Federal Register Vol. 82, No.235,

Federal Register Volume 82, Issue 235 (December 8, 2017)

Page Range57819-58096
FR Document

82_FR_235
Current View
Page and SubjectPDF
82 FR 58089 - Modifying the Grand Staircase-Escalante National MonumentPDF
82 FR 58081 - Modifying the Bears Ears National MonumentPDF
82 FR 57874 - Voluntary Consensus Standards Update; Formaldehyde Emission Standards for Composite Wood Products; Withdrawal of Direct Final RulePDF
82 FR 57975 - Cross-Media Electronic Reporting: Authorized Program Revision Approval, State of West VirginiaPDF
82 FR 58007 - Prospective Grant of Exclusive Patent License: N-Acetyl Mannosamine as a Therapeutic AgentPDF
82 FR 57981 - Public Water System Supervision Program Revision for the State of HawaiiPDF
82 FR 57976 - Thirty-Second Update of the Federal Agency Hazardous Waste Compliance DocketPDF
82 FR 58014 - Endangered Species; Issuance of Recovery Permits and Interstate Commerce Permits January 2, 2017, through June 30, 2017PDF
82 FR 58011 - Agency Information Collection Activities: Extension, With Changes, of an Existing Information Collection; Comment RequestPDF
82 FR 57973 - Proposed Information Collection Request; Comment Request; Recordkeeping and Reporting for the Renewable Fuel Standard ProgramPDF
82 FR 57975 - Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposed Collection; Comment Request; EPA's Light-Duty In-Use Vehicle Testing Program (Renewal); EPA ICR No. 0222.11, OMB Control No. 2060-0086.PDF
82 FR 58011 - 30-Day Notice of Proposed Information Collection: Requirements for Single Family Mortgage InstrumentsPDF
82 FR 58013 - 30-Day Notice of Proposed Information Collection: Evaluation of the HUD-DOJ Pay for Success Re-Entry Permanent Supportive Housing DemonstrationPDF
82 FR 57984 - Agency Information Collection Activities: Submission for OMB Review; Comment RequestPDF
82 FR 57830 - Extra-Schedular Evaluations for Individual DisabilitiesPDF
82 FR 58012 - 30-Day Notice of Proposed Information Collection: Family Self-Sufficiency Program DemonstrationPDF
82 FR 57971 - Pesticide Emergency Exemptions; Agency Decisions and State and Federal Agency Crisis DeclarationsPDF
82 FR 57970 - Certain New Chemicals or Significant New Uses; Statements of Findings for August and September 2017PDF
82 FR 57867 - Sedaxane; Pesticide TolerancesPDF
82 FR 57872 - Bacillus subtilis Strain BU1814; Exemption From the Requirement of a TolerancePDF
82 FR 57860 - Indoxacarb; Pesticide TolerancesPDF
82 FR 58045 - BNSF Railway Company-Abandonment Exemption-in Benton County, Minn.PDF
82 FR 57962 - Submission for OMB Review; Comment RequestPDF
82 FR 58028 - Southern Nuclear Operating Company, Inc., Vogtle Electric Generating Plant, Units 3 and 4; Clarification of Protection and Safety Monitoring System (PMS) Interdivisional Cables in Auxiliary Building Fire AreasPDF
82 FR 58030 - Information Collection: U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Acquisition Regulation (NRCAR)PDF
82 FR 58076 - Enforcement Policy Statement Regarding the Applicability of the COPPA Rule to the Collection and Use of Voice RecordingsPDF
82 FR 57819 - List of Approved Spent Fuel Storage Casks: TN Americas LLC, Standardized NUHOMS® Horizontal Modular Storage System, Certificate of Compliance No. 1004, Renewal of Initial Certificate and Amendment Nos. 1 Through 11 and 13, Revision 1, and 14PDF
82 FR 58027 - Bulk Manufacturer of Controlled Substances Application: Janssen Pharmaceutical, Inc.PDF
82 FR 57821 - Civil Monetary Penalty Adjustments for InflationPDF
82 FR 58008 - Revenue Modernization: Mobile Collections & Receipt (MCR) PilotPDF
82 FR 57956 - Procurement List; DeletionsPDF
82 FR 57959 - Procurement List; Proposed DeletionsPDF
82 FR 57959 - Submission for OMB Review; Comment RequestPDF
82 FR 57969 - Rugraw, LLC; Notice of Availability of the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Lassen Lodge Hydroelectric Project and Intention To Hold Public MeetingsPDF
82 FR 57968 - Combined Notice of FilingsPDF
82 FR 57968 - Combined Notice of Filings #1PDF
82 FR 58024 - National Register of Historic Places; Notification of Pending Nominations and Related ActionsPDF
82 FR 58006 - Submission for OMB Review; 30-Day Comment Request; A Generic Submission for Formative Research, Pre-testing, Stakeholder Measures and Advocate Forms at NCI (National Cancer Institute)PDF
82 FR 57948 - Agency Information Collection Activities; Comment Request; Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Pre-Screening ToolPDF
82 FR 57954 - Endangered Species; File Nos. 21198 and 21434PDF
82 FR 57885 - Atlantic Highly Migratory Species; Atlantic Bluefin Tuna FisheriesPDF
82 FR 57966 - Arms Sales NotificationPDF
82 FR 57974 - Environmental Impact Statements; Notice of AvailabilityPDF
82 FR 57952 - Biodiesel From Argentina and Indonesia: Postponement of Final Determinations of Sales in Less Than Fair Value Investigations and Extension of Provisional MeasuresPDF
82 FR 57951 - Aluminum Extrusions From the People's Republic of China: Final Results of Countervailing Duty Administrative Review; 2015PDF
82 FR 57949 - Monosodium Glutamate From the People's Republic of China: Final Results of Antidumping Duty Administrative Review; 2015-2016PDF
82 FR 58045 - Pipeline Safety: Underground Natural Gas Storage Facility User FeePDF
82 FR 58047 - Pipeline Safety: Random Drug Testing Rate; Contractor Management Information System Reporting; and Obtaining Drug and Alcohol Management Information System Sign-In InformationPDF
82 FR 57905 - CLASS Condition of the Head Start Designation Renewal SystemPDF
82 FR 58010 - Delay of Transition of the Generating, Transmitting and Updating of Daily and Monthly Statements from the Automated Commercial System to the Automated Commercial EnvironmentPDF
82 FR 57906 - Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands; 2018 and 2019 Harvest Specifications for GroundfishPDF
82 FR 57828 - Safety Zone; Ohio River, Ironton, OHPDF
82 FR 57982 - Regular Meeting; Farm Credit System Insurance Corporation BoardPDF
82 FR 57924 - Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Gulf of Alaska; 2018 and 2019 Harvest Specifications for GroundfishPDF
82 FR 57986 - Agency Recordkeeping/Reporting Requirements Under Emergency Review by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB); Comment RequestPDF
82 FR 57949 - Submission for OMB Review; Comment RequestPDF
82 FR 57996 - Report on the Performance of Drug and Biologics Firms in Conducting Postmarketing Requirements and Commitments; AvailabilityPDF
82 FR 57993 - Registration and Product Listing for Owners and Operators of Domestic Tobacco Product Establishments; Guidance for Industry; AvailabilityPDF
82 FR 57955 - Submission for OMB Review; Comment RequestPDF
82 FR 57953 - Submission for OMB Review; Comment RequestPDF
82 FR 57954 - Proposed Information Collection; Comment Request; Economic Impacts of Diving and Snorkeling Expenditures in HawaiiPDF
82 FR 57886 - Regulation A: Extensions of Credit by Federal Reserve BanksPDF
82 FR 57947 - Information Collection Request; Emergency Conservation Program (ECP) and Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP)PDF
82 FR 57825 - Drawbridge Operation Regulation; Middle River, Between Bacon Island and Lower Jones Tract, CAPDF
82 FR 57826 - Safety Zone; Sector Key West COTP Zone Post Storm Recovery, Atlantic Ocean, FLPDF
82 FR 58032 - Self-Regulatory Organizations; New York Stock Exchange LLC; Notice of Filing of Amendment No. 1 and Order Granting Accelerated Approval of Proposed Rule Change, as Modified by Amendment No. 1 Thereto, To Amend Section 202.06 of the NYSE Listed Company Manual To Prohibit Listed Companies From Issuing Material News After the Official Closing Time for the Exchange's Trading Session Until the Earlier of Publication of Such Company's Official Closing Price on the Exchange or Five Minutes After the Official Closing TimePDF
82 FR 58047 - Agency Information Collection Activities; Submission for OMB Review; Comment Request; Survey of U.S. Ownership of Foreign SecuritiesPDF
82 FR 57988 - Fostering Digital Health Innovation: Developing the Software Precertification Program; Public Workshop; Request for CommentsPDF
82 FR 58025 - Common Alloy Aluminum Sheet From China; Institution of Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Investigations and Scheduling of Preliminary Phase InvestigationsPDF
82 FR 57963 - Arms Sales NotificationPDF
82 FR 58005 - Request for Information on the Office of Disease Prevention Strategic Plan for Fiscal Years (FY) 2019-2023PDF
82 FR 57960 - Arms Sales NotificationPDF
82 FR 58026 - Large Residential WashersPDF
82 FR 58036 - Self-Regulatory Organizations; NYSE American LLC; Notice of Filing and Immediate Effectiveness of Proposed Rule Change To Amend Exchange Rules To Delete Obsolete Cash Equities Rules That Are Not Applicable to Trading on the Pillar Trading Platform and To Delete Other Obsolete RulesPDF
82 FR 58034 - Self-Regulatory Organizations; ICE Clear Credit LLC; Notice of Filing and Immediate Effectiveness of Proposed Rule Change to the ICC Stress Testing Framework and the ICC Liquidity Risk Management FrameworkPDF
82 FR 58042 - Self-Regulatory Organizations; Nasdaq BX, Inc.; Notice of Filing and Immediate Effectiveness of Proposed Rule Change To Amend Rule 4759PDF
82 FR 58039 - Self-Regulatory Organizations; Investors Exchange LLC; Notice of Filing and Immediate Effectiveness of Proposed Rule Change To Amend Rules 14.501(a)(4), 14.501(d), and 14.502(b) To Modify the Process IEX Would Follow When a Company Fails To Hold an Annual Meeting of Shareholders, and To Correct Three Nonsubstantive Typographical Errors in Rules 14.502(b) and 14.504(b)PDF
82 FR 58022 - Agency Information Collection Activities; Submission to the Office of Management and Budget for Review and Approval; Depredation OrdersPDF
82 FR 57889 - Public Workshop Examining Contact Lens Marketplace and Analyzing Proposed Changes to the Contact Lens RulePDF
82 FR 57982 - Cowboy AG LLC; Analysis To Aid Public CommentPDF
82 FR 57991 - Changes to Existing Medical Software Policies Resulting From Section 3060 of the 21st Century Cures Act; Draft Guidance for Industry and Food and Drug Administration Staff; AvailabilityPDF
82 FR 57994 - Software as a Medical Device: Clinical Evaluation; International Medical Device Regulators Forum; Guidance for Industry and Food and Drug Administration Staff; AvailabilityPDF
82 FR 58003 - Oncology Center of Excellence Listening Session; Public Meeting; Request for CommentsPDF
82 FR 57987 - Clinical and Patient Decision Support Software; Draft Guidance for Industry and Food and Drug Administration Staff; AvailabilityPDF
82 FR 57875 - Freedom of Information Act ProgramPDF
82 FR 57990 - Prescription Drug User Fee Act VI Commitment To Assess Current Practices of the Food and Drug Administration and Sponsors in Communicating During Investigational New Drug Development; Establishment of a Public Docket; Request for CommentsPDF
82 FR 58004 - Abbreviated New Drug Applications for Certain Highly Purified Synthetic Peptide Drug Products That Refer to Listed Drugs of Recombinant Deoxyribonucleic Acid Origin; Draft Guidance for Industry; Availability; Extension of Comment PeriodPDF
82 FR 57955 - Endangered and Threatened Species; Initiation of a 5-Year Review for the Endangered Western Distinct Population Segment of Steller Sea LionPDF
82 FR 58030 - CBOE Vest Financial, LLC, et al.; Notice of ApplicationPDF
82 FR 57825 - Military CommissionsPDF
82 FR 57888 - Proposed Amendment of Class E Airspace; Massena, NYPDF
82 FR 57892 - Air Plan Approval; Illinois; Redesignation of the Illinois Portion of the St. Louis-St. Charles-Farmington, Missouri-Illinois Area to Attainment of the 2008 Ozone StandardPDF
82 FR 57853 - Air Plan Approval; Illinois; Redesignation of the Chicago and Granite City Areas to Attainment of the 2008 Lead Standard; Withdrawal of Direct Final RulePDF
82 FR 57854 - Air Plan Approval; Ohio; Redesignation of the Fulton County Area to Attainment of the 2008 Lead Standard; Withdrawal of Direct Final RulePDF
82 FR 57848 - Approval and Promulgation of Air Quality Implementation Plans; Minnesota; Regional Haze Progress Report; Withdrawal of Direct Final RulePDF
82 FR 57836 - Air Plan Approval; Illinois; Regional Haze Progress Report; Withdrawal of Direct Final RulePDF
82 FR 57835 - Air Plan Approval; Michigan; Regional Haze Progress Report; Withdrawal of Direct Final RulePDF
82 FR 57836 - Air Plan Approval; Wisconsin; Regional Haze Progress Report; Withdrawal of Direct Final RulePDF
82 FR 57848 - Approval of Missouri Air Quality Implementation Plans; Infrastructure SIP Requirements for the 2012 Annual Fine Particulate Matter (PM2.5PDF
82 FR 57848 - Approval of Missouri Air Quality Implementation Plans; Infrastructure SIP Requirements for the 2010 Nitrogen Dioxide National Ambient Air Quality Standard; Withdrawal of Direct Final RulePDF
82 FR 57835 - Approval and Promulgation of Air Quality Implementation Plans; District of Columbia; Interstate Transport Requirements for the 2010 1-Hour Sulfur Dioxide Standard; Withdrawal of Direct Final RulePDF
82 FR 58050 - Waste Prevention, Production Subject to Royalties, and Resource Conservation; Delay and Suspension of Certain RequirementsPDF
82 FR 57849 - Approval and Promulgation of Air Quality Implementation Plans; Delaware; Reasonably Available Control Technology (RACT) State Implementation Plan (SIP) Under the 2008 Ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS)PDF
82 FR 58028 - Publication Procedures for Federal Register Documents During a Funding HiatusPDF
82 FR 57836 - Air Plan Approval; AK: Updates to Materials Incorporated by ReferencePDF
82 FR 57854 - Ziram; Pesticide TolerancesPDF
82 FR 57876 - Elimination of Main Studio RulePDF

Issue

82 235 Friday, December 8, 2017 Contents Agriculture Agriculture Department See

Farm Service Agency

See

Food and Nutrition Service

Centers Medicare Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals, 57984-57986 2017-26524 Chemical Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board RULES Freedom of Information Act Program, 57875-57876 2017-26438 Children Children and Families Administration PROPOSED RULES CLASS Condition of the Head Start Designation Renewal System, 57905-57906 2017-26483 NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: Child Care and Development Fund Plan for States/Territories for FFY 2019-2021, 57986 2017-26472 Coast Guard Coast Guard RULES Drawbridge Operations: Middle River, between Bacon Island and Lower Jones Tract, CA, 57825 2017-26463 Safety Zones: Ohio River, Ironton, OH, 57828-57830 2017-26476 Sector Key West COTP Zone Post Storm Recovery, Atlantic Ocean, FL, 57826-57828 2017-26462 Commerce Commerce Department See

International Trade Administration

See

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals, 57949 2017-26471
Committee for Purchase Committee for Purchase From People Who Are Blind or Severely Disabled NOTICES Procurement List; Additions and Deletions, 57956-57959 2017-26504 2017-26503 Defense Acquisition Defense Acquisition Regulations System NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals, 57959-57960 2017-26500 Defense Department Defense Department See

Defense Acquisition Regulations System

RULES Military Commissions, 57825 2017-26433 NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals, 57962-57963 2017-26513 Arms Sales, 57960-57968 2017-26452 2017-26454 2017-26491
Drug Drug Enforcement Administration NOTICES Manufacturers of Controlled Substances; Applications: Janssen Pharmaceutical, Inc., 58027 2017-26507 Energy Department Energy Department See

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission

Environmental Protection Environmental Protection Agency RULES Air Quality State Implementation Plans; Approvals and Promulgations: AK; Updates to Materials Incorporated by Reference, 57836-57848 2017-26082 Delaware; Reasonably Available Control Technology State Implementation Plan Under the 2008 Ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standard, 57849-57853 2017-26301 District of Columbia; Interstate Transport Requirements for the 2010 1-Hour Sulfur Dioxide Standard; Withdrawal of Direct Final Rule, 57835-57836 2017-26404 Illinois; Redesignation of the Chicago and Granite City Areas to Attainment of the 2008 Lead Standard; Withdrawal of Direct Final Rule, 57853 2017-26417 Illinois; Regional Haze Progress Report; Withdrawal of Direct Final Rule, 57836 2017-26411 Michigan; Regional Haze Progress Report; Withdrawal of Direct Final Rule, 57835 2017-26409 Minnesota; Regional Haze Progress Report; Withdrawal of Direct Final Rule, 57848 2017-26413 Missouri Air Quality Implementation Plans; Infrastructure SIP Requirements for the 2010 Nitrogen Dioxide National Ambient Air Quality Standard; Withdrawal of Direct Final Rule, 57848 2017-26405 Missouri Air Quality Implementation Plans; Infrastructure SIP Requirements for the 2012 Annual Fine Particulate Matter (PM2.5) National Ambient Air Quality Standard; Withdrawal of Direct Final Rule, 57848-57849 2017-26406 Ohio; Redesignation of the Fulton County Area to Attainment of the 2008 Lead Standard; Withdrawal of Direct Final Rule, 57854 2017-26415 Wisconsin; Regional Haze Progress Report; Withdrawal of Direct Final Rule, 57836 2017-26407 Pesticide Tolerances: Indoxacarb, 57860-57866 2017-26517 Sedaxane, 57867-57872 2017-26519 Ziram, 57854-57860 2017-25713 Tolerance Exemptions: Bacillus subtilis strain BU1814, 57872-57874 2017-26518 Voluntary Consensus Standards Update; Formaldehyde Emission Standards for Composite Wood Products; Withdrawal of Direct Final Rule, 57874-57875 2017-26655 PROPOSED RULES Air Quality State Implementation Plans; Approvals and Promulgations: Redesignation of the Illinois portion of the St. Louis-St. Charles-Farmington, Missouri-Illinois Area to Attainment of the 2008 Ozone Standard, 57892-57905 2017-26419 NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: Light-Duty In-Use Vehicle Testing Program, 57975-57976 2017-26527 Recordkeeping and Reporting for the Renewable Fuel Standard Program, 57973-57974 2017-26529 Certain New Chemicals or Significant New Uses: Statements of Findings for August and September 2017, 57970-57971 2017-26520 Cross-Media Electronic Reporting: Authorized Program Revision Approval, State of West Virginia, 57975 2017-26541 Environmental Impact Statements; Availability, etc., 57974-57975 2017-26490 Federal Agency Hazardous Waste Compliance Docket, 57976-57981 2017-26534 Pesticide Emergency Exemptions: Agency Decisions and State and Federal Agency Crisis Declarations, 57971-57973 2017-26521 Public Water System Supervision Program Revision for Hawaii, 57981-57982 2017-26535 Farm Credit System Insurance Farm Credit System Insurance Corporation NOTICES Meetings: Farm Credit System Insurance Corporation Board, 57982 2017-26474 Farm Service Farm Service Agency NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: Emergency Conservation Program and Biomass Crop Assistance Program, 57947 2017-26464 Federal Aviation Federal Aviation Administration PROPOSED RULES Class E Airspace; Amendments: Massena, NY, 57888-57889 2017-26423 Federal Communications Federal Communications Commission RULES Elimination of Main Studio Rule, 57876-57884 2017-24982 Federal Energy Federal Energy Regulatory Commission NOTICES Combined Filings, 57968-57969 2017-26497 2017-26498 Environmental Impact Statements; Availability, etc.: Rugraw, LLC; Lassen Lodge Hydroelectric Project, 57969-57970 2017-26499 Federal Register Office Federal Register Office NOTICES Publication Procedures for Federal Register Documents During a Funding Hiatus, 58028 2017-26280 Federal Reserve Federal Reserve System PROPOSED RULES Credit by Federal Reserve Banks; Extensions, 57886-57888 2017-26465 Federal Trade Federal Trade Commission RULES Enforcement Policy Statement Regarding the Applicability of the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act Rule to the Collection and Use of Voice Recordings, 58076-58077 2017-26509 PROPOSED RULES Contact Lens Marketplace and Analyzing Proposed Changes to Contact Lens Rule: Public Workshop, 57889-57891 2017-26445 NOTICES Proposed Consent Agreements: Cowboy AG LLC, 57982-57984 2017-26443 Fish Fish and Wildlife Service NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: Depredation Orders, 58022-58024 2017-26446 Endangered and Threatened Species: Issuance of Recovery Permits and Interstate Commerce Permits, 58014-58022 2017-26531 Food and Drug Food and Drug Administration NOTICES Guidance: Abbreviated New Drug Applications for Certain Highly Purified Synthetic Peptide Drug Products That Refer to Listed Drugs of Recombinant Deoxyribonucleic Acid Origin, 58004-58005 2017-26436 Changes to Existing Medical Software Policies Resulting from the 21st Century Cures Act, 57991-57993 2017-26442 Clinical and Patient Decision Support Software, 57987-57988 2017-26439 Registration and Product Listing for Owners and Operators of Domestic Tobacco Product Establishments, 57993-57994 2017-26469 Software as a Medical Device—Clinical Evaluation, 57994-57996 2017-26441 Meetings: Fostering Digital Health Innovation: Developing the Software Precertification Program; Public Workshop, 57988-57990 2017-26457 Oncology Center of Excellence Listening Session, 58003-58004 2017-26440 Prescription Drug User Fee Act VI Commitment to Assess Current Practices of the Food and Drug Administration and Sponsors in Communicating During Investigational New Drug Development; Establishment of a Public Docket, 57990-57991 2017-26437 Report on the Performance of Drug and Biologics Firms in Conducting Postmarketing Requirements and Commitments, 57996-58003 2017-26470 Food and Nutrition Food and Nutrition Service NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Pre-Screening Tool, 57948-57949 2017-26494 Health and Human Health and Human Services Department See

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services

See

Children and Families Administration

See

Food and Drug Administration

See

National Institutes of Health

Homeland Homeland Security Department See

Coast Guard

See

U.S. Customs and Border Protection

See

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement

Housing Housing and Urban Development Department NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: Evaluation of the HUD-DOJ Pay for Success Re-Entry Permanent Supportive Housing Demonstration, 58013-58014 2017-26525 Family Self-Sufficiency Program Demonstration, 58012-58013 2017-26522 Requirements for Single Family Mortgage Instruments, 58011-58012 2017-26526 Interior Interior Department See

Fish and Wildlife Service

See

Land Management Bureau

See

National Park Service

International Trade Adm International Trade Administration NOTICES Antidumping or Countervailing Duty Investigations, Orders, or Reviews: Aluminum Extrusions from the People's Republic of China, 57951-57952 2017-26488 Monosodium Glutamate from the People's Republic of China, 57949-57951 2017-26486 Determinations of Sales at Less Than Fair Value: Biodiesel from Argentina and Indonesia, 57952-57953 2017-26489 International Trade Com International Trade Commission NOTICES Antidumping or Countervailing Duty Investigations, Orders, or Reviews: Common Alloy Aluminum Sheet from China, 58025-58026 2017-26456 Investigations; Determinations, Modifications, and Rulings, etc.: Large Residential Washers, 58026-58027 2017-26451 Justice Department Justice Department See

Drug Enforcement Administration

Land Land Management Bureau RULES Waste Prevention, Production Subject to Royalties, and Resource Conservation: Delay and Suspension of Certain Requirements, 58050-58073 2017-26389 National Archives National Archives and Records Administration See

Federal Register Office

National Institute National Institutes of Health NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: Generic Submission for Formative Research, Pre-testing, Stakeholder Measures and Advocate Forms at National Cancer Institute, 58006-58007 2017-26495 Prospective Grants of Exclusive Patent Licenses: N-Acetyl Mannosamine as a Therapeutic Agent, 58007-58008 2017-26540 Requests for Information: Office of Disease Prevention Strategic Plan for Fiscal Years 2019 - 2023, 58005-58006 2017-26453 National Oceanic National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration RULES Atlantic Highly Migratory Species: Atlantic Bluefin Tuna Fisheries, 57885 2017-26492 PROPOSED RULES Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska: Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands; 2018 and 2019 Harvest Specifications for Groundfish, 57906-57924 2017-26477 Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone off Alaska: Gulf of Alaska; 2018 and 2019 Harvest Specifications for Groundfish, 57924-57946 2017-26473 NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals, 57953-57955 2017-26467 2017-26468 Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: Economic Impacts of Diving and Snorkeling Expenditures in Hawaii, 57954 2017-26466 Endangered and Threatened Species: Initiation of a 5-Year Review for the Endangered Western Distinct Population Segment of Steller Sea Lion, 57955-57956 2017-26435 Permits: Endangered Species; File Nos. 21198 and 21434, 57954-57955 2017-26493 National Park National Park Service NOTICES National Register of Historic Places: Pending Nominations and Related Actions, 58024-58025 2017-26496 Nuclear Regulatory Nuclear Regulatory Commission RULES List of Approved Spent Fuel Storage Casks: TN Americas LLC, Standardized NUHOMS Horizontal Modular Storage System, Certificate of Compliance No. 1004, Renewal of Initial Certificate and Amendment Nos. 1 Through 11 and 13, Revision 1, and 14, 57819-57821 2017-26508 NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Acquisition Regulation, 58030 2017-26511 Exemptions and Combined Licenses; Amendments: Southern Nuclear Operating Company, Inc., Vogtle Electric Generating Plant, Units 3 and 4; Clarification of Protection and Safety Monitoring System Interdivisional Cables in Auxiliary Building Fire Areas, 58028-58030 2017-26512 Pipeline Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration NOTICES Pipeline Safety: Random Drug Testing Rate; Contractor Management Information System Reporting; and Obtaining Drug and Alcohol Management Information System Sign-In Information, 58047 2017-26484 Underground Natural Gas Storage Facility User Fee, 58045-58046 2017-26485 Presidential Documents Presidential Documents PROCLAMATIONS Bears Ears National Monument; Modification (Proc. 9681), 58079-58087 2017-26709 Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument; Modification (Proc. 9682), 58089-58096 2017-26714 Securities Securities and Exchange Commission NOTICES Applications: CBOE Vest Financial, LLC, et al, 58030-58032 2017-26434 Self-Regulatory Organizations; Proposed Rule Changes: ICE Clear Credit LLC, 58034-58035 2017-26449 Investors Exchange LLC, 58039-58042 2017-26447 Nasdaq BX, Inc., 58042-58045 2017-26448 New York Stock Exchange LLC, 58032-58034 2017-26459 NYSE American LLC, 58036-58039 2017-26450 Surface Transportation Surface Transportation Board NOTICES Abandonment Exemptions: BNSF Railway Co. in Benton County, MN, 58045 2017-26515 Transportation Department Transportation Department See

Federal Aviation Administration

See

Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration

Treasury Treasury Department NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: Survey of U.S. Ownership of Foreign Securities, 58047-58048 2017-26458 Customs U.S. Customs and Border Protection RULES Civil Monetary Penalty Adjustments for Inflation, 57821-57825 2017-26506 NOTICES Delay of Transition of the Generating, Transmitting and Updating of Daily and Monthly Statements from the Automated Commercial System to the Automated Commercial Environment, 58010-58011 2017-26481 Revenue Modernization: Mobile Collections and Receipt Pilot, 58008-58010 2017-26505 Immigration U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals, 58011 2017-26530 Veteran Affairs Veterans Affairs Department RULES Extra-Schedular Evaluations for Individual Disabilities, 57830-57835 2017-26523 Separate Parts In This Issue Part II Interior Department, Land Management Bureau, 58050-58073 2017-26389 Part III Federal Trade Commission, 58076-58077 2017-26509 Part IV Presidential Documents, 58079-58087, 58089-58096 2017-26709 2017-26714 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.

82 235 Friday, December 8, 2017 Rules and Regulations NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION 10 CFR Part 72 [NRC-2017-0138] RIN 3150-AK05 List of Approved Spent Fuel Storage Casks: TN Americas LLC, Standardized NUHOMS® Horizontal Modular Storage System, Certificate of Compliance No. 1004, Renewal of Initial Certificate and Amendment Nos. 1 Through 11 and 13, Revision 1, and 14 AGENCY:

Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

ACTION:

Direct final rule; confirmation of effective date.

SUMMARY:

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is confirming the effective date of December 11, 2017, for the direct final rule that was published in the Federal Register on September 27, 2017. This direct final rule amended the NRC's spent fuel storage regulations by revising the Standardized NUHOMS® Horizontal Modular Storage System (NUHOMS® System) listing within the “List of approved spent fuel storage casks” to renew, for an additional 40-year period, the initial certificate and Amendment Nos. 1 through 11 and 13, Revision 1, and Amendment No. 14 of Certificate of Compliance (CoC) No. 1004. These changes require, among other things, that all future amendments and revisions to this CoC include evaluations of the impacts to aging management activities (i.e., time-limited aging analyses (TLAAs) and aging management programs (AMPs)) to ensure that they remain adequate to timely identify any changes to spent fuel storage cask systems, structures, and components (SSCs) within the scope of the renewal.

DATES:

Effective date: The effective date of December 11, 2017, for the direct final rule published September 27, 2017 (82 FR 44879), is confirmed.

ADDRESSES:

Please refer to Docket ID NRC-2017-0138 when contacting the NRC about the availability of information for this action. You may obtain publicly-available information related to this action by any of the following methods:

Federal Rulemaking Web site: Go to http://www.regulations.gov and search for Docket ID NRC-2017-0138. Address questions about NRC dockets to Carol Gallagher; telephone: 301-415-3463; email: [email protected] For technical questions, contact the individuals listed in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section of this document.

NRC's Agencywide Documents Access and Management System (ADAMS): You may obtain publicly-available documents online in the ADAMS Public Documents collection at http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/adams.html. To begin the search, select “ADAMS Public Documents” and then select “Begin Web-based ADAMS Search.” For problems with ADAMS, please contact the NRC's Public Document Room (PDR) reference staff at 1-800-397-4209, 301-415-4737, or by email to [email protected] The ADAMS accession number for each document referenced (if it is available in ADAMS) is provided the first time it is mentioned in the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section.

NRC's PDR: You may examine and purchase copies of public documents at the NRC's PDR, Room O1-F21, One White Flint North, 11555 Rockville Pike, Rockville, Maryland 20852.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Christian Jacobs, Office of Nuclear Material Safety and Safeguards; telephone: 301-415-6825; email: [email protected], or Robert D. MacDougall, Office of Nuclear Material Safety and Safeguards; telephone: 301-415-5175; email: [email protected] Both are staff of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington, DC 20555-0001.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

I. Discussion

On September 27, 2017 (82 FR 44879), the NRC published a direct final rule amending its spent fuel storage regulations in part 72 of title 10 of the Code of Federal Regulations (10 CFR) by revising the NUHOMS® System listing within the “List of approved spent fuel storage casks” to renew, for an additional 40-year period, the initial certificate and Amendment Nos. 1 through 11 and 13, Revision 1, and Amendment No. 14 of CoC No. 1004. These changes require, among other things, that all future amendments and revisions to this CoC include evaluations of impacts on TLAAs and AMPs to ensure that they remain adequate to timely identify any changes to spent fuel storage cask SSCs within the scope of the renewal.

II. Public Comments on the Companion Proposed Rule

In the direct final rule, the NRC stated that if no significant adverse comments were received, the direct final rule would become effective on December 11, 2017. The NRC received one comment submission on the companion proposed rule (82 FR 44971). An electronic copy of this submission can be obtained from the Federal Rulemaking Web site, http://www.regulations.gov, by searching for Docket ID NRC-2017-0138. The comment submission also is available in ADAMS under Accession No. ML17303A026. For the reasons discussed in more detail in Section III, “Public Comment Analysis,” of this document, none of the comments contained in the submission are considered significant adverse comments.

III. Public Comment Analysis

The NRC received one comment submission on the proposed rule from FirstEnergy Nuclear Operating Company (FENOC). The submission contained three comments styled as “comment/questions.” As explained in the September 27, 2017, direct final rule, the NRC would withdraw the direct final rule only if it received a “significant adverse comment.” This is a comment where the commenter explains why the rule would be inappropriate, challenges its underlying premise or approach, or shows why it would be ineffective or unacceptable without a change. A comment is adverse and significant if:

(1) The comment opposes the rule and provides a reason sufficient to require a substantive response in a notice-and-comment process. For example, a substantive response is required when:

(a) The comment causes the NRC staff to reevaluate (or reconsider) its position or conduct additional analysis;

(b) The comment raises an issue serious enough to warrant a substantive response to clarify or complete the record; or

(c) The comment raises a relevant issue that was not previously addressed or considered by the NRC staff.

(2) The comment proposes a change or an addition to the rule, and it is apparent that the rule would be ineffective or unacceptable without incorporation of the change or addition; or

(3) The comment causes the NRC staff to make a change (other than editorial) to the rule, CoC, or technical specifications (TSs).

In this instance, the NRC determined that none of the comments submitted on the proposed rule are significant adverse comments. The comments either were already addressed by the NRC staff's safety evaluation report (SER) (ADAMS Accession No. ML17131A121), or did not oppose the rule. The NRC has not made any changes to the direct final rule as a result of the public comments. However, the NRC is taking this opportunity to respond to the comments in an effort to clarify information about the direct final rule. The comments and the NRC's responses follow.

Comment 1

The commenter questioned why the proposed renewal of CoC No. 1004 includes a timeframe of 180 days for each general licensee (GL) to establish and implement its AMP procedures, which is shorter than the timeframe of 300 days that was granted for the renewal of CoC No. 1007. The commenter stated that the 180-day implementation period poses a hardship upon GLs with older spent fuel storage systems.

NRC Response

This comment did not raise an issue that was previously unaddressed by the NRC staff. During its review of the renewal application for CoC No. 1004, the NRC staff considered the appropriate timeframe for implementation of the AMP procedures. As stated in the SER, “[t]he timeframe [of 180 days] in the condition is to ensure operating procedures are developed in a timely manner and is consistent with conditions placed in specific licenses that have been renewed.” Specifically, the 180-day timeframe was successfully used for the renewals of the specific licenses under 10 CFR part 72 for the Prairie Island and Calvert Cliffs Independent Spent Fuel Storage Installations (ISFSIs).

The 180-day timeframe is also consistent with the guidance in NUREG-1927, Rev. 1, “Standard Review Plan for Renewal of Spent Fuel Dry Cask Storage System Licenses and Certificates of Compliance.” The commenter points to a statement in the NUREG that “the development of the infrastructure for AMP implementation generally should be no later than one year,” from the date of renewal; however, this does not preclude a shorter timeframe. The cask vendor, TN Americas LLC (TN), is preparing the AMP procedures for the GLs as an update to TN's Final Safety Analysis Report, and plans to provide these procedures within 90 days after the effective date of the renewal. This will allow at least an additional 90 days for the affected GLs to implement the procedures. Accordingly, the comment has not caused the NRC to reevaluate its position that a timeframe of 180 days is sufficient for AMP implementation.

The comment questions why the AMP implementation timeframe for the renewed NUHOMS® CoC is shorter than that for the renewal of CoC No. 1007 for the EnergySolutionsTM Corporation's VSC-24 Ventilated Storage Cask System (82 FR 31433). During the NRC's review of the CoC No. 1007 renewal application, the cask vendor requested that the NRC consider an implementation timeframe of 300 days instead of 180 days after the effective date of the renewal. In that case, the NRC determined that the additional time for implementation was reasonable because CoC No. 1007 was the first CoC to go through the CoC renewal process for GLs. During its review of the renewal application for CoC No. 1004, the NRC staff was aware that the renewed CoC No. 1007, as the first-of-its-kind GL CoC renewal, included more time for AMP implementation. The staff determined that the special circumstances considered for CoC No. 1007 were not present for CoC No. 1004. Accordingly, this comment does not raise a relevant issue that was not previously addressed or considered by the NRC staff.

This comment does not meet the criteria for consideration as a significant adverse comment. The comment did not cause the NRC staff to reevaluate or reconsider its position or conduct additional analysis. Nor did the comment cause the NRC staff to make any change to the rule, CoC, or TSs. To the extent that the comment can be interpreted as requesting a change to the rule, i.e., a longer timeframe for implementation of the AMP procedures, the comment does not show that the rule would be ineffective or unacceptable without incorporation of the change.

Comment 2

The commenter questioned whether the words “implement these written procedures within 180 days” mean that all required AMP inspections must be performed and the results reported within 180 days.

NRC Response

The answer to the commenter's question is no. Implementing the written procedures does not mean that an affected GL must perform all the SSC inspections required by its AMP and report the results of its inspections within the 180-day implementation period.

This comment does not meet the criteria for consideration as a significant adverse comment. The comment does not oppose the rule, and it did not cause the NRC staff to reevaluate or reconsider its position or conduct additional analysis. Nor did the comment cause the NRC staff to make any change to the rule, CoC, or TSs.

Comment 3

The commenter asked if the language in the revised TSs that “[e]ach general licensee shall have a program to establish, implement, and maintain written procedures . . .” applies to all GLs, including those that have only recently begun loading casks under CoC No. 1004. The commenter further asked if a site that began loading casks in 2014 would be required to have the ISFSI AMP procedure in place after 180 days.

NRC Response

Under the renewed CoC, each GL using NUHOMS® systems will be required to have a program with approved written AMP procedures in place within 180 days after the effective date of the renewal, or 180 days after the 20th anniversary of the loading of the first dry storage system at its site, whichever is later. Thus, if a particular ISFSI has casks that were loaded in 2014, these casks would not be required to have AMP procedures in place until 2034 at the earliest.

This comment does not meet the criteria for consideration as a significant adverse comment. The comment did not oppose the rule, and it did not cause the NRC staff to reevaluate or reconsider its position or conduct additional analysis. Nor did the comment cause the NRC staff to make any change to the rule, CoC, or TSs.

Therefore, because no significant adverse comments were received, this direct final rule will become effective as scheduled on December 11, 2017. The final CoC, TS, and SER can be viewed in ADAMS under Accession No. ML17338A091.

Dated at Rockville, Maryland, this 5th day of December 2017.

For the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Cindy K. Bladey, Chief, Regulatory Analysis and Rulemaking Support Branch, Division of Rulemaking, Office of Nuclear Material Safety and Safeguards.
[FR Doc. 2017-26508 Filed 12-7-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 7590-01-P
DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY U.S. Customs and Border Protection 19 CFR Part 4 [CBP Dec. 17-20] RIN 1651-AB15 Civil Monetary Penalty Adjustments for Inflation AGENCY:

U.S. Customs and Border Protection, DHS.

ACTION:

Final rule.

SUMMARY:

This rule amends U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) regulations to adjust for inflation the amounts that CBP can assess as civil monetary penalties for the following three violations—transporting passengers between coastwise points in the United States by a non-coastwise qualified vessel; towing a vessel between coastwise points in the United States by a non-coastwise qualified vessel; and dealing in or using an empty stamped imported liquor container after it has already been used once. These adjustments are being made in in accordance with the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvements Act of 2015 (2015 Act) which was enacted on November 2, 2015. Other CBP civil penalty amounts were adjusted pursuant to this 2015 Act in previously published rule documents published in the Federal Register on July 1, 2016, and January 27, 2017, but the adjustments for these three civil penalties were inadvertently left out of those documents.

DATES:

This rule is effective on December 8, 2017. The adjusted penalty amounts will be applicable for penalties assessed after December 8, 2017 if the associated violations occurred after November 2, 2015.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Millie Gleason, Office of Field Operations, U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Phone: (202) 325-4291.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: I. Statutory and Regulatory Background

On November 2, 2015, the President signed into law the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvements Act of 2015 (Pub. L. 114-74 section 701 (Nov. 2, 2015)) (2015 Act).1 The 2015 Act amended the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act of 1990 (28 U.S.C. 2461 note) (1990 Inflation Adjustment Act) to improve the effectiveness of civil monetary penalties and to maintain their deterrent effect. The 2015 Act required agencies to: (1) Adjust the level of civil monetary penalties with an initial “catch-up” adjustment through issuance of an interim final rule (IFR) and (2) make subsequent annual adjustments for inflation. Through the “catch-up” adjustment, agencies were required to adjust the maximum amounts of civil monetary penalties to more accurately reflect inflation rates. The 2015 Act directed the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to issue guidance to agencies on implementing the initial “catch-up” adjustment. The 2015 Act required that agencies publish their IFRs in the Federal Register no later than July 1, 2016 and that the adjusted amounts were to take effect no later than August 1, 2016.

1 The 2015 Act was enacted as part of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015, Public Law 114-74 (Nov. 2, 2015).

For the subsequent annual adjustments, the 2015 Act requires agencies to increase the penalty amounts by a cost-of-living adjustment. The 2015 Act directs OMB to provide guidance to agencies each year to assist agencies in making the annual adjustments. The 2015 Act requires agencies to make the annual adjustments no later than January 15 of each year and to publish the adjustments in the Federal Register.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) undertook a review of the civil penalties that DHS and its components administer to determine which penalties would need adjustments. On July 1, 2016, DHS published an IFR adjusting the civil monetary penalties with an initial “catch-up” adjustment, as required by the 2015 Act. See 81 FR 42987. DHS calculated the adjusted penalties based upon nondiscretionary provisions in the 2015 Act and upon guidance issued by OMB on February 24, 2016.2 The adjusted penalties were effective for civil penalties assessed after August 1, 2016 (the effective date of the IFR) whose associated violations occurred after November 2, 2015 (the date of enactment of the 2015 Act).3 On January 27, 2017, DHS published a final rule adopting as final the civil monetary penalty adjustment methodology from the IFR and making the 2017 annual inflation adjustment pursuant to the 2015 Act and upon guidance OMB issued to agencies on December 16, 2016.4 See 82 FR 8571.

2 OMB, Implementation of the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvements Act of 2015, February 24, 2016. https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/sites/default/files/omb/memoranda/2016/m-16-06.pdf.

3 DHS published a correction to the IFR on August 23, 2016 to correct one amendatory instruction. See 81 FR 57442.

4 OMB, Implementation of the 2017 annual adjustment pursuant to the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvements Act of 2015, December 16, 2016. https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/sites/default/files/omb/memoranda/2017/m-17-11_0.pdf.

As discussed in Section II below, three civil monetary penalties assessed by CBP and subject to the 2015 Act were inadvertently omitted from these DHS rulemakings.

II. CBP Penalties

CBP assesses or enforces penalties under various titles of the Unites States Code (U.S.C.) and the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). These penalties include civil monetary penalties for certain violations of title 8 of the CFR pursuant to the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952,5 as well as certain civil monetary penalties for customs violations for laws codified in title 19 of the U.S.C. and the CFR. CBP assesses many of the title 19 penalties under the Tariff Act of 1930, as amended, and as discussed in the IFR preamble at 81 FR 42987, the 2015 Act specifically exempts Tariff Act penalties from the inflation adjustment requirements in the 2015 Act. For that reason, DHS did not list those penalties in the tables of CBP penalty adjustments in the DHS rulemakings. There are also various other monetary penalties found throughout the U.S.C. and CFR which CBP may seek to issue or enforce but which were not included in the tables because they fall within the purview of another Department or Agency for purposes of the 2015 Act.6

5 Public Law 82-414, as amended (INA). The INA contains provisions that impose penalties on persons, including carriers and aliens, who violate specified provisions of the INA. While CBP is responsible for enforcing various provisions of the INA and assessing penalties for violations of those provisions, all the penalty amounts CBP can assess for violations of the INA are set forth in one section of title 8 of the CFR—8 CFR 280.53. For a complete list of the INA sections for which penalties are assessed, in addition to a brief description of each violation, see the IFR preamble at 81 FR 42989-42990.

6 For example, CBP may enforce the Clean Diamond Trade Act penalty set forth in 19 U.S.C. 3907, which falls within the purview of the Department of Treasury. See 31 CFR part 501, app. A.

However, three non-Tariff Act penalties that are assessed by CBP were inadvertently omitted from the DHS rulemakings. The first is a penalty set forth at 19 U.S.C. 469, and not reflected in the CBP regulations, for dealing in or using already used empty stamped imported liquor containers. The other two penalties are set forth in title 46 of the U.S.C., 46 U.S.C. 55103 and 46 U.S.C. 55111 and reflected in the CBP regulations in 19 CFR part 4. Pursuant to 46 U.S.C. 55103(b) and 19 CFR 4.80(b)(2), CBP assesses penalties for transporting passengers between coastwise points in the United States by a non-coastwise qualified vessel. Pursuant to 46 U.S.C. 55111(c) and 19 CFR 4.92, CBP assesses penalties for towing a vessel between coastwise points in the United States by a non-coastwise qualified vessel.

This final rule adjusts these penalty amounts using the same civil monetary penalty adjustment methodology that DHS announced in the IFR (81 FR 42987) and finalized in the DHS final rule (82 FR 8571), and detailed below.

III. Inflation Adjustment Methodology Required by 2015 Act A. Overview

The 2015 Act provides a new method for calculating inflation adjustments. The new method differs substantially from the methods that agencies used in the past when conducting inflation adjustments pursuant to the 1990 Inflation Adjustment Act. The new method is intended to more accurately reflect inflation. Previously, when agencies conducted adjustments to civil penalties, they did so under rules that required significant rounding of figures. For example, an agency would round a penalty increase that was greater than $1,000, but less than or equal to $10,000, to the nearest multiple of $1,000. While this allowed penalties to be kept at round numbers, it meant that agencies would often not increase penalties at all if the inflation factor was not large enough. Furthermore, increases to penalties were capped at 10 percent, which meant that longer periods without an inflation adjustment could cause a penalty to rapidly lose value in real terms. Over time, the formula used in the 1990 Inflation Adjustment Act calculations frequently caused penalties to lose value relative to actual inflation. The 2015 Act removed these rounding rules, and instead instructs agencies to round penalties to the nearest $1. While this creates penalty values that are no longer round numbers, it does ensure that agencies will increase penalties each year to a figure commensurate with the actual calculated inflation.

To better reflect the original impact of civil penalties, the 2015 Act “resets” the inflation calculations by excluding prior inflationary adjustments under the Inflation Adjustment Act. To do this, the 2015 Act requires agencies to identify, for each penalty, the year that Congress originally enacted the maximum penalty level/range of minimum and maximum penalty levels or the year that the agency last adjusted the penalty amount other than to pursuant to the Inflation Adjustment Act, and the corresponding penalty amount(s). The 2015 Act then requires agencies to perform an initial “catch-up” adjustment, using the original amounts of civil penalties as a baseline, so that the 2016 penalty levels are equal, in real terms, to the penalty amounts as they were originally established. The 2015 Act also requires agencies to make subsequent annual adjustments to increase the penalty amounts by a cost-of-living adjustment.

B. Catch-Up Adjustment

This section sets forth the initial “catch-up” adjustment for three civil monetary penalties assessed by CBP that were inadvertently omitted from the DHS rulemakings. The catch-up adjustments for these three penalties are listed in Table 1 below. This table shows how DHS would have initially increased the penalties pursuant to the 2015 Act. The table contains the following information:

• In the first column (penalty name), we provide a description of the penalty.

• In the second column (citation), we provide the statutory cite from the United States Code (U.S.C.) and the regulatory cite from the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR).

• In the third column (current penalty), we list the existing penalty in effect on November 2, 2015.

• In the fourth column (baseline penalty (year)), we provide the amount and year of the penalty as enacted by Congress or as last changed through a mechanism other than pursuant to the Inflation Adjustment Act, whichever is later.

• In the fifth column (2016 multiplier), we list the multiplier used to adjust the penalty pursuant to the initial OMB catch-up guidance. The multiplier is determined by the year of enactment or last adjustment of the penalty. The multiplier is based upon the Consumer Price Index (CPI-U) for the month of October 2015, not seasonally adjusted.

• In the sixth column (preliminary new penalty), we list the amount obtained by multiplying the Baseline Penalty from column 4 with the Multiplier from column 5. This amount will be the catch-up adjustment amount, if, in accordance with the 2015 Act, this level does not increase penalty levels by more than 150 percent of the corresponding levels in effect on November 2, 2015.

• In the seventh column (adjusted 2016 penalty), we provide the number for the penalty as it would have been adjusted for 2016. To derive this number, we compare the preliminary new penalty with the current penalty from column 3. The adjusted new penalty is the lesser of either the preliminary new penalty or an amount equal to 150 percent more than the current penalty.

Table 1—U.S. Customs and Border Protection Civil Penalties Initial Catch-Up Adjustments Penalty name Citation Current penalty Baseline
  • penalty *
  • (year)
  • 2016
  • Multiplier **
  • Preliminary new
  • penalty
  • [2016 multiplier × baseline
  • penalty]
  • Adjusted 2016
  • penalty
  • [increase capped at 150% more than
  • current penalty]
  • Penalty for dealing in or using empty stamped imported liquor containers 19 U.S.C. 469 $200 $200 (1879) 23.54832 $4,710 $500. Penalty for transporting passengers between coastwise points in the United States by a non-coastwise qualified vessel 46 U.S.C. 55103(b) 19 CFR 4.80(b)(2) $300 $200 (1898) 23.54832 $4,710 $750. Penalty for towing a vessel between coastwise points in the United States by a non-coastwise qualified vessel 46 U.S.C. 55111(c) 19 CFR 4.92 $350-$1100, plus $60 per ton $250-$1000, plus $50 per ton (1940) 16.98843 $4,247-$16,988, plus $849 per ton $875-$2,750, plus $150 per ton. * The amount of the penalty and the year when the penalty was established or last adjusted in statute or regulation other than pursuant to the Inflation Adjustment Act of 1990. ** OMB, Implementation of the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvements Act of 2015, Table A: 2016 Civil Monetary Penalty Catch-Up Adjustment Multiplier by Calendar Year, February 24, 2016. https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/sites/default/files/omb/memoranda/2016/m-16-06.pdf.
    C. 2017 Adjustments

    This final rule also makes the 2017 annual inflation adjustment pursuant to the 2015 Act and the guidance OMB issued to agencies on December 16, 2016.7 Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 2461 note sec. 6, as amended by the 2015 Act, the penalty amounts adjusted by this final rule will be applicable for penalties assessed after December 8, 2017 where the associated violation occurred after November 2, 2015 (i.e., the date the 2015 Act was signed into law). Consistent with OMB guidance, the 2015 Act does not change previously assessed penalties that the agency is actively collecting or has collected.

    7 See footnote 4.

    In Table 2 below, we show: (1) The civil penalty (or penalties) name, (2) the penalty statutory and/or regulatory citation, (3) the penalty amount as it would have been adjusted in 2016 (see Table 1), (4) the cost-of-living adjustment multiplier for 2017 that OMB provided in its December 16, 2016 guidance, and (5) the new 2017 adjusted penalty.

    Additionally, we have made conforming edits to the regulatory text for the new adjusted penalty amounts in 19 CFR 4.80(b)(2) and 19 CFR 4.92. Because the 19 U.S.C. 469 penalty is not included in the CFR, there are no conforming edits to be made to the regulatory text. However, this penalty is listed in Table 2 for informational purposes.

    Table 2—U.S. Customs and Border Protection Civil Penalties 2017 Adjustments Penalty name Citation Adjusted 2016 penalty
  • (see Table 1)
  • 2017
  • Multiplier *
  • New
  • penalty as
  • adjusted
  • by this
  • final rule
  • Penalty for dealing in or using empty stamped imported liquor containers 19 U.S.C. 469 $500 1.01636 $508.** Penalty for transporting passengers between coastwise points in the United States by a non-coastwise qualified vessel 46 U.S.C. 55103(b) 19 CFR 4.80(b)(2) $750 1.01636 $762. Penalty for towing a vessel between coastwise points in the United States by a non-coastwise qualified vessel 46 U.S.C. 55111(c) 19 CFR 4.92 $875-$2,750, plus $150 per ton 1.01636 $889-$2,795, plus $152 per ton. * OMB, Implementation of the 2017 annual adjustment pursuant to the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvements Act of 2015, December 16, 2016. https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/sites/default/files/omb/memoranda/2017/m-17-11_0.pdf. ** No applicable conforming edit to regulatory text.
    IV. Administrative Procedure Act

    The Administrative Procedure Act (APA) generally requires agencies to publish a notice of proposed rulemaking in the Federal Register (5 U.S.C. 553(b)) and to provide interested persons with the opportunity to submit comments (5 U.S.C. 553(c)). The APA also requires agencies to provide a delayed effective date (of not less than 30 days) for substantive rules. 5 U.S.C. 553(d). The 2015 Act, however, specifically instructed that agencies are to make the required annual adjustments notwithstanding section 553 of title 5, United States Code.

    DHS is promulgating this final rule to ensure that the amount of civil penalties that CBP assesses or enforces that was inadvertently omitted from the DHS rulemakings reflects the statutorily mandated ranges as adjusted for inflation. The 2015 Act provides a clear nondiscretionary formula for adjustment of the civil penalties; DHS and CBP have been charged only with performing ministerial computations to determine the amounts of adjustments for inflation to civil monetary penalties. Additionally, although the 2015 Act requires publication of an IFR to take effect not later than August 1, 2016, that date has passed and publishing a separate IFR to account for these inadvertently omitted penalty adjustments would cause unnecessary delay. Further, this final rule merely applies the adjustment methodology that DHS provided for public comment in the 2016 IFR and finalized in the 2017 final rule. DHS finds that it is unnecessary to seek further public comment regarding the application of the finalized methodology to these three penalties. For these reasons, and as specified in the 2015 Act, DHS finds good cause to promulgate these CBP civil monetary penalty adjustments as a final rule and finds that the prior public notice-and-comment procedures and delayed effective date requirements of the APA are unnecessary and do not apply to this rule.

    As described in Section I above, the 2015 Act requires agencies to make annual adjustments to civil monetary penalties no later than January 15 of each year and to publish the adjustments in the Federal Register. DHS will make future annual inflation adjustments required pursuant to the 2015 Act by final rule notwithstanding the notice-and-comment and delayed effective date requirements of the APA, as required by the 2015 Act. For future annual adjustments, DHS will update the penalty amounts by applying a cost-of-living adjustment multiplier pursuant to OMB guidance. DHS will publish a final rule that provides a table with the adjusted penalty amounts and that updates the numbers in the regulatory text accordingly. DHS will incorporate the three CBP penalties adjusted in this final rule into such future annual adjustment final rules.

    V. Regulatory Analyses A. Executive Orders 12866, 13563, and 13771

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

    OMB has not designated this rule a significant regulatory action under section 3(f) of Executive Order 12866. Accordingly, OMB has not reviewed it. As this rule is not a significant regulatory action it is not subject to the requirements of Executive Order 13771. See OMB's Memorandum, “Guidance Implementing Executive Order 13771, Titled `Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs'” (April 5, 2017) at Q2.

    This final rule makes nondiscretionary adjustments to existing civil monetary penalties in accordance with the 2015 Act and OMB guidance.8 DHS therefore did not consider alternatives and does not have the flexibility to alter the adjustments of the civil monetary penalty amounts as provided in this rule. To the extent this final rule increases civil monetary penalties, it would result in an increase in transfers from persons or entities assessed a civil monetary penalty to the government.

    8 See footnotes 2 and 4.

    B. Regulatory Flexibility Act

    The Regulatory Flexibility Act applies only to rules for which an agency publishes a notice of proposed rulemaking pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 553(b). See 5 U.S.C. 601-612. The Regulatory Flexibility Act does not apply to this final rule because a notice of proposed rulemaking was not required for the reasons stated above.

    C. Unfunded Mandates Reform Act

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

    D. Paperwork Reduction Act

    The provisions of the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, 44 U.S.C. chapter 35, and its implementing regulations, 5 CFR part 1320, do not apply to this final rule, because this final rule does not trigger any new or revised recordkeeping or reporting.

    VI. Signing Authority

    The signing authority for this document falls under 19 CFR 0.2(a). Accordingly, this document is signed by the Secretary of Homeland Security.

    List of Subjects in 19 CFR Part 4

    Customs duties and inspection, Exports, Freight, Harbors, Maritime carriers, Oil pollution, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Vessels.

    Amendments to the Regulations

    For the reasons stated in the preamble, CBP amends 19 CFR p art 4 as follows:

    PART 4—VESSELS IN FOREIGN AND DOMESTIC TRADES 1. The authority citation for part 4 continues to read in part as follows: Authority:

    5 U.S.C. 301; 19 U.S.C. 66, 1431, 1433, 1434, 1624, 2071 note; 46 U.S.C. 501, 60105.

    Sections 4.80, 4.80a, and 4.80b also issued under 19 U.S.C. 1706a; 28 U.S.C. 2461 note; 46 U.S.C. 12112, 12117, 12118, 50501-55106, 55107, 55108, 55110, 55114, 55115, 55116, 55117, 55119, 56101, 55121, 56101, 57109; Pub. L. 108-7, Division B, Title II, § 211;

    Section 4.92 also issued under 28 U.S.C. 2461 note; 46 U.S.C. 55111;

    2. Revise § 4.80(b)(2) to read as follows:
    § 4.80 Vessels entitled to engage in coastwise trade.

    (b) * * *

    (2) The penalty imposed for the unlawful transportation of passengers between coastwise points is $300 for each passenger so transported and landed on or before November 2, 2015, and $762 for each passenger so transported and landed after November 2, 2015 (46 U.S.C. 55103, as adjusted by the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvements Act of 2015).

    3. Revise § 4.92 to read as follows:
    § 4.92 Towing.

    No vessel other than a vessel documented for the coastwise trade, or which would be entitled to be so documented except for its tonnage (see § 4.80), may tow a vessel other than a vessel in distress between points in the U.S. embraced within the coastwise laws, or for any part of such towing (46 U.S.C. 55111). The penalties for violation of this provision occurring on or before November 2, 2015, are a fine of from $350 to $1100 against the owner or master of the towing vessel and a further penalty against the towing vessel of $60 per ton of the towed vessel. The penalties for violation of this provision occurring after November 2, 2015, are a fine of from $889 to $2,795 against the owner or master of the towing vessel and a further penalty against the towing vessel of $152 per ton of the towed vessel (46 U.S.C. 55111, as adjusted by the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvements Act of 2015).

    Dated: December 5, 2017. Elaine C. Duke, Acting Secretary of Homeland Security.
    [FR Doc. 2017-26506 Filed 12-7-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 9111-14-P
    DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE Office of the Secretary 32 CFR Parts 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, and 17 [Docket ID: DOD-2017-OS-0062] RIN 0790-AJ58 Military Commissions AGENCY:

    Office of the General Counsel, DoD.

    ACTION:

    Final rule.

    SUMMARY:

    The Department of Defense is removing its regulations regarding procedures for the conduct of military commissions to try certain terror suspects for war crimes because the subchapter, which contains eleven parts, is outdated and no longer in force.

    DATES:

    This rule is effective on December 8, 2017.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Gerald Dziecichowicz at 703-693-9958.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    On November 13, 2001, President George W. Bush issued the Military Order titled “Detention, Treatment, and Trial of Certain Non-Citizens in the War Against Terrorism,” which authorized the use of military commissions to try certain terror suspects for war crimes. Pursuant to section 4 of that order, the Secretary of Defense issued policies and procedures for the conduct of those proceedings, which were codified at 32 CFR chapter I, subchapter B. In 2006, the Supreme Court essentially invalidated that military commissions process. Congress subsequently passed several laws reshaping and reauthorizing the use of military commissions, which required the Secretary of Defense to issue new policies and procedures. These updated directives are publicly available and posted to a department Web site. Accordingly, this subchapter, which contains eleven parts, is outdated, no longer in force, and should be removed from the Code of Federal Regulations.

    It has been determined that publication of this CFR subchapter removal for public comment is impracticable, unnecessary, and contrary to public interest because it is based on removing outdated policies and procedures.

    As this repeal removes information that is now obsolete from the CFR, there is no cost savings to the public for the repeal of this subchapter.

    List of Subjects in 32 CFR Parts 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, and 17

    Military law.

    SUBCHAPTER B—[REMOVED AND RESERVED] Accordingly, by the authority of 5 U.S.C. 301, title 32, subtitle A, chapter I of the Code of Federal Regulations is amended by removing and reserving subchapter B, consisting of parts 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 19, and 20. Dated: December 4, 2017. Aaron Siegel, Alternate OSD Federal Register Liaison Officer, Department of Defense.
    [FR Doc. 2017-26433 Filed 12-7-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 5001-06-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY Coast Guard 33 CFR Part 117 [Docket No. USCG-2017-1069] Drawbridge Operation Regulation; Middle River, Between Bacon Island and Lower Jones Tract, CA AGENCY:

    Coast Guard, DHS.

    ACTION:

    Notice of deviation from drawbridge regulation.

    SUMMARY:

    The Coast Guard has issued a temporary deviation from the operating schedule that governs the San Joaquin County (Bacon Island Road) highway Drawbridge across the Middle River, mile 8.6, between Bacon Island and Lower Jones Tract, CA. The deviation is necessary to allow the bridge owner to make emergency structural repairs. This deviation allows the bridge to remain in the closed-to-navigation position during the deviation period.

    DATES:

    This deviation is effective from 6 a.m. on December 18, 2017 through 6 p.m. on December 22, 2017.

    ADDRESSES:

    The docket for this deviation, USCG-2017-1069, is available at http://www.regulations.gov. Type the docket number in the “SEARCH” box and click “SEARCH.” Click on Open Docket Folder on the line associated with this deviation.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    If you have questions on this temporary deviation, call or email Carl T. Hausner, Chief, Bridge Section, Eleventh Coast Guard District; telephone 510-437-3516; email [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    San Joaquin County Department of Public Works has requested a temporary change to the operation of the San Joaquin County (Bacon Island Road) highway Drawbridge over the Middle River, mile 8.6, between Bacon Island and Lower Jones Tract, CA. The drawbridge navigation span provides a vertical clearance of 8 feet above Mean High Water in the closed-to-navigation position. The draw operates as required by 33 CFR 117.171(a). Navigation on the waterway is commercial and recreational.

    The drawspan will be secured in the closed-to-navigation position from 6 a.m. on December 18, 2017 through 6 p.m. on December 22, 2017, to allow the bridge owner to make emergency structural repairs. This temporary deviation has been coordinated with the waterway users. No objections to the proposed temporary deviation were raised.

    Vessels able to pass through the bridge in the closed position may do so at anytime. In the event of an emergency the draw can open if at least 12 hours advance notice is given to the bridge operator. Old River can be used as an alternate route for vessels unable to pass through the bridge in the closed position. The Coast Guard will also inform the users of the waterway through our Local and Broadcast Notices to Mariners of the change in operating schedule for the bridge so that vessel operators can arrange their transits to minimize any impact caused by the temporary deviation.

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

    Dated: December 4, 2017. Carl T. Hausner, District Bridge Chief, Eleventh Coast Guard District.
    [FR Doc. 2017-26463 Filed 12-7-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 9110-04-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY Coast Guard 33 CFR Part 165 [Docket Number USCG-2017-1067] RIN 1625-AA00 Safety Zone; Sector Key West COTP Zone Post Storm Recovery, Atlantic Ocean, FL AGENCY:

    Coast Guard, DHS.

    ACTION:

    Temporary interim rule; request for comments.

    SUMMARY:

    The Coast Guard has established a temporary safety zone for certain waters within the Sector Key West Captain of the Port (COTP) Zone. Vessels are prohibited from entering into, anchoring, loitering, or movement within a safety zone around salvage or pollution removal vessels in the Florida Keys. These temporary regulations are necessary for the safety of persons, vessels, and property due to the large volume of debris, sunken vessels and salvage operations associated with Hurricane Irma. We invite your comments on this rulemaking.

    DATES:

    This rule is effective without actual notice from December 8, 2017 through February 1, 2018. For the purposes of enforcement, actual notice will be used from December 1, 2017 until December 8, 2017. Comments and related materials must be received by the Coast Guard on or before January 8, 2018.

    ADDRESSES:

    To view documents mentioned in this preamble as being available in the docket, go to http://www.regulations.gov, type USCG-2017-1067 in the “SEARCH” box and click “SEARCH.” Click on Open Docket Folder on the line associated with this rule.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    If you have questions on this rulemaking, call or email Lieutenant Scott Ledee, Waterways Management Division Chief, Sector Key West, FL, U.S. Coast Guard; telephone (305) 292-8768, e-mail [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    I. Table of Abbreviations

    CFR Code of Federal Regulations

    DHS Department of Homeland Security

    FR Federal Register

    NPRM Notice of proposed rulemaking

    §  Section

    U.S.C. United States Code

    COTP Captain of the Port

    II. Background Information and Regulatory History

    The Coast Guard is issuing this temporary rule without prior notice and opportunity to comment pursuant to authority under section 4(a) of the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) (5 U.S.C. 553(b)). This provision authorizes an agency to issue a rule without prior notice and opportunity to comment when the agency for good cause finds that those procedures are “impracticable, unnecessary, or contrary to the public interest.” Under 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(B), the Coast Guard finds that good cause exists for not publishing a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) with respect to this rule because insufficient time remains to publish an NPRM and to receive public comments, as Hurricane Irma has already caused significant damage to vessels and property in the Sector Key West COTP Zone leaving underwater debris and sunken vessels around the Florida Keys. The safety zone is necessary to provide for the safety of persons, vessels, and property from the hazards posed by sunken vessels and debris. For those reasons, it would be impracticable and contrary to the public interest to publish an NPRM.

    On October 12, 2017, the Coast Guard published a temporary interim final rule, entitled “Safety Zone; Sector Key West COTP Zone Post Storm Recovery, Atlantic Ocean, FL” in the Federal Register (82 FR 473474) establishing a temporary safety zone around salvage or pollution removal vessels in the Florida Keys. The Coast Guard solicited for comments for this interim final rule, the comment period for this rule ended on November 13, 2017, no comments were received. The safety zone expires on December 1, 2017, but additional time is needed to complete the salvage and pollution recovery operations. This rule establishes a safety zone from December 1, 2017 to February 1, 2018 to ensure, to the extent practicable, that there continues to be protections for the safety of persons, vessels, and property due to the large volume of debris, sunken vessels and salvage operations associated with Hurricane Irma, which was unable to be completed during the original time frame. It would be impracticable and contrary to the public interest for the existing safety zone to lapse when the salvage and pollution recovery operations need to continue past the expiration date of the existing safety zone.

    Under 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3), the Coast Guard finds that good cause exists for making it effective less than 30 days after publication in the Federal Register. Any delay in the effective date of this rule would be contrary to the public interest because immediate action is needed to respond to the potential hazards associated with hurricane debris.

    The Coast Guard is soliciting public comments on this temporary interim rule. Although we need to make this interim rule effective immediately, we will consider public comments and may issue a temporary final rule that will supersede this interim rule based on comments received.

    III. Public Participation and Request for Comments

    We view public participation as essential to effective rulemaking, and will consider all comments and material received during the comment period. Your comment can help shape the outcome of this rulemaking. If you submit a comment, please include the docket number for this rulemaking, indicate the specific section of this document to which each comment applies, and provide a reason for each suggestion or recommendation.

    We encourage you to submit comments through the Federal eRulemaking Portal at http://www.regulations.gov. If your material cannot be submitted using http://www.regulations.gov, contact the person in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section of this document for alternate instructions.

    We accept anonymous comments. All comments received will be posted without change to http://www.regulations.gov and will include any personal information you have provided. For more about privacy and the docket, visit http://www.regulations.gov/privacyNotice. Documents mentioned in this rule as being available in the docket, and all public comments, will be in our online docket at http://www.regulations.gov and can be viewed by following that Web site's instructions. Additionally, if you go to the online docket and sign up for email alerts, you will be notified when comments are posted or a final rule is published.

    IV. Legal Authority and Need for Rule

    The Coast Guard is issuing this rule under authority in 33 U.S.C. 1231 The COTP Key West has determined that potential hazards associated with salvage operations and hurricane debris will be a safety concern for persons, vessels, and property within the waters of the ports mentioned above. The COTP Key West has determined it is necessary establish a safety zone from December 1, 2017 until February 1, 2018, to protect persons, vessels, and property on the navigable waters within the safety zone while cleanup efforts are underway.

    V. Discussion of the Rule

    This rule establishes a temporary safety zone for certain waters within the Sector Key West Captain of the Port (COTP) Zone as salvage and pollution recovery cleanup efforts continue. Vessels are prohibited from entering into, anchoring, loitering, or movement within a safety zone around salvage or pollution removal vessels in the Florida Keys. These temporary regulations are necessary for the safety of persons, vessels, and property due to the large volume of debris, sunken vessels and salvage operations associated with Hurricane Irma.

    The COTP Key West will continue to evaluate conditions in the waters in the vicinity of the Florida Keys and may stop enforcing this rule earlier if the conditions permit. The Coast Guard will provide notification of the safety zone to the local maritime community by Marine Safety Information Bulletins, Broadcast Notice to Mariners, and on-scene designated representatives.

    VI. Regulatory Analyses

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

    A. Regulatory Planning and Review

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

    This regulatory action determination is based on the following reasons: The safety zone is of a small diameter around salvage and pollution recovery vessels and wreckage, and the Coast Guard will provide notice of the safety zones to the local maritime community by Marine Safety Information Bulletins, Broadcast Notice to Mariners, and designated on-scene representatives.

    B. Impact on Small Entities

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

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

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

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

    C. Collection of Information

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

    D. Federalism and Indian Tribal Governments

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

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

    E. Unfunded Mandates Reform Act

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

    F. Environment

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

    G. Protest Activities

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

    List of Subjects in 33 CFR Part 165

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

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

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

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

    2. Add § 165.T07-1067 to read as follows:
    § 165.T07-1067 Safety Zone; Sector Key West COTP Zone Post Storm Recovery, Atlantic Ocean, FL.

    (a) Location. The following area is a safety zone: All waters within 100 yards of all salvage vessels and pollution recovery vessels operating within 1 nautical mile of land in the Captain of the Port (COTP) Key West.

    (b) Definition. As used in this section, the term “designated representative” includes Coast Guard coxswains, petty officers, and other officers operating Coast Guard vessels, and Federal, state, and local officers designated by or assisting the COTP Key West in the enforcement of the safety zone.

    (c) Regulations. (1) All persons and vessels are prohibited from entering, transiting through, anchoring in, or remaining within the safety zone unless authorized by the COTP Key West or a designated representative.

    (2) Persons and vessels desiring to enter, transit through, anchor in, or remain within the safety zone may contact the COTP Key West by telephone at (305) 292-8727, or a designated representative via VHF-FM radio on channel 16 to request authorization. If authorization is granted, all persons and vessels receiving such authorization must comply with the instructions of the COTP Key West or a designated representative.

    (d) Enforcement period. This rule will be enforced from 8 a.m. on December 1, 2017, through 8 a.m. on February 1, 2018, unless sooner terminated by the COTP Key West.

    Dated: December 1, 2017. Jeffrey. A. Janszen, Captain, U.S. Coast Guard, Captain of the Port Key West.
    [FR Doc. 2017-26462 Filed 12-7-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 9110-04-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY Coast Guard 33 CFR Part 165 [Docket Number USCG-2017-1064] RIN 1625-AA00 Safety Zone; Ohio River, Ironton, OH AGENCY:

    Coast Guard, DHS.

    ACTION:

    Temporary final rule.

    SUMMARY:

    The Coast Guard is establishing a temporary safety zone for all navigable waters on the Ohio River from mile marker (MM) 326.5 to MM 327.5. The safety zone is needed to protect personnel, vessels, and the marine environment from potential hazards associated with the demolition of the Ironton-Russell Bridge. Entry of vessels or persons into this zone is prohibited unless specifically authorized by the Captain of the Port Sector Ohio Valley (COTP) or a designated representative.

    DATES:

    This rule is effective without actual notice from December 8, 2017 through December 22, 2017. This rule will be enforced from December 8, 2017 through December 4, 2017, unless the demolition is postponed because of adverse weather, in which case this rule will be enforced from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on December 5, 2017, December 11-15, 2017, and December 18-22, 2017.

    For the purposes of enforcement, actual notice will be used from December 4, 2017 until December 8, 2017.

    ADDRESSES:

    To view documents mentioned in this preamble as being available in the docket, go to http://www.regulations.gov, type USCG-2017-1064 in the “SEARCH” box and click “SEARCH.” Click on Open Docket Folder on the line associated with this rule.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    If you have questions on this rule, call or email Petty Officer Robert Miller, Marine Safety Unit Huntington, U.S. Coast Guard; telephone 304-733-0198, email [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

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

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

    We must establish this safety zone by December 4, 2017 and lack sufficient time to provide responsible comment period and then consider those comments before issuing the rule.

    Under 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3), the Coast Guard finds that good cause exists for making this rule effective less than 30 days after publication in the Federal Register. Delaying the effective date to provide a full 30 days' notice is contrary to public interest because immediate action is needed to protect persons and vessels from safety hazards associated with the Ironton-Russell Bridge demolition.

    III. Legal Authority and Need for Rule

    The Coast Guard is issuing this rule under authority in 33 U.S.C. 1231. The Captain of the Port Sector Ohio Valley (COTP) has determined that potential hazards associated with the bridge demolition taking place on or over this section of the navigable waterway will be a safety concern for anyone within the area designated as the safety zone. This rule is needed to protect personnel, vessels, and the marine environment in the navigable waters within the safety zone during the bridge demolition.

    IV. Discussion of the Rule

    This rule establishes a temporary safety zone from 10 a.m. on December 4, 2017 through 3 p.m. on December 22, 2017 for all navigable waters of the Ohio River from mile marker (MM) 326.5 to MM 327.5, for the Ironton-Russell Bridge demolition in Ironton, OH. This rule will be enforced on from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on December 4, 2017, unless the demolition is postponed because of adverse weather, in which case this rule will be enforced from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on December 5, 2017, December 11-15, 2017, and December 18-22, 2017.

    All potential work delay dates are necessary due to inclement weather, river conditions or mechanical issues that could occur preventing the scheduled demolition on December 4, 2017. The waterway users have been briefed on the procedures to be taken in the event of inclement weather or mechanical issues, and are aware that the project dates may be changed. This safety zone is intended to protect personnel, vessels, and the marine environment in these navigable waters during the bridge demolition. No vessel or person will be permitted to enter the safety zone without obtaining permission from the COTP or a designated representative.

    V. Regulatory Analyses

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

    A. Regulatory Planning and Review

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

    This regulatory action determination is based on the size, location, duration, and time-of-year of the safety zone. Vessel traffic will not be able to safely transit through this safety zone, which will impact a small designated area of the Ohio River from MM 326.5 through MM 327.5 for five hours on December 4, 2017, during a time of year when vessel traffic is normally low. Moreover, the Coast Guard will issue Broadcast Notice to Mariners via VHF-FM marine channel 16 about the zone, and the rule allows vessels to seek permission to enter the zone.

    B. Impact on Small Entities

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

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

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

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

    C. Collection of Information

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

    D. Federalism and Indian Tribal Governments

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

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

    E. Unfunded Mandates Reform Act

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

    F. Environment

    We have analyzed this rule under Department of Homeland Security Management Directive 023-01 and Commandant Instruction M16475.lD, which guide the Coast Guard in complying with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (42 U.S.C. 4321-4370f), and have determined that this action is one of a category of actions that do not individually or cumulatively have a significant effect on the human environment. This rule involves a safety zone lasting only five hours that will prohibit entry on one day, with alternate work delay dates, that will prohibit entry within MM 326.5 through MM 327.5 on the Ohio River due to demolition project of the Ironton-Russell Bridge. It is categorically excluded from further review under paragraph 34(g) of Figure 2-1 of the Commandant Instruction. A Record of Environmental Consideration supporting this determination is available in the docket where indicated under ADDRESSES.

    G. Protest Activities

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

    List of Subjects in 33 CFR Part 165

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

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

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

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

    2. Add § 165.T08-1064 to read as follows:
    § 165.T08-1064 Safety zone; Ohio River, MM 326.5 through MM 327.5, Ironton, OH.

    (a) Location. The following area is a safety zone: All waters of the Ohio River from mile marker (MM) 326.5 through MM 327.5.

    (b) Enforcement period. This rule will be enforced 10 a.m. through 3 p.m. on December 4, 2017, unless the demolition is postponed because of adverse weather, in which case this rule will be enforced from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on December 5, 2017, December 11-15, 2017, and December 18-22, 2017.

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

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

    (2) To seek permission to enter, contact the COTP or designated representative via radio on channel 16.

    (3) All persons and vessels shall comply with the instruction of the COTP and designated on-scene personnel.

    (e) Information broadcasts. The COTP or a designated representative will inform the Public through Broadcast Notices to Mariners, Local Notices to Mariners, and/or Safety Marine Information Broadcasts as appropriate of the enforcement period for each safety zone as well as any changes in the planned and published dates and times of enforcement.

    Dated: December 4, 2017. M.B. Zamperini, Captain, U.S. Coast Guard, Captain of the Port, Sector Ohio Valley.
    [FR Doc. 2017-26476 Filed 12-7-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 9110-04-P
    DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS 38 CFR Part 3 RIN 2900-AP48 Extra-Schedular Evaluations for Individual Disabilities AGENCY:

    Department of Veterans Affairs.

