Federal Register Vol. 82, No.224,

Federal Register Volume 82, Issue 224 (November 22, 2017)

Page Range55493-55722
FR Document

82_FR_224
Current View
Page and SubjectPDF
82 FR 55721 - Thanksgiving Day, 2017PDF
82 FR 55719 - National Family Week, 2017PDF
82 FR 55660 - Sunshine Act MeetingPDF
82 FR 55652 - Sunshine Act MeetingPDF
82 FR 55711 - Sunshine Act Meetings; Unified Carrier Registration Plan Board of DirectorsPDF
82 FR 55507 - Extension of Certain Time Frames for Employee Benefit Plans, Participants, and Beneficiaries Affected by Hurricane MariaPDF
82 FR 55578 - Marine Mammals and Endangered SpeciesPDF
82 FR 55535 - Coordination of Protection Systems for Performance During Faults and Specific Training for Personnel Reliability StandardsPDF
82 FR 55599 - Ormesa LLC; Supplemental Notice That Initial Market-Based Rate Filing Includes Request for Blanket Section 204 AuthorizationPDF
82 FR 55604 - Phibro Americas LLC; Supplemental Notice That Initial Market-Based Rate Filing Includes Request for Blanket Section 204 AuthorizationPDF
82 FR 55602 - Combined Notice of Filings #1PDF
82 FR 55602 - Combined Notice of Filings #2PDF
82 FR 55500 - Arbitration AgreementsPDF
82 FR 55511 - Approval and Promulgation of Air Quality Implementation Plans; Maryland; 2011 Base Year Inventory for the 2008 8-Hour Ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standard for the Baltimore, Maryland Nonattainment Area; Withdrawal of Direct Final RulePDF
82 FR 55510 - Approval and Promulgation of Air Quality Implementation Plans; Maryland; Nonattainment New Source Review Requirements for the 2008 8-Hour Ozone Standard; Withdrawal of Direct Final RulePDF
82 FR 55542 - Definition of “Waters of the United States”-Addition of an Applicability Date to 2015 Clean Water RulePDF
82 FR 55603 - South Texas Electric Cooperative, Inc.; Notice of Petition for Partial WaiverPDF
82 FR 55600 - Pelzer Hydro Company, LLC; Consolidated Hydro Southeast, LLC; Notice of Application Ready for Environmental Analysis and Soliciting Comments, Recommendations, Terms and Conditions, and PrescriptionsPDF
82 FR 55601 - Aquenergy Systems, LLC; Notice of Application Ready for Environmental Analysis and Soliciting Comments, Recommendations, Terms and Conditions, and PrescriptionsPDF
82 FR 55604 - Pelzer Hydro Company, LLC; Consolidated Hydro Southeast, LLC; Notice of Application Ready for Environmental Analysis and Soliciting Comments, Recommendations, Terms and Conditions, and PrescriptionsPDF
82 FR 55623 - Changes in Flood Hazard DeterminationsPDF
82 FR 55622 - Agency Information Collection Activities: Proposed Collection; Comment Request; Survivor Sheltering AssessmentPDF
82 FR 55626 - Agency Information Collection Activities: The William T. Pecora Award; Application and Nomination ProcessPDF
82 FR 55612 - Agency Information Collection Activities: Submission for OMB Review; Comment RequestPDF
82 FR 55556 - Submission for OMB Review; Comment RequestPDF
82 FR 55590 - Agency Information Collection Activities: Copies of Crop and Market Information ReportsPDF
82 FR 55493 - Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI)-Only Transitional Worker Numerical Limitation for Fiscal Years 2018 Through 2020PDF
82 FR 55608 - Notice of Agreement FiledPDF
82 FR 55591 - Agency Information Collection Activities: Notice of Intent To Renew Collection 3038-0026, Gross Collection of Exchange-Set Margins for Omnibus AccountsPDF
82 FR 55713 - Proposed Collection; Comment Request for Regulation ProjectPDF
82 FR 55712 - Proposed Collection; Comment Request for Regulation ProjectPDF
82 FR 55714 - Proposed Collection; Comment Request for Regulation ProjectPDF
82 FR 55714 - Proposed Collection; Comment Request for Forms 3921 and 3922 and TD 9470PDF
82 FR 55522 - Magnuson-Stevens Act Provisions; Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Northeast Multispecies Fishery; Disapproval of Northeast Fishery Sector IX Operational PlanPDF
82 FR 55658 - Southern Nuclear Operating Company, Inc., Vogtle Electric Generating Plant, Units 3 and 4, Inspections, Tests, Analyses, and Acceptance CriteriaPDF
82 FR 55653 - Southern Nuclear Operating Company, Inc., Vogtle Electric Generating Plant, Units 3 and 4; ADS and IRWST Injection BlockPDF
82 FR 55654 - Southern Nuclear Operating Company, Inc., Vogtle Electric Generating Plant, Units 3 and 4, Changes to Containment Cooling and Spent Fuel Pool Makeup StrategiesPDF
82 FR 55614 - Bone, Reproductive and Urologic Drugs Advisory Committee; Notice of Meeting; Establishment of a Public Docket; Request for CommentsPDF
82 FR 55574 - Certain Cold-Drawn Mechanical Tubing of Carbon and Alloy Steel From the People's Republic of China: Preliminary Affirmative Determination of Sales at Less-Than-Fair Value and Preliminary Affirmative Determination of Critical Circumstances, in Part, and Postponement of Final DeterminationPDF
82 FR 55571 - Cold-Drawn Mechanical Tubing From Switzerland: Preliminary Affirmative Determination of Sales at Less Than Fair Value and Postponement of Final Determination, and Extension of Provisional MeasuresPDF
82 FR 55567 - Certain Cold-Drawn Mechanical Tubing of Carbon and Alloy Steel From India: Preliminary Affirmative Determination of Sales at Less Than Fair Value, in Part, Postponement of Final Determination, and Extension of Provisional MeasuresPDF
82 FR 55558 - Certain Cold-Drawn Mechanical Tubing of Carbon and Alloy Steel From the Federal Republic of Germany: Preliminary Affirmative Determination of Sales at Less Than Fair Value and Postponement of Final DeterminationPDF
82 FR 55564 - Certain Cold-Drawn Mechanical Tubing of Carbon and Alloy Steel From the Republic of Korea: Preliminary Affirmative Determination of Sales at Less Than Fair Value, Preliminary Affirmative Determination of Critical Circumstances, in Part, Postponement of Final Determination, and Extension of Provisional MeasuresPDF
82 FR 55561 - Certain Cold-Drawn Mechanical Tubing of Carbon and Alloy Steel From Italy: Preliminary Affirmative Determination of Sales at Less Than Fair Value, Preliminary Affirmative Determination of Critical Circumstances, in Part, Postponement of Final Determination, and Extension of Provisional MeasuresPDF
82 FR 55642 - First Choice Surgery Center of Baton Rouge, L.L.C.; Decision and OrderPDF
82 FR 55635 - Arnold E. Feldman, M.D.; Decision and OrderPDF
82 FR 55639 - Linda M. Shuck, D.O.; Decision and OrderPDF
82 FR 55641 - Bulk Manufacturer of Controlled Substances RegistrationPDF
82 FR 55639 - Importer of Controlled Substances RegistrationPDF
82 FR 55707 - Agency Information Collection Activities: Proposed Request and Comment RequestPDF
82 FR 55578 - Foreign-Trade Zone (FTZ) 52-Jamaica, New York; Notification of Proposed Production Activity; Advanced Optowave Corporation; (Diode Pumped Solid State Laser Systems/Manufacturing); Ronkonkoma, New YorkPDF
82 FR 55557 - Foreign-Trade Zone 30-Salt Lake City, Utah; Application for Reorganization Under Alternative Site FrameworkPDF
82 FR 55557 - Foreign-Trade Zone (FTZ) 196-Fort Worth, Texas; Foreign-Trade Zone (FTZ) 247-Erie, Pennsylvania; Authorization of Production Activity; General Electric Transportation; (Underground Mining Vehicles); Fort Worth and Haslet, Texas; Erie and Grove City, PennsylvaniaPDF
82 FR 55557 - Foreign-Trade Zone (FTZ) 277-Western Maricopa County, Arizona; Authorization of Production Activity; CornellCookson, Inc.; (Rolling Steel Doors); Goodyear, ArizonaPDF
82 FR 55504 - Schedules of Controlled Substances: Placement of FDA-Approved Products of Oral Solutions Containing Dronabinol [(-)-delta-9-trans-tetrahydrocannabinol (delta-9-THC)] in Schedule IIPDF
82 FR 55710 - U.S. National Commission for UNESCO Notice of Web Conference MeetingPDF
82 FR 55594 - Notice of Intent To Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement for the Byram River Basin Flood Risk Management StudyPDF
82 FR 55595 - Notice of a Public Meeting for The Great Lakes and Mississippi River Interbasin Study-Brandon Road Draft Integrated Feasibility Study and Environmental Impact Statement-Will County, Illinois and Extension of Public Comment PeriodPDF
82 FR 55657 - Enforcement Discretion for Tornado-Generated Missile Protection Noncompliance, Revision 1PDF
82 FR 55547 - Third Party Billing for Medical Care Provided Under Special Treatment AuthoritiesPDF
82 FR 55550 - Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Regulations for Candidate Conservation Agreements With AssurancesPDF
82 FR 55625 - Candidate Conservation Agreements With Assurances PolicyPDF
82 FR 55554 - Notice of Public Meeting of the Louisiana Advisory Committee for a Meeting To Hear Public Testimony Regarding Civil Rights and Voter Accessibility in the StatePDF
82 FR 55627 - Notice of Realty Action: Competitive Sale of 40 Parcels of Public Land in Clark County, NVPDF
82 FR 55607 - Notice to All Interested Parties of Intent to Terminate the Receivership of 10253, Peninsula Bank, Englewood, FloridaPDF
82 FR 55606 - Notice to All Interested Parties of Intent To Terminate the Receivership of 10075, Rock River Bank, Oregon, IllinoisPDF
82 FR 55611 - Proposed Data Collection Submitted for Public Comment and RecommendationsPDF
82 FR 55609 - Proposed Data Collection Submitted for Public Comment and RecommendationsPDF
82 FR 55593 - Defense Business Board; Notice of Federal Advisory Committee MeetingPDF
82 FR 55579 - Takes of Marine Mammals Incidental to Specified Activities; Taking Marine Mammals Incidental to Casitas Pier Fender Pile ReplacementPDF
82 FR 55592 - Notice of Availability for Finding of No Significant Impact for the Environmental Assessment Addressing Divestment of Military Family Housing at Defense Distribution Center, SusquehannaPDF
82 FR 55607 - Agency Information Collection Activities: Submission for OMB Review; Comment RequestPDF
82 FR 55595 - Record of Decision for Issuing a Presidential Permit to Northern Pass Transmission LLC for the Northern Pass Transmission Line ProjectPDF
82 FR 55619 - Tenth Annual Sentinel Initiative; Public WorkshopPDF
82 FR 55510 - Drawbridge Operation Regulation; Southern Branch of the Elizabeth River, Chesapeake, VAPDF
82 FR 55617 - General Principles for Evaluating the Abuse Deterrence of Generic Solid Oral Opioid Drug Products; Guidance for Industry; AvailabilityPDF
82 FR 55608 - Proposed Agency Information Collection Activities; Comment RequestPDF
82 FR 55659 - New Postal ProductPDF
82 FR 55613 - Tobacco Product Manufacturing Practice; Request for CommentsPDF
82 FR 55554 - Notice of Public Meeting of the Oregon Advisory CommitteePDF
82 FR 55699 - Self-Regulatory Organizations; NYSE Arca, Inc.; Notice of Filing of Amendment No. 2, and Order Instituting Proceedings To Determine Whether To Approve or Disapprove a Proposed Rule Change, as Modified by Amendment No. 2, To List and Trade Shares of ProShares QuadPro Funds Under NYSE Arca Rule 8.200-EPDF
82 FR 55633 - Aluminum Foil From China; Scheduling of the Final Phase of Countervailing Duty and Antidumping Duty InvestigationsPDF
82 FR 55555 - Agenda and Notice of Public Meeting of the South Dakota Advisory CommitteePDF
82 FR 55631 - Agency Information Collection Activities; National Heritage Areas ProgramPDF
82 FR 55632 - U.S. Trade and Investment With Sub-Saharan Africa: Recent DevelopmentsPDF
82 FR 55711 - Notice of Determinations; Culturally Significant Objects Imported for Exhibition Determinations: “Harald Szeemann: Museum of Obsessions” ExhibitionPDF
82 FR 55710 - Notice of Public Meeting of the International Telecommunication Advisory Committee and Preparations for Upcoming International Telecommunications MeetingsPDF
82 FR 55605 - Notice of Availability of the Environmental Assessment for the Proposed Birdsboro Pipeline Project, DTE Midstream Appalachia, LLCPDF
82 FR 55667 - Self-Regulatory Organizations; Cboe Exchange, Inc.; Notice of Filing of a Proposed Rule Change Relating to Rule 6.56PDF
82 FR 55679 - Self-Regulatory Organizations; Nasdaq MRX, LLC; Order Granting Approval of a Proposed Rule Change To Adopt New Corporate Governance and Related Processes Similar to Those of the Nasdaq ExchangesPDF
82 FR 55660 - Self-Regulatory Organizations; NYSE Arca, Inc.; Notice of Filing and Immediate Effectiveness of Proposed Rule Changes to the NYSE Arca Equities Proprietary Market Data FeesPDF
82 FR 55676 - Self-Regulatory Organizations; NYSE American LLC; Notice of Filing and Immediate Effectiveness of Proposed Rule Change To Amend Rule 903 (Series of Options Open for Trading)PDF
82 FR 55686 - Self-Regulatory Organizations; NYSE Arca, Inc.; Notice of Filing and Immediate Effectiveness of Proposed Rule Change To Amend Rule 6.4-O (Series of Options Open for Trading)PDF
82 FR 55702 - Self-Regulatory Organizations; NYSE Arca, Inc.; Notice of Filing and Immediate Effectiveness of Proposed Rule Change To Amend the Fees for NYSE Arca BBO and NYSE Arca Trades To Lower the Enterprise Fee for Those ProductsPDF
82 FR 55696 - Self-Regulatory Organizations; Chicago Stock Exchange, Inc.; Notice of Filing and Immediate Effectiveness of a Proposed Rule Change Related to the Plan To Address Extraordinary Market Volatility Pursuant to Rule 608 of Regulation NMSPDF
82 FR 55689 - Self-Regulatory Organizations; Cboe BZX Exchange, Inc.; Notice of Filing of a Proposed Rule Change To List and Trade Shares of the Innovator S&P 500 15% Shield Strategy ETF Series, Innovator S&P 500 −5% to −35% Shield Strategy ETF Series, Innovator S&P 500 Enhance and 10% Shield Strategy ETF Series, and Innovator S&P 500 Ultra Strategy ETF Series Under Rule 14.11(i)PDF
82 FR 55621 - International Standards Pertaining to Maintenance, Repair, and Training of Servicing Technicians for Lifeboats, Rescue Boats, Launching Appliances, and Release GearPDF
82 FR 55616 - Modified Risk Tobacco Product Applications: Applications for IQOS System With Marlboro Heatsticks, IQOS System With Marlboro Smooth Menthol Heatsticks, and IQOS System With Marlboro Fresh Menthol Heatsticks Submitted by Philip Morris Products S.A.; Extension of Comment PeriodPDF
82 FR 55497 - Corporate Credit UnionsPDF
82 FR 55644 - Overhead Transfer Rate MethodologyPDF
82 FR 55715 - Proposed Collection; Comment Request for Regulation ProjectPDF
82 FR 55711 - Proposed Collection; Comment Request for Regulation ProjectPDF
82 FR 55621 - National Eye Institute; Notice of Closed MeetingPDF
82 FR 55621 - Center for Scientific Review Cancellation of MeetingPDF
82 FR 55620 - Center for Scientific Review Notice of Closed MeetingsPDF
82 FR 55606 - Notice of Termination of the Receivership of 10345, Habersham Bank, Clarkesville, GeorgiaPDF
82 FR 55606 - Notice to All Interested Parties of Intent To Terminate the Receivership of 10352, Western Springs National Bank and Trust, Western Springs, IllinoisPDF
82 FR 55607 - Notice to All Interested Parties of Intent To Terminate the Receivership of 10350, The Bank of Commerce, Wood Dale, IllinoisPDF
82 FR 55556 - Notice of Public Meeting of the South Carolina Advisory CommitteePDF
82 FR 55553 - Notice of Public Meeting of the Michigan Advisory CommitteePDF
82 FR 55553 - Submission for OMB Review; Comment RequestPDF
82 FR 55503 - Sanitary Transportation of Human and Animal Food: What You Need to Know About the Food and Drug Administration Regulation; Small Entity Compliance Guide; AvailabilityPDF
82 FR 55512 - Atlantic Highly Migratory Species; 2018 Atlantic Shark Commercial Fishing SeasonPDF
82 FR 55520 - Atlantic Highly Migratory Species; Atlantic Bluefin Tuna FisheriesPDF
82 FR 55643 - NASA Advisory Council; MeetingPDF
82 FR 55551 - Fisheries Off West Coast States; Coastal Pelagic Species Fisheries; Amendment 16 to the Coastal Pelagic Species Fishery Management PlanPDF
82 FR 55511 - Air Plan Approval; GA: Emission Reduction CreditsPDF
82 FR 55496 - Rules of OrganizationPDF
82 FR 55529 - Vessel and Aircraft Discharges From United States Coast Guard Activities in Greater Farallones and Cordell Bank National Marine SanctuariesPDF
82 FR 55502 - Delay of Discharge Requirements for U.S. Coast Guard Activities in Greater Farallones and Cordell Bank National Marine SanctuariesPDF
82 FR 55500 - Special Conditions: Mitsubishi Aircraft Corporation Model MRJ-200 airplane; Design Roll Maneuver for Electronic Flight ControlsPDF
82 FR 55527 - Airworthiness Directives; Various Aircraft Equipped With BRP-Rotax GmbH & Co KG 912 A Series EnginePDF
82 FR 55495 - Rules Regarding Delegation of AuthorityPDF

Issue

82 224 Wednesday, November 22, 2017 Contents Agriculture Agriculture Department NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals, 55553 2017-25206 Consumer Financial Protection Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection RULES Arbitration Agreements, 55500 2017-25324 Centers Disease Centers for Disease Control and Prevention NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals, 55609-55612 2017-25260 2017-25261 Centers Medicare Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals, 55612-55613 2017-25313 Civil Rights Civil Rights Commission NOTICES Meetings: Louisiana Advisory Committee, 55554 2017-25265 Michigan Advisory Committee, 55553-55554 2017-25207 Oregon Advisory Committee, 55554-55555 2017-25243 South Carolina Advisory Committee, 55556 2017-25208 South Dakota Advisory Committee, 55555 2017-25239 Coast Guard Coast Guard RULES Drawbridge Operations: Southern Branch of the Elizabeth River, Chesapeake, VA, 55510 2017-25250 NOTICES Meetings: International Standards Pertaining to Maintenance, Repair, and Training of Servicing Technicians for Lifeboats, Rescue Boats, Launching Appliances, and Release Gear, 55621-55622 2017-25225 Commerce Commerce Department See

Foreign-Trade Zones Board

See

International Trade Administration

See

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals, 55556-55557 2017-25312
Commodity Futures Commodity Futures Trading Commission NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: Copies of Crop and Market Information Reports, 55590-55591 2017-25307 Gross Collection of Exchange-Set Margins for Omnibus Accounts, 55591-55592 2017-25304 Defense Department Defense Department See

Engineers Corps

NOTICES Environmental Assessments; Availability, etc.: Military Family Housing at Defense Distribution Center, Susquehanna, 55592-55593 2017-25256 Meetings: Defense Business Board, 55593-55594 2017-25259
Drug Drug Enforcement Administration RULES Schedules of Controlled Substances: Placement of FDA-Approved Products of Oral Solutions Containing Dronabinol [(-)-delta-9-trans-tetrahydrocannabinol (delta-9-THC)] in Schedule II, 55504-55506 2017-25275 NOTICES Decisions and Orders: Arnold E. Feldman, MD, 55635-55639 2017-25287 First Choice Surgery Center of Baton Rouge, LLC, 55642-55643 2017-25288 Linda M. Shuck, D.O., 55639-55641 2017-25286 Importers of Controlled Substances; Registrations: Almac Clinical Services Inc., Stepan Co., Fresenius Kabi USA, LLC, Cambrex Charles City, Spex Certiprep Group, LLC, et al., 55639 2017-25284 Manufacturers of Controlled Substances; Registrations: Cayman Chemical Co., AMRI Rensselaer, Inc., et al, 55641-55642 2017-25285 Employee Benefits Employee Benefits Security Administration RULES Employee Benefit Plans, Participants, and Beneficiaries Affected by Hurricane Maria, 55507-55509 2017-25332 Energy Department Energy Department See

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission

NOTICES Presidential Permits: Record of Decision, Northern Pass Transmission Line Project, 55595-55599 2017-25254
Engineers Engineers Corps PROPOSED RULES Definition of Waters of the United States—Addition of Applicability Date to 2015 Clean Water Rule, 55542-55547 2017-25321 NOTICES Environmental Impact Statements; Availability, etc.: Byram River Basin Flood Risk Management Study, 55594-55595 2017-25273 Meetings: The Great Lakes and Mississippi River Interbasin Study, Brandon Road Draft Integrated Feasibility Study and Environmental Impact Statement, Will County, IL, 55595 2017-25272 Environmental Protection Environmental Protection Agency RULES Air Quality State Implementation Plans; Approvals and Promulgations: GA: Emission Reduction Credits, 55511-55512 2017-25193 Maryland; 2011 Base Year Inventory for the 2008 8-Hour Ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standard for the Baltimore, Maryland Nonattainment Area; Withdrawal of Direct Final Rule, 55511 2017-25323 Maryland; Nonattainment New Source Review Requirements for the 2008 8-Hour Ozone Standard; Withdrawal of Direct Final rule, 55510-55511 2017-25322 PROPOSED RULES Definition of Waters of the United States—Addition of Applicability Date to 2015 Clean Water Rule, 55542-55547 2017-25321 Federal Aviation Federal Aviation Administration RULES Special Conditions: Mitsubishi Aircraft Corporation Model MRJ-200 airplane; Design Roll Maneuver for Electronic Flight Controls, 55500-55502 2017-25019 PROPOSED RULES Airworthiness Directives: Various Aircraft Equipped With BRP-Rotax GmbH and Co KG 912 A Series Engine, 55527-55529 2017-25005 Federal Deposit Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation NOTICES Terminations of Receivership: Habersham Bank, Clarkesville, GA, 55606 2017-25214 Peninsula Bank, Englewood, FL, 55607 2017-25263 Rock River Bank, Oregon, IL, 55606-55607 2017-25262 The Bank of Commerce, Wood Dale, IL, 55607 2017-25211 Western Springs National Bank and Trust, Western Springs, IL, 55606 2017-25212 Federal Emergency Federal Emergency Management Agency NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: Survivor Sheltering Assessment, 55622-55623 2017-25315 Changes in Flood Hazard Determinations, 55623-55625 2017-25316 Federal Energy Federal Energy Regulatory Commission PROPOSED RULES Coordination of Protection Systems for Performance During Faults and Specific Training for Personnel Reliability Standards, 55535-55541 2017-25329 NOTICES Applications: Aquenergy Systems, LLC, 55601-55602 2017-25318 Pelzer Hydro Company, LLC; Consolidated Hydro Southeast, LLC, 55600-55601, 55604-55605 2017-25317 2017-25319 Combined Filings, 2017-25325 55602-55603 2017-25326 Environmental Assessments; Availability, etc.: DTE Midstream Appalachia, LLC; Birdsboro Pipeline Project, 55605-55606 2017-25234 Initial Market-Based Rate Filings Including Requests for Blanket Section 204 Authorizations: Ormesa, LLC, 55599-55600 2017-25328 Phibro Americas LLC, 55604 2017-25327 Petitions for Waivers: South Texas Electric Cooperative, Inc., 55603 2017-25320 Federal Maritime Federal Maritime Commission NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals, 55607-55608 2017-25255 Agreements Filed, 55608 2017-25305 Federal Motor Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration NOTICES Meetings; Sunshine Act, 55711 2017-25400 Federal Reserve Federal Reserve System RULES Rules of Organization, 55496-55497 2017-25122 Rules Regarding Delegation of Authority, 55495-55496 2017-24052 NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals, 55608-55609 2017-25247 Fish Fish and Wildlife Service PROPOSED RULES Endangered and Threatened Species: Candidate Conservation Agreements With Assurances, 55550-55551 2017-25268 NOTICES Candidate Conservation Agreements With Assurances Policy, 55625-55626 2017-25267 Food and Drug Food and Drug Administration RULES Guidance: Sanitary Transportation of Human and Animal Food: What You Need to Know About the Food and Drug Administration Regulation; Small Entity Compliance Guide, 55503-55504 2017-25204 NOTICES Guidance: General Principles for Evaluating the Abuse Deterrence of Generic Solid Oral Opioid Drug Products, 55617-55619 2017-25248 Meetings: Bone, Reproductive and Urologic Drugs Advisory Committee; Establishment of a Public Docket, 55614-55615 2017-25295 Tenth Annual Sentinel Initiative; Public Workshop, 55619-55620 2017-25251 Modified Risk Tobacco Product Applications: Applications for IQOS System With Marlboro Heatsticks, Marlboro Smooth Menthol Heatsticks, and Marlboro Fresh Menthol Heatsticks, 55616-55617 2017-25224 Requests for Comments: Tobacco Product Manufacturing Practice, 55613-55614 2017-25245 Foreign Trade Foreign-Trade Zones Board NOTICES Production Activities: Advanced Optowave Corp., Foreign-Trade Zone 52, Jamaica, NY, 55578 2017-25281 CornellCookson, Inc., Foreign-Trade Zone 277, Western Maricopa County, AZ, 55557 2017-25278 General Electric Transportation, Foreign-Trade Zone 196 and 247, Fort Worth, TX and Erie, PA, 55557 2017-25279 Reorganizations Under Alternative Site Framework: Foreign-Trade Zone 30, Salt Lake City, UT, 55557 2017-25280 Geological Geological Survey NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: William T. Pecora Award; Application and Nomination Process, 55626-55627 2017-25314 Health and Human Health and Human Services Department See

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

See

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services

See

Food and Drug Administration

See

National Institutes of Health

Homeland Homeland Security Department See

Coast Guard

See

Federal Emergency Management Agency

RULES Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands-Only Transitional Worker Numerical Limitation for Fiscal Years 2018 Through 2020, 55493-55495 2017-25306
Interior Interior Department See

Fish and Wildlife Service

See

Geological Survey

See

Land Management Bureau

See

National Park Service

Internal Revenue Internal Revenue Service RULES Employee Benefit Plans, Participants, and Beneficiaries Affected by Hurricane Maria, 55507-55509 2017-25332 NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals, 2017-25219 55711-55712, 55714-55715 2017-25220 2017-25221 2017-25300 2017-25301 Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: Comment Request for Regulation Project, 55712-55713 2017-25302 2017-25303 International Trade Adm International Trade Administration NOTICES Determinations of Sales at Less Than Fair Value: Certain Cold-Drawn Mechanical Tubing of Carbon and Alloy Steel From India, 55567-55571 2017-25292 Certain Cold-Drawn Mechanical Tubing of Carbon and Alloy Steel From Italy, 55561-55564 2017-25289 Certain Cold-Drawn Mechanical Tubing of Carbon and Alloy Steel From the Federal Republic of Germany, 55558-55561 2017-25291 Certain Cold-Drawn Mechanical Tubing of Carbon and Alloy Steel From the People's Republic of China, 55574-55578 2017-25294 Certain Cold-Drawn Mechanical Tubing of Carbon and Alloy Steel From the Republic of Korea, 55564-55567 2017-25290 Cold-Drawn Mechanical Tubing From Switzerland, 55571-55574 2017-25293 International Trade Com International Trade Commission NOTICES Investigations; Determinations, Modifications, and Rulings, etc.: Aluminum Foil From China, 55633-55634 2017-25240 U.S. Trade and Investment With Sub-Saharan Africa: Recent Developments, 55632-55633 2017-25237 Justice Department Justice Department See

Drug Enforcement Administration

Labor Department Labor Department See

Employee Benefits Security Administration

Land Land Management Bureau NOTICES Realty Actions: Competitive Sale of 40 Parcels of Public Land in Clark County, NV, 55627-55630 2017-25264 NASA National Aeronautics and Space Administration NOTICES Meetings: Advisory Council, 55643-55644 2017-25201 National Credit National Credit Union Administration RULES Corporate Credit Unions, 55497-55500 2017-25223 NOTICES Overhead Transfer Rate Methodology, 55644-55652 2017-25222 National Institute National Institutes of Health NOTICES Meetings: Center for Scientific Review, 55620 2017-25215 2017-25216 Center for Scientific Review; Cancellation, 55621 2017-25217 National Eye Institute, 55621 2017-25218 National Oceanic National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration RULES Atlantic Highly Migratory Species: 2018 Atlantic Shark Commercial Fishing Season, 55512-55520 2017-25203 Atlantic Bluefin Tuna Fisheries, 55520-55522 2017-25202 Delay of Discharge Requirements for U.S. Coast Guard Activities in Greater Farallones and Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuaries, 55502-55503 2017-25104 Fisheries of the Northeastern United States: Northeast Multispecies Fishery; Disapproval of Northeast Fishery Sector IX Operational Plan, 55522-55526 2017-25299 PROPOSED RULES Fisheries Off West Coast States: Coastal Pelagic Species Fisheries; Amendment 16 to the Coastal Pelagic Species Fishery Management Plan, 55551-55552 2017-25200 Vessel and Aircraft Discharges From United States Coast Guard Activities in Greater Farallones and Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuaries, 55529-55535 2017-25105 NOTICES Candidate Conservation Agreements With Assurances Policy, 55625-55626 2017-25267 Permits: Marine Mammals and Endangered Species, 55578-55579 2017-25331 Takes of Marine Mammals Incidental to Specified Activities: Casitas Pier Fender Pile Replacement, 55579-55590 2017-25258 National Park National Park Service NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: National Heritage Areas Program, 55631-55632 2017-25238 National Transportation National Transportation Safety Board NOTICES Meetings; Sunshine Act, 55652 2017-25417 Nuclear Regulatory Nuclear Regulatory Commission NOTICES Determinations: Southern Nuclear Operating Company, Inc. Vogtle Electric Generating Plant, Units 3 and 4, Inspections, Tests, Analyses, and Acceptance Criteria, 55658-55659 2017-25298 Exemption and Combined Licenses; Amendments: Southern Nuclear Operating Company, Inc., Vogtle Electric Generating Plant, Units 3 and 4; ADS and IRWST Injection Block, 55653-55654 2017-25297 Guidance: Enforcement Discretion for Tornado-Generated Missile Protection Noncompliance, Revision 1, 55657-55658 2017-25271 License Applications; Amendments: Southern Nuclear Operating Company, Inc., Vogtle Electric Generating Plant, Units 3 and 4, Changes to Containment Cooling and Spent Fuel Pool Makeup Strategies, 55654-55657 2017-25296 Postal Regulatory Postal Regulatory Commission NOTICES Meetings; Sunshine Act, 55660 2017-25461 New Postal Products, 55659-55660 2017-25246 Presidential Documents Presidential Documents PROCLAMATIONS Special Observances: National Family Week (Proc. 9677), 55717-55720 2017-25492 Thanksgiving Day (Proc. 9678), 55721-55722 2017-25497 Securities Securities and Exchange Commission NOTICES Self-Regulatory Organizations; Proposed Rule Changes: Cboe BZX Exchange, Inc., 55689-55696 2017-25226 Cboe Exchange, Inc., 55667-55676 2017-25233 Chicago Stock Exchange, Inc., 55696-55699 2017-25227 Nasdaq MRX, LLC, 55679-55686 2017-25232 NYSE American LLC, 55676-55679 2017-25230 NYSE Arca, Inc., 55660-55666, 55686-55689, 55699-55707 2017-25228 2017-25229 2017-25231 2017-25241 Social Social Security Administration NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals, 55707-55710 2017-25282 State Department State Department NOTICES Culturally Significant Objects Imported for Exhibition: Harald Szeemann—Museum of Obsessions Exhibition, 55711 2017-25236 Meetings: International Telecommunication Advisory Committee; Preparations for Upcoming International Telecommunications Meetings, 55710 2017-25235 U.S. National Commission for United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization ; Web Conference, 55710 2017-25274 Transportation Department Transportation Department See

Federal Aviation Administration

See

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

Treasury Treasury Department See

Internal Revenue Service

Veteran Affairs Veterans Affairs Department PROPOSED RULES Third Party Billing for Medical Care Provided under Special Treatment Authorities, 55547-55549 2017-25269 Separate Parts In This Issue Part II Presidential Documents, 55717-55722 2017-25492 2017-25497 Reader Aids

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

To subscribe to the Federal Register Table of Contents electronic mailing list, go to https://public.govdelivery.com/accounts/USGPOOFR/subscriber/new, enter your e-mail address, then follow the instructions to join, leave, or manage your subscription.

82 224 Wednesday, November 22, 2017 Rules and Regulations DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY 8 CFR Part 214 [CIS No. 2606-17; DHS Docket No. USCIS-2012-0010] RIN 1615-ZB43 Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI)-Only Transitional Worker Numerical Limitation for Fiscal Years 2018 Through 2020 AGENCY:

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, DHS.

ACTION:

Notification of numerical limitations.

SUMMARY:

The Secretary of Homeland Security announces the annual fiscal year numerical limitations for the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI)-Only Transitional Worker (CW-1) nonimmigrant classification for the remainder of the transition period, which is scheduled to end on December 31, 2019. This document announces the mandated annual reduction of the CW-1 numerical limitation (also known as the CW-1 cap) and ensures that CNMI employers and employees have sufficient information regarding the maximum number of CW-1 transitional workers who may be granted status during the remainder of the transition period, which includes Fiscal Years (FYs) 2018-2019 and the first 3 months of FY 2020. For FY 2018, the cap is set at 9,998. For FY 2019, the cap is set at 4,999. For FY 2020, the cap is set at 2,499 and will be in effect until the end of the transition period on December 31, 2019.

DATES:

Effective November 22, 2017.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Paola Rodriguez Hale, Adjudications Officer (Policy), Office of Policy and Strategy, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, Department of Homeland Security, 20 Massachusetts Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20529-2060. Contact telephone 202-272-8377.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

I. Background

Title VII of the Consolidated Natural Resources Act of 2008 (CNRA) extended U.S. immigration law, with limited exceptions, to the CNMI and provided CNMI-specific provisions affecting foreign workers. See Public Law 110-229, 122 Stat. 754, 853-854. The CNRA provided for a transition period to phase out the CNMI's nonresident contract worker program and phase in the U.S. Federal immigration system in a manner that minimizes adverse economic and fiscal effects and maximizes the CNMI's potential for future economic and business growth. See sections 701 and 702(a) of the CNRA.

The CNRA authorized the Secretary of Homeland Security to create a nonimmigrant classification that would ensure adequate employment in the CNMI during the transition period. See section 702(a) of the CNRA; 48 U.S.C. 1806(d). The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) published a final rule on September 7, 2011, amending the regulations at 8 CFR 214.2(w) to implement a temporary, CNMI-only transitional worker nonimmigrant classification (CW classification, which includes CW-1 for principal workers and CW-2 for spouses and minor children). See Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands Transitional Worker Classification, 76 FR 55502 (Sept. 7, 2011).

The CNRA mandated an annual reduction in the number of permits issued per year and the total elimination of the CW nonimmigrant classification by the end of the transition period. See 48 U.S.C. 1806(d)(2). At the outset of the transitional worker program, DHS set the CW-1 numerical limitation (also known as the CW-1 cap) for FY 2011 at 22,417 and for FY 2012 at 22,416. DHS announced these annual caps in DHS regulations at 8 CFR 214.2(w)(1)(viii)(A) and (B). DHS subsequently published annual caps by Federal Register notice. See 8 CFR 214.2(w)(1)(viii)(C).

The CNRA directed the U.S. Secretary of Labor to determine whether an extension of the CW program for an additional period of up to 5 years beyond the expiration of the initial transition period on December 31, 2014, was necessary to ensure that an adequate number of workers will be available for legitimate businesses in the CNMI. The CNRA further provided the Secretary of Labor with the authority to provide for such an extension through notice in the Federal Register. On June 3, 2014, the Secretary of Labor extended the CW program for an additional 5 years, through December 31, 2019. See Secretary of Labor Extends the Transition Period of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands-Only Transitional Worker Program, 79 FR 31988 (June 3, 2014). Since the Secretary of Labor extended the CW program at least until December 31, 2019, DHS decided to preserve the status quo, or current conditions, rather than aggressively reduce CW-1 numbers for FY 2015. DHS therefore reduced the CW-1 cap nominally by one, resulting in an FY 2015 limit of 13,999. See Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands Transitional Worker Classification (CNMI)-Only Transitional Worker Numerical Limitation for Fiscal Year 2015, 79 FR 58241 (Sept. 29, 2014).

On December 16, 2014, Congress amended the law to extend the transition period until December 31, 2019. See Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2015, Public Law 113-235, sec. 10, 128 Stat. 2130, 2134 (codified at 48 U.S.C. 1806(d)). Congress also eliminated the Secretary of Labor's authority to provide for future extensions of the CW-1 program, requiring the CW-1 program to end (or sunset) on December 31, 2019. See id.

For FY 2016, DHS reduced the cap by 1,000 to a limit of 12,999. See Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands Transitional Worker Classification (CNMI)-Only Transitional Worker Numerical Limitation for Fiscal Year 2016, 80 FR 63911 (Oct. 22, 2015). The CW-1 cap was met for the first time in FY 2016.1 As a result, DHS preserved the status quo and reduced the cap for FY 2017 by only one to 12,998. See Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands Transitional Worker Classification (CNMI)-Only Transitional Worker Numerical Limitation for Fiscal Year 2017, 81 FR 60581 (Sept. 2, 2016). In the Federal Register notice announcing the CW-1 cap for FY 2017, DHS explained that the nominal reduction would help preserve access to foreign labor in the CNMI, and emphasized the statutory requirement to reduce the annual cap to zero no later than the end of calendar year 2019. DHS also provided notice to CNMI employers and CW-1 workers warning of potential significant reductions in the number in the annual cap in the years ahead. Shortly thereafter, on October 14, 2016, the CW cap was met for FY 2017, only 2 weeks into the fiscal year.2

1See “USCIS Reaches CW-1 Cap for Fiscal Year 2016,” available at https://www.uscis.gov/news/alerts/uscis-reaches-cw-1-cap-fiscal-year-2016.

2See “USCIS Reaches CW-1 Cap for Fiscal Year 2017,” available at https://www.uscis.gov/news/alerts/uscis-reaches-cw-1-cap-fiscal-year-2017.

II. Maximum Number of CW-1 Nonimmigrant Workers for Fiscal Years 2018 Through 2020

The CNRA requires an annual reduction in the number of transitional workers but does not mandate a specific numerical reduction. See 48 U.S.C. 1806(d)(2). In addition, DHS regulations provide that the CW-1 cap for any fiscal year will be less than the number established for the previous fiscal year, and that the adjusted number will be reasonably calculated in DHS's discretion to reduce the number of CW-1 nonimmigrant workers to zero by the end of the program. 8 CFR 214.2(w)(1)(viii)(C). DHS may adjust the cap for a fiscal year or any other period, at any time by publishing a document in the Federal Register, as long as the number is less than the cap for the previous fiscal year. See 8 CFR 214.2(w)(1)(viii)(D).

As noted previously, Congress has mandated that the transition period end on December 31, 2019, without the possibility of an administrative extension. See Public Law 113-235, sec. 10 (codified at 48 U.S.C. 1806(a)(2), (d)). Given this firm sunset date and the CNRA's requirement to reduce the number of transitional workers to zero by the end of the transition period, DHS believes it is now appropriate to publish a reduction plan to inform the public of the number of CW-1 workers available during each of the fiscal years for the remainder of the transition period. See 48 U.S.C. 1806(d)(2). DHS believes that publishing a reduction plan of the CW-1 cap over the remaining two and one-quarter fiscal years will provide employers with knowledge of the availability of CW workers and help them adjust their workforce needs before the transition period ends.

DHS has set the CW-1 cap for FY 2018 at 9,998. For FY 2019, the cap is set at 4,999. For FY 2020, the cap is set at 2,499 and will be in effect until the transition period ends on December 31, 2019. DHS considered an approach similar to FY 2017 of a nominal reduction only for the next fiscal year, consistent with DHS's prior goal of best ensuring that there are enough CW-1 workers for future fiscal years until the end of the program. However, at this point in time, with little over two years remaining in the transition period, DHS has decided that an orderly reduction over the remaining years of the transition period is the most appropriate course of action. DHS made this decision based on the need to reduce the number of CW-1 nonimmigrant workers to zero by the end of the transition period, and consistent with the warning DHS provided in the September 2016 Federal Register document that CNMI employers and CW-1 workers should plan for more significant reductions in the annual numerical limitation in the years ahead. DHS believes that this approach will further encourage the recruitment of U.S. workers and the transition into the U.S. immigration system, consistent with the goals of the CNRA and the general policy in Executive Order 13,788, Buy American and Hire American, 82 FR 18837, 18838 (Apr. 21, 2017), “to protect the interests of United States workers in the administration of our immigration system.”

DHS also notes that Congress recently revised the CW-1 statute without extending the transition period. The Northern Mariana Islands Economic Expansion Act 3 (the NMIEEA), which was enacted into law on August 22, 2017, revised the CW-1 visa classification to, among other things, (1) add 350 CW-1 visas to the fiscal year (FY) 2017 CW-1 cap for purposes of extending certain existing CW-1 permits, thus raising the total number of visas that may be issued from 12,998 to 13,348; 4 and (2) prohibit the CW-1 classification from being available to workers who will be performing jobs classified as “construction and extraction occupations” as defined in the U.S. Department of Labor's Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) system other than to extend CW-1 permits of such workers first issued before October 1, 2015.

3See Northern Mariana Islands Economic Expansion Act, H.R. 339, 115th Cong. (1st Sess. 2017) (amending Section 6 of Public Law 94-241, 48 U.S.C. 1806) (Aug. 22, 2017).

4 The additional 350 visas are immediately and exclusively available to current CW-1 workers who are applying to extend their status and whose petition validity period expires between August 23 and September 30, 2017. Of these additional visas, 60 are reserved for “healthcare practitioners and technical occupations” and 10 are reserved for “plant and system operators” as those terms are defined in the SOC system.

DHS reviewed this new legislation to consider its effect, if any, on the CW-1 FY 2018 cap. Congress added CW-1 visas to the FY 2017 cap, creating a new baseline of 13,448, yet it did not extend the transition period beyond the current sunset of December 31, 2019. Although the increase in the FY 2017 cap meant that DHS could have set the FY 2018 cap as high as 13,347, DHS did not do so for the reasons set forth above.

Notably, Congress also banned employers of new construction and extraction occupation workers from using the CW-1 classification. As described by the NMIEEA's sponsor in the Congressional Record, the bar on construction and extraction workers intends to require construction companies to fill new positions (including those filled by CW-1 workers after October 1, 2015) with non-CW-1 workers.5 As the construction worker bar will significantly reduce demand for the program compared to what it would be absent enactment of the NMIEEA, the new law will help mitigate potential harmful effects on CNMI employers resulting from the cap reductions for FY 2018 and subsequent years provided in this document. In setting the FY 2018 at 9,998, DHS is reducing the CW-1 cap by 3,000, which represents a reduction of about a quarter of the number for FY 2017. The FY 2019 cap, set to 4,999, reduces the FY 2018 cap by half. The final allocation for the first quarter of FY 2020 reduces the FY 2019 cap by half and is set to 2,499. A cap reduction in this manner complies with the regulatory requirement that the number in each fiscal year be reasonably calculated in DHS's discretion to reduce the number of CW-1 nonimmigrants to zero by the end of the transition period.

5 163 Cong. Rec. E1132 (daily ed. Aug. 15, 2017) (statement of Delegate Sablan).

The FY 2018 cap for CW-1 nonimmigrant workers will be in effect beginning on October 1, 2017. DHS retains the ability to use its discretion to adjust the cap for a fiscal year or other period at any time by notice in the Federal Register, as long as the new cap is less than the one established for the previous fiscal year, and is a number reasonably calculated to reduce the number of CW-1 nonimmigrants to zero by the end of the transition period. See 8 CFR 214.2(w)(1)(viii)(C) and (D). Consistent with the rules that apply to other nonimmigrant worker visa classifications, if the cap for the fiscal year is not reached, the unused numbers do not carry over to the next fiscal year. See 8 CFR 214.2(w)(1)(viii)(E).

Generally, each CW-1 nonimmigrant worker with an approved employment start date that falls within FY 2018 (October 1, 2017-September 30, 2018) will be counted against the new cap of 9,998. Counting each CW-1 nonimmigrant worker in this manner will help ensure that USCIS does not approve requests that would exceed the cap of 9,998 CW-1 nonimmigrant workers granted such status in FY 2018.

This document does not affect the current immigration status of foreign workers who have CW-1 nonimmigrant status. Such foreign workers, however, will be affected by this document when their CNMI employers file:

• For an extension of their CW-1 nonimmigrant classification; or

• A change of status from another nonimmigrant status to that of CW-1 nonimmigrant status.

This document does not affect the status of any individual currently holding CW-2 nonimmigrant status as the spouse or minor child of a CW-1 nonimmigrant worker. This document also does not directly affect the ability of any individual to extend or otherwise obtain CW-2 status, as the cap applies to CW-1 principals only. This document, however, may indirectly affect individuals seeking CW-2 status since their status depends on the CW-1 principal's ability to obtain or retain CW-1 status.

Elaine C. Duke, Acting Secretary of Homeland Security.
[FR Doc. 2017-25306 Filed 11-21-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 9111-97-P
FEDERAL RESERVE SYSTEM 12 CFR Part 265 [Docket No. R-1578] RIN 7100 AE-85 Rules Regarding Delegation of Authority AGENCY:

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

ACTION:

Final rule.

SUMMARY:

The Board is amending its Rules Regarding Delegation of Authority, in connection with the amendment to the Board's Rules of Organization (published elsewhere in this issue of the Federal Register), to provide a modified quorum procedure during exigent circumstances.

DATES:

The rule is effective November 22, 2017.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Laurie Schaffer, Associate General Counsel, (202) 452-2272, or Daniel Hickman, Counsel, (202) 973-7432, Legal Division, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, 20th Street and Constitution Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20551. For the hearing impaired only, Telecommunication Device for Deaf (TDD) users may contact (202) 263-4869.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

The Board consists of up to seven members appointed by the President, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, as provided in the Federal Reserve Act (Act).1 The Act does not define a quorum of the Board, and authorizes the Board to make all rules and regulations necessary to enable the Board effectively to perform its duties and functions.2 For many years, the Board defined a quorum to be a majority (four members) of its authorized strength of seven members. In 2003, the Board revised its definition of quorum of the Board to be a majority of the Board members currently in office, unless there are five members in office, in which case a quorum would be four members.3 This modification allowed the Board to function with fewer than four members in office and enhanced the Board's ability to function during emergencies.

1See 12 U.S.C. 241.

2See 12 U.S.C. 248(i).

3 66 FR 37686 (Jul 19, 2001), as amended at 68 FR 24743 (May 8, 2003).

Over the past decade, the Board has had to operate with fewer than five members on several occasions.4 Based on this experience, the Board has determined that substantial vacancies present administrative and logistical challenges that make it difficult to conduct routine business and efficiently manage operations, particularly with the Board's traditional reliance on a 3-member committee structure. In light of these considerations, the Board has reconsidered its quorum practice and decided to amend its definition of a quorum 5 to provide that a quorum of the Board is four members, unless there are three or fewer members in office, in which case a quorum would be all members in office. This revised definition will facilitate the Board's ability to continue to function efficiently during periods of substantial vacancies on the Board. This revision does not alter the number of Board members required to constitute a quorum or the functioning of the Board's committee structure in normal operating environments (that is, when five or more members are in office).

4 Since the current structure of the Board was established in 1936, the Board has had fewer than five members on only a few occasions for a short period of time and the Board has never had fewer than four members.

5 In a document published elsewhere in this issue of the Federal Register.

Since this revision may make it more difficult to convene a quorum of the Board under exigent circumstances, the Board also has added a modified definition of quorum providing that, in an emergency situation, a quorum of the Board consists of a majority of the Board members in office.6 An emergency situation is defined as a situation when action on a matter is necessary to prevent, correct, or mitigate serious harm to the economy or the stability of the financial system, and action is required before the full Board can convene. As part of this final rule, the Board is adding a provision to its regulations specifying that the Chair (or the Vice Chair, if the Chair is unavailable) would be authorized to determine when an emergency situation exists.

6 In a document published elsewhere in this issue of the Federal Register.

The revised rule relates solely to the internal procedure of the Board, and, accordingly, the public notice, public comment and delayed effective date provisions of the Administrative Procedure Act do not apply. See 5 U.S.C. 553(b) and (d). Because public notice and comment is not required, the Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 601 et seq.) also does not apply to this action.

List of Subjects in 12 CFR Part 265

Authority delegations (Government agencies), Banks, banking.

Authority and Issuance

For the reasons set forth in the preamble, the Board amends 12 CFR part 265 as follows:

PART 265—RULES REGARDING DELEGATION OF AUTHORITY 1. The authority citation of part 265 continues to read as follows: Authority:

12 U.S.C. 248(i) and (k).

2. Section 265.4(c) is added to read as follows:
§ 265.4 Functions delegated to Board members.

(c) Exigent circumstances. The Chairman is authorized to determine when an emergency situation exists for purposes of section 2(b)(2) of the Board's Rules of Organization. If the Chairman is unavailable or unable to determine that an emergency situation exists, then the Vice Chairman is authorized to determine when an emergency situation exists.

By order of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, October 31, 2017. Ann E. Misback, Secretary of the Board.
[FR Doc. 2017-24052 Filed 11-21-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6210-01-P
FEDERAL RESERVE SYSTEM 12 CFR Part 265 [Docket No. OP-1578] Rules of Organization AGENCY:

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

ACTION:

Amendment to Rules of Organization.

SUMMARY:

The Board has amended its definition of a quorum of the Board in the Board's Rules of Organization. The amendment is designed to facilitate the Board's ability to continue to function efficiently during periods of substantial vacancies on the Board. The amendment does not alter the number of Board members required to constitute a quorum in normal operating environments. The amendment also addresses Board member recusals and disqualifications. In addition, the Board has provided a modified definition of a quorum during exigent circumstances. In connection with this modification, the Board is amending its Rules Regarding Delegation of Authority, published elsewhere in this Federal Register, to authorize the Chair (or Vice Chair, if the Chair is unavailable) to determine when an emergency situation exists.

DATES:

The amendment to the Board's Rules of Organization became effective on October 25, 2017.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Laurie Schaffer, Associate General Counsel (202) 452-2272, or Daniel Hickman, Counsel (202) 973-7432, Legal Division, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, 20th Street and Constitution Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20551. For the hearing impaired only, Telecommunication Device for Deaf (TDD) users may contact (202) 263-4869.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

The Board consists of up to seven members appointed by the President, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, as provided in the Federal Reserve Act (Act).1 The Act does not define a quorum of the Board, and authorizes the Board to make all rules and regulations necessary to enable the Board effectively to perform its duties and functions.2 For many years, the Board defined a quorum to be a majority (four members) of its authorized strength of seven members. In 2003, the Board revised its definition of a quorum of the Board to be a majority of the Board members currently in office, unless there are five members in office, in which case a quorum would be four members.3 This modification allowed the Board to function with fewer than four members in office and enhanced the Board's ability to function during emergencies.

1See 12 U.S.C. 241.

2See 12 U.S.C. 248(i).

3 66 FR 37686 (Jul 19, 2001), as amended at 68 FR 24743 (May 8, 2003).

Over the past decade, the Board has had to operate with fewer than five members on several occasions.4 Based on this experience, the Board has determined that substantial vacancies present administrative and logistical challenges that make it difficult to conduct routine business and efficiently manage operations, particularly with the Board's traditional reliance on a 3-member committee structure. In light of these considerations, the Board has reconsidered its quorum practice and decided to amend its definition of a quorum to provide that a quorum of the Board is four members, unless there are three or fewer members in office, in which case a quorum would be all members in office. This revised definition will facilitate the Board's ability to continue to function efficiently during periods of substantial vacancies on the Board. This revision does not alter the number of Board members required to constitute a quorum or the functioning of the Board's committee structure in normal operating environments (that is, when five or more members are in office).

4 Since the current structure of the Board was established in 1936, the Board has had fewer than five members on only a few occasions for a short period of time and the Board has never had fewer than four members.

Increasing the quorum requirement for a four-member and three-member Board may make it more difficult to convene a quorum if a member of the Board is recused or disqualified from a particular matter. To address this concern, the Board also has amended its Rules of Organization to clarify that Board members who are recused or disqualified from participating in a particular matter will be excluded from calculations of the quorum requirement for that matter.

Since the revisions may make it more difficult to convene a quorum of the Board under exigent circumstances, the Board also has added a modified definition of quorum providing that, in an emergency situation, a quorum of the Board consists of a majority of the Board members in office. An emergency situation is defined as a situation when action on a matter is necessary to prevent, correct, or mitigate serious harm to the economy or the stability of the financial system, and action is required before the full Board can convene. The Board is amending its Rules Regarding Delegation of Authority (12 CFR part 265), published elsewhere in this Federal Register, to authorize the Chair (or the Vice Chair, if the Chair is unavailable) to determine when an emergency situation exists.

The Board has incorporated these revisions into its Rules of Organization and Rules Regarding Delegation of Authority,5 published elsewhere in this Federal Register. The revisions relate solely to the internal procedure of the Board, and, accordingly, the public notice, public comment and delayed effective date provisions of the Administrative Procedure Act do not apply. See 5 U.S.C. 553(b) and (d). Because public notice and comment is not required, the Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 601 et seq.) also does not apply to this action.

5 The Board's Rules Regarding Delegation of Authority are codified at 12 CFR part 265.

Board of Governors—Rules of Organization Section 2 paragraph (b) is revised to read as follows:
Section 2 Composition, Location, and Public Information

(b)(1) Quorum. Four Board members constitutes a quorum of the Board for purposes of transacting business except that, if there are three or fewer Board members in office, then a quorum consists of all Board members currently in office. If a Board member is recused or disqualified from participating in a matter, the member shall not be counted for purposes of calculating the quorum for that matter.

(b)(2) Exigent Circumstances. In an emergency situation, a quorum of the Board consists of a majority of the Board members in office. An emergency situation exists when action on a matter is necessary to prevent, correct, or mitigate serious harm to the economy or the stability of the financial system, and action is required before the full Board can convene.

By order of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, November 15, 2017. Ann E. Misback, Secretary of the Board.
[FR Doc. 2017-25122 Filed 11-21-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6210-01-P
NATIONAL CREDIT UNION ADMINISTRATION 12 CFR Part 704 RIN 3133-AE75 Corporate Credit Unions AGENCY:

National Credit Union Administration (NCUA).

ACTION:

Final rule.

SUMMARY:

The NCUA Board (Board) is amending its regulations governing corporate credit unions (corporates) and the scope of their activities. Specifically, the amendments revise provisions on retained earnings and Tier 1 capital.

DATES:

The rule is effective December 22, 2017.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Yvonne Applonie, Director of Supervision, Office of National Examinations and Supervision, at 1775 Duke Street, Alexandria, Virginia 22314 or telephone (703) 518-6595; or Marvin Shaw, Staff Attorney, Office of General Counsel, at the above address or telephone (703) 518-6553.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

I. Background The Financial Crisis of 2007-2009

The financial crisis of 2007-2009 took a heavy toll on the corporate credit union system. The crisis, largely mortgage related, greatly affected the investment portfolios of many corporates, causing widespread liquidity problems, instability in the system, and failures. During this period, the NCUA took extraordinary short and mid-term measures to stabilize the corporate system. Among other things, it: (1) Made capital injections; (2) approved the Temporary Corporate Credit Union Share Guarantee Program, which guaranteed uninsured shares at participating corporates; (3) retained an independent third party to analyze expected non-recoverable credit losses for distressed securities held by corporates; (4) conserved five corporates; and (5) created the NCUA Guaranteed Note Program.1

1 As part of the corporate system resolution, the NCUA created the NCUA Guaranteed Note Program to provide long-term funding for distressed investment securities (Legacy Assets) from the five failed corporates. Legacy Assets consisted of over 2,000 investment securities secured by approximately 1.6 million residential mortgages, as well as commercial mortgages and other securitized assets.

The 2010 Amendments

In 2010, the Board comprehensively revised the regulations governing corporates and their activities to provide longer term structural enhancements to the corporate system.2 The 2010 rule established a regulatory framework that provides a foundation for a healthy corporate system that: (1) Delivers important services to the corporates' natural person credit union members, such as payment systems and liquidity; and (2) builds and attracts sufficient capital.3 The 2010 rule also sought to prevent the recurrence of financial losses similar to those that led to the failure of the referenced five corporates and weakened the financial condition of others.

2 12 CFR part 704; 75 FR 64786 (Oct. 20, 2010).

3 75 FR 64787, 64787 (Oct. 20, 2010).

The 2010 rule curtailed several practices that contributed to the corporate failures. Specifically, it established investment concentration limits, limited asset maturities, and prohibited investments in subordinated and private label mortgage-backed securities. The 2010 rule also implemented a prompt corrective action (PCA) regime stipulating capital adequacy for corporates. Largely based on the Basel I requirements, the capital requirements of the 2010 rule emphasized corporates holding tangible and durable capital.

The Current Environment

The provisions of the 2010 rule have successfully stabilized the corporate system and improved the corporates' ability to function and provide services to natural person credit unions. Additionally, since 2010, the overall economy has improved greatly, thereby improving the economic landscape in which corporates operate. Further, the large concentration of troubled assets within the corporate system has been reduced through portfolio repositioning or the NCUA's intervention. The corporate system has significantly contracted and consolidated, with assets declining from approximately $81.7 billion prior to the 2010 rule to approximately $24.9 billion today. In that same time period, the number of corporates has decreased from 26 to 11. Given these developments, the Board decided to revisit the 2010 rule's capital standards.

II. July 2017 Proposal

As a result of its review of the corporate capital standards, in July 2017, the Board published amendments to the corporate rule, which primarily affect the calculation of capital after corporates consolidate and set a retained earnings ratio target in meeting PCA standards.4

4 82 FR 30774 (July 3, 2017).

Specifically, the Board proposed incorporating “GAAP equity acquired in a merger” as a component of retained earnings. This amendment to the definition of “retained earnings” in turn affects the definition of “Tier 1 capital,” which includes retained earnings as one component of Tier 1 capital. In the proposal, the Board stated that expressly including such equity acquired in a merger as retained earnings and referencing GAAP clarifies that this capital is available to cover losses, enhances transparency, and reduces ambiguity.5 The Board also proposed deleting the phrase “the retained earnings of any acquired credit union, or an integrated set of activities and assets, calculated at the point of acquisition, if the acquisition is a mutual combination” from the current definition of “Tier 1 capital,” given that it would be redundant as a result of the proposal.

5Id.

In the 2010 rule, the Board encouraged corporates to build retained earnings, which has generally yielded positive results. Nevertheless, in the July 2017 proposal, the Board proposed amending this aspect of the regulation for three reasons: (1) The 2010 rule's language did not expressly reference “GAAP equity acquired in mergers” as a component of retained earnings; (2) the 2010 rule's language limited perpetual contributed capital (PCC) for regulatory capital purposes; and (3) the 2010 rule's language was inconsistent with other capital regulations. Specifically, the Board proposed removing the requirement 6 to limit PCC counted as Tier 1 capital to the amount of retained earnings. Further, the Board proposed permitting a corporate to include in its Tier 1 capital all PCC that is sourced from an entity not covered by federal share insurance.

6 This requirement would not have gone into effect until October 2020.

Further, as discussed in greater detail below, the Board proposed adding a definition of “retained earnings ratio” to the regulation. Under the proposal, that term would mean “the corporate credit union's retained earnings divided by its moving daily average net assets.” The Board proposed requiring all corporates to achieve an eventual retained earnings ratio of 250 basis points, recognizing the importance of retained earnings to the corporate system and the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund. Under the proposal, upon attaining this benchmark, a corporate would be permitted to include all PCC in its Tier 1 capital, regardless of source. Until a corporate achieved that benchmark, it would be required to deduct PCC exceeding retained earnings by 200 basis points from its Tier 1 capital. As noted in the proposal, the Board believes this requirement provides an inducement to build retained earnings and promotes clarity as to the minimum amount of retained earnings held by a corporate to account for potential losses.

Lastly, in Appendix B to part 704, the Board proposed adding a “retained earnings ratio” requirement to the Part I expanded investment authorities. The Board believed that by doing so, the retained earnings ratio requirement would limit the risk of the expanded investment portfolios. Specifically, the Board proposed to employ an indexed retained earnings requirement, thereby correlating with actual risk taking.

III. Summary of Comments on the July 2017 Proposal

The NCUA received 38 comments on the proposal, including those from corporates, individual credit unions, trade associations, and credit union leagues. These commenters uniformly supported the proposed rule. No commenter opposed the proposal.

As an overview, commenters stated that the proposed rule: (1) Enhances transparency; reduces ambiguity; and better aligns capital regulations with the financial marketplace, GAAP accounting standards, and treatment by other financial institutions and their regulators; (2) provides greater flexibility in calculating and treating capital and promotes increased certainty and stability in the credit union system; (3) enhances the safety and soundness of corporate credit unions, which are essential for the credit union system; (4) provides greater liquidity to the benefit of natural person credit unions; and (5) reflects the improved health of the economy, the credit union system, and the corporates since 2010.

Each specific proposal and the corresponding public comments are discussed below in more detail.

A. Corporate Consolidations and Capital in Mergers—Definition of Retained Earnings

As noted above, the Board proposed amending the definition of “retained earnings.” The definition of “retained earnings” prior to the proposal included undivided earnings, regular reserve, reserve for contingencies, supplemental reserves, reserve for leases, and other appropriations from undivided earnings as designated by management or the NCUA. The proposal added “GAAP equity acquired in a merger” to that list. The Board stated that expressly including equity acquired in a merger as retained earnings and referencing GAAP would clarify that this capital is available to cover losses, enhances transparency, and reduce ambiguity.

No commenter objected to this proposal. Approximately 30 commenters specifically supported it. These commenters stated that including such equity acquired in a merger as retained earnings and referencing GAAP provides consistency with other regulators and will help match regulatory principles with GAAP and other financial measurements within the industry. In turn, this enhances transparency of capital adequacy and eliminates confusion for users of financial statements. A few commenters stated that the change would not increase risk to the corporate system.

Consistent with the proposal and the comments, the Board amends the definition of “retained earnings” to incorporate “GAAP equity acquired in a merger” as proposed.

B. Retained Earnings Ratio

As mentioned above, in 2010, the Board comprehensively modified Part 704, with particular focus on providing incentives to increase retained earnings. The 2010 rule's PCA provisions require corporates to meet a leverage ratio. This leverage ratio consists of retained earnings and PCC.7 While noting that this effort to increase retained earnings has been successful, the Board also stated that the language in the current rule is indirect and may disadvantage corporates working with third parties. Specifically, the limitation on PCC for regulatory capital purposes does not recognize the full value of PCC that stands to absorb losses and protect counterparties. Accordingly, in the 2017 proposal, the Board proposed modifying the manner in which PCC is treated during a ten-year phase-in period. The phase-in period for PCC is intended to provide an incentive to corporates to increase retained earnings.

7 Perpetual Contributed Capital means accounts or other interests of a corporate credit union that are perpetual, non-cumulative dividend accounts; are available to cover losses that exceed retained earnings, and are not insured by the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund.

In the 2017 proposal, the Board proposed to remove the current requirement 8 to limit PCC counted as Tier 1 capital to the amount of retained earnings. Further, the Board proposed to permit a corporate to include in its Tier 1 capital all PCC that is sourced from an entity not covered by federal share insurance. Recognizing that retained earnings is critical to the health of the corporate system and the share insurance fund, the Board proposed adding a provision to part 704 requiring all corporates to achieve eventual retained earnings of 250 basis points. To this end, the Board proposed adding a definition of retained earnings ratio to mean “the corporate credit union's retained earnings divided by its moving daily average of net assets.” Upon attaining the benchmark of 250 basis points, a corporate would be permitted to include all PCC, regardless of its source, in its Tier 1 capital. Prior to attaining the benchmark, the corporate would be required to deduct the amount of PCC exceeding retained earnings by 200 basis points as an inducement to build retained earnings.

8 This requirement would not have gone into effect until 2020.

No commenter objected to this proposal. Approximately 30 commenters expressly supported it. These commenters stated that the 2010 amendments resulted in corporates accumulating sufficient retained earnings to meet or exceed adequate capitalization under PCA through the 2016 phase-in adjustment. Thus, they agreed with the NCUA's proposal to remove the requirement to limit PCC counted as Tier 1 capital, stating that the amendment enhances clarity, helps ensure capital adequacy, and provides the first layer of insulation to protect the share insurance fund. They stated that the change would better align a corporate's use of capital with the expectations of member credit unions.

One commenter requested modifying the proposed definition of Tier 1 capital as follows: “If a corporate credit union's retained earnings ratio is less than two and a half percent, deduct the amount of PCC received from federally insured credit unions less retained earnings that exceeds two percent of moving daily average net assets (MDANA).” It believed that this change would clarify the NCUA's acceptance of capital received by corporates from members. The Board has compared this recommended language with the proposed regulatory text and has determined that the Board's proposed language is more direct and more readily understandable. Accordingly, the Board is adopting the proposed language in the final rule without change.

Another commenter suggested that the corporate call report continue to clearly reflect the amount of PCC that is not being counted in the leverage ratio, as it currently does in the “PCC calculation” section of the call report. The Board notes that it will continue to require this information in the call report.

C. Appendix B to Part 704—Expanded Authorities

Appendix B to part 704 enumerates the expanded authorities available to corporates and procedures that a corporate must follow to be granted such authorities. Specifically, the Board proposed adding a retained earnings ratio requirement to the expanded investment authorities. The Board believed such an addition would limit the risk of the expanded investment portfolios.

No commenters addressed this issue. The Board is adopting this amendment as proposed.

D. Miscellaneous Comments Beyond the Scope of the Final Rule

Several commenters requested that the NCUA conduct a comprehensive review of Part 704 in 2018. The commenters stated that such a review is overdue considering the last comprehensive review of the corporate rule occurred in 2010. The commenters stated that such a review would allow stakeholders to explore other rule modernization opportunities. One commenter suggested such a review might result in “thoughtful loosening” of the corporate rules. One commenter requested that the NCUA improve coordination with state credit union regulators and reinforce the dual chartering system and joint supervision.

IV. Regulatory Procedures 1. Regulatory Flexibility Act

The Regulatory Flexibility Act requires the NCUA to prepare an analysis of any significant economic impact a regulation may have on a substantial number of small entities (primarily those under $100 million in assets).9 This rule only affects corporate credit unions, all of which have more than $100 million in assets. Accordingly, the NCUA certifies the rule will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small credit unions.

9 5 U.S.C. 603(a).

2. Paperwork Reduction Act

The Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (PRA) applies to rulemakings in which an agency by rule creates a new paperwork burden or modifies the existing burden.10 For purposes of the PRA, a paperwork burden may take the form of a reporting or recordkeeping or third party disclosure requirement, both referred to as information collections. The rule does not contain information collection requirements that require approval by OMB under the PRA (44 U.S.C. 3501).

10 44 U.S.C. 3507(d); 5 CFR part 1320.

3. Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act

The Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996 (Pub. L. 104-121) (SBREFA) provides generally for congressional review of agency rules. A reporting requirement is triggered in instances where NCUA issues a final rule as defined by Section 551 of the Administrative Procedure Act. After reviewing the rule and its likely impacts, NCUA believes that the rule is mostly technical and will not lead to a measurable change to (1) credit union lending to consumers or businesses, (2) net worth of natural person credit unions, or (3) interest rates paid or received by natural person credit unions. Accordingly, NCUA believes this final rule is a not “major rule” within the meaning of the relevant sections of SBREFA. As required by SBREFA, NCUA has filed the appropriate reports so that this final rule may be reviewed.

4. Executive Order 13132

Executive Order 13132 encourages independent regulatory agencies to consider the impact of their actions on state and local interests. The NCUA, an independent regulatory agency as defined in 44 U.S.C. 3502(5), voluntarily complies with the executive order to adhere to fundamental federalism principles. The rule does 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. The NCUA has, therefore, determined that this rule does not constitute a policy that has federalism implications for purposes of the executive order.

5. Assessment of Federal Regulations and Policies on Families

The NCUA has determined that this rule will not affect family well-being within the meaning of § 654 of the Treasury and General Government Appropriations Act, 1999, Public Law 105-277, 112 Stat. 2681 (1998).

List of Subjects in 12 CFR Part 704

Credit unions, Corporate credit unions, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements.

By the National Credit Union Administration Board on November 16, 2017.

Gerard Poliquin, Secretary of the Board.

For the reasons discussed above, the National Credit Union Administration Board amends 12 CFR part 704 as follows:

PART 704—CORPORATE CREDIT UNIONS 1. The authority citation for part 704 continues to read as follows: Authority:

12 U.S.C. 1766(a), 1781, and 1789.

2. Amend § 704.2 by: a. Revising the definition of “Retained earnings”; b. Adding in alphabetical order a definition for “Retained earnings ratio”; and c. Revising the definition of “Tier 1 capital”.

The revisions and addition read as follows:

§ 704.2 Definitions.

Retained earnings means undivided earnings, regular reserve, reserve for contingencies, supplemental reserves, reserve for losses, GAAP equity acquired in a merger, and other appropriations from undivided earnings as designated by management or the NCUA.

Retained earnings ratio means the corporate credit union's retained earnings divided by its moving daily average net assets.

Tier 1 capital means the sum of items in paragraphs (1) and (2) of this definition from which items in paragraphs (3) through (6) are deducted:

(1) Retained earnings;

(2) Perpetual contributed capital;

(3) Deduct the amount of the corporate credit union's intangible assets that exceed one half percent of its moving daily average net assets (however, the NCUA may direct the corporate credit union to add back some of these assets on the NCUA's own initiative, or the NCUA's approval of petition from the applicable state regulator or application from the corporate credit union);

(4) Deduct investments, both equity and debt, in unconsolidated CUSOs;

(5) Deduct an amount equal to any PCC or NCA that the corporate credit union maintains at another corporate credit union;

(6) Deduct any amount of PCC received from federally insured credit unions that causes PCC minus retained earnings, all divided by moving daily average net assets, to exceed two percent when a corporate credit union's retained earnings ratio is less than two and a half percent.

3. In Appendix B to part 704, in part I, revise paragraphs (b)(2) and (3) to read as follows: Appendix B to Part 704—Expanded Authorities and Requirements Part I

(b) * * *

(2) 28 percent if the corporate credit union has a seven percent minimum leverage ratio and a two and a half percent retained earnings ratio, and is specifically approved by the NCUA; or

(3) 35 percent if the corporate credit union has an eight percent minimum leverage ratio and a three percent retained earnings ratio and is specifically approved by the NCUA.

[FR Doc. 2017-25223 Filed 11-21-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 7535-01-P
BUREAU OF CONSUMER FINANCIAL PROTECTION 12 CFR Part 1040 [Docket No. CFPB-2016-0020] RIN 3170-AA51 Arbitration Agreements AGENCY:

Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection.

ACTION:

Final rule; CRA revocation.

SUMMARY:

Under the Congressional Review Act, Congress has passed and the president has signed a joint resolution disapproving a final rule published by the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection (Bureau) on July 19, 2017, to regulate arbitration agreements in contracts for specified consumer financial products and services. Under the joint resolution and by operation of the Congressional Review Act, the arbitration agreements rule has no force or effect. The Bureau is hereby removing it from the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR).

DATES:

This action is effective November 22, 2017.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Owen Bonheimer and Nora Rigby, Senior Counsels, Office of Regulations, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, at 202-435-7700 or [email protected] Press inquiries should be directed to the Office of Communications, at 202-435-7170 or [email protected]

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

I. Background

Pursuant to section 1028(b) of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (Pub. L. 111-203), on July 10, 2017, the Bureau issued a final rule titled Arbitration Agreements to regulate pre-dispute arbitration agreements in contracts for specified consumer financial products and services. The Bureau published the arbitration agreements rule in the Federal Register on July 19, 2017 (82 FR 33210), establishing 12 CFR part 1040. As required by section 1028(a) of the Dodd-Frank Act, the arbitration agreements rule followed the publication and delivery to Congress of the Bureau's March 2015 study concerning the use of pre-dispute arbitration agreements. The arbitration agreements rule would have imposed two sets of limitations on the use of pre-dispute arbitration agreements by providers of certain consumer financial products and services. First, the arbitration agreements rule would have prohibited providers from using a pre-dispute arbitration agreement to block consumer class actions in court and would have required providers to include a provision reflecting this limitation in arbitration agreements they entered into. Second, the arbitration agreements rule would have required providers to redact and submit to the Bureau certain records relating to arbitral proceedings and relating to the use of pre-dispute arbitration agreements in court, and would have required the Bureau to publish these records on its Web site. While the arbitration agreements rule became effective on September 18, 2017, the arbitration agreements rule would have applied only to pre-dispute arbitration agreements entered into after March 19, 2018.

The United States House of Representative passed House Joint Resolution 111 disapproving the arbitration agreements rule under the Congressional Review Act (5 U.S.C. 801 et seq.) on July 25, 2017. The United States Senate passed the joint resolution on October 24, 2017. President Donald J. Trump signed the joint resolution into law as Public Law 115-74 on November 1, 2017. Under the joint resolution and by operation of the Congressional Review Act, the arbitration agreements rule has no force or effect. Accordingly, the Bureau is hereby removing the final rule titled Arbitration Agreements from the CFR.

II. Procedural Requirements

This action is not an exercise of the Bureau's rulemaking authority under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) because the Bureau is not “formulating, amending, or repealing a rule” under 5 U.S.C. 551(5). Rather, the Bureau is effectuating changes to the CFR to reflect what congressional action has already accomplished. Accordingly, the Bureau is not soliciting comments on this action.

List of Subjects in 12 CFR Part 1040

Banks, Banking, Business and industry, Claims, Consumer protection, Contracts, Credit, Credit unions, Finance, National banks, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Savings associations.

PART 1040—[REMOVED]

For the reasons set forth above, and pursuant to the Congressional Review Act (5 U.S.C. 801 et seq.) and Public Law 115-74 (131 Stat. 1243), the Bureau amends 12 CFR chapter X by removing part 1040.

Dated: November 15, 2017. Richard Cordray, Director, Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection.
[FR Doc. 2017-25324 Filed 11-21-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4810-AM-P
DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION Federal Aviation Administration 14 CFR Part 25 [Docket No. FAA-2017-0951; Special Conditions No. 25-706-SC] Special Conditions: Mitsubishi Aircraft Corporation Model MRJ-200 airplane; Design Roll Maneuver for Electronic Flight Controls AGENCY:

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), DOT.

ACTION:

Final special conditions; request for comments.

SUMMARY:

These special conditions are issued for Mitsubishi Aircraft Corporation (Mitsubishi) Model MRJ-200 airplanes. These airplanes will have a novel or unusual design feature when compared to the state of technology envisioned in the airworthiness standards for transport category airplanes. This design feature is an electronic flight-control system (EFCS) that provides control of the airplane through pilot inputs to the flight computer. The applicable airworthiness regulations do not contain adequate or appropriate safety standards for this design feature. These special conditions contain the additional safety standards that the Administrator considers necessary to establish a level of safety equivalent to that established by the existing airworthiness standards.

DATES:

This action is effective on Mitsubishi on November 22, 2017. We must receive your comments January 8, 2018.

ADDRESSES:

Send comments identified by docket number FAA-2017-0951 using any of the following methods:

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

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

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

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

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

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

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Todd Martin, FAA, Airframe and Cabin Safety Section, AIR-675, Policy and Innovation Division, Transport Standards Branch, Aircraft Certification Service, 1601 Lind Avenue SW., Renton, Washington 98057-3356; telephone 425-227-1178; facsimile 425-227-1320.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

The FAA has determined that notice of, and opportunity for prior public comment on, these special conditions is unnecessary because the substance of these special conditions has been subject to the public-comment process in several prior instances with no substantive comments received. The FAA finds good cause that prior notice and comment are unnecessary, and for the same reason finds that good cause exists for adopting these special conditions upon publication in the Federal Register.

Comments Invited

The FAA is requesting comments to allow interested persons to submit views that may not have been submitted in response to the prior opportunities for comment described above. We invite interested people to take part in this rulemaking by sending written comments, data, or views. The most helpful comments reference a specific portion of the special conditions, explain the reason for any recommended change, and include supporting data.

We will consider all comments we receive by the closing date for comments. We may change these special conditions based on the comments we receive.

Background

On August 19, 2009, Mitsubishi applied for a type certificate for their new Model MRJ-200 airplane. The Model MRJ-200 airplane is a low-wing, conventional-tail design with two wing-mounted turbofan engines. The airplane is equipped with an electronic flight-control system, has seating for 96 passengers and a maximum takeoff weight of 98,800 lbs.

Type Certification Basis

Under the provisions of title 14, Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) 21.17, Mitsubishi must show that the Model MRJ-200 airplane meets the applicable provisions of part 25, as amended by Amendments 25-1 through 25-141; part 36, as amended by Amendments 36-1 through 36-30; and part 34, as amended by Amendments 34-1 through the amendment effective at the time of design approval.

If the Administrator finds that the applicable airworthiness regulations (i.e., 14 CFR part 25) do not contain adequate or appropriate safety standards for the Model MRJ-200 airplane because of a novel or unusual design feature, special conditions are prescribed under the provisions of § 21.16.

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

In addition to the applicable airworthiness regulations and special conditions, the model MRJ-200 airplane must comply with the fuel-vent and exhaust-emission requirements of 14 CFR part 34, and the noise-certification requirements of 14 CFR part 36.

The FAA issues special conditions, as defined in 14 CFR 11.19, in accordance with § 11.38, and they become part of the type certification basis under § 21.17(a)(2).

Novel or Unusual Design Features

The Model MRJ-200 airplane will incorporate the following novel or unusual design feature:

An electronic flight-control system that provides control of the airplane through pilot inputs to the flight computer. Current part 25 airworthiness regulations account for control laws where aileron deflection is proportional to control-stick deflection. They do not address any nonlinearities, i.e., situations where output does not change in the same proportion as input, or other effects on aileron actuation that may be caused by electronic flight controls.

Discussion

The flight-control system for the Model MRJ-200 airplane does not have a direct mechanical link, nor a linear gain, between the airplane flight-control surface and the pilot's flight-deck control device, which is not accounted for in § 25.349(a). Instead, a flight-control computer commands the airplane flight-control surfaces, based on input received from the flight-deck control device. The flight-control computer modifies pilot input before the command is given to the flight-control surface.

These special conditions differ from current regulatory requirements in that they require that the roll maneuvers result from defined movements of the flight-deck roll control as opposed to defined aileron deflections. Also, these special conditions require an additional load condition at design maneuvering speed (VA), in which the flight-deck roll control is returned to neutral following the initial roll input.

These special conditions differ from similar special conditions previously issued on this topic. These special conditions are limited to the roll axis only, whereas other special conditions also included pitch and yaw axes. Special conditions are no longer needed for the yaw axis because § 25.351 was revised at Amendment 25-91 to take into account effects of an electronic flight-control system. No special conditions are needed for the pitch axis because the method that Mitsubishi proposed for the pitch maneuver takes into account effects of an electronic flight-control system.

These special conditions contain the additional safety standards that the Administrator considers necessary to establish a level of safety equivalent to that established by the existing airworthiness standards.

Applicability

As discussed above, these special conditions are applicable to the Model MRJ-200 airplanes. Should Mitsubishi apply at a later date for a change to the type certificate to include another model incorporating the same novel or unusual design feature, these special conditions would apply to that model as well.

Conclusion

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

List of Subjects in 14 CFR Part 25

Aircraft, Aviation safety, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements.

The authority citation for these special conditions is as follows:

Authority:

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

The Special Conditions

Accordingly, pursuant to the authority delegated to me by the Administrator, the following special conditions are issued as part of the type certification basis for Mitsubishi Model MRJ-200 airplanes.

In lieu of compliance to 14 CFR 25.349(a), the following conditions, speeds, and flight-deck roll-control motions (except as the motions may be limited by pilot effort) must be considered in combination with an airplane load factor of zero, and of two-thirds of the positive maneuvering factor used in design. In determining the resulting control-surface deflections, the torsional flexibility of the wing must be considered in accordance with § 25.301(b).

(a) Conditions corresponding to steady rolling velocities must be investigated. In addition, conditions corresponding to maximum angular acceleration must be investigated for airplanes with engines or other weight concentrations outboard of the fuselage. For the angular acceleration conditions, zero rolling velocity may be assumed in the absence of a rational time-history investigation of the maneuver.

(b) At VA, sudden movement of the flight-deck roll control up to the limit is assumed. The position of the flight-deck roll control must be maintained until a steady roll rate is achieved, and then must be returned suddenly to the neutral position.

(c) At VC, the flight-deck roll control must be moved suddenly and maintained so as to achieve a roll rate not less than that obtained in special condition (b).

(d) At VD, the flight-deck roll control must be moved suddenly and maintained so as to achieve a roll rate not less than one third of that obtained in special condition (b).

Victor Wicklund, Manager, Transport Standards Branch, Policy and Innovation Division, Aircraft Certification Service.
[FR Doc. 2017-25019 Filed 11-21-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4910-13-P
DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 15 CFR Part 922 [Docket No. 160413330-6330-01] RIN 0648-BF99 Delay of Discharge Requirements for U.S. Coast Guard Activities in Greater Farallones and Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuaries AGENCY:

Office of National Marine Sanctuaries (ONMS), National Ocean Service (NOS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Department of Commerce (DOC).

ACTION:

Final rule; notification of delay of effectiveness for discharge requirements with regard to U.S. Coast Guard activities.

SUMMARY:

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) expanded the boundaries of Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary (now renamed Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary or GFNMS) and Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary (CBNMS) to an area north and west of their previous boundaries with a final rule published on March 12, 2015. The final rule entered into effect on June 9, 2015. At that time, NOAA postponed, with regard to U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) activities, the effectiveness of the discharge requirements for six months in the regulations for both sanctuaries in the newly added areas. Since then, NOAA published four documents to extend the postponement of the discharge requirements to provide adequate time for completion of an environmental assessment, and subsequent rulemaking regarding USCG activities, as appropriate. The current extension would end on December 9, 2017. This document, published concurrently with a proposed rule to address discharges by the USCG and an environmental assessment, will extend the postponement of the discharge requirements for USCG activities in the expansion areas of GFNMS and CBNMS for one year beyond the end of the current extension to provide adequate time for completion, if appropriate, of a final environmental assessment and final rule. This extension will end on December 9, 2018, or 30 days after publication of a final rule, whichever comes first.

DATES:

The effectiveness for the discharge requirements in both CBNMS and GFNMS expansion areas with regard to USCG activities is December 9, 2018.

