. 3995-A 07/13/17 16-103-NG New England NG Supply Limited Order 3995-A vacating authority long-term authority to export natural gas to Canada. 4056 07/11/17 17-74-NG AltaGas Marketing (U.S.) Inc Order 4056 granting blanket authority to import/export natural gas from/to Canada. 4057 07/11/17 17-81-NG Ozark Gas LLC Order 4057 granting blanket authority to export natural gas to Mexico. 4058 07/11/17 17-78-NG Sempra LNG International, LLC Order 4058 granting blanket authority to import/export natural gas from/to Mexico. 4059 07/13/17 17-75-NG Castleton Commodities Canada LP Order 4059 granting blanket authority to import/export natural gas from/to Canada. 4060 07/17/17 17-76-NG ConocoPhillips Company Order 4060 granting blanket authority to import/export natural gas from/to Canada/Mexico. 4061 07/17/17 17-80-NG TrailStone Energy Marketing de Mexico, S. de R.L. de C.V Order 4061 granting blanket authority to import/export natural gas from/to Mexico. 4062 07/17/17 17-77-NG Oxy Energy Canada, Inc Order 4062 granting blanket authority to import/export natural gas from/to Canada. 4063 07/17/17 17-84-NG Cenovus Energy Marketing Services Ltd Order 4063 granting blanket authority to import natural gas from Canada. 4064 07/17/17 17-83-NG Uniper Global Commodities North America LLC Order 4064 granting blanket authority to import/export natural gas from/to Canada. 4065 07/17/17 17-82-NG Element Markets Renewable Energy LLC Order 4065 granting blanket authority to import/export natural gas from/to Canada/Mexico. 4066 07/21/17 17-85-NG;
  • 15-116-NG.
  • Avista Corporation Order 4066 granting blanket authority to import/export natural gas from/to Canada, and vacating prior authorization.
    4067 07/28/17 17-73-CNG Pentagon Energy, LLC Order 4067 granting blanket authority to export CNG to Mexico by vessel and truck. 4068 07/26/17 17-88-NG Tuscarowa Trading, LLC Order 4068 granting blanket authority to export natural gas to Mexico. 4069 07/25/17 17-91-NG Seven Generations Energy (US) Corp Order 4069 granting blanket authority to import natural gas from Canada. 4070 07/31/17 17-89-NG New World Global, LLC Order 4070 granting blanket authority to export natural gas to Mexico, to export LNG to Mexico by truck, and vacating prior authorization. 4071 07/31/17 17-92-LNG Potelco, Inc Order 4071 granting blanket authority to import LNG from Canada by truck. 4072 07/28/17 17-94-LNG Citigroup Energy Inc Order 4072 granting blanket authority to import LNG from various international sources by vessel. 4073 07/27/17 17-93-NG San Diego Gas & Electric Company Order 4073 granting blanket authority to import/export natural gas from/to Mexico. 4074 07/28/17 17-95-NG Repsol Energy North America Corporation Order 4074 granting blanket authority to import/export natural gas from/to Mexico, to import/export LNG from/to Mexico by truck, to import/export LNG from/to Mexico by vessel. 4075 07/28/17 17-96-NG Statoil Natural Gas LLC Order 4075 granting blanket authority to import natural gas from Canada. 4076 07/28/17 17-97-NG Portland General Electric Company Order 4076 granting blanket authority to import/export natural gas from/to Canada.
    [FR Doc. 2017-23170 Filed 10-24-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6450-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY Meeting of the Environmental Management Site-Specific Advisory Board, Northern New Mexico AGENCY:

    Department of Energy.

    ACTION:

    Notice of open meeting.

    SUMMARY:

    This notice announces a meeting of the Environmental Management Site-Specific Advisory Board (EM SSAB), Northern New Mexico. The Federal Advisory Committee Act requires that public notice of this meeting be announced in the Federal Register.

    DATES:

    Wednesday, November 15, 2017, 1:00 p.m.-5:15 p.m.

    ADDRESSES:

    El Monte Sagrado, Rio Grande Ballroom, 317 Kit Carson Road, Taos, New Mexico 87571.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Menice Santistevan, Northern New Mexico Citizens' Advisory Board (NNMCAB), 94 Cities of Gold Road, Santa Fe, NM 87506. Phone (505) 995-0393; Fax (505) 989-1752 or Email: [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Purpose of the Board: The purpose of the Board is to make recommendations to DOE-EM and site management in the areas of environmental restoration, waste management, and related activities.

    Tentative Agenda • Call to Order • Welcome and Introductions • Approval of Agenda and Meeting Minutes of September 27, 2017 • Old Business ○ Report from Chair ○ Report from EM SSAB Chairs Meeting at Hanford ○ Other Items • New Business • Update from Co-Deputy Designated Federal Officer and Executive Director • Update on Consent Order • Break • Public Comment Period • Updates from EM Los Alamos Field Office and New Mexico Environment Department • Wrap-Up Comments from NNMCAB Members • Adjourn

    Public Participation: The EM SSAB, Northern New Mexico, welcomes the attendance of the public at its advisory committee meetings and will make every effort to accommodate persons with physical disabilities or special needs. If you require special accommodations due to a disability, please contact Menice Santistevan at least seven days in advance of the meeting at the telephone number listed above. Written statements may be filed with the Board either before or after the meeting. Individuals who wish to make oral statements pertaining to agenda items should contact Menice Santistevan at the address or telephone number listed above. Requests must be received five days prior to the meeting and reasonable provision will be made to include the presentation in the agenda. The Deputy Designated Federal Officer is empowered to conduct the meeting in a fashion that will facilitate the orderly conduct of business. Individuals wishing to make public comments will be provided a maximum of five minutes to present their comments.

    Minutes: Minutes will be available by writing or calling Menice Santistevan at the address or phone number listed above. Minutes and other Board documents are on the Internet at: https://energy.gov/em/nnmcab/meeting-materials.

    Issued at Washington, DC, on October 19, 2017. LaTanya R. Butler, Deputy Committee Management Officer.
    [FR Doc. 2017-23159 Filed 10-24-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6450-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY Meeting of the Fusion Energy Sciences Advisory Committee AGENCY:

    Office of Science, Department of Energy.

    ACTION:

    Notice of open meeting.

    SUMMARY:

    This notice announces a meeting (teleconference) of the Fusion Energy Sciences Advisory Committee. The Federal Advisory Committee Act requires that public notice of these meetings be announced in the Federal Register.

    DATES:

    Wednesday, November 15, 2017 3:00 p.m.—5:00 p.m. EDT

    ADDRESSES:

    Teleconference: Remote attendance of the FESAC meeting will be possible via Zoom. Instructions will be posted on the FESAC Web site at: (http://science.energy.gov/fes/fesac/meetings/) prior to the meeting and can also be obtained by contacting Dr. Samuel J. Barish by email at ([email protected]nce.doe.gov) or by phone at (301) 903-2917).

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Samuel J. Barish, Acting Designated Federal Officer, Office of Fusion Energy Sciences (FES); U.S. Department of Energy; 1000 Independence Avenue SW., Washington, DC 20585-1290; Telephone: (301) 903-2917.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Purpose of the meeting: To discuss a new charge to FESAC concerning the National Spherical Torus-Upgrade (NSTX-U) project.

    Tentative Agenda Items:

    • New Charge Concerning the NSTX-U Project • Public Comment • Adjourn

    Public Participation: The meeting is open to the public. If you would like to file a written statement with the Committee, you may do so either before or after the meeting. If you would like to make an oral statement regarding any of the items on the agenda, you should contact Dr. Samuel J. Barish at 301-903-8584 (fax) or [email protected] (email). Reasonable provision will be made to include the scheduled oral statements during the Public Comments time on the agenda. The Chairperson of the Committee will conduct the meeting to facilitate the orderly conduct of business. Public comment will follow the 10-minute rule.

    Minutes: The minutes of the meeting will be available for public review and copying within 30 days on the Fusion Energy Sciences Advisory Committee Web site at: http://science.energy.gov/fes/fesac/.

    Issued at Washington, DC, on October 19, 2017. LaTanya R. Butler, Deputy Committee Management Officer.
    [FR Doc. 2017-23162 Filed 10-24-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6450-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY Meeting of the Environmental Management Site-Specific Advisory Board, Nevada AGENCY:

    Department of Energy.

    ACTION:

    Notice of open meeting.

    SUMMARY:

    This notice announces a meeting of the Environmental Management Site-Specific Advisory Board (EM SSAB), Nevada. The Federal Advisory Committee Act requires that public notice of this meeting be announced in the Federal Register.

    DATES:

    Wednesday, November 8, 2017, 4:00 p.m.

    ADDRESSES:

    Frank H. Rogers Science and Technology Building, 755 East Flamingo, Las Vegas, Nevada 89119.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Barbara Ulmer, Board Administrator, 232 Energy Way, M/S 167, North Las Vegas, Nevada 89030. Phone: (702) 630-0522; Fax (702) 295-2025 or Email: [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Purpose of the Board: The purpose of the Board is to make recommendations to DOE-EM and site management in the areas of environmental restoration, waste management, and related activities.

    Tentative Agenda:

    1. Briefing for Community Interests Analysis—Work Plan Item #6 2. Briefing and Recommendation Development for Core Library—Work Plan Item #2

    Public Participation: The EM SSAB, Nevada, welcomes the attendance of the public at its advisory committee meetings and will make every effort to accommodate persons with physical disabilities or special needs. If you require special accommodations due to a disability, please contact Barbara Ulmer at least seven days in advance of the meeting at the phone number listed above. Written statements may be filed with the Board either before or after the meeting. Individuals who wish to make oral presentations pertaining to agenda items should contact Barbara Ulmer at the telephone number listed above. The request must be received five days prior to the meeting and reasonable provision will be made to include the presentation in the agenda. The Deputy Designated Federal Officer is empowered to conduct the meeting in a fashion that will facilitate the orderly conduct of business. Individuals wishing to make public comments can do so during the 15 minutes allotted for public comments.

    Minutes: Minutes will be available by writing to Barbara Ulmer at the address listed above or at the following Web site: http://www.nnss.gov/NSSAB/pages/MM_FY17.html.

    Issued at Washington, DC, on October 19, 2017. LaTanya R. Butler, Deputy Committee Management Officer.
    [FR Doc. 2017-23158 Filed 10-24-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6450-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY Senior Executive Service Performance Review Board AGENCY:

    Department of Energy.

    ACTION:

    Designation of Performance Review Board Standing Register.

    SUMMARY:

    This notice provides the Performance Review Board Standing Register for the Department of Energy. This listing supersedes all previously published lists of PRB members.

    DATES:

    This appointment is applicable as of September 30, 2017.

    Alexander, Kathleen Allison, Jeffrey Barhydt, Laura Black, Steven Dixon, Robert Donaldson, Jason Grose, Amy Johnson, Thomas Kaplan, Stan Lee, Terri LeBeau, Tracey Martin, Stephanie Mays, Cynthia Mollot, Darren Moore, Johnny Nelson-Jean, Natalie O'Konski, Peter Reilly, Thomas Sissel, Ronald Issued in Washington, DC on September 26, 2017. Erin S. Moore, Director, Office of Corporate Executive Management, Office of the Chief Human Capital Officer.
    [FR Doc. 2017-23165 Filed 10-24-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6450-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY Meeting of the Environmental Management Site-Specific Advisory Board, Hanford AGENCY:

    Department of Energy.

    ACTION:

    Notice of open meeting.

    SUMMARY:

    This notice announces a meeting of the Environmental Management Site-Specific Advisory Board (EM SSAB), Hanford. The Federal Advisory Committee requires that public notice of this meeting be announced in the Federal Register.

    DATES:

    Wednesday, November 8, 2017, 8:30 a.m.-5:00 p.m.

    Thursday, November 9, 2017, 8:30 a.m.-12:00 p.m.

    ADDRESSES:

    Shilo Inn, 50 Comstock Drive, Richland, WA 99352.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Mark Heeter, Federal Coordinator, Department of Energy Richland Operations Office, P.O. Box 550, H5-20, Richland, WA, 99352; Phone: (509) 373-1970; or Email: [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Purpose of the Board: The purpose of the Board is to make recommendations to DOE-EM and site management in the areas of environmental restoration, waste management, and related activities.

    Tentative Agenda:

    Potential Draft Advice Fiscal Year 2019 Budget State of the Site Meetings Discussion Topics Tri-Party Agreement Agencies' Updates Hanford Advisory Board Work Plan and Calendar Hanford Advisory Board Committee Reports Board Business

    Public Participation: The meeting is open to the public. The EM SSAB, Hanford, welcomes the attendance of the public at its advisory committee meetings and will make every effort to accommodate persons with physical disabilities or special needs. If you require special accommodations due to a disability, please contact Mark Heeter at least seven days in advance of the meeting at the phone number listed above. Written statements may be filed with the Board either before or after the meeting. Individuals who wish to make oral statements pertaining to agenda items should contact Mark Heeter at the address or telephone number listed above. Requests must be received five days prior to the meeting and reasonable provision will be made to include the presentation in the agenda. The Deputy Designated Federal Officer is empowered to conduct the meeting in a fashion that will facilitate the orderly conduct of business. Individuals wishing to make public comments will be provided a maximum of five minutes to present their comments.

    Minutes: Minutes will be available by writing or calling Mark Heeter's office at the address or phone number listed above. Minutes will also be available at the following Web site: http://www.hanford.gov/page.cfm/hab/FullBoardMeetingInformation.

    Issued at Washington, DC on October 19, 2017. LaTanya R. Butler, Deputy Committee Management Officer.
    [FR Doc. 2017-23157 Filed 10-24-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6450-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY Federal Energy Regulatory Commission [Docket No. CP18-4-000] Notice of Application; Gulf South Pipeline Company, LP

    Take notice that on October 6, 2017, Gulf South Pipeline Company, LP (Gulf South), 9 Greenway Plaza, Suite 2800, Houston, Texas 77046, filed in Docket No. CP18-4-000 an application pursuant to section 7(b) of the Natural Gas Act (NGA), and Part 157 of the Commission's regulations requesting authorization to abandonment by sale to Shongaloo Midstream, LLC (Shongaloo Midstream) gathering and transmission pipelines, meter and regulator stations, including ancillary auxiliary facilities, and appurtenances located in Claiborne and Webster Parishes, Louisiana. Gulf South states that the facilities have been inactive since the summer of 2011 due to a lack of natural gas supply and expiration of transportation agreements. Gulf South avers that transferring the Facilities avoids the underutilization of existing natural gas pipeline assets and the associated costs, and places them under the control of an entity which can compete in the natural gas gathering business while eliminating environmental disturbance associated with the potential construction of duplicative pipeline facilities.

    Specifically, Gulf South proposes to abandon by sale to Shongaloo Midstream approximately 24.5 miles of multiple 4-inch-diameter and 6-inch-diameter transmission pipelines. Also, Gulf South will sell to Shongaloo Midstream approximately 7.5 miles of multiple 4-inch-diameter non-certificated gathering pipeline facilities, all as more fully set forth in the application which is on file with the Commission and open to public inspection. The filing may also be viewed on the web at http://www.ferc.gov using the eLibrary link. Enter the docket number excluding the last three digits in the docket number field to access the document. For assistance, contact FERC at [email protected] or call toll-free, (866) 208-3676 or TYY, (202) 502-8659.

    Any questions regarding this application should be directed to J. Kyle Stephens, Vice President, Regulatory Affairs, Gulf South Pipeline Company, LP, 9 Greenway Plaza, Suite 2800, Houston, Texas 77046; by telephone at (713) 479-8033; by fax at (713) 479-1846; or by email at [email protected]

    Pursuant to section 157.9 of the Commission's rules (18 CFR 157.9), within 90 days of this Notice, the Commission staff will either: complete its environmental assessment (EA) and place it into the Commission's public record (eLibrary) for this proceeding; or issue a Notice of Schedule for Environmental Review. If a Notice of Schedule for Environmental Review is issued, it will indicate, among other milestones, the anticipated date for the Commission staff's issuance of the EA for this proposal. The filing of the EA in the Commission's public record for this proceeding or the issuance of a Notice of Schedule for Environmental Review will serve to notify federal and state agencies of the timing for the completion of all necessary reviews, and the subsequent need to complete all federal authorizations within 90 days of the date of issuance of the Commission staff's EA.

    There are two ways to become involved in the Commission's review of this project. First, any person wishing to obtain legal status by becoming a party to the proceedings for this project should, on or before the comment date stated below, file with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, 888 First Street NE., Washington, DC 20426, a motion to intervene in accordance with the requirements of the Commission's Rules of Practice and Procedure (18 CFR 385.214 or 385.211) and the Regulations under the NGA (18 CFR 157.10). A person obtaining party status will be placed on the service list maintained by the Secretary of the Commission and will receive copies of all documents filed by the applicant and by all other parties. A party must submit five copies of filings made with the Commission and must mail a copy to the applicant and to every other party in the proceeding. Only parties to the proceeding can ask for court review of Commission orders in the proceeding.

    However, a person does not have to intervene in order to have comments considered. The second way to participate is by filing with the Secretary of the Commission, as soon as possible, an original and two copies of comments in support of or in opposition to this project. The Commission will consider these comments in determining the appropriate action to be taken, but the filing of a comment alone will not serve to make the filer a party to the proceeding. The Commission's rules require that persons filing comments in opposition to the project provide copies of their protests only to the party or parties directly involved in the protest.

    Persons who wish to comment only on the environmental review of this project should submit an original and two copies of their comments to the Secretary of the Commission. Environmental commentors will be placed on the Commission's environmental mailing list, will receive copies of the environmental documents, and will be notified of meetings associated with the Commission's environmental review process. Environmental commentors will not be required to serve copies of filed documents on all other parties. However, the non-party commentors will not receive copies of all documents filed by other parties or issued by the Commission (except for the mailing of environmental documents issued by the Commission) and will not have the right to seek court review of the Commission's final order.

    The Commission strongly encourages electronic filings of comments, protests and interventions in lieu of paper using the eFiling link at http://www.ferc.gov. Persons unable to file electronically should submit an original and five copies of the protest or intervention to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, 888 First Street NE., Washington, DC 20426.

    Comment Date: 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time on November 8, 2017.

    Dated: October 18, 2017. Kimberly D. Bose, Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2017-23108 Filed 10-24-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6717-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Notice of Staff Attendance at the Southwest Power Pool Regional Entity Trustee, Regional State Committee, Members' Committee and Board of Directors' Meetings

    The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (Commission) hereby gives notice that members of its staff may attend the meetings of the Southwest Power Pool, Inc. Regional State Committee (RSC), Regional Entity Trustee (RET), Members' Committee and Board of Directors as noted below. Their attendance is part of the Commission's ongoing outreach efforts.

    The meetings will be held at SPP's Corporate Center, 201 Worthen Drive, Little Rock, Arkansas 72223. The phone number is (877) 932-5833. All meetings are Central Time.

    SPP RET October 30, 2017 (8:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m.) SPP RSC October 30, 2017 (1:00 p.m.-5:00 p.m.) SPP Members/Board of Directors October 31, 2017 (8:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m.)

    The discussions may address matters at issue in the following proceedings:

    Docket No. ER12-1179, Southwest Power Pool, Inc. Docket No. ER15-1809, ATX Southwest, LLC Docket No. ER15-2028, Southwest Power Pool, Inc. Docket No. ER15-2115, Southwest Power Pool, Inc. Docket No. ER15-2236, Midwest Power Transmission Arkansas, LLC Docket No. ER15-2237, Kanstar Transmission, LLC Docket No. ER15-2324, Southwest Power Pool, Inc. Docket No. ER15-2594, South Central MCN LLC Docket No. EL16-91, Southwest Power Pool, Inc. Docket No. EL16-108, Tilton Energy v. Midcontinent Independent System Operator, Inc. Docket No. EL16-110, Southwest Power Pool, Inc. Docket No. ER16-204, Southwest Power Pool, Inc. Docket No. ER16-209, Southwest Power Pool, Inc. Docket No. ER16-791, Southwest Power Pool, Inc. Docket No. ER16-829, Southwest Power Pool, Inc. Docket No. ER16-1341, Southwest Power Pool, Inc. Docket No. ER16-1546, Southwest Power Pool, Inc. Docket No. ER16-2522, Southwest Power Pool, Inc. Docket No. ER16-2523, Southwest Power Pool, Inc. Docket No. EL17-11, Alabama Power Co. v. Southwest Power Pool, Inc. Docket No. EL17-21, Kansas Electric Co. v. Southwest Power Pool, Inc. Docket No. EL17-86, Nebraska Public Power District v. Southwest Power Pool, Inc. Docket No. EL17-69, Buffalo Dunes et al. v. Southwest Power Pool, Inc. Docket No. ER17-358, Southwest Power Pool, Inc. Docket No. ER17-426, Southwest Power Pool, Inc. Docket No. ER17-428, Southwest Power Pool, Inc. Docket No. ER17-772, Southwest Power Pool, Inc. Docket No. ER17-889, Southwest Power Pool, Inc. Docket No. ER17-906, Southwest Power Pool, Inc. Docket No. ER17-953, South Central MCN LLC Docket No. ER17-1092, Southwest Power Pool, Inc. Docket No. ER17-1107, Southwest Power Pool, Inc. Docket No. ER17-1110, Southwest Power Pool, Inc. Docket No. ER17-1140, Southwest Power Pool, Inc. Docket No. ER17-1333, Southwest Power Pool, Inc. Docket No. ER17-1379, Southwest Power Pool, Inc. Docket No. ER17-1406, South Central MCN LLC Docket No. ER17-1482, Southwest Power Pool, Inc. Docket No. ER17-1568, Southwest Power Pool, Inc. Docket No. ER17-1575, Southwest Power Pool, Inc. Docket No. ER17-1643, Southwest Power Pool, Inc. Docket No. ER17-1741, Southwest Power Pool, Inc. Docket No. ER17-1795, Southwest Power Pool, Inc. Docket No. ER17-1936, Southwest Power Pool, Inc. Docket No. ER17-2027, Southwest Power Pool, Inc. Docket No. ER17-2042, Southwest Power Pool, Inc. Docket No. ER17-2256, Southwest Power Pool, Inc. Docket No. ER17-2257, Southwest Power Pool, Inc. Docket No. ER17-2306, Southwest Power Pool, Inc. Docket No. ER17-2312, Southwest Power Pool, Inc. Docket No. ER17-2388, Southwest Power Pool, Inc. Docket No. ER17-2441, Southwest Power Pool, Inc. Docket No. ER17-2442, Southwest Power Pool, Inc. Docket No. ER17-2454, Southwest Power Pool, Inc. Docket No. ER17-2523, Southwest Power Pool, Inc. Docket No. ER17-2537, Southwest Power Pool, Inc. Docket No. ER17-2543, Southwest Power Pool, Inc. Docket No. ER17-2563, Southwest Power Pool, Inc. Docket No. ER17-2583, Southwest Power Pool, Inc. Docket No. ER18-11, Southwest Power Pool, Inc. Docket No. ER18-16, Southwest Power Pool, Inc. Docket No. ER18-24, Southwest Power Pool, Inc. Docket No. ER18-25, Southwest Power Pool, Inc. Docket No. EL18-9-000, Xcel Energy Services, Inc. v. Southwest Power Pool, Inc. Docket No. EL18-20-000, Indicated SPP Transmission Owners v. Southwest Power Pool, Inc.

    These meetings are open to the public.

    For more information, contact Patrick Clarey, Office of Energy Market Regulation, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission at (317) 249-5937 or [email protected]

    Dated: October 19, 2017. Kimberly D. Bose, Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2017-23111 Filed 10-24-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6717-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY Federal Energy Regulatory Commission [Project No. 2716-047] Notice of Application for Partial Transfer of License and Soliciting Comments, Motions To Intervene, and Protests: Virginia Electric and Power Company d/b/a Dominion Energy Virginia; Allegheny Generating Company; Bath County Energy, LLC

    On September 29, 2017, Virginia Electric and Power Company, d/b/a Dominion Energy Virginia (VEPCO) and Allegheny Generating Company (AGC) (co-licensees/transferors) and Bath County Energy, LLC (transferee/BCE) filed an application to partially transfer the license for the Bath County Pumped Storage Project No. 2716. The project is located Back Creek and Little Back Creek in Bath County, Virginia. The project does not occupy Federal lands.

    The applicants seek Commission approval to partially transfer the license for the Bath County Pumped Storage Project from the Virginia Electric and Power Company, d/b/a Dominion Energy Virginia and Allegheny Generating Company as co-licensees to add Bath County Energy, LLC as a third co-licensee.

    Applicants Contact: For transferors: VEPCO: Mr. Donald H. Clarke and Mr. Joshua E. Adrian, Duncan, Weinberg, Genzer & Pembroke, P.C., 1615 M Street NW., Suite 800, Washington, DC 20036, Phone: 202-467-6370, Emails: [email protected] and [email protected] and Mr. Michael Regulinski, Managing General Counsel and Ms. Cherie Yochelson, Senior Counsel, Dominion Energy Services, Inc., 120 Tredegar Street, RS-2, Richmond, VA 23219, Phone: 804-819-2794, Emails: [email protected] and [email protected]

    AGC: Mr. John A. Whittaker. IV and Ms. Kimberly Ognisty, Winston & Strawn LLP, 1700 K Street NW., Washington, DC 20006, Phones: 202-282-5766 and 202-282-5217, Emails: [email protected] and [email protected] and Mr. Morgan E. Parke, Associate General Counsel and Karen A. Sealy, Attorney, FirstEnergy Service Company, 76 South Main Street, Arkon, OH 44308, Phones: 330-384-4595 and 330-761-7869, Emails: [email protected] and [email protected]

    For transferee: BCE: Mr. David R. Poe and Ms. Serena A. Rwejuna, Bracewell LLP, 2001 M Street NW., Suite 900, Washington, DC 20036, Phone: 202-467-6370, Emails: [email protected] and [email protected]

    FERC Contact: Patricia W. Gillis, (202) 502-8735, [email protected]

    Deadline for filing comments, motions to intervene, and protests: 30 days from the date that the Commission issues this notice. The Commission strongly encourages electronic filing. Please file comments, motions to intervene, and protests using the Commission's eFiling system at http://www.ferc.gov/docs-filing/efiling.asp. Commenters can submit brief comments up to 6,000 characters, without prior registration, using the eComment system at http://www.ferc.gov/docs-filing/ecomment.asp. You must include your name and contact information at the end of your comments. For assistance, please contact FERC Online Support at [email protected], (866) 208-3676 (toll free), or (202) 502-8659 (TTY). In lieu of electronic filing, please send a paper copy to: Secretary, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, 888 First Street NE., Washington, DC 20426. The first page of any filing should include docket number P-2716-047.

    Dated: October 18, 2017. Kimberly D. Bose, Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2017-23112 Filed 10-24-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6717-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY Federal Energy Regulatory Commission [Docket No. EL18-19-000] Notice of Institution of Section 206 Proceeding and Refund Effective Date; Southwest Power Pool, Inc.

    On October 19, 2017, the Commission issued an order in Docket No. EL18-19-000, Southwest Power Pool, Inc., 161 FERC 61,062 (2017) (October 2017 Order), pursuant to section 206 of the Federal Power Act (FPA), 16 U.S.C. 824e (2012), instituting an investigation to examine the Southwest Power Pool, Inc. (SPP) Membership Agreement and any other Commission-jurisdictional SPP documents that must be revised to fully implement the refund commitment concerns identified in the Commission's July 21, 2016 order in Docket No. EL16-91-000 in Southwest Power Pool, Inc., 156 FERC 61,059 (2016). The October 2017 Order also consolidated Docket Nos. EL16-91-000 and EL18-19-000.

    The refund effective date in Docket No. EL18-19-000, established pursuant to section 206(b) of the FPA, will be the date of publication of this notice in the Federal Register.

    Any interested person desiring to be heard in Docket No. EL18-19-000 must file a notice of intervention or motion to intervene, as appropriate, with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, 888 First Street NE., Washington, DC 20426, in accordance with Rule 214 of the Commission's Rules of Practice and Procedure, 18 CFR 385.214, within 21 days of the date of issuance of the order.

    Dated: October 19, 2017. Kimberly D. Bose, Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2017-23110 Filed 10-24-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6717-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY Federal Energy Regulatory Commission [Docket No. CP18-5-000] Notice of Petition for Declaratory Order; Constitution Pipeline Company, LLC

    Take notice that on October 12, 2017, pursuant to section 385.207 of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's (Commission) Rules of Practice and Procedure, 18 385.207(2017), Constitution Pipeline Company, LLC (Constitution) filed a Petition for Declaratory Order finding that New York State Department of Environmental Conservation failed to act within a reasonable period of time on Constitution's Clean water Act Section 401 application, and that such failure to act constitutes a waiver of Section 401 water quality certification requirement for federal authorizations related to the New York State portion of Constitution's pipeline project, all as more fully explained in the petition.

    Any person desiring to intervene or to protest in this proceeding 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. Protests will be considered by the Commission in determining the appropriate action to be taken, but will not serve to make protestants parties to the proceeding. Any person wishing to become a party must file a notice of intervention or motion to intervene, as appropriate. Such notices, motions, or protests must be filed on or before the comment date. Anyone filing a motion to intervene or protest must serve a copy of that document on the Petitioner.

    The Commission encourages electronic submission of protests and interventions in lieu of paper, using the FERC Online links at http://www.ferc.gov. To facilitate electronic service, persons with Internet access who will eFile a document and/or be listed as a contact for an intervenor must create and validate an eRegistration account using the eRegistration link. Select the eFiling link to log on and submit the intervention or protests.

    Persons unable to file electronically should submit an original and 5 copies of the intervention or protest to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, 888 First Street NE., Washington, DC 20426.

    The filings in the above proceeding 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 November 9, 2017

    Dated: October 19, 2017. Kimberly D. Bose, Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2017-23109 Filed 10-24-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6717-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY Federal Energy Regulatory Commission [Docket No. CP17-490-000] Notice of Intent To Prepare an Environmental Assessment for the Proposed Riverdale South to Market Project, and Request for Comments on Environmental Issues; Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line Company, LLC

    The staff of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC or Commission) will prepare an environmental assessment (EA) that will discuss the environmental impacts of the Riverdale South to Market Project involving construction and operation of facilities by Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line Company, LLC (Transco) in Bergen, Hudson, and Union Counties, New Jersey. The Commission will use this EA in its decision-making process to determine whether the project is in the public convenience and necessity.

    This notice announces the opening of the scoping process the Commission will use to gather input from the public and interested agencies on the project. You can make a difference by providing us with your specific comments or concerns about the project. Your comments should focus on the potential environmental effects, reasonable alternatives, and measures to avoid or lessen environmental impacts. Your input will help the Commission staff determine what issues they need to evaluate in the EA. To ensure that your comments are timely and properly recorded, please send your comments so that the Commission receives them in Washington, DC on or before November 20, 2017.