    ACTION:

    Final rule.

    SUMMARY:

    The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) amends its adjudication regulation pertaining to extra-schedular consideration of a service-connected disability in exceptional compensation cases. This rule clarifies that an extra-schedular evaluation is to be applied to an individual service-connected disability when the disability is so exceptional or unusual that it makes application of the regular rating schedule impractical. An extra-schedular evaluation may not be based on the combined effect of more than one service-connected disability. For the reasons set forth in the proposed rule and in this final rule, VA is adopting the proposed rule as final, with two changes, as explained below.

    DATES:

    Effective Date: This rule is effective January 8, 2018.

    Applicability Date: The provisions of this final rule shall apply to all applications for benefits that are received by VA on or after January 8, 2018 or that are pending before VA, the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims, or the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (Federal Circuit) on January 8, 2018.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Nora Jimison, Policy Analyst, Regulations Staff (211D), Compensation Service, Department of Veterans Affairs, 810 Vermont Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20420, (202) 461-9700. (This is not a toll-free telephone number.)

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    On April 20, 2016, VA published in the Federal Register (81 FR 23228) a proposed rule to amend its regulation at 38 CFR 3.321(b)(1) in order to clarify its long-standing interpretation that the regulation provides an extra-schedular evaluation for a single service-connected disability, and not for the combined effect of two or more service-connected disabilities. Section 501 of title 38, United States Code, provides VA with the authority to interpret its own regulations under its general rulemaking authority. Menegassi v. Shinseki, 638 F.3d 1379, 1382 (Fed. Cir. 2011). VA had already proposed to clarify section 3.321(b)(1) as part of a regulation rewrite project in 2013; however, a subsequent decision by the Federal Circuit held that section 3.321(b)(1) required VA to consider the combined effects of two or more service-connected disabilities when determining extra-schedular evaluations. Johnson v. McDonald, 762 F.3d 1362, 1365-66 (Fed. Cir. 2014), rev'g 26 Vet. App. 237 (2013). This decision conflicts with VA's longstanding interpretation of section 3.321(b)(1), and VA therefore decided to amend the regulation in a separate rulemaking to clarify its interpretation of the regulation.

    Interested persons were invited to submit comments to the proposed rule on or before June 20, 2016, and 11 comments were received. Those comments have been organized according to topic in the discussion below.

    I. Separation of Powers

    A commenter stated that VA's rulemaking to overturn Johnson is a violation of the constitutional doctrines of separation of powers and due process. We disagree. “A court's prior judicial construction of a statute trumps an agency construction . . . if the prior court decision holds that its construction follows from the unambiguous terms of the statute and thus leaves no room for agency discretion.” National Cable & Telecomms. Ass'n v. Brand X Internet Servs., 545 U.S. 967, 982 (2005). The Federal Circuit, however, held in Johnson that the language of prior 38 CFR 3.321(b)(1), not a statute, was “unambiguous” and “consistent with language of [38 U.S.C.] § 1155 authorizing the regulation.” 762 F.3d at 1365-66. Where a court decision is based on interpretation of an agency regulation, the agency may undertake rulemaking to revise the regulation to change or clarify the intended meaning of the regulation. See National Org. Veterans' Advocates, Inc. v. Secretary of Veterans Affairs, 260 F.3d 1365, 1374 (Fed. Cir. 2001). Section 1155 of title 38, United States Code, authorizes VA to “adopt and apply a schedule of ratings of reductions in earning capacity from specific injuries or combination of injuries . . . based, as far as practicable, upon the average impairments of earning capacity . . . in civil occupations.” The statute does not mention an extra-schedular evaluation, but rather leaves it to VA's discretion to determine when it is not practicable to assign a rating based upon loss in average earning capacity, and 38 CFR 3.321(b)(1) explains when VA will do so. We therefore do not believe that amendment of the regulation violates separation of powers or due process.

    II. Conflict With 38 U.S.C. 1155

    Four commenters stated that amended section 3.321(b)(1) contradicts 38 U.S.C. 1155. One commenter stated that, by limiting an extra-schedular evaluation to an individual rating, an adjudicator is barred from considering a veteran's average earning impairment resulting from a veteran's “injuries” and instead must look to the impairment of each injury. Another commenter stated that the amended rule would render the term “combination of injuries” in section 1155 superfluous. A third commenter stated that the regulation is inconsistent with the plain language of the statute because it applies to a single disability and as a result, the rule will have no controlling weight. The fourth commenter stated that the regulation should compensate for “average impairments of earning capacity” as provided in section 1155 rather than “actual impairment of earning capacity” as provided in amended section 3.321(b)(1).

    The rule does not contradict or misinterpret 38 U.S.C. 1155. As explained above, section 1155 authorizes VA to “adopt and apply a schedule of ratings of reductions in earning capacity from specific injuries or combination of injuries. The ratings shall be based, as far as practicable, upon the average impairments of earning capacity . . . in civil occupations.” VA has specified how its rating schedule will be applied to determine average impairments in earning capacity due to combinations of injuries. Under the table in 38 CFR 4.25, the ratings for each disability which are based upon the average earning impairment are combined and a rating is assigned for the combined effect of the disabilities. Thus, the terms “injuries” and “combination of injuries” in section 1155 are not rendered superfluous as a result of revised section 3.321(b)(1). Further, section 1155 states that “ratings shall be based, as far as practicable, upon the average impairments of earning capacity.” VA's rule provides for discretion in cases where the schedule is inadequate to compensate for average impairment of earning capacity. Therefore, the regulation is not inconsistent with the statute.

    We disagree with the comment that section 3.321(b)(1) must compensate for impairment of “average earning capacity.” Rather, as the commenter acknowledges, an extra-schedular evaluation is intended for “the exceptional case where the schedular evaluation,” which is based on average earning capacity, “is inadequate.” Section 1155 states that the rating schedule is to be “based, as far as practicable, upon the average impairments of earning capacity.” By its terms, the statute leaves to VA's discretion situations where use of a schedule based on average impairments is not practical or feasible. Pursuant to this authority, VA has promulgated section 3.321(b)(1) allowing for an extra-schedular evaluation in cases in which application of the regular schedular standards is impractical because the veteran's disability is so exceptional or unusual due to such related factors as marked interference with employment or frequent periods of hospitalization. In clarifying its longstanding policy in the amended regulation, VA will continue to look to the evidence to determine whether the veteran's service-connected disability causes factors such as marked interference with employment or frequent periods of hospitalization, rather than limiting a veteran to a schedular rating based upon average impairment of earning capacity.

    Another commenter stated that the regulation is inconsistent with the congressionally mandated statutory scheme, which is pro-veteran. As explained above, by its terms, 38 U.S.C. 1155 leaves to VA's discretion situations where use of a schedule based on average impairments is not practicable or feasible, i.e., where applying such a schedule would not result in a rating reflective of the true measure of disability. Because 38 CFR 3.321(b)(1) allows for an extra-schedular evaluation in cases where the disability is “so exceptional or unusual due to such related factors as marked interference with employment or frequent periods of hospitalization” as to render impractical the application of the regular schedular standards, we believe that the rule is consistent with title 38, United States Code, and is pro-veteran.

    As explained in the notice of proposed rulemaking, 81 FR at 23230, VA has limited extra-schedular consideration to individual disabilities in part due to the substantial difficulty that would accompany efforts to apply such consideration to the combined effects of multiple disabilities in a logical and consistent manner. A determination as to whether existing rating-schedule provisions are inadequate to evaluate a particular claimant's disability requires comparison of the manifestations of the claimant's disability with the types of manifestations listed in the applicable rating schedule provisions. Ratings for combinations of disabilities are determined by application of a standard formula in 38 CFR 4.25, and there are thus no provisions in the rating schedule describing impairments that would be associated with a particular combination of disabilities. Accordingly, VA adjudicators would have no objective standard for determining whether a particular combined rating is adequate or inadequate. Requiring adjudicators to consider the adequacy of combined ratings would lead to inconsistent and highly subjective determinations, and would likely cause delays in the adjudication of claims. These effects would in some respects be detrimental to claimants and to the effective operation of VA's claims-adjudication system.

    III. VA's Interpretation of Prior Version of 38 CFR 3.321(b)(1)

    One commenter disputed VA's statement in the notice of proposed rulemaking that the Department has long interpreted 38 CFR 3.321(b)(1) to provide an extra-schedular evaluation for only one service-connected disability. The commenter cited to the dissenting opinion in the Veterans Court's Johnson decision, 26 Vet. App. at 257-58, regarding the regulatory language over time. 81 FR 23278.

    We respectfully disagree with the analysis of VA's interpretation of the regulation over time. As we stated in the notice of proposed rulemaking, VA, since 1936, has interpreted section 3.321(b)(1) to provide for an extra-schedular evaluation for each service-connected disability for which the schedular evaluation is inadequate based upon the regulatory criteria. The original rule which was promulgated in 1930, R & PR 1307(B), required that a recommendation from a field office alleging that the rating schedule provides inadequate or excessive ratings in an individual case include a statement of findings regarding the extent to which a veteran's actual reduction in earning capacity “is due to the service-connected disability.” The regulation includes only the single version of the word “disability.” The 1936 version of the rule, R & PR 1142, required a submitting agency to provide a recommendation “concerning service connection and evaluation of every disability, under . . . the applicable schedules as interpreted by the submitting agency.” This sentence was deleted from the regulation in 1954, but was incorporated in the Department of Veterans Benefits Veterans Administration Manual 8-5 Revised, para. 47.j. (Jan. 6, 1958), to provide instruction for cases referred under VA Regulation 1142. The word “every” means “[a]ll of a whole collection or aggregate number, considered separately, one by one; each, considered as a unitary part of an aggregate number.” Every, Ballentine's Law Dictionary (emphasis added). Thus, for 28 years following promulgation of R & PR 1307(B) and (C), the VA predecessor regulations to 38 CFR 3.321(b)(1) and the Manual provided for an extra-schedular evaluation based upon the effects of a “disability,” not disabilities.

    The Federal Circuit has previously recognized that VA's interpretation of section 3.321(b)(1) is found in the VBA Manual. Thun v. Shinseki, 572 F.3d 1366, 1369 (Fed. Cir. 2009). As explained above, the 1958 Manual M8-5 Revised, para. 47.j., instructed that every claims folder forwarded for extra-schedular consideration “will include a definite recommendation from the submitting agency concerning evaluation of every disability under the schedule as interpreted by the submitting agency with the diagnostic code.” In 1992, VBA revised the VBA Manual by adding the word “individual” before the word “disability(ies)” in paragraph 3.09, Submission For Extra-Schedular Consideration. M21-1, Part VI, para. 3.09 (Mar. 17, 1992), which required preparation of a memorandum to be submitted to Central Office “whenever the schedular evaluations are considered to be inadequate for an individual disability(ies).” Thus, we believe that there is ample support for the statement that VA has long-interpreted section 3.321(b)(1) and its predecessors as providing for an extra-schedular evaluation for a single service-connected disability that was not adequately compensated under the rating schedule.

    IV. Coverage of Single Disability Under Amended Section 3.321(b)(1)

    Two commenters pointed out that section 3.321(b)(1) is intended “[t]o accord justice,” and that the proposed rule is unjust and inequitable because it ignores the cumulative effects of multiple conditions on a veteran's earning capacity. See Johnson, 762 F.3d at 1366. Another commenter stated that proposed section 3.321(b)(1) ignores the fact that a veteran may have multiple service-connected disabilities that combine to limit the veteran's ability to work or that combine to generate an actual condition worse than that contemplated by the disability schedule.

    The commenters mistakenly assume that VA may only “accord justice” if all service-connected disabilities are considered collectively for deciding entitlement to an extra-schedular evaluation. There is no dispute that 3.321(b)(1) accords justice by authorizing extra-schedular ratings based upon the effect of a service-connected disability upon an individual veteran rather than limiting the veteran to a schedular rating based upon average impairment of earning capacity. Also, the phrase “[t]o accord justice” is given context in section 3.321(b)(1) by the sentence that precedes it: “[r]atings shall be based, as far as practicable, upon the average impairments of earning capacity with the additional proviso that the Secretary shall from time to time readjust this schedule of ratings in accordance with experience.” The rule thus authorizes VA to assign ratings beyond those provided in the schedule even in advance of any necessary revision to the rating schedule. Further, there is a policy reason for limiting an extra-schedular evaluation under section 3.321(b)(1) to a single service-connected disability. As explained above, VA believes that the rule is consistent with the regulatory scheme, under which there is a distinction between application of the schedular criteria relating to specific disabilities and the application of the formula in 38 CFR 4.25 for combining individual disability ratings.

    A commenter inquired about whether a veteran would be entitled to an extra-schedular rating for each service-connected disability. A veteran would be entitled to an extra-schedular rating for each service-connected disability that satisfies the criteria in the rule, i.e., (1) the schedular evaluation for the disability is inadequate; and (2) the disability is so exceptional or unusual due to related factors such as marked interference with employment or frequent periods of hospitalization.

    V. Conflict Between Amended Section 3.321(b)(1) and Other VA Regulations

    One commenter stated that the rule appears to conflict with 38 CFR 3.102, which provides that VA will “administer the law under a broad interpretation.” We do not believe that there is a conflict because, rather than limit a veteran to a schedular rating that is “inadequate,” 38 CFR 3.321(b)(1) provides for an extra-schedular evaluation to account for an “exceptional or unusual disability” involving “marked interference with employment or frequent periods of hospitalization.”

    One commenter wrote that the rule is inconsistent with VA's regulatory scheme for evaluating disabilities because it considers a disability in a vacuum, pointing to 38 CFR 4.10 regarding functional impairment and 38 CFR 3.383, which pertains to special consideration if a veteran has suffered loss of certain paired organs or extremities as a result of service-connected disabilities and non-service-connected disabilities.

    The regulations cited by the commenter do not support the comment. Section 4.10 states that “[t]he basis of disability evaluations is the ability of the body as a whole . . . to function under the ordinary conditions of daily life including employment.” The cited statement, however, falls within Subpart A of the Part 4 regulations, which provides “regulations prescribing the policies and procedures for conducting VA medical examinations,” which are not considered a part of the rating schedule because “[t]he rating schedule consists only of those regulations that establish disabilities and set forth the terms under which compensation shall be provided.” Martinak v. Nicholson, 21 Vet. App. 447, 451-52 (2007) (citing 38 U.S.C. 1155); Vazquez-Flores v. Shinseki, 580 F.3d 1270, 1280 (Fed. Cir. 2009). “Thus, . . . the effects of a disability on one's daily life . . . are not relevant to a disability rating made by a ratings specialist.” Vazquez-Flores, 580 F.3d at 1280. While section 4.10 and related regulations make clear that fully descriptive medical examinations are needed to facilitate application of VA's rating schedule, they do not alter the operation of the rating schedule, which provides for disability ratings to be assigned for each separate disability under the applicable criteria of the rating schedule.

    Section 3.383 of title 38, Code of Federal Regulations, implements 38 U.S.C. 1160, which provides that, in certain cases of paired organs or extremities in which a veteran has a non-service-connected disability attributable to one organ or extremity and a service-connected disability associated with the other organ or extremity, VA must pay compensation as if the combination of disabilities were the result of service-connected disability. Thus, Congress has specified the manner of considering the combined effects of these disabilities. Section 3.321(b)(1), on the other hand, fills a gap in 38 U.S.C. 1155 providing the Secretary with authority to address instances in which the ratings for individual disabilities under the schedule are not practicable or feasible.

    One commenter stated that VA's proposed regulation does not take into account veterans who do not qualify for consideration of entitlement to a rating of total disability based upon individual unemployability (TDIU) under 38 CFR 4.16(b). The commenter states that a veteran may be forced to drop out of the workforce and apply for TDIU as a result of extra-schedular evaluations based upon a single disability.

    Section 3.321(b)(1) addresses a different issue than section 4.16(a) and (b) were written to address. Section 3.321(b)(1) provides an exception to reliance upon a particular rating contained in the rating schedule where the schedule is determined to be inadequate in a particular case and examines the rating issue from the perspective of the schedule in rating a veteran's disability and provides adjustments to the schedule based on the veteran's disability. Section 4.16, on the other hand, looks at the situation from the perspective of the unemployability of an individual veteran. Under section 4.16(a) and (b), the deciding official looks at the overall impairment of a veteran to determine whether the veteran is employable regardless of the particular disability rating or combination of disability ratings awarded. Thus, section 3.321(b)(1) focuses on the schedule's failure to address the effect of a veteran's particular disability and the latter focuses upon the veteran's overall employability. Amending section 3.321(b)(1) based on this comment would also render section 4.16 superfluous because section 3.321(b)(1) could be the basis for a 100 percent extra-schedular rating which would be equivalent to a TDIU rating.

    Another commenter stated that the combined ratings table is inadequate to compensate for the vast array of potential interactions between multiple disabilities. The commenter disputed VA's statement in the notice of proposed rulemaking that there is no mechanism for comparing the combined effects of multiple service-connected disabilities with the schedular criteria and contends, citing Yancy v. McDonald, 27 Vet. App. 484 (2016), that the Department can evaluate the combined effects of multiple disabilities and then compare those effects to the symptoms contemplated for individual disabilities.

    The commenter misunderstands VA's statement. In Johnson, the Federal Circuit held that referral for an extra-schedular evaluation “may be based on the collective impact of the veteran's disabilities.” 762 F.3d at 1365. In Yancy, 27 Vet. App. at 495, the Veterans Court stated that the first step when considering entitlement to an extra-schedular evaluation is to decide whether the schedular evaluations reasonably contemplate the veteran's symptomatology, including any symptoms resulting from the combined effects of multiple service-connected disabilities. However, as VA explained in the notice of proposed rulemaking, there are no provisions in the rating schedule describing impairments associated with a particular combination of disabilities. 81 FR 23230. VA does not merely aggregate symptoms of a veteran's service-connected disabilities. Rather, VA evaluates the combined effects of multiple service-connected disabilities by “consider[ing] . . . the efficiency of the individual as affected first by the most disabling condition, then by the less disabling condition, then by other less disabling conditions, if any, in the order of severity.” 38 CFR 4.25. As a result, it is not possible for the Department to determine for purposes of 38 CFR 3.321(b)(1) whether the rating derived from application of section 4.25 is “inadequate” to compensate for the combined effects of these disabilities. 81 FR 23230.

    If, in a particular case, evidence indicated that two or more service-connected disabilities combined to produce a symptom the claimant believed was not adequately addressed by the rating criteria for any of the individual disabilities at issue, the claimant could, under this rule, seek extra-schedular ratings for the individual conditions and VA would be required to evaluate the medical evidence in determining whether the rating schedule was adequate to evaluate each disabling condition, but would not be required to separately determine whether the combined rating resulting from 38 CFR 4.25 was adequate to evaluate the combined effects of the multiple disabilities.

    VI. Decision Maker on Extra-Schedular Claims

    A commenter stated that, to the extent that extraschedular evaluation of the combined effect of multiple disabilities may impose an additional burden on the Director of the Compensation Service, the decision should instead be made by regional offices (RO) and the Board of Veterans' Appeals. We agree that the ROs should make these fact-intensive decisions in the first instance, and we have therefore revised the rule by eliminating the phrase “upon field station submission” and the word “referred.”

    VII. Section 3.321(b)(1) Criteria for Extra-Schedular Evaluation

    Three commenters criticized the proposed rule on the basis that it does not provide guidance about how to apply the proposed rule or to the Board about how to review the Director's finding.

    The standards for awarding an extra-schedular award are set forth in section 3.321(b) and have been included in the regulation since 1961. See 38 CFR 3.321(B) (1961). Extraschedular consideration is a question of fact “assessing a veteran's unique disability picture and whether that picture results in an average impairment in earning capacity significant enough to warrant an extraschedular rating.” Kuppamala v. McDonald, 27 Vet. App. 447, 454 (2015). Current VBA procedures require the RO to submit a memorandum to the Director that includes the evidence used for the review, including the medical evidence in detail for each service-connected disability. M21-1, Part III, Subpart iv, chapt. 6, § B, para. 4.d. and h. (July 25, 2017). The question for the VA decision maker is whether a veteran's disability is “exceptional or unusual” because the disability “marked[ly] interfere[s] with employment or [causes] frequent periods of hospitalization.” The Board's review of the matter is de novo and requires consideration of all evidence and information pertaining to whether the degree and frequency of an individual's veteran's disability interferes with employment or causes frequent periods of hospitalization. Kuppamala, 27 Vet. App. at 458-59.

    One commenter stated that, in Kuppamala, the Secretary admitted that there are no manageable standards for the assignment of an extraschedular rating. In fact, the Secretary argued in Kuppamala “there are no judicially manageable standards governing the Director's decision as to extraschedular ratings,” which would make it impossible for the Board to review the decision. Id. at 452 (emphasis added). The Veterans Court concluded, however, that 38 U.S.C. 1155 and 38 CFR 3.321(b)(1) provide a judicially manageable standard. Id. at 454.

    Another commenter stated that VA does not explain how it is possible to “'ensure fair and consistent application of rating standards'” given that 38 CFR 3.321(b)(1) requires an initial finding that the “schedular evaluation is inadequate.” (Quoting 81 FR 23231). The rating standards to which VA referred relate to a determination about whether a veteran is entitled to an extra-schedular evaluation, and as explained in the notice of proposed rulemaking, VA believes that the Department is able to fairly and consistently apply rating standards if consideration under section 3.321(b)(1) is limited to whether a rating for an individual disability is adequate as opposed to deciding whether a combined rating based upon residual work efficiency is adequate to rate multiple service-connected disabilities.

    One commenter stated that the definition of the term “disability” in amended section 3.321(b)(1) is unclear and that an extra-schedular evaluation should be available for disability arising from a common disease entity or etiology. The commenter states that, if a veteran has a knee disability that causes both limitation or motion and instability, both effects of the disability should be evaluated together for purposes of entitlement to an extra-schedular rating.

    “Words are not pebbles in alien juxtaposition; they have only a communal existence; and not only does the meaning of each interpenetrate the other, but all in their aggregate take their purport from the setting in which they are used.” Shell Oil Co. v. Iowa Dep't of Revenue, 488 U.S. 19, 25 n.6 (1988) (quoting Nat'l Labor Relations Bd. v. Federbush Co., 121 F.2d 954, 957 (2d Cir. 1941)). Section 3.321(b)(1) states that, “[t]o accord justice to the exceptional case where the schedular evaluation is inadequate to rate a single service-connected disability,” an extra-schedular evaluation may be approved. The requirement that VA consider the adequacy of the schedular evaluation means that the term “single service-connected disability” refers to the individual condition for which the schedular evaluation is inadequate, rather than the effects of a disability, each of which may be rated individually before receiving a combined rating.

    Another commenter stated that the rule does not define “actual impairment in earning capacity” and posed a series of questions about how the term will be defined, e.g., whether a veteran must show loss of a certain amount of income as a result of the disability, and if so, how much of loss must the veteran suffer; whether inability to earn a higher level of income will suffice; and how will actual impairment in earning capacity be determined if a veteran is not employed. We have considered these comments and agree that an extra-schedular rating should be commensurate with the average rather than actual impairment of earning capacity due exclusively to the disability and we have revised the rule accordingly.

    VIII. Comments Beyond Scope of Rulemaking

    A commenter criticized the algorithm used to combine disabilities in 38 CFR 4.25. Another commenter remarked on the inadequacy of the rates in 38 U.S.C. 1114, but acknowledged that this comment is beyond the scope of the rulemaking. These comments are beyond the scope of the rulemaking, and we therefore make no change based on these comments.

    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 the Office of Management and Budget (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 regulatory action 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 this rulemaking and its impact analysis are available on VA's Web site at http://www.va.gov/orpm/, by following the link for “VA Regulations Published From FY 2004 Through Fiscal Year to Date.”

    Regulatory Flexibility Act

    The Secretary hereby certifies that this final rule will 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). This final rule will directly affect only individuals and will not directly affect small entities. Therefore, pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 605(b), this rulemaking is exempt from the initial and final regulatory flexibility analysis requirements of sections 603 and 604.

    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 the 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 final rule would have no such effect on State, local, and tribal governments, or on the private sector.

    Paperwork Reduction Act

    This final rule contains no provisions constituting a collection of information under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3501-3521).

    Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance

    The Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance numbers and titles for the programs affected by this document are 64.109, Veterans Compensation for Service-Connected Disability.

    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 13, 2017, for publication.

    List of Subjects in 38 CFR Part 3

    Administrative practice and procedure, Claims, Disability benefits, Veterans.

    Dated: November 13, 2017. Jeffrey Martin, Impact Analyst, Office of Regulation Policy & Management, Office of the Secretary, Department of Veterans Affairs.

    For the reasons stated in the preamble, the Department of Veterans Affairs amends 38 CFR part 3 as set forth below:

    PART 3—ADJUDICATION Subpart A—Pension, Compensation, and Dependency and Indemnity Compensation 1. The authority citation for part 3, subpart A continues to read as follows: Authority:

    38 U.S.C. 501(a), unless otherwise noted.

    2. Amend § 3.321 by revising the heading of paragraph (b), and revising paragraph (b)(1), to read as follows:
    § 3.321 General rating considerations:

    (b) Extra-schedular ratings in unusual cases—(1) Disability compensation. Ratings shall be based, as far as practicable, upon the average impairments of earning capacity with the additional proviso that the Secretary shall from time to time readjust this schedule of ratings in accordance with experience. To accord justice to the exceptional case where the schedular evaluation is inadequate to rate a single service-connected disability, the Director of Compensation Service or his or her delegate is authorized to approve on the basis of the criteria set forth in this paragraph (b), an extra-schedular evaluation commensurate with the average impairment of earning capacity due exclusively to the disability. The governing norm in these exceptional cases is a finding by the Director of Compensation Service or delegatee that application of the regular schedular standards is impractical because the disability is so exceptional or unusual due to such related factors as marked interference with employment or frequent periods of hospitalization.

    [FR Doc. 2017-26523 Filed 12-7-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 8320-01-P
    ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY 40 CFR Part 52 [EPA-R05-OAR-2016-0058; FRL-9971-80—Region 5] Air Plan Approval; Michigan; Regional Haze Progress Report; Withdrawal of Direct Final Rule AGENCY:

    Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

    ACTION:

    Withdrawal of direct final rule.

    SUMMARY:

    Due to the receipt of an adverse comment, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is withdrawing the October 18, 2017, direct final rule approving the Michigan regional haze progress report under the Clean Air Act (CAA) as a revision to the Michigan State Implementation Plan (SIP).

    DATES:

    The direct final rule published at 82 FR 48435 on October 18, 2017, is withdrawn effective December 8, 2017.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Gilberto Alvarez, Environmental Scientist, Attainment Planning and Maintenance Section, Air Programs Branch (AR-18J), Environmental Protection Agency, Region 5, 77 West Jackson Boulevard, Chicago, Illinois 60604, (312) 886-6143, [email protected].

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    In the direct final rule, EPA stated that if adverse comments were submitted by November 17, 2017, the rule would be withdrawn and not take effect. EPA received an adverse comment prior to the close of the comment period and, therefore, is withdrawing the direct final rule. EPA will address the comment in a subsequent final action based upon the proposed action also published on October 18, 2017 (82 FR 48473). EPA will not institute a second comment period on this action.

    List of Subjects in 40 CFR Part 52

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

    Authority:

    42 U.S.C. 7401 et seq.

    Dated: November 17, 2017. Robert A. Kaplan, Acting Regional Administrator, Region 5. PART 52—APPROVAL AND PROMULGATION OF IMPLEMENTATION PLANS Accordingly, the amendment to 40 CFR 52.1170 published in the Federal Register on October 18, 2017 (82 FR 48435), on page 48439 is withdrawn effective December 8, 2017.
    [FR Doc. 2017-26409 Filed 12-7-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560-50-P
    ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY 40 CFR Part 52 [EPA-R03-OAR-2014-0701; FRL-9971-70—Region 3] Approval and Promulgation of Air Quality Implementation Plans; District of Columbia; Interstate Transport Requirements for the 2010 1-Hour Sulfur Dioxide Standard; Withdrawal of Direct Final Rule AGENCY:

    Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

    ACTION:

    Withdrawal of direct final rule.

    SUMMARY:

    Due to receipt of adverse comment, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is withdrawing the direct final rule to approve revisions to the District of Columbia state implementation plan (SIP) pertaining to the infrastructure requirement for interstate transport of pollution with respect to the 2010 1-hour sulfur dioxide (SO2) national ambient air quality standards (NAAQS). In the direct final rule published on Wednesday, October 18, 2017 (82 FR 48439), EPA stated that if we received adverse comment by November 17, 2017, the rule would be withdrawn and not take effect. EPA subsequently received adverse comment. EPA will address the comments received in a subsequent final rulemaking action based upon the proposed action, also published on Wednesday, October 18, 2017 (82 FR 48472). EPA will not institute a second comment period on this action.

    DATES:

    The direct final rule published at 82 FR 48439 on October 18, 2017 is withdrawn effective December 8, 2017.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Joseph Schulingkamp, (215) 814-2021, or by email at [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    On July 17, 2014, the District of Columbia (the District) through the District Department of Energy and the Environment (DDOEE) submitted a SIP revision addressing the infrastructure requirements under section 110(a)(2) of the Clean Air Act (CAA) for the 2010 1-hour SO2 NAAQS. In the direct final rule published on October 18, 2017 (82 FR 48439), EPA stated that if EPA received adverse comments by November 17, 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 revision to the District of Columbia SIP pertaining to the interstate transport requirements for the SO2 NAAQS promulgated by EPA on October 18, 2017 (82 FR 48439). 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, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Sulfur oxides.

    Dated: November 22, 2017. Cosmo Servidio, Regional Administrator, Region III. Accordingly, the amendments to 40 CFR 52.470 published on October 18, 2017 (82 FR 48439) are withdrawn effective December 8, 2017.
    [FR Doc. 2017-26404 Filed 12-7-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560-50-P
    ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY 40 CFR Part 52 [EPA-R05-OAR-2017-0157; FRL-9971-75-Region 5] Air Plan Approval; Wisconsin; Regional Haze Progress Report; Withdrawal of Direct Final Rule AGENCY:

    Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

    ACTION:

    Withdrawal of direct final rule.

    SUMMARY:

    Due to the receipt of an adverse comment, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is withdrawing the October 20, 2017, direct final rule approving the Wisconsin regional haze progress report under the Clean Air Act as a revision to the Wisconsin State Implementation Plan (SIP).

    DATES:

    The direct final rule published at 82 FR 48766 on October 20, 2017, is withdrawn effective December 8, 2017.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Gilberto Alvarez, Environmental Scientist, Attainment Planning and Maintenance Section, Air Programs Branch (AR-18J), Environmental Protection Agency, Region 5, 77 West Jackson Boulevard, Chicago, Illinois 60604, (312) 886-6143, [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    In the direct final rule, EPA stated that if adverse comments were submitted by November 20, 2017, the rule would be withdrawn and not take effect. EPA received an adverse comment prior to the close of the comment period and, therefore, is withdrawing the direct final rule. EPA will address the comment in a subsequent final action based upon the proposed action also published on October 20, 2017 (82 FR 48780). EPA will not institute a second comment period on this action.

    List of Subjects in 40 CFR Part 52

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

    Authority:

    42 U.S.C. 7401 et seq.

    Dated: November 27, 2017. Robert A. Kaplan, Acting Regional Administrator, Region 5. PART 52—APPROVAL AND PROMULGATION OF IMPLEMENTATION PLANS Accordingly, the amendment to 40 CFR part 52, Subpart YY—Wisconsin published in the Federal Register on October 20, 2017 (82 FR 48766), on page 48769 is withdrawn effective December 8, 2017.
    [FR Doc. 2017-26407 Filed 12-7-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560-50-P
    ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY 40 CFR Part 52 [EPA-R05-OAR-2017-0082; FRL-9971-79—Region 5] Air Plan Approval; Illinois; Regional Haze Progress Report; Withdrawal of Direct Final Rule AGENCY:

    Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

    ACTION:

    Withdrawal of direct final rule.

    SUMMARY:

    Due to the receipt of an adverse comment, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is withdrawing the October 18, 2017, direct final rule approving the Illinois regional haze progress report under the Clean Air Act as a revision to the Illinois State Implementation Plan (SIP).

    DATES:

    The direct final rule published at 82 FR 48431 on October 18, 2017, is withdrawn effective December 8, 2017.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Charles Hatten, Environmental Engineer, Control Strategy Section, Air Programs Branch (AR-18J), Environmental Protection Agency, Region 5, 77 West Jackson Boulevard, Chicago, Illinois 60604, (312) 886-6031, [email protected].

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    In the direct final rule, EPA stated that if adverse comments were submitted by November 17, 2017, the rule would be withdrawn and not take effect. EPA received an adverse comment prior to the close of the comment period and, therefore, is withdrawing the direct final rule. EPA will address the comment in a subsequent final action based upon the proposed action also published on October 18, 2017 (82 FR 48473). EPA will not institute a second comment period on this action.

    List of Subjects in 40 CFR Part 52

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

    Authority:

    42 U.S.C. 7401 et seq.

    Dated: November 27, 2017. Robert A. Kaplan, Acting Regional Administrator, Region 5. PART 52—APPROVAL AND PROMULGATION OF IMPLEMENTATION PLANS Accordingly, the amendment to 40 CFR 52.720 published in the Federal Register on October 18, 2017 (82 FR 48431), on pages 48434-48435 is withdrawn effective December 8, 2017.
    [FR Doc. 2017-26411 Filed 12-7-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560-50-P
    ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY 40 CFR Part 52 [EPA-R10-OAR-2017-0554; FRL-9970-27—Region 10] Air Plan Approval; AK: Updates to Materials Incorporated by Reference AGENCY:

    Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

    ACTION:

    Final rule; administrative change.

    SUMMARY:

    The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is updating the materials that are incorporated by reference (IBR) into the Alaska State Implementation Plan (SIP). The regulations affected by this format change have all been previously submitted by Alaska and approved by the EPA. In this action, the EPA is also notifying the public of corrections to typographical errors, and minor formatting changes to the IBR tables. This update affects the SIP materials that are available for public inspection at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) and the EPA Regional Office.

    DATES:

    This rule is effective on December 8, 2017.

    ADDRESSES:

    SIP materials which are incorporated by reference into 40 CFR part 52 are available for inspection at the following locations: Environmental Protection Agency, Region 10 Office of Air and Waste (OAW-150), 1200 Sixth Avenue, Seattle, WA 98101, or the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). For information on the availability of this material at NARA, call (202) 741-6030, or go to: https://www.archives.gov/federal-register/cfr/ibr-locations.html.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Kristin Hall, EPA Region 10, (206) 553-6357, [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: I. Background

    The SIP is a living document that a state revises as necessary to address its unique air pollution problems. Therefore, from time to time, the EPA must take action on SIP revisions containing new and/or revised regulations, approving and incorporating them into the SIP. On May 22, 1997, the EPA revised the procedures for incorporating by reference federally-approved SIPs, as a result of consultations between the EPA and the Office of the Federal Register (OFR) (62 FR 27968). The description of the revised SIP document, IBR procedures and “Identification of plan” format is discussed in further detail in the May 22, 1997, Federal Register document. On April 10, 2014, the EPA published a Federal Register beginning the new IBR procedure for Alaska (79 FR 19820). Since then, the EPA has approved and incorporated by reference the following provisions of Alaska Administrative Code (18 AAC 50), Alaska Statutes (AS), and Fairbanks North Star Borough (FNSB) Code into the Alaska SIP.

    A. Added Regulations • 18 AAC 50.007 Local Government Powers or Obligations Under a Local Air Quality Control Program • 18 AAC 50.076 Solid Fuel-fired Heating Device Fuel Requirements; Standards for Commercial Wood-sellers • 18 AAC 50.077 Standards for Wood-fired Heating Devices • 18 AAC 50.246 Air Quality Episodes and Advisories for PM2.5 • 18 AAC 50.400 Permit Administration Fees • 18 AAC 50.510 Minor Permit: 18 AAC 50.510 Minor Permit—Title V Permit Interface • 18 AAC 50.712 Agency Responsibilities • FNSB 21.28.010 Definitions • FNSB 21.28.020 Borough listed devices • FNSB 21.28.030 Prohibited acts • FNSB 21.28.050 Forecasting exceedances and restrictions in the air quality control zone during an alert • FNSB 21.28.060 No other adequate source of heat determination B. Revised Regulations • 18 AAC 50.010 Ambient Air Quality Standards • 18 AAC 50.015 Air Quality Designations, Classifications, and Control Regions • 18 AAC 50.020 Baseline Dates and Maximum Allowable Increases • 18 AAC 50.025 Visibility and Other Special Protection Areas • 18 AAC 50.035 Documents, Procedures and Methods Adopted by Reference • 18 AAC 50.040 Federal Standards Adopted by Reference • 18 AAC 50.050 Incinerator Emission Standards • 18 AAC 50.055 Industrial Processes and Fuel-Burning Equipment • 18 AAC 50.065 Open Burning • 18 AAC 50.215 Ambient Air Quality Analysis Methods • 18 AAC 50.220 Enforceable Test Methods • 18 AAC 50.230 Owner-Requested Limits • 18 AAC 50.245 Air Quality Episodes and Advisories for Pollutants Other Than PM2.5 • 18 AAC 50.260 Guidelines for Best Available Retrofit Technology Under the Regional Haze Rule • 18 AAC 50.302 Construction Permits • 18 AAC 50.306 Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) Permits • 18 AAC 50.345 Construction, Minor and Operating Permits: Standard Permit Conditions • 18 AAC 50.400 Permit Administration Fees • 18 AAC 50.502 Minor Permits for Air Quality Protection • 18 AAC 50.508 Minor Permits Requested by the Owner or Operator • 18 AAC 50.510 Minor Permit: 18 AAC 50.510 Minor Permit—Title V Permit Interface • 18 AAC 50.540 Minor Permit: Application • 18 AAC 50.542 Minor Permit: Review and Issuance • 18 AAC 50.544 Minor Permit: Content • 18 AAC 50.546 Minor Permit: Revisions • 18 AAC 50.700 Purpose • 18 AAC 50.705 Applicability • 18 AAC 50.715 Interagency Consultation Procedures • 18 AAC 50.720 Public Involvement • 18 AAC 50.740 Written Commitments • 18 AAC 50.745 Resolving Conflicts • 18 AAC 50.750 Exempt Projects • 18 AAC 50.990 Definitions • AS 46.14.550 Responsibilities of Owner and Operator • AS 46.14.990 Definitions C. Removed Regulations • 18 AAC 50.060 Pulp Mills • 18 AAC 50.710 Transportation Conformity: Incorporation by Reference of Federal Regulations • 18 AAC 50.725 General Conformity: Incorporation by Reference of Federal Regulations • 18 AAC 50.735 General Conformity: Frequency of Conformity Determinations • AS 46.14.510 Motor Vehicle Pollution II. EPA Action

    In this action, the EPA is announcing the update to the IBR material as of September 8, 2017. The EPA is correcting minor typographical errors and rearranging and republishing the contents of subsection 52.70(c). The EPA is also rearranging and republishing the contents of subsection 52.70(e) to align the contents with the outline of the Alaska state plan volumes and sections. We note we are correcting entries 18 AAC 50.075 and 18 AAC 50.077 in subsection 52.70(c) to accurately reflect the portions of these rule sections that were withdrawn by the State and not approved into the SIP (September 8, 2017, 82 FR 42457). We are also correcting the table in subsection 52.70(e) to reflect our approval of the appendices to the Regional Haze Plan at entry III.III.K. (February 14, 2013, 78 FR 10546) and our most recent approval of the State Air Statutes at entry III.II.A. (September 19, 2014, 79 FR 56268).

    The EPA has determined that this rule falls under the “good cause” exemption in section 553(b)(3)(B) of the Administrative Procedures Act (APA) which, upon finding “good cause,” authorizes agencies to dispense with public participation and section 553(d)(3) which allows an agency to make a rule effective immediately (thereby avoiding the 30-day delayed effective date otherwise provided for in the APA). This rule simply codifies provisions which are already in effect as a matter of law in federal and approved state programs. Under section 553 of the APA, an agency may find good cause where procedures are “impractical, unnecessary, or contrary to the public interest.” Public comment is “unnecessary” and “contrary to the public interest” since the codification only reflects existing law. Immediate notice in the CFR benefits the public by removing outdated citations and incorrect table entries.

    III. Incorporation by Reference

    In this rule, the EPA is finalizing regulatory text that includes incorporation by reference. In accordance with requirements of 1 CFR 51.5, the EPA is finalizing the incorporation by reference of previously EPA-approved regulations promulgated by Alaska and federally-effective prior to September 8, 2017. The EPA has made, and will continue to make, these materials generally available through www.regulations.gov and/or at the EPA Region 10 Office (please contact the person identified in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section of this preamble for more information).

    IV. Statutory and Executive Orders Review A. General Requirements

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    • is not subject to requirements of Section 12(d) of the National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act of 1995 (15 U.S.C. 272 note) because this action does not involve technical standards; and

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

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

    In this rule, the EPA is finalizing regulatory text that includes incorporation by reference. In accordance with requirements of 1 CFR 51.5, the EPA is finalizing the incorporation by reference of the Alaska regulations described in the amendments to 40 CFR part 52 set forth below. The EPA has made, and will continue to make, these documents generally available electronically through www.regulations.gov and/or in hard copy at the appropriate EPA office (see the ADDRESSES section of this preamble for more information).

    B. Submission to Congress and the Comptroller General

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

    C. Petitions for Judicial Review

    The EPA has also determined that the provisions of section 307(b)(1) of the CAA pertaining to petitions for judicial review are not applicable to this action. Prior EPA rulemaking actions for each individual component of the Alaska SIP compilations had previously afforded interested parties the opportunity to file a petition for judicial review in the United States Court of Appeals for the appropriate circuit within 60 days of such rulemaking action. Thus, the EPA sees no need in this action to reopen the 60-day period for filing such petitions for judicial review for this “Identification of plan” update action for Alaska.

    List of Subjects in 40 CFR Part 52

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

    Dated: October 19, 2017. Michelle L. Pirzadeh, Acting Regional Administrator, Region 10.

    Part 52 of chapter I, title 40 of the Code of Federal Regulations, is amended as follows:

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

    42 U.S.C. 7401 et seq.

    Subpart C—Alaska 2. In § 52.70, revise paragraphs (b) through (e) to read as follows:
    § 52.70 Identification of plan.

    (b) Incorporation by reference. (1) Material listed in paragraphs (c) and (d) of this section with an EPA approval date prior to September 8, 2017, was approved for incorporation by reference by the Director of the Federal Register in accordance with 5 U.S.C. 552(a) and 1 CFR part 51. Material is incorporated as it exists on the date of the approval, and notice of any change in the material will be published in the Federal Register. Entries in paragraphs (c) and (d) of this section with EPA approval dates after September 8, 2017, will be incorporated by reference in the next update to the SIP compilation.

    (2) The EPA Region 10 certifies that the rules and regulations provided by the EPA in the SIP compilation at the addresses in paragraph (b)(3) of this section are an exact duplicate of the officially promulgated State rules/regulations which have been approved as part of the State Implementation Plan as of September 8, 2017.

    (3) Copies of the materials incorporated by reference may be inspected at the EPA Region 10 Office at 1200 Sixth Avenue, Seattle WA, 98101; or the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). For information on the availability of this material at NARA, call (202) 741-6030, or go to: https://www.archives.gov/federal-register/cfr/ibr-locations.html.

    (c) EPA approved regulations.

    EPA-Approved Alaska Regulations and Statutes State citation Title/subject State
  • effective date
  • EPA approval date Explanations
    Alaska Administrative Code Title 18 Environmental Conservation, Chapter 50—Air Quality Control (18 AAC 50) 18 AAC 50—Article 1. Ambient Air Quality Management 18 AAC 50.005 Purpose and Applicability of Chapter 10/1/2004 8/14/2007, 72 FR 45378 18 AAC 50.007 Local Government Powers or Obligations Under a Local Air Quality Control Program 2/28/2015 9/8/2017, 82 FR 42457 18 AAC 50.010 Ambient Air Quality Standards 8/20/2016 8/28/2017, 82 FR 40712 Except (8). 18 AAC 50.015 Air Quality Designations, Classifications, and Control Regions 4/17/2015 5/19/2016, 81 FR 31511 18 AAC 50.020 Baseline Dates and Maximum Allowable Increases 8/20/2016 8/28/2017, 82 FR 40712 18 AAC 50.025 Visibility and Other Special Protection Areas 11/26/2016 9/8/2017, 82 FR 42457 18 AAC 50.035 Documents, Procedures and Methods Adopted by Reference 8/20/2016 8/28/2017, 82 FR 40712 Except (a)(6) and (b)(4). 18 AAC 50.040 Federal Standards Adopted by Reference 8/20/2016; 11/9/2014 8/28/2017, 82 FR 40712; 1/7/2015, 80 FR 832 Except (a), (b), (c), (d), (e), (g), (j) and (k). 18 AAC 50.045 Prohibitions 10/1/2004 8/14/2007, 72 FR 45378 18 AAC 50.050 Incinerator Emission Standards 7/25/2008 9/19/2014, 79 FR 56268 18 AAC 50.055 Industrial Processes and Fuel-Burning Equipment 8/20/2016 8/28/2017, 82 FR 40712 Except (d)(2)(B). 18 AAC 50.065 Open Burning 3/2/2016 9/8/2017, 82 FR 42457 18 AAC 50.070 Marine Vessel Visible Emission Standards 6/21/1998 8/14/2007, 72 FR 45378 18 AAC 50.075 Solid Fuel-Fired Heating Device Visible Emission Standards 11/26/2016 9/8/2017, 82 FR 42457 Except (d)(2). 18 AAC 50.076 Solid Fuel-Fired Heating Device Fuel Requirements; Registration of Commercial Wood Sellers 11/26/2016 9/8/2017, 82 FR 42457 Except (g)(11). 18 AAC 50.077 Standards for Wood-Fired Heating Devices 11/26/2016 9/8/2017, 82 FR 42457 Except (h). 18 AAC 50.080 Ice Fog Standards 1/18/1997 8/14/2007, 72 FR 45378 18 AAC 50.100 Nonroad Engines 10/1/2004 8/14/2007, 72 FR 45378 18 AAC 50.110 Air Pollution Prohibited 5/26/1972 5/31/1972, 37 FR 10842 18 AAC 50—Article 2. Program Administration 18 AAC 50.200 Information Requests 10/1/2004 8/14/2007, 72 FR 45378 18 AAC 50.201 Ambient Air Quality Investigation 10/1/2004 8/14/2007, 72 FR 45378 18 AAC 50.205 Certification 10/1/2004 8/14/2007, 72 FR 45378 18 AAC 50.215 Ambient Air Quality Analysis Methods 8/20/2016 8/28/2017, 82 FR 40712 Except (a)(4). 18 AAC 50.220 Enforceable Test Methods 9/14/2012 9/19/2014, 79 FR 56268 Except (c)(1)(A), (B), (C), and (c)(2). 18 AAC 50.225 Owner-Requested Limits 10/6/2013 5/27/2015, 80 FR 30161 18 AAC 50.230 Preapproved Emission Limits 9/26/2015; 
  •  1/29/2005
  • 11/25/2016, 81 FR 85160; 8/14/2007, 72 FR 45378 Except (d).
    18 AAC 50.240 Excess Emissions 1/18/1997 11/18/1998, 63 FR 63983 18 AAC 50.245 Air Quality Episodes and Advisories for Air Pollutants Other than PM2.5 2/28/2015 9/8/2017, 82 FR 42457 18 AAC 50.246 Air Quality Episodes and Advisories for PM2.5 2/28/2015 9/8/2017, 82 FR 42457 18 AAC 50.250 Procedures and Criteria for Revising Air Quality Classifications 10/1/2004 8/14/2007, 72 FR 45378 18 AAC 50.260 Guidelines for Best Available Retrofit Technology under the Regional Haze Rule 9/26/2015; 10/6/2013 11/25/2016, 81 FR 85160; 5/27/2015, 80 FR 30161 18 AAC 50—Article 3. Major Stationary Source Permits 18 AAC 50.301 Permit Continuity 10/1/2004 8/14/2007, 72 FR 45378 18 AAC 50.302 Construction Permits 9/14/2012 9/19/2014, 79 FR 56268 Except (a)(3). 18 AAC 50.306 Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) Permits 1/4/2013 9/19/2014, 79 FR 56268 18 AAC 50.311 Nonattainment Area Major Stationary Source Permits 10/1/2004 8/14/2007, 72 FR 45378 18 AAC 50.345 Construction, Minor and Operating Permits: Standard Permit Conditions 8/20/2016 8/28/2017, 82 FR 40712 Except (b), (c)(3), and (l). 18 AAC 50—Article 4. User Fees 18 AAC 50.400 Permit Administration Fees 9/26/2015 11/25/2016, 81 FR 85160 Except (a), (b), (c), and (i). 18 AAC 50—Article 5. Minor Permits 18 AAC 50.502 Minor Permits for Air Quality Protection 8/20/2016 8/28/2017, 82 FR 40712 18 AAC 50.508 Minor Permits Requested by the Owner or Operator 12/9/2010 9/19/2014, 79 FR 56268 18 AAC 50.510 Minor Permit—Title V Permit Interface 12/9/2010 9/19/2014, 79 FR 56268 18 AAC 50.540 Minor Permit: Application 8/20/2016 8/28/2017, 82 FR 40712 18 AAC 50.542 Minor Permit: Review and Issuance 8/20/2016 8/28/2017, 82 FR 40712 Except (b)(2). 18 AAC 50.544 Minor Permits: Content 12/9/2010 9/19/2014, 79 FR 56268 18 AAC 50.546 Minor Permits: Revisions 7/15/2008 9/19/2014, 79 FR 56268 Except (b). 18 AAC 50.560 General Minor Permits 10/1/2004 8/14/2007, 72 FR 45378 18 AAC 50—Article 7. Transportation Conformity 18 AAC 50.700 Purpose 4/17/2015 9/8/2015; 80 FR 53735 18 AAC 50.705 Applicability 4/17/2015 9/8/2015; 80 FR 53735 18 AAC 50.712 Agency Responsibilities 4/17/2015 9/8/2015; 80 FR 53735 18 AAC 50.715 Interagency Consultation Procedures 3/2/2016 8/28/2017, 82 FR 40712 18 AAC 50.720 Public Involvement 3/2/2016 8/28/2017, 82 FR 40712 18 AAC 50.740 Written Comments 4/17/2015 9/8/2015, 80 FR 53735 18 AAC 50.745 Resolving Conflicts 4/17/2015 9/8/2015, 80 FR 53735 18 AAC 50.750 Exempt Projects 4/17/2015 9/8/2015, 80 FR 53735 18 AAC 50—Article 9. General Provisions 18 AAC 50.900 Small Business Assistance Program 10/1/2004 8/14/2007, 72 FR 45378 18 AAC 50.990 Definitions 3/2/2016 9/8/2017, 82 FR 42457 Alaska Administrative Code Title 18 Environmental Conservation, Chapter 52—Emissions Inspection and Maintenance Requirements (18 AAC 52) 18 AAC 52—Article 1. Emissions Inspection and Maintenance Requirements 18 AAC 52.005 Applicability and General Requirements 5/17/2008 3/22/2010, 75 FR 13436 18 AAC 52.007 Suspension and Reestablishment of I/M Requirements 5/17/2008 3/22/2010, 75 FR 13436 18 AAC 52.010 I/M Program Administration Office 2/18/2006 3/22/2010, 75 FR 13436 18 AAC 52.015 Motor Vehicle Maintenance Requirements 2/18/2006 3/22/2010, 75 FR 13436 18 AAC 52.020 Certificate of Inspection Requirements 2/18/2006 3/22/2010, 75 FR 13436 18 AAC 52.025 Visual Identification of Certificate of Inspection, Waivers, and Exempt Vehicles 2/18/2006 3/22/2010, 75 FR 13436 18 AAC 52.030 Department-Administered I/M Program 2/1/1994 4/5/1995, 60 FR 17232 18 AAC 52.035 I/M Program Administered by an Implementing Agency 3/27/2002 3/22/2010, 75 FR 13436 18 AAC 52.037 Reporting Requirements for an I/M Program Administered by an Implementing Agency 2/18/2006 3/22/2010, 75 FR 13436 18 AAC 52.040 Centralized Inspection Program 2/1/1994 4/5/1995, 60 FR 17232 18 AAC 52.045 Decentralized Inspection Program 2/1/1994 4/5/1995, 60 FR 17232 18 AAC 52.050 Emissions Standards 3/27/2002 3/22/2010, 75 FR 13436 18 AAC 52.055 Alternative Requirements, Standards and Test Procedures 1/1/2000 1/8/2002, 67 FR 822 18 AAC 52.060 Waivers 5/17/2008 3/22/2010, 75 FR 13436 18 AAC 52.065 Emissions-Related Repair Cost Minimum 1/1/2000 1/8/2002, 67 FR 822 18 AAC 52.070 Referee Facility 3/27/2002 3/22/2010, 75 FR 13436 18 AAC 52.075 Kit Cars and Custom-Manufactured Vehicles 2/1/1994 4/5/1995, 60 FR 17232 18 AAC 52.080 Grey Market Vehicles 3/27/2002 3/22/2010, 75 FR 13436 18 AAC 52.085 Vehicle Modifications 2/18/2006 3/22/2010, 75 FR 13436 18 AAC 52.090 Repair of Nonconforming Vehicles 1/1/1998 12/29/1999, 64 FR 72940 18 AAC 52.095 Minimum Certification Requirements 1/1/1998 12/29/1999, 64 FR 72940 18 AAC 52.100 Enforcement Procedures for Violations by Motorists 12/14/2006 3/22/2010, 75 FR 13436 18 AAC 52.105 Enforcement Procedures for Violations by Certified Mechanics or Stations 1/1/2000 1/8/2002, 67 FR 822 18 AAC 52—Article 4. Certification Requirements 18 AAC 52.400 Mechanic Certification 1/1/1998 12/29/1999, 64 FR 72940 18 AAC 52.405 Certified Mechanic Examinations 3/27/2002 3/22/2010, 75 FR 13436 18 AAC 52.410 Training Course Certification 2/18/2006 3/22/2010, 75 FR 13436 18 AAC 52.415 I/M Station Certification 1/1/2000 1/8/2002, 67 FR 822 18 AAC 52.420 Equipment Certification 1/1/2000 1/8/2002, 67 FR 822 18 AAC 52.425 Renewal of Certification 1/1/1998 12/29/1999, 64 FR 72940 18 AAC 52.430 Duty to Report Change in Status 2/1/1994 4/5/1995, 60 FR 17232 18 AAC 52.440 Monitoring of Certified Mechanics and Stations 1/1/2000 1/8/2002, 67 FR 822 18 AAC 52.445 Suspension or Revocation of Certification 2/1/1994 4/5/1995, 60 FR 17232 18 AAC 52—Article 5. Certified Station Requirements 18 AAC 52.500 General Operating Requirements 1/1/2000 1/8/2002, 67 FR 822 18 AAC 52.505 Display of Certified Station Sign 2/1/1994 4/5/1995, 60 FR 17232 18 AAC 52.510 Display of Certificates 2/18/2006 3/22/2010, 75 FR 13436 18 AAC 52.515 Inspection Charges 2/18/2006 3/22/2010, 75 FR 13436 18 AAC 52.520 Required Tools and Equipment 2/18/2006 3/22/2010, 75 FR 13436 18 AAC 52.525 Remote Station Operation 1/1/2000 1/8/2002, 67 FR 822 18 AAC 52.527 Prescreening Prohibited 1/1/2000 1/8/2002, 67 FR 822 18 AAC 52.530 Preliminary Inspection 1/1/2000 1/8/2002, 67 FR 822 18 AAC 52.535 Test Abort Conditions 3/27/2002 3/22/2010, 75 FR 13436 18 AAC 52.540 Official I/M Testing 3/27/2002 3/22/2010, 75 FR 13436 18 AAC 52.545 Parts on Order 1/1/1998 12/29/1999, 64 FR 72940 18 AAC 52.546 Unavailable Parts 1/1/1998 12/29/1999, 64 FR 72940 18 AAC 52.550 Recordkeeping Requirements 2/1/1994 4/5/1995, 60 FR 17232 18 AAC 52—Article 9. General Provisions 18 AAC 52.990 Definitions 2/18/2006 3/22/2010, 75 FR 13436 Alaska Administrative Code Title 18 Environmental Conservation, Chapter 53—Fuel Requirements for Motor Vehicles (18 AAC 53) 18 AAC 53—Article 1. Oxygenated Gasoline Requirements 18 AAC 53.005 Purpose and Applicability; General Requirements 10/31/1997 12/29/1999, 64 FR 72940 18 AAC 53.007 Dispenser Labeling 10/31/1997 12/29/1999, 64 FR 72940 18 AAC 53.010 Control Periods and Control Areas 2/20/2004 6/23/2004, 69 FR 34935 18 AAC 53.020 Required Oxygen Content 10/31/1997 12/29/1999, 64 FR 72940 18 AAC 53.030 Sampling, Testing and Oxygen Content Calculations 10/31/1997 12/29/1999, 64 FR 72940 18 AAC 53.035 Per Gallon Method of Compliance 10/31/1997 12/29/1999, 64 FR 72940 18 AAC 53.040 Averaging Oxygen Content Method of Compliance 10/31/1997 12/29/1999, 64 FR 72940 18 AAC 53.045 Oxygen Credits and Debits 10/31/1997 12/29/1999, 64 FR 72940 18 AAC 53.060 Oxygenated Gasoline Blending 10/31/1997 12/29/1999, 64 FR 72940 18 AAC 53.070 Registration and Permit 10/31/1997 12/29/1999, 64 FR 72940 18 AAC 53.080 Car Fees 12/30/2000 1/08/2002, 67 FR 822 18 AAC 53.090 Recordkeeping 10/31/1997 12/29/1999, 64 FR 72940 18 AAC 53.100 Reporting 10/31/1997 12/29/1999, 64 FR 72940 18 AAC 53.105 Product Transfer Document 10/31/1997 12/29/1999, 64 FR 72940 18 AAC 53.120 Inspection and Sampling 10/31/1997 12/29/1999, 64 FR 72940 18 AAC 53.130 Liability for Violation 10/31/1997 12/29/1999, 64 FR 72940 18 AAC 53.140 Defenses for Violation 10/31/1997 12/29/1999, 64 FR 72940 18 AAC 53.150 Temporary Variances 10/31/1997 12/29/1999, 64 FR 72940 18 AAC 53.160 Quality Assurance Program 10/31/1997 12/29/1999, 64 FR 72940 18 AAC 53.170 Attest Engagements 10/31/1997 12/29/1999, 64 FR 72940 18 AAC 53.190 Suspension and Reestablishment of Control Period 2/20/2004 6/23/2004, 69 FR 34935 18 AAC 53—Article 9. General Provisions 18 AAC 53.990 Definitions 10/31/1997 12/29/1999, 64 FR 72940 Alaska Statutes Title 45 Trade and Commerce, Chapter 45.45. Trade Practices Sec. 45.45.400 Prohibited Transfer of Used Cars 6/25/1993 11/18/1998, 63 FR 63983 Except (b). Title 46 Water, Air, Energy, and Environmental Conservation, Chapter 46.14—Air Quality Control Sec. 46.14.550 Responsibilities of Owner and Operator; Agent for Service 1/4/2013 9/19/2014, 79 FR 56268 Sec. 46.14.560 Unavoidable Malfunctions and Emergencies 6/25/1993 11/18/1998, 63 FR 63983 Sec. 46.14.990 Definitions 1/4/2013 9/19/2014, 79 FR 56268 Except (1) through (3), (6), (7), (9) through (14), (19) through (26), and (28). City and Borough Codes and Ordinances Anchorage Municipal Code 21.85.030 Improvement Requirements by Improvement Area 1/16/1987 (city effective date) 8/13/1993, 58 FR 43084 Eagle River PM Plan—Contingency Plan. Anchorage Municipal Code 21.45.080.W.7 Paving 9/24/1991 (city effective date) 8/13/1993, 58 FR 43084 Section W.7. Eagle River PM Plan—Contingency Plan. Fairbanks North Star Borough Ordinance No. 2001-17 Mandating a Fairbanks North Star Borough Motor Vehicle Plug-in Program 4/12/2001 (borough adoption date) 2/4/2002, 67 FR 5064 Fairbanks Transportation Control Program—Carbon Monoxide. Fairbanks North Star Borough Ordinance No. 2003-71 An Ordinance amending the Carbon Monoxide Emergency Episode Prevention Plan including implementing a Woodstove Control Ordinance 10/30/2003 (borough adoption date) 7/27/2004, 69 FR 44601 Fairbanks Carbon Monoxide Maintenance Plan. Ordinance of the City and Borough of Juneau, No. 91-52 An Ordinance amending the Wood smoke control code to lower the particulate count threshold, and to prohibit the burning in woodstoves of substances other than paper, cardboard and untreated wood 1/6/1992 (city adoption date) 3/24/1994, 59 FR 13884 Mendenhall Valley PM Plan. Ordinance of the City and Borough of Juneau, No. 91-53 An Ordinance amending the wood smoke control fine schedule to increase the fines for violations of the wood smoke control code 1/6/1992 (city adoption date) 3/24/1994, 59 FR 13884 Mendenhall Valley PM Plan. Ordinance of the City and Borough of Juneau No. 93-01 Setting boundaries for regrading and surfacing 2/8/1993 (city adoption date) 3/24/1994, 59 FR 13884 Mendenhall Valley PM Plan. Ordinance of the City and Borough of Juneau, No. 93-06 Setting boundaries for regrading and surfacing 4/5/1993 (city adoption date) 3/24/1994, 59 FR 13884 Mendenhall Valley PM Plan. Ordinance of the City and Borough of Juneau, No. 93-39am An Ordinance creating Local Improvement District No. 77 of the City and Borough, setting boundaries for drainage and paving of streets in the Mendenhall Valley 11/17/1993 (city adoption date) 3/24/1994, 59 FR 13884 Mendenhall Valley PM Plan. Anchorage Ordinance 2006-13 An ordinance amending the Anchorage Municipal Code, Chapters 15.80 and 15.85 to comply with State I/M regulations and to comply with DMV Electronic Procedures 2/14/2006 (city approval date) 3/22/2010, 75 FR 13436 Anchorage Transportation Control Program—Carbon Monoxide. Ordinance of the City and Borough of Juneau, Serial No. 2008-28 An Ordinance Amending the Woodsmoke Control Program Regarding Solid Fuel-Fired Burning Devices 9/8/2008 (city adoption date) 5/9/2013, 78 FR 27071 Mendenhall Valley PM Limited Maintenance Plan. Fairbanks North Star Borough Code Chapter 21.28—PM 2.5 Air Quality Control Program 21.28.010 Definitions 3/2/2015 (borough effective date) 9/8/2017, 82 FR 42457 21.28.020 Borough listed appliances 1/15/2016 (borough effective date) 9/8/2017, 82 FR 42457 21.28.030 Prohibited acts 10/1/2016 (borough effective date) 9/8/2017, 82 FR 42457 except H and J. 21.28.050 Forecasting exceedances and restrictions in the air quality control zone during an alert 6/26/2015 (borough effective date) 9/8/2017, 82 FR 42457 21.28.060 No other adequate source of heat determination 8/12/2016 (borough effective date) 9/8/2017, 82 FR 42457

    (d) EPA approved state source-specific requirements.

    EPA-Approved Alaska Source-Specific Requirements Name of source Order/permit number State effective date EPA approval date Explanations None

    (e) EPA approved nonregulatory provisions and quasi-regulatory measures.

    EPA-Approved Alaska Nonregulatory Provisions and Quasi-Regulatory Measures Name of SIP provision Applicable geographic or nonattainment area State
  • submittal date
  • EPA approval date Explanations
    State of Alaska Air Quality Control Plan: Volume II. Analysis of Problems, Control Actions Section I. Background II.I.A. Introduction Statewide 1/8/1997 12/29/1999, 64 FR 72940 II.I.B. Air Quality Control Regions Statewide 1/8/1997 12/29/1999, 64 FR 72940 II.I.C. Attainment/nonattainment Designations Statewide 1/8/1997 12/29/1999, 64 FR 72940 II.I.D. Prevention of Significant Deterioration Designations Statewide 1/8/1997 12/29/1999, 64 FR 72940 II.I.E. New Source Review Statewide 1/8/1997 12/29/1999, 64 FR 72940 Section II. State Air Quality Control Program II.II. State Air Quality Control Program Statewide 7/9/2012 10/22/2012, 77 FR 64425 Section III. Areawide Pollutant Control Program II.III.A. Statewide Carbon Monoxide Control Program Statewide 6/5/2008 3/22/2010, 75 FR 13436 II.III.B. Anchorage Transportation Control Program Anchorage 1/4/2002 9/18/2002, 67 FR 58711 II.III.B.11. Anchorage Carbon Monoxide Maintenance Plan Anchorage 9/20/2011 3/3/2014, 79 FR 11707 II.III.B.12. Anchorage Second 10-year Carbon Monoxide Limited Maintenance Plan Anchorage 4/22/2013 3/3/2014, 79 FR 11707 II.III.C. Fairbanks Transportation Control Program Fairbanks 8/30/2001 2/4/2002, 67 FR 5064 II.III.C.11. Fairbanks Carbon Monoxide Redesignation and Maintenance Plan Fairbanks 9/15/2009 3/22/2010, 75 FR 13436 II.III.C.12. Fairbanks Second 10-year Carbon Monoxide Limited Maintenance Plan Fairbanks 4/22/2013 8/9/2013, 78 FR 48611 II.III.D. Particulate Matter Statewide 10/15/1991 8/13/1993, 58 FR 43084 II.III.D.2. Eagle River PM10 Control Plan Eagle River 10/15/1991 8/13/1993, 58 FR 43084 II.III.D.2.a. Eagle River PM10 Limited Maintenance Plan Eagle River 9/29/2010 1/7/2013, 78 FR 900 II.III.D.3. Mendenhall Valley PM10 Control Plan Mendenhall Valley 6/22/1993 3/24/1994, 59 FR 13884 II.III.D.3.a. Mendenhall Valley PM10 Limited Maintenance Plan Mendenhall Valley 5/14/2009 5/9/2013, 78 FR 27071 II.III.D.4. Interstate Transport of Particulate Matter Statewide 2/7/2008 10/15/2008, 73 FR 60957 II.III.D.5. Fairbanks North Star Borough PM2.5 Control Plan Fairbanks North Star Borough 11/23/2016 9/8/2017, 82 FR 42457 Fairbanks North Star Borough PM2.5 Moderate Area Plan. II.III.E. Ice Fog Statewide 1/18/1980 7/5/1983, 48 FR 30623 II.III.F. Open Burning Statewide 4/4/2011 2/14/2013, 78 FR 10546 II.III.F.1. In Situ Burning Guidelines for Alaska Statewide 4/4/2011 2/14/2013, 78 FR 10546 Revision 1, August 2008. II.III.G. Wood Smoke Pollution Control Statewide 11/15/1983 4/24/1984, 49 FR 17497 II.III.H. Lead Pollution Control Statewide 11/15/1983 1/3/1984, 49 FR 67 II.III.I. Transportation Conformity Statewide 4/17/2015 9/8/2015, 80 FR 53735 II.III.I.1. Transportation Conformity Supplement Statewide 7/29/2015 9/8/2015, 80 FR 53735 Clarification re: access to public records: AS 40.25.110, AS 40.25.115, and 2 AAC 96. II.III.J. General Conformity Statewide 12/05/1994 9/27/1995, 60 FR 49765 II.III.K. Area Wide Pollutant Control Program for Regional Haze Statewide 4/4/2011 2/14/2013, 78 FR 10546 Section IV. Point Source Control Program II.IV.A. Summary Statewide 11/15/1983 4/24/1984, 49 FR 17497 II.IV.B. State Air Quality Regulations Statewide 11/15/1983 4/24/1984, 49 FR 17497 II.IV.C. Local Programs Statewide 11/15/1983 4/24/1984, 49 FR 17497 II.IV.D. Description of Source Categories and Pollutants Statewide 11/15/1983 4/24/1984, 49 FR 17497 II.IV.E. Point Source Control Statewide 11/15/1983 4/24/1984, 49 FR 17497 II.IV.F. Facility Review Procedures Statewide 9/12/1988 7/31/1989, 54 FR 31522 II.IV.G. Application Review and Permit Development Statewide 11/15/1983 4/24/1984, 49 FR 17497 II.IV.H. Permit Issuance Requirements Statewide 11/15/1983 4/24/1984, 49 FR 17497 Section V. Ambient Air Monitoring II.V.A. Purpose Statewide 1/18/1980 4/15/1981, 46 FR 21994 II.V.B. Completed Air Monitoring Projects Statewide 1/18/1980 4/15/1981, 46 FR 21994 II.V.C. Air Monitoring Network Statewide 1/18/1980; 
  •  7/11/1994
  • 4/15/1981, 46 FR 21994; 4/5/1995, 60 FR 17237
    II.V.E. Annual Review Statewide 1/18/1980 4/15/1981, 46 FR 21994 State of Alaska Air Quality Control Plan: Volume III. Appendices Section II. State Air Quality Control Program III.II.A. State Air Statutes Statewide 12/11/2006 3/22/2010, 75 FR 13436 Except 46.03.170. III.II.A.1. State Attorney General Opinions on Legal Authority Statewide 12/11/2006 3/22/2010, 75 FR 13436 III.II.B. Municipality of Anchorage and ADEC Agreements Anchorage 4/22/2013 3/3/2014, 79 FR 11707 III.II.C. Fairbanks North Star Borough and ADEC Agreements Fairbanks 12/11/2006 3/22/2010, 75 FR 13436 III.II.D. CAA Section 110 Infrastructure Certification Documentation and Supporting Documents Statewide 5/12/2015 5/12/2017, 82 FR 22081 III.II.D.1. Attachment 1—Public Official Financial Disclosure (2 AAC 50.010 through 2 AAC 50.200) Statewide 7/9/2012 10/22/2012, 77 FR 64425 Approves for purposes of CAA section 128. III.II.D.2. Attachment 2—Executive Branch Code of Ethics (9 AAC 52.010 through 9 AAC 52.990) Statewide 7/9/2012 10/22/2012, 77 FR 64425 Approves for purposes of CAA section 128. Section III. Areawide Pollutant Control Program III.III.A. I/M Program Manual Statewide 6/5/2008 3/22/2010, 75 FR 13436 III.III.B. Municipality of Anchorage Anchorage 4/22/2013 3/3/2014, 79 FR 11707 III.III.C. Fairbanks Fairbanks 4/22/2013 8/9/2013, 78 FR 48611 III.III.D. Particulate Matter Statewide 10/15/1991 8/13/1993, 58 FR 43084 III.III.D.2. Eagle River PM10 Control Plan Eagle River 9/29/2010 1/7/2013, 78 FR 900 III.III.D.3. Control Plan for the Mendenhall Valley of Juneau Mendenhall Valley 5/14/2009 5/9/2013, 78 FR 27071 III.III.D.5. Fairbanks North Star Borough PM2.5 Control Plan Fairbanks North Star Borough 11/23/2016 9/8/2017, 82 FR 42457 Only with respect to the Fairbanks North Star Borough PM2.5 Moderate Area Plan. III.III.G. Ordinance of the City and Borough of Juneau Juneau 11/15/1983 4/24/1984, 49 FR 17497 III.III.H. Support Documents for Lead Plan Statewide 11/15/1983 1/3/1984, 49 FR 67 III.III.K. Area wide Pollutant Control Program for Regional Haze Statewide 4/4/2011 2/14/2013, 78 FR 10546 Section IV. Point Source Control Program III.IV. Point Source Control Program Statewide 11/15/1983 4/24/1984, 49 FR 17497 III.IV.1. PSD Area Classification and Reclassification Statewide 11/15/1983 4/24/1984, 49 FR 17497 III.IV.2. Compliance Assurance Statewide 11/15/1983 4/24/1984, 49 FR 17497 III.IV.3. Testing Procedures Statewide 11/15/1983 4/24/1984, 49 FR 17497 Section V. Ambient Air Monitoring III.V. Ambient Air Monitoring Statewide 11/15/1983 4/24/1984, 49 FR 17497 Section VI. Small Business Assistance Program III.VI. Small Business Assistance Program Statewide 4/18/1994 9/5/1995, 60 FR 46024 Infrastructure and Interstate Transport Interstate Transport Requirements—1997 Ozone and 1997 PM2.5 NAAQS Statewide 2/7/2008 10/15/2008, 73 FR 60957 Approves SIP for purposes of CAA section 110(a)(2)(D)(i) for the 1997 Ozone and 1997 PM2.5 NAAQS. Infrastructure Requirements—1997 Ozone NAAQS Statewide 7/9/2012 10/22/2012, 77 FR 64425 Approves SIP for purposes of CAA sections 110(a)(2)(A), (B), (C), (D)(ii), (E), (F), (G), (H), (J), (K), (L), and (M) for the 1997 Ozone NAAQS. Interstate Transport Requirements—2008 Ozone and 2006 PM2.5 NAAQS Statewide 3/29/2011 8/4/2014, 79 FR 45103 Approves SIP for purposes of CAA section 110(a)(2)(D)(i)(I) for the 2008 Ozone and 2006 PM2.5 NAAQS. Interstate Transport Requirements—2008 Lead NAAQS Statewide 7/9/2012 8/4/2014, 79 FR 45103 Approves SIP for purposes of CAA section 110(a)(2)(D)(i)(I) for the 2008 Lead NAAQS. Infrastructure Requirements—1997 PM2.5 NAAQS Statewide 7/9/2012 11/10/2014, 79 FR 66651 Approves SIP for purposes of CAA section 110(a)(2)(A), (B), (C), (D)(ii), (E), (F), (H), (J), (K), (L), and (M) for the 1997 PM2.5 NAAQS. Infrastructure Requirements—2006 PM2.5 NAAQS Statewide 7/9/2012,
  • 3/29/2011
  • 11/10/2014, 79 FR 66651 Approves SIP for purposes of CAA section 110(a)(2)(A), (B), (C), (D)(i)(II), (D)(ii), (E), (F), (H), (J), (K), (L), and (M) for the 2006 PM2.5 NAAQS.
    Infrastructure Requirements—2008 Ozone NAAQS Statewide 7/9/2012,
  • 3/29/2011
  • 11/10/2014, 79 FR 66651 Approves SIP for purposes of CAA section 110(a)(2)(A), (B), (C), (D)(i)(II), (D)(ii), (E), (F), (G), (H), (J), (K), (L), and (M) for the 2008 Ozone NAAQS.
    Infrastructure Requirements—2010 NO2 NAAQS Statewide 5/12/2015 5/12/2017, 82 FR 22081 Approves SIP for purposes of CAA section 110(a)(2)(A), (B), (C), (D)(i)(II), (D)(ii), (E), (F), (G), (H), (J), (K), (L), and (M) for the 2010 NO2 NAAQS. Infrastructure Requirements—2010 SO2 NAAQS Statewide 5/12/2015 5/12/2017, 82 FR 22081 Approves SIP for purposes of CAA section 110(a)(2)(A), (B), (C), (D)(i)(II), (D)(ii), (E), (F), (G), (H), (J), (K), (L), and (M) for the 2010 SO2 NAAQS. Regulations Approved but not Incorporated by Reference 18 AAC 50.076(g)(11) Solid Fuel-fired Heating Device Fuel Requirements; Registration of Commercial Wood Sellers Statewide 11/26/2016 9/8/2017, 82 FR 42457 21.28.030.J Prohibited Acts. Penalties Fairbanks North Star Borough 10/1/2016 (borough effective date) 9/8/2017, 82 FR 42457 FNSB Code Chapter 21.28 PM2.5 Air Quality Control Program. 21.28.040 Enhanced voluntary removal, replacement and repair program Fairbanks North Star Borough 1/15/2016 (borough effective date) 9/8/2017, 82 FR 42457 FNSB Code Chapter 21.28 PM2.5 Air Quality Control Program. 21.28.070 Voluntary burn cessation program Fairbanks North Star Borough 4/24/2015 (borough effective date) 9/8/2017, 82 FR 42457 FNSB Code Chapter 21.28 PM2.5 Air Quality Control Program.
    [FR Doc. 2017-26082 Filed 12-7-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560-50-P
    ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY 40 CFR Part 52 [EPA-R05-OAR-2015-0034; FRL-9971-78—Region 5] Approval and Promulgation of Air Quality Implementation Plans; Minnesota; Regional Haze Progress Report; Withdrawal of Direct Final Rule AGENCY:

    Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

    ACTION:

    Withdrawal of direct final rule.

    SUMMARY:

    Due to the receipt of an adverse comment, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is withdrawing the October 18, 2017, direct final rule approving the Minnesota regional haze progress report under the Clean Air Act as a revision to the Minnesota State Implementation Plan (SIP).

    DATES:

    The direct final rule published at 82 FR 48425 on October 18, 2017, is withdrawn effective December 8, 2017.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Matt Rau, Environmental Engineer, Control Strategies Section, Air Programs Branch (AR-18J), Environmental Protection Agency, Region 5, 77 West Jackson Boulevard, Chicago, Illinois 60604, (312) 886-6524, [email protected].

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    In the direct final rule, EPA stated that if adverse comments were submitted by November 17, 2017, the rule would be withdrawn and not take effect. EPA received an adverse comment prior to the close of the comment period and, therefore, is withdrawing the direct final rule. EPA will address the comment in a subsequent final action based upon the proposed action also published on October 18, 2017 (82 FR 48472). EPA will not institute a second comment period on this action.