ADDRESSES:

Copies of documents relating to the expansion, including the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS), final management plans, and the final rule published on March 12, 2015, can be viewed or downloaded at https://farallones.noaa.gov/manage/expansion_cbgf.html.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Maria Brown, Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary Superintendent, at [email protected] or 415-561-6622.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

I. Background

On March 12, 2015, NOAA expanded the boundaries of Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary (now renamed Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary or GFNMS) and Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary (CBNMS) to an area north and west of their previous boundaries with a final rule (80 FR 13078). The final rule entered into effect on June 9, 2015 (80 FR 34047). In the course of the rulemaking to expand GFNMS and CBNMS, NOAA learned from U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) that the discharge regulations had the potential to impair the operations of USCG vessels and aircraft conducting law enforcement and on-water training exercises in GFNMS and CBNMS expansion areas. The USCG supports national marine sanctuary management by providing routine surveillance and dedicated law enforcement of the National Marine Sanctuaries Act (NMSA) and sanctuary regulations. To ensure that the March 12, 2015, rule did not undermine USCG's ability to perform its duties, at that time, NOAA postponed the effectiveness of the discharge requirements in both sanctuaries' regulations with regard to USCG activities in the expansion areas for six months. Four additional six-month postponements of the effectiveness of the discharge requirements were published in the Federal Register on December 1, 2015 (80 FR 74985), May 31, 2016 (81 FR 34268), December 6, 2016 (81 FR 87803), and June 7, 2017 (82 FR 26339) to provide adequate time for completion of an environmental assessment and to determine NOAA's next steps. Without further NOAA action, the discharge regulations will become effective, with regard to USCG activities, on December 9, 2017.

However, NOAA is currently considering whether, among other things, to exempt certain USCG activities in sanctuary regulations and is concurrently publishing a proposed rule and draft environmental analysis to seek comment on the potential exemption. NOAA is therefore postponing the effectiveness of the discharge requirements in the expansion areas of both sanctuaries with regard to USCG activities for one year until December 9, 2018, or 30 days after publication of a final rule, whichever comes first, to provide adequate time for completion of a final environmental assessment and final rule, as appropriate. The proposed rule and related environmental analysis associated with this action will give the public, other federal agencies, and interested stakeholders an opportunity to comment on various alternatives that are being considered.

II. Classification A. National Environmental Policy Act

NOAA previously conducted an environmental analysis under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) as part of the rulemaking process leading to the expansion of CBNMS and GFNMS, which addressed regulations regarding the discharge of any matter or material in the sanctuaries. Potential environmental impacts of the decision to postpone effectiveness are sufficiently encompassed within the impacts analysis of the environmental baseline and the no action alternative presented in that analysis. Should NOAA decide to amend the regulations governing discharges for USGS activities in CBNMS and GFNMS, any additional environmental analysis required under NEPA would be prepared and released for public comment.

B. Executive Order 12866: Regulatory Impact

This action has been determined to be not significant under Executive Order 12866.

C. Executive Order 13771: Regulatory Reform

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

D. Administrative Procedure Act

The Assistant Administrator of National Ocean Service (NOS) finds good cause pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(B) to waive the notice and comment requirements of the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) because this action is administrative in nature. This action postpones the effectiveness of the discharge requirements in the regulations for CBNMS and GFNMS in the areas added to the sanctuaries' boundaries in 2015, that underwent notice and comment review, with regard to USCG activities for one year to provide adequate time for public scoping, completion of an environmental assessment, and concurrent rulemaking on how to address the USCG activities, as appropriate. The substance of the underlying regulations currently remains unchanged. Therefore, providing notice and opportunity for public comment under the APA would serve no useful purpose. For the reasons above, the Assistant Administrator also finds good cause under 5 U.S.C. 553(d) to waive the 30-day delay in effectiveness and make this action effective immediately upon publication.

Authority:

16 U.S.C. 1431 et seq.

Dated: November 14, 2017. Nicole R. LeBoeuf, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Ocean Services and Coastal Zone Management, National Ocean Service.
[FR Doc. 2017-25104 Filed 11-21-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-NK-P
DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES Food and Drug Administration 21 CFR Part 1 [Docket No. FDA-2013-N-0013] Sanitary Transportation of Human and Animal Food: What You Need to Know About the Food and Drug Administration Regulation; Small Entity Compliance Guide; Availability AGENCY:

Food and Drug Administration, HHS.

ACTION:

Notification of availability.

SUMMARY:

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA, the Agency, or we) is announcing the availability of a guidance for industry entitled “Sanitary Transportation of Human and Animal Food: What You Need to Know About the FDA Regulation—Small Entity Compliance Guide.” The small entity compliance guide (SECG) is intended to help small entities comply with the final rule entitled “Sanitary Transportation of Human and Animal Food.”

DATES:

The announcement of the guidance is published in the Federal Register on November 22, 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-2013-N-0013 for “Sanitary Transportation of Human and Animal Food: What You Need to Know About the FDA Regulation—Small Entity Compliance Guide.” 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.

You may submit comments on any guidance at any time (see 21 CFR 10.115(g)(5)).

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.

See the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section for electronic access to the SECG.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Carrol Burgundy, Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, Food and Drug Administration, 5001 Campus Dr., College Park, MD 20740, 240-402-2158.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: I. Background

In the Federal Register of April 6, 2016 (81 FR 20091), we issued a final rule entitled “Sanitary Transportation of Human and Animal Food” (the final rule) that establishes requirements for shippers, loaders, carriers by motor vehicle and rail vehicle, and receivers engaged in the transportation of food, including food for animals, to use sanitary transportation practices to ensure the safety of the food they transport. The final rule, which is codified at 21 CFR part 1, subpart O, became effective June 6, 2016, and has compliance dates that started April 6, 2017.

We examined the economic implications of the final rule as required by the Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 601-612) and determined that the final rule will have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. In compliance with section 212 of the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act (Pub. L. 104-121, as amended by Pub. L. 110-28), we are making available the SECG to reduce the burden of determining how to comply by further explaining and clarifying the actions that a small entity must take to comply with the rule.

We are issuing the SECG consistent with our good guidance practices regulation (21 CFR 10.115(c)(2)). The SECG represents the current thinking of FDA on this topic. 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.

II. 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 part 1, subpart O have been approved under OMB control number 0910-0773.

III. Electronic Access

Persons with access to the internet may obtain the SECG at either https://www.fda.gov/FoodGuidances or https://www.regulations.gov. Use the FDA Web site listed in the previous sentence to find the most current version of the guidance.

Dated: November 16, 2017. Anna K. Abram, Deputy Commissioner for Policy, Planning, Legislation, and Analysis.
[FR Doc. 2017-25204 Filed 11-21-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4164-01-P
DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE Drug Enforcement Administration 21 CFR Part 1308 [Docket No. DEA-344] Schedules of Controlled Substances: Placement of FDA-Approved Products of Oral Solutions Containing Dronabinol [(-)-delta-9-trans-tetrahydrocannabinol (delta-9-THC)] in Schedule II AGENCY:

Drug Enforcement Administration, Department of Justice.

ACTION:

Final rule.

SUMMARY:

This final rule adopts without changes an interim final rule with request for comments published in the Federal Register on March 23, 2017. On July 1, 2016, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a new drug application for Syndros, a drug product consisting of dronabinol [(-)-delta-9-trans-tetrahydrocannabinol (delta-9-THC)] oral solution. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) maintains FDA-approved products of oral solutions containing dronabinol in schedule II of the Controlled Substances Act.

DATES:

The effective date of this final rulemaking is November 22, 2017.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Michael J. Lewis, Diversion Control Division, Drug Enforcement Administration; Mailing Address: 8701 Morrissette Drive, Springfield, Virginia 22152; Telephone: (202) 598-8953.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

On March 23, 2017, the DEA published an interim final rule to make FDA-approved products containing dronabinol in an oral solution a schedule II controlled substance. 82 FR 14815. The interim final rule provided an opportunity for interested persons to file written comments as well as a request for hearing or waiver of hearing, on or before April 24, 2017.

Comments Received

In response to the interim final rule, the DEA received 10 comments.

1. Support for rulemaking: Four commenters supported the interim final rule.

DEA Response: The DEA appreciates the comments supporting the interim final rule.

2. Opposition for rulemaking: One commenter indicated that FDA-approved products of oral solutions containing dronabinol are in schedule II, but marijuana is in schedule I. Two commenters expressed concern that pharmaceutical companies are making a profit from approved drugs containing marijuana constituents. One commenter indicated that FDA should not approve drugs containing constituents of marijuana because, as the commenter alleged, of the lethality of those drugs.

DEA Response: The DEA notes that FDA-approved products of oral solutions containing dronabinol have an approved medical use, whereas marijuana does not have an approved medical use and therefore remains in schedule I. Regarding the comments related to pharmaceutical companies and the approval of FDA drugs, these comments are outside the scope of this rulemaking because they do not relate to the factors determinative of control of a substance [21 U.S.C. 811(c)] or the criteria for placement of a substance in a particular schedule [21 U.S.C. 812(b)].

3. Request for clarification: One other commenter wanted clarification of the approval process, including effectiveness on a long-term basis. One commenter indicated hope that the regulation would clarify hiring practices for people testing positive for THC.

DEA Response: The DEA notes that the comment regarding the approval process is written in vague terms; we interpret the comment to pertain to the FDA-approved drug product Syndros, rather than the regulatory process for the interim final rule, and respond accordingly. As such, the DEA notes that the FDA approved a New Drug Application (NDA) for Syndros which is an oral product containing dronabinol and provided the DEA with a scheduling recommendation for Syndros. The scheduling recommendation by HHS and the FDA approval of the NDA initiated the DEA review and scheduling action. As stated in the interim final rule, after careful consideration of data from preclinical and clinical studies, the DEA concurred with the HHS recommendation that Syndros has abuse potential comparable to other schedule II substances and therefore supported—and continues to support in this final rule—placement of FDA-approved products containing dronabinol in an oral solution in Schedule II under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). Regarding the commenter seeking clarification on hiring practices, this comment is outside the scope of this rulemaking because it does not relate to the factors determinative of control of a substance [21 U.S.C. 811(c)] or the criteria for placement of a substance in a particular schedule [21 U.S.C. 812(b)].

The DEA did not receive any requests for hearing or waiver. Based on the rationale set forth in the interim final rule, the DEA adopts the interim final rule, without change.

Requirements for Handling FDA-Approved Products Containing Dronabinol in an Oral Solution

As DEA stated in the interim final rule, it should be noted as a preliminary matter that any form of dronabinol other than in an FDA-approved drug product remains a schedule I controlled substance, and those who handle such material remain subject to the regulatory controls, and administrative, civil, and criminal sanctions, applicable to schedule I controlled substances set forth in the CSA and DEA regulations. However, for those who handle dronabinol oral solution exclusively in the form of an FDA-approved drug product, the following is a summary of the schedule II regulatory requirements that remain in effect as a result of this final rule.

FDA-approved products containing dronabinol in an oral solution have been controlled as a schedule II controlled substance since March 23, 2017. With publication of this final rule, such products remain subject to the CSA's schedule II regulatory controls and administrative, civil, and criminal sanctions applicable to the manufacture, distribution, reverse distribution, dispensing, importing, exporting, research, and conduct of instructional activities and chemical analysis with, and possession involving schedule II substances, including the following:

1. Registration. Any person who handles (manufactures, distributes, reverse distributes, dispenses, imports, exports, engages in research, or conducts instructional activities or chemical analysis with, or possesses) FDA-approved products containing dronabinol in an oral solution, or who desires to handle such products, must be registered with the DEA to conduct such activities pursuant to 21 U.S.C. 822, 823, 957, and 958 and in accordance with 21 CFR parts 1301 and 1312.

2. Quota. Only registered manufacturers are permitted to manufacture FDA-approved products containing dronabinol in an oral solution in accordance with a quota assigned pursuant to 21 U.S.C. 826 and in accordance with 21 CFR part 1303.

3. Disposal of stocks. Upon obtaining a schedule II registration to handle FDA-approved products containing dronabinol in an oral solution, any person who does not desire or is not able to maintain such registration must surrender all quantities of such products, or may transfer all quantities of such products to a person registered with the DEA in accordance with 21 CFR part 1317, in addition to all other applicable federal, state, local, and tribal laws.

4. Security. FDA-approved products containing dronabinol in an oral solution are subject to schedule II security requirements and must be handled and stored pursuant to 21 U.S.C. 821, 823, and in accordance with 21 CFR 1301.71-1301.93.

5. Labeling and Packaging. All labels, labeling, and packaging for commercial containers of FDA-approved products containing dronabinol in an oral solution must comply with 21 U.S.C. 825 and 958(e), and be in accordance with 21 CFR part 1302.

6. Inventory. Every DEA registrant who possesses any quantity of FDA-approved products containing dronabinol in an oral solution must take an inventory of such products on hand, pursuant to 21 U.S.C. 827 and 958, and in accordance with 21 CFR 1304.03, 1304.04, and 1304.11.

7. Records and Reports. Every DEA registrant must maintain records and submit reports for FDA-approved products containing dronabinol in an oral solution, pursuant to 21 U.S.C. 827 and 958(e), and in accordance with 21 CFR parts 1304, 1312, and 1317.

8. Order Forms. Every DEA registrant who distributes FDA-approved products containing dronabinol in an oral solution is required to comply with order form requirements, pursuant to 21 U.S.C. 828, and in accordance with 21 CFR part 1305.

9. Prescriptions. All prescriptions for FDA-approved products containing dronabinol in an oral solution must comply with 21 U.S.C. 829, and be issued in accordance with 21 CFR parts 1306 and 1311, subpart C.

10. Manufacturing and Distributing. In addition to the general requirements of the CSA and DEA regulations that are applicable to manufacturers and distributors of schedule II controlled substances, such registrants should be advised that (consistent with the foregoing considerations) any manufacturing or distribution of FDA-approved products containing dronabinol in an oral solution may only be for the legitimate purposes authorized by the FDCA and CSA.

11. Importation and Exportation. All importation and exportation of FDA-approved products containing dronabinol in an oral solution must be in compliance with 21 U.S.C. 952, 953, 957, and 958, and in accordance with 21 CFR part 1312.

12. Liability. Any activity involving FDA-approved products containing dronabinol in an oral solution not authorized by, or in violation of, the CSA or its implementing regulations, is unlawful, and may subject the person to administrative, civil, and/or criminal sanctions.

Regulatory Analyses Administrative Procedure Act

This final rule, without change, affirms the amendment made by the interim final rule that is already in effect. Section 553 of the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) (5 U.S.C. 553) generally requires notice and comment for rulemakings. However, Public Law 114-89 was signed into law, amending 21 U.S.C. 811. This amendment provides that in cases where a new drug is (1) approved by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and (2) HHS recommends control in CSA schedule II-V, the DEA shall issue an interim final rule scheduling the drug within 90 days. This action was taken March 23, 2017. Additionally, the law specifies that the rulemaking shall become immediately effective as an interim final rule without requiring the DEA to demonstrate good cause.

Executive Orders 12866, Regulatory Planning and Review, and 13563, Improving Regulation and Regulatory Review

In accordance with 21 U.S.C. 811(j), this scheduling action is subject to formal rulemaking procedures performed “on the record after opportunity for a hearing,” which are conducted pursuant to the provisions of 5 U.S.C. 556 and 557. The CSA sets forth the procedures and criteria for scheduling a drug or other substance. Such actions are exempt from review by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) pursuant to section 3(d)(1) of Executive Order 12866 and the principles reaffirmed in Executive Order 13563.

Executive Order 12988, Civil Justice Reform

This regulation meets the applicable standards set forth in sections 3(a) and 3(b)(2) of Executive Order 12988 to eliminate drafting errors and ambiguity, minimize litigation, provide a clear legal standard for affected conduct, and promote simplification and burden reduction.

Executive Order 13132, Federalism

This rulemaking does not have federalism implications warranting the application of Executive Order 13132. The rule does 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.

Executive Order 13175, Consultation and Coordination With Indian Tribal Governments

This rule does not have tribal implications warranting the application of Executive Order 13175. It does not have substantial direct effects on one or more Indian tribes, on the relationship between the Federal government and Indian tribes, or on the distribution of power and responsibilities between the Federal government and Indian tribes.

Regulatory Flexibility Act

The Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) (5 U.S.C. 601-612) applies to rules that are subject to notice and comment under section 553(b) of the APA. As noted in the above discussion regarding applicability of the Administrative Procedure Act, the DEA was not required to publish a general notice of proposed rulemaking prior to this final rule. Consequently, the RFA does not apply.

Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995

In accordance with the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (UMRA) of 1995, 2 U.S.C. 1501 et seq., the DEA has determined that this action would not result in any Federal mandate that may result “in the expenditure by State, local, and tribal governments, in the aggregate, or by the private sector, of $100,000,000 or more (adjusted for inflation) in any one year.” Therefore, neither a Small Government Agency Plan nor any other action is required under UMRA of 1995.

Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995

This action does not impose a new collection of information requirement under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995. 44 U.S.C. 3501-3521. This action would not impose recordkeeping or reporting requirements on State or local governments, individuals, businesses, or organizations. An agency may not conduct or sponsor, and a person is not required to respond to, a collection of information unless it displays a currently valid OMB control number.

Congressional Review Act

This rule is not a major rule as defined by section 804 of the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996 (Congressional Review Act (CRA)). This rule will not result in: An annual effect on the economy of $100,000,000 or more; a major increase in costs or prices for consumers, individual industries, Federal, State, or local government agencies, or geographic regions; or significant adverse effects on competition, employment, investment, productivity, innovation, or on the ability of U.S.-based companies to compete with foreign based companies in domestic and export markets. However, pursuant to the CRA, the DEA has submitted a copy of this final rule to both Houses of Congress and to the Comptroller General.

List of Subjects in 21 CFR Part 1308

Administrative practice and procedure, Drug traffic control, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements.

PART 1308—SCHEDULES OF CONTROLLED SUBSTANCES Accordingly, the interim final rule amending 21 CFR part 1308, published on March 23, 2017 (82 FR 14815), is adopted as a final rule without change. Dated: November 6, 2017. Robert W. Patterson, Acting Administrator.
[FR Doc. 2017-25275 Filed 11-21-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4410-09-P
DEPARTMENT OF LABOR Employee Benefits Security Administration 29 CFR Parts 2560 and 2590 DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY Internal Revenue Service 26 CFR Part 54 Extension of Certain Time Frames for Employee Benefit Plans, Participants, and Beneficiaries Affected by Hurricane Maria AGENCY:

Employee Benefits Security Administration, Department of Labor; Internal Revenue Service, Department of the Treasury.

ACTION:

Extension of time frames.

SUMMARY:

This document announces the extension of certain time frames under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act and the Internal Revenue Code for group health plans, disability and other welfare plans, pension plans, participants and beneficiaries of these plans, and group health insurance issuers directly affected by Hurricane Maria.

DATES:

November 22, 2017.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Elizabeth Schumacher or Suzanne Adelman, Employee Benefits Security Administration, Department of Labor, at 202-693-8335; or Karen Levin, Internal Revenue Service, Department of the Treasury, at 202-317-5500.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: I. Purpose

As a result of Hurricane Maria, participants and beneficiaries covered by group health plans, disability or other welfare plans, and pension plans may encounter problems in exercising their health coverage portability and continuation coverage rights, or in filing or perfecting their benefit claims. Recognizing the numerous challenges already facing affected participants and beneficiaries, it is important that plans and the Employee Benefits Security Administration, Department of Labor and Internal Revenue Service, Department of the Treasury (the Agencies) take steps to minimize the possibility of individuals losing benefits because of a failure to comply with certain pre-established time frames. Similarly, the Agencies recognize that affected group health plans may have difficulty in complying with certain notice obligations.

Accordingly, under the authority of section 518 of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA), and section 7508A of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 (the Code), the Agencies are extending certain time frames otherwise applicable to group health plans, disability and other welfare plans, pension plans, and their participants and beneficiaries under ERISA and the Code.1

1 ERISA section 518 and Code section 7508A generally provide that, in the case of an employee benefit plan, sponsor, administrator, participant, beneficiary, or other person with respect to such a plan affected by a Presidentially declared disaster, notwithstanding any other provision of law, the Secretaries of Labor and the Treasury may prescribe (by notice or otherwise) a period of up to one year that may be disregarded in determining the date by which any action is required or permitted to be completed. Section 518 of ERISA and section 7508A of the Code further provide that no plan shall be treated as failing to be operated in accordance with the terms of the plan solely as a result of complying with the postponement of a deadline under those sections.

The Agencies believe that such relief is immediately needed to preserve and protect the benefits of participants and beneficiaries in affected plans. Accordingly, the Agencies have determined, pursuant to section 553 of the Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. 553(b) and (d), that there is good cause for granting the relief provided by this notice effective immediately upon publication and that notice and public participation may result in undue delay and, therefore, be contrary to the public interest.

This document has been reviewed by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), which concurs with the relief. HHS encourages plan sponsors of nonfederal governmental group health plans to provide the relief specified in this guidance. HHS also encourages States, and health insurance issuers, to enforce and operate, respectively, in a manner consistent with the relief provided in this guidance.2

2 Section 104 of Title I of Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) requires that the Secretaries of Labor, the Treasury, and Health and Human Services (the Departments) ensure through an interagency Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that regulations, rulings, and interpretations issued by each of the Departments relating to the same matter over which two or more departments have jurisdiction, are administered so as to have the same effect at all times. Under section 104, the Departments, through the MOU, are to provide for coordination of policies relating to enforcement of the same requirements in order to have a coordinated enforcement strategy that avoids duplication of enforcement efforts and assigns priorities in enforcement. See section 104 of HIPAA and Memorandum of Understanding applicable to Title XXVII of the PHS Act, Part 7 of ERISA, and Chapter 100 of the Code, published at 64 FR 70164, December 15, 1999.

The relief provided by this Notice supplements other disaster relief guidance, which can be accessed on the Internet at: https://www.dol.gov/agencies/ebsa/employers-and-advisers/plan-administration-and-compliance/disaster-relief and https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/tax-relief-in-disaster-situations.

II. Background

Title I of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) provides portability of group health coverage by, among other things, requiring special enrollment rights. ERISA section 701, Code section 9801, 29 CFR 2590.701-6, 26 CFR 54.9801-6. Title X of the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985 (COBRA) permits qualified beneficiaries who lose coverage under a group health plan to elect continuation health coverage. ERISA section 601, Code section 4980B, 26 CFR 54.4980B-1. Section 503 of ERISA and 29 CFR 2560.503-1 require employee benefit plans subject to Title I of ERISA to establish and maintain reasonable procedures governing the determination and appeal of claims for benefits under the plan. Section 2719 of the Public Health Service Act (PHS Act), incorporated into ERISA by ERISA section 715 and into the Code by Code section 9815, imposes additional rights and obligations with respect to claims, appeals, and external review for nongrandfathered group health plans and health insurance issuers offering nongrandfathered coverage. See also 29 CFR 2590.715-2719 and 26 CFR 54.9815-2719. All of the foregoing provisions include timing requirements for certain acts in connection with employee benefit plans, some of which are being modified by this notice.

A. Special Enrollment Time Frames

In general, the HIPAA special enrollment provisions require that a special enrollment period must be provided in certain circumstance including circumstances in which an employee or dependent loses eligibility for any group health plan or other health insurance coverage in which the employee or the employee's dependents were previously enrolled (including coverage under Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program), and upon certain life events such as when a person becomes a dependent of an eligible employee by birth, marriage, or adoption. ERISA section 701(f), Code section 9801(f), 29 CFR 2590.701-6, and 26 CFR 54.9801-6. Generally, group health plans must allow such individuals to enroll in the group health plan if they are otherwise eligible and if enrollment is requested within 30 days of the occurrence of the event (or within 60 days, in the case of the special enrollment rights added by the Children's Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2009). ERISA section 701(f), Code section 9801(f), 29 CFR 2590.701-6, and 26 CFR 54.9801-6.

B. COBRA Time Frames

The COBRA continuation coverage provisions generally provide a qualified beneficiary a period of at least 60 days to elect COBRA continuation coverage under a group health plan. ERISA section 605 and Code section 4980B(f)(5). Plans are required to allow payment of premiums in monthly installments, and plans cannot require payment of premiums before 45 days after the day of the initial COBRA election. ERISA section 602(3) and Code section 4980B(f)(2)(C). COBRA continuation coverage may be terminated for failure to pay premiums timely. ERISA section 602(2)(C) and Code section 4980B(f)(2)(B)(iii). Under the COBRA rules, a premium is considered paid timely if it is made not later than 30 days after the first day of the period for which payment is being made. ERISA section 602(2)(C), Code section 4980B(f)(2)(B)(iii), and 26 CFR 54.4980B-8 Q&A-5(a). Notice requirements prescribe time periods for employers to notify the plan of certain qualifying events and for individuals to notify the plan of certain qualifying events or a determination of disability; notice requirements also prescribe a time period for plans to notify qualified beneficiaries of their rights to elect COBRA continuation coverage. ERISA section 606, Code section 4980B(f)(6), and 29 CFR 2590.606-3.

C. Claims Procedure Time Frames

Section 503 of ERISA and 29 CFR 2560.503-1, as well as section 2719 of the PHS Act, incorporated into ERISA by ERISA section 715 and into the Code by Code section 9815, 29 CFR 2590.715-2719, and 26 CFR 54.9815-2719, require ERISA-covered employee benefit plans and nongrandfathered group health plans and health insurance issuers to establish and maintain a procedure governing the filing and initial disposition of benefit claims, and to provide claimants with a reasonable opportunity to appeal an adverse benefit determination to an appropriate named fiduciary. Plans may not have provisions that unduly inhibit or hamper the initiation or processing of claims for benefits. Further, group health plans and disability plans must provide claimants at least 180 days following receipt of an adverse benefit determination to appeal (60 days in the case of pension plans and other welfare benefit plans). 29 CFR 2560.503-1(h)(2)(i), 29 CFR 2560.503-1(h)(3)(i), 29 CFR 2590.715-2719(b)(2)(ii)(C), and 26 CFR 54.9815-2719(b)(2)(ii)(C).

D. External Review Process Time Frames

PHS Act section 2719, incorporated into ERISA by ERISA section 715 and into the Code by Code section 9815, sets out standards for external review that apply to nongrandfathered group health plans and health coverage and provides for either a State external review process or a Federal external review process. Standards for external review processes and timeframes for submitting claims to the independent reviewer for group health plans or health insurance issuers may vary depending on whether a plan uses a State external review process or a Federal external review process. For plans or issuers that use the Federal external review process, the process must allow at least four months after the receipt of a notice of an adverse benefit determination or final internal adverse benefit determination for a request for an external review to be filed. 29 CFR 2590.715-2719(d)(2)(i) and 26 CFR 54.9815-2719(d)(2)(i). The Federal external review process also provides for a preliminary review of a request for external review. The regulation provides that if such request is not complete, the Federal process must provide for a notification that describes the information or materials needed to make the request complete, and the plan or issuer must allow a claimant to perfect the request for external review within the four-month filing period or within the 48 hour period following the receipt of the notification, whichever is later. 29 CFR 2590.715-2719(d)(2)(ii)(B) and 26 CFR 54.9815-2719(d)(2)(ii)(B).

III. Relief A. Relief for Affected Plan Participants, Beneficiaries, Qualified Beneficiaries, and Claimants

With respect to plan participants, beneficiaries, qualified beneficiaries, or claimants directly affected by Hurricane Maria (as defined in paragraph III.C.(1)), group health plans, disability and other welfare plans, pension plans, and health insurance issuers offering coverage in connection with a group health plan must disregard the period from September 17, 2017 through March 16, 2018 for such plan participants, beneficiaries, qualified beneficiaries, or claimants located in Puerto Rico, and must disregard the period from September 16, 2017 through March 15, 2018 for such plan participants, beneficiaries, qualified beneficiaries, or claimants located in the United States Virgin Islands, when determining any of the following time periods and dates—

(1) The 30-day period (or 60-day period, if applicable) to request special enrollment under ERISA section 701(f) and Code section 9801(f),

(2) The 60-day election period for COBRA continuation coverage under ERISA section 605 and Code section 4980B(f)(5),3

3 The term “election period” is defined as “the period which—(A) begins not later than the date on which coverage terminates under the plan by reason of a qualifying event, (B) is of at least 60 days' duration, and (C) ends not earlier than 60 days after the later of—(i) the date described in subparagraph (A), or (ii) in the case of any qualified beneficiary who receives notice under section 1166(4) of this title, the date of such notice.” See ERISA section 605(a)(1). See also Code section 4980B(f)(5).

(3) The date for making COBRA premium payments pursuant to ERISA section 602(2)(C) and (3) and Code section 4980B(f)(2)(B)(iii) and (C),

(4) The date for individuals to notify the plan of a qualifying event or determination of disability under ERISA section 606(a)(3) and Code section 4980B(f)(6)(C),

(5) The date within which individuals may file a benefit claim under the plan's claims procedure pursuant to 29 CFR 2560.503-1,

(6) The date within which claimants may file an appeal of an adverse benefit determination under the plan's claims procedure pursuant to 29 CFR 2560.503-1(h),

(7) The date within which claimants may file a request for an external review after receipt of an adverse benefit determination or final internal adverse benefit determination pursuant to 29 CFR 2590.715-2719(d)(2)(i) and 26 CFR 54.9815-2719(d)(2)(i), and

(8) The date within which a claimant may file information to perfect a request for external review upon a finding that the request was not complete pursuant to 29 CFR 2590.715-2719(d)(2)(ii) and 26 CFR 54.9815-2719(d)(2)(ii).

B. Relief for Group Health Plans

With respect to group health plans, and their sponsors and administrators, that are directly affected by Hurricane Maria (as defined in paragraph III.C.(3)), the period from September 17, 2017 through March 16, 2018 for those located in Puerto Rico, and the period from September 16, 2017 through March 15, 2018 for those located in the United States Virgin Islands, shall be disregarded when determining the date for providing a COBRA election notice under ERISA section 606(c) and Code section 4980B(f)(6)(D).

C. Definitions

For purposes of this notice—

(1) A participant, beneficiary, qualified beneficiary, or claimant directly affected by Hurricane Maria means an individual who resided, lived, or worked in one of the disaster areas (as defined in paragraph III.C.(2)) at the time of the hurricane, or whose employee benefit plan was directly affected (as defined in paragraph III.C.(3)), but solely with respect to that employee benefit plan.

(2) The term “disaster areas” means the counties in Puerto Rico and the counties and county equivalents in the United States Virgin Islands that have been or are later designated as disaster areas eligible for Individual Assistance by the Federal Emergency Management Agency because of the devastation caused by Hurricane Maria.

(3) An employee benefit plan is directly affected by Hurricane Maria if the principal place of business of the employer that maintains the plan (in the case of a single-employer plan, determined disregarding the rules of section 414(b) and (c) of the Code); the principal place of business of employers that employ more than 50 percent of the active participants covered by the plan (in the case of a plan covering employees of more than one employer, determined disregarding the rules of section 414(b) and (c) of the Code); the office of the plan or the plan administrator; or the relevant office of the primary recordkeeper serving the plan was located in one of the disaster areas (as defined in paragraph III.C.(2)) at the time of the hurricane.

D. Later Extensions

The Agencies will continue to monitor the effects of Hurricane Maria and may provide additional relief as warranted.

IV. Examples

The following examples illustrate the timeframe for extensions required by this notice. In each example, assume that the individual described is directly affected by the hurricane.

Example 1 (Electing COBRA). (i) Facts. Individual A works for Employer X in Puerto Rico and participates in X's group health plan. On September 20, 2017, the day Hurricane Maria made landfall, X's business is destroyed, and the plan ceases to function. A has no other coverage. Employer Y is part of the same controlled group as X and continues to operate and sponsor a group health plan. A is provided a COBRA election notice on December 1, 2017. What is the deadline for A to elect COBRA?

(ii) Conclusion. In this Example 1, A is eligible to elect COBRA coverage under Employer Y's plan because Employer Y is in the same controlled group as Employer X. 4 The period from September 17, 2017 through March 16, 2018 is disregarded for purposes of determining A's COBRA election period. The last day of A's COBRA election period is 60 days after March 16, 2018, which is May 15, 2018.

4 Under the COBRA rules, the COBRA period continues even after the end of the plan, if the employer continues to provide any group health plan to any employee. Code section 4980B(f)(2)(B)(ii) and ERISA 602(2)(B) . For purposes of COBRA, “employer” includes the person for whom services are performed and any other person that is a member of a group described in Code section 414(b), (c), (m), or (o). 26 CFR 54.4980B-2, Q&A 2.

Example 2 (Special enrollment period). (i) Facts. Individual B resides in the United States Virgin Islands. B is eligible for, but previously declined participation in, her employer-sponsored group health plan. On October 31, 2017, B gives birth and would like to enroll herself and the child into her employer's plan; however, open enrollment does not begin until November 15.

(ii) Conclusion. In this Example 2, the period from September 16, 2017 through March 15, 2018 is disregarded for purposes of determining B's special enrollment period. B may special enroll herself and her child into her employer's plan as early as the date of the child's birth, and the last day B may special enroll herself and her child into her employer's plan is 30 days after March 15, 2018, which is April 14, 2018.

Example 3 (COBRA premium payments). (i) Facts. Individual C resides in Puerto Rico. Before the hurricane, C was receiving COBRA continuation coverage under a group health plan. More than 45 days had passed since C had elected COBRA. Monthly premium payments are due by the first of the month. The plan does not permit qualified beneficiaries longer than the statutory 30-day grace period for making premium payments. C made a timely September payment, but did not make an October payment before the hurricane.

(ii) Conclusion. In this Example 3, the period from September 17, 2017 through March 16, 2018 is disregarded for purposes of making monthly COBRA premium installment payments. Premium payments made by 30 days after March 16, 2018, which would be April 15, 2018 for October, November, and December of 2017, and January, February, and March of 2018, are timely, and C is entitled to COBRA continuation coverage for these months.

Example 4 (COBRA premium payments). (i) Facts. Same facts as Example 3. By April 15, 2018, a payment equal to two months' premium has been made for C.

(ii) Conclusion. C is entitled to COBRA continuation coverage for October and November 2017, the two months for which timely premium payments were made, and C is not entitled to COBRA continuation coverage for any month after November 2017.

Example 5 (Claims for medical treatment under a group health plan). (i) Facts. Individual D resides in the United States Virgin Islands and is a participant in a group health plan. On October 1, 2017, D received medical treatment for a condition covered under the plan, but a claim relating to the medical treatment was not submitted until later. Under the plan, claims must be submitted within 365 days of the participant's receipt of the medical treatment.

(ii) Conclusion. For purposes of determining the 365-day period applicable to D's claim, the period from October 1, 2017 through March 15, 2018 is disregarded. Therefore, D's last day to submit a claim is 365 days after March 15, 2018, which is March 15, 2019.

Example 6 (Internal appeal). (i) Facts. Individual E resides in Puerto Rico. E received a notification of an adverse benefit determination from E's disability plan on August 15, 2017. The notification advised E that there are 180 days within which to file an appeal.

(ii) Conclusion. When determining the 180-day period within which E's appeal must be filed, the period from September 17, 2017 through March 16, 2018 is disregarded. Therefore, E's last day to submit an appeal is 148 days after March 16, 2018, which is August 11, 2018.

Signed at Washington, DC, this 17th day of November, 2017. Jeanne Klinefelter Wilson, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Employee Benefits Security Administration, Department of Labor. Signed this 16th day of November, 2017. Kirsten Wielobob, Deputy Commissioner for Services and Enforcement, Internal Revenue Service, Department of the Treasury.
[FR Doc. 2017-25332 Filed 11-21-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4510-29-P
DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY Coast Guard 33 CFR Part 117 [Docket No. USCG-2017-0573] Drawbridge Operation Regulation; Southern Branch of the Elizabeth River, Chesapeake, VA AGENCY:

Coast Guard, DHS.

ACTION:

Notice of deviation from drawbridge regulation; modification.

SUMMARY:

The Coast Guard has modified a temporary deviation from the operating schedule that governs the I-64 (High Rise) Bridge across the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway, Southern Branch of the Elizabeth River, mile 7.1, at Chesapeake, VA. The deviation is necessary to facilitate routine maintenance. This deviation allows the bridge to remain in the closed-to-navigation position.

DATES:

The modified deviation is effective without actual notice from November 22, 2017 through 11 p.m. on December 3, 2017. For purposes of enforcement, actual notice will be used from 11:01 p.m. on November 22, 2017, until November 22, 2017.

ADDRESSES:

The docket for this deviation, [USCG-2017-0573] is available at http://www.regulations.gov. Type the docket number in the “SEARCH” box and click “SEARCH”. Click on Open Docket Folder on the line associated with this deviation.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

If you have questions on this modified temporary deviation, call or email Mr. Mickey Sanders, Bridge Administration Branch Fifth District, Coast Guard; telephone (757) 398-6587, email [email protected].

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

On September 26, 2017, the Coast Guard published a temporary deviation entitled “Drawbridge Operation Regulation; Southern Branch of the Elizabeth River, Chesapeake, VA” in the Federal Register (82 FR 44733). That document resulted from Virginia State Department of Transportation's request for a temporary deviation, occurring from 7 a.m. on October 2, 2017, through 11 p.m. on November 22, 2017, from the normal operation of the drawbridge to accommodate routine maintenance to bridge. Subsequent to the approval of that request, Virginia State Department of Transportation requested a modification to the temporary deviation, starting from 11:01 p.m. on November 22, 2017, through 11 p.m. on December 3, 2017, to allow more time to remove and replace the center locks and install new electrical wiring and lubrication piping. Therefore, through this document, the Coast Guard modifies the dates of the previously approved temporary deviation to allow the I-64 (High Rise) Bridge across the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway, Southern Branch of the Elizabeth River, mile 7.1, at Chesapeake, VA, to remain in the closed-to-navigation position from Midnight on November 29, 2017, through 11 p.m. on December 3, 2017. At all other times, the bridge will open on signal if at least 24 hours notice is given. The bridge has a vertical clearance of 65 feet above mean high water in the closed position. The current operating schedule is set out in 33 CFR 117.997(e).

Vessels able to pass through the bridge in the closed position may do so if at least 15 minutes notice is given. The bridge will not be able to open for emergencies and there is no immediate alternate route for vessels unable to pass through the bridge in the closed position. The Coast Guard will also inform the users of the waterways through our Local and Broadcast Notice to Mariners of the change in operating schedule for the bridge so that vessel operators can arrange their transits to minimize any impact caused by this temporary deviation.

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

Dated: November 17, 2017. Hal R. Pitts, Bridge Program Manager, Fifth Coast Guard District.
[FR Doc. 2017-25250 Filed 11-21-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 9110-04-P
ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY 40 CFR Part 52 [EPA-R03-OAR-2017-0398; FRL-9971-14-Region 3] Approval and Promulgation of Air Quality Implementation Plans; Maryland; Nonattainment New Source Review Requirements for the 2008 8-Hour Ozone Standard; Withdrawal of Direct Final Rule AGENCY:

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

ACTION:

Withdrawal of direct final rule.

SUMMARY:

Due to the receipt of an adverse comment, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is withdrawing the September 29, 2017 direct final rule (DFR) that approved a revision to the Maryland state implementation plan (SIP). The revision was in response to EPA's February 3, 2017 Findings of Failure to Submit for various requirements relating to the 2008 8-hour ozone national ambient air quality standards (NAAQS). This SIP revision was specific to nonattainment new source review (NNSR) requirements. EPA stated in the direct final rule that if EPA received adverse comments by October 30, 2017, the rule would be withdrawn and not take effect. EPA subsequently received an adverse comment. EPA will address the comment received in a subsequent final action based upon the proposed action also published on September 29, 2017. EPA will not institute a second comment period on this action. This withdrawal action is being taken under section 110 of the Clean Air Act.

DATES:

The direct final rule published at 82 FR 45475, on September 29, 2017, is withdrawn as of November 22, 2017.

ADDRESSES:

EPA has established docket number EPA-R03-OAR-2017-0398 for this action. The index to the docket is available electronically at https://www.regulations.gov and in hard copy at Air Protection Division, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region III, 1650 Arch Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19103.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Mrs. Amy Johansen, (215) 814-2156, or by email at [email protected]

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

On May 8, 2017, the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) submitted on behalf of the State of Maryland a formal revision, requesting EPA's approval for the SIP of its NNSR Certification for the 2008 Ozone Standard (Revision 17-01). The SIP revision is in response to EPA's final 2008 8-hour ozone NAAQS Findings of Failure to Submit for NNSR requirements. See 82 FR 9158 (February 3, 2017). Specifically, Maryland is certifying that its existing NNSR program, covering the Baltimore Nonattainment Area (which includes Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Carroll, Harford, and Howard Counties and the city of Baltimore), the Philadelphia-Wilmington-Atlantic City Nonattainment Area (which includes Cecil County in Maryland), and the Washington, DC Nonattainment Area (which includes Calvert, Charles, Frederick, Montgomery, and Prince Georges Counties in Maryland) for the 2008 8-hour ozone NAAQS, is at least as stringent as the requirements at 40 CFR 51.165, as amended by the final rule titled “Implementation of the 2008 National Ambient Air Quality Standards for Ozone: State Implementation Plan Requirements” (SIP Requirements Rule), for ozone and its precursors.1 See 80 FR 12264 (March 6, 2015).

1 The SIP Requirements Rule addresses a range of nonattainment area SIP requirements for the 2008 8-hour ozone NAAQS, including requirements pertaining to attainment demonstrations, reasonable further progress (RFP), reasonably available control technology, reasonably available control measures, major new source review, emission inventories, and the timing of SIP submissions and of compliance with emission control measures in the SIP. The rule also revokes the 1997 ozone NAAQS and establishes anti-backsliding requirements.

Please see additional information provided in the direct final action published in the Federal Register on September 29, 2017 (82 FR 45475) and in the companion proposed rule which was also published on September 29, 2017 (82 FR 45547). In the DFR, we stated that if we received adverse comment by October 30, 2017, the rule would be withdrawn and not take effect. EPA subsequently received an adverse comment. As a result of the comment received, EPA is withdrawing the direct final rule approving Maryland's SIP revision related to NNSR requirements for the 2008 8-hour ozone standard.

List of Subjects in 40 CFR Part 52

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

Dated: November 9, 2017. Cosmo Servidio, Regional Administrator, Region III. Accordingly, the amendment to 40 CFR 52.1070(e) published on September 29, 2017 (82 FR 45475) is withdrawn as of November 22, 2017.
[FR Doc. 2017-25322 Filed 11-21-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560-50-P
ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY 40 CFR Part 52 [EPA-R03-OAR-2017-0396; FRL-9971-13-Region 3] Approval and Promulgation of Air Quality Implementation Plans; Maryland; 2011 Base Year Inventory for the 2008 8-Hour Ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standard for the Baltimore, Maryland Nonattainment Area; Withdrawal of Direct Final Rule AGENCY:

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

ACTION:

Withdrawal of direct final rule.

SUMMARY:

Due to adverse comments received, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is withdrawing the October 3, 2017 direct final rule that approved a state implementation plan (SIP) revision submitted by the State of Maryland to add the 2011 base year inventory for the Baltimore, Maryland moderate nonattainment area for the 2008 8-hour ozone national ambient air quality standard (NAAQS) into Maryland's SIP. EPA stated in the direct final rule that if EPA received adverse comments by November 2, 2017, the rule would be withdrawn and not take effect. EPA subsequently received adverse comments. EPA will address the comments received in a subsequent final action based upon the proposed rulemaking action also published on October 3, 2017. EPA will not institute a second comment period on this action.

DATES:

The direct final rule published at 82 FR 45997, on October 3, 2017, is withdrawn as of November 22, 2017.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Gavin Huang, (215) 814-2042, or by email at [email protected]

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

On December 20, 2016, the State of Maryland submitted the 2011 base year emission inventory through the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) to meet the nonattainment requirements for moderate ozone nonattainment areas for the 2008 8-hour ozone NAAQS. In the direct final rule published on October 3, 2017 (82 FR 45997), EPA stated that if EPA received adverse comments by November 2, 2017, the rule would be withdrawn and not take effect. EPA subsequently received adverse comments from anonymous commenters.

Because adverse comments were received, EPA is withdrawing the direct final rule approving the revisions to the Maryland SIP that approves the 2011 base year inventory for the Baltimore, Maryland moderate nonattainment area for the 2008 8-hour ozone NAAQS on October 3, 2017 (82 FR 45997). EPA will respond to the adverse comments in a separate final rulemaking action.

List of Subjects in 40 CFR Part 52

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

Dated: November 9, 2017. Cosmo Servidio, Regional Administrator, Region III. Accordingly, the amendments to 40 CFR part 52 published on October 3, 2017 (82 FR 45997) are withdrawn as of November 22, 2017.
[FR Doc. 2017-25323 Filed 11-21-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560-50-P
ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY 40 CFR Part 52 [EPA-R04-OAR-2009-0226; FRL-9971-12-Region 4] Air Plan Approval; GA: Emission Reduction Credits AGENCY:

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

ACTION:

Withdrawal of direct final rule.

SUMMARY:

Due to the receipt of an adverse comment, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is withdrawing the September 25, 2017, direct final rule that would have approved changes to the Georgia State Implementation Plan (SIP) to revise the Emission Reduction Credits (ERC) regulation. EPA will address the comment in a separate final action based upon the proposed rulemaking action, also published on September 25, 2017. EPA will not institute a second comment period on this action.

DATES:

The direct final rule published at 82 FR 44519, on September 25, 2017, is withdrawn, effective November 22, 2017.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

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

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

On September 25, 2017 (82 FR 44519), EPA published a direct final rule approving a SIP revision submitted by the State of Georgia to revise the State's ERCs regulation. EPA took direct final action to approve portions of the September 15, 2008, submission that expands the eligibility for sources in Barrow County that can participate in the ERC Program, adds a provision for reevaluation of the Certificates of ERC, changes the administrative fees, and eliminates an exemption for certain types of ERCs.

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

EPA received adverse comments from a single Commenter on the direct final rule concerning how revisions are recorded in the CFR. EPA will address the comments in a separate final action based on the proposed action also published on September 25, 2017 (82 FR 44543). EPA will not open a second comment period for this action.

List of Subjects in 40 CFR Part 52

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

Dated: November 9, 2017. Onis “Trey” Glenn, III, Regional Administrator, Region 4.

Accordingly, the amendment to 40 CFR 52.570(c) published on September 25, 2017 (82 FR 44519), are withdrawn effective November 22, 2017.

[FR Doc. 2017-25193 Filed 11-21-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560-50-P
DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 635 [Docket No. 170605543-7999-02] RIN 0648-XF486 Atlantic Highly Migratory Species; 2018 Atlantic Shark Commercial Fishing Season AGENCY:

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

ACTION:

Final rule; fishing season notification.

SUMMARY:

This final rule establishes the 2018 opening date for all Atlantic shark fisheries, including the fisheries in the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean. This final rule also establishes the quotas for the 2018 fishing season based on over- and/or underharvests experienced during 2017 and previous fishing seasons. The large coastal shark (LCS) retention limit for directed shark limited access permit holders is 45 LCS other than sandbar sharks per trip in the Gulf of Mexico region and 25 LCS other than sandbar sharks per trip in the Atlantic region. These retention limits for directed shark limited access permit holders may decrease or increase during the year after considering the specified inseason action regulatory criteria to provide, to the extent practicable, equitable fishing opportunities for commercial shark fishermen in all regions and areas. These actions could affect fishing opportunities for commercial shark fishermen in the northwestern Atlantic Ocean, including the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea.

DATES:

This rule is effective on January 1, 2018. The 2018 Atlantic commercial shark fishing season opening dates and quotas are provided in Table 1 under SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION.

ADDRESSES:

Highly Migratory Species (HMS) Management Division, 1315 East-West Highway, Silver Spring, MD 20910.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Guý DuBeck, Karyl Brewster-Geisz, or Gray Redding at (301) 427-8503.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Background

The Atlantic commercial shark fisheries are managed under the authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act). The 2006 Consolidated HMS Fishery Management Plan (FMP) and its amendments are implemented by regulations at 50 CFR part 635. For the Atlantic commercial shark fisheries, the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP and its amendments established, among other things, commercial shark retention limits, commercial quotas for species and management groups, accounting measures for under- and overharvests for the shark fisheries, and adaptive management measures such as flexible opening dates for the fishing season and inseason adjustments to shark trip limits, which provide management flexibility in furtherance of equitable fishing opportunities, to the extent practicable, for commercial shark fishermen in all regions and areas.

On August 22, 2017 (82 FR 39735), NMFS published a proposed rule for the 2018 opening dates for the Atlantic commercial shark fisheries, commercial shark fishing quotas based on shark landings information reported as of July 14, 2017, and the commercial shark retention limits for each region and sub-region. The August 2017 proposed rule (82 FR 39735; August 22, 2017) for the 2018 season contains details about the action that are not repeated here. The comment period on the proposed rule ended on September 21, 2017.

During the comment period, NMFS received approximately 13 written and oral comments on the proposed rule. Those comments, along with the Agency's responses, are summarized below. As further detailed in the Response to Comments section below, after considering all the comments, NMFS is opening the fishing seasons for all shark management groups on January 1, 2018, as proposed. For directed shark limited access permit holders, the blacktip, aggregated LCS, and hammerhead management groups in the entire Gulf of Mexico region will start the fishing season with a retention limit of 45 LCS other than sandbar sharks per vessel per trip, which is a change from the proposed rule's retention limit of 50 LCS other than sandbar sharks per vessel per trip. The aggregated LCS and hammerhead shark management groups in the Atlantic region will start the fishing season with a retention limit of 25 LCS other than sandbar sharks per vessel per trip for directed shark limited access permit holders, as proposed. The retention limit for incidental shark limited access permit holders for all regions has not changed from the proposed rule and remains at 3 LCS other than sandbar sharks per trip and a combined total of 16 small coastal sharks (SCS) and pelagic sharks, combined per trip consistent with § 635.24(a)(3) and (4). Additionally, the retention limit for blacknose sharks for all permit holders in the Atlantic region south of 34°00′ N. lat. has not changed from the proposed rule and is 8 blacknose sharks per trip consistent with § 635.24 (a)(4).

This final rule serves as notification of the 2018 opening dates for the Atlantic commercial shark fisheries and 2018 retention limits and quotas, based on shark landings data updated as of October 23, 2017, and considering the “opening commercial fishing season” criteria at § 635.27(b)(3). Criteria considered include available annual quotas for the current fishing season, estimated season length and average weekly catch rates from previous years, length of the season and fishermen participation in past years, impacts to accomplishing objectives of the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP and its amendments, temporal variation in behavior or biology of target species (e.g., seasonal distribution or abundance), impact of catch rates in one region on another, and effects of delayed season openings. While this action adjusts certain quotas as allowable, this action does not establish or change the annual baseline commercial quotas established under the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP and its amendments for any shark management group. The baselines quotas were established under previous actions, and any changes to those baseline quotas would be performed through a separate action. Rather, this action adjusts the annual commercial quotas for 2018 based on over- and/or underharvests that occurred in 2017 and previous fishing seasons, consistent with existing regulations, and establishes the opening dates for the fisheries. All of the shark management group adjusted quotas remain the same as proposed.

Response to Comments

NMFS received approximately 13 written and oral comments on the proposed rule from fishermen, dealers, and other interested parties. All written comments can be found at http://www.regulations.gov/ by searching for RIN 0648-XF486. NMFS received approximately six oral comments through phone conversations or at the HMS Advisory Panel meeting on September 6, 2017. All of the comments received are summarized below.

A. LCS Management Group Comments

Comment 1: NMFS received comments regarding the proposed opening date of January 1 for the western Gulf of Mexico LCS fisheries. Some commenters supported the proposed January 1 opening date for both Gulf of Mexico sub-regions, while other commenters supported a delayed western Gulf of Mexico opening date of January 15 or February 1 to coincide with the religious holiday of Lent, which is often associated with higher ex-vessel prices.

Response: After considering public comment and the “opening commercial fishing season” criteria (§ 635.27(b)(3)) described in the proposed rule, NMFS has determined that opening the Gulf of Mexico blacktip, aggregated LCS, and hammerhead shark management groups on January 1, as proposed, will promote equitable fishing opportunities throughout the Gulf of Mexico region. In reaching this determination, NMFS considered, in particular, the regulatory criterion regarding the length of the season in previous years for the different species and/or management groups and whether fishermen had been able to participate in the fishery in those years (§ 635.27(b)(3)(iii)), and found that with a January 1 opening date in 2016, the length of the fishing season provided all fishermen with equitable fishing opportunities to participate in the fishery in 2016. Specifically, in 2016, NMFS opened the season on January 1 and closed it on March 12, 2016 (81 FR 12602). In other words, in 2016, while the fishery closed before April 1 (which is when the State of Louisiana annually plans a state-water closure), all fishermen in the sub-region had the same opportunities. In 2017, NMFS opened the season on February 1 and closed it on May 2, 2017 (82 FR 20447). The delayed opening in 2017 allowed Louisiana state-water fishermen only two months to fish given the State of Louisiana's annual state-water closure from April 1 through June 30; fishermen in other parts of the sub-region could continue fishing after April 1. Thus, opening the season in January should give all fishermen in the sub-region a fishing season of equal duration given the State of Louisiana closure, and an equitable opportunity to harvest the quota before the state-water closure.

Comment 2: NMFS received comments regarding the proposed change in the commercial retention limit for the blacktip, aggregated LCS, and hammerhead management groups in the eastern Gulf of Mexico sub-region from the default (and current) level of 45 to 50 LCS other than sandbar sharks per vessel per trip. NMFS received a comment in support of the proposed higher retention limit of 50 LCS other than sandbar sharks per vessel per trip and a comment in support of the current retention limit of 45 LCS other than sandbar sharks per vessel per trip to ensure the season lasts most of the year.

Response: NMFS has determined that the default retention limit of 45 LCS other than sandbar sharks per vessel per trip at the start of the season will ensure equitable fishing opportunities in the eastern Gulf of Mexico sub-region. In the proposed rule, because the management groups remained open all of 2016 and because the relevant management groups were underharvested in 2016, NMFS proposed a higher trip limit (50 LCS other than sandbar sharks per vessel per trip) in order to allow fishermen to fully harvest the blacktip, aggregated LCS, and hammerhead management group quotas, presuming that future catch rates might be expected to be similar. However, as of October 23, 2017, the landings in 2017 are higher than at that time in 2016, and NMFS is considering whether it will be necessary to close the fishery to avoid overharvest of the quota. With the updated information showing an increase in the 2017 eastern Gulf of Mexico blacktip, aggregated LCS, and hammerhead management group landings, NMFS has decided to start the commercial retention limit at 45 LCS other than sandbar sharks per vessel per trip. However, NMFS may adjust the retention limit during the fishing season as appropriate after considering the relevant regulatory criteria.

Comment 3: NMFS received comments in support the proposed opening date of January 1, retention limit, and inseason retention limit adjustments for the aggregated LCS and hammerhead management groups in the Atlantic region as long as majority of the quota is available later in the year.

Response: After considering the “opening commercial fishing season” regulatory criteria in light of the comments, which reflected support of the proposed opening date, NMFS has decided to open the fisheries in the Atlantic region on January 1, as proposed. Specifically, on January 1, 2018, the LCS fisheries in the Atlantic region will open with a retention limit of 25 LCS other than sandbar sharks per vessel per trip for directed shark limited access permit holders. The January 1 opening date should allow fishermen in the southern and northern portions of the Atlantic region the opportunity to fish at the beginning of the year. NMFS will consider further adjusting the commercial retention limit during the season as appropriate, after considering the applicable criteria, to provide all fishermen in the Atlantic region fishing opportunities later in the year as well, since the majority of the quota should still be available and the majority of fishing occurs later in the year. The proposed rule stated that, if it appears that the quota is being harvested too quickly to allow fishermen throughout the entire region an opportunity to fish, NMFS will consider reducing the commercial retention limit after a portion of the quota is harvested (e.g., 20 percent) and later consider raising the commercial retention limit to 36 LCS other than sandbar sharks per vessel per trip around July 15 to allow greater fishing opportunities later in the year. This is the same approach that has been used in 2016 and 2017. Specifically, in 2017, NMFS started with a retention limit of 25 LCS other than sandbar sharks per vessel per trip on January 1 and then reduced the commercial retention to 3 LCS other than sandbar sharks per vessel per trip on April 15, 2017 (82 FR 17765; April 13, 2017) when the aggregated LCS quota reached 19.5% of the available quota. NMFS increased the retention limit to 36 LCS other than sandbar sharks per vessel per trip on July 16, 2017 (82 FR 32490; July 14, 2017) and, as of the drafting of this final rule, the current fishing season remains open. Thus, based on how the most recent previous seasons have operated to date, NMFS has determined that a lower retention limit at the start of the season will allow NMFS to more easily and closely monitor the quota and catch rates in the beginning of the year to help ensure equitable fishing opportunities later in the year, while acknowledging that the majority of quota generally is harvested later in the year (see the criteria listed at § 635.24(a)(8)(iii)).

B. General Comments

Comment 4: NMFS received several comments in support of the proposed rule and more generally in favor of regulating commercial shark fishing, while other commenters opposed any regulations that allow shark fishing. Commenters who supported the regulation of shark fisheries stated the importance of sharks to the ecosystem. However, one commenter expressed concern about adequate enforcement of the quotas and retention limits including concerns about falsified reporting. The commenters who were opposed to the proposed rule specifically requested a closure of all shark fisheries; wanted more scientific justification of the LCS retention limit change; and were concerned about the mortality of prohibited sharks and other bycatch, shark finning, and consistency with unspecified provisions in international agreements, such as the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

Response: In this rule, NMFS's goal is to establish quotas for the Atlantic shark fisheries based upon the baseline quotas previously established in the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP and its amendments (http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/sfa/hms/documents/fmp/index.html), and based on allowable adjustments as a result of over- or underharvests in 2017 and previous years. Generally, when establishing the shark commercial baseline quotas, NMFS uses the total allowable catch (TAC) calculated during the stock assessment. NMFS then subtracts all other sources of mortality, including recreational landings, commercial discards, post-release mortality, and research set-aside mortality; the remaining portion is the commercial baseline quota. In establishing these baseline quotas through an FMP amendment, NMFS takes into account the fishery impacts on essential fish habitat, protected resources, and the environment in general in order to fulfill requirements for the associated FMP amendment along with socioeconomic value of these shark species to various groups. Thus, the commenter's concern that the impacts of fishing for sharks on the environment and other protected species have not been properly analyzed nor considered are not warranted.

Regarding the comment about adequate enforcement and falsified reporting, NMFS takes enforcement of these regulations seriously. If suspected illegal activities are observed in any fishery and/or region, specific information regarding such incidents can be reported to NOAA Office of Law Enforcement Division (http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/ole/) through the national enforcement hotline at 1-800-853-1964. All commercial shark landings and quotas are monitored with the HMS electronic dealer reporting system, which has been in use since 2013. This improvement in commercial quota monitoring technology and the weekly reporting provides more information on each dealer transaction, including all shark landings to the species level, and ensures that quotas are not exceeded. Overall, this improvement helps with monitoring of commercial landings of all shark species and with closing management groups in an efficient and timely manner. In addition, NMFS can verify and detect falsified reporting by dealers and fishermen by cross-checking dealer reports to fishermen's logbooks.

Regarding comments that requested a closure of all sharks fisheries or that raised concerns regarding the scientific justification of the range of allowable retention limits adopted in an earlier rulemaking (Amendment 6 to the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP) and the mortality of prohibited sharks and other bycatch, the comments are outside the scope of this rulemaking because the purpose of this rulemaking is to adjust quotas for the 2018 shark seasons based on over- and underharvests from the previous years and set opening dates and commercial retention limits for the 2018 shark seasons. The quotas and general management measures were established in previous rulemakings, which were the final rules to implement Amendment 2 to the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP (73 FR 35778, June 24, 2008; corrected on 73 FR 40658; July 15, 2008), Amendment 5a to the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP (78 FR 40318; July 3, 2013), Amendment 6 to the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP (80 FR 50073; August 18, 2015), Amendment 9 to the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP (80 FR 73128; November 24, 2015), and Amendment 5b to the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP (82 FR 16478; April 4, 2017). In Amendment 6 to the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP, NMFS analyzed, among other things, the impacts and justification for increasing the LCS retention limit to a maximum of 55 LCS other than sandbar sharks per vessel per trip. In Amendment 5b to the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP, NMFS implemented management measures to end overfishing of dusky sharks, which is a prohibited species, and clarified the annual catch limits (ACLs) for the prohibited shark species complex. Management of the Atlantic shark fisheries is based on the best available science to achieve optimum yield while rebuilding overfished shark stocks and preventing overfishing.

Regarding the concerns about shark finning, the United States by federal law has prohibited shark finning since 2000. The Shark Finning Prohibition Act of 2000 amended the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act) to prohibit any person under U.S. jurisdiction from engaging in the finning of sharks, possessing shark fins aboard a fishing vessel without the corresponding carcass, or landing shark fins without the corresponding carcass. Since 2008 in Atlantic HMS fisheries and then in 2011 nationally via the Shark Conservation Act, fishermen have been required to land sharks with fins naturally attached, with one narrow exception related to smooth dogfish so long as certain requirements are met (see Amendment 9 to the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP).

Regarding the concerns about violating international agreements, NMFS management of the Atlantic shark fisheries is undertaken consistent with applicable international agreements and both international and domestic legal requirements are considered in our development of FMPs. NMFS continues to work with the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) and other international entities such as CITES to appropriately and effectively manage the stocks throughout their range. Although the commenter did not specify the international agreement provisions about which they were concerned, there are no international agreement provisions that would directly affect the actions undertaken in this rulemaking related to LCS and SCS quotas, allocations, or fishing mortality levels. NMFS will continue to work with the international community to promote conservation in fisheries that span international jurisdictions.

Changes From the Proposed Rule

NMFS made one change to the proposed rule. Specifically, NMFS changed the retention limit for directed shark limited access permit holders at the start of the commercial shark fishing season for the blacktip, aggregated LCS, and hammerhead shark management groups in the eastern Gulf of Mexico region from 50 LCS other than sandbar sharks per vessel per trip to 45 LCS other than sandbar sharks per vessel per trip. As explained above, NMFS changed the retention limit after considering the “opening commercial fishing season” criteria (§ 635.27(b)(3)), public comment, and the 2017 landings data in order to promote equitable fishing opportunities throughout the sub-region. We clearly noted in the proposed rule that retention limits might change in response to public comment, and this level is within the allowable range and consistent with the range established in recent years. Thus, the regulated community had sufficient notice of this possible change between the proposed and final rule.

2018 Annual Quotas

This final rule adjusts the 2018 commercial quotas due to over- and/or underharvests in 2017 and previous fishing seasons, based on landings data through October 23, 2017. The 2018 annual quotas by species and management group are summarized in Table 1. Any dealer reports that are received by NMFS after October 23, 2017, will be used to adjust the 2019 quotas, if necessary. A description of the quota calculations is provided in the proposed rule and is not repeated here. Any changes are described in the “Changes from the Proposed Rule” section.

Table 1—2018 Annual Quotas for the Atlantic Shark Fisheries [All quotas and landings are dressed weight (dw), in metric tons (mt), unless specified otherwise. 1 mt dw = 2,204.6 lb dw] Region or
  • sub-region
  • Management group 2017 Annual quota Preliminary 2017 landings 1 Adjustments 2 2018 Baseline
  • annual quota
  • 2018 Final
  • adjusted annual quota
  • (A) (B) (C) (D) (D + C) Western Gulf of Mexico Blacktip Sharks 331.6 mt dw (730,425 lb dw) 206.6 mt dw (455,535 lb dw) 115.7 mt dw (255,131 lb dw) 3 231.5 mt dw (510,261 lb dw) 347.2 mt dw (765,392 lb dw). Aggregated Large Coastal Sharks 72.0 mt dw (158,724 lb dw) 65.8 mt dw (145,115 lb dw) 72.0 mt dw (158,724 lb dw) 72.0 mt dw (158,724 lb dw). Hammerhead Sharks 11.9 mt dw (26,301 lb dw) 2.5 mt dw (5,490 lb dw) 11.9 mt dw (26,301 lb dw) 11.9 mt dw (26,301 lb dw). Eastern Gulf of Mexico Blacktip Sharks 36.0 mt dw (79,359 lb dw) 24.9 mt dw (54,918 lb dw) 12.6 mt dw (27,719 lb dw) 3 25.1 mt dw (55,439 lb dw) 37.7 mt dw (83,158 lb dw). Aggregated Large Coastal Sharks 85.5 mt dw (188,593 lb dw) 57.6 mt dw (127,022 lb dw) 85.5 mt dw (188,593 lb dw) 85.5 mt dw (188,593 lb dw). Hammerhead Sharks 13.4 mt dw (29,421 lb dw) 6.8 mt dw (15,059 lb dw) 13.4 mt dw (29,421 lb dw) 13.4 mt dw (29,421 lb dw). Gulf of Mexico Non-Blacknose Small Coastal Sharks 112.6 mt dw (248,215 lb dw) 49.4 mt dw (108,965 lb dw) 112.6 mt dw (248,215 lb dw) 112.6 mt dw (248,215 lb dw). Smoothhound Sharks 504.6 mt dw (1,112,441 lb dw) 0 mt dw (0 lb dw) 168.2 mt dw (370,814 lb dw) 336.4 mt dw (741,627) 504.6 mt dw (1,112,441 lb dw). Atlantic Aggregated Large Coastal Sharks 168.9 mt dw (372,552 lb dw) 104.4 mt dw (230,205 lb dw) 168.9 mt dw (372,552 lb dw) 168.9 mt dw (372,552 lb dw). Hammerhead Sharks 27.1 mt dw (59,736 lb dw) 7.9 mt dw (17,448 lb dw) 27.1 mt dw (59,736 lb dw) 27.1 mt dw (59,736 lb dw). Non-Blacknose Small Coastal Sharks 264.1 mt dw (582,333 lb dw) 92.9 mt dw (204,851 lb dw) 264.1 mt dw (582,333 lb dw) 264.1 mt dw (582,333 lb dw). Blacknose Sharks (South of 34° N. lat. only) 17.2 mt dw (37,921 lb dw) 7.0 mt dw (15,344 lb dw) 17.2 mt dw (37,921 lb dw) 17.2 mt dw (37,921 lb dw). Smoothhound Sharks 1,802.6 mt dw (3,973,902 lb dw) 337.5 mt dw (744,146 lb dw) 600.9 mt dw (1,324,634 lb dw) 1,201.7 mt dw (2,649,268 lb dw) 1,802.6 mt dw (3,973,902 lb dw). No regional quotas Non-Sandbar LCS Research 50.0 mt dw (110,230 lb dw) 12.2 mt dw (26,913 lb dw) 50.0 mt dw (110,230 lb dw) 50.0 mt dw (110,230 lb dw). Sandbar Shark Research 90.7 mt dw (199,943 lb dw) 45.8 mt dw (100,982 lb dw) 90.7 mt dw (199,943 lb dw) 90.7 mt dw (199,943 lb dw). Blue Sharks 273.0 mt dw (601,856 lb dw) < 2.3 mt dw (< 5,000 lb dw) 273.0 mt dw (601,856 lb dw) 273.0 mt dw (601,856 lb dw). Porbeagle Sharks 1.7 mt dw (3,748 lb dw) 0 mt dw (0 lb dw) 1.7 mt dw (3,748 lb dw) 1.7 mt dw (3,748 lb dw). Pelagic Sharks Other Than Porbeagle or Blue 488.0 mt dw (1,075,856 lb dw) 91.5 mt dw (201,822 lb dw) 488.0 mt dw (1,075,856 lb dw) 488.0 mt dw (1,075,856 lb dw). 1 Landings are from January 1, 2017, through October 23, 2017, and are subject to change. 2 Underharvest adjustments can only be applied to stocks or management groups that are not overfished and have no overfishing occurring. Also, the underharvest adjustments cannot exceed 50 percent of the baseline quota. 3 This adjustment accounts for underharvest in 2017. This final rule increases the overall Gulf of Mexico blacktip shark quota by 128.3 mt dw (282,850 lb dw). Since any underharvest is divided based on the sub-regional quota percentage split, the western Gulf of Mexico blacktip shark quota is increased by 115.7 mt dw, or 90.2 percent of the underharvest, while the eastern Gulf of Mexico blacktip shark quota is increased by 12.6 mt dw, or 9.8 percent of the underharvest.
    Fishing Season Notification for the 2018 Atlantic Commercial Shark Fishing Seasons

    NMFS considered the seven “opening commercial fishing season” criteria listed in § 635.27(b)(3), as discussed above and as described in the proposed rule (82 FR 39735; August 22, 2017). These include, among other things: The available annual quotas based on any over- and/or underharvests experienced during the previous seasons; the estimated season length based on available quotas and catch rates from previous years; the length of the season in the previous years and whether fishermen were able to participate in the fishery in those years; and the effects of catch rates in one part of a region precluding vessels in another part of that region from having a reasonable opportunity to harvest a portion of the different species and/or management quotas.

    Regarding the LCS retention limit, as shown in Table 2, for directed shark limited access permit holders, the Gulf of Mexico blacktip shark, aggregated LCS, and hammerhead shark management groups will start the commercial fishing season at 45 LCS other than sandbar sharks per vessel per trip, and the Atlantic aggregated LCS and hammerhead shark management groups will start the commercial fishing season at 25 LCS other than sandbar sharks per vessel per trip. These retention limits could be changed throughout the year based on consideration of the inseason trip limit adjustment criteria at 50 CFR 635.24(a)(8). In the Atlantic region specifically, as described above, NMFS will closely monitor the quota at the beginning of the year. If it appears that either the quota for the Atlantic aggregated LCS or the hammerhead shark management groups is being harvested too quickly to allow fishermen throughout the entire region an opportunity to fish (e.g., if approximately 20 percent of the quota is caught at the beginning of the year), NMFS will consider reducing the commercial retention limit, then consider raising it later in the season. Based on prior years' fishing activity, to allow more consistent fishing opportunities later in the year, NMFS anticipates considering raising the commercial retention limit to the default limit of 36 LCS other than sandbar sharks per vessel per trip around July 15, 2018.

    All of the shark management groups will remain open until December 31, 2018, or until NMFS determines that the fishing season landings for any shark management group has reached, or is projected to reach, 80 percent of the available quota; however, consistent with § 635.28(b)(5), NMFS may close the Gulf of Mexico blacktip shark management group before landings reach, or are expected to reach, 80 percent of the quota. Additionally, NMFS has previously established non-linked and linked quotas; linked quotas are explicitly designed to concurrently close multiple shark management groups that are caught together to prevent incidental catch mortality from exceeding the total allowable catch. The linked and non-linked quotas are shown in Table 2. NMFS will file for publication with the Office of the Federal Register a notice of closure for that shark species, shark management group including any linked quotas, and/or region that will be effective no fewer than 5 days from date of filing. From the effective date and time of the closure until NMFS announces, via the publication of a notice in the Federal Register, that additional quota is available and the season is reopened, the fisheries for the shark species or management group are closed, even across fishing years.

    Table 2—Quota Linkages, Season Opening Dates, and Commercial Retention Limit by Regional or Sub-Regional Shark Management Group Region or
  • sub-region
  • Management group Quota linkages Season opening dates Commercial retention limits for directed shark limited access permit holders
  • (inseason adjustments are available)
  • Eastern Gulf of Mexico Blacktip Sharks Not Linked January 1, 2018 45 LCS other than sandbar sharks per vessel per trip. Aggregated Large Coastal Sharks Linked Hammerhead Sharks Western Gulf of Mexico Blacktip Sharks Not Linked January 1, 2018 45 LCS other than sandbar sharks per vessel per trip. Aggregated Large Coastal Sharks Linked Hammerhead Sharks Gulf of Mexico Non-Blacknose Small Coastal Sharks Not Linked January 1, 2018 N/A. Atlantic Aggregated Large Coastal Sharks Linked January 1, 2018 25 LCS other than sandbar sharks per vessel per trip.
  • [If quota is landed quickly (e.g., if approximately 20 percent of quota is caught at the beginning of the year), NMFS anticipates considering an inseason reduction (e.g., to 3 or fewer LCS other than sandbar sharks per vessel per trip), and later considering an inseason increase to 36 LCS other than sandbar sharks per vessel per trip around July 15, 2018]
  • Hammerhead Sharks Non-Blacknose Small Coastal Sharks Linked (South of 34° N. lat. only) January 1, 2018 N/A. Blacknose Sharks (South of 34° N. lat. only) No regional quotas Non-Sandbar LCS Research Linked January 1, 2018 N/A. Sandbar Shark Research Blue Sharks Not Linked January 1, 2018 N/A. Porbeagle Sharks Pelagic Sharks Other Than Porbeagle or Blue
    Classification

    The NMFS Assistant Administrator has determined that the final rule is consistent with the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP and its amendments, other provisions of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and other applicable law.

    This final rule is exempt from review under Executive Order 12866.

    In compliance with section 604 of the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA), NMFS prepared a Final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (FRFA) for this final rule. The FRFA analyzes the anticipated economic impacts of the final actions and any significant economic impacts on small entities. The FRFA is below.

    Section 604(a)(1) of the RFA requires an explanation of the purpose of the rulemaking. The purpose of this final rulemaking is, consistent with the Magnuson-Stevens Act and the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP and its amendments, to establish the 2018 Atlantic commercial shark fishing quotas, retention limits, and fishing seasons. Without this rule, the Atlantic commercial shark fisheries would close on December 31, 2017, and would not reopen until another action was taken. This final rule will be implemented according to the regulations implementing the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP and its amendments. Thus, NMFS expects few, if any, economic impacts to fishermen other than those already analyzed in the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP and its amendments. While there may be some direct negative economic impacts associated with the opening dates for fishermen in certain areas, there could also be positive effects for other fishermen in the region. The opening dates were chosen to allow for an equitable distribution of the available quotas among all fishermen across regions and states, to the extent practicable.

    Section 604(a)(2) of the RFA requires NMFS to summarize significant issues raised by the public in response to the Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (IRFA), provide a summary of NMFS' assessment of such issues, and provide a statement of any changes made as a result of the comments. The IRFA was done as part of the proposed rule for the 2018 Atlantic Commercial Shark Season Specifications. NMFS did not receive any comments specific to the IRFA. However, NMFS received comments related to the overall economic impacts of the proposed rule, and those comments and NMFS' assessment of and response to them are summarized previously in the preamble (see Comment 1). As described in the responses to those comments relating to the season opening dates, consistent with § 635.27(b)(3), the opening date for all of the commercial shark fisheries will be implemented as proposed (January 1, 2018).

    Section 604(a)(3) of the RFA requires NMFS 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 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 (80 FR 81194, December 29, 2015). NMFS considers all HMS permit holders to be small entities because they had average annual receipts of less than $11 million for commercial fishing.

    As of October 2017, the final rule would apply to the approximately 222 directed commercial shark permit holders, 269 incidental commercial shark permit holders, 148 smoothhound shark permit holders, and 113 commercial shark dealers. Not all permit holders are active in the fishery in any given year. Active directed commercial shark permit holders are defined as those with valid permits that landed one shark based on HMS electronic dealer reports. Of the 491 directed and incidental commercial shark permit holders, only 36 permit holders landed sharks in the Gulf of Mexico region and only 97 landed sharks in the Atlantic region. Of the 148 smoothhound shark permit holders, only 77 permit holders landed smoothhound sharks in the Atlantic region and none landed smoothhound sharks in the Gulf of Mexico region. NMFS has determined that the final rule would not likely affect any small governmental jurisdictions.

    Section 604(a)(4) of the RFA requires NMFS to describe the projected reporting, recordkeeping, and other compliance requirements of the final rule, including an estimate of the classes of small entities which would be subject to the requirements of the report or record. None of the actions in this final rule would result in additional reporting, recordkeeping, or compliance requirements beyond those already analyzed in the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP and its amendments.

    Section 604(a)(5) of the RFA requires NMFS to describe the steps taken to minimize the economic impact on small entities, consistent with the stated objectives of applicable statutes. Additionally, the RFA (5 U.S.C. 603(c)(1)-(4)) lists four general categories of “significant” alternatives that would assist an agency in the development of significant alternatives that would accomplish the stated objectives of applicable statutes and minimize any significant economic impact of the rule on small entities. These categories of alternatives are: (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.

    In order to meet the objectives of this rule, consistent with the Magnuson-Stevens Act, NMFS cannot exempt small entities or change the reporting requirements only for small entities because all the entities affected are small entities. Thus, there are no alternatives discussed that fall under the first, second, and fourth categories described above. NMFS does not know of any performance or design standards that would satisfy the aforementioned objectives of this rulemaking while, concurrently, complying with the Magnuson-Stevens Act; therefore, there are no alternatives considered under the third category.

    This rulemaking does not establish management measures to be implemented, but rather implements previously adopted and analyzed measures as adjustments, as specified in the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP and its amendments and the Environmental Assessment (EA) for the 2011 shark quota specifications rule (75 FR 76302; December 8, 2010). Thus, in this rulemaking, NMFS adjusted the baseline quotas established and analyzed in the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP and its amendments by subtracting the underharvest or adding the overharvest, as specified and allowable in existing regulations. Under current regulations (§ 635.27(b)(2)), all shark fisheries close on December 31 of each year, or when NMFS determines that the fishing season landings for any shark management group has reached, or is projected to reach, 80 percent of the available quota, and do not open until NMFS takes action, such as this rulemaking to re-open the fisheries. Thus, not implementing these management measures would negatively affect shark fishermen and related small entities, such as dealers, and also would not provide management flexibility in furtherance of equitable fishing opportunities, to the extent practicable, for commercial shark fishermen in all regions and areas.

    Based on the 2016 ex-vessel price, fully harvesting the unadjusted 2018 Atlantic shark commercial baseline quotas could result in total fleet revenues of $7,779,285 (see Table 3). For the Gulf of Mexico blacktip shark management group, NMFS will increase the baseline sub-regional quotas due to the underharvests in 2017. The increase for the western Gulf of Mexico blacktip shark management group would result in a $218,647 gain in total revenues for fishermen in that sub-region, while the increase for the eastern Gulf of Mexico blacktip shark management group would result in a $32,902 gain in total revenues for fishermen in that sub-region. For the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic smoothhound shark management groups, NMFS will increase the baseline quotas due to the underharvest in 2017. This would cause a potential gain in revenue of $581,718 for the fleet in the Gulf of Mexico region and a potential gain in revenue of $1,084,557 for the fleet in the Atlantic region.

    All of these changes in gross revenues are similar to the changes in gross revenues analyzed in the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP and its amendments. The FRFAs for those amendments concluded that the economic impacts on these small entities are expected to be minimal. In the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP and its amendments and the EA for the 2011 shark quota specifications rule, NMFS stated it would be conducting annual rulemakings and considering the potential economic impacts of adjusting the quotas for under- and overharvests at that time.

    Table 3—Average Ex-Vessel Prices per lb dw for Each Shark Management Group, 2016 Region Species Average
  • ex-vessel
  • meat price
  • Average
  • ex-vessel
  • fin price
  • Western Gulf of Mexico Blacktip Shark $0.56 $11.00 Aggregated LCS 0.52 11.06 Hammerhead Shark 0.83 11.08 Eastern Gulf of Mexico Blacktip Shark 0.89 10.67 Aggregated LCS 0.56 11.23 Hammerhead Shark 0.25 15.95 Gulf of Mexico Non-Blacknose SCS 0.38 8.68 Smoothhound Shark 1.50 1.91 Atlantic Aggregated LCS 0.79 5.54 Hammerhead Shark 0.38 5.73 Non-Blacknose SCS 0.71 2.92 Blacknose Shark 0.98 2.92 Smoothhound Shark 0.75 1.91 No Region Shark Research Fishery (Aggregated LCS) 0.70 9.47 Shark Research Fishery (Sandbar only) 0.68 9.47 Blue shark 0.75 3.58 Porbeagle shark * 1.54 3.58 Other Pelagic sharks 1.54 3.58 * Used other pelagic shark ex-vessel prices for porbeagle sharks ex-vessel prices since there currently are no landings of porbeagle sharks.

    For this final rule, NMFS reviewed the “opening commercial fishing season” criteria at § 635.27(b)(3)(i) through (vii) to determine when opening each fishery will provide equitable opportunities for fishermen while also considering the ecological needs of the different species. Over- and/or underharvests of 2017 and previous fishing season quotas were examined for the different species/complexes to determine the effects of the 2018 final quotas on fishermen across regional fishing areas. The potential season lengths and previous catch rates were examined to ensure that equitable fishing opportunities would be provided to fishermen. Lastly, NMFS examined the seasonal variation of the different species/complexes and the effects on fishing opportunities. In addition to these criteria, NMFS also considered updated landings data and public comments on the proposed rule before arriving at the final opening dates for the 2018 Atlantic shark management groups. For the 2018 fishing season, NMFS is opening the shark management groups on January 1, 2018. The direct and indirect economic impacts will be neutral on a short- and long-term basis for the Gulf of Mexico blacktip shark, Gulf of Mexico aggregated LCS, Gulf of Mexico hammerhead shark, Gulf of Mexico non-blacknose shark SCS, Atlantic non-blacknose shark SCS, Atlantic blacknose shark, sandbar shark, blue shark, porbeagle shark, and pelagic shark (other than porbeagle or blue sharks) management groups, because NMFS did not change the opening dates of these fisheries from the status quo of January 1.

    Opening the aggregated LCS and hammerhead shark management groups in the Atlantic region on January 1 will result in short-term, direct, moderate, beneficial economic impacts, as fishermen and dealers in the southern portion of the Atlantic region will be able to fish for and sell aggregated LCS and hammerhead sharks starting in January. These fishermen will be able to fish earlier in the 2018 fishing season compared to the 2010, 2011, 2012, 2014, and 2015 fishing seasons, which did not start until June or July. The opening date and retention limits finalized in this rule for the Atlantic region are the same as those for the current season and similar to those for the 2016 and 2017 seasons. For both 2016 and 2017, the fishery remained open all year with some modifications to the retention limit throughout the year.

    Based on public comment on past season rules, some Atlantic fishermen in the southern and northern parts of the region prefer a January 1 opening for the fishery as long as the majority of the quota is available later in the year. With the implementation of the HMS electronic reporting system in 2013, NMFS now monitors the quota on a more real-time basis compared to the paper reporting system that was in place before 2013. This ability, along with the inseason retention limit adjustment criteria in § 635.24(a)(8), allows NMFS the flexibility to further provide equitable fishing opportunities for fishermen across all regions, to the extent practicable. Depending on how quickly the quota is being harvested, as was done in 2016 and 2017, NMFS will consider reducing the commercial retention limit, then consider raising it later in the season to ensure that fishermen farther north have sufficient quota for a fishery later in the 2018 fishing season. The direct impacts to shark fishermen in the Atlantic region of reducing the trip limit depend on the needed reduction in the trip limit and the timing of such a reduction. Therefore, such a reduction in the trip limit for directed shark limited access permit holders is only anticipated to have minor adverse direct economic impacts to fishermen in the short-term; long-term impacts are not anticipated as these reductions would not be permanent.

    In the northern portion of the Atlantic region, a January 1 opening for the aggregated LCS and hammerhead shark management groups, with inseason trip limit adjustments to ensure quota is available later in the season, will have direct, minor, beneficial economic impacts in the short-term for fishermen as they will potentially have access to the aggregated LCS and hammerhead shark quotas earlier than in past seasons. Fishermen in this area have stated that, depending on the weather, some aggregated LCS species might be available to retain in January. Thus, fishermen will be able to target or retain aggregated LCS while targeting non-blacknose SCS. There will be indirect, minor, beneficial economic impacts in the short- and long-term for shark dealers and other entities that deal with shark products in this region as they will also have access to aggregated LCS products earlier than in past seasons. Thus, opening the aggregated LCS and hammerhead shark management groups in January and using inseason trip limit adjustments to ensure the fishery is open later in the year in 2018 will cause beneficial cumulative economic impacts, because it allows for a more equitable distribution of the quotas among constituents in this region, consistent with the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP and its amendments.

    Section 212 of the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996 states that, for each rule or group of related rules for which an agency is required to prepare a FRFA, the agency shall publish one or more guides to assist small entities in complying with the rule, and shall designate such publications as “small entity compliance guides.” The agency shall explain the actions a small entity is required to take to comply with a rule or group of rules. As part of this rulemaking process, NMFS has prepared a listserv summarizing fishery information and regulations for Atlantic shark fisheries for 2018. This listserv also serves as the small entity compliance guide. Copies of the compliance guide are available from NMFS (see ADDRESSES).

    Authority:

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

    Dated: November 15, 2017. Samuel D. Rauch, III, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine Fisheries Service.
    [FR Doc. 2017-25203 Filed 11-21-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-22-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 635 [Docket No. 150121066-5717-02] RIN 0648-XF805 Atlantic Highly Migratory Species; Atlantic Bluefin Tuna Fisheries AGENCY:

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

    ACTION:

    Temporary rule; inseason bluefin tuna quota transfer (Harpoon category to General category).