    If you sent comments on this project to the Commission before the opening of this docket on August 31, 2017, you will need to file those comments in Docket No. CP17-490-000 to ensure they are considered as part of this proceeding.

    This notice is being sent to the Commission's current environmental mailing list for this project. State and local government representatives should notify their constituents of this proposed project and encourage them to comment on their areas of concern.

    If you are a landowner receiving this notice, a pipeline company representative may contact you about the acquisition of an easement to construct, operate, and maintain the proposed facilities. The company would seek to negotiate a mutually acceptable agreement. However, if the Commission approves the project, that approval conveys with it the right of eminent domain. Therefore, if easement negotiations fail to produce an agreement, the pipeline company could initiate condemnation proceedings where compensation would be determined in accordance with state law.

    Transco provided landowners with a fact sheet prepared by the FERC entitled “An Interstate Natural Gas Facility On My Land? What Do I Need To Know?” This fact sheet addresses a number of typically asked questions, including the use of eminent domain and how to participate in the Commission's proceedings. It is also available for viewing on the FERC Web site (www.ferc.gov).

    Public Participation

    For your convenience, there are three methods you can use to submit your comments to the Commission. The Commission encourages electronic filing of comments and has expert staff available to assist you at (202) 502-8258 or [email protected] Please carefully follow these instructions so that your comments are properly recorded.

    (1) You can file your comments electronically using the eComment feature on the Commission's Web site (www.ferc.gov) under the link to Documents and Filings. This is an easy method for submitting brief, text-only comments on a project;

    (2) You can file your comments electronically by using the eFiling feature on the Commission's Web site (www.ferc.gov) under the link to Documents and Filings. With eFiling, you can provide comments in a variety of formats by attaching them as a file with your submission. New eFiling users must first create an account by clicking on eRegister. If you are filing a comment on a particular project, please select “Comment on a Filing” as the filing type; or

    (3) You can file a paper copy of your comments by mailing them to the following address. Be sure to reference the project docket number (CP17-490-000) with your submission: Kimberly D. Bose, Secretary, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, 888 First Street NE., Room 1A, Washington, DC 20426.

    Summary of the Proposed Project

    Transco proposes to construct, modify, upgrade, and operate various facilities in connection with its proposed Riverdale South to Market Project located in Bergen, Hudson, and Union Counties, New Jersey. According to Transco, the Project would increase the firm delivery transportation capacity of its existing pipeline system by 190,000 dekatherms per day (Dth/d) of natural gas per day from the Riverdale interconnection to existing Compressor Station 210 in Mercer County and the Central Manhattan Metering and Regulating Station (M&R) in Hudson County. The Compressor Station 210 pooling point would receive 140,000 Dth/d, and the Central Manhattan Metering and Regulating Station would receive 50,000 Dth/d.

    The Project would consist of the following facilities:

    • Uprate of 10.35 miles of Transco's existing 24-inch-diameter North New Jersey Extension pipeline in Bergen County;

    • Upgrades to the existing Orange and Rockland M&R, Emerson M&R, and Paramus M&R in Bergen County to accommodate additional capacity;

    • Construction of approximately 0.61 mile of new 42-inch-diameter pipeline loop 1 along Transco's existing Mainline A in Bergen County;

    1 A pipeline loop is a segment of pipe constructed parallel to an existing pipeline to increase capacity.

    • Modifications to the Central Manhattan M&R in Hudson County;

    • Removal of the J199 Valve in Bergen County; and

    • Installation of appurtenant ancillary facilities.

    The general location of the project facilities is shown in appendix 1.2

    2 The appendices referenced in this notice will not appear in the Federal Register. Copies of appendices were sent to all those receiving this notice in the mail and are available at www.ferc.gov using the link called eLibrary or from the Commission's Public Reference Room, 888 First Street NE., Washington, DC 20426, or call (202) 502-8371. For instructions on connecting to eLibrary, refer to the last page of this notice.

    Land Requirements for Construction

    Construction of the proposed facilities would disturb about 58 acres of land for the aboveground facilities and the pipeline. Following construction, Transco would maintain about 10 acres for permanent operation of the project's facilities; the remaining acreage would be restored and revert to former uses. The majority of the project would be constructed within existing rights-of-way or within existing fenced facilities.

    The EA Process

    The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requires the Commission to take into account the environmental impacts that could result from an action whenever it considers the issuance of a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity. NEPA also requires us 3 to discover and address concerns the public may have about proposals. This process is referred to as scoping. The main goal of the scoping process is to focus the analysis in the EA on the important environmental issues. By this notice, the Commission requests public comments on the scope of the issues to address in the EA. We will consider all filed comments during the preparation of the EA.

    3 We, us, and our refer to the environmental staff of the Commission's Office of Energy Projects.

    In the EA we will discuss impacts that could occur as a result of the construction and operation of the proposed project under these general headings:

    • Geology and soils;

    • Land use;

    • Water resources, fisheries, and wetlands;

    • Cultural resources;

    • Vegetation and wildlife;

    • Air quality and noise;

    • Endangered and threatened species;

    • Public safety; and

    • Cumulative impacts.

    We will also evaluate reasonable alternatives to the proposed project or portions of the project, and make recommendations on how to lessen or avoid impacts on the various resource areas.

    The EA will present our independent analysis of the issues. The EA will be available in the public record through eLibrary. Depending on the comments received during the scoping process, we may also publish and distribute the EA to the public for an allotted comment period. We will consider all comments on the EA before making our recommendations to the Commission. To ensure we have the opportunity to consider and address your comments, please carefully follow the instructions in the Public Participation section on page 2.

    With this notice, we are asking agencies with jurisdiction by law and/or special expertise with respect to the environmental issues of this project to formally cooperate with us in the preparation of the EA.4 Agencies that would like to request cooperating agency status should follow the instructions for filing comments provided under the Public Participation section of this notice.

    4 The Council on Environmental Quality regulations addressing cooperating agency responsibilities are at Title 40, Code of Federal Regulations, Part 1501.6.

    Consultations Under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act

    In accordance with the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation's implementing regulations for section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act, we are using this notice to initiate consultation with the applicable State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO), and to solicit their views and those of other government agencies, interested Indian tribes, and the public on the project's potential effects on historic properties.5 We will define the project-specific Area of Potential Effects (APE) in consultation with the SHPO as the project develops. On natural gas facility projects, the APE at a minimum encompasses all areas subject to ground disturbance (examples include construction right-of-way, contractor/pipe storage yards, compressor stations, and access roads). Our EA for this project will document our findings on the impacts on historic properties and summarize the status of consultations under section 106.

    5 The Advisory Council on Historic Preservation's regulations are at Title 36, Code of Federal Regulations, Part 800. Those regulations define historic properties as any prehistoric or historic district, site, building, structure, or object included in or eligible for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places.

    Environmental Mailing List

    The environmental mailing list includes federal, state, and local government representatives and agencies; elected officials; environmental and public interest groups; Native American Tribes; other interested parties; and local libraries and newspapers. This list also includes all affected landowners (as defined in the Commission's regulations) who are potential right-of-way grantors, whose property may be used temporarily for project purposes, or who own homes within certain distances of aboveground facilities, and anyone who submits comments on the project. We will update the environmental mailing list as the analysis proceeds to ensure that we send the information related to this environmental review to all individuals, organizations, and government entities interested in and/or potentially affected by the proposed project.

    If we publish and distribute the EA, copies will be sent to the environmental mailing list for public review and comment. If you would prefer to receive a paper copy of the document instead of the CD version or would like to remove your name from the mailing list, please return the attached Information Request (appendix 2).

    Becoming an Intervenor

    In addition to involvement in the EA scoping process, you may want to become an intervenor which is an official party to the Commission's proceeding. Intervenors play a more formal role in the process and are able to file briefs, appear at hearings, and be heard by the courts if they choose to appeal the Commission's final ruling. An intervenor formally participates in the proceeding by filing a request to intervene. Instructions for becoming an intervenor are in the Document-less Intervention Guide under the e-filing link on the Commission's Web site. Motions to intervene are more fully described at http://www.ferc.gov/resources/guides/how-to/intervene.asp.

    Additional Information

    Additional information about the project is available from the Commission's Office of External Affairs, at (866) 208-FERC, or on the FERC Web site at www.ferc.gov using the eLibrary link. Click on the eLibrary link, click on General Search and enter the docket number, excluding the last three digits in the Docket Number field (i.e., CP17-490). Be sure you have selected an appropriate date range. For assistance, please contact FERC Online Support at [email protected] or toll free at (866) 208-3676, or for TTY, contact (202) 502-8659. The eLibrary link also provides access to the texts of formal documents issued by the Commission, such as orders, notices, and rulemakings.

    In addition, the Commission offers a free service called eSubscription which allows you to keep track of all formal issuances and submittals in specific dockets. This can reduce the amount of time you spend researching proceedings by automatically providing you with notification of these filings, document summaries, and direct links to the documents. Go to www.ferc.gov/docs-filing/esubscription.asp.

    Finally, public sessions or site visits will be posted on the Commission's calendar located at www.ferc.gov/EventCalendar/EventsList.aspx along with other related information.

    Dated: October 19, 2017. Kimberly D. Bose, Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2017-23107 Filed 10-24-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6717-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY Federal Energy Regulatory Commission [Project No. 8936-024] Notice of Application for Surrender of License, Soliciting Comments, Motions To Intervene, And Protests; Far West Power Corporation

    Take notice that the following hydroelectric application has been filed with the Commission and is available for public inspection:

    a. Type of Proceeding: Application for surrender of license.

    b. Project No.: 8936-024.

    c. Date Filed: August 1, 2017.

    d. Licensee: Far West Power Corporation.

    e. Name of Project: Power Canal Hydroelectric Project.

    f. Location: The project is located on the tailrace canal of Pacific Gas and Electric Company's (PG&E) Potter Valley Hydroelectric Project No. 77, on the East Fork Russian River, in Mendocino County, California.

    g. Filed Pursuant to: Federal Power Act, 16 U.S.C. 791a-825r.

    h. Licensee Contact: Mr. Ross Goodwin, Far West Power Corporation, 3330 Clayton Road, Suite B, Concord, CA 94518, Telephone: (925) 692-2198.

    i. FERC Contact: Mr. Ashish Desai, (202) 502-8370, [email protected].

    j. Deadline for filing comments, interventions, and protests is 30 days from the issuance date of this notice by the Commission. The Commission strongly encourages electronic filing. Please file motions to intervene, protests and comments using the Commission's eFiling system at http://www.ferc.gov/docs-filing/efiling.asp. Commenters can submit brief comments up to 6,000 characters, without prior registration, using the eComment system at http://www.ferc.gov/docs-filing/ecomment.asp. You must include your name and contact information at the end of your comments. For assistance, please contact FERC Online Support at [email protected], (866) 208-3676 (toll free), or (202) 502-8659 (TTY). In lieu of electronic filing, please send a paper copy to: Secretary, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, 888 First Street NE., Washington, DC 20426. The first page of any filing should include docket number P-8936-024.

    k. Description of Project Facilities: The project consists of: (a) A 6-foot-high diversion dam; (b) an intake structure; (c) a 150-foot-long, 49-foot-square flume; (d) a 36-inch-diameter, 28-foot-long penstock; (e) a powerhouse containing two generating units, each with an installed capacity of 200 kilowatts; (f) 0.48-kilovolt (kV) generator leads with a 12.7-kV step-up transformer; (g) 60-foot-long, 12.7-kV transmission line connecting to an existing PG&E transmission line; and (h) appurtenant facilities.

    l. Description of Request: The licensee proposes to surrender the project as it no longer intends to operate the project. The existing water right for the project has been surrendered and the power sales agreement has been terminated. No ground disturbance is associated with the proposed surrender and project features will remain in place.

    m. This filing may be viewed on the Commission's Web site at http://www.ferc.gov/docs-filing/elibrary.asp. Enter the docket number excluding the last three digits in the docket number field to access the document. You may also register online at http://www.ferc.gov/docs-filing/esubscription.asp to be notified via email of new filings and issuances related to this or other pending projects. For assistance, call 1-866-208-3676 or email [email protected], for TTY, call (202) 502-8659. A copy is also available for inspection and reproduction in the Commission's Public Reference Room located at 888 First Street NE., Room 2A, Washington, DC 20426, or by calling (202) 502-8371.

    n. Individuals desiring to be included on the Commission's mailing list should so indicate by writing to the Secretary of the Commission.

    o. Comments, Protests, or Motions to Intervene: Anyone may submit comments, a protest, or a motion to intervene in accordance with the requirements of Rules of Practice and Procedure, 18 CFR 385.210, .211, .212 and .214. In determining the appropriate action to take, the Commission will consider all protests or other comments filed, but only those who file a motion to intervene in accordance with the Commission's Rules may become a party to the proceeding. Any comments, protests, or motions to intervene must be received on or before the specified comment date for the particular application.

    p. Filing and Service of Responsive Documents: Any filing must (1) bear in all capital letters the title COMMENTS, PROTEST, or MOTION TO INTERVENE as applicable; (2) set forth in the heading the name of the applicant and the project number of the application to which the filing responds; (3) furnish the name, address, and telephone number of the person protesting or intervening; and (4) otherwise comply with the requirements of 18 CFR 385.2001 through 385.2005. All comments, motions to intervene, or protests must set forth their evidentiary basis and otherwise comply with the requirements of 18 CFR 4.34(b). All comments, motions to intervene, or protests should relate to the surrender application that is the subject of this notice. Agencies may obtain copies of the application directly from the applicant. A copy of any protest or motion to intervene must be served upon each representative of the applicant specified in the particular application. If an intervener files comments or documents with the Commission relating to the merits of an issue that may affect the responsibilities of a particular resource agency, they must also serve a copy of the document on that resource agency. A copy of all other filings in reference to this application must be accompanied by proof of service on all persons listed in the service list prepared by the Commission in this proceeding, in accordance with 18 CFR 4.34(b) and 385.2010.

    q. Agency Comments—Federal, state, and local agencies are invited to file comments on the described proceeding. If any agency does not file comments within the time specified for filing comments, it will be presumed to have no comments.

    Dated: October 19, 2017. Kimberly D. Bose, Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2017-23113 Filed 10-24-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6717-01-P
    FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION [OMB 3060-0208] Information Collection Being Submitted for Review and Approval to the Office of Management and Budget 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) of 1995, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC or the Commission) invites the general public and other Federal agencies to take this opportunity to comment on the following information collection. 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 Commission 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 November 24, 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 listed below as soon as possible.

    ADDRESSES:

    Direct all PRA comments to Nicholas A. Fraser, OMB, via email [email protected]; and to Cathy Williams, FCC, via email [email protected] and to [email protected] Include in the comments the OMB control number as shown in the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION below.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    For additional information or copies of the information collection, contact Cathy Williams at (202) 418-2918. To view a copy of this information collection request (ICR) submitted to OMB: (1) Go to the Web page <http://www.reginfo.gov/public/do/PRAMain>, (2) look for the section of the Web page called “Currently Under Review,” (3) click on the downward-pointing arrow in the “Select Agency” box below the “Currently Under Review” heading, (4) select “Federal Communications Commission” from the list of agencies presented in the “Select Agency” box, (5) click the “Submit” button to the right of the “Select Agency” box, (6) when the list of FCC ICRs currently under review appears, look for the OMB control number of this ICR and then click on the ICR Reference Number. A copy of the FCC submission to OMB will be displayed.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    As part of its continuing effort to reduce paperwork burdens, and as required by the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA) of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3501-3520), the Federal Communications Commission (FCC or the Commission) invites the general public and other Federal agencies to take this opportunity to comment on the following information collection. 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: 3060-0208.

    Title: Section 73.1870, Chief Operators.

    Form Number: Not applicable.

    Type of Review: Extension of a currently approved collection.

    Respondents: Business and other for-profit; Not-for-profit institutions.

    Number of Respondents and Responses: 18,498 respondents; 36,996 responses.

    Estimated Time per Response: 0.166-26 hours.

    Frequency of Response: Recordkeeping requirement; Third party disclosure requirement.

    Total Annual Burden: 484,019 hours.

    Total Annual Cost: None.

    Obligation to Respond: Required to obtain or retain benefits. The statutory authority for this collection of information is contained in Sections 154(i) of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended.

    Nature and Extent of Confidentiality: There is no need for confidentiality with this collection of information.

    Privacy Impact Assessment(s): No impact(s).

    Needs and Uses: The information collection requirements contained in 47 CFR 73.1870 require that the licensee of an AM, FM, or TV broadcast station designate a chief operator of the station. Section 73.1870(b)(3) requires that this designation must be in writing and posted with the station license. Section 73.1870(c)(3) requires that the chief operator, or personnel delegated and supervised by the chief operator, review the station records at least once each week to determine if required entries are being made correctly, and verify that the station has been operated in accordance with FCC rules and the station authorization. Upon completion of the review, the chief operator must date and sign the log, initiate corrective action which may be necessary and advise the station licensee of any condition which is repetitive. The posting of the designation of the chief operator is used by interested parties to readily identify the chief operator. The review of the station records is used by the chief operator, and FCC staff in investigations, to ensure that the station is operating in accordance with its station authorization and the FCC rules and regulations.

    Federal Communications Commission. Katura Jackson, Federal Register Liaison Officer, Office of the Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2017-23089 Filed 10-24-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6712-01-P
    FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION [OMB 3060-XXXX] Information Collection Being Submitted for Review and Approval to the Office of Management and Budget 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) of 1995, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC or the Commission) invites the general public and other Federal agencies to take this opportunity to comment on the following information collection. 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 Commission 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 November 24, 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 listed below as soon as possible.

    ADDRESSES:

    Direct all PRA comments to Nicholas A. Fraser, OMB, via email [email protected]; and to Nicole Ongele, FCC, via email [email protected] and to [email protected]. Include in the comments the OMB control number as shown in the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION below.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    For additional information or copies of the information collection, contact Nicole Ongele at (202) 418-2991. To view a copy of this information collection request (ICR) submitted to OMB: (1) Go to the Web page <http://www.reginfo.gov/public/do/PRAMain>, (2) look for the section of the Web page called “Currently Under Review,” (3) click on the downward-pointing arrow in the “Select Agency” box below the “Currently Under Review” heading, (4) select “Federal Communications Commission” from the list of agencies presented in the “Select Agency” box, (5) click the “Submit” button to the right of the “Select Agency” box, (6) when the list of FCC ICRs currently under review appears, look for the OMB control number of this ICR and then click on the ICR Reference Number. A copy of the FCC submission to OMB will be displayed.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    As part of its continuing effort to reduce paperwork burdens, and as required by the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA) of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3501-3520), the Federal Communications Commission (FCC or the Commission) invites the general public and other Federal agencies to take this opportunity to comment on the following information collection. 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-XXXX.

    Title: Part 32 Uniform System of Accounts.

    Form Number: N/A.

    Type of Review: New collection.

    Respondents: Business or other for-profit entities.

    Number of Respondents and Responses: 1,176 respondents; 2,458 responses.

    Estimated Time per Response: 20-40 hours.

    Frequency of Response: One-time, on occasion, and annual reporting requirements; recordkeeping requirements.

    Obligation to Respond: Required to obtain or retain benefits. Statutory authority for this information collection is contained in 47 U.S.C. 10, 201, 219-220, 224, 254(k), 272(e)(3), and 403 of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, 47 U.S.C. 160, 201, 219-220, 224, 254(k), 272(e)(3), and 403.

    Total Annual Burden: 103,240 hours.

    Total Annual Cost: No cost.

    Privacy Impact Assessment: No impact(s).

    Nature and Extent of Confidentiality: Respondents are not being asked to submit confidential information to the Commission. If the Commission requests respondents to submit information which respondents believe is confidential, respondents may request confidential treatment of such information under 47 CFR 0.459 of the Commission's rules.

    Needs and Uses: On February 24, 2017, the Commission released the Part 32 Order, WC Docket No. 14-130, CC Docket No. 80-286, FCC 17-15, which minimized the compliance burdens imposed by the Uniform System of Accounts (USOA) on price cap and rate-of-return telephone companies, while ensuring that the Commission retains access to the information it needs to fulfill its regulatory duties.

    The Commission consolidated Class A and Class B accounts by eliminating the current classification of carriers, which divides incumbent LECS into two classes for accounting purposes based on annual revenues. Carriers subject to Part 32's USOA will now only be required to keep Class B accounts.

    Pursuant to the Part 32 Order, price cap carriers may elect to use generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) for all regulatory accounting purposes if they: (1) Establish an “Implementation Rate Difference” (IRD) which is the difference between pole attachment rates calculated under Part 32 and under GAAP as of the last full year preceding the carrier's initial opting out of Part 32 accounting requirements; and (2) adjust their annually-computed GAAP-based pole attachment rates by the IRD for a period of 12 years after the election. Alternatively, price cap carriers may elect to use GAAP accounting for all purposes other than those associated with pole attachment rates and continue to use the Part 32 accounts and procedures applicable to pole attachment rates for up to 12 years.

    A price cap carrier may be required to submit pole attachment accounting data to the Commission for three years following the effective date of the rule permitting a price cap carrier to elect GAAP accounting. If a pole attacher informs the Commission of a suspected problem with pole attachment rates, the Commission will require the price cap carrier to file its pole attachment data for the state in question. This requirement may be extended for an additional three years, if necessary.

    The Commission reduced the accounting requirements for telephone companies with a continuing obligation to comply with Part 32 in a number of areas. Telephone companies may: (1) Carry an asset at its purchase price when it was acquired, even if its value has increased or declined when it goes into regulated service; (2) reprice an asset at market value after a merger or acquisition consistent with GAAP; (3) use GAAP principles to determine Allowance-for-Funds-Used-During Construction; and (4) employ the GAAP standard of materiality. Rate-of-return carriers receiving cost-based support must determine materiality consistent with the general materiality guidelines promulgated by the Auditing Standards Board.

    Price cap carriers with a continuing Part 32 accounting obligation must maintain continuing property records necessary to track substantial assets and investments in an accurate, auditable manner. The carriers must make such property information available to the Commission upon request. Carriers subject to Part 32 must continue to comply with the USOA's depreciation procedures and its rules for cost of removal-and-salvage accounting.

    Federal Communications Commission. Katura Jackson, Federal Register Liaison Officer, Office of the Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2017-23088 Filed 10-24-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6712-01-P
    FEDERAL MARITIME COMMISSION Notice of Agreements Filed

    The Commission hereby gives notice of the filing of the following agreements under the Shipping Act of 1984. Interested parties may submit comments on the agreements to the Secretary, Federal Maritime Commission, Washington, DC 20573, within twelve days of the date this notice appears in the Federal Register. A copy of each agreement is available through the Commission's Web site (www.fmc.gov) or by contacting the Office of Agreements at (202) 523-5793 or [email protected]

    Agreement No.: 012034-007.

    Title: Hamburg Sud/Maersk Line Vessel Sharing Agreement.

    Parties: Hamburg-Sud and Maersk Line A/S.

    Filing Party: Wayne Rohde, Esq.; Cozen O'Connor; 1200 Nineteenth Street NW., Washington, DC 20036.

    Synopsis: The amendment adds Peru to the geographic scope of the Agreement. The parties request expedited review.

    Agreement No.: 012067-022.

    Title: U.S. Supplemental Agreement to HLC Agreement.

    Parties: BBC Chartering Carriers GmbH & Co. KG and BBC Chartering & Logistic GmbH & Co. KG, as a single member; Hanssy Shipping Pte. Ltd.; and Industrial Maritime Carriers, L.L.C.

    Filing Party: Wade S. Hooker, Esq.; 211 Central Park W, New York, NY 10024.

    Synopsis: The amendment deletes Austral Asia Line Pte. Ltd. as a party to the ancillary HLC Agreement.

    Agreement No.: 201234.

    Title: Agreement by Ocean Common Carriers to Participate on the Exchange Board.

    Parties: CMA CGM S.A.; COSCO Shipping Co., Ltd., Hapag-Lloyd AG; and Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, Ltd.

    Filing Party: Ashley W. Craig, Esq.; Venable LLP; 600 Massachusetts Ave. NW., Washington, DC 20001.

    Synopsis: The Agreement authorizes CMA CGM SA, Hapag-Lloyd AG, Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, Ltd., and COSCO Shipping Co., Ltd. to serve on the board of New York Shipping Exchange Inc. (NYSHEX). The parties request expedited review.

    Agreement No.: 201235.

    Title: Agreement by Ocean Common Carriers to Use Standard Service Contract Terms.

    Parties: CMA CGM S.A.; COSCO Shipping Co., Ltd., Hapag-Lloyd AG; and Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, Ltd.

    Filing Party: Ashley W. Craig, Esq.; Venable LLP; 600 Massachusetts Ave. NW., Washington, DC 20001.

    Synopsis: The Agreement authorizes the Parties to agree upon the use of standard terms to be included in the NYSHEX Forward Contract template, which will form the basis for service contracts entered into via the NYSHEX platform. The parties request expedited review.

    By Order of the Federal Maritime Commission.

    Dated: October 19, 2017. Rachel E. Dickon, Assistant Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2017-23097 Filed 10-24-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6731-AA-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 20, 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. Commerce Union Bancshares, Inc., Brentwood, Tennessee; to merge with Community First, Inc., and thereby indirectly acquire Community First Bank & Trust, both of Columbia, Tennessee.

    B. Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis (Brendan S. Murrin, Assistant Vice President) 90 Hennepin Avenue, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55480-0291:

    1. Eagle Bancorp Montana, Inc., Helena, Montana; to acquire 100 percent of TwinCo, Inc., Twin Bridges, Montana, and thereby indirectly acquire Ruby Valley Bank, Twin Bridges, Montana.

    Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, October 20, 2017. Ann Misback, Secretary of the Board.
    [FR Doc. 2017-23194 Filed 10-24-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE P
    FEDERAL RESERVE SYSTEM Agency Information Collection Activities: Announcement of Board Approval Under Delegated Authority and Submission to OMB AGENCY:

    Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System.

    SUMMARY:

    The Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (Board) is adopting a proposal to extend for three years, with revision, the Application for Employment with the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (FR 28; OMB No. 7100-0181). The revisions are applicable as of October 31, 2017.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Federal Reserve Board Clearance Officer—Nuha Elmaghrabi—Office of the Chief Data Officer, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, Washington, DC 20551, (202) 452-3829. Telecommunications Device for the Deaf (TDD) users may contact (202) 263-4869, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, Washington, DC 20551.

    OMB Desk Officer—Shagufta Ahmed—Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, Office of Management and Budget, New Executive Office Building, Room 10235, 725 17th Street NW., Washington, DC 20503 or by fax to (202) 395-6974.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    On June 15, 1984, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) delegated to the Board authority under the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA) to approve of and assign OMB control numbers to collection of information requests and requirements conducted or sponsored by the Board. Board-approved collections of information are incorporated into the official OMB inventory of currently approved collections of information. Copies of the Paperwork Reduction Act Submission, supporting statements and approved collection of information instrument(s) are placed into OMB's public docket files. The Federal Reserve may not conduct or sponsor, and the respondent is not required to respond to, an information collection that has been extended, revised, or implemented on or after October 1, 1995, unless it displays a currently valid OMB control number.

    Final Approval Under OMB Delegated Authority of the Extension for Three Years, With Revision, of the Following Report

    Report title: Application for Employment with the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System.

    Agency form number: FR 28, FR 28s, FR 28i.

    OMB control number: 7100-0181.

    Frequency: As needed.

    Respondents: Individuals.

    Estimated number of respondents: FR 28: 3,500, FR 28s: 2,000, FR 28i: 300.

    Estimated average hours per response: FR 28: 1 hour, FR 28s: 1 minute, FR 28i: 15 minutes.

    Estimated annual burden hours: FR 28: 3,500 hours, FR 28s: 33 hours, FR 28i: 75 hours, Total: 3,608 hours.

    General description of report: The Application for Employment with the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (Application) collects information to determine the qualifications and availability of applicants for employment with the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (Board). The FR 28 collects information on education and training, employment record, military service record, and other information since the time the applicant left high school. Included with the FR 28 are two supplemental questionnaires: (1) The Applicant's Voluntary Self-Identification Form (FR 28s), which collects information on the applicant's gender and ethnic group and (2) The Research Assistant Candidate Survey of Interests (FR 28i), which collects information from candidates applying for Research Assistant (RA) positions on their level of interest in economics and related areas. The Board receives approximately 3,500 applications per year, both solicited and unsolicited, from members of the public who would like to be considered for employment at the Board. Since the applicant is usually either hired by the Board or finds other employment within the two years that the Board retains the Application, the applicant generally files the Application once.

    The Application is comprised of eight sections: Background, Education and Training, Employment Record, Military Service Record, References, General, Remarks, and Notes. The first six sections collect information on specific aspects of the applicant's qualifications. The Background section collects name, address, telephone, and citizenship information and the position for which the applicant is applying. The Education and Training section collects detailed information on the applicant's educational history and skills set. The Employment Record section collects a chronological summary of work experience. The Military Service Record section collects information on service branch, rank, duties, and discharge. The References section collects information on three references. The General section collects information on criminal records, discharge from employment, willingness to travel, and relations to or acquaintances with Board staff or officers and directors of financial institutions. The Remarks section provides the applicant an opportunity to provide further information regarding his or her qualifications. The Notes section explains what is required of the applicant prior to an interview and what may be required of the applicant if he or she is offered a position (for example, transcripts, medical examination, or drug test).

    The FR 28s is comprised of four sections: (1) Name and gender, in which the applicant is asked to check the box that corresponds to gender or check “I do not wish to disclose”, (2) position for which the applicant is applying, (3) ethnicity self-identification, in which the applicant is asked to choose between Hispanic or Latino or Not Hispanic or Latino, or “I do not wish to disclose,” and (4) race self-identification, in which the applicant is asked to choose one or more among American Indian or Alaskan Native, Asian, Black or African-American, Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander, White, or “I do not wish to disclose.” The Board uses this information to comply with federal equal employment opportunity (EEO) recordkeeping and reporting requirements, other legal requirements, and as an input to its self-analysis of hiring practices. Information collected on the FR 28s has no bearing on the determination of an applicant's job-related qualifications and completion of the self-identification form is voluntary.

    The FR 28i is comprised of three sections in which research assistant candidates are asked to rate their level of interest in categories of economics and related research areas, experience with various software packages and statistical programming languages, and interest in pursuing educational opportunities after leaving the Board. The FR 28i helps to streamline the recruitment process.