    List of Subjects in 40 CFR Part 52

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

    Authority:

    42 U.S.C. 7401 et seq.

    Dated: November 27, 2017. Robert A. Kaplan, Acting Regional Administrator, Region 5. PART 52—APPROVAL AND PROMULGATION OF IMPLEMENTATION PLANS Accordingly, the amendment to 40 CFR 52.1220 published in the Federal Register on October 18, 2017 (82 FR 48425), on page 48430 is withdrawn effective December 8, 2017.
    [FR Doc. 2017-26413 Filed 12-7-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560-50-P
    ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY 40 CFR Part 52 [EPA-R07-OAR-2017-0268; FRL-9971-69—Region 7] Approval of Missouri Air Quality Implementation Plans; Infrastructure SIP Requirements for the 2010 Nitrogen Dioxide National Ambient Air Quality Standard; Withdrawal of Direct Final Rule AGENCY:

    Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

    ACTION:

    Withdrawal of direct final rule.

    SUMMARY:

    Due to adverse comments, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is withdrawing the direct final rule for “Approval of Missouri Air Quality Implementation Plans; Infrastructure SIP Requirements for the 2010 Nitrogen Dioxide National Ambient Air Quality Standard” published in the Federal Register on October 11, 2017. The direct final rule was an approval of a State Implementation Plan (SIP) revision from the State of Missouri for the 2010 Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS). Section 110 of the CAA requires that each state adopt and submit a SIP for the implementation, maintenance, and enforcement of each new or revised NAAQS promulgated by EPA. These SIPs are commonly referred to as “infrastructure” SIPs. The infrastructure requirements are designed to ensure that the structural components of each state's air quality management program are adequate to meet the state's responsibilities under the CAA.

    DATES:

    The direct final rule published at 82 FR 47154 on October 11, 2017 is withdrawn effective December 8, 2017.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Tracey Casburn, Environmental Protection Agency, Air Planning and Development Branch, 11201 Renner Boulevard, Lenexa, Kansas 66219 at (913) 551-7016, or by email at [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Due to adverse comments, EPA is withdrawing the direct final rule to approve the states “infrastructure” SIP revision for the 2010 NO2 NAAQS. In the direct final rule published on October 11, 2017 (82 FR 47154), EPA stated that if it received adverse comment by November 13, 2017, the rule would be withdrawn and not take effect. EPA received adverse comments. EPA will address the comments in a subsequent final action based upon the proposed action also published on October 11, 2017 at 82 FR 47170. EPA will not institute a second comment period on this action.

    List of Subjects in 40 CFR Part 52

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

    Dated: November 21, 2017. James B. Gulliford, Regional Administrator, Region 7. Accordingly, the amendments to 40 CFR 52.1320 published on October 11, 2017 (82 FR 47154) are withdrawn effective December 8, 2017.
    [FR Doc. 2017-26405 Filed 12-7-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560-50-P
    ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY 40 CFR Part 52 [EPA-R07-OAR-2017-0513; FRL-9971-68—Region 7] Approval of Missouri Air Quality Implementation Plans; Infrastructure SIP Requirements for the 2012 Annual Fine Particulate Matter (PM2.5) National Ambient Air Quality Standard; Withdrawal of Direct Final Rule AGENCY:

    Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

    ACTION:

    Withdrawal of direct final rule.

    SUMMARY:

    Due to adverse comments, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is withdrawing the direct final rule for “Approval of Missouri Air Quality Implementation Plans; Infrastructure SIP Requirements for the 2012 Annual Fine Particulate Matter (PM2.5) National Ambient Air Quality Standard” published in the Federal Register on October 11, 2017. Section 110 of the CAA requires that each state adopt and submit a SIP for the implementation, maintenance, and enforcement of each new or revised NAAQS promulgated by EPA. These SIPs are commonly referred to as “infrastructure” SIPs. The infrastructure requirements are designed to ensure that the structural components of each state's air quality management program are adequate to meet the state's responsibilities under the CAA.

    DATES:

    The direct final rule published at 82 FR 47147 on October 11, 2017 is withdrawn effective December 8, 2017.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Tracey Casburn, Environmental Protection Agency, Air Planning and Development Branch, 11201 Renner Boulevard, Lenexa, Kansas 66219 at (913) 551-7016, or by email at [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Due to adverse comments, EPA is withdrawing the direct final rule to approve the states “infrastructure” SIP revision for the 2012 PM2.5 NAAQS. In the direct final rule published on October 11, 2017, (82 FR 47147), EPA stated that if it received adverse comment by November 13, 2017, the rule would be withdrawn and not take effect. The direct final rule was an approval of a State Implementation Plan (SIP) revision from the State of Missouri for the 2012 PM2.5 National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS). The direct final approval action also included the approval of Missouri State Statue section 105.483(5) RSMo 2014, and Missouri State Statue section 105.485 RSMo 2014 into the SIP. These two statutes address aspects of the infrastructure requirements relating to conflicts of interest as found in section 128 of the CAA. EPA received adverse comments. EPA will address the comments in a subsequent final action based upon the proposed action also published on October 11, 2017, at 82 FR 47169. EPA will not institute a second comment period on this action.

    List of Subjects in 40 CFR Part 52

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

    Dated: November 21, 2017. James B. Gulliford, Regional Administrator, Region 7. Accordingly, the amendments to 40 CFR 52.1320 published on October 11, 2017 (82 FR 47147) are withdrawn effective December 8, 2017.
    [FR Doc. 2017-26406 Filed 12-7-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560-50-P
    ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY 40 CFR Part 52 [EPA-R03-OAR-2015-0656; FRL-9971-58—Region 3] Approval and Promulgation of Air Quality Implementation Plans; Delaware; Reasonably Available Control Technology (RACT) State Implementation Plan (SIP) Under the 2008 Ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) AGENCY:

    Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

    ACTION:

    Final rule.

    SUMMARY:

    The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is approving a state implementation plan (SIP) revision submitted by the State of Delaware. This revision pertains to reasonably available control technology (RACT) requirements under the 2008 8-hour ozone national ambient air quality standard (NAAQS). Delaware's submittal for RACT for the 2008 ozone NAAQS includes certification that, for certain categories of sources, RACT controls approved by EPA into Delaware's SIP for previous ozone NAAQS are based on currently available technically and economically feasible controls and continue to represent RACT for 2008 8-hour ozone NAAQS implementation purposes; the adoption of new or more stringent regulations or controls that represent RACT control levels for certain other categories of sources; and a negative declaration that certain categories of sources do not exist in Delaware. EPA is approving these revisions to the Delaware SIP addressing 2008 8-hour ozone RACT in accordance with the requirements of the Clean Air Act (CAA).

    DATES:

    This final rule is effective on January 8, 2018.

    ADDRESSES:

    EPA has established a docket for this action under Docket ID Number EPA-R03-OAR-2015-0656. All documents in the docket are listed on the https://www.regulations.gov Web site. Although listed in the index, some information is not publicly available, e.g., confidential business information (CBI) or other information whose disclosure is restricted by statute. Certain other material, such as copyrighted material, is not placed on the Internet and will be publicly available only in hard copy form. Publicly available docket materials are available through https://www.regulations.gov, or please contact the person identified in the For Further Information Contact section for additional availability information.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Leslie Jones Doherty, (215) 814-3409, or by email at [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: I. Background

    On September 12, 2017 (82 FR 42767), EPA published a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPR) for the State of Delaware. In the NPR, EPA proposed approval of Delaware's SIP revision pertaining to the RACT requirements under the 2008 8-hour ozone NAAQS. The formal SIP revision was submitted by Delaware on May 4, 2015.

    II. Summary of SIP Revision and EPA Analysis A. RACT

    On May 4, 2015, Delaware submitted a SIP revision to address all the requirements of RACT set forth by the CAA under the 2008 8-hour ozone NAAQS (the 2015 RACT Submission). Specifically, Delaware's 2015 RACT Submission includes: (1) A certification that for certain categories of sources previously adopted nitrogen oxide (NOX) and volatile organic compound (VOC) RACT controls in Delaware's SIP that were approved by EPA under the 1979 1-hour and 1997 8-hour ozone NAAQS are based on the currently available technically and economically feasible controls, and continue to represent RACT for implementation of the 2008 8-hour ozone NAAQS; (2) the adoption of new or more stringent regulations or controls that represent RACT control levels for certain categories of sources; and (3) a negative declaration that certain control technique guidelines (CTGs) or non-CTG major sources of VOC and NOX sources do not exist in Delaware.

    EPA has reviewed Delaware's 2015 RACT Submission and finds Delaware's certification of the RACT regulations for major sources of VOC and NOX previously approved by EPA for the 1-hour and 1997 8-hour ozone NAAQS continue to represent RACT-level controls for the source categories for the 2008 8-hour ozone NAAQS. EPA finds that Delaware's major stationary source VOC and NOX regulations represent the lowest emission limits based on currently available and economically feasible control technology for these source categories. EPA also finds that Delaware's SIP implements RACT with respect to all sources of VOCs covered by a CTG issued prior to July 20, 2014 and all major stationary sources of VOC and NOX via Delaware's regulations and case-by-case RACT. EPA accepts Delaware's negative declarations that the following VOC CTG source categories do not exist in Delaware: Manufacture of pneumatic rubber tires; wood furniture manufacturing operations; shipbuilding and ship repair operations (surface coating); and fiberglass boat manufacturing materials. EPA's review indicates that Delaware's 2015 RACT Submission meets the RACT requirements for the 2008 8-hour ozone NAAQS for applicable CTG source categories and major stationary sources of VOC and NOX to address sections 182(b), 182(f) and 184(b)(2) of the CAA.

    With respect to the previous case by case RACT determinations submitted by Delaware and approved by EPA for the Delaware SIP, the CAA section 110(l) states “The Administrator shall not approve a revision of a plan if the revision would interfere with any applicable requirement concerning attainment and reasonable further progress (RFP) or any applicable requirement of the CAA.” EPA finds that the removal of the emission limits for (1) the Polyhydrate Alcohol Catalyst Regenerative process SPI Polyols, Incorporated, (2) the sulfuric acid process and inter-stage absorption system at General Chemical Corporation and (3) the metallic nitrite process at General Chemical Corporation from the Delaware SIP will not interfere with attainment of any NAAQS or with RFP or any applicable requirement of the CAA because these sources have permanently shut down and thus emissions have been completely eliminated. EPA finds the NOX RACT determination for CitiSteel USA, Incorporated, Electric Arc Furnace (EAF) continues to represent the lowest emission limitation that is reasonably available considering technological and economic feasibility for this source. With respect to the Fluid-Coking Unit (FCU) and Fluid Catalytic Cracking Unit (FCCU) at the Delaware City Refinery Company, EPA finds that the emission limits, compliance requirements and recordkeeping and reporting requirements established by Delaware represent RACT level of control for these units.

    Other specific requirements of Delaware's SIP submission addressing 2008 8-hour ozone RACT and the rationale for EPA's proposed action are explained in the NPR and technical support document (TSD) and will not be restated here.

    B. RACT and the EPA Startup, Shutdown, and Malfunction (SSM) SIP Call

    On May 22, 2015, the EPA Administrator signed a final action, EPA's SSM SIP Call (formally, the “State Implementation Plans: Response to Petition for Rulemaking; Restatement and Update of EPA's SSM Policy Applicable to SIPs; Findings of Substantial Inadequacy; and SIP Calls to Amend Provisions Applying to Excess Emissions During Periods of Startup, Shutdown and Malfunction”). 80 FR 33839. As discussed in the NPR, Delaware relies upon both Regulation 1124 and Regulation 1142 to meet its RACT obligations for the 2008 ozone NAAQS. Therefore, our review of the Delaware 2015 RACT Submission necessarily included our review of Regulation 1124 and 1142, which were subject to EPA's SSM SIP Call because at the time EPA found that the provisions gave the State discretion to create exemptions allowing excess emissions during startup and shutdown. In 2016, Delaware revised Regulations 1124 and 1142 in the State law to remove the provisions identified by EPA in EPA's SSM SIP Call, and Delaware subsequently submitted, on November 21, 2016, a SIP revision to address EPA's SSM SIP Call for Regulation 1124 (subsection 1.4) and Regulation 1142 (subsection 2.3.1.6). EPA has not yet taken final action on that submittal; any action on Delaware's November 21, 2016 SSM SIP revision would be done through a separate rulemaking action.

    As stated in the NPR, the EPA is actively reviewing the SSM SIP Call. Therefore, in the NPR, EPA proposed to approve the 2015 RACT Submission under two alternative bases.

    EPA proposed to approve Delaware's 2015 RACT Submission on the basis that either (1) a change in EPA's SSM policy and withdrawal of the SSM SIP Call as to Delaware Regulations 1124 and 1142 would occur, or (2) a separate final rulemaking action approving the revised versions of Regulations 1124 and 1142 as revised in Delaware's response to the SSM SIP Call would occur. Under either basis, EPA proposed to find that Delaware's 2015 RACT Submission is fully consistent with CAA requirements for RACT. EPA was clear that either alternative basis for approval of the Delaware RACT assumed a separate Agency action. EPA did not propose to effectuate either action in this rulemaking. Therefore, EPA did not consider those issues open for public comment as part of this rulemaking action. Any comments filed on this rulemaking that relate to the possibility of EPA changing the SSM Guidance generally, a possible withdrawal of EPA's SSM SIP Call as to Delaware Regulations 1124 and 1142, or a possible action by EPA on Delaware's SIP submittal in response to the SSM SIP call are outside the scope of this rulemaking, which is limited to EPA's action on Delaware's 2015 RACT Submission.

    In the proposal, EPA made clear that under either alternative scenario regarding the SSM SIP Call, EPA would deem approval of Delaware's RACT SIP appropriate. Therefore, although EPA has not yet taken separate action related to the SSM SIP Call (to either withdraw the SIP Call as to Regulations 1124 and 1142 or to act on Delaware's SSM SIP submittal), we are approving today Delaware's 2015 RACT Submission because it meets RACT requirements under the CAA for the 2008 8-hour ozone NAAQS for the reasons discussed herein and as proposed in the NPR and in the TSD for this rulemaking.1 We do not believe the SSM SIP Call prevents our final approval of the 2015 RACT Submission as it otherwise meets all CAA RACT requirements. First, as discussed in the NPR, because EPA is reviewing the SSM SIP Call, if EPA later withdraws portions that apply to Delaware's regulations, the regulations Delaware relies upon for RACT in Regulations 1124 and 1142 fully meet CAA requirements including requirements for emission limitations as well as RACT in sections 110, 172, 182 and 184 of the CAA. Alternatively, if EPA concludes its review and implements the SSM SIP Call, Delaware has already submitted a SIP revision in November 2016 that comprises revised versions of Regulations 1124 and 1142 that lack the director discretion provisions that EPA said in the SSM SIP Call were inconsistent with the CAA. EPA is approving the 2015 RACT Submission because, under the first scenario, if EPA withdraws its SSM SIP Call with respect to Delaware, Delaware's regulations in the SIP would be in compliance with CAA requirements, and, under the second scenario, if EPA continues to implement the SSM SIP Call, Delaware has either already submitted a revision complying with CAA requirements or, to the extent EPA determines that the already submitted revision is inadequate, Delaware will be required to submit a new or supplemental revision to address any deficiencies.

    1 The TSD is available in the docket for this rulemaking and online at www.regulations.gov.

    III. Public Comments and EPA's Responses

    EPA received adverse public comments on the NPR. EPA has summarized the comments and provides responses to the adverse comments below. All other comments received were not specific to this action and thus are not addressed here.

    Comment: One comment received from the SSM Coalition states that the CAA does not require nor authorize the EPA to declare SIPs to be inadequate due to provisions exempting or providing alternative requirements during periods of startup, shutdown or malfunction. The commenter notes that the EPA's SSM SIP Call rule states that the “SSM SIP Policy” is not binding on EPA and thus constitutes guidance. As guidance, this SSM Policy as of 2015 does not bind the states, the EPA nor other parties, but it does reflect the EPA's interpretation of CAA statutory requirements. The commenter refers to comments it previously filed on EPA's SSM SIP Call rulemaking. The commenter states EPA is free to approve the Delaware RACT provisions without first acting on provisions identified in the SSM SIP Call as the commenter asserts the state has the discretion to include SSM provisions in its SIP. The commenter also stated EPA should revise its SSM SIP policy and withdraw the SSM SIP Call as to Delaware before approving the 2015 RACT Submission.

    Response: As EPA stated in the NPR, any comments filed on this rulemaking that relate to the possibility of EPA changing the SSM Guidance generally or a possible withdrawal of EPA's SSM SIP Call as to Delaware Regulations 1124 and 1142 are outside the scope of this rulemaking, which is limited to EPA's action on Delaware's 2015 RACT Submission. Any EPA action to either withdraw the SSM SIP Call as to Delaware Regulations 1124 and 1142 or act on Delaware's SSM SIP submittal will be a separate Agency action.

    Comment: Two commenters, the Environmental Integrity Project (EIP) 2 and an anonymous commenter, state that the Delaware provisions identified in EPA's SSM SIP Call contain impermissible exemptions to emission limitations under the CAA and, therefore, must be corrected before EPA can approve the Delaware 2015 RACT Submission. Commenters argue that approving the Delaware regulations as RACT with SSM exemptions in them violates the CAA requirement that SIPs include enforceable limitations which must apply at all times. Specifically, CAA sections 110(a)(2)(A) and 302(k) require SIPs to include enforceable emission limitations, which must apply on a continuous basis. Contrary to these requirements, the provisions in Delaware Regulations 1124 and 1142 give Delaware unbounded discretion to allow exemptions from SIP limits and therefore would not be emissions limitations that apply on a “continuous” basis. These provisions also interfere with the applicable requirements of the CAA because they allow Delaware to alter SIP limits through a process that is contrary to CAA section 110(i). Section 110(i) provides that revisions to SIP provisions take place through specified routes, including formal SIP revision processes. The provisions in Delaware Regulations 1124 and 1142, however, allow the state to alter the SIP limits through a permit process that does not fall into any of the allowed routes for SIP revision under section110(i) and does not require EPA approval. Similarly, the commenter states that the SSM exemptions in Regulations 1124 and 1142 are contrary to the CAA requirements for nonattainment areas in that section 172(c)(6) of the CAA requires nonattainment SIP provisions to include enforceable emission limitations to provide for attainment of the NAAQS, and these limitations required for nonattainment areas by CAA section 172 must also apply on a continuous basis and be enforceable to also meet CAA section 110(a)(2) requirements. The commenter asserted EPA made no claim that the Delaware provisions which include SSM provisions constitute RACT. Lastly, the commenter states that EPA's approval of the 2015 RACT Submission would be otherwise arbitrary and capricious as the SSM provisions in Delaware Regulations 1124 and 1142 would undermine enforcement of emissions limitations by EPA or citizens as the Delaware provisions identified in the SSM SIP Call would create alternative limits which are not enforceable or would interfere with CAA requirements for continuous emission limitations. The commenter asserts that emission limitations or exemptions from limits established outside the SIP revision process would interfere with attainment and maintenance of the NAAQS and thus with air quality in Delaware. The commenter asserts that if EPA approves the 2015 RACT Submission, EPA must acknowledge its departure from the SSM SIP Call and SSM policy and explain its position; otherwise, action approving the Delaware 2015 RACT Submission would be arbitrary and capricious. Finally, the commenter stated EPA cannot approve the Delaware regulations as meeting RACT while these regulations were found impermissible under the SSM SIP Call on either the hope SSM policy is changed or on the assumption Delaware's SSM November 2016 SIP revision is adequate. The commenter supports this statement because portions of Delaware Regulations 1124 and 1142 were found “substantially inadequate” to meet CAA requirements which would include RACT. The commenter says EPA assuming Delaware's November 2016 SIP revision addressing SSM provisions is adequate would preclude public participation and predetermines the outcome of rulemaking on that SIP. The commenter said EPA must first resolve SSM policy before approving the 2015 RACT Submission or address SSM policy before acting and take action on the November 2016 SIP revision addressing the SSM SIP Call.

    2 EIP filed comments on behalf of EIP, Sierra Club, and the Center for Biological Diversity.

    Response: EPA notes that commenters' statements are repeating arguments made in support of the SSM SIP Call. As stated previously, such comments relating to the SSM SIP Call and its statutory and policy basis in accordance with the CAA are outside the scope of this rulemaking. EPA's action here is limited to EPA's action on Delaware's 2015 RACT Submission. EPA explained above how we are approving the 2015 RACT Submission with the provisions which were identified in the SSM SIP Call as we find the Delaware regulations address RACT and CAA requirements for emission limitations. Thus, we disagree with the commenter that we cannot approve this 2015 RACT Submission without first “settling” SSM policy issues. If EPA, after concluding its reviewing of the SSM SIP Call, acts to withdraw the SSM SIP Call, then no further action is needed for the versions of Regulation 1124 and 1142 in the Delaware SIP as the Delaware regulations fully address RACT for 2008 ozone. If EPA after its review continues implementing the SSM SIP Call, EPA will act in a separate rulemaking on Delaware's SIP revision submittal which, if approved, would remove from the Delaware SIP the provisions related to SSM in Regulations 1124 and 1142.

    Contrary to the commenter's assertion that EPA made “no claim” that Delaware's emission limits and control measures containing SSM constitute RACT, EPA explained in detail in both the NPR and in the TSD prepared in support of the rulemaking how Regulations 1124 and 1142 address RACT requirements for the 2008 ozone NAAQS.3 EPA's explanation and analysis outlined how the Delaware regulations and measures reflect the currently available technically and economically feasible controls and the lowest achievable emission limitations for major stationary sources required to have NOX and VOC RACT. EPA also explained in detail in the NPR and TSD how provisions in Regulation 1124 met requirements for CTGs to be in the Delaware SIP as required by CAA sections 182 and 184.

    3 The TSD is available in the docket for this rulemaking and on line at www.regulations.gov.

    Finally, as specifically stated in the NPR, EPA noted that we cannot prejudge a final approval on Delaware's November 2016 SSM SIP Call submission. EPA explained in the NPR we would take public comment on any proposal to act on that November 2016 SIP and that if EPA would change direction based on comments received on any such proposed rulemaking to approve that SIP submission, we would not be able to approve the SSM SIP Call submission.

    III. Final Action

    EPA is approving the State of Delaware's May 4, 2015 SIP revision submittal (the 2015 RACT Submission) which addresses the 2008 8-hour ozone NAAQS RACT requirements as a revision to the Delaware SIP.

    IV. Incorporation by Reference

    In this rule, EPA is finalizing regulatory text that includes incorporation by reference. In accordance with requirements of 1 CFR 51.5, EPA is finalizing the incorporation by reference of source specific RACT determinations under the 2008 8-hour ozone NAAQS for certain major sources of NOX and VOC emissions in the State of Delaware as described in the amendments to 40 CFR part 52 set forth below. EPA has made, and will continue to make, these materials generally available through http://www.regulations.gov and/or at the EPA Region III Office (please contact the person identified in the “For Further Information Contact” section of this preamble for more information). Therefore, these materials have been approved by EPA for inclusion in the SIP, have been incorporated by reference by EPA into that plan, are fully federally enforceable under sections 110 and 113 of the CAA as of the effective date of the final rulemaking of EPA's approval, and will be incorporated by reference by the Director of the Federal Register in the next update to the SIP compilation.4

    4 62 FR 27968 (May 22, 1997).

    V. Statutory and Executive Order Reviews A. General Requirements

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

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

    • is not an Executive Order 13771 (82 FR 9339, February 2, 2017) regulatory action because SIP approvals are exempted under Executive Order 12866.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    B. Submission to Congress and the Comptroller General

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

    C. Petitions for Judicial Review

    Under section 307(b)(1) of the CAA, petitions for judicial review of this action must be filed in the United States Court of Appeals for the appropriate circuit by February 6, 2018. Filing a petition for reconsideration by the Administrator of this final rule does not affect the finality of this action for the purposes of judicial review nor does it extend the time within which a petition for judicial review may be filed, and shall not postpone the effectiveness of such rule or action. This action approving the Delaware RACT requirements under the 2008 8-hour ozone NAAQS may not be challenged later in proceedings to enforce its requirements. (See section 307(b)(2).)

    List of Subjects in 40 CFR Part 52

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

    Dated: November 22, 2017. Cosmo Servidio, Regional Administrator, Region III.

    40 CFR part 52 is amended as follows:

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

    42 U.S.C. 7401 et seq.

    Subpart I—Delaware 2. Amend § 52.420 by: a. Revising the table in paragraph (d); and b. In the table in paragraph (e), adding an entry entitled “Reasonably Available Control Technology under 2008 8-hour ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standard” at the end of the table.

    The revision and addition reads as follows:

    § 52.420 Identification of plan.

    (d) * * *

    EPA-Approved Delaware Source-Specific Requirements Name of source Permit number State effective date EPA approval date Additional explanation Getty Oil Co 75-A-4 8/5/1975 3/7/1979, 44 FR 12423 § 52.420(c)(11). Phoenix Steel Co.—Electric Arc Furnaces Charging & Tapping #2 77-A-8 12/2/1977 7/30/1979, 44 FR 25223 § 52.420(c)(12). Delmarva Power & Light—Indian River 89-A-7/APC 89/197 2/15/1989 1/22/1990, 55 FR 2067 § 52.420(c)(38). Citisteel Secretary's Order No. 2000-A-0033 7/11/2000 6/14/2001, 66 FR 32231 Electric Arc Furnace—Approved NOX RACT Determination Delaware City Refinery Company Secretary's Order No. 2014-A-0014 7/18/2014 12/8/2017, [Insert Federal Register citation] (1) Fluid-coking unit (FCU) (2) fluid-catalytic-cracking unit (FCCU)—Approved Nitrogen Oxide Reasonably Available Control Technology Determinations.

    (e) * * *

    Name of non-regulatory SIP revision Applicable geographic area State submittal date EPA approval date Additional explanation *         *         *         *         *         *         * Reasonably Available Control Technology under 2008 8-hour ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standard Statewide 5/4/2015 12/8/2017, [Insert Federal Register citation]
    [FR Doc. 2017-26301 Filed 12-7-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560-50-P
    ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY 40 CFR Parts 52 and 81 [EPA-R05-OAR-2016-0593; FRL-9971-77—Region 5] Air Plan Approval; Illinois; Redesignation of the Chicago and Granite City Areas to Attainment of the 2008 Lead 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 October 18, 2017, direct final rule approving the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency's request to redesignate the Chicago and Granite City nonattainment areas to attainment for the 2008 national ambient air quality standards for lead, the state's maintenance plans for the areas, and rules applying emission limits and other control requirements to lead sources in the areas.

    DATES:

    The direct final rule published at 82 FR 48448 on October 18, 2017, is withdrawn effective December 8, 2017.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Eric Svingen, Environmental Engineer, Attainment Planning and Maintenance Section, Air Programs Branch (AR-18J), Environmental Protection Agency, Region 5, 77 West Jackson Boulevard, Chicago, Illinois 60604, (312) 353-4489, [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    In the direct final rule, EPA stated that if adverse comments were submitted by November 17, 2017, the rule would be withdrawn and not take effect. EPA received an adverse comment prior to the close of the comment period and, therefore, is withdrawing the direct final rule. EPA will address the comment in a subsequent final action based upon the proposed action also published on October 18, 2017 (82 FR 48475). EPA will not institute a second comment period on this action.

    List of Subjects 40 CFR Part 52

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

    40 CFR Part 81

    Environmental protection, Air pollution control, National parks, Wilderness areas.

    Authority:

    42 U.S.C. 7401 et seq.

    Dated: November 27, 2017. Robert A. Kaplan, Acting Regional Administrator, Region 5. Accordingly, the amendments to 40 CFR 52.720 and 81.314 published in the Federal Register on October 18, 2017 (82 FR 48448), are withdrawn effective December 8, 2017.
    [FR Doc. 2017-26417 Filed 12-7-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560-50-P
    ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY 40 CFR Parts 52 and 81 [EPA-R05-OAR-2017-0256; FRL-9971-74—Region 5] Air Plan Approval; Ohio; Redesignation of the Fulton County Area to Attainment of the 2008 Lead 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 October 18, 2017, direct final rule approving the State of Ohio's request to redesignate the Fulton County nonattainment area (Fulton County) to attainment of the 2008 National Ambient Air Quality Standards for lead.

    DATES:

    The direct final rule published at 82 FR 48442 on October 18, 2017, is withdrawn effective December 8, 2017.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Matt Rau, Environmental Engineer, Control Strategies Section, Air Programs Branch (AR-18J), Environmental Protection Agency, Region 5, 77 West Jackson Boulevard, Chicago, Illinois 60604, (312) 886-6524, [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    In the direct final rule, EPA stated that if adverse comments were submitted by November 17, 2017, the rule would be withdrawn and not take effect. EPA received an adverse comment prior to the close of the comment period and, therefore, is withdrawing the direct final rule. EPA will address the comment in a subsequent final action based upon the proposed action also published on October 18, 2017 (82 FR 48474). EPA will not institute a second comment period on this action.

    List of Subjects 40 CFR Part 52

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

    40 CFR Part 81

    Environmental protection, Administrative practice and procedure, Air pollution control, Designations and classifications, Intergovernmental relations, Lead, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements.

    Authority:

    42 U.S.C. 7401 et seq.

    Dated: November 27, 2017. Robert A. Kaplan, Acting Regional Administrator, Region 5. Accordingly, the amendments to 40 CFR 52.1870, 52.1893, and 81.336 published in the Federal Register on October 18, 2017 (82 FR 48442), on page 48448 are withdrawn effective December 8, 2017.
    [FR Doc. 2017-26415 Filed 12-7-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560-50-P
    ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY 40 CFR Part 180 [EPA-HQ-OPP-2016-0536; FRL-9970-38] Ziram; Pesticide Tolerances AGENCY:

    Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

    ACTION:

    Final rule.

    SUMMARY:

    This regulation establishes a tolerance for residues of ziram in or on hazelnut. United Phosphorus, Inc. requested this tolerance under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA).

    DATES:

    This regulation is effective December 8, 2017. Objections and requests for hearings must be received on or before February 6, 2018, and must be filed in accordance with the instructions provided in 40 CFR part 178 (see also Unit I.C. of the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION).

    ADDRESSES:

    The docket for this action, identified by docket identification (ID) number EPA-HQ-OPP-2016-0536, is available at http://www.regulations.gov or at the Office of Pesticide Programs Regulatory Public Docket (OPP Docket) in the Environmental Protection Agency Docket Center (EPA/DC), West William Jefferson Clinton Bldg., Rm. 3334, 1301 Constitution Ave. NW., Washington, DC 20460-0001. The Public Reading Room is open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, excluding legal holidays. The telephone number for the Public Reading Room is (202) 566-1744, and the telephone number for the OPP Docket is (703) 305-5805. Please review the visitor instructions and additional information about the docket available at http://www.epa.gov/dockets.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Michael L. Goodis, Registration Division (7505P), Office of Pesticide Programs, Environmental Protection Agency, 1200 Pennsylvania Ave. NW., Washington, DC 20460-0001; main telephone number: (703) 305-7090; email address: [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    I. General Information A. Does this action apply to me?

    You may be potentially affected by this action if you are an agricultural producer, food manufacturer, or pesticide manufacturer. The following list of North American Industrial Classification System (NAICS) codes is not intended to be exhaustive, but rather provides a guide to help readers determine whether this document applies to them. Potentially affected entities may include:

    • Crop production (NAICS code 111).

    • Animal production (NAICS code 112).

    • Food manufacturing (NAICS code 311).

    • Pesticide manufacturing (NAICS code 32532).

    B. How can I get electronic access to other related information?

    You may access a frequently updated electronic version of EPA's tolerance regulations at 40 CFR part 180 through the Government Printing Office's e-CFR site at http://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?&c=ecfr&tpl=/ecfrbrowse/Title40/40tab_02.tpl.

    C. How can I file an objection or hearing request?

    Under FFDCA section 408(g), 21 U.S.C. 346a, any person may file an objection to any aspect of this regulation and may also request a hearing on those objections. You must file your objection or request a hearing on this regulation in accordance with the instructions provided in 40 CFR part 178. To ensure proper receipt by EPA, you must identify docket ID number EPA-HQ-OPP-2016-0536 in the subject line on the first page of your submission. All objections and requests for a hearing must be in writing, and must be received by the Hearing Clerk on or before February 6, 2018. Addresses for mail and hand delivery of objections and hearing requests are provided in 40 CFR 178.25(b).

    In addition to filing an objection or hearing request with the Hearing Clerk as described in 40 CFR part 178, please submit a copy of the filing (excluding any Confidential Business Information (CBI)) for inclusion in the public docket. Information not marked confidential pursuant to 40 CFR part 2 may be disclosed publicly by EPA without prior notice. Submit the non-CBI copy of your objection or hearing request, identified by docket ID number EPA-HQ-OPP-2016-0536, by one of the following methods:

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

    Mail: OPP Docket, Environmental Protection Agency Docket Center (EPA/DC), (28221T), 1200 Pennsylvania Ave. NW., Washington, DC 20460-0001.

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

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

    II. Summary of Petitioned-For Tolerance

    In the Federal Register of November 30, 2016 (81 FR 86312) (FRL-9954-06), EPA issued a document pursuant to FFDCA section 408(d)(3), 21 U.S.C. 346a(d)(3), announcing the filing of a pesticide petition (PP 6F8493) by United Phosphorus, Inc., 630 Freedom Business Center, Suite 402, King of Prussia, PA 19406. The petition requested that 40 CFR 180 be amended by establishing a tolerance for residues of the fungicide ziram, zinc dimethyldithiocarbamate, in or on filbert (hazelnut) at 0.1 parts per million (ppm). That document referenced a summary of the petition prepared by United Phosphorus, Inc., the registrant, which is available in the docket, http://www.regulations.gov. There were no comments received in response to the notice of filing.

    Based upon review of the data supporting the petition, EPA has revised the tolerance value to add an additional significant figure and also revised the commodity term from filbert (hazelnut) to hazelnut. The reason for this change is explained in Unit IV.C.

    III. Aggregate Risk Assessment and Determination of Safety

    Section 408(b)(2)(A)(i) of FFDCA allows EPA to establish a tolerance (the legal limit for a pesticide chemical residue in or on a food) only if EPA determines that the tolerance is “safe.” Section 408(b)(2)(A)(ii) of FFDCA defines “safe” to mean that “there is a reasonable certainty that no harm will result from aggregate exposure to the pesticide chemical residue, including all anticipated dietary exposures and all other exposures for which there is reliable information.” This includes exposure through drinking water and in residential settings, but does not include occupational exposure. Section 408(b)(2)(C) of FFDCA requires EPA to give special consideration to exposure of infants and children to the pesticide chemical residue in establishing a tolerance and to “ensure that there is a reasonable certainty that no harm will result to infants and children from aggregate exposure to the pesticide chemical residue. . . .”

    Consistent with FFDCA section 408(b)(2)(D), and the factors specified in FFDCA section 408(b)(2)(D), EPA has reviewed the available scientific data and other relevant information in support of this action. EPA has sufficient data to assess the hazards of and to make a determination on aggregate exposure for ziram including exposure resulting from the tolerances established by this action. EPA's assessment of exposures and risks associated with ziram follows.

    A. Toxicological Profile

    EPA has evaluated the available toxicity data and considered its validity, completeness, and reliability as well as the relationship of the results of the studies to human risk. EPA has also considered available information concerning the variability of the sensitivities of major identifiable subgroups of consumers, including infants and children.

    The primary target organs of ziram are the nervous system, liver, and thyroid. A single oral dose causes neurological impairments (ataxia and slight impaired gait) while repeated short-term exposure results in inhibition of brain cholinesterase and brain neurotoxic esterase in rats. Developmental neurotoxic effects were not observed in offspring of the most recent DNT study. Liver histopathology was identified throughout the database at various doses in the rat subchronic and chronic studies and the mouse carcinogenicity study, and at times is accompanied by increases in hepatic serum enzyme levels. Chronic studies also included thyroid effects, specifically follicular cell hypertrophy and c-cell carcinoma. When ziram was administered orally in rats, it was rapidly absorbed, distributed, and excreted via urine, expired air, and excreted feces within 72 hours. Small amounts were widely distributed in the body with the highest tissue concentrations in the liver, fat, kidney, spleen, lung, thyroid, and adrenals. Metabolites were not identified.

    There is no quantitative or qualitative evidence of increased susceptibility following in utero exposure to rats and rabbits and following pre-/postnatal exposure to rats in the developmental, reproduction, and developmental neurotoxicity studies with ziram. There was an apparent quantitative evidence of increased susceptibility identified in an older unacceptable developmental neurotoxicity study in rats. Increased motor activity was observed in the offspring at the lowest dose tested, while the maternal rats exhibited reduced body weights and/or body weight gains, and decreased food consumption during gestation and lactation at the highest dose tested. However, this study was classified as unacceptable since brain morphometric analysis—a key evaluation in DNTs—was not conducted. A second DNT study was submitted and does not demonstrate quantitative susceptibility. This second DNT identifies a clear NOAEL and includes brain morphometric data on post-natal day 21 and 72 rats with no treatment-related effects.

    Based on the occurrence of benign tumors (hemangiomas) in male CD (SD) BR male rats, supported by an increasing trend in preputial gland adenomas in male F344 rats. However, since no hemangiosarcomas or preputial gland carcinomas were observed, no treatment-related increase in tumors was identified in the female CD(SD) BR or female F344/N rat, and because ziram was not carcinogenic to CD-1 mice (both genders), and there is no concern regarding mutagenicity, the EPA has determined that quantification of risk using a non-linear approach (i.e., RfD) will adequately account for all chronic toxicity, including carcinogenicity, that could result from exposure to ziram.

    Ziram has low acute toxicity via the dermal and oral routes. However, ziram is classified as Toxicity Category I for eye irritation and a Category II for the acute inhalation study. Ziram is also a moderate dermal sensitizer. Specific information on the studies received and the nature of the adverse effects caused by ziram as well as the no-observed-adverse-effect-level (NOAEL) and the lowest-observed-adverse-effect-level (LOAEL) from the toxicity studies can be found at http://www.regulations.gov in document “Ziram. Human Health Risk Assessment for Proposed New Use on Hazelnuts (Filberts) in Tree Nuts Crop Group 14-12”, pages 12-17, in docket ID number EPA-HQ-OPP-2016-0536.

    B. Toxicological Points of Departure/Levels of Concern

    Once a pesticide's toxicological profile is determined, EPA identifies toxicological points of departure (POD) and levels of concern to use in evaluating the risk posed by human exposure to the pesticide. For hazards that have a threshold below which there is no appreciable risk, the toxicological POD is used as the basis for derivation of reference values for risk assessment. PODs are developed based on a careful analysis of the doses in each toxicological study to determine the dose at which no adverse effects are observed (the NOAEL) and the lowest dose at which adverse effects of concern are identified (the LOAEL). Uncertainty/safety factors are used in conjunction with the POD to calculate a safe exposure level—generally referred to as a population-adjusted dose (PAD) or a reference dose (RfD)—and a safe margin of exposure (MOE). For non-threshold risks, the Agency assumes that any amount of exposure will lead to some degree of risk. Thus, the Agency estimates risk in terms of the probability of an occurrence of the adverse effect expected in a lifetime. For more information on the general principles EPA uses in risk characterization and a complete description of the risk assessment process, see http://www2.epa.gov/pesticide-science-and-assessing-pesticide-risks/assessing-human-health-risk-pesticides.

    A summary of the toxicological endpoints for ziram used for human risk assessment is shown in the Table of this unit.

    Table—Summary of Toxicological Doses and Endpoints for Ziram for Use in Human Health Risk Assessment Exposure/scenario Point of departure and uncertainty/
  • safety factors
  • RfD, PAD, LOC for risk assessment Study and toxicological effects
    Acute dietary (All Populations) LOAEL = 15 mg/kg/day UFA = 10x
  • UFH = 10x
  • FQPA SF (UFL) = 3x
  • Acute RfD = 0.05 mg/kg/day
  • aPAD = 0.05 mg/kg/day
  • Acute Neurotoxicity in rat (MRID 43362801.
  • LOAEL = 15 mg/kg/day based on ataxia and slight impairment of gait.
  • NOAEL not established.
  • Chronic dietary (All populations) NOAEL = 1.6 mg/kg/day.
  • UFA = 10x
  • UFH = 10x
  • FQPA SF = 1x
  • Chronic RfD = 0.016 mg/kg/day
  • cPAD = 0.016 mg/kg/day.
  • 52-Week Oral Toxicity in dog (MRID 42823901).
  • LOAEL = 6.6 mg/kg/day based on liver histopathology (aggregates of Kupffer cells and macrophages, increased foci of degenerate hepatocytes, infiltration of inflammatory cells around central veins, and increased centrilobular fibrocytes) in males.
  • Short term oral (Adult only) NOAEL= 7.5 mg/kg/day.
  • UFA = 10x
  • UFH = 10x
  • FQPA SF = 1x
  • Residential LOC for MOE = 100 Prenatal Oral Developmental in rabbit (MRID 00161316).
  • LOAEL = 15 mg/kg/day based on increased incidence of resorptions and post implantation loss.
  • Dermal Short and Intermediate term (Adult only) Oral study
  • NOAEL= 7.5 mg/kg/day (dermal absorption rate = 1.0% *)
  • UFA = 10x
  • UFH = 10x
  • FQPA SF = 1x
  • Residential and Occupational LOC for MOE = 100 Prenatal Oral Developmental in rabbit (MRID 00161316).
  • LOAEL = 15 mg/kg/day based on increased incidence of resorptions and post implantation loss.
  • Inhalation Short and Intermediate term Oral study
  • NOAEL= 7.5 mg/kg/day.
  • UFA = 10x
  • UFH = 10x
  • FQPA SF = 1x
  • Residential and Occupational LOC for MOE = 100 Prenatal Oral Developmental in rabbit (MRID 00161316)
  • LOAEL = 15 mg/kg/day based on increased incidence of resorptions and post implantation loss.
  • Cancer (Oral, dermal, inhalation) EPA has determined that a nonlinear approach is appropriate and that the cRfD will be protective of cancer effects. FQPA SF = Food Quality Protection Act Safety Factor. LOAEL = lowest-observed-adverse-effect-level. LOC = level of concern. mg/kg/day = milligram/kilogram/day. MOE = margin of exposure. NOAEL = no-observed-adverse-effect-level. PAD = population adjusted dose (a = acute, c = chronic). RfD = reference dose. UF = uncertainty factor. UFA = extrapolation from animal to human (interspecies). UFH = potential variation in sensitivity among members of the human population (intraspecies). UFL = use of a LOAEL to extrapolate a NOAEL. * The dermal absorption rate of 1.0% was derived from the ratio of LOAELs in the rabbit oral developmental study and the 21-day dermal rabbit study (RED, 2003).
    C. Exposure Assessment

    1. Dietary exposure from food and feed uses. In evaluating dietary exposure to ziram, EPA considered exposure under the petitioned-for tolerances as well as all existing ziram tolerances in 40 CFR 180.116. EPA assessed dietary exposures from ziram in food as follows:

    i. Acute exposure. Quantitative acute dietary exposure and risk assessments are performed for a food-use pesticide, if a toxicological study has indicated the possibility of an effect of concern occurring as a result of a 1-day or single exposure.

    Such effects were identified for ziram. In estimating acute dietary exposure, EPA used food consumption information from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Nationwide Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, What We Eat in America (NHANES/WWEIA) conducted from 2003-2008. As to residue levels in food, the acute dietary analysis was obtained from the Dietary Exposure Evaluation Model using the Food Commodity Intake Database (DEEM-FCID; version 3.16). The assessment is based on the maximum percent crop treated estimates for some commodities and assumed 100% crop treated for all others. The analyses also assumed a distribution of residues based on field trial data or the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) monitoring data.

    ii. Chronic exposure. In conducting the chronic dietary exposure assessment EPA used the food consumption data from the USDA Nationwide Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, What We Eat in America (NHANES/WWEIA) conducted from 2003-2008. As to residue levels in food, the chronic dietary analysis was obtained from the Dietary Exposure Evaluation Model using the Food Commodity Intake Database (DEEM-FCID; version 3.16). The assessment is based on the average percent crop treated estimates for some commodities and assumed 100% crop treated for all others. The analyses also assumed a distribution of residues based on field trial data or the FDA monitoring data.

    iii. Cancer. Based on the data summarized in Unit III.A., EPA has concluded that a nonlinear RfD approach is appropriate for assessing cancer risk to ziram. Cancer risk was assessed using the same exposure estimates as discussed in Unit III.C.1.ii., chronic exposure.

    iv. Anticipated residue and percent crop treated (PCT) information. Section 408(b)(2)(E) of FFDCA authorizes EPA to use available data and information on the anticipated residue levels of pesticide residues in food and the actual levels of pesticide residues that have been measured in food. If EPA relies on such information, EPA must require pursuant to FFDCA section 408(f)(1) that data be provided 5 years after the tolerance is established, modified, or left in effect, demonstrating that the levels in food are not above the levels anticipated. For the present action, EPA will issue such data call-ins as are required by FFDCA section 408(b)(2)(E) and authorized under FFDCA section 408(f)(1). Data will be required to be submitted no later than 5 years from the date of issuance of these tolerances.

    Section 408(b)(2)(F) of FFDCA states that the Agency may use data on the actual percent of food treated for assessing chronic dietary risk only if:

    Condition a: The data used are reliable and provide a valid basis to show what percentage of the food derived from such crop is likely to contain the pesticide residue.

    Condition b: The exposure estimate does not underestimate exposure for any significant subpopulation group.

    Condition c: Data are available on pesticide use and food consumption in a particular area, the exposure estimate does not understate exposure for the population in such area.

    In addition, the Agency must provide for periodic evaluation of any estimates used. To provide for the periodic evaluation of the estimate of PCT as required by FFDCA section 408(b)(2)(F), EPA may require registrants to submit data on PCT.

    The Agency estimated the maximum PCT for existing uses as follows in the acute dietary risk assessment: Almonds: 35%; apples: 20%; apricots: 70%; blueberries: 40%; cherries: 15%; grapes: 10%; nectarines: 65%; peaches: 40%; pears: 35%; pecans: 2.5%; and tomatoes: 6%.

    The following average percent crop treated estimates were used in the chronic dietary risk assessments for the following crops that are currently registered for ziram: almonds: 15%; apples: 15%; apricots: 35%; blueberries: 30%; cherries: 5%; grapes: 5%; nectarines: 45%; peaches: 25%; pears: 15%; pecans: 2.5%; and tomatoes: 6%.

    For strawberries, the Agency calculated percent detectable residue values from the FDA samples and used that number (4.5%) in the acute and chronic evaluations.

    In most cases, EPA uses available data from United States Department of Agriculture/National Agricultural Statistics Service (USDA/NASS), proprietary market surveys, and the National Pesticide Use Database for the chemical/crop combination for the most recent 6-7 years. EPA uses an average PCT for chronic dietary risk analysis. The average PCT figure for each existing use is derived by combining available public and private market survey data for that use, averaging across all observations, and rounding to the nearest 5%, except for those situations in which the average PCT is less than 5%. In those cases, EPA rounds to either 2.5% or 1%, whichever is appropriate. EPA uses a maximum PCT for acute dietary risk analysis. The maximum PCT figure is the highest observed maximum value reported within the recent 6 years of available public and private market survey data for the existing use and rounded up to the nearest multiple of 5%, except when the maximum PCT is less than 5%; then EPA uses 2.5%.

    The Agency believes that the three conditions discussed in Unit III.C.1. iv. have been met. With respect to Condition a, PCT estimates are derived from Federal and private market survey data, which are reliable and have a valid basis. The Agency is reasonably certain that the percentage of the food treated is not likely to be an underestimation. As to Conditions b and c, regional consumption information and consumption information for significant subpopulations is taken into account through EPA's computer-based model for evaluating the exposure of significant subpopulations including several regional groups. Use of this consumption information in EPA's risk assessment process ensures that EPA's exposure estimate does not understate exposure for any significant subpopulation group and allows the Agency to be reasonably certain that no regional population is exposed to residue levels higher than those estimated by the Agency. Other than the data available through national food consumption surveys, EPA does not have available reliable information on the regional consumption of food to which ziram may be applied in a particular area.

    2. Dietary exposure from drinking water. The Agency used screening level water exposure models in the dietary exposure analysis and risk assessment for ziram in drinking water. These simulation models take into account data on the physical, chemical, and fate/transport characteristics of ziram. Further information regarding EPA drinking water models used in pesticide exposure assessment can be found at http://www2.epa.gov/pesticide-science-and-assessing-pesticide-risks/about-water-exposure-models-used-pesticide.

    Based on the Pesticide Water Calculator (PWC 1.52) and Pesticide Root Zone Model Ground Water (PRZM GW), the estimated drinking water concentrations (EDWCs) of ziram for acute exposures are estimated to be 103.7 parts per billion (ppb) for surface water and <0.001 ppb for ground water. For chronic exposures for non-cancer assessments are estimated to be 2.74 ppb for surface water and <0.001 ppb for ground water.

    Modeled estimates of drinking water concentrations were directly entered into the dietary exposure model. For acute dietary risk assessment, the water concentration value of 103.7 ppb was used to assess the contribution to drinking water. For chronic dietary risk assessment, the water concentration of value 2.74 ppb was used to assess the contribution to drinking water.

    3. From non-dietary exposure. The term “residential exposure” is used in this document to refer to non-occupational, non-dietary exposure (e.g., for lawn and garden pest control, indoor pest control, termiticides, and flea and tick control on pets).

    There are no conventional residential uses of ziram. However, there is a registered use of exterior latex paint, an antimicrobial use, for ziram which could result in residential exposures. The registered antimicrobial use in exterior latex paint (in-can-preservative) may be used by a homeowner and applied either by airless sprayer or by brush. Short-term aggregate risk assessments were previously conducted for adults only; the sole registered scenario resulting in residential exposures. Residential handler risks are not of concern for the loading/application of exterior latex paints either by airless spray or brush (i.e., the combined dermal and inhalation MOE is >100). Residential post-application inhalation exposures are expected to be negligible due to the low vapor pressure of ziram (1.4E-7 mmHg at 25 °C) and low dermal contact potential to treated surfaces.

    4. Cumulative effects from substances with a common mechanism of toxicity. Section 408(b)(2)(D)(v) of FFDCA requires that, when considering whether to establish, modify, or revoke a tolerance, the Agency consider “available information” concerning the cumulative effects of a particular pesticide's residues and “other substances that have a common mechanism of toxicity.”

    The Agency reevaluated the existing data suggesting that the dithiocarbamates can be grouped based on a common mechanism of toxicity. The dithiocarbamates included were mancozeb, maneb, metiram, Na-dimethyldithiocarbamate, ziram, thiram, ferbam, and metam sodium. EPA concluded that the available evidence shows that the neuropathology induced by treatment of rats with the dithiocarbamates cannot be linked with the formation of carbon disulfide because: (a) The neuropathology induced by the dithiocarbamates is not consistent with the neuropathology induced by exposure to carbon disulfide, (b) there is a lack of concordance between doses of the dithiocarbamates that induce neuropathology and the amounts of carbon disulfide formed during metabolism and (c) there is evidence that more than one mechanism of toxicity could be operative that accounts for dithiocarbamate induced neuropathology because there is no consistent pattern of neuropathology reported in studies with this subgroup of carbamates. Accordingly, the available evidence does not support grouping the dithiocarbamates based on a common mechanism for neuropathology. For the purposes of this tolerance action, therefore, EPA has assumed that ziram does not have a common mechanism of toxicity with other substances. For information regarding EPA's efforts to determine which chemicals have a common mechanism of toxicity and to evaluate the cumulative effects of such chemicals, see EPA's Web site at http://www2.epa.gov/pesticide-science-and-assessing-pesticide-risks/cumulative-assessment-risk-pesticides.

    D. Safety Factor for Infants and Children

    1. In general. Section 408(b)(2)(C) of FFDCA provides that EPA shall apply an additional tenfold (10X) margin of safety for infants and children in the case of threshold effects to account for prenatal and postnatal toxicity and the completeness of the database on toxicity and exposure unless EPA determines based on reliable data that a different margin of safety will be safe for infants and children. This additional margin of safety is commonly referred to as the FQPA Safety Factor (SF). In applying this provision, EPA either retains the default value of 10X, or uses a different additional safety factor when reliable data available to EPA support the choice of a different factor.

    2. Prenatal and postnatal sensitivity. There is no quantitative or qualitative evidence of increase in susceptibility following in utero exposure to rats and rabbits and following pre-/postnatal exposure to rats in the developmental, the reproduction, and the acceptable DNT studies with ziram.

    3. Conclusion. EPA has determined that reliable data show the safety of infants and children would be adequately protected if the FQPA SF were reduced to 1X for all scenarios except acute dietary, for which the FQPA SF is being reduced to 3X. That decision is based on the following findings:

    i. The toxicity database for ziram is adequate for evaluating and characterizing its toxicity, except for where a NOAEL is extrapolated from a LOAEL in the acute neurotoxicity study used as the endpoint for assessing acute dietary exposure. EPA has determined that a 3x FQPA SF to account for the extrapolation is sufficient to protect infants and children because of the impacts observed at the LOAEL were minimal and other studies did not show effects occurring at similar doses.

    ii. There is indication that ziram is a neurotoxic chemical and an acceptable developmental neurotoxicity study has been submitted. A single oral dose resulted in ataxia in both sexes and slight impaired gait in males. Repeated short term oral exposure resulted in inhibition of brain cholinesterase in both sexes and brain neurotoxic esterase activity in male rats. Developmental neurotoxic effects were not observed in offspring of the most recent DNT study. Chronic dietary exposure in adult rats resulted in atrophy and reductions in crural muscle weights. Crural muscles function in the motion of the rodent's grasping foot claw.

    iii. There is no evidence that ziram results in increased susceptibility in in utero rats or rabbits in the prenatal developmental studies, in young rats in the 2-generation reproduction study, or in the most recent DNT study.

    iv. There are no residual uncertainties identified in the exposure databases. The dietary and non-dietary exposure estimates were based on several conservative assumptions and will not underestimate the exposure and risk. EPA made conservative (protective) assumptions in the ground and surface water modeling used to assess exposure to ziram in drinking water. EPA used similarly conservative assumptions to assess post-application exposure of children as well as incidental oral exposure of toddlers. These assessments will not underestimate the exposure and risks posed by ziram.

    E. Aggregate Risks and Determination of Safety

    EPA determines whether acute and chronic dietary pesticide exposures are safe by comparing aggregate exposure estimates to the acute PAD (aPAD) and chronic PAD (cPAD). For linear cancer risks, EPA calculates the lifetime probability of acquiring cancer given the estimated aggregate exposure. Short-, intermediate-, and chronic-term risks are evaluated by comparing the estimated aggregate food, water, and residential exposure to the appropriate PODs to ensure that an adequate MOE exists.

    1. Acute risk. Using the exposure assumptions discussed in this unit for acute exposure, the acute dietary exposure from food and water to ziram will occupy 26% of the aPAD for children 1-2 years old, the population group receiving the greatest exposure.

    2. Chronic risk. Using the exposure assumptions described in this unit for chronic exposure, EPA has concluded that chronic exposure to ziram from food and water will utilize 1.4% of the cPAD for Children 1-2, the population group receiving the greatest exposure. Based on the explanation in Unit III.C.3., regarding residential use patterns, chronic residential exposure to residues of ziram is not expected.

    3. Short-term risk. Short-term aggregate exposure takes into account short-term residential exposure plus chronic exposure to food and water (considered to be a background exposure level).

    Ziram is currently registered for uses that could result in short-term residential exposure, and the Agency has determined that it is appropriate to aggregate chronic exposure through food and water with short-term residential exposures to ziram.

    Using the exposure assumptions described in this unit for short-term exposures, EPA has concluded the combined short-term food, water, and residential exposures result in aggregate MOEs of 170 for adults. Because EPA's level of concern for ziram is a MOE of 100 or below, these MOEs are not of concern.

    4. Intermediate-term risk. Intermediate-term aggregate exposure takes into account intermediate-term residential exposure plus chronic exposure to food and water (considered to be a background exposure level). Because no intermediate-term adverse effect was identified, ziram is not expected to pose an intermediate-term risk.

    5. Aggregate cancer risk for U.S. population. As discussed in Unit III.A., the Agency has determined that quantification of risk using a non-linear approach (i.e., RfD) will adequately account for all chronic toxicity, including carcinogenicity, that could result from exposure to ziram. Because the Agency's assessment indicates that aggregate exposure will be below the Agency's level of concern for chronic risk, the Agency concludes such exposure will not pose an aggregate cancer risk.

    6. Determination of safety. Based on these risk assessments, EPA concludes that there is a reasonable certainty that no harm will result to the general population, or to infants and children from aggregate exposure to ziram residues.

    IV. Other Considerations A. Analytical Enforcement Methodology

    Adequate enforcement methodology (colorimetric method, Method I) is available to enforce the tolerance expression.

    B. International Residue Limits

    In making its tolerance decisions, EPA seeks to harmonize U.S. tolerances with international standards whenever possible, consistent with U.S. food safety standards and agricultural practices. EPA considers the international maximum residue limits (MRLs) established by the Codex Alimentarius Commission (Codex), as required by FFDCA section 408(b)(4). The Codex Alimentarius is a joint United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization/World Health Organization food standards program, and it is recognized as an international food safety standards-setting organization in trade agreements to which the United States is a party. EPA may establish a tolerance that is different from a Codex MRL; however, FFDCA section 408(b)(4) requires that EPA explain the reasons for departing from the Codex level. The Codex has not established a MRL for ziram.

    C. Revisions to Petitioned-For Tolerances

    EPA revised the 0.1 ppm value to 0.10 ppm based on the practice to add the additional significant figure to provide clarity about permissible residues. In addition, the commodity term for the tolerance was revised from filbert (hazelnut) to hazelnut to be consistent with the general food and feed commodity vocabulary EPA uses for tolerances and exemptions.

    V. Conclusion

    Therefore, tolerance is established for residues of ziram, zinc dimethyldithiocarbamate, in or on hazelnut at 0.10 ppm.

    In addition, EPA is making a number of housekeeping adjustments to this rule. First, consistent with the Agency's policy for drafting the tolerance expression, EPA is revising the tolerance expression to clarify that the tolerance covers residues of the parent as well as metabolites and degradates of the pesticide chemical in accordance with section 408(a)(3) of the FFDCA, and to clarify how residues of the chemical are to be measured to determine compliance with the tolerance levels. Second, because the tolerance for blackberries has expired by its terms, EPA is removing that tolerance from section 180.116. Finally, because no current tolerances have an expiration date, the third column is not necessary, so EPA is removing that column.

    VI. Statutory and Executive Order Reviews

    This action establishes a tolerance under FFDCA section 408(d) in response to a petition submitted to the Agency. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has exempted these types of actions from review under Executive Order 12866, entitled “Regulatory Planning and Review” (58 FR 51735, October 4, 1993). Because this action has been exempted from review under Executive Order 12866, this action is not subject to Executive Order 13211, entitled “Actions Concerning Regulations That Significantly Affect Energy Supply, Distribution, or Use” (66 FR 28355, May 22, 2001) or Executive Order 13045, entitled “Protection of Children from Environmental Health Risks and Safety Risks” (62 FR 19885, April 23, 1997). This action does not contain any information collections subject to OMB approval under the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA) (44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.), nor does it require any special considerations under Executive Order 12898, entitled “Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Populations” (59 FR 7629, February 16, 1994).

    Since tolerances and exemptions that are established on the basis of a petition under FFDCA section 408(d), such as the tolerance in this final rule, do not require the issuance of a proposed rule, the requirements of the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) (5 U.S.C. 601 et seq.), do not apply.

    This action directly regulates growers, food processors, food handlers, and food retailers, not States or tribes, nor does this action alter the relationships or distribution of power and responsibilities established by Congress in the preemption provisions of FFDCA section 408(n)(4). As such, the Agency has determined that this action will not have a substantial direct effect on States or tribal governments, on the relationship between the national government and the States or tribal governments, or on the distribution of power and responsibilities among the various levels of government or between the Federal Government and Indian tribes. Thus, the Agency has determined that Executive Order 13132, entitled “Federalism” (64 FR 43255, August 10, 1999) and Executive Order 13175, entitled “Consultation and Coordination with Indian Tribal Governments” (65 FR 67249, November 9, 2000) do not apply to this action. In addition, this action does not impose any enforceable duty or contain any unfunded mandate as described under Title II of the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (UMRA) (2 U.S.C. 1501 et seq.).

    This action does not involve any technical standards that would require Agency consideration of voluntary consensus standards pursuant to section 12(d) of the National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act (NTTAA) (15 U.S.C. 272 note).

    VII. Congressional Review Act

    Pursuant to the Congressional Review Act (5 U.S.C. 801 et seq.), EPA will submit a report containing this rule and other required information to the U.S. Senate, the U.S. House of Representatives, and the Comptroller General of the United States prior to publication of the rule in the Federal Register. This action is not a “major rule” as defined by 5 U.S.C. 804(2).

    List of Subjects in 40 CFR Part 180

    Environmental protection, Administrative practice and procedure, Agricultural commodities, Pesticides and pests, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements.

    Dated: November 9, 2017. Daniel J. Rosenblatt, Acting Director, Registration Division, Office of Pesticide Programs.

    Therefore, 40 CFR chapter I is amended as follows:

    PART 180—[AMENDED] 1. The authority citation for part 180 continues to read as follows: Authority:

    21 U.S.C. 321(q), 346a and 371.

    2. In § 180.116, revise paragraph (a) to read as follows:
    § 180.116 Ziram; tolerances for residues.

    (a) General. Tolerances are established for residues of the fungicide ziram (zinc dimethyldithiocarbamate), including its metabolites and degradates, in or on the commodities in the table below as a result of the application of ziram. Compliance with the tolerance levels specified below is to be determined by measuring total dithiocarbamates, determined as CS2, evolved during acid digestion and expressed as zinc ethylenebisdithiocarbamate.

    Commodity Parts per million Almond 1 0.10 Apple 1 7.0 Apricot 1 7.0 Blueberry 1 7.0 Cherry, sweet 1 7.0 Cherry, tart 1 7.0 Grape 7.0 Hazelnut 0.10 Huckleberry 7.0 Peach 7.0 Pear 1 7.0 Pecan 0.10 Quince 1 7.0 Strawberry 7.0 Tomato 1 7.0 1 Some of these tolerances were established on the basis of data acquired at the public hearings held in 1950 (formerly § 180.101) and the remainder were established on the basis of pesticide petitions presented under the procedure specified in the amendment to the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act by Public Law 518, 83d Congress (68 Stat. 511).
    [FR Doc. 2017-25713 Filed 12-7-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560-50-P
    ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY 40 CFR Part 180 [EPA-HQ-OPP-2017-0095; FRL-9970-39] Indoxacarb; Pesticide Tolerances AGENCY:

    Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

    ACTION:

    Final rule.

    SUMMARY:

    This regulation establishes tolerances for residues of indoxacarb in or on corn, field, forage; corn, field, stover; corn, field, grain. E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company requested these tolerances under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA).

    DATES:

    This regulation is effective December 8, 2017. Objections and requests for hearings must be received on or before February 6, 2018, and must be filed in accordance with the instructions provided in 40 CFR part 178 (see also Unit I.C. of the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION).

    ADDRESSES:

    The docket for this action, identified by docket identification (ID) number EPA-HQ-OPP-2017-0095, is available at http://www.regulations.gov or at the Office of Pesticide Programs Regulatory Public Docket (OPP Docket) in the Environmental Protection Agency Docket Center (EPA/DC), West William Jefferson Clinton Bldg., Rm. 3334, 1301 Constitution Ave. NW., Washington, DC 20460-0001. The Public Reading Room is open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, excluding legal holidays. The telephone number for the Public Reading Room is (202) 566-1744, and the telephone number for the OPP Docket is (703) 305-5805. Please review the visitor instructions and additional information about the docket available at http://www.epa.gov/dockets.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Michael L. Goodis, Registration Division (7505P), Office of Pesticide Programs, Environmental Protection Agency, 1200 Pennsylvania Ave. NW., Washington, DC 20460-0001; main telephone number: (703) 305-7090; email address: [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    I. General Information A. Does this action apply to me?

    You may be potentially affected by this action if you are an agricultural producer, food manufacturer, or pesticide manufacturer. The following list of North American Industrial Classification System (NAICS) codes is not intended to be exhaustive, but rather provides a guide to help readers determine whether this document applies to them. Potentially affected entities may include:

    • Crop production (NAICS code 111).

    • Animal production (NAICS code 112).

    • Food manufacturing (NAICS code 311).

    • Pesticide manufacturing (NAICS code 32532).

    B. How can I get electronic access to other related information?

    You may access a frequently updated electronic version of EPA's tolerance regulations at 40 CFR part 180 through the Government Printing Office's e-CFR site at http://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?&c=ecfr&tpl=/ecfrbrowse/Title40/40tab_02.tpl.

    C. How can I file an objection or hearing request?

    Under FFDCA section 408(g), 21 U.S.C. 346a, any person may file an objection to any aspect of this regulation and may also request a hearing on those objections. You must file your objection or request a hearing on this regulation in accordance with the instructions provided in 40 CFR part 178. To ensure proper receipt by EPA, you must identify docket ID number EPA-HQ-OPP-2017-0095 in the subject line on the first page of your submission. All objections and requests for a hearing must be in writing, and must be received by the Hearing Clerk on or before February 6, 2018. Addresses for mail and hand delivery of objections and hearing requests are provided in 40 CFR 178.25(b).

    In addition to filing an objection or hearing request with the Hearing Clerk as described in 40 CFR part 178, please submit a copy of the filing (excluding any Confidential Business Information (CBI)) for inclusion in the public docket. Information not marked confidential pursuant to 40 CFR part 2 may be disclosed publicly by EPA without prior notice. Submit the non-CBI copy of your objection or hearing request, identified by docket ID number EPA-HQ-OPP-2017-0095, by one of the following methods:

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

    Mail: OPP Docket, Environmental Protection Agency Docket Center (EPA/DC), (28221T), 1200 Pennsylvania Ave. NW., Washington, DC 20460-0001.

    Hand Delivery: To make special arrangements for hand delivery or delivery of boxed information, please follow the instructions at http://www.epa.gov/dockets/contacts.html. Additional instructions on commenting or visiting the docket, along with more information about dockets generally, is available at http://www.epa.gov/dockets.

    II. Summary of Petitioned-For Tolerance

    In the Federal Register of June 8, 2017 (82 FR 26641) (FRL-9961-14), EPA issued a document pursuant to FFDCA section 408(d)(3), 21 U.S.C. 346a(d)(3), announcing the filing of a pesticide petition (PP 6F8536) by E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company, 974 Centre Road, Wilmington, Delaware 19805. The petition requested that 40 CFR part 180 be amended by establishing tolerances for residues of the insecticide indoxacarb, [(S)-methyl 7-chloro-2,5-dihydro-2-[[(methoxycarbonyl)[4-(trifluoromethoxy)-phenyl] amino]carbonyl]indeno[1,2e] [1,3,4]oxadiazine-4a(3H)-carboxylate], and [(R)-methyl 7 chloro-2,5-dihydro-2[[(methoxycarbonyl)[4-(trifluoromethoxy)phenyl] amino]carbonyl]indeno[1,2-e][1,3,4] oxadiazine-4a(3H)-carboxylate], in or on corn, field, forage at 10 parts per million (ppm); corn, field, stover at 15 ppm; corn, field, aspirated grain fractions at 45 ppm; corn, field flour at 0.07 ppm; corn, field, meal at 0.03 ppm; corn, field, oil at 0.05 ppm; corn, field, grain at 0.02 ppm. That document referenced a summary of the petition prepared by E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company, the registrant, which is available in the docket, http://www.regulations.gov. There were no comments received in response to the notice of filing.

    Based on available information, EPA is establishing some tolerances that vary from what the petitioner requested. The reasons for these changes are discussed in Unit IV.C.

    III. Aggregate Risk Assessment and Determination of Safety

    Section 408(b)(2)(A)(i) of FFDCA allows EPA to establish a tolerance (the legal limit for a pesticide chemical residue in or on a food) only if EPA determines that the tolerance is “safe.” Section 408(b)(2)(A)(ii) of FFDCA defines “safe” to mean that “there is a reasonable certainty that no harm will result from aggregate exposure to the pesticide chemical residue, including all anticipated dietary exposures and all other exposures for which there is reliable information.” This includes exposure through drinking water and in residential settings, but does not include occupational exposure. Section 408(b)(2)(C) of FFDCA requires EPA to give special consideration to exposure of infants and children to the pesticide chemical residue in establishing a tolerance and to “ensure that there is a reasonable certainty that no harm will result to infants and children from aggregate exposure to the pesticide chemical residue . . .”

    Consistent with FFDCA section 408(b)(2)(D), and the factors specified in FFDCA section 408(b)(2)(D), EPA has reviewed the available scientific data and other relevant information in support of this action. EPA has sufficient data to assess the hazards of and to make a determination on aggregate exposure for indoxacarb including exposure resulting from the tolerances established by this action. EPA's assessment of exposures and risks associated with indoxacarb follows.

    A. Toxicological Profile

    EPA has evaluated the available toxicity data and considered its validity, completeness, and reliability as well as the relationship of the results of the studies to human risk. EPA has also considered available information concerning the variability of the sensitivities of major identifiable subgroups of consumers, including infants and children.

    The most common effects resulting from exposure to indoxacarb (defined by the lowest-observed-adverse-effect-level (LOAEL)) were non-specific, and included decreases in body weight, food consumption, and food efficiency. Indoxacarb also affected the hematopoietic system by decreasing the red blood cell count, hemoglobin, and hematocrit in rats, dogs, and mice.

    There was no evidence of reproductive effects in rats resulting from exposure to indoxacarb. There was no evidence of increased susceptibility in developing fetuses or in offspring following prenatal and/or postnatal exposure to indoxacarb in rats or rabbits. There was no evidence of increased susceptibility in the young in the developmental neurotoxicity study in rats. Neurotoxicity was observed in rats and mice, but at doses much higher than those selected for points of departure (PoDs) (which are based on changes in body weight, food consumption and changes in hematology). There is no evidence indoxacarb is carcinogenic, teratogenic, mutagenic, or immunotoxic.

    Specific information on the studies received and the nature of the adverse effects caused by indoxacarb as well as the no-observed-adverse-effect-level (NOAEL) and the lowest-observed-adverse-effect-level (LOAEL) from the toxicity studies can be found at http://www.regulations.gov in the documents, Indoxacarb: Human Health Risk Assessment for Indoxacarb to Support the Proposed New Uses on Corn (Field, Pop, and Grown for Seed) in docket ID number EPA-HQ-OPP-2017-0095 and Indoxacarb: Human Health Draft Risk Assessment for Indoxacarb to Support Registration Review and the Proposed New Use for Controlling Ants at Ornamental Nurseries, Sod Farms, and Livestock Corrals of non-Food Bearing Animals in docket ID number EPA-HQ-OPP-2013-0367.

    B. Toxicological Points of Departure/Levels of Concern

    Once a pesticide's toxicological profile is determined, EPA identifies toxicological points of departure (PoD) and levels of concern to use in evaluating the risk posed by human exposure to the pesticide. For hazards that have a threshold below which there is no appreciable risk, the toxicological PoD is used as the basis for derivation of reference values for risk assessment. PoDs are developed based on a careful analysis of the doses in each toxicological study to determine the dose at which no adverse effects are observed (the NOAEL) and the lowest dose at which adverse effects of concern are identified (the LOAEL). Uncertainty/safety factors are used in conjunction with the PoD to calculate a safe exposure level—generally referred to as a population-adjusted dose (PAD) or a reference dose (RfD)—and a safe margin of exposure (MOE). For non-threshold risks, the Agency assumes that any amount of exposure will lead to some degree of risk. Thus, the Agency estimates risk in terms of the probability of an occurrence of the adverse effect expected in a lifetime. For more information on the general principles EPA uses in risk characterization and a complete description of the risk assessment process, see http://www.epa.gov/pesticides/factsheets/riskassess.htm.

    A summary of the toxicological endpoints for indoxacarb used for human risk assessment is shown in Table 1 of this unit.

    Table 1—Summary of Toxicological Doses and Endpoints for Indoxacarb for Use in Human Health Risk Assessment Exposure/scenario Point of departure
  • and uncertainty/
  • safety factors
  • RfD, PAD, LOC for
  • risk assessment
  • Study and toxicological effects
    Acute dietary (All populations) NOAEL = 12 mg/kg/day
  • UFA = 10x
  • UFH = 10x
  • FQPA SF = 1x
  • Acute RfD = 0.12 mg/kg/day
  • aPAD = 0.12mg/kg/day
  • Acute oral rate neurotoxicity study LOAEL = 50 mg/kg/day based on decreased body weight and body-weight gain in females (MP062).
    Chronic dietary (All populations) NOAEL= 2.0 mg/kg/day Chronic RfD = 0.02 mg/kg/day Weight of evidence approach was used from four studies: UFA = 10x
  • UFH = 10x
  • FQPA SF = 1x
  • cPAD = 0.02 mg/kg/day (1) Subchronic toxicity study—rat (MP062). MRID 44477129. LOAEL = 6.0 (M), 3.8 (F) mg/kg/day based on decreased body weight, body-weight gain, food consumption and food efficiency.
    (2) Subchronic neurotoxicity study—rat (MP062). MRID 44477135. LOAEL = 5.6 (M), 3.3 (F) mg/kg/day based on decreased body weight and alopecia. (3) Chronic/carcinogenicity study—rat (JW062). MRID 44477145. LOAEL = 10 (M), 3.6 (F) mg/kg/day based on decreased body weight, body-weight gain, and food consumption and food efficiency; decreased HCT, HGB and RBC at 6 months in F only. (4) Two-generation rat reproduction study (JW062). MRID 44477144. LOAEL = 4.4 mg/kg/day based on decreased body weights, body-weight gain, food consumption and food efficiency and increased spleen weights in the F0 and F1 females. Incidental oral short-term (1 to 30 days) NOAEL= 2.0 mg/kg/day
  • UFA = 10x
  • UFH = 10x
  • FQPA SF = 1x
  • LOC for MOE = 100 Weight of evidence approach was used from four studies:
  • (1) Subchronic toxicity study—rat (MP062). MRID 44477129. LOAEL = 6.0 (M), 3.8 (F) mg/kg/day based on decreased body weight, body-weight gain, food consumption and food efficiency.
  • (2) Subchronic neurotoxicity study—rat (MP062). MRID 44477135. LOAEL = 5.6 (M), 3.3 (F) mg/kg/day based on decreased body weight and alopecia. (3) Chronic/carcinogenicity study—rat (JW062). MRID 44477145. LOAEL = 10 (M), 3.6 (F) mg/kg/day based on decreased body weight, body-weight gain, and food consumption and food efficiency; decreased HCT, HGB and RBC at 6 months in F only. (4) Two-generation rat reproduction study (JW062). MRID 44477144.
  • LOAEL = 4.4 mg/kg/day based on decreased body weights, body-weight gain, food consumption and food efficiency and increased spleen weights in the F0 and F1 females.
  • Short-Term Dermal (1 to 30 days)
  • Intermediate-Term Dermal (1-6 months)
  • A quantitative dermal assessment is not required for indoxacarb, since the calculated human dermal LOAEL exceeds the limit dose of 1,000 mg/kg/day.
    Inhalation short-term (1 to 30 days) Inhalation NOAEL= 23 µg/L/day
  • UFA = 3x
  • UFH = 10x
  • FQPA SF = 1x
  • LOC for MOE = 30 28-day rat inhalation toxicity study (MP062). MRID 45870001.
    Inhalation (1-6 months) The LOAEL of 290 µg/L/day is based on increased spleen weights, pigmentation and hematopoiesis in the spleen, hematological changes, mortality (females), and nasal ulceration and inflammation. Cancer (Oral, dermal, inhalation) “Not likely” to be carcinogenic to humans since no evidence of carcinogenicity in either the rat or mouse studies, and no evidence of mutagenicity. FQPA SF = Food Quality Protection Act Safety Factor. LOAEL = lowest-observed-adverse-effect-level. LOC = level of concern. mg/kg/day = milligram/kilogram/day. µg/L/day = microgram/liter/day. MOE = margin of exposure. NOAEL = no-observed-adverse-effect-level. PAD = population adjusted dose (a = acute, c = chronic). RfD = reference dose. UF = uncertainty factor. UFA = extrapolation from animal to human (interspecies). UFH = potential variation in sensitivity among members of the human population (intraspecies).
    C. Exposure Assessment

    1. Dietary exposure from food and feed uses. In evaluating dietary exposure to indoxacarb, EPA considered exposure under the petitioned-for tolerances as well as all existing indoxacarb tolerances in 40 CFR 180.564. EPA assessed dietary exposures from indoxacarb in food as follows:

    i. Acute exposure. Quantitative acute dietary exposure and risk assessments are performed for a food-use pesticide, if a toxicological study has indicated the possibility of an effect of concern occurring as a result of a 1-day or single exposure. Such effects were identified for indoxacarb. In conducting the acute dietary exposure assessment EPA used food consumption information from the 2003-2008 food consumption data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA's) National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, What We Eat in America, (NHANES/WWEIA). In estimating acute dietary exposure, EPA used maximum residue levels based on the results of field trials reflecting maximum use patterns in all commodities and used maximum Percent Crop Treated (PCT) estimates.

    ii. Chronic exposure. In conducting the chronic dietary exposure assessment, EPA used food consumption information from the 2003-2008 food consumption data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA's) National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, What We Eat in America, (NHANES/WWEIA). In estimating chronic dietary exposure, EPA used average residue levels based on the results of field trials reflecting maximum use patterns in all commodities and used average PCT estimates.

    iii. Cancer. Based on the data summarized in Unit III.A., EPA has concluded that indoxacarb does not pose a cancer risk to humans. Therefore, a dietary exposure assessment for the purpose of assessing cancer risk is unnecessary.

    iv. Anticipated residue and PCT information. Average or maximum residues and PCT values were used for food commodities.