    SUMMARY:

    NMFS is transferring 25.6 metric tons (mt) of Atlantic bluefin tuna (BFT) quota from the Harpoon category to the General category for the remainder of the 2017 fishing year, to account for overharvests of the September and October through November subquotas, and utilize the unused portion of the adjusted Harpoon category quota. This action results in an adjusted General category subquota of 12.7 mt for the December subquota period. It is intended to preserve the opportunity for General category fishermen to participate in the December General category fishery, which reopens on December 1, 2017, and is based on consideration of the regulatory determination criteria regarding inseason adjustments and applies to Atlantic tunas General category (commercial) permitted vessels and Highly Migratory Species (HMS) Charter/Headboat category permitted vessels when fishing commercially for BFT.

    DATES:

    The quota transfer is effective December 1, 2017, through December 31, 2017.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Sarah McLaughlin or Brad McHale, 978-281-9260.

    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) and as implemented by the United States among the various domestic fishing categories, per the allocations established in the 2006 Consolidated 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). 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.

    The base quota for the General category is 466.7 mt, as established in the 2015 BFT quota final rule (80 FR 52198, August 28, 2015). See § 635.27(a). Each of the General category time periods (January, June through August, September, October through November, and December) is allocated a “subquota” or portion of the annual General category quota. Although it is called the “January” subquota, the regulations allow the General category fishery under this quota to continue until the subquota is reached or March 31, whichever comes first. The subquotas for each time period are as follows: 24.7 mt for January; 233.3 mt for June through August; 123.7 mt for September; 60.7 mt for October through November; and 24.3 mt for December. Any unused General category quota rolls forward within the fishing year, which coincides with the calendar year, from one time period to the next, and is available for use in subsequent time periods.

    On December 19, 2016, NMFS published an inseason action transferring 16.3 mt of quota from the December 2017 subquota to the January 2017 subquota period, resulting in a subquota of 41 mt for the January 2017 period and a subquota of 8 mt for the December 2017 period (81 FR 91873). For 2017, NMFS also transferred 40 mt from the Reserve to the General category effective March 2, resulting in an adjusted General category quota of 506.7 mt (82 FR 12747, March 7, 2017). In advance of the October 1 General category reopening, NMFS published an inseason action transferring 156.4 mt from the Reserve category to the General category to account for overharvests of the January, June through August, and September subquotas, resulting in an adjusted 2017 General category quota of 663.1 mt (82 FR 46000, October 3, 2017). NMFS closed the General category fishery when the October through November subquota (60.7 mt) was met, effective October 5, 2017 (82 FR 46934, October 10, 2017). The Harpoon category fishery automatically closed for the year on November 15, 2017. Once re-opened on December 1, the 2017 General category fishery would be open until December 31, 2017, or until the General category quota is reached, whichever comes first.

    Quota Transfer

    Under § 635.27(a)(9), NMFS has the authority to transfer quota among fishing categories or subcategories, after considering regulatory determination criteria at § 635.27(a)(8). NMFS has considered all of the relevant determination criteria and their applicability to the General category fishery. These considerations include, but are not limited to, the following:

    NMFS considered the catches of the General category quota to date (including during the summer/fall and winter fisheries in the last several years), and the likelihood of closure of that segment of the fishery if no adjustment is made (§ 635.27(a)(8)(ii) and (ix)). Preliminary landings data as of October 31, 2017, indicate that the General category has landed 676 mt this year, which exceeds the adjusted General category quota of 663.1 mt, and the Harpoon category has landed 43 mt of the adjusted Harpoon category quota of 68.6 mt. Without a quota transfer at this time, there would be no quota available to General category participants in December because the entire adjusted General category quota of 663.1 mt has been reached and exceeded. Approximately 75 percent (816.3 mt) of the total of the BFT subquotas for all commercial categories (888.7 mt, as published in the 2015 BFT quota final rule) has been harvested as of October 31, 2017, however, and NMFS anticipates that some amount of that 888.7 mt of commercial quota may remain unused by the end of the year even with the transfer. Absent a transfer at this time, this segment of the fishery would have to remain closed if no adjustment is made, even though NMFS anticipates that commercial-sized BFT will be readily available to vessels fishing under the General category quota when the General category fishery is scheduled to reopen on December 1, 2017. Transferring 25.6 mt of BFT quota from the Harpoon category to the General category, effective December 1, 2017, would allow the General category to resume fishing and would result in an adjusted quota of 688.7 mt for the 2017 General category fishing season, and, specifically, 12.7 mt available for the December subquota period.

    Regarding the projected ability of the vessels fishing under the particular category quota (here, the General category) to harvest the additional amount of BFT quota transferred before the end of the fishing year (§ 635.27(a)(8)(iii)), NMFS considered General category landings over the last several years and landings to date this year. Landings are highly variable and depend on access to commercial-sized BFT and fishing conditions, among other factors. A portion of the transferred quota covers overharvests in the category as prosecuted to date (i.e., for late-reported September landings and landings in excess of the October through November subquota), and thus has already been harvested. For the remainder of the transferred quota, which make the December subquota whole to the extent that transferrable quota is available and to utilize unused Harpoon category quota, there is a high probability that the transferred quota will be harvested during the December time period.

    NMFS also considered the estimated amounts by which quotas for other gear categories of the fishery might be exceeded (§ 635.27(a)(8)(iv)) and the ability to account for all 2017 landings and dead discards. In the last several years, total U.S. BFT landings have been below the total available U.S. quota such that the United States has carried forward the maximum amount of underharvest allowed by ICCAT from one year to the next. NMFS will need to account for 2017 landings and dead discards within the adjusted U.S. quota, consistent with ICCAT recommendations, and NMFS anticipates having sufficient quota to do that.

    Regarding the usefulness of information obtained from catches in the particular category for biological sampling and monitoring of the status of the stock (§ 635.27(a)(8)(i)), biological samples collected from BFT landed by General category fishermen and provided by BFT dealers continue to provide NMFS with valuable data for ongoing scientific studies of BFT age and growth, migration, and reproductive status. Additional opportunity to land BFT over the longest time-period allowable would support the collection of a broad range of data for these studies and for stock monitoring purposes.

    This transfer would be consistent with the current U.S. quota, which was established and analyzed in the 2015 BFT quota final rule, and with objectives of the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP and amendments. (§ 635.27(a)(8)(v) and (vi)). Another principal consideration is the objective of providing opportunities to harvest the full annual U.S. BFT quota without exceeding it based on the goals of the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP and Amendment 7, including to achieve optimum yield on a continuing basis and to optimize the ability of all permit categories to harvest their full BFT quota allocations (related to § 635.27(a)(8)(x)).

    Based on the considerations above, NMFS is transferring all of the remaining 25.6 mt of Harpoon category quota to the General category with the objective of accounting for underharvests of the September and October through November subquotas, providing the previously announced 8 mt of BFT quota for the December subquota period, and also utilizing the remainder of the unused Harpoon category quota. Therefore, NMFS adjusts the General category quota to 688.7 mt for the 2017 General category fishing season (i.e., through December 31, 2017, or until the General category quota is reached, whichever comes first), and adjusts the Harpoon category quota to 43 mt. This results in 12.7 mt being available to the General category for the December subquota period. If necessary, NMFS will close the General category fishery for December when the available subquota for that time period is reached.

    Monitoring and Reporting

    NMFS will continue to monitor the BFT fishery closely. Dealers are required to submit landing reports within 24 hours of a dealer receiving BFT. Late reporting by dealers compromises NMFS' ability to timely implement actions such as quota and retention limit adjustment, as well as closures, and may result in enforcement actions. Additionally, and separate from the dealer reporting requirement, General and HMS Charter/Headboat category vessel owners are required to report the catch of all BFT retained or discarded dead within 24 hours of the landing(s) or end of each trip, by accessing hmspermits.noaa.gov or by using the HMS Catch Reporting App. Depending on the level of fishing effort and catch rates of BFT, NMFS may determine that additional action (e.g., quota adjustment or closure) is necessary to ensure available subquotas are not exceeded or to enhance scientific data collection from, and fishing opportunities in, all geographic areas. If needed, subsequent adjustments will be published in the Federal Register. In addition, fishermen may call the Atlantic Tunas Information Line at (978) 281-9260, or access hmspermits.noaa.gov, for updates on quota monitoring and inseason adjustments.

    NMFS reminds General category participants that when the fishery reopens December 1, 2017, the BFT General category daily retention limit will be one large medium or giant BFT (measuring 73” or greater) per vessel per day/trip.

    Classification

    The Assistant Administrator for NMFS (AA) finds that it is impracticable and contrary to the public interest to provide prior notice of, and an opportunity for public comment on, this action for the following reasons:

    The regulations implementing the 2006 Consolidated HMS FMP and amendments provide for inseason retention limit adjustments to respond to the unpredictable nature of BFT availability on the fishing grounds, the migratory nature of this species, and the regional variations in the BFT fishery. Affording prior notice and opportunity for public comment to implement the quota transfer for the remainder of 2017 is impracticable and contrary to the public interest as such a delay would result in continued closure of the General category fishery (because the available quota has been met) and the need to re-open the fishery later in the December time period, rather than the fishery automatically re-opening on December 1. The delay would preclude the fishery from harvesting BFT that are available on the fishing grounds and that might otherwise become unavailable during a delay. Therefore, the AA finds good cause under 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(B) to waive prior notice and the opportunity for public comment. For these reasons, there also is good cause under 5 U.S.C. 553(d) to waive the 30-day delay in effectiveness.

    This action is being taken under § 635.27(a)(9) (Inseason adjustments) and is exempt from review under Executive Order 12866.

    Authority:

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

    Dated: November 16, 2017. Emily H. Menashes, Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service.
    [FR Doc. 2017-25202 Filed 11-21-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-22-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 648 [Docket No. 170104016-7999-03] RIN 0648-XF138 Magnuson-Stevens Act Provisions; Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Northeast Multispecies Fishery; Disapproval of Northeast Fishery Sector IX Operational Plan AGENCY:

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

    ACTION:

    Interim final rule.

    SUMMARY:

    This rule withdraws approval of the 2017 and 2018 Northeast Fishery Sector IX operations plan. The Regional Administrator determined that the sector and its participants are not complying with the requirements of the approved operations plan, and that the continuation of the operations plan will undermine achievement of conservation and management objectives of the Northeast Multispecies Fishery Management Plan. This rule is intended to ensure that sector operations are consistent with approved plans for accurately monitoring and reporting sector catch to ensure that overages of a sector's allocation do not occur.

    DATES:

    Approval of the Northeast Fishery Sector IX Operations Plan for Fishing Years 2017 and 2018 (May 1, 2017, through April 30, 2019) is withdrawn, effective November 20, 2017. Written comments must be received on or before December 20, 2017.

    ADDRESSES:

    You may submit comments on this document, identified by NOAA-NMFS-2017-0016, 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-2017-0016, click the “Comment Now!” icon, complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments.

    Mail: Submit written comments to John K. Bullard, Regional Administrator, National Marine Fisheries Service, 55 Great Republic Drive, Gloucester, MA 01930. Mark the outside of the envelope, “Comments on the Interim Final Rule to Withdraw Approval of NEFS 9.”

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

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Liz Sullivan, Fishery Policy Analyst, (978) 282-8493.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Background

    To help achieve the fishing mortality and conservation objectives of the Fishery Management Plan (FMP), each sector is allocated annual catch entitlements (ACE) and must ensure that these ACEs are not exceeded. The Regional Administrator must approve sector operations plans in order for sectors to operate and be allocated ACE for specific groundfish stocks. A sector's operations plan includes a detailed plan for monitoring and reporting catch and the specific management rules sector participants will abide by in order to avoid exceeding the sector's allocation, as well as a plan for how the sector will operate if an ACE is exceeded. The operations plan also includes internal sector enforcement measures for operation plan breaches and remedies, such as a penalty schedule for non-compliance with the operations plan or other actions that would jeopardize the sector's continued approval. Penalties under the plan range from a written warning or fine to expulsion from the sector.

    The Regional Administrator may withdraw approval of a sector, after consultation with the New England Fishery Management Council, at any time as authorized in 50 CFR 648.87(c)(3). Withdrawal may occur if sector participants are not complying with the requirements of the approved operations plan or if the continuation of the operations plan will undermine achievement of fishing mortality objectives of the Northeast Multispecies FMP.

    On March 30, 2017, Carlos Rafael pleaded guilty to all counts in United States v. Carlos Rafael (No. 16-CR10124-WGY). Mr. Rafael is the owner of Carlos Seafood (a Federally permitted dealer) and a fleet of Federally permitted groundfish vessels that are enrolled in NEFS 9. Mr. Rafael admitted to falsely reporting catch information (species and weight) for 13 of his vessels on dealer catch reports and vessel trip reports from 2012 through 2015. These 13 vessels operated under the sector operations plan for NEFS 9 during the period of known misreporting, and are currently enrolled in the sector for fishing year 2017. Sentencing for these violations occurred on September 25, 2017. Mr. Rafael was sentenced to serve 46 months in prison and 3 years of supervised release, and during supervised release, he is banned from working in the fishing industry. The Court also ordered Mr. Rafael to pay a fine of $200,000 and restitution to the U.S. Treasury of $108,929. On October 11, 2017, the U.S. District Court Judge in the criminal case ordered the forfeiture of Mr. Rafael's interests in 4 of the 13 vessels involved in the criminal case, as well as the permits issued to those vessels.

    On April 28, 2017, we published an interim final rule approving 19 sectors and their operations plans, including NEFS 9, for fishing years 2017 and 2018 (82 FR 19618). At the time, although Mr. Rafael had pleaded guilty, the criminal case was not complete and sentencing for the violations had not occurred. We provisionally approved the NEFS 9 operations plan for fishing years 2017 and 2018, and allocated ACE to the sector for 2017, pending Mr. Rafael's sentencing to allow for our consideration of any additional information regarding NEFS 9 operations. In the interim final rule, we noted that we intended to take additional action, which may include consideration of the continued approval of the sector or additional management and monitoring requirements.

    NEFS 9 Composition

    For fishing year 2017, there are 60 groundfish permits enrolled in NEFS 9, and Mr. Rafael is a major participant in the sector. All of Mr. Rafael's groundfish permits are enrolled in NEFS 9, and he does not have any other vessels enrolled in another sector. According to the current operations plan, 22 of the permits enrolled in NEFS 9 were expected to actively fish for groundfish. Of the remaining 38 permits in the sector, 18 are in Confirmation of Permit History (i.e. the permits are not on a vessel, but quota from these permits is available for use by sector vessels or to lease out to other sectors). The other permits in the sector are either active participants in other fisheries, or are completely inactive; all of these could begin to fish for groundfish, if granted permission by the sector, without a change to the operations plan.

    Since fishing year 2011, NEFS 9 employed Mr. Rafael's daughter, Stephanie Rafael-DeMello as the Sector Manager. Prior to May 30, 2017, Mr. Rafael was the President of NEFS 9 and held a position on the Board of Directors. On May 30, 2017, the sector notified us that it had removed Mr. Rafael from the position of President, as well as from the Board of Directors. A new Board of Directors was identified, including the Board's elected officials, with only one individual in common with the Board from previous years.

    NEFS 9 Operations Plan Breaches

    Beyond the requirements described above to monitor and report catch, the NEFS 9 operations plan specifies that upon the Sector Manager becoming aware of an “apparent breach” in a member's compliance, the Manager will investigate. The Manager is also authorized to refer the matter to the sector's Enforcement Committee and take other actions as necessary, including potentially issuing a “Stop Fishing Order.” The Manager is required to submit a weekly Trip Issue Report to inform us of any enforcement, or reporting compliance issues in the sector.

    Since Mr. Rafael's guilty plea in March 2017, we received a letter on May 30, 2017, from the newly elected president of NEFS 9 concerning matters related to Mr. Rafael's criminal acts. The letter outlined changes to the sector's Board of Directors, as described above, which is also included in the NEFS 9 operations plan. In the letter, the president stated that the Board notified all sector members that NEFS 9 vessels are prohibited from using Carlos Seafood, Inc. as the primary buyer and reporting dealer for any landings. The letter also indicated that the newly constituted Enforcement Committee intended to meet to further discuss Mr. Rafael's criminal violations.

    On October 5, 2017, representatives of the sector requested a meeting with us to discuss the sector, and we met with the NEFS 9 Board of Directors, the Sector Manager, and representatives from the Northeast Seafood Coalition and the Northeast Sector Service Network (NESSN) on October 26, 2017. From that discussion, we learned that the Board of Directors, including those on the sector's newly formed Enforcement Committee, had met monthly since forming in May 2017. However, the Board of Directors indicated that no additional changes have been made to the operations of the sector beyond what was described in the May 30, 2017, letter. Similarly, the sector's annual Year-End Report for Fishing Year 2016, submitted on October 27, 2017, made reference to the steps laid out in the May 30 letter, but gave no indication that further steps had been taken. We have not received any other information from the sector.

    While the steps taken that are identified in the May 30 letter are potentially positive measures, they are insufficient. The sector has not provided sufficient background information about the new Board members that would help us assess their independence or ability to govern the sector differently to ensure compliance. NEFS 9 has not provided us with any information, via the Trip Issue Report or other means, regarding any investigation by the sector to determine if any of its members or vessel operators breached the operations plan agreement. Nor has there been any indication that the Board, Enforcement Committee, or Manager have taken any sector operations plan measures to address any breach such as imposing or putting in place any liquidated damages, fine, stop fishing order, expulsion, or a requirement to post a security bond, which are potential actions included in NEFS 9's operations plan. There has been no indication of whether any measures have been put in place to ensure compliance by any vessel operators who may have assisted in the misreporting. Additionally, the sector has not provided to us any accounting of any of the potential ACE overages or misallocations. Although the new Board does provide a more independent group to which the Manager is required to report potential violations, it is not clear if the sector personnel changes fully address the Manager's responsibility for the sector's reporting requirements, ACE monitoring, and monitoring sector members' compliance with the operations plan. Last, there have been no substantial changes in the NEFS 9 operations plan for fishing years 2017 and 2018 to prevent further misreporting by any of its members or vessel operators; however, we recognize that the Board prohibited NEFS 9 vessels from using Carlos Seafood as the primary buyer and reporting dealer for any landings.

    NEFS 9 ACE Overages

    If a sector exceeds its ACE in any fishing year, the regulations require that the overage be deducted from the sector's ACE in the following fishing year. Based on publically available information from the criminal case, NEFS 9 likely exceeded its ACE for multiple groundfish stocks in multiple years potentially beginning in the 2012 fishing year. Because Mr. Rafael operated as both the dealer and vessel owner with no independent oversight, he was able to coordinate the misreporting, allowing these potential overages to go undetected until now. The repeated ACE overages we are now aware of indicate that the initial allocations made to the sector at the start of the 2017 fishing year and likely other fishing years were artificially high. As a result, the sector's catch to date may already exceed what would have been an accurate allocation for this fishing year.

    Based on initial analysis of the misreported catch for American plaice and witch flounder, the magnitude of some of the ACE overages could be extensive. The misreported catch information for cod and yellowtail flounder is at a species level, and additional analysis is required to apportion this catch by stock area. We intend to complete this analysis as soon as possible to determine the full extent of any overages for cod and yellowtail flounder stocks. Any accountability measures, such as assessing and deducting ACE overages incurred by the sector, would be determined in a future action. Other than the public information we have access to from Mr. Rafael's plea agreement, NEFS 9 has not provided any information about the nature and scope of misreporting that would help us to accurately administer its ACEs.

    Disapproval of NEFS 9 Sector Operations Plan

    The Council discussed Mr. Rafael's violations and the conditional approval of NEFS 9 at both its June and September 2017 meetings and was encouraged to comment on this issue. On September 29, 2017, we received a letter from the Council requesting that we immediately implement the sector regulations and the NEFS 9 operations plan.

    Based on our review, NEFS 9 has failed to uphold sector operations plan requirements to a degree and extent that undermines foundational principles necessary for successful sector operations. Further, the sector's corrective measures to date are insufficient. We need more information and further measures are necessary to ensure that the sector operates in a manner that does not undermine the sector program.

    Accurate reporting, internal accountability, and organizational integrity are core principles of the sector system. The systematic sector and vessel misreporting over a long period of time was facilitated by an internal structure and control by a single, dominant participant combined with a lack of oversight. The weakness and vulnerability of this sector's structure was underscored by NEFS 9's lack of an adequate response once the scope and nature of these violations were revealed. To date, there appears to be persistent non-compliance with fundamental operations plan requirements along with a significantly compromised structure and lack of NEFS 9 oversight. NEFS 9's failures to manage its operations effectively appear to have led to repeated ACE overages, some of which may be extensive. These overages may be continuing this fishing year, which threatens to continue undermining the sector system and its fishing mortality and conservation controls.

    Without further information or revisions to its operations plan, we are not confident that the operations plan contains measures that would provide us with current accurate information or ensure compliance with the operations plan to prevent and address future misreporting or ACE overages. The sector has not provided us with information of any action it has taken to investigate its members' compliance with the sector operations plan or any measures to address breaches of its plan. The sector has not provided any information to help us corroborate the nature and scope of the false information provided to us and its effect on the sector's ACEs. The sector has not provided us with any information about the nature and scope of vessel operator cooperation with the non-compliance, or how the sector can be assured the operators are acting in compliance with the operations plan now. The sector has made no new proposals about any new compliance measures or provided any information about actions taken by their new Enforcement Committee.

    NEFS 9 has failed its primary responsibility of accurately reporting and tracking its catch and has taken only minimal, insufficient steps to ensure accurate reporting and compliance with its operations plan. This includes addressing the fraudulent catch within the sector over multiple years and for multiple stocks to ensure the sector has proper ACE allocations, which may require deducting ACE overages the sector has incurred. As a result, continuation of the sector operations plan will undermine achievement of fishing mortality and management objectives of the Northeast Multispecies FMP. Therefore, we are withdrawing approval of the NEFS 9 sector operations plan until a complete and successful accounting of what happened is provided and steps are taken to ensure the sector will operate within its operations plan. We intend to work with NEFS 9 to address their operations plan issues, which we expect will take considerable time and will require additional correspondence and meetings after publication of this rule.

    Timing of Withdrawing Approval and Approval

    Effective November 20, 2017, approval of the NEFS 9 operation plan is withdrawn. The sector ACE remains allocated to NEFS 9, and this action does not reallocate the ACE to other sectors or to the common pool. Without an approved operations plan, NEFS 9 is prohibited from transferring ACE to or from other sectors. Vessels that were enrolled in NEFS 9 during this fishing year are prohibited from: (1) Fishing on a sector trip and harvesting sector ACE; (2) fishing on a common pool trip; or (3) joining another sector. If a vessel enrolled in NEFS 9 has declared a sector trip, and is at sea on November 20, 2017, it must return to port immediately; the vessel is permitted to offload its catch for sale. Also, we will work with individual vessels that had previously set gillnet gear, to haul the gear as soon as practicable. Vessels that are able to fish under other permits, without declaring a sector trip or using a multispecies day-at-sea, can continue to do so.

    If NEFS 9 submits a new operations plan, we would attempt to conduct a review and complete a rulemaking as expeditiously as practicable. Before we could approve a new operations plan for NEFS 9, the sector must provide us with critical information about steps taken to comply with operations plan requirements and ensure steps are taken to address the organizational and operational issues that facilitated the false reporting. Vessels currently enrolled in NEFS 9 may opt to participate in the common pool or enroll in a different sector for the 2018 fishing year, as sector rosters are set annually.

    Comments and Responses

    We are accepting comments on this interim final rule. In response to the previous interim final rule approving 19 sectors (April 28, 2017; 82 FR 19618), we received eight comments relating to the provisional approval of NEFS 9 for the 2017 and 2018 fishing years. The comments came from Associated Fisheries of Maine (AFM), NEFS 9, NESSN, Portland Fish Exchange (PFEX), Sustainable Harvest Sector (SHS), two industry members, and one anonymous commenter.

    Provisional Approval of NEFS 9 Operations Plan

    Comment 1: NESSN commented that NMFS approval of NEFS 9 was appropriate at that time given the ongoing legal proceedings against a sector member and not the sector itself.

    Other comments from AFM, PFEX, SHS, two industry members, and one anonymous commenter disagreed, stating that NEFS 9's operations plan should not have been approved for Fishing Years 2017 and 2018 given the admitted crimes of NEFS 9 sector member, Mr. Rafael. Several of these commenters elaborated on measures included in the sector operations plan that the sector may not have complied with or enforced after it learned of Mr. Rafael's actions, and that the sector should be held accountable to the actions outlined in their plan. Some also stated that NMFS' actions were inadequate in this case and that 100 percent monitoring for NEFS 9 may be appropriate.

    Response: We agree that, at the time, provisional approval of the NEFS 9 operations plan was appropriate given that sentencing for the criminal violations was not complete and may have provided additional information. In the interim final rule, we noted that once sentencing is complete, we would consider all of the available information to determine whether any management action is necessary, including additional management measures or withdrawal of NEFS 9 approval.

    Based on all of the available information, and now that sentencing is complete, we have determined that NEFS 9 failed and continues to fail to uphold the requirements of its operations plan. This non-compliance likely contributed to extensive overages of the sector's allocation for multiple groundfish stocks in multiple fishing years. The degree and extent of NEFS 9's failure to uphold its operations plan requirements undermines the foundational principles necessary for successful sector operations. As a result, we determined that NEFS 9 cannot continue to operate until and unless we receive sufficient information concerning the scope and nature of the operations plan breaches, actions taken by the sector in response to the breaches in accordance with operations plan requirements, and actions that will ensure the sector currently is operating in compliance with its operations plan and within its ACEs. This includes addressing the fraudulent catch within the sector over multiple years and for multiple stocks to ensure the sector has proper ACE allocations, which may require deducting ACE overages the sector has incurred. We intend to work with NEFS 9 to address its operations plan issues and will determine the measures necessary for ensuring that the sector's operations are appropriate and sufficient for accurately monitoring and reporting sector catch.

    Accurate reporting, accountability, and organizational integrity are core principles of the sector system. In this case, NEFS 9 failed its primary responsibilities. Systematic misreporting over multiple fishing years, a failure to abide by, and enforce, sector operations plan requirements, and the internal structure of NEFS 9 were all contributing factors to the persistent non-compliance of NEFS 9 operations plan requirements and likely to extensive ACE overages. Because NEFS 9 has not sufficiently addressed all of these contributing factors, its continued approval under the current operations plan is likely not adequate to prevent and address continued, or future, misreporting, or non-compliance by any of its members, and would undermine the conservation and management objectives of the Northeast Multispecies FMP.

    Forfeiture of Permits Held by Carlos Rafael

    Comment 2: AFM, PFEX, and two members of the industry stated that Mr. Rafael should no longer be allowed to participate in the groundfish fishery and that all his permits should be relinquished.

    Response: As discussed earlier in this rule, Mr. Rafael was sentenced to 46 months of prison, 3 years of supervised release, assessed a $200,000 fine, and required to pay $108,929 restitution. On October 11, 2017, the U.S. District Court also ordered the forfeiture of Mr. Rafael's interest in four of 13 vessels involved in the criminal case. There may be management implications from this forfeiture that may need to be included in the NEFS 9 operations plan. We intend to discuss potential implications, if any, with NEFS 9.

    This is not an enforcement action, and does not impose civil penalties, permit sanctions, or forfeitures. Any civil penalties or permit sanctions may be imposed only after adequate notice and an opportunity for a hearing before an administrative law judge in accordance with NOAA's civil procedure regulations. This rule withdrawing approval of the NEFS 9 operations plan is administrative in nature, and addresses the sector requirements of the FMP and the sector's operations plan. If NEFS 9 continues to operate under its current operations plan with only the minimal changes it has proposed, it will undermine conservation and management objectives of the FMP.

    This disapproval of the current NEFS 9 operations plan in this action relates only to the sector operations plan and the sector's ability to operate without undermining the sector system. Without an approved operations plan, all of the vessels currently enrolled in NEFS 9 will be unable to operate in the groundfish fishery for the remainder of the 2017 fishing year. Unless there is an additional enforcement action that affects the vessels' permits, the sector vessels may continue to operate in accordance with their non-groundfish permits. For the 2018 fishing year, these vessels could opt to fish in the common pool, or enroll in a sector with an approved operations plan. If NEFS 9 submits, and we approve, a new operations plan that addresses the serious management concerns discussed throughout this rule and that ensures the sector could operate without undermining the objectives of the Northeast Multispecies FMP, the vessels could re-enroll in NEFS 9.

    Changes to NEFS 9 Operations

    Comment 3: NEFS 9 submitted a letter outlining the changes it made in response to the pending criminal case. NEFS 9 removed Mr. Rafael from its Board of Directors and elected a new Board, created a new Enforcement Committee, and decided not to allow sector members to sell catch to Carlos Seafood, Inc. as a primary buyer.

    Response: We acknowledge these actions; however, they are insufficient by themselves. There are numerous issues that must be addressed as noted in this rule that we have begun to address with the sector. We expect to continue to discuss these issues with NEFS 9 during the approval process for any new operations plan.

    Classification

    The NMFS Assistant Administrator (AA) has determined that this interim final rule is consistent with the Northeast Multispecies FMP, other provisions of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and other applicable law.

    This interim final rule is exempt from review under Executive Order 12866 because this action contains no implementing regulations.

    The interim final rule approving 19 sectors, including NEFS 9, provided an opportunity for the public to comment on the provisional approval of the NEFS 9 operations plan. The interim final rule specified that we would consider further action, including consideration of further management or monitoring requirements and continued approval of the sector. Pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(B), the AA finds that prior notice and the opportunity for public comment would be contrary to the public interest. The purpose of this action is to withdraw approval for a previously approved and currently operating sector. We have determined that NEFS 9 and its members are not complying with the requirements of the operations plan, and that the operations plan is not sufficient to address the serious management issues described earlier in this preamble. The time it would take for prior notice and opportunity for public comment would allow the sector to continue to operate under a failed operations plan that is not consistent with the management and conservation objectives of the FMP. We need further information to determine the full nature and extent of any ACE overages and how they will affect NEFS 9 operations. The likely ACE overages that occurred, possibly beginning in the 2012 fishing year, suggest that the initial allocations made to NEFS 9 at the start of this fishery year may be artificially high. As a result, the sector's catch to date may already exceed what would have been an accurate allocation for this fishing year. Allowing the sector to proceed without an accurate accounting of known misreporting will undermine effective management of the sector program and could further undermine fishing mortality objectives of the FMP. Further, providing the participants in the sector with advanced notice of the disapproval by delaying the effective date would create an incentive for sector members to harvest or lease out as much of the sector's quota as possible, while operating under an operations plan that we have determined undermines the objectives of the Northeast Multispecies FMP.

    Additionally, the AA finds there is good cause under 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3), to waive the 30-day delay in effectiveness so that the purpose of this rule is not undermined. As stated above, the purpose of this action is prevent a sector from fishing under a sector operations plan that has been determined to undermine the objectives of the FMP, and that may be fishing under allocations that are artificially high considering the potential ACE overages that have occurred since 2012. A delay in the implementation of this rule would allow the sector to continue to operate under an operations plan that is determined to have not adequately ensured accurate reporting or compliance, and that the sector has failed to enforce. A delay in implementation would also increase the likelihood of additional ACE overages for NEFS 9 since its initial allocations for the 2017 fishing year does not include any adjustments for previous overages. As a result, continued operation of the sector further jeopardizes the objectives of the FMP and increases the likelihood that additional quota overages may occur.

    This interim 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.

    This interim final rule is exempt from the procedures of the Regulatory Flexibility Act because the rule is issued without opportunity for prior notice and opportunity for public comment.

    Authority:

    16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.

    Dated: November 17, 2017. Samuel D. Rauch III, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine Fisheries Service.
    [FR Doc. 2017-25299 Filed 11-20-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-22-P
    82 224 Wednesday, November 22, 2017 Proposed Rules DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION Federal Aviation Administration 14 CFR Part 39 [Docket No. FAA-2017-1078; Product Identifier 2017-CE-038-AD] RIN 2120-AA64 Airworthiness Directives; Various Aircraft Equipped With BRP-Rotax GmbH & Co KG 912 A Series Engine AGENCY:

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

    ACTION:

    Notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM).

    SUMMARY:

    We propose to adopt a new airworthiness directive (AD) for various aircraft equipped with a BRP-Rotax GmbH & Co. KG (formerly BRP-Powertrain GmbH & Co. KG; Bombardier-Rotax GmbH & Co. KG; Bombardier-Rotax GmbH) 912 A series engine. This proposed AD results from mandatory continuing airworthiness information (MCAI) originated by an aviation authority of another country to identify and correct an unsafe condition on an aviation product. The MCAI describes the unsafe condition as defective valve push-rod assemblies manufactured from June 8, 2016, through October 2, 2017. We are issuing this proposed AD to require actions to address the unsafe condition on these products.

    DATES:

    We must receive comments on this proposed AD by January 8, 2018.

    ADDRESSES:

    You may send comments by any of the following methods:

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

    Fax: (202) 493-2251.

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

    Hand Delivery: U.S. Department of Transportation, Docket Operations, M-30, West Building Ground Floor, Room W12-140, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC 20590, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays.

    For service information identified in this proposed AD, contact BRP-Rotax GmbH & Co. KG, Rotaxstrasse 1, A-4623 Gunskirchen, Austria; phone: +43 7246 601 0; fax: +43 7246 6370; Internet: http://www.flyrotax.com. You may review this referenced service information at the FAA, Policy and Innovation Division, 901 Locust, Kansas City, Missouri 64106. For information on the availability of this material at the FAA, call (816) 329-4148.

    Examining the AD Docket

    You may examine the AD docket on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov by searching for and locating Docket No. FAA-2017-1078; or in person at the Docket Management Facility between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays. The AD docket contains this proposed AD, the regulatory evaluation, any comments received, and other information. The street address for the Docket Office (telephone (800) 647-5527) is in the ADDRESSES section. Comments will be available in the AD docket shortly after receipt.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Jim Rutherford, Aerospace Engineer, FAA, Small Airplane Standards Branch, 901 Locust, Room 301, Kansas City, Missouri 64106; telephone: (816) 329-4165; fax: (816) 329-4090; email: [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Comments Invited

    We invite you to send any written relevant data, views, or arguments about this proposed AD. Send your comments to an address listed under the ADDRESSES section. Include “Docket No. FAA-2017-1078; Product Identifier 2017-CE-038-AD” at the beginning of your comments. We specifically invite comments on the overall regulatory, economic, environmental, and energy aspects of this proposed AD. We will consider all comments received by the closing date and may amend this proposed AD because of those comments.

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

    Discussion

    The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), which is the Technical Agent for the Member States of the European Community, has issued AD No. 2017-0208, dated October 13, 2017 (referred to after this as “the MCAI”), to correct an unsafe condition for the specified products. The MCAI states:

    Power loss and engine RPM drop have been reported on Rotax 912/914 engines in service. It has been determined that, due to a quality control deficiency in the manufacturing process of certain valve push-rod assemblies, manufactured between 08 June 2016 and 02 October 2017 inclusive, partial wear on the rocker arm ball socket may occur, which may lead to malfunction of the valve train.

    This condition, if not detected and corrected, may lead to rough engine operation and loss of power, possibly resulting in a forced landing, with consequent damage to the aeroplane and injury to occupants.

    To address this potential unsafe condition, BRP-Rotax issued Service Bulletin (SB) SB-912 i-008/SB-912-070/SB-914-052 (single document), providing applicable instructions.

    For the reason described above, this [EASA] AD requires a one-time inspection and, depending on findings, replacement of affected parts. This [EASA] AD also prohibits installation of affected parts on an engine.

    You may examine the MCAI on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov by searching for and locating Docket No. FAA-2017-1078.

    Related Service Information Under 1 CFR Part 51

    BRP-Rotax GmbH & Co KG has issued Rotax Aircraft Engines BRP Service Bulletin SB-912 i-008 R1/SB-912-070 R1/SB-914-052 R1 (co-published as one document), Revision 1, dated October 12, 2017. The service information describes procedures for inspecting and, if necessary, replacing the valve push-rod assembly on the left and/or right rocker arms. This service information is reasonably available because the interested parties have access to it through their normal course of business or by the means identified in the ADDRESSES section of this NPRM.

    FAA's Determination and Requirements of This Proposed AD

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

    Costs of Compliance

    We estimate that this proposed AD will affect 63 products of U.S. registry. We also estimate that it would take about 1 work-hour per product to comply with the basic inspection requirement of this proposed AD. The average labor rate is $85 per work-hour. Required parts would cost about $70 per product.

    Based on these figures, we estimate the cost of this proposed AD on U.S. operators to be $9,765, or $155 per product.

    In addition, we estimate that any necessary follow-on actions would take about 2 work-hours to replace all 8 valve push-rod assemblies and associated parts on all 4 cylinders and require parts costing $3,093, for a cost of $3,263 per product. We have no way of determining the number of products that may need these actions.

    Authority for This Rulemaking

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

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

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

    Regulatory Findings

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

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

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

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

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

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

    List of Subjects in 14 CFR Part 39

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

    The Proposed Amendment

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

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

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

    § 39.13 [Amended]
    2. The FAA amends § 39.13 by adding the following new AD: Various Aircraft: Docket No. FAA-2017-1078; Product Identifier 2017-CE-038-AD. (a) Comments Due Date

    We must receive comments by January 8, 2018.

    (b) Affected ADs

    None.

    (c) Applicability

    This AD applies to all serial numbers of the airplanes listed in table 1 to paragraph (c) of this AD, that are:

    (1) equipped with a BRP-Rotax GmbH & Co. KG (formerly BRP-Powertrain GmbH & Co. KG; Bombardier-Rotax GmbH & Co. KG; Bombardier-Rotax GmbH) 912 A series engine (Rotax 912 A series engine) with a serial number (S/N) listed in table 2 of paragraph (c) to this AD; or

    (2) equipped with a Rotax 912 A series engine with any S/N that has had a part number (P/N) 854861 valve push-rod assembly replaced in-service (e.g., during engine repair, maintenance, or general overhaul) during the time frame of June 8, 2016, to the effective date of this AD; and

    (3) certificated in any category.

    Table 1 to Paragraph (c)—Affected Airplanes Type certificate holder Aircraft model Engine model Aeromot-Indústria Mecânico-Metalúrgica Ltda AMT-200 912 A2. Diamond Aircraft Industries HK 36 R “SUPER DIMONA” 912 A. DIAMOND AIRCRAFT INDUSTRIES GmbH HK 36 TS and HK 36 TC 912 A3. Diamond Aircraft Industries Inc. DA20-A1 912 A3. HOAC-Austria DV 20 KATANA 912 A3. Iniziative Industriali Italiane S.p.A. Sky Arrow 650 TC 912 A2. SCHEIBE-Flugzeugbau GmbH SF 25C 912 A2, 912 A3. Table 2 to Paragraph (c)—Affected Engine Serial Numbers (S/N) Engine Affected S/N 912 A series 4 411 126 through 4 411 146 and 4 411 401 through 4 411 492. (d) Subject

    Air Transport Association of America (ATA) Code 85: Reciprocating Engine.

    (e) Reason

    This AD was prompted by mandatory continuing airworthiness information (MCAI) originated by an aviation authority of another country to identify and correct an unsafe condition on an aviation product. The MCAI describes the unsafe condition as defective valve push-rod assemblies manufactured from June 8, 2016, through October 2, 2017. We are issuing this AD to prevent rough engine operation, which could cause loss of power and result in loss of control.

    (f) Actions and Compliance

    Unless already done, do the following actions:

    (1) For aircraft with engines that have 160 hours time-in-service (TIS) or less since first installed: Before exceeding 170 hours TIS on the engine since first installed or within the next 3 months after the effective date of this AD, whichever occurs first, visually inspect the valve push-rod ball sockets of each valve push-rod using the Accomplishment Instructions in Rotax Aircraft Engines BRP Service Bulletin SB-912 i-008 R1/SB-912-070 R1/SB-914-052 R1 (co-published as one document), Revision 1, dated October 12, 2017 (Rotax SB SB-912 i-008 R1/SB-912-070 R1/SB-914-052 R1).

    (2) For airplanes with engines that have 160 hours TIS or more since first installed: Within the next 10 hours TIS after the effective date of this AD or within the next 3 months after the effective date of this AD, whichever occurs first, visually inspect the valve push-rod ball sockets of each valve push-rod using the Accomplishment Instructions in Rotax SB SB-912 i-008 R1/SB-912-070 R1/SB-914-052 R1.

    (3) For all affected airplanes: If a valve push-rod with a black surface is found during the inspection required in paragraph (f)(1) or (f)(2) of this AD, before further flight, replace the valve push-rod and its affected parts with airworthy parts using the Accomplishment Instructions in Rotax SB SB-912 i-008 R1/SB-912-070 R1/SB-914-052 R1.

    (4) For all affected airplanes: As of the effective date of this AD, do not install a valve push-rod that was manufactured from June 8, 2016, through October 2, 2017.

    (g) Other FAA AD Provisions

    The following provisions also apply to this AD:

    (1) Alternative Methods of Compliance (AMOCs): The Manager, Small Airplane Standards Branch, FAA, has the authority to approve AMOCs for this AD, if requested using the procedures found in 14 CFR 39.19. Send information to ATTN: Jim Rutherford, Aerospace Engineer, FAA, Small Airplane Standards Branch, 901 Locust, Room 301, Kansas City, Missouri 64106; telephone: (816) 329-4165; fax: (816) 329-4090; email: [email protected]. Before using any approved AMOC on any airplane to which the AMOC applies, notify your appropriate principal inspector (PI) in the FAA Flight Standards District Office (FSDO), or lacking a PI, your local FSDO.

    (2) Contacting the Manufacturer: For any requirement in this AD to obtain corrective actions from a manufacturer, the action must be accomplished using a method approved by the Manager, Small Airplane Standards Branch, FAA; or the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA).

    (h) Related Information

    Refer to MCAI EASA AD No. 2017-0208, dated October 13, 2017, for related information. You may examine the MCAI on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov by searching for and locating Docket No. FAA-2017-1078. For service information related to this AD, contact BRP-Rotax GmbH & Co. KG, Rotaxstrasse 1, A-4623 Gunskirchen, Austria; phone: +43 7246 601 0; fax: +43 7246 6370; Internet: http://www.flyrotax.com. You may review this referenced service information at the FAA, Policy and Innovation Division, 901 Locust, Kansas City, Missouri 64106. For information on the availability of this material at the FAA, call (816) 329-4148.

    Issued in Kansas City, Missouri, on November 9, 2017. Pat Mullen, Acting Deputy Director, Policy & Innovation Division, Aircraft Certification Service.
    [FR Doc. 2017-25005 Filed 11-21-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4910-13-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 15 CFR Part 922 [Docket No. 170315274-7274-01] RIN 0648-BG73 Vessel and Aircraft Discharges From United States Coast Guard Activities in Greater Farallones and Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuaries AGENCY:

    Office of National Marine Sanctuaries (ONMS), National Ocean Service (NOS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Department of Commerce (DOC).

    ACTION:

    Proposed rule.

    SUMMARY:

    With this proposed rule, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) considers allowing the United States Coast Guard (USCG or Coast Guard) to carry out certain otherwise prohibited activities within waters of Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary (GFNMS) and Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary (CBNMS) approximately 3 nautical miles (nm) from the shore, in the areas of the sanctuaries that were expanded in 2015. The discharges under consideration are: Untreated vessel sewage, vessel graywater as defined by the Federal Water Pollution Control Act, as amended (FWPCA), that does not meet the definition of “clean” as defined by the GFNMS and CBNMS regulations, and ammunition and pyrotechnic (warning projectile, flare, smoke float and marine marker) materials used in USCG training exercises for use of force (live fire or gunnery) and training exercises for search and rescue (SAR) of vessels or persons in distress. No change is proposed to the regulatory prohibitions or exceptions applicable to the pre-expansion boundaries of the two sanctuaries. A draft environmental assessment (DEA) under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) has been prepared for this proposed action. NOAA is soliciting public comment on the proposed rule and DEA.

    DATES:

    Comments will be considered if received by January 16, 2018. Public hearings will be held on December 5 and 13, 2017, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

    ADDRESSES:

    You may submit comments on this document and/or on the DEA, identified by NOAA-NOS-2017-0140, by any of the following methods:

    Electronic Submission: Submit all electronic public comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. Go to http://www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NOS-2017-0140, click the “Comment Now!” icon, complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments.

    Mail: Submit written comments to Maria Brown, Superintendent, Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary, 991 Marine Drive, The Presidio, San Francisco, CA 94129.

    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 NOAA. All comments received are a part of the public record and will generally be posted for public viewing on www.regulations.gov without change. All personal identifying information (e.g., name, address, etc.), confidential business information, or otherwise sensitive information submitted voluntarily by the sender will be publicly accessible. NOAA will accept anonymous comments (enter “N/A” in the required fields if you wish to remain anonymous). Attachments to electronic comments will be accepted in Microsoft Word, Excel, or Adobe PDF file formats only.

    Copies of the DEA and proposed rule can be downloaded or viewed on the internet at www.regulations.gov (search for docket # NOAA-NOS-2017-0140) or at https://farallones.noaa.gov/manage/regulations.html. Copies can also be obtained by contacting the person identified under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT.

    Public hearings will be held in the following locations:

    • December 5, 2017. 6-8 p.m. Bay Model, 2100 Bridgeway, Sausalito, CA 94965.

    • December 13, 2017. 6-8 p.m. Gualala Community Center, 47950 Center Street, Gualala, CA 95445.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Maria Brown, Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary Superintendent, at [email protected] or 415-561-6622.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    I. Background A. Introduction

    On March 12, 2015, NOAA expanded the boundaries of GFNMS and CBNMS to an area north and west of their previous boundaries. In that rule, pursuant to a request from the USCG, NOAA announced that it would postpone the effective date for the discharge requirements in both expansion areas (defined as the areas that were added to the existing 1981 and 1989 boundaries for GFNMS and CBNMS, respectively) with regard to USCG activities. NOAA stated the purpose of the postponement was to look at ways to address Coast Guard's concerns that the discharge regulations would impair the operations of Coast Guard vessels in, and aircraft over, the sanctuaries, and to consider, among other things, whether to exempt Coast Guard activities in both sanctuary expansion areas. This proposed rule considers allowing the USCG to carry out otherwise prohibited discharges within waters of the GFNMS and CBNMS expansion areas seaward of approximately 3 nm from the shore, as described in more detail below. In formulating this proposed rule, NOAA considered a number of factors discussed more fully in the DEA, including the ability of the USCG to complete its mission requirements and the policy of facilitating uses of the sanctuaries to the extent compatible with resource protection.

    B. Greater Farallones and Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuaries

    NOAA is charged with managing areas of the marine environment which are of special national significance as the National Marine Sanctuary System (16 U.S.C. 1431 (b)(1)). The Office of National Marine Sanctuaries (ONMS) is the federal office within NOAA that manages the National Marine Sanctuary System. The mission of ONMS is to identify, protect, conserve, and enhance the natural and cultural resources, values, and qualities of the National Marine Sanctuary System (System) for this and future generations throughout the nation. This System includes 13 national marine sanctuaries, among them GFNMS and CBNMS, and Papahānaumokuākea and Rose Atoll marine national monuments. GFNMS was designated in 1981 and protects approximately 3,295 square miles (2,488 square nautical miles). CBNMS was designated in 1989 and protects approximately 1,286 square miles (971 square nautical miles). NOAA expanded both sanctuaries to their current size on March 12, 2015 (80 FR 13078). When referring to the expansion areas of the sanctuaries, NOAA means the areas that were added to the existing 1981 and 1989 boundaries for GFNMS and CBNMS, respectively.

    Both GFNMS and CBNMS' regulations prohibit discharging or depositing, from within or into the sanctuary, any material or other matter (15 CFR 922.82(a)(2) and (3) and 15 CFR 922.112(a)(2)(i) and (ii)). Both the GFNMS and CBNMS regulations also prohibit discharging or depositing, from beyond the boundary of the sanctuary, any material or other matter that subsequently enters the sanctuary and injures a sanctuary resource or quality (15 CFR 922.82(a)(4); 15 CFR 922.112(a)(2)(iii)). Most national marine sanctuaries also have similar regulatory prohibitions. The discharge prohibitions are aimed at maintaining and improving water quality within national marine sanctuaries to enhance conditions for their living marine resources. The discharge prohibitions include the following exceptions relevant to the proposed action:

    • For a vessel less than 300 gross registered tons (GRT), or a vessel 300 GRT or greater without sufficient holding tank capacity to hold sewage while within the sanctuary, clean effluent generated incidental to vessel use by an operable Type I or II marine sanitation device that is approved in accordance with section 312 of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act,1 as amended (FWPCA); vessel operators must lock all marine sanitation devices in a manner that prevents discharge or deposit of untreated sewage (15 CFR 922.82(a)(2)(ii) and 922.112(a)(2)(i)(B));

    1 The Federal Water Pollution Control Act is more commonly referred to as the Clean Water Act.

    • For a vessel less than 300 GRT, or a vessel 300 GRT or greater without sufficient holding tank capacity to hold graywater while within the sanctuary, clean graywater as defined by section 312 of the FWPCA (15 CFR 922.82(a)(2)(iv) and 922.112(a)(2)(i)(D));

    • Activities necessary to respond to an emergency threatening life, property or the environment (15 CFR 922.82(c) and 922.112(b)).

    The following definitions apply to these exceptions:

    • “Clean” means not containing detectable levels of a harmful matter (15 CFR 922.81 and 922.111); and,

    • “Graywater” means galley, bath, and shower water (33 U.S.C. 1322(a)(11)).

    The first two existing discharge exceptions listed above apply to all vessels other than cruise ships. Therefore, they would apply to USCG vessels and would continue to apply if the regulatory changes proposed in this rulemaking were finalized.

    C. USCG Activities

    The USCG, part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, is a military service and a branch of the armed forces (14 U.S.C. 1), charged with carrying out eleven maritime safety, security and stewardship missions (6 U.S.C. 468(a)).

    One of the missions of the USCG is to enforce or assist in the enforcement of all applicable federal laws on, under, and over the high seas and waters subject to the jurisdiction of the United States. As part of this mission, the USCG supports resource protection efforts within GFNMS and CBNMS by providing surveillance of activities within the sanctuaries and enforcement of the National Marine Sanctuaries Act (NMSA) and other laws and their implementing regulations. The USCG has the authority to enforce the NMSA under 14 U.S.C. 2 and 14 U.S.C. 89. Law enforcement activities for the two sanctuaries are also conducted by other agencies, primarily NOAA's Office of Law Enforcement and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. In GFNMS, the National Park Service and several local agencies also conduct law enforcement activities.

    The USCG also leads incident planning and response activities for oil spills and other incidents in U.S. coastal and ocean waters. These activities are necessary components of GFNMS and CBNMS management. Other USCG missions that are conducted inside NMS boundaries, some of which also support national marine sanctuary management, include waterways and coastal security; aids to navigation, including tending buoys; search and rescue (SAR); living marine resources; marine safety; and marine environmental protection. The USCG may concurrently conduct activities to support more than one of its missions when operating vessels within or aircraft above GFNMS and CBNMS.

    According to the USCG Environmental Vessel Manual, USCG practices allow for discharges of untreated sewage and non-clean graywater from USCG vessels in waters beyond 3 nm from shore. USCG vessels have continued these discharges beyond 3 nm from shore in the expansion areas of GFNMS and CBNMS, due to NOAA's decision to temporarily delay the effective date of applying sanctuary discharge prohibitions with respect to USCG activities in the expansion areas of GFNMS and CBNMS while NOAA assesses these activities and their potential environmental effects.

    According to other regulatory requirements and USCG guidance and practices, discharges are not allowed to take place within approximately 3 nm of the shore. The FWPCA requires (in Section 312) that vessels with installed toilets must only discharge sewage through a Type I or II marine sanitation device within three miles 2 of shore (33 U.S.C. 1322(h)(4); 33 U.S.C. 1362(7)-(8)). The California Harbors and Navigation Code 775 (a)(2) and (b) require compliance with the FWPCA. There is also a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) designated No Discharge Zone (NDZ) prohibiting sewage discharges in the marine waters of the state that applies to specified vessels of 300 gross tons or greater,3 which would apply to several classes of USCG vessels. Further, the USCG Vessel Environmental Manual includes a restriction on discharging raw sewage within 3.5 miles (3 nm) of land.

    2 The FWPCA refers to “miles” but the common interpretation is “nautical miles”, as statute miles are not used by mariners, and many states use a 3 nm from shore boundary (http://www.gc.noaa.gov/gcil_seaward.html).

    3 Various laws and regulations refer to gross tons or gross registered tons (GRT). NOAA uses the terms in this document exactly as they appear in the specific legal source cited.

    D. Need for Action

    In the course of the rulemaking to expand GFNMS and CBNMS, NOAA received a letter dated February 4, 2013, from the USCG stating that the prohibitions proposed for the GFNMS and CBNMS expansion areas had the potential to impair USCG surface and airborne use of force training activities, SAR training activities, and the ability of Coastal Patrol Boats to conduct any mission within the sanctuaries. Of specific concern to the USCG were the proposed prohibitions on discharges made during these training activities: Vessel sewage discharges, particularly with respect to law enforcement and SAR missions, and the ability of the USCG to operate and remain “mission ready.”

    To accommodate the need for these USCG activities to take place after the expansion rule entered into effect, NOAA postponed, for six months from the effective date of the rule, the applicability of the discharge requirements to Coast Guard activities in both expanded areas. NOAA published the final rule for the expansion of GFNMS and CBNMS on March 12, 2015 (80 FR 13078), in the Federal Register and the rule became effective on June 9, 2015 (80 FR 34047). Additional six-month postponements of the effectiveness of the discharge requirements in the expansion areas were published in the Federal Register on December 1, 2015 (80 FR 74985), May 31, 2016 (81 FR 34268), December 6, 2016 (81 FR 87803), and June 7, 2017 (82 FR 26339) to enable completion of the environmental assessment and to determine NOAA's next steps. The effective date for the discharge requirements in the expansion areas for both sanctuaries with regard to USCG activities is currently postponed until December 9, 2017. Accordingly, without further NOAA action, the discharge regulations would become effective with regard to USCG activities on December 9, 2017. Thus, a separate document published in the Federal Register concurrently with this proposed rule extends the postponement of the discharge requirements for the USCG activities in the expansion areas until December 9, 2018 to provide adequate time for completion of a final environmental assessment and final rule, as appropriate. As described in the separate document, the new postponement of these discharge requirements will terminate either on December 9, 2018 or 30 days after publication of a final rule, whichever comes first.

    Of primary concern to USCG are the discharge regulations in both expanded sanctuaries and USCG compliance with these regulations. USCG vessels have limited capacity to treat sewage and some have limited capacity to hold sewage and graywater, and are without Type I or II marine sanitation devices onboard to treat the wastewater prior to discharge; accordingly, the discharges from such vessels would not fit within the existing regulatory exemptions for discharge within GFNMS and CBNMS. Training exercises designed to make USCG personnel ready for missions involving use of force and SAR involve discharging live ammunition and pyrotechnic materials. NOAA is concerned with protecting sanctuary resources and habitats, resolving any conflicts that could occur among sanctuary user groups (e.g., fishing and USCG live fire training), and ensuring continued USCG enforcement of sanctuary regulations and other mission activities that support sanctuary management.

    Prior to the expansion of GFNMS and CBNMS, the USCG was able to comply with the sanctuaries' vessel discharge regulations by discharging untreated vessel sewage and non-clean graywater in ocean waters outside GFNMS and CBNMS or by pumping it out at shoreside pump-out facilities. The expansion of GFNMS and CBNMS, with the resulting larger sizes of the sanctuaries and extension of discharge prohibitions to the expanded portions of the sanctuaries, would make it difficult for the USCG to both fulfill its missions and comply with the vessel discharge prohibitions. The USCG vessels have constraints for treating and holding sewage and non-clean graywater, and crews would have to plan for the extra time required to travel from the GFNMS and CBNMS expansion areas to USCG shoreside pump-out facilities in Bodega and San Francisco bays or to ocean waters outside national marine sanctuary boundaries to discharge vessel holding tanks (where allowed by state and federal regulations).

    Similarly, with regard to training activities, prior to the expansion of GFNMS and CBNMS, the USCG planned and conducted these exercises outside the sanctuaries' boundaries and within relatively short distances from USCG stations without violating sanctuary discharge regulations. Because the USCG maritime enforcement, defense readiness, and SAR capabilities are enhanced by conducting live-fire and SAR exercises in the areas in which its personnel normally operate, the expansion of GFNMS and CBNMS and extension of discharge prohibitions to the expanded portions of the sanctuaries have the potential to impair the ability of USCG to operate and train to remain “mission ready.”

    E. History of Action

    Prior to the expansion of the two sanctuaries' boundaries, GFNMS and USCG had been discussing potentially allowing USCG to make discharges within the sanctuary during live fire and SAR training exercises. In 2012 and 2013, USCG District 11 and GFNMS held a series of meetings focused on discharges of flares, ammunition, and targets related to live fire and SAR training. During this time, GFNMS and USCG identified several areas for potentially allowing seasonal training-related discharges as well as possible operating protocols. The intention was to consider allowing USCG training discharges via a national marine sanctuary permit, if the activities could be conducted in a way that would minimize potential impacts to marine mammals and other living marine resources. The USCG did not submit an application for a permit, and therefore NOAA did not issue a permit.

    After receiving the USCG's February 4, 2013 letter, the USCG and NOAA initiated discussions to address the full range of USCG discharges from training activities, and untreated vessel sewage and graywater discharges in both GFNMS and CBNMS. As part of these discussions, the USCG and NOAA reviewed potential environmental effects and various approaches to mitigate potential harm to sanctuary resources from these USCG discharges, including NMS permits and best practices for USCG discharge activities. In January 2015, prior to the publication of the final rule to expand GFNMS and CBNMS, NOAA and the USCG entered into interagency consultations to address both agencies' concerns. The details of this ongoing consultation are described above under “Need for Action.”

    From April 21 to May 31, 2016 (81 FR 23445), NOAA accepted public comments and information to determine the relevant scope of issues and range of alternatives for NOAA to address in the environmental assessment and proposed rule. Public and agency comments were received via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal, by mail, and at three public meetings that were held in Sausalito, Bodega Bay and Gualala on May 10, 11 and 12, respectively. Comments received are available at www.regulations.gov (search for docket NOAA-NOS-2017-0140). NOAA considered these comments in preparing this proposed rule and associated DEA.

    F. Process

    The process for this action is composed of four major stages: (1) Information collection and characterization and public scoping (scoping was completed on May 31, 2016); (2) preparation and release of a draft environmental assessment under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), and any proposed amendments to the regulations if appropriate; (3) public review and comment of the proposed amendments and the draft environmental assessment; (4) preparation and release of a final environmental review document, and any final amendments to the GFNMS and CBNMS regulations, if appropriate. With the publication of this proposed rule, NOAA enters the third phase of this process.

    NOAA will fulfill its responsibilities to complete required consultations and/or receive necessary authorizations under the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA; 16 U.S.C. 1361 et seq.), section 7 of the Endangered Species Act (ESA; 16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.), Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA; 54 U.S.C. 300101), and Federal Consistency review under the Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA; 16 U.S.C. 1451 et seq.), along with its ongoing NEPA (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.) process including the use of NEPA documents and public meetings to also meet the requirements of other federal laws. Together with this proposed rule, NOAA is releasing a DEA containing more detailed information on the considerations of this proposal, including assessment of alternatives, analysis of potential environmental impacts, and references. The EA can be found through the Web site in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section above.

    II. Summary of the Proposed Regulations A. Sewage and Graywater

    With this proposed rule, NOAA would amend the GFNMS and CBNMS regulations to allow USCG vessels to discharge untreated sewage and non-clean graywater only in the waters of the expansion areas of GFNMS and CBNMS seaward of approximately 3.5 miles (3 nautical miles (nm)) from the shoreline. USCG discharges of untreated sewage and non-clean graywater from vessels that are not equipped with a Type I or II marine sanitation device (MSD) and without sufficient holding tank capacity would continue, as per historic and current routine USCG operational practices in waters of both expansion areas beyond 3 nm from shore. As previously described, these discharges have continued since June 2015 due to NOAA's decision to temporarily delay the effective date of applying sanctuary discharge prohibitions with respect to USCG activities while NOAA assesses these activities and their potential environmental effects.

    The current GFNMS and CBNMS discharge prohibitions provide an exception for clean sewage discharge (“clean effluent”) through a Type I or II MSD for: (1) A vessel less than 300 GRT, or (2) a vessel 300 GRT or greater without sufficient holding tank capacity to hold sewage while within the Sanctuary (15 CFR 922.82(a)(2)(ii) and 922.112(a)(2)(i)(B)). They also provide an exception for clean graywater to be discharged: (1) A vessel less than 300 GRT, or (2) a vessel 300 GRT or greater without sufficient holding tank capacity to hold graywater while within the Sanctuary (15 CFR 922.82(a)(2)(iv) and 922.112(a)(2)(i)(D)). According to the USCG, most of its vessels operating in GFNMS and CBNMS do not have capacity to treat sewage and graywater; they are without Type I or II MSD onboard to treat the wastewater prior to discharge. Some classes of USCG vessels also have limited capacity to hold sewage and non-clean graywater until it may be discharged outside GFNMS and CBNMS. Thus, if the regulations were to take effect in the expansion areas of GFNMS and CBNMS, the vessels would not be able to legally discharge in those portions of the sanctuaries in a manner consistent with these existing regulatory exceptions. The proposed exceptions to the GFNMS and CBNMS prohibitions for the USCG would be in addition to the current exceptions noted earlier.

    The areas within GFNMS and CBNMS in which these USCG vessel discharges would be excepted from the sanctuaries' discharge prohibitions correspond to the waters seaward of 3 nm from shore in the expansion areas of GFNMS and CBNMS (i.e., the areas added when the sanctuaries expanded in 2015). The geographic coordinates of these areas would be listed in an appendix to each sanctuary's regulations (appendix G of subpart H and appendix C of subpart K). Aside from the proposed exceptions for USCG training-related discharges (see below), the USCG would also continue to comply with all other existing prohibitions provided in 15 CFR 922.82 and 922.112 in both the pre-expansion areas and the expanded sanctuaries' boundaries and comply with the prohibitions for vessel discharges within the pre-expansion boundaries of the two sanctuaries. No changes to the regulatory prohibitions or exceptions applicable to the pre-expansion areas of the sanctuaries are proposed.

    B. Discharges of Ammunition and Pyrotechnic Materials During Training

    NOAA would amend the GFNMS and CBNMS regulations to allow USCG discharges of ammunition and pyrotechnic materials (including warning projectiles, flares, smoke floats and marine markers) during live ammunition and search and rescue training exercises only in the federal waters of the expansion areas of GFNMS and CBNMS, seaward of approximately 3.5 miles (3 nautical miles (nm)) from the shoreline. The geographic coordinates of this designated area, where training discharges would be excepted from the sanctuary discharge prohibition within GFNMS and CBNMS, would be listed in an appendix to each sanctuary's regulations (appendix G of subpart H and appendix C of subpart K).

    The USCG would also continue to comply with all other existing prohibitions, aside from the previously described proposed exceptions for USCG vessel discharges of untreated sewage and graywater, provided in 15 CFR 922.82 and 922.112 in both the pre-expansion areas and the expanded sanctuaries' boundaries and comply with the prohibitions for vessel discharges within the pre-expansion boundaries of the two sanctuaries. No changes to the regulatory prohibitions or exceptions applicable to the pre-expansion areas of the sanctuaries are proposed.

    Based on a request by USCG, this proposed rule focuses on a regulatory exception to the GFNMS and CBNMS general discharge prohibition for the specified USCG discharges. However, NOAA presents in the DEA a variety of alternatives for protecting sanctuary resources while addressing the USCG's request to allow for USCG's routine discharges of untreated sewage and graywater from vessels and training discharges in GFNMS and CBNMS, allowing the USCG to fulfill its missions and comply with the sanctuaries' regulations. The DEA also lays out in more detail NOAA's consideration and analysis of factors pertinent to this proposed rule, including the ability of USCG to complete its mission operations and in the expansion areas of the sanctuaries, constraints in certain USCG vessel capabilities to treat and hold sewage and graywater, the role that USCG live fire and search and rescue trainings in the expansion areas of the sanctuaries play in USCG mission readiness, and the extent to which such USCG activities may be conducted to the maximum extent feasible in a manner consistent with the sanctuaries' primary objective of resource protection. No final decision or final rulemaking will be made until completion of the public comment period, satisfaction of permitting and consultation requirements, and completion of the NEPA analysis process.

    III. Classification A. National Environmental Policy Act

    NOAA has prepared a draft environmental assessment (DEA) to evaluate the potential impacts on the human environment of this proposed rulemaking, which is the preferred action analyzed in the DEA, as well as alternative actions. No significant adverse impacts to resources and the human environment are expected, and accordingly, under NEPA (43 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.) a draft environmental assessment is the appropriate document to analyze the potential impacts of this action. Following close of the public comment period and satisfaction of permitting and consultation requirements under applicable natural and cultural resource statutes (described below), NOAA will finalize its NEPA analysis and findings and prepare a final NEPA document. Copies of the DEA are available at the address and Web site listed in the ADDRESSES section of this proposed rule.

    B. Executive Order 12866: Regulatory Impact

    This proposed rule has been determined to be not significant within the meaning of Executive Order 12866.

    C. Executive Order 13771: Regulatory Reform

    This proposed rule is not expected to be an Executive Order 13771 regulatory action because this proposed rule is not significant under Executive Order 12866.

    D. Executive Order 13132: Federalism Assessment

    NOAA has concluded this regulatory action does not have federalism implications sufficient to warrant preparation of a federalism assessment under Executive Order 13132.

    E. Regulatory Flexibility Act

    The purpose of the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA; 5 U.S.C. 601 et seq.) is to fit regulatory requirements to the scale of the businesses, organizations, and governmental jurisdictions subject to the regulation. The RFA requires that agencies determine, to the extent feasible, the rule's economic impact on small entities, explore regulatory options for reducing any significant economic impact on a substantial number of such entities, and explain their ultimate choice of regulatory approach. The Chief Counsel for Regulation of the Department of Commerce certifies to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business Administration (SBA) that this proposed rule, if adopted, would not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. The factual basis for this certification is that the proposed changes are specifically targeted to the activities of the USCG in CBNMS and GFNMS, and would not have an economic effect on any small businesses. Also, this proposed rule would not substantively alter the rights, responsibilities, or legal obligations pertaining to vessel discharges for the regulated community. As a result, an initial regulatory flexibility analysis is not required and none has been prepared.

    F. Paperwork Reduction Act

    This proposed rule does not create any new information collection requirement, nor does it revise the information collection requirement that was approved by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB Control Number 0648-0141) under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1980, 44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq. (PRA). Notwithstanding any other provision of the law, no person is required to respond to, nor shall any person be subject to a penalty for failure to comply with, a collection of information subject to the requirements of the PRA, unless that collection of information displays a currently valid OMB Control Number.

    G. National Historic Preservation Act

    In fulfilling its responsibility under the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) and NEPA, NOAA intends to determine whether the proposed rule is the type of activity that could affect historic properties. If so, NOAA intends to identify consulting parties; identify historic properties and assess the effects of the undertaking on such properties; assess potential adverse effects; and resolve adverse effects. If applicable, NOAA will initiate formal consultation with the State Historic Preservation Officer/Tribal Historic Preservation Officer, the Advisory Council of Historic Preservation, and other consulting parties as appropriate; involve the public in accordance with NOAA's NEPA procedures, and develop in consultation with identified consulting parties alternatives and proposed measures that might avoid, minimize or mitigate any adverse effects on historic properties as appropriate and describe them in the environmental assessment. NOAA will complete applicable NHPA requirements before finalizing its NEPA analysis. Individuals or organizations who wish to participate as a consulting party should notify NOAA.

    Consultation requirements for the effects of the actual USCG training activities and vessel discharges on historic properties remain the responsibility of USCG, as USCG would be the lead agency performing these activities.

    H. Endangered Species Act

    The Endangered Species Act (ESA) of 1973 as amended (16 U.S.C. 1531, et seq.), provides for the conservation of endangered and threatened species of fish, wildlife, and plants. Federal agencies have an affirmative mandate to conserve ESA-listed species. Section 7(a)(2) of the ESA requires federal agencies to, in consultation with the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and/or the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, ensure that any action they authorize, fund, or carry out is not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of an ESA-listed species or result in the destruction or adverse modification of designated critical habitat. NOAA's ONMS intends to begin informal consultation under the ESA with NOAA's NMFS Office of Protected Resources (OPR) upon publication of this proposed rule and complete consultation prior to the publication of the final rule or finalization of the NEPA analysis. NOAA's consultation will focus on any potential adverse effects of providing a regulatory exception to its discharge prohibition in CBNMS and GFNMS on threatened and endangered species. NOAA will complete ESA consultation before finalizing its NEPA analysis.

    Consultation requirements for the effects of the actual USCG training activities and vessel discharges on threatened and endangered species remain the responsibility of USCG, as USCG would be the lead agency performing the training activities. USCG communicated to NOAA its intent to fulfil the consultation requirements under the ESA, specific to their training activities and vessel discharges, with (OPR).

    I. Marine Mammal Protection Act

    The Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) of 1972 (16 U.S.C. 1361 et seq.), as amended, prohibits the “take” 4 of marine mammals in U.S. waters. Section 101(a)(5)(A-D) of the MMPA provides a mechanism for allowing, 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 or directed research on marine mammals) within a specified geographic region. ONMS intends to request technical assistance from NMFS upon publication of this proposed rule on ONMS's preliminary assessment that this action is not likely to result in take of marine mammals. If NMFS recommends that ONMS seek an Incidental Harassment Authorization or Letter of Authorization, then ONMS will submit an application for any incidental taking of small numbers of marine mammals that ONMS and NMFS conclude could occur as a result of the discharges allowed by this proposed rulemaking. NOAA's request for technical assistance will focus on the effects of providing a regulatory exception to its discharge prohibitions in CBNMS and GFNMS on marine mammals. NOAA will complete any MMPA requirements before finalizing its NEPA analysis.

    4 The MMPA defines take as: “to harass, hunt, capture, or kill, or attempt to harass, hunt, capture or kill any marine mammal.” Harassment means any act of pursuit, torment, or annoyance which, (1) Has the potential to injure a marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild (Level A Harassment); or (2) 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).

    Satisfying MMPA requirements for the effects of the actual training activities and vessel discharges on marine mammals remain the responsibility of USCG, as USCG would be the federal agency performing these activities. Moreover, USCG communicated to NOAA its intent to fulfill the consultation requirements under the MMPA, specific to their training activities and vessel discharges, with OPR.

    J. Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA)

    The principal objective of the CZMA is to encourage and assist states in developing coastal management programs, to coordinate State activities, and to preserve, protect, develop and, where possible, to restore or enhance the resources of the nation's coastal zone. Section 307(c) of the CZMA requires federal activity affecting the land or water uses or natural resources of a state's coastal zone to be consistent with that state's approved coastal management program, to the maximum extent practicable. NOAA will provide a copy of this proposed rule, the DEA, and a consistency determination to the California Coastal Commission (Commission) upon publication. NOAA will wait for concurrence from the Commission prior to publication of the final rule.

    Consultation requirements for the effects of the actual USCG training activities and vessel discharges on land or water uses or natural resources of California's coastal zone remain the responsibility of USCG, as USCG would be the lead agency performing these activities.

    IV. Request for Comments

    NOAA requests comments on this proposed rule and the DEA. The comment period will remain open until January 16, 2018.

    List of Subjects in 15 CFR Part 922

    Administrative practice and procedure, Coastal zone, Fishing gear, Marine resources, Natural resources, Penalties, Recreation and recreation areas, Wildlife.

    (Federal Domestic Assistance Catalog Number 11.429 Marine Sanctuary Program) Dated: November 14, 2017. Nicole R. LeBoeuf, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Ocean Services and Coastal Zone Management, National Ocean Service.

    Accordingly, for the reasons set forth above, NOAA proposes amending part 922, title 15 of the Code of Federal Regulations as follows:

    PART 922—NATIONAL MARINE SANCTUARY PROGRAM REGULATIONS 1. The authority citation for part 922 continues to read as follows: Authority:

    16 U.S.C. 1431 et seq.

    Subpart H—Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary 2. Amend § 922.82 by revising paragraphs (a)(2)(iv) and (v), adding paragraph (a)(2)(vi), and revising paragraph (a)(4) to read as follows:
    § 922.82 Prohibited or otherwise regulated activities.

    (a) * * *

    (2) * * *

    (iv) For a vessel less than 300 GRT or a vessel 300 GRT or greater without sufficient holding capacity to hold graywater while within the Sanctuary, clean graywater as defined by section 312 of the FWPCA;

    (v) Vessel engine or generator exhaust; or

    (vi) For a United States Coast Guard vessel that is without sufficient holding tank capacity and is without a Type I or II marine sanitation device, and that is operating within the designated area defined in appendix G of this subpart, sewage and non clean graywater as defined by section 312 of the FWPCA generated incidental to vessel use, and ammunition, pyrotechnics or other materials directly related to search and rescue and live ammunition training activities conducted by United States Coast Guard vessels and aircraft in the designated areas defined in appendix G of this subpart. Discharging or depositing, from beyond the boundary of the Sanctuary, any material or other matter that subsequently enters the Sanctuary and injures a Sanctuary resource or quality, except for the material or other matter excepted in paragraphs (a)(2)(i) through (vi) and (a)(3) of this section.

    (4) Discharging or depositing, from beyond the boundary of the Sanctuary, any material or other matter that subsequently enters the Sanctuary and injures a Sanctuary resource or quality, except for the material or other matter excepted in paragraphs (a)(2)(i) through (vi) and (a)(3) of this section.

    3. Amend subpart H by adding appendix G to read as follows: Appendix G to Subpart H of Part 922—Designated Area for Certain United States Coast Guard Discharges

    Coordinates listed in this appendix are unprojected (Geographic Coordinate System) and based on the North American Datum of 1983 (NAD83).

    The portion of the Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary area where the exception for discharges from United States Coast Guard activities applies is defined as follows. Beginning with Point 1 identified in the coordinate table in this appendix, the boundary extends from Point 1 to Point 2 in a straight line arc, and continues from Point 2 to Point 3 in a straight line arc, and from Point 3 to Point 4 in a straight line arc. From Point 4 the boundary extends east and north along a straight line arc towards Point 5 until it intersects the fixed offshore boundary between the United States and California (approximately 3 NM seaward of the coast as defined in United States vs. California, 135 S. Ct. 563 (2014)). The boundary then extends northward following the fixed offshore boundary between the United States and California until it intersects the line segment formed between Point 6 and Point 7. From this intersection, the boundary extends west along the northern boundary of Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary to Point 7 where it ends.

    Point
  • No.
  • Latitude Longitude
    1 39.00000 −124.33350 2 38.29989 −123.99988 3 38.29989 −123.20005 4 38.26390 −123.18138 5 1 38.29896 −123.05989 6 1 39.00000 −123.75777 7 39.00000 −124.33350 1These coordinates are not a part of the boundary for the Designated Area for Certain United States Coast Guard Discharges. These coordinates are reference points used to draw line segments that intersect with the fixed offshore boundary between the United States and California.
    Subpart K—Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary 4. Amend § 922.112 by revising paragraphs (a)(2)(i)(D) and (E) and adding paragraph (a)(2)(i)(F) to read as follows:
    § 922.112 Prohibited or otherwise regulated activities.

    (a) * * *

    (2)(i) * * *

    (D) For a vessel less than 300 GRT or a vessel 300 GRT or greater without sufficient holding capacity to hold graywater while within the Sanctuary, clean graywater as defined by section 312 of the FWPCA;

    (E) Vessel engine or generator exhaust; or

    (F) For a United States Coast Guard vessel that is without sufficient holding tank capacity and is without a Type I or II marine sanitation device, and that is operating within the designated area defined in appendix C of this subpart, sewage and non clean graywater as defined by section 312 of the FWPCA generated incidental to vessel use, and ammunition, pyrotechnics or other materials directly related to search and rescue and live ammunition training activities conducted by United States Coast Guard vessels and aircraft in the designated areas defined in appendix C of this subpart.

    5. Amend subpart K by adding appendix C to read as follows: Appendix C to Subpart K of Part 922—Designated Area for Certain United States Coast Guard Discharges

    Coordinates listed in this appendix are unprojected (Geographic Coordinate System) and based on the North American Datum of 1983 (NAD83).

    The portion of the Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary area where the exception for discharges from United States Coast Guard activities applies is defined as follows. Beginning with Point 1, identified in the coordinate table in this appendix, the boundary extends from Point 1 to Point 2 in a straight line arc and continues in numerical order through each subsequent point to Point 38. From Point 38 the boundary extends west along the northern boundary of Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary to Point 39 where it ends.

    Point
  • No.
  • Latitude Longitude
    1 38.29989 −123.99988 2 37.76687 −123.75143 3 37.76716 −123.42758 4 37.77033 −123.43466 5 37.78109 −123.44694 6 37.78383 −123.45466 7 37.79487 −123.46721 8 37.80094 −123.47313 9 37.81026 −123.46897 10 37.81365 −123.47906 11 37.82296 −123.49280 12 37.84988 −123.51749 13 37.86189 −123.52197 14 37.87637 −123.52192 15 37.88541 −123.52967 16 37.90725 −123.53937 17 37.92288 −123.54360 18 37.93858 −123.54701 19 37.94901 −123.54777 20 37.95528 −123.56199 21 37.96683 −123.57859 22 37.97761 −123.58746 23 37.98678 −123.59988 24 37.99847 −123.61331 25 38.01366 −123.62494 26 38.01987 −123.62450 27 38.02286 −123.61531 28 38.02419 −123.59864 29 38.03409 −123.59904 30 38.04614 −123.60611 31 38.05308 −123.60549 32 38.06188 −123.61546 33 38.07451 −123.62162 34 38.08289 −123.62065 35 38.11256 −123.63344 36 38.13219 −123.64265 37 38.26390 −123.18138 38 38.29989 −123.20005 39 38.29989 −123.99988
    [FR Doc. 2017-25105 Filed 11-21-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-NK-P
    DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY Federal Energy Regulatory Commission 18 CFR Part 40 [Docket No. RM16-22-000] Coordination of Protection Systems for Performance During Faults and Specific Training for Personnel Reliability Standards AGENCY:

    Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, DOE.

    ACTION:

    Notice of proposed rulemaking.

    SUMMARY:

    The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (Commission) proposes to approve Reliability Standards PRC-027-1 (Coordination of Protection Systems for Performance During Faults) and PER-006-1 (Specific Training for Personnel) submitted by the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC). The purpose of proposed Reliability Standard PRC-027-1 is to maintain the coordination of protection systems installed to detect and isolate faults on bulk electric system elements, such that those protection systems operate in the intended sequence during faults. The purpose of proposed Reliability Standard PER-006-1 is to ensure that personnel are trained on specific topics essential to reliability to perform or support real-time operations of the bulk electric system. In addition, the Commission proposes to direct NERC to develop certain modifications to proposed Reliability Standard PRC-027-1.

    DATES:

    Comments are due January 22, 2018.

    ADDRESSES:

    Comments, identified by docket number, may be filed in the following ways:

    • Electronic Filing through http://www.ferc.gov. Documents created electronically using word processing software should be filed in native applications or print-to-PDF format and not in a scanned format.

    • Mail/Hand Delivery: Those unable to file electronically may mail or hand-deliver comments to: Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Secretary of the Commission, 888 First Street NE., Washington, DC 20426.

    Instructions: For detailed instructions on submitting comments and additional information on the rulemaking process, see the Comment Procedures Section of this document.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Juan Villar (Technical Information), Office of Electric Reliability, Division of Reliability Standards and Security, 888 First Street NE., Washington, DC 20426, Telephone: (772) 678-6496, [email protected]. Alan Rukin (Legal Information), Office of the General Counsel, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, 888 First Street NE., Washington, DC 20426, Telephone: (202) 502-8502, [email protected]. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    1. Pursuant to section 215 of the Federal Power Act (FPA), the Commission proposes to approve proposed Reliability Standards PRC-027-1 (Coordination of Protection Systems for Performance During Faults) and PER-006-1 (Specific Training for Personnel), which were submitted for approval by the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC), the Commission-certified Electric Reliability Organization (ERO).1 As discussed below, however, the Commission also proposes to direct NERC to modify proposed Reliability Standard PRC-027-1 to require an initial protection system coordination study to ensure that applicable entities will perform (or have performed), as a baseline, a study demonstrating proper coordination of its protection systems. We propose to direct NERC to submit the modified Reliability Standard for Commission approval within 12 months following the effective date of a final rule in this proceeding.

    1 16 U.S.C. 824o.

    2. The Commission also proposes to approve the associated violation risk factors, violation severity levels, implementation plans, and effective dates proposed by NERC for Reliability Standards PRC-027-1 and PER-006-1. The Commission further proposes to approve the retirement of currently-effective Reliability Standard PRC-001-1.1(ii) (System Protection Coordination).2

    2 The Commission approved Reliability Standard PRC-001-1.1(ii) on May 29, 2015. North American Electric Reliability Corporation, 151 FERC ¶ 61,186 (2015).

    3. In addition, the Commission proposes to approve new and revised definitions submitted by NERC for incorporation in the NERC Glossary of Terms Used in NERC Reliability Standards (“NERC Glossary”) for the following terms: (1) “Protection system coordination study;” (2) “operational planning analysis;” and (3) “real-time assessment.”

    I. Background A. Section 215 and Mandatory Reliability Standards

    4. Section 215 of the FPA requires a Commission-certified ERO to develop mandatory and enforceable Reliability Standards, subject to Commission review and approval.3 Once approved, the Reliability Standards may be enforced by the ERO subject to Commission oversight or by the Commission independently.4 In 2006, the Commission certified NERC as the ERO pursuant to section 215 of the FPA.5

    3Id. 824o(c), (d).

    4Id. 824o(e).

    5North American Electric Reliability Corp., 116 FERC ¶ 61,062, order on reh'g and compliance, 117 FERC ¶ 61,126 (2006), order on compliance, 118 FERC ¶ 61,190, order on reh'g, 119 FERC ¶ 61,046 (2007), aff'd sub nom. Alcoa Inc. v. FERC, 564 F.3d 1342 (D.C. Cir. 2009).

    B. Order No. 693

    5. On March 16, 2007, the Commission issued Order No. 693, approving 83 of the 107 Reliability Standards filed by NERC, including Reliability Standard PRC-001-1.6 In addition, the Commission directed NERC to develop modifications to Reliability Standard PRC-001-1 that:

    6Mandatory Reliability Standards for the Bulk-Power System, Order No. 693, FERC Stats. & Regs. ¶ 31,242, at PP 1433-1449, order on reh'g, Order No. 693-A, 120 FERC ¶ 61,053 (2007).

    (1) Correct the references for Requirements, and [sic] (2) include a requirement that upon the detection of failures in relays or protection system elements on the Bulk-Power System that threaten reliable operation, relevant transmission operators must be informed promptly, but within a specified period of time that is developed in the Reliability Standards development process, whereas generator operators must also promptly inform their transmission operators; and (3) clarifies that, after being informed of failures in relays or protection system elements that threaten reliability of the Bulk-Power System, transmission operators must carry out corrective control actions, i.e., return a system to a stable state that respects system requirements as soon as possible and no longer than 30 minutes after they receive notice of the failure.7

    7 Order No. 693, FERC Stats. & Regs. ¶ 31,242 at P 1449.

    C. NERC Petition and Proposed Reliability Standards PRC-027-1 and PER-006-1

    6. On September 2, 2016, NERC submitted a petition seeking Commission approval of proposed Reliability Standards PRC-027-1 and PER-006-1.8 NERC states that the proposed Reliability Standards, new and revised NERC Glossary terms, and the retirement of Reliability Standard PRC-001-1.1(ii) satisfy the Commission's criteria in Order No. 672 and are just, reasonable, not unduly discriminatory or preferential, and in the public interest.9 NERC explains that the intent of the proposed Reliability Standards and changes to the NERC Glossary are to maintain the coordination of protection systems installed to detect and isolate faults on bulk electric system elements and require registered entities to provide training to their relevant personnel on protection systems and remedial action schemes. NERC asserts that the proposed Reliability Standards are an improvement over currently-effective Reliability Standard PRC-001-1.1(ii) and will ensure that appropriate personnel are trained on protection systems and that protection systems are appropriately studied, coordinated, and monitored.