    Legal authorization and confidentiality: The Board's Legal Division has determined that the Application (including the two supplemental questionnaires) is required to obtain the benefit of Board employment. It is authorized pursuant to sections 10(4) and 11(1) of the Federal Reserve Act, which provide the Federal Reserve Board broad authority over employment of staff (12 U.S.C. 244 and 248(l)). Information provided on the Application (including the two supplemental questionnaires) will be kept confidential under exemption (b)(6) of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to the extent that the disclosure of information “would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.” (5 U.S.C. 552(b)(6)). For example, the release of information such as an applicant's date of birth, address, phone number, and personal information regarding any references provided would likely constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy, and would be kept confidential. However, the release of information such as the educational and professional qualifications of applicants would not likely constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy and would not be kept confidential.

    Current actions: On July 28, 2017, the Federal Reserve published a notice in the Federal Register (82 FR 35202) requesting public comment for 60 days on the extension, with revision, of the Application for Employment with the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. The Board proposed minor revisions to the FR 28 form, including (1) adding fields in the employment history section for job type, shift, employee status, and desired compensation, (2) adding fields in the education and training section for issue and expiration date for certifications and professional licenses, (3) adding fields in the references section for relationship, type, and length of relationship with the reference, and (4) adding fields in the submission section to allow for withdrawal of the application and a request for the applicant to provide a reason for withdrawal. In addition, the Board proposed to revise the FR 28i by adding a section to allow an open-ended response by applicants to describe how they have demonstrated attributes that are displayed by successful research assistants in the Economics Divisions. The comment period for this notice expired on September 26, 2017. The Board did not receive any comments. The revisions will be implemented as proposed.

    Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, October 20, 2017. Ann E. Misback, Secretary of the Board.
    [FR Doc. 2017-23150 Filed 10-24-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6210-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES Food and Drug Administration [Docket No. FDA-2017-D-5961] In Vitro Metabolism- and Transporter-Mediated Drug-Drug Interaction Studies, and Clinical Drug Interaction Studies—Study Design, Data Analysis, and Clinical Implications; Draft Guidances for Industry; Availability AGENCY:

    Food and Drug Administration, HHS.

    ACTION:

    Notice of availability.

    SUMMARY:

    The Food and Drug Administration (FDA or Agency) is announcing the availability of two draft guidances for industry entitled “In Vitro Metabolism- and Transporter-Mediated Drug-Drug Interaction Studies” (in vitro DDI guidance) and “Clinical Drug Interaction Studies—Study Design, Data Analysis, and Clinical Implications” (clinical DDI guidance). These two draft guidances will update and replace the revised draft guidance for industry entitled “Drug Interaction Studies—Study Design, Data Analysis, Implications for Dosing, and Labeling Recommendations” issued February 21, 2012 (2012 draft guidance). These draft guidances are intended to assist drug developers in the planning and evaluation of drug-drug interaction (DDI) potential during drug development. In particular, the in vitro DDI guidance focuses on in vitro experimental approaches for evaluating metabolizing enzyme- and transporter-based drug interaction potential and how to extrapolate in vitro data to decide on the need for clinical DDI studies. The clinical DDI guidance focuses on clinical studies that evaluate the potential for DDIs, which alter a drug's pharmacokinetics by modulating the effects of drug metabolizing enzymes and transporters, and advises sponsors on the timing and design of the clinical studies, interpretation of the results, and options for managing DDIs in patients. Together, these two draft guidances describe a systematic, risk-based approach to the assessment of DDIs.

    DATES:

    Submit either electronic or written comments on these draft guidances by January 23, 2018 to ensure that the Agency considers your comment on these two draft guidances before it begins work on the final versions of these guidances.

    ADDRESSES:

    You may submit comments on any guidance at any time as follows:

    Electronic Submissions

    Submit electronic comments in the following way:

    Federal eRulemaking Portal: https://www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments. Comments submitted electronically, including attachments, to https://www.regulations.gov will be posted to the docket unchanged. Because your comment will be made public, you are solely responsible for ensuring that your comment does not include any confidential information that you or a third party may not wish to be posted, such as medical information, your or anyone else's Social Security number, or confidential business information, such as a manufacturing process. Please note that if you include your name, contact information, or other information that identifies you in the body of your comments, that information will be posted on https://www.regulations.gov.

    • If you want to submit a comment with confidential information that you do not wish to be made available to the public, submit the comment as a written/paper submission and in the manner detailed (see “Written/Paper Submissions” and “Instructions”).

    Written/Paper Submissions

    Submit written/paper submissions as follows:

    Mail/Hand delivery/Courier (for written/paper submissions): Dockets Management Staff (HFA-305), Food and Drug Administration, 5630 Fishers Lane, Rm. 1061, Rockville, MD 20852.

    • For written/paper comments submitted to the Dockets Management Staff, FDA will post your comment, as well as any attachments, except for information submitted, marked and identified, as confidential, if submitted as detailed in “Instructions.”

    Instructions: All submissions received must include the Docket No. FDA-2017-D-5961 for “In Vitro Metabolism- and Transporter-Mediated Drug-Drug Interaction Studies, and Clinical Drug Interaction Studies—Study Design, Data Analysis, and Clinical Implications; Draft Guidances for Industry; Availability.” Received comments will be placed in the docket and, except for those submitted as “Confidential Submissions,” publicly viewable at https://www.regulations.gov or at the Dockets Management Staff between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., Monday through Friday.

    • Confidential Submissions—To submit a comment with confidential information that you do not wish to be made publicly available, submit your comments only as a written/paper submission. You should submit two copies total. One copy will include the information you claim to be confidential with a heading or cover note that states “THIS DOCUMENT CONTAINS CONFIDENTIAL INFORMATION.” The Agency will review this copy, including the claimed confidential information, in its consideration of comments. The second copy, which will have the claimed confidential information redacted/blacked out, will be available for public viewing and posted on https://www.regulations.gov. Submit both copies to the Dockets Management Staff. If you do not wish your name and contact information to be made publicly available, you can provide this information on the cover sheet and not in the body of your comments and you must identify this information as “confidential.” Any information marked as “confidential” will not be disclosed except in accordance with 21 CFR 10.20 and other applicable disclosure law. For more information about FDA's posting of comments to public dockets, see 80 FR 56469, September 18, 2015, or access the information at: https://www.thefederalregister.org/fdsys/pkg/FR-2015-09-18/pdf/2015-23389.pdf.

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

    You may submit comments on any guidance at any time (see 21 CFR 10.115(g)(5)).

    Submit written requests for single copies of the draft guidances to the Division of Drug Information, Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, Food and Drug Administration, 10001 New Hampshire Ave., Hillandale Building, 4th Floor, Silver Spring, MD 20993-0002. Send one self-addressed adhesive label to assist that office in processing your requests. See the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section for electronic access to the draft guidance documents.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Lauren Brum, Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, Food and Drug Administration, 10903 New Hampshire Ave., Bldg. 51, Rm. 3188, Silver Spring, MD 20903-0002, 301-796-5008, or [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    I. Background

    FDA is announcing the availability of two draft guidances for industry entitled “In Vitro Metabolism- and Transporter-Mediated Drug-Drug Interaction Studies” and “Clinical Drug Interaction Studies—Study Design, Data Analysis, and Clinical Implications.” The concomitant use of more than one medication in a patient is common. Unanticipated, unrecognized, or mismanaged DDIs are an important cause of morbidity and mortality associated with prescription drug use and has occasionally been the basis for withdrawal of approved drugs from the market. In some instances, understanding how to safely manage a DDI can allow approval of a drug that would otherwise have an unacceptable level of risk. Clinically relevant DDIs between an investigational drug and other drugs should therefore: (1) Be defined during drug development as part of an adequate assessment of the drug's overall benefit/risk profile; (2) be known at the time of the drug's approval; and (3) be communicated in labeling. These two draft guidances are intended to assist drug developers in the planning and evaluation of DDI potential during drug development. In particular, the in vitro DDI guidance focuses on in vitro experimental approaches for evaluating metabolizing enzyme- and transporter-based drug interaction potential, and how to extrapolate in vitro data to decide on the need for clinical DDI studies. The appendix of the in vitro DDI guidance includes considerations in the choice of in vitro experimental systems, key issues regarding in vitro experimental conditions, and a more detailed explanation of model-based DDI prediction strategies. If in vitro assessments indicate the need to conduct clinical DDI studies, sponsors should consult the related clinical DDI guidance. The clinical DDI guidance focuses on clinical studies that evaluate DDIs that alter a drug's pharmacokinetics by modulating the effects of drug metabolizing enzymes and/or transporters and advises sponsors on the timing and design of the clinical studies, interpretation of the results, and options for DDI management in patients. Together, the two draft guidances describe a systematic, risk-based approach to evaluation and communication of DDIs.

    In the Federal Register of February 21, 2012 (77 FR 9946), FDA announced the availability of a revised draft guidance entitled “Drug Interaction Studies—Study Design, Data Analysis, Implications for Dosing, and Labeling Recommendations.” We received comments on the 2012 draft guidance and have considered these comments while updating the information in the two draft guidances. In addition, new developments in the field have been incorporated to reflect the Agency's current thinking.

    The Agency decided to divide the 2012 draft guidance into two guidances with one focusing on in vitro DDI evaluation and the other focusing on clinical DDI evaluation. We are publishing the two draft guidances to collect additional public comments. These new draft guidances focus on metabolism- and transporter-based drug interactions. Other types of interactions, e.g., drug-therapeutic protein interactions and pH-dependent drug interactions, are not included. Separate guidances will be developed to cover other types of DDIs. In addition, a draft guidance specific to Section 7 (Drug Interactions) labeling will be developed to delineate the communication of DDI information in labeling.

    These two draft guidances are being issued consistent with FDA's good guidance practices regulation (21 CFR 10.115). These draft guidances, when finalized, will represent the Agency's current thinking on “In Vitro Metabolism- and Transporter-Mediated Drug-Drug Interaction Studies” and “Clinical Drug Interaction Studies—Study Design, Data Analysis, and Clinical Implications.” It does not establish any rights for any person and is not binding on FDA or the public. You can use an alternative approach if it satisfies the requirements of the applicable statutes and regulations. These guidances are not subject to Executive Order 12866.

    II. Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995

    These draft guidances refer to previously approved collections of information found in FDA regulations. These collections of information are subject to review by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3501-3520). The collections of information in 21 CFR 314.50(d) have been approved under OMB control number 0910-0001.

    III. Electronic Access

    Persons with access to the internet may obtain the draft guidance at either https://www.fda.gov/Drugs/GuidanceComplianceRegulatoryInformation/Guidances/default.htm or https://www.regulations.gov.

    Dated: October 19, 2017. Anna K. Abram, Deputy Commissioner for Policy, Planning, Legislation, and Analysis.
    [FR Doc. 2017-23102 Filed 10-24-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4164-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES Food and Drug Administration [Docket No. FDA-2017-D-5966] Breakthrough Devices Program; Draft Guidance for Industry and Food and Drug Administration Staff; Availability AGENCY:

    Food and Drug Administration, HHS.

    ACTION:

    Notice of availability.

    SUMMARY:

    The Food and Drug Administration (FDA or Agency) is announcing the availability of the draft guidance entitled “Breakthrough Devices Program; Draft Guidance for Industry and Food and Drug Administration Staff.” This guidance document describes policies that FDA intends to use to implement the new Breakthrough Devices Program, established by the 21st Century Cures Act (Cures Act). The Breakthrough Devices Program supersedes and combines elements from FDA's Expedited Access Pathway (EAP), which was intended to facilitate the development and expedite review of breakthrough technologies, as well as the Priority Review Program, which implemented statutory criteria for granting priority review to premarket approval applications (PMAs) and applied those criteria to other types of premarket submissions for medical devices. This draft guidance clarifies certain principles and features of the new program, the designation criteria for Breakthrough Devices, the designation request review process, the process for withdrawing from the program, as well as the recommended information device manufacturers should provide in their designation request for entrance into the program. This draft guidance is not final nor is it in effect at this time.

    DATES:

    Submit either electronic or written comments on the draft guidance by December 26, 2017 to ensure that the Agency considers your comment on this draft guidance before it begins work on the final version of the guidance.

    ADDRESSES:

    You may submit comments on any guidance at any time as follows:

    Electronic Submissions

    Submit electronic comments in the following way:

    Federal eRulemaking Portal: https://www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments. Comments submitted electronically, including attachments, to https://www.regulations.gov will be posted to the docket unchanged. Because your comment will be made public, you are solely responsible for ensuring that your comment does not include any confidential information that you or a third party may not wish to be posted, such as medical information, your or anyone else's Social Security number, or confidential business information, such as a manufacturing process. Please note that if you include your name, contact information, or other information that identifies you in the body of your comments, that information will be posted on https://www.regulations.gov.

    • If you want to submit a comment with confidential information that you do not wish to be made available to the public, submit the comment as a written/paper submission and in the manner detailed (see “Written/Paper Submissions” and “Instructions”).

    Written/Paper Submissions

    Submit written/paper submissions as follows:

    Mail/Hand delivery/Courier (for written/paper submissions): Dockets Management Staff (HFA-305), Food and Drug Administration, 5630 Fishers Lane, Rm. 1061, Rockville, MD 20852.

    • For written/paper comments submitted to the Dockets Management Staff, FDA will post your comment, as well as any attachments, except for information submitted, marked and identified, as confidential, if submitted as detailed in “Instructions.”

    Instructions: All submissions received must include the Docket No. FDA-2017-D-5966 for “Breakthrough Devices Program; Draft Guidance for Industry and Food and Drug Administration Staff.” Received comments will be placed in the docket and, except for those submitted as “Confidential Submissions,” publicly viewable at https://www.regulations.gov or at the Dockets Management Staff between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., Monday through Friday.

    • Confidential Submissions—To submit a comment with confidential information that you do not wish to be made publicly available, submit your comments only as a written/paper submission. You should submit two copies total. One copy will include the information you claim to be confidential with a heading or cover note that states “THIS DOCUMENT CONTAINS CONFIDENTIAL INFORMATION.” The Agency will review this copy, including the claimed confidential information, in its consideration of comments. The second copy, which will have the claimed confidential information redacted/blacked out, will be available for public viewing and posted on https://www.regulations.gov. Submit both copies to the Dockets Management Staff. If you do not wish your name and contact information to be made publicly available, you can provide this information on the cover sheet and not in the body of your comments and you must identify this information as “confidential.” Any information marked as “confidential” will not be disclosed except in accordance with 21 CFR 10.20 and other applicable disclosure law. For more information about FDA's posting of comments to public dockets, see 80 FR 56469, September 18, 2015, or access the information at: https://www.thefederalregister.org/fdsys/pkg/FR-2015-09-18/pdf/2015-23389.pdf.

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

    You may submit comments on any guidance at any time (see 21 CFR 10.115(g)(5)).

    An electronic copy of the guidance document is available for download from the internet. See the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section for information on electronic access to the guidance. Submit written requests for a single hard copy of the draft guidance document entitled “Breakthrough Devices Program; Draft Guidance for Industry and Food and Drug Administration Staff” to the Office of the Center Director, Guidance and Policy Development, Center for Devices and Radiological Health, Food and Drug Administration, 10903 New Hampshire Ave., Bldg. 66, Rm. 5431, Silver Spring, MD 20993-0002, or the Office of Communication, Outreach, and Development, Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, Food and Drug Administration, 10903 New Hampshire Ave., Bldg. 71, Rm. 3128, Silver Spring, MD 20993-0002. Send one self-addressed adhesive label to assist that office in processing your request.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Erin Cutts, Center for Devices and Radiological Health, Food and Drug Administration, 10903 New Hampshire Ave., Bldg. 66, Rm. 1625, Silver Spring, MD 20993-0002, 301-796-6307; or Stephen Ripley, Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, Food and Drug Administration, 10903 New Hampshire Ave., Bldg. 71, Rm. 7301, Silver Spring, MD 20993-0002, 240-402-7911.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    I. Background

    FDA is issuing this draft guidance to describe policies that FDA intends to use to implement section 515B of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act) (21 U.S.C. 360e-3, as created by section 3051 of the Cures Act (Pub. L. 114-255) and section 901 of the FDA Reauthorization Act of 2017 (Pub. L. 115-52) (the “Breakthrough Devices Program”). The Breakthrough Devices Program is a voluntary program for certain medical devices that provide for more effective treatment or diagnosis of life-threatening or irreversibly debilitating diseases or conditions. This program is intended to help patients have more timely access to these medical devices by expediting their development, assessment, and review, while preserving the statutory standards for premarket approval, clearance of a premarket notification (510(k)), and marketing authorization via the De Novo classification process, consistent with the Agency's statutory mission to protect and promote public health. No later than 1 year after the date of enactment of the Cures Act, FDA is required to issue this draft guidance, which sets forth the process by which a person may seek a Breakthrough Device designation, provides a template for designation requests, identifies the criteria that FDA will use in evaluating designation requests, and identifies the criteria and processes FDA will use to assign and train a team of staff to review breakthrough devices after designation has been granted. See section 515B(f) of the FD&C Act.

    As part of the Breakthrough Devices Program, FDA intends to provide interactive and timely communication with the sponsor during development and throughout the review process for devices designated as Breakthrough Devices under section 515B(d)(1) of the FD&C Act and grant priority to the review of associated Q-submissions, investigational device exemption (IDE) applications, PMAs, De Novo classification requests, and premarket notifications (510(k)s). In addition, for Breakthrough Devices subject to PMA, FDA may consider the amount of data that may be collected in the postmarket setting, rather than premarket, and the level of acceptable uncertainty in the benefit-risk profile at the time of approval. Getting the right balance between premarket and postmarket data collection—specifically, where appropriate, a greater reliance on postmarket collection—can reduce the extent of premarket data submission. Collectively, these and the other principles of the program described in this draft guidance are intended to support a least-burdensome approach for expediting patient access to Breakthrough Devices.

    The Breakthrough Devices Program supersedes the EAP, which launched in 2015. The Breakthrough Devices Program contains features of the EAP as well as the Innovation Pathway (first piloted in 2011), both of which were intended to facilitate the development and expedite the review of breakthrough technologies.

    The Breakthrough Devices Program also supersedes the Priority Review Program, which implemented statutory criteria for granting priority review to PMA submissions for medical devices, applied those criteria to other types of premarket submissions for medical devices, and included standard procedures to achieve an efficient priority review process.

    II. Significance of Guidance

    This draft guidance is being issued consistent with FDA's good guidance practices regulation (21 CFR 10.115). The draft guidance, when finalized, will represent the current thinking of FDA on “Breakthrough Devices Program; Draft Guidance for Industry and Food and Drug Administration Staff.” It does not establish any rights for any person and is not binding on FDA or the public. You can use an alternative approach if it satisfies the requirements of the applicable statutes and regulations. This guidance is not subject to Executive Order 12866.

    III. Electronic Access

    Persons interested in obtaining a copy of the draft guidance may do so by downloading an electronic copy from the internet. A search capability for all Center for Devices and Radiological Health guidance documents is available at https://www.fda.gov/MedicalDevices/DeviceRegulationandGuidance/GuidanceDocuments/default.htm. Guidance documents are also available at https://www.fda.gov/BiologicsBloodVaccines/GuidanceComplianceRegulatoryInformation/default.htm or https://www.regulations.gov. Persons unable to download an electronic copy of “Breakthrough Devices Program” may send an email request to [email protected] to receive an electronic copy of the document. Please use the document number 1833 to identify the guidance you are requesting.

    IV. Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995

    This guidance refers to previously approved collections of information found in FDA regulations. These collections of information are subject to review by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3501-3520). The collections of information in 21 CFR part 807, subpart E have been approved under OMB control number 0910-0120; the collections of information for De Novo classification requests have been approved under OMB control number 0910-0844; the collections of information in 21 CFR part 812 have been approved under OMB control number 0910-0078; the collections of information in 21 CFR part 814, subparts A through E, have been approved under OMB control number 0910-0231; the collections of information in 21 CFR part 814, subpart H, have been approved under OMB control number 0910-0332; the collections of information in 21 CFR part 820 have been approved under OMB control number 0910-0073; the collections of information in 21 CFR part 822 have been approved under OMB control number 0910-0449; and the collections of information regarding “Requests for Feedback on Medical Device Submissions” have been approved under OMB control number 0910-0756.

    Dated: October 20, 2017. Leslie Kux, Associate Commissioner for Policy.
    [FR Doc. 2017-23195 Filed 10-24-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4164-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES Food and Drug Administration [Docket No. FDA-2011-D-0453] Deciding When To Submit a 510(k) for a Change to an Existing Device; Guidance for Industry and Food and Drug Administration Staff; Availability AGENCY:

    Food and Drug Administration, HHS.

    ACTION:

    Notice of availability.

    SUMMARY:

    The Food and Drug Administration (FDA or Agency) is announcing the availability of the guidance entitled “Deciding When to Submit a 510(k) for a Change to an Existing Device.” FDA is issuing this final guidance document to clarify when a change in a legally marketed medical device would require that a manufacturer submit a premarket notification (510(k)) to FDA. This guidance document supersedes “Deciding When to Submit a 510(k) for a Change to an Existing Device,” issued January 10, 1997. FDA is correcting an error in the docket number assigned to the “Deciding When to Submit a 510(k) for a Change to an Existing Device” notice of availability when it published in the Federal Register (81 FR 52443, August 8, 2016). The docket number currently is FDA-2016-D-2021. FDA is changing the docket number to FDA-2011-D-0453. This action is administrative in nature and is being taken to avoid any potential confusion in the docket.

    DATES:

    The announcement of the guidance is published in the Federal Register on October 25, 2017.

    ADDRESSES:

    You may submit either electronic or written comments on Agency guidances at any time as follows:

    Electronic Submissions

    Submit electronic comments in the following way:

    Federal eRulemaking Portal: https://www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments. Comments submitted electronically, including attachments, to https://www.regulations.gov will be posted to the docket unchanged. Because your comment will be made public, you are solely responsible for ensuring that your comment does not include any confidential information that you or a third party may not wish to be posted, such as medical information, your or anyone else's Social Security number, or confidential business information, such as a manufacturing process. Please note that if you include your name, contact information, or other information that identifies you in the body of your comments, that information will be posted on https://www.regulations.gov.

    • If you want to submit a comment with confidential information that you do not wish to be made available to the public, submit the comment as a written/paper submission and in the manner detailed (see “Written/Paper Submissions” and “Instructions”).

    Written/Paper Submissions

    Submit written/paper submissions as follows:

    Mail/Hand delivery/Courier (for written/paper submissions): Dockets Management Staff (HFA-305), Food and Drug Administration, 5630 Fishers Lane, Rm. 1061, Rockville, MD 20852.

    • For written/paper comments submitted to the Dockets Management Staff, FDA will post your comment, as well as any attachments, except for information submitted, marked and identified, as confidential, if submitted as detailed in “Instructions.”

    Instructions: All submissions received must include the Docket No. FDA-2011-D-0453 for “Deciding When to Submit a 510(k) for a Change to an Existing Device.” Received comments will be placed in the docket and, except for those submitted as “Confidential Submissions,” publicly viewable at https://www.regulations.gov or at the Dockets Management Staff between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., Monday through Friday.

    • Confidential Submissions—To submit a comment with confidential information that you do not wish to be made publicly available, submit your comments only as a written/paper submission. You should submit two copies total. One copy will include the information you claim to be confidential with a heading or cover note that states “THIS DOCUMENT CONTAINS CONFIDENTIAL INFORMATION.” The Agency will review this copy, including the claimed confidential information, in its consideration of comments. The second copy, which will have the claimed confidential information redacted/blacked out, will be available for public viewing and posted on https://www.regulations.gov. Submit both copies to the Dockets Management Staff. If you do not wish your name and contact information to be made publicly available, you can provide this information on the cover sheet and not in the body of your comments and you must identify this information as “confidential.” Any information marked as “confidential” will not be disclosed except in accordance with 21 CFR 10.20 and other applicable disclosure law. For more information about FDA's posting of comments to public dockets, see 80 FR 56469, September 18, 2015, or access the information at: https://www.thefederalregister.org/fdsys/pkg/FR-2015-09-18/pdf/2015-23389.pdf.

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

    You may submit comments on any guidance at any time (see 21 CFR 10.115(g)(5)).

    An electronic copy of the guidance document is available for download from the internet. See the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section for information on electronic access to the guidance. Submit written requests for a single hard copy of the guidance document entitled “Deciding When to Submit a 510(k) for a Change to an Existing Device ” to the Office of the Center Director, Guidance and Policy Development, Center for Devices and Radiological Health, Food and Drug Administration, 10903 New Hampshire Ave., Bldg. 66, Rm. 5431, Silver Spring, MD 20993-0002, or the Office of Communication, Outreach, and Development, Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, Food and Drug Administration, 10903 New Hampshire Ave., Bldg. 71, Rm. 3128, Silver Spring, MD 20993-0002. Send one self-addressed adhesive label to assist that office in processing your request.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Rebecca Nipper, Center for Devices and Radiological Health, Food and Drug Administration, 10903 New Hampshire Ave., Bldg. 66, Rm. 1540, Silver Spring, MD 20993-0002, 301-796-6527; and Stephen Ripley, Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, Food and Drug Administration, 10903 New Hampshire Ave., Bldg. 71, Rm. 7301, Silver Spring, MD 20993-0002, 240-402-7911.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    I. Background

    A 510(k) is required when a legally marketed device subject to 510(k) requirements is about to be significantly changed or modified in design, components, method of manufacture, or intended use. Significant changes or modifications are those that could significantly affect the safety or effectiveness of the device, or major changes or modifications in the intended use of the device (§ 807.81(a)(3) (21 CFR 807.81(a)(3)). This guidance will aid manufacturers of medical devices who intend to modify a 510(k)-cleared device or other device subject to 510(k) requirements, such as a preamendments device or a device that was granted marketing authorization via the De Novo classification process under section 513(f)(2) of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (the FD&C Act) (21 U.S.C. 360c(f)(2)) (also referred to together as “existing devices”), during the process of deciding whether the modification exceeds the regulatory threshold of § 807.81(a)(3) for submission and clearance of a new 510(k).

    This guidance supersedes the original “Deciding When to Submit a 510(k) for a Change to an Existing Device,” issued on January 10, 1997. That guidance provided the Agency's interpretation of whether the modification exceeds the regulatory threshold of § 807.81(a)(3), with principles and points for manufacturers to consider in analyzing how changes in devices may affect safety or effectiveness and determining whether a new 510(k) must be submitted for a particular type of change. This final guidance preserves the basic format and content of the original, with updates to add clarity. The added clarity is intended to increase consistent interpretations of the guidance by FDA staff and manufacturers.

    This guidance is not intended to implement significant policy changes to FDA's current thinking on when submission of a new 510(k) is required for a change to an existing device. Rather, the intent of this guidance is to enhance the predictability, consistency, and transparency of the “when to submit” decision-making process by providing a least burdensome approach, and describing in greater detail the regulatory framework, policies, and practices underlying such a decision. The recommendations discussed in this guidance for evaluating when a change to an existing device would trigger the requirement that a manufacturer submit a new 510(k) to the Agency are consistent with least burdensome principles (Refs. 1 and 2). The least burdensome provision concerning 510(k)s states that FDA “shall only request information that is necessary . . .” and “shall consider the least burdensome means of demonstrating substantial equivalence . . .” (see section 513(i)(1)(D)(i) of the FD&C Act). While not changing the standard for substantial equivalence, this provision states that FDA shall only request the “minimum required information” necessary to support a determination of substantial equivalence (see sections 513(i)(1)(D)(ii)-(iii) of the FD&C Act).

    Elsewhere in this issue of the Federal Register, FDA is announcing the availability of the guidance document entitled “Deciding When to Submit a 510(k) for a Software Change to an Existing Device” to aid manufacturers of medical devices who intend to make software changes to an existing device during the process of deciding whether the software modification exceeds the regulatory threshold of § 807.81(a)(3) for submission and clearance of a new 510(k).

    FDA considered comments received on the draft guidance that appeared in the Federal Register of August 8, 2016. FDA revised the guidance as appropriate in response to the comments.

    II. Significance of Guidance

    This guidance is being issued consistent with FDA's good guidance practices regulation (21 CFR 10.115). The guidance represents the current thinking of FDA on “Deciding When to Submit a 510(k) for a Change to an Existing Device.” It does not establish any rights for any person and is not binding on FDA or the public. You can use an alternative approach if it satisfies the requirements of the applicable statutes and regulations. This guidance is not subject to Executive Order 12866.

    III. Electronic Access

    Persons interested in obtaining a copy of the guidance may do so by downloading an electronic copy from the internet. A search capability for all Center for Devices and Radiological Health guidance documents is available at https://www.fda.gov/MedicalDevices/DeviceRegulationandGuidance/GuidanceDocuments/default.htm. Guidance documents are also available at https://www.fda.gov/BiologicsBloodVaccines/GuidanceComplianceRegulatoryInformation/default.htm or https://www.regulations.gov. Persons unable to download an electronic copy of “Deciding When to Submit a 510(k) for a Change to an Existing Device” may send an email request to [email protected] to receive an electronic copy of the document. Please use the document number 1500054 to identify the guidance you are requesting.

    IV. Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995

    This guidance refers to previously approved collections of information found in FDA regulations. These collections of information are subject to review by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3501-3520). The collections of information in 21 CFR part 820 are approved under OMB control number 0910-0073; the collections of information in 21 CFR part 807, subpart E are approved under OMB control number 0910-0120; the collections of information in 21 CFR part 803 have been approved under OMB control number 0910-0437; and the collections of information in 21 CFR parts 801 and 809 are approved under OMB control number 0910-0485.

    V. References

    The following references are on display in the Dockets Management Staff (see ADDRESSES) and are available for viewing by interested persons between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., Monday through Friday; they are also available electronically at https://www.regulations.gov. FDA has verified the Web site addresses, as of the date this document publishes in the Federal Register, but Web sites are subject to change over time.

    1. “The Least Burdensome Provisions of the FDA Modernization Act of 1997: Concept and Principles,” dated October 4, 2002, available at: https://www.fda.gov/downloads/MedicalDevices/DeviceRegulationandGuidance/GuidanceDocuments/ucm085999.pdf. 2. “Suggested Format for Developing and Responding to Deficiencies in Accordance with the Least Burdensome Provisions of FDAMA,” dated November 2, 2000, available at: https://www.fda.gov/downloads/MedicalDevices/DeviceRegulationandGuidance/GuidanceDocuments/ucm073680.pdf. Dated: October 20, 2017. Leslie Kux, Associate Commissioner for Policy.
    [FR Doc. 2017-23197 Filed 10-24-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4164-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES Food and Drug Administration [Docket No. FDA-2011-N-0655] Animal Generic Drug User Fee Act; Recommendations; Request for Comments; Extension of Comment Period AGENCY:

    Food and Drug Administration, HHS.

    ACTION:

    Notice of availability; request for comments; extension of comment period.

    SUMMARY:

    The Food and Drug Administration (FDA or the Agency) is announcing the availability of the Animal Generic Drug User Fee Act (AGDUFA) reauthorization draft recommendations and extending the comment period to allow interested persons 30 days to submit comments on these draft recommendations.