    Section 408(b)(2)(E) of FFDCA authorizes EPA to use available data and information on the anticipated residue levels of pesticide residues in food and the actual levels of pesticide residues that have been measured in food. If EPA relies on such information, EPA must require pursuant to FFDCA section 408(f)(1) that data be provided 5 years after the tolerance is established, modified, or left in effect, demonstrating that the levels in food are not above the levels anticipated. For the present action, EPA will issue such data call-ins as are required by FFDCA section 408(b)(2)(E) and authorized under FFDCA section 408(f)(1). Data will be required to be submitted no later than 5 years from the date of issuance of these tolerances.

    Section 408(b)(2)(F) of FFDCA states that the Agency may use data on the actual percent of food treated for assessing chronic dietary risk only if:

    Condition a: The data used are reliable and provide a valid basis to show what percentage of the food derived from such crop is likely to contain the pesticide residue.

    Condition b: The exposure estimate does not underestimate exposure for any significant subpopulation group.

    Condition c: Data are available on pesticide use and food consumption in a particular area, the exposure estimate does not understate exposure for the population in such area.

    In addition, the Agency must provide for periodic evaluation of any estimates used. To provide for the periodic evaluation of the estimate of PCT as required by FFDCA section 408(b)(2)(F), EPA may require registrants to submit data on PCT.

    The Agency estimated maximum and average PCT values for the acute and chronic dietary assessments, as follows:

    For acute dietary assessment: Apples: 10%; apricots: 15%; blueberries: 5%; broccoli: 70%, cabbage: 35%; cantaloupe: 10%; cauliflower: 60%; celery: 5%; cherries: 2.5%; cotton: 2.5%; cucumbers: 10%; grapes: 5%; lettuce: 15%; nectarines: 15%; peaches: 10%; peanuts: 10%; pears: 2.5%; peppers: 30%; plums/prunes: 5%; potatoes: 2.5%; soybeans: 2.5%; spinach: 5%; squash: 5%; sweet corn: 10%; and tomatoes: 40%.

    For chronic dietary assessment: Apples: 5%; apricots: 5%; blueberries: 5% broccoli: 45%, cabbage: 20%; cantaloupe: 5%; cauliflower: 35%; celery: 5%; cherries: 2.5%; cotton: 2.5%; cucumbers: 2.5%; grapes: 2.5%; lettuce: 5%; nectarines: 15%; peaches: 2.5%; peanuts: 5%; pears: 1%; peppers: 15%; plums/prunes: 5%; potatoes: 2.5%; soybeans: 1%; spinach: 2.5%; squash: 2.5%; sweet corn: 2.5%; and tomatoes: 20%.

    In most cases, EPA uses available data from United States Department of Agriculture/National Agricultural Statistics Service (USDA/NASS), proprietary market surveys, and the National Pesticide Use Database for the chemical/crop combination for the most recent 6 to 7 years. EPA uses an average PCT for chronic dietary risk analysis. The average PCT figure for each existing use is derived by combining available public and private market survey data for that use, averaging across all observations, and rounding to the nearest 5%, except for those situations in which the average PCT is less than 2.5%. In those cases, estimates of average PCT between 1% and 2.5% are rounded to 2.5% and estimates of average PCT less than 1% are rounded to 1%. EPA uses a maximum PCT for acute dietary risk analysis. The maximum PCT figure is the highest observed maximum value reported within the recent 6 years of available public and private market survey data for the existing use and rounded up to the nearest multiple of 5%, except for those situations in which the maximum PCT is less than 2.5%. In those cases, EPA uses a maximum PCT value of 2.5%.

    The Agency believes the three conditions discussed in Unit III.C.1.iv. have been met. With respect to Condition a, PCT estimates are derived from Federal and private market survey data, which are reliable and have a valid basis. The Agency is reasonably certain that the percentage of the food treated is not likely to be an underestimation. As to Conditions b and c, regional consumption information and consumption information for significant subpopulations is taken into account through EPA's computer-based model for evaluating the exposure of significant subpopulations including several regional groups. Use of this consumption information in EPA's risk assessment process ensures that EPA's exposure estimate does not understate exposure for any significant subpopulation group and allows the Agency to be reasonably certain that no regional population is exposed to residue levels higher than those estimated by the Agency. Other than the data available through national food consumption surveys, EPA does not have available reliable information on the regional consumption of food to which indoxacarb may be applied in a particular area.

    2. Dietary exposure from drinking water. The Agency used screening-level water exposure models in the dietary exposure analysis and risk assessment for indoxacarb in drinking water. These simulation models take into account data on the physical, chemical, and fate/transport characteristics of indoxacarb. Further information regarding EPA drinking water models used in pesticide exposure assessment can be found at http://www.epa.gov/oppefed1/models/water/index.htm.

    Based on the Surface Water Concentration Calculator (SWCC) model and the Pesticide Root Zone Model Ground Water (PRZM GW), the estimated drinking water concentrations (EDWCs) of indoxacarb for acute exposures are 39 parts per billion (ppb) for surface water and 131 ppb for ground water; for chronic exposures the EDWCs are 11 ppb for surface water and 123 ppb for ground water.

    Modeled estimates of drinking water concentrations were directly entered into the dietary exposure model. For the acute dietary risk assessment, a time series distribution of ground water modeled residues was used to assess the contribution to drinking water. For the chronic dietary risk assessment, a single point water concentration value of 123 ppb was used to assess the contribution to drinking water.

    3. From non-dietary exposure. The term “residential exposure” is used in this document to refer to non-occupational, non-dietary exposure (e.g., for lawn and garden pest control, indoor pest control, termiticides, and flea and tick control on pets).

    Indoxacarb is currently registered for the following uses that could result in residential exposures: Pet spot-on uses, spot, crack and crevice applications indoors, outdoor broadcast (i.e., turf), perimeter and foundations, spot (i.e., direct mount applications for fire ants), and crack and crevice.

    Based on these use scenarios, EPA assessed residential exposure using the following assumptions:

    • Spot and crack and crevice exposures were not assessed due to formulation types that minimize the potential for handler and post-application exposures (i.e., gels or bait stations). Risks from spot and crack and crevice were not assessed because exposures from these formulation types are expected to be negligible.

    Residential handler exposure: There is a potential for dermal and inhalation exposure. Residential handler inhalation exposure is considered negligible for applying ready-to-use pet spot-ons. Residential handler dermal exposures are expected for ready-to-use pet spot-ons, however dermal exposures were not assessed due to the lack of a dermal endpoint. Residential handler inhalation and dermal exposures are considered negligible for applying ready-to-use arenas (i.e., baits or stations).

    Residential post-application dermal and incidental oral exposure: Post-application assessments were not conducted for ant mound uses, because these are considered perimeter/spot uses; residential exposure is expected to be negligible. Spot and crack and crevice exposures were not assessed for gels or bait stations; exposure is considered negligible. A golfer assessment was not conducted, due to the lack of a dermal endpoint. Post-application inhalation exposure is generally not assessed following application to pets and turf. The combination of low vapor pressure (1.9x10-10 mm Hg at 25 ºC for indoxacarb) of active ingredients typically used in pet and turf pesticide products, and the small amounts of pesticide applied to pets is expected to result in only negligible inhalation exposure. Ingestion of granules is considered an episodic event and not a routine behavior. Because the Agency does not expect this to occur on a regular basis, concern for human health is related to acute poisoning rather than short-term residue exposure. For these reasons, the episodic ingestion scenario is not included in the aggregate assessment. The only route of residential exposure for inclusion in the adult aggregate assessment is inhalation. However, inhalation exposures cannot be aggregated with background dietary exposures because the toxicity endpoints for the inhalation and short-term oral routes are different. Therefore, the only residential exposures that were combined are for children 1 to <2 years old in the short-term aggregate assessment that reflects hand-to-mouth exposures from post-application exposure to spot treatment on carpets, and children 1 to <2 years old in the intermediate- and long-term aggregate assessment that reflects exposures from treated pets.

    Further information regarding EPA standard assumptions and generic inputs for residential exposures may be found at http://www.epa.gov/pesticides/trac/science/trac6a05.pdf.

    4. Cumulative effects from substances with a common mechanism of toxicity. Section 408(b)(2)(D)(v) of FFDCA requires that, when considering whether to establish, modify, or revoke a tolerance, the Agency consider “available information” concerning the cumulative effects of a particular pesticide's residues and “other substances that have a common mechanism of toxicity.”

    EPA has not found indoxacarb to share a common mechanism of toxicity with any other substances, and indoxacarb does not appear to produce a toxic metabolite produced by other substances. For the purposes of this tolerance action, therefore, EPA assumed that indoxacarb does not have a common mechanism of toxicity with other substances. For information regarding EPA's efforts to determine which chemicals have a common mechanism of toxicity and to evaluate the cumulative effects of such chemicals, see EPA's Web site at http://www.epa.gov/pesticides/cumulative.

    D. Safety Factor for Infants and Children

    1. In general. Section 408(b)(2)(C) of FFDCA provides that EPA shall apply an additional tenfold (10X) margin of safety for infants and children in the case of threshold effects to account for prenatal and postnatal toxicity and the completeness of the database on toxicity and exposure unless EPA determines based on reliable data that a different margin of safety will be safe for infants and children. This additional margin of safety is commonly referred to as the FQPA Safety Factor (SF). In applying this provision, EPA either retains the default value of 10 times;, or uses a different additional safety factor when reliable data available to EPA support the choice of a different factor.

    2. Prenatal and postnatal sensitivity. There was no evidence of reproductive effects in rats. There was no evidence of increased susceptibility in developing fetuses or in the offspring following prenatal and/or postnatal exposure to indoxacarb in rats or rabbits. There was no evidence of increased susceptibility in the young in the developmental neurotoxicity study in rats.

    3. Conclusion. EPA determined reliable data show the safety of infants and children would be adequately protected if the FQPA SF were reduced to 1X. That decision is based on the following findings:

    i. The toxicity database for indoxacarb is complete.

    ii. The acute neurotoxicity, subchronic toxicity, and developmental neurotoxicity studies for indoxacarb are available and all endpoints used in the risk assessment are protective of neurotoxic effects.

    iii. There is no evidence that indoxacarb results in increased susceptibility in in utero rats or rabbits in the prenatal developmental studies or in young rats in the 2-generation reproduction study.

    iv. There are no residual uncertainties identified in the exposure databases. The Agency estimated maximum and average PCT values for the acute and chronic dietary assessments, respectively, as shown in unit III.C.i., and unit III.C.ii.

    Food residues were taken from the results of supervised field trial studies reflecting maximum use patterns. Drinking water residues were included in the dietary assessments as follows: A point estimate of 123 ppb was used for the chronic assessment and the time series distribution of ground water modeled residues was used in the acute assessment as a residue distribution file (RDF) in the Monte Carlo analysis. For food commodities, RDFs were constructed for the probabilistic acute dietary assessment as appropriate, and average residues were computed for blended commodities and for the chronic dietary assessment.

    EPA used similarly conservative assumptions to assess post-application exposure of children as well as incidental oral exposure of toddlers. These assessments will not underestimate the exposure and risks posed by indoxacarb.

    E. Aggregate Risks and Determination of Safety

    EPA determines whether acute and chronic dietary pesticide exposures are safe by comparing aggregate exposure estimates to the acute PAD (aPAD) and chronic PAD (cPAD). For linear cancer risks, EPA calculates the lifetime probability of acquiring cancer given the estimated aggregate exposure. Short-, intermediate-, and chronic-term risks are evaluated by comparing the estimated aggregate food, water, and residential exposure to the appropriate PoDs to ensure that an adequate MOE exists.

    1. Acute risk. Using the exposure assumptions discussed in this unit for acute exposure, the acute dietary exposure from food and water to indoxacarb will occupy 56% of the aPAD for children ages 1-2, the population group receiving the greatest exposure.

    2. Chronic risk. Using the exposure assumptions described in this unit for chronic exposure, EPA has concluded that chronic exposure to indoxacarb from food and water will utilize 35% of the cPAD for all infants less than 1-year old, the population group receiving the greatest exposure. EPA has concluded the combined long-term food, water, and residential exposures result in aggregate MOEs of 260 (food, water, and residential) for children aged 1-2. Because EPA's level of concern for indoxacarb is a MOE of 100 or below, this MOEs is not of concern. For adults, residential inhalation exposures cannot be aggregated because they are based on different effects than for oral exposures. Therefore, long-term aggregate risk for adults is equivalent to the chronic dietary risk noted in this unit.

    3. Short-term risk. Short-term aggregate exposure takes into account short-term residential exposure plus chronic exposure to food and water (considered to be a background exposure level). Indoxacarb is currently registered for uses that could result in short-term residential exposure, and the Agency has determined that it is appropriate to aggregate chronic exposure to children aged 1-2 years through food and water with short-term residential exposures to indoxacarb. For adults, residential inhalation exposures cannot be aggregated because they are based on different effects than for oral exposures. Therefore, short-term aggregate risk for adults is equivalent to the chronic risk noted in unit III.E.2.

    Using the exposure assumptions described in this unit for short-term exposures, EPA has concluded the combined short-term food, water, and residential exposures result in aggregate MOEs of 120 (food, water, and residential) for children aged 1-2. Because EPA's level of concern for indoxacarb is a MOE of 100 or below, this MOEs is not of concern.

    4. Intermediate-term risk. Intermediate-term aggregate exposure takes into account intermediate-term residential exposure plus chronic exposure to food and water (considered to be a background exposure level). Indoxacarb is currently registered for uses that could result in intermediate-term residential exposure, and the Agency has determined that it is appropriate to aggregate chronic exposure to children aged 1-2 years through food and water with intermediate-term residential exposures to indoxacarb. For adults, residential inhalation exposures cannot be aggregated because they are based on different effects than for oral exposures. Therefore, intermediate-term aggregate risk for adults is equivalent to the chronic risk noted above in unit III.E.2.

    Using the exposure assumptions described in this unit for intermediate-term exposures, EPA has concluded that the combined intermediate-term food, water, and residential exposures for children aged 1-2 years result in aggregate MOEs of 260. Because EPA's level of concern for indoxacarb is a MOE of 100 or below, this MOE is not of concern.

    5. Aggregate cancer risk for U.S. population. Based on the lack of evidence of carcinogenicity in two adequate rodent carcinogenicity studies, indoxacarb is not expected to pose a cancer risk to humans.

    6. Determination of safety. Based on these risk assessments, EPA concludes that there is a reasonable certainty that no harm will result to the general population, or to infants and children from aggregate exposure to indoxacarb residues.

    IV. Other Considerations A. Analytical Enforcement Methodology

    For the enforcement of tolerances established on crops, two High Performance Liquid Chromatograph/Ultraviolet Detection (HPLC/UV) methods, DuPont protocols AMR 2712-93 and DuPont-11978, are available for use. The limits of quantitation (LOQs) for these methods range from 0.01 to 0.05 ppm for a variety of plant commodities. A third procedure, Gas Chromatograph/Mass-Selective Detection (GC/MSD), DuPont method AMR 3493-95 Supplement No. 4, is also available for the confirmation of residues in plants.

    B. International Residue Limits

    In making its tolerance decisions, EPA seeks to harmonize U.S. tolerances with international standards whenever possible, consistent with U.S. food safety standards and agricultural practices. EPA considers the international maximum residue limits (MRLs) established by the Codex Alimentarius Commission (Codex), as required by FFDCA section 408(b)(4). The Codex Alimentarius is a joint United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization/World Health Organization food standards program, and it is recognized as an international food safety standards-setting organization in trade agreements to which the United States is a party. EPA may establish a tolerance that is different from a Codex MRL; however, FFDCA section 408(b)(4) requires that EPA explain the reasons for departing from the Codex level.

    The Codex has not established MRLs in field corn for indoxacarb.

    C. Revisions to Petitioned-For Tolerances

    Based on available data and using the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) maximum residue limit (MRL) calculation procedures, EPA determined that the appropriate tolerance level for corn, field, forage is 6.0 ppm. Based on the corn processing studies, the Agency determined that there is a low level of residue concentration from processing; therefore, separate tolerances are not needed for the processed corn commodities of flour, meal, or oil because these commodities are covered by the tolerance for corn, field, grain. The “grain, aspirated fractions” tolerance does not need to be modified for field corn because 40 CFR 180.564(a) currently lists a tolerance level of 45 ppm for “grain, aspirated fractions,” and this tolerance covers potential indoxacarb residues in aspirated grain fractions derived from corn.

    V. Conclusion

    Therefore, tolerances are established for residues of indoxacarb, [(S)-methyl 7-chloro-2,5-dihydro-2-[[(methoxycarbonyl)[4-(trifluoromethoxy)-phenyl] amino]carbonyl] indeno[1,2e][1,3,4]oxadiazine-4a(3H)-carboxylate], and [(R)-methyl 7 chloro-2,5-dihydro-2[[(methoxycarbonyl)[4-(trifluoromethoxy)phenyl] amino]carbonyl] indeno [1,2-e][1,3,4] oxadiazine-4a(3H)-carboxylate], in or on corn, field, forage at 6.0 ppm; corn, field, stover at 15 ppm; and corn, field, grain at 0.02 ppm.

    VI. Statutory and Executive Order Reviews

    This action establishes tolerances under FFDCA section 408(d) in response to a petition submitted to the Agency. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has exempted these types of actions from review under Executive Order 12866, entitled “Regulatory Planning and Review” (58 FR 51735, October 4, 1993). Because this action has been exempted from review under Executive Order 12866, this action is not subject to Executive Order 13211, entitled “Actions Concerning Regulations That Significantly Affect Energy Supply, Distribution, or Use” (66 FR 28355, May 22, 2001) or Executive Order 13045, entitled “Protection of Children from Environmental Health Risks and Safety Risks” (62 FR 19885, April 23, 1997). This action does not contain any information collections subject to OMB approval under the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA) (44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.), nor does it require any special considerations under Executive Order 12898, entitled “Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Populations” (59 FR 7629, February 16, 1994).

    Since tolerances and exemptions that are established on the basis of a petition under FFDCA section 408(d), such as the tolerance in this final rule, do not require the issuance of a proposed rule, the requirements of the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) (5 U.S.C. 601 et seq.), do not apply.

    This action directly regulates growers, food processors, food handlers, and food retailers, not States or tribes, nor does this action alter the relationships or distribution of power and responsibilities established by Congress in the preemption provisions of FFDCA section 408(n)(4). As such, the Agency has determined that this action will not have a substantial direct effect on States or tribal governments, on the relationship between the national government and the States or tribal governments, or on the distribution of power and responsibilities among the various levels of government or between the Federal Government and Indian tribes. Thus, the Agency has determined that Executive Order 13132, entitled “Federalism” (64 FR 43255, August 10, 1999) and Executive Order 13175, entitled “Consultation and Coordination with Indian Tribal Governments” (65 FR 67249, November 9, 2000) do not apply to this action. In addition, this action does not impose any enforceable duty or contain any unfunded mandate as described under Title II of the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (UMRA) (2 U.S.C. 1501 et seq.).

    This action does not involve any technical standards that would require Agency consideration of voluntary consensus standards pursuant to section 12(d) of the National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act (NTTAA) (15 U.S.C. 272 note).

    VII. Congressional Review Act

    Pursuant to the Congressional Review Act (5 U.S.C. 801 et seq.), EPA will submit a report containing this rule and other required information to the U.S. Senate, the U.S. House of Representatives, and the Comptroller General of the United States prior to publication of the rule in the Federal Register. This action is not a “major rule” as defined by 5 U.S.C. 804(2).

    List of Subjects in 40 CFR Part 180

    Environmental protection, Administrative practice and procedure, Agricultural commodities, Pesticides and pests, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements.

    Dated: November 22, 2017. Michael Goodis, Director, Registration Division, Office of Pesticide Programs.

    Therefore, 40 CFR chapter I is amended as follows:

    PART 180—[AMENDED] 1. The authority citation for part 180 continues to read as follows: Authority:

    21 U.S.C. 321(q), 346a and 371.

    2. In § 180.564, add alphabetically the entries for “Corn, field, forage”, “Corn, field, grain”, and “Corn, field, stover” to the table in paragraph (a)(1) to read as follows:
    § 180.564 Indoxacarb; tolerances for residues.

    (a) * * *

    (1) * * *

    Commodity Parts per
  • million
  • *    *    *    *    * Corn, field, forage 6.0 Corn, field, grain 0.02 Corn, field, stover 15 *    *    *    *    *
    [FR Doc. 2017-26517 Filed 12-7-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560-50-P
    ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY 40 CFR Part 180 [EPA-HQ-OPP-2016-0537; FRL-9970-04] Sedaxane; Pesticide Tolerances AGENCY:

    Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

    ACTION:

    Final rule.

    SUMMARY:

    This regulation establishes tolerances for residues of sedaxane in or on grain, cereal, forage, fodder and straw, group 16; grain, cereal, group 15; peanut; and peanut, hay. Syngenta Crop Protection, LLC requested these tolerances under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA).

    DATES:

    This regulation is effective December 8, 2017. Objections and requests for hearings must be received on or before February 6, 2018, and must be filed in accordance with the instructions provided in 40 CFR part 178 (see also Unit I.C. of the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION).

    ADDRESSES:

    The docket for this action, identified by docket identification (ID) number EPA-HQ-OPP-2016-0537, is available at http://www.regulations.gov or at the Office of Pesticide Programs Regulatory Public Docket (OPP Docket) in the Environmental Protection Agency Docket Center (EPA/DC), West William Jefferson Clinton Bldg., Rm. 3334, 1301 Constitution Ave. NW., Washington, DC 20460-0001. The Public Reading Room is open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, excluding legal holidays. The telephone number for the Public Reading Room is (202) 566-1744, and the telephone number for the OPP Docket is (703) 305-5805. Please review the visitor instructions and additional information about the docket available at http://www.epa.gov/dockets.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Michael L. Goodis, Registration Division (7505P), Office of Pesticide Programs, Environmental Protection Agency, 1200 Pennsylvania Ave. NW., Washington, DC 20460-0001; main telephone number: (703) 305-7090; email address: [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    I. General Information A. Does this action apply to me?

    You may be potentially affected by this action if you are an agricultural producer, food manufacturer, or pesticide manufacturer. The following list of North American Industrial Classification System (NAICS) codes is not intended to be exhaustive, but rather provides a guide to help readers determine whether this document applies to them. Potentially affected entities may include:

    • Crop production (NAICS code 111).

    • Animal production (NAICS code 112).

    • Food manufacturing (NAICS code 311).

    • Pesticide manufacturing (NAICS code 32532).

    B. How can I get electronic access to other related information?

    You may access a frequently updated electronic version of EPA's tolerance regulations at 40 CFR part 180 through the Government Printing Office's e-CFR site at http://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?&c=ecfr&tpl=/ecfrbrowse/Title40/40tab_02.tpl.

    C. How can I file an objection or hearing request?

    Under FFDCA section 408(g), 21 U.S.C. 346a, any person may file an objection to any aspect of this regulation and may also request a hearing on those objections. You must file your objection or request a hearing on this regulation in accordance with the instructions provided in 40 CFR part 178. To ensure proper receipt by EPA, you must identify docket ID number EPA-HQ-OPP-2016-0537 in the subject line on the first page of your submission. All objections and requests for a hearing must be in writing, and must be received by the Hearing Clerk on or before February 6, 2018. Addresses for mail and hand delivery of objections and hearing requests are provided in 40 CFR 178.25(b).

    In addition to filing an objection or hearing request with the Hearing Clerk as described in 40 CFR part 178, please submit a copy of the filing (excluding any Confidential Business Information (CBI)) for inclusion in the public docket. Information not marked confidential pursuant to 40 CFR part 2 may be disclosed publicly by EPA without prior notice. Submit the non-CBI copy of your objection or hearing request, identified by docket ID number EPA-HQ-OPP-2016-0537, by one of the following methods:

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

    Mail: OPP Docket, Environmental Protection Agency Docket Center (EPA/DC), (28221T), 1200 Pennsylvania Ave. NW., Washington, DC 20460-0001.

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

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

    II. Summary of Petitioned-For Tolerance

    In the Federal Register of November 30, 2016 (81 FR 86312) (FRL-9954-06), EPA issued a document pursuant to FFDCA section 408(d)(3), 21 U.S.C. 346a(d)(3), announcing the filing of a pesticide petition (PP 6F8458) by Syngenta Crop Protection, LLC, P.O. Box 18300, Greensboro, NC 27419. The petition requested that 40 CFR 180.665 be amended by establishing tolerances for residues of the fungicide sedaxane, in or on grain, cereal, forage, fodder and straw, group 16 at 0.06 parts per million (ppm); grain, cereal, group 15 at 0.01 ppm; peanut at 0.01 ppm; and peanut, hay at 0.08 ppm. The petition also requested that tolerances for residues of sedaxane on the following commodities be removed upon the establishment of the petitioned-for tolerances: barley, grain at 0.01 ppm; barley, hay at 0.04 ppm; barley, straw at 0.01 ppm; corn, field, forage at 0.01 ppm; corn, field, grain at 0.01 ppm; corn, field, stover at 0.01 ppm; corn, pop, grain at 0.01 ppm; corn, pop, stover at 0.01 ppm; corn, sweet, forage at 0.01 ppm; corn, sweet, kernel plus cob with husks removed at 0.01 ppm; corn, sweet, stover at 0.01 ppm; oat, forage at 0.015 ppm; oat, grain at 0.01 ppm; oat, hay at 0.06 ppm; oat, straw at 0.01 ppm; rye, forage at 0.015 ppm; rye, grain at 0.01 ppm; rye, straw at 0.01 ppm; sorghum, grain, forage at 0.01 ppm; sorghum, grain, grain at 0.01 ppm; sorghum, grain, stover at 0.01 ppm; wheat, forage at 0.015 ppm; wheat, grain at 0.01 ppm; wheat, hay at 0.06 ppm; and wheat, straw at 0.01 ppm. That document referenced a summary of the petition prepared by Syngenta Crop Protection, LLC, the registrant, which is available in the docket, http://www.regulations.gov. There were no comments received in response to the notice of filing.

    Based upon review of the data supporting the petition, EPA is establishing tolerances and removing tolerances as requested in the petition, with one exception. The tolerance for crop group 16 is being established at 0.10 ppm to harmonize with Codex Alimentarius Commission maximum residue level (MRL).

    III. Aggregate Risk Assessment and Determination of Safety

    Section 408(b)(2)(A)(i) of FFDCA allows EPA to establish a tolerance (the legal limit for a pesticide chemical residue in or on a food) only if EPA determines that the tolerance is “safe.” Section 408(b)(2)(A)(ii) of FFDCA defines “safe” to mean that “there is a reasonable certainty that no harm will result from aggregate exposure to the pesticide chemical residue, including all anticipated dietary exposures and all other exposures for which there is reliable information.” This includes exposure through drinking water and in residential settings, but does not include occupational exposure. Section 408(b)(2)(C) of FFDCA requires EPA to give special consideration to exposure of infants and children to the pesticide chemical residue in establishing a tolerance and to “ensure that there is a reasonable certainty that no harm will result to infants and children from aggregate exposure to the pesticide chemical residue. . . .”

    Consistent with FFDCA section 408(b)(2)(D), and the factors specified in FFDCA section 408(b)(2)(D), EPA has reviewed the available scientific data and other relevant information in support of this action. EPA has sufficient data to assess the hazards of and to make a determination on aggregate exposure for sedaxane including exposure resulting from the tolerances established by this action. EPA's assessment of exposures and risks associated with sedaxane follows.

    A. Toxicological Profile

    EPA has evaluated the available toxicity data and considered its validity, completeness, and reliability as well as the relationship of the results of the studies to human risk. EPA has also considered available information concerning the variability of the sensitivities of major identifiable subgroups of consumers, including infants and children.

    The main target tissue for sedaxane was found to be the liver. Sedaxane also caused thyroid hypertrophy/hyperplasia in male rats. In the acute neurotoxicity (ACN) and sub-chronic neurotoxicity (SCN) studies, sedaxane caused decreased activity, muscle tone, rearing and grip strength; however, because no specific neurotoxic effects or adverse histopathology were observed, EPA has concluded that there is low concern for neurotoxicity.

    In the rat, no adverse effects in fetuses were seen in developmental toxicity studies at maternally toxic doses. In the rabbit, fetal toxicity was observed at the same doses as the dams. Offspring effects in the rat reproduction study occurred at the same doses causing parental effects.

    The available data show evidence of high dose liver tumors (in male rats and mice), thyroid tumors (in male rats), and uterine tumors (in female rats) resulting from exposure to sedaxane. Based on a weight of evidence of the available data, a constitutive androstane receptor/pregnane-X receptor (CAR/PXR)-mediated mitogenic mode-of action (MOA) was established for liver tumors in male mice and rats and a liver-mediated altered thyroid hormone homeostasis MOA was established for thyroid tumors in male rats. At this time, a MOA for the uterine tumors has not been identified.

    To assess the carcinogenic potential for sedaxane, EPA has concluded that a non-linear approach (i.e., RfD) is appropriate for the following reasons: (1) There is a clear understanding of the threshold (non-linear) doses associated with the key events in the established MOAs leading to liver and thyroid tumors in rodents (the key events occur only at doses that well exceed the chronic reference dose (0.11 mg/kg/day)); (2) sedaxane is not mutagenic or genotoxic; (3) the dose at which uterine tumors was observed is at 261 mg/kg/day, which greatly exceeds the chronic reference dose (0.11 mg/kg/day) being used to assess chronic exposure to sedaxane. Sedaxane has been reclassified as “Suggestive Evidence of Carcinogenic Potential”.

    Sedaxane has low acute toxicity by the oral, dermal, and inhalation routes. It is not a dermal sensitizer, causes no skin irritation, and only slight eye irritation.

    Specific information on the studies received and the nature of the adverse effects caused by sedaxane as well as the no-observed-adverse-effect-level (NOAEL) and the lowest-observed-adverse-effect-level (LOAEL) from the toxicity studies can be found at http://www.regulations.gov in document titled “Sedaxane Human Health Risk Assessment to Support New Seed Treatment Uses on Cereal Grains Crop Group 15; Forage, Fodder and Straw of Cereal Grains Crop Group 16; Peanut; and Cancer Reclassification”, pages 11-19 in docket ID number EPA-HQ-OPP-2016-0537.

    B. Toxicological Points of Departure/Levels of Concern

    Once a pesticide's toxicological profile is determined, EPA identifies toxicological points of departure (POD) and levels of concern to use in evaluating the risk posed by human exposure to the pesticide. For hazards that have a threshold below which there is no appreciable risk, the toxicological POD is used as the basis for derivation of reference values for risk assessment. PODs are developed based on a careful analysis of the doses in each toxicological study to determine the dose at which no adverse effects are observed (the NOAEL) and the lowest dose at which adverse effects of concern are identified (the LOAEL). Uncertainty/safety factors are used in conjunction with the POD to calculate a safe exposure level—generally referred to as a population-adjusted dose (PAD) or a reference dose (RfD)—and a safe margin of exposure (MOE). For non-threshold risks, the Agency assumes that any amount of exposure will lead to some degree of risk. Thus, the Agency estimates risk in terms of the probability of an occurrence of the adverse effect expected in a lifetime. For more information on the general principles EPA uses in risk characterization and a complete description of the risk assessment process, see http://www.epa.gov/pesticide-science-and-assessing-pesticide-risks/assessing-human-health-risk-pesticides.

    A summary of the toxicological endpoints for sedaxane used for human risk assessment is shown in the Table of this unit.

    Table—Summary of Toxicological Doses and Endpoints for Sedaxane for Use in Human Health Risk Assessment Exposure/scenario Point of departure and uncertainty/
  • safety factors
  • RfD, PAD, LOC for risk assessment Study and toxicological effects
    Acute dietary (General population including infants and children and Females 13-49 years of age) NOAEL = 30 mg/kg/day
  • UFA = 10x
  • UFH = 10x
  • FQPA SF = 1x
  • Acute RfD = 0.30 mg/kg/day
  • aPAD = 0.30 mg/kg/day.
  • Rat ACN Study NOAEL = 30 mg/kg
  • LOAEL = 250 mg/kg based on reduced activity, decreased rearing, initial inactivity, piloerection, ruffled fur and recumbency, decreased body weight (BW), decreased body weight gain (BWG) and food consumption (males). In females, weakened condition, swaying gait, decreased activity, reduced muscle tone, and decreased locomotor activity and rearing. The weakened condition, swaying gait and decreased activity were observed on days 2-7, while the other effects were on day 1.
  • Chronic dietary (All populations) NOAEL= 11 mg/kg/day
  • UFA = 10x
  • UFH = 10x
  • FQPA SF = 1x
  • Chronic RfD = 0.11 mg/kg/day
  • cPAD = 0.11 mg/kg/day.
  • Chronic Rat Study
  • NOAEL = 11/14 mg/kg bw/day ♂/♀
  • LOAEL = 67/86 mg/kg bw/day ♂/♀ in males based on decreased hind limb grip strength, increased liver weight, increased incidences of hepatocyte hypertrophy and eosinophilic foci, and thyroid follicular cell hypertrophy, basophilic colloid, epithelial desquamation and increased phosphate levels (♂). In females, it was based on decreased BW and BWG, increased liver weight and the same thyroid histopathology noted above for males.
  • Cancer (Oral, dermal, inhalation) Classification: “Suggestive Evidence of Carcinogenic Potential”. A non-linear approach (i.e., RfD) would adequately account for all chronic toxicity, including carcinogenicity, that could result from exposure to sedaxane. FQPA SF = Food Quality Protection Act Safety Factor. LOAEL = lowest-observed-adverse-effect-level. LOC = level of concern. mg/kg/day= milligram/kilogram/day. MOE = margin of exposure. NOAEL = no-observed-adverse-effect-level. PAD = population adjusted dose (a = acute, c = chronic). RfD = reference dose. UF = uncertainty factor. UFA = extrapolation from animal to human (interspecies). UFH = potential variation in sensitivity among members of the human population (intraspecies).
    C. Exposure Assessment

    1. Dietary exposure from food and feed uses. In evaluating dietary exposure to sedaxane, EPA considered exposure under the petitioned for tolerances as well as all existing sedaxane tolerances in 40 CFR 180.665. EPA assessed dietary exposures from sedaxane in food as follows:

    i. Acute exposure. Quantitative acute dietary exposure and risk assessments are performed for a food-use pesticide, if a toxicological study has indicated the possibility of an effect of concern occurring as a result of a 1-day or single exposure.

    Such effects were identified for sedaxane. In estimating acute dietary exposure, EPA used food consumption information from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) under the Continuing Surveys of Food Intake by Individuals (CSFII) and the CDC under the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey What We Eat in America (NHANES/WEIA) 2003-2008. EPA assumed tolerance-level residues for all commodities and 100% crop treated. Default processing factors were used with the exception of peanut butter.

    ii. Chronic exposure. In conducting the chronic dietary exposure assessment EPA used the food consumption data from the USDA NHANES/WEIA 2003-2008. EPA assumed tolerance-level residues for all commodities and 100% crop treated (CT). Default processing factors were used with the exception of peanut butter.

    iii. Cancer. Based on the data summarized in Unit III.A., EPA has concluded that a nonlinear RfD approach is appropriate for assessing cancer risk to sedaxane. Cancer risk was assessed using the same exposure estimates as discussed in Unit III.C.1.ii.

    iv. Anticipated residue and percent crop treated (PCT) information. EPA did not use anticipated residue and/or PCT information in the dietary assessment for sedaxane. Tolerance-level residues and/or 100% CT were assumed for all food commodities.

    2. Dietary exposure from drinking water. The Agency used screening-level water exposure models in the dietary exposure analysis and risk assessment for sedaxane in drinking water. These simulation models take into account data on the physical, chemical, and fate/transport characteristics of sedaxane. Further information regarding EPA drinking water models used in pesticide exposure assessment can be found at https://www.epa.gov/pesticide-science-and-assessing-pesticide-risks/about-water-exposure-models-used-pesticide.

    Based on the FQPA Index Reservoir Screening Tool (FIRST) and Pesticide Root Zone Model Ground Water (PRZM GW), the estimated drinking water concentrations (EDWCs) of sedaxane for acute exposures are estimated to be 4.1 parts per billion (ppb) for surface water and 15.1 ppb for ground water and for chronic exposures for non-cancer assessments are estimated to be 1.2 ppb for surface water and 13.0 ppb for ground water. The surface water estimates include contributions from all drinking water residues of concern identified for risk assessment purposes; nevertheless, the ground water EDWCs were higher than the surface water EDWCs and were selected for use in the dietary exposure assessments.

    Modeled estimates of drinking water concentrations were directly entered into the dietary exposure model. For acute dietary risk assessment, the water concentration value of 15.1 ppb was used to assess the contribution to drinking water. For chronic dietary risk assessment, the water concentration of value 13.0 ppb was used to assess the contribution to drinking water.

    3. From non-dietary exposure. The term “residential exposure” is used in this document to refer to non-occupational, non-dietary exposure (e.g., for lawn and garden pest control, indoor pest control, termiticides, and flea and tick control on pets). Sedaxane is not registered for any specific use patterns that would result in residential exposure.

    4. Cumulative effects from substances with a common mechanism of toxicity. Section 408(b)(2)(D)(v) of FFDCA requires that, when considering whether to establish, modify, or revoke a tolerance, the Agency consider “available information” concerning the cumulative effects of a particular pesticide's residues and “other substances that have a common mechanism of toxicity.”

    Unlike other pesticides for which EPA has followed a cumulative risk approach based on a common mechanism of toxicity, EPA has not made a common mechanism of toxicity finding as to sedaxane and any other substances, and sedaxane does not appear to produce a toxic metabolite produced by other substances. For the purposes of this tolerance action, therefore, EPA has assumed that sedaxane does not have a common mechanism of toxicity with other substances. For information regarding EPA's efforts to determine which chemicals have a common mechanism of toxicity and to evaluate the cumulative effects of such chemicals, see EPA's Web site at https://www.epa.gov/pesticide-science-and-assessing-pesticide-risks/cumulative-assessment-risk-pesticides.

    D. Safety Factor for Infants and Children

    1. In general. Section 408(b)(2)(C) of FFDCA provides that EPA shall apply an additional tenfold (10X) margin of safety for infants and children in the case of threshold effects to account for prenatal and postnatal toxicity and the completeness of the database on toxicity and exposure unless EPA determines based on reliable data that a different margin of safety will be safe for infants and children. This additional margin of safety is commonly referred to as the Food Quality Protection Act Safety Factor (FQPA SF). In applying this provision, EPA either retains the default value of 10X, or uses a different additional safety factor when reliable data available to EPA support the choice of a different factor.

    2. Prenatal and postnatal sensitivity. There is no evidence for increased susceptibility following prenatal or post-natal exposures to sedaxane based on effects seen in developmental toxicity studies in rabbits or rats. In range-finding and definitive developmental toxicity studies in rats, neither quantitative nor qualitative evidence of increased susceptibility of fetuses to in utero exposure to sedaxane was observed. In these studies, there were no single-dose effects. There was no evidence of increased susceptibility in a two-generation reproduction study in rats following prenatal or post-natal exposure to sedaxane. There was no evidence of neuropathology or abnormalities in the development of the fetal nervous system from the available toxicity studies conducted with sedaxane. Clear NOAELs/LOAELs were established for the developmental effects seen in rats and rabbits as well as for the offspring effects seen in the two-generation reproduction study. The dose-response relationship for the effects of concern is well characterized.

    3. Conclusion. EPA has determined that reliable data show the safety of infants and children would be adequately protected if the FQPA SF were reduced to 1X. That decision is based on the following findings:

    i. The toxicity database for sedaxane is complete.

    ii. Given the available information, there is low concern that sedaxane is a neurotoxic chemical and there is no need for a developmental neurotoxicity study or additional uncertainty factors (UFs) to account for neurotoxicity.

    iii. In the rat, no adverse effects in fetuses were seen in developmental toxicity at maternally toxic doses. In the rabbit, fetal toxicity was observed at the same doses as the dam (increased unossified sternebrae and 13th rudimentary ribs and a decrease in fetal weights of −9% and increased abortions). In the dam, at the same doses, the effects were decreased body weight, reduced food consumption, and decreased defecation. In reproduction studies, offspring effects occurred at the same doses causing parental effects; thus, there was no quantitative increase in sensitivity in rat pups. The LOAELs and NOAELs for the developmental and reproduction studies were clearly defined. The NOAEL used for the acute dietary risk assessment (30 mg/kg/day), based on effects observed in the ACN study, is protective of the developmental and offspring effects seen in rabbits and rats with the NOAELs of 100-200 mg/kg/day. Based on these considerations, there are no residual uncertainties for pre-and/or post-natal susceptibility.

    iv. There were no residual uncertainties identified in the exposure databases. The dietary food exposure assessments were performed based on 100% CT and tolerance-level residues. EPA made conservative (protective) assumptions in the ground and surface water modeling used to assess exposure to sedaxane in drinking water. These assessments will not underestimate the exposure and risks posed by sedaxane.

    E. Aggregate Risks and Determination of Safety

    EPA determines whether acute and chronic dietary pesticide exposures are safe by comparing aggregate exposure estimates to the acute PAD (aPAD) and chronic PAD (cPAD). For linear cancer risks, EPA calculates the lifetime probability of acquiring cancer given the estimated aggregate exposure. Short-, intermediate-, and chronic-term risks are evaluated by comparing the estimated aggregate food, water, and residential exposure to the appropriate PODs to ensure that an adequate MOE exists.

    1. Acute risk. Using the exposure assumptions discussed in this unit for acute exposure, the acute dietary exposure from food and water to sedaxane will occupy <1% of the aPAD for all infants (<1-year-old), the population group receiving the greatest exposure.

    2. Chronic risk. Using the exposure assumptions described in this unit for chronic exposure, EPA has concluded that chronic exposure to sedaxane from food and water will utilize <1% of the cPAD for all population subgroups. There are no residential uses for sedaxane.

    3. Short-term risk. Short-term aggregate exposure takes into account short-term residential exposure plus chronic exposure to food and water (considered to be a background exposure level). Because there are no proposed or registered residential uses of sedaxane, a short-term risk assessment was not performed. The chronic risk assessment is protective for any short-term exposures from food and drinking water.

    4. Intermediate-term risk. Intermediate-term aggregate exposure takes into account intermediate-term residential exposure plus chronic exposure to food and water (considered to be a background exposure level). Because there are no proposed or registered residential uses of sedaxane, an intermediate-term risk assessment was not performed. The chronic risk assessment is protective for any intermediate-term exposures from food and drinking water.

    5. Aggregate cancer risk for U.S. population. As discussed in Unit III.A., EPA has concluded that using the nonlinear approach based on the chronic RfD will be protective of potential carcinogenicity.

    6. Determination of safety. Based on these risk assessments, EPA concludes that there is a reasonable certainty that no harm will result to the general population, or to infants and children from aggregate exposure to sedaxane residues.

    IV. Other Considerations A. Analytical Enforcement Methodology

    An adequate analytical method is available to enforce the proposed tolerances for sedaxane in plant commodities. A modification of the Quick, Easy, Cheap, Effective, Rugged, and Safe (QuEChERS) method was developed for the determination of residues of sedaxane (as its isomers SYN508210 and SYN508211) in/on various crops. The sedaxane isomers (SYN508210 and SYN508211) are quantitatively determined by LC/MS/MS. The validated limit of quantitation (LOQ) reported in the method is 0.005 ppm for both sedaxane isomers.

    The analytical standard for sedaxane, with an expiration date of February 28, 2018, is currently available in the EPA National Pesticide Standards Repository.

    B. International Residue Limits

    In making its tolerance decisions, EPA seeks to harmonize U.S. tolerances with international standards whenever possible, consistent with U.S. food safety standards and agricultural practices. EPA considers the international MRL established by the Codex Alimentarius Commission (Codex), as required by FFDCA section 408(b)(4). The Codex is a joint United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization/World Health Organization food standards program, and it is recognized as an international food safety standards-setting organization in trade agreements to which the United States is a party. EPA may establish a tolerance that is different from a Codex MRL; however, FFDCA section 408(b)(4) requires that EPA explain the reasons for departing from the Codex level.

    Codex has established MRLs for sedaxane in or on grain, cereal, forage, fodder and straw, group 16 at 0.10 ppm and grain, cereal, group 15 at 0.01 ppm. Codex has not established a MRL for sedaxane in or on peanut. Tolerances are harmonized with the Codex MRLs for groups 16 and 15.

    V. Conclusion

    Therefore, tolerances are established for residues of sedaxane in or on grain, cereal, forage, fodder and straw, group 16 at 0.10 ppm; grain, cereal, group 15 at 0.01 ppm; peanut at 0.01 ppm; and peanut, hay at 0.08 ppm. In addition, EPA is removing the following existing tolerances for residues of sedaxane as they are superseded by the tolerances established in this rulemaking: Barley, grain at 0.01 ppm; barley, hay at 0.04 ppm; barley, straw at 0.01 ppm; corn, field, forage at 0.01 ppm; corn, field, grain at 0.01 ppm; corn, field, stover at 0.01 ppm; corn, pop, grain at 0.01 ppm; corn, pop, stover at 0.01 ppm; corn, sweet, forage at 0.01 ppm; corn, sweet, kernel plus cob with husks removed at 0.01 ppm; corn, sweet, stover at 0.01 ppm; oat, forage at 0.015 ppm; oat, grain at 0.01 ppm; oat, hay at 0.06 ppm; oat, straw at 0.01 ppm; rye, forage at 0.015 ppm; rye, grain at 0.01 ppm; rye, straw at 0.01 ppm; sorghum, grain, forage at 0.01 ppm; sorghum, grain, grain at 0.01 ppm; sorghum, grain, stover at 0.01 ppm; wheat, forage at 0.015 ppm; wheat, grain at 0.01 ppm; wheat, hay at 0.06 ppm; and wheat, straw at 0.01 ppm.

    VI. Statutory and Executive Order Reviews

    This action establishes tolerances under FFDCA section 408(d) in response to a petition submitted to the Agency. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has exempted these types of actions from review under Executive Order 12866, entitled “Regulatory Planning and Review” (58 FR 51735, October 4, 1993). Because this action has been exempted from review under Executive Order 12866, this action is not subject to Executive Order 13211, entitled “Actions Concerning Regulations That Significantly Affect Energy Supply, Distribution, or Use” (66 FR 28355, May 22, 2001) or Executive Order 13045, entitled “Protection of Children from Environmental Health Risks and Safety Risks” (62 FR 19885, April 23, 1997). This action does not contain any information collections subject to OMB approval under the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA) (44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.), nor does it require any special considerations under Executive Order 12898, entitled “Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Populations” (59 FR 7629, February 16, 1994).

    Since tolerances and exemptions that are established on the basis of a petition under FFDCA section 408(d), such as the tolerance in this final rule, do not require the issuance of a proposed rule, the requirements of the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) (5 U.S.C. 601 et seq.), do not apply.

    This action directly regulates growers, food processors, food handlers, and food retailers, not States or tribes, nor does this action alter the relationships or distribution of power and responsibilities established by Congress in the preemption provisions of FFDCA section 408(n)(4). As such, the Agency has determined that this action will not have a substantial direct effect on States or tribal governments, on the relationship between the national government and the States or tribal governments, or on the distribution of power and responsibilities among the various levels of government or between the Federal Government and Indian tribes. Thus, the Agency has determined that Executive Order 13132, entitled “Federalism” (64 FR 43255, August 10, 1999) and Executive Order 13175, entitled “Consultation and Coordination with Indian Tribal Governments” (65 FR 67249, November 9, 2000) do not apply to this action. In addition, this action does not impose any enforceable duty or contain any unfunded mandate as described under Title II of the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (UMRA) (2 U.S.C. 1501 et seq.).

    This action does not involve any technical standards that would require Agency consideration of voluntary consensus standards pursuant to section 12(d) of the National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act (NTTAA) (15 U.S.C. 272 note).

    VII. Congressional Review Act

    Pursuant to the Congressional Review Act (5 U.S.C. 801 et seq.), EPA will submit a report containing this rule and other required information to the U.S. Senate, the U.S. House of Representatives, and the Comptroller General of the United States prior to publication of the rule in the Federal Register. This action is not a “major rule” as defined by 5 U.S.C. 804(2).

    List of Subjects in 40 CFR Part 180

    Environmental protection, Administrative practice and procedure, Agricultural commodities, Pesticides and pests, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements.

    Dated: November 22, 2017. Michael L. Goodis, Director, Registration Division, Office of Pesticide Programs.

    Therefore, 40 CFR chapter I is amended as follows:

    PART 180—[AMENDED] 1. The authority citation for part 180 continues to read as follows: Authority:

    21 U.S.C. 321(q), 346a and 371.

    2. In § 180.665, revise the table in paragraph (a) to read as follows:
    § 180.665 Sedaxane; tolerances for residues.

    (a) * * *

    Commodity Parts per million Beet, sugar, roots 0.01 Canola, seed 0.01 Cotton, gin byproducts 0.01 Cotton, undelinted seed 0.01 Grain, cereal, forage, fodder and straw, group 16 0.10 Grain, cereal, group 15 0.01 Pea and bean, dried shelled, except soybean, subgroup 6C 0.01 Peanut 0.01 Peanut, hay 0.08 Potato 0.02 Potato, wet peel 0.075 Rapeseed, subgroup 20A 0.01 Soybean, forage 0.05 Soybean, hay 0.04 Soybean, seed 0.01 Vegetable, foliage of legume, except soybean, subgroup 7A 0.01
    [FR Doc. 2017-26519 Filed 12-7-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560-50-P
    ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY 40 CFR Part 180 [EPA-HQ-OPP-2016-0687; FRL-9969-96] Bacillus subtilis Strain BU1814; Exemption From the Requirement of a Tolerance AGENCY:

    Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

    ACTION:

    Final rule.

    SUMMARY:

    This regulation establishes an exemption from the requirement of a tolerance for residues of Bacillus subtilis strain BU1814 in or on all food commodities when used in accordance with label directions and good agricultural practices. BASF Corporation submitted a petition to EPA under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA), requesting an exemption from the requirement of a tolerance. This regulation eliminates the need to establish a maximum permissible level for residues of Bacillus subtilis strain BU1814 under FFDCA.

    DATES:

    This regulation is effective December 8, 2017. Objections and requests for hearings must be received on or before February 6, 2018, and must be filed in accordance with the instructions provided in 40 CFR part 178 (see also Unit I.C. of the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION).

    ADDRESSES:

    The docket for this action, identified by docket identification (ID) number EPA-HQ-OPP-2016-0687, is available at http://www.regulations.gov or at the Office of Pesticide Programs Regulatory Public Docket (OPP Docket) in the Environmental Protection Agency Docket Center (EPA/DC), West William Jefferson Clinton Bldg., Rm. 3334, 1301 Constitution Ave., NW., Washington, DC 20460-0001. The Public Reading Room is open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, excluding legal holidays. The telephone number for the Public Reading Room is (202) 566-1744, and the telephone number for the OPP Docket is (703) 305-5805. Please review the visitor instructions and additional information about the docket available at http://www.epa.gov/dockets.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Robert McNally, Biopesticides and Pollution Prevention Division (7511P), Office of Pesticide Programs, Environmental Protection Agency, 1200 Pennsylvania Ave. NW., Washington, DC 20460-0001; main telephone number: (703) 305-7090; email address: [email protected]

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

    You may be potentially affected by this action if you are an agricultural producer, food manufacturer, or pesticide manufacturer. The following list of North American Industrial Classification System (NAICS) codes is not intended to be exhaustive, but rather provides a guide to help readers determine whether this document applies to them. Potentially affected entities may include:

    • Crop production (NAICS code 111).

    • Animal production (NAICS code 112).

    • Food manufacturing (NAICS code 311).

    • Pesticide manufacturing (NAICS code 32532).

    B. How can I get electronic access to other related information?

    You may access a frequently updated electronic version of 40 CFR part 180 through the Government Printing Office's e-CFR site at http://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?&c=ecfr&tpl=/ecfrbrowse/Title40/40tab_02.tpl.

    C. How can I file an objection or hearing request?

    Under FFDCA section 408(g), 21 U.S.C. 346a(g), any person may file an objection to any aspect of this regulation and may also request a hearing on those objections. You must file your objection or request a hearing on this regulation in accordance with the instructions provided in 40 CFR part 178. To ensure proper receipt by EPA, you must identify docket ID number EPA-HQ-OPP-2016-0687 in the subject line on the first page of your submission. All objections and requests for a hearing must be in writing, and must be received by the Hearing Clerk on or before February 6, 2018. Addresses for mail and hand delivery of objections and hearing requests are provided in 40 CFR 178.25(b).

    In addition to filing an objection or hearing request with the Hearing Clerk as described in 40 CFR part 178, please submit a copy of the filing (excluding any Confidential Business Information (CBI)) for inclusion in the public docket. Information not marked confidential pursuant to 40 CFR part 2 may be disclosed publicly by EPA without prior notice. Submit the non-CBI copy of your objection or hearing request, identified by docket ID number EPA-HQ-OPP-2016-0687, by one of the following methods:

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

    Mail: OPP Docket, Environmental Protection Agency Docket Center (EPA/DC), (28221T), 1200 Pennsylvania Ave., NW., Washington, DC 20460-0001.

    Hand Delivery: To make special arrangements for hand delivery or delivery of boxed information, please follow the instructions at http://www.epa.gov/dockets/contacts.html. Additional instructions on commenting or visiting the docket, along with more information about dockets generally, is available at http://www.epa.gov/dockets.

    II. Background

    In the Federal Register of February 7, 2017 (82 FR 9555) (FRL-9956-86), EPA issued a document pursuant to FFDCA section 408(d)(3), 21 U.S.C. 346a(d)(3), announcing the filing of a pesticide tolerance petition (PP 6F8490) by BASF Corporation, 26 Davis Dr., P.O. Box 13528, Research Triangle Park, NC 27709. The petition requested that 40 CFR part 180 be amended by establishing an exemption from the requirement of a tolerance for residues of the fungicide Bacillus subtilis strain BU1814 in or on all food commodities. That document referenced a summary of the petition prepared by the petitioner BASF Corporation, which is available in the docket via http://www.regulations.gov. There were no comments received in response to the notice of filing.

    III. Final Rule A. EPA's Safety Determination

    Section 408(c)(2)(A)(i) of FFDCA allows EPA to establish an exemption from the requirement for a tolerance (the legal limit for a pesticide chemical residue in or on a food) only if EPA determines that the exemption is “safe.” Section 408(c)(2)(A)(ii) of FFDCA defines “safe” to mean that “there is a reasonable certainty that no harm will result from aggregate exposure to the pesticide chemical residue, including all anticipated dietary exposures and all other exposures for which there is reliable information.” This includes exposure through drinking water and in residential settings but does not include occupational exposure. Pursuant to FFDCA section 408(c)(2)(B), in establishing or maintaining in effect an exemption from the requirement of a tolerance, EPA must take into account the factors set forth in FFDCA section 408(b)(2)(C), which require EPA to give special consideration to exposure of infants and children to the pesticide chemical residue in establishing a tolerance or tolerance exemption and to “ensure that there is a reasonable certainty that no harm will result to infants and children from aggregate exposure to the pesticide chemical residue . . . .” Additionally, FFDCA section 408(b)(2)(D) requires that EPA consider “available information concerning the cumulative effects of [a particular pesticide's] . . . residues and other substances that have a common mechanism of toxicity.”

    EPA evaluated the available toxicity and exposure data on Bacillus subtilis strain BU1814 and considered its validity, completeness, and reliability, as well as the relationship of this information to human risk. A full explanation of the data upon which EPA relied and its risk assessment based on those data can be found within the document entitled “Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA) Considerations for Bacillus subtilis strain BU1814.” This document, as well as other relevant information, is available in the docket for this action as described under ADDRESSES. The available data indicate that Bacillus subtilis strain BU1814 showed no toxicity, no pathogenicity, and no infectivity via the acute oral, pulmonary, and intravenous routes of exposure. Based upon its evaluation, EPA concludes that there is a reasonable certainty that no harm will result to the U.S. population, including infants and children, from aggregate exposure to residues of Bacillus subtilis strain BU1814. Therefore, an exemption from the requirement of a tolerance is established for residues of Bacillus subtilis strain BU1814 in or on all food commodities when used in accordance with label directions and good agricultural practices.

    B. Analytical Enforcement Methodology

    An analytical method is not required because EPA is establishing an exemption from the requirement of a tolerance without any numerical limitation.

    IV. Statutory and Executive Order Reviews

    This action establishes a tolerance exemption under FFDCA section 408(d) in response to a petition submitted to EPA. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has exempted these types of actions from review under Executive Order 12866, entitled “Regulatory Planning and Review” (58 FR 51735, October 4, 1993). Because this action has been exempted from review under Executive Order 12866, this action is not subject to Executive Order 13211, entitled “Actions Concerning Regulations That Significantly Affect Energy Supply, Distribution, or Use” (66 FR 28355, May 22, 2001), or Executive Order 13045, entitled “Protection of Children from Environmental Health Risks and Safety Risks” (62 FR 19885, April 23, 1997). This action does not contain any information collections subject to OMB approval under the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA), 44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq., nor does it require any special considerations under Executive Order 12898, entitled “Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Populations” (59 FR 7629, February 16, 1994).

    Since tolerances and exemptions that are established on the basis of a petition under FFDCA section 408(d), such as the tolerance exemption in this action, do not require the issuance of a proposed rule, the requirements of the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) (5 U.S.C. 601 et seq.) do not apply.

    This action directly regulates growers, food processors, food handlers, and food retailers, not States or tribes. As a result, this action does not alter the relationships or distribution of power and responsibilities established by Congress in the preemption provisions of FFDCA section 408(n)(4). As such, EPA has determined that this action will not have a substantial direct effect on States or tribal governments, on the relationship between the national government and the States or tribal governments, or on the distribution of power and responsibilities among the various levels of government or between the Federal Government and Indian tribes. Thus, EPA has determined that Executive Order 13132, entitled “Federalism” (64 FR 43255, August 10, 1999), and Executive Order 13175, entitled “Consultation and Coordination with Indian Tribal Governments” (65 FR 67249, November 9, 2000), do not apply to this action. In addition, this action does not impose any enforceable duty or contain any unfunded mandate as described under Title II of the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (UMRA) (2 U.S.C. 1501 et seq.).

    This action does not involve any technical standards that would require EPA's consideration of voluntary consensus standards pursuant to section 12(d) of the National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act (NTTAA) (15 U.S.C. 272 note).

    V. Congressional Review Act

    Pursuant to the Congressional Review Act (5 U.S.C. 801 et seq.), EPA will submit a report containing this rule and other required information to the U.S. Senate, the U.S. House of Representatives, and the Comptroller General of the United States prior to publication of the rule in the Federal Register. This action is not a “major rule” as defined by 5 U.S.C. 804(2).

    List of Subjects in 40 CFR Part 180

    Environmental protection, Administrative practice and procedure, Agricultural commodities, Pesticides and pests, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements.

    Dated: November 27, 2017. Richard P. Keigwin, Jr., Director, Office of Pesticide Programs.

    Therefore, 40 CFR chapter I is amended as follows:

    PART 180—[AMENDED] 1. The authority citation for part 180 continues to read as follows: Authority:

    21 U.S.C. 321(q), 346a and 371.

    2. Add § 180.1348 to subpart D to read as follows:
    § 180.1348 Bacillus subtilis strain BU1814; exemption from the requirement of a tolerance.

    An exemption from the requirement of a tolerance is established for residues of Bacillus subtilis strain BU1814 in or on all food commodities when used in accordance with label directions and good agricultural practices.

    [FR Doc. 2017-26518 Filed 12-7-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560-50-P
    ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY 40 CFR Part 770 [EPA-HQ-OPPT-2017-0245; FRL-9971-38] RIN 2070-AK36 Voluntary Consensus Standards Update; Formaldehyde Emission Standards for Composite Wood Products; Withdrawal of Direct Final Rule AGENCY:

    Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

    ACTION:

    Direct final rule; withdrawal.

    SUMMARY:

    In the Federal Register of October 25, 2017, EPA published both a direct final rule and proposed rule to update the voluntary consensus standards that originally published in the Toxics Substances Control Act (TSCA) Title VI formaldehyde emission standards for composite wood products final rule on December 12, 2016. In addition, in the direct final rule and proposed rule the EPA amended the testing requirements for panel producers and third-party certifiers establishing correlation between approved quality control test methods and either the ASTM E1333-14 test chamber, or, upon showing equivalence, the ASTM D6007-14 test chamber. As noted in the direct final rule, if EPA received adverse comment on the proposed amendments, the Agency would publish a timely withdrawal of the direct final rule in the Federal Register informing the public that the direct final action will not take effect. The Agency did receive adverse comment on the proposed rule amendments, and is therefore withdrawing the direct final rule and will instead proceed with a final rule based on the proposed rule after considering all public comments.

    DATES:

    Effective December 8, 2017, the direct final rule published in the Federal Register of October 25, 2017 (82 FR 49287) (FRL-9962-84), is withdrawn.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

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

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

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    I. Does this action apply to me?

    A list of potentially affected entities is provided in the Federal Register of October 25, 2017 (82 FR 49287). If you have questions regarding the applicability of this action to a particular entity, consult the technical person listed under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT.

    II. What rule is being withdrawn?

    In the October 25, 2017 Federal Register, EPA published both a direct final rule (see 82 FR 49287) and proposed rule (see 82 FR 49302) (FRL-9962-80) pursuant to section 601 of TSCA that would have updated several of the voluntary consensus standards incorporated by reference at § 770.99 as published on December 12, 2016 (see 81 FR 89674) (FRL-9949-90). These voluntary consensus standards have been updated, withdrawn, or superseded since publication of the original final rule in 2016. Additionally, the direct final rule would have amended testing requirements for demonstration of equivalence and correlation between approved quality control test methods and either the ASTM E1333-14 test chamber, or, upon showing equivalence in accordance with § 770.20(d), the ASTM D6007-14 test chamber under § 770.20(d)(2)(i).

    Since the direct final rule and proposed rule's publication, EPA has received a comment on the proposed amendments to the voluntary consensus standard updating action that the Agency considers to be adverse. As a result of receiving an adverse comment, EPA is withdrawing the direct final rule published in the Federal Register on October 25, 2017. All comments are available for review in the public docket. EPA will address the public comments received on this action in a subsequent final rule.

    III. How do I access the docket?

    To access the docket, please go to http://www.regulations.gov and follow the online instructions using the docket ID number EPA-HQ-OPPT-2017-0245. Additional information about the Docket Facility is also provided under ADDRESSES in the October 25, 2017 (82 FR 49287) Federal Register document. If you have questions, consult the technical person listed under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT.

    IV. Good Cause Finding

    EPA finds that there is “good cause” under the Administrative Procedure Act (5 U.S.C. 553(b)(3)(B)) to withdraw the direct final rule discussed in this document without prior notice and comment. For this document, notice and comment is impracticable and unnecessary because EPA is under a time limit to publish this withdrawal. It was determined that this document is not subject to the 30-day delay of effective date generally required by 5 U.S.C. 553(d) as there is good cause for the withdrawal to be effective immediately. This withdrawal must become effective prior to the effective date of the direct final rule being withdrawn, as EPA explained in the direct final rule itself.

    V. Statutory and Executive Order Reviews

    This document withdraws regulatory requirements that have not gone into effect. As such, the Agency has determined that this withdrawal will not have any adverse impacts, economic or otherwise. The statutory and Executive Order review requirements applicable to the direct final rule being withdrawn were discussed in the October 25, 2017 (82 FR 49287) Federal Register document. Those review requirements do not apply to this action because it is a withdrawal and does not contain any new or amended requirements.

    VI. Congressional Review Act (CRA)

    Pursuant to the CRA (5 U.S.C. 801 et seq.), EPA will submit a report containing this rule and other required information to the U.S. Senate, the U.S. House of Representatives, and the Comptroller General of the United States prior to publication of the rule in the Federal Register. This action is not a “major rule” as defined by 5 U.S.C. 804(2). Section 808 of the CRA allows the issuing agency to make a rule effective sooner than otherwise provided by CRA if the agency makes a good cause finding that notice and public procedure is impracticable, unnecessary, or contrary to the public interest. As required by 5 U.S.C. 808(2), this determination is supported by a brief statement in Unit IV.

    List of Subjects in 40 CFR Part 770

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

    Dated: December 5, 2017. E. Scott Pruitt, Administrator.
    [FR Doc. 2017-26655 Filed 12-7-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560-50-P
    CHEMICAL SAFETY AND HAZARD INVESTIGATION BOARD 40 CFR Part 1601 [Agency Docket Number CSB 17-1] Freedom of Information Act Program AGENCY:

    Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board.

    ACTION:

    Final rule.

    SUMMARY:

    The Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB) published an interim final Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) rule in the Federal Register on September 29, 2017. This final rule confirms that the interim final rule is adopted as final without change.

    DATES:

    This rule is effective December 8, 2017.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Kara Wenzel, Acting General Counsel, 202-261-7600, or [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Executive Summary

    The CSB published an interim final FOIA rule in the Federal Register on September 29, 2017, 82 FR 45502. As an interim final rule, the rule became effective immediately upon publication in the Federal Register. Nonetheless, the CSB welcomed public comments from interested persons regarding the interim final rule. The due date for comments ended on October 30, 2017. The CSB did not receive any comments on the interim final rule. The CSB has determined that no further revisions are required to the interim final rule. Therefore, the CSB now issues this final rule to confirm that the interim final rule published previously shall be the final CSB FOIA rule. The interim final rule published September 29, 2017, 82 FR 45502, will be codified at 40 CFR part 1601 at the next regular update to the Code of Federal Regulations.

    Regulatory Procedures Administrative Procedure Act (5 U.S.C. Ch. 5)

    The CSB's previous implementation of this rule as an interim final rule, with provision for post-promulgation public comment, was based on section 553(b) of the Administrative Procedure Act. 5 U.S.C. 553(b). Under section 553(b), an agency may issue a rule without notice of proposed rulemaking and the pre-promulgation opportunity for public comment, with regard to “interpretative rules, general statements of policy, or rules of agency organization, procedure, or practice.” The CSB determined that many of the revisions were to interpretive rules issued by the CSB. Moreover, the CSB determined that the remaining revisions were rules of agency procedure or practice, as they did not change the substantive standards the agency applies in implementing the FOIA. The CSB also concluded that a pre-publication public comment period was unnecessary. The revisions in 40 CFR part 1601 merely implemented statutory changes, aligned the CSB's regulations with controlling judicial decisions, and clarified agency procedures.

    Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (2 U.S.C. Ch. 25)

    This rule is not subject to the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act because it does not contain a Federal mandate that may result in the expenditure by state, local, and tribal governments, in the aggregate, or by the private sector, of $100,000,000.00 or more in any one year. Nor will it have a significant or unique effect on small governments.

    Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. Ch. 6)

    This rule is not subject to the Regulatory Flexibility Act. The CSB has reviewed this regulation and by approving it certifies that this regulation will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. The rule implements the procedures for processing FOIA requests within the CSB. Under the FOIA, agencies may recover only the direct costs of searching for, reviewing, and duplicating the records processed for the requesters. Thus, fees accessed by CSB will be nominal. Further, the “small entities” that make FOIA requests, as compared with individual and other requesters, are relatively few in number.

    Paperwork Reduction Act (44 U.S.C. Ch. 35)

    This rule does not impose reporting or recordkeeping requirements under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995. The Paperwork Reduction Act imposes certain requirements on Federal agencies in connection with the conducting or sponsoring of any collection of information. This rule does not contain any new collection of information requirement within the meaning of the Act.

    Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996 (5 U.S.C. Ch. 6)

    This rule is not a major rule as defined by section 251 of the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996 (as amended), 5 U.S.C. 804. This rule will not result in an annual effect on the economy of $100,000,000.00 or more; a major increase in costs or prices; or significant adverse effects on competition, employment, investment, productivity, innovation, or on the ability of United States-based enterprises to compete with foreign-based enterprises in domestic and export markets.

    National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (5 U.S.C. 804)

    This rule will not have a significant effect on the human environment. Accordingly, this rule is categorically excluded from environmental analysis under 43 CFR 46.210(i).

    E-Government Act of 2002 (44 U.S.C. 3504)

    Section 206 of the E-Government Act requires agencies, to the extent practicable, to ensure that all information about that agency required to be published in the Federal Register is also published on a publicly accessible Web site. All information about the CSB required to be published in the Federal Register may be accessed at http://www.csb.gov/. The E-Government Act also requires, to the extent practicable, that agencies ensure that a publicly accessible Federal Government Web site contains electronic dockets for rulemakings under the Administrative Procedure Act of 1946 (5 U.S.C. 551 et seq.). Under this Act, an electronic docket consists of all submissions under section 553(c) of title 5, United States Code; and all other materials that by agency rule or practice are included in the rulemaking docket under section 553(c) of title 5, United States Code, whether or not submitted electronically. The Web site http://www.csb.gov/ will contain an electronic dockets for this rulemaking.

    Plain Writing Act of 2010 (5 U.S.C. 301)

    Under this Act, the term “plain writing” means writing that is clear, concise, well-organized, and follows other best practices appropriate to the subject or field and intended audience. To ensure that this rulemaking was written in plain and clear language so that it can be used and understood by the public, the CSB modeled the language of this rule on the Federal Plain Language Guidelines.

    List of Subjects in 40 CFR Part 1601

    Administrative practice and procedure, Archives and records, Confidential business information, Freedom of information, Privacy.

    Accordingly, the interim rule amending 40 CFR part 1601, which was published at 82 FR 45502 on September 29, 2017, is adopted as final without change.

    Ray Porfiri, Deputy General Counsel, Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board.
    [FR Doc. 2017-26438 Filed 12-7-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6350-01-P
    FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION 47 CFR Parts 1 and 73 [MB Docket No. 17-106; FCC 17-137] Elimination of Main Studio Rule AGENCY:

    Federal Communications Commission.

    ACTION:

    Final rule.

    SUMMARY:

    In this document, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC or Commission) eliminates the rule that requires each AM, FM, and television broadcast station to maintain a main studio located in or near its community of license. The FCC also eliminates existing requirements associated with the rule, including the requirement that the main studio have full-time management and staff present during normal business hours, and that it have program origination capability.

    DATES:

    Effective January 8, 2018, except for §§ 73.3526(c)(1) and 73.3527(c)(1), which contain new or modified information collection requirements, and which shall become effective after the Commission publishes a document in the Federal Register announcing OMB approval and the relevant effective date.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    For additional information on this proceeding, contact Diana Sokolow, [email protected], of the Policy Division, Media Bureau, (202) 418-2120.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    This is a summary of the Commission's Report and Order (R&O), FCC 17-137, adopted and released on October 24, 2017. The full text of this document is available for public inspection and copying during regular business hours in the FCC Reference Center, Federal Communications Commission, 445 12th Street SW., Room CY-A257, Washington, DC 20554. This document will also be available via ECFS at http://fjallfoss.fcc.gov/ecfs/. Documents will be available electronically in ASCII, Microsoft Word, and/or Adobe Acrobat. Copies of the materials can be obtained from the FCC's Reference Information Center at (202) 418-0270. Alternative formats are available for people with disabilities (Braille, large print, electronic files, audio format), by sending an email to [email protected] or calling the Commission's Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau at (202) 418-0530 (voice), (202) 418-0432 (TTY).

    Synopsis

    1. The Commission in this R&O adopts the proposal in the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM), 82 FR 25590 (June 2, 2017), to eliminate the Commission rule requiring AM, FM, and television broadcast stations to maintain a local main studio.1 We also adopt the proposal to eliminate the associated staffing and program origination capability requirements that apply to main studios. To ensure that community members retain the ability to communicate with and obtain information regarding their local stations, we retain the existing requirement that broadcasters maintain a local or toll-free telephone number. We also require stations to maintain any portion of their public file that is not part of the online public file at a publicly accessible location within the station's community of license. Finally, we make conforming edits to other Commission rules that are necessitated by the elimination of the main studio rule.

    1 Because we are eliminating the main studio rule, we need not address one commenter's argument that the current main studio rule is unenforceable under the Administrative Procedure Act. We also decline to address herein arguments that are outside the scope of this proceeding, which is limited to elimination of the main studio rule and the associated staffing and program origination capability requirements.

    2. We agree with the vast majority of commenters 2 in this proceeding that the main studio rule should be eliminated. We are persuaded that eliminating the rule will result in significant cost savings for broadcasters and other public interest benefits. For example, the record shows that in some small towns and rural areas the cost of complying with the current main studio rule dissuades broadcasters from launching a station, even if the broadcaster has already obtained a construction permit for the station. Eliminating the rule thus may lead to increased broadcast service in those areas. In addition, as commenters suggest, eliminating the main studio rule will provide broadcasters with the same flexibility as Internet radio stations and cable and satellite providers, none of which are subject to a main studio requirement. While we recognize the importance of local broadcast television and radio stations as a source of news and information, we agree with NAB that the record does not provide any “evidence that the physical location of a station's main studio is the reason local broadcasters are able to deliver content that meets the needs and interest[s] of their communities, or that the location and staffing of the studio has any relationship to the ability of a station to serve its local audience.”

    2 Contrary to the suggestion of Common Frequency, the ample record in this proceeding provides the Commission with sufficient information to proceed to this R&O.

    3. We affirm the tentative conclusion in the NPRM that technological innovations have rendered local studios unnecessary as a means for viewers and listeners to communicate with or access their local stations and to carry out the other traditional functions that they have served. The record shows that it is exceedingly rare for a member of the public to visit a station's main studio, with community members overwhelmingly choosing instead to communicate with stations through more efficient means such as email, station Web sites, social media, mail, or telephone.3 This has been the case even more so since the Commission created the online public inspection file. Once broadcasters fully transition to the online public file in early 2018, requiring stations to maintain a fully staffed main studio for purposes of providing access to the file will no longer be practical or justifiable. It is also relevant that community members already participate in station shows from outside the main studio, for example by appearing via telephone or Skype. As some commenters state, in-person visits from community members are now “unnecessary, if not obsolete,” as a result of the “near ubiquity of remote communication.” 4

    3 Although broadcast licensees are obligated to serve “the public interest, convenience, and necessity,” we find that “convenience” need not include reasonable physical access to the station's facilities in the community of license, contrary to the suggestion of one commenter, given how rarely community members today opt to access such facilities.

    4 In addition, some commenters point to the legitimate public safety concerns that are associated with allowing uninvited members of the public to visit a station's main studio.

    4. We disagree with arguments that in the absence of a local main studio, the Commission will be unable to ensure that a station serves its local community. Broadcast licensees still will be required to include in their public inspection files, on a quarterly basis, a list of those “programs that have provided the station's most significant treatment of community issues during the preceding three month period,” including a brief description of each relevant program. Further, as part of the broadcast station license renewal process, the Commission is required to find that “the station has served the public interest, convenience, and necessity” during its preceding license term. In particular, “[o]ne of a television broadcaster's fundamental public interest obligations is to air programming responsive to the needs and interests of its community of license.”

    5. We also are not persuaded by contentions that broadcasters' local community involvement or the provision of local news will significantly decline if we eliminate the main studio rule. Broadcast commenters explain that they keep apprised of local needs and issues to distinguish themselves from their competitors, to gain popularity and thus advertising dollars or, in the case of noncommercial educational (NCE) stations, contributions, and to fulfill their public interest obligations.5 Broadcasters will retain these incentives even in the absence of the main studio rule.6 In addition, we agree with Univision that today, “providing service to, interacting with, and maintaining awareness of a community is not dependent upon locating a station's offices within certain arbitrary geographic boundaries imposed by the” main studio rule. To the contrary, broadcasters can interact with local community members by using technology such as social media, and even without a local main studio, broadcasters can use modern technology to broadcast information about local events. The main studio rule does not require broadcasters to provide any particular level of local coverage or involvement in the local community, and there is no evidence in the record that elimination of this rule will cause a decrease in such involvement or coverage.

    5 We note that the main studio rule does not require broadcasters to provide coverage of their local communities; rather, the rule simply governs the permissible location of a station's main studio.

    6 The record suggests that not all stations will choose to eliminate their current main studios after the main studio rule is repealed. Those stations that do choose to eliminate their current main studios likely will often maintain an office or studio that is convenient to their viewers or listeners, so that, among other things, community members can appear in person to serve as on-air guests or attend in-studio events, and so that contest prize winners can visit the station to retrieve their prizes.

    6. We reject claims that the elimination of the main studio rule will have a negative impact on broadcasters' ability to broadcast emergency and time-sensitive information. One commenter explains that in terms of “a station's ability to communicate time-sensitive or emergency information to the public,” today telephone and Internet communications are more efficient than an in-person interaction at a local studio. In furtherance of their obligation to serve their communities of license, commenters state that broadcasters will continue providing timely emergency information to their viewers and listeners. Additionally, we note that the elimination of the main studio rule will not in any way alter a station's obligations to transmit emergency alerts received via the emergency alert system (EAS).7

    7 As explained below, broadcasters already have processes in place to ensure that they are responsive to emergency situations.