    8 Proposed Reliability Standards PRC-027-1 and PER-006-1 are not attached to this Notice of Proposed Rulemaking. The proposed Reliability Standards are available on the Commission's eLibrary document retrieval system in Docket No. RM16-22-000 and are posted on the NERC Web site, http://www.nerc.com.

    9 NERC Petition at 10.

    1. Proposed Reliability Standard PER-006-1

    7. NERC states that proposed Reliability Standard PER-006-1 requires generator operators to use a systematic approach to develop and implement training for dispatch personnel at centrally-located dispatch centers.10 NERC explains that proposed Reliability Standard PER-006-1 will also cover plant personnel who are responsible for real-time control of a generator. NERC maintains that it is appropriate to train plant personnel [in] the functionality of protection systems and remedial action schemes. NERC observes that proposed Reliability Standard PER-006-1 replaces the phrase “purpose and limitations” used in currently-effective Reliability Standard PRC-001-1(ii) with the phrase “operational functionality” to clearly identify the objective of the training.11 NERC also observes that proposed Reliability Standard PER-006-1 replaces the phrase “applied in its area” in Reliability Standard PRC-001-1.1(ii) with the phrase “that affect the output of the generating facility(ies) it operates” to properly tailor the scope of the required training. NERC notes that proposed Reliability Standard PER-006-1 does not specify a periodicity for the required training.

    10Id. at 13.

    11Id. at 15.

    2. Proposed Reliability Standard PRC-027-1

    8. NERC asserts that proposed Reliability Standard PRC-027-1:

    provides a clear set of Requirements that obligate entities to (1) implement a process for establishing and coordinating new or revised Protection System settings, and (2) periodically study Protection System settings that could be affected by incremental changes in Fault current to ensure the Protection Systems continue to operate in their intended sequence.12

    12Id. at 26.

    According to NERC, proposed Reliability Standard PRC-027-1, Requirement R1 mandates that each transmission owner, generator owner, and distribution provider establish a process for developing new and revised protection system settings for bulk electric system elements.13

    13Id. at 27.

    9. NERC states that proposed Reliability Standard PRC-027-1, Requirement R2 mandates that every six years, applicable entities must either: (1) Perform a protection system coordination study to determine whether the protection systems continue to operate in the intended sequence during faults; (2) compare present fault current values to an established fault current baseline and, only if the comparison identifies a 15 percent or greater deviation in fault current values (either three phase or phase to ground) at a bus to which the bulk electric system is connected, perform a protection system coordination study; or (3) use a combination of options 1 and 2.14

    14Id. at 26.

    10. NERC explains that proposed Reliability Standard PRC-027-1, Requirement R3 will require applicable entities to use the process established under proposed Reliability Standard PRC-027-1, Requirement R1 for the development of any new or revised protection system settings.

    3. Proposed Retirement of Reliability Standard PRC-001-1.1(ii)

    11. NERC states that Reliability Standard PRC-001-1.1(ii) includes six requirements that are either addressed by Reliability Standards approved by the Commission or by the proposed Reliability Standards. Specifically, NERC explains that Reliability Standard PRC-001-1.1(ii), Requirement R1 has been partially replaced by currently-effective Reliability Standards PER-003-1 and PER-005-2. NERC continues that proposed Reliability Standard PER-006-1 and the proposed revised definitions of operational planning analysis and real-time assessment will replace the remaining portions of Reliability Standard PRC-001-1.1(ii), Requirement R1. NERC asserts that Reliability Standard PRC-001-1.1(ii), Requirement R2 has been addressed by Reliability Standards IRO-001-4, IRO-008‐2, IRO‐010‐2, TOP‐001‐3, and TOP‐003‐3, which the Commission approved in Order No. 817.15 NERC states that Reliability Standard PRC-001-1.1(ii), Requirements R3 and R4 will be replaced with proposed Reliability Standard PRC-027-1. NERC also explains that Reliability Standard PRC-001-1.1(ii), Requirement R5 has been replaced with several Reliability Standards developed after Reliability Standard PRC-001-1(ii) became effective.16 NERC further states that Reliability Standard PRC-001-1.1(ii), Requirement R6 has been replaced with Reliability Standards TOP-001-3 and TOP-003-3.

    15Id. at 5 (citing Transmission Operations Reliability Standards and Interconnection Reliability Operations and Coordination Reliability Standards, Order No. 817, 153 FERC ¶ 61,178 (2015)).

    16Id. at 6.

    II. Discussion

    12. Pursuant to section 215(d)(2) of the FPA, we propose to approve proposed Reliability Standards PER-006-1 and PRC-027-1 as just, reasonable, not unduly discriminatory or preferential, and in the public interest, as both proposed Reliability Standards improve upon currently-effective Reliability Standard PRC-001-1.1(ii) in important ways.17 Specifically, proposed Reliability Standard PRC-027-1 does so by (1) modifying the applicability section to include the appropriate functional entity types with the responsibilities, resources, and skill sets to conduct the studies required to coordinate protection systems, and (2) listing the protection system functions on all bulk electric system elements that require coordination. Proposed Reliability Standard PER-006-1, along with existing formal training requirements in the PER group of Reliability Standards, also improves upon Reliability Standard PRC-001-1.1(ii), Requirement R1 by ensuring that the necessary personnel are familiar with and understand the purpose and limitations of protection systems schemes while providing more precise and auditable requirements. However, proposed Reliability Standard PRC-027-1, Requirement R2, Option 2 does not appear to ensure coordination of all bulk electric system elements with protection system functions. Accordingly, pursuant to section 215(d)(5) of the FPA, we propose to direct that NERC develop modifications to proposed Reliability Standard PRC-027-1 that address our concern regarding this gap, as discussed below.

    17 16 U.S.C. 824o(d)(2).

    13. In addition, we propose to approve NERC's associated violation risk factors, violation severity levels, implementation plans, and effective dates. We also propose to approve the revised definitions for inclusion in the NERC Glossary. Further, we propose to approve the retirement of Reliability Standard PRC-001-1.1(ii), as requested by NERC.

    14. Pursuant to 215(d)(5) of the FPA, we propose to direct that NERC develop modifications to proposed Reliability Standard PRC-027-1 addressing our concern that applicable entities that choose Requirement R2, Option 2 perform (or have already performed) an initial baseline study demonstrating proper coordination of their protection systems. Any additional protection system coordination studies would be necessary only if an applicable entity is confronted with 15 percent or greater fault current deviations from the prior baseline study amounts, as currently proposed in Reliability Standard PRC-027-1, Requirement R2, Option 2. We propose to direct NERC to submit the modified Reliability Standard within 12 months following the effective date of a final rule in this proceeding.

    15. Proposed Reliability Standard PRC-027-1, Requirement R2 does not require an initial protection system coordination study if an applicable entity elects Option 2. Unlike Option 1, which requires performance of protection system coordination studies every six years, Option 2 requires applicable entities to “[c]ompare present Fault current values to an established Fault current baseline and perform a Protection System Coordination Study when the comparison identifies a 15 percent or greater deviation.” The proposed Reliability Standard and NERC's petition do not indicate that the “Fault current baseline” must be established through an initial protection system coordination study. Instead, NERC's petition states that the baseline must be established “by the effective date of the standard based on short-circuit studies.” 18 The proposed Reliability Standard provides that “the initial Fault current baseline(s) shall be established by the effective date of this Reliability Standard and updated each time a Protection System Coordination Study is performed,” but this language does not require establishing the “initial Fault current baseline” through an initial protection system coordination study.19 NERC's petition reinforces this understanding, as noted above, by explicitly allowing the use of short-circuit studies to establish the initial Fault current baseline.

    18 NERC Petition at 36 n.35.

    19 Proposed Reliability Standard PRC-027-1, Requirement R2, Option 2 n.1. Footnote 1 further states that if an “initial baseline was not established by the effective date of this Reliability Standard because of the previous use of an alternate option or the installation of a new BES Element, the entity may establish the baseline by performing a Protection System Coordination Study” (emphasis added). Id.

    16. While they are related terms, we understand there to be a difference between short-circuit studies and protection system coordination studies. NERC defines protection system coordination study as an “analysis to determine whether Protection Systems operate in the intended sequence during Faults.” 20 By comparison, proposed Reliability Standard PRC-027-1 explains that a short-circuit study is “an analysis of an electrical network that determines the magnitude of the currents flowing in the network during an electrical fault . . . [and] are used as the basis for protection device coordination studies.” 21 Therefore, while short-circuit studies are inputs to protection system coordination studies, it appears that a short-circuit study differs in scope from a protection system coordination study. Based on this record, it would be incorrect to conclude that proposed Reliability Standard PRC-027-1, Requirement R2, Options 1 and 2 afford the same level of protection system coordination because the former requires a protection system coordination study while the latter does not.

    20 NERC Petition, Exhibit A-3, Proposed Definitions. This definition is consistent with the definition of coordination of protection in IEEE Std. C37.113-1999 (stating that the “process of choosing settings or time delay characteristics of protective devices, such that operation of the devices will occur in a specified order to minimize customer service interruption and power system isolation due to a power system disturbance”).

    21 Proposed Reliability Standard PRC-027-1, Supplemental Material at 8.

    17. While we generally support permitting flexibility in the Reliability Standards to achieve required performance goals, the possibility that some bulk electric system elements may never undergo a protection system coordination study raises reliability concerns. In past serious Bulk-Power System events, mis-coordination was a contributing factor to misoperations and outages. For example, the Arizona Southern California September 8, 2011 Outage Report identified an instance where a transmission owner did not perform a protection system coordination study prior to the implementation of a protection system.22 The 2011 Outage Report stated that this omission negatively affected the reliable operation of the Bulk-Power System during the 2011 event.23

    22 Arizona Southern California September 8, 2011 Outage Report at 101-103, https://www.ferc.gov/legal/staff-reports/04-27-2012-ferc-nerc-report.pdf.

    23Id. at 100-102.

    18. Over the past eleven years, several NERC reports have addressed the importance of protection system coordination to Bulk-Power System reliability. Proposed Reliability Standard PRC-027-1 addresses some of the issues raised in these reports; but without requiring an initial protection system coordination study, the proposed Reliability Standard does not address all of them. In 2006, for example, the NERC System Protection Control Task Force assessed Reliability Standard PRC-001.24 The report recommended requiring the coordination of all existing protection systems.25

    24 NERC SPCTF Assessment of Standard PRC-001-0—System Protection Coordination (2006), http://www.nerc.com/pa/Stand/Project200706SystemProtectionCoordinationDL/NERC_SPCTF_Assessment_of_Standard_PRC.pdf.

    25Id. at 3-4.

    19. In 2009, in a letter from the NERC President to the NERC Board of Trustees and stakeholders, NERC identified generation and transmission mis-coordination as responsible for 30 percent of the misoperations that occurred between 2005 and 2008.26 The 2009 letter stated that mis-coordination between generation and transmission protection systems “has caused two significant system disturbances in the past two years, and resulted in the unnecessary loss of generation during seven additional disturbances in that timeframe.” 27 The letter explained that the 2009 NERC System Protection Initiative would initially focus on the area of protection system coordination.28

    26 NERC Letter from Rick Sergel, NERC President, Regarding System Protection Initiative at Figure 2 (April 24, 2009).

    27Id. at 1.

    28Id. at 1-2.

    20. In 2013, NERC issued a Misoperations Report prepared by the Protection System Misoperations Task Force.29 The Misoperations Report identified “ways to potentially reduce the amount of future misoperations” and concluded that “[m]isoperations due to setting errors can potentially be reduced.” 30 The identified techniques to reduce incorrect settings, included: Peer reviews, increased training, more extensive fault studies, standard templates for setting standard schemes using complex relays, and periodic review of existing settings when there is a change in system topography.31 In the ReliabilityFirst region, NERC identified a category of misoperations caused by “Engineering/Design Issues,” which specifically included setting mis-coordination.32 This category of misoperations was one of the three most common causes of misoperations for above 200 kV facilities within the ReliabilityFirst region.33 The positive impact on Bulk-Power System reliability of reducing misoperations because of “Incorrect setting/logic/design errors” is found in NERC's 2015 Analysis of System Protection Misoperations:

    29 NERC Misoperations Report (2013), http://www.nerc.com/comm/PC/Protection%20System%20Misoperations%20Task%20Force%20PSMTF%202/PSMTF_Report.pdf.

    30Id. at 3.

    31Id.

    32Id. at 14-15. The 2013 Misoperations Report elaborated that the “Engineering/Design Issues” category included:

    33Id. at 14.

    Incorrect short circuit values and coordination errors. The incorrect short circuit values included outdated or incorrect data used to calculate relay settings. The coordination errors in these cases all involved pilot protection either of insufficient carrier blocking trip delays or of improper choice of ground pickup values used in a blocking scheme. Id. at 15.

    The State of Reliability 2015 report found that protection system misoperations continued to be a significant contributor to automatic transmission outage severity. In general, transmission system events with protection system misoperations were more impactful than other transmission events. They were also a significant contributor to transmission outage severity, indicating that a reduction in protection system misoperations would lead to an improvement in system reliability.34

    34 NERC, Analysis of System Protection Misoperations at 1 (Dec. 2015) (citations omitted), http://www.nerc.com/pa/RAPA/PA/Performance%20Analysis%20DL/2015_Analysis_of_System_Protection_Misoperations_Final.pdf (finding that 31 percent of all misoperations were due to “Incorrect setting/logic/design errors”).

    21. In 2014, a NERC “lessons learned” document on “Generation Relaying—Underfrequency Protection Coordination” identified a 2014 incident where underfrequency relay trip settings were installed on the system unnecessarily and were not coordinated with a generator's relay trip setting.35 The document explained that “[u]nintended generator tripping during an underfrequency event can exacerbate the condition.” 36 The document also stated that “generator relay protection should be coordinated with all auxiliary power system relaying with specific regard to time-delay settings” in order to ensure reliable generator operation.37

    35 NERC, Lesson Learned, Generation Relaying—Underfrequency Protection Coordination (2014), http://www.nerc.com/pa/rrm/ea/Lessons%20Learned%20Document%20Library/LL20140601_Generation_Relaying_Underfrequency_Protection_Coordination_final.pdf.

    36Id.

    37Id.

    22. The 2016 State of Reliability Report noted that while protection system misoperations declined in 2015, misoperations showed a “statistically significant positive correlation with transmission outage severity and show[ed] a higher relative transmission risk.” 38 Misoperations showed the strongest correlation of the factors considered. In addition, the 2016 State of Reliability Report identified that “over 40 percent of the incorrect setting/logic/design misoperations were due to the miss coordination [sic] of ground overcurrent settings” found by ERCOT.39

    38 2016 State of Reliability Report at 17, http://www.nerc.com/pa/RAPA/Pages/default.aspx.

    39Id. at 166.

    23. The 2017 State of Reliability Report recognized the significance of protection system misoperations to Bulk-Power System reliability by observing that “[p]rotection system misoperations should remain an area of focus as it continues to be one of the largest contributors to the severity of transmission outages.” 40

    40 2017 State of Reliability Report at 2.

    24. For the reasons discussed above, we propose to direct that NERC develop modifications to proposed Reliability Standard PRC-027-1 to address our concern by requiring that applicable entities perform an initial protection coordination study under Requirement R2, Option 2. We propose that applicable entities would have six years from the effective date of a modified Reliability Standard to complete the analysis. An applicable entity could use pre-existing protection system coordination studies to satisfy the proposed requirement provided it was reasonable (i.e., no intervening system changes that would render the earlier work obsolete). After conducting the initial protection system coordination study, subsequent protection system coordination studies would only be required when an applicable entity is confronted with 15 percent or greater fault current deviations from the prior baseline study amounts, as currently proposed in Reliability Standard PRC-027-1, Requirement R2, Option 2. We seek comments on this proposal.

    25. Separately, we seek comment from NERC and other interested entities explaining the technical basis for employing a 15 percent deviation threshold in proposed Reliability Standard PRC-027-1, Requirement R2, Option 2. We seek to better understand the basis for this threshold to ensure an adequate record in the proceeding on this matter.

    III. Information Collection Statement

    26. The collection of information addressed in this Notice of Proposed Rulemaking is subject to review by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) under section 3507(d) of the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995.41 OMB's regulations require approval of certain information collection requirements imposed by agency rules.42 Upon approval of a collection(s) of information, OMB will assign an OMB control number and an expiration date. Respondents subject to the filing requirements of a rule will not be penalized for failing to respond to these collections of information unless the collections of information display a valid OMB control number.

    41 44 U.S.C. 3507(d).

    42 5 CFR 1320.11.

    27. The Commission will submit the information collection requirement to OMB for its final review and approval. We solicit public comments on the need for this information, whether the information will have practical utility, the accuracy of the burden estimates, ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected or retained, and any suggested methods for minimizing respondents' burden, including the use of automated information techniques.

    28. The information collection requirements in this Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in Docket No. RM16-22-000 are associated with FERC-725A,43 FERC-725G6,44 and FERC-725Y, as discussed below.

    43 FERC-725A (OMB Control No. 1902-0244) currently includes the information collection requirements associated with Reliability Standard PRC-001-1.1(ii), which is proposed for retirement. Only one item per OMB Control No. may be pending OMB review at a time, and an unrelated item affecting FERC-725A is pending OMB review. We are providing estimates of the burden reduction related to FERC-725A for review and comment. However, to submit this Notice of Proposed Rulemaking timely to OMB, the Commission is being conservative and not reducing the burden estimates associated with FERC-725A at this time.

    44 The information collection requirements related to proposed Reliability Standard PRC-027-1 would normally be included in FERC-725G (OMB Control No. 1902-0252). However, only one item per OMB Control No. may be pending OMB review at a time, and an unrelated item affecting FERC-725G is pending OMB review. For this Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and the related submittal to OMB, we use a placeholder information collection no. of FERC-725G6.

    29. Public Reporting Burden: The number of respondents below is based on an examination of the NERC compliance registry on April 7, 2017, for transmission owners, generator owners, generator operators, and distribution providers within the United States and an estimate of how many entities from that registry will be affected by the Reliability Standards proposed for adoption and implementation. At the time of Commission review of proposed Reliability Standards PRC-027-1 and PER-006-1, 334 transmission owners, 913 generator owners, 875 generator operators, and 365 distribution providers in the United States were registered in the NERC compliance registry. However, under NERC's compliance registration program, entities may be registered for multiple functions, so these numbers incorporate some double counting. We note that many generation sites share a common generator owner or generator operator. The following table provides the estimated proposed annual burden and cost related to information collection requirements in this Notice of Proposed Rulemaking.45

    45 TO=transmission owner; TOP=transmission operator; GO=generator owner; GOP=generator operator; DP=distribution provider; and BA=balancing authority.

    Proposed Changes in the NOPR in Docket No. RM16-22-000 Respondent category and
  • requirement 46
  • Number of
  • respondents
  • Annual
  • number of
  • responses per respondent
  • Total number
  • of annual
  • responses
  • Average burden hours & cost per response 47 Annual burden hours & total annual cost
  • (rounded) 48
  • (1) (2) (1) * (2) = (3) (4) (3) * (4) = (5) FERC-725G6 (covering Proposed Reliability Standard PRC-027-1)49 TO; Reporting Reqs. R1, R2, & R3 334 1 334 60 hrs.; $3,941.40 20,040 hrs.; $1,316,428. TO; Recordkeeping Reqs. 334 1 334 40 hrs.; $1,565.60 13,360 hrs.; $522,910. GO; Reporting Reqs. R1, R2, & R3 913 1 913 10 hrs.; $656.90 9,130 hrs.; $599,750. GO; Recordkeeping Reqs. 913 1 913 10 hrs.; $391.40 9,130 hrs.; $357,348. DP; Reporting Reqs R1, R2, & R3 365 1 365 10 hrs.; $656.90 3,650 hrs.; $239,769. DP; Recordkeeping Reqs. 365 1 365 10 hrs.; $391.40 3,650 hrs.; $142,861. Sub-Total for Reporting Reqs. for FERC-725G6 32,820 hrs.; $2,155,947. Sub-Total for Recordkeeping Reqs. for FERC-725G6 26,140 hrs.; $1,023,119. Total Proposed Increase for FERC-725G6 58,960 hrs.; $3,179,066. FERC-725Y (covering Proposed Reliability Standard PER-006-1) GOP; Reporting Req. R1 875 1 875 5 hrs.; $328.45 4,375 hrs.; $287,394. GOP; Recordkeeping Req. 875 1 875 10 hrs.; $391.40 8,750 hrs.; $342,475. Total Proposed Increase for FERC-725Y 13,125 hrs.; $629,869. Reductions to FERC-725A (covering proposed retirement of Reliability Standard PRC-001-1.1)50 GOP; Reporting Req. 875 1 875 40 hrs.; $2,627.60 35,000 hrs.; $2,299,150. GOP; Recordkeeping Req. 875 1 875 50 hrs.; $1,957.00 43,750 hrs.; $1,712,375. TOP; Reporting Req. 177 1 177 60 hrs.; $3,941.40 10,620 hrs.; $697,628. TOP; Recordkeeping Req. 177 1 177 70 hrs.; $2,739.80 12,390 hrs.; $484,945. BA; Reporting Req. 99 1 99 32 hrs.; $2,102.08 3,168 hrs.; $208,106. BA; Recordkeeping Req. 99 1 99 20 hrs.; $782.80 1,980 hrs.; $77,497. Reduction Sub-Total Reporting Reqs. for FERC-725A 48,788 hrs.; $3,204,884. Reduction Sub-Total Recordkeeping Reqs. for FERC-725A 58,120 hrs.; $2,274,817. Reduction, Sub-Total for FERC-725A 106,908 hrs.; $5,479,701 (reduction). NET TOTAL REDUCTION FOR PROPOSED CHANGES IN NOPR IN RM16-22-000 34,823 hrs.; $1,670,766 (reduction).

    46 For each Reliability Standard, the Measure shows the acceptable evidence for the associated Reporting Requirement, and the Compliance section details the related Recordkeeping Requirement.

    47 Based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average hourly cost (wages plus benefits) is $65.69/hour for an engineer, and $39.14/hour for a record clerk. The hourly cost for an engineer is used for reporting requirements; the hourly cost for a record clerk is used for recordkeeping requirements.

    48 For display purposes, the cost figures in column 5 have been rounded.

    49 Some of the reporting requirements are required at least every six calendar years. In this table, the Commission assumes that respondents might work on some of their elements each year; the annual burden estimate shown is one sixth of the burden associated with one complete six-year cycle. For example, for each transmission owner: (a) The annual reporting burden associated with Requirements R1, R2, and R3 is shown as 60 hours per year, and (b) the burden for the six-year cycle would be six times that, or a total of 360 hours.

    50 The estimates for average annual burden hours per response are based on Order No. 693, FERC Stats. & Regs. ¶ 31,242 at PP 1906, 1907. The numbers of respondents and estimated hourly costs are based on current figures.

    Titles: FERC-725G6 (Mandatory Reliability Standard PRC-027-1) and FERC-725Y (Mandatory Reliability Standards: Operations Personnel Training (PER-005-2 and PER-006-1).

    Action: Revision to existing collections and proposed new information collection.

    OMB Control Nos.: To be determined (FERC-725G6) 51 and 1902-0279 (FERC-725Y).

    51 OMB will assign a Control No. when it issues a decision.

    Respondents: Business or other for profit, and not for profit institutions.

    Frequency of Responses: Annual recordkeeping and reporting requirements, with some reporting requirements being at least once every six years.

    Necessity of the Information: Proposed Reliability Standards PRC-027-1 and PER-006-1 set forth requirements for coordination of protection systems and personnel training on specific topics essential to reliability. The Commission proposes to approve proposed Reliability Standards PRC-027-1 and PER-006-1, which will replace Commission-approved Reliability Standard PRC-001-1.1(ii). The proposed Reliability Standards PRC-027-1 and PER-006-1 improve upon the existing Reliability Standard PRC-001-1.1(ii) because the proposed Reliability Standards assign responsibilities to entities with more appropriate resources and skill sets to conduct studies required to coordinate protection systems. The proposed Reliability Standards also provide additional clarity to the applicable entities.

    Internal review: The Commission has assured itself, by means of its internal review, that there is specific, objective support for the burden estimates associated with the information requirements.

    30. Interested persons may obtain information on the reporting requirements by contacting the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Office of the Executive Director, 888 First Street NE., Washington, DC 20426 [Attention: Ellen Brown, email: [email protected], phone: (202) 502-8663, fax: (202) 273-0873].

    31. Comments concerning the information collection proposed in this Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and the associated burden estimates should be sent to the Commission in this docket and may also be sent to the Office of Management and Budget, Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs [Attention: Desk Officer for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission]. For security reasons, comments should be sent by email to OMB at the following email address: [email protected] Please refer to OMB Control Nos. to be determined (FERC-725G6) and 1902-0279 (FERC-725Y) in your submittal.

    IV. Environmental Analysis

    32. The Commission is required to prepare an Environmental Assessment or an Environmental Impact Statement for any action that may have a significant adverse effect on the human environment.52 The action proposed here falls within the categorical exclusion in the Commission's regulations for rules that are clarifying, corrective or procedural, for information gathering, analysis, and dissemination.53

    52Regulations Implementing the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, Order No. 486, FERC Stats. & Regs. ¶ 30,783 (1987) (cross-referenced at 41 FERC ¶ 61,284).

    53 18 CFR 380.4(a)(2)(ii).

    V. Regulatory Flexibility Act

    33. The Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980 (RFA) generally requires a description and analysis of proposed rules that will have significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities.54 The Small Business Administration (SBA) defines which utilities are small businesses based on the number of employees that a utility and its affiliates employ.55

    54 5 U.S.C. 601-612.

    55 13 CFR 121.201, Subsector 221.

    34. The proposed Reliability Standard PRC-027-1 (included in FERC-725G6) will apply to approximately 1,612 entities (334 transmission owners, 913 generator owners, and 365 distribution providers) in the United States.56 Pursuant to SBA regulations, the employment threshold for transmission is 500 employees, for generator owners is between 250 and 750 employees (depending on the fuel source), and for distribution providers is 1,000 employees. We estimate that the annual cost for each entity will be $1,048 for each generator owner and distribution provider and $5,507 for each transmission owner.

    56 Many respondents serve multiple roles in the NERC compliance registry, so there is likely double counting in the estimates.

    35. The proposed Reliability Standard PER-006-1 (included in FERC-725Y) will apply to approximately 875 generator operators in the United States. Pursuant to SBA regulations the employment threshold for generator operators is between 250 and 750 employees (depending on the fuel source). We estimate that the annual cost for each generator operator will be $719.

    36. In addition, this Notice of Proposed Rulemaking proposes the retirement of Reliability Standard PRC-001-1.1(ii) (included in FERC-725A). That retirement would decrease the annual estimated cost for 875 generator operators by $4,585 each, for 177 transmission operators by $6,681 each, and for 99 balancing authorities by $2,885 each. For the generator operators affected by this retirement and the proposed Reliability Standard PER-006-1, the net annual effect would be a decrease of $3,866 each. We estimate the net annual cost of this Notice of Proposed Rulemaking would vary, by type of entity, from an annual decrease of $6,681 (for each transmission operator) to an annual increase of $5,507 (for each transmission owner). We view this as a minimal economic impact for each entity. Accordingly, we certify that the proposed Reliability Standards PRC-027-1 and PER-006-1 and retirement of Reliability Standard PRC-001-1.1 (ii) will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities.

    VI. Comment Procedures

    37. The Commission invites interested persons to submit comments on the matters and issues proposed in this notice to be adopted, including any related matters or alternative proposals that commenters may wish to discuss. Comments are due January 22, 2018. Comments must refer to Docket No. RM16-22-000, and must include the commenter's name, the organization they represent, if applicable, and their address in their comments.

    38. The Commission encourages comments to be filed electronically via the eFiling link on the Commission's Web site at http://www.ferc.gov. The Commission accepts most standard word processing formats. Documents created electronically using word processing software should be filed in native applications or print-to-PDF format and not in a scanned format. Commenters filing electronically do not need to make a paper filing.

    39. Commenters that are not able to file comments electronically must send an original of their comments to: Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Secretary of the Commission, 888 First Street NE., Washington, DC 20426.

    40. All comments will be placed in the Commission's public files and may be viewed, printed, or downloaded remotely as described in the Document Availability section below. Commenters on this proposal are not required to serve copies of their comments on other commenters.

    VII. Document Availability

    41. In addition to publishing the full text of this document in the Federal Register, the Commission provides all interested persons an opportunity to view and/or print the contents of this document via the Internet through the Commission's Home Page (http://www.ferc.gov) and in the Commission's Public Reference Room during normal business hours (8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Eastern time) at 888 First Street NE., Room 2A, Washington, DC 20426.

    42. From the Commission's Home Page on the Internet, this information is available on eLibrary. The full text of this document is available on eLibrary in PDF and Microsoft Word format for viewing, printing, and/or downloading. To access this document in eLibrary, type the docket number of this document, excluding the last three digits, in the docket number field.

    43. User assistance is available for eLibrary and the Commission's Web site during normal business hours from the Commission's Online Support at (202) 502-6652 (toll free at 1-866-208-3676) or email at [email protected], or the Public Reference Room at (202) 502-8371, TTY (202) 502-8659. Email the Public Reference Room at [email protected]

    By direction of the Commission.

    Issued November 16, 2017. Kimberly D. Bose, Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2017-25329 Filed 11-21-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6717-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE Department of the Army, Corps of Engineers 33 CFR Part 328 ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY 40 CFR Parts 110, 112, 116, 117, 122, 230, 232, 300, 302, and 401 [EPA-HQ-OW-2017-0644; FRL-9970-57-OW] RIN 2040-AF80 Definition of “Waters of the United States”—Addition of an Applicability Date to 2015 Clean Water Rule AGENCY:

    Department of the Army, Corps of Engineers, Department of Defense; and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

    ACTION:

    Proposed rule.

    SUMMARY:

    The Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of the Army (“the agencies”) are proposing to add an applicability date to the “Clean Water Rule: Definition of `Waters of the United States'” (the “2015 Rule”) to two years from the date of final action on this proposal. On October 9, 2015, the Sixth Circuit stayed the 2015 Rule nationwide pending further action of the court, but the Supreme Court is currently reviewing the question of whether the court of appeals has original jurisdiction to review challenges to the 2015 Rule. On February 28, 2017, the President signed an Executive Order, “Restoring the Rule of Law, Federalism, and Economic Growth by Reviewing the `Waters of the United States' Rule.” With this proposed rule, the agencies intend to maintain the status quo by proposing to add an applicability date to the 2015 Rule and thus provide continuity and regulatory certainty for regulated entities, the States and Tribes, agency staff, and the public while the agencies continue to work to consider possible revisions to the 2015 Rule.

    DATES:

    Comments must be received on or before December 13, 2017.

    ADDRESSES:

    Submit your comments, identified by Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OW-2017-0644, at http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the online instructions for submitting comments. Once submitted, comments cannot be edited or removed from Regulations.gov. The agencies may publish any comment received to the public docket. Do not submit electronically any information you consider to be Confidential Business Information (CBI) or other information whose disclosure is restricted by statute. Multimedia submissions (audio, video, etc.) must be accompanied by a written comment. The written comment is considered the official comment and should include discussion of all points you wish to make. The agencies will generally not consider comments or comment contents located outside of the primary submission (i.e. on the web, cloud, or other file sharing system). For additional submission methods, the full EPA public comment policy, information about CBI or multimedia submissions, and general guidance on making effective comments, please visit http://www2.epa.gov/dockets/commenting-epa-dockets.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Ms. Donna Downing, Office of Water (4504-T), Environmental Protection Agency, 1200 Pennsylvania Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20460; telephone number: (202) 566-2428; email address: [email protected]; or Ms. Stacey Jensen, Regulatory Community of Practice (CECW-CO-R), U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, 441 G Street NW., Washington, DC 20314; telephone number: (202) 761-5903; email address: [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    The Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of the Army (“the agencies”) are proposing to add an applicability date to the 2015 Clean Water Rule of two years from the date of final action on this proposal. The effective date of the 2015 Rule was August 28, 2015. On July 27, 2017, the agencies published a proposed rule to initiate the first step in a comprehensive, two-step process intended to review and revise, as appropriate and consistent with law, the definition of “waters of the United States” under with Executive Order 13778 signed on February 28, 2017, “Restoring the Rule of Law, Federalism, and Economic Growth by Reviewing the `Waters of the United States' Rule.” The first step in the process (the “Step One rule”) proposed to rescind the definition of “waters of the United States” promulgated by the agencies in 2015 in the Code of Federal Regulations and to re-codify the previous definition of “waters of the United States,” which defines the scope of the Clean Water Act. The previous definition is currently in effect pursuant to a decision issued by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit staying the 2015 definition of “waters of the United States.” In a second step (the “Step Two rule”), the agencies intend to pursue a public notice-and-comment rulemaking in which the agencies would conduct a substantive re-evaluation of the definition of “waters of the United States.” With this proposed rule to add an applicability date to the 2015 Rule, the agencies intend to provide, for an interim period, greater regulatory certainty about the definition of “waters of the United States” in effect while they continue to work on the two-step rulemaking process.

    The addition of the applicability date to the 2015 Rule to two years after the date of a final rule under this proposed rulemaking effort would ensure that the regulatory definition of “waters of the United States” that existed prior to promulgation of the rule in 2015 and that has been in effect nationwide since the 2015 Rule was stayed on October 9, 2015, would remain in effect during the ongoing actions undertaken in response to the Executive Order. This proposed rule to add an applicability date to the 2015 Rule would maintain the legal status quo and thus provide continuity and certainty for regulated entities, the States and Tribes, agency staff, and the public. The agencies would administer the regulations as they are currently being implemented, consistent with Supreme Court decisions and longstanding practice as informed by applicable agency guidance documents.

    State, tribal, and local governments have well-defined and longstanding relationships with the federal government in implementing CWA programs and these relationships are not altered by this proposed rule. This proposed rule would not establish any new regulatory requirements. Rather, this rule would simply add an applicability date to the 2015 Rule leaving in place the current legal status quo while the agencies continue to engage in substantive rulemaking to reconsider the definition of “waters of the United States.”

    I. Background and Discussion of Addition of Applicability Date A. What This Proposed Rule Does

    In 2015, the agencies published the “Clean Water Rule: Definition of `Waters of the United States'” (80 FR 37054, June 29, 2015), and on October 9, 2015, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit stayed the 2015 Rule nationwide pending further action of the court. The 2015 Rule had an effective date of August 28, 2015. The agencies propose to add an applicability date of two years from the date of final action on this proposal. The effective date of the 2015 Rule was established by a document published by the agencies in the Federal Register (80 FR 37054, June 29, 2015). The Code of Federal Regulations text does not include an applicability date; therefore, the agencies are proposing to amend the text of the Code of Federal Regulations to add a new applicability date. Until the new applicability date, the agencies would continue to implement the prior regulatory definitions, informed by applicable agency guidance documents and consistent with Supreme Court decisions and longstanding agency practice, as the agencies have been operating pursuant to the Sixth Circuit's October 9, 2015, order.

    B. History and the Purpose of This Rulemaking

    Congress enacted the Federal Water Pollution Control Act Amendments of 1972, Public Law 92-500, 86 Stat. 816, as amended, Public Law 95-217, 91 Stat. 1566, 33 U.S.C. 1251 et seq. (“Clean Water Act” or “CWA” or “Act”) “to restore and maintain the chemical, physical and biological integrity of the Nation's waters.” Section 101(a). A primary tool in achieving that purpose is a prohibition on the discharge of any pollutants, including dredged or fill material, to “navigable waters” except in accordance with the Act. Section 301(a). The CWA provides that “[t]he term `navigable waters' means the waters of the United States, including the territorial seas.” Section 502(7).

    The regulations defining the “waters of the United States” currently in effect were established in large part in 1977 (42 FR 37122, July 19, 1977). While EPA administers most provisions in the CWA, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) administers the permitting program under section 404. During the 1980s, both of these agencies adopted substantially similar definitions (51 FR 41206, Nov. 13, 1986, amending 33 CFR 328.3; 53 FR 20764, June 6, 1988, amending 40 CFR 232.2).

    In 2015, following public notice and comment on a proposed rule, the agencies published a final rule defining the “waters of the United States” (80 FR 37054). Thirty-one States and other parties sought judicial review in multiple actions in Federal district courts and Circuit Courts of Appeal, raising concerns about the scope and legal authority of the 2015 Rule. One district court issued an order granting a motion for preliminary injunction one day prior to the rule's effective date that applies to the thirteen plaintiff States in that case, State of North Dakota et al. v. US EPA, No. 15-00059, slip op. at 1-2 (D.N.D. Aug. 27, 2015, as clarified by order issued on September 4, 2015), and several weeks later, the Sixth Circuit stayed the 2015 Rule nationwide to restore the “pre-Rule regime, pending judicial review.” In re U.S. Dep't. of Def. and U.S. Envtl. Protection Agency Final Rule: Clean Water Rule, No. 15-3751 (lead), slip op. at 6. Pursuant to the Sixth Circuit's order, the agencies are applying the definition of “waters of the United States” that preceded the 2015 Rule nationwide. On January 13, 2017, the U.S. Supreme Court granted certiorari on the question of whether the court of appeals has original jurisdiction to review challenges to the 2015 Rule. The Sixth Circuit granted petitioners' motion to hold in abeyance the briefing schedule in the litigation challenging the 2015 Rule pending a Supreme Court decision on the question of the court of appeals' jurisdiction. On October 11, 2017, the Supreme Court held oral argument on the question of whether the court of appeals has original jurisdiction to review challenges to the 2015 Rule. The Supreme Court could issue a decision resolving the question at any time.

    On February 28, 2017, the President of the United States issued an Executive Order entitled “Restoring the Rule of Law, Federalism, and Economic Growth by Reviewing the `Waters of the United States' Rule.” Section 1 of the Order states, “[i]t is in the national interest to ensure that the Nation's navigable waters are kept free from pollution, while at the same time promoting economic growth, minimizing regulatory uncertainty, and showing due regard for the roles of the Congress and the States under the Constitution.” The Executive Order directed the EPA and the Army to review the 2015 Rule for consistency with the policy outlined in section 1 of the Order, and to issue a proposed rule rescinding or revising the 2015 Rule as appropriate and consistent with law. Section 2. The Executive Order also directed the agencies to consider interpreting the term “navigable waters” in a manner consistent with Justice Scalia's plurality opinion in Rapanos v. United States, 547 U.S. 715 (2006). Section 3.

    On July 27, 2017, the agencies proposed a rule to rescind the 2015 Rule and replace it with a recodification of the regulatory text that governed the legal regime prior to the 2015 Rule (82 FR 34899), and that the agencies are currently implementing under the court stay, informed by applicable guidance documents (e.g., 2003 and 2008 guidance documents, as well as relevant memoranda and regulatory guidance letters), and consistent with Supreme Court decisions and longstanding agency practice. The agencies received many comments on the Step One proposed recodification and it remains under active consideration.

    C. Today's Proposed Rule

    In this proposed rule, the agencies would add an applicability date to the 2015 Rule such that it is not implemented until two years from the date of a final action on this proposal. During that time, the agencies will continue to implement nationwide the previous regulatory definition of “waters of the United States” as they are currently doing under the Sixth Circuit's stay, informed by applicable guidance documents (e.g., 2003 and 2008 guidance documents, as well as relevant memoranda and regulatory guidance letters), and consistent with Supreme Court decisions and longstanding agency practice.

    The scope of CWA jurisdiction is an issue of great national importance and therefore the agencies will provide for robust deliberations to re-evaluate the definition of “waters of the United States.”. While engaging in such deliberations, however, the agencies recognize the need to provide an interim step for regulatory continuity and clarity for the many stakeholders affected by the definition of “waters of the United States.” The pre-2015 Rule regulatory regime is in effect as a result of the Sixth Circuit's stay of the 2015 Rule but that regime depends upon the pendency of the Sixth Circuit's order and could be altered at any time by factors beyond the control of the agencies. The Supreme Court's resolution of the question as to which courts have original jurisdiction over challenges to the 2015 Rule could impact the Sixth Circuit's exercise of jurisdiction and its stay. If, for example, the Supreme Court were to decide that the Sixth Circuit lacks original jurisdiction over challenges to the 2015 Rule, the Sixth Circuit case would be dismissed and its nationwide stay would expire, leading to possible inconsistencies, uncertainty, and confusion as to the regulatory regime that could be in effect pending substantive rulemaking under the Executive Order.

    As noted previously, prior to the Sixth Circuit's stay order, the District Court for North Dakota had preliminarily enjoined the rule in 13 States (North Dakota, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Idaho, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, South Dakota, Wyoming and New Mexico). Therefore, if the Sixth Circuit's nationwide stay were to expire, the 2015 Rule would be enjoined under the North Dakota order in States covering a large geographic area of the country, but the rule would be in effect in the rest of the country pending further judicial decision-making or substantive rulemaking under the Executive Order. Adding to the confusion that could be caused if the Sixth Circuit's nationwide stay of the 2015 Rule were to expire, there are multiple other district court cases pending on the 2015 Rule, including several where challengers have filed motions for preliminary injunctions. These cases—and the pending preliminary injunction motions—could be reactivated if the Supreme Court were to determine that the Sixth Circuit lacks original jurisdiction over challenges to the 2015 Rule.

    In addition, if the Supreme Court were to decide that the courts of appeal do have original jurisdiction over challenges to the 2015 Rule, the litigation in the Sixth Circuit could resume and therefore control over which regulatory definition of “waters of the United States” is in effect while the agencies engage in deliberations on the ultimate regulation could remain outside of the agencies. The proposed interim rule would establish a clear regulatory framework that could avoid the possible inconsistencies, uncertainty and confusion that could result from a Supreme Court ruling while the agencies reconsider the 2015 Rule. It would ensure that, during this interim period, the scope of CWA jurisdiction will be administered exactly the way it is now, and as it has been for many years prior to the promulgation of the 2015 Rule.

    The agencies are proposing an applicability date two years after the date of publication of the final rule in order to ensure that there is sufficient time for the regulatory process for reconsidering the definition of “waters of the United States” to be fully completed. The agencies are undertaking an extensive outreach effort to gather information and recommendations from States and tribes, regulated entities, academia, and the public. The geographic scope of the Clean Water Act is of great national interest and there were more than 680,000 public comments on the Step One proposed rule. The agencies continue to work as expeditiously as possible to complete the two-step rulemaking process. However, in light of the great interest in this rulemaking, the agencies are proposing an applicability date for the 2015 Rule that is two years after the publication date of the final rule to ensure that there is sufficient time for a consideration of the results of the outreach process, robust discussion with other federal agencies, an appropriate public comment period, and consideration of the resulting comments during the Step Two rulemaking.

    The agencies recognize that there may be some confusion because there is an existing proposal to rescind the 2015 Rule and replace it with the previous definition of “waters of the United States,” as well as ongoing pre-proposal stakeholder outreach and engagement about the scope of the Step Two rulemaking that would substantively reconsider the definition of “waters of the United States.” The comment period for the July Step One proposed rule is now closed and the agencies are considering those comments and developing the Step Two proposal. In light of the public interest in these rules and the length of time involved in these rulemakings, the agencies today are proposing this more narrowly targeted and focused interim rule to ensure the consistency of implementation of the definition of “waters of the United States” during this interim period. Because the request for comment is on such a narrow topic, and because a Supreme Court ruling could come at any time, the agencies believe that a short comment period is reasonable.

    II. General Information A. How can I get copies of this document and related information?

    1. Docket. An official public docket for this action has been established under Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OW-2017-0644. The official public docket consists of the documents specifically referenced in this action, and other information related to this action. The official public docket is the collection of materials that is available for public viewing at the OW Docket, EPA West, Room 3334, 1301 Constitution Ave. NW., Washington, DC 20004. This Docket Facility is open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, excluding legal holidays. The OW Docket telephone number is 202-566-2426. A reasonable fee will be charged for copies.

    2. Electronic Access. You may access this Federal Register document electronically under the “Federal Register” listings at http://www.regulations.gov. An electronic version of the public docket is available through EPA's electronic public docket and comment system, EPA Dockets. You may access EPA Dockets at http://www.regulations.gov to view public comments as they are submitted and posted, access the index listing of the contents of the official public docket, and access those documents in the public docket that are available electronically. For additional information about EPA's public docket, visit the EPA Docket Center homepage at http://www.epa.gov/epahome/dockets.htm. Although not all docket materials may be available electronically, you may still access any of the publicly available docket materials through the Docket Facility.

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

    The authority for this action is the Federal Water Pollution Control Act, 33 U.S.C. 1251, et seq., including sections 301, 304, 311, 401, 402, 404 and 501.

    C. What are the economic impacts of this action?

    The agencies have determined that there are no economic costs or benefits associated with this action. In light of the ongoing, complex litigation over the 2015 Rule, the agencies believe it is reasonable and appropriate for purposes of considering economic impacts for this proposal to presume that the legal status quo is likely to remain the same. This proposal, if finalized, would have the effect of providing the public with regulatory certainty while the agencies pursue a substantive rulemaking process. This proposal would eliminate one source of uncertainty for the regulated community as they consider investments. While the agencies recognize that there could be benefits associated with greater regulatory certainty, we are unable to quantify those benefits. The agencies have prepared a memorandum to the record to provide the public with information about this conclusion with respect to the potential economic impacts associated with this action. A copy of the memorandum is available in the docket for this action.

    III. Public Comments

    The agencies solicit comment as to whether it is desirable and appropriate to add an applicability date to the 2015 Rule. The agencies are proposing to establish an applicability date of two years after a final rule and seek comment on whether the time period should be shorter or longer, and whether adding the applicability date contributes to regulatory certainty. The agencies have prepared a memorandum to the record to provide the public with information about the activities envisioned in support of a comprehensive rulemaking process. A copy of the memorandum is available in the docket for this action.

    Because the agencies propose to simply add the applicability date and ensure continuance of the legal status quo and because it is a temporary, interim measure pending substantive rulemaking, the agencies believe that a short comment period is reasonable. In addition, please note that this proposed rulemaking does not undertake any substantive reconsideration of the pre-2015 “waters of the United States” definition nor are the agencies soliciting comment on the specific content of those longstanding regulations. See P&V Enterprises v. Corps of Engineers, 516 F.3d 1021,1023-24 (D.C. Cir. 2008). For the same reason, the agencies are not at this time soliciting comment on the scope of the definition of “waters of the United States” that the agencies should ultimately adopt in the Step Two rule in this process, as the agencies will address those issues as appropriate, including those related to the 2015 Rule, in the notice and comment rulemaking to consider adopting a revised definition of “waters of the United States” in light of the February 28, 2017, Executive Order. The agencies do not intend to engage in substantive re-evaluation of the definition of “waters of the United States” until the Step Two rulemaking. See P&V, 516 F.3d at 1025-26.

    IV. Statutory and Executive Order Reviews A. Executive Order 12866: Regulatory Planning and Review; and Executive Order 13563: Improving Regulation and Regulatory Review

    This action is a significant regulatory action because policy issues with respect to the definition of “waters of the United States” are novel for purposes of Executive Order 12866 and it was submitted to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review. It is not an economically significant action. Any changes made in response to OMB recommendations have been documented in the docket.

    In addition, the agencies prepared a memorandum to the record regarding analysis of the potential economic impacts associated with this action. The agencies have determined that there are no costs or benefits associated with this action. This action would simply add an applicability date to the 2015 Rule which is stayed nationwide and the legal status quo continues to remain in place. A copy of the memorandum is available in the docket for this action.

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

    This action is not expected to be subject to Executive Order 13771 because this proposed rule is expected to result in no additional costs.

    C. Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA)

    This proposed rule does not involve any information collection activities subject to the PRA, 44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.

    D. Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA)

    We certify that this action will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities under the RFA. 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 action would simply add an applicability date to the 2015 Rule which is stayed nationwide and the legal status quo continues to remain in place. We have therefore concluded that this action will not have a significant impact on small entities. This analysis is contained in a memorandum to the record, which is available in the docket for this action.

    E. Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (UMRA)

    This action does not contain an unfunded mandate of $100 million or more 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. The definition of “waters of the United States” applies broadly to all CWA programs.

    F. Executive Order 13132: Federalism

    This action does not have federalism implications. 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 action would simply add an applicability date to the 2015 Rule which is stayed nationwide and the legal status quo continues to remain in place. Thus, Executive Order 13175 does not apply to this action.

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

    The agencies interpret Executive Order 13045 as applying only to those regulatory actions that concern environmental health or safety risks that the agencies have reason to believe may disproportionately affect children, per the definition of “covered regulatory action” in section 2-202 of the Executive Order. This action is not subject to Executive Order 13045 because it does not concern an environmental health risk or safety risk.

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

    This action is not a “significant energy action” because it is not likely to have a significant adverse effect on the supply, distribution or use of energy. This action would simply add an applicability date to the 2015 Rule which is stayed nationwide and the legal status quo continues to remain in place.

    J. National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act (NTTAA)

    This rulemaking does not involve technical standards.

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

    The agencies believe that this action is not subject to Executive Order 12898 (59 FR 7629, February 16, 1994) because it does not establish an environmental health or safety standard. This is a proposal to add an applicability date to the 2015 Rule. The agencies believe it is more appropriate to consider the impact on minority and low-income populations in the context of possible substantive changes as part of any reconsideration of the 2015 Rule.

    List of Subjects 33 CFR Part 328

    Environmental protection, Administrative practice and procedure, Intergovernmental relations, Navigation, Water pollution control, Waterways.

    40 CFR Parts 110, 112, 116, 117, 122, 230, 232, 300, 302, and 401

    Environmental protection, Water pollution control.

    Dated: November 16, 2017. E. Scott Pruitt, Administrator, Environmental Protection Agency. Dated: November 16, 2017. Ryan A. Fisher, Acting Assistant Secretary of the Army (Civil Works). Title 33—Navigation and Navigable Waters

    For the reasons set out in the preamble, title 33, chapter II of the Code of Federal Regulations is proposed to be amended as follows:

    PART 328—DEFINITION OF WATERS OF THE UNITED STATES 1. The authority citation for part 328 continues to read as follows: Authority:

    33 U.S.C. 1251 et seq.

    2. Section 328.3 is amended by adding paragraph (e) to read as follows:
    § 328.3 Definitions.

    (e) Applicability date. Paragraphs (a) through (c) of this section are applicable beginning on [DATE TWO YEARS AFTER DATE OF PUBLICATION OF FINAL RULE IN THE Federal Register].

    Title 40—Protection of Environment

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

    PART 110—DISCHARGE OF OIL 3. The authority citation for part 110 continues to read as follows: Authority:

    33 U.S.C. 1251 et seq., 33 U.S.C. 1321(b)(3) and (b)(4) and 1361(a); E.O. 11735, 38 FR 21243, 3 CFR parts 1971-1975 Comp., p. 793.

    4. Section 110.1 is amended by adding paragraph (4) to the definition of “Navigable waters” to read as follows:
    § 110.1 Definitions.

    Navigable waters * * *

    (4) Applicability date. This definition is applicable beginning on [DATE TWO YEARS AFTER DATE OF PUBLICATION OF FINAL RULE IN THE Federal Register].

    PART 112—OIL POLLUTION PREVENTION 5. The authority citation for part 112 continues to read as follows: Authority:

    33 U.S.C. 1251 et seq.

    6. Section 112.2 is amended by adding paragraph (4) to the definition of “Navigable waters” to read as follows:
    § 112.2 Definitions.

    Navigable waters * * *

    (4) Applicability date. This definition is applicable beginning on [DATE TWO YEARS AFTER DATE OF PUBLICATION OF FINAL RULE IN THE Federal Register].

    PART 116—DESIGNATION OF HAZARDOUS SUBSTANCES 7. The authority citation for part 116 continues to read as follows: Authority:

    33 U.S.C. 1251 et seq.

    8. Section 116.3 is amended by adding paragraph (4) to the definition of “Navigable waters” to read as follows:
    § 116.3 Definitions.

    Navigable waters * * *

    (4) Applicability date. This definition is applicable beginning on [DATE TWO YEARS AFTER DATE OF PUBLICATION OF FINAL RULE IN THE Federal Register].

    PART 117—DETERMINATION OF REPORTABLE QUANTITIES FOR HAZARDOUS SUBSTANCES 9. The authority citation for part 117 continues to read as follows: Authority:

    33 U.S.C. 1251 et seq., and Executive Order 11735, superseded by Executive Order 12777, 56 FR 54757.

    10. Section 117.1 is amended by adding paragraph (i)(4) to read as follows:
    § 117.1 Definitions.

    (i) * * *

    (4) Applicability date. This paragraph (i) is applicable beginning on [DATE TWO YEARS AFTER DATE OF PUBLICATION OF FINAL RULE IN THE Federal Register].

    PART 122—EPA ADMINISTERED PERMIT PROGRAMS: THE NATIONAL POLLUTANT DISCHARGE ELIMINATION SYSTEM 11. The authority citation for part 122 continues to read as follows: Authority:

    The Clean Water Act, 33 U.S.C. 1251 et seq.

    12. Section 122.2 is amended by adding paragraph (4) to the definition of “Waters of the United States” read as follows:
    § 122.2 Definitions.

    Navigable waters * * *

    (4) Applicability date. This definition is applicable beginning on [DATE TWO YEARS AFTER DATE OF PUBLICATION OF FINAL RULE IN THE Federal Register].

    PART 230—SECTION 404(b)(1) GUIDELINES FOR SPECIFICATION OF DISPOSAL SITES FOR DREDGED OR FILL MATERIAL 13. The authority citation for part 230 continues to read as follows: Authority:

    33 U.S.C. 1251 et seq.

    14. Section 230.3 is amended by adding paragraph (o)(4) to read as follows:
    § 230.3 Definitions.

    (o) * * *

    (4) Applicability date. This paragraph (o) is applicable beginning on [DATE TWO YEARS AFTER DATE OF PUBLICATION OF FINAL RULE IN THE Federal Register].

    PART 232—404 PROGRAM DEFINITIONS; EXEMPT ACTIVITIES NOT REQUIRING 404 PERMITS 15. The authority citation for part 232 continues to read as follows: Authority:

    33 U.S.C. 1251 et seq.

    16. Section 232.2 is amended by adding paragraph (4) to the definition of “Waters of the United States” to read as follows:
    § 232.2 Definitions.

    Waters of the United States * * *

    (4) Applicability date. This definition is applicable beginning on [DATE TWO YEARS AFTER DATE OF PUBLICATION OF FINAL RULE IN THE Federal Register].

    PART 300—NATIONAL OIL AND HAZARDOUS SUBSTANCES POLLUTION CONTINGENCY PLAN 17. The authority citation for part 300 continues to read as follows: Authority:

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

    18. Section 300.5 is amended by adding paragraph (4) to the definition of “Navigable waters” to read as follows:
    § 300.5 Definitions.

    Navigable waters * * *

    (4) Applicability date. This definition is applicable beginning on [DATE TWO YEARS AFTER DATE OF PUBLICATION OF FINAL RULE IN THE Federal Register].

    19. In appendix E to part 300, section 1.5 Definitions is amended by adding paragraph (4) to the definition of “Navigable waters” to read as follows: Appendix E to Part 300—Oil Spill Response

    1.5 * * *

    Navigable waters * * *

    (4) Applicability date. This definition is applicable beginning on [DATE TWO YEARS AFTER DATE OF PUBLICATION OF FINAL RULE IN THE Federal Register].

    PART 302—DESIGNATION, REPORTABLE QUANTITIES, AND NOTIFICATION 20. The authority citation for part 302 continues to read as follows: Authority:

    33 U.S.C. 1251 et seq.

    21. Section 302.3 is amended by adding paragraph (4) to the definition of “Navigable waters” to read as follows:
    § 302.3 Definitions.

    Navigable waters * * *

    (4) Applicability date. This definition is applicable beginning on [DATE TWO YEARS AFTER DATE OF PUBLICATION OF FINAL RULE IN THE Federal Register].

    PART 401—GENERAL PROVISIONS 22. The authority citation for part 401 continues to read as follows: Authority:

    33 U.S.C. 1251 et seq.

    23. Section 401.11 is amended by adding paragraph (1)(4) to read as follows:
    § 401.11 General definitions.

    (l) * * *

    (4) Applicability date. This paragraph (l) is applicable beginning on [DATE TWO YEARS AFTER DATE OF PUBLICATION OF FINAL RULE IN THE Federal Register].

    [FR Doc. 2017-25321 Filed 11-21-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560-50-P
    DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS 38 CFR Part 17 RIN 2900-AP20 Third Party Billing for Medical Care Provided Under Special Treatment Authorities AGENCY:

    Department of Veterans Affairs.

    ACTION:

    Proposed rule.

    SUMMARY:

    The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) proposes to amend its medical regulations to clarify that VA will not bill third party payers for care and services provided by VA under certain statutory provisions, which we refer to as “special treatment authorities.” These special treatment authorities direct VA to provide care and services to veterans based upon discrete exposures or experiences that occurred during active military, naval, or air service. VA is authorized, but not required by law, to recover or collect charges for care and services provided to veterans for non-service connected disabilities. This proposed rule would establish that VA would not exercise its authority to recover or collect reasonable charges from third party payers for care and services provided under the special treatment authorities.

    DATES:

    Comments must be received by VA on or before January 22, 2018.

    ADDRESSES:

    Written comments may be submitted by email through http://www.regulations.gov; by mail or hand-delivery to Director, Regulations Management (00REG), Department of Veterans Affairs, 810 Vermont Avenue NW., Room 1063B, Washington, DC 20420; or by fax to (202) 273-9026 (this is not a toll-free number). Comments should indicate that they are submitted in response to “RIN 2900-AP20, Third Party Billing for Medical Care Provided under Special Treatment Authorities.” Copies of comments received will be available for public inspection in the Office of Regulation Policy and Management, Room 1063B, between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday (except holidays). Please call (202) 461-4902 for an appointment (this is not a toll-free number). In addition, during the comment period, comments may be viewed online through the Federal Docket Management System (FDMS) at http://www.regulations.gov.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Joseph Duran, Director, Policy and Planning VHA Office of Community Care (10D1A1), Veterans Health Administration, Department of Veterans Affairs, 810 Vermont Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20420, (303-370-1637). (This is not a toll-free number.)

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Many veterans enrolled in VA's health care system also have private insurance. VA is authorized by law under 38 U.S.C. 1729 to recover or collect reasonable charges from third parties under certain situations for care and services provided for non-service-connected disabilities. For example, VA may recover or collect such charges when a veteran requires medical care following a motor vehicle accident or an injury at work. 38 U.S.C. 1729(a)(2)(A)-(B). These provisions are reflected in regulation at 38 CFR 17.101. VA does not have authority to recover or collect charges from third parties for care or services provided for service-connected disabilities.

    Under the statutes referred to as the special treatment authorities, which are codified at 38 U.S.C. 1710(a)(2)(F) and (e), 1720D, and 1720E, VA provides care and services to veterans for conditions and disabilities that are related to certain exposures or experiences during active military, naval, or air service, regardless of whether such condition or disability is formally adjudicated by the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) to be service-connected. Specifically, these statutory provisions do not expressly refer to the conditions or disabilities resulting from such exposures or experiences as service-connected. Therefore, if veterans meet the eligibility criteria of these discrete categories in law, they receive the health care benefits enumerated in the special treatment authorities. A brief description of each of the special treatment authorities follows.

    Subject to the availability of appropriations, under 38 U.S.C. 1710(a)(2)(F), VA provides hospital care and medical services, and may furnish nursing home care, to veterans who were exposed to a toxic substance, radiation, or other conditions identified in 38 U.S.C. 1710(e) for the treatment of the disabilities described in subsection (e). More specifically, subject to the requirements in 38 U.S.C. 1710(e)(2)-(4), such care and services are available under 38 U.S.C. 1710(a)(2)(F) and 1710(e) (at no cost to the veteran) as follows:

    • For the treatment of any disability of a Vietnam-era, herbicide-exposed veteran, notwithstanding that there is insufficient medical evidence to conclude that such disability may be associated with such exposure;

    • For the treatment of any disease specified by 38 U.S.C. 1112(c)(2) or for which the Secretary, based on the advice of the Advisory Committee on Environmental Hazards, determines that there is credible evidence of a positive association between occurrence of the disease in humans and exposure to ionizing radiation, of any radiation-exposed veteran;

    • For treatment of any disability of a veteran who served on active duty between August 2, 1990, and November 11, 1998, in the Southwest Asia theater of operations during the Persian Gulf War, notwithstanding that there is insufficient medical evidence to conclude that such disability may be associated with such service;

    • For treatment of any illness suffered by a veteran who served on active duty in a theater of combat operations during a period of war after the Persian Gulf War or in combat against a hostile force during a period of hostilities after November 11, 1998, notwithstanding that there is insufficient medical evidence to conclude that such condition is attributable to such service;

    • For treatment of any illness suffered by a veteran who participated in a test conducted by the Department of Defense Deseret Test Center as part of a program for chemical and biological warfare testing from 1962 through 1973 (including the program designated as “Project Shipboard Hazard and Defense (SHAD)” and related land-based tests) notwithstanding that there is insufficient medical evidence to conclude that such illness is attributable to such testing; and

    • For treatment of certain illnesses or conditions identified by statute suffered by a veteran who served on active duty in the Armed Forces at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, for not fewer than 30 days during the period beginning on August 1, 1953, and ending on December 31, 1987, notwithstanding that there is insufficient medical evidence to conclude that such illnesses or conditions are attributable to such service.

    Under 38 U.S.C. 1720D, VA is authorized to provide counseling and appropriate care and services to help veterans overcome psychological trauma, which in the judgment of a mental health professional employed by VA, resulted from a physical assault of a sexual nature, battery of a sexual nature, or sexual harassment which occurred while the veteran was serving on active duty, active duty for training, or inactive duty training.

    Under 38 U.S.C. 1720E, VA is authorized to provide any veteran, whose service records include documentation of nasopharyngeal radium irradiation treatments, a medical examination, hospital care, medical services, and nursing home care that is needed for the treatment of any cancer of the head or neck that the Secretary finds may be associated with the veteran's receipt of those treatments in active military, naval, or air service; additionally, notwithstanding the absence of such documentation, VA may provide such care to a veteran who served as an aviator in the active military, naval, or air service before the end of the Korean conflict or a veteran who underwent submarine training in active naval service before January 1, 1965.

    The special treatment authorities do not require an adjudication of service-connection to establish eligibility for care. These veterans are eligible under those authorities for treatment of specific conditions, which although not adjudicated as service-connected, are the practical equivalent for medical care purposes. VA proposes, therefore, in the interest of equity, to add a new paragraph (a)(9) in § 17.101 to exclude from recovery or collections any reasonable charges from third parties for care and services provided under the special treatment authorities. This would conform the regulation to the current general practice of not seeking recovery or collection from third parties for medical care and services related to conditions and disabilities under the special treatment authorities.

    Proposed paragraph (a)(9)(i) would state that, notwithstanding any other provision in this part authorizing VA to recover or collect such charges, VA will not seek to recover or collect reasonable charges from a third party payer for care and services when such care and services are being provided under any of the special treatment authorities discussed above. Proposed paragraphs (a)(9)(i)(A)-(C) would cite each of these authorities.

    The special treatment authorities of 38 U.S.C. 1710(a)(2)(F) and (e) do not extend, however, to conditions and disabilities that the Under Secretary for Health determines, consistent with the terms of 38 U.S.C. 1710(e)(2)(A)-(B), have resulted from causes other than those described in the special treatment authorities. In these cases, needed treatment is still provided to the veteran but, depending on the facts, the veteran may be subject to copayment requirements in connection with the receipt of such treatment. In proposed § 17.101(a)(9)(ii), VA would clarify that we would continue to have the right to recover or collect reasonable charges from third parties, pursuant to 38 CFR 17.101, for the cost of care that VA provides to these same veterans for conditions and disabilities that VA determines are not covered by any of the special treatment authorities. For example, VA would not recover or collect charges from a third party payer for treatment of a veteran's lung cancer if that veteran served on active duty in the Armed Forces at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, for not fewer than 30 days during the period beginning on August 1, 1953, and ending on December 31, 1987. However, VA could recover or collect reasonable charges from a third party payer for treatment of the same veteran's broken leg incurred in a post-deployment automobile accident. Similarly, VA would not recover or collect charges from a third party payer for treatment of a Vietnam-era herbicide-exposed veteran's disability found to be possibly related to such exposure, but VA could recover or collect reasonable charges from a third party payer for treatment of a condition determined by the Under Secretary for Health to have resulted from a cause other than such exposure. Continuing with this last example, the determination of whether a Vietnam-era herbicide-exposed veteran's disability may be related to that exposure is strictly a clinical judgment to be made by the responsible physician (acting in accordance with the guidelines issued by the Under Secretary of Health and a report issued in accordance with section 3 of the Agent Orange Act of 1991 by the National Academy of Sciences).

    Finally, VA also proposes to amend the list of authorities appearing at the end of § 17.101 to include 38 U.S.C. 1720D and 1720E. These are two of the special treatment authorities previously discussed. The list of authorities already includes 38 U.S.C. 1710.

    Effect of Rulemaking

    The Code of Federal Regulations, as proposed to be revised by this proposed rulemaking, would represent the exclusive legal authority on this subject. No contrary rules or procedures would be authorized. All VA guidance would be read to conform with this proposed rulemaking if possible or, if not possible, such guidance would be superseded by this rulemaking.

    Paperwork Reduction Act

    Although this action contains provisions constituting collections of information at 38 CFR 17.101, under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, 44 U.S.C. 3501-3521), no new or proposed collections of information are associated with this proposed rule.

    The information collection requirements for § 17.101 are currently approved by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and have been assigned OMB control number 2900-0606.

    Regulatory Flexibility Act

    The Secretary hereby certifies that this proposed rule would not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities as they are defined in the Regulatory Flexibility Act, 5 U.S.C. 601-612. The Secretary certifies that this proposed rule will not result in a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. We have not proposed any new requirements that would have such an effect. Our proposed standards would almost entirely conform to the existing statutory requirements and existing practices in the program. Therefore, pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 605(b), this rule is exempt from the initial and final regulatory flexibility analysis requirements of sections 603 and 604.

    Executive Orders 12866 and 13563

    Executive Orders 12866 and 13563 direct agencies to assess the costs and benefits of available regulatory alternatives and, when regulation is necessary, to select regulatory approaches that maximize net benefits (including potential economic, environmental, public health and safety effects, and other advantages; distributive impacts; and equity). Executive Order 13563 (Improving Regulation and Regulatory Review) emphasizes the importance of quantifying both costs and benefits, reducing costs, harmonizing rules, and promoting flexibility. Executive Order 12866 (Regulatory Planning and Review) defines a “significant regulatory action,” requiring review by OMB, unless OMB waives such review, as “any regulatory action that is likely to result in a rule that may: (1) Have an annual effect on the economy of $100 million or more or adversely affect in a material way the economy, a sector of the economy, productivity, competition, jobs, the environment, public health or safety, or State, local, or tribal governments or communities; (2) Create a serious inconsistency or otherwise interfere with an action taken or planned by another agency; (3) Materially alter the budgetary impact of entitlements, grants, user fees, or loan programs or the rights and obligations of recipients thereof; or (4) Raise novel legal or policy issues arising out of legal mandates, the President's priorities, or the principles set forth in this Executive Order.”

    The economic, interagency, budgetary, legal, and policy implications of this proposed rule have been examined, and it has been determined not to be a significant regulatory action under Executive Order 12866. VA's impact analysis can be found as a supporting document at http://www.regulations.gov, usually within 48 hours after the rulemaking document is published. Additionally, a copy of the rulemaking and its impact analysis are available on VA's Web site at http://www1.va.gov/orpm, by following the link for “VA Regulations Published.”

    Unfunded Mandates

    The Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 requires, at 2 U.S.C. 1532, that agencies prepare an assessment of anticipated costs and benefits before issuing any rule that may result in an expenditure by State, local, and tribal governments, in the aggregate, or by the private sector, of $100 million or more (adjusted annually for inflation) in any one year. This proposed rule would have no such effect on State, local, and tribal governments, or on the private sector.

    Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance

    The Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance program numbers and titles for this rule are as follows: 64.005, Grants to States for Construction of State Home Facilities; 64.007, Blind Rehabilitation Centers; 64.008, Veterans Domiciliary Care; 64.009, Veterans Medical Care Benefits; 64.010, Veterans Nursing Home Care; 64.011, Veterans Dental Care; 64.012, Veterans Prescription Service; 64.013, Veterans Prosthetic Appliances; 64.014, Veterans State Domiciliary Care; 64.015, Veterans State Nursing Home Care; 64.016, Veterans State Hospital Care; 64.018, Sharing Specialized Medical Resources; 64.019, Veterans Rehabilitation Alcohol and Drug Dependence; 64.022, Veterans Home Based Primary Care.

    List of Subjects in 38 CFR Part 17

    Administrative practice and procedure, Alcohol abuse, Alcoholism, Claims, Day care, Dental health, Drug abuse, Foreign relations, Government contracts, Grant programs-health, Grant programs-veterans, Health care, Health facilities, Health professions, Health records, Homeless, Medical and dental schools, Medical devices, Medical research, Mental health programs, Nursing home care, Philippines, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, scholarships and fellows, travel, and transportation expenses, veterans.

    Signing Authority

    The Secretary of Veterans Affairs, or designee, approved this document and authorized the undersigned to sign and submit the document to the Office of the Federal Register for publication electronically as an official document of the Department of Veterans Affairs. Gina S. Farrisee, Deputy Chief of Staff, Department of Veterans Affairs, approved this document on November 6, 2017, for publication.

    Dated: November 17, 2017. Janet Coleman, Chief, Office of Regulation Policy & Management, Office of the Secretary, Department of Veterans Affairs.

    For the reasons set forth in the preamble, VA proposes to amend 38 CFR part 17 as follows:

    1. The authority citation for Part 17 continues to read as follows: Authority:

    38 U.S.C. 501, and as noted in specific sections.

    2. Amend § 17.101 by: a. Adding a new paragraph (a)(9). b. Amending the authority citation at the end of the section.

    The revisions read as follows:

    § 17.101 Collection or recovery by VA for medical care or services provided or furnished to a veteran for a nonservice-connected disability.

    (a) * * *

    (9) Care provided under special treatment authorities.

    (i) Notwithstanding any other provisions in this section, VA will not seek recovery or collection of reasonable charges from a third party payer for:

    (A) Hospital care, medical services, and nursing home care provided by VA or at VA expense under 38 U.S.C. 1710(a)(2)(F) and (e).

    (B) Counseling and appropriate care and services furnished to veterans for psychological trauma authorized under 38 U.S.C. 1720D.

    (C) Medical examination, and hospital care, medical services, and nursing home care furnished to veteran for cancer of the head or neck as authorized under 38 U.S.C. 1720E.

    (ii) VA may continue to exercise its right to recover or collect reasonable charges from third parties, pursuant to 38 CFR 17.101, for the cost of care that VA provides to these same veterans for conditions and disabilities that VA determines are not covered by any of the special treatment authorities.

    Authority:

    38 U.S.C. 101, 501, 1701, 1705, 1710, 1720D, 1720E, 1721, 1722, 1729.

    [FR Doc. 2017-25269 Filed 11-21-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 8320-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Fish and Wildlife Service 50 CFR Part 17 [Docket No. FWS-HQ-ES-2017-0075; FF09E41000 178 FXES111609C0000] Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Regulations for Candidate Conservation Agreements With Assurances AGENCY:

    U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), Interior.

    ACTION:

    Regulatory review; request for comments.

    SUMMARY:

    We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), announce the intention to review and potentially revise the regulations concerning enhancement-of-survival permits issued under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (ESA), associated with Candidate Conservation Agreements with Assurances. In a separate document published in today's Federal Register, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service announce the intention to review and potentially revise the Candidate Conservation Agreement with Assurances policy.

    DATES:

    We will accept comments that we receive on or before January 22, 2018. Comments submitted electronically using the Federal eRulemaking Portal (see ADDRESSES, below) must be received by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on the closing date.

    ADDRESSES:

    You may submit comments by one of the following methods:

    Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. In the Search box, enter docket number FWS-HQ-ES-2017-0075. Then, click on the Search button. On the resulting page, you may enter a comment by clicking on “Comment Now!” Please ensure that you have found the correct document before submitting your comment.

    U.S. mail or hand delivery: Public Comments Processing, Attn: Docket No. FWS-HQ-ES-2017-0075; Division of Policy, Performance, and Management Programs; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 5275 Leesburg Pike; MS: BPHC; Falls Church, VA 22041.

    We will post all comments on http://www.regulations.gov. This generally means that we will post any personal information you provide us (see Request for Information, below, for more information).

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Jeff Newman, Chief, Division of Recovery and Restoration, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Headquarters, MS: ES, 5275 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA 22041-3803; telephone 703-358-2171. Persons who use a telecommunications device for the deaf may call the Federal Relay Service at 800-877-8339.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Background

    Through its Candidate Conservation Program, one of the FWS's goals is to encourage the public to voluntarily develop and implement conservation agreements for declining species prior to them being listed under the ESA (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.). The benefits of such conservation actions may contribute to not needing to list a species, to list a species as threatened instead of endangered, or to accelerate the species' recovery if it is listed. The FWS put in place a voluntary conservation program to provide incentives for non-Federal property owners to develop and implement conservation agreements for unlisted species: Candidate Conservation Agreements with Assurances (CCAAs). On June 17, 1999, the policy for this type of agreement (64 FR 32726) and implementing regulations in part 17 of title 50 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) (64 FR 32706) were made final. On May 3, 2004, we published a final rule (69 FR 24084) to revise the CCAA regulations to make them easier to understand and implement by, among other things, defining “property owner” and by clarifying several points, including the transfer of permits, permit revocation, and advanced notification of take.

    To participate in a CCAA, non-Federal property owners agree to implement specific conservation actions on their land that reduce or eliminate threats to the species that are covered under the agreement. An ESA section 10(a)(1)(A) enhancement-of-survival permit is issued to the agreement participant providing a specific level of incidental take coverage should the property owner's agreed-upon conservation actions and routine property management actions (e.g., agricultural, ranching, or forestry activities) result in take of the covered species, if it is listed. Property owners receive assurances that they will not be required to undertake any conservation actions other than those agreed to if new information indicates that additional or revised conservation measures are needed for the species, and they will not be subject to additional resource use or land-use restrictions.

    Based on our past 16 years of experience with CCAAs, on December 27, 2016, we revised the CCAA policy (81 FR 95164) and made necessary amendments to the CCAA regulations (81 FR 95053) to conform to the revised policy. Those revisions to the regulations clarify the level of conservation effort each agreement needs to include in order for the FWS to approve an agreement and issue a permit. We revised the issuance criteria at 50 CFR 17.22(d)(2)(ii) and 17.32(d)(2)(ii) to include language indicating that a CCAA must provide a net conservation benefit consistent with the 2016 CCAA policy. The conservation criteria required for permit issuance were not included in the previous version of the regulations. Instead, they specifically referred to compliance with the CCAA policy, which established the criteria. Our intent was to be more clear and transparent about the level of conservation effort required for each CCAA to be approved and make it consistent with the criteria for Safe Harbor Agreements; this change also better aligned the regulations with the CCAA policy. The other major change we made to the regulations was to the duration language at 50 CFR 17.22(d)(8) and 17.32(d)(8), where we stated that the duration of a CCAA must be sufficient to provide a net conservation benefit to the covered species. The full definition of “net conservation benefit (for CCAA)” is included in part 2 of the 2016 CCAA policy. The Services are committed to strengthening the delivery of our voluntary conservation tools, such as CCAAs, by making it easier to work with us on proactive conservation efforts, thus we are soliciting public review and comment on whether to revise the 2016 CCAA regulations (and accompanying policy).

    Request for Information

    During the comment period (see DATES, above), we will accept written comments and information on our 2016 revisions to the CCAA regulations (81 FR 95053; December 27, 2016). You may submit your comments and materials by one of the methods listed in ADDRESSES. Before including your address, phone number, email address, or other personal identifying information in your comment, you should be aware that your entire comment—including your personal identifying information—will be posted on http://www.regulations.gov. While you can ask us in your comment to withhold your personal identifying information from public review, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so. All comments and recommendations, including names and addresses, will become part of the record for this review.

    Authority

    The authority for this action is the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.).

    Dated: October 4, 2017. Gregory J. Sheehan, Principal Deputy Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
    [FR Doc. 2017-25268 Filed 11-21-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4333-15-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 660 [Docket No. 170322302-7999-01] RIN 0648-BG74 Fisheries Off West Coast States; Coastal Pelagic Species Fisheries; Amendment 16 to the Coastal Pelagic Species Fishery Management Plan AGENCY:

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

    ACTION:

    Proposed rule; request for comments.

    SUMMARY:

    NMFS issues this proposed rule to implement Amendment 16 of the Coastal Pelagic Species (CPS) Fishery Management Plan (FMP). The purpose of this proposed rule is to amend the CPS regulations to allow for very small amounts of directed, non-live bait fishing on CPS finfish to occur when a fishery is otherwise closed to directed fishing. Currently, when directed fishing closures are enacted, a small sector of the CPS fishery that is not part of the primary commercial directed fishery has been precluded from fishing and/or harvesting even minor amounts because this activity does not fall under the existing exemptions during closures for incidental harvest or for harvesting CPS to be sold as live bait. NMFS is proposing changes to the CPS regulations to allow this sector to continue directed fishing after other directed fisheries are closed, unless otherwise specified or if an applicable annual catch limit (ACL) is anticipated to be exceeded. As a further restriction, to ensure this minor directed fishing provision is not exploited to make large aggregate harvests, minor directed fishing would not be allowed to exceed landings of 1 metric ton (mt) per day per vessel or person or one fishing trip per day by any vessel.

    DATES:

    Comments must be received by December 22, 2017.

    ADDRESSES:

    You may submit comments on this document, identified by NOAA-NMFS-2017-0135, by any of the following methods:

    Electronic Submissions: Submit all electronic public comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. Go to www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-2017-0135, click the “Comment Now!” icon, complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments.

    Mail: Submit written comments to Barry A. Thom, Regional Administrator, West Coast Region, NMFS, 501 W. Ocean Blvd., Ste. 4200, Long Beach, CA 90802-4250; Attn: Joshua Lindsay.

    Instructions: Comments must be submitted by one of the above methods to ensure that the comments are received, documented, and considered by NMFS. 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. All comments received are a part of the public record and will generally be posted for public viewing on www.regulations.gov without change. All personal identifying information (e.g., name, address, etc.) submitted voluntarily by the sender will be publicly accessible. Do not submit confidential business information, or otherwise sensitive or protected information. NMFS will accept anonymous comments (enter “N/A” in the required fields if you wish to remain anonymous).

    Copies of the draft CPS FMP as amended through Amendment 16, with notations showing how Amendment 16 would change the FMP, if approved, are available via the Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov, docket NOAA-NMFS-2017-0135, or by contacting the Pacific Fisheries Management Council, 7700 NE. Ambassador Place, Suite 101, Portland, OR 97220-1384.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Joshua B. Lindsay, Sustainable Fisheries Division, NMFS, at 562-980-4034; or Kerry Griffin, Pacific Fishery Management Council, at 503-820-2280.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    The CPS fishery in the U.S. exclusive economic zone (EEZ) off the West Coast is managed under the CPS FMP, which was developed by the Council pursuant to the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA), 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. Species managed under the CPS FMP include Pacific sardine, Pacific mackerel, jack mackerel, northern anchovy, market squid and krill. The CPS FMP was approved by the Secretary of Commerce and was implemented by regulations at 50 CFR part 660, subpart I.

    The MSA requires each regional fishery management council to submit any amendment to a FMP to NMFS for review and approval, disapproval, or partial approval. The MSA also requires that NMFS, upon receiving an amendment to a FMP, publish notification in the Federal Register that the amendment is available for public review and comment. NMFS will consider the public comments received during the comment period described above in determining whether to approve, disapprove, or partially approve Amendment 16.

    At its April 2017 meeting, the Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) voted to submit Amendment 16 to NMFS for review and approval; this proposed rule would revise the implementing regulations for the CPS FMP to implement Amendment 16 by allowing “minor directed” fishing for CPS finfish after a directed fishery has been closed. Current regulations provide for potential allowances of live bait fishing and incidental landings in the event of a directed fishery closure; this action would allow a small sector of the CPS fishery that is not part of the primary commercial directed fishery to harvest minor amounts of CPS. This sector of the fishery intentionally targets CPS and typically sells the catch as specialty dead bait to recreational and commercial fisheries, or as fresh fish to restaurants and the public. Total landings from this sector typically make up less than one percent of the total landings of any particular CPS stock. Currently, when directed fishing closures are enacted, these very small-scale fisheries have been precluded from fishing and/or harvesting these minor amounts because they do not fall under the existing exemptions during closures.

    If this proposed rule is approved, minor directed fishing will be allowed to continue after a directed fishery is closed. Minor directed fishing will be allowed unless otherwise specified, or if an applicable ACL is anticipated to be exceeded. As a further restriction, to ensure the minor directed landing provision is not exploited to make large aggregate harvests, this action proposes regulations to limit this directed fishing exemption so that landings cannot exceed 1 mt per day per vessel or person, and which is limited to one fishing trip per day by any vessel. The intent of distinguishing between a “vessel” and “person” in these regulations is that some participants in this small sector of the CPS fishery fish from a platform other than a vessel (e.g., beach seine) and in a single fishing trip (e.g., a single haul of a beach seine) may only land a few hundred pounds. Therefore, the Council recommended, and NMFS is proposing, to allow a person to make multiple fishing trips in a single day as long as their total landings do not exceed 1 mt in a day. The Council recommended that vessels be limited to a single trip as their typical landings are much greater per trip. For vessels, it was the Council's intent that the 1 mt daily landing restriction function like a trip limit.

    This rule also proposes to update the definition of “Regional Administrator” to reflect the absorption of the former NMFS Southwest Region into the West Coast Region, and to explicitly reference the fact that directed “live bait” fisheries may continue to operate after most other directed fishing is prohibited (which is an original provision of the FMP, not a change proposed in Amendment 16).

    Classification

    Pursuant to section 304 (b)(1)(A) of the MSA, the NMFS Assistant Administrator has determined that this proposed rule is consistent with Amendment 16, other provisions of the MSA, and other applicable law, subject to further consideration after public comment.

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

    The Chief Counsel for Regulation of the Department of Commerce certified to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business Administration that this proposed rule, if adopted, would not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities, for the following reasons:

    The purpose of this rule is to add an exemption to the CPS regulations that would allow very small levels of directed fishing to occur during times when directed fishing would normally be disallowed.

    For Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) purposes only, NMFS has established a small business size standard for businesses, including their affiliates, whose primary industry is commercial fishing (see 50 CFR 200.2). A business primarily engaged in commercial fishing (NAICS code 11411) is classified as a small business if it is independently owned and operated, is not dominant in its field of operation (including its affiliates), and has combined annual receipts not in excess of $11 million for all its affiliated operations worldwide.

    The primary entities that would be affected by the proposed action are the vessels and individuals that target very small levels of CPS finfish as part of a small sector of the CPS fishery that is not part of the primary commercial directed fishery and are all considered small businesses under the above size standards. This small sector of the fishery intentionally targets CPS and typically sells the catch as specialty dead bait to recreational and commercial fisheries, or as fresh fish to restaurants and the public. Total landings from this sector typically make up less than one percent of the total landings of any particular CPS stock. For example, the highest landing year for Pacific sardine from this sector between 2005 and 2015 included 134 landings by 12 vessels, totaling only 50 mt of sardines, with an average of 20 mt per year over this same time period. In comparison, the average total landings of Pacific sardine over this time period was around 69,000 mt. Although the landings from this sector are small in comparison to the primary directed fisheries for CPS, the revenue derived from these small landings make up an important revenue stream for the participants.