    DATES:

    FDA is extending the comment period on the AGDUFA reauthorization and draft recommendations. Submit either electronic or written comments on the draft recommendations by November 24, 2017.

    ADDRESSES:

    You may submit comments as follows. Please note that late, untimely filed comments will not be considered. Electronic comments must be submitted on or before November 24, 2017. The https://www.regulations.gov electronic filing system will accept comments until midnight Eastern Time at the end of November 24, 2017. Comments received by mail/hand delivery/courier (for written/paper submissions) will be considered timely if they are postmarked or the delivery service acceptance receipt is on or before that date.

    Electronic Submissions

    Submit electronic comments in the following way:

    Federal eRulemaking Portal: https://www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments. Comments submitted electronically, including attachments, to https://www.regulations.gov will be posted to the docket unchanged. Because your comment will be made public, you are solely responsible for ensuring that your comment does not include any confidential information that you or a third party may not wish to be posted, such as medical information, your or anyone else's Social Security number, or confidential business information, such as a manufacturing process. Please note that if you include your name, contact information, or other information that identifies you in the body of your comments, that information will be posted on https://www.regulations.gov.

    • If you want to submit a comment with confidential information that you do not wish to be made available to the public, submit the comment as a written/paper submission and in the manner detailed (see “Written/Paper Submissions” and “Instructions”).

    Written/Paper Submissions

    Submit written/paper submissions as follows:

    Mail/Hand delivery/Courier (for written/paper submissions): Dockets Management Staff (HFA-305), Food and Drug Administration, 5630 Fishers Lane, Rm. 1061, Rockville, MD 20852.

    • For written/paper comments submitted to the Dockets Management Staff, FDA will post your comment, as well as any attachments, except for information submitted, marked and identified, as confidential, if submitted as detailed in “Instructions.”

    Instructions: All submissions received must include the Docket No. FDA-2011-N-0655 for “Animal Generic Drug User Fee Act; Recommendations; Request for Comments; Extension of Comment Period” Received comments, those filed in a timely manner (see ADDRESSES), will be placed in the docket and, except for those submitted as “Confidential Submissions,” publicly viewable at https://www.regulations.gov or at the Dockets Management Staff between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., Monday through Friday.

    • Confidential Submissions—To submit a comment with confidential information that you do not wish to be made publicly available, submit your comments only as a written/paper submission. You should submit two copies total. One copy will include the information you claim to be confidential with a heading or cover note that states “THIS DOCUMENT CONTAINS CONFIDENTIAL INFORMATION.” The Agency will review this copy, including the claimed confidential information, in its consideration of comments. The second copy, which will have the claimed confidential information redacted/blacked out, will be available for public viewing and posted on https://www.regulations.gov. Submit both copies to the Dockets Management Staff. If you do not wish your name and contact information to be made publicly available, you can provide this information on the cover sheet and not in the body of your comments and you must identify this information as “confidential.” Any information marked as “confidential” will not be disclosed except in accordance with 21 CFR 10.20 and other applicable disclosure law. For more information about FDA's posting of comments to public dockets, see 80 FR 56469, September 18, 2015, or access the information at: https://www.thefederalregister.org/fdsys/pkg/FR-2015-09-18/pdf/2015-23389.pdf.

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

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Cassie Ravo, Center for Veterinary Medicine (HFV-10), Food and Drug Administration, 7500 Standish Pl., Rockville, MD 20855, 240-402-6866, [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    I. Background

    FDA is announcing the availability of the proposed recommendations for the reauthorization of AGDUFA, which authorizes FDA to collect user fees and use them for the process of reviewing generic new animal drug applications and associated submissions. The authority for AGDUFA expires September 30, 2018. Without new legislation, FDA will no longer have the authority to collect user fees to fund the generic new animal drug review process for future fiscal years. Section 742(d)(4) of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (the FD&C Act) (21 U.S.C. 379j-22(d)(4)) requires that, after holding negotiations with regulated industry and periodic consultations with stakeholders, and before transmitting the Agency's final recommendation to Congress for the reauthorized program (AGDUFA III), we do the following: (1) Present the recommendations to the relevant Congressional committees, (2) publish such recommendations in the Federal Register, (3) provide for a period of 30 days for the public to provide written comments on such recommendations, (4) hold a meeting at which the public may present its views on such recommendations, and (5) consider such public views and comments and revise such recommendations as necessary. In the Federal Register of October 5, 2017 (82 FR 46506), we announced a public meeting to be held on November 2, 2017. In that notice we stated that we intended to publish in the Federal Register the full text of the proposed AGDUFA III Performance Goals and Procedures Letter and a summary of proposed statutory changes, as well as post them at https://www.fda.gov/ForIndustry/UserFees/AnimalGenericDrugUserFeeActAGDUFA/ucm270232.htm, before the public meeting and would provide for a period of 30 days for the public to provide written comments. This notice announces the availability of these draft recommendations and extends the comment period to November 24, 2017 to provide for a period of 30 days for the public to comment on these draft recommendations. After the public meeting and closing of the comment period, we will revise the draft recommendations as necessary. In addition, the Agency will present the draft recommendations to the Congressional committees.

    II. Proposed AGDUFA III Recommendations A. Enhancing the Process for Premarket Review

    We are proposing the following changes to the performance commitments previously established to further enhance the process for review of generic new animal drug applications.

    Beginning October 1, 2018, all applications and submissions under section 512(b) of the FD&C Act (21 U.S.C. 360b(b)) must be submitted to the Agency electronically using the eSubmitter tool.

    The Agency will review and act on 90 percent of original abbreviated new animal drug applications (ANADAs) within 240 days (180-day review plus 60-day administrative review) after the submission date. An application is incomplete if it would require additional data or information to enable the Agency to complete a comprehensive review of the application and reach a decision on the issue(s) presented in the application. If the Agency determines that the deficiencies are not substantial, the Agency will review and act on 90 percent of reactivated applications within 120 days (60-day review plus 60-day administrative review) after the reactivated ANADA submission date. This shorter review time for reactivated ANADAs for which the deficiencies are determined not to be substantial is not intended to prevent the use of minor amendments during Agency review of an application. If the Agency determines that the deficiencies are substantial or new substantial information is provided, the Agency will review and act on 90 percent of reactivated applications within 240 days (180-day review plus 60-day administrative review) after the reactivated ANADA submission date.

    The Agency will review and act on 90 percent of administrative ANADAs (ANADAs submitted after all scientific decisions have been made in the generic investigational new animal drug (JINAD) process, i.e., prior to the submission of the ANADA) within 60 days after the submission date. Paragraph IV certification applications (section 512(n)(1)(H)(iv) of the FD&C Act) submitted as administrative ANADAs will be excluded from the administrative ANADA cohort.

    The Agency will review and act on 90 percent of Prior Approval manufacturing supplemental ANADAs within 180 days after the submission date. A Prior Approval manufacturing supplemental ANADA includes: One or more major manufacturing changes according to § 514.8(b)(2)(ii) (21 CFR 514.8(b)(2)(ii)) and in accordance with Guidance for Industry #83, “Chemistry, Manufacturing, and Controls Changes to an Approved NADA or ANADA”; and changes submitted as “Supplement-Changes Being Effected in 30 Days” that require prior approval according to § 514.8(b)(3)(v)(A). If a Prior Approval supplement does not clearly identify any major manufacturing changes, the Prior Approval supplement will be designated by the Agency as a “Supplement—Changes Being Effected” with a 270-day review goal (see “Supplement—Changes Being Effected Manufacturing Supplemental ANADAs and Reactivations” below).

    A submission is incomplete if it requires additional data or information to enable the Agency to complete a comprehensive review of the submission and reach a decision on the issue(s) presented in the submission. If the Agency determines that the deficiencies are not substantial for manufacturing supplements requiring prior approval, the Agency will allow the manufacturing supplements to be resubmitted as “Supplement-Changes Being Effected in 30 Days” as described in § 514.8(b)(3) and the drug made with the change can be distributed 30 days after the resubmission according to § 514.8(b)(3)(iv). The Agency will review and act on 90 percent of these reactivated manufacturing supplements within 270 days after the resubmission date of a complete submission. If the Agency determines that the deficiencies remain substantial or new substantial information is provided, prior approval is required according to § 514.8(b)(3)(v)(A). The Agency will review and act on 90 percent of these reactivated manufacturing supplements within 180 days after the resubmission date of a complete submission.

    The Agency will review and act on 90 percent of “Supplement-Changes Being Effected” manufacturing supplemental ANADAs and reactivations submitted according to § 514.8(b)(3)(vi) and in accordance with Guidance for Industry #83, “Chemistry, Manufacturing, and Controls Changes to an Approved NADA or ANADA,” including manufacturing changes not requiring prior approval according to § 514.8(b)(3)(iv), within 270 days after the submission date.

    The Agency will review and act on 90 percent of JINAD study submissions within 180 days after the submission date.

    A submission is incomplete if it would require additional data or information to enable the Agency to complete a comprehensive review of the study submission and reach a decision on the issue(s) presented in the submission. If the Agency determines that the deficiencies are not substantial, the Agency will review and act on 90 percent of resubmitted JINAD study submissions within 60 days after the receipt date of a complete study submission. This shorter review time for resubmitted JINAD study submissions is not intended to prevent the use of minor amendments during Agency review of a study submission. If the Agency determines that the deficiencies are substantial or new substantial information is provided, the Agency will review and act on 90 percent of resubmitted JINAD study submissions within 180 days after the receipt date of a complete study submission.

    The Agency will review and act on 90 percent of JINAD submissions consisting of protocols without substantial data, that the Agency and the sponsor consider to be an essential part of the basis for making the decision to approve or not approve an ANADA or supplemental ANADA, within 75 days after the submission date.

    The Agency will allow comparability protocols as described in § 514.8(b)(2)(v) to be submitted as protocols without substantial data in a JINAD file. The Agency will review and act on 90 percent of JINAD submissions consisting of protocols without substantial data within 75 days after the submission date of the protocol. For potentially more complex comparability protocols, for example sterile process validation protocols, the sponsor should discuss and have Agency concurrence regarding the appropriate filing strategy.

    The Agency will continue to allow two-phased Chemistry, Manufacturing, and Controls technical section submissions under the JINAD process.

    The Agency and regulated industry are committed to improving the review and business processes that will facilitate the timely scheduling and conducting of pre-approval inspections (PAIs). To improve the timeliness and predictability of foreign PAIs, sponsors may voluntarily submit: (1) At the beginning of the calendar year, a list of foreign manufacturing facilities that are specified in an abbreviated application, supplemental abbreviated application, or generic investigational file and may be subject to foreign PAIs for the following fiscal year; and (2) a notification 30 days prior to submitting an abbreviated application, a supplemental abbreviated application, or generic investigational file that informs the Agency that the application includes a foreign manufacturing facility. Should any changes to the annual list occur after its submission to the Agency, the sponsor may provide the updated information to the Agency.

    The Agency will keep a record of the number of foreign PAIs conducted for abbreviated applications, along with the average time for completing the PAIs, and include this information in its annual performance report. The time for completing the PAI is understood to mean the time from the inspection scheduling request through notification to the Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM) of inspectional findings.

    The Agency and regulated industry agree that the use of both formal meetings (e.g., pre-submission conferences, workshops) and informal communication by both parties is critical to ensure high submission quality such that the above performance goals can be achieved.

    B. Inflation Adjuster and Workload Adjuster

    The Agency and regulated industry agree to change the current fixed 4 percent inflation adjuster to a variable inflation adjuster calculated using payroll cost and benefits and the Consumer Price Index less food and energy.

    The workload adjustment will continue to be calculated per CVM Program Policy and Procedures Manual 1243.3022, except that, for purposes of calculating the workload adjustment, it is agreed to reset the base years to fiscal year (FY) 2014 through FY 2018. There will be no workload adjustment for FY 2019. Workload adjustments are one-time adjustments and are calculated annually.

    C. Offset Provision and Excess Collections

    The proposal adds financial flexibility by eliminating the final year offset of the over collections provision and making any excess collections available to enhance the review process in real time. In addition, the proposal provides authority for the Secretary of Health and Human Services when setting fees to reduce a calculated workload adjustment up to the amount of excess collections in the second preceding fiscal year. The first fiscal year this provision could be applied while setting fees is fiscal year 2021.

    D. Impact of AGDUFA III Changes on User Fee Revenue

    The FY 2019 baseline for AGDUFA III is $18,336,340. For each year from FY 2020 through FY 2023, the annual statutory revenue amounts established in section 741(b) of the FD&C Act (21 U.S.C. 379j-21(b)) will be further adjusted according to the new statutory provision for the inflation adjuster and may be further adjusted by the workload adjuster, if applicable.

    The planned total 5-year revenue for AGDUFA I was $27,100,000. The planned total 5-year revenue for AGDUFA II was $38,100,000, which also included one-time information technology funding in the amount of $850,000 for FY 2014. It is estimated that the planned total 5-year revenue for AGDUFA III will be $95,000,000.

    The fee revenue distribution in AGDUFA III will remain the same as AGDUFA II: 25 percent in application fees; 37.5 percent in product fees; and 37.5 percent in sponsor fees.

    Dated: October 20, 2017. Leslie Kux, Associate Commissioner for Policy.
    [FR Doc. 2017-23173 Filed 10-24-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4164-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES Food and Drug Administration [Docket No. FDA-2017-P-0840] Determination That OVRETTE (Norgestrel) Tablet, 0.075 Milligrams, Was Not Withdrawn From Sale for Reasons of Safety or Effectiveness AGENCY:

    Food and Drug Administration, HHS.

    ACTION:

    Notice.

    SUMMARY:

    The Food and Drug Administration (FDA or Agency) has determined that OVRETTE (norgestrel) tablet, 0.075 milligrams (mg), was not withdrawn from sale for reasons of safety or effectiveness. This determination will allow FDA to approve abbreviated new drug applications (ANDAs) for norgestrel tablet, 0.075 mg, if all other legal and regulatory requirements are met.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Daniel Gottlieb, Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, Food and Drug Administration, 10903 New Hampshire Ave., Bldg. 51, Rm. 6217, Silver Spring, MD 20993-0002, 301-796-6650.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    In 1984, Congress enacted the Drug Price Competition and Patent Term Restoration Act of 1984 (Pub. L. 98-417) (the 1984 amendments), which authorized the approval of duplicate versions of drug products under an ANDA procedure. ANDA applicants must, with certain exceptions, show that the drug for which they are seeking approval contains the same active ingredient in the same strength and dosage form as the “listed drug,” which is a version of the drug that was previously approved. ANDA applicants do not have to repeat the extensive clinical testing otherwise necessary to gain approval of a new drug application (NDA).

    The 1984 amendments include what is now section 505(j)(7) of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (21 U.S.C. 355(j)(7)), which requires FDA to publish a list of all approved drugs. FDA publishes this list as part of the “Approved Drug Products With Therapeutic Equivalence Evaluations,” which is known generally as the “Orange Book.” Under FDA regulations, drugs are removed from the list if the Agency withdraws or suspends approval of the drug's NDA or ANDA for reasons of safety or effectiveness or if FDA determines that the listed drug was withdrawn from sale for reasons of safety or effectiveness (21 CFR 314.162).

    A person may petition the Agency to determine, or the Agency may determine on its own initiative, whether a listed drug was withdrawn from sale for reasons of safety or effectiveness. This determination may be made at any time after the drug has been withdrawn from sale, but must be made prior to FDA's approval of an ANDA that refers to the listed drug (§ 314.161 (21 CFR 314.161)). FDA may not approve an ANDA that does not refer to a listed drug.

    OVRETTE (norgestrel) tablet, 0.075 mg, is the subject of NDA 017031, held by HRA Pharma and initially approved on October 23, 1973. OVRETTE is indicated for the prevention of pregnancy in women.

    OVRETTE (norgestrel) tablet, 0.075 mg, was discontinued from U.S. distribution on June 7, 2005, and is currently listed in the “Discontinued Drug Product List” section of the Orange Book.

    The Weinberg Group submitted a citizen petition dated February 8, 2017 (Docket No. FDA-2017-P-0840), under 21 CFR 10.30, requesting that the Agency determine whether OVRETTE (norgestrel) tablet, 0.075 mg, was withdrawn from sale for reasons of safety or effectiveness.

    After considering the citizen petition and reviewing Agency records and based on the information we have at this time, FDA has determined under § 314.161 that OVRETTE (norgestrel) tablet, 0.075 mg, was not withdrawn from sale for reasons of safety or effectiveness. The petitioner has identified no data or other information suggesting that OVRETTE (norgestrel) tablet, 0.075 mg, was withdrawn for reasons of safety or effectiveness. We have carefully reviewed our files for records concerning the withdrawal of OVRETTE (norgestrel) tablet, 0.075 mg, from sale. We have also independently evaluated relevant literature and data for possible postmarketing adverse events. We have found no information that would indicate that this drug product was withdrawn from sale for reasons of safety or effectiveness.

    Accordingly, the Agency will continue to list OVRETTE (norgestrel) tablet, 0.075 mg, in the “Discontinued Drug Product List” section of the Orange Book. The “Discontinued Drug Product List” delineates, among other items, drug products that have been discontinued from marketing for reasons other than safety or effectiveness. ANDAs that refer to this drug product may be approved by the Agency as long as they meet all other legal and regulatory requirements for the approval of ANDAs. If FDA determines that labeling for this drug product should be revised to meet current standards, the Agency will advise ANDA applicants to submit such labeling.

    Dated: October 17, 2017. Leslie Kux, Associate Commissioner for Policy.
    [FR Doc. 2017-23125 Filed 10-24-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4164-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES Food and Drug Administration [Docket No. FDA-2011-N-0656] Animal Drug User Fee Act; Recommendations; Request for Comments; Extension of Comment Period AGENCY:

    Food and Drug Administration, HHS.

    ACTION:

    Notice of availability; request for comments; extension of comment period.

    SUMMARY:

    The Food and Drug Administration (FDA or the Agency) is announcing the availability of the Animal Drug User Fee Act (ADUFA) reauthorization draft recommendations and extending the comment period to allow interested persons 30 days to submit comments on these draft recommendations.

    DATES:

    FDA is extending the comment period on the ADUFA reauthorization and draft recommendations. Submit either electronic or written comments on the draft recommendations by November 24, 2017.

    ADDRESSES:

    You may submit comments as follows. Please note that late, untimely filed comments will not be considered. Electronic comments must be submitted on or before November 24, 2017. The https://www.regulations.gov electronic filing system will accept comments until midnight Eastern Time at the end November 24, 2017. Comments received by mail/hand delivery/courier (for written/paper submissions) will be considered timely if they are postmarked or the delivery service acceptance receipt is on or before that date.

    Electronic Submissions

    Submit electronic comments in the following way:

    Federal eRulemaking Portal: https://www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments. Comments submitted electronically, including attachments, to https://www.regulations.gov will be posted to the docket unchanged. Because your comment will be made public, you are solely responsible for ensuring that your comment does not include any confidential information that you or a third party may not wish to be posted, such as medical information, your or anyone else's Social Security number, or confidential business information, such as a manufacturing process. Please note that if you include your name, contact information, or other information that identifies you in the body of your comments, that information will be posted on https://www.regulations.gov.

    • If you want to submit a comment with confidential information that you do not wish to be made available to the public, submit the comment as a written/paper submission and in the manner detailed (see “Written/Paper Submissions” and “Instructions”).

    Written/Paper Submissions

    Submit written/paper submissions as follows:

    Mail/Hand delivery/Courier (for written/paper submissions): Dockets Management Staff (HFA-305), Food and Drug Administration, 5630 Fishers Lane, Rm. 1061, Rockville, MD 20852.

    • For written/paper comments submitted to the Dockets Management Staff, FDA will post your comment, as well as any attachments, except for information submitted, marked and identified, as confidential, if submitted as detailed in “Instructions.”

    Instructions: All submissions received must include the Docket No. FDA-2011-N-0656 for “Animal Drug User Fee Act; Recommendations; Request for Comments; Extension of Comment Period.” Received comments, those filed in a timely manner (see ADDRESSES), will be placed in the docket and, except for those submitted as “Confidential Submissions,” publicly viewable at https://www.regulations.gov or at the Dockets Management Staff between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., Monday through Friday.

    Confidential Submissions—To submit a comment with confidential information that you do not wish to be made publicly available, submit your comments only as a written/paper submission. You should submit two copies total. One copy will include the information you claim to be confidential with a heading or cover note that states “THIS DOCUMENT CONTAINS CONFIDENTIAL INFORMATION.” The Agency will review this copy, including the claimed confidential information, in its consideration of comments. The second copy, which will have the claimed confidential information redacted/blacked out, will be available for public viewing and posted on https://www.regulations.gov. Submit both copies to the Dockets Management Staff. If you do not wish your name and contact information to be made publicly available, you can provide this information on the cover sheet and not in the body of your comments and you must identify this information as “confidential.” Any information marked as “confidential” will not be disclosed except in accordance with 21 CFR 10.20 and other applicable disclosure law. For more information about FDA's posting of comments to public dockets, see 80 FR 56469, September 18, 2015, or access the information at: https://www.thefederalregister.org/fdsys/pkg/FR-2015-09-18/pdf/2015-23389.pdf.

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

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Cassie Ravo, Center for Veterinary Medicine (HFV-10), Food and Drug Administration, 7500 Standish Pl., Rockville, MD 20855, 240-402-6866, [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    I. Background

    FDA is announcing the availability of the proposed recommendations for the reauthorization of ADUFA, which authorizes FDA to collect user fees and use them for the process of reviewing new animal drug applications and associated submissions. The authority for ADUFA expires September 30, 2018. Without new legislation, FDA will no longer have the authority to collect user fees to fund the new animal drug review process for future fiscal years. Section 740A(d)(4) of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (the FD&C Act) (21 U.S.C. 379j-13(d)(4)) requires that, after holding negotiations with regulated industry and periodic consultations with stakeholders, and before transmitting the Agency's final recommendation to Congress for the reauthorized program (ADUFA IV), we do the following: (1) Present the recommendation to the relevant Congressional committees, (2) publish such recommendations in the Federal Register, (3) provide for a period of 30 days for the public to provide written comments on such recommendations, (4) hold a meeting at which the public may present its views on such recommendations, and (5) consider such public views and comments and revise such recommendations as necessary. In the Federal Register of October 5, 2017 (82 FR 46503), we announced a public meeting to be held on November 2, 2017. In that notice we stated that we intended to publish in the Federal Register the full text of the proposed ADUFA IV Performance Goals and Procedures Letter and a summary of proposed statutory changes, as well as post them at https://www.fda.gov/ForIndustry/UserFees/AnimalDrugUserFeeActADUFA/ucm042891.htm, before the public meeting, and would provide for a period of 30 days for the public to provide written comments. This notice announces the availability of these draft recommendations and extends the comment period to November 24, 2017 to provide for a period of 30 days for the public to comment on these draft recommendations. After the public meeting and closing of the comment period, we will revise the draft recommendations as necessary. In addition, the Agency will present the draft recommendations to the Congressional committees.

    II. Proposed ADUFA IV Recommendations A. Enhancing the Process for Premarket Review

    We are proposing the following changes to the performance commitments previously established to further enhance the process for review of new animal drug applications (NADAs).

    Beginning October 1, 2018, all applications and submissions under section 512(b) and 571 of the FD&C Act (21 U.S.C. 360b(b) and 21 U.S.C. 360ccc, respectively) must be submitted to the Agency electronically using the eSubmitter tool.

    The Agency will review and act on 90 percent of “Supplement-Changes Being Effected” manufacturing supplemental NADAs and reactivations submitted according to § 514.8(b)(3)(vi) (21 CFR 514.8(b)(3)(vi)) and in accordance with Guidance for Industry #83, “Chemistry, Manufacturing, and Controls Changes to an Approved NADA or ANADA” including manufacturing changes not requiring prior approval according to § 514.8(b)(3)(iv), within 180 days after the submission date. All other application and submission performance goals will remain the same as ADUFA III.

    The Agency commits to working on implementation of the United States-European Union Good Manufacturing Practice Inspection Mutual Recognition Agreement. All other commitments related to pre-approval inspections will remain the same as ADUFA III.

    The Agency will review and act on 90 percent of qualifying Animal Drug Availability Act (ADAA) combination medicated feed applications within 60 days after the submission date when all of the following conditions are met:

    • Basic regulatory requirements for an ADAA combination medicated feed application has been met as outlined in 21 CFR 514.4(c)(2)(ii).

    • A presubmission conference has been conducted and either:

    ○ No data (no tissue residue non-interference study is required) are needed and this agreement is documented in the memorandum of conference for the presubmission conference; or

    ○ A justification for not conducting a tissue residue non-interference study has been submitted, reviewed, and found acceptable under an investigational new animal drug (INAD), prior to the submission of the ADAA combination medicated feed application; or

    ○ A tissue residue non-interference study has been submitted, reviewed, and found acceptable under an INAD, prior to the submission of the ADAA combination medicated feed application.

    • No effectiveness or target animal safety data are required.

    • No manufacturing data requirements—sponsor can address in meeting assay non-interference, but data submission is not required.

    • All other information is referenced to previous drug experience reports.

    • Sponsor makes submission and it includes: Representative (Blue Bird) labeling, Veterinary Feed Directive (if applicable).

    • Includes a request for categorical exclusion from the need to prepare an environmental assessment (EA); i.e., no EA required.

    • Reference to presubmission conference.

    • Right of reference (if applicable) to NADA(s) not owned by the filing sponsor of the ADAA combination medicated feed application has been received by the Agency.

    The Agency will review and act on 90 percent of ADAA combination medicated feed applications within 100 days for those applications accepted for the 60-day timeframe and there is a need for minor amendments.

    If any of the above conditions cannot be met, the ADAA combination medicated feed application performance metric will be placed in the original NADA application cohort with a 180-day review timeframe.

    The Agency will review and act on 90 percent of resubmissions of previously completed Environmental Impact technical sections within 60 days after the submission date where:

    • A categorical exclusion was issued;

    • All other technical sections have been submitted; and

    • Information contained in the other technical sections reveals a change in the conditions of use of the previously issued categorical exclusion.

    The Agency will conduct 90 percent of qualifying presubmission conferences within a 60-day timeframe when all of the following conditions are met:

    • All background materials, including presentations, have been submitted, and

    • A complete agenda has been agreed upon by the Agency and the sponsor.

    A sponsor and the Agency can mutually agree to exclude a particular presubmission conference from this performance goal. If a sponsor accepts a date beyond the 60-day timeframe for their scheduling purposes or is unable to meet with the Agency on Agency available dates, the submission will be excluded from the presubmission conference cohort.

    The Agency will commence 90 percent of tissue residue method demonstrations within 120 days of completion of the 3-hour meeting process or within 200 days from the receipt of a submission that supports a single laboratory validation tissue residue method demonstration.

    B. Inflation Adjuster and Workload Adjuster

    The inflation adjuster will remain the same as for ADUFA III.

    The workload adjustment will continue to be calculated per Center for Veterinary Medicine Program Policy and Procedures Manual 1243.3022, except that, for purposes of calculating the workload adjustment, it has been agreed to reset the base years to fiscal year (FY) 2014 through FY 2018. There will be no workload adjustment for FY 2019. Workload adjustments are one-time adjustments and are calculated annually.

    C. Offset Provision and Excess Collections

    The proposal adds financial flexibility by eliminating the final year offset of over collections provision and making any excess collections available to enhance the review process in real time. The proposal provides authority for the Secretary of Health and Human Services (the Secretary) when setting fees to reduce a calculated workload adjustment up to the amount of excess collections in the second preceding fiscal year. The first fiscal year this provision could be applied while setting fees is FY 2021. Likewise, the proposal also provides authority to the Secretary to reduce an increase in fees to recover a shortfall in collections in a preceding year (after 2018) by any remaining prior year excess collections not already applied for purposes of reducing fee increases.

    D. Impact of ADUFA IV Enhancements on User Fee Revenue

    The FY 2019 baseline for ADUFA IV is $30,331,240, which includes a $400,000 one-time cost for information technology enhancement. For each year from FY 2020 through FY 2023, the annual statutory revenue amounts established in section 741(b) of the FD&C Act (21 U.S.C. 379j-21(b)) will be further adjusted by the inflation adjuster, the workload adjuster, if applicable, and will include $900,000 per year for tissue method trials.

    The total 5-year revenue planned for ADUFA I was $47,000,000. The total 5-year revenue planned for ADUFA II was $98,000,000. The total 5-year revenue planned for ADUFA III was $114,000,000. It is estimated that the total 5-year revenue for ADUFA IV will be $150,000,000.

    The fee revenue distribution in ADUFA IV will remain the same as ADUFA III: 20 percent from application fees; 27 percent from product fees; 26 percent from establishment fees; and 27 percent from sponsor fees.

    Dated: October 20, 2017. Leslie Kux, Associate Commissioner for Policy.
    [FR Doc. 2017-23172 Filed 10-24-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4164-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES Food and Drug Administration [Docket No. FDA-2016-D-2021] Deciding When To Submit a 510(k) for a Software Change to an Existing Device; Guidance for Industry and Food and Drug Administration Staff; Availability AGENCY:

    Food and Drug Administration, HHS.

    ACTION:

    Notice of availability.

    SUMMARY:

    The Food and Drug Administration (FDA or Agency) is announcing the availability of the guidance entitled “Deciding When to Submit a 510(k) for a Software Change to an Existing Device.” FDA is issuing this final guidance document to clarify when a software change in a legally marketed medical device would require that a manufacturer submit a premarket notification (510(k)) to FDA. FDA is correcting an error in the docket number assigned to the “Deciding When to Submit a 510(k) for a Software Change to an Existing Device” notice of availability when it published in the Federal Register (81 FR 52441, August 8, 2016). The docket number currently is FDA-2011-D-0453. FDA is changing the docket number to FDA-2016-D-2021. This action is administrative in nature and is being taken to avoid any potential confusion in the docket.

    DATES:

    The announcement of the guidance is published in the Federal Register on October 25, 2017.

    ADDRESSES:

    You may submit either electronic or written comments on Agency guidances at any time as follows:

    Electronic Submissions

    Submit electronic comments in the following way:

    Federal eRulemaking Portal: https://www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments. Comments submitted electronically, including attachments, to https://www.regulations.gov will be posted to the docket unchanged. Because your comment will be made public, you are solely responsible for ensuring that your comment does not include any confidential information that you or a third party may not wish to be posted, such as medical information, your or anyone else's Social Security number, or confidential business information, such as a manufacturing process. Please note that if you include your name, contact information, or other information that identifies you in the body of your comments, that information will be posted on https://www.regulations.gov.