    7. Because we find that technological innovations have eliminated the need for a local main studio, the costs of complying with the main studio rule substantially outweigh any benefits.8 Broadcasters detail the significant costs that they face under the main studio rule, including such expenses as: (a) Rent, utilities, insurance, and maintenance costs for the studio itself; (b) equipment and transmission facilities; and (c) salaries, taxes, insurance, and benefits for the main studio's two full-time employees. Broadcasters claim that main studio-related costs range from $20,000 per year to several hundred thousand dollars per year.9 One broadcaster states that it could consolidate main studios and save more than $10 million annually. The main studio rule imposes significant and burdensome costs on broadcasters, particularly smaller broadcasters and NCE stations.10

    8 This rationale for eliminating the main studio rule applies to all broadcast stations, and we thus will eliminate the rule in its entirety rather than eliminating it only for a certain subset of stations.

    9 Due to the specific information broadcasters have provided regarding costs of compliance with the current main studio rule and associated requirements, we are not persuaded by commenters' unsupported arguments that maintaining a local main studio “has never been more affordable” and that broadcasters do not need relief from the Commission in this regard.

    10 Some commenters claim, without evidence, that small and independent broadcasters will not benefit from the elimination of the main studio rule because they likely will not relocate their existing studios and will become unable to compete against consolidated multi-station broadcasters. The fact-based statements of small broadcasters in this proceeding, detailing the costs of compliance with the main studio rule and the potential benefits to them of the elimination of the rule, belie these claims.

    8. The cost savings broadcasters may achieve following elimination of the main studio rule will enable them to allocate greater resources to local programming and other matters such as community outreach, newsgathering, equipment upgrades, and attracting new talent and personnel. According to some commenters, such savings could even prevent some stations from going dark. Stations will have the flexibility to operate studios in the most efficient manner, and some stations that are co-owned or jointly operated may find it to be more efficient for them to co-locate their studios.11 We conclude that providing stations with the maximum flexibility by eliminating the main studio rule in its entirety is preferable to the more limited approaches proposed by some commenters, which could still impose significant cost burdens on some stations and would not entirely address concerns that the costs of complying with the main studio rule are no longer justified today.

    11 Contrary to the suggestion of one commenter, we see no evidence in the record that any broadcast station would attempt to move its studio outside of this country, and we question whether doing so would be feasible or economical.

    9. Eliminating the main studio rule and associated requirements is not inconsistent with section 307(b) of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended (the Act), which requires the Commission to “make such distribution of licenses, frequencies, hours of operation, and of power among the several States and communities as to provide for a fair, efficient, and equitable distribution of radio service to each of the same.” In the absence of the main studio rule, broadcast stations still will be licensed to a specific community of license, and they will be obligated to place a certain signal contour over that community. As noted above, broadcasters also will remain subject to license renewal and quarterly issues/programs list requirements. Moreover, programming designed to meet a community's needs and interests can be produced anywhere today. For the reasons discussed herein, the record supports our finding that a local main studio is no longer necessary to ensure that broadcast stations serve their local communities,12 and thus eliminating the main studio requirement will not prevent compliance with the distribution directive in section 307(b) of the Act.

    12 We thus reject claims that the main studio rule is still needed to meet the obligations in section 307(b) of the Act. In addition, we agree with NAB that any assertion that the main studio rule is needed to enforce the “transmission service” requirement is misplaced because “[t]he Commission effectively abandoned this definition of transmission service when it eliminated the program origination requirement.”

    10. We note that the Commission or Media Bureau has previously granted waivers of the main studio rule. Our decision to eliminate the main studio requirement supersedes these waiver grants, including pledges that the licensees made in connection with those waivers, with one exception discussed below.13 Accordingly, as of the effective date of the rules adopted in this R&O, stations that have previously received a waiver of the main studio rule must comply with the Commission's rules, including the requirement to maintain a local or toll-free number, rather than the licensee pledges, if any, associated with their superseded waiver grants. Upon the elimination of the main studio rule, it would not make sense to continue subjecting stations to the commitments they made in obtaining a waiver of the main studio rule, including any related recordkeeping requirements.

    13 The main studio waiver grants are superseded by this R&O because there will no longer be a main studio rule to be waived. Given that waivers of the main studio rule will no longer be necessary, we need not address one commenter's claim that the current waiver process leads to an unfair and inefficient distribution of radio services. Below we explain one type of main studio waiver for which we will grandfather the station's current main studio as a permissible location for its local public file.

    11. In addition to eliminating the main studio rule itself, we adopt our NPRM proposal to eliminate the staffing requirements currently associated with the rule. This will provide broadcasters with more flexibility to staff their operations as they see fit. Pursuant to Commission precedent, there currently must be two employees (one management and one staff) present on a full-time basis at a main studio during normal business hours. Given the technological advances that enable remote monitoring and control of broadcast stations, commenters attest that some main studio employees have nothing to do but sit at the main studio in fulfillment of this requirement. Commenters persuasively state that it can be difficult for small or rural stations and for financially-challenged AM stations to support two full-time employees. For example, station KIHT(FM) is licensed to Amboy, California (population: four) and serves motorists traveling through the Mojave Desert. One employee travels over an hour each way each day to staff the main studio.

    12. We find that decisions regarding location and number of staff members should be left to broadcast licensees.14 Although we acknowledge that elimination of the main studio staffing requirement possibly could lead to fewer employees available to interact person to person at the physical station office, we have explained above that technology enables broadcasters to interact with the local community and to broadcast information about local events even without a local main studio. Eliminating the main studio requirement and associated staffing requirement promotes our statutory goals by allowing broadcasters to allocate greater resources to programming and other matters, promoting increased broadcast service in small towns and rural areas, and preventing stations from going dark. To the extent commenters express concerns about potential job loss following the elimination of the main studio rule and the associated staffing requirement, we do not believe we are required to disregard our statutory goals to prevent such loss. Further, preventing stations from going dark and enabling broadcasters to launch stations that they otherwise may not launch may promote employment.

    14 We caution that the deletion of the main studio rule does not in any way limit or reduce broadcast licensees' obligation and responsibility to retain and maintain control over essential station matters, such as personnel, programming, and finances. The Commission expects that broadcast licensees will continue to be able to demonstrate such control notwithstanding the elimination of the main studio rule and the staffing requirements associated with the main studio rule.

    13. In addition to the foregoing, we also adopt our NPRM proposal to eliminate the program origination capability requirement currently associated with the main studio rule. This will provide broadcasters greater flexibility with respect to their programming operations. Pursuant to Commission precedent, the main studio currently must be capable of transmitting programming and must be equipped with production and transmission facilities. When the Commission decided thirty years ago to eliminate its rule requiring stations to actually originate programming at their main studios, it concluded that “the main studio no longer plays the central role in the production of a station's programming and programming originated from within the political boundaries of the community is not necessarily responsive to the needs and interests of the community.” 15 Conversely, the Commission has recognized for decades that non-locally produced programming can serve the needs of a community. Those statements are only more true today. Technology makes it easier than ever before to originate locally relevant programming from locations outside of the station's community of license, and the existence of technology that enables stations to provide local broadcast coverage without a local main studio also moots concerns that licensees need a local main studio to broadcast emergency information.

    15 In that order, the Commission recognized the limited utility of the program origination requirement by deleting its rule requiring each broadcast station to originate more than 50 percent of its non-network programs from its main studio or other points within its community of license.

    14. There is no evidence in the record that the current program origination capability requirement has enhanced local programming or otherwise served the public interest. Commenters state that many broadcasters that currently originate programming locally will continue to do so in the absence of the current program origination capability requirement. In any case, it appears that the location from which programming is originated is irrelevant to whether the programing serves a community's needs and interests. We agree with broadcast commenters “that a licensee's understanding of the needs and concerns of its station's audience,” not the physical location of its studio or program production equipment, “promotes the broadcast of issue-responsive programming.” 16

    16 For this reason, we reject the assertion that a main studio's most important function is program origination capability.

    15. As proposed in the NPRM, we retain § 73.1125(e) of our rules, which requires “[e]ach AM, FM, TV and Class A TV broadcast station [to] maintain a local telephone number in its community of license or a toll-free number.” NAB supports this requirement, which it says “keep[s] the community well-informed and [is] not unduly burdensome.” The telephone number rule permits station owners to provide one telephone number for multiple stations, provided that the number is toll-free or local to each station's community of license.17 Some consumers are subject to an additional fee for non-local calls, and we thus retain the requirement for a local or toll-free number. Retaining the telephone number rule will help promote continued access to local broadcast stations by community members upon elimination of the main studio rule.18 We find that retaining the existing rule is an appropriate means to ensure that members of the public can easily contact station representatives and receive timely responses.19

    17 Implicit in the requirement to maintain a local or toll-free number is the requirement that phone calls made to this number be answered during business hours. We encourage broadcasters to use voicemail or another way for consumers to leave messages outside of stations' normal business hours.

    18 We recognize that there is some cost to stations of maintaining a local or toll-free telephone number, but we find that on balance the relatively limited cost is outweighed by the benefit of ensuring that the station remains accessible to local community members.

    19 NFIB has proposed instead that the Commission adopt a functional requirement that each station “ensure that persons in its community of license have a reasonable opportunity to communicate with the station through at least one generally available means of communication at no charge.” We find that such an approach would be unworkable for consumers who do not use email and thus would have no way to contact a station if the station eliminates its local main studio. Accordingly, maintenance of the current telephone number requirement is a more practical approach.

    16. Stations currently are required to post their telephone numbers in their online public files.20 We retain that requirement and do not require stations to publicize their phone numbers in any additional ways. We agree with commenters that broadcasters have extensive marketplace incentives and license obligations to be accessible and responsive to their audience, and we note that telephone numbers by their nature generally are accessible in other ways. Broadcasters will retain the flexibility to determine whether they want to publicize their telephone numbers in additional ways. For example, most stations already choose to post their telephone numbers on their Web sites.

    20 These rules also currently require a station to include its main studio address, and as discussed below we modify them to require the public file to include the station's address (rather than its main studio address). The posted address should be a location at which the licensee may be contacted by mail and in person, for example, a studio, office, or headquarters.

    17. Furthermore, in the NPRM, the Commission sought comment on whether additional requirements are needed to ensure that broadcasters are responsive to time-sensitive and emergency information. Because broadcasters already coordinate with federal, state, and local emergency management officials, as well as law enforcement officials, to address emergencies that occur at any time of day, we conclude that there is no need to adopt additional requirements pertaining to broadcast station responsiveness to time-sensitive or emergency information.21 While some commenters reference such requirements, other commenters persuasively explain that broadcasters already have processes in place to ensure that station personnel are available to receive and broadcast time-sensitive emergency information. On balance, we conclude that the adoption of additional rules would not necessarily improve broadcasters' responsiveness to local emergencies, and we thus find that there is no evidence that the cost of such obligations would be justified by any purported benefits.

    21 Nothing in this R&O is intended to alter the obligation on licensees to post a written document designating the station's Chief Operator along with the posted copy of the station's license, as set forth in 47 CFR 73.1870(b)(3).

    18. As discussed below, and as supported by NAB and other broadcasters, we require every broadcast station applicant, permittee, or licensee to maintain any portion of its public file that is not part of the online public file at an accessible place within its community of license. Pursuant to the Commission's online public file rules, in the very near future there will be only limited instances in which any portion of a station's public inspection file will be permitted to be maintained at the station's main studio rather than online.22 In 2012, the Commission adopted rules requiring television broadcasters to utilize an online public file hosted by the Commission, rather than maintaining the public file locally, and television stations completed their transition to the online public file in 2014. In 2016, the Commission adopted rules expanding the online public file requirement to broadcast radio licensees. As of June 24, 2016, commercial broadcast radio stations in the top 50 Nielsen Audio radio markets with five or more full-time employees were required to place new public and political file documents in the online public file on a going-forward basis. By December 24, 2016, these entities were required to upload their existing public file documents to the online file, except for existing political file material which they may either upload or maintain locally until the expiration of the two-year retention period for such political file material. Beginning March 1, 2018, all other broadcast radio stations 23 must place new public and political file documents in the online public file on a going-forward basis. They must also upload their existing public file documents to the online file by that date, except for existing political file material which they may either upload or maintain locally until the expiration of the two-year retention period for such political file material. In other words, community members already have online access to television station public files, and by March 1, 2018 they will have online access to radio station public files, with the potential exception of preexisting portions of the political file that the station may retain locally until the expiration of the two-year retention period for such materials.

    22 Sections 73.3526(e) and 73.3527(e) of the Commission's rules set forth the required contents of the station's public inspection file. These contents include the “political file,” which consists of the records required to be maintained under § 73.1943 of our rules concerning broadcasts by candidates for public office.

    23 This includes NCE broadcast radio stations, commercial broadcast radio stations in the top 50 Nielsen Audio radio markets with fewer than five full-time employees, and commercial broadcast radio stations in markets below the top 50 or outside all markets.

    19. Nonetheless, we recognize the need to ensure that community members have local access to a station's public file for any timeframe during which all or a portion of that file is not available via the online public file. Accordingly, we require every broadcast station applicant, permittee, or licensee to maintain any portion of its public file that is not part of the online public file at an accessible place within its community of license. NAB and other broadcasters support this approach. The “accessible place” could be a station office or studio, if it is located within the community of license, or it could be a different location such as a local library or another station's office or studio. The file must be available for public inspection at any time during regular business hours, as is currently the case with regard to access to a public file maintained at a station's main studio.24 If a station has transitioned to the online public file with the exception of its existing political file materials, which certain stations may maintain locally until the two-year retention period expires as discussed above, then the station must maintain a copy of its existing political file materials at an accessible place within its community of license until it is no longer required to retain those materials.25 We note that any station that wishes to avoid this requirement has the option to instead fully transition to the Commission's online public file system.

    24 The other requirements of existing §§ 73.3526(c)(1) and 73.3527(c)(1) of our rules also will apply to the selected location of the public file within the community of license. Sections 73.3526(b) and 73.3527(b) of our rules currently contain multiple references to the hard copy public inspection file maintained at a station or at the station's main studio, and we will revise this language instead to reference retention of the file at an accessible place in the community of license (with the exception of references that are limited to timeframes in the past).

    25 Urban One states, “a radio station that has voluntarily uploaded all political materials that are required to be maintained to its online file should have no obligation to make public file material available other than online.” As explained above, certain stations may locally retain political file materials that were existing as of a certain date, rather than uploading them to the online public file, until the expiration of the two-year retention period for those materials. To the extent Urban One is arguing that we should permit stations to include new political file materials in the online public file, but not to make existing political file materials available either locally or through the online public file, we disagree. To the contrary, we find that it is important to ensure that community members have local access to all portions of the public inspection file that are not part of the online public file. If it is too inconvenient or costly to maintain these materials locally, then a station may choose to post them to the online public file instead. In addition, we note that a change to the material that is required to be part of a station's public file is outside the scope of this proceeding.

    20. In addition, if a broadcast station currently maintains its local public file at a main studio that complies with the current main studio rule but is not within the station's community of license, and if the station retains that studio, we will grandfather that studio as a permissible location for the station's local public file for the period before completion of the station's transition to the online public file.26 Similarly, some existing waivers of the main studio rule permit stations to maintain their public files at the station's main studio outside the community of license.27 We also will grandfather any such studio as a permissible location for the station's local public file for the period before completion of the station's transition to the online public file. This approach will ensure that stations with current waivers do not face increased burdens as a result of the elimination of the main studio rule.

    26 Sections 73.3526(c)(2) and 73.3527(c)(2) of our rules currently govern access to material in the public file by mail where the applicant, permittee, or licensee maintains its main studio and public file outside its community of license. These current rules will remain in place, but we will delete the phrase “main studio and,” such that the provisions will be triggered if an applicant, permittee, or licensee maintains its public file outside its community of license because the station's studio is grandfathered as a permissible location for the file, as discussed herein.

    27 Some main studio waivers reference a licensee pledge to maintain the public file in the community of license, while others permit the licensee to maintain the public file at the main studio subject to the waiver.

    21. A community member seeking access to a station's public inspection file in the community of license may contact the station to inquire as to the location of the file, for example via its required telephone number or email. Stations must promptly provide information regarding the location of the file within one business day of a request. In addition, we encourage stations that make public file materials available at an accessible place in the community to provide that location on their Web site, if they have a Web site, and by any other means that the station deems effective.

    22. In the NPRM, the Commission sought comment on whether alternatively it should only eliminate the main studio rule for stations that have fully transitioned all public file material to the online public file, including existing political file materials. While some commenters support this alternate approach, we agree with NAB that we should not limit in this manner the public interest benefits that will follow the elimination of the main studio rule.28 The later March 1, 2018 online public file deadline generally applies to smaller stations.29 Some of these entities may be most adversely impacted by the costs of complying with the current main studio rule, and we conclude that we should not disadvantage them by denying them the benefits of the repeal of the rule. As discussed above, the costs savings of eliminating the rule will be significant and will apply to all types of broadcast stations. Given our decision to require maintenance of paper files at an accessible location in the community if they are not available via the online public file, the benefits of retaining the main studio rule for those stations that do not use the online public file would be minimal, if they exist at all. Indeed, in many cases the station may locate its file at its current main studio, and in other cases we expect that the selected local file location will be equally, if not more, convenient to residents as compared to the station's current main studio. For example, if a station previously maintained its main studio outside of its community of license, as permitted under the current rule, and the station chooses to cease operating that local studio as a result of this R&O, then it may be more convenient for community members to access the local file at a location within the community of license, as we require here.

    28 In addition, we will not adopt the proposal of one commenter that we only permit stations to eliminate their current main studios if they make their public file available both online and at a business or library in the station's community of license. Given that it is sufficient for a station currently to make its public file available online only, we see no reason to require an additional means of access if the station eliminates its current main studio and its entire public file is available through the Commission's online public file.

    29 The deadline applies to NCE broadcast radio stations, commercial broadcast radio stations in the top 50 Nielsen Audio radio markets with fewer than five full-time employees, and commercial broadcast radio stations in markets below the top 50 or outside all markets.

    23. As a result of our repeal of the main studio rule, we also will make the following conforming rule revisions as shown in the Final Rules:

    • In § 1.80, delete the row of the chart detailing the base forfeiture amount for violations of the main studio rule.30

    30 We will continue to rely on the base forfeiture amount of $7000 as a starting point in assessing a forfeiture for any violations of the main studio rule that occurred before the effective date of the elimination of the rule.

    • In § 1.1104, delete the four rows detailing the schedule of charges for a “Main Studio Request,” and re-letter the remaining listings accordingly.

    • In the definition of “equipment performance measurements” in § 73.14 of our rules, delete “at main studio.”

    • Delete § 73.761(d) of our rules, which currently governs formal applications for a change in main studio location, and renumber the remainder of the rule.

    • In § 73.1400(a)(1)(ii) of our rules, change the reference to “the main studio or other location” to “a studio or other location.”

    • Delete § 73.1690(c)(8)(ii) of our rules, which currently states that both commercial and NCE FM stations must comply with the main studio rule, and renumber the remainder of the rule.

    • Delete § 73.1690(d)(1) of our rules, which currently governs permissive changes in studio location, and renumber the remainder of the rule.

    • Modify §§ 73.3526(b)(2)(ii) and 73.3527(b)(2)(iii) of our rules, which currently require the public file to include the station's main studio address and telephone number, instead to require the public file to include the station's address and telephone number.31

    31 As stated above, the posted address should be a location at which the licensee may be contacted by mail and in person, for example, a studio, office, or headquarters.

    • Delete the reference to “main studio” in §§ 73.3526(e)(4) and 73.3527(e)(3) of our rules, which currently require inclusion of information showing service contours and/or main studio and transmitter location in the public file.

    • Delete § 73.3538(b)(2) of our rules, which currently governs informal applications to relocate a main studio, and renumber the remainder of the rule.

    • Delete § 73.3544(b)(3) of our rules, which currently governs informal applications for a change in location of the main studio, and renumber the remainder of the rule.32

    32 We also adopt the proposal to delete the outdated reference in § 73.1690(d)(2) to § 73.1410, which has been deleted.

    • In the alphabetical index to part 73, delete the four rows that reference § 73.1125.

    24. We also will delete § 73.6000(3) of our rules and will require Class A stations to meet the required quantity of “locally produced programming” through programming that complies with § 73.6000(1) or (2). Consistent with the Community Broadcasters Protection Act of 1999, § 73.6001(b)(2) requires Class A stations to broadcast an average of at least three hours of locally produced programming per week each quarter. Section 73.6000 defines locally produced programming for these purposes as programming that is:

    (1) Produced within the predicted Grade B contour of the station broadcasting the program or within the contiguous predicted Grade B contours of any of the stations in a commonly owned group; or

    (2) Produced within the predicted DTV noise-limited contour . . . of a digital Class A station broadcasting the program or within the contiguous predicted DTV noise-limited contours of any of the digital Class A stations in a commonly owned group; or

    (3) Programming produced at the station's main studio.

    Upon deletion of the main studio rule, we find that it is appropriate to delete option (3). Options (1) and (2) are sufficiently broad that it should not be difficult for Class A stations to meet the required quantity of locally produced programming.33 Our approach will alleviate the concern of Free Press that eliminating the main studio rule would “effectively nullify” the Class A requirement pertaining to the quantity of locally produced programming.

    33 The Commission grandfathered certain main studios that did not comply with the main studio rule when it implemented the Community Broadcasters Protection Act of 1999 creating the Class A service. For those Class A stations currently operating at grandfathered main studios that are outside the locations described in § 73.6000(1)-(2) of our rules, we will continue to consider programming produced at that previously grandfathered main studio to be locally produced.

    25. As required by the Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980, as amended (RFA), an Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (IRFA) was incorporated in the NPRM. The Commission sought written public comments on proposals in the NPRM, including comment on the IRFA. The Commission received no comments on the IRFA, although some commenters discussed the effect of the proposals on smaller entities. The present Final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (FRFA) conforms to the RFA. In summary, the R&O adopts the proposal to eliminate the Commission's main studio rule and existing requirements associated with the main studio rule. The R&O is authorized pursuant to sections 4(i), 4(j), 303, 307(b), and 336(f) of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, 47 U.S.C. 154(i), 154(j), 303, 307(b), 336(f). The types of small entities that may be affected by the R&O fall within the following categories: Television Broadcasting, Radio Stations. The projected reporting, recordkeeping, and other compliance requirements are: (1) The elimination of the rule requiring each AM, FM, and television broadcast station to maintain a local main studio; (2) the elimination of the associated staffing and program origination capability requirements; (3) retention of the existing requirement that broadcasters maintain a local or toll-free telephone number; (4) a requirement that stations maintain any portion of their public file that is not part of the online public file at a publicly accessible location within the community of license, unless the current main studio is grandfathered as a permissible location for the station's local public file for the period before completion of the station's transition to the online public file because (a) the station currently maintains its local public file at a main studio that complies with the current main studio rule but is not within the station's community of license, or (b) the station has an existing waiver of the main studio rule that permits the station to maintain its public files at the station's main studio outside the community of license. The Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business Administration (SBA) did not file any comments in response to the proposed rules in this proceeding. Elimination of the existing requirements pertaining to the location of the main studio of each AM, FM, and television broadcast station, as well as the elimination of associated staffing and program origination requirements, will eliminate requirements that may be outdated and unnecessarily burdensome on all broadcast stations, including small entities. The Commission considered whether it should adopt additional requirements pertaining to publicizing or staffing the required telephone number or responding to time-sensitive or emergency information. While some commenters advocated such alternative approaches, the Commission concluded that the burdens of any such additional requirements are unjustified. Separately, while the Commission could simply adopt the requirement pertaining to the location of the public file, instead it has taken the alternate approach of providing broadcast stations with additional flexibility that will reduce costs by grandfathering certain existing studios as a permissible location for the station's local public file. In the R&O, the Commission explains its rejection of an alternate approach pursuant to which it could only eliminate the main studio rule for stations that have fully transitioned all public file material to the online public file material, stating that such an approach would disadvantage the smaller entities that may be most impacted by the costs of complying with the current main studio rule.

    26. This document contains new information collection requirements subject to the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (PRA), Public Law 104-13.34 It will be submitted to OMB for review under section 3507(d) of the PRA. In addition, we note that pursuant to the Small Business Paperwork Relief Act of 2002, Public Law 107-198, we previously sought specific comment on how the Commission might further reduce the information collection burden for small business concerns with fewer than 25 employees.

    34See attached Final Rules, revising §§ 73.3526(c)(1) and 73.3527(c)(1) of our rules to add, “The applicant, permittee, or licensee must provide information regarding the location of the file, or the applicable portion of the file, within one business day of a request for such information.” In addition to those new information collection requirements, which we will submit to OMB via a non-substantive change request, following adoption of this R&O the Commission also will submit to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) a notice of discontinuance to reflect the deletion of the main studio rule and its associated information collection requirements.

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

    28. Accordingly, it is ordered that, pursuant to the authority found in sections 4(i), 4(j), 303, 307(b), and 336(f) of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, 47 U.S.C. 154(i), 154(j), 303, 307(b), and 336(f), this Report and Order is hereby adopted.

    29. It is further ordered that parts 1 and 73 of the Commission's rules, 47 CFR parts 1 and 73, are amended, and such rule amendments shall be effective January 8, 2018, except for §§ 73.3526(c)(1) and 73.3527(c)(1), which contain new or modified information collection requirements, and which shall become effective after the Commission publishes a document in the Federal Register announcing OMB approval and the relevant effective date.

    30. It is further ordered that the Commission shall send a copy of this Report and Order in a report to be sent to Congress and the Government Accountability Office pursuant to the Congressional Review Act, see 5 U.S.C. 801(a)(1)(A).

    List of Subjects 47 CFR Part 1

    Administrative practice and procedure, Penalties, Radio, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Television.

    47 CFR Part 73

    Radio, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Television.

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

    For the reasons discussed in the preamble, the Federal Communications Commission amends 47 CFR parts 1 and 73 as follows:

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

    47 U.S.C. 151, 154(i), 154(j), 155, 157, 160, 201, 225, 227, 303, 309, 310, 332, 1403, 1404, 1451, 1452, and 1455.

    § 1.80 [Amended]
    2. In § 1.80, the table titled “Violations Unique to the Service” is amended by removing the entry for “Violation of main studio rule.”
    § 1.1104 [Amended]
    3. In § 1.1104, the table is amended as follows: a. Under “1. Commercial TV Services,” remove the entry for “c. Main Studio Request” and redesignate entries “d” through “k” as entries “c” through “j;” b. Under “2. Commercial AM Radio Stations,” remove the entry for “c. Main Studio Request (per request)” and redesignate entries “d” through “l” as entries “c” through “k;” c. Under “3. Commercial FM Radio Stations,” remove the entry for “c. Main Studio Request (per request)” and redesignate entries “d” through “l” as entries “c” through “k;” and d. Under “8. Class A TV Services,” remove the entry for “g. Main Studio Request” and redesignate entry “h” as entry “g.” PART 73—RADIO BROADCAST SERVICES 4. The authority citation for part 73 continues to read as follows: Authority:

    47 U.S.C. 154, 303, 309, 310, 334, 336, and 339.

    5. In § 73.14, revise the definition of “Equipment performance measurements” to read as follows:
    § 73.14 AM broadcast definitions.

    Equipment performance measurements. The measurements performed to determine the overall performance characteristics of a broadcast transmission system from point of program origination to sampling of signal as radiated. (See § 73.1590)

    § 73.761 [Amended]
    6. In § 73.761, remove paragraph (d) and redesignate paragraphs (e) through (g) as paragraphs (d) through (f). 7. Revise § 73.1125 to read as follows:
    § 73.1125 Station telephone number.

    Each AM, FM, TV, and Class A TV broadcast station shall maintain a local telephone number in its community of license or a toll-free number.

    8. In § 73.1400, revise paragraph (a)(1)(ii) to read as follows:
    § 73.1400 Transmission system monitoring and control.

    (a) * * *

    (1) * * *

    (ii) Remote control of the transmission system by a person at a studio or other location. The remote control system must provide sufficient transmission system monitoring and control capability so as to ensure compliance with § 73.1350.

    9. Amend § 73.1690 as follows: a. Revise paragraph (c)(8) introductory text; b. Remove paragraph (c)(8)(ii); c. Redesignate paragraphs (c)(8)(iii) through (vi) as paragraphs (c)(8)(ii) through (v); d. Remove paragraph (d)(1); e. Redesignate paragraphs (d)(2) and (3) as paragraphs (d)(1) and (2); and f. Revise newly redesignated paragraph (d)(1).

    The revisions read as follows.

    § 73.1690 Modification of transmission systems.

    (c) * * *

    (8) FM commercial stations and FM noncommercial educational stations may decrease ERP on a modification of license application provided that exhibits are included to demonstrate that all five of the following requirements are met:

    (d) * * *

    (1) Commencement of remote control operation pursuant to § 73.1400.

    10. In § 73.3526: a. Revise paragraphs (b)(1) and (2); b. In paragraph (b)(3)(i), remove “the station” and add in its place “an accessible place in the community of license”; and c. Revise paragraphs (b)(3)(ii) and (iii), (c)(1), (c)(2) introductory text, and (e)(4).

    The revisions read as follows:

    § 73.3526 Local public inspection file of commercial stations.

    (b) * * *

    (1) For radio licensees temporarily exempt from the online public file hosted by the Commission, as discussed in paragraph (b)(2) of this section, a hard copy of the public inspection file shall be maintained at an accessible place in the community of license, unless the licensee elects voluntarily to place the file online as discussed in paragraph (b)(2) of this section. An applicant for a new station or change of community shall maintain its file at an accessible place in the proposed community of license. If as of January 8, 2018 a broadcast station maintains a hard copy of all or a portion of its public inspection file at a main studio that either complied with the Commission's main studio rule (47 CFR 73.1125 (2016)) but is not within the station's community of license, or was deemed a permissible location for the station's public inspection file pursuant to a waiver of the main studio rule, and if the station retains that studio, then that studio is a permissible location for the station's hard copy public inspection file. Any reference in this section to “an accessible place in the community of license” shall be deemed to include such a studio.

    (2)(i) A television station licensee or applicant, and any radio station licensee or applicant not temporarily exempt as described in this paragraph (b)(2)(i), shall place the contents required by paragraph (e) of this section of its public inspection file in the online public file hosted by the Commission, with the exception of the political file as required by paragraph (e)(6) of this section, as discussed in paragraph (b)(3) of this section. Any radio station not in the top 50 Nielsen Audio markets, and any radio station with fewer than five full-time employees, shall continue to retain the public inspection file at an accessible place in the community of license in the manner discussed in paragraph (b)(1) of this section until March 1, 2018. However, any radio station that is not required to place its public inspection file in the online public file hosted by the Commission before March 1, 2018 may choose to do so, instead of retaining the public inspection file at an accessible place in the community of license in the manner discussed in paragraph (b)(1) of this section.

    (ii) A station must provide a link to the public inspection file hosted on the Commission's Web site from the home page of its own Web site, if the station has a Web site, and provide contact information on its Web site for a station representative that can assist any person with disabilities with issues related to the content of the public files. A station also is required to include in the online public file the station's address and telephone number, and the email address of the station's designated contact for questions about the public file. To the extent this section refers to the local public inspection file, it refers to the public file of an individual station, which is either maintained at an accessible place in the community of license or on the Commission's Web site, depending upon where the documents are required to be maintained under the Commission's rules.

    (3) * * *

    (ii) Any television station not in the top 50 DMAs, and any station not affiliated with one of the top four broadcast networks, regardless of the size of the market it serves, shall continue to retain the political file at the station in the manner discussed in paragraph (b)(1) of this section until July 1, 2014. For these stations, effective July 1, 2014, any new political file material shall be placed in the online file hosted by the Commission, while the material in the political file as of July 1, 2014, if not placed in the Commission's Web site, shall continue to be retained at the station in the manner discussed in paragraph (b)(1) of this section until the end of its retention period. However, any station that is not required to place its political file in the online file hosted by the Commission before July 1, 2014 may choose to do so, instead of retaining the political file at the station in the manner discussed in paragraph (b)(1) of this section. For purposes of this paragraph (b)(3)(ii), the “manner discussed in paragraph (b)(1) of this section” refers to maintaining a hard copy of the public inspection file at the main studio of the station as described in paragraph (b)(1) prior to January 8, 2018. See 47 CFR 73.3526(b)(1) (2016).

    (iii) Any radio station not in the top 50 Nielsen Audio markets, and any radio station with fewer than five full-time employees, shall continue to retain the political file at an accessible place in the community of license in the manner discussed in paragraph (b)(1) of this section until March 1, 2018. For these stations, effective March 1, 2018, any new political file material shall be placed in the online public file hosted by the Commission, while the material already existing in the political file as of March 1, 2018, if not placed in the online public file hosted by the Commission, shall continue to be retained at an accessible place in the community of license in the manner discussed in paragraph (b)(1) of this section until the end of its retention period. However, any station that is not required to place its political file on the Commission's Web site before March 1, 2018, may choose to do so, instead of retaining the political file at an accessible place in the community of license in the manner discussed in paragraph (b)(1) of this section.

    (c) * * *

    (1) For any applicant, permittee, or licensee that does not include all material described in paragraph (e) of this section in the online public file hosted by the Commission, the portion of the file that is not included in the online public file shall be available for public inspection at any time during regular business hours at an accessible place in the community of license. The applicant, permittee, or licensee must provide information regarding the location of the file, or the applicable portion of the file, within one business day of a request for such information. All or part of the file may be maintained in a computer database, as long as a computer terminal is made available, at the location of the file, to members of the public who wish to review the file. Material in the public inspection file shall be made available for printing or machine reproduction upon request made in person. The applicant, permittee, or licensee may specify the location for printing or reproduction, require the requesting party to pay the reasonable cost thereof, and may require guarantee of payment in advance (e.g., by requiring a deposit, obtaining credit card information, or any other reasonable method). Requests for copies shall be fulfilled within a reasonable period of time, which generally should not exceed 7 days.

    (2) The applicant, permittee, or licensee who maintains its public file outside its community of license (see paragraph (b)(1) of this section) shall:

    (e) * * *

    (4) Contour maps. A copy of any service contour maps, submitted with any application tendered for filing with the FCC, together with any other information in the application showing service contours and/or transmitter location (State, county, city, street address, or other identifying information). These documents shall be retained for as long as they reflect current, accurate information regarding the station.

    11. In § 73.3527, revise paragraphs (b)(1) and (2), (c)(1), (c)(2) introductory text, and (e)(3) to read as follows:
    § 73.3527 Local public inspection file of noncommercial educational stations.

    (b) * * *

    (1) For radio licensees, a hard copy of the public inspection file shall be maintained at an accessible place in the community of license until March 1, 2018, except that, as discussed in paragraph (b)(2)(ii) of this section, any radio station may voluntarily place its public inspection file in the online public file hosted by the Commission before March 1, 2018, if it chooses to do so, instead of retaining the file at an accessible place in the community of license. An applicant for a new station or change of community shall maintain its file at an accessible place in the proposed community of license. If as of January 8, 2018 a broadcast station maintains a hard copy of all or a portion of its public inspection file at a main studio that either complied with the Commission's main studio rule (47 CFR 73.1125 (2016)) but is not within the station's community of license, or was deemed a permissible location for the station's public inspection file pursuant to a waiver of the main studio rule, and if the station retains that studio, then that studio is a permissible location for the station's hard copy public inspection file. Any reference in this section to “an accessible place in the community of license” shall be deemed to include such a studio.

    (2)(i) A noncommercial educational television station licensee or applicant shall place the contents required by paragraph (e) of this section of its public inspection file in the online public file hosted by the Commission, with the exception of the political file as required by paragraph (e)(5) of this section, which may be retained at the station in the manner discussed in paragraph (b)(1) of this section until July 1, 2014. Effective July 1, 2014, any new political file material shall be placed in the online public file hosted by the Commission, while the material in the political file as of July 1, 2014, if not placed in the Commission's online public file, shall continue to be retained at the station in the manner discussed in paragraph (b)(1) of this section until the end of its retention period. However, any noncommercial educational station that is not required to place its political file in the online public file hosted by the Commission before July 1, 2014 may choose to do so instead of retaining the political file at the station in the manner discussed in paragraph (b)(1) of this section. For purposes of this paragraph (b)(2)(i), the “manner discussed in paragraph (b)(1) of this section” refers to maintaining a hard copy of the public inspection file at the main studio of the station as described in paragraph (b)(1) prior to January 8, 2018. See 47 CFR 73.3527(b)(1) (2016).

    (ii) Beginning March 1, 2018, noncommercial educational radio station licensees and applicants shall place the contents required by paragraph (e) of this section in the online public inspection file hosted by the Commission. For these stations, effective March 1, 2018, any new political file material shall be placed in the Commission's online public file, while the material in the political file as of March 1, 2018, if not placed in the Commission's online public file, shall continue to be retained at an accessible place in the community of license in the manner discussed in paragraph (b)(1) of this section until the end of its retention period. However, any radio station that is not required to place its public inspection file in the online public file hosted by the Commission before March 1, 2018, may choose to do so, instead of retaining the public inspection file at an accessible place in the community of license in the manner discussed in paragraph (b)(1) of this section.

    (iii) A station must provide a link to the online public inspection file hosted by the Commission from the home page of its own Web site, if the station has a Web site, and provide contact information for a station representative on its Web site that can assist any person with disabilities with issues related to the content of the public files. A station also is required to include in the online public file hosted by the Commission the station's address and telephone number, and the email address of the station's designated contact for questions about the public file. To the extent this section refers to the local public inspection file, it refers to the public file of an individual station, which is either maintained at an accessible place in the community of license or on the Commission's Web site, depending upon where the documents are required to be maintained under the Commission's rules.

    (c) * * *

    (1) For any applicant, permittee, or licensee that does not include all material described in paragraph (e) of this section in the online public file hosted by the Commission, the portion of the file that is not included in the online public file shall be available for public inspection at any time during regular business hours at an accessible place in the community of license. The applicant, permittee, or licensee must provide information regarding the location of the file, or the applicable portion of the file, within one business day of a request for such information. All or part of the file may be maintained in a computer database, as long as a computer terminal is made available, at the location of the file, to members of the public who wish to review the file. Material in the public inspection file shall be made available for printing or machine reproduction upon request made in person. The applicant, permittee, or licensee may specify the location for printing or reproduction, require the requesting party to pay the reasonable cost thereof, and may require guarantee of payment in advance (e.g., by requiring a deposit, obtaining credit card information, or any other reasonable method). Requests for copies shall be fulfilled within a reasonable period of time, which generally should not exceed 7 days.

    (2) The applicant, permittee, or licensee who maintains its public file outside its community of license (see paragraph (b)(1) of this section) shall:

    (e) * * *

    (3) Contour maps. A copy of any service contour maps, submitted with any application tendered for filing with the FCC, together with any other information in the application showing service contours and/or transmitter location (State, county, city, street address, or other identifying information). These documents shall be retained for as long as they reflect current, accurate information regarding the station.

    12. In § 73.3538, revise paragraph (b) to read as follows:
    § 73.3538 Application to make changes in an existing station.

    (b) An informal application filed in accordance with § 73.3511 is to be used to obtain authority to modify or discontinue the obstruction marking or lighting of the antenna supporting structure where that specified on the station authorization either differs from that specified in 47 CFR part 17, or is not appropriate for other reasons.

    § 73.3544 [Amended]
    13. In § 73.3544, remove paragraph (b)(3) and redesignate paragraph (b)(4) as paragraph (b)(3). 14. Revise § 73.6000 to read as follows:
    § 73.6000 Definitions.

    For the purpose of this subpart, the following definition applies:

    Locally produced programming is programming:

    (1) Produced within the predicted Grade B contour of the station broadcasting the program or within the contiguous predicted Grade B contours of any of the stations in a commonly owned group; or

    (2) Produced within the predicted DTV noise-limited contour (see § 73.622(e)) of a digital Class A station broadcasting the program or within the contiguous predicted DTV noise-limited contours of any of the digital Class A stations in a commonly owned group.

    Note to § 73.6000:

    See Report and Order, In the Matter of Establishment of a Class A Television Service, MM Docket No. 00-10, released April 4, 2000; Memorandum Opinion and Order on Reconsideration, In the Matter of Establishment of a Class A Television Service, MM Docket No. 00-10, released April 13, 2001; Report and Order, In the Matter of Elimination of Main Studio Rule, MB Docket No. 17-106, released October 24, 2017.

    Alphabetical Index—[Amended] 15. In the alphabetical index for part 73, remove the entries for “Location, Main studio,” “Main studio location,” “Station, main studio location,” and “Studio location, Main.”
    [FR Doc. 2017-24982 Filed 12-7-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6712-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 635 [Docket No. 150121066-5717-02] RIN 0648-XF868 Atlantic Highly Migratory Species; Atlantic Bluefin Tuna Fisheries AGENCY:

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

    ACTION:

    Temporary rule; closure of the General category fishery.

    SUMMARY:

    NMFS closes the General category fishery for large medium and giant (i.e., measuring 73 inches curved fork length or greater) Atlantic bluefin tuna (BFT) for the December subquota time period and thus for the remainder of 2017. The intent of this closure is to prevent overharvest of the available December subquota of 12.7 mt and the adjusted 2017 General category quota of 688.7 metric tons (mt).

    DATES:

    Effective 11:30 p.m., local time, December 6, 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) 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) and amendments.

    NMFS is required, under § 635.28(a)(1), to file a closure notice with the Office of the Federal Register for publication when a BFT quota (or subquota) is reached or is projected to be reached. On and after the effective date and time of such notification, for the remainder of the fishing year or for a specified period as indicated in the notification, retaining, possessing, or landing BFT under that quota category is prohibited until the opening of the subsequent quota period or until such date as specified in the notice.

    The base quota for the General category is 466.7 mt. See § 635.27(a). To date this year, NMFS has adjusted the General category base quota for 2017 three times, including a transfer of 40 mt from the Reserve category effective March 2 (82 FR 12747, March 7, 2017), a transfer of 156.4 mt from the Reserve category effective September 28 (82 FR 46000, October 3, 2017), and a transfer of 25.6 mt from the Harpoon category effective December 1 (82 FR 55520, November 22, 2017). The third transfer resulted in an adjusted General category December subquota of 12.7 mt and an adjusted 2017 General category quota of 688.7 mt.

    Based on the best available landings information for the General category BFT fishery, NMFS has determined that the available December subquota of 12.7 mt has been reached, as has the overall adjusted General category quota of 688.7 mt. Therefore, retaining, possessing, or landing large medium or giant BFT by persons aboard vessels permitted in the Atlantic tunas General and HMS Charter/Headboat categories must cease at 11:30 p.m. local time on December 6, 2017. The General category will reopen automatically on January 1, 2018, for the January through March 2018 subperiod. This action applies to Atlantic tunas General category (commercial) permitted vessels and Highly Migratory Species (HMS) Charter/Headboat category permitted vessels and is taken consistent with the regulations at § 635.28(a)(1). The intent of this closure is to prevent overharvest of the available 2017 General category quota.

    Fishermen may catch and release (or tag and release) BFT of all sizes, subject to the requirements of the catch-and-release and tag-and-release programs at § 635.26. All BFT that are released must be handled in a manner that will maximize their survival, and without removing the fish from the water, consistent with requirements at § 635.21(a)(1). For additional information on safe handling, see the “Careful Catch and Release” brochure available at www.nmfs.noaa.gov/sfa/hms/.

    Monitoring and Reporting

    NMFS will continue to monitor the BFT fisheries 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. General and 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.

    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 and fishery closures 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. These fisheries are currently underway and delaying this action would be contrary to the public interest as it could result in excessive BFT landings that may result in future potential quota reductions for the General category. NMFS must close the General category fishery for 2017 to prevent overharvest of the available quota. 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 all of the above reasons, there is good cause under 5 U.S.C. 553(d) to waive the 30-day delay in effectiveness.

    This action is being taken under § 635.28(a)(1) (BFT Fishery Closures), and is exempt from review under Executive Order 12866.

    Authority:

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

    Dated: December 5, 2017. Emily H. Menashes, Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service.
    [FR Doc. 2017-26492 Filed 12-5-17; 4:15 pm] BILLING CODE 3510-22-P
    82 235 Friday, December 8, 2017 Proposed Rules FEDERAL RESERVE SYSTEM 12 CFR Part 201 [Docket No. R-1585; RIN 7100-AE 90] Regulation A: Extensions of Credit by Federal Reserve Banks AGENCY:

    Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System.

    ACTION:

    Notice of proposed rulemaking.

    SUMMARY:

    The Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (“Board”) is proposing to amend its Regulation A to; revise the provisions regarding the establishment of the primary credit rate in a financial emergency, and to delete the provisions relating to the use of credit ratings for collateral for extensions of credit under the former Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility (TALF). The proposed amendments are intended to allow the regulation to address circumstances in which the Federal Open Market Committee has established a target range for the federal funds rate rather than a single target rate, and to reflect the expiration of the TALF program.

    DATES:

    Comments must be received no later than January 8, 2018.

    ADDRESSES:

    You may submit comments, identified by Docket Number R-1585; RIN 7100 AE-90, by any of the following methods:

    Agency Web site: http://www.federalreserve.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments at http://www.federalreserve.gov/generalinfo/foia/ProposedRegs.cfm.

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

    Email: [email protected] Include docket 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/generalinfo/foia/ProposedRegs.cfm, as submitted, unless modified for technical reasons. Accordingly, your comments will not be edited to remove any identifying or contact information. Public comments may also be viewed electronically or in paper form in Room 3515, 1801 K Street NW. (between 18th and 19th Street NW.), between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. on weekdays.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Sophia H. Allison, Special Counsel, (202-452-3565), Legal Division, or Lyle Kumasaka, Senior Financial Analyst, 202-452-2382), Division of Monetary Affairs; for users of Telecommunications Device for the Deaf (TDD) only, contact 202/263-4869; Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, 20th and C Streets, NW., Washington, DC 20551.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    The Federal Reserve Banks make primary, secondary, and seasonal credit available to depository institutions subject to rules and regulations prescribed by the Board. The primary, secondary, and seasonal credit rates are the interest rates that the twelve Federal Reserve Banks charge for extensions of credit under these programs. Under the primary credit program, Federal Reserve Banks may extend credit on a very short-term basis, typically overnight, to depository institutions that are in generally sound condition in the judgment of the Federal Reserve Bank. In accordance with the Federal Reserve Act, the primary credit rate is established by the boards of directors of the Federal Reserve Banks, subject to the review and determination of the Board. The primary credit rate is set forth in section 201.51 of Regulation A.

    I. Primary Credit Rate in a Financial Emergency

    Regulation A currently provides a procedure for establishing the primary credit rate in a financial emergency. Section 201.51(d) of Regulation A currently provides that the primary credit rate at a Federal Reserve Bank is “the target federal funds rate of the Federal Open Market Committee” if two conditions are met.1 First, in a financial emergency the Reserve Bank must have established the primary credit rate at that rate.2 Second, the chairman of the Board of Governors (or, in the chairman's absence, the chairman's designee) must certify that a quorum of the Board is not available to act on the Reserve Bank's rate establishment.3 Finally, Regulation A defines a “financial emergency” as “a significant disruption to the U.S. money markets resulting from an act of war, military or terrorist attack, natural disaster, or other catastrophic event.” 4

    1 Section 201.51(d)(1) of Regulation A, 12 CFR 201.51(d)(1).

    2 Section 201.51(d)(1)(i) of Regulation A, 12 CFR 201.51(d)(1)(i).

    3 Section 201.51(d)(1)(ii) of Regulation A, 12 CFR 201.51(d)(1)(ii).

    4 Section 201.51(d)(2) of Regulation A, 12 CFR 201.51(d)(2).

    The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) currently establishes a target range for the federal funds rate. Accordingly, the Board proposes to amend section 201.51(d)(1) of Regulation A to provide that, in a financial emergency, the primary credit rate is the target federal funds rate or, if the FOMC has established a target range for the federal funds rate, a rate corresponding to the top of the target range.

    II. Credit Ratings for TALF

    On November 25, 2008, the Board and Treasury announced the establishment of the TALF. The TALF was intended to assist financial markets in accommodating the credit needs of consumers and businesses of all sizes during the financial crisis by facilitating the issuance of asset-backed securities (“ABS”) collateralized by a variety of consumer and business loans; it was also intended to improve market conditions for ABS more generally. The Board authorized the TALF pursuant to the then-current provisions of section 13(3) of the Federal Reserve Act.5 All TALF loans were extended by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York (“FRBNY”).6

    5 Former 12 U.S.C. 343.

    6 The U.S. Treasury Department—under the Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP) of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008—provided $20 billion of credit protection to the FRBNY in connection with the TALF. See https://www.federalreserve.gov/monetarypolicy/talf.htm.

    On December 9, 2009, the Board adopted an amendment to Regulation A to provide a process by which the FRBNY could determine the eligibility of credit rating agencies and the ratings they issue for use in the TALF, for which the Board had expressly set a particular credit rating requirement for collateral offered by the borrower.7 The purpose of the amendment was to provide the FRBNY with a consistent framework for determining the eligibility of ratings issued by individual credit rating agencies when used in conjunction with a separate asset-level risk assessment process. Pursuant to this process, FRBNY determined that ratings from five credit ratings agencies became eligible for use in TALF.

    7 74 FR 65014 (December 9, 2009).

    On June 30, 2010, the TALF was closed for new loan extensions, and the final outstanding TALF loan was repaid in full in October 2014.8 Accordingly, the Board proposes to delete current section 201.3(d) of Regulation A as its provisions are no longer necessary.

    8https://www.federalreserve.gov/monetarypolicy/talf.htm.

    III. Administrative Law Matters A. Regulatory Flexibility Act

    Congress enacted the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) (5 U.S.C. 601 et seq.) to address concerns related to the effects of agency rules on small entities and the Board is sensitive to the impact its rules may impose on small entities. The RFA requires agencies either to provide an initial regulatory flexibility analysis with a proposed rule or to certify that the proposed rule will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. Under regulations issued by the Small Business Administration (SBA), a depository institution is a “small entity” if it is an institution with assets of $550 million or less, determined by averaging the assets reported on its four quarterly financial statements for the preceding year. A credit rating agency is a “small entity” if it is a credit rating agency with $15 million or less in assets.

    1. Description of Small Entities Affected

    Section 201.51(d) of Regulation A. The proposed amendment to section 201.51(d) of Regulation A would affect depository institutions that are able to request primary credit from a Federal Reserve Bank and that have $550 million or less in assets, determined by averaging the assets reported on its four quarterly financial statements for the preceding year.9 Currently, there are 1,567 depository institutions that are able to request primary credit that meet the definition of “small” business entity, out of a total of 2,808 institutions that are able to request primary credit.

    9 U.S. Small Business Administration, Table of Small Business Size Standards (eff. Oct. 1, 2017) at 28 (NAICS Codes 52110 (Commercial Banking), 52120 (Savings Institutions), 52130 (Credit Unions), and 52190) (Other Depository Credit Intermediation); see id. at 41 n. 8 (calculation of asset size).

    Section 201.3(d) of Regulation A. The proposed amendment to section 201.3(d) of Regulation A, relates to use of credit ratings for borrowers under the TALF program. A small credit rating agency is one with $15.0 million or less in assets.10

    10 U.S. Small Business Administration, Table of Small Business Size Standards (eff. Oct. 1, 2017) at 33 (NAICS Code 561450 (Credit Bureaus)).

    2. Economic Impacts on Small Entities

    The Board certifies that the proposed amendments will have no economic impacts on any small entities.

    Section 201.51(d) of Regulation A. The proposed amendments to section 201.51(d) of Regulation A relate to the establishment of a rate for primary credit in a financial emergency. The proposed amendments make a ministerial amendment to conform the provision to the current operating framework of the FOMC in establishing a target range for the federal funds rate. The provision subject to the proposed amendments affects the actions of the Federal Reserve Banks and the Board, and requires no action or changes in procedures for any depository institution, large or small, and so there are no costs associated with the proposed amendments. In addition, the proposed amendments clarify the operation of the provision for reducing the primary credit rate in a financial emergency from its current level to a lower level based on the target federal funds rate or the target range for the federal funds rate. Any economic impact of the proposed amendment on small entities would be beneficial because, if the emergency provision took effect, they would be able to obtain primary credit at an interest rate that would be lower than the existing primary credit rate. Accordingly, the Board believes that a reasonable basis exists for assuming costs would be de minimis or insignificant for small entities affected by the proposed amendment.

    Section 201.3(d) of Regulation A. The proposed amendments to section 201.3(d) of Regulation A relate to deleting obsolete provisions applicable to credit extended under the TALF program. Since the TALF program no longer exists, the deletion of regulatory provisions governing the use of credit ratings in it will have no impact, economic or otherwise, on any credit ratings agency. Accordingly, the Board believes that a reasonable basis exists for assuming costs would be de minimis or insignificant for small entities affected by the proposed amendment.

    B. Paperwork Reduction Act Analysis

    Office of Management and Budget (OMB) regulations implementing the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA) state that agencies must submit “collections of information” contained in proposed rules published for public comment in the Federal Register in accordance with OMB regulations. OMB regulations define a “collection of information” as obtaining, causing to be obtained, soliciting, or requiring the disclosure to an agency, third parties or the public of information by or for an agency “by means of identical questions posed to, or identical reporting, recordkeeping, or disclosure requirements imposed on, ten or more persons, whether such collection of information is mandatory, voluntary, or required to obtain or retain a benefit.”

    In accordance with the PRA, the Board reviewed the proposed rule under the authority delegated to the Board by OMB.

    Section 201.51(d) of Regulation A. The proposed amendments to section 201.51(d) contain no requirements subject to the PRA. Specifically, the proposed amendments do not require any change to any collection of information related to the primary credit program under Regulation A, but apply only to the process by which the Federal Reserve Banks and the Board establish the primary credit rate in a financial emergency.

    Section 201.3(d) of Regulation A. The proposed amendments to section 201.3(d) of Regulation A contain no requirements subject to the PRA.

    C. Plain Language

    Each Federal banking agency, including the Board, is required to use plain language in all proposed and final rulemakings published after January 1, 2000. 12 U.S.C. 4809. The Board has sought to present the proposed amendments, to the extent possible, in a simple and straightforward manner. The Board invites comment on whether there are additional steps that could be taken to make the proposed amendments easier to understand, such as with respect to the organization of the materials or the clarity of the presentation.

    List of Subjects in 12 CFR Part 201

    Banks, Banking, Federal Reserve System, Reporting and recordkeeping.

    Authority and Issuance

    For the reasons set forth in the preamble, the Board proposes to amend 12 CFR Chapter II as follows:

    PART 201—EXTENSIONS OF CREDIT BY FEDERAL RESERVE BANKS (REGULATION A) 1. The authority citation for part 201 continues to read as follows: Authority:

    12 U.S.C. 248(i)-(j) and (s), 343 et seq., 347a, 347b, 347c, 348 et seq., 357, 374, 374a, and 461.

    § 201.3 [Amended]
    2. Section 201.3 is amended by removing paragraph (e). 3. Section 201.51 is amended by revising paragraph (d)(1) introductory text to read as follows:
    § 201.51 Interest rates applicable to credit extended by a Federal Reserve Bank.

    (d) * * *

    (1) The primary credit rate at a Federal Reserve Bank is the target federal funds rate of the Federal Open Market Committee or, if the Federal Open Market Committee has set a target range for the federal funds rate, the rate corresponding to the top of the target range, if:

    By the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, December 1, 2017. Ann E. Misback, Secretary of the Board.
    [FR Doc. 2017-26465 Filed 12-7-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6210-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION Federal Aviation Administration 14 CFR Part 71 [Docket No. FAA-2017-0953; Airspace Docket No. 17-AEA-15] Proposed Amendment of Class E Airspace; Massena, NY AGENCY:

    Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), DOT.

    ACTION:

    Notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM).

    SUMMARY:

    This action proposes to amend Class E surface airspace and Class E airspace extending upward from 700 feet above the surface at Massena, NY, as the Massena collocated VHF omnidirectional range tactical air navigation system (VORTAC) has been decommissioned, requiring airspace reconfiguration at Massena International-Richards Field Airport. Controlled airspace is necessary for the safety and management of instrument flight rules (IFR) operations at the airport. This action also would update the geographic coordinates of the airport.

    DATES:

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

    ADDRESSES:

    Send comments on this rule to: U. S. Department of Transportation, Docket Operations, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., West Bldg Ground Floor Rm W12-140, Washington, DC, 20590; Telephone: 1(800) 647-5527, or (202) 366-9826.You must identify the Docket No. FAA-2017-0953; Airspace Docket No. 17-AEA-15, at the beginning of your comments. You may also submit and review received comments through the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov. You may review the public docket containing the proposal, any comments received, and any final disposition in person in the Dockets Office between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, except federal holidays.

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

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

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

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

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Authority for This Rulemaking

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

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Comments Invited

    Interested persons are invited to comment on this rule by submitting such written data, views, or arguments, as they may desire. Comments that provide the factual basis supporting the views and suggestions presented are particularly helpful in developing reasoned regulatory decisions on the proposal. Comments are specifically invited on the overall regulatory, aeronautical, economic, environmental, and energy-related aspects of the proposal.

    Communications should identify both docket numbers (FAA Docket No. FAA-2017-0953; Airspace Docket No. 17-AEA-15) and be submitted in triplicate to the Docket Management System (see ADDRESSES section for address and phone number). You may also submit comments through the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov.

    Persons wishing the FAA to acknowledge receipt of their comments on this action must submit with those comments a self-addressed stamped postcard on which the following statement is made: “Comments to Docket No. FAA-2014-0953; Airspace Docket No. 17-AEA-15.” The postcard will be date/time stamped and returned to the commenter.

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

    Availability of NPRMs

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

    You may review the public docket containing the proposal, any comments received, and any final disposition in person in the Dockets Office (see the ADDRESSES section for address and phone number) between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, except federal holidays. An informal docket may also be examined between 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, except federal holidays at the office of the Eastern Service Center, Federal Aviation Administration, Room 350, 1701 Columbia Avenue, College Park, Georgia 30337.

    Availability and Summary of Documents for Incorporation by Reference

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

    The Proposal

    The FAA is considering an amendment to title 14, Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) part 71 to amend Class E surface airspace and Class E airspace extending upward from 700 feet above the surface at Massena International-Richards Field Airport, Massena, NY. The segment within 1.8 miles each side of the Massena VORTAC 286° radial extending from the 4-mile radius to the VORTAC would be removed in Class E surface airspace; and the segment within 2.7 miles each side of the Massena VORTAC 106° radial extending from the 7.4-mile radius to 7 miles east of the VORTAC would be removed in Class E airspace extending upward from 700 feet above the surface, due to the decommissioning of the Massena VORTAC, and cancelation of associated approaches. This action would enhance the safety and management of IFR operations at the airport. The geographic coordinates of the airport also would be adjusted to coincide with the FAAs aeronautical database.

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

    Regulatory Notices and Analyses

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

    Environmental Review

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

    Lists of Subjects in 14 CFR Part 71

    Airspace, Incorporation by reference, Navigation (air).

    The Proposed Amendment

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

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

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

    § 71.1 [Amended]
    2. The incorporation by reference in 14 CFR 71.1 of FAA Order 7400.11B, Airspace Designations and Reporting Points, dated August 3, 2017, effective September 15, 2017, is amended as follows: Paragraph 6002 Class E Surface Area Airspace. AEA NY E2 Massena, NY [Amended] Massena International-Richards Field Airport, NY (Lat. 44°56′11″ N., long. 74°50′42″ W.)

    Within a 4-mile radius of the Massena International-Richards Field Airport, excluding the airspace within Canada.

    Paragraph 6005 Class E Airspace Areas Extending Upward From 700 Feet or More Above the Surface of the Earth. AEA NY E5 Massena, NY [Amended] Massena International-Richards Field Airport, NY (Lat. 44°56′11″ N., long. 74°50′42″ W.)

    That airspace extending upward from 700 feet above the surface within a 7.4-mile radius of Massena International-Richards Field Airport, excluding the airspace within Canada.

    Issued in College Park, Georgia, on November 29, 2017. Ryan W. Almasy, Manager, Operations Support Group, Eastern Service Center, Air Traffic Organization.
    [FR Doc. 2017-26423 Filed 12-7-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4910-13-P
    FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION 16 CFR Part 315 Public Workshop Examining Contact Lens Marketplace and Analyzing Proposed Changes to the Contact Lens Rule AGENCY:

    Federal Trade Commission.

    ACTION:

    Public workshop and request for public comment.

    SUMMARY:

    The Federal Trade Commission (“FTC” or “Commission”) is holding a public workshop relating to its December 7, 2016 Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“NPRM”) announcing proposed changes to the Contact Lens Rule. The workshop will explore issues relating to competition in the contact lens marketplace, consumer access to contact lenses, prescription release and portability, and other issues raised in comments received in response to the NPRM.

    DATES:

    The public workshop will be held on March 7, 2018, from 9:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m., at the Constitution Center Conference Center, located at 400 7th Street SW., Washington, DC. Requests to participate as a panelist must be received by January 5, 2018. Any written comments related to the agenda topics or the issues discussed by the panelists at the workshop must be received by April 6, 2018.

    ADDRESSES:

    Interested parties may file a comment or a request to participate as a panelist online or on paper, by following the instructions in the Filing Comments and Requests to Participate as a Panelist part of the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section below. Write “Contact Lens Rule, 16 CFR part 315, Comment, Project No. R511995” on your comment and “Contact Lens Rule, 16 CFR part 315, Request to Participate, Project No. R511995” on your request to participate as a panelist. File your comment online at https://ftcpublic.commentworks.com/ftc/contactlensworkshop by following the instructions on the web-based form. File your request to participate as a panelist by email to: [email protected] If you prefer to file your comment or request to participate on paper, mail your comment or request to the following address: Federal Trade Commission, Office of the Secretary, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW., Suite CC-5610 (Annex F), or deliver your comment or request to the following address: Federal Trade Commission, Office of the Secretary, Constitution Center, 400 7th Street SW., 5th Floor, Suite 5610 (Annex F), Washington, DC 20024.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Elizabeth Delaney, Attorney, 202-326-2903, or Alysa Bernstein, Attorney, 202-326-3289, Federal Trade Commission, Division of Advertising Practices, Bureau of Consumer Protection, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20580.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    I. Introduction

    In 2003, Congress enacted the Fairness to Contact Lens Consumers Act.1 Pursuant to the Act, the Commission promulgated the Contact Lens Rule (“Rule”), which went into effect on August 2, 2004.2 The Rule promotes competition in retail sales of contact lenses by facilitating consumers' ability to comparison shop for contact lenses. When a prescriber completes a contact lens fitting, the Rule requires that the prescriber provide the patient with a copy of her prescription. The Rule also requires that the prescriber verify or provide such prescriptions to authorized third parties, such as contact lens sellers.

    1 15 U.S.C. 7601-7610 (Pub. L. 108-164).

    2 Contact Lens Rule, 16 CFR 315.

    In addition, the Rule places certain requirements on sellers. It mandates that sellers dispense contact lenses only in accordance with a valid prescription that is either presented to the seller or verified by direct communication with the prescriber.3 Sellers may not alter a prescription, but for private label contact lenses, may substitute identical contact lenses that the same company manufactures and sells under a different name.4

    3 16 CFR 315.5(a).

    4 16 CFR 315.5(e).

    As part of its ongoing regulatory review program, the Commission published a Request for Comment in September 2015 seeking comment on: The economic impact of, and the continuing need for, the Rule; the benefits of the Rule to consumers; the burdens the Rule places on entities subject to its requirements; the impact the Rule has had on the flow of information to consumers; the degree of industry compliance with the Rule; the need for any modifications to increase its benefits or reduce its burdens or to account for changes in relevant technology; and any overlap or conflict with the Rule and other federal, state, or local laws or regulations.5 The comment period closed on October 26, 2015, and the Commission received 660 comments.6 Virtually all commenters agreed that there is a continuing need for the Rule and that it benefits consumers and competition. The majority of commenters recommended some modifications to the Rule in order to maximize the benefits to consumers and competition, decrease the burden on businesses, protect consumers' eye health, or improve overall compliance with the Rule's existing requirements.

    5 Contact Lens Rule, Request for Comment, 80 FR 53272 (Sept. 3, 2015).

    6 The comments are posted at: https://www.ftc.gov/policy/public-comments/initiative-621.

    After reviewing the comments, the Commission published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“NPRM”) proposing to amend the Rule to require that prescribers obtain a signed acknowledgment after releasing a contact lens prescription to a patient, and maintain each such acknowledgment for a period of not less than three years.7 The Commission also proposed to strike the words “private label” from Section 315.5(e) of the Rule to conform the language of the Rule to that of the Act. The Commission sought public comment on these proposed amendments as well as several other issues, including: The use of patient portals to provide prescriptions; the provision of additional copies of a prescription to a patient; the amount of time required for a prescriber to respond to a request for a copy of a prescription; and additional information on possible modifications to the Rule that could address issues raised about automated telephone calls. The Commission received over 4,100 comments in response.8

    7 Contact Lens Rule, Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, Request for Comment, 81 FR 88526 (Dec. 7, 2016).

    8 The comments are posted at: https://www.ftc.gov/policy/public-comments/2016/10/initiative-677.

    II. Issues for Discussion at the Workshop

    As part of the Contact Lens Rule rulemaking, the FTC is hosting a public workshop to explore issues relating to competition in the contact lens marketplace, consumer access to contact lenses, prescription release and portability, and other issues raised in comments to the NPRM. The workshop will cover topics including: (1) Consumers' ability to comparison shop for contact lenses; (2) the use of electronic health records, patient portals, and other technology to improve prescription portability; (3) the interaction between the Contact Lens Rule and emerging telehealth business models; (4) the potential for new technology to improve the prescription verification process; and (5) modifications to the Contact Lens Rule to foster competition and maximize consumer benefits, including benefits to eye health.

    A more detailed agenda will be published at a later date, in advance of the scheduled workshop.

    III. Public Participation Information A. Workshop Attendance

    The workshop is free and open to the public, and will be held at the Constitution Center, 400 7th Street SW., Washington, DC. It will be webcast live on the FTC's Web site. For admittance to the Constitution Center, all attendees must show valid government-issued photo identification, such as a driver's license. Please arrive early enough to allow adequate time for this process.

    This event may be photographed, videotaped, webcast, or otherwise recorded. By participating in this event, you are agreeing that your image—and anything you say or submit—may be posted indefinitely at www.ftc.gov or on one of the Commission's publicly available social media sites.

    B. Requests To Participate as a Panelist

    The workshop will be organized into panels, which will address the designated topics. Panelists will be selected by FTC staff. Other attendees will have an opportunity to comment and ask questions. The Commission will place a transcript of the proceeding on the public record. Requests to participate as a panelist must be received on or before January 5, 2018, as explained in Section IV below. Persons selected as panelists will be notified on or before January 19, 2018.

    Disclosing funding sources promotes transparency, ensures objectivity, and maintains the public's trust. If chosen, prospective panelists will be required to disclose the source of any support they received in connection with participation at the workshop. This information will be included in the published panelist bios as part of the workshop record.

    C. Electronic and Paper Comments

    The submission of comments is not required for participation in the workshop. If a person wishes to submit paper or electronic comments related to the agenda topics or the issues discussed by the panelists at the workshop, such comments should be filed as prescribed in Section IV, and must be received on or before April 6, 2018.

    IV. Filing Comments and Requests To Participate as a Panelist

    You can file a comment, or request to participate as a panelist, online or on paper. For the Commission to consider your comment, we must receive it on or before April 6, 2018. For the Commission to consider your request to participate as panelist, we must receive it by January 5, 2018. Write “Contact Lens Rule, 16 CFR part 315, Comment, Project No. R511995” on your comment and “Contact Lens Rule, 16 CFR part 315, Request to Participate, Project No. R511995” on your request to participate. Your comment—including your name and your state—will be placed on the public record of this proceeding, including, to the extent practicable, on the public Commission Web site, at http://www.ftc.gov/os/publiccomments.shtm.

    Postal mail addressed to the Commission is subject to delay due to heightened security screening. As a result, we encourage you to submit your comments online, or to send them to the Commission by courier or overnight service. To make sure that the Commission considers your online comment, you must file it at https://ftcpublic.commentworks.com/ftc/contactlensworkshop, by following the instructions on the web based form. When this Notice appears at http://www.regulations.gov/#!home, you also may file a comment through that Web site.

    Because your comment will be placed on the publicly accessible FTC Web site at https://www.ftc.gov, you are solely responsible for making sure that your comment does not include any sensitive or confidential information. In particular, your comment should not include any sensitive personal information, such as your or anyone else's Social Security number; date of birth; driver's license number or other state identification number, or foreign country equivalent; passport number, financial account number, or credit or debit card number. You are also solely responsible for making sure that your comment does not include any sensitive health information, such as medical records or other individually identifiable health information. In addition, your comment should not include any “trade secret or any commercial or financial information which . . . is privileged or confidential”—as provided by Section 6(f) of the FTC Act, 15 U.S.C. 46(f), and FTC Rule 4.10(a)(2), 16 CFR 4.10(a)(2)—including in particular competitively sensitive information such as costs, sales statistics, inventories, formulas, patterns, devices, manufacturing processes, or customer names.

    Comments containing material for which confidential treatment is requested must be filed in paper form, must be clearly labeled “Confidential,” and must comply with FTC Rule 4.9(c). In particular, the written request for confidential treatment that accompanies the comment must include the factual and legal basis for the request, and must identify the specific portions of the comment to be withheld from the public record. See FTC Rule 4.9(c). Your comment will be kept confidential only if the General Counsel grants your request in accordance with the law and the public interest. Once your comment has been posted on the public FTC Web site—as legally required by FTC Rule 4.9(b)—we cannot redact or remove your comment from the FTC Web site, unless you submit a confidentiality request that meets the requirements for such treatment under FTC Rule 4.9(c), and the General Counsel grants that request.

    Requests to participate as a panelist at the workshop should be submitted electronically to [email protected], or, if mailed, should be submitted in the manner detailed below. Parties are asked to include in their requests a brief statement setting forth their expertise in or knowledge of the issues on which the workshop will focus as well as their contact information, including a telephone number and email address (if available), to enable the FTC to notify them if they are selected.

    If you file your comment or request on paper, write “Contact Lens Rule, 16 CFR part 315, Comment, Project No. R511995” on your comment and on the envelope and “Contact Lens Rule, 16 CFR part 315, Request to Participate, Project No. R511995,” on your request and on the envelope, and mail your comment to the following address: Federal Trade Commission, Office of the Secretary, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW., Suite CC-5610 (Annex F), Washington, DC 20580, or deliver your comment to the following address: Federal Trade Commission, Office of the Secretary, Constitution Center, 400 7th Street SW., 5th Floor, Suite 5610 (Annex F). If possible, submit your paper comment or request to the Commission by courier or overnight service.

    Visit the Commission Web site at http://www.ftc.gov to read this Notice and the news release describing it. The FTC Act and other laws that the Commission administers permit the collection of public comments to consider and use in this proceeding as appropriate. The Commission will consider all timely and responsive public comments that it receives on or before April 6, 2018. The Commission will consider all timely requests to participate as a panelist in the workshop that it receives by January 5, 2018. For information on the Commission's privacy policy, including routine uses permitted by the Privacy Act, see https://www.ftc.gov/site-information/privacy-policy.

    V. Communications by Outside Parties to Commissioners or Their Advisors

    Written communications and summaries or transcripts of oral communications respecting the merits of this proceeding, from any outside party to any Commissioner or Commissioner's advisor will be placed on the public record. See 16 CFR 1.26(b)(5).

    By direction of the Commission.

    Donald S. Clark, Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2017-26445 Filed 12-7-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6750-01-P
    ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY 40 CFR Parts 52 and 81 [EPA-R05-OAR-2017-0277; FRL-9971-64-Region 5] Air Plan Approval; Illinois; Redesignation of the Illinois Portion of the St. Louis-St. Charles-Farmington, Missouri-Illinois Area to Attainment of the 2008 Ozone Standard AGENCY:

    Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

    ACTION:

    Proposed rule.

    SUMMARY:

    The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing to find that the St. Louis-St. Charles-Farmington, Missouri-Illinois (MO-IL) area, “the St. Louis area,” is attaining the 2008 ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS or standard) based on 2014-2016 monitoring data. EPA is further proposing to redesignate the Illinois portion of the St. Louis area, “the Metro-East area,” to attainment for the 2008 ozone NAAQS because the Metro-East area meets the statutory requirements for redesignation under the Clean Air Act (CAA). (EPA will address the Missouri portion of the St. Louis area in a separate rulemaking action.) The St. Louis area includes Madison, Monroe and St. Clair Counties in Illinois (the Metro-East area), and Franklin, Jefferson, St. Charles, and St. Louis Counties and the City of St. Louis in Missouri. The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) submitted a request to redesignate the Metro-East area on May 8, 2017. EPA is also proposing to approve, as a revision to the Illinois State Implementation Plan (SIP), the State's plan for maintaining the 2008 ozone standard through 2030 in the St. Louis area. Finally, EPA finds adequate and is proposing to approve, as a SIP revision, the State's 2030 volatile organic compound (VOC) and oxides of nitrogen (NOX) Motor Vehicle Emission Budgets (MVEBs) for the Metro-East area.

    DATES:

    Comments must be received on or before January 8, 2018.

    ADDRESSES:

    Submit your comments, identified by Docket ID No. EPA-R05-OAR-2017-0277 at http://www.regulations.gov or via email to [email protected] For comments submitted at Regulations.gov, follow the online instructions for submitting comments. Once submitted, comments cannot be edited or removed from Regulations.gov. For either manner of submission, EPA may publish any comment received to its public docket. Do not submit electronically any information you consider to be Confidential Business Information (CBI) or other information whose disclosure is restricted by statute. Multimedia submissions (audio, video, etc.) must be accompanied by a written comment. The written comment is considered the official comment and should include discussion of all points you wish to make. EPA will generally not consider comments or comment contents located outside of the primary submission (i.e. on the Web, cloud, or other file sharing system). For additional submission methods, please contact the person identified in the For Further Information Contact section. For the full EPA public comment policy, information about CBI or multimedia submissions, and general guidance on making effective comments, please visit http://www2.epa.gov/dockets/commenting-epa-dockets.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Kathleen D'Agostino, Environmental Scientist, Attainment Planning and Maintenance Section, Air Programs Branch (AR-18J), Environmental Protection Agency, Region 5, 77 West Jackson Boulevard, Chicago, Illinois 60604, (312) 886-1767, [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Throughout this document whenever “we,” “us,” or “our” is used, we mean EPA. This supplementary information section is arranged as follows:

    I. What are the actions EPA is proposing? II. What is the background for these actions? III. What are the criteria for redesignation? IV. What is EPA's analysis of IEPA's redesignation request? A. Has the St. Louis area attained the 2008 ozone NAAQS? B. Has Illinois met all applicable requirements of section 110 and part D of the CAA for the Metro-East area, and does the Metro-East area have a fully approved SIP under section 110(k) of the CAA? C. Are the air quality improvements in the St. Louis area due to permanent and enforceable emission reductions? D. Does Illinois have a fully approvable ozone maintenance plan for the St. Louis area? V. Has Illinois adopted approvable motor vehicle emission budgets? A. What are motor vehicle emission budgets? B. What is the status of EPA's adequacy determination for the proposed VOC and NOX MVEBs for the Metro-East area? C. What is a safety margin and how did Illinois allocate it? VI. Proposed Actions VII. Statutory and Executive Order reviews I. What are the actions EPA is proposing?

    EPA is proposing to take several related actions. EPA is proposing to determine that the St. Louis nonattainment area is attaining the 2008 ozone standard, based on quality-assured and certified monitoring data for 2014-2016 and that the Metro-East area has met the requirements for redesignation under section 107(d)(3)(E) of the CAA. EPA is thus proposing to change the legal designation of the Metro-East area from nonattainment to attainment for the 2008 ozone standard.

    EPA is also proposing to approve, as a revision to the Illinois SIP, the State's maintenance plan for the area (such approval being one of the CAA criteria for redesignation to attainment status). The maintenance plan is designed to keep the St. Louis area in attainment of the 2008 ozone NAAQS through 2030.

    Finally, EPA finds adequate and is proposing to approve into the SIP the newly-established 2030 MVEBs for the Metro-East area. The adequacy comment period for the MVEBs began on August 21, 2017, with EPA's posting of the availability of Illinois' submittal on EPA's Adequacy Web site (at https://www.epa.gov/state-and-local-transportation/adequacy-review-state-implementation-plan-sip-submissions-conformity). The adequacy comment period for these MVEBs ended on September 20, 2017. EPA did not receive any adverse comments on this submittal during the adequacy comment period. In a letter dated September 26, 2017, EPA informed IEPA that the 2030 MVEBs are adequate for use in transportation conformity analyses. Please see section V.B. of this rulemaking, “What is the status of EPA's adequacy determination for the proposed VOC and NOX MVEBs for the Metro-East area?,” for further explanation of this process.

    II. What is the background for these actions?

    EPA has determined that ground-level ozone is detrimental to human health. On March 12, 2008, EPA promulgated a revised 8-hour ozone NAAQS of 0.075 parts per million (ppm). See 73 FR 16436 (March 27, 2008). Under EPA's regulations at 40 CFR part 50, the 2008 8-hour ozone NAAQS is attained in an area when the 3-year average of the annual fourth highest daily maximum 8-hour average concentration is equal to or less than 0.075 ppm, when truncated after the thousandth decimal place, at all of the ozone monitoring sites in the area. See 40 CFR 50.15 and appendix P to 40 CFR part 50.