    The proposed action is not expected to have direct or indirect adverse socioeconomic impacts as the primary function of this action is to provide relief for the small entities who harvest small amounts of CPS but are precluded from doing so under the existing directed fishery closure regulations. Although the CPS FMP requires prohibitions on directed fishing in certain situations, such as to protect the stock when biomass is low, any fishing done under the proposed minor harvest regulations would be accounted for and tracked under any applicable catch limit for that year thereby continuing to protect the stock and prevent overfishing. Additionally, because the landings from this sector are so small this action is not expected to indirectly negatively impact, through lost harvesting potential, those that are currently provided exemptions during closures, such as the live bait sector or the traditional purse seine vessels that utilize the incidental harvest provisions during closures.

    Based on the analysis above, the proposed action, if adopted, will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of these small entities. As a result, an Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis is not required, and none has been prepared.

    List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 660

    Fisheries, Fishing, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements.

    Dated: November 16, 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 660 is proposed to be amended as follows:

    PART 660—FISHERIES OFF WEST COAST STATES 1. The authority citation for part 660 continues to read as follows: Authority:

    16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq., 16 U.S.C. 773 et seq., and 16 U.S.C. 7001 et seq.

    2. In § 660.502, revise the definition of “Regional Administrator” to read as follows:
    § 660.502 Definitions.

    Regional Administrator means the Regional Administrator, West Coast Region, NMFS, 501 W. Ocean Boulevard, Suite 4200, Long Beach, CA 90802-4213, or a designee.

    3. In § 660.505, revise paragraph (i) to read as follows:
    § 660.505 Prohibitions.

    (i) When a directed fishery has been closed, take and retain, possess, or land more than the incidental trip limit announced in the Federal Register, or a directed trip limit as described in § 660.511(d).

    4. In § 660.511, revise paragraph (d) to read as follows:
    § 660.511 Catch restrictions.

    (d) After the directed fishery for a CPS is closed under § 660.509, no person may take and retain, possess or land more of that species than the incidental trip limit set by the Regional Administrator, except the following directed fisheries may continue until the effective date of a Federal Register notice published by the Regional Administrator that the annual catch limit has been reached or is projected to be reached:

    (1) Fishing exclusively for live bait;

    (2) Minor directed fishing for finfish that does not exceed 1 mt per day per vessel or person, and which is limited to 1 fishing trip per day by any vessel.

    [FR Doc. 2017-25200 Filed 11-21-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-22-P
    82 224 Wednesday, November 22, 2017 Notices DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Submission for OMB Review; Comment Request November 16, 2017.

    The Department of Agriculture has submitted the following information collection requirement(s) to OMB for review and clearance under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, Public Law 104-13. Comments are requested regarding (1) whether the collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the agency, including whether the information will have practical utility; (2) the accuracy of the agency's estimate of burden including the validity of the methodology and assumptions used; (3) ways to enhance the quality, utility and clarity of the information to be collected; and (4) ways to minimize the burden of the collection of information on those who are to respond, including through the use of appropriate automated, electronic, mechanical, or other technological collection techniques or other forms of information technology.

    Comments regarding this information collection received by December 22, 2017 will be considered. Written comments should be addressed to: Desk Officer for Agriculture, Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, Office of Management and Budget (OMB), New Executive Office Building, 725 17th Street NW., Washington, DC 20502. Commenters are encouraged to submit their comments to OMB via email to: [email protected] or fax (202) 395-5806 and to Departmental Clearance Office, USDA, OCIO, Mail Stop 7602, Washington, DC 20250-7602. Copies of the submission(s) may be obtained by calling (202) 720-8958.

    An agency may not conduct or sponsor a collection of information unless the collection of information displays a currently valid OMB control number and the agency informs potential persons who are to respond to the collection of information that such persons are not required to respond to the collection of information unless it displays a currently valid OMB control number.

    Foreign Agricultural Service

    Title: CCC's Export Credit Guarantee Program (GSM-102).

    OMB Control Number: 0551-0004.

    Summary of Collection: The Export Credit Guarantee Program (GSM-102) is administered by the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. This program provides guarantees to exporters in order to maintain and increase overseas importers ability to purchase U.S. agricultural goods. The Export Credit Guarantee Program underwrites credit extended by U.S. private banks to approved foreign banks using dollar-denominated, irrevocable letters of credit. The Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) will collect information from the guarantee application submitted by the participants in writing (via fax or email) or mail.

    Need and Use of the Information: FAS will collect information from participating U.S. exporters in order to determine the exporter's eligibility for program benefits. The information collection is necessary to enable exporters, U.S. banks and foreign banks to receive the benefits of the program and to allow CCC to comply with the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act, the Debt Collection Improvement Act, and non-procurement suspension and debarment regulations found at 2 CFR Pars 180 and 417. If the information were not collected CCC would be unable to determine if export sales under the program would be eligible for coverage or, if coverage conformed to program requirements.

    Description of Respondents: Business or other for-profit.

    Number of Respondents: 88.

    Frequency of Responses: Record keeping, Reporting: On occasion.

    Total Burden Hours: 1,423.

    Foreign Agricultural Service

    Title: Food Donation Programs (Food for Progress & Section 416(b) and McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition Program).

    OMB Control Number: 0551-0035.

    Summary of Collection: The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) provides U.S. agricultural commodities to feed millions of hungry people in needy countries through direct donations and concessional programs. USDA Food aid may be provided through four program authorities: Food for Progress authorized by the Food for Progress Act of 1985, Section 416(b); and the McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition Program is authorized by the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 and Public Law 480.

    Need and Use of the Information: FAS will collect information from Recipients desiring to receive grants under the programs to determine their ability to carry out a food aid program, to establish the terms under which the commodities will be provided, to monitor the progress of commodity distribution (including how transportation is procured), to monitor the progress of expenditure of monetization funds, and to evaluate both the program's success and the participant's effectiveness in meeting the agreed upon goals. Information is also collected from ship owners/brokers shipping the commodity to its destination.

    Description of Respondents: Not for-profit institutions; Business or other for-profit.

    Number of Respondents: 61.

    Frequency of Responses: Recordkeeping; Reporting: Semi-annually; Quarterly; Monthly.

    Total Burden Hours: 89,287.

    Ruth Brown, Departmental Information Collection Clearance Officer.
    [FR Doc. 2017-25206 Filed 11-21-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3410-10-P
    COMMISSION ON CIVIL RIGHTS Notice of Public Meeting of the Michigan Advisory Committee AGENCY:

    U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.

    ACTION:

    Announcement of meeting.

    SUMMARY:

    Notice is hereby given, pursuant to the provisions of the rules and regulations of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights (Commission) and the Federal Advisory Committee Act that the Michigan Advisory Committee (Committee) will hold a meeting on Monday, December 4, 2017, at 3 p.m. EST for the purpose discussing civil rights concerns in the state.

    DATES:

    The meeting will be held on Monday, December 4, 2017, at 3 p.m. EST.

    Public Call Information: Dial: 888-811-5448, Conference ID: 1388168.

    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: 888-811-5448, conference ID: 1388168. 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 Midwestern Regional 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 Midwestern Regional Office at (312) 353-8311.

    Records generated from this meeting may be inspected and reproduced at the Midwestern Regional Office, as they become available, both before and after the meeting. Records of the meeting will be available via www.facadatabase.gov under the Commission on Civil Rights, Michigan Advisory Committee link (http://www.facadatabase.gov/committee/meetings.aspx?cid=255). Persons interested in the work of this Committee are directed to the Commission's Web site, http://www.usccr.gov, or may contact the Midwestern Regional Office at the above email or street address.

    Agenda Welcome and Introductions Discussion: Civil Rights and Female Genital Mutilation in Michigan Public Comment Future Plans and Actions Adjournment Dated: November 16, 2017. David Mussatt, Supervisory Chief, Regional Programs Unit.
    [FR Doc. 2017-25207 Filed 11-21-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6335-01-P
    COMMISSION ON CIVIL RIGHTS Notice of Public Meeting of the Louisiana Advisory Committee for a Meeting To Hear Public Testimony Regarding Civil Rights and Voter Accessibility in the State AGENCY:

    U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.

    ACTION:

    Announcement of meeting.

    SUMMARY:

    Notice is hereby given, pursuant to the provisions of the rules and regulations of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights (Commission) and the Federal Advisory Committee Act that the Louisiana Advisory Committee (Committee) will hold a meeting on Wednesday, December 6, 2017, from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. CST, for the purpose of hearing public testimony regarding civil rights and voter access in the state.

    DATES:

    The meeting will be held on Wednesday, December 6, 2017, from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. CST.

    Location: Louisiana State Capitol, House Committee Room 1, 900 North Third Street, Baton Rouge, LA 70802.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    David Barreras, DFO, at [email protected] or 312-353-8311.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    This meeting is free and open to the public. Persons with disabilities requiring reasonable accommodations should contact the Midwest Regional Office prior to the meeting to make appropriate arrangements. Members of the public are invited to make statements during an open comment period. In addition, members of the public may submit written comments; the comments must be received in the regional office no later than December 31, 2017. Written comments may be mailed to the Midwestern Regional 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 David Barreras at [email protected] Persons who desire additional information may contact the Midwestern Regional Office at (312) 353-8311.

    Records generated from this meeting may be inspected and reproduced at the Midwestern Regional Office, as they become available, both before and after the meeting. Records of the meeting will be available via www.facadatabase.gov under the Commission on Civil Rights, Louisiana Advisory Committee link (https://www.facadatabase.gov/committee/meetings.aspx?cid=251). Select “meeting details” and then “documents” to download. Persons interested in the work of this Committee are directed to the Commission's Web site, http://www.usccr.gov, or may contact the Midwestern Regional Office at the above email or street address.

    Agenda Opening Remarks and Introductions (9:00 a.m.-9:15 a.m.) Panel 1: Legal and Academic Research on Voting Rights (9:15 a.m.-10:30 a.m.) Panel 2: Policy Makers/Community Organizations/Non-Profits (10:45 a.m.-12:00 p.m.) Break (12:00 p.m.-1:00 p.m.) Panel 3: TBD Panel 4: TBD Open Comment Period: (3:45-4:00 p.m.) Closing Remarks (4:00 p.m.) Dated: November 17, 2017. David Mussatt, Supervisory Chief, Regional Programs Unit.
    [FR Doc. 2017-25265 Filed 11-21-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE P
    COMMISSION ON CIVIL RIGHTS Notice of Public Meeting of the Oregon Advisory Committee 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 (FACA) that a meeting of the Oregon Advisory Committee (Committee) to the Commission will be held at 1:00 p.m. (Pacific Time) Tuesday, December 5, 2017. The purpose of the meeting is for the Committee to begin planning for a briefing focused on human trafficking in Oregon.

    DATES:

    The meeting will be held on Tuesday, December 5, 2017, at 1:00 p.m. PT.

    ADDRESSES:

    Public call information:

    Dial: 800-946-0716.

    Conference ID: 6754858.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Ana Victoria Fortes (DFO) at [email protected] or (213) 894-3437.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    This meeting is available to the public through the following toll-free call-in number: 800-946-0716, conference ID number: 6754858. Any interested member of the public may call this number and listen to the meeting. Callers can expect to incur charges for calls they initiate over wireless lines, and the Commission will not refund any incurred charges. Callers will incur no charge for calls they initiate over land-line connections to the toll-free telephone number. Persons with hearing impairments may also follow the proceedings by first calling the Federal Relay Service at 1-800-977-8339 and providing the Service with the conference call number and conference ID number.

    Members of the public are entitled to make comments during the open period at the end of the meeting. Members of the public may also submit written comments; the comments must be received in the Regional Programs Unit within 30 days following the meeting. Written comments may be mailed to the Western Regional Office, U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, 300 North Los Angeles Street, Suite 2010, Los Angeles, CA 90012. They may be faxed to the Commission at (213) 894-0508, or emailed Ana Victoria Fortes at [email protected] Persons who desire additional information may contact the Regional Programs Unit at (213) 894-3437.

    Records and documents discussed during the meeting will be available for public viewing prior to and after the meeting at https://facadatabase.gov/committee/meetings.aspx?cid=270. Please click on the “Meeting Details” and “Documents” links. Records generated from this meeting may also be inspected and reproduced at the Regional Programs Unit, as they become available, both before and after the meeting. Persons interested in the work of this Committee are directed to the Commission's Web site, http://www.usccr.gov, or may contact the Regional Programs Unit at the above email or street address.

    Agenda I. Welcome II. Approve minutes from November 6, 2017 III. Discuss Briefing Logistics a. Location b. Date IV. Discussion Briefing Agenda a. Speakers b. Panel Categories V. Public Comment VI. Next Steps VII. Adjournment Dated: November 17, 2017. David Mussatt, Supervisory Chief, Regional Programs Unit.
    [FR Doc. 2017-25243 Filed 11-21-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE P
    COMMISSION ON CIVIL RIGHTS Agenda and Notice of Public Meeting of the South Dakota Advisory Committee AGENCY:

    Commission on Civil Rights.

    ACTION:

    Announcement of meetings.

    SUMMARY:

    Notice is hereby given, pursuant to the provisions of the rules and regulations of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights (Commission), and the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA), that planning meeting of the South Dakota Advisory Committee to the Commission will convene at 4:00 p.m. (CST) on Monday, December 4, 2017, via teleconference. The purpose of the meeting is to discuss next steps after the subtle racism briefing in March 2017.

    DATES:

    Monday, December 4, 2017, at 4:00 p.m. (CST).

    ADDRESSES:

    To be held via teleconference:

    Conference Call Toll-Free Number: 1-888-857-6930, Conference ID: 7342054. TDD: Dial Federal Relay Service 1-800-977-8339 and give the operator the above conference call number and conference ID. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    David Mussatt, DFO, [email protected], 312-353-8311.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Members of the public may listen to the discussion by dialing the following Conference Call Toll-Free Number: 1-888-857-6930; Conference ID: 7342054. Please be advised that before being placed into the conference call, the operator will ask callers to provide their names, their organizational affiliations (if any), and an email address (if available) prior to placing callers into the conference room. Callers can expect to incur charges for calls they initiate over wireless lines, and the Commission will not refund any incurred charges. Callers will incur no charge for calls they initiate over land-line connections to the toll-free phone number.

    Persons with hearing impairments may also follow the discussion by first calling the Federal Relay Service (FRS) at 1-800-977-8339 and provide the FRS operator with the Conference Call Toll-Free Number: 1-888-857-6930, Conference ID: 7342054. Members of the public are invited to submit written comments; the comments must be received in the regional office by Thursday, January 4, 2017. Written comments may be mailed to the Rocky Mountain Regional Office, U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, 1961 Stout Street, Suite 13-201, Denver, CO 80294, faxed to (303) 866-1050, or emailed to Evelyn Bohor at [email protected] Persons who desire additional information may contact the Rocky Mountain Regional Office at (303) 866-1040.

    Records and documents discussed during the meeting will be available for public viewing as they become available at https://database.faca.gov/committee/meetings.aspx?cid=274 and clicking on the “Meeting Details” and “Documents” links. Records generated from this meeting may also be inspected and reproduced at the Rocky Mountain Regional Office, as they become available, both before and after the meeting. Persons interested in the work of this advisory committee are advised to go to the Commission's Web site, www.usccr.gov, or to contact the Rocky Mountain Regional Office at the above phone number, email or street address.

    Agenda

    • Welcome and Roll-call.

    • Brief update on Commission and Regional Activities.

    • Discuss next steps after briefing held in Aberdeen, SD, on March 24, 2017.

    Dr. Richard Braunstein, Chair, South Dakota Advisory Committee.

    • Discuss Transcript, Sample Advisory Memorandums, Yankton Sioux Tribe Chairman testimony.

    • Adjourn.

    Dated: November 16, 2017. David Mussatt, Supervisory Chief, Regional Programs Unit.
    [FR Doc. 2017-25239 Filed 11-21-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE P
    COMMISSION ON CIVIL RIGHTS Notice of Public Meeting of the South Carolina Advisory Committee AGENCY:

    U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.

    ACTION:

    Notice of meeting.

    SUMMARY:

    Notice is hereby given, pursuant to the provisions of the rules and regulations of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights and the Federal Advisory Committee Act that the South Carolina Advisory Committee will hold a meeting on Monday, November 27, 2018, for the purpose of beginning work on its project regarding civil rights issues and policing in the state.

    DATES:

    The meeting will be held on Monday, November 27, 2017 at 3:00 p.m. EST.

    ADDRESSES:

    The meeting will be by teleconference. Toll-free call-in number: 1-888-300-2343, conference ID: 3744301.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Jeff Hinton, DFO, at [email protected] or 404-562-7006.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Members of the public can listen to the discussion. This meeting is available to the public through the following toll-free call-in number: 1-888-300-2343, conference ID: 3744301. Any interested member of the public may call this number and listen to the meeting. Callers can expect to incur charges for calls they initiate over wireless lines, and the Commission will not refund any incurred charges. Callers will incur no charge for calls they initiate over land-line connections to the toll-free telephone number. Persons with hearing impairments may also follow the proceedings by first calling the Federal Relay Service at 1-800-977-8339 and providing the Service with the conference call number and conference ID number.

    Members of the public are also entitled to submit written comments; the comments must be received in the regional office by November 22, 2017. Written comments may be mailed to the Southern Regional Office, U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, 61 Forsyth Street, Suite 16T126, Atlanta, GA 30303. They may also be faxed to the Commission at (404) 562-7005, or emailed to Regional Director, Jeffrey Hinton at [email protected] Persons who desire additional information may contact the Southern Regional Office at (404) 562-7000.

    Records generated from this meeting may be inspected and reproduced at the Southern Regional Office, as they become available, both before and after the meeting. Records of the meeting will be available via www.facadatabase.gov under the Commission on Civil Rights, South Carolina Advisory Committee link. Persons interested in the work of this Committee are directed to the Commission's Web site, http://www.usccr.gov, or may contact the Southern Regional Office at the above email or street address.

    Agenda Welcome and Introductions Discussion on Policing Project Open Comment Adjournment Dated: November 16, 2017. David Mussatt, Supervisory Chief, Regional Programs Unit.
    [FR Doc. 2017-25208 Filed 11-21-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6335-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE Submission for OMB Review; Comment Request

    The Department of Commerce will submit to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for clearance the following proposal for collection of information under the provisions of the Paperwork Reduction Act.

    Agency: U.S. Census Bureau.

    Title: National Sample Survey of Registered Nurses.

    OMB Control Number: 0607-####.

    Form Number(s): NSSRN.

    Type of Request: OMB approval of new collection of information.

    Number of Respondents: 65,000.

    Average Hours per Response: 0.4 (Registered Nurses) 0.5 (Nurse Practitioners).

    Burden Hours: 28,600.

    Needs and Uses: Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' (HHS) Health Resources and Services Administration's (HRSA) National Center for Health Workforce Analysis (NCHWA), the National Sample Survey of Registered Nurses (NSSRN) is designed to obtain the necessary data to determine the characteristics and distribution of Registered Nurses (RNs) throughout the United States, as well as emerging patterns in their employment characteristics. These data will provide the means for the evaluation and assessment of the evolving demographics, educational qualifications, and career employment patterns of RNs.

    The Census Bureau will request survey participation from 100,000 RNs via one of two modes: Web survey or paper questionnaire. Half of respondents will receive a letter invitation with the Web URL and login ID included in the letter. The other half of respondents will be mailed a paper questionnaire with the Web URL and login ID included in the questionnaire package. Those RNs that receive a paper questionnaire in the first mailing will be randomized.

    The 2018 NSSRN will include multiple contact strategy experiments to reduce both follow-up costs and nonresponse bias. There will be a non-monetary incentive experiment in the first mailing. Approximately half of the sample will be mailed an inscribed syringe pen and lanyard for the first contact attempt. Receiving a syringe pen and lanyard were discussed with the members of the nursing workforce and the feedback was that syringe pens are common in the nursing field due to the nature of the occupation. The syringe pen and lanyard will be experimentally tested again in the second follow-up mailing with a segment of the non-responding sampled RNs/NPs from the control group in strategy initial mailing. Half of the non-respondents will be mailed a syringe pen and lanyard.

    Additionally, the 2018 NSSRN will include an experiment to test the efficacy of an infographic in the third contact attempt. Fifty percent of the RN sample will be randomly assigned the treatment group. Lastly, there will be logos of the several nursing groups that endorse the NSSRN. Higher response early in data collection can reduce follow-up costs and nonresponse.

    Affected Public: Nurses, researchers, and policymakers.

    Frequency: This 2018 collection is the first administration of the NSSRN since the redesign and the Bureau of the Census collecting the data. It is expected that this will be collected every four years, with a new sample drawn for each administration.

    Respondent's Obligation: Voluntary.

    Legal Authority: Census Authority: 13 U.S.C. Section 8(b), HRSA NCHWA Authority: Public Health Service Act 42 U.S.C. Section 294n(b)(2)(A) and 42 U.S.C. Section 295k(a)-(b).

    This information collection request may be viewed at www.reginfo.gov. Follow the instructions to view Department of Commerce collections currently under review by OMB.

    Written comments and recommendations for the proposed information collection should be sent within 30 days of publication of this notice to [email protected] or fax to (202)395-5806.

    Sheleen Dumas, Departmental PRA Lead, Office of the Chief Information Officer.
    [FR Doc. 2017-25312 Filed 11-21-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-07-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE Foreign-Trade Zones Board [B-54-2017] Foreign-Trade Zone (FTZ) 277—Western Maricopa County, Arizona; Authorization of Production Activity; CornellCookson, Inc.; (Rolling Steel Doors); Goodyear, Arizona

    On July 19, 2017, Greater Maricopa Foreign Trade Zone, Inc., grantee of FTZ 277, submitted a notification of proposed production activity to the FTZ Board on behalf of CornellCookson, Inc., within Site 11, in Goodyear, Arizona.

    The notification was processed in accordance with the regulations of the FTZ Board (15 CFR part 400), including notice in the Federal Register inviting public comment (82 FR 39759, August 22, 2017). On November 16, 2017, the applicant was notified of the FTZ Board's decision that no further review of the activity is warranted at this time. The production activity described in the notification was authorized, subject to the FTZ Act and the FTZ Board's regulations, including Section 400.14.

    Dated: November 17, 2017. Andrew McGilvray, Executive Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2017-25278 Filed 11-21-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-DS-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE Foreign-Trade Zones Board [B-51-2017 and B-52-2017] Foreign-Trade Zone (FTZ) 196—Fort Worth, Texas; Foreign-Trade Zone (FTZ) 247—Erie, Pennsylvania; Authorization of Production Activity; General Electric Transportation; (Underground Mining Vehicles); Fort Worth and Haslet, Texas; Erie and Grove City, Pennsylvania

    On July 19, 2017, General Electric Transportation submitted a notification of proposed production activity to the FTZ Board for its facilities in Fort Worth and Haslet, Texas within Subzone 196B (Doc. B-51-2017) and Erie and Grove City, Pennsylvania, within Subzones 247A and 247B (Doc. B-52-2017).

    The notification was processed in accordance with the regulations of the FTZ Board (15 CFR part 400), including notice in the Federal Register inviting public comment (82 FR 37192, August 9, 2017). On November 16, 2017, the applicant was notified of the FTZ Board's decision that no further review of the activity is warranted at this time. The production activity described in the notification was authorized, subject to the FTZ Act and the FTZ Board's regulations, including Section 400.14.

    Dated: November 17, 2017. Andrew McGilvray, Executive Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2017-25279 Filed 11-21-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-DS-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE Foreign-Trade Zones Board [B-72-2017] Foreign-Trade Zone 30—Salt Lake City, Utah; Application for Reorganization Under Alternative Site Framework

    An application has been submitted to the Foreign-Trade Zones (FTZ) Board by the Salt Lake City Corporation, grantee of FTZ 30, requesting authority to reorganize the zone under the alternative site framework (ASF) adopted by the FTZ Board (15 CFR Sec. 400.2(c)). The ASF is an option for grantees for the establishment or reorganization of zones and can permit significantly greater flexibility in the designation of new subzones or “usage-driven” FTZ sites for operators/users located within a grantee's “service area” in the context of the FTZ Board's standard 2,000-acre activation limit for a zone. The application was submitted pursuant to the Foreign-Trade Zones Act, as amended (19 U.S.C. 81a-81u), and the regulations of the Board (15 CFR part 400). It was formally docketed on November 16, 2017.

    FTZ 30 was approved by the FTZ Board on May 26, 1977 (Board Order 119, 42 FR 29324, June 8, 1977) and expanded on February 13, 2009 (Board Order 1606, 74 FR 9384-9385, March 4, 2009).

    The current zone includes the following site: Site 2 (55 acres)—Rockefeller Development Group Corporation, 1105 South 4800 West Street, Salt Lake City.

    The grantee's proposed service area under the ASF would be Davis, Morgan, Salt Lake, Utah and Weber Counties, Utah and the cities of Brigham City, Corinne, Honeyville, Perry, Erda, Grantsville, Lake Point, Mills Junction, Rush Valley, Stansbury Park, Stockton, Terra, Tooele, Vernon, Heber City, Midway, Coalville, Deer Mountain, Echo, Francis, Henefer, Kamas, Kimball Junction, Oakley, Park City, Peoa, Samak, Silver Summit, Snyderville, Wanship, Woodland and Mantua, Utah, as described in the application. If approved, the grantee would be able to serve sites throughout the service area based on companies' needs for FTZ designation. The application indicates that the proposed service area is within and adjacent to the Salt Lake City U.S. Customs and Border Protection port of entry.

    The applicant is requesting authority to reorganize its existing zone to include the existing site as a “magnet” site. No subzones/usage-driven sites are being requested at this time. The application would have no impact on FTZ 30's previously authorized subzones.

    In accordance with the FTZ Board's regulations, Christopher Kemp of the FTZ Staff is designated examiner to evaluate and analyze the facts and information presented in the application and case record and to report findings and recommendations to the FTZ Board.

    Public comment is invited from interested parties. Submissions shall be addressed to the FTZ Board's Executive Secretary at the address below. The closing period for their receipt is January 22, 2018. Rebuttal comments in response to material submitted during the foregoing period may be submitted during the subsequent 15-day period to February 5, 2018.

    A copy of the application will be available for public inspection at the Office of the Executive Secretary, Foreign-Trade Zones Board, Room 21013, U.S. Department of Commerce, 1401 Constitution Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20230-0002, and in the “Reading Room” section of the FTZ Board's Web site, which is accessible via www.trade.gov/ftz. For further information, contact Christopher Kemp at [email protected] or (202) 482-0862.

    Dated: November 17, 2017. Andrew McGilvray, Executive Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2017-25280 Filed 11-21-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-DS-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE International Trade Administration [A-428-845] Certain Cold-Drawn Mechanical Tubing of Carbon and Alloy Steel From the Federal Republic of Germany: Preliminary Affirmative Determination of Sales at Less Than Fair Value and Postponement of Final Determination AGENCY:

    Enforcement and Compliance, International Trade Administration, Department of Commerce.

    SUMMARY:

    The Department of Commerce (the Department) preliminarily determines that certain cold-drawn mechanical tubing of carbon and alloy steel (cold-drawn mechanical tubing) from the Federal Republic of Germany (Germany) is being, or is likely to be, sold in the United States at less than fair value (LTFV). The period of investigation (POI) is April 1, 2016, through March 31, 2017.

    DATES:

    Applicable November 22, 2017.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Frances Veith, AD/CVD Operations, Office III, Enforcement and Compliance, International Trade Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce, 1401 Constitution Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20230; telephone: (202) 482-4295.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Background

    This preliminary determination is made in accordance with section 733(b) of the Tariff Act of 1930, as amended (the Act). The Department published the notice of initiation of this investigation on May 16, 2017.1 On September 12, 2017, the Department postponed the preliminary determination of this investigation until November 15, 2017.2 A list of topics included in the Preliminary Decision Memorandum is included as Appendix II to this notice. The Preliminary Decision Memorandum, dated concurrently with, and hereby adopted by this notice, is a public document and is on file electronically via Enforcement and Compliance's Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Centralized Electronic Service System (ACCESS). ACCESS is available to registered users at https://access.trade.gov, and to all parties in the Central Records Unit, room B8024 of the main Department of Commerce building. In addition, a complete version of the Preliminary Decision Memorandum can be accessed directly at http://enforcement.trade.gov/frn/. The signed and the electronic versions of the Preliminary Decision Memorandum are identical in content.

    1See Certain Cold-Drawn Mechanical Tubing of Carbon and Alloy Steel from the Federal Republic of Germany, India, Italy, the Republic of Korea, the People's Republic of China, and Switzerland: Initiation of Less-Than-Fair-Value Investigations, 82 FR 22491 (May 16, 2017) (Initiation Notice).

    2See Certain Cold-Drawn Mechanical Tubing of Carbon and Alloy Steel from the Federal Republic of Germany, India, Italy, the Republic of Korea, the People's Republic of China, and Switzerland: Postponement of Preliminary Determinations in the Less-Than-Fair-Value Investigations, 82 FR 42788 (September 12, 2017).

    Scope of the Investigation

    The product covered by this investigation is cold-drawn mechanical tubing from Germany. For a complete description of the scope of this investigation see Appendix I.

    Scope Comments

    In accordance with the preamble to the Department's regulations,3 the Initiation Notice set aside a period of time for parties to raise issues regarding product coverage (i.e., scope).4 Certain interested parties commented on the scope of the investigation as it appeared in the Initiation Notice, as well as additional language proposed by the petitioners.5 For a summary of the product coverage comments and rebuttal responses submitted to the record for this preliminary determination, and accompanying discussion and analysis of all comments timely received, see the Preliminary Scope Decision Memorandum.6 The Department is preliminarily modifying the scope language as it appeared in the Initiation Notice. See the revised scope in Appendix I to this notice.

    3See Antidumping Duties; Countervailing Duties, 62 FR 27296, 27323 (May 19, 1997).

    4See Initiation Notice, 82 FR at 22492.

    5 ArcelorMittal Tubular Products, Michigan Seamless Tube, LLC, PTC Alliance Corp., Plymouth Tube Co. USA, Webco Industries, Inc., and Zekelman Industries, Inc. (collectively, the petitioners).

    6See Memorandum, “Certain Cold-Drawn Mechanical Tubing of Carbon and Alloy Steel from the Federal Republic of Germany, India, Italy, the Republic of Korea, the People's Republic of China, and Switzerland: Scope Comments Decision Memorandum for the Preliminary Determination” (Preliminary Scope Decision Memorandum), dated concurrently with this preliminary determination.

    Methodology

    The Department is conducting this investigation in accordance with section 731 of the Act. Export prices were calculated in accordance with section 772(a) of the Act. Constructed export prices were calculated in accordance with section 772(b) of the Act. Normal value (NV) was calculated in accordance with section 773 of the Act. In addition, pursuant to sections 776(a) and (b) of the Act, the Department has preliminarily relied upon facts otherwise available, with adverse inferences for Mubea Fahrwerksfedern GmbH (Mubea) and Salzgitter Mannesmann Line Pipe GmbH (Salzgitter). Also, for certain BENTELER Steel/Tube GmbH (BENTELER) sales transactions, we preliminarily relied upon facts available pursuant to section 776(a) of the Act. For a full description of the methodology underlying the preliminary determination, see the Preliminary Decision Memorandum.

    All-Others Rate

    The Department calculated an individual estimated weighted-average dumping margin for BENTELER, the only individually examined exporter/producer that is participating in this investigation. Because the only individually calculated dumping margin is not zero, de minimis, or based entirely on facts otherwise available, the estimated weighted-average dumping margin calculated for BENTELER is the margin assigned to all-other producers and exporters, pursuant to sections 733(d)(1)(A)(ii) and 735(c)(5)(A) of the Act.

    Preliminary Determination

    The Department preliminarily determines that the following estimated weighted-average dumping margins exist:

    Exporter/producer Estimated weighted-
  • average
  • dumping
  • margin
  • (percent)
  • BENTELER Steel/Tube GmbH/BENTELER Distribution International GmbH 7 75.39 Mubea Fahrwerksfedern GmbH 209.06 Salzgitter Mannesmann Line Pipe GmbH 209.06 All-Others 75.39

    7 The Department preliminarily determines that BENTELER Steel/Tube GmbH and BENTELER Distribution International GmbH are a single entity. See Preliminary Decision Memorandum.

    Suspension of Liquidation

    In accordance with section 733(d)(2) of the Act, the Department will direct U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to suspend liquidation of entries of subject merchandise, as described in Appendix I, entered, or withdrawn from warehouse, for consumption on or after the date of publication of this notice in the Federal Register. Further, pursuant to section 733(d)(1)(B) of the Act and 19 CFR 351.205(d), the Department will instruct CBP to require a cash deposit equal to the estimated weighted-average dumping margin or the estimated all-others rate, as follows: (1) The cash deposit rate for the respondents listed above will be equal to the company-specific estimated weighted-average dumping margins determined in this preliminary determination; (2) if the exporter is not a respondent identified above, but the producer is, then the cash deposit rate will be equal to the company-specific estimated weighted-average dumping margin established for that producer of the subject merchandise; and (3) the cash deposit rate for all other producers and exporters will be equal to the all-others estimated weighted-average dumping margin.

    Disclosure

    The Department intends to disclose its calculations and analysis performed to interested parties in this preliminary determination within five days of any public announcement or, if there is no public announcement, within five days of the date of publication of this notice in accordance with 19 CFR 351.224(b).

    Verification

    As provided in section 782(i)(1) of the Act, the Department intends to verify the information relied upon in making its final determination with respect to BENTELER. Because mandatory respondents Mubea and Salzgitter did not respond to the Department's questionnaire and the Department preliminarily determined that they failed to cooperate by not acting to the best of their ability, the Department does not intend to conduct verification for these companies.

    Public Comment

    The Department is setting different deadlines for scope-related case and rebuttal briefs, and case and rebuttal briefs addressing all other issues.

    Scope briefs may be submitted to the Assistant Secretary for Enforcement and Compliance no later than five days after the publication of the preliminary AD determinations for the PRC, Germany, India, Italy, Korea, and Switzerland in the Federal Register. Rebuttal scope briefs, limited to issues raised in the scope case briefs, may be submitted no later than three days after the deadline for the scope case briefs. These deadlines, which are based on publication in the Federal Register of the preliminary determinations in the AD investigations of cold-drawn mechanical tubing, apply for both the on-going CVD and AD investigations. There is only one briefing schedule for scope case and rebuttal briefs in the CVD and AD investigations. For all scope issues, parties must file separate and identical documents on the records of all of the ongoing CVD and AD cold-drawn mechanical tubing investigations. No new factual information should be included in scope case briefs or rebuttal scope briefs, and no proprietary information should be submitted in the scope case briefs and rebuttal scope briefs.

    Pursuant to 19 CFR 351.310(c), interested parties who wish to request a hearing on the revised scope, limited to issues raised in the scope case and rebuttal briefs, must submit a written request to the Assistant Secretary for Enforcement and Compliance, U.S. Department of Commerce, separate from the hearing on issues raised in case briefs, within five days after the date of publication of this notice. Requests should contain the party's name, address, and telephone number, the number of participants, whether any participant is a foreign national, and a list of the issues to be discussed. If a request for a hearing is made, the Department intends to hold the hearing at the U.S. Department of Commerce, 1401 Constitution Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20230, at a time and date to be determined. Parties should confirm by telephone the date, time, and location of the hearing two days before the scheduled date.

    Scope comments may only be included in the scope case brief and scope rebuttal brief. Should this investigation result in an order, interested parties may submit requests for a scope ruling after the issuance of any such order.

    Case briefs or other non-scope written comments may be submitted to the Assistant Secretary for Enforcement and Compliance no later than seven days after the date on which the last verification report is issued in this investigation, unless the Secretary alters the time limit. Rebuttal briefs, limited to issues raised in case briefs, may be submitted no later than five days after the deadline date for case briefs.8 Pursuant to 19 CFR 351.309(c)(2) and (d)(2), parties who submit case briefs or rebuttal briefs in this investigation are encouraged to submit with each argument: (1) A statement of the issue; (2) a brief summary of the argument; and (3) a table of authorities. Pursuant to 19 CFR 351.310(c), interested parties who wish to request a hearing, limited to issues raised in the case and rebuttal briefs, must submit a written request to the Assistant Secretary for Enforcement and Compliance, U.S. Department of Commerce, within 30 days after the date of publication of this notice. Requests should contain the party's name, address, and telephone number, the number of participants, whether any participant is a foreign national, and a list of the issues to be discussed. If a request for a hearing is made, the Department intends to hold the hearing at the U.S. Department of Commerce, 1401 Constitution Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20230, at a time and date to be determined. Parties should confirm by telephone the date, time, and location of the hearing two days before the scheduled date.

    8See 19 CFR 351.309; see also 19 CFR 351.303 (for general filing requirements).

    Postponement of Final Determination and Extension of Provisional Measures

    Section 735(a)(2) of the Act provides that a final determination may be postponed until not later than 135 days after the date of the publication of the preliminary determination if, in the event of an affirmative preliminary determination, a request for such postponement is made by exporters who account for a significant proportion of exports of the subject merchandise, or in the event of a negative preliminary determination, a request for such postponement is made by the petitioner. Section 351.210(e)(2) of the Department's regulations requires that a request by exporters for postponement of the final determination be accompanied by a request for extension of provisional measures from a four-month period to a period not more than six months in duration.

    On October 24, 2017, pursuant to 19 CFR 351.210(e), BENTELER requested that the Department postpone the final determination and that provisional measures be extended to a period not to exceed six months.9 On November 13, 2017, the petitioners requested that we grant BENTELER's request to extend the deadline for the final determination of this investigation.10 In accordance with section 735(a)(2)(A) of the Act and 19 CFR 351.210(b)(2)(ii), because: (1) The preliminary determination is affirmative; (2) the requesting exporter accounts for a significant proportion of exports of the subject merchandise; and (3) no compelling reasons for denial exist, the Department is postponing the final determination and extending the provisional measures from a four-month period to a period not greater than six months. Accordingly, the Department will make its final determination no later than 135 days after the date of publication of this preliminary determination.

    9See letter from BENTELER, “Antidumping Duty Investigation of Cold-Drawn Mechanical Tubing from Germany: Request for Postponement of Final Determination and Provisional Measures Period,” dated October 24, 2017.

    10See letter from Petitioners' “Certain Cold-Drawn Mechanical Tubing of Carbon and Alloy Steel from China, Germany, India, Italy, Korea and Switzerland—Petitioners' Comments Regarding Extension of the Final Determination Deadline,” date November 13, 2017.

    International Trade Commission Notification

    In accordance with section 733(f) of the Act, the Department will notify the International Trade Commission (ITC) of its preliminary determination. If the final determination is affirmative, the ITC will determine before the later of 120 days after the date of this preliminary determination or 45 days after the final determination whether these imports are materially injuring, or threaten material injury to, the U.S. industry.

    Notification to Interested Parties

    This determination is issued and published in accordance with sections 733(f) and 777(i)(1) of the Act and 19 CFR 351.205(c).

    Dated: November 15, 2017. Gary Taverman, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Operations, performing the non-exclusive functions and duties of the Assistant Secretary for Enforcement and Compliance. Appendix I Scope of the Investigation

    The scope of this investigation covers cold-drawn mechanical tubing of carbon and alloy steel (cold-drawn mechanical tubing) of circular cross-section, 304.8 mm or more in length, in actual outside diameters less than 331 mm, and regardless of wall thickness, surface finish, end finish or industry specification. The subject cold-drawn mechanical tubing is a tubular product with a circular cross-sectional shape that has been cold-drawn or otherwise cold-finished after the initial tube formation in a manner that involves a change in the diameter or wall thickness of the tubing, or both. The subject cold-drawn mechanical tubing may be produced from either welded (e.g., electric resistance welded, continuous welded, etc.) or seamless (e.g., pierced, pilgered or extruded, etc.) carbon or alloy steel tubular products. It may also be heat treated after cold working. Such heat treatments may include, but are not limited to, annealing, normalizing, quenching and tempering, stress relieving or finish annealing. Typical cold-drawing methods for subject merchandise include, but are not limited to, drawing over mandrel, rod drawing, plug drawing, sink drawing and similar processes that involve reducing the outside diameter of the tubing with a die or similar device, whether or not controlling the inside diameter of the tubing with an internal support device such as a mandrel, rod, plug or similar device. Other cold-finishing operations that may be used to produce subject merchandise include cold-rolling and cold-sizing the tubing.

    Subject cold-drawn mechanical tubing is typically certified to meet industry specifications for cold-drawn tubing including but not limited to:

    (1) American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) or American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) specifications ASTM A-512, ASTM A-513 Type 3 (ASME SA513 Type 3), ASTM A-513 Type 4 (ASME SA513 Type 4), ASTM A-513 Type 5 (ASME SA513 Type 5), ASTM A-513 Type 6 (ASME SA513 Type 6), ASTM A-519 (cold-finished);

    (2) SAE International (Society of Automotive Engineers) specifications SAE J524, SAE J525, SAE J2833, SAE J2614, SAE J2467, SAE J2435, SAE J2613;

    (3) Aerospace Material Specification (AMS) AMS T-6736 (AMS 6736), AMS 6371, AMS 5050, AMS 5075, AMS 5062, AMS 6360, AMS 6361, AMS 6362, AMS 6371, AMS 6372, AMS 6374, AMS 6381, AMS 6415;

    (4) United States Military Standards (MIL) MIL-T-5066 and MIL-T-6736;

    (5) foreign standards equivalent to one of the previously listed ASTM, ASME, SAE, AMS or MIL specifications including but not limited to:

    (a) German Institute for Standardization (DIN) specifications DIN 2391-2, DIN 2393-2, DIN 2394-2);

    (b) European Standards (EN) EN 10305-1, EN 10305-2, EN 10305-3, EN 10305-4, EN 10305-6 and European national variations on those standards (e.g., British Standard (BS EN), Irish Standard (IS EN) and German Standard (DIN EN) variations, etc.);

    (c) Japanese Industrial Standard (JIS) JIS G 3441 and JIS G 3445; and

    (6) proprietary standards that are based on one of the above-listed standards.

    The subject cold-drawn mechanical tubing may also be dual or multiple certified to more than one standard. Pipe that is multiple certified as cold-drawn mechanical tubing and to other specifications not covered by this scope, is also covered by the scope of this investigation when it meets the physical description set forth above.

    Steel products included in the scope of this investigation are products in which: (1) Iron predominates, by weight, over each of the other contained elements; and (2) the carbon content is 2 percent or less by weight.

    For purposes of this scope, the place of cold-drawing determines the country of origin of the subject merchandise. Subject merchandise that is subject to minor working in a third country that occurs after drawing in one of the subject countries including, but not limited to, heat treatment, cutting to length, straightening, nondestruction testing, deburring or chamfering, remains within the scope of this investigation.

    All products that meet the written physical description are within the scope of this investigation unless specifically excluded or covered by the scope of an existing order. Merchandise that meets the physical description of cold-drawn mechanical tubing above is within the scope of the investigation even if it is also dual or multiple certified to an otherwise excluded specification listed below. The following products are outside of, and/or specifically excluded from, the scope of this investigation:

    (1) Cold-drawn stainless steel tubing, containing 10.5 percent or more of chromium by weight and not more than 1.2 percent of carbon by weight;

    (2) products certified to one or more of the ASTM, ASME or American Petroleum Institute (API) specifications listed below:

    • ASTM A-53;

    • ASTM A-106;

    • ASTM A-179 (ASME SA 179);

    • ASTM A-192 (ASME SA 192);

    • ASTM A-209 (ASME SA 209);

    • ASTM A-210 (ASME SA 210);

    • ASTM A-213 (ASME SA 213);

    • ASTM A-334 (ASME SA 334);

    • ASTM A-423 (ASME SA 423);

    • ASTM A-498;

    • ASTM A-496 (ASME SA 496);

    • ASTM A-199;

    • ASTM A-500;

    • ASTM A-556;

    • ASTM A-565;

    • API 5L; and

    • API 5CT

    except that any cold-drawn tubing product certified to one of the above excluded specifications will not be excluded from the scope if it is also dual- or multiple-certified to any other specification that otherwise would fall within the scope of this investigation.

    The products subject to the investigation are currently classified in the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS) under item numbers: 7304.31.3000, 7304.31.6050, 7304.51.1000, 7304.51.5005, 7304.51.5060, 7306.30.5015, 7306.30.5020, 7306.50.5030. Subject merchandise may also enter under numbers 7306.30.1000 and 7306.50.1000. The HTSUS subheadings above are provided for convenience and customs purposes only. The written description of the scope of the investigation is dispositive.

    Appendix II List of Topics Discussed in the Preliminary Decision Memorandum I. Summary II. Background III. Period of Investigation IV. Scope Comments V. Affiliation/Collapsing VI. Discussion of the Methodology A. Determination of the Comparison Method B. Results of the Differential Pricing Analysis VII. Date of Sale VIII. Product Comparisons IX. Export Price and Constructed Export Price A. Export Price B. Constructed Export Price X. Normal Value A. Home Market Viability B. Level of Trade C. Cost of Production (COP) Analysis D. Calculation of NV Based on Comparison Market Prices E. Calculation of NV Based on Constructed Value XI. Application of Facts Available and Use of Adverse Inference A. Application of Facts Available B. Use of Adverse Inference C. Selection and Corroboration of the AFA Rate XII. Currency Conversion XIII. Conclusion
    [FR Doc. 2017-25291 Filed 11-21-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-DS-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE International Trade Administration [A-475-838] Certain Cold-Drawn Mechanical Tubing of Carbon and Alloy Steel From Italy: Preliminary Affirmative Determination of Sales at Less Than Fair Value, Preliminary Affirmative Determination of Critical Circumstances, in Part, Postponement of Final Determination, and Extension of Provisional Measures AGENCY:

    Enforcement and Compliance, International Trade Administration, Department of Commerce.

    SUMMARY:

    The Department of Commerce (the Department) preliminarily determines that certain cold-drawn mechanical tubing of carbon and alloy steel (cold-drawn mechanical tubing) from Italy is being, or is likely to be, sold in the United States at less than fair value (LTFV). The period of investigation (POI) is April 1, 2016, through March 31, 2017.

    DATES:

    Applicable November 22, 2017.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Carrie Bethea or Kabir Archuletta, AD/CVD Operations, Office V, Enforcement and Compliance, International Trade Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce, 1401 Constitution Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20230; telephone: (202) 482-1491 or (202) 482-2593, respectively.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Background

    This preliminary determination is made in accordance with section 733(b) of the Tariff Act of 1930, as amended (the Act). The Department published the notice of initiation of this investigation on May 16, 2017.1 On September 12, 2017, the Department postponed the preliminary determination of this investigation until November 15, 2017.2 For a complete description of the events that followed the initiation of this investigation, see the Preliminary Decision Memorandum.3 A list of topics included in the Preliminary Decision Memorandum is included as Appendix II to this notice. The Preliminary Decision Memorandum is a public document and is on file electronically via Enforcement and Compliance's Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Centralized Electronic Service System (ACCESS). ACCESS is available to registered users at https://access.trade.gov, and to all parties in the Central Records Unit, room B8024 of the main Department of Commerce building. In addition, a complete version of the Preliminary Decision Memorandum can be accessed directly at http://enforcement.trade.gov/frn/. The signed and the electronic versions of the Preliminary Decision Memorandum are identical in content.

    1See Certain Cold-Drawn Mechanical Tubing of Carbon and Alloy Steel from the Federal Republic of Germany, India, Italy, the Republic of Korea, the People's Republic of China, and Switzerland: Initiation of Less-Than-Fair-Value Investigations, 82 FR 22491 (May 16, 2017) (Initiation Notice).

    2See Certain Cold-Drawn Mechanical Tubing of Carbon and Alloy Steel from the Federal Republic of Germany, India, Italy, the Republic of Korea, the People's Republic of China, and Switzerland: Postponement of Preliminary Determinations in the Less-Than-Fair-Value Investigations, 82 FR 42788 (September 12, 2017).

    3See Memorandum, “Decision Memorandum for the Preliminary Determination and Affirmative Determination of Critical Circumstances in the Less-Than-Fair-Value Investigation of Certain Cold-Drawn Mechanical Tubing of Carbon and Alloy Steel from Italy” dated concurrently with, and hereby adopted by, this notice (Preliminary Decision Memorandum).

    Scope of the Investigation

    The product covered by this investigation is cold-drawn mechanical tubing from Italy. For a complete description of the scope of this investigation, see Appendix I.

    Scope Comments

    In accordance with the preamble to the Department's regulations,4 the Initiation Notice set aside a period of time for parties to raise issues regarding product coverage (i.e., scope).5 Certain interested parties commented on the scope of the investigation as it appeared in the Initiation Notice, as well as additional language proposed by the petitioners.6 For a summary of the product coverage comments and rebuttal responses submitted to the record for this preliminary determination, and accompanying discussion and analysis of all comments timely received, see the Preliminary Scope Decision Memorandum.7 The Department is preliminarily modifying the scope language as it appeared in the Initiation Notice. See the revised scope in Appendix I to this notice.

    4See Antidumping Duties; Countervailing Duties, 62 FR 27296, 27323 (May 19, 1997).

    5See Initiation Notice, 82 FR at 22492.

    6 ArcelorMittal Tubular Products, Michigan Seamless Tube, LLC, PTC Alliance Corp., Plymouth Tube Co. USA, Webco Industries, Inc., and Zekelman Industries, Inc. (collectively, the petitioners).

    7See Memorandum, “Certain Cold-Drawn Mechanical Tubing of Carbon and Alloy Steel from the Federal Republic of Germany, India, Italy, the Republic of Korea, the People's Republic of China, and Switzerland: Scope Comments Decision Memorandum for the Preliminary Determination” (Preliminary Scope Decision Memorandum), dated concurrently with this preliminary determination.

    Methodology

    The Department is conducting this investigation in accordance with section 731 of the Act. Export prices were calculated in accordance with section 772(a) of the Act. Constructed export prices were calculated in accordance with section 772(b) of the Act. Normal value (NV) was calculated in accordance with section 773 of the Act. In addition, the Department has relied on partial adverse facts available under sections 776(a) and (b) of the Act for Dalmine. For a full description of the methodology underlying the preliminary determination, see the Preliminary Decision Memorandum.

    Preliminary Affirmative Determination of Critical Circumstances, in Part

    In accordance with section 733(e) of the Act and 19 CFR 351.206, the Department preliminarily finds that critical circumstances exist for Dalmine S.p.A. (Dalmine), and Metalfer S.p.A. (Metalfer), but not for all other exporters. For a full description of the methodology and results of the Department's critical circumstances analysis, see the Preliminary Decision Memorandum.

    All-Others Rate

    Sections 733(d)(1)(ii) and 735(c)(5)(A) of the Act provide that in the preliminary determination the Department shall determine an estimated all-others rate for all exporters and producers not individually examined. This rate shall be an amount equal to the weighted average of the estimated weighted-average dumping margins established for exporters and producers individually investigated, excluding any zero and de minimis margins, and any margins determined entirely under section 776 of the Act.

    In this investigation, the Department calculated estimated weighted-average dumping margins for Dalmine and Metalfer that are not zero, de minimis, or based entirely on facts otherwise available. The Department calculated the all-others' rate using a weighted average of the estimated weighted-average dumping margins calculated for the examined respondents using each company's publicly-ranged values for the merchandise under consideration.8

    8 With two respondents under examination, the Department normally calculates (A) a weighted-average of the estimated weighted-average dumping margins calculated for the examined respondents; (B) a simple average of the estimated weighted-average dumping margins calculated for the examined respondents; and (C) a weighted-average of the estimated weighted-average dumping margins calculated for the examined respondents using each company's publicly-ranged U.S. sale quantities for the merchandise under consideration. The Department then compares (B) and (C) to (A) and selects the rate closest to (A) as the most appropriate rate for all other producers and exporters. See Ball Bearings and Parts Thereof from France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the United Kingdom: Final Results of Antidumping Duty Administrative Reviews, Final Results of Changed-Circumstances Review, and Revocation of an Order in Part, 75 FR 53661, 53663 (September 1, 2010). As complete publicly ranged sales data was available, the Department based the all-others rate on the publicly ranged sales data of the mandatory respondents. For a complete analysis of the data, please see the All-Others' Rate Calculation Memorandum.

    Preliminary Determination

    The Department preliminarily determines that the following estimated weighted-average dumping margins exist:

    Exporter/producer Estimated weighted-
  • average
  • dumping
  • margin
  • (percent)
  • Dalmine S.p.A 36.80 Metalfer S.p.A 31.42 All-Others 33.75
    Suspension of Liquidation

    In accordance with section 733(d)(2) of the Act, the Department will direct U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to suspend liquidation of entries of subject merchandise, as described in Appendix I, entered, or withdrawn from warehouse, for consumption on or after the date of publication of this notice in the Federal Register. Further, pursuant to section 733(d)(1)(B) of the Act and 19 CFR 351.205(d), the Department will instruct CBP to require a cash deposit equal to the estimated weighted-average dumping margin or the estimated all-others rate, as follows: (1) The cash deposit rate for the respondents listed above will be equal to the company-specific estimated weighted-average dumping margins determined in this preliminary determination; (2) if the exporter is not a respondent identified above, but the producer is, then the cash deposit rate will be equal to the company-specific estimated weighted-average dumping margin established for that producer of the subject merchandise; and (3) the cash deposit rate for all other producers and exporters will be equal to the all-others estimated weighted-average dumping margin.

    Section 733(e)(2) of the Act provides that, given an affirmative determination of critical circumstances, any suspension of liquidation shall apply to unliquidated entries of subject merchandise entered, or withdrawn from warehouse, for consumption on or after the later of (a) the date which is 90 days before the date on which the suspension of liquidation was first ordered, or (b) the date on which notice of initiation of the investigation was published. The Department preliminarily finds that critical circumstances exist for imports of subject merchandise produced or exported by Dalmine and Metalfer. In accordance with section 733(e)(2)(A) of the Act, the suspension of liquidation shall apply to unliquidated entries of shipments of subject merchandise from the producer(s) or exporter(s) identified in this paragraph that were entered, or withdrawn from warehouse, for consumption on or after the date which is 90 days before the publication of this notice.

    These suspension of liquidation instructions will remain in effect until further notice.

    Disclosure

    The Department intends to disclose its calculations and analysis performed to interested parties in this preliminary determination within five days of any public announcement or, if there is no public announcement, within five days of the date of publication of this notice in accordance with 19 CFR 351.224(b).

    Verification

    As provided in section 782(i)(1) of the Act, the Department intends to verify the information relied upon in making its final determination.

    Public Comment

    The Department is setting different deadlines for scope-related case and rebuttal briefs, and case and rebuttal briefs addressing all other issues.

    Scope briefs may be submitted to the Assistant Secretary for Enforcement and Compliance no later than five days after the publication of the preliminary AD determinations for the PRC, Germany, India, Italy, Korea, and Switzerland in the Federal Register. Rebuttal scope briefs, limited to issues raised in the scope case briefs, may be submitted no later than three days after the deadline for the scope case briefs. These deadlines, which are based on publication in the Federal Register of the preliminary determinations in the AD investigations of cold-drawn mechanical tubing, apply for both the on-going CVD and AD investigations. There is only one briefing schedule for scope case and rebuttal briefs in the CVD and AD investigations. For all scope issues, parties must file separate and identical documents on the records of all of the ongoing CVD and AD cold-drawn mechanical tubing investigations. No new factual information should be included in scope case briefs or rebuttal scope briefs, and no proprietary information should be submitted in the scope case briefs and rebuttal scope briefs.

    Pursuant to 19 CFR 351.310(c), interested parties who wish to request a hearing on the revised scope, limited to issues raised in the scope case and rebuttal briefs, must submit a written request to the Assistant Secretary for Enforcement and Compliance, U.S. Department of Commerce, separate from the hearing on issues raised in case briefs, within five days after the date of publication of this notice. Requests should contain the party's name, address, and telephone number, the number of participants, whether any participant is a foreign national, and a list of the issues to be discussed. If a request for a hearing is made, the Department intends to hold the hearing at the U.S. Department of Commerce, 1401 Constitution Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20230, at a time and date to be determined. Parties should confirm by telephone the date, time, and location of the hearing two days before the scheduled date.

    Scope comments may only be included in the scope case brief and scope rebuttal brief. Should this investigation result in an order, interested parties may submit requests for a scope ruling after the issuance of any such order.

    Case briefs or other non-scope written comments may be submitted to the Assistant Secretary for Enforcement and Compliance no later than seven days after the date on which the last verification report is issued in this investigation, unless the Secretary alters the time limit. Rebuttal briefs, limited to issues raised in case briefs, may be submitted no later than five days after the deadline date for case briefs.9 Pursuant to 19 CFR 351.309(c)(2) and (d)(2), parties who submit case briefs or rebuttal briefs in this investigation are encouraged to submit with each argument: (1) A statement of the issue; (2) a brief summary of the argument; and (3) a table of authorities. Pursuant to 19 CFR 351.310(c), interested parties who wish to request a hearing, limited to issues raised in the case and rebuttal briefs, must submit a written request to the Assistant Secretary for Enforcement and Compliance, U.S. Department of Commerce, within 30 days after the date of publication of this notice. Requests should contain the party's name, address, and telephone number, the number of participants, whether any participant is a foreign national, and a list of the issues to be discussed. If a request for a hearing is made, the Department intends to hold the hearing at the U.S. Department of Commerce, 1401 Constitution Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20230, at a time and date to be determined. Parties should confirm by telephone the date, time, and location of the hearing two days before the scheduled date.

    9See 19 CFR 351.309; see also 19 CFR 351.303 (for general filing requirements).

    Postponement of Final Determination and Extension of Provisional Measures

    Section 735(a)(2) of the Act provides that a final determination may be postponed until not later than 135 days after the date of the publication of the preliminary determination if, in the event of an affirmative preliminary determination, a request for such postponement is made by exporters who account for a significant proportion of exports of the subject merchandise, or in the event of a negative preliminary determination, a request for such postponement is made by the petitioner. Section 351.210(e)(2) of the Department's regulations requires that a request by exporters for postponement of the final determination be accompanied by a request for extension of provisional measures from a four-month period to a period not more than six months in duration.

    On October 25, 2017, pursuant to 19 CFR 351.210(e), Dalmine and Metalfer requested that the Department postpone the final determination and that provisional measures be extended to a period not to exceed six months.10 On November 13, 2017, the petitioners also requested pursuant to 19 CFR 351.210(e) that the Department postpone the final determination of this investigation.11 In accordance with section 735(a)(2)(A) of the Act and 19 CFR 351.210(b)(2)(ii), because: (1) The preliminary determination is affirmative; (2) the requesting exporters account for a significant proportion of exports of the subject merchandise; and (3) no compelling reasons for denial exist, the Department is postponing the final determination and extending the provisional measures from a four-month period to a period not greater than six months. Accordingly, the Department will make its final determination no later than 135 days after the date of publication of this preliminary determination.

    10See Letter from Dalmine “Request for Postponement of Final Determination and Provisional Measures Period,” dated October 25, 2017; Letter from Metalfer, “Extension Request for Final Determination,” dated October 25, 2017.

    11 Letter from the petitioners, “Petitioners' Comments Regarding Extension of the Final Determination Deadline,” dated November 13, 2017.

    International Trade Commission Notification

    In accordance with section 733(f) of the Act, the Department will notify the International Trade Commission (ITC) of its preliminary determination. If the final determination is affirmative, the ITC will determine before the later of 120 days after the date of this preliminary determination or 45 days after the final determination whether these imports are materially injuring, or threaten material injury to, the U.S. industry.

    Notification to Interested Parties

    This determination is issued and published in accordance with sections 733(f) and 777(i)(1) of the Act and 19 CFR 351.205(c).

    Dated: November 15, 2017. Gary Taverman, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Operations, performing the non-exclusive functions and duties of the Assistant Secretary for Enforcement and Compliance. Appendix I Scope of the Investigation

    The scope of this investigation covers cold-drawn mechanical tubing of carbon and alloy steel (cold-drawn mechanical tubing) of circular cross-section, 304.8 mm or more in length, in actual outside diameters less than 331mm, and regardless of wall thickness, surface finish, end finish or industry specification. The subject cold-drawn mechanical tubing is a tubular product with a circular cross-sectional shape that has been cold-drawn or otherwise cold-finished after the initial tube formation in a manner that involves a change in the diameter or wall thickness of the tubing, or both. The subject cold-drawn mechanical tubing may be produced from either welded (e.g., electric resistance welded, continuous welded, etc.) or seamless (e.g., pierced, pilgered or extruded, etc.) carbon or alloy steel tubular products. It may also be heat treated after cold working. Such heat treatments may include, but are not limited to, annealing, normalizing, quenching and tempering, stress relieving or finish annealing. Typical cold-drawing methods for subject merchandise include, but are not limited to, drawing over mandrel, rod drawing, plug drawing, sink drawing and similar processes that involve reducing the outside diameter of the tubing with a die or similar device, whether or not controlling the inside diameter of the tubing with an internal support device such as a mandrel, rod, plug or similar device. Other cold-finishing operations that may be used to produce subject merchandise include cold-rolling and cold-sizing the tubing.

    Subject cold-drawn mechanical tubing is typically certified to meet industry specifications for cold-drawn tubing including but not limited to:

    (1) American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) or American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) specifications ASTM A-512, ASTM A-513 Type 3 (ASME SA513 Type 3), ASTM A-513 Type 4 (ASME SA513 Type 4), ASTM A-513 Type 5 (ASME SA513 Type 5), ASTM A-513 Type 6 (ASME SA513 Type 6), ASTM A-519 (cold-finished);

    (2) SAE International (Society of Automotive Engineers) specifications SAE J524, SAE J525, SAE J2833, SAE J2614, SAE J2467, SAE J2435, SAE J2613;

    (3) Aerospace Material Specification (AMS) AMS T-6736 (AMS 6736), AMS 6371, AMS 5050, AMS 5075, AMS 5062, AMS 6360, AMS 6361, AMS 6362, AMS 6371, AMS 6372, AMS 6374, AMS 6381, AMS 6415;

    (4) United States Military Standards (MIL) MIL-T-5066 and MIL-T-6736;

    (5) foreign standards equivalent to one of the previously listed ASTM, ASME, SAE, AMS or MIL specifications including but not limited to:

    (a) German Institute for Standardization (DIN) specifications DIN 2391-2, DIN 2393-2, DIN 2394-2);

    (b) European Standards (EN) EN 10305-1, EN 10305-2, EN 10305-3, EN 10305-4, EN 10305-6 and European national variations on those standards (e.g., British Standard (BS EN), Irish Standard (IS EN) and German Standard (DIN EN) variations, etc.);

    (c) Japanese Industrial Standard (JIS) JIS G 3441 and JIS G 3445; and

    (6) proprietary standards that are based on one of the above-listed standards.

    The subject cold-drawn mechanical tubing may also be dual or multiple certified to more than one standard. Pipe that is multiple certified as cold-drawn mechanical tubing and to other specifications not covered by this scope, is also covered by the scope of this investigation when it meets the physical description set forth above.

    Steel products included in the scope of this investigation are products in which: (1) Iron predominates, by weight, over each of the other contained elements; and (2) the carbon content is 2 percent or less by weight.

    For purposes of this scope, the place of cold-drawing determines the country of origin of the subject merchandise. Subject merchandise that is subject to minor working in a third country that occurs after drawing in one of the subject countries including, but not limited to, heat treatment, cutting to length, straightening, nondestruction testing, deburring or chamfering, remains within the scope of the investigation.

    All products that meet the written physical description are within the scope of this investigation unless specifically excluded or covered by the scope of an existing order. Merchandise that meets the physical description of cold-drawn mechanical tubing above is within the scope of the investigation even if it is also dual or multiple certified to an otherwise excluded specification listed below. The following products are outside of, and/or specifically excluded from, the scope of this investigation:

    (1) Cold-drawn stainless steel tubing, containing 10.5 percent or more of chromium by weight and not more than 1.2 percent of carbon by weight;

    (2) products certified to one or more of the ASTM, ASME or American Petroleum Institute (API) specifications listed below:

    • ASTM A-53;

    • ASTM A-106;

    • ASTM A-179 (ASME SA 179);

    • ASTM A-192 (ASME SA 192);

    • ASTM A-209 (ASME SA 209);

    • ASTM A-210 (ASME SA 210);

    • ASTM A-213 (ASME SA 213);

    • ASTM A-334 (ASME SA 334);

    • ASTM A-423 (ASME SA 423);

    • ASTM A-498;

    • ASTM A-496 (ASME SA 496);

    • ASTM A-199;

    • ASTM A-500;

    • ASTM A-556;

    • ASTM A-565;

    • API 5L; and

    • API 5CT

    except that any cold-drawn tubing product certified to one of the above excluded specifications will not be excluded from the scope if it is also dual- or multiple-certified to any other specification that otherwise would fall within the scope of this investigation.

    The products subject to the investigation are currently classified in the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS) under item numbers: 7304.31.3000, 7304.31.6050, 7304.51.1000, 7304.51.5005, 7304.51.5060, 7306.30.5015, 7306.30.5020, 7306.50.5030. Subject merchandise may also enter under numbers 7306.30.1000 and 7306.50.1000. The HTSUS subheadings above are provided for convenience and customs purposes only. The written description of the scope of the investigation is dispositive.

    Appendix II List of Topics Discussed in the Preliminary Decision Memorandum I. Summary II. Background III. Period of Investigation IV. Scope Comments V. Discussion of the Methodology A. Determination of the Comparison Method B. Results of the Differential Pricing Analysis VI. Date of Sale VII. Product Comparisons VIII. Export Price and Constructed Export Price IX. Normal Value A. Home Market Viability B. Level of Trade C. Cost of Production (COP) Analysis 1. Calculation of COP 2. Test of Comparison Market Sales Prices 3. Results of the COP Test D. Calculation of NV Based on Comparison Market Prices E. Calculation of NV Based on Constructed Value X. Partial Application of Facts Available and Use of Adverse Inference A. Application of Facts Available B. Use of Adverse Inference XI. Critical Circumstances XII. Currency Conversion XIII. Conclusion
    [FR Doc. 2017-25289 Filed 11-21-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-DS-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE International Trade Administration [A-580-892] Certain Cold-Drawn Mechanical Tubing of Carbon and Alloy Steel From the Republic of Korea: Preliminary Affirmative Determination of Sales at Less Than Fair Value, Preliminary Affirmative Determination of Critical Circumstances, in Part, Postponement of Final Determination, and Extension of Provisional Measures AGENCY:

    Enforcement and Compliance, International Trade Administration, Department of Commerce.

    SUMMARY:

    The Department of Commerce (the Department) preliminarily determines that certain cold-drawn mechanical tubing of carbon and alloy steel (mechanical tubing) from the Republic of Korea (Korea) is being, or is likely to be, sold in the United States at less than fair value (LTFV). The period of investigation (POI) is April 1, 2016, through March 31, 2017.

    DATES:

    Applicable November 22, 2017.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Annathea Cook or Javier Barrientos, AD/CVD Operations, Office V, Enforcement and Compliance, International Trade Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce, 1401 Constitution Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20230; telephone: (202) 482-0250 or (202) 482-2243, respectively.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Background

    This preliminary determination is made in accordance with section 733(b) of the Tariff Act of 1930, as amended (the Act). The Department published the notice of initiation of this investigation on May 16, 2017.1 On September 12, 2017, the Department postponed the preliminary determination of this investigation until November 15, 2017.2 For a complete description of the events that followed the initiation of this investigation, see the Preliminary Decision Memorandum.3 A list of topics included in the Preliminary Decision Memorandum is included as Appendix II to this notice. The Preliminary Decision Memorandum is a public document and is on file electronically via Enforcement and Compliance's Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Centralized Electronic Service System (ACCESS). ACCESS is available to registered users at https://access.trade.gov, and to all parties in the Central Records Unit, Room B8024 of the main Department of Commerce building. In addition, a complete version of the Preliminary Decision Memorandum can be accessed directly at http://enforcement.trade.gov/frn/. The signed and the electronic versions of the Preliminary Decision Memorandum are identical in content.

    1See Certain Cold-Drawn Mechanical Tubing of Carbon and Alloy Steel from the Federal Republic of Germany, India, Italy, the Republic of Korea, the People's Republic of China, and Switzerland: Initiation of Less-Than-Fair-Value Investigations, 82 FR 22491 (May 16, 2017) (Initiation Notice).

    2See Certain Cold-Drawn Mechanical Tubing of Carbon and Alloy Steel from the Federal Republic of Germany, India, Italy, the Republic of Korea, the People's Republic of China, and Switzerland: Postponement of Preliminary Determinations in the Less-Than-Fair-Value Investigations, 82 FR 42788 (September 12, 2017).

    3See Memorandum, “Decision Memorandum for the Preliminary Determination and Affirmative Determinaion of Critical Circumstances, in Part, in the Less-Than-Fair-Value Investigation of Certain Cold-Drawn Mechanical Tubing of Carbon and Alloy Steel from the Republic of Korea” dated concurrently with, and hereby adopted by, this notice (Preliminary Decision Memorandum).

    Scope of the Investigation

    The product covered by this investigation is mechanical tubing from Korea. For a complete description of the scope of this investigation, see Appendix I.

    Scope Comments

    In accordance with the preamble to the Department's regulations,4 the Initiation Notice set aside a period of time for parties to raise issues regarding product coverage (i.e., scope).5 Certain interested parties commented on the scope of the investigation as it appeared in the Initiation Notice. For a summary of the product coverage comments and rebuttal responses submitted to the record for this preliminary determination, and accompanying discussion and analysis of all comments timely received, see the Preliminary Scope Decision Memorandum.6 The Department is preliminarily modifying the scope language as it appeared in the Initiation Notice. See the revised scope in Appendix I to this notice.

    4See Antidumping Duties; Countervailing Duties, 62 FR 27296, 27323 (May 19, 1997).

    5See Initiation Notice, 82 FR at 22491.

    6See Memorandum, “Certain Cold-Drawn Mechanical Tubing of Carbon and Alloy Steel from the Federal Republic of Germany, India, Italy, the Republic of Korea, the People's Republic of China, and Switzerland: Scope Comments Decision Memorandum for the Preliminary Determinations” (Preliminary Scope Decision Memorandum), dated November 15, 2017.

    Methodology

    The Department is conducting this investigation in accordance with section 731 of the Act. Export prices were calculated in accordance with section 772(a) of the Act. Normal value (NV) was calculated in accordance with section 773 of the Act. Furthermore, pursuant to section 776(a) and (b) of the Act, the Department has preliminarily relied upon facts otherwise available, with adverse inferences for Sang Shin Ind. Co., Ltd. (Sang Shin). For a full description of the methodology underlying the preliminary determination, see the Preliminary Decision Memorandum.

    Preliminary Affirmative Determination of Critical Circumstances

    In accordance with section 733(e) of the Act and 19 CFR 351.206, we preliminarily find that critical circumstances do not exist for Yulchon Co., Ltd. (Yulchon) and for the companies subject to the “all others” rate. Additionally, because Sang Shin did not respond to the Department's questionnaire, we have determined pursuant to sections 776(a) and (b) of the Act, that critical circumstances exist for Sang Shin as adverse facts available (AFA). For a full description of the methodology and results of our critical circumstances analysis, see the Preliminary Decision Memorandum.

    Adverse Facts Available

    Sang Shin was selected as a mandatory respondent, but failed to respond to the Department's questionnaire. Accordingly, we preliminarily determine to base Sang Shin's dumping margin on AFA, in accordance with sections 776(a) and (b) of the Act and 19 CFR 351.308. As AFA, we applied the highest dumping margin calculated for Korean exports of subject merchandise contained in the petition,7 48.00 percent. For further discussion, see the Preliminary Decision Memorandum.

    7See Certain Cold-Drawn Mechanical Tubing of Carbon and Alloy Steel from the Federal Republic of Germany, India, Italy, the Republic of Korea, the People's Republic of China, and Switzerland: Initiation of Less-Than-Fair-Value Investigations, 82 FR 22491 (May 16, 2017).

    All-Others Rate

    Sections 733(d)(1)(A)(ii) and 735(c)(5)(A) of the Act provide that in the preliminary determination the Department shall determine an estimated all-others rate for all exporters and producers not individually examined. This rate shall be an amount equal to the weighted average of the estimated weighted-average dumping margins established for exporters and producers individually investigated, excluding any zero and de minimis margins, and any margins determined entirely under section 776 of the Act.

    The Department calculated an individual estimated weighted-average dumping margin for Yulchon, the only individually examined exporter/producer in this investigation. Because the only individually calculated dumping margin is not zero, de minimis, or based entirely on facts otherwise available, the estimated weighted-average dumping margin calculated for Yulchon is the margin assigned to all-other producers and exporters, pursuant to section 735(c)(5)(A) of the Act.

    Preliminary Determination

    The Department preliminarily determines that the following estimated weighted-average dumping margins exist:

    Exporter/producer Estimated
  • weighted-
  • average
  • dumping
  • margin
  • (percent)
  • Sang Shin Ind. Co., Ltd. 48.00 Yulchon Co., Ltd. 5.10 All-Others 5.10
    Suspension of Liquidation

    In accordance with section 733(d)(2) of the Act, the Department will direct U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to suspend liquidation of entries of subject merchandise, as described in Appendix I, entered, or withdrawn from warehouse, for consumption on or after the date of publication of this notice in the Federal Register. Further, pursuant to section 733(d)(1)(B) of the Act and 19 CFR 351.205(d), the Department will instruct CBP to require a cash deposit equal to the estimated weighted-average dumping margin or the estimated all-others rate, as follows: (1) The cash deposit rate for the respondents listed above will be equal to the company-specific estimated weighted-average dumping margins determined in this preliminary determination; (2) if the exporter is not a respondent identified above, but the producer is, then the cash deposit rate will be equal to the company-specific estimated weighted-average dumping margin established for that producer of the subject merchandise; and (3) the cash deposit rate for all other producers and exporters will be equal to the all-others estimated weighted-average dumping margin.

    Section 733(e)(2) of the Act provides that, given an affirmative determination of critical circumstances, any suspension of liquidation shall apply to unliquidated entries of subject merchandise entered, or withdrawn from warehouse, for consumption on or after the later of (a) the date which is 90 days before the date on which the suspension of liquidation was first ordered, or (b) the date on which notice of initiation of the investigation was published. The Department preliminarily finds that critical circumstances exist for imports of subject merchandise produced or exported by Sang Shin. In accordance with section 733(e)(2)(A) of the Act, the suspension of liquidation shall apply to unliquidated entries of shipments of subject merchandise from the producer or exporter identified in this paragraph that were entered, or withdrawn from warehouse, for consumption on or after the date which is 90 days before the publication of this notice. These suspension of liquidation instructions will remain in effect until further notice.

    Disclosure

    The Department intends to disclose its calculations and analysis performed to interested parties in this preliminary determination within five days of any public announcement or, if there is no public announcement, within five days of the date of publication of this notice in accordance with 19 CFR 351.224(b).

    Verification

    As provided in section 782(i)(1) of the Act, the Department intends to verify the information relied upon in making its final determination.

    Public Comment

    The Department is setting different deadlines for scope-related case and rebuttal briefs, and case and rebuttal briefs addressing all other issues.

    Scope briefs may be submitted to the Assistant Secretary for Enforcement and Compliance no later than five days after the publication of the preliminary AD determinations for the PRC, Germany, India, Italy, Korea, and Switzerland in the Federal Register. Rebuttal scope briefs, limited to issues raised in the scope case briefs, may be submitted no later than three days after the deadline for the scope case briefs. These deadlines, which are based on publication in the Federal Register of the preliminary determinations in the AD investigations of cold-drawn mechanical tubing, apply for both the on-going CVD and AD investigations. There is only one briefing schedule for scope case and rebuttal briefs in the CVD and AD investigations. For all scope issues, parties must file separate and identical documents on the records of all of the ongoing CVD and AD cold-drawn mechanical tubing investigations. No new factual information should be included in scope case briefs or rebuttal scope briefs, and no proprietary information should be submitted in the scope case briefs and rebuttal scope briefs.

    Pursuant to 19 CFR 351.310(c), interested parties who wish to request a hearing on the revised scope, limited to issues raised in the scope case and rebuttal briefs, must submit a written request to the Assistant Secretary for Enforcement and Compliance, U.S. Department of Commerce, separate from the hearing on issues raised in case briefs, within five days after the date of publication of this notice. Requests should contain the party's name, address, and telephone number, the number of participants, whether any participant is a foreign national, and a list of the issues to be discussed. If a request for a hearing is made, the Department intends to hold the hearing at the U.S. Department of Commerce, 1401 Constitution Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20230, at a time and date to be determined. Parties should confirm by telephone the date, time, and location of the hearing two days before the scheduled date.

    Scope comments may only be included in the scope case brief and scope rebuttal brief. Should this investigation result in an order, interested parties may submit requests for a scope ruling after the issuance of any such order.

    Case briefs or other non-scope written comments may be submitted to the Assistant Secretary for Enforcement and Compliance no later than seven days after the date on which the last verification report is issued in this investigation, unless the Secretary alters the time limit. Rebuttal briefs, limited to issues raised in case briefs, may be submitted no later than five days after the deadline date for case briefs.8 Pursuant to 19 CFR 351.309(c)(2) and (d)(2), parties who submit case briefs or rebuttal briefs in this investigation are encouraged to submit with each argument: (1) A statement of the issue; (2) a brief summary of the argument; and (3) a table of authorities. Pursuant to 19 CFR 351.310(c), interested parties who wish to request a hearing, limited to issues raised in the case and rebuttal briefs, must submit a written request to the Assistant Secretary for Enforcement and Compliance, U.S. Department of Commerce, within 30 days after the date of publication of this notice. Requests should contain the party's name, address, and telephone number, the number of participants, whether any participant is a foreign national, and a list of the issues to be discussed. If a request for a hearing is made, the Department intends to hold the hearing at the U.S. Department of Commerce, 1401 Constitution Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20230, at a time and date to be determined. Parties should confirm by telephone the date, time, and location of the hearing two days before the scheduled date.

    8See 19 CFR 351.309; see also 19 CFR 351.303 (for general filing requirements).

    Postponement of Final Determination and Extension of Provisional Measures

    Section 735(a)(2) of the Act provides that a final determination may be postponed until not later than 135 days after the date of the publication of the preliminary determination if, in the event of an affirmative preliminary determination, a request for such postponement is made by exporters who account for a significant proportion of exports of the subject merchandise, or in the event of a negative preliminary determination, a request for such postponement is made by the petitioner. Section 351.210(e)(2) of the Department's regulations requires that a request by exporters for postponement of the final determination be accompanied by a request for extension of provisional measures from a four-month period to a period not more than six months in duration.

    On November 13, 2017, pursuant to 19 CFR 351.210(e), ArcelorMittal Tubular Products, Michigan Seamless Tube, LLC, Plymouth Tube Co. USA, PTC Alliance Corp., Webco Industries, Inc., and Zekelman Industries, Inc., (the petitioners) and Yulchon requested that the Department postpone the final determination and that provisional measures be extended to a period not to exceed six months.9 10 In accordance with section 735(a)(2)(A) of the Act and 19 CFR 351.210(b)(2)(ii), because: (1) The preliminary determination is affirmative; (2) the requesting exporter accounts for a significant proportion of exports of the subject merchandise; and (3) no compelling reasons for denial exist, the Department is postponing the final determination and extending the provisional measures from a four-month period to a period not greater than six months. Accordingly, the Department will make its final determination no later than 135 days after the date of publication of this preliminary determination.

    9See Letter from ArcelorMittal Tubular Products, Michigan Seamless Tube, LLC, Plymouth Tube Co. USA, PTC Alliance Corp., Webco Industries, Inc., and Zekelman Industries, Inc., “Re: Certain Cold-Drawn Mechanical Tubing of Carbon and Alloy Steel from China. Germany, India, Italy, Korea and Switzerland—Petitioners' Comments Resarding Extension the Final Determination Deadline,” dated November 13, 2017.

    10See Letter fromYulchon Co., Ltd., “Re: Cold-Drawn Mechanical Tubing from Korea,” dated November 14, 2017.

    International Trade Commission Notification

    In accordance with section 733(f) of the Act, the Department will notify the International Trade Commission (ITC) of its preliminary determination. If the final determination is affirmative, the ITC will determine before the later of 120 days after the date of this preliminary determination or 45 days after the final determination whether these imports are materially injuring, or threaten material injury to, the U.S. industry.

    Notification to Interested Parties

    This determination is issued and published in accordance with sections 733(f) and 777(i)(1) of the Act and 19 CFR 351.205(c).

    Dated: November 15, 2017. Gary Taverman, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Operations, performing the non-exclusive functions and duties of the Assistant Secretary for Enforcement and Compliance. Appendix I Scope of the Investigation

    The scope of this investigation covers cold-drawn mechanical tubing of carbon and alloy steel (cold-drawn mechanical tubing) of circular cross-section, 304.8 mm or more in length, in actual outside diameters less than 331mm, and regardless of wall thickness, surface finish, end finish or industry specification. The subject cold-drawn mechanical tubing is a tubular product with a circular cross-sectional shape that has been cold-drawn or otherwise cold-finished after the initial tube formation in a manner that involves a change in the diameter or wall thickness of the tubing, or both. The subject cold-drawn mechanical tubing may be produced from either welded (e.g., electric resistance welded, continuous welded, etc.) or seamless (e.g., pierced, pilgered or extruded, etc.) carbon or alloy steel tubular products. It may also be heat treated after cold working. Such heat treatments may include, but are not limited to, annealing, normalizing, quenching and tempering, stress relieving or finish annealing. Typical cold-drawing methods for subject merchandise include, but are not limited to, drawing over mandrel, rod drawing, plug drawing, sink drawing and similar processes that involve reducing the outside diameter of the tubing with a die or similar device, whether or not controlling the inside diameter of the tubing with an internal support device such as a mandrel, rod, plug or similar device. Other cold-finishing operations that may be used to produce subject merchandise include cold-rolling and cold-sizing the tubing.

    Subject cold-drawn mechanical tubing is typically certified to meet industry specifications for cold-drawn tubing including but not limited to:

    (1) American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) or American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) specifications ASTM A-512, ASTM A-513 Type 3 (ASME SA513 Type 3), ASTM A-513 Type 4 (ASME SA513 Type 4), ASTM A-513 Type 5 (ASME SA513 Type 5), ASTM A-513 Type 6 (ASME SA513 Type 6), ASTM A-519 (cold-finished);

    (2) SAE International (Society of Automotive Engineers) specifications SAE J524, SAE J525, SAE J2833, SAE J2614, SAE J2467, SAE J2435, SAE J2613;

    (3) Aerospace Material Specification (AMS) AMS T-6736 (AMS 6736), AMS 6371, AMS 5050, AMS 5075, AMS 5062, AMS 6360, AMS 6361, AMS 6362, AMS 6371, AMS 6372, AMS 6374, AMS 6381, AMS 6415;

    (4) United States Military Standards (MIL) MIL-T-5066 and MIL-T-6736;

    (5) foreign standards equivalent to one of the previously listed ASTM, ASME, SAE, AMS or MIL specifications including but not limited to:

    (a) German Institute for Standardization (DIN) specifications DIN 2391-2, DIN 2393-2, DIN 2394-2);

    (b) European Standards (EN) EN 10305-1, EN 10305-2, EN 10305-3, EN 10305-4, EN 10305-6 and European national variations on those standards (e.g., British Standard (BS EN), Irish Standard (IS EN) and German Standard (DIN EN) variations, etc.);

    (c) Japanese Industrial Standard (JIS) JIS G 3441 and JIS G 3445; and

    (6) proprietary standards that are based on one of the above-listed standards.

    The subject cold-drawn mechanical tubing may also be dual or multiple certified to more than one standard. Pipe that is multiple certified as cold-drawn mechanical tubing and to other specifications not covered by this scope, is also covered by the scope of this investigation when it meets the physical description set forth above.

    Steel products included in the scope of this investigation are products in which: (1) Iron predominates, by weight, over each of the other contained elements; and (2) the carbon content is 2 percent or less by weight.