    • If you want to submit a comment with confidential information that you do not wish to be made available to the public, submit the comment as a written/paper submission and in the manner detailed (see “Written/Paper Submissions” and “Instructions”).

    Written/Paper Submissions

    Submit written/paper submissions as follows:

    Mail/Hand delivery/Courier (for written/paper submissions): Dockets Management Staff (HFA-305), Food and Drug Administration, 5630 Fishers Lane, Rm. 1061, Rockville, MD 20852.

    • For written/paper comments submitted to the Dockets Management Staff, FDA will post your comment, as well as any attachments, except for information submitted, marked and identified, as confidential, if submitted as detailed in “Instructions.”

    Instructions: All submissions received must include the Docket No. FDA-2016-D-2021 for “Deciding When to Submit a 510(k) for a Software Change to an Existing Device.” Received comments will be placed in the docket and, except for those submitted as “Confidential Submissions,” publicly viewable at https://www.regulations.gov or at the Dockets Management Staff between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., Monday through Friday.

    • Confidential Submissions—To submit a comment with confidential information that you do not wish to be made publicly available, submit your comments only as a written/paper submission. You should submit two copies total. One copy will include the information you claim to be confidential with a heading or cover note that states “THIS DOCUMENT CONTAINS CONFIDENTIAL INFORMATION.” The Agency will review this copy, including the claimed confidential information, in its consideration of comments. The second copy, which will have the claimed confidential information redacted/blacked out, will be available for public viewing and posted on https://www.regulations.gov. Submit both copies to the Dockets Management Staff. If you do not wish your name and contact information to be made publicly available, you can provide this information on the cover sheet and not in the body of your comments and you must identify this information as “confidential.” Any information marked as “confidential” will not be disclosed except in accordance with 21 CFR 10.20 and other applicable disclosure law. For more information about FDA's posting of comments to public dockets, see 80 FR 56469, September 18, 2015, or access the information at: https://www.thefederalregister.org/fdsys/pkg/FR-2015-09-18/pdf/2015-23389.pdf.

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

    You may submit comments on any guidance at any time (see 21 CFR 10.115(g)(5)).

    An electronic copy of the guidance document is available for download from the internet. See the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section for information on electronic access to the guidance. Submit written requests for a single hard copy of the guidance document entitled “Deciding When to Submit a 510(k) for a Software Change to an Existing Device” to the Office of the Center Director, Guidance and Policy Development, Center for Devices and Radiological Health, Food and Drug Administration, 10903 New Hampshire Ave., Bldg. 66, Rm. 5431, Silver Spring, MD 20993-0002, or the Office of Communication, Outreach, and Development, Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, Food and Drug Administration, 10903 New Hampshire Ave., Bldg. 71, Rm. 3128, Silver Spring, MD 20993-0002. Send one self-addressed adhesive label to assist that office in processing your request.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Linda Ricci, Center for Devices and Radiological Health, Food and Drug Administration, 10903 New Hampshire Ave., Bldg. 66, Rm. G634, Silver Spring, MD 20993-0002, 301-796-6325, [email protected]; and Stephen Ripley, Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, Food and Drug Administration, 10903 New Hampshire Ave., Bldg. 71, Rm. 7301, Silver Spring, MD 20993-0002, 240-402-7911.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: I. Background

    A 510(k) is required when a legally marketed device subject to 510(k) requirements is about to be significantly changed or modified in design, components, method of manufacture, or intended use. Significant changes or modifications are those that could significantly affect the safety or effectiveness of the device, or major changes or modifications in the intended use of the device (§ 807.81(a)(3) (21 CFR 807.81(a)(3)). This guidance will aid manufacturers of medical devices who intend to make a software modification to a 510(k)-cleared device or other device subject to 510(k) requirements, such as a preamendments device or a device that was granted marketing authorization via the De Novo classification process under section 513(f)(2) of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (the FD&C Act) (21 U.S.C. 360c(f)(2)) (also referred to together as “existing devices”), during the process of deciding whether the software modification exceeds the regulatory threshold of § 807.81(a)(3) for submission and clearance of a new 510(k).

    This guidance specifically addresses software design and technology modifications, including firmware. This guidance does not apply to software for which the Agency has stated in guidance that it does not intend to enforce compliance with applicable regulatory controls (e.g., “Mobile Medical Applications: Guidance for Industry and FDA Staff,” issued February 9, 2015, available on the internet at https://www.fda.gov/downloads/medicaldevices/.../ucm263366.pdf) and software that does not meet the definition of a medical device at section 201(h) of the FD&C Act (21 U.S.C. 321(h)).

    In the Federal Register on August 8, 2016, FDA announced the availability of the draft guidance and interested parties were requested to comment by November 7, 2016. FDA considered comments received on the draft guidance and revised the guidance as appropriate.

    This guidance is not intended to implement significant policy changes to FDA's current thinking on when submission of a new 510(k) is required for a software change to an existing device. Rather, the intent of this guidance is to enhance the predictability, consistency, and transparency of the “when to submit” decision-making process by providing a least burdensome approach, and describing in greater detail the regulatory framework, policies, and practices underlying such a decision, specifically as it relates to software changes. The recommendations discussed in this guidance for evaluating when a software change to an existing device would trigger the requirement that a manufacturer submit a new 510(k) to the Agency are consistent with the least burdensome principles (Refs. 1 and 2). This guidance applies the least burdensome principles, in part, by reliance on risk management and the quality system regulation (21 CFR part 820) to determine whether submission of a new 510(k) is required for a software change to an existing device.

    Elsewhere in this issue of the Federal Register, FDA is announcing the availability of the guidance document entitled “Deciding When to Submit a 510(k) for a Change to an Existing Device,” to aid manufacturers of medical devices who intend to make non-software changes to an existing device during the process of deciding whether the modification exceeds the regulatory threshold of §  807.81(a)(3) for submission and clearance of a new 510(k).

    II. Significance of Guidance

    This guidance is being issued consistent with FDA's good guidance practices regulation (21 CFR 10.115). The guidance represents the current thinking of FDA on “Deciding When to Submit a 510(k) for a Software Change to an Existing Device.” It does not establish any rights for any person and is not binding on FDA or the public. You can use an alternative approach if it satisfies the requirements of the applicable statutes and regulations. This guidance is not subject to Executive Order 12866.

    III. Electronic Access

    Persons interested in obtaining a copy of the guidance may do so by downloading an electronic copy from the internet. A search capability for all Center for Devices and Radiological Health guidance documents is available at https://www.fda.gov/MedicalDevices/DeviceRegulationandGuidance/GuidanceDocuments/default.htm. Guidance documents are also available at https://www.fda.gov/BiologicsBloodVaccines/GuidanceComplianceRegulatoryInformation/Guidances/default.htm or https://www.regulations.gov. Persons unable to download an electronic copy of “Deciding When to Submit a 510(k) for a Software Change to an Existing Device” may send an email request to [email protected] to receive an electronic copy of the document. Please use the document number 1500055 to identify the guidance you are requesting.

    IV. Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995

    This guidance refers to previously approved collections of information found in FDA regulations. These collections of information are subject to review by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3501-3520). The collections of information in 21 CFR part 820 are approved under OMB control number 0910-0073; the collections of information in 21 CFR part 807, subpart E are approved under OMB control number 0910-0120; the collections of information in 21 CFR part 803 are approved under OMB control number 0910-0437; and the collections of information in 21 CFR parts 801 are approved under OMB control number 0910-0485.

    V. References

    The following references are on display in the Dockets Management Staff (see ADDRESSES) and are available for viewing by interested persons between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., Monday through Friday; they are also available electronically at https://www.regulations.gov. FDA has verified the Web site addresses, as of the date this document publishes in the Federal Register, but Web sites are subject to change over time.

    1. “The Least Burdensome Provisions of the FDA Modernization Act of 1997: Concept and Principles,” dated October 4, 2002, available at: https://www.fda.gov/downloads/MedicalDevices/DeviceRegulationandGuidance/GuidanceDocuments/ucm085999.pdf. 2. “Suggested Format for Developing and Responding to Deficiencies in Accordance with the Least Burdensome Provisions of FDAMA,” dated November 2, 2000, available at: https://www.fda.gov/downloads/MedicalDevices/DeviceRegulationandGuidance/GuidanceDocuments/ucm073680.pdf. Dated: October 20, 2017. Leslie Kux, Associate Commissioner for Policy.
    [FR Doc. 2017-23196 Filed 10-24-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4164-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES Office of the Secretary Notice of Interest Rate on Overdue Debts

    Section 30.18 of the Department of Health and Human Services' claims collection regulations (45 CFR part 30) provides that the Secretary shall charge an annual rate of interest, which is determined and fixed by the Secretary of the Treasury after considering private consumer rates of interest on the date that the Department of Health and Human Services becomes entitled to recovery. The rate cannot be lower than the Department of Treasury's current value of funds rate or the applicable rate determined from the “Schedule of Certified Interest Rates with Range of Maturities” unless the Secretary waives interest in whole or part, or a different rate is prescribed by statute, contract, or repayment agreement. The Secretary of the Treasury may revise this rate quarterly. The Department of Health and Human Services publishes this rate in the Federal Register.

    The current rate of 93/4%, as fixed by the Secretary of the Treasury, is certified for the quarter ended September 30, 2017. This rate is based on the Interest Rates for Specific Legislation, “National Health Services Corps Scholarship Program (42 U.S.C. 254o(b)(1)(A))” and “National Research Service Award Program (42 U.S.C. 288(c)(4)(B)).” This interest rate will be applied to overdue debt until the Department of Health and Human Services publishes a revision.

    Dated: October 17, 2017. David C. Horn, Director, Office of Financial Policy and Reporting.
    [FR Doc. 2017-23092 Filed 10-24-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4150-04-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES Office of the Secretary Office of the Assistant Secretary for Administration; Statement of Organization, Functions, and Delegations of Authority

    Part A, Office of the Secretary, Statement of Organization, Functions, and Delegations of Authority for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is being amended at Part A, Chapter AJ, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Administration (ASA), which was last amended at 77 FR 2729, dated January 19, 2012, and most recently at 77 FR 71004, dated November 28, 2012. Part A, Chapter AB, Section AB.20 a paragraph on Office of Security and Strategic Information (ABE), is being inserted. Part P, Program Support Center (PSC), Statement of Organization, Functions, and Delegations of Authority, which was last amended at 75 FR 369-370, dated January 5, 2010, is not being amended. This notice transfers the onboarding/suitability and physical security functions of the Office for Security and Strategic Information (OSSI) to PSC. This transfer of functions complements the existing PSC component's facilities management functions, parking garage entrance, safety-related programs, and other administrative functions. This notice also updates information regarding OSSI's direct report to the Deputy Secretary, organizational structure, as well as the new roles and responsibilities for the Assistant Deputy Secretary for National Security and Secretary's Senior Intelligence Official and for OSSI.

    A. Part P, Program Support Center, the statement of organization, functions, and delegations of Authority therein need not be changed as the transferred functions are within the scope of the functions of PSC as described.

    B. Under Chapter AJ, Section AJ.20, Functions, delete the last paragraph, which begins with “Office of Security and Strategic Information (AJS),” in its entirety.

    C. Under Chapter AB, Section AB.20, Functions, insert the following new paragraph at the end of the section with the following:

    Office of Security and Strategic Information (ABE)

    The Office of Security and Strategic Information is headed by the Assistant Deputy Secretary for National Security, who reports directly to the Deputy Secretary and also serves as the Secretary's Senior Intelligence Official on intelligence and counterintelligence issues. The Assistant Deputy Secretary for National Security has been delegated original classification authority by the Secretary. The Assistant Deputy Secretary for National Security manages the Office of Security and Strategic Information (OSSI). OSSI's vision is for HHS personnel to successfully accomplish missions worldwide in a security-informed manner and with the actionable intelligence needed, at the right time, for operational and policy decisions. OSSI's responsibilities include: Integrating intelligence and security information into HHS policy and operational decisions; assessing, anticipating, and warning of potential security threats to the Department and our national security; and, providing policy guidance on and managing the OS implementation of the Department's security, intelligence and counterintelligence programs. OSSI's programs include national security adjudication, classified national security information management, secure compartmented information facilities management, communications security, safeguarding and sharing of classified information, cyber threat intelligence, and counterintelligence. In coordination with the Director of National Intelligence, OSSI has been designated as a Federal Intelligence Coordinating Office and the Assistant Deputy Secretary for National Security serves as the HHS Federal Senior Intelligence Coordinator. OSSI has responsibilities to establish implementing guidance, provide oversight, and manage the Department's policy for the sharing, safeguarding, and coordinated exchange of information related to national or homeland security with other federal departments and agencies, including law enforcement organizations and the Intelligence Community, in compliance with HHS policies and applicable laws, regulations, and Executive Orders.

    E. Delegation of Authority. Pending further redelegation, directives or orders made by the Secretary or Deputy Secretary, all delegations and redelegations of authority made to officials and employees of affected organizational components will continue in them or their successors pending further redelegations, provided they are consistent with this reorganization.

    Eric D. Hargan, Acting Secretary, Department of Health and Human Services.
    [FR Doc. 2017-23091 Filed 10-24-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4151-17-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES National Institutes of Health National Institute on Aging; Notice of Closed Meeting

    Pursuant to section 10(d) of the Federal Advisory Committee Act, as amended, notice is hereby given of the following meeting.

    The meeting will be closed to the public in accordance with the provisions set forth in sections 552b(c)(4) and 552b(c)(6), Title 5 U.S.C., as amended. The grant applications and the discussions could disclose confidential trade secrets or commercial property such as patentable material, and personal information concerning individuals associated with the grant applications, the disclosure of which would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.

    Name of Committee: National Institute on Aging Special Emphasis Panel; Infrastructure Development for Interdisciplinary Aging Studies.

    Date: November 21, 2017.

    Time: 12:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications.

    Place: National Institute on Aging, Gateway Building, Suite 2W200, 7201 Wisconsin Ave., Bethesda, MD 20892 (Telephone Conference Call).

    Contact Person: Isis S. Mikhail, MD, MPH, DRPH, National Institute on Aging, Gateway Building, 7201 Wisconsin Avenue, Suite 2C212, Bethesda, MD 20892, 301-402-7704, [email protected]

    (Catalogue of Federal Domestic Assistance Program Nos. 93.866, Aging Research, National Institutes of Health, HHS)
    Dated: October 19, 2017. Melanie J. Pantoja, Program Analyst, Office of Federal Advisory Committee Policy.
    [FR Doc. 2017-23127 Filed 10-24-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4140-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES National Institutes of Health Center for Scientific Review; Notice of Closed Meetings

    Pursuant to section 10(d) of the Federal Advisory Committee Act, as amended, notice is hereby given of the following meetings.

    The meetings will be closed to the public in accordance with the provisions set forth in sections 552b(c)(4) and 552b(c)(6), Title 5 U.S.C., as amended. The grant applications and the discussions could disclose confidential trade secrets or commercial property such as patentable material, and personal information concerning individuals associated with the grant applications, the disclosure of which would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.

    Name of Committee: Center for Scientific Review Special Emphasis Panel; Member Conflict: Neurobiology of Neurodegenerative Disorders and Brain Tumors.

    Date: November 9, 2017.

    Time: 2:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications.

    Place: National Institutes of Health, 6701 Rockledge Drive, Bethesda, MD 20892 (Telephone Conference Call).

    Contact Person: Wei-Qin Zhao, Ph.D., Scientific Review Officer, Center for Scientific Review, National Institutes of Health, 6701 Rockledge Drive, Room 5181, MSC 7846, Bethesda, MD 20892-7846, 301-827-7238, [email protected].

    This notice is being published less than 15 days prior to the meeting due to the timing limitations imposed by the review and funding cycle.

    Name of Committee: Center for Scientific Review Special Emphasis Panel; Program Projects: Support of NIGMS Program Project grants (P01).

    Date: November 15, 2017.

    Time: 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications.

    Place: National Institutes of Health, 6701 Rockledge Drive, Bethesda, MD 20892 (Telephone Conference Call).

    Contact Person: Methode Bacanamwo, Ph.D., Scientific Review Officer, Center for Scientific Review, National Institutes of Health, 6701 Rockledge Drive, Room 2200, Bethesda, MD 20892, 301-827-7088, [email protected]

    Name of Committee: Center for Scientific Review Special Emphasis Panel, Member Conflict: Chromosome Dynamics and Regulation of Transcription.

    Date: November 20, 2017.

    Time: 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications.

    Place: National Institutes of Health, 6701 Rockledge Drive, Bethesda, MD 20892 (Telephone Conference Call).

    Contact Person: Michael H. Chaitin, Ph.D., Scientific Review Officer, Center for Scientific Review, National Institutes of Health, 6701 Rockledge Drive, Room 5202, MSC 7850, Bethesda, MD 20892, (301) 435-0910, [email protected]

    (Catalogue of Federal Domestic Assistance Program Nos. 93.306, Comparative Medicine; 93.333, Clinical Research, 93.306, 93.333, 93.337, 93.393-93.396, 93.837-93.844, 93.846-93.878, 93.892, 93.893, National Institutes of Health, HHS)
    Dated: October 20, 2017. Anna Snouffer, Deputy Director, Office of Federal Advisory Committee Policy.
    [FR Doc. 2017-23176 Filed 10-24-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4140-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES National Institutes of Health Center for Scientific Review; Notice of Closed Meetings

    Pursuant to section 10(d) of the Federal Advisory Committee Act, as amended, notice is hereby given of the following meetings.

    The meetings will be closed to the public in accordance with the provisions set forth in sections 552b(c)(4) and 552b(c)(6), Title 5 U.S.C., as amended. The grant applications and the discussions could disclose confidential trade secrets or commercial property such as patentable material, and personal information concerning individuals associated with the grant applications, the disclosure of which would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.

    Name of Committee: Center for Scientific Review Special Emphasis Panel, Dental, Microbiology and Oral Biology.

    Date: November 16, 2017.

    Time: 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications.

    Place: National Institutes of Health, 6701 Rockledge Drive, Bethesda, MD 20892 (Virtual Meeting).

    Contact Person: Baljit S Moonga, Ph.D., Scientific Review Officer, Center for Scientific Review, National Institutes of Health, 6701 Rockledge Drive, Room 4214, MSC 7806, Bethesda, MD 20892, 301-435-1777, [email protected].

    Name of Committee: Center for Scientific Review Special Emphasis Panel, Member Conflicts: Asthma, Host Defense, COPD, and Cystic Fibrosis.

    Date: November 16-17, 2017.

    Time: 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications.

    Place: National Institutes of Health, 6701 Rockledge Drive, Bethesda, MD 20892 (Virtual Meeting).

    Contact Person: Ghenima Dirami, Ph.D., Scientific Review Officer, Center for Scientific Review, National Institutes of Health, 6701 Rockledge Drive, Room 4122, MSC 7814, Bethesda, MD 20892, 240-498-7546, [email protected].

    Name of Committee: Center for Scientific Review Special Emphasis Panel, Dermatology, Rheumatology.

    Date: November 17, 2017.

    Time: 12:30 p.m to 5:00 p.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications.

    Place: National Institutes of Health, 6701 Rockledge Drive, Bethesda, MD 20892 (Virtual Meeting).

    Contact Person: Richard Ingraham, Ph.D., Scientific Review Officer, Center for Scientific Review, National Institutes of Health, 6701 Rockledge Drive, Room 4116, MSC 7814, Bethesda, MD 20892, 301-496-8551, [email protected].

    (Catalogue of Federal Domestic Assistance Program Nos. 93.306, Comparative Medicine; 93.333, Clinical Research, 93.306, 93.333, 93.337, 93.393-93.396, 93.837-93.844, 93.846-93.878, 93.892, 93.893, National Institutes of Health, HHS)
    Dated: October 19, 2017. David Clary, Program Analyst, Office of Federal Advisory Committee Policy.
    [FR Doc. 2017-23126 Filed 10-24-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4140-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES National Institutes of Health Prospective Grant of an Exclusive Patent License: Computer-Aided Diagnosis of Prostate Cancer in Multi-Parametric MRI AGENCY:

    National Institutes of Health, HHS.

    ACTION:

    Notice.

    SUMMARY:

    The National Cancer Institute and Clinical Center, institutes of the National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services, are contemplating the grant of an Exclusive Patent License to practice the inventions embodied in the U.S. Patents and Patent Applications listed in the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section of this notice to ScanMed, LLC located in Omaha, NE.

    DATES:

    Only written comments and/or applications for a license which are received by the National Cancer Institute's Technology Transfer Center on or before November 9, 2017 will be considered.

    ADDRESSES:

    Requests for copies of the patent application, inquiries, and comments relating to the contemplated Exclusive Patent License should be directed to: Tedd Fenn, Senior Technology Transfer Manager, NCI Technology Transfer Center, 9609 Medical Center Drive, RM 1E530 MSC 9702, Bethesda, MD 20892-9702 (for business mail), Rockville, MD 20850-9702, Telephone: (240)-276-5530; Facsimile: (240)-276-5504, Email: [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Intellectual Property

    United States Provisional Patent Application No. 62/462,256 filed February 22, 2017 “Computer-Aided Diagnosis of Prostate Cancer in Multi-parametric MRI”

    The prospective exclusive license territory may be worldwide and the field of use may be limited to the use of Licensed Patent Rights for the following: “Class II or III computer-assisted diagnostics systems for use with Magnetic Resonance Imaging, of the anatomy of the prostate.”

    The subject technology is an automated computer assisted diagnostic system for processing and visualizing prostate lesions on MRI. The system uses specialized algorithms (an ensemble of multiple random decision trees, Random Forest) that is trained against: (1) Hand drawn contours, (2) recorded biopsy results, and (3) normal cases from randomly sampled patient images weighted for lesion size. The system produces a probability map of potential cancerous lesions in multiparametric MRI.

    This notice is made in accordance with 35 U.S.C. 209 and 37 CFR part 404. The prospective exclusive license will be royalty bearing, and the prospective exclusive license may be granted unless within fifteen (15) days from the date of this published notice, the National Cancer Institute receives written evidence and argument that establishes that the grant of the license would not be consistent with the requirements of 35 U.S.C. 209 and 37 CFR part 404.

    Complete applications for a license in the prospective field of use that are filed in response to this notice within the 15 days of this notice, will be treated as objections to the grant of the contemplated Exclusive Patent License Agreement. Comments and objections submitted to this notice will not be made available for public inspection and, to the extent permitted by law, will not be released under the Freedom of Information Act, 5 U.S.C. 552.

    Dated: October 19, 2017. Richard U. Rodriguez, Associate Director, Technology Transfer Center, National Cancer Institute.
    [FR Doc. 2017-23175 Filed 10-24-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4140-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES National Institutes of Health National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences; Notice of Closed Meetings

    Pursuant to section 10(d) of the Federal Advisory Committee Act, as amended, notice is hereby given of the following meetings.

    The meetings will be closed to the public in accordance with the provisions set forth in sections 552b(c)(4) and 552b(c)(6), Title 5 U.S.C., as amended. The grant applications and the discussions could disclose confidential trade secrets or commercial property such as patentable material, and personal information concerning individuals associated with the grant applications, the disclosure of which would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.

    Name of Committee: National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences Special Emphasis Panel, Review of Environmental Placental Origins of Development (ePOD).

    Date: November 6-7, 2017.

    Time: 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications.

    Place: Hyatt Place Durham Southpoint, Meeting Place, Rooms II and III, 7840 North Carolina Highway 751, Durham, NC 27713.

    Contact Person: Janice B. Allen, Ph.D., Scientific Review Officer Scientific Review Branch, Division of Extramural Research and Training, Nat. Institute of Environmental Health Science, P.O. Box 12233, MD EC-30/Room 3170 B, Research Triangle Park, NC 27709, 919/541-7556.

    Name of Committee: Environmental Health Sciences Review Committee, Training in Environmental Health Sciences.

    Date: November 14, 2017.

    Time: 8:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications.

    Place: Hyatt Place Durham Southpoint, 7840 North Carolina Highway 751, Meeting Rooms II and III, Durham, NC 27713.

    Contact Person: Linda K. Bass, Ph.D., Scientific Review Officer, Scientific Review Branch, Division of Extramural Research and Training, Nat'l Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, P.O. Box 12233, MD EC-30, Research Triangle Park, NC 27709, (919) 541-1307.

    Name of Committee: National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences Special Emphasis Panel, Training in Environmental Health Sciences.

    Date: November 14, 2017.

    Time: 3:45 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications.

    Place: Hyatt Place Durham Southpoint, 7840 North Carolina Highway 751, Meeting Rooms II and III, 7840 NC-751, Durham, NC 27713.

    Contact Person: Leroy Worth, Ph.D., Scientific Review Officer, Scientific Review Branch, Division of Extramural Research and Training, Nat. Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, P.O. Box 12233, MD EC-30/Room 3171, Research Triangle Park, NC 27709, 919/541-0670, [email protected]

    Name of Committee: National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences Special Emphasis Panel, Time-Sensitive Review in Environmental Health Sciences.

    Date: November 16, 2017.

    Time: 11:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications.

    Place: NIEHS/National Institutes of Health, Keystone Building, 530 Davis Drive, Room 3118, Research Triangle Park, NC 27709.

    Contact Person: Laura A. Thomas, Ph.D., Scientific Review Officer, Scientific Review Branch, Division of Extramural Research and Training, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, Research Triangle Park, NC 27709 919-541-2824, [email protected]

    (Catalogue of Federal Domestic Assistance Program Nos. 93.115, Biometry and Risk Estimation—Health Risks from Environmental Exposures; 93.142, NIEHS Hazardous Waste Worker Health and Safety Training; 93.143, NIEHS Superfund Hazardous Substances—Basic Research and Education; 93.894, Resources and Manpower Development in the Environmental Health Sciences; 93.113, Biological Response to Environmental Health Hazards; 93.114, Applied Toxicological Research and Testing, National Institutes of Health, HHS)
    Dated: October 20, 2017. Natasha M. Copeland, Program Analyst, Office of Federal Advisory Committee Policy.
    [FR Doc. 2017-23179 Filed 10-24-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4140-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES National Institutes of Health National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences; Notice of Closed Meeting

    Pursuant to section 10(d) of the Federal Advisory Committee Act, as amended, notice is hereby given of the following meeting.

    The meeting will be closed to the public in accordance with the provisions set forth in sections 552b(c)(4) and 552b(c)(6), Title 5 U.S.C., as amended. The grant applications and the discussions could disclose confidential trade secrets or commercial property such as patentable material, and personal information concerning individuals associated with the grant applications, the disclosure of which would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.

    Name of Committee: National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences Special Emphasis Panel; Career Development in Environmental Research.

    Date: November 2, 2017.

    Time: 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications.

    Place: NIEHS/National Institutes of Health Keystone Building, 530 Davis Drive, Research Triangle Park, NC 27709 (Virtual Meeting).

    Contact Person: Laura A. Thomas, Ph.D., Scientific Review Officer, Scientific Review Branch, Division of Extramural Research and Training, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, Research Triangle Park, NC 27709, 919-541-2824, [email protected].

    This notice is being published less than 15 days prior to the meeting due to the timing limitations imposed by the review and funding cycle.

    (Catalogue of Federal Domestic Assistance Program Nos. 93.115, Biometry and Risk Estimation—Health Risks from Environmental Exposures; 93.142, NIEHS Hazardous Waste Worker Health and Safety Training; 93.143, NIEHS Superfund Hazardous Substances—Basic Research and Education; 93.894, Resources and Manpower Development in the Environmental Health Sciences; 93.113, Biological Response to Environmental Health Hazards; 93.114, Applied Toxicological Research and Testing, National Institutes of Health, HHS)
    Dated: October 20, 2017. Natasha M. Copeland, Program Analyst, Office of Federal Advisory Committee Policy.
    [FR Doc. 2017-23180 Filed 10-24-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4140-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES National Institutes of Health Government-Owned Inventions; Availability for Licensing AGENCY:

    National Institutes of Health.

    ACTION:

    Notice.

    SUMMARY:

    The inventions listed below are owned by an agency of the U.S. Government and are available for licensing in the U.S.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Licensing information and copies of the patent applications listed below may be obtained by emailing the indicated licensing contact at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood, Office of Technology Transfer and Development Office of Technology Transfer, 31 Center Drive Room 4A29, MSC2479, Bethesda, MD 20892-2479; telephone: 301-402-5579. A signed Confidential Disclosure Agreement may be required to receive copies of the patent applications.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    This notice is in accordance with 35 U.S.C. 209 and 37 CFR part 404 to achieve commercialization of results of federally-funded research and development. Foreign patent applications are filed on selected inventions to extend market coverage for companies and may also be available for licensing. A description of the technology follows.

    Segmented Metallic Guidewires

    Description of Technology: The invention pertains to segmented metallic guidewires that are suitable for MRI catheterization. Guidewires contain plurality of short conductive metallic segments that are individually short enough to not resonate during MR imaging. The conductive segments are electrically insulated from each other and mechanically coupled together end-to-end via connectors, such as stiffness matched connectors, to provide a sufficiently long, strong, and flexible guidewire for catheterization that is non-resonant during MRI.

    Potential Commercial Applications: Endovascular interventions.

    Inventors: Robert Lederman, Ozgur Kocaturk, Burcu Basar (NHLBI).

    Intellectual Property: HHS Reference No. E-253-2014/0, U.S. Provisional Patent Application 61/066,167 filed October 20, 2014, International Patent Application PCT/US2015/056266 filed October 19, 2015, European Patent Application 15787824.0 October 19, 2015 and U.S. Patent Application 15/514,744 filed March 27, 2017.

    Licensing Contact: Michael Shmilovich, Esq, CLP; 301-435-5019; [email protected].

    Dated: October 18, 2017. Michael Shmilovich, Senior Licensing and Patenting Manager, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, Office of Technology Transfer and Development.
    [FR Doc. 2017-23178 Filed 10-24-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4140-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES National Institutes of Health National Library of Medicine; Notice of Closed Meeting

    Pursuant to section 10(d) of the Federal Advisory Committee Act, as amended, notice is hereby given of the following meeting.

    The meeting will be closed to the public in accordance with the provisions set forth in sections 552b(c)(4) and 552b(c)(6), Title 5 U.S.C., as amended. The grant applications and the discussions could disclose confidential trade secrets or commercial property such as patentable materials, and personal information concerning individuals associated with the grant applications, the disclosure of which would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.

    Name of Committee: National Library of Medicine Special Emphasis Panel; R01/F31/K01/K99 Conflicts.

    Date: December 1, 2017.

    Time: 12:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications.

    Place: National Library of Medicine/Center for Scientific Review, 6701 Rockledge Drive, Room 3042, Bethesda, MD 20892 (Virtual Meeting).