    Upon promulgation of a new or revised NAAQS, section 107(d)(1)(B) of the CAA requires EPA to designate as nonattainment any areas that are violating the NAAQS, based on the most recent three years of quality-assured ozone monitoring data. The St. Louis area was designated as a marginal nonattainment area for the 2008 ozone NAAQS on May 21, 2012 (77 FR 30088) (effective July 20, 2012) based on 2008-2010 monitoring data.

    In a final implementation rule for the 2008 ozone NAAQS (SIP Requirements Rule),1 EPA established ozone standard attainment dates based on table 1 of section 181(a) of the CAA. The rule established an attainment date three years after the July 20, 2012, effective designation date for areas classified as marginal nonattainment for the 2008 ozone NAAQS. Therefore, the attainment date for the St. Louis area was July 20, 2015. On May 4, 2016 (81 FR 26697), based on EPA's evaluation and determination that the area met the attainment date extension criteria of CAA section 181(8)(5), EPA granted the St. Louis area a 1-year extension of the marginal area attainment date to July 20, 2016. On June 27, 2016 (81 FR 41444), in accordance with section 181(b)(2)(A) of the CAA and the provisions of the SIP Requirements Rule (40 CFR 51.1103), EPA made a determination that the St. Louis area attained the standard by the July 20, 2016, attainment date for the 2008 ozone NAAQS. EPA's determination was based upon three years of complete, quality-assured and certified data for the 2013-2015 time period.

    1 This rule, titled “Implementation of the 2008 National Ambient Air Quality Standards for Ozone: State Implementation Plan Requirements” and published at 80 FR 12264 (March 6, 2015), addresses nonattainment area SIP requirements for the 2008 ozone NAAQS, including requirements pertaining to attainment demonstrations, reasonable further progress (RFP), reasonably available control technology (RACT), reasonably available control measures (RACM), new source review (NSR), emission inventories, and the timing requirements for SIP submissions and compliance with emission control measures in the SIP. This rule also addresses the revocation of the 1997 ozone NAAQS and the anti-backsliding requirements that apply when the 1997 ozone NAAQS is revoked.

    On May 8, 2017, Illinois submitted to EPA a request to redesignate the Illinois portion of the St. Louis area, also called the Metro-East area, to attainment for the 2008 ozone NAAQS, and to approve the maintenance place for the area, including the 2030 MVEBs, as a revision to the Illinois SIP.

    III. What are the criteria for redesignation?

    Section 107(d)(3)(E) of the CAA allows redesignation of an area to attainment of the NAAQS provided that: (1) The Administrator (EPA) determines that the area has attained the NAAQS; (2) the Administrator has fully approved the applicable implementation plan for the area under section 110(k) of the CAA; (3) the Administrator determines that the improvement in air quality is due to permanent and enforceable reductions in emissions resulting from implementation of the applicable SIP, applicable Federal air pollutant control regulations, and other permanent and enforceable emission reductions; (4) the Administrator has fully approved a maintenance plan for the area as meeting the requirements of section 175A of the CAA; and (5) the state containing the area has met all requirements applicable to the area for the purposes of redesignation under section 110 and part D of the CAA.

    On April 16, 1992, EPA provided guidance on redesignations in the General Preamble for the Implementation of Title I of the CAA Amendments of 1990 (57 FR 13498) and supplemented this guidance on April 28, 1992 (57 FR 18070). EPA has provided further guidance on processing redesignation requests in the following documents:

    1. “Ozone and Carbon Monoxide Design Value Calculations,” Memorandum from Bill Laxton. Director, Technical Support Division, June 18, 1990;

    2. “Maintenance Plans for Redesignation of Ozone and Carbon Monoxide Nonattainment Areas,” Memorandum from G.T. Helms, Chief, Ozone/Carbon Monoxide Programs Branch, April 30, 1992;

    3. “Contingency Measures for Ozone and Carbon Monoxide (CO) Redesignations,” Memorandum from G.T. Helms, Chief, Ozone/Carbon Monoxide Programs Branch, June 1, 1992;

    4. “Procedures for Processing Requests to Redesignate Areas to Attainment,” Memorandum from John Calcagni, Director, Air Quality Management Division, September 4, 1992 (the “Calcagni Memorandum”);

    5. “State Implementation Plan (SIP) Actions Submitted in Response to Clean Air Act (CAA) Deadlines,” Memorandum from John Calcagni, Director, Air Quality Management Division, October 28, 1992;

    6. “Technical Support Documents (TSDs) for Redesignation of Ozone and Carbon Monoxide (CO) Nonattainment Areas,” Memorandum from G.T. Helms, Chief, Ozone/Carbon Monoxide Programs Branch, August 17, 1993;

    7. “State Implementation Plan (SIP) Requirements for Areas Submitting Requests for Redesignation to Attainment of the Ozone and Carbon Monoxide (CO) National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) On or After November 15, 1992,” Memorandum from Michael H. Shapiro, Acting Assistant Administrator for Air and Radiation, September 17, 1993;

    8. “Use of Actual Emissions in Maintenance Demonstrations for Ozone and CO Nonattainment Areas,” Memorandum from D. Kent Berry, Acting Director, Air Quality Management Division, November 30, 1993;

    9. “Part D New Source Review (Part D NSR) Requirements for Areas Requesting Redesignation to Attainment,” Memorandum from Mary D. Nichols, Assistant Administrator for Air and Radiation, October 14, 1994; and

    10. “Reasonable Further Progress, Attainment Demonstration, and Related Requirements for Ozone Nonattainment Areas Meeting the Ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standard,” Memorandum from John S. Seitz, Director, Office of Air Quality Planning and Standards, May 10, 1995.

    IV. What is EPA's analysis of IEPA's redesignation request? A. Has the St. Louis area attained the 2008 ozone NAAQS?

    For redesignation of a nonattainment area to attainment, the CAA requires EPA to determine that the area has attained the applicable NAAQS (CAA section 107(d)(3)(E)(i)). An area is attaining the 2008 ozone NAAQS if it meets the 2008 ozone NAAQS, as determined in accordance with 40 CFR 50.15 and appendix P of part 50, based on three complete, consecutive calendar years of quality-assured air quality data for all monitoring sites in the area. To attain the NAAQS, the three-year average of the annual fourth-highest daily maximum 8-hour average ozone concentrations (ozone design values) at each monitor must not exceed 0.075 ppm. The air quality data must be collected and quality-assured in accordance with 40 CFR part 58 and recorded in EPA's Air Quality System (AQS). Ambient air quality monitoring data for the 3-year period must also meet data completeness requirements. An ozone design value is valid if daily maximum 8-hour average concentrations are available for at least 90 percent of the days within the ozone monitoring seasons,2 on average, for the three-year period, with a minimum data completeness of 75 percent during the ozone monitoring season of any year during the three-year period. See section 2.3 of appendix P to 40 CFR part 50.

    2 The ozone season is defined by state in 40 CFR 58 appendix D. For the 2013-2015 time period, the ozone season was April-October. Beginning in 2016, the ozone season is March-October. See 80 FR 65292, 65466-67 (October 26, 2015).

    On June 27, 2016, in accordance with section 181(b)(2)(A) of the CAA and the provisions of the SIP Requirements Rule (40 CFR 51.1103), EPA made a determination that the St. Louis area attained the standard by its July 20, 2016 attainment date for the 2008 ozone NAAQS. (81 FR 41444). This determination was based upon three years of complete, quality-assured, and certified data for the 2013-2015 time period. In addition, EPA has reviewed the ozone monitoring data from monitoring sites in the St. Louis area for the 2014-2016 time period. These data, which are complete, quality-assured, and certified, demonstrate that the St. Louis area is attaining the 2008 ozone NAAQS. The annual fourth-highest 8-hour ozone concentrations and the 3-year average of these concentrations (ozone design values) for each monitoring site are summarized in Table 1.

    Table 1—Annual 4th High Daily Maximum 8-Hour Ozone Concentrations and 3-Year Average of the 4th High Daily Maximum 8-Hour Ozone Concentrations for the St. Louis Area State County Monitor 2013
  • 4th high
  • (ppm)
  • 2014
  • 4th high
  • (ppm)
  • 2015
  • 4th high
  • (ppm)
  • 2016
  • 4th high
  • (ppm)
  • 2013-2015
  • average
  • (ppm)
  • 2014-2016
  • average
  • (ppm)
  • Illinois Madison 17-119-0008 0.072 0.072 0.069 0.073 0.071 0.071 17-119-1009 0.075 0.070 0.064 0.067 0.069 0.067 17-119-3007 0.069 0.070 0.069 0.075 0.069 0.071 17-119-9991 0.071 0.068 0.067 0.068 0.068 0.067 St. Clair 17-163-0010 0.066 0.067 0.066 0.073 0.066 0.068 Missouri Jefferson 29-099-0019 0.069 0.072 0.069 0.070 0.070 0.070 St. Charles 29-183-1002 0.071 0.072 0.070 0.075 0.071 0.072 29-183-1004 0.071 0.072 0.066 0.076 0.069 0.071 St. Louis 29-189-0005 0.067 0.065 0.065 0.067 0.065 0.065 29-189-0014 0.070 0.072 0.069 0.073 0.070 0.071 St. Louis City 29-510-0085 0.066 0.066 0.063 0.068 0.065 0.065

    The 3-year ozone design values for 2013-2015 and 2014-2016 are 0.071 ppm and 0.072 ppm, respectively,3 which meet the criteria for attainment of the 2008 ozone NAAQS. Therefore, in today's action, EPA proposes to determine that the St. Louis area is attaining the 2008 ozone NAAQS based on complete, quality-assured and certified 2014-2016 ozone monitoring data.

    3 The monitor ozone design value for the monitor with the highest 3-year averaged concentration.

    EPA will not take final action to determine that the St. Louis area is attaining the NAAQS nor approve the redesignation of this area if the design value of a monitoring site in the area exceeds the NAAQS after proposal but prior to final approval of the redesignation. Preliminary 2017 data indicate that this area continues to attain the 2008 ozone NAAQS. As discussed in section IV.D.3. below, IEPA has committed to continue monitoring ozone in this area to verify maintenance of the ozone standard.

    B. Has Illinois met all applicable requirements of section 110 and part D of the CAA for the Metro-East area, and does the Metro-East area have a fully approved SIP under section 110(k) of the CAA?

    As criteria for redesignation of an area from nonattainment to attainment of a NAAQS, the CAA requires EPA to determine that the state has met all applicable requirements under section 110 and part D of title I of the CAA (see section 107(d)(3)(E)(v) of the CAA) and that the area has a fully approved SIP under section 110(k) of the CAA (see section 107(d)(3)(E)(ii) of the CAA). Illinois has met all applicable SIP requirements, for purposes of redesignation, under section 110 and part D of title I of the CAA (requirements specific to nonattainment areas for the 2008 ozone NAAQS). Additionally, all applicable requirements of the Illinois SIP for the area have been fully approved under section 110(k) of the CAA. In making these determinations, EPA ascertained which CAA requirements are applicable to the Metro-East area and the Illinois SIP and, if applicable, whether the required Illinois SIP elements are fully approved under section 110(k) and part D of the CAA. As discussed more fully below, SIPs must be fully approved only with respect to currently applicable requirements of the CAA.

    The September 4, 1992 Calcagni memorandum (see “Procedures for Processing Requests to Redesignate Areas to Attainment,” Memorandum from John Calcagni, Director, Air Quality Management Division, September 4, 1992) describes EPA's interpretation of section 107(d)(3)(E)(v) of the CAA. Under this interpretation, a state and the area it wishes to redesignate must meet the relevant CAA requirements that are due prior to the state's submittal of a complete redesignation request for the area. See also the September 17, 1993, Michael Shapiro memorandum and 60 FR 12459, 12465-12466 (March 7, 1995) (redesignation of Detroit-Ann Arbor, Michigan to attainment of the 1-hour ozone NAAQS). Applicable requirements of the CAA that become due subsequent to the state's submittal of a complete request remain applicable until a redesignation to attainment is approved, but are not required as a prerequisite to redesignation. See section 175A(c) of the CAA. Sierra Club v. EPA, 375 F.3d 537 (7th Cir. 2004). See also 68 FR 25424, 25427 (May 12, 2003) (redesignation of the St. Louis/East St. Louis area to attainment of the 1-hour ozone NAAQS).

    1. Illinois Has Met All Applicable Requirements of Section 110 and Part D of the CAA Applicable to the Metro-East Area for Purposes of Redesignation a. Section 110 General Requirements for Implementation Plans

    Section 110(a)(2) of the CAA contains the general requirements for a SIP. Section 110(a)(2) provides that the SIP must have been adopted by the state after reasonable public notice and hearing, and that, among other things, it must: (1) Include enforceable emission limitations and other control measures, means or techniques necessary to meet the requirements of the CAA; (2) provide for establishment and operation of appropriate devices, methods, systems and procedures necessary to monitor ambient air quality; (3) provide for implementation of a source permit program to regulate the modification and construction of stationary sources within the areas covered by the plan; (4) include provisions for the implementation of part C prevention of significant deterioration (PSD) and part D new source review (NSR) permit programs; (5) include provisions for stationary source emission control measures, monitoring, and reporting; (6) include provisions for air quality modeling; and, (7) provide for public and local agency participation in planning and emission control rule development.

    Additionally, Section 110(a)(2)(D) of the CAA requires SIPs to contain measures to prevent sources in a state from significantly contributing to air quality problems in another state. To implement this provision, EPA has required certain states to establish programs to address transport of certain air pollutants, e.g., the NOX SIP call.4 However, like many of the 110(a)(2) requirements, the section 110(a)(2)(D) SIP requirements are not linked with a particular area's ozone designation and classification. EPA concludes that the SIP requirements linked with the area's ozone designation and classification are the relevant measures to evaluate when reviewing a redesignation request for the area. The section 110(a)(2)(D) requirements, where applicable, continue to apply to a state regardless of the designation of any one particular area within the state. Thus, these requirements are not applicable requirements for purposes of redesignation. See 65 FR 37890 (June 15, 2000), 66 FR 50399 (October 19, 2001), 68 FR 25418, 25426-25427 (May 13, 2003).

    4 On October 27, 1992 (63 FR 57356), EPA issued a NOX SIP call requiring the District of Columbia and 22 states to reduce emissions of NOX in order to reduce the transport of ozone and ozone precursors. In compliance with EPA's NOX SIP Call, IEPA developed rules governing the control of NOX emissions from Electric Generating Units (EGUs), major non-EGU industrial boilers, major cement kilns, and internal combustion engines. EPA approved the Illinois rules as fulfilling Phase I of the NOX SIP Call on June 28, 2001 (66 FR 34382) and November 21, 2001 (66 FR 56454), and as meeting Phase II of the NOX SIP Call on June 26, 2009 (74 FR 30466).

    Similarly, other section 110 elements that are neither connected with nonattainment plan submissions nor linked with an area's ozone attainment status are not applicable requirements for purposes of redesignation. The area will remain subject to these requirements after the area is redesignated to attainment of the 2008 ozone NAAQS. The section 110 and part D requirements which are linked with a particular area's designation and classification are the relevant measures to evaluate in reviewing a redesignation request. This approach is consistent with EPA's existing policy on applicability (i.e., for redesignations) of conformity and oxygenated fuels requirements, as well as with section 184 ozone transport requirements. See, e.g., Reading, Pennsylvania proposed and final rulemakings, 61 FR 53174-53176 (October 10, 1996) and 62 FR 24826 (May 7, 1997); Cleveland-Akron-Loraine, Ohio final rulemaking, 61 FR 20458 (May 7, 1996); and Tampa, Florida final rulemaking, 60 FR 62748 (December 7, 1995). See also the discussion of this issue in the Cincinnati, Ohio ozone redesignation (65 FR 37890, June 19, 2000), and the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania ozone redesignation (66 FR 50399, October 19, 2001).

    We have reviewed the Illinois SIP and conclude that it meets the general SIP requirements under section 110 of the CAA, to the extent those requirements are applicable for purposes of redesignation.5

    5 On October 16, 2014 (79 FR 62042), EPA approved elements of the SIP submitted by Illinois to meet the requirements of section 110 for the 2008 ozone standard. The requirements of section 110(a)(2), however, are statewide requirements that are not linked to the 8-hour ozone nonattainment status of the St. Louis area. Therefore, EPA concludes that these infrastructure requirements are not applicable requirements for purposes of review of the State's 8-hour ozone redesignation request.

    b. Part D Requirements

    Section 172(c) of the CAA sets forth the basic requirements of air quality plans for states with nonattainment areas that are required to submit plans pursuant to section 172(b). Subpart 2 of part D, which includes section 182 of the CAA, establishes specific requirements for ozone nonattainment areas depending on the areas' nonattainment classifications.

    The St. Louis area was classified as marginal under subpart 2 for the 2008 ozone NAAQS. As such, the area is subject to the subpart 1 requirements contained in section 172(c) and section 176. The area is also subject to the subpart 2 requirements contained in section 182(a) (marginal nonattainment area requirements). A thorough discussion of the requirements contained in section 172(c) and 182 can be found in the General Preamble for Implementation of Title I (57 FR 13498).

    i. Subpart 1 Section 172 Requirements

    As provided in subpart 2, for marginal ozone nonattainment areas such as the St. Louis area, the specific requirements of section 182(a) apply in lieu of the attainment planning requirements that would otherwise apply under section 172(c), including the attainment demonstration and reasonably available control measures (RACM) under section 172(c)(1), reasonable further progress (RFP) under section 172(c)(2), and contingency measures under section 172(c)(9). 42 U.S.C. 7511a(a).

    Section 172(c)(3) requires submission and approval of a comprehensive, accurate and current inventory of actual emissions. This requirement is superseded by the inventory requirement in section 182(a)(1) discussed below.

    Section 172(c)(4) requires the identification and quantification of allowable emissions for major new and modified stationary sources in an area, and section 172(c)(5) requires source permits for the construction and operation of new and modified major stationary sources anywhere in the nonattainment area. EPA approved the Illinois nonattainment NSR program as meeting the requirements of section 172(c)(4) and 172(c)(5) on December 17, 1992 (57 FR 59928), September 27, 1995 (60 FR 49780) and May 13, 2003 (68 FR 25504). Nonetheless, EPA has determined that, since PSD requirements will apply after redesignation, areas being redesignated need not comply with the requirement that a NSR program be approved prior to redesignation, provided that the area demonstrates maintenance of the NAAQS without part D NSR. A more detailed rationale for this view is described in a memorandum from Mary Nichols, Assistant Administrator for Air and Radiation, dated October 14, 1994, entitled, “Part D New Source Review Requirements for Areas Requesting Redesignation to Attainment.” Illinois has shown that the St. Louis area can demonstrate maintenance of the standard without part D NSR in effect; therefore, EPA concludes that the State need not have a fully approved part D NSR program prior to approval of the redesignation request. See rulemakings for Detroit, Michigan (60 FR 12467-12468, March 7, 1995); Cleveland-Akron-Lorain, Ohio (61 FR 20458, 20469-20470, May 7, 1996); Louisville, Kentucky (66 FR 53665, October 23, 2001); and Grand Rapids, Michigan (61 FR 31834-31837, June 21, 1996). EPA delegated the authority to implement the Federal PSD program to IEPA pursuant to 40 CFR 52.21. This delegated PSD program will become effective in the Metro-East area upon redesignation to attainment.

    Section 172(c)(6) requires the SIP to contain control measures necessary to provide for attainment of the NAAQS. Because attainment has been reached, no additional measures are needed to provide for attainment.

    Section 172(c)(7) requires the SIP to meet the applicable provisions of section 110(a)(2). As noted above, the Illinois SIP meets the requirements of section 110(a)(2) for purposes of redesignation.

    ii. Section 176 Conformity Requirements

    Section 176(c) of the CAA requires states to establish criteria and procedures to ensure that Federally supported or funded projects conform to the air quality planning goals in the applicable SIP. The requirement to determine conformity applies to transportation plans, programs and projects that are developed, funded or approved under title 23 of the United States Code (U.S.C.) and the Federal Transit Act (transportation conformity) as well as to all other Federally supported or funded projects (general conformity). State transportation conformity SIP revisions must be consistent with Federal conformity regulations relating to consultation, enforcement and enforceability that EPA promulgated pursuant to its authority under the CAA.

    EPA interprets the conformity SIP requirements 6 as not applicable for purposes of evaluating a redesignation request under section 107(d) because state conformity rules are still required after redesignation and Federal conformity rules apply where state conformity rules have not been approved. See Wall v. EPA, 265 F.3d 426 (6th Cir. 2001) (upholding this interpretation); see also 60 FR 62748 (December 7, 1995) (redesignation of Tampa, Florida).

    6 CAA section 176(c)(4)(E) requires states to submit revisions to their SIPs to reflect certain Federal criteria and procedures for determining transportation conformity. Transportation conformity SIPs are different from SIPs requiring the development of Motor Vehicle Emission Budgets (MVEBs), such as control strategy SIPs and maintenance plans, which are discussed in section V.A, below.

    EPA approved Illinois's general conformity SIP on December 23, 1997 (62 FR 67000). Illinois does not have a Federally approved transportation conformity SIP. However, Illinois performs conformity analyses pursuant to EPA's Federal conformity rules. Illinois has submitted 2030 on-road MVEBs for the Metro-East area of 9.05 tons per day (tpd) VOC and 16.68 tpd NOX. Illinois must use these MVEBs in any conformity determination that is effective on or after the effective date of the maintenance plan approval.

    iii. Section 182(a) Requirements

    Section 182(a)(1) requires states to submit a comprehensive, accurate, and current inventory of actual emissions from sources of VOC and NOX emitted within the boundaries of the ozone nonattainment area. IEPA submitted a 2011 base year emissions inventory for the Metro-East area on September 3, 2014. EPA approved this emissions inventory as a revision to the Illinois SIP on March 7, 2016 (81 FR 11671).

    Under section 182(a)(2)(A), states with ozone nonattainment areas that were designated prior to the enactment of the 1990 CAA amendments were required to submit, within six months of classification, all rules and corrections to existing VOC reasonably available control technology (RACT) rules that were required under section 172(b)(3) prior to the 1990 CAA amendments. The Metro-East area is not subject to the section 182(a)(2) RACT “fix up” requirement for the 2008 ozone NAAQS because it was designated as nonattainment for this standard after the enactment of the 1990 CAA amendments and because Illinois complied with this requirement for the Metro-East area under the prior 1-hour ozone NAAQS. See 59 FR 46562 (September 9, 1994).

    Section 182(a)(2)(B) requires each state with a marginal ozone nonattainment area that implemented or was required to implement a vehicle inspection and maintenance (I/M) program prior to the 1990 CAA amendments to submit a SIP revision for an I/M program no less stringent than that required prior to the 1990 CAA amendments or already in the SIP at the time of the CAA amendments, whichever is more stringent. For the purposes of the 2008 ozone standard and IEPA's redesignation request for this standard, the Metro-East area is not subject to the section 182(a)(2)(B) requirement because the Metro-East area was designated as nonattainment for the 2008 ozone standard after the enactment of the 1990 CAA amendments.

    The source permitting and offset requirements of section 182(a)(2)(C) and section 182(a)(4) are included in Illinois' nonattainment NSR program, which EPA approved on December 17, 1992 (57 FR 59928), September 27, 1995 (60 FR 49780) and May 13, 2003 (68 FR 25504). As discussed above, Illinois has demonstrated that the Metro-East area can demonstrate maintenance of the standard without part D NSR in effect; therefore, EPA concludes that the state need not have a fully approved part D NSR program prior to approval of the redesignation request. IEPA has been delegated the authority to implement the Federal PSD program, which will become effective in the Metro-East area upon redesignation to attainment.

    Section 182(a)(3) requires states to submit periodic emission inventories and a revision to the SIP to require the owners or operators of stationary sources to annually submit emission statements documenting actual VOC and NOX emissions. As discussed below in section IV.D.4. of this proposed rule, Illinois will continue to update its emissions inventory at least once every three years consistent with the requirements of 40 CFR part 51, subpart A, and in 40 CFR 51.122. With regard to stationary source emission statements, EPA approved the Illinois emission statement rule on May 15, 2002 (67 FR 34614), which requires certain sources in ozone nonattainment areas to report annual VOC and NOX emissions. On May 9, 2017, Illinois certified that this approved SIP regulation remains in place and meets the emissions statement requirement for areas designated as nonattainment for the 2008 ozone standard. EPA approved the Illinois emissions statement certification SIP on July 11, 2017 (82 FR 31913).

    Therefore, the Metro-East area has satisfied all applicable requirements for purposes of redesignation under section 110 and part D of title I of the CAA.

    2. The Metro-East Area Has a Fully Approved SIP for Purposes of Redesignation Under Section 110(k) of the CAA

    At various times, Illinois has adopted and submitted, and EPA has approved, provisions addressing the various SIP elements applicable for the ozone NAAQS. As discussed above, EPA has fully approved the Illinois SIP for the Metro-East area under section 110(k) for all requirements applicable for purposes of redesignation under the 2008 ozone NAAQS. EPA may rely on prior SIP approvals in approving a redesignation request (see the Calcagni memorandum at page 3; Southwestern Pennsylvania Growth Alliance v. Browner, 144 F.3d 984, 989-990 (6th Cir. 1998); Wall v. EPA, 265 F.3d 426), plus any additional measures it may approve in conjunction with a redesignation action (see 68 FR 25426 (May 12, 2003) and citations therein).

    C. Are the air quality improvements in the St. Louis area due to permanent and enforceable emission reductions?

    To redesignate an area from nonattainment to attainment, section 107(d)(3)(E)(iii) of the CAA requires EPA to determine that the air quality improvement in the area is due to permanent and enforceable reductions in emissions resulting from the implementation of the SIP and applicable Federal air pollution control regulations and other permanent and enforceable emission reductions. Illinois has demonstrated that the observed ozone air quality improvement in the St. Louis area is due to permanent and enforceable reductions in VOC and NOX emissions resulting from state measures approved as part of the SIP and Federal measures.

    In making this demonstration, IEPA has calculated the change in emissions between 2011 and 2014. IEPA attributes the reduction in emissions and corresponding improvement in air quality over this time period to a number of regulatory control measures that have been implemented in the St. Louis area and upwind areas in recent years. In addition, IEPA provided an analysis to demonstrate the improvement in air quality was not due to unusually favorable meteorology. Based on the information summarized below, Illinois has adequately demonstrated that the improvement in air quality is due to permanent and enforceable emissions reductions.

    1. Permanent and Enforceable Emission Controls Implemented a. Regional NOX Controls

    Clean Air Interstate Rule (CAIR)/Cross State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR).

    CAIR created regional cap-and-trade programs to reduce sulfur dioxide (SO2) and NOX emissions in 27 eastern states, including Illinois, that contributed to downwind nonattainment and maintenance of the 1997 8-hour ozone NAAQS and the 1997 fine particulate matter (PM2.5) NAAQS. See 70 FR 25162 (May 12, 2005). EPA approved Illinois's CAIR regulations into the Illinois SIP on October 10, 2007 (72 FR 58528). In 2008, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (D.C. Circuit) initially vacated CAIR, North Carolina v. EPA, 531 F.3d 896 (D.C. Cir. 2008), but ultimately remanded the rule to EPA without vacatur to preserve the environmental benefits provided by CAIR, North Carolina v. EPA, 550 F.3d 1176, 1178 (D.C. Cir. 2008). On August 8, 2011 (76 FR 48208), acting on the D.C. Circuit's remand, EPA promulgated CSAPR to replace CAIR and to address the interstate transport of emissions contributing to nonattainment and interfering with maintenance of the two air quality standards covered by CAIR and the 2006 PM2.5 NAAQS. CSAPR requires substantial reductions of SO2 and NOX emissions from electric generating units (EGUs) in 28 states in the Eastern United States, including Illinois.

    Implementation of CSAPR was scheduled to begin on January 1, 2012, when CSAPR's cap-and-trade programs would have superseded the CAIR cap and trade programs. Numerous parties filed petitions for review of CSAPR, and on December 30, 2011, the D.C. Circuit issued an order staying CSAPR pending resolution of the petitions and directing EPA to continue to administer CAIR. EME Homer City Generation, L.P. v. EPA, No. 11-1302 (D.C. Cir. Dec. 30, 2011), Order at 2.

    On August 21, 2012, the D.C. Circuit issued its ruling, vacating and remanding CSAPR to EPA and once again ordering continued implementation of CAIR. EME Homer City Generation, L.P. v. EPA, 696 F.3d 7, 38 (D.C. Cir. 2012). The D.C. Circuit subsequently denied EPA's petition for rehearing en banc. EME Homer City Generation, L.P. v. EPA, No. 11-1302, 2013 WL 656247 (D.C. Cir. Jan. 24, 2013), at *1. EPA and other parties then petitioned the Supreme Court for a writ of certiorari, and the Supreme Court granted the petitions on June 24, 2013. EPA v. EME Homer City Generation, L.P., 133 S. Ct. 2857 (2013).

    On April 29, 2014, the Supreme Court vacated and reversed the D.C. Circuit Court's decision regarding CSAPR, and remanded that decision to the D.C. Circuit Court to resolve remaining issues in accordance with its ruling. EPA v. EME Homer City Generation, L.P., 134 S. Ct. 1584 (2014). EPA moved to have the stay of CSAPR lifted in light of the Supreme Court decision. EME Homer City Generation, L.P. v. EPA, Case No. 11-1302, Document No. 1499505 (D.C. Cir. filed June 26, 2014). In its motion, EPA asked the D.C. Circuit to toll CSAPR's compliance deadlines by three years so that the Phase 1 emissions budgets applied in 2015 and 2016 (instead of 2012 and 2013), and the Phase 2 emissions budgets apply in 2017 and beyond (instead of 2014 and beyond). On October 23, 2014, the D.C. Circuit granted EPA's motion and lifted the stay of CSAPR, which was imposed on December 30, 2011. EME Homer City Generation, L.P. v. EPA, No. 11-1302 (D.C. Cir. Oct. 23, 2014), Order at 3. On December 3, 2014, EPA issued an interim final rule to clarify how EPA will implement CSAPR consistent with the D.C. Circuit Court's order granting EPA's motion requesting lifting the stay and tolling the rule's deadlines. See 79 FR 71663 (December 3, 2014) (interim final rulemaking). Consistent with that rule, EPA began implementing CSAPR on January 1, 2015. EPA expects that the implementation of CSAPR will preserve the reductions achieved by CAIR and result in additional SO2 and NOX emission reductions throughout the maintenance period.

    b. Federal Emission Control Measures

    Reductions in VOC and NOX emissions have occurred statewide and in upwind areas as a result of Federal emission control measures, with additional emission reductions expected to occur in the future. Federal emission control measures include the following.

    Tier 2 Emission Standards for Vehicles and Gasoline Sulfur Standards. On February 10, 2000 (65 FR 6698), EPA promulgated Tier 2 motor vehicle emission standards and gasoline sulfur control requirements. These emission control requirements result in lower VOC and NOX emissions from new cars and light duty trucks, including sport utility vehicles. With respect to fuels, this rule required refiners and importers of gasoline to meet lower standards for sulfur in gasoline, which were phased in between 2004 and 2006. By 2006, refiners were required to meet a 30 ppm average sulfur level, with a maximum cap of 80 ppm. This reduction in fuel sulfur content ensures the effectiveness of low emission-control technologies. The Tier 2 tailpipe standards established in this rule were phased in for new vehicles between 2004 and 2009. EPA estimates that, when fully implemented, this rule will cut NOX and VOC emissions from light-duty vehicles and light-duty trucks by approximately 76 and 28 percent, respectively. NOX and VOC reductions from medium-duty passenger vehicles included as part of the Tier 2 vehicle program are estimated to be approximately 37,000 and 9,500 tons per year, respectively, when fully implemented. Some of these emission reductions occurred by the attainment years and additional emission reductions will occur throughout the maintenance period, as older vehicles are replaced with newer, compliant model years.

    Heavy-Duty Diesel Engine Rules. In July 2000, EPA issued a rule for on-highway heavy-duty diesel engines that includes standards limiting the sulfur content of diesel fuel. Emissions standards for NOX, VOC and PM were phased in between model years 2007 and 2010. In addition, the rule reduced the highway diesel fuel sulfur content to 15 parts per million by 2007, leading to additional reductions in combustion NOX and VOC emissions. EPA has estimated future year emission reductions due to implementation of this rule. Nationally, EPA estimated that 2015 NOX and VOC emissions would decrease by 1,260,000 tons and 54,000 tons, respectively. Nationally, EPA estimated that 2030 NOX and VOC emissions will decrease by 2,570,000 tons and 115,000 tons, respectively. As projected by these estimates and demonstrated in the on-road emission modeling for the St. Louis area, some of these emission reductions occurred by the attainment years and additional emission reductions will occur throughout the maintenance period, as older vehicles are replaced with newer, compliant model years.

    Nonroad Diesel Rule. On June 29, 2004 (69 FR 38958), EPA issued a rule adopting emissions standards for nonroad diesel engines and sulfur reductions in nonroad diesel fuel. This rule applies to diesel engines used primarily in construction, agricultural, and industrial applications. Emission standards are phased in for 2008 through 2015 model years based on engine size. The SO2 limits for nonroad diesel fuels were phased in from 2007 through 2012. EPA estimates that when fully implemented, compliance with this rule will cut NOX emissions from these nonroad diesel engines by approximately 90 percent. Some of these emission reductions occurred by the attainment years, and additional emission reductions will occur throughout the maintenance period as older engines are replaced with newer, compliant model years.

    Nonroad Spark-Ignition Engines and Recreational Engine Standards. On November 8, 2002 (67 FR 68242), EPA adopted emission standards for large spark-ignition engines such as those used in forklifts and airport ground-service equipment; recreational vehicles such as off-highway motorcycles, all-terrain vehicles, and snowmobiles; and recreational marine diesel engines. These emission standards were phased in from model year 2004 through 2012. When fully implemented, EPA estimates an overall 72 percent reduction in VOC emissions from these engines and an 80 percent reduction in NOX emissions. Some of these emission reductions occurred by the attainment years and additional emission reductions will occur throughout the maintenance period as older vehicles are replaced with newer, compliant model years.

    National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) for Reciprocating Internal Combustion Engines. On March 3, 2010 (75 FR 9648), EPA issued a rule to reduce hazardous air pollutants from existing diesel powered stationary reciprocating internal combustion engines, also known as compression ignition engines. Amendments to this rule were finalized on January 14, 2013 (78 FR 6674). EPA estimated that when this rule was fully implemented in 2013, NOX and VOC emissions from these engines would be reduced by approximately 9,600 and 36,000 tons per year, respectively.

    Category 3 Marine Diesel Engine Standards. On April 30, 2010 (75 FR 22896), EPA issued emission standards for marine compression-ignition engines at or above 30 liters per cylinder. Tier 2 emission standards applied beginning in 2011, and are expected to result in a 15 to 25 percent reduction in NOX emissions from these engines. Final Tier 3 emission standards applied beginning in 2016 and are expected to result in approximately an 80 percent reduction in NOX from these engines. Some of these emission reductions occurred by the attainment years, and additional emission reductions will occur throughout the maintenance period as older engines are replaced with newer, compliant model years.

    c. Control Measures Specific to the Metro-East Area

    VOC RACT Rules. Illinois adopted several VOC RACT rules corresponding to the source categories covered in the Control Technique Guideline (CTG) documents issued by EPA in 2006, 2007, and 2008. Illinois adopted rules to control VOC emissions from the following source categories: Industrial cleaning solvents; flat wood paneling; flexible packaging printing lines; lithographic printing lines; letterpress printing lines; paper, film, and foil coatings; large appliance coatings; metal furniture coatings; miscellaneous metal and plastic parts coatings, automobile and light-duty truck assembly coatings; miscellaneous industrial adhesives; and, fiberglass boat manufacturing. EPA approved these rules into the Illinois SIP on March 23, 2012 (77 FR 16940).

    Illinois Administrative Code (IAC) rule 219.187 controls VOC emissions from industrial solvent cleaning operations and required compliance by January 1, 2012. IEPA did not quantify the emission reductions expected from this category.

    IAC rules 219.204-205, 219.207-208, 219.210-212, and 219.217-219.219 require the control of emissions from coating operations including flat wood paneling; large appliance coatings; metal furniture coatings; paper, film, and foil coatings; miscellaneous metal and plastic parts coatings; and automobile and light-duty truck assembly coatings. Compliance with the regulations pertaining to paper, film, and foil coatings; large appliance coatings; and metal furniture coatings was required by May 1, 2011.7 IEPA estimated a 20% reduction in VOC emissions from implementation of the paper, film and foil coatings rule, but did not quantify emission reductions from the large appliance coating or metal furniture coating rules. Compliance with the regulations pertaining to flat wood paneling, miscellaneous metal and plastic parts coatings, and automobile and light-duty truck assembly coatings was required by May 1, 2012. IEPA estimated a 60% and 35% reduction in VOC emissions from flat wood paneling coatings and miscellaneous metal and plastic parts coatings, respectively, due to the implementation of these rules. IEPA did not quantify the reduction in VOC emissions due to the implementation of automobile and light-duty truck assembly coatings regulations.

    7 While VOC emission reductions from these source categories may not be evident when comparing the 2011 and 2014 emission inventories because of the regulatory compliance date, the reductions from these permanent and enforceable requirements occurred after the 2008-2010 time period EPA used to designate the St. Louis area as nonattainment for the 2008 ozone standard, thus contributing to the improvement in air quality.

    IAC rules 219.401-404 control VOC emissions from flexible package printing lines; 219.405-411 control VOC emissions from lithographic printing lines; and 219.412-417 control VOC emissions from letterpress printing lines. These rules required compliance by August 1, 2010.8 IEPA estimated a 25% reduction in VOC emissions from lithographic printing lines and a 30% reduction in VOC emissions from letterpress printing lines, but did not quantify the emission reductions expected from flexible packaging printing lines.

    8 While VOC emission reductions from these source categories may not be evident when comparing the 2011 and 2014 emission inventories because the regulatory compliance date occurred in 2010, the reductions primarily occurred after the 2008-2010 time period EPA used to designate the St. Louis area as nonattainment for the 2008 ozone standard, thus contributing to the improvement in air quality.

    IAC rules 219.890-894 control VOC emissions from fiberglass boat manufacturing and required compliance by May 1, 2012. IEPA did not identify a reduction in VOC emissions from this source category. IAC rules 219.900-904 control VOC emissions from miscellaneous industrial adhesives and required compliance by May 1, 2012. IEPA estimated a 40% reduction in VOC emissions from this source category.

    Consumer and Commercial Products and Architectural and Industrial Maintenance Coatings Rules. Illinois adopted regulations to control emissions from consumer and commercial products and architectural and industrial maintenance coatings on June 8, 2009, and amended them to include additional product categories and emission limits on May 4, 2012. Consumer and commercial products are regulated under IAC 223.200-285, and architectural and industrial maintenance coatings are regulated under IAC 223.300-370. EPA approved these rules into the Illinois SIP on May 6, 2013 (78 FR 26258). Compliance with the original rules was required by July 1, 2009, and compliance for the additional product categories was required by July 1, 2012. Illinois estimated an 18% reduction in VOC emissions from consumer and commercial products and architectural and industrial maintenance coatings due to implementation of these rules.

    Illinois Multi Pollutant Standards (MPS) and Combined Pollutant Standards (CPS) Rules. The Illinois MPS and CPS rules, IAC 225.233 and 225.291-296, are designed to control mercury emissions from coal-fired electric generating units, and also control NOX emissions. Illinois adopted these regulations on June 26, 2009, with compliance required by January 1, 2012. These rules were approved by EPA on July 6, 2012 (77 FR 39943). IEPA estimated a 59 percent reduction in NOX from these sources statewide from the implementation of these rules.

    2. Emission Reductions

    Illinois is using the 2011 base year emissions inventory, approved by EPA as meeting the requirements of CAA Section 182(a)(1), as the nonattainment inventory. See 81 FR 11671 (March 7, 2016). Although 2008-2010 ozone monitoring data was used to designate the St. Louis area as nonattainment, the area continued to monitor nonattainment in 2011; therefore, 2011 is an appropriate year to use as the nonattainment inventory.

    For the attainment inventory, Illinois is using 2014, one of the years the St. Louis area monitored attainment of the 2008 ozone standard. IEPA compiled point source emission information from 2014 annual emission reports submitted by sources. IEPA calculated area source emissions primarily using an emission factor multiplied by an activity rate (e.g., population, employment, amount of fuel burned, etc.).9 IEPA calculated onroad mobile source emissions using EPA's MOVES2014a emissions model, with vehicle miles traveled (VMT) data provided by the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT). IEPA calculated non-road mobile source emissions using EPA's MOVES2014a emissions model, and calculated aircraft emissions using the Emissions and Dispersion Modeling System (EDMS) model. Emissions from locomotives were grown from the 2011 inventory. Commercial marine vessel emissions were provided by the Lake Michigan Air Directors Consortium (LADCO).

    9 The 2014 inventory included additional categories not calculated in the 2011 inventory. These categories include oil and gas production, oil exploration, and agricultural field burning. While emissions from these categories may be significant state-wide, IEPA has indicated that these emissions are very minor for the Metro-East area.

    Using the inventories described above, along with 2011 and 2014 emissions inventories provided by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) for the Missouri portion of the St. Louis area, IEPA's submittal documents changes in VOC and NOX emissions from 2011 to 2014. Subsequent to IEPA's submittal, Missouri submitted corrections to its 2014 and 2030 emissions inventories for the Missouri portion of the St. Louis area. These revisions are reflected in the emissions data for the St. Louis area shown in Tables 2 through 5.

    Table 2—St. Louis Area VOC and NOX Emissions for Nonattainment Year 2011 in Tons per Summer Day [TPSD] VOC Illinois Missouri Area total NOX Illinois Missouri Area total Point 10.80 14.58 25.38 26.18 90.68 116.86 Area 18.12 72.77 90.89 1.23 5.60 6.83 On-road 11.44 38.00 49.44 34.14 124.21 158.35 Nonroad 8.49 39.03 47.52 17.17 47.55 64.72 Total 48.86 164.38 213.24 78.72 268.04 346.76 Table 3—St. Louis Area VOC and NOX Emissions for Attainment Year 2014 [TPSD] VOC Illinois Missouri Area total NOX Illinois Missouri Area total Point 9.38 13.86 23.24 23.29 81.70 104.99 Area 19.06 69.81 88.87 1.53 6.47 8.00 On-road 10.11 38.21 48.32 26.94 111.76 138.70 Nonroad 7.47 33.42 40.89 24.62 38.44 63.06 Total 46.02 155.30 201.32 76.38 238.37 314.75 Table 4—Change in VOC and NOX Emissions Between 2011 and 2014 for the Metro-East Area [TPSD] VOC 2011 2014 Net change
  • (2011-2014)
  • NOX 2011 2014 Net change
  • (2011-2014)
  • Point 10.80 9.38 −1.42 26.18 23.29 −2.89 Area 18.12 19.06 0.94 1.23 1.53 0.30 On-road 11.44 10.11 −1.33 34.14 26.94 −7.20 Nonroad 8.49 7.47 −1.02 17.17 24.62 7.45 Total 48.86 46.02 −2.84 78.72 76.38 −2.34
    Table 5—Change in VOC and NOX Emissions Between 2011 and 2014 for the Entire St. Louis Area [TPSD] VOC 2011 2014 Net change
  • (2011-2014)
  • NOX 2011 2014 Net change
  • (2011-2014)
  • Point 25.38 23.24 −2.14 116.86 104.99 −11.87 Area 90.89 88.87 −2.02 6.83 8.00 1.17 On-road 49.44 48.32 −1.12 158.35 138.70 −19.65 Nonroad 47.52 40.89 −6.63 64.72 63.06 −1.66 Total 213.24 201.32 −11.92 346.76 314.75 −32.01

    Table 5 shows that emissions of VOC and NOX in the St. Louis area were reduced by 11.92 TPSD and 32.01 TPSD, respectively, between 2011 and 2014. As shown in Table 4, the Metro-East area alone reduced VOC and NOX emissions by 2.84 TPSD and 2.34 TPSD, respectively, between 2011 and 2014.

    As discussed above, Illinois identified numerous Federal rules and state rules approved into the Illinois SIP that resulted in the reduction of VOC and NOX emissions from 2011 to 2014. Therefore, Illinois has shown that the air quality improvements in the St. Louis area are due to permanent and enforceable emission reductions.

    3. Meteorology

    To further support IEPA's demonstration that the improvement in air quality is due to permanent and enforceable emission reductions, LADCO performed a meteorology analysis. The analysis concluded that the improvement in air quality was not due to favorable meteorology. LADCO conducted a classification and regression tree (CART) analysis with 2000 through 2015 data from three Metro-East area ozone sites. The goal of the analysis was to determine the meteorological and air quality conditions associated with ozone episodes, and construct trends for the days identified as sharing similar meteorological conditions.

    LADCO developed regression trees for the three monitors to classify each summer day by its ozone concentration and associated meteorological conditions. By grouping days with similar meteorology, the influence of meteorological variability on the underlying trend in ozone concentrations is partially removed, and the remaining trend is presumed to be due to trends in precursor emissions or other non-meteorological influences. The CART analysis showed the resulting trends in ozone concentrations declining over the period examined, supporting the conclusion that the improvement in air quality was not due to unusually favorable meteorology.

    D. Does Illinois have a fully approvable ozone maintenance plan for the Metro-East area?

    As one of the criteria for redesignation to attainment, section 107(d)(3)(E)(iv) of the CAA requires EPA to determine that the area has a fully approved maintenance plan pursuant to section 175A of the CAA. Section 175A of the CAA sets forth the elements of a maintenance plan for areas seeking redesignation from nonattainment to attainment. Under section 175A, the maintenance plan must demonstrate continued attainment of the NAAQS for at least 10 years after the Administrator approves a redesignation to attainment. Eight years after the redesignation, the state must submit a revised maintenance plan which demonstrates that attainment of the NAAQS will continue for an additional 10 years beyond the initial 10 year maintenance period. To address the possibility of future NAAQS violations, the maintenance plan must contain contingency measures, as EPA deems necessary, to assure prompt correction of the future NAAQS violation.

    The Calcagni Memorandum provides further guidance on the content of a maintenance plan, explaining that a maintenance plan should address five elements: (1) An attainment emission inventory; (2) a maintenance demonstration; (3) a commitment for continued air quality monitoring; (4) a process for verification of continued attainment; and (5) a contingency plan.

    In conjunction with its request to redesignate the Metro-East area to attainment for the 2008 ozone standard, IEPA submitted, as a SIP revision, a plan to provide for maintenance of the 2008 ozone standard through 2030, more than 10 years after the expected effective date of the redesignation to attainment. As discussed below, EPA proposes to find that the Illinois ozone maintenance plan includes the necessary components and approve the maintenance plan as a revision to the Illinois SIP.

    1. Attainment Inventory

    EPA is proposing to determine that the St. Louis area has attained the 2008 ozone NAAQS based on monitoring data for the period of 2014-2016. IEPA selected 2014 as the year to establish attainment emission levels for VOC and NOX. IEPA's 2014 attainment emissions inventory identifies the levels of emissions in the St. Louis area that are sufficient to attain the 2008 ozone NAAQS. The basis of the attainment year emissions was discussed above in section IV.C.2. of this proposed rule. Additionally, the attainment level emissions, by source category, are summarized in Table 3 above. The attainment emissions inventory is consistent with the Calcagni memo.

    2. Has the state documented maintenance of the ozone standard in the St. Louis area?

    Illinois has demonstrated maintenance of the 2008 ozone standard through 2030 by ensuring that current and future emissions of VOC and NOX for the St. Louis area remain at or below attainment year emission levels through the use of emission inventories. A maintenance demonstration need not be based on modeling. See Wall v. EPA, 265 F.3d 426 (6th Cir. 2001), Sierra Club v. EPA, 375 F. 3d 537 (7th Cir. 2004). See also 66 FR 53094, 53099-53100 (October 19, 2001), 68 FR 25413, 25430-25432 (May 12, 2003).

    Illinois is using emissions inventories for the years 2020 and 2030 to demonstrate maintenance. 2030 is more than 10 years after the expected effective date of the redesignation to attainment, and 2020 was selected to demonstrate that emissions are not expected to increase in the interim between the attainment year and the final maintenance year.

    To develop the 2020 and 2030 inventories, the state collected data from the EPA's Air Emissions Modeling platform (2011v6.2) inventories for years 2011, 2017 and 2025. For year 2020, emissions for point and area source sectors, as well as nonroad mobile categories not calculated by the MOVES model, were derived by interpolating between 2017 and 2025. For year 2030, emissions for point and area source sectors, as well as nonroad mobile categories not calculated by the MOVES model, were derived using the TREND function in Excel. Finally, onroad and nonroad mobile source emissions were calculated for 2020 and 2030 using the MOVES2014a model. Total VMT for 2020 and 2030 were assumed to increase at a rate of 1.012 percent per year from 2014. Emissions data are shown in Tables 6 through 9 below.

    Table 6—St. Louis Area VOC and NOX Emissions for Interim Maintenance Year 2020 [TPSD] VOC Illinois Missouri Area total NOX Illinois Missouri Area total Point 9.03 14.32 23.35 16.81 88.60 105.41 Area 18.40 68.86 87.26 1.51 16.87 18.38 Onroad 6.38 26.64 33.02 13.22 46.42 59.64 Nonroad 5.65 28.71 34.36 18.45 28.27 46.72 Total 39.47 138.53 178.00 49.99 180.16 230.15 Table 7—St. Louis Area VOC and NOX Emissions for Maintenance Year 2030 [TPSD] VOC Illinois Missouri Area total NOX Illinois Missouri Area total Point 8.53 14.31 22.84 16.93 93.08 110.01 Area 18.05 68.80 86.85 1.51 13.03 14.54 Onroad 3.75 18.42 22.17 6.70 25.57 32.27 Nonroad 5.09 30.01 35.10 11.31 29.90 41.21 Total 35.43 131.54 166.97 36.46 161.58 198.04 Table 8—Change in VOC and NOX Emissions Between 2014 and 2030 for the Metro-East Area [TPSD] VOC 2014 2020 2030 Net change
  • (2014-2030)
  • NOX 2014 2020 2030 Net change
  • (2014-2030)
  • Point 9.38 9.03 8.53 −0.85 23.29 16.81 16.93 −6.36 Area 19.06 18.40 18.05 −1.01 1.53 1.51 1.51 −0.02 Onroad 10.11 6.38 3.75 −6.36 26.94 13.22 6.70 −20.24 Nonroad 7.47 5.65 5.09 −2.38 24.62 18.45 11.31 −13.31 Total 46.02 39.47 35.43 −10.59 76.38 49.99 36.46 −39.92
    Table 9—Change in VOC and NOX Emissions Between 2014 and 2030 for the Entire St. Louis Area [TPSD] VOC 2014 2020 2030 Net change
  • (2014-2030)
  • NOX 2014 2020 2030 Net change
  • (2014-2030)
  • Point 23.24 23.35 22.84 −0.40 104.99 105.41 110.01 5.02 Area 88.87 87.26 86.85 −2.02 8.00 18.38 14.54 6.54 Onroad 48.32 33.02 22.17 −26.15 138.70 59.64 32.27 −106.43 Nonroad 40.89 34.36 35.10 −5.79 63.06 46.72 41.21 −21.85 Total 201.32 178.00 166.97 −34.35 314.75 230.15 198.04 −116.71

    In summary, the maintenance demonstration for the St. Louis area shows maintenance of the 2008 ozone standard by providing emissions information to support the demonstration that future emissions of VOC and NOX will remain at or below 2014 emission levels when taking into account both future source growth and implementation of future controls. Table 9 shows VOC and NOX emissions in the St. Louis area are projected to decrease by 34.35 TPSD and 116.71 TPSD, respectively, between 2014 and 2030. As shown in Table 8, VOC and NOX emissions in the Metro-East portion of the area alone are projected to decrease by 10.59 TPSD and 39.92 TPSD, respectively, between 2014 and 2030.

    3. Continued Air Quality Monitoring

    IEPA has committed to continue to monitor ozone levels according to an EPA approved monitoring plan to ensure maintenance of the 2008 ozone standard. Illinois remains obligated to meet monitoring requirements and continue to quality assure monitoring data in accordance with 40 CFR part 58, and to enter all data into AQS in accordance with Federal guidelines.

    4. Verification of Continued Attainment

    The State of Illinois has the legal authority to enforce and implement the requirements of the maintenance plan for the Metro-East area. This includes the authority to adopt, implement, and enforce any subsequent emission control measures determined to be necessary to correct future ozone attainment problems.

    Verification of continued attainment is accomplished through operation of the ambient ozone monitoring network and the periodic update of the area's emissions inventory. IEPA has committed to continue monitoring ozone levels according to an EPA approved monitoring plan. Should changes in the location of an ozone monitor become necessary, IEPA will work with EPA to ensure the adequacy of the monitoring network. IEPA has further committed to continue to quality assure the monitoring data to meet the requirements of 40 CFR part 58 and enter all data into AQS in accordance with Federal guidelines.

    In addition, to track future levels of emissions, IEPA will continue to develop and submit to EPA updated emission inventories for all source categories at least once every three years, consistent with the requirements of 40 CFR part 51, subpart A, and in 40 CFR 51.122. The Consolidated Emissions Reporting Rule (CERR) was promulgated by EPA on June 10, 2002 (67 FR 39602). The CERR was replaced by the Annual Emissions Reporting Requirements (AERR) on December 17, 2008 (73 FR 76539). The most recent triennial inventory for Illinois was compiled for 2014. Point source facilities covered by the Illinois emission statement rule will continue to submit VOC and NOX emissions on an annual basis as required by 35 Ill. Adm. Code Part 254.

    5. What is the contingency plan for the St. Louis area?

    Section 175A of the CAA requires that the state must adopt a maintenance plan, as a SIP revision, that includes such contingency measures as EPA deems necessary to assure that the state will promptly correct a violation of the NAAQS that occurs after redesignation of the area to attainment of the NAAQS. The maintenance plan must identify: The contingency measures to be considered and, if needed for maintenance, adopted and implemented; a schedule and procedure for adoption and implementation; and, a time limit for action by the state. The state should also identify specific indicators to be used to determine when the contingency measures need to be considered, adopted, and implemented. The maintenance plan must include a commitment that the state will implement all measures with respect to the control of the pollutant that were contained in the SIP before redesignation of the area to attainment in accordance with section 175A(d) of the CAA.

    As required by section 175A of the CAA, Illinois has adopted a contingency plan for the St. Louis area to address possible future ozone air quality problems. The contingency plan adopted by Illinois has two levels of response, Level I and Level II.

    A Level I response is triggered in the event that: (1) The fourth highest 8-hour ozone concentration at any monitoring site in the St. Louis area exceeds 0.075 parts ppm in any year, or (2) VOC or NOX emissions in the Metro-East area increase more than 5% above the levels contained in the 2014 attainment year emissions inventory. IEPA will work with the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) to evaluate the causes of high ozone levels or emissions trends and to determine appropriate control measures needed to ensure continued attainment of the ozone standard. Control measures selected under a Level I response must be adopted within 18 months after a determination is made and implemented within 24 months of adoption.

    A Level II response is triggered in the event that a violation of the 2008 ozone standard is monitored within the St. Louis area. To select appropriate corrective measures, IEPA will work with the MDNR to conduct a comprehensive study to determine the causes of the violation and the control measures necessary to mitigate the problem. Implementation of necessary controls in response to a Level II trigger must take place as expeditiously as possible, but in no event later than 18 months after IEPA makes a determination, based on quality-assured ambient monitoring data, that a violation of the NAAQS has occurred.

    IEPA included the following list of potential contingency measures that could be implemented if a Level I or Level II response is triggered:

    a. Continued phasing in of Mercury and Air Toxics Standards, Reciprocating Internal Combustion Engines NESHAP and Industrial/Commercial/Institutional Boilers and Process Heaters NESHAP;

    b. CSAPR update after promulgation by EPA;

    c. NESHAP risk and technology review including: Mineral Wool Production 40 CFR 63 subpart DDD, Ferroalloys Production 40 CFR 63 subpart XXX, Petroleum Refineries 40 CFR 63 subparts CC and UUU;

    d. New Source Performance Standards—Petroleum Refineries 40 CFR subpart Ja;

    e. Broader geographic applicability of existing measures;

    f. Implementation of oil and gas sector emission guidelines, once finalized by EPA;

    g. Conversion of coal-fired EGUs to natural gas and from baseload units to intermittent units;

    h. Implementation of ozone transport commission model rules for above ground storage tanks;

    i. Implementation of the Clean Power Plan, once stay is lifted;

    j. Implementation of the 2017 light-duty vehicle greenhouse gas and corporate average fuel economy standards;

    k. Mobile source air toxics rule;

    l. Tier 3 Vehicle emissions and fuel standards;

    m. Heavy-duty vehicle greenhouse gas rules;

    n. Regulations on the sale of aftermarket catalytic converters;

    o. Adopting standards and limitations for organic material emissions for area sources (consumer and commercial products and architectural and industrial maintenance coatings rule), current California commercial and consumer products—aerosol adhesive coatings, dual purpose air freshener/disinfectant, etc.

    To qualify as a contingency measure, emissions reductions from that measure must not be factored into the emissions projections used in the maintenance plan.

    EPA has concluded that Illinois' maintenance plan adequately addresses the five basic components of a maintenance plan: Attainment inventory, maintenance demonstration, monitoring network, verification of continued attainment, and a contingency plan. In addition, as required by section 175A(b) of the CAA, IEPA has committed to submit to EPA an updated ozone maintenance plan eight years after redesignation of the Metro-East area to cover an additional ten years beyond the initial 10-year maintenance period. Thus, the maintenance plan SIP revision submitted by IEPA meets the requirements of section 175A of the CAA and EPA proposes to approve it as a revision to the Illinois SIP.

    V. Has Illinois adopted approvable motor vehicle emission budgets? A. What are motor vehicle emission budgets?

    Under section 176(c) of the CAA, new transportation plans, programs, or projects that receive Federal funding or support, such as the construction of new highways, must “conform” to (i.e., be consistent with) the SIP. Conformity to the SIP means that transportation activities will not cause new air quality violations, worsen existing air quality problems, or delay timely attainment of the NAAQS or interim air quality milestones. Regulations at 40 CFR part 93 set forth EPA policy, criteria, and procedures for demonstrating and assuring conformity of transportation activities to a SIP. Transportation conformity is a requirement for nonattainment and maintenance areas. Maintenance areas are areas that were previously nonattainment for a particular NAAQS, but that have been redesignated to attainment with an approved maintenance plan for the NAAQS.

    Under the CAA, states are required to submit, at various times, control strategy SIPs for nonattainment areas and maintenance plans for areas seeking redesignations to attainment of the ozone standard and maintenance areas. See the SIP requirements for the 2008 ozone standard in EPA's March 6, 2015 implementation rule (80 FR 12264). These control strategy SIPs (including reasonable further progress plans and attainment plans) and maintenance plans must include MVEBs for criteria pollutants, including ozone, and their precursor pollutants (VOC and NOX for ozone) to address pollution from onroad transportation sources. The MVEBs are the portion of the total allowable emissions that are allocated to highway and transit vehicle use that, together with emissions from other sources in the area, will provide for attainment or maintenance. See 40 CFR 93.101.

    Under 40 CFR part 93, a MVEB for an area seeking a redesignation to attainment must be established, at minimum, for the last year of the maintenance plan. A state may adopt MVEBs for other years as well. The MVEB serves as a ceiling on emissions from an area's planned transportation system. The MVEB concept is further explained in the preamble to the November 24, 1993, Transportation Conformity Rule (58 FR 62188). The preamble also describes how to establish the MVEB in the SIP and how to revise the MVEB, if needed, subsequent to initially establishing a MVEB in the SIP.

    B. What is the status of EPA's adequacy determination for the proposed VOC and NOX MVEBs for the Metro-East area?

    When reviewing submitted control strategy SIPs or maintenance plans containing MVEBs, EPA must affirmatively find that the MVEBs contained therein are adequate for use in determining transportation conformity. Once EPA affirmatively finds that the submitted MVEBs are adequate for transportation purposes, the MVEBs must be used by state and Federal agencies in determining whether proposed transportation projects conform to the SIP as required by section 176(c) of the CAA.

    EPA's substantive criteria for determining adequacy of a MVEB are set out in 40 CFR 93.118(e)(4). The process for determining adequacy consists of three basic steps: Public notification of a SIP submission; provision for a public comment period; and EPA's adequacy determination. This process for determining the adequacy of submitted MVEBs for transportation conformity purposes was initially outlined in EPA's May 14, 1999 guidance, “Conformity Guidance on Implementation of March 2, 1999, Conformity Court Decision.” EPA adopted regulations to codify the adequacy process in the Transportation Conformity Rule Amendments for the “New 8-Hour Ozone and PM2.5 National Ambient Air Quality Standards and Miscellaneous Revisions for Existing Areas; Transportation Conformity Rule Amendments—Response to Court Decision and Additional Rule Change,” on July 1, 2004 (69 FR 40004). Additional information on the adequacy process for transportation conformity purposes is available in the proposed rule titled, “Transportation Conformity Rule Amendments: Response to Court Decision and Additional Rule Changes,” 68 FR 38974, 38984 (June 30, 2003).

    As discussed earlier, IEPA's maintenance plan includes VOC and NOX MVEBs for the Metro-East area for 2030, the last year of the maintenance period. EPA reviewed the VOC and NOX MVEBs in accordance with the adequacy process. IEPA's May 8, 2017, maintenance plan SIP submission, including the VOC and NOX MVEBs for the Metro-East area, was open for public comment on EPA's adequacy Web site on August 21, 2017, at: https://www.epa.gov/state-and-local-transportation/adequacy-review-state-implementation-plan-sip-submissions-conformity.

    The EPA public comment period on adequacy of the 2030 MVEBs for the Metro-East area closed on September 20, 2017. No comments on the submittal were received during the adequacy comment period. The submitted maintenance plan, which included the MVEBs, was endorsed by the Governor (or his or her designee) and was subject to a state public hearing. The MVEBs were developed as part of an interagency consultation process which includes Federal, state, and local agencies. Additionally, the MVEBs were clearly identified and precisely quantified. These MVEBs, when considered together with all other emissions sources, are consistent with maintenance of the 2008 ozone standard.

    Table 10—MVEBs for the Metro-East Area [TPSD] Attainment
  • year 2014 on-road
  • emissions
  • 2030 estimated on-road emissions 2030 mobile
  • safety margin
  • allocation
  • 2030 MVEBs
    VOC 10.11 3.75 5.30 9.05 NOX 26.94 6.70 9.98 16.68

    As shown in Table 10, the 2030 MVEBs exceed the estimated 2030 on-road sector emissions. In an effort to accommodate future variations in travel demand models and vehicle miles traveled forecast, IEPA allocated a portion of the safety margin (described further below) to the mobile sector. Illinois has demonstrated that the St. Louis area can maintain the 2008 ozone NAAQS with mobile source emissions in the Metro-East portion of the area of 9.05 TPSD of VOC and 16.68 TPSD of NOX in 2030. This is because emissions will remain under attainment year emission levels despite partial allocation of the safety margin. Based on this analysis, the St. Louis area should maintain attainment of the 2008 ozone NAAQS for the relevant maintenance period with mobile source emissions at the levels of the MVEBs.

    Therefore, EPA has found that the MVEBs are adequate and is proposing to approve the MVEBs for use in determining transportation conformity in the Metro-East portion of the St. Louis area.

    C. What is a safety margin and how did Illinois allocate it?

    EPA's transportation conformity regulations allow for the use of a safety margin in the development of MVEBs for maintenance plans. A “safety margin” is the difference between the attainment level of emissions (from all sources) and the projected level of emissions (from all sources) in the maintenance plan. As noted in Table 8, the emissions in the Metro-East area are projected to have safety margins of 10.59 TPSD for VOC and 39.92 TPSD for NOX in 2030 (the difference between the attainment year, 2014, emissions and the projected 2030 emissions for all sources in the Metro-East area). Even if emissions reached the full level of the safety margin, the counties would still demonstrate maintenance because emission levels would equal those in the attainment year.

    As shown in Table 10 above, Illinois is allocating a portion of that safety margin to the mobile source sector. Specifically, in 2030, Illinois is allocating 5.30 TPSD and 9.98 TPSD of the VOC and NOX safety margins, respectively. IEPA is not requesting allocation of the entire available safety margins reflected in the demonstration of maintenance. Therefore, even though the State is requesting MVEBs that exceed the projected onroad mobile source emissions for 2030 contained in the demonstration of maintenance, the increase in onroad mobile source emissions that can be considered for transportation conformity purposes is well within the safety margins of the ozone maintenance demonstration. Further, once allocated to mobile sources, these safety margins will not be available for use by other sources. Thus, IEPA continues to demonstrate maintenance of the 2008 ozone standard despite IEPA's allocation of part of the safety margin to the mobile source sector.

    VI. Proposed Actions

    EPA is proposing to determine that the St. Louis nonattainment area is attaining the 2008 ozone standard, based on quality-assured and certified monitoring data for 2014-2016 and that the Metro-East portion of this area has met the requirements for redesignation under section 107(d)(3)(E) of the CAA. EPA is thus proposing to approve IEPA's request to change the legal designation of the Metro-East portion of the St. Louis area from nonattainment to attainment for the 2008 ozone standard. EPA is also proposing to approve, as a revision to the Illinois SIP, the state's maintenance plan for the area. The maintenance plan is designed to keep the St. Louis area in attainment of the 2008 ozone NAAQS through 2030. Finally, EPA finds adequate and is proposing to approve the newly-established 2030 MVEBs for the Metro-East area.

    VII. Statutory and Executive Order Reviews

    Under the CAA, redesignation of an area to attainment and the accompanying approval of a maintenance plan under section 107(d)(3)(E) are actions that affect the status of a geographical area and do not impose any additional regulatory requirements on sources beyond those imposed by state law. A redesignation to attainment does not in and of itself create any new requirements, but rather results in the applicability of requirements contained in the CAA for areas that have been redesignated to attainment. Moreover, the Administrator is required to approve a SIP submission that complies with the provisions of the CAA and applicable Federal regulations. 42 U.S.C. 7410(k); 40 CFR 52.02(a). Thus, in reviewing SIP submissions, EPA's role is to approve state choices, provided that they meet the criteria of the CAA. Accordingly, this action merely approves state law as meeting Federal requirements and does not impose additional requirements beyond those imposed by state law. For that reason, this action:

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

    • Is not an Executive Order 13771 (82 FR 9339, February 2, 2017) regulatory action because SIP approvals are exempted under Executive Order 12866;

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    In addition, the SIP is not approved to apply on any Indian reservation land or in any other area where EPA or an Indian tribe has demonstrated that a tribe has jurisdiction. In those areas of Indian country, this rule does not have tribal implications as specified by Executive Order 13175 (65 FR 67249, November 9, 2000), because redesignation is an action that affects the status of a geographical area and does not impose any new regulatory requirements on tribes, impact any existing sources of air pollution on tribal lands, nor impair the maintenance of ozone national ambient air quality standards in tribal lands.

    List of Subjects in 40 CFR Part 52

    Environmental protection, Air pollution control, Incorporation by reference, Intergovernmental relations, Oxides of nitrogen, Ozone, Volatile organic compounds.

    Dated: November 17, 2017. Robert A. Kaplan, Acting Regional Administrator, Region 5.
    [FR Doc. 2017-26419 Filed 12-7-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560-50-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES Administration for Children and Families 45 CFR Part 1304 RIN 0970-AC63 CLASS Condition of the Head Start Designation Renewal System AGENCY:

    Office of Head Start (OHS), Administration for Children and Families (ACF), Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

    ACTION:

    Request for comments.

    SUMMARY:

    OHS invites public comment on several specific changes being considered for the CLASS condition of the Designation Renewal System (DRS) as outlined in the Head Start Program Performance Standards. We are considering changes to the CLASS condition with a goal of improving implementation and transparency of the DRS. Changes being considered include removal of the “lowest 10 percent” provision of the CLASS condition, an increase of the minimum thresholds for the Emotional Support and Classroom Organization domains to a score of 5, removal of the minimum threshold for the Instructional Support domain, and establishment of authority for the Secretary to set an absolute minimum threshold for the Instructional Support domain prior to the start of each fiscal year to be applied for DRS CLASS reviews in the same fiscal year. OHS requests feedback on these possible changes as well as alternative changes to the CLASS condition, particularly ways the Instructional Support threshold could be set and/or adjusted that would incentivize program improvement while acknowledging the current state of the field. OHS also invites feedback on other conditions of the DRS.

    DATES:

    Submit comments by February 6, 2018.

    ADDRESSES:

    You may send comments, identified by [docket number and/or RIN number], by either of the following methods:

    Federal eRulemaking Portal: https://www.regulations.gov. Follow instructions for sending comments. We prefer to receive comments via this method.

    Mail: Office of Head Start, Attention: Colleen Rathgeb, Director, Division of Planning, Oversight and Policy, 330 C Street SW., Washington, DC 20024.

    Instructions: All submissions received must include our agency name and the docket number or Regulatory Information Number (RIN) for this notice. All comments will be posted without change to https://www.regulations.gov, including any personal information provided. We accept anonymous comments. If you wish to remain anonymous, enter “N/A” in the required fields.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Colleen Rathgeb, Director, Division of Planning, Oversight and Policy, Office of Head Start, [[email protected]], (202) 358-3263 (not a toll-free call). Deaf and hearing impaired individuals may call the Federal Dual Party Relay Service at 1-800-877-8339 between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m. Eastern Standard Time.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Background Information

    The Head Start program provides grants to local public and private non-profit and for-profit agencies to provide comprehensive education and child development services to economically disadvantaged children, from birth to age five, and families and to help young children develop the skills they need to be successful in school. Our agencies provide these families comprehensive services to support children's cognitive, social, and emotional development. In addition to education services, agencies provide children and their families with health, nutrition, social, and other services.

    To drive program quality improvement, the Improving Head Start for School Readiness Act of 2007, Pub. L. 110-134, (the Act) required HHS to develop a system to facilitate designation of Head Start grantees delivering a high-quality and comprehensive program for a period of five years and required grantees not delivering high-quality and comprehensive services to enter open competition for continued funding. Prior to the Act, when HHS designated a Head Start agency, it remained a Head Start grantee indefinitely unless the grantee either relinquished funding or HHS terminated its grant.

    To meet the requirement in the Act, HHS established the DRS, which is described in 45 CFR 1304.10 through 16. The DRS includes seven conditions. If an agency meets any of the seven conditions, it must compete with other providers in the community for renewed grant funding. The seven conditions are: (1) A deficiency under section 641A(c)(1)(A), (C), or (D) of the Act; (2) failure to establish, utilize, and analyze children's progress on agency-established School Readiness goals; (3) scores below minimum thresholds in the Classroom Assessment Scoring System: Pre-K (CLASS) domains or in the lowest 10 percent in any of the three domains of the agencies monitored in a given year unless the average score is equal to or above the standard of excellence; (4) revocation of a license to operate a center or program; (5) suspension from the program; (6) debarment from receiving federal or state funds or disqualified from the Child and Adult Care Food Program; or (7) an audit finding of at risk for failing to continue as “a going concern.” The Act also requires HHS to periodically evaluate whether or not the DRS criteria are applied in a manner that is transparent, reliable, and valid.

    Section 641(c)(1)(D) of the Act requires the DRS to be based in part on classroom quality as measured under section 641A(c)(2)(F), which refers to a valid and reliable research-based observational instrument, implemented by qualified individuals with demonstrated reliability, that assesses classroom quality, including assessing multiple dimensions of teacher-child interactions that are linked to positive child development and later achievement. The third condition of the DRS is based on use of the CLASS, which is an observational measurement tool for assessing the quality of teacher-child interactions and classroom processes in three broad domains that support children's learning and development: Emotional Support, Classroom Organization, and Instructional Support.

    Changes to CLASS Condition Under Consideration

    Since HHS established the DRS, all grantees that had indefinite project periods have completed the DRS process. Based on CLASS data, observations collected throughout these cohorts, results of a recent evaluation, and feedback from the community, we are considering changes to the CLASS condition of the DRS in order to better improve implementation of the system. There are concerns about some aspects of the CLASS condition of the DRS that have been raised by Head Start grantees as well as in the recent evaluation. First, the requirement for grantees with the lowest 10 percent of scores on any of the three CLASS domains to compete may not be optimally targeting the grantees for competition with the lowest measures of classroom quality. For example, grantees have been required to compete due to an Emotional Support score of 5.69, which is very close to the Standard of Excellence (a 6—which developers of the CLASS deem the highest quality), while grantees very close to the minimum threshold in Instructional Support (e.g., score of 2.3) do not have to compete. We are considering an approach to establish higher specific thresholds that demonstrate an established acceptable level of quality in Emotional Support and Classroom Organization and an adjustable threshold for the Instructional Support domain where there is the greatest potential and need for program improvement.

    Second, we understand that the delay between completion of the CLASS review and grantees knowing their DRS designation status, due to the need to collect and analyze a full monitoring year's CLASS scores to determine the lowest 10 percent, creates uncertainty, stress, and concern among grantees, grantee staff, and families. Because classroom quality in Head Start programs is improving, as demonstrated by recent analysis of data from the 2006, 2009, and 2014 cohorts of the Head Start Family and Child Experiences Survey (FACES),1 we are exploring options for the CLASS condition that would better balance an ability to drive quality improvement over time with an approach that would be more transparent, timely, and less burdensome for programs.

    1 Aikens, N., Bush, C., Gleason, P., Malone, L., & Tarullo, L. (2016). Tracking Quality in Head Start Classrooms: FACES 2006 to FACES 2014. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

    To inform our development of a notice of proposed rulemaking to change the DRS CLASS condition to meet the objectives described above, we are requesting public comments on several specific changes being considered. The changes under consideration are as follows:

    1. Remove the “lowest 10 percent” provision of the CLASS condition described in 45 CFR 1304.11(c)(2).

    2. Increase the minimum threshold described in 45 CFR 1304.11(c)(1)(i) for the Emotional Support domain from 4 to 5.

    3. Increase the minimum threshold described in 45 CFR 1304.11(c)(1)(ii) for Classroom Organization from 3 to 5.

    4. Remove the minimum threshold for the Instructional Support domain described in 45 CFR 1304.11(c)(1)(iii) and instead provide authority for the Secretary to set an absolute minimum threshold for the Instructional Support domain, considering the most recent CLASS data, by August 1 of each year to be used for CLASS Reviews conducted in the following fiscal year (October 1 through September 30).

    Together, these changes would allow grantees to know by August 1, before CLASS Reviews are conducted for the coming fiscal year, the exact threshold of classroom quality in each of the three domains that will be used to determine which grantees will be subject to an open competition for funding and which grantees will receive renewed funding non-competitively. Grantees would no longer have to wait until several months following the conclusion of the CLASS reviews for the fiscal year (September 30) to learn the lowest 10 percent cutoff in each of the 3 domains. Setting minimum thresholds of 5 in the Emotional Support and Classroom Organization domains would set a clear and consistent expectation of quality for all Head Start programs. Allowing the Secretary to set the minimum threshold in the Instructional Support domain prior to the start of each program year and monitoring year would allow for consideration of the most recent CLASS data for Head Start grantees while still supporting continuous quality improvement across the program as a whole.

    What We Are Looking for in Public Comments

    We invite comments about the specific changes being considered for the DRS CLASS condition. We also invite comments about any unintended consequences of removing the lowest 10 percent condition and whether an absolute threshold could influence scores. We are particularly interested in recommendations related to how the Secretary would consider establishing the minimum threshold for Instructional Support each year. For example, the regulation could establish an initial Instructional Support threshold (e.g., 2.3 or 2.5) that could be raised in increments of 0.1 based on certain criteria related to the available CLASS data from all prior years of Head Start monitoring, or the threshold could be set one standard deviation below the mean Instructional Support score over the 3 or 5 previous fiscal years. We are interested in other ideas of ways the Instructional Support threshold could be set and/or adjusted that would incentivize program improvement while acknowledging the current state of the field. We are also interested in feedback on another potential change to establish or maintain a minimum absolute threshold (such as a 2) that would require competition and a higher threshold (such as 2.5 or 3) and require grantees to focus on quality improvement before they were reevaluated to see if their Instructional Support score has improved. Only grantees without improvement or still below the threshold would then have to compete. We are interested in feedback on each of these possible approaches as well as others suggested by the field.

    If commenters do not support the changes being considered, comments offering alternative proposals to the CLASS condition or to other conditions of the DRS would be particularly helpful.

    Dated: December 5, 2017. Ann Linehan, Acting Director, Office of Head Start.
    [FR Doc. 2017-26483 Filed 12-7-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4184-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 679 [Docket No. 170817779-7779-01] RIN 0648-XF636 Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands; 2018 and 2019 Harvest Specifications for Groundfish AGENCY:

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

    ACTION:

    Proposed rule; request for comments.

    SUMMARY:

    NMFS proposes 2018 and 2019 harvest specifications, apportionments, and prohibited species catch allowances for the groundfish fisheries of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands (BSAI) management area. This action is necessary to establish harvest limits for groundfish during the 2018 and 2019 fishing years, and to accomplish the goals and objectives of the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Area. The intended effect of this action is to conserve and manage the groundfish resources in the BSAI in accordance with the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act.

    DATES:

    Comments must be received by January 8, 2018.

    ADDRESSES:

    Submit your comments, identified by NOAA-NMFS-2017-0108, by either of the following methods:

    Federal e-Rulemaking Portal: Go to www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-2017-0108, click the “Comment Now!” icon, complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments.