    For purposes of this scope, the place of cold-drawing determines the country of origin of the subject merchandise. Subject merchandise that is subject to minor working in a third country that occurs after drawing in one of the subject countries including, but not limited to, heat treatment, cutting to length, straightening, nondestruction testing, deburring or chamfering, remains within the scope of this investigation.

    All products that meet the written physical description are within the scope of this investigation unless specifically excluded or covered by the scope of an existing order. Merchandise that meets the physical description of cold-drawn mechanical tubing above is within the scope of the investigation even if it is also dual or multiple certified to an otherwise excluded specification listed below. The following products are outside of, and/or specifically excluded from, the scope of this investigation:

    (1) Cold-drawn stainless steel tubing, containing 10.5 percent or more of chromium by weight and not more than 1.2 percent of carbon by weight;

    (2) products certified to one or more of the ASTM, ASME or American Petroleum Institute (API) specifications listed below:

    • ASTM A-53;

    • ASTM A-106;

    • ASTM A-179 (ASME SA 179);

    • ASTM A-192 (ASME SA 192);

    • ASTM A-209 (ASME SA 209);

    • ASTM A-210 (ASME SA 210);

    • ASTM A-213 (ASME SA 213);

    • ASTM A-334 (ASME SA 334);

    • ASTM A-423 (ASME SA 423);

    • ASTM A-498;

    • ASTM A-496 (ASME SA 496);

    • ASTM A-199;

    • ASTM A-500;

    • ASTM A-556;

    • ASTM A-565;

    • API 5L; and

    • API 5CT

    except that any cold-drawn tubing product certified to one of the above excluded specifications will not be excluded from the scope if it is also dual- or multiple-certified to any other specification that otherwise would fall within the scope of this investigation.

    The products subject to the investigation are currently classified in the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS) under item numbers: 7304.31.3000, 7304.31.6050, 7304.51.1000, 7304.51.5005, 7304.51.5060, 7306.30.5015, 7306.30.5020, 7306.50.5030. Subject merchandise may also enter under numbers 7306.30.1000 and 7306.50.1000. The HTSUS subheadings above are provided for convenience and customs purposes only. The written description of the scope of the investigation is dispositive.

    Appendix II List of Topics Discussed in the Preliminary Decision Memorandum I. Summary II. Background III. Period of Investigation IV. Scope Comments V. Particular Market Situation VI. Discussion of the Methodology A. Determination of the Comparison Method B. Results of the Differential Pricing Analysis VII. Date of Sale VIII. Product Comparisons IX. Export Price X. Normal Value A. Home Market Viability B. Affiliated-Party Transactions and Arm's-Length Test C. Level of Trade D. Cost of Production (COP) Analysis 1. Calculation of COP 2. Test of Comparison Market Sales Prices 3. Results of the COP Test D. Calculation of NV Based on Comparison Market Prices E. Calculation of NV Based on Constructed Value XI. Use of Facts Otherwise Available and Adverse Inferences A. Application of Facts Available B. Use of Adverse Inference XII. Critical Circumstances XIII. Currency Conversion XIV. Conclusion
    [FR Doc. 2017-25290 Filed 11-21-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-DS-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE International Trade Administration [A-533-873] Certain Cold-Drawn Mechanical Tubing of Carbon and Alloy Steel From India: Preliminary Affirmative Determination of Sales at Less Than Fair Value, in Part, Postponement of Final Determination, and Extension of Provisional Measures AGENCY:

    Enforcement and Compliance, International Trade Administration, Department of Commerce.

    SUMMARY:

    The Department of Commerce (the Department) preliminarily determines that certain cold-drawn mechanical tubing of carbon and alloy steel (cold-drawn mechanical tubing) from India is being, or is likely to be, sold in the United States at less than fair value (LTFV). The period of investigation (POI) is April 1, 2016, through March 31, 2017.

    DATES:

    Applicable November 22, 2017.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Susan Pulongbarit or Omar Qureshi, AD/CVD Operations, Office V, Enforcement and Compliance, International Trade Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce, 1401 Constitution Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20230; telephone: (202) 482-4031 or (202) 482-5307, respectively.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Background

    This preliminary determination is made in accordance with section 733(b) of the Tariff Act of 1930, as amended (the Act). The Department published the notice of initiation of this investigation on May 16, 2017.1 On September 12, 2017, the Department postponed the preliminary determination of this investigation until November 15, 2017. 2 For a complete description of the events that followed the initiation of this investigation, see the Preliminary Decision Memorandum.3 A list of topics included in the Preliminary Decision Memorandum is included as Appendix II to this notice. The Preliminary Decision Memorandum is a public document and is on file electronically via Enforcement and Compliance's Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Centralized Electronic Service System (ACCESS). ACCESS is available to registered users at https://access.trade.gov, and to all parties in the Central Records Unit, room B8024 of the main Department of Commerce building. In addition, a complete version of the Preliminary Decision Memorandum can be accessed directly at http://enforcement.trade.gov/frn/. The signed and the electronic versions of the Preliminary Decision Memorandum are identical in content.

    1See Certain Cold-Drawn Mechanical Tubing of Carbon and Alloy Steel from the Federal Republic of Germany, India, Italy, the Republic of Korea, the People's Republic of China, and Switzerland: Initiation of Less-Than-Fair-Value Investigations, 82 FR 22491 (May 16, 2017) (Initiation Notice).

    2See Certain Cold-Drawn Mechanical tubing of Carbon and Alloy Steel from the Federal Republic of Germany, India, Italy, the Republic of Korea, the People's Republic of China, and Switzerland: Postponement of Preliminary Determination in the Less-Than-Fair Investigations, 82 FR 42788 (September 12, 2017).

    3See Memorandum, “Decision Memorandum for the Preliminary Determination in the Less-Than-Fair-Value Investigation of Certain Cold-Drawn Mechanical Tubing of Carbon and Alloy Steel from India,” dated concurrently with, and hereby adopted by, this notice (Preliminary Decision Memorandum).

    Scope of the Investigation

    The product covered by this investigation is cold-drawn mechanical tubing from India. For a complete description of the scope of this investigation, see Appendix I.

    Scope Comments

    In accordance with the preamble to the Department's regulations,4 the Initiation Notice set aside a period of time for parties to raise issues regarding product coverage (i.e., scope).5 Certain interested parties commented on the scope of the investigation as it appeared in the Initiation Notice, as well as additional language proposed by the petitioners.6 For a summary of the product coverage comments and rebuttal responses submitted to the record for this preliminary determination, and accompanying discussion and analysis of all comments timely received, see the Preliminary Scope Decision Memorandum.7 The Department is preliminarily modifying the scope language as it appeared in the Initiation Notice. See the revised scope in Appendix I to this notice.

    4See Antidumping Duties; Countervailing Duties, Final Rule, 62 FR 27296, 27323 (May 19, 1997).

    5See Initiation Notice.

    6 ArcelorMittal Tubular Products, Michigan Seamless Tube, LLC, PTC Alliance Corp., Plymouth Tube Co. USA, Webco Industries, Inc., and Zekelman Industries, Inc. (collectively, the petitioners).

    7See Memorandum, “Certain Cold-Drawn Mechanical Tubing of Carbon and Alloy Steel from the Federal Republic of Germany, India, Italy, the Republic of Korea, the People's Republic of China, and Switzerland: Scope Comments Decision Memorandum for the Preliminary Determination” (Preliminary Scope Decision Memorandum), dated concurrently with this preliminary determination.

    Methodology

    The Department is conducting this investigation in accordance with section 731 of the Act. Export prices were calculated in accordance with section 772(a) of the Act. Normal value (NV) was calculated in accordance with section 773 of the Act. For a full description of the methodology underlying the preliminary determination, see the Preliminary Decision Memorandum.

    All-Others Rate

    Sections 733(d)(1)(ii) and 735(c)(5)(A) of the Act provide that in the preliminary determination the Department shall determine an estimated all-others rate for all exporters and producers not individually examined. This rate shall be an amount equal to the weighted average of the estimated weighted-average dumping margins established for exporters and producers individually investigated, excluding any zero and de minimis margins, and any margins determined entirely under section 776 of the Act.

    In this investigation, the Department preliminarily found a zero rate for Goodluck. Therefore, the only rate that is not zero, de minimis, or based entirely on facts otherwise available is the rate calculated for TPI. Consequently, the rate calculated for TPI is also assigned for all-other producers and exporters.

    Preliminary Determination

    The Department preliminarily determines that the following estimated weighted-average dumping margins exist: 8 9

    8See Memorandum, “Calculations Performed for Goodluck India Limited for the Preliminary Determination in the Antidumping Duty Investigation of Cold Drawn Mechanical Tubing,” dated concurrently with this notice.

    9See Memorandum, “Calculations Performed for Tube Investments of India Ltd. and Tube Products of India, (collectively, TPI) for the Preliminary Determination in the Antidumping Duty Investigation of Cold Drawn Mechanical Tubing,” dated concurrently with this notice.

    Producer Exporter Estimated
  • weighted-average
  • dumping margin
  • (percent)
  • Cash deposit rate
  • (adjusted for
  • subsidy
  • offset(s))
  • (percent)
  • Goodluck India Limited Goodluck India Limited 8 0.00 Not Applicable. Tube Products of India, Ltd. a unit of Tube Investments of India Limited (collectively TPI) Tube Products of India, Ltd. a unit of Tube Investments of India Limited (collectively TPI) 9 7.57 4.86. All-Others 7.57 4.86.

    Consistent with section 733(b)(3) of the Act, the Department disregards de minimis rates and preliminarily determines that these individually examined respondents with de minimis rates have not made sales of subject merchandise at LTFV.

    Suspension of Liquidation

    In accordance with section 733(d)(2) of the Act, the Department will direct U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to suspend liquidation of entries of subject merchandise, as described in Appendix I, entered, or withdrawn from warehouse, for consumption on or after the date of publication of this notice in the Federal Register. Further, pursuant to section 733(d)(1)(B) of the Act and 19 CFR 351.205(d), the Department will instruct CBP to require a cash deposit equal to the estimated weighted-average dumping margin or the estimated all-others rate, as follows: (1) The cash deposit rate for the respondents listed above will be equal to the company-specific estimated weighted-average dumping margins determined in this preliminary determination; (2) if the exporter is not a respondent identified above, but the producer is, then the cash deposit rate will be equal to the company-specific estimated weighted-average dumping margin established for that producer of the subject merchandise except as explained below; and (3) the cash deposit rate for all other producers and exporters will be equal to the all-others estimated weighted-average dumping margin.

    The Department normally adjusts cash deposits for estimated antidumping duties by the amount of export subsidies countervailed in a companion countervailing duty (CVD) proceeding, when CVD provisional measures are in effect. Accordingly, where the Department preliminarily made an affirmative determination for countervailable export subsidies, the Department offset the estimated weighted-average dumping margin by the appropriate CVD rate. The adjusted cash deposit rate may be found in the Preliminary Determination section above. Should provisional measures in the companion CVD investigation expire prior to the expiration of provisional measures in this LTFV investigation, the Department will direct CBP to begin collecting estimated antidumping duty cash deposits unadjusted for countervailed export subsidies at the time that the provisional CVD measures expire. These suspension of liquidation instructions will remain in effect until further notice.

    Because the estimated weighted-average dumping margin for Goodluck India Limited is zero or de minimis, entries of shipments of subject merchandise from this company will not be subject to suspension of liquidation or cash deposit requirements. In such situations, the Department applies the exclusion to the provisional measures to the producer/exporter combination that was examined in the investigation. Accordingly, the Department is directing CBP not to suspend liquidation of entries of subject merchandise produced and exported by Goodluck India Limited. Entries of shipments of subject merchandise from this company in any other producer/exporter combination, or by third parties that sourced subject merchandise from the excluded producer/exporter combination, are subject to the provisional measures at the all others rate.

    Should the final estimated weighted-average dumping margin be zero or de minimis for the producer/exporter combinations identified above, entries of shipments of subject merchandise from these producer/exporter combinations will be excluded from the potential antidumping duty order. Such exclusions are not applicable to merchandise exported to the United States by these respondents in any other producer/exporter combinations or by third parties that sourced subject merchandise from the excluded producer/exporter combinations.

    Disclosure

    The Department intends to disclose its calculations and analysis performed to interested parties in this preliminary determination within five days of any public announcement or, if there is no public announcement, within five days of the date of publication of this notice in accordance with 19 CFR 351.224(b).

    Verification

    As provided in section 782(i)(1) of the Act, the Department intends to verify the information relied upon in making its final determination.

    Public Comment

    The Department is setting different deadlines for scope-related case and rebuttal briefs, and case and rebuttal briefs addressing all other issues.

    Scope briefs may be submitted to the Assistant Secretary for Enforcement and Compliance no later than five days after the publication of the preliminary AD determinations for the PRC, Germany, India, Italy, Korea, and Switzerland in the Federal Register. Rebuttal scope briefs, limited to issues raised in the scope case briefs, may be submitted no later than three days after the deadline for the scope case briefs. These deadlines, which are based on publication in the Federal Register of the preliminary determinations in the AD investigations of cold-drawn mechanical tubing, apply for both the on-going CVD and AD investigations. There is only one briefing schedule for scope case and rebuttal briefs in the CVD and AD investigations. For all scope issues, parties must file separate and identical documents on the records of all of the ongoing CVD and AD cold-drawn mechanical tubing investigations. No new factual information should be included in scope case briefs or rebuttal scope briefs, and no proprietary information should be submitted in the scope case briefs and rebuttal scope briefs.

    Pursuant to 19 CFR 351.310(c), interested parties who wish to request a hearing on the revised scope, limited to issues raised in the scope case and rebuttal briefs, must submit a written request to the Assistant Secretary for Enforcement and Compliance, U.S. Department of Commerce, separate from the hearing on issues raised in case briefs, within five days after the date of publication of this notice. Requests should contain the party's name, address, and telephone number, the number of participants, whether any participant is a foreign national, and a list of the issues to be discussed. If a request for a hearing is made, the Department intends to hold the hearing at the U.S. Department of Commerce, 1401 Constitution Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20230, at a time and date to be determined. Parties should confirm by telephone the date, time, and location of the hearing two days before the scheduled date.

    Scope comments may only be included in the scope case brief and scope rebuttal brief. Should this investigation result in an order, interested parties may submit requests for a scope ruling after the issuance of any such order.

    Case briefs or other nons-scope written comments may be submitted to the Assistant Secretary for Enforcement and Compliance no later than seven days after the date on which the last verification report is issued in this investigation. Rebuttal briefs, limited to issues raised in case briefs, may be submitted no later than five days after the deadline date for case briefs.10 Pursuant to 19 CFR 351.309(c)(2) and (d)(2), parties who submit case briefs or rebuttal briefs in this investigation are encouraged to submit with each argument: (1) A statement of the issue; (2) a brief summary of the argument; and (3) a table of authorities.

    10See 19 CFR 351.309; see also 19 CFR 351.303 (for general filing requirements).

    Pursuant to 19 CFR 351.310(c), interested parties who wish to request a hearing, limited to issues raised in the case and rebuttal briefs, must submit a written request to the Assistant Secretary for Enforcement and Compliance, U.S. Department of Commerce, within 30 days after the date of publication of this notice. Requests should contain the party's name, address, and telephone number, the number of participants, whether any participant is a foreign national, and a list of the issues to be discussed. If a request for a hearing is made, the Department intends to hold the hearing at the U.S. Department of Commerce, 1401 Constitution Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20230, at a time and date to be determined. Parties should confirm by telephone the date, time, and location of the hearing two days before the scheduled date.

    Postponement of Final Determination and Extension of Provisional Measures

    Section 735(a)(2) of the Act provides that a final determination may be postponed until not later than 135 days after the date of the publication of the preliminary determination if, in the event of an affirmative preliminary determination, a request for such postponement is made by exporters who account for a significant proportion of exports of the subject merchandise, or in the event of a negative preliminary determination, a request for such postponement is made by the petitioner. Section 351.210(e)(2) of the Department's regulations requires that a request by exporters for postponement of the final determination be accompanied by a request for extension of provisional measures from a four-month period to a period not more than six months in duration.

    On October 31, 2017 and November 12, 2017 Goodluck and TPI, pursuant to 19 CFR 351.210(e) and 19 CFR 351.210(b)(2)(ii), respectively requested that the Department postpone the final determination.11 On November 13, 2017, pursuant to 19 CFR 351.210(e), the petitioners also requested that the Department postpone the final determination and that provisional measures be extended to a period not to exceed six months.12 In accordance with section 735(a)(2)(A) of the Act and 19 CFR 351.210(b)(2)(ii), because: (1) The preliminary determination is affirmative, in part; (2) the requesting exporter accounts for a significant proportion of exports of the subject merchandise; and (3) no compelling reasons for denial exist, the Department is postponing the final determination and extending the provisional measures from a four-month period to a period not greater than six months. Accordingly, the Department will make its final determination by no later than 135 days after the date of publication of this preliminary determination, pursuant to section 735(a)(2) of the Act.

    11See Letter from Goodluck, “Goodluck Request to Extend the Final Determination: Antidumping Duty Investigation on Certain Cold-Drawn Mechanical Tubing of Carbon and Alloy Steel from India (A-533-873),” dated October 31, 2017; see also Letter from TPI, “Certain Cold-Drawn Mechanical Tubing of Carbon and Alloy Steel from India: Request for Extension to Section ABC Supplemental Questionnaire,” dated

    12See Letter from the petitioners, “Certain Cold-Drawn Mechanical Tubing of Carbon and Alloy Steel from China, Germany, India, Italy, Korea and Switzerland—Petitioners' Comments Regarding Extension of the Final Determination,” dated November 13, 2017.

    International Trade Commission Notification

    In accordance with section 733(f) of the Act, the Department will notify the International Trade Commission (ITC) of its preliminary determination. If the final determination is affirmative, the ITC will determine before the later of 120 days after the date of this preliminary determination or 45 days after the final determination whether these imports are materially injuring, or threaten material injury to, the U.S. industry.

    Notification to Interested Parties

    This determination is issued and published in accordance with sections 733(f) and 777(i)(1) of the Act and 19 CFR 351.205(c).

    Dated: November 15, 2017. Gary Taverman, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Operations performing the non-exclusive functions and duties of the Assistant Secretary for Enforcement and Compliance. Appendix I Scope of the Investigation

    The scope of this investigation covers cold-drawn mechanical tubing of carbon and alloy steel (cold-drawn mechanical tubing) of circular cross-section, 304.8 mm or more in length, in actual outside diameters less than 331 mm, and regardless of wall thickness, surface finish, end finish or industry specification. The subject cold-drawn mechanical tubing is a tubular product with a circular cross-sectional shape that has been cold-drawn or otherwise cold-finished after the initial tube formation in a manner that involves a change in the diameter or wall thickness of the tubing, or both. The subject cold-drawn mechanical tubing may be produced from either welded (e.g., electric resistance welded, continuous welded, etc.) or seamless (e.g., pierced, pilgered or extruded, etc.) carbon or alloy steel tubular products. It may also be heat treated after cold working. Such heat treatments may include, but are not limited to, annealing, normalizing, quenching and tempering, stress relieving or finish annealing. Typical cold-drawing methods for subject merchandise include, but are not limited to, drawing over mandrel, rod drawing, plug drawing, sink drawing and similar processes that involve reducing the outside diameter of the tubing with a die or similar device, whether or not controlling the inside diameter of the tubing with an internal support device such as a mandrel, rod, plug or similar device. Other cold-finishing operations that may be used to produce subject merchandise include cold-rolling and cold-sizing the tubing.

    Subject cold-drawn mechanical tubing is typically certified to meet industry specifications for cold-drawn tubing including but not limited to:

    (1) American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) or American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) specifications ASTM A-512, ASTM A-513 Type 3 (ASME SA513 Type 3), ASTM A-513 Type 4 (ASME SA513 Type 4), ASTM A-513 Type 5 (ASME SA513 Type 5), ASTM A-513 Type 6 (ASME SA513 Type 6), ASTM A-519 (cold-finished);

    (2) SAE International (Society of Automotive Engineers) specifications SAE J524, SAE J525, SAE J2833, SAE J2614, SAE J2467, SAE J2435, SAE J2613;

    (3) Aerospace Material Specification (AMS) AMS T-6736 (AMS 6736), AMS 6371, AMS 5050, AMS 5075, AMS 5062, AMS 6360, AMS 6361, AMS 6362, AMS 6371, AMS 6372, AMS 6374, AMS 6381, AMS 6415;

    (4) United States Military Standards (MIL) MIL-T-5066 and MIL-T-6736;

    (5) foreign standards equivalent to one of the previously listed ASTM, ASME, SAE, AMS or MIL specifications including but not limited to:

    (a) German Institute for Standardization (DIN) specifications DIN 2391-2, DIN 2393-2, DIN 2394-2);

    (b) European Standards (EN) EN 10305-1, EN 10305-2, EN 10305-3, EN 10305-4, EN 10305-6 and European national variations on those standards (e.g., British Standard (BS EN), Irish Standard (IS EN) and German Standard (DIN EN) variations, etc.);

    (c) Japanese Industrial Standard (JIS) JIS G 3441 and JIS G 3445; and

    (6) proprietary standards that are based on one of the above-listed standards.

    The subject cold-drawn mechanical tubing may also be dual or multiple certified to more than one standard. Pipe that is multiple certified as cold-drawn mechanical tubing and to other specifications not covered by this scope, is also covered by the scope of this investigation when it meets the physical description set forth above.

    Steel products included in the scope of this investigation are products in which: (1) Iron predominates, by weight, over each of the other contained elements; and (2) the carbon content is 2 percent or less by weight.

    For purposes of this scope, the place of cold-drawing determines the country of origin of the subject merchandise. Subject merchandise that is subject to minor working in a third country that occurs after drawing in one of the subject countries including, but not limited to, heat treatment, cutting to length, straightening, nondestruction testing, deburring or chamfering, remains within the scope of this investigation.

    All products that meet the written physical description are within the scope of this investigation unless specifically excluded or covered by the scope of an existing order. Merchandise that meets the physical description of cold-drawn mechanical tubing above is within the scope of the investigation even if it is also dual or multiple certified to an otherwise excluded specification listed below. The following products are outside of, and/or specifically excluded from, the scope of this investigation:

    (1) Cold-drawn stainless steel tubing, containing 10.5 percent or more of chromium by weight and not more than 1.2 percent of carbon by weight;

    (2) products certified to one or more of the ASTM, ASME or American Petroleum Institute (API) specifications listed below:

    • ASTM A-53; • ASTM A-106; • ASTM A-179 (ASME SA 179); • ASTM A-192 (ASME SA 192); • ASTM A-209 (ASME SA 209); • ASTM A-210 (ASME SA 210); • ASTM A-213 (ASME SA 213); • ASTM A-334 (ASME SA 334); • ASTM A-423 (ASME SA 423); • ASTM A-498; • ASTM A-496 (ASME SA 496); • ASTM A-199; • ASTM A-500; • ASTM A-556; • ASTM A-565; • API 5L; and • API 5CT except that any cold-drawn tubing product certified to one of the above excluded specifications will not be excluded from the scope if it is also dual- or multiple-certified to any other specification that otherwise would fall within the scope of this investigation.

    The products subject to the investigation are currently classified in the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS) under item numbers: 7304.31.3000, 7304.31.6050, 7304.51.1000, 7304.51.5005, 7304.51.5060, 7306.30.5015, 7306.30.5020, 7306.50.5030. Subject merchandise may also enter under numbers 7306.30.1000 and 7306.50.1000. The HTSUS subheadings above are provided for convenience and customs purposes only. The written description of the scope of the investigation is dispositive.

    Appendix II List of Topics Discussed in the Preliminary Decision Memorandum I. Summary II. Background III. Period of Investigation IV. Scope Comments V. Discussion of the Methodology A. Determination of the Comparison Method B. Results of the Differential Pricing Analysis VI. Date of Sale VII. Product Comparisons VIII. Export Price and Constructed Export Price IX. Normal Value A. Home Market Viability B. Level of Trade C. Cost of Production (COP) Analysis 1. Calculation of COP 2. Test of Comparison Market Sales Prices 3. Results of the COP Test D. Calculation of NV Based on Comparison Market Prices E. Calculation of NV Based on Constructed Value X. Currency Conversion XI. Conclusion
    [FR Doc. 2017-25292 Filed 11-21-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-DS-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE International Trade Administration [A-441-801] Cold-Drawn Mechanical Tubing From Switzerland: Preliminary Affirmative Determination of Sales at Less Than Fair Value and Postponement of Final Determination, and Extension of Provisional Measures AGENCY:

    Enforcement and Compliance, International Trade Administration, Department of Commerce.

    SUMMARY:

    The Department of Commerce (the Department) preliminarily determines that certain cold-drawn mechanical tubing of carbon and alloy steel (cold-drawn mechanical tubing) from Switzerland is being, or is likely to be, sold in the United States at less than fair value (LTFV). The period of investigation (POI) is April 1, 2016, through March 31, 2017.

    DATES:

    Applicable November 22, 2017.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Laurel LaCivita, AD/CVD Operations, Office III or Amanda Brings, AD/CVD Operations, Office V, Enforcement and Compliance, International Trade Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce, 1401 Constitution Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20230; telephone: (202) 482-4243 or (202) 482-3927, respectively.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Background

    This preliminary determination is made in accordance with section 733(b) of the Tariff Act of 1930, as amended (the Act). The Department published the notice of initiation of this investigation on May 16, 2017.1 On September 12, 2017, the Department postponed the preliminary determination of this investigation until November 15, 2017.2 For a complete description of the events that followed the initiation of this investigation, see the Preliminary Decision Memorandum.3 A list of topics included in the Preliminary Decision Memorandum is included as Appendix II to this notice. The Preliminary Decision Memorandum is a public document and is on file electronically via Enforcement and Compliance's Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Centralized Electronic Service System (ACCESS). ACCESS is available to registered users at https://access.trade.gov, and to all parties in the Central Records Unit, room B8024 of the main Department of Commerce building. In addition, a complete version of the Preliminary Decision Memorandum can be accessed directly at http://enforcement.trade.gov/frn/. The signed and the electronic versions of the Preliminary Decision Memorandum are identical in content.

    1See Certain Cold-Drawn Mechanical Tubing of Carbon and Alloy Steel from the Federal Republic of Germany, India, Italy, the Republic of Korea, the People's Republic of China, and Switzerland: Initiation of Less-Than-Fair-Value Investigations, 82 FR 22491 (May 16, 2017) (Initiation Notice).

    2See Certain Cold-Drawn Mechanical Tubing of Carbon and Alloy Steel from the Federal Republic of Germany, India, Italy, the Republic of Korea, the People's Republic of China, and Switzerland: Postponement of Preliminary Determinations in the Less-Than-Fair-Value Investigations, 82 FR 42788 (September 12, 2017).

    3See Memorandum, “Decision Memorandum for the Preliminary Determination in the Less-Than-Fair-Value Investigation of Certain Cold-Drawn Mechanical Tubing of Carbon and Alloy Steel from Switzerland” dated concurrently with, and hereby adopted by, this notice (Preliminary Decision Memorandum).

    Scope of the Investigation

    The product covered by this investigation is cold-drawn mechanical tubing from Switzerland. For a complete description of the scope of this investigation, see Appendix I.

    Scope Comments

    In accordance with the preamble to the Department's regulations,4 the Initiation Notice set aside a period of time for parties to raise issues regarding product coverage (i.e., scope).5 Certain interested parties commented on the scope of the investigation as it appeared in the Initiation Notice. For a summary of the product coverage comments and rebuttal responses submitted to the record for this preliminary determination, and accompanying discussion and analysis of all comments timely received, see the Preliminary Scope Decision Memorandum.6 The Department is preliminarily modifying the scope language as it appeared in the Initiation Notice. See the revised scope in Appendix I to this notice.

    4See Antidumping Duties; Countervailing Duties, Final Rule, 62 FR 27296, 27323 (May 19, 1997).

    5See Initiation Notice.

    6See Memorandum, “Certain Cold-Drawn Mechanical Tubing of Carbon and Alloy Steel (Cold-Drawn Mechanical Tubing) from Full Country Name: Scope Comments Decision Memorandum for the Preliminary Determination” (Preliminary Scope Decision Memorandum), dated concurrently with this preliminary determination.

    Methodology

    The Department is conducting this investigation in accordance with section 731 of the Act. Export prices were calculated in accordance with section 772(a) of the Act. Constructed export prices were calculated in accordance with section 772(b) of the Act. Normal value (NV) was calculated in accordance with section 773 of the Act. In addition, the Department has relied on partial facts available under section 776(a)(1) of the Act. For a full description of the methodology underlying the preliminary determination, see the Preliminary Decision Memorandum.7

    7See the Preliminary Decision Memorandum.

    All-Others Rate

    Sections 733(d)(1)(ii) and 735(c)(5)(A) of the Act provide that in the preliminary determination the Department shall determine an estimated all-others rate for all exporters and producers not individually examined. This rate shall be an amount equal to the weighted average of the estimated weighted-average dumping margins established for exporters and producers individually investigated, excluding any zero and de minimis margins, and any margins determined entirely under section 776 of the Act.

    In this investigation, the Department calculated estimated weighted-average dumping margins for Benteler Rothrist and Mubea that are not zero, de minimis, or based entirely on facts otherwise available. The Department calculated the all-others rate using a weighted average of the estimated weighted-average dumping margins calculated for the examined respondents using each company's publicly-ranged values for the merchandise under consideration.8

    8 With two respondents under examination, the Department normally calculates (A) a weighted-average of the estimated weighted-average dumping margins calculated for the examined respondents; (B) a simple average of the estimated weighted-average dumping margins calculated for the examined respondents; and (C) a weighted-average of the estimated weighted-average dumping margins calculated for the examined respondents using each company's publicly-ranged U.S. sale quantities for the merchandise under consideration. The Department then compares (B) and (C) to (A) and selects the rate closest to (A) as the most appropriate rate for all other producers and exporters. See Ball Bearings and Parts Thereof from France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the United Kingdom: Final Results of Antidumping Duty Administrative Reviews, Final Results of Changed-Circumstances Review, and Revocation of an Order in Part, 75 FR 53661, 53663 (September 1, 2010). As complete publicly ranged sales data was available, the Department based the all-others rate on the publicly ranged sales data of the mandatory respondents. For a complete analysis of the data, please see the All-Others' Rate Calculation Memorandum.

    Preliminary Determination

    The Department preliminarily determines that the following estimated weighted-average dumping margins exist:

    Exporter/producer Estimated weighted-
  • average
  • dumping
  • margin
  • (percent)
  • Benteler Rothrist AG (Benteler Rothrist) 34.15 Mubea Präzisionsstahlrohr AG (MPST) 68.59 All-Others 36.17
    Suspension of Liquidation

    In accordance with section 733(d)(2) of the Act, the Department will direct U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to suspend liquidation of entries of subject merchandise, as described in Appendix I, entered, or withdrawn from warehouse, for consumption on or after the date of publication of this notice in the Federal Register. Further, pursuant to section 733(d)(1)(B) of the Act and 19 CFR 351.205(d), the Department will instruct CBP to require a cash deposit equal to the estimated weighted-average dumping margin or the estimated all-others rate, as follows: (1) The cash deposit rate for the respondents listed above will be equal to the company-specific estimated weighted-average dumping margins determined in this preliminary determination; (2) if the exporter is not a respondent identified above, but the producer is, then the cash deposit rate will be equal to the company-specific estimated weighted-average dumping margin established for that producer of the subject merchandise; and (3) the cash deposit rate for all other producers and exporters will be equal to the all-others estimated weighted-average dumping margin.

    Disclosure

    The Department intends to disclose its calculations and analysis performed to interested parties in this preliminary determination within five days of any public announcement or, if there is no public announcement, within five days of the date of publication of this notice in accordance with 19 CFR 351.224(b).

    Verification

    As provided in section 782(i)(1) of the Act, the Department intends to verify the information relied upon in making its final determination.

    Public Comment

    The Department is setting different deadlines for scope-related case and rebuttal briefs, and case and rebuttal briefs addressing all other issues.

    Scope briefs may be submitted to the Assistant Secretary for Enforcement and Compliance no later than five days after the publication of the preliminary AD determinations for the PRC, Germany, India, Italy, Korea, and Switzerland in the Federal Register. Rebuttal scope briefs, limited to issues raised in the scope case briefs, may be submitted no later than three days after the deadline for the scope case briefs. These deadlines, which are based on publication in the Federal Register of the preliminary determinations in the AD investigations of cold-drawn mechanical tubing, apply for both the on-going CVD and AD investigations. There is only one briefing schedule for scope case and rebuttal briefs in the CVD and AD investigations. For all scope issues, parties must file separate and identical documents on the records of all of the ongoing CVD and AD cold-drawn mechanical tubing investigations. No new factual information should be included in scope case briefs or rebuttal scope briefs, and no proprietary information should be submitted in the scope case briefs and rebuttal scope briefs.

    Pursuant to 19 CFR 351.310(c), interested parties who wish to request a hearing on the revised scope, limited to issues raised in the scope case and rebuttal briefs, must submit a written request to the Assistant Secretary for Enforcement and Compliance, U.S. Department of Commerce, separate from the hearing on issues raised in case briefs, within five days after the date of publication of this notice. Requests should contain the party's name, address, and telephone number, the number of participants, whether any participant is a foreign national, and a list of the issues to be discussed. If a request for a hearing is made, the Department intends to hold the hearing at the U.S. Department of Commerce, 1401 Constitution Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20230, at a time and date to be determined. Parties should confirm by telephone the date, time, and location of the hearing two days before the scheduled date.

    Scope comments may only be included in the scope case brief and scope rebuttal brief. Should this investigation result in an order, interested parties may submit requests for a scope ruling after the issuance of any such order.

    Case briefs or other non-scope written comments may be submitted to the Assistant Secretary for Enforcement and Compliance no later than seven days after the date on which the last verification report is issued in this investigation, unless the Secretary alters the time limit. Rebuttal briefs, limited to issues raised in case briefs, may be submitted no later than five days after the deadline date for case briefs.9 Pursuant to 19 CFR 351.309(c)(2) and (d)(2), parties who submit case briefs or rebuttal briefs in this investigation are encouraged to submit with each argument: (1) A statement of the issue; (2) a brief summary of the argument; and (3) a table of authorities. Pursuant to 19 CFR 351.310(c), interested parties who wish to request a hearing, limited to issues raised in the case and rebuttal briefs, must submit a written request to the Assistant Secretary for Enforcement and Compliance, U.S. Department of Commerce, within 30 days after the date of publication of this notice. Requests should contain the party's name, address, and telephone number, the number of participants, whether any participant is a foreign national, and a list of the issues to be discussed. If a request for a hearing is made, the Department intends to hold the hearing at the U.S. Department of Commerce, 1401 Constitution Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20230, at a time and date to be determined. Parties should confirm by telephone the date, time, and location of the hearing two days before the scheduled date.

    9See 19 CFR 351.309; see also 19 CFR 351.303 (for general filing requirements).

    Postponement of Final Determination and Extension of Provisional Measures

    Section 735(a)(2) of the Act provides that a final determination may be postponed until not later than 135 days after the date of the publication of the preliminary determination if, in the event of an affirmative preliminary determination, a request for such postponement is made by exporters who account for a significant proportion of exports of the subject merchandise, or in the event of a negative preliminary determination, a request for such postponement is made by the petitioner. Section 351.210(e)(2) of the Department's regulations requires that a request by exporters for postponement of the final determination be accompanied by a request for extension of provisional measures from a four-month period to a period not more than six months in duration.

    On October 24, 2017, pursuant to 19 CFR 351.210(e), Benteler Rothrist requested the Department to postpone the final determination and that provisional measures be extended to a period not to exceed six months.10 In accordance with section 735(a)(2)(A) of the Act and 19 CFR 351.210(b)(2)(ii), because: (1) The preliminary determination is affirmative; (2) the requesting exporter accounts for a significant proportion of exports of the subject merchandise; (3) the petitioners support Benteler Rothrist's extension request; 11 and (4) no compelling reasons for denial exist, the Department is postponing the final determination and extending the provisional measures from a four-month period to a period not greater than six months. Accordingly, the Department will make its final determination no later than 135 days after the date of publication of this preliminary determination.

    10See Benteler Rothrist's letter, “Antidumping Duty Investigation of Cold-Drawn Mechanical Tubing from Switzerland: Request for Postponement of Final Determination and Provisional Measures Period,” dated October 24, 2017 (Benteler Rothrist's Extension Request).

    11See the petitioners' letter, “Certain Cold-Drawn Mechanical Tubing of Carbon and Alloy Steel from China, Germany, India, Italy, Korea and Switzerland—Petitioners' Comments Regarding Extension of the Final Determination Deadline,” dated November 13, 2017 (Petitioners' Extension Request).

    International Trade Commission Notification

    In accordance with section 733(f) of the Act, the Department will notify the International Trade Commission (ITC) of its preliminary determination. If the final determination is affirmative, the ITC will determine before the later of 120 days after the date of this preliminary determination or 45 days after the final determination whether these imports are materially injuring, or threaten material injury to, the U.S. industry.

    Notification to Interested Parties

    This determination is issued and published in accordance with sections 733(f) and 777(i)(1) of the Act and 19 CFR 351.205(c).

    Dated: November 15, 2017. Gary Taverman, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Operations, performing the non-exclusive functions and duties of the Assistant Secretary for Enforcement and Compliance. Appendix I Scope of the Investigation

    The scope of this investigation covers cold-drawn mechanical tubing of carbon and alloy steel (cold-drawn mechanical tubing) of circular cross-section, 304.8 mm or more in length, in actual outside diameters less than 331 mm, and regardless of wall thickness, surface finish, end finish or industry specification. The subject cold-drawn mechanical tubing is a tubular product with a circular cross-sectional shape that has been cold-drawn or otherwise cold-finished after the initial tube formation in a manner that involves a change in the diameter or wall thickness of the tubing, or both. The subject cold-drawn mechanical tubing may be produced from either welded (e.g., electric resistance welded, continuous welded, etc.) or seamless (e.g., pierced, pilgered or extruded, etc.) carbon or alloy steel tubular products. It may also be heat treated after cold working. Such heat treatments may include, but are not limited to, annealing, normalizing, quenching and tempering, stress relieving or finish annealing. Typical cold-drawing methods for subject merchandise include, but are not limited to, drawing over mandrel, rod drawing, plug drawing, sink drawing and similar processes that involve reducing the outside diameter of the tubing with a die or similar device, whether or not controlling the inside diameter of the tubing with an internal support device such as a mandrel, rod, plug or similar device. Other cold-finishing operations that may be used to produce subject merchandise include cold-rolling and cold-sizing the tubing.

    Subject cold-drawn mechanical tubing is typically certified to meet industry specifications for cold-drawn tubing including but not limited to:

    (1) American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) or American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) specifications ASTM A-512, ASTM A-513 Type 3 (ASME SA513 Type 3), ASTM A-513 Type 4 (ASME SA513 Type 4), ASTM A-513 Type 5 (ASME SA513 Type 5), ASTM A-513 Type 6 (ASME SA513 Type 6), ASTM A-519 (cold-finished);

    (2) SAE International (Society of Automotive Engineers) specifications SAE J524, SAE J525, SAE J2833, SAE J2614, SAE J2467, SAE J2435, SAE J2613;

    (3) Aerospace Material Specification (AMS) AMS T-6736 (AMS 6736), AMS 6371, AMS 5050, AMS 5075, AMS 5062, AMS 6360, AMS 6361, AMS 6362, AMS 6371, AMS 6372, AMS 6374, AMS 6381, AMS 6415;

    (4) United States Military Standards (MIL) MIL-T-5066 and MIL-T-6736;

    (5) foreign standards equivalent to one of the previously listed ASTM, ASME, SAE, AMS or MIL specifications including but not limited to:

    (a) German Institute for Standardization (DIN) specifications DIN 2391-2, DIN 2393-2, DIN 2394-2);

    (b) European Standards (EN) EN 10305-1, EN 10305-2, EN 10305-3, EN 10305-4, EN 10305-6 and European national variations on those standards (e.g., British Standard (BS EN), Irish Standard (IS EN) and German Standard (DIN EN) variations, etc.);

    (c) Japanese Industrial Standard (JIS) JIS G 3441 and JIS G 3445; and

    (6) proprietary standards that are based on one of the above-listed standards.

    The subject cold-drawn mechanical tubing may also be dual or multiple certified to more than one standard. Pipe that is multiple certified as cold-drawn mechanical tubing and to other specifications not covered by this scope, is also covered by the scope of this investigation when it meets the physical description set forth above.

    Steel products included in the scope of this investigation are products in which: (1) Iron predominates, by weight, over each of the other contained elements; and (2) the carbon content is 2 percent or less by weight.

    For purposes of this scope, the place of cold-drawing determines the country of origin of the subject merchandise. Subject merchandise that is subject to minor working in a third country that occurs after drawing in one of the subject countries including, but not limited to, heat treatment, cutting to length, straightening, nondestruction testing, deburring or chamfering, remains within the scope of this investigation.

    All products that meet the written physical description are within the scope of this investigation unless specifically excluded or covered by the scope of an existing order. Merchandise that meets the physical description of cold-drawn mechanical tubing above is within the scope of the investigation even if it is also dual or multiple certified to an otherwise excluded specification listed below. The following products are outside of, and/or specifically excluded from, the scope of this investigation:

    (1) Cold-drawn stainless steel tubing, containing 10.5 percent or more of chromium by weight and not more than 1.2 percent of carbon by weight;

    (2) products certified to one or more of the ASTM, ASME or American Petroleum Institute (API) specifications listed below:

    • ASTM A-53;

    • ASTM A-106;

    • ASTM A-179 (ASME SA 179);

    • ASTM A-192 (ASME SA 192);

    • ASTM A-209 (ASME SA 209);

    • ASTM A-210 (ASME SA 210);

    • ASTM A-213 (ASME SA 213);

    • ASTM A-334 (ASME SA 334);

    • ASTM A-423 (ASME SA 423);

    • ASTM A-498;

    • ASTM A-496 (ASME SA 496);

    • ASTM A-199;

    • ASTM A-500;

    • ASTM A-556;

    • ASTM A-565;

    • API 5L; and

    • API 5CT

    except that any cold-drawn tubing product certified to one of the above excluded specifications will not be excluded from the scope if it is also dual- or multiple-certified to any other specification that otherwise would fall within the scope of this investigation.

    The products subject to the investigation are currently classified in the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS) under item numbers: 7304.31.3000, 7304.31.6050, 7304.51.1000, 7304.51.5005, 7304.51.5060, 7306.30.5015, 7306.30.5020, 7306.50.5030. Subject merchandise may also enter under numbers 7306.30.1000 and 7306.50.1000. The HTSUS subheadings above are provided for convenience and customs purposes only. The written description of the scope of the investigation is dispositive.

    Appendix II List of Topics Discussed in the Preliminary Decision Memorandum I. Summary II. Background III. Period of Investigation IV. Scope Comments V. Discussion of the Methodology A. Determination of the Comparison Method B. Results of the Differential Pricing Analysis VI. Date of Sale VII. Product Comparisons VIII. Export Price and Constructed Export Price IX. Normal Value A. Home Market Viability B. Affiliated-Party Transactions and Arm's-Length Test C. Level of Trade D. Cost of Production (COP) Analysis 1. Calculation of COP 2. Test of Comparison Market Sales Prices 3. Results of the COP Test E. Calculation of NV Based on Comparison Market Prices X. Applications of Facts Available XI. Currency Conversion XII. Conclusion
    [FR Doc. 2017-25293 Filed 11-21-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-DS-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE International Trade Administration [A-570-058] Certain Cold-Drawn Mechanical Tubing of Carbon and Alloy Steel From the People's Republic of China: Preliminary Affirmative Determination of Sales at Less-Than-Fair Value and Preliminary Affirmative Determination of Critical Circumstances, in Part, and Postponement of Final Determination AGENCY:

    Enforcement and Compliance, International Trade Administration, Department of Commerce.

    SUMMARY:

    The Department of Commerce (the Department) preliminarily determines that certain cold-drawn mechanical tubing of carbon and alloy steel (cold-drawn mechanical tubing) from the People's Republic of China (PRC) is being sold in the United States at less than fair value (LTFV). The period of investigation (POI) is October 1, 2016, through March 31, 2017.

    DATES:

    Applicable November 22, 2017.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Keith Haynes or Paul Stolz, AD/CVD Operations, Office III, Enforcement and Compliance, International Trade Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce, 1401 Constitution Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20230; telephone: (202) 482-5139 or (202) 482-4474, respectively.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Background

    This preliminary determination is made in accordance with section 733(b) of the Tariff Act of 1930, as amended (the Act). The Department published the notice of initiation of this investigation on May 16, 2017.1 On September 12, 2017, the Department postponed the preliminary determination of this investigation until November 15, 2017.2 For a complete description of the events that followed the initiation of this investigation, see the Preliminary Decision Memorandum.3 A list of topics included in the Preliminary Decision Memorandum is included as Appendix II to this notice. The Preliminary Decision Memorandum is a public document and is on file electronically via Enforcement and Compliance's Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Centralized Electronic Service System (ACCESS). ACCESS is available to registered users at https://access.trade.gov, and to all parties in the Central Records Unit, Room B8024 of the main Department of Commerce building. In addition, a complete version of the Preliminary Decision Memorandum can be accessed directly at http://enforcement.trade.gov/frn/. The signed and the electronic versions of the Preliminary Decision Memorandum are identical in content.

    1See Certain Cold-Drawn Mechanical Tubing of Carbon and Alloy Steel from the People's Republic of China: Initiation of Less-Than-Fair-Value Investigation, 82 FR 22491 (May 16, 2017) (Initiation Notice).

    2See Certain Cold-Drawn Mechanical Tubing of Carbon and Alloy Steel from the Federal Republic of Germany, India, Italy, the Republic of Korea, the People's Republic of China, and Switzerland: Postponement of Preliminary Determinations in the Less-Than-Fair-Value Investigations, 82 FR 42788 (September 12, 2017).

    3See “Decision Memorandum for Preliminary Determination for the Antidumping Duty Investigation of Certain Cold-Drawn Mechanical Tubing of Carbon and Alloy Steel from the People's Republic of China,” dated concurrently with, and hereby adopted by, this notice (Preliminary Decision Memorandum).

    Scope of the Investigation

    The product covered by this investigation is cold-drawn mechanical tubing from the PRC. For a complete description of the scope of this investigation, see Appendix I.

    Scope Comments

    In accordance with the preamble to the Department's regulations,4 the Initiation Notice set aside a period of time for parties to raise issues regarding product coverage (i.e., scope).5 Certain interested parties commented on the scope of the investigation as it appeared in the Initiation Notice, as well as additional language proposed by the petitioners.6 For a summary of the product coverage comments and rebuttal responses submitted to the record for this preliminary determination, and accompanying discussion and analysis of all comments timely received, see the Preliminary Scope Decision Memorandum.7 The Department is preliminarily modifying the scope language as it appeared in the Initiation Notice. See the revised scope in Appendix I to this notice.

    4See Antidumping Duties; Countervailing Duties, 62 FR 27296, 27323 (May 19, 1997).

    5See Initiation Notice, 82 FR at 22492.

    6 ArcelorMittal Tubular Products, Michigan Seamless Tube, LLC, PTC Alliance Corp., Plymouth Tube Co. USA, Webco Industries, Inc., and Zekelman Industries, Inc. (collectively, the petitioners).

    7See Memorandum, “Certain Cold-Drawn Mechanical Tubing of Carbon and Alloy Steel from the Federal Republic of Germany, India, Italy, the Republic of Korea, the People's Republic of China, and Switzerland: Scope Comments Decision Memorandum for the Preliminary Determination” (Preliminary Scope Decision Memorandum), dated concurrently with this preliminary determination.

    Methodology

    The Department is conducting this investigation in accordance with section 731 of the Act. Export prices were calculated in accordance with section 772(a) of the Act. Because the PRC is a non-market economy within the meaning of section 771(18) of the Act, normal value (NV) was calculated in accordance with section 773(c) of the Act. For a full description of the methodology underlying our determinations, see the Preliminary Decision Memorandum.

    Preliminary Affirmative Determination of Critical Circumstances

    In accordance with section 733(e) of the Act and 19 CFR 351.206, the Department preliminarily determines that critical circumstances exist with respect to imports of cold-drawn mechanical tubing from the PRC for mandatory respondent Jiangsu Hongyi Steel Pipe Co., Ltd. (Hongyi), the separate-rate companies,8 and the PRC-wide entity, but do not exist for mandatory respondent Zhangjiagang Huacheng Import & Export Co., Ltd. (Huacheng). For a full description of the methodology and results of the Department's critical circumstances analysis, see the Preliminary Decision Memorandum.

    8 Anji Pengda Steel Pipe Co., Ltd., Changshu Fushilai Steel Pipe Co., Ltd., Changshu Special Shaped Steel Tube Co., Ltd., Zhejiang Dingxin Steel Tube Manufacturing Co., Ltd, Suzhou Foster International, Hongyi, Zhangjiagang Shengdingyuan Pipe-Making Co., Ltd., Wuxi Huijin International Trade Co., Ltd., and Zhejiang Minghe Steel.

    Use of Adverse Facts Available

    The Department preliminarily determines that Hongyi and the PRC-wide entity, which includes certain PRC exporters and/or producers that did not respond to the Department's requests for information, withheld information requested by the Department and significantly impeded this proceeding by not submitting requested information. Specifically, all companies within the PRC-wide entity that failed to respond to the Department's request for quantity and value (Q&V) information failed to provide requested information, impeding the Department's investigation.9 Furthermore, the Department finds that the PRC-wide entity's lack of participation, including the failure of certain parts of the PRC-wide entity to submit Q&V information, constitutes circumstances under which it is reasonable to conclude that the PRC-wide entity as a whole failed to cooperate to the best of its ability to comply with the Department's request for information.10 Additionally, the Department finds that the use of facts available with adverse inferences is warranted for Hongyi. For further discussion, see the Preliminary Decision Memorandum.

    9Id.

    10See Nippon Steel Corporation v. United States, 337 F.3d 1373, 1383 (Fed. Cir. 2003) (noting that the Department need not show intentional conduct existed on the part of the respondent, but merely that a “failure to cooperate to the best of a respondent's ability” existed (i.e., information was not provided “under circumstances in which it is reasonable to conclude that less than full cooperation has been shown.”)).

    Therefore, we preliminarily find that an adverse inference is warranted in selecting from among the facts otherwise available with respect to the PRC-wide entity and Hongyi in accordance with sections 776(a) and 776(b) of the Act and 19 CFR 351.308(a). As adverse facts available, we have preliminarily assigned the PRC-wide entity and Hongyi a rate of 186.89 percent. Further, with respect to critical circumstances, we have preliminarily determined, based on adverse facts available, that the PRC-wide entity and Hongyi dumped “massive imports” over a “relatively short period.” For further explanation and analysis, see the Preliminary Decision Memorandum.

    Combination Rates

    In the Initiation Notice,11 the Department stated that it would calculate producer/exporter combination rates for the respondents that are eligible for a separate rate in this investigation. Policy Bulletin 05.1 describes this practice.12

    11See Initiation Notice.

    12See Enforcement and Compliance's Policy Bulletin No. 05.1, regarding, “Separate-Rates Practice and Application of Combination Rates in Antidumping Investigations involving Non-Market Economy Countries,” (April 5, 2005) (Policy Bulletin 05.1), available on the Department's Web site at http://enforcement.trade.gov/policy/bull05-1.pdf.

    Preliminary Determination

    The Department preliminarily determines that the following estimated weighted-average dumping margins exist:

    Producer Exporter Weighted-
  • average
  • margin
  • (percent)
  • Cash deposit adjusted for subsidy offset
  • (percent)
  • Jiangsu Hongyi Steel Pipe Co., Ltd Jiangsu Hongyi Steel Pipe Co., Ltd 186.89 186.89 Zhangjiagang Huacheng Import & Export Co., Ltd Zhangjiagang Huacheng Import & Export Co., Ltd 61.59 61.57 Anji Pengda Steel Pipe Co., Ltd Anji Pengda Steel Pipe Co., Ltd 61.59 61.58 Changshu Fushilai Steel Pipe Co., Ltd Changshu Fushilai Steel Pipe Co., Ltd 61.59 61.58 Changshu Special Shaped Steel Tube Co., Ltd Changshu Special Shaped Steel Tube Co., Ltd 61.59 61.58 Jiangsu Liwan Precision Tube Manufacturing Co., Ltd Suzhou Foster International Co., Ltd 61.59 61.58 Zhangjiagang Precision Tube Manufacturing Co., Ltd. (Zhangjiangang Tube) Suzhou Foster International Co., Ltd 61.59 61.58 Wuxi Dajin High-Precision Cold-Drawn Steel Tube Co., Ltd Wuxi Huijin International Trade Co., Ltd 61.59 61.58 Zhangjiagang Shengdingyuan Pipe-Making Co., Ltd Zhangjiagang Shengdingyuan Pipe-Making Co., Ltd 61.59 61.58 Zhejiang Minghe Steel Pipe Co., Ltd Zhejiang Minghe Steel Pipe Co., Ltd 61.59 61.58 Zhejiang Dingxin Steel Tube Manufacturing Co., Ltd Zhejiang Dingxin Steel Tube Manufacturing Co., Ltd 61.59 61.58 PRC-Wide Entity 186.89 186.89
    Suspension of Liquidation

    In accordance with section 733(d)(2) of the Act, the Department will direct U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to suspend liquidation of subject merchandise as described in the scope of the investigation section entered, or withdrawn from warehouse, for consumption on or after the date of publication of this notice in the Federal Register, as discussed below. Further, pursuant to section 733(d)(1)(B) of the Act and 19 CFR 351.205(d), the Department will instruct CBP to require a cash deposit equal to the weighted average amount by which normal value exceeds U.S. price, as indicated in the chart above as follows: (1) For the producer/exporter combinations listed in the table above, the cash deposit rate is equal to the estimated weighted-average dumping margin listed for that combination in the table; (2) for all combinations of PRC producers/exporters of merchandise under consideration that have not established eligibility for their own separate rates, the cash deposit rate will be equal to the estimated weighted-average dumping margin established for the PRC-wide entity; and (3) for all third-county exporters of merchandise under consideration not listed in the table above, the cash deposit rate is the cash deposit rate applicable to the PRC producer/exporter combination (or the PRC-wide entity) that supplied that third-country exporter

    Section 733(e)(2) of the Act provides that, given an affirmative determination of critical circumstances, any suspension of liquidation shall apply to unliquidated entries of merchandise entered, or withdrawn from warehouse, for consumption on or after the later of (a) the date which is 90 days before the date on which the suspension of liquidation was first ordered, or (b) the date on which notice of initiation of the investigation was published. The Department preliminarily finds that critical circumstances exist for imports of cold-drawn mechanical tubing from the PRC from the following producer/exporter combinations: Jiangsu Hongyi Steel Pipe Co., Ltd./Jiangsu Hongyi Steel Pipe Co., Ltd., the separate rate respondents, and the PRC-wide entity. In accordance with section 733(e)(2)(A) of the Act, the suspension of liquidation shall apply to unliquidated entries of merchandise entered, or withdrawn from warehouse, for consumption on or after the date which is 90 days before the publication of this notice.

    To determine the cash deposit rate, the Department normally adjusts the estimated weighted-average dumping margin by the amount of domestic subsidy pass-through and export subsidies determined in a companion CVD proceeding when CVD provisional measures are in effect. Accordingly, where the Department has made a preliminary affirmative determination for domestic subsidy pass-through or export subsidies, the Department has offset the calculated estimated weighted-average dumping margin by the appropriate rate(s). Any such adjusted rates may be found in the Preliminary Determination Section's chart of estimated weighted-average dumping margins above.

    Should provisional measures in the companion CVD investigation expire prior to the expiration of provisional measures in this LTFV investigation, the Department will direct CBP to begin collecting cash deposits at a rate equal to the estimated weighted-average dumping margins calculated in this preliminary determination unadjusted for the passed-through domestic subsidies or for export subsidies at the time the CVD provisional measures expire.

    These suspension of liquidation instructions will remain in effect until further notice.

    Postponement of Final Determination and Extension of Provisional Measures

    Section 735(a)(2) of the Act provides that a final determination may be postponed until not later than 135 days after the date of the publication of the preliminary determination if, in the event of an affirmative preliminary determination, a request for such postponement is made by exporters who account for a significant proportion of exports of the subject merchandise, or in the event of a negative preliminary determination, a request for such postponement is made by Petitioners. 19 CFR 351.210(e)(2) requires that requests by respondents for postponement of a final antidumping determination be accompanied by a request for extension of provisional measures from a four-month period to a period not more than six months in duration.

    On October 27, 2017, and October 30, 2017, respectively, pursuant to 19 CFR 351.210(b) and (e), Hongyi and Huacheng requested that, contingent upon an affirmative preliminary determination of sales at LTFV for the respondents, the Department postpone the final determination and that provisional measures be extended to a period not to exceed six months.13

    13See Hongyi's letter, “Hongyi's Request to Extend the Final Determination: Antidumping Duty Investigation of Certain Cold-Drawn Mechanical Tubing of Carbon and Alloy Steel from the People's Republic of China (A-570-058),” dated October 27, 2017; also see Huacheng's letter, “Certain Cold-Drawn Mechanical Tubing of Carbon and Alloy Steel from the People's Republic of China: Request to Extend the Final Determination,” dated October 30, 2017.

    In accordance with section 735(a)(2)(A) of the Act and 19 CFR 351.210(b)(2)(ii), because (1) our preliminary determination is affirmative; (2) the requesting exporter accounts for a significant proportion of exports of the subject merchandise; and (3) no compelling reasons for denial exist, we are postponing the final determination and extending the provisional measures from a four-month period to a period not greater than six months. Accordingly, we will make our final determination no later than 135 days after the date of publication of this preliminary determination, pursuant to section 735(a)(2) of the Act.14

    14See also 19 CFR 351.210(e).

    Disclosure

    The Department intends to disclose to interested parties the calculations performed in connection with this preliminary determination within five days of its public announcement or, if there is no public announcement, within five days of the date of publication of this notice in accordance with 19 CFR 351.224(b).

    Public Comment

    The Department is setting different deadlines for scope-related case and rebuttal briefs, and case and rebuttal briefs addressing all other issues.

    Scope briefs may be submitted to the Assistant Secretary for Enforcement and Compliance no later than five days after the publication of the preliminary AD determinations for the PRC, Germany, India, Italy, Korea, and Switzerland in the Federal Register. Rebuttal scope briefs, limited to issues raised in the scope case briefs, may be submitted no later than three days after the deadline for the scope case briefs. These deadlines, which are based on publication in the Federal Register of the preliminary determinations in the AD investigations of cold-drawn mechanical tubing, apply for both the on-going CVD and AD investigations. There is only one briefing schedule for scope case and rebuttal briefs in the CVD and AD investigations. For all scope issues, parties must file separate and identical documents on the records of all of the ongoing CVD and AD cold-drawn mechanical tubing investigations. No new factual information should be included in scope case briefs or rebuttal scope briefs, and no proprietary information should be submitted in the scope case briefs and rebuttal scope briefs. Pursuant to 19 CFR 351.310(c), interested parties who wish to request a hearing on the revised scope, limited to issues raised in the scope case and rebuttal briefs, must submit a written request to the Assistant Secretary for Enforcement and Compliance, U.S. Department of Commerce, separate from the hearing on issues raised in case briefs, within five days after the date of publication of this notice. Requests should contain the party's name, address, and telephone number, the number of participants, whether any participant is a foreign national, and a list of the issues to be discussed. If a request for a hearing is made, the Department intends to hold the hearing at the U.S. Department of Commerce, 1401 Constitution Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20230, at a time and date to be determined. Parties should confirm by telephone the date, time, and location of the hearing two days before the scheduled date.

    Scope comments may only be included in the scope case brief and scope rebuttal brief. Should this investigation result in an order, interested parties may submit requests for a scope ruling after the issuance of any such order.

    Case briefs or other non-scope written comments may be submitted to the Assistant Secretary for Enforcement and Compliance no later than seven days after the date on which the last verification report is issued in this investigation, unless the Secretary alters the time limit. Rebuttal briefs, limited to issues raised in case briefs, may be submitted no later than five days after the deadline date for case briefs.15 Pursuant to 19 CFR 351.309(c)(2) and (d)(2), parties who submit case briefs or rebuttal briefs in this investigation are encouraged to submit with each argument: (1) A statement of the issue; (2) a brief summary of the argument; and (3) a table of authorities. Pursuant to 19 CFR 351.310(c), interested parties who wish to request a hearing, limited to issues raised in the case and rebuttal briefs, must submit a written request to the Assistant Secretary for Enforcement and Compliance, U.S. Department of Commerce, within 30 days after the date of publication of this notice. Requests should contain the party's name, address, and telephone number, the number of participants, whether any participant is a foreign national, and a list of the issues to be discussed. If a request for a hearing is made, the Department intends to hold the hearing at the U.S. Department of Commerce, 1401 Constitution Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20230, at a time and date to be determined. Parties should confirm by telephone the date, time, and location of the hearing two days before the scheduled date.

    15See 19 CFR 351.309; see also 19 CFR 351.303 (for general filing requirements).

    International Trade Commission Notification

    In accordance with section 733(f) of the Act, the Department will notify the ITC of our preliminary affirmative determination of sales at LTFV. If the final determination is affirmative, the ITC will determine before the later of 120 days after the date of this preliminary determination or 45 days after the date of this preliminary determination or 45 days after the final determination whether imports of the subject merchandise are materially injuring, or threaten material injury to, the U.S. industry.

    Notification to Interested Parties

    This determination is issued and published in accordance with sections 733(f) and 777(i)(1) of the Act and 19 CFR 351.205(c).

    Dated: November 15, 2017. Gary Taverman, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Operations, performing the non-exclusive functions and duties of the Assistant Secretary for Enforcement and Compliance. Appendix I Scope of the Investigation

    The scope of this investigation covers cold-drawn mechanical tubing of carbon and alloy steel (cold-drawn mechanical tubing) of circular cross-section, 304.8 mm or more in length, in actual outside diameters less than 331 mm, and regardless of wall thickness, surface finish, end finish or industry specification. The subject cold-drawn mechanical tubing is a tubular product with a circular cross-sectional shape that has been cold-drawn or otherwise cold-finished after the initial tube formation in a manner that involves a change in the diameter or wall thickness of the tubing, or both. The subject cold-drawn mechanical tubing may be produced from either welded (e.g., electric resistance welded, continuous welded, etc.) or seamless (e.g., pierced, pilgered or extruded, etc.) carbon or alloy steel tubular products. It may also be heat treated after cold working. Such heat treatments may include, but are not limited to, annealing, normalizing, quenching and tempering, stress relieving or finish annealing. Typical cold-drawing methods for subject merchandise include, but are not limited to, drawing over mandrel, rod drawing, plug drawing, sink drawing and similar processes that involve reducing the outside diameter of the tubing with a die or similar device, whether or not controlling the inside diameter of the tubing with an internal support device such as a mandrel, rod, plug or similar device. Other cold-finishing operations that may be used to produce subject merchandise include cold-rolling and cold-sizing the tubing.

    Subject cold-drawn mechanical tubing is typically certified to meet industry specifications for cold-drawn tubing including but not limited to:

    (1) American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) or American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) specifications ASTM A-512, ASTM A-513 Type 3 (ASME SA513 Type 3), ASTM A-513 Type 4 (ASME SA513 Type 4), ASTM A-513 Type 5 (ASME SA513 Type 5), ASTM A-513 Type 6 (ASME SA513 Type 6), ASTM A-519 (cold-finished);

    (2) SAE International (Society of Automotive Engineers) specifications SAE J524, SAE J525, SAE J2833, SAE J2614, SAE J2467, SAE J2435, SAE J2613;

    (3) Aerospace Material Specification (AMS) AMS T-6736 (AMS 6736), AMS 6371, AMS 5050, AMS 5075, AMS 5062, AMS 6360, AMS 6361, AMS 6362, AMS 6371, AMS 6372, AMS 6374, AMS 6381, AMS 6415;

    (4) United States Military Standards (MIL) MIL-T-5066 and MIL-T-6736;

    (5) foreign standards equivalent to one of the previously listed ASTM, ASME, SAE, AMS or MIL specifications including but not limited to:

    (a) German Institute for Standardization (DIN) specifications DIN 2391-2, DIN 2393-2, DIN 2394-2);

    (b) European Standards (EN) EN 10305-1, EN 10305-2, EN 10305-3, EN 10305-4, EN 10305-6 and European national variations on those standards (e.g., British Standard (BS EN), Irish Standard (IS EN) and German Standard (DIN EN) variations, etc.);

    (c) Japanese Industrial Standard (JIS) JIS G 3441 and JIS G 3445; and

    (6) proprietary standards that are based on one of the above-listed standards.

    The subject cold-drawn mechanical tubing may also be dual or multiple certified to more than one standard. Pipe that is multiple certified as cold-drawn mechanical tubing and to other specifications not covered by this scope, is also covered by the scope of this investigation when it meets the physical description set forth above.

    Steel products included in the scope of this investigation are products in which: (1) Iron predominates, by weight, over each of the other contained elements; and (2) the carbon content is 2 percent or less by weight.

    For purposes of this scope, the place of cold-drawing determines the country of origin of the subject merchandise. Subject merchandise that is subject to minor working in a third country that occurs after drawing in one of the subject countries including, but not limited to, heat treatment, cutting to length, straightening, nondestruction testing, deburring or chamfering, remains within the scope of this investigation.

    All products that meet the written physical description are within the scope of this investigation unless specifically excluded or covered by the scope of an existing order. Merchandise that meets the physical description of cold-drawn mechanical tubing above is within the scope of the investigation even if it is also dual or multiple certified to an otherwise excluded specification listed below. The following products are outside of, and/or specifically excluded from, the scope of this investigation:

    (1) Cold-drawn stainless steel tubing, containing 10.5 percent or more of chromium by weight and not more than 1.2 percent of carbon by weight;

    (2) products certified to one or more of the ASTM, ASME or American Petroleum Institute (API) specifications listed below:

    • ASTM A-53; • ASTM A-106; • ASTM A-179 (ASME SA 179); • ASTM A-192 (ASME SA 192); • ASTM A-209 (ASME SA 209); • ASTM A-210 (ASME SA 210); • ASTM A-213 (ASME SA 213); • ASTM A-334 (ASME SA 334); • ASTM A-423 (ASME SA 423); • ASTM A-498; • ASTM A-496 (ASME SA 496); • ASTM A-199; • ASTM A-500; • ASTM A-556; • ASTM A-565; • API 5L; and • API 5CT except that any cold-drawn tubing product certified to one of the above excluded specifications will not be excluded from the scope if it is also dual- or multiple-certified to any other specification that otherwise would fall within the scope of this investigation.

    The products subject to the investigation are currently classified in the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS) under item numbers: 7304.31.3000, 7304.31.6050, 7304.51.1000, 7304.51.5005, 7304.51.5060, 7306.30.5015, 7306.30.5020, 7306.50.5030. Subject merchandise may also enter under numbers 7306.30.1000 and 7306.50.1000. The HTSUS subheadings above are provided for convenience and customs purposes only. The written description of the scope of the investigation is dispositive.

    Appendix II List of Topics Discussed in the Preliminary Decision Memorandum I. Summary II. Background III. Period of Investigation IV. Scope Comments V. Selection of Respondents VI. Preliminary Affirmative Determination of Critical Circumstances, in Part VII. Discussion of the Methodology VIII. Currency Conversion IX. Adjustment for Countervailable Export Subsidies X. Adjustment Under Section 777A(f) of the Act XI. Postponement of Preliminary Determination XII. Verification XIII. U.S. International Trade Commission Notification XIV. Conclusion
    [FR Doc. 2017-25294 Filed 11-21-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-DS-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE Foreign-Trade Zones Board [B-071-2017] Foreign-Trade Zone (FTZ) 52—Jamaica, New York; Notification of Proposed Production Activity; Advanced Optowave Corporation; (Diode Pumped Solid State Laser Systems/Manufacturing); Ronkonkoma, New York

    Suffolk County, grantee of FTZ 52, submitted a notification of proposed production activity to the FTZ Board on behalf of Advanced Optowave Corporation (Advanced Optowave), located in Ronkonkoma, New York. The notification conforming to the requirements of the regulations of the FTZ Board (15 CFR 400.22) was received on November 8, 2017.

    The Advanced Optowave facility is located within FTZ 52, Site 5. The facility will be used for the production of diode pumped solid state laser systems (including the controller and laser). Pursuant to 15 CFR 400.14(b), FTZ activity would be limited to the specific foreign-status materials and components and specific finished products described in the submitted notification (as described below) and subsequently authorized by the FTZ Board.

    Production under FTZ procedures could exempt Advanced Optowave from customs duty payments on the foreign-status components used in export production. On its domestic sales, for the foreign-status materials/components noted below, Advanced Optowave would be able to choose the duty rates during customs entry procedures that apply to diode pumped solid state laser systems (including the controller) (duty-free). Advanced Optowave would be able to avoid duty on foreign-status components which become scrap/waste. Customs duties also could possibly be deferred or reduced on foreign-status production equipment.

    The components and materials sourced from abroad include: Optics (laser crystal—neodymium-doped yttrium orthovanadate (ND:YV04); lithium triborate crystal; laser mirror; window optics; optical lens; optical fiber); laser diode; radio frequency driver; thermistor; thermal electric cooler; printed circuit board (populated); computer power supply unit; aluminum mechanical parts (second harmonic generation (SHG) top cover; SHG bottom cover; third harmonic generation (THG) top cover; THG bottom cover; SHG base; THG base; harmonic base; clamp; mirror mount; lens barrel mount; lens barrel mount T-base; lens barrel; lens barrel spacer; laser crystal cover; laser base; desiccant guard; shutter mount; aperture base small; aperture disc; aperture base wide; wire adapter; windows mount; Q switch mount; heat sink; housing body; housing main cover; housing end cover; housing box umbilical adapter; housing leg double slit; housing leg single slit; housing diode cooling plate; housing duel fan cooling plate) (duty rate ranges from duty-free to 5.5%).

    Public comment is invited from interested parties. Submissions shall be addressed to the Board's Executive Secretary at the address below. The closing period for their receipt is January 2, 2018.

    A copy of the notification will be available for public inspection at the Office of the Executive Secretary, Foreign-Trade Zones Board, Room 21013, U.S. Department of Commerce, 1401 Constitution Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20230-0002, and in the “Reading Room” section of the Board's Web site, which is accessible via www.trade.gov/ftz.

    For further information, contact Juanita Chen at [email protected] or (202) 482-1378.

    Dated: November 17, 2017. Andrew McGilvray, Executive Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2017-25281 Filed 11-21-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-DS-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Marine Mammals and Endangered Species AGENCY:

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

    ACTION:

    Notice; issuance of permits and permit amendments.

    SUMMARY:

    Notice is hereby given that permits or permit amendments have been issued to the following entities under the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) and the Endangered Species Act (ESA), as applicable.

    ADDRESSES:

    The permits and related documents are available for review upon written request or by appointment in the Permits and Conservation Division, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, 1315 East-West Highway, Room 13705, Silver Spring, MD 20910; phone (301) 427-8401; fax (301) 713-0376.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Shasta McClenahan (File No. 18786-02 and 21422) and Jennifer Skidmore (File No. 16305); at (301) 427-8401.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Notices were published in the Federal Register on the dates listed below that requests for a permit or permit amendment had been submitted by the below-named applicants. To locate the Federal Register notice that announced our receipt of the application and a complete description of the research, go to www.regulations.gov and search on the permit number provided in the table below.

    File No. RIN Applicant Previous Federal Register
  • notice
  • Permit or
  • amendment
  • issuance date
  • 16305 0648-XA807 John Pierce Wise, Sr. Ph.D., Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, School of Medicine, University of Louisville, Louisville, KY 40292 77 FR 72829; December 6, 2012 October 30, 2017. 18786-02 0648-XD900 Marine Mammal Health and Stranding Response Program (Responsible Party: Teri Rowles, D.V.M., Ph.D.), 1315 East West Highway, Silver Spring, MD 20910 80 FR 44939; July 28, 2015 October 18, 2017. 21422 0648-XF664 James Lloyd-Smith, Ph.D., University of California—Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA 90095 82 FR 43002; September 13, 2017 October 17, 2017.

    In compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.), a final determination has been made that the activities proposed for Permit Nos. 16305 and 21422 are categorically excluded from the requirement to prepare an environmental assessment or environmental impact statement.

    An environmental assessment (EA) was prepared for the original permit (No. 18786) in compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.), to examine whether significant environmental impacts could result from issuance of the proposed scientific research permit. Based on the analyses in the EA, NMFS determined that issuance of the original permit would not significantly impact the quality of the human environment and that preparation of an environmental impact statement was not required. That determination was documented in a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI), signed on June 29, 2015. The activities in the amendment are consistent with the analyses in the original EA and no additional NEPA analysis was required for the issuance of this amendment. The original EA and FONSI are available upon request.

    As required by the ESA, as applicable, issuance of these permit was based on a finding that such permits: (1) Were applied for in good faith; (2) will not operate to the disadvantage of such endangered species; and (3) are consistent with the purposes and policies set forth in Section 2 of the ESA.

    Authority: The requested permits have been issued under the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972, as amended (16 U.S.C. 1361 et seq.), the regulations governing the taking and importing of marine mammals (50 CFR part 216), the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (ESA; 16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.), and the regulations governing the taking, importing, and exporting of endangered and threatened species (50 CFR parts 222-226), as applicable.

    Dated: November 17, 2017. Julia Harrison, Chief, Permits and Conservation Division, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service.
    [FR Doc. 2017-25331 Filed 11-21-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-22-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration RIN 0648-XF603 Takes of Marine Mammals Incidental to Specified Activities; Taking Marine Mammals Incidental to Casitas Pier Fender Pile Replacement 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 Venoco LLC (Venoco) to incidentally harass, by Level B harassment only, marine mammals during construction activities associated with a fender pile replacement project in Carpinteria, California.

    DATES:

    This authorization is applicable from November 1, 2017 to October 31, 2018.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Sara Young, 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/construction.htm. In case of problems accessing these documents, please call the contact listed above.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Background

    Sections 101(a)(5)(A) and (D) of the MMPA (16 U.S.C. 1361 et seq.) direct the Secretary of Commerce (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 reviewed our proposed action (i.e., the issuance of an incidental harassment authorization) 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 NOAA Administrative Order 216-6A, which do not individually or cumulatively have the potential for significant impacts on the quality of the human environment and for which we have not identified any extraordinary circumstances that would preclude this categorical exclusion. Accordingly, NMFS has determined that the issuance of the IHA qualifies to be categorically excluded from further NEPA review.

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

    Summary of Request

    On June 13, 2017, NMFS received a request from Venoco for an IHA to take marine mammals incidental to replacement of fender piles at Casitas Pier in Carpinteria, California. Venoco's request is for take of harbor seal, California sea lions, and bottlenose dolphins by Level B harassment only. Neither Venoco nor NMFS expect mortality to result from this activity and, therefore, an IHA is appropriate.

    Description of Specified Activity

    Venoco proposed to replace 13 fender piles during the fall of 2017 to minimize impact to the local harbor seal population which uses Carpinteria beach as a haulout. Work on the pier will take place over a period of 2 to 3 weeks during fall 2017. Any work that is not completed during this period will be deferred to late summer or fall 2018. Two and a half days of pile driving are needed to complete the work but these days may not be consecutive. The authorization effective dates are November 1, 2017 through October 31, 2018 to allow pile driving to occur when all of the necessary permits and permissions are acquired.

    Up to 13 fender piles located on the end of the Pier will be replaced (six on west side, and seven on the east side). The replacement piles will consist of an upper section approximately 48 to 50 feet (15 meters) long consisting of 16-inch diameter x 0.50-inch wall thickness steel pipe pile with a 12-foot (4-meter) long driven lower section consisting of 14 inch x 73 pound H-pile spliced to the bottom of the upper pipe pile section. Epoxy coating will be used on the new fender piles. Installation will be accomplished utilizing impact and vibratory pile driving techniques supported from the Pier. The replacement piles will be installed slightly offset (about two feet) from the original fender pile positions. This spliced pile design has been in service for more than 60 years at the Pier.

    Each pile will require approximately 25 minutes of vibratory driving, and up to 6 piles could be installed by this method in a single day (i.e., up to 2.5 hours of vibratory pile driving per day). During this time the sound levels above and in water will be in excess of normal pier operations. Sound levels from various other fender pile construction activities will not be discernible from daily pier operations and are below NMFS' thresholds. In the unlikely event that an impact hammer is used, installation of a single pile will require an estimated 400 hammer strikes over 15 minutes, and up to 6 piles could be installed by this method in a single day (i.e., up to 1.5 hours of pile driving per day). A detailed description of the planned project is provided in the Federal Register notice for the proposed IHA (82 FR 42306; September 9, 2017). Since that time, no changes have been made to the planned construction 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

    A notice of NMFS's proposal to issue an IHA to Venoco was published in the Federal Register on September 9, 2017 (82 FR 42306). That notice described, in detail, Venoco's activity, the marine mammal species that may be affected by the activity, and the anticipated effects on marine mammals. During the 30-day public comment period, NMFS received comments from the Marine Mammal Commission. These comments are details below.

    Comment 1: The Commission noted several mitigation and monitoring measures were absent from the proposed IHA and recommends that NMFS include standard mitigation, monitoring, and reporting measures consistently for all authorizations involving pile-driving and -removal activities.

    Response: NMFS included all standard mitigation measures that were appropriate and relevant to the activities proposed by Venoco. These mitigation measures include using delay and shutdown procedures for species that are not authorized and when the limit of take authorized is reached. Venoco is proposing a shutdown at 52 meters, which subsumes the standard 10 meter shutdown zone, but the 10 meter shutdown zone to avoid physical injury still applies for in-water work that is not pile driving or removal. The Commission noted inconsistency in pre and post-activity monitoring times, and the IHA reflects pre and post-activity monitoring periods of 30 minutes.

    Comment 2: The Commission recommends that NMFS share the rounding criteria with the Commission such that this matter can be resolved expeditiously.

    Response: NMFS will share the rounding criteria with the Commission soon (following the completion of internal edits) when available and looks forward to discussing the issue with them in the future.

    Description of Marine Mammals in the Area of Specified Activities

    There are three marine mammal species that may likely transit through the waters nearby the project area, and are expected to potentially be taken by the specified activity. These include harbor seal (Phoca vitulina), California sea lion (Zalophus californianus), and bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus). Multiple additional marine mammal species may occasionally enter coastal California waters but they are not be expected to occur in shallow nearshore waters of the action area (Table 1).

    Sections 3 and 4 of the application summarize available information regarding status and trends, distribution and habitat preferences, and behavior and life history, of the potentially affected species. Additional information regarding population trends and threats may be found in NMFS's 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's Web site (www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/species/mammals/).

    Table 1 lists all species with expected potential for occurrence in coastal southern California and summarizes information related to the population or stock, including regulatory status under the MMPA and ESA and potential biological removal (PBR), where known. For taxonomy, we follow Committee on Taxonomy (2016). PBR is defined by the MMPA as the maximum number of animals, not including natural mortalities, that may be removed from a marine mammal stock while allowing that stock to reach or maintain its optimum sustainable population (as described in NMFS's 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'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. All managed stocks in this region are assessed in NMFS's U.S. Pacific SARs (NMFS 2016). All values presented in Table 1 are the most recent available at the time of publication and are available in the 2016 SARs (NMFS, 2016).

    Table 1—Marine Mammal Potentially Present in the Vicinity of Carpinteria Common name Scientific name Stock ESA/MMPA status; Strategic
  • (Y/N) 1
  • Stock abundance
  • (CV, Nmin, most
  • recent abundance survey) 2
  • PBR Annual
  • M/SI 3
  • Order Cetartiodactyla—Cetacea—Superfamily Mysticeti (baleen whales) Family Eschrichtiidae: Gray whale Eschrichtius robustus Eastern North Pacific -;N .05, 20,125, 2011 624 132 Family Balaenopteridae (rorquals): Bryde's whale Balaenoptera edeni Eastern Pacific -;N Unk, unk, unk, N/A unk unk Humpback whale Megaptera novaeangliae California-Oregon-Washington -;N .03, 1,876, 2014 11 6.5 Blue whale Balaenoptera musculus Eastern North Pacific E;Y .07, 1,551, 2011 2.3 0.9 Fin whale Balaenoptera physalus California-Oregon-Washington E;Y .12, 8,127, 2014 81 2 Sei whale Balaenoptera borealis California-Oregon-Washington E;Y 0.4, 374, 2104 0.75 0 Superfamily Odontoceti (toothed whales, dolphins, and porpoises) Family Physeteridae: Sperm whale Physeter macrocephalus California-Oregon-Washington E;Y 0.58, 1,332, 2008 2.7 1.7 Family Kogiidae: Pygmy sperm whale Kogia breviceps California-Oregon-Washington -;N 1.12, 1,924, 2014 19 0 Dwarf sperm whale Kogia sima California-Oregon-Washington Family Ziphiidae (beaked whales): Baird's beaked whale Berardius bairdii Eastern North Pacific -;N 0.81, 466, 2008 4.7 0 Cuvier's beaked whale Ziphius cavirostris California-Oregon-Washington -;N Unk, unk, 2014 Unk 0 Mesoplodont beaked whales (six species) Mesoplodon spp. California-Oregon-Washington -;Y 0.65, 389, 2008 0.5 3.9 Family Delphinidae: Short-beaked common dolphin Delphinus delphis d. California-Oregon-Washington -;N 0.17, 839,325, 2014 5,393 40 Long-beaked common dolphin Delphinus capensis c. California -;N 0.49, 88,432, 2014 657 35.4 Pacific white-sided dolphin Lagenorhynchus obliquidens California-Oregon-Washington northern and southern stocks -;N 0.28, 21,195, 2014 191 7.5 Striped dolphin Stenella coeruleoalba California-Oregon-Washington -;N 0.2, 24,782, 2014 238 0.8 Risso's dolphin Grampus griseus California-Oregon-Washington -;N 0.32, 4,817, 2014 46 3.7 Common bottlenose dolphin Tursiops truncatus t. California-Oregon-Washington offshore stock -;N 0.54, 1,255, 2014 11 1.6 Common bottlenose dolphin Tursiops truncatus t. California coastal stock -;N 0.06, 346, 2011 2.7 2 Northern right whale dolphin Lissodelphis borealis California-Oregon-Washington -;N 0.44, 18,608, 2014 179 3.8 Killer whale Orcinus orca Eastern North Pacific offshore -;N 0.49, 162, 2014 1.6 0 Killer whale Orcinus orca West Coast Transient -;N Unk, 243, 2009 2.4 0 Short-finned pilot whale Globicephala macrorhynchus California-Oregon-Washington -;N 0.79, 466, 2014 4.5 1.2 Family Phocoenidae (porpoises): Dall's porpoise Phocoenoides dalli California-Oregon-Washington -;N 0.45, 17,954, 2014 172 0.3 Order Carnivora—Superfamily Pinnipedia Family Otariidae (eared seals and sea lions): Guadalupe fur seal Arctocephalus townsendi Guadalupe Island E;Y Unk, 15,830, 2010 542 3.2 California sea lion Zalophus californianus U.S. stock -;N Unk, 153,337, 2011 9,200 389 Steller sea lion Eumetopias jubatus Eastern -;N Unk, 41,638, 2015 2,498 108 Northern fur seal Callorhinus ursinus California stock -;N Unk, 7,524, 2013 451 1.8 Northern elephant seal Mirounga angustirostris California breeding stock -;N Unk, 81,368, 2010 4,882 8.8 Family Phocidae (earless seals): Pacific harbor seal Phoca vitulina richardii California stock -;N Unk, 27,348, 2012 1,641 43 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 [explain if this is the case]. 3 These values, found in NMFS's SARs, represent annual levels of human-caused mortality plus serious injury from all sources combined (e.g., commercial fisheries, ship strike). Annual M/SI often cannot be determined precisely and is in some cases presented as a minimum value or range. A CV associated with estimated mortality due to commercial fisheries is presented in some cases. Noteitalicized species are not expected to be taken.