    Contact Person: Zoe E. Huang, MD, Scientific Review Officer, Division of Extramural Programs, National Library of Medicine, NIH, 6705 Rockledge Drive, Suite 301, Bethesda, MD 20892-7968, 301-594-4937, [email protected]

    (Catalogue of Federal Domestic Assistance Program No. 93.879, Medical Library Assistance, National Institutes of Health, HHS)
    Dated: October 19, 2017. Michelle Trout, Program Analyst, Office of the Federal Advisory Committee Policy.
    [FR Doc. 2017-23129 Filed 10-24-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4140-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES National Institutes of Health National Institute on Drug Abuse; Notice of Closed Meetings

    Pursuant to section 10(d) of the Federal Advisory Committee Act, as amended, notice is hereby given of the following meetings.

    The meetings will be closed to the public in accordance with the provisions set forth in sections 552b(c)(4) and 552b(c)(6), Title 5 U.S.C., as amended. The grant applications and the discussions could disclose confidential trade secrets or commercial property such as patentable material, and personal information concerning individuals associated with the grant applications, the disclosure of which would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.

    Name of Committee: National Institute on Drug Abuse Special Emphasis Panel; Multi-Site Studies for System-Level Implementation of Substance Use Prevention and Treatment Services (R01; R34).

    Date: November 7, 2017.

    Time: 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications.

    Place: National Institutes of Health, Neuroscience Center, 6001 Executive Boulevard, Rockville, MD 20852 (Telephone Conference Call).

    Contact Person: Gerald L. McLaughlin, Ph.D., Scientific Review Officer, Office of Extramural Policy and Review, National Institute on Drug Abuse, NIH, DHHS, 6001 Executive Blvd., Room 4238, MSC 9550, Bethesda, MD 20892-9550, 301-827-5819, [email protected]

    Name of Committee: National Institute on Drug Abuse Special Emphasis Panel; Limited Competition—Cohort Studies of HIV/AIDS and Substance Abuse (U01).

    Date: November 7, 2017.

    Time: 2:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate cooperative agreement applications.

    Place: National Institutes of Health, Neuroscience Center, 6001 Executive Boulevard, Rockville, MD 20852 (Telephone Conference Call).

    Contact Person: Hiromi Ono, Ph.D., Scientific Review Officer, Office of Extramural Policy and Review, National Institute on Drug Abuse, National Institutes of Health, DHHS, 6001 Executive Boulevard, Room 4238, MSC 9550, Bethesda, MD 20892, 301-827-5820, [email protected]

    Name of Committee: National Institute on Drug Abuse Special Emphasis Panel; Advancing Exceptional Research on HIV/AIDS and Substance Abuse (R01).

    Date: November 10, 2017.

    Time: 12:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications.

    Place: National Institutes of Health, Neuroscience Center, 6001 Executive Boulevard, Rockville, MD 20852 (Telephone Conference Call).

    Contact Person: Hiromi Ono, Ph.D., Scientific Review Officer, Office of Extramural Policy and Review, National Institute on Drug Abuse, National Institutes of Health, DHHS, 6001 Executive Boulevard, Room 4238, MSC 9550, Bethesda, MD 20892, 301-827-5820, [email protected]

    Name of Committee: National Institute on Drug Abuse Special Emphasis Panel; Wearable to Track Recovery and Relapse Factors for People w/Addiction (R43, R44).

    Date: November 21, 2017.

    Time: 1:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications.

    Place: National Institutes of Health, Neuroscience Center, 6001 Executive Boulevard, Rockville, MD 20852 (Telephone Conference Call).

    Contact Person: Julia Berzhanskaya, Ph.D., Scientific Review Officer, Office of Extramural Policy and Review, Division of Extramural Research, National Institute on Drug Abuse, NIH, DHHS, 6001 Executive Boulevard, Room 4234, MSC 9550, Bethesda, MD 20892, 301-827-5840, [email protected]

    Name of Committee: National Institute on Drug Abuse Special Emphasis Panel; NIDA Research Education Program for Clinical Researchers and Clinicians (R25).

    Date: December 4, 2017.

    Time: 12:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications.

    Place: National Institutes of Health, Neuroscience Center, 6001 Executive Boulevard, Rockville, MD 20852 (Telephone Conference Call).

    Contact Person: Gerald L. McLaughlin, Ph.D., Scientific Review Officer, Office of Extramural Policy and Review, National Institute on Drug Abuse, NIH, DHHS, 6001 Executive Blvd., Room 4238, MSC 9550, Bethesda, MD 20892-9550, 301-827-5819, [email protected]

    Name of Committee: National Institute on Drug Abuse Special Emphasis Panel; Nasal Delivery of CNS Therapeutics (R41, R42, R43, R44).

    Date: December 5, 2017.

    Time: 1:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications.

    Place: National Institutes of Health, Neuroscience Center, 6001 Executive Boulevard, Rockville, MD 20852 (Telephone Conference Call).

    Contact Person: Julia Berzhanskaya, Ph.D., Scientific Review Officer, Office of Extramural Policy and Review, Division of Extramural Research, National Institute on Drug Abuse, NIH, DHHS, 6001 Executive Boulevard, Room 4234, MSC 9550, Bethesda, MD 20892, 301-827-5840, [email protected]

    Name of Committee: National Institute on Drug Abuse Special Emphasis Panel; Conference Grant Review (R13).

    Date: December 6, 2017.

    Time: 1:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.

    Agenda: To review and evaluate grant applications.

    Place: National Institutes of Health, Neuroscience Center, 6001 Executive Boulevard, Rockville, MD 20852 (Telephone Conference Call).

    Contact Person: Shang-Yi Anne Tsai, Ph.D., Scientific Review Officer, Office of Extramural Policy and Review, Division of Extramural Research, National Institute on Drug Abuse, NIH, DHHS, 6001 Executive Boulevard, Room 4228, MSC 9550, Bethesda, MD 20892, 301-827-5842, [email protected]

    (Catalogue of Federal Domestic Assistance Program Nos.: 93.279, Drug Abuse and Addiction Research Programs, National Institutes of Health, HHS)
    Dated: October 19, 2017. Natasha M. Copeland, Program Analyst, Office of Federal Advisory Committee Policy.
    [FR Doc. 2017-23128 Filed 10-24-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4140-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES National Institutes of Health Government-Owned Inventions; Availability for Licensing AGENCY:

    National Institutes of Health, HHS.

    ACTION:

    Notice.

    SUMMARY:

    The invention listed below is owned by an agency of the U.S. Government and is available for licensing to achieve expeditious commercialization of results of federally-funded research and development. Foreign patent applications are filed on selected inventions to extend market coverage for companies and may also be available for licensing.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Dr. Amy Petrik, 240-627-3721; [email protected] Licensing information and copies of the U.S. patent application listed below may be obtained by communicating with the indicated licensing contact at the Technology Transfer and Intellectual Property Office, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, 5601 Fishers Lane, Rockville, MD, 20852; tel. 301-496-2644. A signed Confidential Disclosure Agreement will be required to receive copies of unpublished patent applications.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Technology description follows.

    Neutralizing Antibodies to Influenza HA and Their Use and Identification

    Description of Technology: The effectiveness of current influenza vaccines varies by strain and season, in part because influenza viruses continuously evolve to evade human immune responses. While the majority of seasonal influenza infections cause relatively mild symptoms, each year influenza virus infections result in over 500,000 hospitalizations in the United States and Europe. Current standard of care for individuals hospitalized with uncomplicated influenza infection is administration of neuraminidase inhibitors. However, frequent use of such antiviral drugs increases the risk that the virus will develop drug resistance, especially in high-risk populations. Thus, alternative strategies are required to protect or treat vulnerable populations who have been hospitalized with severe influenza.

    Using a combination of recombinant proteins and sophisticated flow cytometry, scientists at NIAID isolated families of antibodies capable of neutralizing diverse group 1 and group 2 influenza A viruses. Specifically, the families of antibodies identified precisely target parts of the hemagglutinin (HA) protein, present on the surface of the influenza virus, that are least variable from season to season (Joyce, M.G., et al. Cell (2016) 166 (3): 609-623). Therefore, it is hypothesized that passive administration of members of these families of antibodies to individuals would represent an alternative to the current standard of care for severe influenza virus infection. Additionally, these families of antibodies could be useful for development of a product aimed at conferring passive immunity in vulnerable populations during the time of an outbreak or emergence of a pandemic strain of influenza.

    This technology is available for licensing for commercial development in accordance with 35 U.S.C. 209 and 37 CFR part 404, as well as for further development and evaluation under a research collaboration.

    NIAID is continuing development of these neutralizing antibodies to influenza toward a clinical product for treatment and/or prevention of influenza virus infection. Consequently, for some fields of use, NIAID will evaluate a license applicant's capabilities and experience in advancing similar technologies through the regulatory process.

    Potential Commercial Applications:

    • Prevention of influenza A virus infection

    • Therapeutic intervention to treat influenza infection

    Competitive Advantages:

    • Ability to potently neutralize both group 1 and group 2 influenza A strains

    Development Stage:

    • Proof of concept in animal models

    Inventors: Adrian McDermott (NIAID), Peter Kwong (NIAID), John Mascola (NIAID), M. Gordon Joyce (NIAID), Robert Bailer (NIAID), Sarah Andrews (NIAID), Paul Thomas (NIAID), Gwo-Yu Chuang (NIAID), Adam Wheatley (NIAID), Yi Zhang (NIAID), James Whittle (NIAID).

    Publications: Joyce, M.G., et al. Cell (2016) 166 (3): 609-623

    Intellectual Property: HHS Reference No. E-061-2016—US Patent Application No. 62/330,837 filed May 2, 2016; Patent Cooperation Treaty Application No. PCT/US2017/030641 filed May 2, 2017.

    Licensing Contact: Dr. Amy Petrik, 240-627-3721; [email protected]

    Collaborative Research Opportunity: The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases is seeking statements of capability or interest from parties interested in collaborative research to further develop, evaluate or commercialize influenza monoclonal antibody technologies. For collaboration opportunities, please contact Dr. Amy Petrik, 240-627-3721; [email protected]

    Dated: October 19, 2017. Suzanne Frisbie, Deputy Director,Technology Transfer and Intellectual Property Office, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
    [FR Doc. 2017-23177 Filed 10-24-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4140-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY Coast Guard [Docket No. USCG-2017-0124] Collection of Information Under Review by Office of Management and Budget; OMB Control Number: 1625-0057 AGENCY:

    Coast Guard, DHS.

    ACTION:

    Thirty-day notice requesting comments.

    SUMMARY:

    In compliance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 the U.S. Coast Guard is forwarding an Information Collection Request (ICR), abstracted below, to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), requesting approval for reinstatement, without change, of the following collection of information: 1625-0057, Small Passenger Vessels—Title 46 Subchapters K and T. Our ICR describes the information we seek to collect from the public. Review and comments by OIRA ensure we only impose paperwork burdens commensurate with our performance of duties.

    DATES:

    Comments must reach the Coast Guard and OIRA on or before November 24, 2017.

    ADDRESSES:

    You may submit comments identified by Coast Guard docket number [USCG-2017-0124] to the Coast Guard using the Federal eRulemaking Portal at http://www.regulations.gov. Alternatively, you may submit comments to OIRA using one of the following means:

    (1) Email: [email protected]

    (2) Mail: OIRA, 725 17th Street NW., Washington, DC 20503, attention Desk Officer for the Coast Guard.

    A copy of the ICR is available through the docket on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov. Additionally, copies are available from: Commandant (CG-612), Attn: Paperwork Reduction Act Manager, U.S. Coast Guard, 2703 Martin Luther King Jr. Ave. SE., Stop 7710, Washington, DC 20593-7710.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION:

    Contact Mr. Anthony Smith, Office of Information Management, telephone 202-475-3532, or fax 202-372-8405, for questions on these documents.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Public Participation and Request for Comments

    This Notice relies on the authority of the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995; 44 U.S.C. Chapter 35, as amended. An ICR is an application to OIRA seeking the approval, extension, or renewal of a Coast Guard collection of information (Collection). The ICR contains information describing the Collection's purpose, the Collection's likely burden on the affected public, an explanation of the necessity of the Collection, and other important information describing the Collection. There is one ICR for each Collection.

    The Coast Guard invites comments on whether this ICR should be granted based on the Collection being necessary for the proper performance of Departmental functions. In particular, the Coast Guard would appreciate comments addressing: (1) The practical utility of the Collection; (2) the accuracy of the estimated burden of the Collection; (3) ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of information subject to the Collection; and (4) ways to minimize the burden of the Collection on respondents, including the use of automated collection techniques or other forms of information technology. These comments will help OIRA determine whether to approve the ICR referred to in this Notice.

    We encourage you to respond to this request by submitting comments and related materials. Comments to Coast Guard or OIRA must contain the OMB Control Number of the ICR. They must also contain the docket number of this request, [USCG-2017-0124], and must be received by November 24, 2017.

    Submitting Comments

    We encourage you to submit comments through the Federal eRulemaking Portal at http://www.regulations.gov. If your material cannot be submitted using http://www.regulations.gov, contact the person in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section of this document for alternate instructions. Documents mentioned in this notice, and all public comments, are in our online docket at http://www.regulations.gov and can be viewed by following that Web site's instructions. Additionally, if you go to the online docket and sign up for email alerts, you will be notified when comments are posted.

    We accept anonymous comments. All comments received will be posted without change to http://www.regulations.gov and will include any personal information you have provided. For more about privacy and the docket, you may review a Privacy Act notice regarding the Federal Docket Management System in the March 24, 2005, issue of the Federal Register (70 FR 15086).

    OIRA posts its decisions on ICRs online at http://www.reginfo.gov/public/do/PRAMain after the comment period for each ICR. An OMB Notice of Action on each ICR will become available via a hyperlink in the OMB Control Number: 1625-0057.

    Previous Request for Comments

    This request provides a 30-day comment period required by OIRA. The Coast Guard published the 60-day notice (82 FR 36812, August 7, 2017) required by 44 U.S.C. 3506(c)(2). That Notice elicited no comments. Accordingly, no changes have been made to the Collections.

    Information Collection Request

    Title: Small Passenger Vessels—Title 46 Subchapters K and T.

    OMB Control Number: 1625-0057.

    Summary: The information requirements are necessary for the proper administration and enforcement of the program on safety of commercial vessels as it affects small passenger vessels. The requirements affect small passenger vessels (under 100 gross tons) that carry more than six passengers.

    Need: Under the authority of 46 U.S.C. 3305 and 3306, the Coast Guard prescribed regulations for the design, construction, alteration, repair and operation of small passenger vessels to secure the safety of individuals and property on board. The Coast Guard uses the information in this collection to ensure compliance with the requirements.

    Forms: CG-841, Certificate of Inspection; CG-854, Temporary Certificate of Inspection; CG-948, Permit to Proceed to Another Port for Repairs; CG-949, Permit to Carry Excursion Party; CG-3752, Application for Inspection of U.S. Vessel; CG-5256, U.S. Coast Guard Inspected Small Passenger Vessel decal.

    Respondents: Owners and operators of small passenger vessels.

    Frequency: On occasion.

    Hour Burden Estimate: The estimated burden has decreased from 399,420 hours to 397,124 hours a year due to a decrease in the estimated annual number of respondents.

    Authority:

    The Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995; 44 U.S.C. Chapter 35, as amended.

    Dated: October 12, 2017. James D. Roppel, Acting Chief, Office of Information Management, U.S. Coast Guard.
    [FR Doc. 2017-23142 Filed 10-24-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 9110-04-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY Coast Guard [Docket No. USCG-2017-0854] Meeting of the National Offshore Safety Advisory Committee AGENCY:

    Coast Guard, Department of Homeland Security.

    ACTION:

    Notice of Federal Advisory Committee meeting.

    SUMMARY:

    The National Offshore Safety Advisory Committee and its Subcommittees will hold meetings in Houston, Texas to discuss the safety of operations and other matters affecting the offshore oil and gas industry. These meetings are open to the public.

    DATES:

    The meetings will be held on Tuesday, December 12, 2017 and on Wednesday, December 13, 2017. The Safety Management Systems on Vessels Engaging in Well Intervention Activities Subcommittee of the National Offshore Safety Advisory Committee will meet on Tuesday, December 12, 2017 from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. (All times are Central Time). Following this meeting the Regulatory Review Subcommittee will meet from 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

    The full Committee will meet on Wednesday, December 13, 2017, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. These meetings may end early if the Committee has completed its business, or the meetings may be extended based on the number of public comments.

    ADDRESSES:

    The meetings will be held at the United States Coast Guard Sector Houston-Galveston, 13411 Hillard Street, Houston, Texas 77034. https://homeport.uscg.mil/mycg/portal/ep/portDirectory.do?tabId=1&cotpId=28#.

    For information on facilities or services for individuals with disabilities, or to request special assistance at the meetings, contact the individuals listed in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section as soon as possible.

    Instructions: You are free to submit comments at any time, including orally at the meetings, but if you want Committee members to review your comment before the meetings, please submit your comments no later than November 24, 2017. We are particularly interested in comments on the issues in the “Agenda” section below. You must include “Department of Homeland Security” and the docket number USCG-2017-0854. Written comments must be submitted using the Federal eRulemaking Portal at http://www.regulations.gov. If you encounter technical difficulties with comment submission, contact the individuals listed in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section below. Comments received will be posted without alteration at http://www.regulations.gov, including any personal information provided. You may review the Privacy Act and Security Notice for the Federal Docket Management System at https://regulations.gov/privacyNotice.

    Docket Search: For access to the docket or to read documents or comments related to this notice, go to http://www.regulations.gov, insert USCG-2017-0854 in the Search box, press Enter, and then click on the item you wish to view.

    A public oral comment period will be held during the meeting on December 13, 2017, and speakers are requested to limit their comments to 3 minutes. Contact one of the individuals listed below to register as a speaker.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Commander Jose Perez, Designated Federal Officer of the National Offshore Safety Advisory Committee, Commandant (CG-OES-2), U.S. Coast Guard, 2703 Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue SE., Stop 7509, Washington, DC 20593-7509; telephone (202) 372-1410, fax (202) 372-8382 or email [email protected], or Mr. Patrick Clark, telephone (202) 372-1358, fax (202) 372-8382 or email [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Notice of this meeting is in compliance with the Federal Advisory Committee Act, Title 5 United States Code Appendix. The National Offshore Safety Advisory Committee provides advice and recommendations to the Department of Homeland Security on matters relating to activities directly involved with or in support of the exploration of offshore mineral and energy resources insofar as they relate to matters within Coast Guard jurisdiction.

    A copy of all meeting documentation will be available at https://homeport.uscg.mil/nosac no later than November 24, 2017. Alternatively, you may contact Mr. Patrick Clark as noted in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section above.

    Agenda Day 1

    The National Offshore Safety Advisory Committee's Subcommittee on “Safety Management Systems on Vessels Engaging in Well Intervention Activities” will meet on December 12, 2017 from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. to review, discuss, and formulate recommendations.

    The National Offshore Safety Advisory Committee's Subcommittee on Regulatory Review will meet from 11:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. to review, discuss and formulate recommendations.

    Day 2

    The National Offshore Safety Advisory full Committee will hold a public meeting on December 13, 2017 from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. (Central Time) to review and discuss the progress of, and any reports and recommendations received from the above listed Subcommittees from their deliberations on December 12, 2017. The Committee will then use this information and consider public comments in formulating recommendations to the United States Coast Guard. Public comments or questions will be taken at the discretion of the Designated Federal Officer during the discussion and recommendation portions of the meeting and during the public comment period, see Agenda item (9).

    A complete agenda for December 13, 2017 full Committee meeting is as follows:

    (1) Welcoming remarks.

    (2) General Administration and accept minutes from July 2017 National Offshore Safety Advisory Committee public teleconference.

    (3) Installation of new members.

    (4) Installation of new Committee Chair.

    (5) Current Business—Presentation and discussion of progress from the Subcommittee on Safety Management Systems on Vessels Engaging in Well Intervention Activities.

    (6) Presentation and discussion of progress from the Regulatory Review Subcommittee.

    (7) New Business—Outer Continental Shelf Industry Focus Forum.

    (a) Eighth Coast Guard District Officer In Charge Marine Inspection Operational Update.

    (b) Outer Continental Shelf National Center of Expertise Update.

    (c) Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement Gulf Region Update.

    (d) Industry Regulatory Discussion

    (8) Presentations on the following matters:

    (a) U.S. Coast Guard Regulatory Status Update;

    (b) U.S. Coast Guard Cyber Security Initiatives update;

    (c) Maritime Administration Update.

    (d) Update from the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement—Headquarters;

    (9) Public comment period.

    Minutes

    Meeting minutes from this public meeting will be available for public view and copying within 90 days following the close of the meeting at the https://homeport.uscg.mil/nosac Web site.

    Dated: October 19, 2017. Jeffrey G. Lantz, Director of Commercial Regulations and Standard.
    [FR Doc. 2017-23138 Filed 10-24-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 9110-04-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY Coast Guard [Docket No. USCG-2017-0114] Collection of Information Under Review by Office of Management and Budget; OMB Control Number: 1625-0062 AGENCY:

    Coast Guard, DHS.

    ACTION:

    Thirty-day notice requesting comments.

    SUMMARY:

    In compliance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 the U.S. Coast Guard is forwarding an Information Collection Request (ICR), abstracted below, to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), requesting approval for reinstatement, without change, of the following collection of information: 1625-0062, Approval of Alterations to Marine Portable Tanks; Approval of Non-Specification Portable Tanks. Our ICR describes the information we seek to collect from the public. Review and comments by OIRA ensure we only impose paperwork burdens commensurate with our performance of duties.

    DATES:

    Comments must reach the Coast Guard and OIRA on or before November 24, 2017.

    ADDRESSES:

    You may submit comments identified by Coast Guard docket number [USCG-2017-0114] to the Coast Guard using the Federal eRulemaking Portal at http://www.regulations.gov. Alternatively, you may submit comments to OIRA using one of the following means:

    (1) Email: [email protected]

    (2) Mail: OIRA, 725 17th Street NW., Washington, DC 20503, attention Desk Officer for the Coast Guard.

    A copy of the ICR is available through the docket on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov. Additionally, copies are available from: COMMANDANT (CG-612), ATTN: Paperwork Reduction Act Manager, U.S. Coast Guard, 2703 Martin Luther King Jr Ave. SE., Stop 7710, Washington, DC 20593-7710.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Mr. Anthony Smith, Office of Information Management, telephone 202-475-3532, or fax 202-372-8405, for questions on these documents.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Public Participation and Request for Comments

    This Notice relies on the authority of the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995; 44 U.S.C. Chapter 35, as amended. An ICR is an application to OIRA seeking the approval, extension, or renewal of a Coast Guard collection of information (Collection). The ICR contains information describing the Collection's purpose, the Collection's likely burden on the affected public, an explanation of the necessity of the Collection, and other important information describing the Collection. There is one ICR for each Collection.

    The Coast Guard invites comments on whether this ICR should be granted based on the Collection being necessary for the proper performance of Departmental functions. In particular, the Coast Guard would appreciate comments addressing: (1) The practical utility of the Collection; (2) the accuracy of the estimated burden of the Collection; (3) ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of information subject to the Collection; and (4) ways to minimize the burden of the Collection on respondents, including the use of automated collection techniques or other forms of information technology. These comments will help OIRA determine whether to approve the ICR referred to in this Notice.

    We encourage you to respond to this request by submitting comments and related materials. Comments to Coast Guard or OIRA must contain the OMB Control Number of the ICR. They must also contain the docket number of this request, [USCG-2017-0114], and must be received by November 24, 2017.

    Submitting Comments

    We encourage you to submit comments through the Federal eRulemaking Portal at http://www.regulations.gov. If your material cannot be submitted using http://www.regulations.gov, contact the person in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section of this document for alternate instructions. Documents mentioned in this notice, and all public comments, are in our online docket at http://www.regulations.gov and can be viewed by following that Web site's instructions. Additionally, if you go to the online docket and sign up for email alerts, you will be notified when comments are posted.

    We accept anonymous comments. All comments received will be posted without change to http://www.regulations.gov and will include any personal information you have provided. For more about privacy and the docket, you may review a Privacy Act notice regarding the Federal Docket Management System in the March 24, 2005, issue of the Federal Register (70 FR 15086).

    OIRA posts its decisions on ICRs online at http://www.reginfo.gov/public/do/PRAMain after the comment period for each ICR. An OMB Notice of Action on each ICR will become available via a hyperlink in the OMB Control Number: 1625-0062.

    Previous Request for Comments

    This request provides a 30-day comment period required by OIRA. The Coast Guard published the 60-day notice (82 FR 36810, August 7, 2017) required by 44 U.S.C. 3506(c)(2). That Notice elicited no comments. Accordingly, no changes have been made to the Collections.

    Information Collection Request

    Title: Approval of Alterations to Marine Portable Tanks; Approval of Non-specification Portable Tanks.

    OMB Control Number: 1625-0062.

    Summary: The information will be used to evaluate the safety of proposed alterations to marine portable tanks and non-specification portable tank designs used to transfer hazardous materials during offshore operations.

    Need: Approval by the Coast Guard of alterations to marine portable tanks under 46 CFR part 64 ensures that the altered tank retains the level of safety to which it was originally designed. In addition, rules that allow for the approval of non-specification portable tanks ensure that innovation and new designs are not frustrated by the regulation.

    Forms: None.

    Respondents: Owners of marine portable tanks and owners/designers of non-specification portable tanks.

    Frequency: On occasion.

    Hour Burden Estimate: The estimated annual burden remains 18 hours.

    Authority:

    The Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995; 44 U.S.C. Chapter 35, as amended.

    Dated: October 12, 2017. James D. Roppel, Acting Chief, Office of Information Management, U.S. Coast Guard.
    [FR Doc. 2017-23137 Filed 10-24-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 9110-04-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY Coast Guard [Docket No. USCG-2017-0219] Collection of Information Under Review by Office of Management and Budget; OMB Control Number: 1625-0078 AGENCY:

    Coast Guard, DHS.

    ACTION:

    Thirty-day notice requesting comments.

    SUMMARY:

    In compliance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 the U.S. Coast Guard is forwarding an Information Collection Request (ICR), abstracted below, to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), requesting approval for reinstatement, without change, of the following collection of information: 1625-0078, Credentialing and Manning Requirements for Officers on Towing Vessels. Our ICR describes the information we seek to collect from the public. Review and comments by OIRA ensure we only impose paperwork burdens commensurate with our performance of duties.

    DATES:

    Comments must reach the Coast Guard and OIRA on or before November 24, 2017.

    ADDRESSES:

    You may submit comments identified by Coast Guard docket number [USCG-2017-0219] to the Coast Guard using the Federal eRulemaking Portal at http://www.regulations.gov. Alternatively, you may submit comments to OIRA using one of the following means:

    (1) Email: [email protected]

    (2) Mail: OIRA, 725 17th Street NW., Washington, DC 20503, attention Desk Officer for the Coast Guard.

    A copy of the ICR is available through the docket on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov. Additionally, copies are available from: COMMANDANT (CG-612), ATTN: Paperwork Reduction Act Manager, U.S. Coast Guard, 2703 Martin Luther King Jr. Ave. SE., Stop 7710, Washington, DC 20593-7710.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Mr. Anthony Smith, Office of Information Management, telephone 202-475-3532, or fax 202-372-8405, for questions on these documents.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Public Participation and Request for Comments

    This Notice relies on the authority of the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995; 44 U.S.C. Chapter 35, as amended. An ICR is an application to OIRA seeking the approval, extension, or renewal of a Coast Guard collection of information (Collection). The ICR contains information describing the Collection's purpose, the Collection's likely burden on the affected public, an explanation of the necessity of the Collection, and other important information describing the Collection. There is one ICR for each Collection. The Coast Guard invites comments on whether this ICR should be granted based on the Collection being necessary for the proper performance of Departmental functions. In particular, the Coast Guard would appreciate comments addressing: (1) The practical utility of the Collection; (2) the accuracy of the estimated burden of the Collection; (3) ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of information subject to the Collection; and (4) ways to minimize the burden of the Collection on respondents, including the use of automated collection techniques or other forms of information technology. These comments will help OIRA determine whether to approve the ICR referred to in this Notice.

    We encourage you to respond to this request by submitting comments and related materials. Comments to Coast Guard or OIRA must contain the OMB Control Number of the ICR. They must also contain the docket number of this request, [USCG-2017-0219], and must be received by November 24, 2017.

    Submitting Comments

    We encourage you to submit comments through the Federal eRulemaking Portal at http://www.regulations.gov. If your material cannot be submitted using http://www.regulations.gov, contact the person in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section of this document for alternate instructions. Documents mentioned in this notice, and all public comments, are in our online docket at http://www.regulations.gov and can be viewed by following that Web site's instructions. Additionally, if you go to the online docket and sign up for email alerts, you will be notified when comments are posted.

    We accept anonymous comments. All comments received will be posted without change to http://www.regulations.gov and will include any personal information you have provided. For more about privacy and the docket, you may review a Privacy Act notice regarding the Federal Docket Management System in the March 24, 2005, issue of the Federal Register (70 FR 15086).

    OIRA posts its decisions on ICRs online at http://www.reginfo.gov/public/do/PRAMain after the comment period for each ICR. An OMB Notice of Action on each ICR will become available via a hyperlink in the OMB Control Number: 1625-0078.

    Previous Request for Comments

    This request provides a 30-day comment period required by OIRA. The Coast Guard published the 60-day notice (82 FR 37461, August 10, 2017) required by 44 U.S.C. 3506(c)(2). That Notice elicited no comments. Accordingly, no changes have been made to the Collections.

    Information Collection Request

    Title: Credentialing and Manning Requirements for Officers on Towing Vessels.

    OMB Control Number: 1625-0078.

    Summary: Credentialing and manning requirements ensure that towing vessels operating on the navigable waters of the U.S. are under the control of credentialed officers who meet certain qualification and training standards.

    Need: Title 46 Code of Federal Regulations parts 10 and 11 prescribe regulations for the credentialing of maritime personnel. This information collection is necessary to ensure that a mariner's training information is available to assist in determining his or her overall qualifications to hold certain credentials.

    Forms: None.

    Respondents: Owners and operators of towing vessels.

    Frequency: On occasion.

    Hour Burden Estimate: The estimated burden has increased from 15,869 hours to 18,635 hours a year due to an estimated increase in the annual number of respondents.

    Authority:

    The Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995; 44 U.S.C. Chapter 35, as amended.

    Dated: October 12, 2017. James D. Roppel, Acting Chief, Office of Information Management, U.S. Coast Guard.
    [FR Doc. 2017-23139 Filed 10-24-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 9110-04-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY Federal Emergency Management Agency [Docket ID FEMA-2017-0002] Final Flood Hazard Determinations AGENCY:

    Federal Emergency Management Agency, DHS.