    Mail: Submit written comments to Glenn Merrill, Assistant Regional Administrator, Sustainable Fisheries Division, Alaska Region NMFS, Attn: Ellen Sebastian. Mail comments to P.O. Box 21668, Juneau, AK 99802-1668.

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

    Electronic copies of the Alaska Groundfish Harvest Specifications Final Environmental Impact Statement (Final EIS), Record of Decision (ROD), Supplementary Information Report (SIR) to the EIS, and the Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (IRFA) prepared for this action may be obtained from http://www.regulations.gov or from the Alaska Region Web site at http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov. The final 2016 Stock Assessment and Fishery Evaluation (SAFE) report for the groundfish resources of the BSAI, dated November 2016, is available from the North Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) at 605 West 4th Avenue, Suite 306, Anchorage, AK 99501-2252, phone 907-271-2809, or from the Council's Web site at http://www.npfmc.org/. The draft 2017 SAFE report for the BSAI is available from the same source.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Steve Whitney, 907-586-7228.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Federal regulations at 50 CFR part 679 implement the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Area (FMP) and govern the groundfish fisheries in the BSAI. The Council prepared the FMP, and NMFS approved it, under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act). General regulations governing U.S. fisheries also appear at 50 CFR part 600.

    The FMP and its implementing regulations require NMFS, after consultation with the Council, to specify annually the total allowable catch (TAC) for each target species category. The sum of TACs for all groundfish species in the BSAI must be within the optimum yield (OY) range of 1.4 million to 2.0 million metric tons (mt) (see § 679.20(a)(1)(i)(A)). Section 679.20(c)(1) further requires NMFS to publish proposed harvest specifications in the Federal Register and solicit public comments on proposed annual TACs and apportionments thereof, prohibited species catch (PSC) allowances, prohibited species quota (PSQ) reserves established by § 679.21, seasonal allowances of pollock, Pacific cod, and Atka mackerel TAC, American Fisheries Act allocations, Amendment 80 allocations, Community Development Quota (CDQ) reserve amounts established by § 679.20(b)(1)(ii), and acceptable biological catch (ABC) surpluses and reserves for CDQ groups and Amendment 80 cooperatives for flathead sole, rock sole, and yellowfin sole. The proposed harvest specifications set forth in Tables 1 through 16 of this action satisfy these requirements.

    Under § 679.20(c)(3), NMFS will publish the final harvest specifications for 2018 and 2019 after (1) considering comments received within the comment period (see DATES), (2) consulting with the Council at its December 2017 meeting, (3) considering information presented in the SIR to the EIS that assesses the need to prepare a Supplemental EIS (see ADDRESSES), and (4) considering information presented in the final 2017 SAFE reports prepared for the 2018 and 2019 groundfish fisheries.

    Other Actions Affecting the 2018 and 2019 Harvest Specifications Amendment 117: Reclassify Squid as an Ecosystem Species

    In June 2017, the Council recommended for Secretarial review Amendment 117 to the FMP. Amendment 117 would reclassify squid in the FMP as an “Ecosystem Component” species, which is a category of non-target species that are not in need of conservation and management. Currently, NMFS annually sets an Overfishing Level (OFL), ABC, and TAC for squid in the BSAI groundfish harvest specifications. Under Amendment 117, OFL, ABC, and TAC specifications would no longer be required. Proposed regulations to implement Amendment 117 would prohibit directed fishing for squid, require recordkeeping and reporting to monitor and report catch of squid species annually, and establish a squid maximum retainable amount when directed fishing for groundfish species at 20 percent to discourage retention, while allowing flexibility to prosecute groundfish fisheries. Further details will be available on publication of the proposed rule for Amendment 117. If Amendment 117 and its implementing regulations are approved by the Secretary of Commerce, Amendment 117 and its implementing regulations are anticipated to be effective by 2019. Until Amendment 117 is effective, NMFS will continue to publish OFLs, ABCs, and TACs for squid in the BSAI groundfish harvest specifications.

    Alaska Guideline Harvest Levels

    The Alaska Board of Fisheries (BOF), a regulatory body for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, established a guideline harvest level (GHL) in State of Alaska (State) waters between 164 and 167 degrees west longitude in the Bering Sea subarea (BS) equal to 6.4 percent of the Pacific cod ABC for the BS. The Council recommends that the proposed 2018 and 2019 Pacific cod TACs accommodate the State's GHLs for Pacific cod in State waters in the BS. The Council and its BSAI Groundfish Plan Team (Plan Team), Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC), and Advisory Panel (AP) recommended that the sum of all State and Federal water Pacific cod removals from the BS not exceed the proposed ABC recommendations of 208,265 mt. Accordingly, the Council recommends the proposed 2018 and 2019 Pacific cod TACs in the BS to account for State GHLs.

    For 2018 and 2019, the BOF established a GHL in State waters in the Aleutian Islands subarea (AI) equal to 27 percent of the Pacific cod ABC for the AI. The Council recommends that the proposed 2018 and 2019 Pacific cod TACs accommodate the State's GHLs for Pacific cod in State waters in the AI. The Council and its Plan Team, SSC, and AP recommended that the sum of all State and Federal water Pacific cod removals from the AI not exceed the proposed ABC recommendations of 21,500 mt. Accordingly, the Council recommends that the proposed 2018 and 2019 Pacific cod TACs in the AI account for State GHLs.

    Proposed ABC and TAC Harvest Specifications

    At the October 2017 Council meeting, the SSC, AP, and Council reviewed the most recent biological and harvest information on the condition of the BSAI groundfish stocks. The Plan Team compiled and presented this information, which was initially compiled by the Plan Team and presented in the final 2016 SAFE report for the BSAI groundfish fisheries, dated November 2016 (see ADDRESSES).

    The Council recommends and NMFS proposes a reduction in the Pacific cod OFL, ABC, and TAC levels as compared to those levels implemented for Pacific cod in the 2017 and 2018 final BSAI groundfish harvest specifications published in February 2017 (82 FR 11826, February 27, 2017). The only changes to the proposed 2018 and 2019 harvest specifications from the final 2018 harvest specifications are associated with a decrease in Pacific cod OFL, ABC, and TAC in the BS and increases in pollock TAC amounts in the BS, Atka mackerel, Pacific ocean perch, and rock sole TAC amounts in the BSAI. The net increases of TAC equal the decrease of Pacific cod TAC, and leave the sum of the TACs equal to 2.0 million mt. The Council concurred with its SSC's recommendation to reduce the Pacific cod OFL and ABC, as well as its AP's recommendation for a corresponding reduction in the Pacific cod TAC. The reductions to the Pacific cod OFL, ABC, and TAC are the result of preliminary 2017 BSAI bottom trawl survey data, as well as other data, that recently became available to stock assessment scientists.

    Based on the results of the 2017 BSAI bottom trawl survey estimates and preliminary modeling for the Pacific cod stock assessment, the Pacific cod biomass and abundance has decreased significantly since the 2016 BSAI bottom trawl survey. This decrease is corroborated by additional data sets that appear to support the trawl survey results associated with a decrease in the Pacific cod biomass. This information led to the recommended reduction in the proposed 2018 and 2019 Pacific cod OFL and ABC. The SSC opted to recommend a proposed 2018 OFL and ABC based on the average of the current 2018 OFL and ABC amounts and preliminary Tier 5 OFL and ABC amounts provided by the Pacific cod stock assessment author. This precautionary approach provides a strong indication of decreases in the OFL and ABC amounts for the final harvest specifications. However, this was a temporary approach used only for these proposed specifications, and Pacific cod remains in Tier 3a. The SSC also strongly noted that the final 2018 and 2019 harvest specifications for Pacific cod could be even lower than those recommended in the proposed 2018 and 2019 harvest specifications once the stock assessment process has been completed and reviewed by December 2017.

    The proposed Pacific cod OFL, ABC, and TAC amounts likely will further change once the Pacific cod stock assessment is finalized, reviewed by the Council's groundfish Plan Team in November, and then subsequently reviewed by the SSC, AP, and Council in December 2017. The proposed reductions to Pacific cod OFL, ABC, and TAC amounts apply in the BS, while for the AI, the proposed OFL, ABC, and TAC amounts are unchanged from the final 2018 amounts. The Council increased the proposed TACs of Atka mackerel, Pacific ocean perch, pollock, and rock sole to match the decrease of Pacific cod TAC in the BS, and these TACs could also change in the final specifications based on the final Pacific cod harvest amounts.

    The amounts proposed for the 2018 and 2019 harvest specifications are based on the 2016 SAFE report, and initial survey data, and are subject to change in the final harvest specifications to be published by NMFS following the Council's December 2017 meeting. In November 2017, the Plan Team will update the 2016 SAFE report to include new information collected during 2017, such as NMFS stock surveys, revised stock assessments, and catch data. At its December 2017 meeting, the Council will consider information contained in the final 2017 SAFE report, recommendations from the November 2017 Plan Team meeting, public testimony from the December 2017 SSC and AP meetings, and relevant written comments in making its recommendations for the final 2018 and 2019 harvest specifications.

    In previous years, the OFLs and ABCs that have had the most significant changes (relative to the amount of assessed tonnage of fish) from the proposed to the final harvest specifications have been for OFLs and ABCs that are based on the most recent NMFS stock surveys, which provide updated estimates of stock biomass and spatial distribution, and changes to the models used in the stock assessments. Any changes will be recommended by the Plan Team in November 2017 and then included in the final 2017 SAFE report. The final 2017 SAFE report will include the most recent information, such as catch data.

    The final harvest specification amounts for these stocks are not expected to vary greatly from the proposed harvest specification amounts published here, except that Pacific cod harvest amounts could change and even decrease further, which could impact other TAC amounts in order to achieve OY, as explained earlier in this preamble. If the final 2017 SAFE report indicates that the stock biomass trend is increasing for a species, then the final 2018 and 2019 harvest specifications may reflect an increase from the proposed harvest specifications. Conversely, if the final 2017 SAFE report indicates that the stock biomass trend is decreasing for a species, then the final 2018 and 2019 harvest specifications may reflect a decrease from the proposed harvest specifications. In addition to changes driven by biomass trends, there may be changes in TACs due to the sum of ABCs exceeding 2 million mt. Since the regulations require TACs to be set to an OY between 1.4 and 2 million mt, the Council may be required to recommend TACs that are lower than the ABCs recommended by the Plan Team and the SSC, if setting TACs equal to ABCs would cause total TACs to exceed an OY of 2 million mt. Generally, total ABCs greatly exceed 2 million mt in years with a large pollock biomass. NMFS anticipates that, both for 2018 and 2019, the sum of the ABCs will exceed 2 million mt. NMFS expects that the final total TAC for the BSAI for both 2018 and 2019 will equal 2 million mt each year.

    The proposed OFLs, ABCs, and TACs are based on the best available biological and socioeconomic data, including projected biomass trends, information on assumed distribution of stock biomass, and revised technical methods used to calculate stock biomass. In general, the development of ABCs and OFLs involves statistical modeling of fish populations. The FMP specifies a series of six tiers to define OFLs and ABCs based on the level of reliable information available to fishery scientists. Tier 1 represents the highest level of information quality available, while Tier 6 represents the lowest.

    In October 2017, the SSC adopted the proposed 2018 and 2019 OFLs and ABCs recommended by the Plan Team for all groundfish species, with the exception of the decreases for Pacific cod OFL and ABC in the BS. The Council adopted the SSC's OFL and ABC recommendations. These amounts are unchanged from the final 2018 harvest specifications published in the Federal Register on February 27, 2017 (82 FR 11826), with the exception of the decreases for BS Pacific cod OFL, ABC, and TAC and the related increases for Atka mackerel, Pacific ocean perch, pollock, and rock sole TAC amounts. The Council adopted the AP's TAC recommendations. For 2018 and 2019, the Council recommended and NMFS proposes the OFLs, ABCs, and TACs listed in Table 1. The proposed ABCs reflect harvest amounts that are less than the specified OFLs. The sum of the proposed 2018 and 2019 ABCs for all assessed groundfish is 4,167,913 mt, which is less than the final 2018 ABC total in the final 2017 and 2018 BSAI harvest specifications to account for the decrease in BS Pacific cod ABC (82 FR 11826, February 27, 2017). The sum of TACs is the same as the final 2018 TAC total in the final 2017 and 2018 BSAI harvest specifications, but the proposed harvest specifications reflect the decrease in the BS Pacific cod TAC amount and the corresponding increases in Atka mackerel, Pacific ocean perch, pollock, and rock sole TAC amounts.

    Specification and Apportionment of TAC Amounts

    The Council recommended proposed TACs for 2018 and 2019 Bering Sea and Eastern Aleutian Islands Atka mackerel that are equal to the proposed ABCs. The Council recommended proposed TACs less than the respective proposed ABCs for all other TACs. Section 679.20(a)(5)(iii)(B)(1) requires the AI pollock TAC to be set at 19,000 mt when the AI pollock ABC equals or exceeds 19,000 mt. The Bogoslof pollock TAC is set to accommodate incidental catch amounts. TACs are set so that the sum of the overall TAC does not exceed the BSAI OY.

    The proposed groundfish OFLs, ABCs, and TACs are subject to change pending the completion of the final 2017 SAFE report and the Council's recommendations for final 2018 and 2019 harvest specifications during its December 2017 meeting. These proposed amounts are consistent with the biological condition of groundfish stocks as described in the 2016 SAFE report, and have been adjusted for other biological and socioeconomic considerations. Pursuant to Section 3.2.3.4.1 of the FMP, the Council could recommend adjusting the TACs if “warranted on the basis of bycatch considerations, management uncertainty, or socioeconomic considerations; or if required in order to cause the sum of the TACs to fall within the OY range.” Table 1 lists the proposed 2018 and 2019 OFL, ABC, TAC, initial TAC (ITAC), and CDQ amounts for groundfish for the BSAI. The proposed apportionment of TAC amounts among fisheries and seasons is discussed below.

    Table 1—Proposed 2018 and 2019 Overfishing Level (OFL), Acceptable Biological Catch (ABC), Total Allowable Catch (TAC), Initial TAC (ITAC), and CDQ Reserve Allocation of Groundfish in the BSAI 1 [Amounts are in metric tons] Species Area Proposed 2018 and 2019 OFL ABC TAC ITAC 2 CDQ 3 4 Pollock 4 BS 4,360,000 2,979,000 1,359,858 1,223,872 135,986 AI 49,291 40,788 19,000 17,100 1,900 Bogoslof 130,428 97,428 500 500 Pacific cod 5 BS 258,687 208,265 194,936 174,078 20,858 AI 28,700 21,500 15,695 14,016 1,679 Sablefish BS 1,519 1,291 1,274 541 175 AI 2,072 1,758 1,735 369 293 Yellowfin sole BSAI 276,000 250,800 154,000 137,522 16,478 Greenland turbot BSAI 12,831 10,864 4,500 3,825 n/a BS n/a 9,484 4,375 3,719 468 AI n/a 1,380 125 106 Arrowtooth flounder BSAI 67,023 58,633 14,000 11,900 1,498 Kamchatka flounder BSAI 10,700 9,200 5,000 4,250 Rock sole 6 BSAI 147,300 143,100 50,100 44,739 5,361 Flathead sole 7 BSAI 79,136 66,164 15,500 13,842 1,659 Alaska plaice BSAI 36,900 32,100 13,000 11,050 Other flatfish 8 BSAI 17,591 13,193 2,500 2,125 Pacific Ocean perch BSAI 51,950 42,735 40,400 35,604 n/a BS n/a 11,924 11,000 9,350 EAI n/a 10,074 9,900 8,841 1,059 CAI n/a 7,828 7,500 6,698 803 WAI n/a 12,909 12,000 10,716 1,284 Northern rockfish BSAI 15,854 12,947 5,000 4,250 Blackspotted and Rougheye rockfish 10 BSAI 750 614 225 191 EBS/EAI n/a 374 100 85 CAI/WAI n/a 240 125 106 Shortraker rockfish BSAI 666 499 125 106 Other rockfish 10 BSAI 1,816 1,362 875 744 BS n/a 791 325 276 AI n/a 571 550 468 Atka mackerel BSAI 99,900 85,000 69,410 61,983 7,427 EAI/BS n/a 34,000 34,000 30,362 3,638 CAI n/a 29,600 21,500 19,200 2,301 WAI n/a 21,400 13,910 12,422 1,488 Skates BSAI 46,583 39,008 26,000 22,100 Sculpins BSAI 56,582 42,387 4,500 3,825 Sharks BSAI 689 517 125 106 Squids BSAI 6,912 5,184 1,342 1,141 Octopuses BSAI 4,769 3,576 400 340 TOTAL 5,764,649 4,167,913 2,000,000 1,790,119 196,927 1 These amounts apply to the entire BSAI management area unless otherwise specified. With the exception of pollock, and for the purpose of these harvest specifications, the BS includes the Bogoslof District. 2 Except for pollock, the portion of the sablefish TAC allocated to hook-and-line or pot gear, and the Amendment 80 species (Atka mackerel, Aleutian Islands Pacific ocean perch, yellowfin sole, rock sole, flathead sole, and Pacific cod), 15 percent of each TAC is put into a reserve. The ITAC for these species is the remainder of the TAC after the subtraction of these reserves. For pollock and Amendment 80 species, ITAC is the non-CDQ allocation of TAC. 3 For the Amendment 80 species (Atka mackerel, Aleutian Islands Pacific ocean perch, yellowfin sole, rock sole, flathead sole, and Pacific cod), 10.7 percent of the TAC is reserved for use by CDQ participants (see §§ 679.20(b)(1)(ii)(C) and 679.31). Twenty percent of the sablefish TAC is allocated to hook-and-line gear or pot gear, 7.5 percent of the sablefish TAC is allocated to trawl gear, and 10.7 percent of the TACs for Bering Sea Greenland turbot and arrowtooth flounder are reserved for use by CDQ participants (see §§ 679.20(b)(1)(ii)(B) and (D)). The 2018 hook-and-line or pot gear portion of the sablefish ITAC and CDQ reserve will not be specified until the final 2018 and 2019 harvest specifications. Aleutian Islands Greenland turbot, “other flatfish,” Alaska plaice, Bering Sea Pacific ocean perch, Kamchatka flounder, northern rockfish, shortraker rockfish, blackspotted and rougheye rockfish, “other rockfish,” squids, octopuses, skates, sculpins, and sharks are not allocated to the CDQ Program. 4 Under § 679.20(a)(5)(i)(A)(1), the annual BS pollock TAC, after subtracting first for the CDQ directed fishing allowance (10 percent) and second for the incidental catch allowance (3.9 percent), is further allocated by sector for a pollock directed fishery as follows: inshore—50 percent; catcher/processor—40 percent; and motherships—10 percent. Under § 679.20(a)(5)(iii)(B)(2), the annual AI subarea pollock TAC, after subtracting first for the CDQ directed fishing allowance (10 percent) and second for the incidental catch allowance (2,400 mt), is allocated to the Aleut Corporation for a directed pollock fishery. 5 The BS Pacific cod TAC is set less than 6.4 percent of the BS ABC to account for the State's guideline harvest level in State waters of the BS. The AI Pacific cod TAC is set less than 27 percent of the AI ABC to account for the State guideline harvest level in State waters of the AI. 6 “Rock sole” includes Lepidopsetta polyxystra (Northern rock sole) and Lepidopsetta bilineata (Southern rock sole). 7 “Flathead sole” includes Hippoglossoides elassodon (flathead sole) and Hippoglossoides robustus (Bering flounder). 8 “Other flatfish” includes all flatfish species, except for halibut (a prohibited species), flathead sole, Greenland turbot, rock sole, yellowfin sole, arrowtooth flounder, Kamchatka flounder, and Alaska plaice. 9 “Blackspotted and Rougheye rockfish” includes Sebastes melanostictus (blackspotted) and Sebastes aleutianus (rougheye). 10 “Other rockfish” includes all Sebastes and Sebastolobus species except for Pacific ocean perch, northern, shortraker, and rougheye rockfish. Note: Regulatory areas and districts are defined at § 679.2 (BSAI=Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands management area, BS=Bering Sea subarea, AI=Aleutian Islands subarea, EAI=Eastern Aleutian district, CAI=Central Aleutian district, WAI=Western Aleutian district.) Groundfish Reserves and the Incidental Catch Allowance (ICA) for Pollock, Atka Mackerel, Flathead Sole, Rock Sole, Yellowfin Sole, and AI Pacific Ocean Perch

    Section 679.20(b)(1)(i) requires NMFS to reserve 15 percent of the TAC for each target species category, except for pollock, hook-and-line and pot gear allocation of sablefish, and Amendment 80 species, in a non-specified reserve. Section 679.20(b)(1)(ii)(B) requires NMFS to allocate 20 percent of the hook-and-line or pot gear allocation of sablefish to the fixed gear sablefish CDQ reserve. Section 679.20(b)(1)(ii)(D) requires NMFS to allocate 7.5 percent of the trawl gear allocation of sablefish and 10.7 percent of Bering Sea Greenland turbot and arrowtooth flounder TACs to the respective CDQ reserves. Section 679.20(b)(1)(ii)(C) requires NMFS to allocate 10.7 percent of the TACs for Atka mackerel, AI Pacific ocean perch, yellowfin sole, rock sole, flathead sole, and Pacific cod to the CDQ reserves. Sections 679.20(a)(5)(i)(A) and 679.31(a) also require allocation of 10 percent of the BS pollock TACs to the pollock CDQ directed fishing allowance (DFA). The entire Bogoslof District pollock TAC is allocated as an ICA pursuant to § 679.20(a)(5)(ii) because the Bogoslof Area is closed to directed fishing for pollock by regulation (§ 679.22(a)(7)(i)(B)). With the exception of the hook-and-line or pot gear sablefish CDQ reserve, the regulations do not further apportion the CDQ reserves by gear.

    Pursuant to § 679.20(a)(5)(i)(A)(1), NMFS proposes a pollock ICA of 3.9 percent or 47,731 mt of the BS pollock TAC after subtracting the 10 percent CDQ reserve. This allowance is based on NMFS' examination of the pollock incidentally retained and discarded catch, including the incidental catch by CDQ vessels, in target fisheries other than pollock from 2000 through 2017. During this 18-year period, the pollock incidental catch ranged from a low of 2.4 percent in 2006 to a high of 4.8 percent in 2014, with a 18-year average of 3.3 percent. Pursuant to §§ 679.20(a)(5)(iii)(B)(2)(i) and (ii), NMFS proposes a pollock ICA of 14 percent or 2,400 mt of the AI TAC after subtracting the 10-percent CDQ DFA. This allowance is based on NMFS' examination of the pollock incidental catch, including the incidental catch by CDQ vessels in target fisheries other than pollock from 2003 through 2017. During this 15-year period, the incidental catch of pollock ranged from a low of 5 percent in 2006 to a high of 17 percent in 2014, with a 15-year average of 8 percent.

    Pursuant to §§ 679.20(a)(8) and (10), NMFS proposes ICAs of 4,000 mt of flathead sole, 6,000 mt of rock sole, 4,000 mt of yellowfin sole, 10 mt of Western Aleutian District Pacific ocean perch, 60 mt of Central Aleutian District Pacific ocean perch, 100 mt of Eastern Aleutian District Pacific ocean perch, 20 mt of Western Aleutian District Atka mackerel, 75 mt of Central Aleutian District Atka mackerel, and 800 mt of Eastern Aleutian District and Bering Sea subarea Atka mackerel after subtracting the 10.7 percent CDQ reserve. These ICAs are based on NMFS' examination of the average incidental retained and discarded catch in other target fisheries from 2003 through 2017.

    The regulations do not designate the remainder of the non-specified reserve by species or species group. Any amount of the reserve may be apportioned to a target species that contributed to the non-specified reserve during the year, provided that such apportionments are consistent with § 679.20(a)(3) and do not result in overfishing (see § 679.20(b)(1)(i)).

    Allocations of Pollock TAC Under the American Fisheries Act (AFA)

    Section 679.20(a)(5)(i)(A) requires that BS pollock TAC be apportioned as a DFA, after subtracting 10 percent for the CDQ Program and 3.9 percent for the ICA, as follows: 50 percent to the inshore sector, 40 percent to the catcher/processor sector, and 10 percent to the mothership sector. In the BS, 45 percent of the DFA is allocated to the A season (January 20 to June 10) and 55 percent of the DFA is allocated to the B season (June 10 to November 1) (§§ 679.20(a)(5)(i)(B)(1) and 679.23(e)(2)). The AI directed pollock fishery allocation to the Aleut Corporation is the amount of pollock TAC remaining in the AI after subtracting 1,900 mt for the CDQ DFA (10 percent), and 2,400 mt for the ICA (§ 679.20(a)(5)(iii)(B)(2)). In the AI, the total A season apportionment of the pollock TAC (including the AI directed fishery allocation, the CDQ allowance, and the ICA) may equal up to 40 percent of the ABC for AI pollock, and the remainder of the pollock TAC is allocated to the B season (§ 679.20(a)(5)(iii)(B)(3)). Table 2 lists these proposed 2018 and 2019 amounts.

    Section 679.20(a)(5)(iii)(B)(6) sets harvest limits for pollock in the A season (January 20 to June 10) in Areas 543, 542, and 541. In Area 543, the A season pollock harvest limit is no more than 5 percent of the Aleutian Islands pollock ABC. In Area 542, the A season pollock harvest limit is no more than 15 percent of the Aleutian Islands pollock ABC. In Area 541, the A season pollock harvest limit is no more than 30 percent of the Aleutian Islands pollock ABC.

    Section 679.20(a)(5)(i)(A)(4) also includes several specific requirements regarding BS pollock allocations. First, it requires that 8.5 percent of the pollock allocated to the catcher/processor sector be available for harvest by AFA catcher vessels with catcher/processor sector endorsements, unless the Regional Administrator receives a cooperative contract that allows the distribution of harvest among AFA catcher/processors and AFA catcher vessels in a manner agreed to by all members. Second, AFA catcher/processors not listed in the AFA are limited to harvesting not more than 0.5 percent of the pollock allocated to the catcher/processor sector. Table 2 lists the proposed 2018 and 2019 allocations of pollock TAC. Tables 13 through 16 list the AFA catcher/processor and catcher vessel harvesting sideboard limits. The BS inshore pollock cooperative and open access sector allocations are based on the submission of AFA inshore cooperative applications due to NMFS on December 1 of each calendar year. Because AFA inshore cooperative applications for 2018 have not been submitted to NMFS, and NMFS therefore cannot calculate 2018 allocations, NMFS has not included inshore cooperative text and tables in these proposed harvest specifications. NMFS will post 2018 AFA inshore pollock cooperative and open access sector allocations on the Alaska Region Web site at http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov prior to the start of the fishing year on January 1, 2018, based on the harvest specifications effective on that date.

    Table 2 also lists proposed seasonal apportionments of pollock and harvest limits within the Steller Sea Lion Conservation Area (SCA). The harvest of pollock within the SCA, as defined at § 679.22(a)(7)(vii), is limited to no more than 28 percent of the DFA before 12:00 noon, April 1, as provided in § 679.20(a)(5)(i)(C). The A season pollock SCA harvest limit will be apportioned to each sector in proportion to each sector's allocated percentage of the DFA. Table 2 lists these proposed 2018 and 2019 amounts by sector.

    Table 2—Proposed 2018 and 2019 Allocations of Pollock TACs to the Directed Pollock Fisheries and to the CDQ Directed Fishing Allowances (DFA) 1 [Amounts are in metric tons] Area and sector 2018 and 2019
  • allocations
  • A season 1 A season DFA SCA harvest limit 2 B season 1 B season DFA
    Bering Sea subarea TAC 1,359,858 n/a n/a n/a CDQ DFA 135,986 61,194 38,076 74,792 ICA 1 47,731 n/a n/a n/a AFA Inshore 588,071 264,632 164,660 323,439 AFA Catcher/Processors 3 470,456 211,705 131,728 258,751 Catch by C/Ps 430,468 193,710 n/a 236,757 Catch by C/Vs 3 39,989 17,995 n/a 21,994 Unlisted C/P Limit 4 2,352 1,059 n/a 1,294 AFA Motherships 117,614 52,926 32,932 64,688 Excessive Harvesting Limit 5 205,825 n/a n/a n/a Excessive Processing Limit 6 352,842 n/a n/a n/a Total Bering Sea DFA (non-CDQ) 1,176,141 529,264 329,320 646,878 Aleutian Islands subarea ABC 40,788 n/a n/a n/a Aleutian Islands subarea TAC 19,000 n/a n/a n/a CDQ DFA 1,900 760 n/a 1,140 ICA 2,400 1,200 n/a 1,200 Aleut Corporation 14,700 14,355 n/a 345 Area harvest limit 7 n/a n/a n/a n/a Area 541 harvest limit 7 12,236 n/a n/a n/a Area 542 harvest limit 7 6,118 n/a n/a n/a Area 543 harvest limit 7 2,039 n/a n/a n/a Bogoslof District ICA 8 500 n/a n/a n/a 1 Pursuant to § 679.20(a)(5)(i)(A), the annual Bering Sea subarea pollock TAC, after subtracting the CDQ DFA (10 percent) and the ICA (3.9 percent), is allocated as a DFA as follows: inshore sector-50 percent, catcher/processor sector(C/Ps)-40 percent, and mothership sector—10 percent. In the Bering Sea subarea, 45 percent of the DFA is allocated to the A season (January 20-June 10) and 55 percent of the DFA is allocated to the B season (June 10-November 1). Pursuant to § 679.20(a)(5)(iii)(B)(2), the annual AI pollock TAC, after subtracting first for the CDQ DFA (10 percent) and second for the ICA (2,400 mt), is allocated to the Aleut Corporation for a directed pollock fishery. In the AI subarea, the A season is allocated up to 40 percent of the ABC, and the B season is allocated the remainder of the directed pollock fishery. 2 In the Bering Sea subarea, pursuant to § 679.20(a)(5)(i)(c), no more than 28 percent of each sector's annual DFA may be taken from the SCA before noon, April 1. 3 Pursuant to § 679.20(a)(5)(i)(A)(4), not less than 8.5 percent of the DFA allocated to listed C/Ps shall be available for harvest only by eligible catcher vessels (CVs) delivering to listed CPs. 4 Pursuant to § 679.20(a)(5)(i)(A)(4)(iii), the AFA unlisted C/Ps are limited to harvesting not more than 0.5 percent of the C/Ps sector's allocation of pollock. 5 Pursuant to § 679.20(a)(5)(i)(A)(6), NMFS establishes an excessive harvesting share limit equal to 17.5 percent of the sum of the non-CDQ pollock DFAs. 6 Pursuant to § 679.20(a)(5)(i)(A)(7), NMFS establishes an excessive processing share limit equal to 30.0 percent of the sum of the non-CDQ pollock DFAs. 7 Pursuant to § 679.20(a)(5)(iii)(B)(6), NMFS establishes harvest limits for pollock in the A season in Area 541 no more than 30 percent, in Area 542 no more than 15 percent, and in Area 543 no more than 5 percent of the Aleutian Islands pollock ABC. 8 Pursuant to § 679.22(a)(7)(i)(B), the amounts specified are for incidental catch only and are not apportioned by season or sector.
    Allocation of the Atka Mackerel TACs

    Section 679.20(a)(8) allocates the Atka mackerel TACs to the Amendment 80 and BSAI trawl limited access sectors, after subtracting the CDQ reserves, ICAs for the BSAI trawl limited access sector and non-trawl gear sectors, and the jig gear allocation (Table 3). The percentage of the ITAC for Atka mackerel allocated to the Amendment 80 and BSAI trawl limited access sectors is listed in Table 33 to 50 CFR part 679 and in § 679.91. Pursuant to § 679.20(a)(8)(i), up to 2 percent of the Eastern Aleutian District and Bering Sea subarea Atka mackerel TAC may be allocated to vessels using jig gear. The percent of this allocation is recommended annually by the Council based on several criteria, including the anticipated harvest capacity of the jig gear fleet. The Council recommended, and NMFS proposes, a 0.5 percent allocation of the Atka mackerel TAC in the Eastern Aleutian District and Bering Sea subarea to jig gear in 2018 and 2019. This percentage is applied to the TAC after subtracting the CDQ reserve.

    Section 679.20(a)(8)(ii)(A) apportions the Atka mackerel TAC into two equal seasonal allowances. Section 679.23(e)(3) sets the first seasonal allowance for directed fishing with trawl gear from January 20 through June 10 (A season), and the second seasonal allowance from June 10 through December 31 (B season). Section 679.23(e)(4)(iii) applies Atka mackerel seasons to CDQ Atka mackerel fishing. The ICA and jig gear allocations are not apportioned by season.

    Section 679.20(a)(8)(ii)(C)(1)(i) and (ii) limits Atka mackerel catch within waters 0 nm to 20 nm of Steller sea lion sites listed in Table 6 to 50 CFR part 679 and located west of 178° W longitude to no more than 60 percent of the annual TACs in Areas 542 and 543, and equally divides the annual TAC between the A and B seasons as defined at § 679.23(e)(3). Section 679.20(a)(8)(ii)(C)(2) requires the annual TAC in Area 543 will be no more than 65 percent of the ABC in Area 543. Section 679.20(a)(8)(ii)(D) requires that any unharvested Atka mackerel A season allowance that is added to the B season be prohibited from being harvested within waters 0 nm to 20 nm of Steller sea lion sites listed in Table 6 to 50 CFR part 679 and located in Areas 541, 542, and 543.

    One Amendment 80 cooperative has formed for the 2018 fishing year. Because all Amendment 80 vessels are part of the cooperative, no allocation to the Amendment 80 limited access sector is required.

    Table 3 lists the 2018 and 2019 Atka mackerel season allowances, area allowances, and the sector allocations. The 2019 allocations for Atka mackerel between Amendment 80 cooperatives and the Amendment 80 limited access sector will not be known until eligible participants apply for participation in the program by November 1, 2018. NMFS will post 2019 Amendment 80 cooperatives and Amendment 80 limited access allocations on the Alaska Region Web site at http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov prior to the start of the fishing year on January 1, 2019, based on the harvest specifications effective on that date.

    Table 3—Proposed 2018 and 2019 Seasonal and Spatial Allowances, Gear Shares, CDQ Reserve, Incidental Catch Allowance, and Amendment 80 Allocations of the BSAI ATKA Mackerel TAC [Amounts are in metric tons] Sector 1 Season 2 3 4 2018 and 2019 allocation by area Eastern
  • Aleutian
  • District/Bering Sea
  • Central
  • Aleutian
  • District 5
  • Western
  • Aleutian
  • District 5
  • TAC n/a 34,000 21,500 13,910 CDQ reserve Total 3,638 2,301 1,488 A 1,819 1,150 744 Critical habitat 5 n/a 690 447 B 1,819 1,150 744 Critical habitat 5 n/a 690 447 non-CDQ TAC n/a 30,362 19,200 12,422 Jig 6 Total 152 ICA Total 800 75 20 BSAI trawl limited access Total 2,941 1,912 A 1,471 956 Critical habitat 5 n/a 574 B 1,471 956 Critical habitat 5 n/a 574 Amendment 80 Total 26,469 17,212 12,402 A 13,235 8,606 6,201 Critical habitat 5 n/a 5,164 3,720 B 13,235 8,606 6,201 Critical habitat 5 n/a 5,164 3,720 1 Section 679.20(a)(8)(ii) allocates the Atka mackerel TACs, after subtracting the CDQ reserves, the jig gear allocation, and ICAs, to the Amendment 80 and BSAI trawl limited access sectors. The allocation of the ITAC for Atka mackerel to the Amendment 80 and BSAI trawl limited access sectors is established in Table 33 to part 679 and § 679.91. The CDQ reserve is 10.7 percent of the TAC for use by CDQ participants (see §§ 679.20(b)(1)(ii)(C) and 679.31). 2 Sections 679.20(a)(8)(ii)(A) and 679.22(a) establish temporal and spatial limitations for the Atka mackerel fishery. 3 The seasonal allowances of Atka mackerel are 50 percent in the A season and 50 percent in the B season. 4 Section 679.23(e)(3) authorizes directed fishing for Atka mackerel with trawl gear during the A season from January 20 to June 10, and the B season from June 10 to December 31. 5 Section 679.20(a)(8)(ii)(C)(1)(i) limits no more than 60 percent of the annual TACs in Areas 542 and 543 to be caught inside of Steller sea lion critical habitat; § 679.20(a)(8)(ii)(C)(1)(ii) equally divides the annual TACs between the A and B seasons as defined at § 679.23(e)(3); and § 679.20(a)(8)(ii)(C)(2) requires the TAC in Area 543 shall be no more than 65 percent of ABC in Area 543. 6 Section 679.20(a)(8)(i) requires that up to 2 percent of the Eastern Aleutian District and Bering Sea subarea TAC be allocated to jig gear after subtraction of the CDQ reserve. The amount of this allocation is proposed at 0.5 percent. The jig gear allocation is not apportioned by season.
    Allocation of the Pacific Cod TAC

    The Council separated Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands subarea OFLs, ABCs, and TACs for Pacific cod in 2014 (79 FR 12108, March 4, 2014). Section 679.20(b)(1)(ii)(C) allocates 10.7 percent of the BS TAC and the AI TAC to the CDQ Program. After CDQ allocations have been deducted from the respective BS and AI Pacific cod TACs, the remaining BS and AI Pacific cod TACs are combined for calculating further BSAI Pacific cod sector allocations. If the non-CDQ Pacific cod TAC is or will be reached in either the BS or the AI, NMFS will prohibit non-CDQ directed fishing for Pacific cod in that subarea, as provided in § 679.20(d)(1)(iii).

    As explained earlier in the “Proposed ABC and TAC Harvest Specifications” section, the Council recommended reduced Pacific cod OFL, ABC, and TAC amounts in the BS as a result of preliminary data indicating a decrease in biomass. For the AI, the proposed OFL, ABC, and TAC amounts are unchanged from those amounts implemented through the final 2018 harvest specifications published in February 2017. The proposed amounts could likely change, including a further decrease, once the 2017 Pacific cod stock assessment is finalized, reviewed by the Council's Plan Team in November, and then subsequently reviewed by the SSC, AP, and Council in December 2017.

    Sections 679.20(a)(7)(i) and (ii) allocate the Pacific cod TAC in the combined BSAI TAC, after subtracting 10.7 percent for the CDQ Program, as follows: 1.4 percent to vessels using jig gear, 2.0 percent to hook-and-line or pot catcher vessels less than 60 ft (18.3 m) length overall (LOA), 0.2 percent to hook-and-line catcher vessels greater than or equal to 60 ft (18.3 m) LOA, 48.7 percent to hook-and-line catcher/processors, 8.4 percent to pot catcher vessels greater than or equal to 60 ft (18.3 m) LOA, 1.5 percent to pot catcher/processors, 2.3 percent to AFA trawl catcher/processors, 13.4 percent to the Amendment 80 sector, and 22.1 percent to trawl catcher vessels. The BSAI ICA for the hook-and-line and pot sectors will be deducted from the aggregate portion of BSAI Pacific cod TAC allocated to the hook-and-line and pot sectors. For 2018 and 2019, the Regional Administrator proposes a BSAI ICA of 400 mt, based on anticipated incidental catch by these sectors in other fisheries.

    The BSAI ITAC allocation of Pacific cod to the Amendment 80 sector is established in Table 33 to 50 CFR part 679 and § 679.91. One Amendment 80 cooperative has formed for the 2018 fishing year. Because all Amendment 80 vessels are part of the cooperative, no allocation to the Amendment 80 limited access sector is required.

    The 2019 allocations for Amendment 80 species between Amendment 80 cooperatives and the Amendment 80 limited access sector will not be known until eligible participants apply for participation in the program by November 1, 2018. NMFS will post 2019 Amendment 80 cooperatives and Amendment 80 limited access allocations on the Alaska Region Web site at http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov prior to the start of the fishing year on January 1, 2019, based on the harvest specifications effective on that date.

    The Pacific cod TAC is apportioned into seasonal allowances to disperse the Pacific cod fisheries over the fishing year (see §§ 679.20(a)(7)(i)(B), 679.20 (a)(7)(iv)(A), and 679.23(e)(5)). In accordance with §§ 679.20(a)(7)(iv)(B) and (C), any unused portion of a seasonal Pacific cod allowance for any sector, except the jig sector, will become available at the beginning of that sector's next seasonal allowance.

    Section 679.20(a)(7)(vii) requires the Regional Administrator to establish an Area 543 Pacific cod harvest limit based on Pacific cod abundance in Area 543. Based on the 2016 stock assessment, the Regional Administrator determined the Area 543 Pacific cod harvest limit to be 26.3 percent of the AI Pacific cod TAC for 2018 and 2019. NMFS will first subtract the State GHL Pacific cod amount from the AI Pacific cod ABC. Then NMFS will determine the harvest limit in Area 543 by multiplying the percentage of Pacific cod estimated in Area 543 by the remaining ABC for AI Pacific cod. Based on these calculations, the Area 543 harvest limit is 4,128 mt.

    Section 679.20(a)(7)(viii) requires specification of the 2018 and 2019 Pacific cod allocations for the Aleutian Islands ICA, non-CDQ DFA, CV Harvest Set-Aside, and Unrestricted Fishery, as well as the Bering Sea Trawl CV A-Season Sector Limitation. If NMFS receives notification of intent to process AI Pacific cod from either the city of Adak or the city of Atka, the harvest limits in Table 4a will be in effect in 2018 or 2019. Notification of intent to process AI Pacific cod must be postmarked by October 31 of the previous year, and submitted electronically to NMFS by October 31 of the previous year.

    Prior to October 31, 2017, NMFS received timely notice from the City of Adak indicating an intent to process AI Pacific cod in 2018. Accordingly, the harvest limits in Table 4a will be in effect in 2018, subject to the performance requirements outlined in § 679.20(a)(7)(viii).

    Section 679.20(a)(7)(viii) contains specific performance requirements that (1) if less than 1,000 mt of the Aleutian Islands CV Harvest Set-Aside is delivered to Aleutian Islands shoreplants by February 28 of that year, the Aleutian Islands CV Harvest Set-Aside is lifted and the Bering Sea Trawl CV A-Season Sector Limitation is suspended; and (2) if the entire Aleutian Islands CV Harvest Set-Aside is fully harvested and delivered to Aleutian Islands shoreplants before March 15 of that year, the Bering Sea Trawl CV A-Season Sector Limitation is suspended.

    The CDQ and non-CDQ seasonal allowances by gear based on the proposed 2018 and 2019 Pacific cod TACs are listed in Table 4 based on the sector allocation percentages of Pacific cod set forth at §§ 679.20(a)(7)(i)(B) and (a)(7)(iv)(A) and the seasonal allowances of Pacific cod set forth at § 679.23(e)(5).

    Table 4—Proposed 2018 and 2019 Gear Shares and Seasonal Allowances of the BSAI 1 Pacific Cod TAC [Amounts are in metric tons] Sector Percent 2018 and 2019 share of gear sector total 2018 and 2019 share of sector total 2018 and 2019 seasonal apportionment Season Amount Total Bering Sea TAC n/a 194,936 n/a n/a n/a Bering Sea CDQ n/a 20,858 n/a See § 679.20(a)(7)(i)(B) n/a Bering Sea non-CDQ TAC n/a 174,078 n/a n/a n/a Total Aleutian Islands TAC n/a 15,695 n/a n/a n/a Aleutian Islands CDQ n/a 1,679 n/a See § 679.20(a)(7)(i)(B) n/a Aleutian Islands non-CDQ TAC n/a 14,016 n/a n/a n/a Western Aleutians Islands Limit n/a 4,128 n/a n/a n/a Total BSAI non-CDQ TAC 1 100 188,093 n/a n/a n/a Total hook-and-line/pot gear 60.8 114,361 n/a n/a n/a Hook-and-line/pot ICA 2 n/a n/a 400 n/a n/a Hook-and-line/pot sub-total n/a 113,961 n/a n/a n/a Hook-and-line catcher/processors 48.7 n/a 91,281 Jan 1-Jun 10
  • Jun 10-Dec 31
  • 46,553
  • 44,728
  • Hook-and-line catcher vessels ≥60 ft LOA 0.2 n/a 375 Jan 1-Jun 10
  • Jun 10-Dec 31
  • 191
  • 184
  • Pot catcher/processors 1.5 n/a 2,812 Jan 1-Jun 10
  • Sept 1-Dec 31
  • 1,434
  • 1,378
  • Pot catcher vessels ≥60 ft LOA 8.4 n/a 15,745 Jan 1-Jun 10
  • Sept-1-Dec 31
  • 8,030
  • 7,715
  • Catcher vessels <60 ft LOA using hook-and-line or pot gear 2 n/a 3,749 n/a n/a Trawl catcher vessels 22.1 41,569 n/a Jan 20-Apr 1
  • Apr 1-Jun 10
  • Jun 10-Nov 1
  • 30,761
  • 4,573
  • 6,235
  • AFA trawl catcher/processors 2.3 4,326 n/a Jan 20-Apr 1
  • Apr 1-Jun 10
  • Jun 10-Nov 1
  • 3,245
  • 1,082
  • 0
  • Amendment 80 13.4 25,205 n/a Jan 20-Apr 1
  • Apr 1-Jun 10
  • Jun 10-Nov 1
  • 18,903
  • 6,301
  • 0
  • Jig 1.4 2,633 n/a Jan 1-Apr 30
  • Apr 30-Aug 31
  • Aug 31-Dec 31
  • 1,580
  • 527
  • 527
  • 1 The gear shares and seasonal allowances for BSAI Pacific cod TAC are based on the sum of the BS and AI Pacific cod TACs, after subtraction of CDQ. If the TAC for Pacific cod in either the AI or BS is reached, then directed fishing for Pacific cod in that subarea may be prohibited, even if a BSAI allowance remains. 2 The ICA for the hook-and-line and pot sectors will be deducted from the aggregate portion of Pacific cod TAC allocated to the hook-and-line and pot sectors. The Regional Administrator proposes an ICA of 400 mt for 2018 and 2019 based on anticipated incidental catch in these fisheries.
    Table 4a—Proposed 2018 and 2019 BSAI A-Season Pacific Cod Limits if Aleutian Islands Shoreplants Intend To Process Pacific Cod 1 2018 and 2019 allocations under Aleutian Islands CV harvest set-aside Amount
  • (mt)
  • AI non-CDQ TAC 14,016 AI ICA 2,500 AI DFA 11,516 BS non-CDQ TAC 174,078 BSAI Trawl CV A-Season Allocation 30,761 BSAI Trawl CV A-Season Allocation minus Sector Limitation 2 25,761 BS Trawl CV A-Season Sector Limitation 5,000 AI CV Harvest Set-Aside 5,000 AI Unrestricted Fishery 6,516 1 These allocations will apply in 2018 or 2019 only if NMFS receives notice of intent to process AI Pacific cod by October 31 of the previous year, pursuant to § 679.20(a)(7)(viii), and if the performance requirements set forth in § 679.20(a)(7)(viii) are likewise met. Prior to October 31, 2017, NMFS received timely notice from the City of Adak indicating an intent to process AI Pacific cod for the 2018 season. Accordingly, the harvest limits in Table 4a will be in effect in 2018, subject to the performance requirements outlined in § 679.20(a)(7)(viii). 2 This is the amount of the BSAI trawl CV A season allocation that may be harvested in the Bering Sea prior to March 21 of that year, unless modified because the performance requirements were not met.
    Sablefish Gear Allocation

    Sections 679.20(a)(4)(iii) and (iv) require allocation of sablefish TACs for the BS and AI between trawl gear and hook-and-line or pot gear. Gear allocations of the TACs for the BS are 50 percent for trawl gear and 50 percent for hook-and-line or pot gear. Gear allocations for the TACs for the AI are 25 percent for trawl gear and 75 percent for hook-and-line or pot gear. Section 679.20(b)(1)(ii)(B) requires NMFS to apportion 20 percent of the hook-and-line or pot gear allocation of sablefish to the CDQ reserve. Additionally, § 679.20(b)(1)(ii)(D)(1) requires that 7.5 percent of the trawl gear allocation of sablefish from the non-specified reserves, established under § 679.20(b)(1)(i), be apportioned to the CDQ reserve. The Council has recommended that only trawl sablefish TAC be established biennially. The harvest specifications for the hook-and-line gear or pot gear sablefish Individual Fishing Quota (IFQ) fisheries are limited to the 2018 fishing year to ensure those fisheries are conducted concurrently with the halibut IFQ fishery. Concurrent sablefish and halibut IFQ fisheries reduce the potential for discards of halibut and sablefish in those fisheries. The sablefish IFQ fisheries remain closed at the beginning of each fishing year until the final harvest specifications for the sablefish IFQ fisheries are in effect. Table 5 lists the proposed 2018 and 2019 gear allocations of the sablefish TAC and CDQ reserve amounts.

    Table 5—Proposed 2018 and 2019 Gear Shares and CDQ Reserve of BSAI Sablefish TACS [Amounts are in metric tons] Subarea and gear Percent of TAC 2018 Share of TAC 2018 ITAC 1 2018 CDQ
  • reserve
  • 2019 Share of TAC 2019 ITAC 2019 CDQ
  • reserve
  • Bering Sea: Trawl 50 637 541 48 637 541 48 Hook-and-line gear/pot 2 50 637 n/a 127 n/a n/a n/a Total 100 1,274 541 175 637 541 48 Aleutian Islands: Trawl 25 434 369 33 434 369 33 Hook-and-line gear/pot 2 75 1,301 n/a 260 n/a n/a n/a Total 100 1,735 369 293 434 369 33 1 Except for the sablefish hook-and-line or pot gear allocation, 15 percent of TAC is apportioned to the non-specified reserve. The ITAC is the remainder of the TAC after the subtraction of these reserves. 2 For the portion of the sablefish TAC allocated to vessels using hook-and-line or pot gear, 20 percent of the allocated TAC is reserved for use by CDQ participants § 679.20(b)(1)(ii)(B)). The Council recommended that specifications for the hook-and-line or pot gear sablefish IFQ fisheries be limited to one year. Note: Seasonal or sector apportionments may not total precisely due to rounding.
    Allocation of the Aleutian Islands Pacific Ocean Perch, and BSAI Flathead Sole, Rock Sole, and Yellowfin Sole TACs

    Sections 679.20(a)(10)(i) and (ii) require that NMFS allocate AI Pacific ocean perch, and BSAI flathead sole, rock sole, and yellowfin sole TACs between the Amendment 80 sector and the BSAI trawl limited access sector, after subtracting 10.7 percent for the CDQ reserve and an ICA for the BSAI trawl limited access sector and vessels using non-trawl gear. The allocation of the ITAC for AI Pacific ocean perch, and BSAI flathead sole, rock sole, and yellowfin sole to the Amendment 80 sector is established in Tables 33 and 34 to 50 CFR part 679 and in § 679.91.

    One Amendment 80 cooperative has formed for the 2018 fishing year. Because all Amendment 80 vessels are part of the cooperative, no allocation to the Amendment 80 limited access sector is required.

    The 2019 allocations for Amendment 80 species between Amendment 80 cooperatives and the Amendment 80 limited access sector will not be known until eligible participants apply for participation in the program by November 1, 2018. NMFS will post 2019 Amendment 80 cooperatives and Amendment 80 limited access allocations on the Alaska Region Web site at http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov prior to the start of the fishing year on January 1, 2019, based on the harvest specifications effective on that date. Table 6 lists the proposed 2018 and 2019 allocations of the AI Pacific ocean perch, and BSAI flathead sole, rock sole, and yellowfin sole TACs.

    Table 6—Proposed 2018 and 2019 Community Development Quota (CDQ) Reserves, Incidental Catch Amounts (ICAS), and Amendment 80 Allocations of the Aleutian Islands Pacific Ocean Perch, and BSAI Flathead Sole, Rock Sole, and Yellowfin Sole TACS [Amounts are in metric tons] Sector 2018 and 2019 allocations Pacific ocean perch Eastern
  • Aleutian
  • District
  • Central
  • Aleutian
  • District
  • Western
  • Aleutian
  • District
  • Flathead sole BSAI Rock sole BSAI Yellowfin sole BSAI
    TAC 9,900 7,500 12,000 15,500 50,100 154,000 CDQ 1,059 803 1,284 1,659 5,361 16,478 ICA 100 60 10 4,000 6,000 4,000 BSAI trawl limited access 874 664 214 0 0 18,351 Amendment 80 7,867 5,974 10,492 9,842 38,739 115,171

    Section 679.2 defines the ABC surplus for flathead sole, rock sole, and yellowfin sole as the difference between the annual ABC and TAC for each species. Section 679.20(b)(1)(iii) establishes ABC reserves for flathead sole, rock sole, and yellowfin sole. The ABC surpluses and the ABC reserves are necessary to mitigate the operational variability, environmental conditions, and economic factors that may constrain the CDQ groups and the Amendment 80 cooperatives from achieving, on a continuing basis, the optimum yield in the BSAI groundfish fisheries. NMFS, after consultation with the Council, may set the ABC reserve at or below the ABC surplus for each species thus maintaining the TAC below ABC limits. An amount equal to 10.7 percent of the ABC reserves will be allocated as CDQ ABC reserves for flathead sole, rock sole, and yellowfin sole. The Amendment 80 ABC reserves shall be the ABC reserves minus the CDQ ABC reserves. Section 679.91(i)(2) establishes each Amendment 80 cooperative ABC reserve to be the ratio of each cooperatives' quota share units and the total Amendment 80 quota share units, multiplied by the Amendment 80 ABC reserve for each respective species. Table 7 lists the 2018 and 2019 ABC surplus and ABC reserves for BSAI flathead sole, rock sole, and yellowfin sole.

    Table 7—Proposed 2018 and 2019 ABC Surplus, Community Development Quota (CDQ) ABC Reserves, and Amendment 80 ABC Reserves in the BSAI for Flathead Sole, Rock Sole, and Yellowfin Sole [Amounts are in metric tons] Sector Flathead sole Rock sole Yellowfin sole ABC 66,164 143,100 250,800 TAC 15,500 50,100 154,000 ABC surplus 50,664 93,000 96,800 ABC reserve 50,664 93,000 96,800 CDQ ABC reserve 5,421 9,951 10,358 Amendment 80 ABC reserve 45,243 83,049 86,442 Proposed PSC Limits for Halibut, Salmon, Crab, and Herring

    Sections 679.21(b), (e), (f), and (g) set forth the BSAI PSC limits. Pursuant to § 679.21(b)(1), the 2018 and 2019 BSAI halibut PSC limits total 3,515 mt. Section 679.21(b)(1) allocates 315 mt of the halibut PSC limit as the PSQ reserve for use by the groundfish CDQ Program, 1,745 mt of halibut PSC limit for the Amendment 80 sector, 745 mt of halibut PSC limit for the BSAI trawl limited access sector, and 710 mt of halibut PSC limit for the BSAI non-trawl sector.

    Sections 679.21(b)(1)(iii)(A) and (B) authorize apportionment of the BSAI non-trawl halibut PSC limit into PSC allowances among six fishery categories, and § 679.21(b)(1)(ii)(A) and (B), (e)(3)(i)(B), and (e)(3)(iv) require apportionment of the BSAI trawl limited access halibut and crab PSC limits into PSC allowances among seven fishery categories. Table 10 lists the proposed fishery PSC allowances for the BSAI trawl limited access fisheries, and Table 11 lists the proposed fishery PSC allowances for the non-trawl fisheries.

    Pursuant to Section 3.6 of the FMP, the Council recommends, and NMFS proposes, that certain specified non-trawl fisheries be exempt from the halibut PSC limit. As in past years, after consultation with the Council, NMFS exempts pot gear, jig gear, and the sablefish IFQ hook-and-line gear fishery categories from halibut bycatch restrictions for the following reasons: (1) The pot gear fisheries have low halibut bycatch mortality; (2) NMFS estimates halibut mortality for the jig gear fleet to be negligible because of the small size of the fishery and the selectivity of the gear; and (3) the sablefish and halibut IFQ fisheries have low halibut bycatch mortality because the IFQ Program requires legal-size halibut to be retained by vessels using hook-and-line gear if a halibut IFQ permit holder or a hired master is aboard and is holding unused halibut IFQ for that vessel category and the IFQ regulatory area in which the vessel is operating (§ 679.7(f)(11)).

    As of November 2017, total groundfish catch for the pot gear fishery in the BSAI was 42,662 mt, with an associated halibut bycatch mortality of 3 mt. The 2017 jig gear fishery harvested about 13 mt of groundfish. Most vessels in the jig gear fleet are exempt from observer coverage requirements. As a result, observer data are not available on halibut bycatch in the jig gear fishery. As mentioned above, NMFS estimates a negligible amount of halibut bycatch mortality because of the selective nature of jig gear and the low mortality rate of halibut caught with jig gear and released.

    Under § 679.21(f)(2), NMFS annually allocates portions of either 33,318, 45,000, 47,591, or 60,000 Chinook salmon PSC limits among the AFA sectors, depending on past bycatch performance, on whether Chinook salmon bycatch incentive plan agreements (IPAs) are formed, and on whether NMFS determines it is a low Chinook salmon abundance year. NMFS will determine that it is a low Chinook salmon abundance year when abundance of Chinook salmon in western Alaska is less than or equal to 250,000 Chinook salmon. The State provides to NMFS an estimate of Chinook salmon abundance using the 3-System Index for western Alaska based on the Kuskokwim, Unalakleet, and Upper Yukon aggregate stock grouping.

    If an AFA sector participates in an approved IPA and has not exceeded its performance standard under § 679.21(f)(6) and if it is not a low Chinook salmon abundance year, then NMFS will allocate a portion of the 60,000 Chinook salmon PSC limit to that sector as specified in § 679.21(f)(3)(iii)(A). If no IPA is approved, or if the sector has exceeded its performance standard under § 679.21(f)(6), and it is not a low abundance year, NMFS will allocate a portion of the 47,591 Chinook salmon PSC limit to that sector as specified in § 679.21(f)(3)(iii)(C). If an AFA sector participates in an approved IPA and has not exceeded its performance standard under § 679.21(f)(6) in a low abundance year, then NMFS will allocate a portion of the 45,000 Chinook salmon PSC limit to that sector as specified in § 679.21(f)(3)(iii)(B). If no IPA is approved, or if the sector has exceeded its performance standard under § 679.21(f)(6) in a low abundance year, NMFS will allocate a portion of the 33,318 Chinook salmon PSC limit to that sector as specified in § 679.21(f)(3)(iii)(D).

    As of October 1, 2017, NMFS has determined that it is not a low Chinook salmon abundance year, based on the State's estimate that Chinook salmon abundance in western Alaska is greater than 250,000 Chinook salmon. Therefore, in 2018, the Chinook salmon PSC limit is 60,000 Chinook salmon, allocated to each sector as specified in § 679.21(f)(3)(iii)(A). The AFA sector Chinook salmon allocations are also seasonally apportioned with 70 percent of the allocation for the A season pollock fishery, and 30 percent of the allocation for the B season pollock fishery, as provided in § 679.21(f)(3)(i) and § 679.23(e)(2). Additionally, in 2017, the Chinook salmon bycatch performance standard under § 679.21(f)(6) is 47,591 Chinook salmon, allocated to each sector as specified in § 679.21(f)(3)(iii)(C).

    The basis for these PSC limits is described in detail in the final rule implementing management measures for Amendment 91 (75 FR 53026, August 30, 2010) and Amendment 110 (81 FR 37534, June 10, 2016). NMFS publishes the approved IPAs, allocations, and reports at http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov/sustainablefisheries/bycatch/default.htm.

    Section 679.21(g)(2)(i) specifies 700 fish as the 2018 and 2019 Chinook salmon PSC limit for the AI pollock fishery. Section 679.21(g)(2)(ii) allocates 7.5 percent, or 53 Chinook salmon, as the AI PSQ reserve for the CDQ Program and allocates the remaining 647 Chinook salmon to the non-CDQ fisheries.

    Section 679.21(f)(14)(i) specifies 42,000 fish as the 2018 and 2019 non-Chinook salmon PSC limit in the Catcher Vessel Operational Area (CVOA). Section 679.21(f)(14)(ii) allocates 10.7 percent, or 4,494, non-Chinook salmon in the CVOA as the PSQ reserve for the CDQ Program, and allocates the remaining 37,506 non-Chinook salmon in the CVOA to the non-CDQ fisheries.

    PSC limits for crab and herring are specified annually based on abundance and spawning biomass. Due to the lack of new information as of October 2017 regarding herring PSC limits and apportionments, the Council recommended and NMFS proposes basing the herring 2018 and 2019 PSC limits and apportionments on the 2016 survey data. The Council will reconsider these amounts in December 2017.

    Section 679.21(e)(3)(i)(A)(1) allocates 10.7 percent of each trawl gear PSC limit specified for crab as a PSQ reserve for use by the groundfish CDQ Program.

    Based on 2017 survey data, the red king crab mature female abundance is estimated at 18.5 million red king crabs, and the effective spawning biomass is estimated at 39,776 million lbs (18,042 mt). Based on the criteria set out at § 679.21(e)(1)(i), the proposed 2018 and 2019 PSC limit of red king crab in Zone 1 for trawl gear is 97,000 animals. This limit derives from the mature female abundance estimate of more than 8.4 million red king crab and the effective spawning biomass estimate of more than 14.5 million lbs (6,577 mt) but less than 55 million lbs (24,948 mt).

    Section 679.21(e)(3)(ii)(B)(2) establishes criteria under which NMFS must specify an annual red king crab bycatch limit for the Red King Crab Savings Subarea (RKCSS). The regulations limit the RKCSS bycatch to up to 25 percent of the red king crab PSC allowance based on the need to optimize the groundfish harvest relative to red king crab bycatch. NMFS proposes the Council's recommendation that the red king crab bycatch limit be equal to 25 percent of the red king crab PSC allowance within the RKCSS (Table 9). Based on 2017 survey data, Tanner crab (Chionoecetes bairdi) abundance is estimated at 344 million animals. Pursuant to criteria set out at § 679.21(e)(1)(ii), the calculated 2018 and 2019 C. bairdi crab PSC limit for trawl gear is 830,000 animals in Zone 1, and 2,520,000 animals in Zone 2. The limit in Zone 1 is based on the abundance of C. bairdi estimated at 344 million animals, which is greater than 270 million and less than 400 million animals. The limit in Zone 2 is based on the abundance of C. bairdi estimated at 344 million animals, which is greater than 290 million animals and less than 400 million animals.

    Pursuant to § 679.21(e)(1)(iii), the PSC limit for snow crab (C. opilio) is based on total abundance as indicated by the NMFS annual bottom trawl survey. The C. opilio crab PSC limit in the C. opilio bycatch limitation zone (COBLZ) is set at 0.1133 percent of the Bering Sea abundance index minus 150,000 crabs. Based on the 2017 survey estimate of 8.182 billion animals, which is above the minimum PSC limit of 4.5 million and below the maximum PSC limit of 13 million animals, the calculated C. opilio crab PSC limit is 9,120,539 animals.

    Pursuant to § 679.21(e)(1)(v), the PSC limit of Pacific herring caught while conducting any trawl operation for BSAI groundfish is 1 percent of the annual eastern Bering Sea herring biomass. The best estimate of 2018 and 2019 herring biomass is 201,278 mt. This amount was developed by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game based on biomass for spawning aggregations. Therefore, the herring PSC limit proposed for 2018 and 2019 is 2,013 mt for all trawl gear as listed in Tables 8 and 9.

    Section 679.21(e)(3)(i)(A) requires PSQ reserves to be subtracted from the total trawl PSC limits. The 2018 crab and halibut PSC limits assigned to the Amendment 80 and BSAI trawl limited access sectors are specified in Table 35 to 50 CFR part 679. The resulting allocations of PSC limits to CDQ PSQ, the Amendment 80 sector, and the BSAI trawl limited access sector are listed in Table 8.

    One Amendment 80 cooperative has formed for the 2018 fishing year. Because all Amendment 80 vessels are part of the cooperative, no allocation to the Amendment 80 limited access sector is required.

    The 2019 PSC limit allocations between Amendment 80 cooperatives and the Amendment 80 limited access sector will not be known until eligible participants apply for participation in the program by November 1, 2018. NMFS will post 2019 Amendment 80 cooperatives and Amendment 80 limited access allocations on the Alaska Region Web site at http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov prior to the start of the fishing year on January 1, 2019, based on the harvest specifications effective on that date.

    Sections 679.21(b)(2) and (e)(5) authorize NMFS, after consulting with the Council, to establish seasonal apportionments of PSC amounts for the BSAI non-trawl, BSAI trawl limited access, and Amendment 80 limited access sectors to maximize the ability of the fleet to harvest the available groundfish TAC and to minimize bycatch. The factors considered are (1) seasonal distribution of prohibited species, (2) seasonal distribution of target groundfish species relative to prohibited species distribution, (3) PSC bycatch needs on a seasonal basis relevant to prohibited species biomass and expected catches of target groundfish species, (4) expected variations in bycatch rates throughout the year, (5) expected changes in directed groundfish fishing seasons, (6) expected start of fishing effort, and (7) economic effects of seasonal PSC apportionments on industry sectors. The Council recommended and NMFS proposes the seasonal PSC apportionments in Tables 10 and 11 to maximize harvest among gear types, fisheries, and seasons while minimizing bycatch of PSC based on the above criteria.

    Table 8—Proposed 2018 and 2019 Apportionment of Prohibited Species Catch Allowances to Non-Trawl Gear, the CDQ Program, Amendment 80, and the BSAI Trawl Limited Access Sectors PSC species and area 1 Total PSC Non-trawl PSC CDQ PSQ
  • reserve 2
  • Trawl PSC
  • remaining after CDQ PSQ
  • Amendment 80 sector 3 BSAI trawl
  • limited access fishery
  • Halibut mortality (mt) BSAI 3,515 710 315 n/a 1,745 745 Herring (mt) BSAI 2,013 n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a Red king crab (animals) Zone 1 97,000 n/a 10,379 86,621 43,293 26,489 C. opilio (animals) COBLZ 9,120,539 n/a 975,898 8,144,641 4,003,091 2,617,688 C. bairdi crab (animals) Zone 1 830,000 n/a 88,810 741,190 312,115 348,285 C. bairdi crab (animals) Zone 2 2,520,000 n/a 269,640 2,250,360 532,660 1,053,394 1 Refer to § 679.2 for definitions of zones. 2 The PSQ reserve for crab species is 10.7 percent of each crab PSC limit. 3 The Amendment 80 program reduced apportionment of the trawl PSC limits for crab below the total PSC limit. These reductions are not apportioned to other gear types or sectors.
    Table 9—Proposed 2018 and 2019 Herring and Red King Crab Savings Subarea Prohibited Species Catch Allowances for All Trawl Sectors Fishery categories Herring (mt) BSAI Red king crab (animals)
  • Zone 1
  • Yellowfin sole 100 n/a Rock sole/flathead sole/other flatfish 1 43 n/a Greenland turbot/arrowtooth flounder/Kamchatka flounder/sablefish 5 n/a Rockfish 5 n/a Pacific cod 10 n/a Midwater trawl pollock 1,800 n/a Pollock/Atka mackerel/other species 2 3 50 n/a Red king crab savings subarea non-pelagic trawl gear 4 n/a 24,250 Total trawl PSC 2,013 97,000 1 “Other flatfish” for PSC monitoring includes all flatfish species, except for halibut (a prohibited species), arrowtooth flounder, flathead sole, Greenland turbot, Kamchatka flounder, rock sole, and yellowfin sole. 2 Pollock other than midwater trawl pollock, Atka mackerel, and “other species” fishery category. 3 “Other species” for PSC monitoring includes sculpins, sharks, skates, squids, and octopuses. 4 In October 2017 the Council recommended that the red king crab bycatch limit for non-pelagic trawl fisheries within the RKCSS be limited to 25 percent of the red king crab PSC allowance (see § 679.21(e)(3)(ii)(B)(2)). Note: Species apportionments may not total precisely due to rounding.
    Table 10—Proposed 2018 and 2019 Prohibited Species Bycatch Allowances for the BSAI Trawl Limited Access Sector BSAI trawl limited access fisheries Prohibited species and area 1 Halibut
  • mortality
  • (mt) BSAI
  • Red king crab (animals)
  • Zone 1
  • C. opilio
  • (animals)
  • COBLZ
  • C. bairdi (animals) Zone 1 Zone 2
    Yellowfin sole 150 23,338 2,467,662 293,234 1,005,879 Rock sole/flathead sole/other flatfish 2 0 Greenland turbot/arrowtooth flounder/Kamchatka flounder/sablefish 0 Rockfish April 15-December 31 4 4,076 849 Pacific cod 391 2,954 105,182 50,816 42,424 Pollock/Atka mackerel/other species 3 200 197 40,768 4,235 4,243 Total BSAI trawl limited access PSC 745 26,489 2,617,688 348,285 1,053,394 1 Refer to § 679.2 for definitions of areas. 2 “Other flatfish” for PSC monitoring includes all flatfish species, except for halibut (a prohibited species), arrowtooth flounder, flathead sole, Greenland turbot, Kamchatka flounder, rock sole, and yellowfin sole. 3 “Other species” for PSC monitoring includes sculpins, sharks, skates, squids, and octopuses. Note: Species apportionments may not total precisely due to rounding.
    Table 11—Proposed 2018 and 2019 Halibut Prohibited Species Bycatch Allowances for Non-Trawl Fisheries Halibut mortality (mt) BSAI Non-trawl fisheries Seasons Catcher/
  • processor
  • Catcher vessel All non-trawl
    Pacific cod Annual Pacific cod 648 13 n/a. January 1-June 10 388 9 n/a. June 10-August 15 162 2 n/a. August 15-December 31 98 2 n/a. Non-Pacific cod non-trawl-Total May 1-December 31 n/a n/a 49. Groundfish pot and jig n/a n/a n/a Exempt. Sablefish hook-and-line n/a n/a n/a Exempt. Total for all non-trawl PSC n/a n/a n/a 710.
    Halibut Discard Mortality Rates

    To monitor halibut bycatch mortality allowances and apportionments, the Regional Administrator uses observed halibut incidental catch rates, halibut discard mortality rates (DMRs), and estimates of groundfish catch to project when a fishery's halibut bycatch mortality allowance or seasonal apportionment is reached. Halibut incidental catch rates are based on observers' estimates of halibut incidental catch in the groundfish fishery. DMRs are estimates of the proportion of incidentally caught halibut that do not survive after being returned to the sea. The cumulative halibut mortality that accrues to a particular halibut PSC limit is the product of a DMR multiplied by the estimated halibut PSC. DMRs are estimated using the best scientific information available in conjunction with the annual BSAI stock assessment process. The DMR methodology and findings are included as an appendix to the annual BSAI groundfish SAFE report.

    In 2016, the DMR estimation methodology underwent revisions per the Council's directive. An interagency halibut working group (IPHC, Council, and NMFS staff) developed improved estimation methods that have undergone review by the Plan Team, SSC, and the Council. A summary of the revised methodology is included in the BSAI proposed 2017 and 2018 harvest specifications (81 FR 87863, December 6, 2016), and the comprehensive discussion of the working group's statistical methodology is available from the Council (see ADDRESSES). The DMR working group's revised methodology is intended to improve estimation accuracy, as well as transparency and transferability in the methodology used, for calculating DMRs. The working group will continue to consider improvements to the methodology used to calculate halibut mortality, including potential changes to the reference period (the period of data used for calculating the DMRs). Future DMRs may change based on additional years of observer sampling, which could provide more recent and accurate data and which could improve the accuracy of estimation and progress on methodology. The new methodology will continue to ensure that NMFS is using DMRs that more accurately reflect halibut mortality, which will inform the different sectors of their estimated halibut mortality and allow specific sectors to respond with methods that could reduce mortality and, eventually, the DMR for that sector.

    At the December 2016 meeting, the SSC, AP, and Council concurred in the revised DMR estimation methodology, and NMFS adopted the DMRs calculated under the revised methodology for the 2016 and 2017 harvest specifications. In October 2017, the Council recommended adopting the halibut DMRs derived from the 2016 process for the proposed 2018 and 2019 DMRs. The proposed 2018 and 2019 DMRs maintain the new estimation method adopted in 2016 using an updated 3-year reference period of 2014 through 2016. The proposed DMR for motherships and catcher/processors using non-pelagic trawl gear decreased to 84 percent from 85 percent, the proposed DMR for catcher vessels using non-pelagic trawl gear increased to 60 percent from 52 percent, the proposed DMR for catcher vessels using hook-and-line gear increased to 17 percent from 14 percent, and the proposed DMR for pot gear increased to 9 percent from 6 percent. Table 12 lists the proposed 2018 and 2019 DMRs.

    Table 12—Proposed 2018 and 2019 Pacific Halibut Discard Mortality Rates for the BSAI Gear Sector Halibut discard mortality rate
  • (percent)
  • Pelagic trawl All 100 Non-pelagic trawl Mothership and catcher/processor 84 Non-pelagic trawl Catcher vessel 60 Hook-and-line Catcher vessel 17 Hook-and-line Catcher/processor 8 Pot All 9
    Listed AFA Catcher/Processor Sideboard Limits

    Pursuant to § 679.64(a), the Regional Administrator is responsible for restricting the ability of listed AFA catcher/processors to engage in directed fishing for groundfish species other than pollock to protect participants in other groundfish fisheries from adverse effects resulting from the AFA and from fishery cooperatives in the directed pollock fishery. These restrictions are set out as “sideboard” limits on catch. The basis for these proposed sideboard limits is described in detail in the final rules implementing the major provisions of the AFA (67 FR 79692, December 30, 2002) and Amendment 80 (72 FR 52668, September 14, 2007). Table 13 lists the proposed 2018 and 2019 catcher/processor sideboard limits.

    All harvest of groundfish sideboard species by listed AFA catcher/processors, whether as targeted catch or incidental catch, will be deducted from the sideboard limits in Table 13. However, groundfish sideboard species that are delivered to listed AFA catcher/processors by catcher vessels will not be deducted from the 2018 and 2019 sideboard limits for the listed AFA catcher/processors.

    Table 13—Proposed 2018 and 2019 BSAI Groundfish Sideboard Limits for Listed American Fisheries Act Catcher/Processors (C/Ps) [Amounts are in metric tons] Target species Area 1995-1997 Retained catch Total catch Ratio of
  • retained catch
  • to total catch
  • 2018 and 2019 ITAC available to all trawl C/Ps 1 2018 and 2019 AFA C/P sideboard limit
    Sablefish trawl BS 8 497 0.0160 541 9 AI 145 369 Greenland turbot BS 121 17,305 0.0070 3,825 27 AI 23 4,987 0.0050 106 1 Arrowtooth flounder BSAI 76 33,987 0.0020 11,900 24 Kamchatka flounder BSAI 76 33,987 0.0020 4,250 9 Rock sole BSAI 6,317 169,362 0.0370 44,739 1,655 Flathead sole BSAI 1,925 52,755 0.0360 13,842 498 Alaska plaice BSAI 14 9,438 0.0010 11,050 11 Other flatfish BSAI 3,058 52,298 0.0580 2,125 123 Pacific ocean perch BS 12 4,879 0.0020 9,350 19 Eastern AI 125 6,179 0.0200 8,841 177 Central AI 3 5,698 0.0010 6,698 7 Western AI 54 13,598 0.0040 10,716 43 Northern rockfish BSAI 91 13,040 0.0070 4,250 30 Rougheye rockfish EBS/EAI 50 2,811 0.0180 85 2 CAI/WAI 50 2,811 0.0180 106 2 Shortraker rockfish BSAI 50 2,811 0.0180 106 2 Other rockfish BS 18 621 0.0290 276 8 AI 22 806 0.0270 468 13 Atka mackerel Central AI n/a n/a 0.1150 19,200 2,208 A season 2 n/a n/a 0.1150 9,600 1,104 B season 2 n/a n/a 0.1150 9,600 1,104 Western AI n/a n/a 0.2000 12,422 2,484 A season 2 n/a n/a 0.2000 6,211 1,242 B season 2 n/a n/a 0.2000 6,211 1,242 Skates BSAI 553 68,672 0.0080 22,100 177 Sculpins BSAI 553 68,672 0.0080 3,825 31 Sharks BSAI 553 68,672 0.0080 106 1 Squids BSAI 73 3,328 0.0220 1,141 25 Octopuses BSAI 553 68,672 0.0080 340 3 1 Aleutians Islands Pacific ocean perch, and BSAI Atka mackerel, flathead sole, rock sole, and yellowfin sole are multiplied by the remainder of the TAC after the subtraction of the CDQ reserve under § 679.20(b)(1)(ii)(C). 2 The seasonal apportionment of Atka mackerel in the open access fishery is 50 percent in the A season and 50 percent in the B season. Listed AFA catcher/processors are limited to harvesting no more than zero in the Eastern Aleutian District and Bering Sea subarea, 20 percent of the annual ITAC specified for the Western Aleutian District, and 11.5 percent of the annual ITAC specified for the Central Aleutian District. Note: Section 679.64(a)(1)(v) exempts AFA catcher/processors from a yellowfin sole sideboard limit because the 2018 and 2019 aggregate ITAC of yellowfin sole assigned to the Amendment 80 sector and BSAI trawl limited access sector is greater than 125,000 mt.

    Section 679.64(a)(2) and Tables 40 and 41 to 50 CFR part 679 establish a formula for calculating PSC sideboard limits for halibut and crab caught by listed AFA catcher/processors. The basis for these sideboard limits is described in detail in the final rules implementing the major provisions of the AFA (67 FR 79692, December 30, 2002) and Amendment 80 (72 FR 52668, September 14, 2007).