    All species that could potentially occur in the construction area are included in Table 1. However, the temporal and spatial occurrence of all but three of the species listed in Table 1 with respect to the timing and location of the specified activity is such that take is not expected to occur, and they are not discussed further beyond the explanation provided here.

    Most of the species included in Table 1 above are unlikely to occur during the construction work because they are not resident to this part of California during the late summer and early fall months. For those species that may occur in coastal southern California during that time, they are unlikely to occur at such close proximity to the shoreline and the construction work is conducted from a pier connected to a beach with maximum water depths of 4-8 meters. The long-beaked common dolphin may occasionally venture within one nautical mile of the project site but is unlikely. The short-beaked common dolphin is much less likely to appear in the vicinity than the long-beaked common dolphin. The gray whale occurs within one nautical mile of the project site, but it does not migrate through the region until late December through May, with most gray whales sighted near the project area in the spring. The other species generally occur farther offshore and have not been reported in the vicinity of this area of the Southern California Bight (SCB), so they will not be discussed further in this document.

    Of the MMPA-listed species of marine mammals summarized in Table 1, only the Pacific harbor seal, the California sea lion, and the coastal stock of bottlenose dolphin are anticipated to be found in the immediate vicinity of the project site and subsequently may be taken by pile driving. Below are descriptions of those species and the relevant stock, as well as information regarding population trends and threats, and describe any information regarding local occurrence.

    A detailed description of the of the species likely to be affected by the Casitas pier project, 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 42306; September 9, 2017); since that time, we are not aware of any changes in the status of these species and stocks; therefore, detailed descriptions are not provided here. Please refer to that Federal Register notice for these descriptions. Please also refer to NMFS' Web site (www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/species/mammals/) for generalized species accounts.

    Potential Effects of Specified Activities on Marine Mammals and Their Habitat

    The effects of underwater noise from pile driving activities for the Casitas pier project have the potential to result in behavioral harassment of marine mammals in the vicinity of the action area. The Federal Register notice for the proposed IHA (82 FR 42306; September 9, 2017) included a discussion of the effects of anthropogenic noise on marine mammals, therefore that information is not repeated here; please refer to the Federal Register notice (82 FR 42306; September 9, 2017) for that information.

    Anticipated Effects on Habitat

    The main impact associated with the Casitas pier construction project will be temporarily elevated sound levels and the associated direct effects on marine mammals. The project will not result in additional permanent impacts to habitats used directly by marine mammals, but may have potential short-term impacts to food sources such as forage fish, and minor impacts to the immediate substrate during installation and removal of piles, etc. The area is a known haulout with an existing pier, so temporary disturbance of the haulout may occur but the resulting structure will leave the same footprint as currently exists. These potential effects are discussed in detail in the Federal Register notice for the proposed IHA (82 FR 42036; September 9, 2017), therefore that information is not repeated here; please refer to that Federal Register notice for that information.

    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 will be by Level B harassment only, in the form of disruption of behavioral patterns for individual marine mammals resulting from exposure to pile driving. Based on the nature of the activity, Level A harassment is neither anticipated nor authorized. 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 authorized take estimate.

    Acoustic Thresholds

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

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

    Venoco's project includes the use of continuous (vibratory pile driving) and impulsive (impact pile driving) sources, and therefore the 120 and 160 dB re 1 μPa (rms) thresholds are applicable.

    Level A harassment for non-explosive sources—NMFS' Technical Guidance for Assessing the Effects of Anthropogenic Sound on Marine Mammal Hearing (Technical Guidance, 2016) identifies dual criteria to assess auditory injury (Level A harassment) 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). Venoco's construction activity includes the use of impulsive (impact pile driving) and non-impulsive (vibratory pile driving) sources.

    These thresholds were developed by compiling and synthesizing the best available science and soliciting input multiple times from both the public and peer reviewers to inform the final product, and are provided in the table below. The references, analysis, and methodology used in the development of the thresholds are described in NMFS 2016 Technical Guidance, which may be accessed at: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/acoustics/guidelines.htm.

    Table 2—Thresholds identifying the onset of Permanent Threshold Shift Hearing group PTS onset acoustic thresholds *
  • (received level)
  • Impulsive Non-impulsive
    Low-Frequency (LF) Cetaceans Cell 1: Lpk,flat: 219 dB; LE,LF,24h: 183 dB Cell 2: L E,LF,24h: 199 dB. Mid-Frequency (MF) Cetaceans Cell 3: Lpk,flat: 230 dB; LE,MF,24h: 185 dB Cell 4: L E,MF,24h: 198 dB. High-Frequency (HF) Cetaceans Cell 5: Lpk,flat: 202 dB; LE,HF,24h: 155 dB Cell 6: LE,HF,24h: 173 dB. Phocid Pinnipeds (PW) (Underwater) Cell 7: Lpk,flat: 218 dB; LE,PW,24h: 185 dB Cell 8: LE,PW,24h: 201 dB. Otariid Pinnipeds (OW) (Underwater) Cell 9: Lpk,flat: 232 dB; LE,OW,24h: 203 dB Cell 10: LE,OW,24h: 219 dB. * Dual metric acoustic thresholds for impulsive sounds: Use whichever results in the largest isopleth for calculating PTS onset. If a non-impulsive sound has the potential of exceeding the peak sound pressure level thresholds associated with impulsive sounds, these thresholds should also be considered. Note: Peak sound pressure (Lpk) has a reference value of 1 μPa, and cumulative sound exposure level (L E) has a reference value of 1μPa2s. In this Table, thresholds are abbreviated to reflect American National Standards Institute standards (ANSI 2013). However, peak sound pressure is defined by ANSI as incorporating frequency weighting, which is not the intent for this Technical Guidance. Hence, the subscript “flat” is being included to indicate peak sound pressure should be flat weighted or unweighted whithin the generalized hearing range. The subscript associated with cumulative sound exposure level thresholds indicates the designated marine mammal auditory weighting function (LF,MF, and HF cetaceans, and PW and OW pinnipeds) and that the recommended accumulation period is 24 hours. The cumulative sound exposure level thresholds could be exceeded in a multitude of ways (i.e., varying exposure levels and durations, duty cycle). When possible, it is valuable for action proponents to indicate the conditions under which these acoustic thresholds will be exceeded.
    Ensonified Area

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

    Pile driving generates underwater noise that can potentially result in disturbance to marine mammals in the project area. Transmission loss (TL) is the decrease in acoustic intensity as an acoustic pressure wave propagates out from a source. TL parameters vary with frequency, temperature, sea conditions, current, source and receiver depth, water depth, water chemistry, and bottom composition and topography. The general formula for underwater TL is:

    TL = B * log10(R1/R2), where R1 = the distance of the modeled SPL from the driven pile, and R2 = the distance from the driven pile of the initial measurement.

    This formula neglects loss due to scattering and absorption, which is assumed to be zero here. The degree to which underwater sound propagates away from a sound source is dependent on a variety of factors, most notably the water bathymetry and presence or absence of reflective or absorptive conditions including in-water structures and sediments. Spherical spreading occurs in a perfectly unobstructed (free-field) environment not limited by depth or water surface, resulting in a 6 dB reduction in sound level for each doubling of distance from the source (20*log[range]). Cylindrical spreading occurs in an environment in which sound propagation is bounded by the water surface and sea bottom, resulting in a reduction of 3 dB in sound level for each doubling of distance from the source (10*log[range]). A practical spreading value of 15 is often used under conditions, such as at the Biorka Island dock, where water increases with depth as the receiver moves away from the shoreline, resulting in an expected propagation environment that will lie between spherical and cylindrical spreading loss conditions. Practical spreading loss (4.5 dB reduction in sound level for each doubling of distance) is assumed here.

    Underwater Sound—The intensity of pile driving sounds is greatly influenced by factors such as the type of piles, hammers, and the physical environment in which the activity takes place. A number of studies, primarily on the west coast, have measured sound produced during underwater pile driving projects. These data are largely for impact driving of steel pipe piles and concrete piles as well as vibratory driving of steel pipe piles, rather than the hybrid pile used by Venoco.

    Reference sound levels used by Venoco were based on underwater sound measurements documented for a number of pile driving projects with similar pile sizes and types at similar sites in California (i.e., areas of soft substrate where water depths are less than 16 feet (5 meters) (Caltrans 2009)). The noise energy will dissipate as it spreads from the pile at a rate of at least 4.5 dB per doubling of distance, which is practical spreading (Caltrans 2009). This is a conservative value for areas of shallow water with soft substrates, and actual dissipation rates would likely be higher. Using this information, and the pile information presented in Table 1 of the proposed IHA notice, distances to NMFS thresholds were estimated using measured sound levels and a practical spreading model.

    Venoco used the NMFS Optional User Spreadsheet, available at http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/acoustics/Acoustic%20Guidance%20Files/march_v1.1_blank_spreadsheet.xlsx, to input project-specific parameters and calculate the isopleths for Level A and Level B zones from both impact and vibratory pile driving. These inputs include estimated duration of pile driving, estimated number of strikes per pile (for the impact hammer method); and maximum number of piles to be driven in a day. Each pile will require approximately 25 minutes of vibratory driving, and up to 6 piles could be installed by this method in a single day. During this time the sound levels above and below water will be in excess of normal pier operations. In the unlikely event that an impact hammer is used, installation of a single pile will require an estimated 400 hammer strikes over 15 minutes, and up to 6 piles could be installed by this method in a single day.

    Venoco used the Caltrans (2015) guidelines for selection of an appropriate pile driving sound source level for a composite 50-foot, 16-inch pipe/12-foot,14-inch H-pile configuration, for both vibratory and impact driving methods, taking into consideration that only the H-pile segment of the pile (the bottom portion) will be driven below the mudline, thus the predominant underwater noise source will emanate from the steel pipe segment.

    Source Levels

    For the impact hammer method, the average sound pressure level measured in dB is based on the 16-inch steel pipe sound levels (Caltrans 2015, Table I.2-1), adjusted upward for the composite 16-inch pipe/14-inch H-pile design because the sound level for the composite pile is anticipated to be greater than the Caltrans reference sound level for 16-inch steel pipe (158 dB), but less than the Caltrans reference sound level for 14-inch steel H-pile (177 dB). As described above, the replacement piles will be a composite of two materials, pre-welded into a single pile prior to driving. The upper section will consist of 48 to 50 feet (15 meters) of 16-inch diameter x 0.50- inch wall thickness pipe pile and the bottom segment will consist of a 12-foot (4-meter) long 14 inch x 73 pound H-pile. The water depth ranges from 13 to 27 feet (4 to 8 meters) at the end of the Pier, with seasonal variations due to beach sand withdraw and return between the winter and summer seasons. When impact driving is initiated the H-pile will partially enter the mud substrate (e.g., up to two to four feet) pushed by hammer weight and the weight of the pipe itself due to soft substrate (mud) at the seafloor surface. Thus, when impact driving begins only a portion of the 12-foot H pile will be exposed in the water column and most of the length of pile within the water column will be steel pipe pile. As pile driving progresses, the H-pile portion of the fender pile will continue to enter the seabed, and the proportion of H-pile to steel pipe exposed to the water column will decrease until the H-pile is entirely buried or until pile driving is suspended at a minimum depth of six feet. Consequently, the sound level for the composite pile is anticipated to be greater than the Caltrans reference sound level for 16-inch steel pipe (158 dB), and less than the Caltrans reference sound level for 14-inch steel H-pile (177 dB).

    Based on these factors, the reference sound level from composite pile was based on 16-inch steel pipe pile, with an upward adjustment of 6 dB (to 164 dB SEL). This 6 dB adjustment is divided into two parts: 3 dB (one doubling) adjustment for the H-pile itself (i.e., the portion of H-pile being driven by impact hammer); and 3 dB (a second doubling) adjustment for the H-pile that is acting as a foundation, and thus providing some resistance to the pipe pile while it is being driven by impact hammer. This sound level, which represents two doublings of the reference sound level of the 16-inch steel pipe, is considered sufficiently conservative to account for the H-pile portion of the fender pile that will be exposed in the water column and serving as a foundation to the pipe pile during impact driving.

    For the vibratory driving method, the average sound pressure level measured in dB is based on the 12-inch H-pile sound levels (Caltrans 2015, Table I.2-2), adjusted upward by 4 dB for composite 16-inch pipe/14-inch H-pile design. Caltrans data do not include specific vibratory reference sound levels for the 14- inch H-pile. Therefore, it was assumed that doubling the reference sound level for 12-inch H-pile plus 1 dB (i.e., a 4 dB increase), will provide a sufficiently conservative assumption for a 14-inch H-pile.

    Table 3—NMFS Option User Spreadsheet Inputs User spreadsheet input Impact driver Vibratory driver Spreadsheet Tab Used (E.1) Impact pile driving Spreadsheet Tab Used (A) Non-impulsive, continuous Source Level (dB; SEL) 164 Source Level (RMS SPL) 154. Weighting Factor Adjustment (kHz) 2 Weighting Factor Adjustment (kHz) 2.5. (a) Number of strikes per pile 400 Activity duration within 24 hours (hrs) N/A. (a) Number of piles per day 6 N/A. Activity duration within 24 hr period N/A 2.5. Propagation (xLogR) 15 Propagation (xLogR) 15. Distance of source level measurement (meters) + 10 10. + Unless otherwise specified, source levels are referenced 1 m from the source. Level A Isopleths

    When NMFS Technical Guidance (2016) was published, in recognition of the fact that ensonified area/volume could be more technically challenging to predict because of the duration component in the new thresholds, we 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 help predict takes. We note that because of some of the assumptions included in the methods used for these tools, we anticipate that isopleths produced are typically going to be overestimates of some degree, which will 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 stationary sources, NMFS Optional User Spreadsheet predicts the closest distance at which, if a marine mammal remained at that distance the whole duration of the activity, it will not incur PTS. Inputs used in the User Spreadsheet, and the resulting isopleths are reported below. The inputs Venoco used to obtain the isopleths discussed below are summarized in Table 3 above.

    Table 4—Expected Distances of Level A Threshold Exceedance With Impact and Vibratory Driver User spreadsheet output Source type PTS isopleth (meters) Low-
  • frequency
  • cetaceans
  • Mid-
  • frequency
  • cetaceans
  • High-
  • frequency
  • cetaceans
  • Phocid
  • pinnipeds
  • Otariid
  • pinnipeds
  • Impact driving 96.9 3.4 115.4 51.8 3.8 Vibratory driving 4.3 0.4 6.4 2.6 0.2
    Level B Isopleths

    Using 173 dB RMS as the source level for impact pile driving and 154 dB RMS for vibratory driving, the Level B distance was calculated for both impact and vibratory driving, assuming practical spreading. For vibratory driving, the Level B isopleth extends out to 1,848 meters (1.15 miles; 6,063 feet) from the pile driving site. For impact driving, the Level B isopleth extends out to 74 meters (112 feet) from the pile driving site.

    Table 5—Expected Distances of Level B Threshold Exceedance With Impact and Vibratory Driver Level B isopleth (meters) Source type 160 dB
  • (impact)
  • 120 dB
  • (vibratory)
  • Impact driving 74 N/A Vibratory driving N/A 1,848
    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.

    At-sea densities for marine mammal species have not been determined for marine mammals in the coastal Carpinteria area; therefore, all estimates here are determined by using observational data from biologists, peer-reviewed literature, and information obtained from personal communication with other companies that have conducted activities on or near the Carpinteria beach area. Additionally, some harbor seal information was collected by the Carpinteria Seal Watch.

    Take Calculation and Estimation

    Here we describe how the information provided above is brought together to produce a quantitative take estimate.

    Level A take is not expected or authorized for this activity. Of the two types of pile driving, the largest Level A isopleth is from impact driving at 51.8 meters for harbor seals, 3.8 meters for California sea lion, and 3.45 meters for bottlenose dolphins. Neither bottlenose dolphins nor California sea lions are resident to this area and are not expected to remain in water near the beach for an extended duration of time. At 15 minutes per pile, this is equal to 90 minutes per day; however, those 90 minutes will be spread out over multiple hours to account for equipment re-sets, breaks, etc. Because dolphins and sea lions are not resident and not known to linger in the area, full exposure to all impact pile driving within a day is highly unlikely. It is even more unlikely that these species will remain within 4 meters of the sound source for a continuous period of two and a half hours in a day. Harbor seals are resident to the area and the beach at the base of the pier is a frequently used haulout. However, it is unlikely a harbor seal will remain in water during the total time of construction within a day, as they likely will be transiting out from the beach to forage and then returning to the beach. Therefore, it is estimated that no marine mammal of the three species most likely to occur will remain in close enough proximity for the duration of daily construction to be exposed to accumulated energy levels reaching the onset of PTS. Hence no Level A take is authorized.

    Because of the lack of at-sea density information in the region of the project, estimated marine mammal takes were calculated using the following formula:

    Level B exposure estimate = N (number of animals) in the ensonified area * Number of days of noise generating activities.

    Harbor Seal

    Harbor seals are the most abundant species found at the project site. This beach is a known rookery for the local population, although work will be conducted outside of the pupping season. Although a wealth of data exists from the Carpinteria Seal Watch, these data are sometimes incomplete and data from some periods are missing. Moreover, these data were gathered during the period the Carpinteria Seal Watch does its monitoring (about January 1 through May 30 of each year). From June 1 through December 30 of each year, such data are virtually absent. The project is scheduled to begin in the fall, when the seals have largely abandoned the beach because it is open to the public and disturbances are chronic. The seals switch to a nighttime haul-out pattern during this period, hauling out after sundown and before dawn, unless the tide is very high (Seagars 1988). In such cases, the amount of haul-out area is very restricted and the seals are largely absent during this season. Reliable density data are not available from which to calculate the expected number of harbor seals within the Level B harassment zone from pile driving. Based on review of the available observational data, similar past experience in the project vicinity, and project timing (fall season, daytime hours), an estimated range of 0 to 50 harbor seals is anticipated to be present within the project vicinity during work periods. Therefore, it is estimated that up to 50 seals may be taken per day by Level B harassment. Over two and a half days of activity, that results in a total of 125 instances of harbor seal takes during the project.

    California Sea Lion

    California sea lions are abundant throughout the SCB but do not regularly use Carpinteria as a haulout in large numbers. Individuals are usually observed hauled out on offshore structures approximately 0.75 miles southeast of the pier. Reliable density data are not available from which to calculate the expected number of sea lions within the Level B harassment impact zone for pile driving. Based on the available observational data and project timing (fall season), an estimated range of zero to 15 sea lions is anticipated to be present within the project vicinity during work periods. Therefore it is estimated that up to 15 California sea lions may be taken per day by Level B harassment in a day. Over two and a half days of activity, that results in a total of 38 California sea lions taken during the project as it is not known if the California sea lions that come to the beach are the same individuals.

    Bottlenose Dolphin

    Bottlenose dolphins may occur sporadically near the project area, but never in large numbers. Past projects have revealed anywhere from 2 to 32 animals present at any one time, with an average pod size of 8 (MMCG 1995; 1998a, b, d, and e; 2001a and b; 2006; 2011c, 2013b, and 2014b). Therefore, it is estimated that no more than 16 coastal bottlenose dolphins (two pods of average group size) may be taken by Level B harassment in a day. Over two and a half days of activity, that results in a total of 40 bottlenose dolphins taken during the project as it is not known if any of the animals sighted will be repeated individuals.

    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.

    The following measures will apply to Venoco's mitigation through shutdown and disturbance zones:

    Shutdown Zone

    For all pile driving activities, Venoco will establish a shutdown zone intended to contain the area in which SELs equal or exceed the auditory injury criteria for cetaceans and pinnipeds. The purpose of a shutdown zone is to define an area within which shutdown of activity will occur upon sighting of a marine mammal (or in anticipation of an animal entering the defined area), thus further preventing injury of marine mammals (as described previously under Potential Effects of the Specified Activity on Marine Mammals, serious injury or death are unlikely outcomes even in the absence of mitigation measures). Venoco proposed a shutdown zone for the largest Level A isopleth, which is the phocid Level A isopleth of 52 meters. NMFS requires a 10 m minimum shutdown zone for construction activities, however Venoco proposed a more conservative minimum shutdown zone of 52 meters that will be established during all pile driving activities. The 52-meter output is the threshold if an animal were to remain within that distance from the source for all of the day's pile driving, which is over many hours.

    Disturbance Zone

    Disturbance zones are the areas in which SPLs equal or exceed 160 and 120 dB rms (for impact and vibratory pile driving, respectively). Disturbance zones provide utility for monitoring conducted for mitigation purposes (i.e., shutdown zone monitoring) by establishing monitoring protocols for areas adjacent to the shutdown zones and identifying amount of take. Monitoring of disturbance zones enables observers to be aware of and communicate the presence of marine mammals in the project area but outside the shutdown zone and thus prepare for potential shutdowns of activity. However, the primary purpose of disturbance zone monitoring is for documenting instances of Level B harassment; disturbance zone monitoring is discussed in greater detail later (see Monitoring and Reporting). Nominal radial distances for disturbance zones are shown in Table 5.

    Given the size of the disturbance zone for vibratory pile driving, it is impossible to guarantee that all animals will be observed or to make comprehensive observations of fine-scale behavioral reactions to sound, and only a portion of the zone (e.g., what may be reasonably observed by visual observers stationed on the pier and bluff above the beach) will be observed. In order to document observed instances of harassment, observers record all marine mammal observations, regardless of location. The observer's location, as well as the location of the pile being driven, is known from a GPS. The location of the animal is estimated as a distance from the observer, which is then compared to the location from the pile. It may then be estimated whether the animal was exposed to sound levels constituting incidental harassment on the basis of predicted distances to relevant thresholds in post-processing of observational and acoustic data, and a precise accounting of observed incidences of harassment created. This information may then be used to extrapolate observed takes in the observable zone multiplied by the portion of the zone that is unseen to reach an approximate understanding of predicted total takes (Area seen/area unseen = takes observed/takes unobserved).

    Based on our evaluation of the applicant's proposed measures, NMFS has determined that the mitigation measures provide the means effecting the least practicable impact on the affected species or stocks and their habitat, paying particular attention to rookeries, mating grounds, and areas of similar significance.

    Soft Start

    The use of a soft start procedure provides additional protection to marine mammals by warning or providing a chance to leave the area prior to the hammer operating at full capacity, and typically involves a requirement to initiate sound from the hammer at reduced energy followed by a waiting period. It is difficult to specify the reduction in energy for any given hammer because of variation across drivers and, for impact hammers, the actual number of strikes at reduced energy will vary because operating the hammer at less than full power results in “bouncing” of the hammer as it strikes the pile, resulting in multiple “strikes.” For impact driving, we require an initial set of three strikes from the impact hammer at reduced energy, followed by a 30-second waiting period, then 2 subsequent 3 strike sets. This procedure is repeated two additional times. Soft start will be required at the beginning of each day's impact pile driving work and at any time following a cessation of impact pile driving of 30 minutes or longer.

    Timing Restrictions

    Venoco will only conduct construction activities during daytime hours. Construction will also be restricted to the fall and late summer months (July through November) to avoid overlap with harbor seal pupping.

    Based on our evaluation of the Venoco's proposed measures, NMFS has determined that the mitigation measures provide the means of effecting the least practicable impact on marine mammal species or stocks and their habitat, paying particular attention to rookeries, mating grounds, and areas of similar significance.

    Monitoring and Reporting

    In order to issue an IHA for an activity, Section 101(a)(5)(D) of the MMPA states that NMFS must set forth, requirements pertaining to the monitoring and reporting of such taking. The MMPA implementing regulations at 50 CFR 216.104 (a)(13) indicate that requests for authorizations must include the suggested means of accomplishing the necessary monitoring and reporting that will result in increased knowledge of the species and of the level of taking or impacts on populations of marine mammals that are expected to be present in the action area. Effective reporting is critical both to compliance as well as ensuring that the most value is obtained from the required monitoring.

    Monitoring and reporting requirements prescribed by NMFS should contribute to improved understanding of one or more of the following:

    • Occurrence of marine mammal species or stocks in the area in which take is anticipated (e.g., presence, abundance, distribution, density);

    • Nature, scope, or context of likely marine mammal exposure to potential stressors/impacts (individual or cumulative, acute or chronic), through better understanding of: (1) Action or environment (e.g., source characterization, propagation, ambient noise); (2) affected species (e.g., life history, dive patterns); (3) co-occurrence of marine mammal species with the action; or (4) biological or behavioral context of exposure (e.g., age, calving or feeding areas);

    • Individual marine mammal responses (behavioral or physiological) to acoustic stressors (acute, chronic, or cumulative), other stressors, or cumulative impacts from multiple stressors;

    • How anticipated responses to stressors impact either: (1) Long-term fitness and survival of individual marine mammals; or (2) populations, species, or stocks;

    • Effects on marine mammal habitat (e.g., marine mammal prey species, acoustic habitat, or other important physical components of marine mammal habitat); and

    • Mitigation and monitoring effectiveness.

    Monitoring Protocols

    • Monitoring will be conducted before, during, and after pile driving activities., Observers shall record all instances of marine mammal occurrence, regardless of distance from activity, and shall document any apparent behavioral reactions in concert with distance from piles being driven. Observations made outside the shutdown zone will not result in shutdown; that pile segment will be completed without cessation, unless the animal approaches or enters the shutdown zone, at which point all pile driving activities will be halted. Monitoring will take place from 30 minutes prior to initiation through 30 minutes post-completion of pile driving activities. Pile driving activities include the time to install a single pile or series of piles, as long as the time elapsed between uses of the pile driving equipment is no more than 30 minutes. If pile driving ceases for more than 30 minutes, the 30 minute pre-pile driving monitoring effort will take place prior to onset of pile driving.

    • Prior to the start of pile driving activity, the shutdown zone will be monitored for 30 minutes to ensure that it is clear of marine mammals. Pile driving will only commence once observers have declared the shutdown zone clear of marine mammals. If the shutdown zone is not clear of a marine mammals, pile driving will not commence until the shut-down zone is clear. Any animals in the shut down zone prior to commencement of pile driving will be allowed to remain in the shutdown zone and their behavior will be monitored and documented. If the 52-meter shutdown zone is not entirely visible (e.g., due to dark, fog, etc), pile driving will not commence or proceed if it is underway.

    • If a marine mammal approaches or enters the shutdown zone during the course of pile driving operations, activity will be halted and delayed until either the animal has voluntarily left and been visually confirmed beyond the shutdown zone or 30 minutes have passed without re-detection.

    • If a species for which authorization has not been granted, or if a species for which authorization has been granted but the authorized takes are met, approaches or is observed within the Level B harassment zone, activities will shut down immediately and not restart until the animals have been confirmed to have left the area for 30 minutes. If pile driving has ceased for more than 30 minutes, the 30 minute pre- pile driving monitoring will begin.

    • Venoco shall implement a minimum shutdown zone of 10 meter radius around each pile for all construction methods other than pile driving for all marine mammals.

    Visual Marine Mammal Observations

    Venoco will collect sighting data and behavioral responses to construction for marine mammal species observed in the region of activity during the period of activity. All marine mammal observers (MMOs) will be trained in marine mammal identification and behaviors and are required to have no other construction-related tasks while conducting monitoring. A minimum of two MMOs will be required for all pile driving activities. Venoco will monitor the shutdown zone and disturbance zone before, during, and after pile driving, with observers located at the best practicable vantage points. Based on our requirements, Venoco will implement the following procedures for pile driving:

    • MMOs will be located at the best vantage point(s) in order to properly see the entire shutdown zone and as much of the disturbance zone as possible;

    • During all observation periods, observers will use binoculars and the naked eye to search continuously for marine mammals;

    • If the shutdown zones are obscured by fog or poor lighting conditions, pile driving at that location will not be initiated until that zone is visible. Should such conditions arise while impact driving is underway, the activity will be halted; and

    • The shutdown zone (52 m) and observable portion of the disturbance zone around the pile will be monitored for the presence of marine mammals 30 min before, during, and 30 min after any pile driving activity.

    If any species for which take is not authorized is observed within or approaching the Level B zone by a MMO during pile driving, all construction will be stopped immediately. Pile driving will commence if the animal has not been seen inside the Level B zone for at 30 minutes of observation.

    Data Collection

    The IHA requires that observers use approved data forms. Among other pieces of information, Venoco will record detailed information about any implementation of shutdowns, including the distance of animals to the pile and description of specific actions that ensued and resulting behavior of the animal, if any. In addition, Venoco will attempt to distinguish between the number of individual animals taken and the number of incidences of take. At a minimum, the following information will be collected on the sighting forms:

    • Date and time that monitored activity begins or ends;

    • Construction activities occurring during each observation period;

    • Weather parameters (e.g., percent cover, visibility);

    • Water conditions (e.g., sea state, tide state);

    • Species, numbers, and, if possible, sex and age class of marine mammals;

    • Description of any observable marine mammal behavior patterns, including bearing and direction of travel, and if possible, the correlation to SPLs;

    • Distance from pile driving activities to marine mammals and distance from the marine mammals to the observation point;

    • Description of implementation of mitigation measures (e.g., shutdown or delay);

    • Locations of all marine mammal observations; and

    • Other human activity in the area.

    Reporting

    A draft report will be submitted to NMFS within 90 days of the completion of marine mammal monitoring, or 60 days prior to the requested date of issuance of any future IHA for projects at the same location, whichever comes first. The report will include marine mammal observations pre-activity, during-activity, and post-activity during pile driving days, and will also provide descriptions of any behavioral responses to construction activities by marine mammals and a complete description of all mitigation shutdowns and the results of those actions and an extrapolated total take estimate based on the number of marine mammals observed during the course of construction. A final report must be submitted within 30 days following resolution of comments on the draft report.

    Negligible Impact Analysis and Determination

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

    Pile driving activities associated from the Casitas Pier project, as outlined previously in the proposed IHA, 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), from underwater sounds generated from pile driving. Potential takes could occur if individuals of these species are present in the ensonified zone when pile driving occurs.

    No injury is anticipated given the nature of the activities and measures designed to minimize the possibility of injury to marine mammals. The potential for these outcomes is minimized through the implementation of the planned mitigation measures, as described in the Estimated Take section. Specifically, vibratory and impact hammers will be the primary methods of installation. Impact pile driving produces short, sharp pulses with higher peak levels and much sharper rise time to reach those peaks. If impact driving is necessary, implementation of soft start and shutdown zones significantly reduces any possibility of injury. Given sufficient “notice” through use of soft start (for impact driving), marine mammals are expected to move away from a sound source that is annoying prior to it becoming potentially injurious. Venoco will use a minimum of two MMOs stationed strategically to increase detectability of marine mammals, enabling a high rate of success in implementation of shutdowns to avoid injury.

    Venoco's activities are localized and of relatively short duration (two and a half days of pile driving 16 piles). The project area is also very limited in scope spatially, as all work is concentrated on a single pier. These localized and short-term noise exposures may cause short-term behavioral modifications in harbor seals, California sea lions, and bottlenose dolphins. Moreover, the mitigation and monitoring measures are expected to further reduce the likelihood of injury, as it is unlikely an animal will remain in close proximity to the sound source with small Level A isopleths, as well as reduce behavioral disturbances. While the project area is known to be a rookery for harbor seals, the work will be conducted in seasons when few harbor seals are known to be present and no breeding activities occur.

    The project also is not expected to have significant adverse effects on affected marine mammals' habitat. The project activities will not modify existing marine mammal habitat for a significant amount of time. The activities may cause some fish to leave the area of disturbance, thus temporarily impacting marine mammals' foraging opportunities in a limited portion of the foraging range. However, because of the short duration of the activities and the relatively small area of the habitat that may be affected, and the decreased potential of prey species to be in the Project area during the construction work window, the impacts to marine mammal habitat are not expected to cause significant or long-term negative consequences.

    Effects on individuals that are taken by Level B harassment, on the basis of reports in the literature as well as monitoring from other similar activities, will likely be limited to temporary reactions such as increased swimming speeds, increased surfacing time, flushing, or decreased foraging (if such activity were occurring) (e.g., Thorson and Reyff 2006; Lerma 2014). Most likely, individuals will simply move away from the sound source and be temporarily displaced from the areas of pile driving. Thus, even repeated Level B harassment of some small subset of the overall stock is unlikely to result in any significant realized decrease in fitness for the affected individuals, and thus will not result in any adverse impact to the stock as a whole.

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

    • No injury is anticipated or authorized;

    • Level B harassment may consist of, at worst, temporary modifications in behavior (e.g., temporary avoidance of habitat or changes in behavior);

    • The lack of important feeding, pupping, or other areas in the action area during the construction window;

    • The small impact area relative to species range size;

    • The minimization of harassment likelihood and severity due to mitigation; and

    • The small percentage of the stock that may be affected by project activities (< 9 percent for all stocks; Table 6).

    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 construction activity will have a negligible impact on all affected marine mammal species or stocks.

    Small Numbers

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

    Table 6 details the number of instances (harbor seals) or individuals (California sea lions and bottlenose dolphins) that animals could be exposed to received noise levels that could cause Level B harassment for the construction work at the project site relative to the total stock abundance. The numbers of animals authorized to be taken for all species will be considered small relative to the relevant stocks or populations even if each estimated instance of take occurred to a new individual. The total percent of the population (if each instance was a separate individual) for which take is requested is less than nine percent for all stocks (Table 6). Based on the analysis contained herein of the construction 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.

    Table 6—Estimated Numbers and Percentage of Stock That May Be Exposed to Level B Harassment Species Authorized
  • Level B
  • takes
  • Stock(s)
  • abundance
  • estimate 1
  • Percentage
  • of total
  • stock
  • (percent)
  • Harbor Seal (Phoca vitulina) California stock 125 30,968 .40 California sea lion (Eumatopias jubatus) U.S. Stock 38 296,750 .013 Bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) 40 1,924 2.1 California-Oregon-Washington Stock California Coastal Stock 453 8.83 1 All stock abundance estimates presented here are from the 2016 Pacific Stock Assessment Report.
    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 (ESA: 16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.) requires that each Federal agency insure that any action it authorizes, funds, or carries out is not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of any endangered or threatened species or result in the destruction or adverse modification of designated critical habitat.

    No incidental take of ESA-listed species is authorized or expected to result from this activity. Therefore, NMFS has determined that formal consultation under section 7 of the ESA is not required for this action.

    Authorization

    NMFS has issued an IHA to Venoco LLC for the potential harassment of small numbers of three marine mammal species incidental to the Casitas Pier fender pile replacement project in Carpinteria, CA, provided the previously mentioned mitigation, monitoring and reporting requirements are incorporated.

    Dated: November 16, 2017. Catherine Marzin, Acting Deputy Director, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service.
    [FR Doc. 2017-25258 Filed 11-21-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-22-P
    COMMODITY FUTURES TRADING COMMISSION Agency Information Collection Activities: Copies of Crop and Market Information Reports AGENCY:

    Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

    ACTION:

    Notice.

    SUMMARY:

    The Commodity Futures Trading Commission (“Commission” or “CFTC”) is announcing an opportunity for public comment on the extension of a proposed collection of certain information by the agency. In compliance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, Federal agencies are required to publish notice in the Federal Register concerning each proposed collection of information, including each proposed extension of an existing collection of information, and to allow 60 days for public comment in response to the notice. This notice solicits comments, as described below, on the proposed Information Collection Request (“ICR”) titled: Copies of Crop and Market Information Reports.

    DATES:

    Comments must be submitted on or before January 22, 2018.

    ADDRESSES:

    You may submit comments, identified by OMB Control No. 3038-0015 by any of the following methods:

    • The Agency's Web site, at http://comments.cftc.gov/. Follow the instructions for submitting comments through the Web site.

    Mail: Christopher Kirkpatrick, Secretary of the Commission, Commodity Futures Trading Commission, 1155 21st Street NW., Washington, DC 20581.

    Hand delivery/Courier: Same as Mail above.

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

    Please submit your comments using only one method.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Adam Charnisky, Division of Market Oversight, U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission, 525 West Monroe, Chicago IL, 60661; (312) 596-0630; FAX: (312) 596-0711; email: [email protected]; and refer to OMB Control No. 3038-0015.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Under the PRA, Federal agencies must obtain approval from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for each collection of information they conduct or sponsor. “Collection of Information” is defined in 44 U.S.C. 3502(3) and 5 CFR 1320.3 and includes agency requests or requirements that members of the public submit reports, keep records, or provide information to a third party. Section 3506(c)(2)(A) of the PRA, 44 U.S.C. 3506(c)(2)(A), requires Federal agencies to provide a 60-day notice in the Federal Register concerning each proposed collection of information before submitting the collection to OMB for approval. To comply with this requirement, the CFTC is publishing notice of the proposed collection of information listed below.

    Title: “Copies of Crop and Market Information Reports,” OMB Control No. 3038-0015. This is a request for extension of a currently approved information collection.

    Affected Entities: Entities potentially affected by this action include future commission merchants (“FCMs”) and members of contract markets.

    Abstract: The information collected pursuant to this rule, 17 CFR 1.40, is in the public interest and is necessary for market surveillance. Manipulation of commodity futures prices is a violation of the Commodity Exchange Act (Act). Section 9(a)(2) of the Act (7 U.S.C. 13(a)(2)) prohibits the dissemination of false or misleading or knowingly inaccurate reports that affect or tend to affect the prices of commodities. In order to facilitate the enforcement of this provision, Commission regulation 1.40 requires that members of an exchange and FCMs provide upon request copies of any report published or given general circulation which concerns crop or market information that affects or tends to affect the price of any commodity.

    An agency may not conduct or sponsor, and a person is not required to respond to, a collection of information unless it displays a currently valid OMB control number. The OMB control numbers for the CFTC's regulations were published on December 30, 1981. See 46 FR 63035 (Dec. 30, 1981).

    The Commission would like to solicit comments to:

    • Evaluate whether the proposed collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the Commission, including whether the information will have a practical use;

    • Evaluate the accuracy of the Commission's estimate of the burden of the proposed collection of information, including the validity of the methodology and assumptions used;

    • Enhance the quality, usefulness, and clarity of the information to be collected; and

    • Minimize the burden of collection of information on those who are to respond, including through the use of appropriate automated electronic, mechanical, or other technological collection techniques or other forms of information technology; e.g., permitting electronic submission of responses.

    All comments must be submitted in English, or if not, accompanied by an English translation. Comments will be posted as received to http://www.cftc.gov. You should submit only information that you wish to make available publicly. If you wish the Commission to consider information that you believe is exempt from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act, a petition for confidential treatment of the exempt information may be submitted according to the procedures established in § 145.9 of the Commission's regulations.1

    1 17 CFR 145.9.

    The Commission reserves the right, but shall have no obligation, to review, pre-screen, filter, redact, refuse, or remove any or all of your submission from http://www.cftc.gov that it may deem to be inappropriate for publication, such as obscene language. All submissions that have been redacted or removed that contain comments on the merits of the ICR will be retained in the public comment file and will be considered as required under the Administrative Procedure Act and other applicable laws, and may be accessible under the Freedom of Information Act.

    Burden statement: The respondent burden for this collection is estimated to average 0.17 hours per response.

    Respondents/Affected Entities: 15.

    Estimated Number of Responses: 15.

    Estimated Total Annual Burden on Respondents: 2.5 hours.

    Frequency of Collection: On occasion.

    Authority:

    44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.

    Dated: November 17, 2017. Robert N. Sidman, Deputy Secretary of the Commission.
    [FR Doc. 2017-25307 Filed 11-21-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6351-01-P
    COMMODITY FUTURES TRADING COMMISSION Agency Information Collection Activities: Notice of Intent To Renew Collection 3038-0026, Gross Collection of Exchange-Set Margins for Omnibus Accounts AGENCY:

    Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

    ACTION:

    Notice.

    SUMMARY:

    The Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) is announcing an opportunity for public comment on the proposed renewal of a collection of certain information by the agency. Under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (PRA), Federal agencies are required to publish notice in the Federal Register concerning each proposed collection of information, including each proposed extension of an existing collection of information, and to allow 60 days for public comment. This notice solicits comments on requirements relating to Gross Collection of Exchange-Set Margins for Omnibus Accounts.

    DATES:

    Comments must be submitted on or before January 22, 2018.

    ADDRESSES:

    You may submit comments, identified by OMB Control Number 3038-0026, by any of the following methods:

    • The Agency's Web site, at http://comments.cftc.gov/. Follow the instructions for submitting comments through the Web site.

    Mail: Christopher Kirkpatrick, Secretary of the Commission, Commodity Futures Trading Commission, Three Lafayette Centre, 1155 21st Street NW., Washington, DC 20581.

    Hand Delivery/Courier: Same as Mail above.

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

    Please submit your comments using only one method.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Mark Bretscher, Division of Swap Dealer and Intermediary Oversight, Commodity Futures Trading Commission, (312) 596-0529; email: [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Under the PRA,1 Federal agencies must obtain approval from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for each collection of information they conduct or sponsor. “Collection of information” is defined in 44 U.S.C. 3502(3) and 5 CFR 1320.3(c) and includes agency requests or requirements that members of the public submit reports, keep records, or provide information to a third party. Section 3506(c)(2)(A) of the PRA, 44 U.S.C. 3506(c)(2)(A), requires Federal agencies to provide a 60-day notice in the Federal Register concerning each proposed collection of information, including each proposed extension of an existing collection of information, before submitting the collection to OMB for approval. An agency may not conduct or sponsor, and a person is not required to respond to, a collection of information unless it displays a currently valid OMB number. To comply with this requirement, the CFTC is publishing notice of the proposed collection of information listed below.

    1 44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.

    Title: Gross Collection of Exchange-Set Margins for Omnibus Accounts, OMB Control Number 3038-0026. This is a request for extension of a currently approved information collection.

    Abstract: Commission Regulation 1.58 requires that FCMs margin omnibus accounts on a gross, rather than a net, basis. The regulation provides that the carrying FCM need not collect margin for positions traded by a person through an omnibus account in excess of the amount that would be required if the same person, instead of trading through an omnibus account, maintained its own account with the carrying FCM. To prevent abuse of this exception to the regulation, a carrying FCM must obtain and maintain a written representation from the originating FCM or foreign broker that the particular positions held in the omnibus account are part of a hedge or spread transaction. This collection of information is necessary in order to provide documentation that can be inspected with regard to questions of proper compliance with gross margining requirements. This rule is promulgated pursuant to the Commission's rulemaking authority contained in Sections 4c, 4d, 4f, 4g and 8a of the Commodity Exchange Act, 7 U.S.C. 6c, 6d, 6f, 6g and 12a.

    With respect to the collection of information, the CFTC invites comments on:

    • Whether the proposed collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the Commission, including whether the information will have a practical use;

    • The accuracy of the Commission's estimate of the burden of the proposed collection of information, including the validity of the methodology and assumptions used;

    • Ways to enhance the quality, usefulness, and clarity of the information to be collected; and

    • Ways to minimize the burden of collection of information on those who are to respond, including through the use of appropriate automated electronic, mechanical, or other technological collection techniques or other forms of information technology; e.g., permitting electronic submission of responses.

    All comments must be submitted in English, or if not, accompanied by an English translation. Comments will be posted as received to http://www.cftc.gov. You should submit only information that you wish to make available publically. If you wish the Commission to consider information that you believe is exempt from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act, a petition for confidential treatment of the exempt information may be submitted according to the procedures established in Section 145.9 of the Commissions regulations.2

    2 17 CFR 145.9.

    The Commission reserves the right, but shall have no obligation, to review, pre-screen, filter, redact, refuse or remove any or all of your submission from http://www.cftc.gov that it any deem to be inappropriate for publication, such as obscene language. All submissions that have been redacted or removed that contain comments on the merits of the Information Collection Request will be retained in the public comment file and will be considered as required under the Administrative Procedure Act and other applicable laws, and may be accessible under the Freedom of Information Act.

    Burden Statement: The Commission is revising its estimate of the burden due to the reduced number of futures commission merchants in the industry. The respondent burden for this collection is estimated to be as follows:

    Estimated number of respondents: 57.

    Reports annually by each respondent: 4.

    Total annual responses: 228.

    Estimated average number of hours per response: 0.08.

    Estimated Total Annual Burden Hours: 18.

    Frequency of Collection: On occasion.

    There are no capital costs or operating and maintenance costs associated with this collection.

    Authority:

    44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.

    Dated: November 17, 2017. Robert N. Sidman, Deputy Secretary of the Commission.
    [FR Doc. 2017-25304 Filed 11-21-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6351-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE Office of the Secretary [Docket ID DOD-2017-OS-0037] Notice of Availability for Finding of No Significant Impact for the Environmental Assessment Addressing Divestment of Military Family Housing at Defense Distribution Center, Susquehanna AGENCY:

    Defense Logistics Agency (DLA), Department of Defense.

    ACTION:

    Notice of availability (NOA).

    SUMMARY:

    On August 9, 2017, DLA published a NOA in the Federal Register (82 FR 37199) announcing the publication of the Environmental Assessment (EA) Addressing Divestment of Military Family Housing (MFH) at Defense Distribution Center, Susquehanna. The EA was available for a 30-day public comment period that ended September 8, 2017. The EA was prepared as required under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 1969. In addition, the EA complied with DLA Regulation 1000.22. No comments from the public were received during the EA public comment period.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Ira Silverberg at 703-767-0705 during normal business hours Monday through Friday, from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (EDT) or by email: [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    DLA consulted with the Pennsylvania State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO) at the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission and the Absentee-Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma, Cayuga Nation, Delaware Nation-Oklahoma, Eastern Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma, Onondaga Nation, Seneca-Cayuga Tribe of Oklahoma, Shawnee Tribe, Tuscarora Nation, St. Regis Mohawk Tribe, Seneca Nation of Indians, Tonawanda Band of Seneca, and Osage Nation for this Proposed Action. The SHPO determined that the Proposed Action would have no effect on historic properties, as identified on the returned Project Review Form Request to Initiate SHPO Consultation on State and Federal Undertakings. The Shawnee Tribe provided a response concurring that no known historic properties would be adversely impacted by the Proposed Action. The Shawnee Tribe indicated they have no issues or concerns about the Proposed Action, but requested they be notified in the event that archaeological materials are encountered during construction, use, or maintenance at the MFH area at which time the tribe would resume consultation. DLA did not receive responses to the consultation requests with the other tribes. An appendix was added to the EA that includes the SHPO and tribal consultation documents, and the responses from the SHPO and the Shawnee Tribe. The revised EA is available electronically at the Federal eRulemaking Portal at http://www.regulations.gov within Docket ID: DOD-2017-OS-0037.

    This FONSI documents the decision of DLA to divest MFH at Defense Distribution Center, Susquehanna. DLA has determined the Proposed Action is not a major federal action significantly affecting the quality of the human environment within the context of NEPA and no significant impacts on the human environment are associated with this decision.

    DLA completed an EA to address the potential environmental consequences associated with the proposed divestment of MFH at Defense Distribution Center, Susquehanna. This FONSI incorporates the EA by reference and summarizes the results of the analyses in the EA.

    Purpose of and Need for Action: The purpose of the Proposed Action is to eliminate real property that is no longer needed and reduce operational costs. The Proposed Action is needed because the MFH units are underutilized, outdated, and require a high level of maintenance. The current occupancy rate of the MFH is approximately 32 percent. A majority of the MFH buildings were constructed in the 1950s and are more than 55 years old, while other MFH buildings were constructed prior to 1950. These MFH units are costly to operate and maintain due to their age.

    Proposed Action and Alternatives: Under the Proposed Action, DLA would divest all MFH operations at Defense Distribution Center, Susquehanna. DLA would vacate remaining Department of Defense occupants (estimated to be approximately 8 MFH units in 2018) from the installation's total 124 MFH units (39 buildings), demolish 110 MFH units (27 buildings), and retain 14 MFH units (12 buildings) for administrative purposes. Associated bus stops and playground equipment would be demolished; however, sheds would be offered for reuse or sale, as appropriate, prior to demolition. All utility infrastructure, including electric, water, wastewater, natural gas, and communication services, within the MFH area would be removed and capped at the utility mains within adjacent roadways. Sidewalks, driveways, and on-roadway parking spaces associated with demolished MFH buildings would be removed. Two garages, the roadways, and golf course areas within the MFH area would remain.

    Description of the No Action Alternative: Under the No Action Alternative, DLA would not divest MFH operations at Defense Distribution Center, Susquehanna. All existing MFH buildings and infrastructure (i.e., utilities, two garages, bus stops, playground equipment, and sheds) would remain in place and DLA would continue to operate the MFH. Because DLA stopped accepting MFH applications in December 2016, it is anticipated that eight MFH units would be occupied in 2018 and further attrition would eventually lead to an occupancy level of zero. Funding for operation and maintenance of the MFH would be applied only to the occupied units, utilities, two garages, playground equipment, and sheds associated with occupied units; the unoccupied MFH units, bus stops, and sheds associated with unoccupied units would continue to deteriorate. The No Action Alternative would not meet the purpose of and need for the Proposed Action.

    Potential Environmental Impacts: No significant effects on environmental resources would be expected from the Proposed Action. Insignificant, adverse effects on noise, air quality, water resources, biological resources, infrastructure and transportation, hazardous materials and wastes, and socioeconomics—housing would be expected. Insignificant, beneficial effects on air quality, water resources, infrastructure and transportation, and hazardous materials and wastes also would be expected. No effects on cultural resources would be expected. Details of the environmental consequences are discussed in the EA, which is hereby incorporated by reference.

    Determination: DLA has determined that implementation of the Proposed Action will not have a significant effect on the human environment. Human environment was interpreted comprehensively to include the natural and physical environment and the relationship of people with that environment. Specifically, no highly uncertain or controversial impacts, unique or unknown risks, or cumulatively significant effects were identified. Implementation of the Proposed Action will not violate any federal, state, or local laws. Based on the results of the analyses performed during preparation of the EA and consideration of comments received during the public comment period, Mr. Phillip R. Dawson, Acting Director, DLA Installation Management, concludes that divestment of MFH at Defense Distribution Center, Susquehanna, does not constitute a major federal action significantly affecting the quality of the human environment within the context of NEPA. Therefore, an environmental impact statement for the Proposed Action is not required.

    Dated: November 17, 2017. Aaron Siegel, Alternate OSD Federal Register Liaison Officer, Department of Defense.
    [FR Doc. 2017-25256 Filed 11-21-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 5001-06-P
    DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE Office of the Secretary Defense Business Board; Notice of Federal Advisory Committee Meeting AGENCY:

    Deputy Chief Management Officer, Department of Defense.

    ACTION:

    Notice of Federal Advisory Committee meeting.

    SUMMARY:

    The Department of Defense (DoD) is publishing this notice to announce that the following Federal Advisory Committee meeting of the Defense Business Board will take place.

    DATES:

    Open to the public on Wednesday, December 6, 2017 from 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

    ADDRESSES:

    The address for the open meeting is Room 3E928 in the Pentagon, Washington, DC.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Roma Laster, (703) 695-7563 (Voice), (703) 614-4365 (Facsimile), [email protected] (Email). Mailing address is Defense Business Board, 1155 Defense Pentagon, Room 5B1088A, Washington, DC 20301-1155, Web site: http://dbb.defense.gov/. The most up-to-date changes to the meeting agenda can be found on the Web site.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    This meeting is being held under the provisions of the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA) of 1972 (5 U.S.C., Appendix, as amended), the Government in the Sunshine Act of 1976 (5 U.S.C. 552b, as amended), and 41 CFR 102-3.140 and 102-3.150.

    For meeting information please contact Mr. Steven Cruddas, Defense Business Board, 1155 Defense Pentagon, Room 5B1088A, Washington, DC 20301-1155, [email protected], (703) 697-2168. To submit written comments or questions to the Defense Business Board (Board), send via email to mailbox address: [email protected]. A copy of the public agenda and the terms of reference for the Task Group study may be obtained from the Board's Web site at http://dbb.defense.gov/meetings.

    Purpose of the Meeting: The mission of the Board is to examine and advise the Secretary of Defense on overall DoD management and governance. The Board provides independent advice which reflects an outside private sector perspective on proven and effective best business practices that can be applied to DoD. The Board will receive an out brief, findings, and recommendations from its Task Group on the study “Fully Burdened and Life Cycle Cost of the Workforce.”

    Agenda: 11:00 a.m.-11:05 a.m. DFO Comments to Public Attendees; 11:05 a.m.-11:45 a.m. DBB Study Out brief on “Fully Burdened and Life Cycle Cost of the Workforce”; 11:45 a.m.-11:50 a.m. Public Comments (if time permits); 11:50 a.m.-12:00 p.m. Board Deliberations and Vote.

    Meeting Accessibility: Pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 552b, as amended, and 41 CFR 102-3.140 through 102-3.165, this meeting is open to the public, subject to the availability of space. Seating is limited and is on a first-come basis.

    Written Statements: Written comments should be received by the Designated Federal Officer (DFO) at least five (5) business days prior to the meeting date so that the comments may be made available to the Board for their consideration prior to the meeting. Written comments should be submitted via email to the email address for public comments given in the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section in either Adobe Acrobat or Microsoft Word format. Please note that since the Board operates under the provisions of the FACA, as amended, all submitted comments and public presentations will be treated as public documents and will be made available for public inspection, including, but not limited to, being posted on the Board's Web site.

    Dated November 17, 2017. Aaron Siegel, Alternate OSD Federal Register Liaison Officer, Department of Defense.
    [FR Doc. 2017-25259 Filed 11-21-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 5001-06-P
    DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE Department of the Army, Corps of Engineers Notice of Intent To Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement for the Byram River Basin Flood Risk Management Study AGENCY:

    U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, DoD.

    ACTION:

    Notice of intent.

    SUMMARY:

    Pursuant to the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New York District (Corps) in partnership with the Town of Greenwich as the non-federal sponsor, is preparing an integrated Feasibility Report/Environmental Impact Statement (FR/EIS) for the proposed Byram River Basin Flood Risk Management Feasibility Study. The study is assessing the feasibility of flood risk management alternatives to be implemented within the congressionally authorized study area with a specific emphasis on the Town of Greenwich, Fairfield County, Connecticut and Port Chester, Westchester County, New York.

    ADDRESSES:

    U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New York District, Programs and Project Management Division, Civil Works Programs Branch, 26 Federal Plaza, Room 2127, New York, NY 10279-0090. Pertinent information about the study can be found at: www.nan.usace.army.mil/Byram. Send written comments and suggestions concerning the scope of issues to be evaluated within the EIS to: [email protected].

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Questions about the overall Byram River Basin Flood Risk Management Feasibility Study should be directed to Rifat Salim, Project Manager, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New York District, Programs and Project Management Division, Civil Works Programs Branch, 26 Federal Plaza, Room 2127, New York, NY 10279-0090; Phone: (917) 790-8215; email: [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    1. Background

    The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps), in partnership with the Town of Greenwich as the non-Federal sponsor, is undertaking this study. The Town of Greenwich and Village of Port Chester have been subjected to repeated, severe flooding caused by overflow of the Byram River due to precipitation of high intensity, large amounts, or prolonged duration. The Byram River Basin study was authorized by a resolution of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, Docket 2779, dated May 2nd, 2007.

    A Feasibility Cost Sharing Agreement (FCSA) was executed on August 29, 2012 with the Town of Greenwich. The preliminary alternative analyses was completed early 2015 and identified Alternative #2a—Nonstructural Within the 10-yr Floodplain, and Alternative #5—Replacement of the Route 1 Highway Bridges, as each having a Benefit Cost Ratio over one and are being moved forward for further evaluation for eventual identification of the Tentatively Selected Plan.

    2. Project Area

    The project area encompasses the portion of the Byram River located from southern section of the Pemberwick neighborhood to the Rt. 1 bridges in the Town of Greenwich, Fairfield County, Connecticut and Village of Port Chester, Westchester County, New York.

    Public Participation

    The Corps and the Town of Greenwich are currently anticipating hosting a NEPA Scoping Meeting in November 2017. Public notices announcing the meeting date, time, location and agenda will be published in the appropriate local newspapers, the Town of Greenwich Web page and on the Corps' New York District Web page (see the ADDRESSES section) and will be distributed to the local stakeholders and known interested parties.

    A scoping comment period of 30 days will be established from the scheduled date of the meeting to allow agencies, organizations and individuals to submit comments, questions and/or concerns regarding the Feasibility Study. Comments, concerns and information submitted to the Corps will be evaluated and considered during the development of the Draft EIS.

    Lead and Cooperating Agencies

    The Corps is the lead federal agency for the preparation of the FR/EIS and meeting the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act and the NEPA Implementing Regulations of the President's Council on Environmental Quality (40 CFR 1500-1508). Federal agencies interested in participating as a Cooperating Agency are requested to submit a letter of intent to Colonel Thomas D. Asbery, District Engineer (see ADDRESSES). The preparation of the FR/EIS will be coordinated with the States of New York and Connecticut, Town of Greenwich and local municipalities with discretionary authority relative to the proposed actions. The Draft FR/EIS is currently scheduled for distribution to the public in June 2018.

    Dated: November 14, 2017. Peter M. Weppler, Chief, Environmental Analysis Branch, Planning Division.
    [FR Doc. 2017-25273 Filed 11-21-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3720-58-P
    DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE Department of the Army, Corps of Engineers Notice of a Public Meeting for The Great Lakes and Mississippi River Interbasin Study—Brandon Road Draft Integrated Feasibility Study and Environmental Impact Statement—Will County, Illinois and Extension of Public Comment Period AGENCY:

    Department of the Army, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, DoD.

    ACTION:

    Public meeting and extension of public comment period.

    SUMMARY:

    The Rock Island and Chicago Districts, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), will host a public meeting in New Orleans, Louisiana to discuss the draft report titled The Great Lakes and Mississippi River Interbasin Study—Brandon Road Draft Integrated Feasibility Study and Environmental Impact Statement—Will County, Illinois and receive input regarding this study.

    DATES:

    The meeting will be held on December 5, 2017, from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. in New Orleans, Louisiana. USACE is also extending the public comment period for the original notice that published in the Federal Register on September 27, 2017 (82 FR 45008) until December 8, 2017.

    ADDRESSES:

    The meeting will be held at USACE, New Orleans District, 7400 Leake Ave, New Orleans, Louisiana, 70118.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Andrew Leichty, Program Manager, by mail: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Rock Island District, Clock Tower Building (ATTN: Leichty), P.O. Box 2004, Rock Island, IL 61204-2004, by phone: 309-794-5399; or by email: [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Web Participation: A Facebook Live format web audio/video broadcast will be available for the meeting. Visit http://glmris.anl.gov/brandon-rd/ for details on how to participate in these virtual meetings. Phone and web conference access is as follows: Phone: Toll-Free: 877-848-7030, access code 9079541, security code 1111, Web Conference URL: https://www.webmeeting.att.com, Meeting number 877-848-7030, Access Code 9079541.

    Written comments are accepted until December 8, 2017. Written comments may be submitted in the following ways:

    Mail and Hand Delivery: to U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Chicago District, ATTN: GLMRIS-Brandon Road Comments, 231 S. LaSalle St., Suite 1500, Chicago, IL 60604. Comments must be postmarked by December 8, 2017 GLMRIS Project Web site: Use the web comment function found at http://glmris.anl.gov.

    A Facebook Live participants can use the “Live Chat” feature. However, these comments will not be recorded in the official record.

    The draft report/EIS and additional information regarding this meeting can be found at http://glmris.anl.gov/brandon-rd/.

    Authority:

    This action is being undertaken pursuant to the Water Resources and Development Act of 2007, Section 3061(d), Public Law 110-114 and the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA), 42 U.S.C. 4321, et seq., as amended.

    Dated: November 15, 2017. Andrew Barnes, Assistant Chief, Programs and Project Management Division.
    [FR Doc. 2017-25272 Filed 11-21-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3720-58-P
    DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY [OE Docket No 371] Record of Decision for Issuing a Presidential Permit to Northern Pass Transmission LLC for the Northern Pass Transmission Line Project AGENCY:

    Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability, U.S. Department of Energy.

    ACTION:

    Record of decision.

    SUMMARY:

    The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announces its decision to issue a Presidential permit to Northern Pass Transmission LLC (Northern Pass or Applicant) to construct, operate, maintain, and connect an electric transmission line across the U.S./Canada international border in northern New Hampshire. The potential environmental impacts associated with the transmission line are analyzed in the Final Northern Pass Transmission Line Project Environmental Impact Statement (DOE/EIS-0463). The transmission line would cross the U.S./Canada international border into Pittsburg, NH and extend approximately 192 miles to an existing substation located in Deerfield, NH.

    ADDRESSES:

    The final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and this Record of Decision (ROD) are available on the DOE National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) Web site at https://energy.gov/nepa/and the Northern Pass Transmission Line Project EIS Web site at http://www.northernpasseis.us/. The EIS Web site also includes a list of libraries where the final EIS is available for review. Copies of the final EIS and this ROD may be requested by contacting Mr. Brian Mills, Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability (OE-20), U.S. Department of Energy, 1000 Independence Avenue SW., Washington, DC 20585; phone 202-586-8267; email [email protected]

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    For further information on the Northern Pass Transmission Line Project EIS, contact Mr. Brian Mills as indicated in the ADDRESSES section above.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Background

    Executive Order (EO) 10485 (Sept. 3, 1953), as amended by EO 12038 (Feb. 3, 1978), delegates to DOE the authority to issue Presidential permits for the construction, operation, maintenance, or connection of electricity transmission facilities at the U.S. international borders. DOE may issue a permit if it determines that the permit is in the public interest and after obtaining favorable recommendations from the U.S. Departments of State and Defense. In determining whether issuance of a permit would be in the public interest, DOE assesses the potential environmental impacts of the proposed project, the potential impact of the proposed project on electric reliability, and any other factors that DOE considers relevant to the public interest. Issuance of a Presidential permit is a Presidential action, carried out by DOE pursuant to delegated Presidential authority. Accordingly, DOE has no legal obligation to prepare an EIS when it considers a Presidential permit application, since NEPA does not apply to acts of the President. Nonetheless, DOE opts to comply with NEPA and other Federal statutes as part of its “public interest” review of Presidential permit applications, pursuant to DOE's long-standing Presidential permit regulations.

    On October 14, 2010, Northern Pass applied to the DOE for a Presidential permit to construct, operate, maintain, and connect a high voltage direct current (HVDC) electric transmission line with a bidirectional 1,200-megawatt (MW) transfer rating across the U.S./Canada international border. This application was amended in July 2013 and August 2015. The August 2015 amendment represents DOE's Preferred Alternative (proposed Northern Pass Project or proposed Project). It includes burial of an additional 52 miles of the transmission line over what was proposed in the original application, a minor shift in the international border crossing location, two new transition stations, a change in project size from 1,200 MW to 1,000 MW with a potential transfer capacity of up to 1,090 MW, and other design changes. The proposed Northern Pass Project would cross the international border from Canada into the U.S. in Pittsburg, NH, and extend approximately 158 miles, from the U.S. border to a new DC-to-Alternating Current (AC) converter station to be constructed in Franklin, NH. From Franklin, the 345-kV AC electric transmission line would extend for approximately 34 miles to the proposed Project terminus at an existing substation in Deerfield, NH. The proposed Northern Pass Project would be constructed and owned by Northern Pass. Portions of the proposed Project would cross the White Mountain National Forest (WMNF), requiring a Special Use Permit (SUP) from the U.S. Forest Service (USFS). The USFS issued a draft ROD in September 2017 related to the SUP. In order to construct the proposed Project, Northern Pass is required to obtain a Certificate of Site and Facility (Certificate) from the New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee (NHSEC). The NHSEC is responsible for evaluating, issuing and determining the terms and conditions of any Certificate for an energy facility in NH. The NHSEC is in the process of evaluating the proposed Northern Pass Project.

    As proposed, the Project would include both overhead and underground line along with six aboveground transition stations, one new converter station, and substation upgrades.

    Consultation

    Consistent with Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act, DOE has consulted with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) regarding the potential impacts on federally listed threatened or endangered species in the area of the proposed Northern Pass Project, and DOE has prepared a Biological Assessment (BA). On April 14, 2017, DOE sent USFWS a letter requesting initiation of formal Section 7 consultation under the Endangered Species Act. DOE prepared a final BA and submitted it to USFWS on June 16, 2017. The USFWS on October 19, 2017, submitted a Biological Opinion (BO) to DOE which concluded formal consultation. In the BO, USFWS concurred with DOE's determination that the proposed Northern Pass Project “may affect, but is not likely to adversely affect the federally threatened small whorled pogonia (Isotria medeoloides), Canada lynx (Lynx canadensis), and northern long-eared bat (Myotis septentrionalis); and the federally endangered dwarf wedgemussel (Alasmidonta heterodon) and Indiana bat (Myotis sodalist).” DOE determined in the BA that the proposed Northern Pass Project “may affect, and is likely to adversely affect the Karner blue butterfly (Lycaeides melissa samuelis).” In the BO, USFWS concluded that “the Project, as proposed, is not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of the Karner blue butterfly” but likely will result in incidental take of some Karner blue butterfly and, therefore, included an enforceable incidental take statement. DOE is conditioning its Presidential permit to require the Applicant to comply with all requirements set forth by USFWS in the BO. The BA and the BO are available on the Northern Pass Transmission Line Project EIS Web site at https://www.northernpasseis.us/consultations/section-7/.

    Consistent with Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA), DOE consulted with the New Hampshire and Vermont State Historic Preservation Officers (SHPOs) regarding the potential adverse effects to historic properties from the proposed Northern Pass Project. This consultation is continuing in accordance with a Section 106 Programmatic Agreement (PA) executed between DOE, the New Hampshire and Vermont SHPOs, the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, and Northern Pass. The PA is available on the Northern Pass Transmission Line Project EIS Web site at https://www.northernpasseis.us/consultations/section106/. DOE is conditioning its Presidential permit to require the Applicant to comply with the terms of the PA. The PA includes processes for identifying National Register of Historic Places (NRHP)-eligible historic properties, assessing effects of the proposed Northern Pass Project on historic properties, and resolving any adverse effects of the proposed Northern Pass Project on historic properties. The PA requires Northern Pass to prepare a Historic Properties Treatment Plan, which will establish specific treatment measures to avoid, minimize, and mitigate adverse effects.

    NEPA Review

    On February 11, 2011, DOE issued a Notice of Intent (NOI) in the Federal Register (76 FR 7828) to prepare an EIS for the Northern Pass Project and conduct public scoping. Seven public scoping meetings were held March 14 through 20, 2011. On September 6, 2013, DOE issued an Amended NOI (78 FR 54876) in which DOE announced its intention to modify the scope of the EIS (based on an amended application from the Applicant), to conduct additional public scoping meetings, and to end the previously indefinitely extended public scoping period. Four additional public scoping meetings were held September 23 through 26, 2013. The scoping period closed on November 5, 2013. During the entire scoping period, the DOE received 7,560 oral and written comments.

    On July 31, 2015, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a Notice of Availability (NOA) for the draft EIS in the Federal Register (80 FR 45652), which began a 90-day public comment period. On September 30, 2015, following receipt of the August 2015 amended application from Northern Pass, DOE issued an NOI to Prepare a Supplement to the Draft Northern Pass EIS (80 FR 58725), and extended the public comment period to December 31, 2015. EPA issued the NOA for the supplement to the draft EIS (80 FR 72719) on November 20, 2015. DOE ultimately extended the public comment period for the draft EIS and the supplement to the draft EIS through April 4, 2016 (81 FR 5995). DOE held four public hearings on the draft EIS and the supplement to the draft EIS March 7 through 11, 2016. DOE received 1,037 comments on the draft EIS and the supplement to the draft EIS. The comments raised concerns related to the following aspects of the draft EIS and supplement to the draft EIS, among others: purpose and need statement, project objectives, alternatives, visual resources, socioeconomics, historic and cultural resources and the Section 106 process, water resources, and the NEPA process. See Section 1.5.4.1 of the final EIS for additional information regarding these comments. DOE considered all comments received on the draft EIS and the supplement to the draft EIS in the preparation of the final EIS, including those received after the close of the public comment period. Comment letters and detailed responses are included in Appendix L of the final EIS. EPA issued a NOA for the final EIS on August 18, 2017 (82 FR 39424).

    The DOE invited several federal and state agencies to participate in the preparation of the draft and final EIS as cooperating agencies because of their special expertise or jurisdiction by law. The USFS—WMNF, EPA—Region 1, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE)—New England Region, and the New Hampshire Office of Energy and Planning (NHOEP) participated as cooperating agencies in the preparation of the EIS. The WMNF Forest Supervisor will use the EIS to inform its decision regarding the SUP. In September 2017, the WMNF Forest Supervisor issued a draft ROD related to the SUP.

    Alternatives Considered

    In the EIS, DOE analyzed the No Action Alternative, the Proposed Action, and ten additional action alternatives. Under the No Action Alternative, DOE would not issue a Presidential permit and the USFS would not issue a SUP for the proposed Project, the proposed transmission system would not be constructed, and the potential impacts from the proposed Project would not occur. Under the Proposed Action of granting the Presidential permit (DOE's Preferred Alternative, Alternative 7), the transmission line would cross the U.S./Canada international border in Pittsburg, NH and extend approximately 192 miles to an existing substation located in Deerfield, NH. The ten additional action alternatives (Alternatives 2 through 6, with variations) involve variations in route and total length, including varying lengths of overhead and underground line and are described in detail in Chapter 2 of the final EIS.

    DOE's Presidential permitting authority is limited to the international border crossing; however, it is DOE's policy to analyze not only the border crossing, but also the alignment of new infrastructure required between the border crossing and connection to the existing U.S. electricity system as a “connected action” under NEPA. The EIS analyzed the potential environmental impacts associated with the Applicant's proposed route (Alternative 7) and ten alternative routes that were proposed by the Applicant, agencies and the public during scoping and development of the EIS.

    Analysis of Potential Environmental Impacts

    The EIS analyzed potential environmental impacts associated with the alternatives for each of the following resource areas: visual resources, socioeconomics, recreation, health and safety, traffic and transportation, land use, noise, historic and cultural resources, environmental justice, air quality, wildlife, vegetation, water resources, geology and soils, and cumulative impacts. Chapter 4 of the final EIS contains the analysis of the potential environmental impacts of the alternatives. Analysis of the impacts assumed the implementation of Applicant-proposed impact avoidance and minimization measures contained in Appendix H of the final EIS.

    Floodplain Statement of Findings

    DOE prepared this Floodplain Statement of Findings in accordance with DOE's regulations, entitled “Compliance with Floodplain and Wetland Environmental Review Requirements” (10 CFR part 1022). The Floodplain Statement of Findings addresses the proposed Northern Pass Project that would cross the U.S./Canada international border into Pittsburg, NH and extend approximately 192 miles to an existing substation located in Deerfield, NH. As described above and in Chapter 2 of the EIS, DOE analyzed the proposed Project as well as the No Action Alternative and ten action alternatives. Appendix A of the final EIS contains maps of the proposed Northern Pass Project, and Appendix A of the Water Resources Technical Report contains maps of the proposed Northern Pass Project, including watershed, surface water and wetlands locations. The required floodplain and wetland assessment was conducted during development and preparation of the EIS (see Sections 4.1.13, 4.2.13, 4.3.13, 4.4.13 and 4.5.13 of the final EIS and the final EIS' Water Resources Technical Report). Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) data were used to determine the influence of flood zones. According to the Water Resources Technical Report, construction and operation activities (e.g. trenchless installation, structure construction, converter/transition substations, access roads, clearing activities, etc.) associated with the proposed Northern Pass Project would potentially affect approximately 1,449 acres of floodplains, resulting in increased erosion and sedimentation. The majority of the effected acres would be in the 500-year floodplain, rather than the 100-year floodplain. Each of the action alternatives analyzed in the FEIS would involve disturbance of floodplains; given the nature of the proposed Project and its geographic expanse, disturbance of floodplains was found to be unavoidable. However, DOE determined that the potential harm to floodplains from the proposed Project will be avoided or minimized by implementing the Applicant-Proposed Measures listed in Appendix H of the final EIS and Appendix B of the Water Resources Technical Report. These measures include: Minimizing impacts through route selection, siting and design, complying with permit requirements and EO 11988 for Floodplain Management, implementing best management practices, installing erosion and sediment controls prior to construction, and ensuring that construction within the White Mountain National Forest will be carried out consistent with the Forest Plan. The Water Resources Technical Report concluded that by complying with New Hampshire best management practices, adverse impacts to floodplains would be minimized and be indirect, localized, short-term and minor. DOE has determined that the project would comply with applicable floodplain protection standards.

    Environmentally Preferable Alternative

    Implementation of the No Action Alternative would not result in changes to the existing condition in the above-listed resource areas and is, therefore, the environmentally preferable alternative.

    Comments Received on the Final EIS

    Comments on the final EIS were received from the EPA, the Appalachian Mountain Club, the Pessamit lnnu First Nation, New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services, Hydro Quebec, the Conservation Law Foundation, and one individual. These comments may be viewed on the Northern Pass Transmission Line Project EIS Web site at http://www.northernpasseis.us/. DOE considered all comments received on the final EIS and concluded that those comments do not identify a need for further NEPA analysis. The Appendix to this ROD summarizes DOE's consideration of those comments.

    Decision

    DOE has decided to issue Presidential permit PP-371 to authorize Northern Pass to construct, operate, maintain, and connect a HVDC transmission line capable of transmitting up to 1,090 MW of power across the U.S./Canada international border in Pittsburg, NH at Latitude 45.017719 N, Longitude -71.500028 W. The permit will include conditions requiring Northern Pass to implement the impact avoidance and minimization measures identified in the final EIS, the requirements set forth by USFWS in the BO, and the terms of the PA.

    Basis for Decision

    DOE determined that issuance of a Presidential permit for the proposed Northern Pass Project is consistent with the public interest. The decision by DOE to grant a Presidential permit is based on consideration of the potential environmental impacts, impacts on the reliability of the U.S. electric power supply system, and the favorable recommendations of the U.S. Departments of State and Defense provided, respectively, on May 24 and June 27 of 2016.

    Notwithstanding DOE's analysis of alternatives in the final EIS, DOE does not have siting or alignment authority for projects proposed in applications for Presidential permits. In this case, the siting authority is the NHSEC. DOE has evaluated the Preferred and reasonable alternatives and has determined that the Preferred Alternative meets the project objectives and is consistent with the project being reviewed by the NHSEC.

    DOE determined that the proposed international electric transmission line would not have an adverse impact on the reliability of the U.S. electric power supply system. In reaching this determination, DOE considered the operation of the electrical grid with a specified maximum amount of electric power transmitted over the proposed line. DOE reviewed the reliability studies conducted by RLC Engineering for Independent System Operator (ISO) New England (ISO-NE). A summary of the study is available on the EIS Web site at http://www.northernpasseis.us. DOE also considered ISO-NE's interconnection standards and its restrictions on any requested transmission service to and from the proposed interconnection.

    Mitigation

    All practicable means to avoid or minimize environmental harm from the proposed Northern Pass Project have been, or will be, adopted. Applicant-proposed measures to avoid and minimize adverse impacts are described in Appendix H of the final EIS and Appendix B of the Water Resources Technical Report. The Applicant will be responsible for implementing these avoidance and minimization measures as well as applicable measures required through ongoing consultations and other Federal, State and local permitting processes.

    Issued in Washington, DC on November 16, 2017. Catherine Jereza, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Transmission Permitting and Technical Assistance Division, Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability. Appendix: Comments Received on the Final EIS

    DOE received seven comment documents on the final EIS—from the Appalachian Mountain Club, the EPA, Pessamit Innu First Nation, Hydro-Quebec, New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services, the Conservation Law Foundation, and one individual. These comment documents may be viewed on the Northern Pass Transmission Line Project EIS Web site at http://www.northernpasseis.us/. DOE considered all comments contained in these comment documents. The comments address a variety of topics; however, many of the comments reiterated issues already raised during the comment period for the draft EIS and supplement to the draft EIS. All prior comments submitted on the draft EIS and supplement to the draft EIS and DOE responses to those comments have been published in the final EIS, Appendix L, Comment Response Document, and are not being revisited in the ROD.

    Appalachian Mountain Club

    Appalachian Mountain Club stated that “NH DOT has determined that burial under the roadway is contrary to their policy and burial would need to take place outside of the road surface.” DOE reviewed the NHSEC session cited by Appalachian Mountain Club but did not find a conclusion by NHDOT. Burial in the roadway and necessary authorizations was addressed in the final EIS. The final EIS explained that “[t]he Applicant would be required to secure an authorization in order to construct the Project within any roadway corridor . . . Areas of the Project located within a NHDOT ROW would be reviewed by NHDOT and are also subject to the provisions of the NHDOT Utility Accommodation Manual.” (Section 4.1.6.1 of final EIS.) Also, for “portions of the Project located underground adjacent to or beneath state and federal highways, the Applicant would be required to comply with direction outlined in the NHDOT Utility Accommodation Manual. Required permits and authorizations would not be acquired through this EIS process, but rather through a separate, subsequent process” (Section 1.7.3.2). In addition, the final EIS analyzed potential impacts not only within the roadway, but in adjacent areas. For example, for assessing potential impacts on historic and cultural resources, DOE defined a direct area of potential affects for Alternative 7 (Proposed Action/Preferred Alternative) as a “20-foot-wide area extending away from the edge of pavement on both sides of existing roads in which portions of the Project may be buried” (Table 3-7 of final EIS).

    Environmental Protection Agency

    In commenting on potential impacts to bedrock aquifers, EPA said “the updated [Water Resources technical] report fails to capture potential impacts to bedrock aquifers,” and referenced statements in the technical report such as “No bedrock aquifers are within the study area.” EPA said such statements “do not appear to comport” with other information in that technical report and general knowledge of New Hampshire aquifers.

    In response to EPA's comment that the Water Resources Technical Report includes statements such as “[n]o bedrock aquifers are within the study area,” DOE clarifies that this conclusion applies to particular segments of the route alternatives, as delineated in the technical report. In total, DOE identified less than 1 acre of bedrock aquifer in the study area for all of the route alternatives assessed in the Water Resources Technical Report. For example, DOE identified approximately 0.1 acres of bedrock aquifer in the study area for Alternative 7 (DOE's Preferred Alternative) (0.1 acres in the Central section). DOE also explained in the technical report that “once more detailed plans are in place, a coordinated effort with the NHDES, local communities, and well owners would need to occur to verify the location of nearby wells and ensure that they are protected during construction of the Project.” The technical report describes the process for reviewing well data including that a “GIS-based review of data supplied by NH GRANIT was completed to identify locations of private water supply wells along the existing transmission line ROW. This data layer identifies private wells established for a variety of uses, including drinking water, industrial, agricultural, and commercial, among others.”

    In commenting on protection of drinking water in the study area, EPA said “[t]he FEIS response to EPA's comments does not indicate whether the Public Drinking Water Suppliers for these communities were notified about the proximity of the project to their public supply wells. Also, there do not appear to be any applicant proposed measures (APMs) that apply directly to groundwater or any that apply specifically to drinking water or drinking water protection areas. We recommend the DOE condition the Record of Decision (Presidential permit) to require the Applicant to avoid or minimize impacts to these resources, including specific steps for contacting well owners (both private and public), conducting water quality testing, and monitoring for impacts to well yield in areas near blasting and HDD. These steps would represent practicable means to avoid or minimize environmental harm from the project.” The Water Resources Technical Report (Section 3) of the final EIS acknowledges the potential impacts of blasting on groundwater, including on wells. The report states that blasting “could temporarily increase turbidity in groundwater wells and infiltration of material spills or leaks near the blast zone.” DOE believes that the issues raised by EPA have been addressed in the mitigation measures incorporated in the final EIS. The Water Resources Technical Report (Section 3) goes on to state that “BMPs would be implemented to prevent the contamination of groundwater and to identify private and public water supply wells in advance.” In addition, the APMs listed in Table H-1 of Appendix H (noise), include the following measures, “[f]or any required project blasting activities, a blasting plan will be developed that addresses, among other things, . . . pre-blast surveys, notification protocols, and safety analysis. Blasting in any sensitive areas will be coordinated with the community and addressed in the construction planning phase.” Should the project be approved, specific standards and methods required by the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services would be established during the subsequent state permitting process.

    Regarding wetland issues, EPA commented that “the FEIS does not analyze the viability of the hybrid alternative and additional narrative comparing the hybrid with the other alternatives would have made the EIS more valuable for future state and federal permitting. Regardless, the information provided will help focus the upcoming analysis of project design alternatives and determination of the least environmentally damaging practicable alternative by the Corps of Engineers. EPA intends to continue to work closely with the applicant and the Corps of Engineers regarding project routing, impact minimization throughout the balance of the design and permitting process for the project.” DOE thanks EPA for its commitment to work with the applicant and the Corps regarding project routing and impact minimization.

    Pessamit Innu First Nation and Hydro-Quebec

    In an August 30, 2017 letter, the Pessamit Innu First Nation provided information about its past experiences with Hydro-Quebec and ongoing concerns related to Hydro-Quebec's operations including planned modifications, operational changes, Canadian environmental review and potential effects on the Pessamit Innu First Nation and its territory. Hydro-Quebec submitted a letter to DOE on October 11, 2017 in which it responded to points raised in the letter from the Pessamit Innu First Nation. DOE acknowledges the differing viewpoints of the commenters. However, the issues raised relate to impacts and processes in Canada. As DOE explained in its response to similar comments in Appendix L of the final EIS, potential impacts in Canada are beyond the scope of the NEPA analysis, and “NEPA does not require an analysis of potential environmental impacts that occur within another sovereign nation that result from actions approved by that sovereign nation.” As the final EIS noted, DOE does not analyze the impacts in Canada of Hydro-Québec power generation and transmission line projects because these impacts are analyzed in accordance with the sovereign laws of Canada and because DOE (nor any other U.S. federal agency) has no authority over development of the Hydro-Québec system.”

    New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services

    In its September 22, 2017 letter to DOE, the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (NHDES) provided recommended conditions that “represent NHDES' detailed technical comments relative to the potential environmental impacts (and proposed mitigation measures) related to this project.” NHDES attached a March 1, 2017 letter and set of conditions it sent to the NHSEC and characterized them as “conditions . . . that are to be incorporated into the decison-making process by the NHSEC during it upcoming deliberations.” DOE has reviewed the recommended conditions provided by NHDES. DOE notes that Appendix H (Applicant-Proposed Impact Avoidance and Minimization Measures) of the final EIS references the March 2017 NHDES conditions. Specifically, Appendix H states “this analysis assumes that the Applicant will adhere to all stipulations defined in all permits issued by the State of New Hampshire, including those defined by the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services in their March 2017 approval recommendation to the SEC (NHDES 2017a).”

    [FR Doc. 2017-25254 Filed 11-21-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6450-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY Federal Energy Regulatory Commission [Docket No. ER18-301-000] Ormesa LLC; Supplemental Notice That Initial Market-Based Rate Filing Includes Request for Blanket Section 204 Authorization

    This is a supplemental notice in the above-referenced proceeding Ormesa LLC's application for market-based rate authority, with an accompanying rate tariff, noting that such application includes a request for blanket authorization, under 18 CFR part 34, of future issuances of securities and assumptions of liability.

    Any person desiring to intervene or to protest should file with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, 888 First Street NE., Washington, DC 20426, in accordance with Rules 211 and 214 of the Commission's Rules of Practice and Procedure (18 CFR 385.211 and 385.214). Anyone filing a motion to intervene or protest must serve a copy of that document on the Applicant.

    Notice is hereby given that the deadline for filing protests with regard to the applicant's request for blanket authorization, under 18 CFR part 34, of future issuances of securities and assumptions of liability, is December 6, 2017.

    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-referenced proceeding are accessible in the Commission's eLibrary system by clicking on the appropriate link in the above list. They are also available for electronic 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.