    ACTION:

    Final notice.

    SUMMARY:

    Flood hazard determinations, which may include additions or modifications of Base Flood Elevations (BFEs), base flood depths, Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA) boundaries or zone designations, or regulatory floodways on the Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) and where applicable, in the supporting Flood Insurance Study (FIS) reports have been made final for the communities listed in the table below.

    The FIRM and FIS report are the basis of the floodplain management measures that a community is required either to adopt or to show evidence of having in effect in order to qualify or remain qualified for participation in the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA's) National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). In addition, the FIRM and FIS report are used by insurance agents and others to calculate appropriate flood insurance premium rates for buildings and the contents of those buildings.

    DATES:

    The date of March 6, 2018 has been established for the FIRM and, where applicable, the supporting FIS report showing the new or modified flood hazard information for each community.

    ADDRESSES:

    The FIRM, and if applicable, the FIS report containing the final flood hazard information for each community is available for inspection at the respective Community Map Repository address listed in the tables below and will be available online through the FEMA Map Service Center at www.msc.fema.gov by the date indicated above.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Rick Sacbibit, Chief, Engineering Services Branch, Federal Insurance and Mitigation Administration, FEMA, 400 C Street SW., Washington, DC 20472, (202) 646-7659, or (email) [email protected]; or visit the FEMA Map Information eXchange (FMIX) online at www.floodmaps.fema.gov/fhm/fmx_main.html.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) makes the final determinations listed below for the new or modified flood hazard information for each community listed. Notification of these changes has been published in newspapers of local circulation and 90 days have elapsed since that publication. The Deputy Associate Administrator for Insurance and Mitigation has resolved any appeals resulting from this notification.

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

    Interested lessees and owners of real property are encouraged to review the new or revised FIRM and FIS report available at the address cited below for each community or online through the FEMA Map Service Center at www.msc.fema.gov.

    The flood hazard determinations are made final in the watersheds and/or communities listed in the table below.

    (Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance No. 97.022, “Flood Insurance.”) Dated: October 13, 2017. Roy E. Wright, Deputy Associate Administrator for Insurance and Mitigation, Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency.

    I. Non-watershed-based studies:

    Community Community map repository address Yavapai County, Arizona and Incorporated Areas Docket No.: FEMA-B-1529 City of Prescott Public Works Department, 201 South Cortez Street, Prescott, AZ 86303. Unincorporated Areas of Yavapai County Yavapai County Flood Control District Office, 1120 Commerce Drive, Prescott, AZ 86305. Riverside County, California and Incorporated Areas Docket No.: FEMA-B-1532 City of Coachella Community Development Department, 1515 Sixth Street, Coachella, CA 92236. City of Indio Engineering Services Division, 100 Civic Center Mall, Indio, CA 92201. City of La Quinta City Hall, Community Development Department, 78-495 Calle Tampico, La Quinta, CA 92253. Unincorporated Areas of Riverside County Riverside County Flood Control and Water Conservation District, 1995 Market Street, Riverside, CA 92501.
    [FR Doc. 2017-23149 Filed 10-24-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 9110-12-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY Federal Emergency Management Agency [Docket ID FEMA-2017-0002] Changes in Flood Hazard Determinations AGENCY:

    Federal Emergency Management Agency, DHS.

    ACTION:

    Final notice.

    SUMMARY:

    New or modified Base (1-percent annual chance) Flood Elevations (BFEs), base flood depths, Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA) boundaries or zone designations, and/or regulatory floodways (hereinafter referred to as flood hazard determinations) as shown on the indicated Letter of Map Revision (LOMR) for each of the communities listed in the table below are finalized. Each LOMR revises the Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs), and in some cases the Flood Insurance Study (FIS) reports, currently in effect for the listed communities. The flood hazard determinations modified by each LOMR will be used to calculate flood insurance premium rates for new buildings and their contents.

    DATES:

    Each LOMR was finalized as in the table below.

    ADDRESSES:

    Each LOMR is available for inspection at both the respective Community Map Repository address listed in the table below and online through the FEMA Map Service Center at www.msc.fema.gov.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Rick Sacbibit, Chief, Engineering Services Branch, Federal Insurance and Mitigation Administration, FEMA, 400 C Street SW., Washington, DC 20472, (202) 646-7659, or (email) [email protected]; or visit the FEMA Map Information eXchange (FMIX) online at www.floodmaps.fema.gov/fhm/fmx_main.html.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) makes the final flood hazard determinations as shown in the LOMRs for each community listed in the table below. Notice of these modified flood hazard determinations has been published in newspapers of local circulation and 90 days have elapsed since that publication. The Deputy Associate Administrator for Insurance and Mitigation has resolved any appeals resulting from this notification.

    The modified flood hazard determinations are made pursuant to section 206 of the Flood Disaster Protection Act of 1973, 42 U.S.C. 4105, and are in accordance with the National Flood Insurance Act of 1968, 42 U.S.C. 4001 et seq., and with 44 CFR part 65.

    For rating purposes, the currently effective community number is shown and must be used for all new policies and renewals.

    The new or modified flood hazard information is the basis for the floodplain management measures that the community is required either to adopt or to show evidence of being already in effect in order to remain qualified for participation in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).

    This new or modified flood hazard information, together with the floodplain management criteria required by 44 CFR 60.3, are the minimum that are required. They should not be construed to mean that the community must change any existing ordinances that are more stringent in their floodplain management requirements. The community may at any time enact stricter requirements of its own or pursuant to policies established by other Federal, State, or regional entities.

    This new or modified flood hazard determinations are used to meet the floodplain management requirements of the NFIP and also are used to calculate the appropriate flood insurance premium rates for new buildings, and for the contents in those buildings. The changes in flood hazard determinations are in accordance with 44 CFR 65.4.

    Interested lessees and owners of real property are encouraged to review the final flood hazard information available at the address cited below for each community or online through the FEMA Map Service Center at www.msc.fema.gov.

    (Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance No. 97.022, “Flood Insurance.”) Dated: October 13, 2017. Roy E. Wright, Deputy Associate Administrator for Insurance and Mitigation, Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency. State and county Location and case No. Chief executive officer of community Community map repository Date of
  • modification
  • Community
  • No.
  • Alabama: Jefferson (FEMA Docket No.: B-1727) City of Birmingham (17-04-3064X) The Honorable William A. Bell, Sr., Mayor, City of Birmingham, 710 North 20th Street, 3rd Floor, Birmingham, AL 35203 City Hall, 710 North 20th Street, 3rd Floor, Birmingham, AL 35203 Aug. 28, 2017 010116 Jefferson (FEMA Docket No.: B-1727) Unincorporated areas of Jefferson County (16-04-6806P) The Honorable James A. Stephens, Chairman, Jefferson County Board of Commissioners, 716 Richard Arrington, Jr. Boulevard North, Birmingham, AL 35203 Jefferson County Land Development Department, 716 Richard Arrington, Jr. Boulevard North, Birmingham, AL 35203 Aug. 17, 201 010217 Jefferson (FEMA Docket No.: B-1727) Unincorporated areas of Jefferson County (17-04-3064X) The Honorable James A. Stephens, Chairman, Jefferson County Board of Commissioners, 716 Richard Arrington Jr. Boulevard North, Birmingham, AL 35203 Jefferson County Land Development Department, 716 Richard Arrington, Jr. Boulevard North, Birmingham, AL 35203 Aug. 28, 201 010217 Madison (FEMA Docket No.: B-1735) City of Huntsville (16-04-8443P The Honorable Thomas M. Battle, Jr., Mayor, City of Huntsville, 308 Fountain Circle, 8th Floor, Huntsville, AL 35801 City Hall, 308 Fountain Circle, 8th Floor, Huntsville, AL 35801 Sept. 14, 201 010153 Montgomery (FEMA Docket No.: B-1735) City of Montgomery (16-04-7922P) The Honorable Todd Strange, Mayor, City of Montgomery, 103 North Perry Street, Montgomery, AL 36104 Engineering Department, 25 Washington Avenue, Montgomery, AL 36104 Aug. 28, 201 010174 Colorado: El Paso (FEMA Docket No.: B-1725) City of Colorado Springs (17-08-0131P) The Honorable John Suthers, Mayor, City of Colorado Springs, 30 South Nevada Avenue, Colorado Springs, CO 80901 City Hall, 30 South Nevada Avenue, Colorado Springs, CO 80901 Aug. 22, 201 080060 Connecticut: Fairfield (FEMA Docket No.: B-1733) Town of Greenwich (17-01-0822P) The Honorable Peter Tesei, First Selectman, Town of Greenwich, Board of Selectmen, 101 Field Point Road, Greenwich, CT 06830 Planning and Zoning Department, 101 Field Point Road, Greenwich, CT 06830 Sep. 5, 201 090008 Hartford (FEMA Docket No.: B-1725) Town of East Hartford (17-01-0668P) The Honorable Marcia A. Leclerc, Mayor, Town of East Hartford, 740 Main Street, East Hartford, CT 06108 Town Hall, 740 Main Street, East Hartford, CT 06108 Aug. 16, 201 090026 Florida: Lee (FEMA Docket No.: B-1725) City of Sanibel (17-04-0549P) The Honorable Kevin Ruane, Mayor, City of Sanibel, 800 Dunlop Road, Sanibel, FL 33957 Planning and Code Enforcement Department, 800 Dunlop Road, Sanibel, FL 33957 Aug. 18. 201 120402 Lee (FEMA Docket No.: B-1727) Town of Fort Myers Beach (16-04-8301P) The Honorable Dennis C. Boback, Mayor, Town of Fort Myers Beach, 2525 Estero Boulevard, Fort Myers Beach, FL 33931 Community Development Department, 2525 Estero Boulevard, Fort Myers Beach, FL 33931 Sep. 6, 201 120673 Lee (FEMA Docket No.: B-1727) Unincorporated areas of Lee County (16-04-8301P) The Honorable Frank Mann, President, Lee County Board of Commissioners, 2120 Main Street, Fort Myers, FL 33901 Lee County Community Development Department, 1500 Monroe Street, Fort Myers, FL 33901 Sep. 6, 201 120124 Manatee (FEMA Docket No.: B-1727) Unincorporated areas of Manatee County (16-04-8240P) The Honorable Betsy Benac, Chair, Manatee County, Board of Commissioners, P.O. Box 1000, Bradenton, FL 34206 Manatee County Building and Development Services Department, 1112 Manatee Avenue West, Bradenton, FL 34205 Sep. 8, 201 120153 Martin (FEMA Docket No.: B-1725) City of Stuart (17-04-3100P) The Honorable Tom Campenni, Mayor, City of Stuart, 121 Southwest Flagler Avenue, Stuart, FL 34994 Development Department, 121 Southwest Flagler Avenue, Stuart, FL 34994 Aug. 23. 201 120165 Miami-Dade (FEMA Docket No.: B-1725) City of Doral (17-04-1147P) The Honorable Juan Carlos Bermudez, Mayor, City of Doral, 8401 Northwest 53rd Terrace, Doral, FL 33166 City Hall, 8401 Northwest 53rd Terrace, Doral, FL 33166 Aug. 16. 201 120041 Miami-Dade (FEMA Docket No.: B-1725) City of Doral (17-04-1148P) The Honorable Juan Carlos Bermudez, Mayor, City of Doral, 8401 Northwest 53rd Terrace, Doral, FL 33166 City Hall, 8401 Northwest 53rd Terrace, Doral, FL 33166 Aug. 18. 201 120041 Miami-Dade (FEMA Docket No.: B-1727) City of Miami (16-04-7715P) The Honorable Tomas P. Regalado, Mayor, City of Miami, 3500 Pan American Drive, Miami, FL 33133 Building Department, 444 Southwest 2nd Avenue, 4th Floor, Miami, FL 33130 Sep. 5, 201 120650 Monroe (FEMA Docket, No.: B-1735) Village of Islamorada (17-04-0974P) The Honorable Jim Mooney, Mayor, Village of Islamorada, 86800 Overseas Highway, Islamorada, FL 33036 Planning and Development Services Department, 86800 Overseas Highway, Islamorada, FL 33036 Aug. 31, 201 120424 Monroe (FEMA Docket, No.: B-1725) Unincorporated areas of Monroe County (17-04-2646P) The Honorable George Neugent, Mayor, Monroe County, Board of Commissioners, 500 Whitehead Street, Suite 102, Key West, FL 33040 Monroe County Building Department, 2798 Overseas Highway, Suite 300, Marathon, FL 33050 Aug. 17. 201 125129 St. Johns (FEMA Docket No.: B-1727) Unincorporated areas of St. Johns County (17-04-1263P) The Honorable James K. Johns, Chairman, St. Johns County Board of Commissioners, 500 San Sebastian View, St. Augustine, FL 32084 St. Johns County Building Services Division, 4040 Lewis Speedway, St. Augustine, FL 32084 Aug. 31, 201 125147 Seminole (FEMA Docket No.: B-1727) City of Altamonte Springs (17-04-1381P) The Honorable Patricia Bates, Mayor, City of Altamonte Springs, 225 Newburyport Avenue, Altamonte Springs, FL 32701 Public Works Department, 225 Newburyport Avenue, Altamonte Springs, FL 32701 Sep. 1, 201 120290 Georgia: Cherokee (FEMA Docket No.: B-1727) City of Canton (16-04-5695P) The Honorable Gene Hobgood, Mayor, City of Canton, 151 Elizabeth Street, Canton, GA 30114 City Hall, 151 Elizabeth Street, Canton, GA 30114 Sep. 5, 201 130039 Cherokee (FEMA Docket No.: B-1727) Unincorporated areas of Cherokee County (16-04-5695P) The Honorable L.B. Ahrens, Jr., Chairman, Cherokee County Board of Commissioners, 1130 Bluffs Parkway, Canton, GA 30114 Cherokee County Public Works Department, 1130 Bluffs Parkway, Canton, GA 30114 Sep. 5, 201 130424 Gordon (FEMA Docket No.: B-1733) Unincorporated areas of Gordon County (17-04-0799P) The Honorable Becky Hood, Chair, Gordon County Board of Commissioners, 201 North Wall Street, Calhoun, GA 30701 Gordon County Building, Planning and Development Department, 200 South Wall Street, Calhoun, GA 30701 Aug. 31, 201 130094 Louisiana: Ouachita (FEMA Docket No.: B-1735) City of Monroe (17-06-1426P) The Honorable James E. Mayo, Mayor, City of Monroe, P.O. Box 123, Monroe, LA 71210 City Hall, 3901 Jackson Street, Monroe, LA 71202 Aug. 25, 201 220136 Maine: Oxford (FEMA Docket No.: B-1735) Town of Hiram (17-01-0730P) The Honorable Joyce Siracuse, Chair, Town of Hiram Board of Selectmen, 25 Allard Circle, Hiram, ME 04041 Town Hall, 25 Allard Circle, Hiram, ME 04041 Aug. 18, 201 230094 Maryland: Anne Arundel (FEMA Docket No.: B-1727) Unincorporated areas of Anne Arundel County (17-03-0502P) The Honorable Steve R. Schuh, Anne Arundel County Executive, 44 Calvert Street, Annapolis, MD 21401 Anne Arundel County Heritage Complex, 2664 Riva Road, Annapolis, MD 21401 Sep. 5, 201 240008 Massachusetts: Essex (FEMA Docket No.: B-1735) City of Gloucester (17-01-0964P) The Honorable Sefatia Romeo Theken, Mayor, City of Gloucester, 9 Dale Avenue, Gloucester, MA 01930 Community Development Department, 3 Pond Road, Gloucester, MA 01930 Aug. 28, 201 250082 Mississippi: Rankin (FEMA Docket, No.: B-1727) City of Pearl (17-04-0485P) The Honorable Brad Rogers, Mayor, City of Pearl, P.O. Box 5948, Pearl, MS 39288 Community Development Department, 2420 Old Brandon Road, Pearl, MS 39208 Aug. 31, 201 280145 North Carolina: Carteret (FEMA Docket No.: B-1735) Town of Indian Beach (17-04-0494P) The Honorable Stewart Pickett, Mayor, Town of Indian Beach, 1400 Salter Path Road, Salter Path, NC 28575 Planning and Inspections Department, 1400 Salter Path Road, Salter Path, NC 28575 Aug. 28, 201 370433 Carteret (FEMA Docket No.: B-1735) Unincorporated areas of Carteret County (17-04-0494P) The Honorable Mark Mansfield, Chairman, Carteret County Board of Commissioners, 302 Courthouse Square, Beaufort, NC 28516 Carteret County Planning and Inspections Department, 402 Broad Street, Beaufort, NC 28516 Aug. 28, 201 370043 Catawba (FEMA Docket No.: B-1733) City of Conover (16-04-8093P) The Honorable Lee E. Moritz, Jr., Mayor, City of Conover, P.O. Box 549, Conover, NC 28613 City Hall, 101 1st Street East, Conover, NC 28613 Sep. 15, 201 370053 Macon (FEMA Docket No.: B-1733) Town of Franklin (16-04-5247P) The Honorable Bob Scott, Mayor, Town of Franklin, P.O. Box 1479, Franklin, NC 28744 Town Hall, 95 East Main Street, Franklin, NC 28734 Sep. 18, 201 375350 Macon (FEMA Docket No.: B-1733) Unincorporated areas of Macon County (16-04-5247P) The Honorable James P. Tate, Chairman, Macon County Board of Commissioners, 5 West Main Street, Franklin, NC 28734 Macon County, Director of Planning, Permitting and Development Office, 5 West Main Street, Franklin, NC 28734 Sep. 18, 201 370150 Wake (FEMA Docket No.: B-1727) Town of Apex (17-04-1615P) The Honorable Lance Olive, Mayor, Town of Apex, P.O. Box 250, Apex, NC 27502 Engineering Department, 73 Hunter Street, Apex, NC 27502 Sep. 5, 201 370467 Wake (FEMA Docket No.: B-1727) Town of Cary (17-04-1615P) The Honorable Harold Weinbrecht, Jr., Mayor, Town of Cary, P.O. Box 8005, Cary, NC 27512 Stormwater Services Division, 316 North Academy Street, Cary, NC 27511 Sep. 5, 201 370238 Watauga (FEMA Docket No.: B-1733) Town of Boone (16-04-8003P) The Honorable Rennie Brantz, Mayor 567 West King Street, Boone, NC 28607 Planning and Inspections Department, 680 West King Street, Suite C, Boone, NC 28607 Sep. 14, 201 370253 Watauga (FEMA Docket No.: B-1733) Unincorporated areas of Watauga County (16-04-8003P) The Honorable John Welch Chairman, Board of Commissioners, 814 West King Street, Suite 205, Boone, NC 28607 Watauga County Planning and Inspections Department 331 Queen Street, Suite A, Boone, NC 28607 Sept. 14, 201 370251 Oklahoma: Tulsa (FEMA Docket No.: B-1725) City of Tulsa (17-06-0736P) The Honorable G.T. Bynum, Mayor, City of Tulsa, 175 East 2nd Street, 15th Floor, Tulsa, OK 74103 Planning and Engineering Department, 175 East 2nd Street, 4th Floor, Tulsa, OK 74103 Aug. 25. 201 405381 Pennsylvania: Berks (FEMA Docket No.: B-1725) Township of Robeson (17-03-0500P) The Honorable Christopher Smith, Chairman, Township of Robeson Board of Supervisors, 8 Boonetown Road, Birdsboro, PA 19508 Township Municipal Building, 8 Boonetown Road, Birdsboro, PA 19508 Aug. 21. 201 420146 Texas: Collin (FEMA Docket No.: B-1725) City of Allen (16-06-4233P) The Honorable Stephen Terrell, Mayor, City of Allen, 305 Century Parkway, Allen, TX 75013 Engineering Department, 305 Century Parkway, Allen, TX 75013 Aug. 18. 201 480131 Collin (FEMA Docket No.: B-1725) City of Allen (17-06-0212P) The Honorable Stephen Terrell, Mayor, City of Allen, 305 Century Parkway, Allen, TX 75013 Engineering Department, 305 Century Parkway, Allen, TX 75013 Aug. 18. 201 480131 Denton (FEMA Docket No.: B-1727) City of Frisco (17-06-0579P) The Honorable Maher Maso, Mayor, City of Frisco, 6101 Frisco Square Boulevard, Frisco, TX 75034 Engineering Services Department, 6101 Frisco Square Boulevard, Frisco, TX 75034 Sep. 5, 201 480134 Denton (FEMA Docket No.: B-1727) City of Justin (16-06-3379P) The Honorable Greg Scott, Mayor, City of Justin, P.O. Box 129, Justin, TX 76247 City Hall, 415 North College Avenue, Justin, TX 76248 Aug. 24, 201 480778 Fort Bend (FEMA Docket No.: B-1725) City of Houston (17-06-1036P) The Honorable Sylvester Turner, Mayor, City of Houston, P.O. Box 1562, Houston, TX 77251 Floodplain Management Department, 1002 Washington Avenue, Houston, TX 77002 Aug. 21. 201 480296 Fort Bend (FEMA Docket No.: B-1725) City of Sugar Land (17-06-1036P) The Honorable Joe R. Zimmerman, Mayor, City of Sugar Land, P.O. Box 110, Sugar Land, TX 77479 Engineering Department, 2700 Town Center Boulevard, Sugar Land, TX 77479 Aug. 21. 201 480234 Fort Bend (FEMA Docket No.: B-1725) Fort Bend County M.U.D. #2 (17-06-1036P) Mr. Robert Yack, President, Fort Bend County M.U.D. #2, Board of Directors, Allen Boone Humphreys Robinson, LLP, 3200 Southwest Freeway, Suite 2600, Houston, TX 77027 Pate Engineers, Inc., 13333 Northwest Freeway, Suite 300, Houston, TX 77040 Aug. 21. 201 481272 Fort Bend (FEMA Docket No.: B-1725) Unincorporated areas of Fort Bend County (17-06-1036P) The Honorable Robert Hebert, Fort Bend County Judge, 401 Jackson Street, Richmond, TX 77469 Fort Bend County Engineering Department, 401 Jackson Street, Richmond, TX 77469 Aug. 21. 201 480228 Fort Bend (FEMA Docket No.: B-1725) West Keegans Bayou Improvement District (17-06-1036P) Ms. Sandra Weider, President, West Keegans Bayou Improvement District, 15014 Traymore Drive, Houston, TX 77083 AECOM, 5444 Westheimer, Suite 400, Houston, TX 77056 Aug. 21. 201 481602 Tarrant (FEMA Docket No.: B-1725) City of Fort Worth (17-06-0630P) The Honorable Betsy Price, Mayor, City of Fort Worth, 200 Texas Street, Fort Worth, TX 76102 Transportation and Public Works Department, 200 Texas Street, Fort Worth, TX 76102 Aug. 17. 201 480596 Webb (FEMA Docket No.: B-1725) Unincorporated areas of Webb County (16-06-2463P) The Honorable Tano E. Tijerina, Webb County Judge, 1000 Houston Street, 3rd Floor, Laredo, TX 78040 Webb County Planning and Physical Development Department, 1110 Washington Street, Suite 302, Laredo, TX 78040 Aug. 24. 201 481059 Williamson (FEMA Docket No.: B-1727) City of Leander (17-06-1136P) The Honorable Christopher Fielder, Mayor, City of Leander, P.O. Box 319, Leander, TX 78646 City Hall, 200 West Wills Street, Leander, TX 78641 Aug. 18, 201 481536 Utah: Davis (FEMA Docket No.: B-1725) City of Farmington City (16-08-1270P) The Honorable Jim Talbot, Mayor, City of Farmington City, 130 North Main Street, Farmington, UT 84025 City Hall, 130 North Main Street, Farmington, UT 84025 Aug. 18. 201 490044 Davis (FEMA Docket No.: B-1725) Unincorporated areas of Davis County (16-08-1270P) The Honorable P. Bret Millburn, Chairman, Davis County, Board of Commissioners, 61 South Main Street, Suite 301, Farmington, UT 84025 Davis County Administration Building, 61 South Main Street, Suite 304, Farmington, UT 84025 Aug. 18. 201 490038 Salt Lake (FEMA Docket No.: B-1727) City of West Jordan (17-08-0033P) The Honorable Kim Rolfe, Mayor, City of West Jordan, 8000 South Redwood Road, West Jordan, UT 84088 City Hall, 8000 South Redwood Road, West Jordan, UT 84088 Aug. 28, 201 490108 Summit (FEMA Docket No.: B-1727) City of Park City (16-08-1092P) The Honorable Jack Thomas, Mayor, City of Park City, 445 Marsac Avenue, Park City, UT 84060 City Hall, 445 Marsac Avenue, Park City, UT 84060 Aug. 31, 201 490139 Virginia: Prince William (FEMA Docket No.: B-1725) Unincorporated areas of Prince William County (16-03-1619P) Mr. Christopher E. Martino, Prince William County Executive, 1 County Complex Court, Prince William, VA 22192 Prince William County Development Services Department, Environmental Services Division, 5 County Complex Court, Prince William, VA 22192 Aug. 24. 201 510119
    [FR Doc. 2017-23164 Filed 10-24-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 9110-12-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY Federal Emergency Management Agency [Internal Agency Docket No. FEMA-3395-EM; Docket ID FEMA-2017-0001] Florida; Emergency and Related Determinations AGENCY:

    Federal Emergency Management Agency, DHS.

    ACTION:

    Notice.

    SUMMARY:

    This is a notice of the Presidential declaration of an emergency for the State of Florida (FEMA-3395-EM), dated October 8, 2017, and related determinations.

    DATES:

    The declaration was issued October 8, 2017.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Dean Webster, Office of Response and Recovery, Federal Emergency Management Agency, 500 C Street SW., Washington, DC 20472, (202) 646-2833.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Notice is hereby given that, in a letter dated October 8, 2017, the President issued an emergency declaration under the authority of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, 42 U.S.C. 5121-5207 (the Stafford Act), as follows:

    I have determined that the emergency conditions in certain areas of the State of Florida resulting from Hurricane Nate beginning on October 7, 2017, and continuing, are of sufficient severity and magnitude to warrant an emergency declaration under the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, 42 U.S.C. 5121 et seq. (“the Stafford Act”). Therefore, I declare that such an emergency exists in the State of Florida.

    You are authorized to provide appropriate assistance for required emergency measures, authorized under Title V of the Stafford Act, to save lives and to protect property and public health and safety, and to lessen or avert the threat of a catastrophe in the designated areas. Specifically, you are authorized to provide assistance for emergency protective measures (Category B), including direct Federal assistance, under the Public Assistance program.

    Consistent with the requirement that Federal assistance be supplemental, any Federal funds provided under the Stafford Act for Public Assistance will be limited to 75 percent of the total eligible costs. In order to provide Federal assistance, you are hereby authorized to allocate from funds available for these purposes such amounts as you find necessary for Federal emergency assistance and administrative expenses.

    Further, you are authorized to make changes to this declaration for the approved assistance to the extent allowable under the Stafford Act.

    The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) hereby gives notice that pursuant to the authority vested in the Administrator, Department of Homeland Security, under Executive Order 12148, as amended, Willie G. Nunn, of FEMA is appointed to act as the Federal Coordinating Officer for this declared emergency.

    The following areas of the State of Florida have been designated as adversely affected by this declared emergency:

    Escambia and Santa Rosa Counties for emergency protective measures (Category B), including direct federal assistance, under the Public Assistance program.

    The following Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance Numbers (CFDA) are to be used for reporting and drawing funds: 97.030, Community Disaster Loans; 97.031, Cora Brown Fund; 97.032, Crisis Counseling; 97.033, Disaster Legal Services; 97.034, Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA); 97.046, Fire Management Assistance Grant; 97.048, Disaster Housing Assistance to Individuals and Households In Presidentially Declared Disaster Areas; 97.049, Presidentially Declared Disaster Assistance—Disaster Housing Operations for Individuals and Households; 97.050, Presidentially Declared Disaster Assistance to Individuals and Households—Other Needs; 97.036, Disaster Grants—Public Assistance (Presidentially Declared Disasters); 97.039, Hazard Mitigation Grant.

    Brock Long, Administrator, Federal Emergency Management Agency.
    [FR Doc. 2017-23167 Filed 10-24-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 9111-23-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY Federal Emergency Management Agency [Docket ID FEMA-2017-0002] Final Flood Hazard Determinations AGENCY:

    Federal Emergency Management Agency, DHS.

    ACTION:

    Final notice.

    SUMMARY:

    Flood hazard determinations, which may include additions or modifications of Base Flood Elevations (BFEs), base flood depths, Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA) boundaries or zone designations, or regulatory floodways on the Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) and where applicable, in the supporting Flood Insurance Study (FIS) reports have been made final for the communities listed in the table below.

    The FIRM and FIS report are the basis of the floodplain management measures that a community is required either to adopt or to show evidence of having in effect in order to qualify or remain qualified for participation in the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA's) National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). In addition, the FIRM and FIS report are used by insurance agents and others to calculate appropriate flood insurance premium rates for buildings and the contents of those buildings.

    DATES:

    The date of December 21, 2017 has been established for the FIRM and, where applicable, the supporting FIS report showing the new or modified flood hazard information for each community.

    ADDRESSES:

    The FIRM, and if applicable, the FIS report containing the final flood hazard information for each community is available for inspection at the respective Community Map Repository address listed in the tables below and will be available online through the FEMA Map Service Center at www.msc.fema.gov by the date indicated above.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Rick Sacbibit, Chief, Engineering Services Branch, Federal Insurance and Mitigation Administration, FEMA, 400 C Street SW., Washington, DC 20472, (202) 646-7659, or (email) [email protected]; or visit the FEMA Map Information eXchange (FMIX) online at www.floodmaps.fema.gov/fhm/fmx_main.html.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) makes the final determinations listed below for the new or modified flood hazard information for each community listed. Notification of these changes has been published in newspapers of local circulation and 90 days have elapsed since that publication. The Deputy Associate Administrator for Insurance and Mitigation has resolved any appeals resulting from this notification.

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

    Interested lessees and owners of real property are encouraged to review the new or revised FIRM and FIS report available at the address cited below for each community or online through the FEMA Map Service Center at www.msc.fema.gov.

    The flood hazard determinations are made final in the watersheds and/or communities listed in the table below.

    (Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance No. 97.022, “Flood Insurance.”) Dated: October 13, 2017. Roy E. Wright, Deputy Associate Administrator for Insurance and Mitigation, Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency.