    Dated: November 16, 2017. Kimberly D. Bose, Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2017-25328 Filed 11-21-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6717-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY Federal Energy Regulatory Commission [Project No. 10253-032] Pelzer Hydro Company, LLC; Consolidated Hydro Southeast, LLC; Notice of Application Ready for Environmental Analysis and Soliciting Comments, Recommendations, Terms and Conditions, and Prescriptions

    Take notice that the following hydroelectric application has been filed with the Commission and is available for public inspection.

    a. Type of Application: New License.

    b. Project No.: 10253-032.

    c. Date filed: November 30, 2015.

    d. Applicant: Pelzer Hydro Company, LLC (Pelzer Hydro), Consolidated Hydro Southeast, LLC (Consolidated Hydro).

    e. Name of Project: Lower Pelzer Hydroelectric Project.

    f. Location: The existing project is located on the Saluda River near the Towns of Pelzer and Williamston, in Anderson and Greenville Counties, South Carolina. The project does not affect federal land.

    g. Filed Pursuant to: Federal Power Act 16 U.S.C. 791(a)-825(r).

    h. Applicant Contact: Beth E. Harris, P.E., Regional Operations Manager, Enel Green Power North America, Inc., 11 Anderson Street, Piedmont, SC 29673; Telephone—(864) 846-0042; Email—[email protected], OR Kevin Webb, Hydro Licensing Manager, Enel Green Power North America, Inc., One Tech Drive, Suite 220, Andover, MA 01810; Telephone—(978) 681-1900; Email—[email protected]

    i. FERC Contact: Navreet Deo, (202) 502-6304, or [email protected]

    j. Deadline for filing comments, recommendations, terms and conditions, and prescriptions: 60 days from the issuance date of this notice; reply comments are due 105 days from the issuance date of this notice.

    The Commission strongly encourages electronic filing. Please file comments, recommendations, terms and conditions, and prescriptions 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-10253-032.

    The Commission's Rules of Practice require all intervenors filing documents with the Commission to serve a copy of that document on each person on the official service list for the project. Further, if an intervenor 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.

    k. This application has been accepted and is now ready for environmental analysis.

    l. The Lower Pelzer Project consists of: (1) A 696-foot-long by 40-foot-high granite masonry dam, consisting of (i) a 310-foot-long spillway section topped with 4-foot-high wooden flashboards, (ii) a 40-foot-long non-overflow section with two 10-foot-wide by 6-foot-high gates, and (iii) a 236-foot-long non-overflow section; (2) an 80-acre impoundment at a normal pool elevation of 693 feet mean sea level; (3) a 110-foot-long by 14-foot-wide intake, protected by a trashrack structure with 2-inch clear bar spacing, controlling flow to the powerhouse through five, 10.5-foot-wide square gates; (4) a 110-foot-long by 68-foot-wide brick powerhouse integral with the dam, containing 5 horizontal Francis turbine generating units that total 3,300 kilowatts (kW); (5) a 600-foot-long by 110-foot-wide tailrace; (6) a 3-mile-long, 3,300-volt transmission line connecting the powerhouse to the grid via a 7.2/12.47 kilovolt transformer; and (7) appurtenant facilities.

    Pelzer Hydro and Consolidated Hydro (co-licensees) operate the project in a run-of-river mode using automatic pond level control, with no storage or flood control capacity. A continuous minimum flow of 140 cubic feet per second (cfs) or inflow, whichever is less, is released into the bypassed reach. The minimum flow is achieved via a sluice gate in the non-overflow section of the dam. The project operates under an estimated average head of 40 feet, including the 4-foot-high spillway flashboards. The impoundment water surface elevation is maintained at 693 feet. River flows between 159 and 1,408 cfs are used for power generation, while flows in excess of 1,408 cfs are passed over the flashboards and spillway. Flow to the generating units is controlled by five manually operated square slide gates. The total installed capacity of the project is 3,300 kW between the five generating units. The project generates approximately 8,784 megawatt-hours annually, which are sold to a local utility.

    The co-licensees propose to continue to operate and maintain the Lower Pelzer Project as is required in the existing license, and to develop canoe portage facilities. The co-licensees also propose to remove the previous three-mile-long, 3,300-volt overhead transmission line, which is no longer in use, from the project boundary under a new license. Instead, the project uses a 165-foot-long, 3,300-volt transmission line that interconnects with the grid at an applicant-owned transformer.

    m. A copy of the application is available for review at the Commission in the Public Reference Room, or may be viewed on the Commission's Web site 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 Online Support. A copy is also available for inspection and reproduction at the address in item h above.

    All filings must: (1) Bear in all capital letters the title COMMENTS, REPLY COMMENTS, RECOMMENDATIONS, TERMS AND CONDITIONS, or PRESCRIPTIONS; (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 submitting the filing; and (4) otherwise comply with the requirements of 18 CFR 385.2001 through 385.2005. All comments, recommendations, terms and conditions or prescriptions must set forth their evidentiary basis and otherwise comply with the requirements of 18 CFR 4.34(b). Agencies may obtain copies of the application directly from the applicant. Each filing must be accompanied by proof of service on all persons listed on the service list prepared by the Commission in this proceeding, in accordance with 18 CFR 4.34(b) and 385.2010.

    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, contact FERC Online Support.

    n. A license applicant must file no later than 60 days following the date of issuance of this notice: (1) A copy of the water quality certification; (2) a copy of the request for certification, including proof of the date on which the certifying agency received the request; or (3) evidence of waiver of water quality certification.

    Kimberly D. Bose, Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2017-25319 Filed 11-21-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6717-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY Federal Energy Regulatory Commission [Project No. 2428-007] Aquenergy Systems, LLC; Notice of Application Ready for Environmental Analysis and Soliciting Comments, Recommendations, Terms and Conditions, and Prescriptions

    Take notice that the following hydroelectric application has been filed with the Commission and is available for public inspection.

    a. Type of Application: Subsequent License.

    b. Project No.: 2428-007.

    c. Date filed: December 30, 2015.

    d. Applicant: Aquenergy Systems, LLC (Aquenergy).

    e. Name of Project: Piedmont Hydroelectric Project.

    f. Location: The existing project is located on the Saluda River in the Town of Piedmont, in Anderson and Greenville Counties, South Carolina. The project does not affect federal land.

    g. Filed Pursuant to: Federal Power Act 16 U.S.C. 791 (a)—825(r).

    h. Applicant Contact: Beth E. Harris, P.E., Regional Operations Manager, Enel Green Power North America, Inc., 11 Anderson Street, Piedmont, SC 29673; Telephone—(864) 846-0042; Email—[email protected], OR Kevin Webb, Hydro Licensing Manager, Enel Green Power North America, Inc., One Tech Drive, Suite 220, Andover, MA 01810; Telephone—(978) 681-1900; Email—[email protected]

    i. FERC Contact: Navreet Deo, (202) 502-6304, or [email protected]

    j. Deadline for filing comments, recommendations, terms and conditions, and prescriptions: 60 days from the issuance date of this notice; reply comments are due 105 days from the issuance date of this notice.

    The Commission strongly encourages electronic filing. Please file comments, recommendations, terms and conditions, and prescriptions 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-2428-007.

    The Commission's Rules of Practice require all intervenors filing documents with the Commission to serve a copy of that document on each person on the official service list for the project. Further, if an intervenor 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.

    k. This application has been accepted and is now ready for environmental analysis.

    l. The Piedmont Project consists of: (1) A 600-foot-long by 25-foot-high stone masonry dam, consisting of (i) a 200-foot-long non-overflow section, (ii) a 200-foot-long central overflow spillway topped with 16-inch-high wooden flashboards, and (iii) a 200-foot-long non-overflow spillway housing the inoperable J.P. Stevens Canal intake; (2) a 22-acre impoundment at a normal pool elevation of 774 feet mean sea level; (3) a 140-foot-long by 81-foot-wide intake canal consisting of eight gates at the head of the canal controlling flow to the powerhouse; (4) a 52-foot-long by 52-foot-wide brick masonry powerhouse protected by a trashrack structure with 2-inch clear bar spacing, located 120 feet downstream of the dam, containing one vertical Francis turbine generating unit that totals 1,000 kilowatt (kW); (5) a 180-foot-long by 38-foot-wide tailrace; (6) a 263-foot-long, 600-volt transmission line connecting the powerhouse to the non-project substation; and (7) appurtenant facilities.

    Aquenergy operates the project in a run-of-river mode using automatic pond level control, with no useable storage or flood control capacity. A continuous minimum flow of 15 cubic feet per second (cfs) or inflow, whichever is less, is released into the bypassed area. The minimum flow is achieved via an 8-foot-wide by 1-foot-deep weir on the spillway crest. The project operates under an estimated average head of 26 feet, including the 16-inch-high spillway flashboards. The impoundment water surface elevation is maintained at 774 feet. River flows between 159 cfs and 535 cfs are used for power generation, while flows in excess of 535 cfs are passed over the flashboards and spillway. The total installed capacity of the project is 1,000 kW from the single generating unit. The project generates approximately 5,369 megawatt-hours annually, which are sold to a local utility.

    Aquenergy proposes to continue to operate and maintain the Piedmont Project as is required in the existing license, and to develop canoe portage facilities.

    m. A copy of the application is available for review at the Commission in the Public Reference Room, or may be viewed on the Commission's Web site 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 Online Support. A copy is also available for inspection and reproduction at the address in item h above.

    All filings must: (1) Bear in all capital letters the title COMMENTS, REPLY COMMENTS, RECOMMENDATIONS, TERMS AND CONDITIONS, or “PRESCRIPTIONS;” (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 submitting the filing; and (4) otherwise comply with the requirements of 18 CFR 385.2001 through 385.2005. All comments, recommendations, terms and conditions or prescriptions must set forth their evidentiary basis and otherwise comply with the requirements of 18 CFR 4.34(b). Agencies may obtain copies of the application directly from the applicant. Each filing must be accompanied by proof of service on all persons listed on the service list prepared by the Commission in this proceeding, in accordance with 18 CFR 4.34(b) and 385.2010.

    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, contact FERC Online Support.

    n. A license applicant must file no later than 60 days following the date of issuance of this notice: (1) A copy of the water quality certification; (2) a copy of the request for certification, including proof of the date on which the certifying agency received the request; or (3) evidence of waiver of water quality certification.

    Dated: November 16, 2017. Kimberly D. Bose, Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2017-25318 Filed 11-21-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6717-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Combined Notice of Filings #2

    Take notice that the Commission received the following electric rate filings:

    Docket Numbers: ER10-1585-010; ER10-1594-010; ER16-733-001; ER10-1617-010; ER16-1148-001; ER12-60-012; ER10-1632-012; ER10-1626-007; ER10-1628-010.

    Applicants: Alabama Electric Marketing, LLC, California Electric Marketing, LLC, LQA, LLC, New Mexico Electric Marketing, LLC, Tenaska Energía de Mexico, S. de R. L. d, Tenaska Power Management, LLC, Tenaska Power Services Co., Tenaska Virginia Partners, L.P., Texas Electric Marketing, LLC.

    Description: Supplement to June 28, 2016 Updated Market Power Analysis of the Tenaska Northeast MBR Sellers.

    Filed Date: 11/16/17.

    Accession Number: 20171116-5099.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 12/7/17.

    Docket Numbers: ER18-295-001.

    Applicants: Louisville Gas and Electric Company.

    Description: Tariff Amendment: Refiling EKPC NITSA Under Correct Record ID to be effective 10/16/2017.

    Filed Date: 11/16/17.

    Accession Number: 20171116-5059.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 12/7/17.

    Docket Numbers: ER18-302-000.

    Applicants: Tampa Electric Company.

    Description: § 205(d) Rate Filing: Section 205 Requirements Depreciation Rates—Polk 2 Buildout to be effective 2/1/2017.

    Filed Date: 11/16/17.

    Accession Number: 20171116-5060.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 12/7/17.

    Docket Numbers: ER18-303-000.

    Applicants: South Jersey Energy ISO2, LLC.

    Description: Tariff Cancellation: Cancel market-based rate tariff to be effective 11/17/2017.

    Filed Date: 11/16/17.

    Accession Number: 20171116-5061.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 12/7/17.

    Docket Numbers: ER18-304-000.

    Applicants: Southern California Edison Company.

    Description: § 205(d) Rate Filing: LGIA Sienna Solar Farm Project SA No. 199 to be effective 11/17/2017.

    Filed Date: 11/16/17.

    Accession Number: 20171116-5063.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 12/7/17.

    Docket Numbers: ER18-305-000.

    Applicants: Bishop Hill Energy LLC.

    Description: § 205(d) Rate Filing: Revised Rate Schedule to be effective 10/15/2017.

    Filed Date: 11/16/17.

    Accession Number: 20171116-5109.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 12/7/17.

    The filings are accessible in the Commission's eLibrary system by clicking on the links or querying the docket number.

    Any person desiring to intervene or protest in any of the above proceedings must file in accordance with Rules 211 and 214 of the Commission's Regulations (18 CFR 385.211 and 385.214) on or before 5:00 p.m. Eastern time on the specified comment date. Protests may be considered, but intervention is necessary to become a party to the proceeding.

    eFiling is encouraged. More detailed information relating to filing requirements, interventions, protests, service, and qualifying facilities filings can be found at: http://www.ferc.gov/docs-filing/efiling/filing-req.pdf. For other information, call (866) 208-3676 (toll free). For TTY, call (202) 502-8659.

    Dated: November 16, 2017. Kimberly D. Bose, Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2017-25325 Filed 11-21-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6717-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Combined Notice of Filings #1

    Take notice that the Commission received the following electric rate filings:

    Docket Numbers: ER10-3297-011.

    Applicants: Powerex Corp. .

    Description: Notice of Change in Status and Request for Confidential Treatment of Powerex Corp.

    Filed Date: 11/15/17.

    Accession Number: 20171115-5236.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 12/6/17.

    Docket Numbers: ER11-3417-013; ER11-2292-019; ER11-3942-018; ER11-2293-019; ER10-2917-018; ER11-2294-017; ER12-2447-017; ER13-1613-011 ER10-2918-019; ER10-2920-018; ER11-3941-016; ER10-2921-018; ER10-2922-018; ER13-1346-009; ER10-2966-018; ER11-2383-013; ER10-3178-010; ER12-161-018; ER12-2068-014; ER12-645-019; ER10-2460-014; ER10-2461-015; ER12-682-015; ER10-2463-014; ER11-2201-018; ER13-1139-017; ER13-17-012; ER14-25-014; ER14-2630-010; ER12-1311-014; ER10-2466-015; ER11-4029-014; ER10-2895-018; ER14-1964-009; ER16-287-004; ER13-2143-011; ER10-3167-010; ER13-203-010; ER17-482-003.

    Applicants: Alta Wind VIII, LLC, Bear Swamp Power Company LLC, BIF II Safe Harbor Holdings, LLC, BIF III Holtwood LLC, Black Bear Development Holdings, LLC, Black Bear Hydro Partners, LLC, Black Bear SO, LLC, BREG Aggregator LLC, Brookfield Energy Marketing Inc., Brookfield Energy Marketing LP, Brookfield Energy Marketing US LLC, Brookfield Power Piney & Deep Creek LLC, Brookfield Renewable Energy Marketing US LLC, Brookfield Smoky Mountain Hydropower LLC, Brookfield White Pine Hydro LLC, Carr Street Generating Station, L.P., Erie Boulevard Hydropower, L.P., Granite Reliable Power, LLC, Great Lakes Hydro America, LLC, Hawks Nest Hydro LLC, Mesa Wind Power Corporation, Rumford Falls Hydro LLC, Safe Harbor Water Power Corporation, Windstar Energy, LLC, Bishop Hill Energy LLC, Blue Sky East, LLC, California Ridge Wind Energy LLC, Canandaigua Power Partners, LLC, Canandaigua Power Partners II, LLC, Erie Wind, LLC, Evergreen Wind Power, LLC, Evergreen Wind Power III, LLC, Imperial Valley Solar 1, LLC, Niagara Wind Power, LLC, Prairie Breeze Wind Energy LLC, Regulus Solar, LLC, Stetson Holdings, LLC, Stetson Wind II, LLC, Vermont Wind, LLC.

    Description: Notice of Change in Status of the Brookfield Companies and TerraForm Companies.

    Filed Date: 11/15/17.

    Accession Number: 20171115-5251.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 12/6/17.

    Docket Numbers: ER17-1657-000.

    Applicants: Armstrong Power, LLC.

    Description: Report Filing: Refund Report—Informational Filing (EL16-79) to be effective N/A.

    Filed Date: 11/15/17.

    Accession Number: 20171115-5227.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 12/6/17.

    Docket Numbers: ER17-1658-000.

    Applicants: Calumet Energy Team, LLC.

    Description: Report Filing: Refund Report—Informational Report (EL16-80-000) to be effective N/A.

    Filed Date: 11/15/17.

    Accession Number: 20171115-5217.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 12/6/17.

    Docket Numbers: ER17-1659-000.

    Applicants: Northeastern Power Company.

    Description: Report Filing: Refund Report—Informational Filing (EL16-81-000) to be effective N/A.

    Filed Date: 11/15/17.

    Accession Number: 20171115-5220.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 12/6/17.

    Docket Numbers: ER17-1660-000.

    Applicants: Pleasants Energy, LLC.

    Description: Report Filing: Refund Report—Informational Filing (EL16-82-000) to be effective N/A.

    Filed Date: 11/15/17.

    Accession Number: 20171115-5228.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 12/6/17.

    Docket Numbers: ER17-1661-000.

    Applicants: Troy Energy, LLC.

    Description: Report Filing: Refund Report—Informational Filing (EL16-83-000) to be effective N/A.

    Filed Date: 11/15/17.

    Accession Number: 20171115-5229.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 12/6/17.

    Docket Numbers: ER17-1663-000.

    Applicants: Elwood Energy LLC.

    Description: Report Filing: Refund Report—Informational Report (EL16-98-000) to be effective N/A.

    Filed Date: 11/15/17.

    Accession Number: 20171115-5192.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 12/6/17.

    Docket Numbers: ER18-299-000.

    Applicants: PJM Interconnection, L.L.C.

    Description: § 205(d) Rate Filing: Original Service Agreement No. 4841; Queue No. AC2-136 (WMPA) to be effective 10/25/2017.

    Filed Date: 11/16/17.

    Accession Number: 20171116-5004.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 12/7/17.

    Docket Numbers: ER18-300-000.

    Applicants: Midcontinent Independent System Operator, Inc.

    Description: Limited waiver request of Midcontinent Independent System Operator, Inc. under ER18-300.

    Filed Date: 11/15/17.

    Accession Number: 20171115-5240..

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 12/6/17.

    Docket Numbers: ER18-301-000.

    Applicants: Ormesa LLC.

    Description: Baseline eTariff Filing: Petition for Approval of Initial Market-Based Rate Tariff to be effective 11/30/2017.

    Filed Date: 11/16/17.

    Accession Number: 20171116-5017.

    Comments Due: 5 p.m. ET 12/7/17.

    The filings are accessible in the Commission's eLibrary system by clicking on the links or querying the docket number.

    Any person desiring to intervene or protest in any of the above proceedings must file in accordance with Rules 211 and 214 of the Commission's Regulations (18 CFR 385.211 and 385.214) on or before 5:00 p.m. Eastern time on the specified comment date. Protests may be considered, but intervention is necessary to become a party to the proceeding.

    eFiling is encouraged. More detailed information relating to filing requirements, interventions, protests, service, and qualifying facilities filings can be found at: http://www.ferc.gov/docs-filing/efiling/filing-req.pdf. For other information, call (866) 208-3676 (toll free). For TTY, call (202) 502-8659.

    Dated: November 16, 2017. Kimberly D. Bose, Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2017-25326 Filed 11-21-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6717-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY Federal Energy Regulatory Commission [Docket Nos. EL18-30-000] South Texas Electric Cooperative, Inc.; Notice of Petition for Partial Waiver

    Take notice that on November 16, 2017, pursuant to section 292.402 of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's (Commission) Rules and Regulations, 18 CFR 292.402 (2017) South Texas Electric Cooperative, Inc. (South Texas), on behalf of itself and three of its member-distribution cooperatives, Jackson Electric Cooperative, Inc., Magic Valley Electric Cooperative, Inc. and Medina Electric Cooperative, Inc. (collectively, Member Cooperatives), submitted a request for waivers of certain obligations imposed on them by Section 210 of the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 (PURPA) and Commission's regulations, all as more fully explained in the petition.

    Any person desiring to intervene or to protest this filing must file in accordance with Rules 211 and 214 of the Commission's Rules of Practice and Procedure (18 CFR 385.211, 385.214). 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 eFiling link at http://www.ferc.gov. Persons unable to file electronically should submit an original and 5 copies of the protest or intervention to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, 888 First Street NE., Washington, DC 20426.

    This filing is accessible on-line at http://www.ferc.gov, using the eLibrary link and is 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.

    Comments: 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time on December 7, 2017.

    Dated: November 16, 2017. Kimberly D. Bose, Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2017-25320 Filed 11-21-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6717-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY Federal Energy Regulatory Commission [Docket No. ER18-296-000] Phibro Americas LLC; Supplemental Notice That Initial Market-Based Rate Filing Includes Request for Blanket Section 204 Authorization

    This is a supplemental notice in the above-referenced proceeding Phibro Americas LLC`s application for market-based rate authority, with an accompanying rate tariff, noting that such application includes a request for blanket authorization, under 18 CFR part 34, of future issuances of securities and assumptions of liability.

    Any person desiring to intervene or to protest should file with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, 888 First Street NE., Washington, DC 20426, in accordance with Rules 211 and 214 of the Commission's Rules of Practice and Procedure (18 CFR 385.211 and 385.214). Anyone filing a motion to intervene or protest must serve a copy of that document on the Applicant.

    Notice is hereby given that the deadline for filing protests with regard to the applicant's request for blanket authorization, under 18 CFR part 34, of future issuances of securities and assumptions of liability, is December 6, 2017.

    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-referenced proceeding are accessible in the Commission's eLibrary system by clicking on the appropriate link in the above list. They are also available for electronic 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.

    Dated: November 16, 2017. Kimberly D. Bose, Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2017-25327 Filed 11-21-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6717-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY Federal Energy Regulatory Commission [Project No. 10254-026] Pelzer Hydro Company, LLC; Consolidated Hydro Southeast, LLC; Notice of Application Ready for Environmental Analysis and Soliciting Comments, Recommendations, Terms and Conditions, and Prescriptions

    Take notice that the following hydroelectric application has been filed with the Commission and is available for public inspection.

    a. Type of Application: New License.

    b. Project No.: 10254-026.

    c. Date filed: November 30, 2015.

    d. Applicant: Pelzer Hydro Company, LLC (Pelzer Hydro), Consolidated Hydro Southeast, LLC (Consolidated Hydro).

    e. Name of Project: Upper Pelzer Hydroelectric Project.

    f. Location: The existing project is located on the Saluda River in the Town of Pelzer, in Anderson and Greenville Counties, South Carolina. The project does not affect federal land.

    g. Filed Pursuant to: Federal Power Act 16 U.S.C. 791(a)-825(r).

    h. Applicant Contact: Beth E. Harris, P.E., Regional Operations Manager, Enel Green Power North America, Inc., 11 Anderson Street, Piedmont, SC 29673; Telephone—(864) 846-0042; Email—[email protected], OR Kevin Webb, Hydro Licensing Manager, Enel Green Power North America, Inc., One Tech Drive, Suite 220, Andover, MA 01810; Telephone—(978) 681-1900; Email—[email protected]

    i. FERC Contact: Navreet Deo, (202) 502-6304, or [email protected]

    j. Deadline for filing comments, recommendations, terms and conditions, and prescriptions: 60 days from the issuance date of this notice; reply comments are due 105 days from the issuance date of this notice.

    The Commission strongly encourages electronic filing. Please file comments, recommendations, terms and conditions, and prescriptions 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-10254-026.

    The Commission's Rules of Practice require all intervenors filing documents with the Commission to serve a copy of that document on each person on the official service list for the project. Further, if an intervenor 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.

    k. This application has been accepted and is now ready for environmental analysis.

    l. The Upper Pelzer Project consists of: (1) A 505-foot-long by 29.7-foot-high granite masonry dam, consisting of (i) a 150-foot-long non-overflow section, (ii) a 280-foot-long ungated overflow spillway topped with 4-foot-high wooden flashboards, and (iii) a 75-foot-long gated intake section containing six gates; (2) a 25-acre impoundment at a normal pool elevation of 718.7 feet mean sea level, as measured at the top of the flashboards; (3) a 260-foot-long by 52-foot-wide forebay canal channeling flow from 6 canal gates to the project's 2 powerhouses; (4) a 43-foot-long by 24-foot-wide upstream concrete powerhouse, protected by a 65-foot-long trashrack structure with 5.5-inch clear bar spacing for 38 feet of length, and 2-inch clear bar spacing for 27 feet of length, containing two vertical Francis turbine generating units that total 1,500 kW (kW); (5) a 70-foot-long by 55-foot-wide downstream powerhouse, protected by a trashrack structure with 2-inch clear bar spacing, containing one vertical Francis turbine generating unit that totals 450 kW; (6) a 95-foot-long by 74-foot-wide tailrace extending from the upstream powerhouse, and a 132-foot-long by 24-foot-wide tailrace extending from the downstream powerhouse; (7) a 65-foot-long, 3,300-volt transmission line, connecting the upper and lower powerhouses with the grid via a 7.2/12.47 kilovolt transformer; and (8) appurtenant facilities.

    Pelzer Hydro and Consolidated Hydro (co-licensees) operate the project in a run- of-river mode using automatic pond level control, with no useable storage or flood control capacity. There are no minimum flow requirements downstream of the dam. The project operates under an estimated average head of 25 feet, including the 4-foot-high spillway flashboards. The impoundment water surface elevation is maintained at 718.7 feet. River flows between 159 cubic feet per second (cfs) and 1,200 cfs are used for power generation, while flows in excess of 1,200 cfs are passed over the spillway. A single manually operated, low level outlet gate located in the unregulated spillway portion of the dam is used to drain the impoundment during maintenance activities. The total installed capacity of the project is 1,950 kW between the three generating units. The project generates approximately 6,223 megawatt-hours annually, which are sold to a local utility.

    The co-licensees propose to continue to operate and maintain the Upper Pelzer Project as is required in the existing license, and to develop canoe portage facilities. The co-licensees also propose to release a continuous minimum flow of 15 cfs or inflow, whichever is less, from a new weir on the spillway crest in order to maintain aquatic habitat and water quality conditions in the 115-foot-long reach between the dam and the upstream powerhouse tailrace.

    m. A copy of the application is available for review at the Commission in the Public Reference Room, or may be viewed on the Commission's Web site 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 Online Support. A copy is also available for inspection and reproduction at the address in item h above.

    All filings must: (1) Bear in all capital letters the title COMMENTS, REPLY COMMENTS, RECOMMENDATIONS, TERMS AND CONDITIONS, or PRESCRIPTIONS; (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 submitting the filing; and (4) otherwise comply with the requirements of 18 CFR 385.2001 through 385.2005. All comments, recommendations, terms and conditions or prescriptions must set forth their evidentiary basis and otherwise comply with the requirements of 18 CFR 4.34(b). Agencies may obtain copies of the application directly from the applicant. Each filing must be accompanied by proof of service on all persons listed on the service list prepared by the Commission in this proceeding, in accordance with 18 CFR 4.34(b) and 385.2010.

    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, contact FERC Online Support.

    n. A license applicant must file no later than 60 days following the date of issuance of this notice: (1) A copy of the water quality certification; (2) a copy of the request for certification, including proof of the date on which the certifying agency received the request; or (3) evidence of waiver of water quality certification.

    Dated: November 16, 2017. Kimberly D. Bose, Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2017-25317 Filed 11-21-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6717-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY Federal Energy Regulatory Commission [Docket No. CP17-409-000] Notice of Availability of the Environmental Assessment for the Proposed Birdsboro Pipeline Project, DTE Midstream Appalachia, LLC

    The staff of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC or Commission) has prepared this Environmental Assessment (EA) of the Birdsboro Pipeline Project (Project) proposed by DTE Midstream Appalachia, LLC (DTE Midstream) in the above-referenced docket. DTE Midstream requests authorization to construct, operate, and maintain new natural gas facilities in Berks County, Pennsylvania, consisting of 13.2 miles of 12-inch-diameter pipeline, a new meter station, and appurtenant facilities.

    The EA assesses the potential environmental effects of the construction and operation of the Project in accordance with the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA). The FERC staff concludes that approval of the Project, with appropriate mitigating measures, would not constitute a major federal action significantly affecting the quality of the human environment.

    The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency participated as cooperating agencies in the preparation of the EA. Cooperating agencies have jurisdiction by law and/or have special expertise with respect to resources potentially affected by a proposal.

    The proposed Birdsboro Pipeline Project includes the following facilities:

    • About 13.2 miles of new, 12-inch-diameter pipeline;

    • a new meter station associated facilities at the Texas Eastern Transmission Company Pipeline right-of-way and pig launcher facility; 1

    1 A pig is a tool that the pipeline company inserts into and pushes through the pipeline for cleaning the pipeline, conducting internal inspections, or other purposes.

    • a new pig receiver facility; and

    • four mainline valve sites.

    The FERC staff mailed copies of the EA to federal, state, and local government representatives and agencies; elected officials; environmental and public interest groups; Native American tribes; potentially affected landowners and other interested individuals and groups; and newspapers and libraries in the Project area. In addition, the EA is available for public viewing on the FERC's Web site (www.ferc.gov) using the eLibrary link. A limited number of copies of the EA are available for distribution and public inspection at: Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Public Reference Room, 888 First Street NE., Room 2A,Washington, DC 20426, (202) 502-8371.

    Any person wishing to comment on the EA may do so. Your comments should focus on the potential environmental effects, reasonable alternatives, and measures to avoid or lessen environmental impacts. The more specific your comments, the more useful they will be. To ensure that your comments are properly recorded and considered prior to a Commission decision on the proposal, it is important that the FERC receives your comments in Washington, DC on or before December 15, 2017.

    For your convenience, there are three methods you can use to submit your comments to the Commission. In all instances, please reference the Project docket number (CP17-409-000) with your submission. The Commission encourages electronic filing of comments and has dedicated eFiling expert staff available to assist you at (202) 502-8258 or [email protected]

    (1) You may file your comments electronically by using the eComment feature, which is located on the Commission's Web site at www.ferc.gov under the link to Documents and Filings. An eComment is an easy method for interested persons to submit text-only comments on a Project;

    (2) You may file your comments electronically by using the eFiling feature, which is located on the Commission's Web site at 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. You will be asked to select the type of filing you are making. A comment on a particular Project is considered a Comment on a Filing; or

    (3) You may file a paper copy of your comments at the following address: Kimberly D. Bose, Secretary, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, 888 First Street NE., Room 1A, Washington, DC 20426.

    Any person seeking to become a party to the proceeding must file a motion to intervene pursuant to Rule 214 of the Commission's Rules of Practice and Procedures (Title 18 Code of Federal Regulations 385.214).2 Only intervenors have the right to seek rehearing of the Commission's decision. Affected landowners and parties with environmental concerns may be granted intervenor status upon showing good cause by stating that they have a clear and direct interest in this proceeding that would not be adequately represented by any other parties. You do not need intervenor status to have your comments considered.

    2 See the previous discussion on the methods for filing comments.

    Additional information about the Project is available from the Commission's Office of External Affairs, at 1-866-208-FERC (3372), or on the FERC Web site (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., CP17-409). Be sure you have selected an appropriate date range. For assistance, please contact FERC Online Support at [email protected] or toll free at 1-866-208-3676, or for TTY, contact 1-202-502-8659. 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.

    Dated: November 15, 2017. Kimberly D. Bose, Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2017-25234 Filed 11-21-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6717-01-P
    FEDERAL DEPOSIT INSURANCE CORPORATION Notice to All Interested Parties of Intent To Terminate the Receivership of 10352, Western Springs National Bank and Trust, Western Springs, Illinois

    Notice is hereby given that the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC or Receiver) as Receiver for Western Springs Bank and Trust, Western Springs, Illinois, intends to terminate its receivership for said institution. The FDIC was appointed Receiver of Western Springs Bank and Trust on April 8, 2011. The liquidation of the receivership assets has been completed. To the extent permitted by available funds and in accordance with law, the Receiver will be making a final dividend payment to proven creditors.

    Based upon the foregoing, the Receiver has determined that the continued existence of the receivership will serve no useful purpose. Consequently, notice is given that the receivership shall be terminated, to be effective no sooner than thirty days after the date of this notice. If any person wishes to comment concerning the termination of the receivership, such comment must be made in writing and sent within thirty days of the date of this notice to: Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Division of Resolutions and Receiverships, Attention: Receivership Oversight Department 34.6, 1601 Bryan Street, Dallas, TX 75201.

    No comments concerning the termination of this receivership will be considered which are not sent within this time frame.

    Dated: November 16, 2017. Robert E. Feldman, Executive Secretary, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.
    [FR Doc. 2017-25212 Filed 11-21-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6714-01-P
    FEDERAL DEPOSIT INSURANCE CORPORATION Notice of Termination of the Receivership of 10345, Habersham Bank, Clarkesville, Georgia

    Notice is hereby given that the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC and Receiver) as Receiver for Habersham Bank, Clarkesville, Georgia, intends to terminate its receivership for said institution. The FDIC was appointed Receiver of Habersham Bank on February 18, 2011. The liquidation of the receivership assets has been completed. To the extent permitted by available funds and in accordance with law, the Receiver will be making a final dividend payment to proven creditors.

    Based upon the foregoing, the Receiver has determined that the continued existence of the receivership will serve no useful purpose. Consequently, notice is given that the receivership shall be terminated, to be effective no sooner than thirty days after the date of this notice. If any person wishes to comment concerning the termination of the receivership, such comment must be made in writing and sent within thirty days of the date of this notice to: Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Division of Resolutions and Receiverships, Attention: Receivership Oversight Department 34.6, 1601 Bryan Street, Dallas, TX 75201.

    No comments concerning the termination of this receivership will be considered which are not sent within this time frame.

    Dated: November 16, 2017. Robert E. Feldman, Executive Secretary, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.
    [FR Doc. 2017-25214 Filed 11-21-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6714-01-P
    FEDERAL DEPOSIT INSURANCE CORPORATION Notice to All Interested Parties of Intent To Terminate the Receivership of 10075, Rock River Bank, Oregon, Illinois

    Notice is hereby given that the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC or Receiver) as Receiver for Rock River Bank, Oregon, Illinois, intends to terminate its receivership for said institution. The FDIC was appointed Receiver of Rock River Bank on July 2, 2009. The liquidation of the receivership assets has been completed. To the extent permitted by available funds and in accordance with law, the Receiver will be making a final dividend payment to proven creditors.

    Based upon the foregoing, the receiver has determined that the continued existence of the receivership will serve no useful purpose. Consequently, notice is given that the receivership shall be terminated, to be effective no sooner than thirty days after the date of this notice. If any person wishes to comment concerning the termination of the receivership, such comment must be made in writing and sent within thirty days of the date of this notice to: Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Division of Resolutions and Receiverships, Attention: Receivership Oversight Department 34.6, 1601 Bryan Street, Dallas, TX 75201.

    No comments concerning the termination of this receivership will be considered which are not sent within this time frame.

    Dated: November 17, 2017. Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. Robert E. Feldman, Executive Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2017-25262 Filed 11-21-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6714-01-P
    FEDERAL DEPOSIT INSURANCE CORPORATION Notice to All Interested Parties of Intent To Terminate the Receivership of 10350, The Bank of Commerce, Wood Dale, Illinois

    Notice is hereby given that the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC or Receiver) as Receiver for The Bank of Commerce, Wood Dale, Illinois, intends to terminate its receivership for said institution. The FDIC was appointed Receiver of The Bank of Commerce on March 25, 2011. The liquidation of the receivership assets has been completed. To the extent permitted by available funds and in accordance with law, the Receiver will be making a final dividend payment to proven creditors.

    Based upon the foregoing, the Receiver has determined that the continued existence of the receivership will serve no useful purpose. Consequently, notice is given that the receivership shall be terminated, to be effective no sooner than thirty days after the date of this notice. If any person wishes to comment concerning the termination of the receivership, such comment must be made in writing and sent within thirty days of the date of this notice to: Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Division of Resolutions and Receiverships, Attention: Receivership Oversight Department 34.6, 1601 Bryan Street, Dallas, TX 75201.

    No comments concerning the termination of this receivership will be considered which are not sent within this time frame.

    Dated: November 16, 2017. Robert E. Feldman, Executive Secretary, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.
    [FR Doc. 2017-25211 Filed 11-21-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6714-01-P
    FEDERAL DEPOSIT INSURANCE CORPORATION Notice to All Interested Parties of Intent to Terminate the Receivership of 10253, Peninsula Bank, Englewood, Florida

    Notice is hereby given that the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC or Receiver) as Receiver for Peninsula Bank, Englewood, Florida, intends to terminate its receivership for said institution. The FDIC was appointed Receiver of Peninsula Bank on June 25, 2010. The liquidation of the receivership assets has been completed. To the extent permitted by available funds and in accordance with law, the Receiver will be making a final dividend payment to proven creditors.

    Based upon the foregoing, the Receiver has determined that the continued existence of the receivership will serve no useful purpose. Consequently, notice is given that the receivership shall be terminated, to be effective no sooner than thirty days after the date of this notice. If any person wishes to comment concerning the termination of the receivership, such comment must be made in writing and sent within thirty days of the date of this notice to: Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Division of Resolutions and Receiverships, Attention: Receivership Oversight Department 34.6, 1601 Bryan Street, Dallas, TX 75201.

    No comments concerning the termination of this receivership will be considered which are not sent within this time frame.

    Dated: November 17, 2017. Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. Robert E. Feldman, Executive Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2017-25263 Filed 11-21-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6714-01-P
    FEDERAL MARITIME COMMISSION Agency Information Collection Activities: Submission for OMB Review; Comment Request AGENCY:

    Federal Maritime Commission

    ACTION:

    Notice and request for comments.

    SUMMARY:

    The Federal Maritime Commission (Commission) is giving public notice that the agency has submitted to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for approval the continuing information collection (extension with no changes) described in this notice. The public is invited to comment on the proposed information collection pursuant to the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995.

    DATES:

    Written comments must be submitted at the addresses below on or before December 22, 2017.

    ADDRESSES:

    Comments should be addressed to:

    Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, Office of Management and Budget, Attention: Shannon Joyce, Desk Officer for Federal Maritime Commission, 725 17th Street NW., Washington, DC 20503, [email protected], Fax (202) 395-5167. and to: Karen V. Gregory, Managing Director, Office of the Managing Director, Federal Maritime Commission, 800 North Capitol Street NW., Washington, DC 20573, Telephone: (202) 523-5800, [email protected]
    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Copies of the information collections and instructions, or copies of any comments received, may be obtained by contacting Donna Lee by phone at (202) 523-5800 or email at [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Request for Comments

    Pursuant to the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (Pub. L. 104-13), the Commission invites the general public and other Federal agencies to comment on proposed information collections. On August 2, 2017, the Commission published a notice and request for comments in the Federal Register (82 FR 35946) regarding the agency's request for continued approval from OMB for information collections as required by the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995. The Commission received no comments on the request for extension of OMB clearance. The Commission has submitted the described information collection to OMB for approval.

    In response to this notice, comments and suggestions should address one or more of the following points: (1) The necessity and utility of the proposed information collection for the proper performance of the agency's functions; (2) the accuracy of the estimated burden; (3) ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and (4) the use of automated collection techniques or other forms of information technology to minimize the information collection burden.

    Information Collections Open for Comment

    Title: 46 CFR part 565—Controlled Carriers.

    OMB Approval Number: 3072-0060 (Expires December 31, 2017).

    Abstract: Section 9 of the Shipping Act of 1984, 46 U.S.C. 40701-40706, requires that the Commission monitor the practices of controlled carriers to ensure that they do not maintain rates or charges in their tariffs and service contracts that are below a level that is just and reasonable; nor establish, maintain, or enforce unjust or unreasonable classifications, rules, or regulations in those tariffs or service contracts which result or are likely to result in the carriage or handling of cargo at rates or charges that are below a just and reasonable level. 46 CFR part 565 establishes the method by which the Commission determines whether a particular ocean common carrier is a controlled carrier subject to section 9 of the Shipping Act of 1984. When a government acquires a controlling interest in an ocean common carrier, or when a controlled carrier newly enters a United States trade, the Commission's rules require that such a carrier notify the Commission of these events.

    Current Actions: There are no changes to this information collection, and it is being submitted for extension purposes only.

    Type of Review: Extension.

    Needs and Uses: The Commission uses these notifications in order to effectively discharge its statutory duty to determine whether a particular ocean common carrier is a controlled carrier and therefore subject to the requirements of section 9 of the Shipping Act of 1984.

    Frequency: The submission of notifications from carriers is not assigned to a specific time frame by the Commission; they are submitted as circumstances warrant.

    Type of Respondents: Ocean common carriers when a majority portion of the carrier becomes owned or controlled by a government, or when a controlled carrier newly begins operation in any United States trade.

    Number of Annual Respondents: Based on filings over the past three years, the Commission estimates one respondent annually.

    Estimated Time per Response: The estimated time for each notification is 2 hours.

    Total Annual Burden: For purposes of calculating total annual burden, the Commission assumes one response annually. The Commission thus estimates the total annual burden to be 2 hours (1 response × 2 hours per response).

    Rachel E. Dickon, Assistant Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2017-25255 Filed 11-21-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6731-AA-P
    FEDERAL MARITIME COMMISSION Notice of Agreement Filed

    The Commission hereby gives notice of the filing of the following agreement under the Shipping Act of 1984. Interested parties may submit comments on the agreement 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 the 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.: 012370-001.

    Title: Volkswagen Konzernlogistik GmbH & Co. OHG/Hyundai Glovis Co., Ltd. Soace Charter Agreement.

    Parties: Volkswagen Konzernlogistik GmbH & Co. OHG and Hyundai Glovis Co., Ltd.

    Filing Party: Wayne R. Rohde, Esq.; Cozen O'Conner; 1200 19th Street NW., Washington, DC 20036.

    Synopsis: The amendment expands geographic scope of the agreement to include all of the U.S. and clarifies that the agreement applies to the movement of vehicles and other ro-ro cargo.

    By Order of the Federal Maritime Commission.

    Dated: November 17, 2017. Rachel E. Dickon, Assistant Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2017-25305 Filed 11-21-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6731-AA-P
    FEDERAL RESERVE SYSTEM Proposed Agency Information Collection Activities; Comment Request AGENCY:

    Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System.

    ACTION:

    Notice, request for comment.

    SUMMARY:

    The Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (Board) invites comment on a proposal to extend for three years, without revision, the mandatory disclosure requirements associated with CFPB's Regulation DD (Truth in Savings Act) (FR DD; OMB No. 7100-0271).

    DATES:

    Comments must be submitted on or before January 22, 2018.

    ADDRESSES:

    You may submit comments, identified by FR DD, by any of the following methods:

    Agency Web site: http://www.federalreserve.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments at http://www.federalreserve.gov/apps/foia/proposedregs.aspx.

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

    Email: [email protected]. Include OMB number in the subject line of the message.

    FAX: (202) 452-3819 or (202) 452-3102.

    Mail: Ann E. Misback, Secretary, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, 20th Street and Constitution Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20551.

    All public comments are available from the Board's Web site at http://www.federalreserve.gov/apps/foia/proposedregs.aspx as submitted, unless modified for technical reasons. Accordingly, your comments will not be edited to remove any identifying or contact information. Public comments may also be viewed electronically or in paper form in Room 3515, 1801 K Street (between 18th and 19th Streets NW.) Washington, DC 20006 between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. on weekdays.

    Additionally, commenters may send a copy of their comments to the 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.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    A copy of the PRA OMB submission, including the proposed reporting form and instructions, supporting statement, and other documentation will be placed into OMB's public docket files, once approved. These documents will also be made available on the Federal Reserve Board's public Web site at: http://www.federalreserve.gov/apps/reportforms/review.aspx or may be requested from the agency clearance officer, whose name appears below.

    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.

    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. In exercising this delegated authority, the Board is directed to take every reasonable step to solicit comment. In determining whether to approve a collection of information, the Board will consider all comments received from the public and other agencies.

    Request for Comment on Information Collection Proposal

    The Board invites public comment on the following information collection, which is being reviewed under authority delegated by the OMB under the PRA. Comments are invited on the following:

    a. Whether the proposed collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the Federal Reserve's functions; including whether the information has practical utility;

    b. The accuracy of the Federal Reserve's estimate of the burden of the proposed information collection, including the validity of the methodology and assumptions used;

    c. Ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected;

    d. Ways to minimize the burden of information collection on respondents, including through the use of automated collection techniques or other forms of information technology; and

    e. Estimates of capital or startup costs and costs of operation, maintenance, and purchase of services to provide information.

    At the end of the comment period, the comments and recommendations received will be analyzed to determine the extent to which the Federal Reserve should modify the proposal prior to giving final approval.

    Proposal to approve under OMB delegated authority the extension for three years, without revision, of the following report:

    Report title: Disclosure Requirements Associated with CFPB's Regulation DD (Truth in Savings Act (TISA)).

    Agency form number: FR DD.

    OMB control number: 7100-0271.

    Frequency: Monthly.

    Respondents: State member banks, branches and agencies of foreign banks (other than federal branches, federal agencies, and insured state branches of foreign banks), commercial lending companies owned or controlled by foreign banks, and organizations operating under section 25 or 25A of the Federal Reserve Act.

    Estimated number of respondents: 936.

    Estimated average hours per response: Account disclosures, 1 hour; Change in terms notices, 1.5 hours; Notices prior to maturity, 1.5 hours; Periodic statement disclosure, 8 hours; and Advertising, 30 minutes.

    Estimated annual burden hours: Account disclosures: 11,232 hours; Change in terms notices: 16,848 hours; Notices prior to maturity: 16,848 hours; Periodic statement disclosure: 89,856 hours; and Advertising: 5,616 hours.

    General description of report: TISA was contained in the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation Improvement Act of 1991. The purpose of TISA and its implementing regulation is to assist consumers in comparing deposit accounts offered by institutions, principally through the disclosure of fees, the annual percentage yield (APY), and other account terms. TISA requires depository institutions to disclose key terms for deposit accounts at account opening, upon request, when certain changes in terms occur, and in periodic statements. It also includes rules about advertising for deposit accounts. TISA does not provide exemptions from compliance for small institutions.

    Legal authorization and confidentiality: The Board's Legal Division has determined that section 269 of TISA specifically authorizes the CFPB “to prescribe regulations” to carry out the purposes and provisions of the Act, as well as to adopt model forms and clauses for common disclosures to facilitate compliance (12 U.S.C. 4308). FR DD implements this statutory provision (12 CFR part 1030). The Board's imposition of the disclosure requirements on Board-supervised institutions is authorized by Section 270 of TISA, 12 U.S.C. 4309, and the provisions of Regulation DD (12 CFR 1030.1(a), 1030.2(j)). An institution's disclosure obligations under Regulation DD are mandatory. The Board does not collect any information; therefore, no issue of confidentiality arises.

    Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, November 17, 2017. Ann E. Misback, Secretary of the Board.
    [FR Doc. 2017-25247 Filed 11-21-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6210-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [60Day-17-0743; Docket No. CDC-2017-0086] Proposed Data Collection Submitted for Public Comment and Recommendations AGENCY:

    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

    ACTION:

    Notice with comment period.

    SUMMARY:

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as part of its continuing effort to reduce public burden and maximize the utility of government information, invites the general public and other Federal agencies the opportunity to comment on proposed and/or continuing information collection, as required by the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995. This notice invites comment on a proposed information collection project titled Monitoring Breastfeeding-Related Maternity Care—US hospitals. The Maternity Practices in Infant Nutrition and Care (mPINC) survey is a census of maternity care hospitals in the United States and Territories, that CDC has administered every other year since 2007 in order to monitor and examine changes in breastfeeding-related maternity care practices over time.

    DATES:

    CDC must receive written comments on or before January 22, 2018.

    ADDRESSES:

    You may submit comments, identified by Docket No. CDC-2017-0086 by any of the following methods:

    Federal eRulemaking Portal: Regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments.

    Mail: Leroy A. Richardson, Information Collection Review Office, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1600 Clifton Road NE., MS-D74, Atlanta, Georgia 30329.

    Instructions: All submissions received must include the agency name and Docket Number. CDC will post, without change, all relevant comments to Regulations.gov.

    Please Note:

    Submit all comments through the Federal eRulemaking portal (regulations.gov) or by U.S. mail to the address listed above.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    To request more information on the proposed project or to obtain a copy of the information collection plan and instruments, contact Leroy A. Richardson, Information Collection Review Office, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1600 Clifton Road NE., MS-D74, Atlanta, Georgia 30329; phone: 404-639-7570; Email: [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (PRA) (44 U.S.C. 3501-3520), Federal agencies must obtain approval from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for each collection of information they conduct or sponsor. In addition, the PRA also requires Federal agencies to provide a 60-day notice in the Federal Register concerning each proposed collection of information, including each new proposed collection, each proposed extension of existing collection of information, and each reinstatement of previously approved information collection before submitting the collection to the OMB for approval. To comply with this requirement, we are publishing this notice of a proposed data collection as described below.

    The OMB is particularly interested in comments that will help:

    1. Evaluate whether the proposed collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the agency, including whether the information will have practical utility;

    2. Evaluate the accuracy of the agency's estimate of the burden of the proposed collection of information, including the validity of the methodology and assumptions used;

    3. Enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and

    4. Minimize the burden of the collection of information on those who are to respond, including through the use of appropriate automated, electronic, mechanical, or other technological collection techniques or other forms of information technology, e.g., permitting electronic submissions of responses.

    5. Assess information collection costs.

    Proposed Project

    Monitoring Breastfeeding-Related Maternity Care—US Hospitals (OMB Control No. 0920-0743, Exp. 9/30/2016)—Reinstatement with change—Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity (DNPAO), National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (NCCDPHP), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

    Background and Brief Description

    Substantial evidence demonstrates the social, economic, and health benefits of breastfeeding for both the mother and infant as well as for society in general. Breastfeeding mothers have lower risks of breast and ovarian cancers and type 2 diabetes, and breastfeeding better protects infants against infections, chronic diseases like diabetes and obesity, and even childhood leukemia and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). However, the groups that are at higher risk for diabetes, obesity, and poor health overall persistently have the lowest breastfeeding rates.

    Health professionals recommend at least 12 months of breastfeeding, and Healthy People 2020 establishes specific national breastfeeding goals. In addition to increasing overall rates, a significant public health priority in the U.S. is to reduce variation in breastfeeding rates across population subgroups. Although CDC surveillance data indicate that breastfeeding initiation rates in the United States are climbing, rates for duration and exclusivity continue to lag, and significant disparities persist between African American and white women in breastfeeding rates.

    The health care system is one of the most important and effective settings to improve breastfeeding. Recognition of the hospital stay as a crucial influence in later breastfeeding outcomes led to the addition of two objectives in Healthy People 2020 to allow national monitoring of improvements in support for breastfeeding during this time. In 2007, CDC conducted the first national survey of Maternity Practices in Infant Nutrition and Care (known as the mPINC Survey) in health care facilities (hospitals and free-standing childbirth centers). CDC designed this biennial survey to provide baseline information. CDC also conducted the survey in 2009, 2011, 2013, and 2015. The survey inquired about patient education and support for breastfeeding throughout the maternity stay as well as staff training and maternity care policies.

    Prior to the fielding of the 2009 iteration, OMB requested that CDC provide a report to OMB on the results of the 2007 collection. In this report, CDC provided survey results by geographic and demographic characteristics and a summary of activities that resulted from the survey. A summary of mPINC findings was also the anchor of all activities related to the CDC August 2011 Vital Signs activity, marking the first time that CDC highlighted improving hospital maternity practices as the CDC-wide public health priority. A summary of mPINC findings provided the basis of the CDC October 2015 Vital Signs report, which updated the 2011 Vital Signs report and concluded that although maternity care policies and practices supportive of breastfeeding are improving nationally; more work is needed to ensure all women receive optimal breastfeeding support during the birth hospitalization.

    The 2018 and 2020 mPINC surveys will closely match those used before (2007, 2009, 2011, 2013, and 2015) in methodology and administration but CDC updated the content of the survey to reflect changes in maternity care over time. A major strength of the mPINC survey is its structure as an ongoing national census, which does not employ sampling methods. CDC uses the American Hospital Association (AHA) Annual Survey of Hospitals to identify potential participating facilities. Facilities invited to participate in the survey include hospitals that participated in previous iterations and those that received an invite but did not participate in the previous iterations, as well as those that have become eligible since the most recent mPINC survey. CDC will screen all hospitals with one or more registered maternity beds via a brief phone call to assess their eligibility, identify additional satellite locations, and identify the appropriate point of contact. The high response rates to the previous iterations of the mPINC survey (82-83% in 2007, 2009, 2011, 2013, and 2015) indicate that the methodology is appropriate and reflects high interest among the study population.

    As with the initial surveys, a major goal of the 2018 and 2020 follow-up surveys is to be fully responsive to hospitals' needs for information and technical assistance. CDC will provide direct feedback to hospital respondents in a customized benchmark report of their results. CDC will use information from the mPINC surveys to identify, document, and share information related to incremental changes in practices and care processes over time at the hospital, state, and national levels. Researchers also use the data to gain a better understanding of the relationships between hospital characteristics, maternity-care practices, state level factors, and breastfeeding initiation and continuation rates.

    Participation in the survey is voluntary, and participants may submit responses through a Web-based system.

    There are no costs to respondents other than their time.

    Estimated Annualized Burden Hours Type of respondents Form name Number of
  • respondents
  • Number of
  • responses per respondent
  • Average
  • burden
  • per response
  • (in hours)
  • Total burden
  • (in hours)
  • Maternity Hospital Screening Call Script Part A 1,952 1 1/60 33 Maternity Hospital Screening Call Script Part B 1,672 1 4/60 111 Maternity Hospital mPINC Facility Survey 1,421 1 30/60 711 Total 855
    Leroy A. Richardson, Chief, Information Collection Review Office, Office of Scientific Integrity, Office of the Associate Director for Science, Office of the Director, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
    [FR Doc. 2017-25260 Filed 11-21-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4163-18-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [60Day-18-0914; Docket No. CDC-2017-0098] Proposed Data Collection Submitted for Public Comment and Recommendations AGENCY:

    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

    ACTION:

    Notice with comment period.

    SUMMARY:

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as part of its continuing effort to reduce public burden and maximize the utility of government information, invites the general public and other Federal agencies the opportunity to comment on a proposed and/or continuing information collection, as required by the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995. This notice invites comment on a proposed information collection project titled Workplace Violence Prevention Programs in NJ Healthcare Facilities. Through nursing home administrator interviews, CDC seeks to continue measuring compliance to the state regulations for workplace violence prevention program: Violence prevention policies, reporting systems for violent events, violence prevention committee, written violence prevention plan, violence risk assessments, post incident response and violence prevention training.

    DATES:

    CDC must receive written comments on or before January 22, 2018.

    ADDRESSES:

    You may submit comments, identified by Docket No. CDC-2017-0098 by any of the following methods:

    Federal eRulemaking Portal: Regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments.

    Mail: Leroy A. Richardson, Information Collection Review Office, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1600 Clifton Road NE., MS-D74, Atlanta, Georgia 30329.

    Instructions: All submissions received must include the agency name and Docket Number. CDC will post, without change, all relevant comments to Regulations.gov.

    Please note:

    Submit all Federal comments through the Federal eRulemaking portal (regulations.gov) or by U.S. mail to the address listed above.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    To request more information on the proposed project or to obtain a copy of the information collection plan and instruments, contact Leroy A. Richardson, Information Collection Review Office, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1600 Clifton Road NE., MS-D74, Atlanta, Georgia 30329; phone: 404-639-7570; Email: [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (PRA) (44 U.S.C. 3501-3520), Federal agencies must obtain approval from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for each collection of information they conduct or sponsor. In addition, the PRA also requires Federal agencies to provide a 60-day notice in the Federal Register concerning each proposed collection of information, including each new proposed collection, each proposed extension of existing collection of information, and each reinstatement of previously approved information collection before submitting the collection to the OMB for approval. To comply with this requirement, we are publishing this notice of a proposed data collection as described below.

    The OMB is particularly interested in comments that will help:

    1. Evaluate whether the proposed collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the agency, including whether the information will have practical utility;

    2. Evaluate the accuracy of the agency's estimate of the burden of the proposed collection of information, including the validity of the methodology and assumptions used;

    3. Enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and

    4. Minimize the burden of the collection of information on those who are to respond, including through the use of appropriate automated, electronic, mechanical, or other technological collection techniques or other forms of information technology, e.g., permitting electronic submissions of responses.

    5. Assess information collection costs.

    Proposed Project

    Workplace Violence Prevention Programs in NJ Healthcare Facilities (OMB Control Number 0920-0914, Expiration 3/31/2018)—Extension—National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

    Background and Brief Description

    The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) seeks to request an extension of it already approved information collection project to complete 20 nursing home interviews.

    Healthcare workers are nearly five times more likely to become victims of violence than workers from all other industries combined. While healthcare workers are not at particularly high risk for job-related homicide, nearly 60% of all nonfatal assaults occurring in private industry are experienced in healthcare. Six states have enacted laws to reduce violence against healthcare workers by requiring workplace violence prevention programs. However, little is understood about how effective these laws are in reducing violence against healthcare workers.

    The long-term goal of the proposed project is to reduce violence against healthcare workers. The objective of the proposed study is: (1) To examine nursing home compliance with the New Jersey Violence Prevention in Health Care Facilities Act, and (2) to evaluate the effectiveness of the regulations in this Act in reducing assault injuries to nursing home workers. Our central hypothesis is that nursing homes with high compliance with the regulations will have lower rates of employee violence-related injury.

    Previously under this OMB Control number, NIOSH received OMB approval to evaluate the legislation at 50 hospitals and at 40 nursing homes, to conduct a nurse survey, and to conduct a home healthcare aide survey (HHCAS). NIOSH completed the data collection activities for the hospitals, the nurse survey, and the HHCAS. However, NIOSH only completed 20 out of 40 nursing home interviews.

    NIOSH seeks to conduct face-to-face interviews with the Chairs of the Violence Prevention Committees in 20 nursing homes (10 in New Jersey and 10 in Virginia) who are in charge of overseeing compliance efforts. The purpose of the interviews is to measure compliance to the state regulations: Violence prevention policies, reporting systems for violent events, violence prevention committee, written violence prevention plan, violence risk assessments, post incident response and violence prevention training. A contractor will conduct the interviews.

    There are no costs to respondents other than their time. The total estimated burden hours are 40.

    Estimated Annualized Burden Hours Type of respondents Form name Number of
  • respondents
  • Number of
  • responses per
  • respondent
  • Average
  • burden
  • per response
  • (in hours)
  • Total burden
  • (in hours)
  • Nursing Home Administrators Interview 20 1 1 20 Nursing Home Administrators Abstraction form 20 1 1 20 Total 40
    Leroy A. Richardson, Chief, Information Collection Review Office, Office of Scientific Integrity, Office of the Associate Director for Science, Office of the Director, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
    [FR Doc. 2017-25261 Filed 11-21-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4163-18-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services [Document Identifiers: CMS-10123 and CMS-10124] Agency Information Collection Activities: Submission for OMB Review; Comment Request AGENCY:

    Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Department of Health and Human Services.

    ACTION:

    Notice.

    SUMMARY:

    The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is announcing an opportunity for the public to comment on CMS' intention to collect information from the public. Under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (PRA), federal agencies are required to publish notice in the Federal Register concerning each proposed collection of information, including each proposed extension or reinstatement of an existing collection of information, and to allow a second opportunity for public comment on the notice. Interested persons are invited to send comments regarding the burden estimate or any other aspect of this collection of information, including the necessity and utility of the proposed information collection for the proper performance of the agency's functions, the accuracy of the estimated burden, ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and the use of automated collection techniques or other forms of information technology to minimize the information collection burden.

    DATES:

    Comments on the collection(s) of information must be received by the OMB desk officer by December 22, 2017.

    ADDRESSES:

    When commenting on the proposed information collections, please reference the document identifier or OMB control number. To be assured consideration, comments and recommendations must be received by the OMB desk officer via one of the following transmissions: OMB, Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, Attention: CMS Desk Officer, Fax Number: (202) 395-5806 OR Email: [email protected]

    To obtain copies of a supporting statement and any related forms for the proposed collection(s) summarized in this notice, you may make your request using one of following:

    1. Access CMS' Web site address at Web site address at https://www.cms.gov/Regulations-and-Guidance/Legislation/PaperworkReductionActof1995/PRA-Listing.html.

    2. Email your request, including your address, phone number, OMB number, and CMS document identifier, to [email protected]

    3. Call the Reports Clearance Office at (410) 786-1326.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    William Parham at (410) 786-4669.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (PRA) (44 U.S.C. 3501-3520), federal agencies must obtain approval from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for each collection of information they conduct or sponsor. The term “collection of information” is defined in 44 U.S.C. 3502(3) and 5 CFR 1320.3(c) and includes agency requests or requirements that members of the public submit reports, keep records, or provide information to a third party. Section 3506(c)(2)(A) of the PRA (44 U.S.C. 3506(c)(2)(A)) requires federal agencies to publish a 30-day notice in the Federal Register concerning each proposed collection of information, including each proposed extension or reinstatement of an existing collection of information, before submitting the collection to OMB for approval. To comply with this requirement, CMS is publishing this notice that summarizes the following proposed collection(s) of information for public comment:

    1. Type of Information Collection Request: Extension of a currently approved collection; Title of Information Collection: Fast Track Appeals Notices: NOMNC/DENC; Use: Providers shall deliver a Notice of Medicare (Provider) Non-Coverage (NOMNC) to beneficiaries, enrollees, or both beneficiaries and enrollees no later than two days prior to the end of Medicare-covered services in skilled nursing facilities, home health agencies, comprehensive outpatient rehabilitation facilities, and hospices. Beneficiaries, enrollees or both beneficiaries and enrollees will use this information to determine whether they want to appeal the service termination to their Quality Improvement Organization (QIO). If the beneficiaries, enrollees or both beneficiaries decide to appeal, the Medicare provider or health plan will send the QIO and appellant a Detailed Explanation of Non-Coverage (DENC) detailing the rationale for the termination decision. Form Number: CMS-10123 and CMS-10124 (OMB control number: 0938-0953); Frequency: Occasionally; Affected Public: Private sector—Business or other for-profits and Not-for-profit institutions; Number of Respondents: 28,177; Total Annual Responses: 6,017,832; Total Annual Hours: 1,111,196. (For policy questions regarding this collection contact Janet Miller at 404-562-1799.)

    Dated: November 17, 2017. William N. Parham, III, Director, Paperwork Reduction Staff, Office of Strategic Operations and Regulatory Affairs.
    [FR Doc. 2017-25313 Filed 11-21-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4120-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES Food and Drug Administration [Docket No. FDA-2013-N-0227] Tobacco Product Manufacturing Practice; Request for Comments AGENCY:

    Food and Drug Administration, HHS.

    ACTION:

    Notice; request for comments.

    SUMMARY:

    The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is requesting public input on updated recommendations for regulations on good manufacturing practice for electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) that were submitted to FDA by a group of 13 tobacco companies (tobacco companies' ENDS recommendations). FDA is providing an opportunity for interested parties to comment on the tobacco companies' ENDS recommendations.

    DATES:

    Submit electronic or written comments on the tobacco companies' ENDS recommendations by December 22, 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 December 22, 2017. The https://www.regulations.gov electronic filing system will accept comments until midnight Eastern Time at the end of December 22, 2017. Comments received by mail/hand delivery/courier (for written/paper submissions) will be considered timely 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-2013-N-0227 for “Tobacco Product Manufacturing Practice; Establishment of a Public Docket.” 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:

    Matthew Brenner, Center for Tobacco Products, Food and Drug Administration, 10903 New Hampshire Ave., Document Control Center, Bldg. 71, Rm. G335, Silver Spring, MD 20993-0002, email: [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    I. Background

    On June 22, 2009, the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act (Pub. L. 111-31) (Tobacco Control Act) was signed into law, amending the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act) and giving FDA authority to regulate tobacco product manufacturing, distribution, and marketing. The new provisions include, among other things, the authority to issue regulations related to tobacco product manufacturing practice in order to protect the public health and to assure that tobacco products are in compliance with the FD&C Act. Specifically, section 906(e) of the FD&C Act (21 U.S.C. 387f(e)) provides that in applying manufacturing restrictions to tobacco, the Secretary shall prescribe regulations (which may differ based on the type of tobacco product involved) requiring that the methods used in, and the facilities and controls used for, the manufacture, preproduction design validation (including a process to assess the performance of a tobacco product), packing, and storage of a tobacco product conform to current good manufacturing practice, or hazard analysis and critical control point methodology.

    On May 10, 2016, FDA published a final rule entitled “Deeming Tobacco Products to be Subject to the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, as Amended by the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act; Restrictions on the Sale and Distribution of Tobacco Products and Required Warning Statements for Tobacco Products” (81 FR 28974) (the deeming rule) that became effective on August 8, 2016. Under the deeming rule, newly deemed tobacco products, including ENDS, are now subject to the provisions of the Tobacco Control Act that apply automatically to all products that meet the statutory definition of a tobacco product in section 201(rr) of the FD&C Act (21 U.S.C. 321(r)).

    On January 10, 2012, industry stakeholders submitted recommendations for good manufacturing practice requirements (and a draft preamble) for tobacco products that were immediately subject to FDA's jurisdiction when the Tobacco Control Act went into effect. This January 10, 2012, letter was posted to this Docket No. FDA-2013-N-0227 on March 12, 2013, as part of a request for comments on the recommendations contained in the letter. On June 7, 2017, a group of 13 tobacco companies submitted to FDA: (1) Recommendations for good manufacturing practice requirements for ENDS and (2) an attachment letter with a meeting request (Ref. 1). The tobacco companies' ENDS recommendations are intended to supplement an earlier letter dated January 10, 2012. According to the June 7, 2017, letter, the tobacco companies' ENDS recommendations seek to account for the differences in manufacturing ENDS.

    FDA is providing an opportunity for all interested parties to comment only on the tobacco companies' ENDS recommendations submitted on June 7, 2017.

    II. References

    The following reference has been placed on display in the Dockets Management Staff (see ADDRESSES) and may be seen by interested persons between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., Monday through Friday and is available electronically at https://www.regulations.gov.

    1. Proposed Good Manufacturing Practices Regulation to Account for FDA's Deeming Regulation and Request for Meeting, submitted to FDA, June 7, 2017. Dated: November 16, 2017. Leslie Kux, Associate Commissioner for Policy.
    [FR Doc. 2017-25245 Filed 11-21-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4164-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES Food and Drug Administration [Docket No. FDA-2017-N-6330] Bone, Reproductive and Urologic Drugs Advisory Committee; Notice of Meeting; Establishment of a Public Docket; Request for Comments AGENCY:

    Food and Drug Administration, HHS.

    ACTION:

    Notice; establishment of a public docket; request for comments.

    SUMMARY:

    The Food and Drug Administration (FDA or Agency) announces a forthcoming public advisory committee meeting of the Bone, Reproductive and Urologic Drugs Advisory Committee. The general function of the committee is to provide advice and recommendations to the Agency on FDA's regulatory issues. The meeting will be open to the public. FDA is establishing a docket for public comment on this document.

    DATES:

    The public meeting will be held on January 9, 2018, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

    ADDRESSES:

    College Park Marriott Hotel and Conference Center, Chesapeake Ballroom, 3501 University Blvd. East, Hyattsville, MD 20783. The conference center's telephone number is 301-985-7300. Answers to commonly asked questions about FDA Advisory Committee meetings may be accessed at: https://www.fda.gov/AdvisoryCommittees/AboutAdvisoryCommittees/ucm408555.htm.

    FDA is establishing a docket for public comment on this meeting. The docket number is FDA-2017-N-6330. The docket will close on January 8, 2018. Submit either electronic or written comments on this public meeting by January 8, 2018. Please note that late, untimely filed comments will not be considered. Electronic comments must be submitted on or before January 8, 2018. The https://www.regulations.gov electronic filing system will accept comments until midnight Eastern Time at the end of January 8, 2018. 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.

    Comments received on or before December 22, 2017, will be provided to the committee. Comments received after that date will be taken into consideration by the Agency.

    You may submit comments 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-N-6330 for “Bone, Reproductive and Urologic Drugs Advisory Committee; Notice of Meeting; Establishment of a Public Docket; Request for Comments.” 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 Division of Dockets Management 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:

    Kalyani Bhatt, Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, Food and Drug Administration, 10903 New Hampshire Ave., Bldg. 31, Rm. 2417, Silver Spring, MD 20993-0002, 301-796-9001, Fax: 301-847-8533, email: [email protected], or FDA Advisory Committee Information Line, 1-800-741-8138 (301-443-0572 in the Washington, DC area). A notice in the Federal Register about last minute modifications that impact a previously announced advisory committee meeting cannot always be published quickly enough to provide timely notice. Therefore, you should always check the Agency's Web site at https://www.fda.gov/AdvisoryCommittees/default.htm and scroll down to the appropriate advisory committee meeting link, or call the advisory committee information line to learn about possible modifications before coming to the meeting.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Agenda: The committee will discuss new drug application (NDA) 206089, oral testosterone undecanoate capsules, submitted by Clarus Therapeutics, for the proposed indication of testosterone replacement in males for conditions associated with a deficiency or absence of endogenous testosterone: Primary hypogonadism (congenital or acquired) and hypogonadotropic hypogonadism (congenital or acquired).

    FDA intends to make background material available to the public no later than 2 business days before the meeting. If FDA is unable to post the background material on its Web site prior to the meeting, the background material will be made publicly available at the location of the advisory committee meeting, and the background material will be posted on FDA's Web site after the meeting. Background material is available at https://www.fda.gov/AdvisoryCommittees/Calendar/default.htm. Scroll down to the appropriate advisory committee meeting link.

    Procedure: Interested persons may present data, information, or views, orally or in writing, on issues pending before the committee. All electronic and written submissions submitted to the Docket (see the ADDRESSES section) on or before December 22, 2017, will be provided to the committee. Oral presentations from the public will be scheduled between approximately 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. Those individuals interested in making formal oral presentations should notify the contact person and submit a brief statement of the general nature of the evidence or arguments they wish to present, the names and addresses of proposed participants, and an indication of the approximate time requested to make their presentation on or before December 14, 2017. Time allotted for each presentation may be limited. If the number of registrants requesting to speak is greater than can be reasonably accommodated during the scheduled open public hearing session, FDA may conduct a lottery to determine the speakers for the scheduled open public hearing session. The contact person will notify interested persons regarding their request to speak by December 15, 2017.

    Persons attending FDA's advisory committee meetings are advised that the Agency is not responsible for providing access to electrical outlets.

    For press inquiries, please contact the Office of Media Affairs at [email protected] or 301-796-4540.

    FDA welcomes the attendance of the public at its advisory committee meetings and will make every effort to accommodate persons with disabilities. If you require accommodations due to a disability, please contact Kalyani Bhatt at least 7 days in advance of the meeting.

    FDA is committed to the orderly conduct of its advisory committee meetings. Please visit our Web site at https://www.fda.gov/AdvisoryCommittees/AboutAdvisoryCommittees/ucm111462.htm for procedures on public conduct during advisory committee meetings.

    Notice of this meeting is given under the Federal Advisory Committee Act (5 U.S.C. app. 2).

    Dated: November 17, 2017. Leslie Kux, Associate Commissioner for Policy.
    [FR Doc. 2017-25295 Filed 11-21-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4164-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES Food and Drug Administration [Docket No. FDA-2017-D-3001] Modified Risk Tobacco Product Applications: Applications for IQOS System With Marlboro Heatsticks, IQOS System With Marlboro Smooth Menthol Heatsticks, and IQOS System With Marlboro Fresh Menthol Heatsticks Submitted by Philip Morris Products S.A.; Extension of Comment Period AGENCY:

    Food and Drug Administration, HHS.

    ACTION:

    Notice; extension of comment period.

    SUMMARY:

    The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is extending the period for public comment on modified risk tobacco product applications (MRTPAs) submitted by Philip Morris Products S.A. for its IQOS system with Marlboro Heatsticks, IQOS system with Marlboro Smooth Menthol Heatsticks, and IQOS system with Marlboro Fresh Menthol Heatsticks.

    DATES:

    FDA is extending the comment period on the MRTPAs made available for public comment through the notice of availability that appeared in the Federal Register of June 15, 2017 (82 FR 27487).

    ADDRESSES:

    You may submit comments 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-3001 for “Modified Risk Tobacco Product Applications: Applications for IQOS system with Marlboro Heatsticks, IQOS system with Marlboro Smooth Menthol Heatsticks, and IQOS system with Marlboro Fresh Menthol Heatsticks submitted by Philip Morris Products S.A.” 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. Please note that FDA intends to establish a date on which the comment period will close by publishing a notice in the Federal Register (see SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION).

    • 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:

    Paul Hart, Center for Tobacco Products, Food and Drug Administration, Document Control Center, 10903 New Hampshire Ave., Bldg. 71, Rm. G335, Silver Spring, MD 20993, 1-877-CTP-1373, [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: I. Background

    In the Federal Register of June 15, 2017 (82 FR 27487), FDA published a notice of availability of the first batch of documents from modified risk tobacco product applications (MRTPAs) submitted by Philip Morris Products S.A. and gave the public 180 days to comment on the applications. In that notice, FDA announced that it would post the remaining MRTPA documents on a rolling basis as they were redacted in accordance with applicable laws and that it would extend the comment period if fewer than 30 days remained when the last batch of application documents was posted. In this notice, FDA is extending the period for public comment. Once all documents from the MRTPAs, including amendments, are posted, FDA intends to issue a notice in the Federal Register announcing when the comment period will close, which will be no earlier than 30 days from the date the last batch of application documents is posted. As stated in the Federal Register notice of June 15, 2017, FDA believes that this comment period is appropriate given the volume and complexity of the applications being posted.

    FDA is required by section 911(e) of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (the FD&C Act) (21 U.S.C. 387k(e)) to make an MRTPA available to the public (except for matters in the application that are trade secrets or otherwise confidential commercial information) and to request comments by interested persons on the information contained in the application and on the label, labeling, and advertising accompanying the application. The determination of whether an order is appropriate under section 911(g) of the FD&C Act is based on the scientific information submitted by the applicant as well as the scientific evidence and other information that is made available to the Agency, including through public comments.

    II. Electronic Access

    Persons with access to the Internet may access the application documents at: http://www.fda.gov/TobaccoProducts/Labeling/MarketingandAdvertising/ucm546281.htm.

    Dated: November 16, 2017. Leslie Kux, Associate Commissioner for Policy.
    [FR Doc. 2017-25224 Filed 11-21-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4164-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES Food and Drug Administration [Docket No. FDA-2016-D-0785] General Principles for Evaluating the Abuse Deterrence of Generic Solid Oral Opioid Drug Products; Guidance 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 a guidance for industry entitled “General Principles for Evaluating the Abuse Deterrence of Generic Solid Oral Opioid Drug Products.” This guidance is intended to assist a person who plans to develop and submit an abbreviated new drug application (ANDA) to seek approval of a generic version of a solid oral opioid drug product that references an opioid drug product with abuse-deterrent properties described in its labeling. The guidance recommends studies, including comparative in vitro and pharmacokinetic (PK) studies, that a potential ANDA applicant should conduct and submit to FDA to demonstrate that a generic solid oral opioid drug product is no less abuse deterrent than its reference listed drug (RLD) with respect to all potential routes of abuse.

    DATES:

    Submit either electronic or written comments on Agency guidances at any time.

    ADDRESSES:

    You may submit comments 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-0785 for “General Principles for Evaluating the Abuse Deterrence of Generic Solid Oral Opioid Drugs; Guidance 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.

    Submit written requests for single copies of this guidance 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 guidance document.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Gail Schmerfeld, Office of Generic Drugs, Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, Food and Drug Administration, 10903 New Hampshire Ave., Silver Spring, MD 20993-0002, 301-796-9291, email: [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: I. Background

    FDA is announcing the availability of a guidance for industry entitled “General Principles for Evaluating the Abuse Deterrence of Generic Solid Oral Opioid Drug Products.” Prescription opioid analgesics are an important component of modern pain management. However, abuse and misuse of these drug products have created a serious and widespread public health problem. Addressing this public health crisis is an FDA priority. One potentially important step toward the goal of creating safer opioid analgesics has been the development of opioid drug products that are formulated to deter abuse. “Abuse-deterrent properties,” as that term is used in the guidance to which this notice applies are those properties shown to meaningfully deter abuse; abuse-deterrent properties do not fully prevent abuse or addiction. FDA considers the development of these products a high public health priority. It is important that less costly generic versions of opioids that reference listed drugs whose labeling describes abuse-deterrent properties are available to ensure access to safe and effective analgesics for patients who need them.

    If the summary in section 9.2 of the approved labeling for the RLD indicates that FDA has concluded that the RLD has properties that are expected to (or have been shown through postmarketing studies to) deter abuse, the potential ANDA applicant should evaluate its proposed generic drug to show that it is no less abuse deterrent than the RLD with respect to all of the potential routes of abuse. This will ensure the generic drug is no less abuse-deterrent than the RLD with respect to all potential routes of abuse and minimize the risk of shifting abuse to other, potentially more dangerous routes. This guidance describes FDA's current thinking on the studies that should be conducted by a potential ANDA applicant and submitted to FDA in an ANDA to demonstrate that a generic solid oral opioid drug product is no less abuse deterrent than its RLD with respect to all potential routes of abuse. These studies are in addition to other studies that may be needed to support ANDA approval (e.g., as described in product-specific guidances).

    The final guidance, like the draft guidance, focuses on the general principles for developing and evaluating the abuse deterrence of generic solid oral opioid drug products formulated to incorporate physical or chemical barriers, agonist/antagonist combinations, aversive agents, or a combination of two or more of these technologies. FDA will continue to assess the state of science and, as novel technologies develop, will address them by issuing additional guidance, as appropriate.

    In the Federal Register of March 25, 2016, FDA announced the availability of the draft guidance for industry “General Principles for Evaluating the Abuse Deterrence of Generic Solid Oral Opioid Drug Products” (81 FR 16186). FDA subsequently announced in the Federal Register of October 6, 2016, and held on October 31-November 1, 2016, a public meeting to discuss scientific and technical issues relating to formulation development and premarket evaluation of opioid drug products with abuse-deterrent properties (81 FR 69532). This final guidance reflects our consideration of comments made in the dockets for the draft guidance (Docket No. FDA-2016-D-0785) and for the public meeting (Docket No. FDA-2016-N-2896) and comments made during the public meeting, and provides the Agency's current thinking with respect to the general principles for evaluating the abuse deterrence of generic solid oral opioid drug products.

    Among other changes, the final guidance eliminates the recommendation to use a control to identify discriminatory study conditions for comparing the proposed generic opioid drug product (the test (T) product) and the RLD (reference (R) product). Instead, FDA recommends that a potential ANDA applicant conduct extraction studies to assess the particular vulnerabilities of T and R products to inform the comparison of their abuse deterrence. The final guidance also provides more detailed recommendations regarding the conduct of in vivo studies, specifically comparative PK studies of manipulated T and R products to evaluate the potential for abuse by the oral and nasal routes of administration.

    Appendix 1 of the final guidance continues to describe some of the ways in which the T and R products can be physically manipulated and provides recommendations for conducting extraction studies to assess the particular vulnerabilities of the T and R products to inform the comparison of their abuse deterrence. FDA continues to recommend potential ANDA applicants follow a tier-based approach to extractability testing to efficiently compare a T product to its R product and limit the number of tests required for evaluating the abuse deterrence of the T product, but has modified some of the initial recommendations regarding solvents.

    Appendix 2 provides recommendations for evaluating abuse by ingestion. In the final guidance, FDA clarifies the circumstances under which a potential applicant should conduct a comparative oral PK study. Appendices 3, 4, and 5 provide modified recommendations for evaluating abuse by injection, insufflation, and smoking, respectively.

    The guidance addresses the general principles for evaluating abuse deterrence in generic solid oral opioid drug products. FDA may provide additional testing recommendations in future product-specific guidances. For example, FDA may recommend in a product-specific guidance that a potential ANDA applicant evaluate human abuse potential (for example, evaluate a study subject's willingness to take drug again) if R product contains a known aversive agent. Further, FDA will continue to assess the state of the science and, as novel technologies develop, will address them by issuing revised or additional guidance, as appropriate.

    Potential ANDA applicants may pose questions regarding evaluation of abuse deterrence for a generic solid oral opioid drug product through FDA's pre-ANDA program. The goals of the pre-ANDA program are to clarify regulatory expectations for prospective applicants early in the development process, assist applicants in developing more complete submissions, promote a more efficient and effective ANDA review process, and reduce the number of review cycles required to obtain ANDA approval, particularly for complex products. FDA considers abuse-deterrent opioids to be products that fall within the definition of complex product as that term has been defined in the GDUFA Reauthorization Performance Goals and Program Enhancements Fiscal Years 2018-2022, which can be found at https://www.fda.gov/downloads/ForIndustry/UserFees/GenericDrugUserFees/UCM525234.pdf. The pre-ANDA program provides for, among other things, submission of controlled correspondence and requests for formal meetings between FDA and applicants on complex generic drug development issues.

    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 “General Principles for Evaluating the Abuse Deterrence of Generic Solid Oral Opioid Drug Products.” 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.

    II. Electronic Access

    Persons with access to the internet may obtain the guidance at either https://www.fda.gov/Drugs/GuidanceComplianceRegulatoryInformation/Guidances/default.htm or https://www.regulations.gov.

    Dated: November 16, 2017. Anna K. Abram, Deputy Commissioner for Policy, Planning, Legislation, and Analysis.
    [FR Doc. 2017-25248 Filed 11-21-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4164-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES Food and Drug Administration [Docket No. FDA-2017-N-6230] Tenth Annual Sentinel Initiative; Public Workshop AGENCY:

    Food and Drug Administration, HHS.

    ACTION:

    Notice of public workshop.

    SUMMARY:

    The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is announcing a public workshop entitled “Tenth Annual Sentinel Initiative Public Workshop.” The purpose of this 2-day public workshop is to bring the stakeholder community together to discuss a variety of topics on active medical product surveillance. Attendees will leave with a deeper understanding of how to use the Sentinel System tools to address safety questions.

    DATES:

    The public workshop will be held on February 7 and 8, 2018. Day 1 of the public workshop will be held on February 7, 2018, from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Day 2 of the public workshop will be held on February 8, 2018, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. See the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section for registration date and information.

    ADDRESSES:

    The public workshop will be held at two separate locations. On Day 1 the public workshop will be held at the Hyatt Regency Bethesda, 1 Bethesda Metro Center, Bethesda, MD 20814. On Day 2 the public workshop will be held at the FDA White Oak Campus, 10903 New Hampshire Ave., Bldg. 31, Rm. 1503 (the Great Room), Silver Spring, MD 20993-0002. Entrance for the public workshop participants (non-FDA employees) is through Building 1 where routine security check procedures will be performed. For parking and security information, please refer to https://www.fda.gov/AboutFDA/WorkingatFDA/BuildingsandFacilities/WhiteOakCampusInformation/ucm241740.htm.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Lieutenant Commander Jamila Mwidau, Food and Drug Administration, Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, 10903 New Hampshire Ave., Bldg. 22, Rm. 4481, Silver Spring, MD 20993; 301-796-4989, [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    I. Background

    The purpose of this 2-day public workshop is to bring the stakeholder community together to discuss a variety of topics on active medical product surveillance. Day 1 will be convened by the Duke-Margolis Center for Health Policy at Duke University with support by a cooperative agreement with FDA. Key discussion topics will include an update on the state of FDA's Sentinel Initiative, key safety surveillance activities, and emerging uses of the Sentinel System. In addition, panelists, representing diverse stakeholder perspectives, will provide comments on Sentinel and opportunities to expand its analytic capabilities. This workshop will also provide an opportunity for stakeholder engagement and input on Sentinel's continued modernization.

    Day 2 will be a public workshop sponsored by FDA targeting researchers who are experienced in using claims data and will build upon prior public training conducted by FDA on July 10, 2017 (82 FR 19063, April 25, 2017). This second day of the workshop will address more advanced training topics, including Sentinel's inferential analytic capabilities and methods of identifying unexpected safety concerns. Attendees will leave with a deeper understanding of how to use the Sentinel System tools to address safety questions. Attendees are encouraged to review the material FDA presented on July 10, 2017, by visiting the Web site: https://www.sentinelinitiative.org/communications/sentinel-initiative-events/public-sentinel-training-fda.

    II. Part