    I. Watershed-based studies:

    Community Community map repository address Lower Kentucky Watershed Anderson County, Kentucky and Incorporated Areas Docket No.: FEMA-B-1638 City of Lawrenceburg City Hall, 100 North Main Street, Lawrenceburg, KY 40342. Unincorporated Areas of Anderson County Anderson County Planning and Zoning Office, 139 South Main Street, Lawrenceburg, KY 40342. Carroll County, Kentucky and Incorporated Areas Docket No.: FEMA-B-1638 City of Carrollton Carroll County Emergency Operations Center, 829 Polk Street, Carrollton, KY 41008. City of Prestonville Carroll County Emergency Operations Center, 829 Polk Street, Carrollton, KY 41008. City of Worthville Carroll County Emergency Operations Center, 829 Polk Street, Carrollton, KY 41008. Unincorporated Areas of Carroll County Carroll County Emergency Operations Center, 829 Polk Street, Carrollton, KY 41008. Clark County, Kentucky and Incorporated Areas Docket No.: FEMA-B-1638 Unincorporated Areas of Clark County Clark County Courthouse, 34 South Main Street, Winchester, KY 40391. Franklin County, Kentucky and Incorporated Areas Docket No.: FEMA-B-1638 City of Frankfort Planning and Building Codes Department, 315 West 2nd Street, Frankfort, KY 40601. Unincorporated Areas of Franklin County Franklin County Fiscal Court, 321 West Main Street, Frankfort, KY 40601. Garrard County, Kentucky and Incorporated Areas Docket No.: FEMA-B-1638 Unincorporated Areas of Garrard County Garrard County Courthouse, 15 Public Square, Lancaster, KY 40444. Henry County, Kentucky and Incorporated Areas Docket No.: FEMA-B-1638 Unincorporated Areas of Henry County Henry County Courthouse Annex, 19 South Property Road, New Castle, KY 40050. Jessamine County, Kentucky and Incorporated Areas Docket No.: FEMA-B-1638 City of Nicholasville City Hall, 517 North Main Street, Nicholasville, KY 40356. City of Wilmore City Hall, 335 East Main Street, Wilmore, KY 40390. Unincorporated Areas of Jessamine County Jessamine County Courthouse, 101 North Main Street, Nicholasville, KY 40356. Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government, Kentucky (All Jurisdictions) Docket No.: FEMA-B-1638 Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government Center, 200 East Main Street, 12th Floor, Lexington, KY 40507. Madison County, Kentucky and Incorporated Areas Docket No.: FEMA-B-1638 City of Berea City Hall, 212 Chestnut Street, Berea, KY 40403. City of Richmond City Hall, 239 West Main Street, Richmond, KY 40475. Unincorporated Areas of Madison County Madison County Courthouse, 101 West Main Street, Richmond, KY 40475. Mercer County, Kentucky and Incorporated Areas Docket No.: FEMA-B-1638 Unincorporated Areas of Mercer County The Greater Harrodsburg/Mercer County Planning and Zoning Commission, 109 Short Street, Harrodsburg, KY 40330. Owen County, Kentucky and Incorporated Areas Docket No.: FEMA-B-1638 City of Gratz City Hall, 583 Crittenden Street, Gratz, KY 40359. City of Monterey City Hall, 35 Worth Street, Monterey, KY 40359. Unincorporated Areas of Owen County Owen County Courthouse, 100 North Thomas Street, Owenton, KY 40359. Scott County, Kentucky and Incorporated Areas Docket No.: FEMA-B-1638 City of Georgetown Georgetown-Scott County Planning Commission, 230 East Main Street, Georgetown, KY 40324. Unincorporated Areas of Scott County Georgetown-Scott County Planning Commission, 230 East Main Street, Georgetown, KY 40324. Woodford County, Kentucky and Incorporated Areas Docket No.: FEMA-B-1638 City of Midway City Hall, 101 East Main Street, Midway, KY 40347. City of Versailles City Hall, 196 South Main Street, Versailles, KY 40383. Unincorporated Areas of Woodford County Woodford County Courthouse, 103 South Main Street, Versailles, KY 40383. Mississippi Coastal Watershed Harrison County, Mississippi and Incorporated Areas Docket No.: FEMA-B-1623 City of Biloxi Community Development Building, 676 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard, Biloxi, MS 39530. City of Gulfport William K. Hardy Building, 1410 24th Avenue, Gulfport, MS 39501. Unincorporated Areas of Harrison County Harrison County Code Administration, 15309 Community Road, Gulfport, MS 39503. Jackson County, Mississippi and Incorporated Areas Docket No.: FEMA-B-1623 City of Gautier City Hall, 3330 Highway 90, Gautier, MS 39553. Unincorporated Areas of Jackson County Jackson County Planning Department, 2915 Canty Street, Suite Q, Pascagoula, MS 39567. Seneca Watershed Anderson County, South Carolina and Incorporated Areas Docket No.: FEMA-B-1631 City of Anderson Public Works Building, 1100 Southwood Street, Anderson, SC 29624. Town of Pendleton Town Municipal Complex, 310 Greenville Street, Pendleton, SC 29670. Unincorporated Areas of Anderson County Anderson County Department of Development Standards, 401 East River Street, Anderson, SC 29624. Oconee County, South Carolina and Incorporated Areas Docket No.: FEMA-B-1631 City of Seneca City Hall, 221 East North 1st Street, Lower Floor, Seneca, SC 29678. Unincorporated Areas of Oconee County Oconee County Council Chambers, Administration Office Building, 415 South Pine Street, Walhalla, SC 29691. Pickens County, South Carolina and Incorporated Areas Docket No.: FEMA-B-1631 City of Clemson City Hall, 1250 Tiger Boulevard, Clemson, SC 29631. Unincorporated Areas of Pickens County Pickens County Building Codes Administration, 222 McDaniel Avenue, B-10, Pickens, SC 29671. San Bernard Watershed Fort Bend County, Texas and Incorporated Areas Docket No.: FEMA-B-1601 City of Kendleton City Hall, 430 Farm Market 2919, Kendleton, TX 77451. Unincorporated Areas of Fort Bend County Fort Bend County Drainage District, 1124 Blume Road, Rosenberg, TX 77471. Wharton County, Texas and Incorporated Areas Docket No.: FEMA-B-1601 City of East Bernard City Hall, 704 Church Street, East Bernard, TX 77435. City of Wharton City Hall, 120 East Caney Street, Wharton, TX 77488. Unincorporated Areas of Wharton County Wharton County Courthouse Annex, 315 East Milam Street, Suite 102, Wharton, TX 77488.

    II. Non-watershed-based studies:

    Community Community map repository address Camden County, Georgia and Incorporated Areas Docket No.: FEMA-B-1642 City of Kingsland City Hall, 107 South Lee Street, Kingsland, GA 31548. City of St. Marys Community Development Department, 418 Osborne Street, St. Marys, GA 31558. City of Woodbine City Hall, 310 Bedell Avenue, Woodbine, GA 31569. Unincorporated Areas of Camden County Camden County Planning and Development Department, 107 Gross Road, Suite 3, Kingsland, GA 31548. Effingham County, Georgia and Incorporated Areas Docket No.: FEMA-B-1642 City of Rincon City Hall, Building and Zoning Department, 302 South Columbia Avenue, Rincon, GA 31326. Unincorporated Areas of Effingham County Effingham County Courthouse, GIS Department, 901 North Pine Street, Suite 206, Springfield, GA 31329. St. Bernard Parish, Louisiana (All Jurisdictions) Docket Nos.: FEMA-B-1301 and FEMA-B-1615 Unincorporated Areas of St. Bernard Parish St. Bernard Parish Community Development Office, 8201 West Judge Perez Drive, Chalmette, LA 70043. Colleton County, South Carolina and Incorporated Areas Docket No.: FEMA-B-1617 City of Walterboro City Hall, 242 Hampton Street, Walterboro, SC 29488. Town of Cottageville Municipal Complex, 72 Salley Ackerman Drive, Cottageville, SC 29435. Town of Edisto Beach Town Hall, 2414 Murray Street, Edisto Beach, SC 29438. Town of Smoaks Town Hall, 176 New Street, Smoaks, SC 29481. Town of Williams Office of the Clerk, 143 Supply Road, Williams, SC 29493. Unincorporated Areas of Colleton County Colleton County Building Code Administration, 31 Klein Street, 3rd Floor Harrelson Building, Walterboro, SC 29488. Richland County, South Carolina and Incorporated Areas Docket No.: FEMA-B-1523 City of Cayce City Hall, 1800 12th Street, Cayce, SC 29033. City of Columbia Department of Utilities and Engineering, 1136 Washington Street, Columbia, SC 29201. City of Forest Acres City Hall, 5209 North Trenholm Road, Forest Acres, SC 29206. Town of Arcadia Lakes Arcadia Lakes Town Hall, 6911 North Trenholm Road, Suite 2, Columbia, SC 29206. Town of Blythewood Town Hall, 171 Langford Road, Blythewood, SC 29016. Town of Eastover Town Hall, 624 Main Street, Eastover, SC 29044. Town of Irmo Town Hall, 7300 Woodrow Street, Irmo, SC 29063. Unincorporated Areas of Richland County Richland County Department of Public Works, 400 Powell Road, Columbia, SC 29203. Bowie County, Texas and Incorporated Areas Docket No.: FEMA-B-1623 City of Nash City Hall, 119 Elm Street, Nash, TX 75569. City of Texarkana Public Works Department, 919 Elm Street, Texarkana, TX 75501. City of Wake Village City Hall, 624 Burma Road, Wake Village, TX 75501. Unincorporated Areas of Bowie County Bowie County Courthouse, 710 James Bowie Drive, New Boston, TX 75570.
    [FR Doc. 2017-23163 Filed 10-24-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 9110-12-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY Federal Emergency Management Agency [Docket ID FEMA-2017-0002] Final Flood Hazard Determinations AGENCY:

    Federal Emergency Management Agency, DHS.

    ACTION:

    Final notice.

    SUMMARY:

    Flood hazard determinations, which may include additions or modifications of Base Flood Elevations (BFEs), base flood depths, Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA) boundaries or zone designations, or regulatory floodways on the Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) and where applicable, in the supporting Flood Insurance Study (FIS) reports have been made final for the communities listed in the table below.

    The FIRM and FIS report are the basis of the floodplain management measures that a community is required either to adopt or to show evidence of having in effect in order to qualify or remain qualified for participation in the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA's) National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). In addition, the FIRM and FIS report are used by insurance agents and others to calculate appropriate flood insurance premium rates for buildings and the contents of those buildings.

    DATES:

    The date of January 19, 2018 has been established for the FIRM and, where applicable, the supporting FIS report showing the new or modified flood hazard information for each community.

    ADDRESSES:

    The FIRM, and if applicable, the FIS report containing the final flood hazard information for each community is available for inspection at the respective Community Map Repository address listed in the tables below and will be available online through the FEMA Map Service Center at www.msc.fema.gov by the date indicated above.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Rick Sacbibit, Chief, Engineering Services Branch, Federal Insurance and Mitigation Administration, FEMA, 400 C Street SW., Washington, DC 20472, (202) 646-7659, or (email) [email protected]; or visit the FEMA Map Information eXchange (FMIX) online at www.floodmaps.fema.gov/fhm/fmx_main.html.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) makes the final determinations listed below for the new or modified flood hazard information for each community listed. Notification of these changes has been published in newspapers of local circulation and 90 days have elapsed since that publication. The Deputy Associate Administrator for Insurance and Mitigation has resolved any appeals resulting from this notification.

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

    Interested lessees and owners of real property are encouraged to review the new or revised FIRM and FIS report available at the address cited below for each community or online through the FEMA Map Service Center at www.msc.fema.gov.

    The flood hazard determinations are made final in the watersheds and/or communities listed in the table below.

    (Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance No. 97.022, “Flood Insurance.”) Dated: October 13, 2017. Roy E. Wright, Deputy Associate Administrator for Insurance and Mitigation, Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency.

    I. Watershed-based studies:

    Community Community map repository address Lower Suwannee Watershed Gilchrist County, Florida and Incorporated Areas Docket No.: FEMA-B-1523 City of Trenton City Hall, 114 North Main Street, Trenton, FL 32693. City of Fanning Springs City Hall, 17651 Northwest 90th Court, Fanning Springs, FL 32693. Unincorporated Areas of Gilchrist County Gilchrist County Building and Zoning Department, 209 Southeast 1st Street, Trenton, FL 32690. Lower Trinity Watershed Chambers County, Texas and Incorporated Areas Docket No.: FEMA-B-1617 City of Mont Belvieu City Hall, 11607 Eagle Drive, Mont Belvieu, TX 77523. City of Old River-Winfree City Hall, 4818 North Farm to Market 565 Road, Old River-Winfree, TX 77523. Unincorporated Areas of Chambers County Chambers County Road and Bridge Department, 201 Airport Road, Anahuac, TX 77514. Liberty County, Texas and Incorporated Areas Docket No.: FEMA-B-1617 City of Daisetta Municipal Building, 410 B Main Street, Daisetta, TX 77533. City of Dayton City Hall, 117 Cook Street, Dayton, TX 77535. City of Dayton Lakes Liberty County Engineering Department, 2103 Cos Street, Liberty, TX 77575. City of Devers Liberty County Engineering Department, 2103 Cos Street, Liberty, TX 77575. City of Hardin Hardin City Hall, 142 County Road 2010, Liberty, TX 77575. City of Liberty City Hall, Inspection Department, 1829 Sam Houston Street, Liberty, TX 77575. City of Mont Belvieu City Hall, 11607 Eagle Drive, Mont Belvieu, TX 77523. Town of Kenefick Kenefick Town Hall, 3564 Farm to Market Road 1008, Dayton, TX 77535. Unincorporated Areas of Liberty County County Engineering Department, 2103 Cos Street, Liberty, TX 77575. San Jacinto County, Texas and Incorporated Areas Docket No.: FEMA-B-1617 Unincorporated Areas of San Jacinto County San Jacinto County Courthouse, Permit Department, 1 State Highway 150, Room 3, Coldspring, TX 77331.
    [FR Doc. 2017-23148 Filed 10-24-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 9110-12-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY [Docket No. DHS-2017-0029] Privacy Act of 1974; System of Records AGENCY:

    Department of Homeland Security, Privacy Office.

    ACTION:

    Notice of New Privacy Act System of Records.

    SUMMARY:

    In accordance with the Privacy Act of 1974, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)/Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) proposes to establish a new DHS system of records titled “DHS/FEMA-014 Hazard Mitigation Planning and Flood Mapping Products and Services Records System of Records.” This system of records notice replaces the current DHS system of records titled, “Letter of Map Amendment (LOMA), DHS/FEMA/NFIP/LOMA-1” system of records, 71 FR 7990 (Feb. 15, 2006). This new system of records notice describes FEMA's collection and maintenance of records on individuals who are involved in the creation and updating of flood maps, individuals requesting information on or purchasing flood map products or services, and individuals involved with hazard mitigation planning. This newly established system will be included in the Department of Homeland Security's inventory of record systems.

    DATES:

    Submit comments on or before November 24, 2017. This new system will be effective upon publication. New or modified routine uses are effective November 24, 2017.

    ADDRESSES:

    You may submit comments, identified by docket number DHS-2017-0029 by one of the following methods:

    Federal e-Rulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments.

    Fax: 202-343-4010.

    Mail: Philip S. Kaplan, Chief Privacy Officer, Privacy Office, Department of Homeland Security, Washington, DC 20528-0655.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    For general questions, please contact: William Holzerland, (202) 212-7719, Senior Director for Information Management, Federal Emergency Management Agency, 500 C Street SW., Washington, DC 20472. For privacy questions, please contact: Philip S. Kaplan, (202) 343-1717, Chief Privacy Officer, Privacy Office, Department of Homeland Security, Washington, DC 20528-0655.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: I. Background

    In accordance with the Privacy Act of 1974, 5 U.S.C. 552a, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) proposes to establish a new DHS system of records titled “DHS/FEMA-014 Hazard Mitigation Planning and Flood Mapping Products and Services Records System of Records.” This replaces an existing DHS/FEMA system of records, titled “Letter of Map Amendment (LOMA), DHS/FEMA/NFIP/LOMA-1” system of records, 71 FR 7990 (Feb. 15, 2006). FEMA administers the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and Hazard Mitigation Planning Programs. The Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, as amended by the Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000, provides the legal basis for FEMA and other government agencies to undertake a risk-based approach to reducing losses from natural hazards through mitigation planning. The Federal Insurance and Mitigation Administration's (FIMA) Mitigation Planning Program oversees and provides guidance to state, tribal, and local governments that are required to develop a FEMA-approved, risk-based hazard mitigation plan. This plan is a precondition for receiving non-emergency disaster assistance from the Federal Government, including funding for flood hazard mitigation projects. FEMA tracks the implementation of state, tribal, and local government hazard mitigation plans to help communities across the Nation identify new mitigation strategies, improve planned mitigation actions, and advance planned actions.

    The National Flood Insurance Act of 1968, as amended (NFIA) (42 U.S.C. 4001 et seq.) establishes that FEMA will provide flood insurance in communities that adopt and enforce floodplain management ordinances that meet the minimum NFIP requirements. The law requires FEMA to provide and maintain flood maps to support floodplain management and insurance activities. FEMA's regulations implementing the NFIA, including the flood mapping program, may be found in 44 CFR parts 59-72.

    The NFIA requires insurance companies that write flood insurance policies on behalf of the NFIP to use FEMA flood maps to determine insurance rates. These flood maps consist of zones or areas. Flood hazard areas identified on FEMA flood maps are identified as a Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA). SFHA are defined as the area that will be inundated by a flood event having a 1-percent chance of being equaled or exceeded in any given year. The 1-percent-annual-chance flood is also referred to as the base flood or 100-year flood. SFHAs are labeled as Zone A, Zone AO, Zone AH, Zones A1-A30, Zone AE, Zone A99, Zone AR, Zone AR/AE, Zone AR/AO, Zone AR/A1-A30, Zone AR/A, Zone V, Zone VE, and Zones V1-V30. Moderate flood hazard areas, labeled Zone B or Zone X (shaded) are also shown on the maps, and are the areas between the limits of the base flood and the 0.2-percent-annual-chance (or 500-year) flood. The areas of minimal flood hazard, which are the areas outside the SFHA and higher than the elevation of the 0.2-percent-annual-chance flood, are labeled Zone C or Zone X (unshaded). Members of the public view and review these FEMA maps and related products online free of charge to understand a property's flood risk. In addition, community officials must use these maps to manage development in flood-prone areas. FEMA performs the following tasks in support of flood map productions: (1) Tracks requests for FIRM updates from community officials; (2) schedules and tracks progress and quality of floodplain studies; (3) conducts community outreach and coordinates with communities and the public on the floodplain study process; (4) collects information from communities and other organizations such as levee owners; (5) provides public review of the proposed flood hazard data resulting from the studies; (6) adjudicates administrative appeals to the studies; and (7) coordinates and tracks the request and processing of flood map revisions and updates.

    The administrative appeals process referenced above satisfies due process obligations owed to affected communities and property holders. This requirement includes making available to the public the relevant data documenting the scientific and technical basis of the maps and documenting the community and public coordination processes associated with the development and publication of the maps. The NFIA also requires communities to adopt these maps as the basis for their land use regulations.

    FEMA flood maps are subject to revision through the Letters of Map Change (LOMC) administrative process. Letters of Map Changes are documents issued by FEMA to revise or amend the flood hazard information shown on the Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM). Letters of Map Changes include two types of map changes: Letter of Map Amendment (LOMA) or Letter of Map Revision (LOMR). A LOMA is a flood map change based only on the placement of the floodplain boundary relative to existing ground elevations, usually for small areas. A LOMR is a change that often covers a larger area, based on better scientific or technical data or changes to the floodplain and may require a flood map revision.

    Adequate Progress (Zone A99) determinations, regulated through 44 CFR part 61.12, provide for lower flood insurance premium rates in areas where FEMA determines that a community has made adequate progress on its construction or reconstruction of a project designed for flood risk reduction. These areas, landward of the flood protection system, are designated as Zone A99 on the FIRM and flood insurance premium rates and floodplain management requirements are generally less than those required in other SFHAs (e.g., Zone AE, Zone AO, and Zone AH). Flood Protection Restoration (Zone AR) determinations, regulated through 44 CFR part 65.14, may provide reduced flood insurance premium rates and floodplain management regulations in areas where FEMA has issued a determination that a project is sufficiently underway to restore a flood protection system to meet 44 CFR part 65.10 accreditation requirements. Areas landward of the flood protection system that is being rehabilitated are designated as Zone AR on the FIRM, and may have base flood elevations (BFE) representing the current risk as if the flood protection system was not in place.

    FEMA accepts, reviews, and tracks applications from levee owners and communities seeking Zone AR designations, Zone A99 designations, and recognition of accredited levee systems on FIRMs. To support a mapping project, levee owners and communities have the responsibility to provide documentation that either a levee system meets the requirements of 44 CFR part 65.10 to have the levee system shown as accredited (i.e., provide protection from the 1-percent-annual-chance flood) or the levee system meets the mapping procedure(s) for non-accredited levee systems.

    FEMA collects information about individuals using various forms (paper and electronic), information technology (IT), and call centers to assist states with mitigation planning, as well as to ensure FIRMs are accurate and up to date. Specifically, FEMA collects and uses personally identifiable information (PII) within this system of records to: (1) Help the public locate maps for a geographic area of interest; (2) provide responses to the flood mapping products and services customers; (3) track mitigation plan applications and that plan's status with respect to the plan review cycle; (4) process online payments for LOMCs; (5) deliver products to community officials as new final mapping products become available; (6) create IT access accounts and profiles; (7) identify the property relevant to a LOMC request; (8) determine whether a structure is in the floodplain; (9) facilitate customer service surveys/focus groups; and (10) facilitate contact or correspondence between FEMA and other mitigation planning and flood mapping products and services stakeholders.

    Consistent with DHS's information sharing mission, information stored in the DHS/FEMA-014 Hazard Mitigation Planning and Flood Mapping Products and Services System of Records may be shared with other DHS Components that have a need to know the information to carry out their national security, law enforcement, immigration, intelligence, or other homeland security functions. In addition, DHS/FEMA may share information with appropriate Federal, state, local, tribal, territorial, foreign, or international government agencies consistent with the routine uses set forth in this system of records notice.

    This newly established system will be included in DHS's inventory of record systems.

    II. Privacy Act

    The Privacy Act embodies fair information practice principles in a statutory framework governing the means by which Federal Government agencies collect, maintain, use, and disseminate individuals' records. The Privacy Act applies to information that is maintained in a “system of records.” A “system of records” is a group of any records under the control of an agency from which information is retrieved by the name of an individual or by some identifying number, symbol, or other identifying particular assigned to the individual. In the Privacy Act, an individual is defined to encompass U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents. Additionally, and similarly, the Judicial Redress Act (JRA) provides a covered person with a statutory right to make requests for access and amendment to covered records, as defined by the JRA, along with judicial review for denials of such requests. In addition, the JRA prohibits disclosures of covered records, except as otherwise permitted by the Privacy Act.

    Below is the description of the DHS/FEMA-014 Hazard Mitigation Planning and Flood Mapping Products and Services Records System of Records.

    In accordance with 5 U.S.C. 552a(r), DHS has provided a report of this system of records to the Office of Management and Budget and to Congress.

    SYSTEM NAME AND NUMBER:

    DHS/FEMA-014 Hazard Mitigation Planning and Flood Mapping Products and Services Records System of Records.

    SECURITY CLASSIFICATION:

    Unclassified.

    SYSTEM LOCATION:

    Records are maintained at the FEMA Headquarters in Washington, DC and field offices. Additionally, records may be located in the Mapping Information Platform (MIP) system, Map Service Center, LOMA-Logic, and collaboration sites.

    Third Party addresses:

    Primary Production Server/Data Storage Locations:

    DHS Data Center 2 (Operated by HP): Clarksville, VA

    Alleghany Ballistics Laboratory Data Center (Operated by IBM): Rocket Center, WV

    CDS Operations Sites:

    Primary Local Operations Site (Operated by IBM) Fairfax, VA

    Secondary Local Operations Site (Operated by Michael Baker International) Alexandria, VA

    Backup Data Storage Sites (in addition to sites already listed above):

    DHS Data Center 1: Stennis, MS

    Alleghany Ballistics Laboratory (Operated by IBM): Rocket Center, WV

    Iron Mountain Secure Offsite Storage: Various—Specific U.S. location(s) in use not disclosed

    SYSTEM MANAGER(S):

    Program Management, Risk Management Program, Federal Insurance and Mitigation Administration, 400 C Street SW., Washington, DC 20472.

    AUTHORITY FOR MAINTENANCE OF THE SYSTEM:

    The National Flood Insurance Act of 1968, as amended (42 U.S.C. sec, 4001 et seq.), 44 CFR parts 59-72, the Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000 (DMA 2000), and Fiscal Year 2009 Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act (Pub. L. 110-329).

    PURPOSE(S) OF THE SYSTEM:

    The purpose of this system is to help the public locate flood insurance risk maps for a geographic area of interest; provide responses to the customers contacting FEMA's call centers or helpdesk via telephone or online chat; track mitigation plan applications and the plan's status with respect to the plan review cycle; process online payments for LOMCs; deliver products to community officials as new final mapping products become available; create IT access accounts and profiles; identify the property relevant to a LOMC request; determine whether a structure is in a floodplain; and facilitate contact or correspondence between FEMA and other stakeholders providing mitigation planning and flood mapping products and services.

    CATEGORIES OF INDIVIDUALS COVERED BY THE SYSTEM:

    Members of the general public, including: Property owners, developers, investors, and their representatives; realtors; certifiers, including but not limited to Registered Professional Engineers and Licensed Land Surveyors; state or local government officials with authority over a community's floodplain management activities, which includes Mapping Review Partners (MRP); potential or confirmed respondents to customer service surveys/focus groups; and FEMA staff and stakeholders registered to use FEMA's information technology systems and collaboration sites.

    CATEGORIES OF RECORDS IN THE SYSTEM:

    • Full name;

    • Position or title;

    • Addresses (mailing and property);

    • Email addresses;

    • Company or community name;

    • Organization or agency name;

    • Six-digit NFIP community number;

    • Telephone number;

    • Fax number;

    • Professional license number;

    • Professional license expiration date;

    • Signature;

    • Signature date;

    • Fill placement and date;

    • Type of construction;

    • Elevation data;

    • Base Flood Elevation (BFE) data;

    • Legal property description;

    • FEMA region number (1-10);

    • Transcripts of conversations with FEMA call centers or helpdesk including name, address, phone number, email address, caller type (e.g., property owner, realtor); chat subject; and chat subject category;

    • Bank name and account information including electronic funds transfer, and credit/debit card account information;

    • Payment confirmation number;

    • User account creation and access information:

    ○ Username;

    ○ Activation code;

    ○ Password;

    ○ Roles and responsibilities;

    ○ Challenge questions and answers; and

    ○ System permissions or permission levels.

    • Voluntary responses to customer satisfaction and experience surveys and focus groups, including demographic information about the individual.

    RECORD SOURCE CATEGORIES:

    Records are obtained from individuals (e.g., homeowners, investors, and property developers); LOMC Certifiers (e.g., Registered Professional Engineers and Licensed Land Surveyors); state or local government officials with authority over a community's floodplain management activities, which includes MRPs; FEMA staff and stakeholders registered to use SharePoint information and collaboration portals; the FEMA Community Information System (CIS) system; and the cloud-based LOMA-LOGIC tool.

    ROUTINE USES OF RECORDS MAINTAINED IN THE SYSTEM, INCLUDING CATEGORIES OF USERS AND PURPOSES OF SUCH USES:

    In addition to those disclosures generally permitted under 5 U.S.C. 552a(b) of the Privacy Act, all or a portion of the records or information contained in this system may be disclosed outside DHS as a routine use pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 552a(b)(3) as follows:

    A. To the Department of Justice (DOJ), including the U.S. Attorneys Offices, or other Federal agency conducting litigation or proceedings before any court, adjudicative, or administrative body, when it is relevant or necessary to the litigation and one of the following is a party to the litigation or has an interest in such litigation:

    1. DHS or any component thereof;

    2. Any employee or former employee of DHS in his/her official capacity;

    3. Any employee or former employee of DHS in his/her individual capacity, only when DOJ or DHS has agreed to represent the employee; or

    4. The United States or any agency thereof.

    B. To a congressional office from the record of an individual in response to an inquiry from that congressional office made at the request of the individual to whom the record pertains.

    C. To the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) or General Services Administration pursuant to records management inspections being conducted under the authority of 44 U.S.C. 2904 and 2906.

    D. To an agency or organization for the purpose of performing audit or oversight operations as authorized by law, but only such information as is necessary and relevant to such audit or oversight function.

    E. To appropriate agencies, entities, and persons when:

    1. DHS determines that information from this system of records is reasonably necessary and otherwise compatible with the purpose of collection to assist another federal recipient agency or entity in (1) responding to a suspected or confirmed breach or (2) preventing, minimizing, or remedying the risk of harm to individuals, the recipient agency or entity (including its information systems, programs, and operations), the Federal Government, or national security, resulting from a suspected or confirmed breach; or

    2. DHS suspects or has confirmed that there has been a breach of this system of records; and (a) DHS has determined that as a result of the suspected or confirmed breach, there is a risk of harm to individuals, DHS (including its information systems, programs, and operations), the Federal Government, or national security; and (b) the disclosure made to such agencies, entities, and persons is reasonably necessary to assist with DHS's efforts to respond to the suspected or confirmed breach or to prevent, minimize, or remedy such harm.

    F. To contractors and their agents, grantees, experts, consultants, and others performing or working on a contract, service, grant, cooperative agreement, or other assignment for DHS, when necessary to accomplish an agency function related to this system of records. Individuals provided information under this routine use are subject to the same Privacy Act requirements and limitations on disclosure as are applicable to DHS officers and employees.

    G. To an appropriate Federal, state, tribal, local, international, or foreign law enforcement agency or other appropriate authority charged with investigating or prosecuting a violation or enforcing or implementing a law, rule, regulation, or order, when a record, either on its face or in conjunction with other information, indicates a violation or potential violation of law, which includes criminal, civil, or regulatory violations and such disclosure is proper and consistent with the official duties of the person making the disclosure.

    H. To state and local governments pursuant to signed agreements allowing such governments to assist FEMA in making LOMC determinations.

    I. To the United States Department of the Treasury for the processing of payments for product and services.

    J. To the news media and the public, with the approval of the Chief Privacy Officer in consultation with counsel, when there exists a legitimate public interest in the disclosure of the information, when disclosure is necessary to preserve confidence in the integrity of DHS, or when disclosure is necessary to demonstrate the accountability of DHS's officers, employees, or individuals covered by the system, except to the extent the Chief Privacy Officer determines that release of the specific information in the context of a particular case would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.

    POLICIES AND PRACTICES FOR STORAGE OF RECORDS:

    DHS/FEMA stores records in this system electronically or on paper in secure facilities in a locked drawer behind a locked door. The records may be stored on magnetic disc, tape, and digital media.

    POLICIES AND PRACTICES FOR RETRIEVAL OF RECORDS:

    DHS/FEMA retrieves