    PSC species listed in Table 14 that are caught by listed AFA catcher/processors participating in any groundfish fishery other than pollock will accrue against the proposed 2018 and 2019 PSC sideboard limits for the listed AFA catcher/processors. Sections 679.21(b)(4)(iii), (e)(7), and (e)(3)(v) authorize NMFS to close directed fishing for groundfish other than pollock for listed AFA catcher/processors once a proposed 2018 or 2019 PSC sideboard limit listed in Table 14 is reached.

    Pursuant to § 679.21(b)(1)(ii)(C) and (e)(3)(ii)(C), halibut or crab PSC caught by listed AFA catcher/processors while fishing for pollock will accrue against the PSC allowances annually specified for the pollock/Atka mackerel/“other species” fishery categories, according to § 679.21(b)(1)(ii)(B) and (e)(3)(iv).

    Table 14—Proposed 2018 and 2019 BSAI Prohibited Species Sideboard Limits for American Fisheries Act Listed Catcher/Processors PSC species and area 1 Ratio of PSC to total PSC Proposed 2018 and 2019 PSC available to trawl vessels after
  • subtraction of PSQ 2
  • Proposed 2018 and 2019 C/P sideboard limit 2
    BSAI Halibut mortality n/a n/a 286 Red king crab Zone 1 0.007 86,621 606 C. opilio (COBLZ) 0.153 8,144,641 1,246,130 C. bairdi Zone 1 0.140 741,190 103,767 C. bairdi Zone 2 0.050 2,250,360 112,518 1 Refer to § 679.2 for definitions of areas. 2 Halibut amounts are in metric tons of halibut mortality. Crab amounts are in numbers of animals.
    AFA Catcher Vessel Sideboard Limits

    Pursuant to § 679.64(b), the Regional Administrator is responsible for restricting the ability of AFA catcher vessels to engage in directed fishing for groundfish species other than pollock to protect participants in other groundfish fisheries from adverse effects resulting from the AFA and from fishery cooperatives in the directed pollock fishery. Section 679.64(b)(3) and (b)(4) establish formulas for setting AFA catcher vessel groundfish and PSC sideboard limits for the BSAI. The basis for these sideboard limits is described in detail in the final rules implementing the major provisions of the AFA (67 FR 79692, December 30, 2002) and Amendment 80 (72 FR 52668, September 14, 2007). Tables 15 and 16 list the proposed 2018 and 2019 AFA catcher vessel sideboard limits.

    All catch of groundfish sideboard species made by non-exempt AFA catcher vessels, whether as targeted catch or as incidental catch, will be deducted from the 2018 and 2019 sideboard limits listed in Table 15.

    Table 15—Proposed 2018 and 2019 BSAI Groundfish Sideboard Limits for American Fisheries Act Catcher Vessels (CVs) [Amounts are in metric tons] Species Fishery by area/gear/season Ratio of 1995-1997 AFA CV catch to 1995-1997 TAC 2018 and 2019 initial TAC 1 2018 and 2019 AFA catcher vessel sideboard
  • limits
  • Pacific cod BSAI n/a n/a n/a Jig gear 2,633 Hook-and-line CV >60 ft LOA n/a n/a n/a Jan 1-Jun 10 0.0006 191 0 Jun 10-Dec 31 0.0006 184 0 Pot gear CV >60 ft LOA n/a n/a n/a Jan 1-Jun 10 0.0006 8,030 5 Sept 1-Dec 31 0.0006 7,715 5 CV <60 ft LOA using hook-and-line or pot gear 0.0006 3,749 2 Trawl gear CV n/a n/a n/a Jan 20-Apr 1 0.8609 30,761 26,482 Apr 1-un 10 0.8609 4,573 3,937 Jun 10-Nov 1 0.8609 6,235 5,368 Sablefish BS trawl gear 0.0906 541 49 AI trawl gear 0.0645 369 24 Greenland turbot BS 0.0645 3,719 240 AI 0.0205 106 2 Arrowtooth flounder BSAI 0.0690 11,900 821 Kamchatka flounder BSAI 0.0690 4,250 293 Rock sole BSAI 0.0341 44,739 1,526 Flathead sole BS trawl gear 0.0505 13,842 699 Alaska plaice BSAI 0.0441 11,050 487 Other flatfish BSAI 0.0441 2,125 94 Pacific ocean perch BS 0.1000 9,350 935 Eastern AI 0.0077 8,841 68 Central AI 0.0025 6,698 17 Western AI 10,716 Northern rockfish BSAI 0.0084 4,250 36 Rougheye rockfish EBS/EAI 0.0037 85 0 CAI/WAI 0.0037 106 0 Shortraker rockfish BSAI 0.0037 106 0 Other rockfish BS 0.0048 276 1 AI 0.0095 468 4 Atka mackerel Eastern AI/BS n/a 30,362 n/a Jan 1-Jun 10 0.0032 15,181 49 Jun 10-Nov 1 0.0032 15,181 49 Central AI n/a 19,200 n/a Jan 1-Jun 10 0.0001 9,600 1 Jun 10-Nov 1 0.0001 9,600 1 Western AI n/a 12,422 n/a Jan 1-Jun 10 6,211 Jun 10-Nov 1 6,211 Skates BSAI 0.0541 22,100 1,196 Sculpins BSAI 0.0541 3,825 207 Sharks BSAI 0.0541 106 6 Squids BSAI 0.3827 1,141 437 Octopuses BSAI 0.0541 340 18 1 Aleutians Islands Pacific ocean perch, and BSAI Atka mackerel, flathead sole, rock sole, and yellowfin sole are multiplied by the remainder of the TAC of that species after the subtraction of the CDQ reserve under § 679.20(b)(1)(ii)(C). Note: Section 679.64(b)(6) exempts AFA catcher vessels from a yellowfin sole sideboard limit because the 2018 and 2019 aggregate ITAC of yellowfin sole assigned to the Amendment 80 sector and BSAI trawl limited access sector is greater than 125,000 mt.

    Halibut and crab PSC limits listed in Table 16 that are caught by AFA catcher vessels participating in any groundfish fishery other than pollock will accrue against the 2018 and 2019 PSC sideboard limits for the AFA catcher vessels. Section 679.21(b)(4)(iii), (e)(7), and (e)(3)(v) authorize NMFS to close directed fishing for groundfish other than pollock for AFA catcher vessels once a proposed 2018 and 2019 PSC sideboard limit listed in Table 16 is reached. Pursuant to § 679.21(b)(1)(ii)(C) and (e)(3)(ii)(C), halibut or crab PSC caught by AFA catcher vessels while fishing for pollock in the BS will accrue against the bycatch allowances annually specified for the pollock/Atka mackerel/“other species” fishery categories under § 679.21(b)(1)(ii)(B) and (e)(3)(iv).

    Table 16—Proposed 2018 and 2019 American Fisheries Act Catcher Vessel Prohibited Species Catch Sideboard Limits for the BSAI 1 PSC species and area 1 Target fishery
  • category 2
  • AFA catcher vessel PSC sideboard limit ratio Proposed 2018 and 2019 PSC limit after
  • subtraction
  • of PSQ
  • reserves 3
  • Proposed 2018 and 2019 AFA catcher vessel PSC sideboard limit 3
    Halibut Pacific cod trawl n/a n/a 887 Pacific cod hook-and-line or pot n/a n/a 2 Yellowfin sole total n/a n/a 101 Rock sole/flathead sole/other flatfish.4 n/a n/a 228 Greenland turbot/arrowtooth flounder/Kamchatka flounder/sablefish n/a n/a Rockfish n/a n/a 2 Pollock/Atka mackerel/other species.5 n/a n/a 5 Red king crab Zone 1 n/a 0.2990 86,621 25,900 C. opilio COBLZ n/a 0.1680 8,144,641 1,368,300 C. bairdi Zone 1 n/a 0.3300 741,190 244,593 C. bairdi Zone 2 n/a 0.1860 2,250,360 418,567 1 Refer to § 679.2 for definitions of areas. 2 Target fishery categories are defined at § 679.21(b)(1)(ii)(B). 3 Halibut amounts are in metric tons of halibut mortality. Crab amounts are in numbers of animals. 4 “Other flatfish” for PSC monitoring includes all flatfish species, except for halibut (a prohibited species), arrowtooth flounder, Kamchatka flounder, flathead sole, Greenland turbot, rock sole, and yellowfin sole. 5 “Other species” for PSC monitoring includes skates, sculpins, sharks, and octopuses.
    Classification

    NMFS has determined that the proposed harvest specifications are consistent with the FMP and preliminarily determined that the proposed harvest specifications are consistent with the Magnuson-Stevens Act and other applicable laws, and subject to further review after public comment.

    This action is authorized under 50 CFR 679.20 and is exempt from review under Executive Order 12866.

    NMFS prepared an EIS for this action and made it available to the public on January 12, 2007 (72 FR 1512). On February 13, 2007, NMFS issued the Record of Decision (ROD) for the Final EIS. A Supplemental Information Report (SIR) that assesses the need to prepare a Supplemental EIS is being prepared for the final action. Copies of the Final EIS, ROD, and SIR for this action are available from NMFS (see ADDRESSES). The Final EIS analyzes the environmental consequences of the proposed groundfish harvest specifications and alternative harvest strategies on resources in the action area. The Final EIS found no significant environmental consequences from the proposed action or its alternatives.

    NMFS prepared an Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (IRFA), as required by section 603 of the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA), analyzing the methodology for establishing the relevant TACs. The IRFA evaluates the impacts on small entities of alternative harvest strategies for the groundfish fisheries in the exclusive economic zone off Alaska. As described in the methodology, TACs are set to a level that falls within the range of ABCs recommended by the SSC; the sum of the TACs must achieve OY specified in the FMP. While the specific numbers that the methodology may produce vary from year to year, the methodology itself remains constant.

    A description of the proposed action, why it is being considered, and the legal basis for this proposed action are contained in the preamble above. A copy of the IRFA is available from NMFS (see ADDRESSES). A summary of the IRFA follows.

    The action under consideration is a harvest strategy to govern the catch of groundfish in the BSAI. The preferred alternative is the existing harvest strategy in which TACs fall within the range of ABCs recommended by the SSC, but, as discussed below, NMFS considered other alternatives. This action is taken in accordance with the FMP prepared by the Council pursuant to the Magnuson-Stevens Act.

    The entities directly regulated by this action are those that harvest groundfish in the exclusive economic zone of the BSAI and in parallel fisheries within State waters. These include entities operating catcher vessels and catcher/processors within the action area and entities receiving direct allocations of groundfish.

    For 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 gross receipts not in excess of $11 million for all its affiliated operations worldwide.

    The estimated number of directly regulated small entities in 2016 include approximately 119 catcher vessels, five catcher/processors, and six CDQ groups. Some of these vessels are members of AFA inshore pollock cooperatives, Gulf of Alaska rockfish cooperatives, or BSAI Crab Rationalization Program cooperatives, and, since under the RFA the aggregate gross receipts of all participating members of the cooperative must meet the “under $11 million” threshold, the cooperatives are considered to be large entities within the meaning of the RFA. Thus, the estimate of 119 catcher vessels may be an overstatement of the number of small entities. Average gross revenues were $690,000 for small hook-and-line vessels, $1.25 million for small pot vessels, and $3.44 million for small trawl vessels. The average gross revenue for catcher/processor hook and line vessels was $2.90 million. The revenue data for other catcher/processor's data are not reported, due to confidentiality considerations.

    The preferred alternative (Alternative 2) was compared to four other alternatives. Alternative 1 would have set TACs to generate fishing rates equal to the maximum permissible ABC (if the full TAC were harvested), unless the sum of TACs exceeded the BSAI OY, in which case TACs would have been limited to the OY. Alternative 3 would have set TACs to produce fishing rates equal to the most recent 5-year average fishing rates. Alternative 4 would have set TACs equal to the lower limit of the BSAI OY range. Alternative 5, the “no action” alternative, would have set TACs equal to zero.

    The TACs associated with Alternative 2, the preferred harvest strategy, are those adopted by the Council in October 2017. OFLs and ABCs for the species were based on recommendations prepared by the Council's BSAI Groundfish Plan Team in September 2017, and reviewed and modified by the Council's SSC in October 2017. The Council based its TAC recommendations on those of its AP, which were consistent with the SSC's OFL and ABC recommendations.

    Alternative 1 selects harvest rates that would allow fishermen to harvest stocks at the level of ABCs, unless total harvests were constrained by the upper bound of the BSAI OY of two million mt. As shown in Table 1 of the preamble, the sum of ABCs in 2018 and 2019 would be about 4,214,648 mt, which falls above the upper bound of the OY range. Under Alternative 1, the sum of TACs is equal to the sum of ABCs. In this instance, Alternative 1 is consistent with the preferred alternative (Alternative 2), meets the objectives of that action, and has small entity impacts that are equivalent to small entity impacts of the preferred alternative. However, NMFS cannot set TACs equal to the sum of ABCs in the BSAI due to the constraining OY limit of 2.0 million mt, which Alternative 1 would exceed.

    Alternative 3 selects harvest rates based on the most recent 5 years of harvest rates (for species in Tiers 1 through 3) or based on the most recent 5 years of harvests (for species in Tiers 4 through 6). This alternative is inconsistent with the objectives of this action (as reflected in Alternative 2, the Council's preferred harvest strategy) because it does not take account of the most recent biological information for this fishery. NMFS annually conducts at-sea stock surveys for different species, as well as statistical modeling, to estimate stock sizes and permissible harvest levels. Actual harvest rates or harvest amounts are a component of these estimates, but in and of themselves may not accurately portray stock sizes and conditions. Harvest rates are listed for each species category for each year in the SAFE report (see ADDRESSES).

    Alternative 4 would lead to significantly lower harvests of all species and reduce TACs from the upper end of the OY range in the BSAI, to its lower end of 1.4 million mt. Overall, this would reduce 2018 TACs by about 30 percent, which would lead to significant reductions in harvests of species by small entities. While reductions of this size would alter the supply, and, therefore, would be associated with offsetting price increases, the size of these associated price increases is uncertain. While production declines in the BSAI would undoubtedly be associated with price increases in the BSAI, these increases would be constrained by production of substitutes, and are unlikely to completely offset revenue declines resulting from reductions in harvests of these species by small entities. Thus, this alternative action would have a detrimental impact on small entities.

    Alternative 5, which sets all harvests equal to zero, would have a significant adverse impact on small entities and would be contrary to the requirement for achieving OY on a continuing basis, as mandated by the Magnuson-Stevens Act.

    The proposed harvest specifications (Alternative 2) extend the current 2018 OFLs, ABCs, and TACs to 2018 and 2019, with the exceptions for decreases of Pacific cod OFL, ABC, and TAC in the BS and related increases in Atka mackerel, Pacific ocean perch, pollock, and rock sole TAC amounts. As noted in the IRFA, the Council may modify these OFLs, ABCs, and TACs in December 2017, when it reviews the November 2017 SAFE report from its groundfish Plan Team, and the reports of the SSC and AP at the December Council meeting. Because most of the TACs in the proposed 2018 and 2019 harvest specifications are unchanged from the 2018 harvest specification TACs, with the exception of modifications for TACs for five species, and because the sum of all TACs remains within the upper limit of OY for the BSAI of 2.0 million mt, NMFS does not expect adverse impacts on small entities. Also, NMFS does not expect any changes made by the Council in December 2017 to be large enough to have an impact on small entities.

    This action does not modify recordkeeping or reporting requirements, or duplicate, overlap, or conflict with any Federal rules.

    Adverse impacts on marine mammals resulting from fishing activities conducted under these harvest specifications are discussed in the Final EIS (see ADDRESSES), and in the 2017 SIR (https://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov/sites/default/files/sir-2017-18.pdf).

    Authority:

    16 U.S.C. 773 et seq.; 16 U.S.C. 1540(f); 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.; 16 U.S.C. 3631 et seq.; Pub. L. 105-277; Pub. L. 106-31; Pub. L. 106-554; Pub. L. 108-199;Pub. L. 108-447; Pub. L. 109-241; Pub. L. 109-479.

    Dated: December 4, 2017. Alan D. Risenhoover, Acting Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine Fisheries Service.
    [FR Doc. 2017-26477 Filed 12-6-17; 4:15 pm] BILLING CODE 3510-22-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 50 CFR Part 679 [Docket No. 170816769-7769-01] RIN 0648-XF633 Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Gulf of Alaska; 2018 and 2019 Harvest Specifications for Groundfish AGENCY:

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

    ACTION:

    Proposed rule; request for comments.

    SUMMARY:

    NMFS proposes 2018 and 2019 harvest specifications, apportionments, and Pacific halibut prohibited species catch limits for the groundfish fishery of the Gulf of Alaska (GOA). This action is necessary to establish harvest limits for groundfish during the 2018 and 2019 fishing years and to accomplish the goals and objectives of the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Gulf of Alaska. The intended effect of this action is to conserve and manage the groundfish resources in the GOA in accordance with the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act.

    DATES:

    Comments must be received by January 8, 2018.

    ADDRESSES:

    Submit comments on this document, identified by NOAA-NMFS-2017-0107, by either of the following methods:

    Federal e-Rulemaking Portal: Go to www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-2017-0107, click the “Comment Now!” icon, complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments.

    Mail: Submit written comments to Glenn Merrill, Assistant Regional Administrator, Sustainable Fisheries Division, Alaska Region NMFS, Attn: Ellen Sebastian. Mail comments to P.O. Box 21668, Juneau, AK 99802-1668.

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

    Electronic copies of the Alaska Groundfish Harvest Specifications Final Environmental Impact Statement (Final EIS), Record of Decision (ROD) for the Final EIS, Supplementary Information Report (SIR) to the Final EIS, and the Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (IRFA) prepared for this action may be obtained from http://www.regulations.gov or from the Alaska Region Web site at https://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov. The final 2016 Stock Assessment and Fishery Evaluation (SAFE) report for the groundfish resources of the GOA, dated November 2016, is available from the North Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) at 605 West 4th Avenue, Suite 306, Anchorage, AK 99501, phone 907-271-2809, or from the Council's Web site at http://www.npfmc.org. The draft 2017 SAFE report for the GOA will be available from the same source.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Obren Davis, 907-586-7228.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    NMFS manages the GOA groundfish fisheries in the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of the GOA under the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Gulf of Alaska (FMP). The Council prepared the FMP under the authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act), 16 U.S.C. 1801, et seq. Regulations governing U.S. fisheries and implementing the FMP appear at 50 CFR parts 600, 679, and 680.

    The FMP and its implementing regulations require NMFS, after consultation with the Council, to specify the total allowable catch (TAC) for each target species, the sum of which must be within the optimum yield (OY) range of 116,000 to 800,000 metric tons (mt) (§ 679.20(a)(1)(i)(B)). Section 679.20(c)(1) further requires NMFS to publish and solicit public comment on proposed annual TACs and apportionments thereof, Pacific halibut prohibited species catch (PSC) limits, and seasonal allowances of pollock and Pacific cod. The proposed harvest specifications in Tables 1 through 19 of this document satisfy these requirements. For 2018 and 2019, the sum of the proposed TAC amounts is 465,832 mt.

    Under § 679.20(c)(3), NMFS will publish the final 2018 and 2019 harvest specifications after (1) considering comments received within the comment period (see DATES), (2) consulting with the Council at its December 2017 meeting, (3) considering information presented in the 2017 SIR that assesses the need to prepare a Supplemental EIS (see ADDRESSES), and (4) considering information presented in the final 2017 SAFE report prepared for the 2018 and 2019 groundfish fisheries.

    Other Actions Potentially Affecting the 2018 and 2019 Harvest Specifications Amendment 106: Reclassify Squid as an Ecosystem Species

    In June 2017, the Council recommended for Secretarial review Amendment 106 to the FMP. Amendment 106 would reclassify squid in the FMP as an “Ecosystem Component Species” which is a category of non-target species that are not in need of conservation and management. Currently, NMFS annually sets an Overfishing Level (OFL), Acceptable Biological Catch (ABC), and TAC for squid in the GOA groundfish harvest specifications. Under Amendment 106, OFL, ABC, and TAC specifications would no longer be required. Proposed regulations to implement Amendment 106 would prohibit directed fishing for squid, require recordkeeping and reporting to monitor and report catch of squid species annually, and establish a squid maximum retainable amount when directed fishing for groundfish species at 20 percent to discourage retention, while allowing flexibility to prosecute groundfish fisheries. Further details will be available on publication of the proposed rule for Amendment 106. If Amendment 106 and its implementing regulations are approved by the Secretary of Commerce, this action is anticipated to be effective in 2019. Until Amendment 106 is effective, NMFS will continue to publish OFLs, ABCs, and TACs for squid in the GOA groundfish harvest specifications.

    Proposed ABC and TAC Specifications

    In October 2017, the Council, its Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC), and its Advisory Panel (AP) reviewed the most recent biological and harvest information about the condition of groundfish stocks in the GOA. This information was compiled by the GOA Groundfish Plan Team (Plan Team) and presented in the final 2016 SAFE report for the GOA groundfish fisheries, dated November 2016 (see ADDRESSES). The SAFE report contains a review of the latest scientific analyses and estimates of each species' biomass and other biological parameters, as well as summaries of the available information on the GOA ecosystem and the economic condition of the groundfish fisheries off Alaska. From these data and analyses, the Plan Team estimates—and the SSC sets—an OFL and ABC for each species or species group. The amounts proposed for the 2018 and 2019 OFLs and ABCs are based on the 2016 SAFE report. The AP and Council recommended that the proposed 2018 and 2019 TACs be set equal to proposed ABCs for all species and species groups, with the exception of the species categories further discussed below. The proposed OFLs, ABCs, and TACs could be changed in the final harvest specifications depending on the most recent scientific information contained in the final 2017 SAFE report. The draft stock assessments that will comprise, in part, the 2017 SAFE report are available at http://legistar2.granicus.com/npfmc/meetings/2017/9/962_A_Groundfish_Plan_Team_17-09-12_Meeting_Agenda.pdf.

    The Council recommends and NMFS proposes a reduction in the Pacific cod OFL, ABC, and TAC levels as compared to those levels implemented for Pacific cod in the 2017 and 2018 final GOA groundfish harvest specifications. The Council concurred with its SSC's recommendation to reduce the Pacific cod OFL and ABC, as well as its AP's recommendation for a corresponding reduction in the Pacific cod TAC. The reductions to the Pacific cod OFL, ABC, and TAC are the result of preliminary 2017 GOA bottom trawl survey data, as well as other data, that recently became available to stock assessment scientists.

    Based on the results of the 2017 GOA bottom trawl survey estimates and preliminary modeling for the Pacific cod stock assessment, the Pacific cod biomass and abundance has decreased significantly since the 2015 GOA bottom trawl survey. This decrease is corroborated by additional data sets that appear to support the trawl survey results associated with a decrease in the Pacific cod biomass. This information led to the recommended reduction in the proposed 2018 and 2019 Pacific cod OFL and ABC. The SSC opted to recommend a proposed 2018 OFL and ABC based on the average of the current 2018 OFL and ABC amounts and preliminary Tier 5 OFL and ABC amounts provided by the Pacific cod stock assessment author. This precautionary approach provides a strong indication of decreases in the OFL and ABC amounts for the final harvest specifications. However, this was a temporary approach used only for these proposed specifications, and Pacific cod remains in Tier 3a. The SSC also strongly noted that the final 2018 and 2019 harvest specifications for Pacific cod could be even lower than those recommended in the proposed 2018 and 2019 harvest specifications once the stock assessment process has been completed and reviewed by December 2017.The proposed Pacific cod OFL, ABC, and TAC amounts likely will further change once the Pacific cod stock assessment is finalized, reviewed by the Council's groundfish Plan Team in November, and then subsequently reviewed by the SSC, AP, and Council in December 2017. In addition, as discussed later in this preamble, decreases in Pacific cod OFL, ABC, and TAC could affect seasonal and sector apportionments of Pacific cod TAC and, potentially, apportionments of halibut PSC limit among fisheries.

    In November 2017, the Plan Team will update the 2016 SAFE report to include new information collected during 2017, such as NMFS stock surveys, revised stock assessments, and catch data. The Plan Team will compile this information and produce the draft 2017 SAFE report for presentation at the December 2017 Council meeting. At that meeting, the Council will consider information in the draft 2017 SAFE report, recommendations from the November 2017 Plan Team meeting and December 2017 SSC and AP meetings, public testimony, and relevant written public comments in making its recommendations for the final 2018 and 2019 harvest specifications. Pursuant to § 679.20(a)(2) and (3), the Council could recommend adjusting the TACs if warranted on the biological condition of groundfish stocks or a variety of socioeconomic considerations, or if required in order to cause the sum to fall within the optimum yield range.

    In previous years, the OFLs and ABCs that have had the most significant changes (relative to the amount of assessed tonnage of fish) from the proposed to the final harvest specifications have been for OFLs and ABCs that are based on the most recent NMFS stock surveys. These surveys provide updated estimates of stock biomass and spatial distribution, and changes to the models used for producing stock assessments. NMFS scientists presented updated and new survey results, changes to assessment models, and accompanying stock estimates at the September 2017 Plan Team meeting, and the SSC reviewed this information at the October 2017 Council meeting. The species with possible significant model changes are arrowtooth flounder, Pacific cod, Pacific ocean perch, pollock, and rex sole. Model changes can result in changes to OFLs, ABCs, and TACs.

    In November 2017, the Plan Team will consider updated stock assessments for groundfish, which will be included in the draft 2017 SAFE report. If the draft 2017 SAFE report indicates that the stock biomass trend is increasing for a species, then the final 2018 and 2019 harvest specifications for that species may reflect an increase from the proposed harvest specifications. Conversely, if the draft 2017 SAFE report indicates that the stock biomass trend is decreasing for a species, then the final 2018 and 2019 harvest specifications may reflect a decrease from the proposed harvest specifications.

    The proposed 2018 and 2019 OFLs, ABCs, and TACs are based on the best available biological and socioeconomic information, including projected biomass trends, information on assumed distribution of stock biomass, and revised methods used to calculate stock biomass. The FMP specifies the formulas, or tiers, to be used to compute OFLs and ABCs. The formulas applicable to a particular stock or stock complex are determined by the level of reliable information available to the fisheries scientists. This information is categorized into a successive series of six tiers to define OFL and ABC amounts, with Tier 1 representing the highest level of information quality available and Tier 6 representing the lowest level of information quality available. The Plan Team used the FMP tier structure to calculate OFLs and ABCs for each groundfish species. The SSC adopted the proposed 2018 and 2019 OFLs and ABCs recommended by the Plan Team for all groundfish species, with the exception of Pacific cod. The Council adopted the SSC's OFL and ABC recommendations and the AP's TAC recommendations. These amounts have changed from the final 2018 harvest specifications published in the Federal Register on February 27, 2017 (82 FR 12032) as a result of the recommended decreases to the Pacific cod OFL, ABC, and TAC, as previously discussed.

    Specification and Apportionment of TAC Amounts

    The Council recommended proposed 2018 and 2019 TACs that are equal to proposed ABCs for all species and species groups, with the exception of the Western, Central, and West Yakutat pollock ABC, Pacific cod, shallow-water flatfish in the Western GOA, arrowtooth flounder, flathead sole in the Western and Central GOA, “other rockfish” in Southeast Outside (SEO) District, and Atka mackerel. The combined Western, Central, and West Yakutat pollock TAC is set to account for the State of Alaska's (State) guideline harvest levels (GHLs) for the State water pollock fishery. Similarly, the Pacific cod TACs are reduced from ABC levels to account for the State's GHLs for Pacific cod so that the ABCs are not exceeded. The shallow-water flatfish, arrowtooth flounder, and flathead sole TACs are set to allow for increased harvest opportunities for these target species while conserving the halibut PSC limit for use in other fisheries. The “other rockfish” TAC is set to reduce the potential amount of discards of the species in that complex. The Atka mackerel TAC is set to accommodate incidental catch amounts in other fisheries. These reductions are described below.

    The proposed 2018 and 2019 Pacific cod TACs are set to accommodate the State's GHLs for Pacific cod in State waters in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas, as well as in Prince William Sound (PWS). The Plan Team, SSC, AP, and Council recommended that the sum of all State and Federal water Pacific cod removals from the GOA not exceed ABC recommendations. Therefore, the proposed 2018 and 2019 Pacific cod TACs are less than the proposed ABCs by the following amounts: (1) Western GOA, 6,770 mt; (2) Central GOA, 6,868 mt; and (3) Eastern GOA, 1,224 mt. These amounts reflect the sum of the State's 2018 and 2019 GHLs in these areas, which are 30 percent of the Western GOA proposed ABC, and 25 percent of the Eastern and Central GOA proposed ABCs.

    The ABC for the pollock stock in the combined Western, Central, and West Yakutat Regulatory Areas (W/C/WYK) includes the amount for the GHL established by the State for the PWS pollock fishery. The Plan Team, SSC, AP, and Council recommended that the sum of all State and Federal water pollock removals from the GOA not exceed ABC recommendations. For 2018 and 2019, the SSC recommended and the Council approved the W/C/WYK pollock ABC, including the amount to account for the State's PWS GHL. At the November 2016 Plan Team meeting, State fisheries managers recommended setting the PWS GHL at 2.5 percent of the annual W/C/WYK pollock ABC. For 2018, this yields a PWS pollock GHL of 3,937 mt, a decrease from the 2017 PWS GHL of 5,094 mt. After accounting for PWS GHL, the 2018 and 2019 pollock ABC for the combined W/C/WYK areas is then apportioned between four statistical areas (Areas 610, 620, 630, and 640) as both ABCs and TACs, as described below and detailed in Table 1. The total ABCs and TACs for the four statistical areas, plus the State GHL, do not exceed the combined W/C/WYK ABC. The proposed W/C/WYK 2018 and 2019 pollock ABC is 157,496 mt, and the proposed TAC is 153,559 mt.

    Apportionments of pollock to the W/C/WYK management areas are considered to be “apportionments of annual catch limit (ACLs)” rather than “ABCs.” This more accurately reflects that such apportionments address management, rather than biological or conservation, concerns. In addition, apportionments of the ACL in this manner allow NMFS to balance any transfer of TAC among Areas 610, 620, and 630 pursuant to § 679.20(a)(5)(iv)(B) to ensure that the area-wide ACL, ABC, and TAC are not exceeded.

    NMFS' proposed apportionments of groundfish species are based on the distribution of biomass among the regulatory areas under which NMFS manages the species. Additional regulations govern the apportionment of pollock, Pacific cod, and sablefish. Additional detail on these apportionments are described below, and briefly summarized here.

    NMFS proposes pollock TACs in the W/C/WYK and the SEO District of the GOA (see Table 1). NMFS also proposes seasonal apportionment of the annual pollock TAC in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas of the GOA between Statistical Areas 610, 620, and 630. These apportionments are divided equally among each of the following four seasons: The A season (January 20 through March 10), the B season (March 10 through May 31), the C season (August 25 through October 1), and the D season (October 1 through November 1) (§ 679.23(d)(2)(i) through (iv), and § 679.20(a)(5)(iv)(A) and (B)). Additional detail is provided below; Table 2 lists these amounts.

    NMFS proposes Pacific cod TACs in the Western, Central, and Eastern GOA (see Table 1). NMFS also proposes seasonal apportionment of the Pacific cod TACs in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas. Sixty percent of the annual TAC is apportioned to the A season for hook-and-line, pot, and jig gear from January 1 through June 10, and for trawl gear from January 20 through June 10. Forty percent of the annual TAC is apportioned to the B season for jig gear from June 10 through December 31, for hook-and-line and pot gear from September 1 through December 31, and for trawl gear from September 1 through November 1 (§§ 679.23(d)(3) and 679.20(a)(12)). The Western and Central GOA Pacific cod TACs are allocated among various gear and operational sectors. Additional detail is provided below; Table 3 lists the amounts apportioned to each sector.

    The Council's recommendation for sablefish area apportionments takes into account the prohibition on the use of trawl gear in the SEO District of the Eastern Regulatory Area (§ 679.7(b)(1)) and makes available 5 percent of the combined Eastern Regulatory Area TACs to trawl gear for use as incidental catch in other groundfish fisheries in the WYK District (§ 679.20(a)(4)(i)). Additional detail is provided below. Tables 4 and 5 list the proposed 2018 and 2019 allocations of the sablefish TAC to fixed gear and trawl gear in the GOA.

    For 2018 and 2019, the Council recommends and NMFS proposes the OFLs, ABCs, and TACs listed in Table 1. The proposed ABCs reflect harvest amounts that are less than the specified overfishing levels. Table 1 lists the proposed 2018 and 2019 OFLs, ABCs, TACs, and area apportionments of groundfish in the GOA. These amounts are consistent with the biological condition of groundfish stocks as described in the 2016 SAFE report, and adjusted for other biological and socioeconomic considerations, including maintaining the total TAC within the required OY range. The sum of the proposed TACs for all GOA groundfish is 465,832 mt for 2018 and 2019, which is within the OY range specified by the FMP. These proposed amounts and apportionments by area, season, and sector are subject to change pending consideration of the draft 2017 SAFE report and the Council's recommendations for the final 2018 and 2019 harvest specifications during its December 2017 meeting.

    Table 1—Proposed 2018 and 2019 ABCs, TACs, and OFLs of Groundfish for the Western/Central/West Yakutat, Western, Central, and Eastern Regulatory Areas, and in the West Yakutat, Southeast Outside, and Gulfwide Districts of the Gulf of Alaska [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton] Species Area 1 OFL ABC TAC 2 Pollock 2 Shumagin (610) n/a 33,701 33,701 Chirikof (620) n/a 76,249 76,249 Kodiak (630) n/a 37,818 37,818 WYK (640) n/a 5,791 5,791 W/C/WYK (subtotal) 182,204 157,496 153,559 SEO (650) 13,226 9,920 9,920 Total 195,430 167,416 163,479 Pacific cod 3 W n/a 22,565 15,796 C n/a 27,471 20,603 E n/a 4,894 3,671 Total 67,486 54,930 40,069 Sablefish 4 W n/a 1,367 1,367 C n/a 4,574 4,574 WYK n/a 1,626 1,626 SEO n/a 2,640 2,640 E (WYK and SEO) (subtotal) n/a 4,266 4,266 Total 12,045 10,207 10,207 Shallow-water flatfish 5 W n/a 21,042 13,250 C n/a 19,418 19,418 WYK n/a 3,206 3,206 SEO n/a 1,105 1,105 Total 54,893 44,771 36,979 Deep-water flatfish 6 W n/a 257 257 C n/a 3,488 3,488 WYK n/a 3,047 3,047 SEO n/a 2,590 2,590 Total 11,290 9,382 9,382 Rex sole W n/a 1,478 1,478 C n/a 4,995 4,995 WYK n/a 861 861 SEO n/a 1,087 1,087 Total 11,004 8,421 8,421 Arrowtooth flounder W n/a 25,747 14,500 C n/a 98,895 75,000 WYK n/a 34,273 6,900 SEO n/a 11,595 6,900 Total 196,635 170,510 103,300 Flathead sole W n/a 11,282 8,650 C n/a 20,677 15,400 WYK n/a 2,998 2,998 SEO n/a 872 872 Total 43,872 35,829 27,920 Pacific ocean perch 7 W n/a 2,627 2,627 C n/a 16,347 16,347 WYK n/a 2,733 2,733 W/C/WYK 25,252 21,707 21,707 SEO 2,032 1,747 1,747 Total 27,284 23,454 23,454 Northern rockfish 8 W n/a 400 400 C n/a 3,108 3,108 E n/a 4 Total 4,175 3,512 3,508 Shortraker rockfish 9 W n/a 38 38 C n/a 301 301 E n/a 947 947 Total 1,715 1,286 1,286 Dusky rockfish 10 W n/a 146 146 C n/a 3,499 3,499 WYK n/a 232 232 SEO n/a 77 77 Total 4,837 3,954 3,954 Rougheye and blackspotted rockfish 11 W n/a 104 104 C n/a 702 702 E n/a 512 512 Total 1,583 1,318 1,318 Demersal shelf rockfish 12 SEO 357 227 227 Thornyhead rockfish 13 W n/a 291 291 C n/a 988 988 E n/a 682 682 Total 2,615 1,961 1,961 Other rockfish 14 15 W/C combined n/a 1,534 1,534 WYK n/a 574 574 SEO n/a 3,665 200 Total 7,424 5,773 2,308 Atka mackerel GW 6,200 4,700 3,000 Big skates 16 W n/a 908 908 C n/a 1,850 1,850 E n/a 1,056 1,056 Total 5,086 3,814 3,814 Longnose skates 17 W n/a 61 61 C n/a 2,513 2,513 E n/a 632 632 Total 4,274 3,206 3,206 Other skates 18 GW 2,558 1,919 1,919 Sculpins GW 7,338 5,591 5,591 Sharks GW 6,020 4,514 4,514 Squids GW 1,516 1,137 1,137 Octopuses GW 6,504 4,878 4,878 Total 682,141 572,710 465,832 1 Regulatory areas and districts are defined at § 679.2. (W=Western Gulf of Alaska; C=Central Gulf of Alaska; E=Eastern Gulf of Alaska; WYK=West Yakutat District; SEO=Southeast Outside District; GW=Gulf-wide). 2 The total for the W/C/WYK Regulatory Areas pollock ABC is 157,496 mt. After deducting 2.5 percent (3,937 mt) of that ABC for the State's pollock GHL fishery, the remaining pollock ABC of 153,559 mt (for the W/C/WYK Regulatory Areas) is apportioned among four statistical areas (Areas 610, 620, 630, and 640). These apportionments are considered subarea ACLs, rather than ABCs, for specification and reapportionment purposes. The ACLs in Areas 610, 620, and 630 are further divided by season, as detailed in Table 2. In the West Yakutat (Area 640) and Southeast Outside (Area 650) Districts of the Eastern Regulatory Area, pollock is not divided into seasonal allowances. 3 The annual Pacific cod TAC is apportioned 60 percent to the A season and 40 percent to the B season in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas of the GOA. Pacific cod TAC in the Eastern Regulatory Area is allocated 90 percent for processing by the inshore component and 10 percent for processing by the offshore component. Table 3 lists the proposed 2018 and 2019 Pacific cod seasonal apportionments. 4 Sablefish is allocated to fixed and trawl gear in 2018 and trawl gear in 2019. Tables 4 and 5 list the proposed 2018 and 2019 allocations of sablefish TACs. 5 “Shallow-water flatfish” means flatfish not including “deep-water flatfish,” flathead sole, rex sole, or arrowtooth flounder. 6 “Deep-water flatfish” means Dover sole, Greenland turbot, Kamchatka flounder, and deep-sea sole. 7 “Pacific ocean perch” means Sebastes alutus. 8 “Northern rockfish” means Sebastes polyspinous. For management purposes the 3 mt apportionment of ABC to the WYK District of the Eastern Gulf of Alaska has been included in the other rockfish species group. 9 “Shortraker rockfish” means Sebastes borealis. 10 “Dusky rockfish” means Sebastes variabilis. 11 “Rougheye and blackspotted rockfish” means Sebastes aleutianus (rougheye) and Sebastes melanostictus (blackspotted). 12 “Demersal shelf rockfish” means Sebastes pinniger (canary), S. nebulosus (china), S. caurinus (copper), S. maliger (quillback), S. helvomaculatus (rosethorn), S. nigrocinctus (tiger), and S. ruberrimus (yelloweye). 13 “Thornyhead rockfish” means Sebastes species. 14 “Other rockfish means Sebastes aurora (aurora), S. melanostomus (blackgill), S. paucispinis (bocaccio), S. goodei (chilipepper), S. crameri (darkblotch), S. elongatus (greenstriped), S. variegatus (harlequin), S. wilsoni (pygmy), S. babcocki (redbanded), S. proriger (redstripe), S. zacentrus (sharpchin), S. jordani (shortbelly), S. brevispinis (silvergray), S. diploproa (splitnose), S. saxicola (stripetail), S. miniatus (vermilion), S. reedi (yellowmouth), S. entomelas (widow), and S. flavidus (yellowtail). In the Eastern GOA only, “other rockfish” also includes northern rockfish (S. polyspinous). 15 “Other rockfish” in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas and in the West Yakutat District means all rockfish species included in the “other rockfish” and demersal shelf rockfish categories. The “other rockfish” species group in the SEO District only includes other rockfish. 16 “Big skates” means Raja binoculata. 17 “Longnose skates” means Raja rhina. 18 “Other skates” means Bathyraja and Raja spp. Proposed Apportionment of Reserves

    Section 679.20(b)(2) requires NMFS to set aside 20 percent of each TAC for pollock, Pacific cod, flatfish, sculpins, sharks, squids, and octopuses in reserves for possible apportionment at a later date during the fishing year. In 2017, NMFS reapportioned all of the reserves in the final harvest specifications. For 2018 and 2019, NMFS proposes reapportionment of each of the reserves for pollock, Pacific cod, flatfish, sculpins, sharks, squids, and octopuses back into the original TAC from which the reserve was derived. NMFS expects, based on recent harvest patterns, that such reserves are not necessary and the entire TAC for each of these species will be caught. The TACs in Table 1 reflect this proposed reapportionment of reserve amounts for these species and species groups, i.e., each proposed TAC for the above mentioned species categories contains the full TAC recommended by the Council.

    Proposed Apportionments of Pollock TAC Among Seasons and Regulatory Areas, and Allocations for Processing by Inshore and Offshore Components

    In the GOA, pollock is apportioned by season and area, and is further allocated for processing by inshore and offshore components. Pursuant to § 679.20(a)(5)(iv)(B), the annual pollock TAC specified for the Western and Central Regulatory Areas of the GOA is apportioned into four equal seasonal allowances of 25 percent. As established by § 679.23(d)(2)(i) through (iv), the A, B, C, and D season allowances are available from January 20 through March 10, March 10 through May 31, August 25 through October 1, and October 1 through November 1, respectively.

    Pollock TACs in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas of the GOA are apportioned among Statistical Areas 610, 620, and 630, pursuant to § 679.20(a)(5)(iv)(A). In the A and B seasons, the apportionments had historically, since 2000, been based on the proportional distribution of pollock biomass based on the four most recent NMFS winter surveys. In the C and D seasons, the apportionments were in proportion to the distribution of pollock biomass based on the four most recent NMFS summer surveys. For 2018 and 2019, the Council recommends, and NMFS proposes, following the methodology that was used for the 2017 and 2018 harvest specifications. This methodology averages the winter and summer distribution of pollock in the Central Regulatory Area for the A season instead of using the distribution based on only the winter surveys. The average is intended to reflect the best available information about migration patterns, distribution of pollock, and the performance of the fishery in the area during the A season. For the A season, the apportionment is based on the proposed adjusted estimate of the relative distribution of pollock biomass of approximately 5 percent, 72 percent, and 23 percent in Statistical Areas 610, 620, and 630, respectively. For the B season, the apportionment is based on the relative distribution of pollock biomass of approximately 5 percent, 82 percent, and 13 percent in Statistical Areas 610, 620, and 630, respectively. For the C and D seasons, the apportionment is based on the relative distribution of pollock biomass of approximately 41 percent, 26 percent, and 33 percent in Statistical Areas 610, 620, and 630, respectively. The pollock chapter of the 2016 SAFE report (see ADDRESSES) contains a comprehensive description of the apportionment process and reasons for the minor changes from past apportionments.

    Within any fishing year, the amount by which a seasonal allowance is underharvested or overharvested may be added to, or subtracted from, subsequent seasonal allowances in a manner to be determined by the Regional Administrator (§ 679.20(a)(5)(iv)(B)). The rollover amount is limited to 20 percent of the seasonal TAC apportionment for the statistical area. Any unharvested pollock above the 20-percent limit could be further distributed to the subsequent season in other statistical areas, in proportion to the estimated biomass and in an amount no more than 20 percent of the seasonal TAC apportionment in those statistical areas (§ 679.20(a)(5)(iv)(B)). The proposed 2018 and 2019 pollock TACs in the WYK District of 5,791 mt and the SEO District of 9,920 mt are not allocated by season.

    Section 679.20(a)(6)(i) requires the allocation of 100 percent of the pollock apportionments in all regulatory areas and all seasonal allowances to vessels catching pollock for processing by the inshore component after subtraction of pollock amounts projected by the Regional Administrator to be caught by, or delivered to, the offshore component incidental to directed fishing for other groundfish species. Thus, the amount of pollock available for harvest by vessels harvesting pollock for processing by the offshore component is that amount that will be taken as incidental catch during directed fishing for groundfish species other than pollock, up to the maximum retainable amounts allowed under § 679.20(e) and (f). At this time, these incidental catch amounts of pollock are unknown and will be determined as fishing activity occurs during the fishing year by the offshore component.

    Table 2 lists the proposed 2018 and 2019 seasonal biomass distribution of pollock in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas, area apportionments, and seasonal allowances. The amounts of pollock for processing by the inshore and offshore components are not shown. Section 679.20(a)(6)(i) requires the allocation of 100 percent of the pollock TAC in all regulatory areas and all seasonal allowances to vessels catching pollock for processing by the inshore component after subtraction of amounts projected by the Regional Administrator to be caught by, or delivered to, the offshore component incidental to directed fishing for other groundfish species. Thus, the amount of pollock available for harvest by vessels harvesting pollock for processing by the offshore component is that amount that will be taken as incidental catch during directed fishing for groundfish species other than pollock, up to the maximum retainable amounts allowed by §  679.20(e) and (f). The incidental catch amounts of pollock are unknown at this time and will be determined during the 2018 fishing year during the course of fishing activities by the offshore component.

    Table 2—Proposed 2018 and 2019 Distribution of Pollock in the Central and Western Regulatory Areas of the Gulf of Alaska; Seasonal Biomass Distribution, Area Apportionments; and Seasonal Allowances of Annual TAC 1 [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton] Season 2 Shumagin (area 610) Chirikof (Area 620) Kodiak (area 630) Total 3 A (Jan 20-Mar 10) 1,725 (4.67%) 26,704 (72.29%) 8,513 (23.04%) 36,942 B (Mar 10-May 31) 1,725 (4.67%) 30,469 (82.48%) 4,748 (12.85%) 36,942 C (Aug 25-Oct 1) 15,125 (40.94%) 9,538 (25.82%) 12,278 (33.24%) 36,942 D (Oct 1-Nov 1) 15,125 (40.94%) 9,538 (25.82%) 12,278 (33.24%) 36,942 Annual Total 33,701 76,249 37,818 147,768 1 Area apportionments and seasonal allowances may not total precisely due to rounding. 2 As established by § 679.23(d)(2)(i) through (iv), the A, B, C, and D season allowances are available from January 20 through March 10, March 10 through May 31, August 25 through October 1, and October 1 through November 1, respectively. The amounts of pollock for processing by the inshore and offshore components are not shown in this table. 3 The West Yakutat and Southeast Outside District pollock TACs are not allocated by season and are not included in the total pollock TACs shown in this table. Proposed Annual and Seasonal Apportionments of Pacific Cod TAC

    As explained earlier in the section on “Proposed ABC and TAC Specifications,” the Council recommended reduced Pacific cod OFL, ABC, and TAC amounts as a result of preliminary data indicating a decrease in biomass. The proposed amounts could likely change, including a further decrease, once the 2017 Pacific cod stock assessment is finalized, reviewed by the Council's groundfish Plan Team in November, and then subsequently reviewed by the SSC, AP, and Council in December 2017. Reductions could impact seasonal and sector apportionments of Pacific cod TAC.

    Pursuant to § 679.20(a)(12)(i), NMFS proposes allocations for the 2018 and 2019 Pacific cod TACs in the Western and Central Regulatory Areas of the GOA among gear and operational sectors. NMFS also proposes allocating the 2018 and 2019 Pacific cod TACs annually between the inshore and offshore components in the Eastern Regulatory Area of the GOA (§ 679.20(a)(6)(ii)). In the Central GOA, the Pacific cod TAC is apportioned seasonally first to vessels using jig gear, and then among catcher vessels (CVs) less than 50 feet in length overall using hook-and-line gear, CVs equal to or greater than 50 feet in length overall using hook-and-line gear, catcher/processors (C/Ps) using hook-and-line gear, CVs using trawl gear, C/Ps using trawl gear, and vessels using pot gear (§ 679.20(a)(12)(i)(B)). In the Western GOA, the Pacific cod TAC is apportioned seasonally first to vessels using jig gear, and then among CVs using hook-and-line gear, C/Ps using hook-and-line gear, CVs using trawl gear, C/Ps using trawl gear, and vessels using pot gear (§ 679.20(a)(12)(i)(A)). The overall seasonal apportionments in the Western and Central GOA are 60 percent of the annual TAC to the A season and 40 percent of the annual TAC to the B season. All of these apportionments proposed for 2018 and 2019 incorporate the proposed reduction to the 2018 and 2019 Pacific cod TAC that was recommended by the Council and discussed earlier in the preamble.

    Under § 679.20(a)(12)(ii), any overage or underage of the Pacific cod allowance from the A season will be subtracted from, or added to, the subsequent B season allowance. In addition, any portion of the hook-and-line, trawl, pot, or jig sector allocations that is determined by NMFS as likely to go unharvested by a sector may be reallocated to other sectors for harvest during the remainder of the fishing year.

    Pursuant to § 679.20(a)(12)(i)(A) and (B), a portion of the annual Pacific cod TACs in the Western and Central GOA will be allocated to vessels with a Federal fisheries permit that use jig gear before TAC is apportioned among other non-jig sectors. In accordance with the FMP, the annual jig sector allocations may increase to up to 6 percent of the annual Western and Central GOA Pacific cod TACs, depending on the annual performance of the jig sector (see Table 1 of Amendment 83 to the FMP for a detailed discussion of the jig sector allocation process (76 FR 74670, December 1, 2011). Jig sector allocation increases are established for a minimum of 2 years.

    NMFS has evaluated the historical harvest performance of the jig sector in the Western and Central GOA, and is establishing the proposed 2018 and 2019 Pacific cod apportionments to this sector based on its historical harvest performance through 2016. For 2018 and 2019, NMFS proposes that the jig sector receive 2.5 percent of the annual Pacific cod TAC in the Western GOA. This includes a base allocation of 1.5 percent and an additional 1.0 percent because this sector harvested greater than 90 percent of its initial allocations in 2012 and 2014 in the Western GOA. NMFS also proposes that the jig sector receive 1.0 percent of the annual Pacific cod TAC in the Central GOA. This includes a base allocation of 1.0 percent and no additional performance increase. These historical Pacific cod jig allocations, catch, and percent allocation changes are listed in Figure 1.

    Figure 1—Summary of Western GOA and Central GOA Management Area Pacific Cod Catch by Jig Gear in 2012 Through 2016, and Corresponding Percent Allocation Changes Area Year Initial
  • percent of
  • TAC
  • Initial TAC
  • allocation
  • Catch
  • (mt)
  • Percent of
  • initial
  • allocation
  • >90% of
  • initial
  • allocation?
  • Change to
  • percent
  • allocation
  • WGOA 2012 1.5 315 322 102 Y Increase 1. 2013 2.5 530 273 52 N None. 2014 2.5 573 785 137 Y Increase 1. 2015 3.5 948 55 6 N None. 2016 3.5 992 52 5 N Decrease 1. CGOA 2012 1.0 427 400 94 Y Increase 1. 2013 2.0 740 202 27 N None. 2014 2.0 797 262 33 N None. 2015 1.0 460 355 77 N Decrease 1. 2016 1.0 370 267 72 N None.

    NMFS will re-evaluate the annual 2017 harvest performance of jig sector in the Western and Central Management areas when the 2017 fishing year is complete to determine whether to change the jig sector allocations proposed by this action in conjunction with the final 2018 and 2019 harvest specifications. The current catch through November 2017 by the Western GOA jig sector indicates that the Pacific cod allocation percentage to this sector would probably decrease by 1 percent in 2018 (from 2.5 percent to 1.5 percent). Also, the current catch by the Central GOA jig sector indicates that this sector's Pacific cod allocation percentage would not change in 2018, and would remain at 1 percent. The jig sector allocations for the Western and Central GOA are further apportioned between the A (60 percent) and B (40 percent) seasons (§ 679.20(a)(12)(i) and § 679.23(d)(3)(iii)).

    Table 3 lists the seasonal apportionments and allocations of the proposed 2018 and 2019 Pacific cod TACs.

    Table 3—Proposed 2018 and 2019 Seasonal Apportionments and Allocations of Pacific Cod Total Allowable Catch Amounts in the GOA; Allocations in the Western GOA and Central GOA Sectors, and the Eastern GOA for Processing by the Inshore and Offshore Components [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton] Regulatory area and sector Annual
  • allocation
  • (mt)
  • A season Sector
  • percentage
  • of annual
  • non-jig
  • TAC
  • Seasonal
  • allowances
  • (mt)
  • B season Sector
  • percentage
  • of annual
  • non-jig
  • TAC
  • Seasonal
  • allowances
  • (mt)
  • Western GOA: Jig (2.5% of TAC) 395 N/A 237 N/A 158 Hook-and-line CV 216 0.70 108 0.70 108 Hook-and-line C/P 3,049 10.90 1,679 8.90 1,371 Trawl CV 5,914 27.70 4,266 10.70 1,648 Trawl C/P 370 0.90 139 1.50 231 Pot CV and Pot C/P 5,852 19.80 3,049 18.20 2,803 Total 15,796 60.00 9,477 40.00 6,318 Central GOA: Jig (1.0% of TAC) 206 N/A 124 N/A 82 Hook-and-line <50 CV 2,978 9.32 1,900 5.29 1,078 Hook-and-line ≥50 CV 1,368 5.61 1,144 1.10 224 Hook-and-line C/P 1,041 4.11 838 1.00 203 Trawl CV 1 8,482 21.13 4,311 20.45 4,171 Trawl C/P 856 2.00 409 2.19 448 Pot CV and Pot C/P 5,671 17.83 3,637 9.97 2,035 Total 20,603 60.00 12,362 40.00 8,241 Eastern GOA: Inshore (90% of Annual TAC) Offshore (10% of Annual TAC) 3,671 3,303 367 1 Trawl vessels participating in Rockfish Program cooperatives receive 3.81 percent, or 785 mt, of the annual Central GOA Pacific cod TAC. This apportionment percentage is specified in Table 28c to 50 CFR part 679. This apportionment is deducted from the Trawl CV B season allowance (see Table 8: Apportionments of Rockfish Secondary Species in the Central GOA).
    Proposed Allocations of the Sablefish TACs Amounts to Vessels Using Fixed Gear and Trawl Gear

    Sections 679.20(a)(4)(i) and (ii) require allocations of sablefish TACs for each of the regulatory areas and districts to fixed and trawl gear. In the Western and Central Regulatory Areas, 80 percent of each TAC is allocated to fixed gear, and 20 percent of each TAC is allocated to trawl gear. In the Eastern Regulatory Area, 95 percent of the TAC is allocated to fixed gear and 5 percent is allocated to trawl gear. The trawl gear allocation in the Eastern Regulatory Area may only be used to support incidental catch of sablefish in directed fisheries for other target species (§ 679.20(a)(4)(i)).

    In recognition of the prohibition against trawl gear in the SEO District of the Eastern Regulatory Area, the Council recommended and NMFS proposes the allocation of 5 percent of the combined Eastern Regulatory Area sablefish TAC to trawl gear in the WYK District, making the remainder of the WYK sablefish TAC available to vessels using fixed gear. NMFS proposes to allocate 100 percent of the sablefish TAC in the SEO District to vessels using fixed gear. This action results in a proposed 2018 allocation of 213 mt to trawl gear and 1,413 mt to fixed gear in the WYK District, a proposed 2018 allocation of 2,640 mt to fixed gear in the SEO District, and a 2019 allocation of 213 mt to trawl gear in the WYK District. Table 4 lists the allocations of the proposed 2018 sablefish TACs to fixed and trawl gear. Table 5 lists the allocations of the proposed 2019 sablefish TACs to trawl gear.

    The Council recommended that the trawl sablefish TAC be established for 2 years so that retention of incidental catch of sablefish by trawl gear could commence in January in the second year of the groundfish harvest specifications. Tables 4 and 5 list the 2018 and 2019 trawl allocations, respectively.

    The Council recommended that the fixed gear sablefish TAC be established annually to ensure that the sablefish IFQ fishery is conducted concurrently with the halibut IFQ fishery and is based on the most recent survey information. Since there is an annual assessment for sablefish and the final harvest specifications are expected to be published before the IFQ season begins (typically, in early March), the Council recommended that the fixed gear sablefish TAC be set annually, rather than for 2 years, so that the best available scientific information could be considered in establishing the sablefish ABCs and TACs. Accordingly, Table 4 lists the 2018 fixed gear allocations, and the 2019 fixed gear allocations will be in the proposed 2019 and 2020 harvest specifications.

    With the exception of the trawl allocations that are provided to the Rockfish Program cooperatives (see Table 28c to 50 CFR part 679), directed fishing for sablefish with trawl gear is closed during the fishing year. Also, fishing for groundfish with trawl gear is prohibited prior to January 20. Therefore, it is not likely that the sablefish allocation to trawl gear would be reached before the effective date of the final 2018 and 2019 harvest specifications.

    Table 4—Proposed 2018 Sablefish Total Allowable Catch (TAC) in the Gulf of Alaska and Allocations to Fixed and Trawl Gear [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton] Area/district TAC Fixed gear
  • allocation
  • Trawl
  • allocation
  • Western 1,367 1,094 273 Central 1 4,574 3,659 915 West Yakutat 2 1,626 1,413 213 Southeast Outside 2,640 2,640 0 Total 10,207 8,806 1,402 1 The trawl allocation to the Central Regulatory Area is further reduced by the sablefish apportioned to the Rockfish Program cooperatives (471 mt). See Table 8: Apportionments of Rockfish Secondary Species in the Central GOA. This results in 444 mt being available for the non-Rockfish Program trawl fisheries. 2 The proposed trawl allocation is based on allocating 5 percent of the combined Eastern Regulatory Area (West Yakutat and Southeast Outside Districts combined) sablefish TAC to trawl gear in the West Yakutat District.
    Table 5—Proposed 2019 Sablefish Total Allowable Catch (TAC) in the Gulf of Alaska and Allocation to Trawl Gear 1 [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton.] Area/district TAC Fixed gear
  • allocation
  • Trawl
  • allocation
  • Western 1,367 n/a 273 Central 2 4,574 n/a 915 West Yakutat 3 1,626 n/a 213 Southeast Outside 2,640 n/a 0 Total 10,207 n/a 1,402 1 The Council recommended that harvest specifications for the fixed gear sablefish Individual Fishing Quota fisheries be limited to 1 year. 2 The trawl allocation to the Central Regulatory Area is further reduced by the sablefish apportioned to the Rockfish Program cooperatives (471mt). See Table 8: Apportionments of Rockfish Secondary Species in the Central GOA. This results in 444 mt being available for the non-Rockfish Program trawl fisheries. 3 The proposed trawl allocation is based on allocating 5 percent of the combined Eastern Regulatory Area (West Yakutat and Southeast Outside Districts combined) sablefish TAC to trawl gear in the West Yakutat District.
    Proposed Apportionments to the Rockfish Program

    These proposed 2018 and 2019 harvest specifications for the GOA include the fishery cooperative allocations and sideboard limitations established by the Rockfish Program. Program participants are primarily trawl CVs and trawl C/Ps, with limited participation by vessels using longline gear. The Rockfish Program assigns quota share and cooperative quota to participants for primary (Pacific ocean perch, northern rockfish, and dusky rockfish) and secondary species (Pacific cod, rougheye rockfish, sablefish, shortraker rockfish, and thornyhead rockfish), allows a participant holding a license limitation program (LLP) license with rockfish quota share to form a rockfish cooperative with other persons, and allows holders of C/P LLP licenses to opt out of the fishery. The Rockfish Program also has an entry level fishery for rockfish primary species for vessels using longline gear. Longline gear includes hook-and-line, jig, troll, and handline gear.

    Under the Rockfish Program, rockfish primary species in the Central GOA are allocated to participants after deducting for incidental catch needs in other directed groundfish fisheries (§ 679.81(a)(2)). Participants in the Rockfish Program also receive a portion of the Central GOA TAC of specific secondary species. Besides groundfish species, the Rockfish Program allocates a portion of the halibut PSC limit (191 mt) from the third season deep-water species fishery allowance for the GOA trawl fisheries to Rockfish Program participants (§ 679.81(d) and Table 28d to 50 CFR part 679). Rockfish Program sideboards and halibut PSC limits are discussed later in this rule.

    Also, the Rockfish Program establishes sideboard limits to restrict the ability of harvesters that operate under the Rockfish Program to increase their participation in other, non-Rockfish Program fisheries. These restrictions are discussed in a subsequent section titled “Rockfish Program Groundfish Sideboard and Halibut PSC Limitations.”

    Section 679.81(a)(2)(ii) and Table 28e to 50 CFR part 679 requires allocations of 5 mt of Pacific ocean perch, 5 mt of northern rockfish, and 50 mt of dusky rockfish to the entry level longline fishery in 2018 and 2019. The allocation for the entry level longline fishery may increase incrementally each year if the catch exceeds 90 percent of the allocation of a species. The incremental increase in the allocation would continue each year until it is the maximum percentage of the TAC for that species. In 2017, the allocation for dusky rockfish increased by 20 mt, from 30 mt, to 50 mt. In 2017, the catch for all three primary species did not exceed 90 percent of any allocated rockfish species. Therefore, NMFS is not proposing any increases to the entry level longline fishery 2018 and 2019 allocations in the Central GOA. The remainder of the TACs for the rockfish primary species would be allocated to the CV and C/P cooperatives. Table 6 lists the allocations of the proposed 2018 and 2019 TACs for each rockfish primary species to the entry level longline fishery, the incremental increase for future years, and the maximum percentage of the TAC for the entry level longline fishery.

    Table 6—Proposed 2018 and 2019 Allocations of Rockfish Primary Species to the Entry Level Longline Fishery in the Central Gulf of Alaska Rockfish primary species 2018 and 2019 allocations Incremental increase in 2019 if ≥90 percent of 2018 allocation is harvested Up to maximum
  • percent of
  • each TAC of:
  • Pacific ocean perch 5 metric tons 5 metric tons 1 Northern rockfish 5 metric tons 5 metric tons 2 Dusky rockfish 50 metric tons 20 metric tons 5

    Section 679.81 requires allocations of rockfish primary species among various sectors of the Rockfish Program. Table 7 lists the proposed 2018 and 2019 allocations of rockfish primary species in the Central GOA to the entry level longline fishery, and rockfish CV andC/P cooperatives in the Rockfish Program. NMFS also proposes setting aside incidental catch amounts (ICAs) for other directed fisheries in the Central GOA of 3,500 mt of Pacific ocean perch, 300 mt of northern rockfish, and 250 mt of dusky rockfish. These amounts are based on recent average incidental catches in the Central GOA by other groundfish fisheries.

    Allocations among vessels belonging to CV or C/P cooperatives are not included in these proposed harvest specifications. Rockfish Program applications for CV cooperatives andC/P cooperatives are not due to NMFS until March 1 of each calendar year; therefore, NMFS cannot calculate 2018 and 2019 allocations in conjunction with these proposed harvest specifications. NMFS will post these allocations on the Alaska Region Web site at http://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov/fisheries/central-goa-rockfish-program when they become available after March 1.

    Table 7—Proposed 2018 and 2019 Allocations of Rockfish Primary Species in the Central Gulf of Alaska to the Entry Level Longline Fishery and Rockfish Cooperatives in the Rockfish Program [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton] Rockfish primary species TAC Incidental
  • catch
  • allowance
  • (ICA)
  • TAC minus
  • ICA
  • Allocation to
  • the entry level
  • longline 1
  • fishery
  • Allocation to
  • the Rockfish
  • Cooperatives 2
  • Pacific ocean perch 16,347 3,500 12,847 5 12,842 Northern rockfish 3,108 300 2,808 5 2,803 Dusky rockfish 3,499 250 3,249 50 3,199 Total 22,954 4,050 18,904 60 18,844 1 Longline gear includes hook-and-line, jig, troll, and handline gear (§ 679.2). 2 Rockfish cooperatives include vessels in CV and C/P cooperatives (§ 679.81).

    Section 679.81(c) and Table 28c to 50 CFR part 679 requires allocations of rockfish secondary species to CV andC/P cooperatives in the Central GOA. CV cooperatives receive allocations of Pacific cod, sablefish from the trawl gear allocation, and thornyhead rockfish.C/P cooperatives receive allocations of sablefish from the trawl allocation, rougheye rockfish, shortraker rockfish, and thornyhead rockfish. Table 8 lists the apportionments of the proposed 2018 and 2019 TACs of rockfish secondary species in the Central GOA to CV and C/P cooperatives.

    Table 8—Proposed 2018 and 2019 Apportionments of Rockfish Secondary Species in the Central GOA to Catcher Vessel and Catcher/Processor Cooperatives [Values are in metric tons] Rockfish secondary species Central GOA
  • annual TAC
  • Catcher Vessel cooperatives Percentage of
  • TAC
  • Apportionment
  • (mt)
  • Catcher/Processor cooperatives Percentage of
  • TAC
  • Apportionment
  • (mt)
  • Pacific cod 20,603 3.81 785 0.0 0.0 Sablefish 4,574 6.78 310 3.51 161 Shortraker rockfish 301 0.0 0 40.00 120 Rougheye rockfish 702 0.0 0 58.87 413 Thornyhead rockfish 988 7.84 77 26.50 262
    Halibut PSC Limits

    Section 679.21(d) establishes annual halibut PSC limit apportionments to trawl and hook-and-line gear, and authorizes the establishment of apportionments for pot gear. In October 2017, the Council recommended halibut PSC limits of 1,706 mt for trawl gear, 257 mt for hook-and-line gear, and 9 mt for the demersal shelf rockfish (DSR) fishery in the SEO District.

    The DSR fishery in the SEO District is defined at § 679.21(d)(2)(ii)(A). This fishery is apportioned 9 mt of the halibut PSC limit in recognition of its small-scale harvests of groundfish. NMFS estimates low halibut bycatch in the DSR fishery because (1) the duration of the DSR fisheries and the gear soak times are short, (2) the DSR fishery occurs in the winter when there is less overlap in the distribution of DSR and halibut, and (3) the directed commercial DSR fishery has a low DSR TAC. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game sets the commercial GHL for the DSR fishery after deducting (1) estimates of DSR incidental catch in all fisheries (including halibut and subsistence); and (2) the allocation to the DSR sport fish fishery. Of the 227 mt TAC for DSR in 2017, 77 mt were available for the DSR commercial directed fishery, of which 36 mt were harvested.

    The FMP authorizes the Council to exempt specific gear from the halibut PSC limits. NMFS, after consultation with the Council, proposes to exempt pot gear, jig gear, and the sablefish IFQ hook-and-line gear fishery categories from the non-trawl halibut PSC limit for 2018 and 2019. The Council recommended, and NMFS is proposing, these exemptions because (1) pot gear fisheries have low annual halibut bycatch mortality; (2) IFQ program regulations prohibit discard of halibut if any halibut IFQ permit holder on board a CV holds unused halibut IFQ for that vessel category and the IFQ regulatory area in which the vessel is operating (§ 679.7(f)(11)); 3) some sablefish IFQ permit holders hold halibut IFQ permits and are therefore required to retain the halibut they catch while fishing sablefish IFQ; and 4) NMFS estimates negligible halibut mortality for the jig gear fisheries. NMFS estimates halibut mortality is negligible in the jig gear fisheries given the small amount of groundfish harvested by jig gear, the selective nature of jig gear, and the high survival rates of halibut caught and released with jig gear.

    The best available information on estimated halibut bycatch consists of data collected by fisheries observers during 2017. The calculated halibut bycatch mortality through October 12, 2017, is 1,018 mt for trawl gear and 119 mt for hook-and-line gear for a total halibut mortality of 1,137 mt. This halibut mortality was calculated using groundfish and halibut catch data from the NMFS Alaska Region's catch accounting system. This accounting system contains historical and recent catch information compiled from each Alaska groundfish fishery.

    Section 679.21(d)(4)(i) and (ii) authorizes NMFS to seasonally apportion the halibut PSC limits after consultation with the Council. The FMP and regulations require that the Council and NMFS consider the following information in seasonally apportioning halibut PSC limits: (1) Seasonal distribution of halibut, (2) seasonal distribution of target groundfish species relative to halibut distribution, (3) expected halibut bycatch needs on a seasonal basis relative to changes in halibut biomass and expected catch of target groundfish species, (4) expected bycatch rates on a seasonal basis, (5) expected changes in directed groundfish fishing seasons, (6) expected actual start of fishing effort, and (7) economic effects of establishing seasonal halibut allocations on segments of the target groundfish industry. Based on public comment and the information presented in the final 2017 SAFE report, the Council may recommend or NMFS may make changes to the seasonal, gear-type, or fishery category apportionments of halibut PSC limits for the final 2018 and 2019 harvest specifications.

    The final 2017 and 2018 harvest specifications (82 FR 12032, February 27, 2017) summarized the Council's and NMFS' findings with respect to halibut PSC for each of these FMP considerations. The Council's and NMFS' findings for 2018 are unchanged from 2017. Table 9 lists the proposed 2018 and 2019 Pacific halibut PSC limits, allowances, and apportionments. The halibut PSC limits in these tables reflect the halibut PSC limits set forth at § 679.21(d)(2) and § 679.21(d)(3). Sections 679.21(d)(4)(iii) and (iv) specify that any underages or overages of a seasonal apportionment of a halibut PSC limit will be added to or deducted from the next respective seasonal apportionment within the fishing year.

    Table 9—Proposed 2018 and 2019 Pacific Halibut PSC Limits, Allowances, and Apportionments [Values are in metric tons] Trawl gear Season Percent Amount Hook-and-line gear 1 Other than DSR Season Percent Amount DSR Season Amount January 20-April 1 27.5 469 January 1-June 10 86 221 January 1-December 31 9 April 1-July 1 20 341 June 10-September 1 2 5 July 1-September 1 30 512 September 1-December 31 12 31 September 1-October 1 7.5 128 October 1-December 31 15 256 Total 1,706 257 9 1 The Pacific halibut prohibited species catch (PSC) limit for hook-and-line gear is allocated to the demersal shelf rockfish (DSR) fishery and fisheries other than DSR. The hook-and-line sablefish fishery is exempt from halibut PSC limits, as are pot and jig gear for all groundfish fisheries.

    Section 679.21(d)(3)(ii) authorizes further apportionment of the trawl halibut PSC limit as bycatch allowances to trawl fishery categories listed in § 679.21(d)(3)(iii). The annual apportionments are based on each category's proportional share of the anticipated halibut bycatch mortality during a fishing year and optimization of the total amount of groundfish harvest under the halibut PSC limit. The fishery categories for the trawl halibut PSC limits are (1) a deep-water species fishery, composed of sablefish, rockfish, deep-water flatfish, rex sole, and arrowtooth flounder; and (2) a shallow-water species fishery, composed of pollock, Pacific cod, shallow-water flatfish, flathead sole, Atka mackerel, and “other species” (sculpins, sharks, squids, and octopuses) (§ 679.21(d)(3)(iii)). Halibut mortality incurred while directed fishing for skates with trawl gear accrues towards the shallow-water fishery halibut PSC limit (69 FR 26320, May 12, 2004).

    As discussed previously in this preamble, the proposed Pacific cod TAC recommended by the Council is substantially less than the 2018 TAC published in the final 2017 and 2018 harvest specifications (82 FR 12032, February 27, 2017). If the proposed TAC or a lower TAC is adopted as the final TAC for 2018 and 2019, this reduced TAC could result in the Council adjusting the apportionment of halibut PSC limits between the shallow-water and deep-water species fisheries to reflect the potential for decreased effort in the shallow-water fisheries in 2018 and 2019 due the decrease in the Pacific cod TAC. The potential for decreased effort in the shallow-water species fishery could allow the deep-water species fishery to receive additional apportionments of the trawl halibut PSC limit. This adjustment could be made during the final harvest specifications process, pending any public comment, Council discussion, and Council recommendations for a change during the December 2017 Council meeting.

    NMFS will combine available trawl halibut PSC limit apportionments in part of the second season deep-water and shallow-water fisheries for use in either fishery from May 15 through June 30 (§ 679.21(d)(4)(iii)(D)). This is intended to maintain groundfish harvest while minimizing halibut bycatch by these sectors to the extent practicable. This provides the deep-water and shallow-water trawl fisheries additional flexibility and the incentive to participate in fisheries at times of the year that may have lower halibut PSC rates relative to other times of the year.

    Table 10 lists the proposed 2018 and 2019 seasonal apportionments of trawl halibut PSC limits between the trawl gear deep-water and the shallow-water species fisheries.

    Table 28d to 50 CFR part 679 specifies the amount of the trawl halibut PSC limit that is assigned to the CV andC/P sectors that are participating in the Central GOA Rockfish Program. This includes 117 mt of halibut PSC limit to the CV sector and 74 mt of halibut PSC limit to the C/P sector. These amounts are allocated from the trawl deep-water species fishery's halibut PSC third seasonal apportionment.

    Section 679.21(d)(4)(iii)(B) limits the amount of the halibut PSC limit allocated to Rockfish Program participants that could be re-apportioned to the general GOA trawl fisheries to no more than 55 percent of the unused annual halibut PSC apportioned to Rockfish Program participants. The remainder of the unused Rockfish Program halibut PSC limit is unavailable for use by any person for the remainder of the fishing year (§ 679.21(d)(4)(iii)(C)).

    Table 10—Proposed 2018 and 2019 Seasonal Apportionments of the Pacific Halibut PSC Limit Apportioned Between the Trawl Gear Shallow-Water and Deep-Water Species Fisheries [Values are in metric tons] Season Shallow-water Deep-water 1 Total January 20-April 1 384 85 469 April 1-July 1 85 256 341 July 1-September 1 171 341 512 September 1-October 1 128 Any remainder 128 Subtotal, January 20-October 1 768 682 1,450 October 1-December 31 2 256 Total 1,706 1 Vessels participating in cooperatives in the Rockfish Program will receive 191 mt of the third season (July 1 through September 1) deep-water species fishery halibut PSC apportionment. 2 There is no apportionment between trawl shallow-water and deep-water species fisheries during the fifth season (October 1 through December 31).

    Section 679.21(d)(2) requires that the “other hook-and-line fishery” halibut PSC limit apportionment to vessels using hook-and-line gear must be divided between CVs and C/Ps. NMFS must calculate the halibut PSC limit apportionments for the entire GOA to hook-and-line CVs and C/Ps in accordance with § 679.21(d)(2)(iii) in conjunction with these harvest specifications. A comprehensive description and example of the calculations necessary to apportion the “other hook-and-line fishery” halibut PSC limit between the hook-and-line CV and C/P sectors were included in the proposed rule to implement Amendment 83 to the FMP (76 FR 44700, July 26, 2011) and are not repeated here.

    For 2018 and 2019, NMFS proposes annual halibut PSC limit apportionments of 129 mt and 128 mt to the hook-and-line CV and hook-and-line C/P sectors, respectively. The 2018 and 2019 annual halibut PSC limits are divided into three seasonal apportionments, using seasonal percentages of 86 percent, 2 percent, and 12 percent. Table 11 lists the proposed 2018 and 2019 annual halibut PSC limits and seasonal apportionments between the hook-and-line CV and hook-and-line C/P sectors in the GOA.

    No later than November 1 year, any halibut PSC limit allocated under § 679.21(d)(2)(ii)(B) not projected by the Regional Administrator to be used by one of the hook-and-line sectors during the remainder of the fishing year will be made available to the other sector. NMFS calculates the projected unused amount of halibut PSC limit by either the CV hook-and-line or the C/P hook-and-line sectors of the “other hook-and-line fishery” for the remainder of the year. The projected unused amount of halibut PSC limit is made available to the other hook-and-line sector for the remainder of that fishing year if NMFS determines that an additional amount of halibut PSC limit is necessary for that sector to continue its directed fishing operations (§ 679.21(d)(2)(iii)(C)).

    Table 11—Proposed 2018 and 2019 Apportionments of the “Other Hook-and-Line Fisheries” Halibut PSC Allowance Between the Hook-and-Line Gear Catcher Vessel and Catcher/Processor Sectors [Values are in metric tons] “Other
  • than DSR”
  • allowance
  • Hook-and-
  • line sector
  • Sector
  • annual
  • amount
  • Season Seasonal
  • percentage
  • Sector
  • seasonal
  • amount
  • 257 Catcher Vessel 129 January 1-June 10
  • June 10-September 1
  • September 1-December 31
  • 86
  • 2
  • 12
  • 111
  • 3
  • 15
  • Catcher/Processor 128 January 1—June 10
  • June 10-September 1
  • September 1-December 31
  • 86
  • 2
  • 12
  • 110
  • 3
  • 15
  • Halibut Discard Mortality Rates

    To monitor halibut bycatch mortality allowances and apportionments, the Regional Administrator uses observed halibut incidental catch rates, halibut discard mortality rates (DMRs), and estimates of groundfish catch to project when a fishery's halibut bycatch mortality allowance or seasonal apportionment is reached. Halibut incidental catch rates are based on observers' estimates of halibut incidental catch in the groundfish fishery. DMRs are estimates of the proportion of incidentally caught halibut that do not survive after being returned to the sea. The cumulative halibut mortality that accrues to a particular halibut PSC limit is the product of a DMR multiplied by the estimated halibut PSC. DMRs are estimated using the best scientific information available in conjunction with the annual GOA stock assessment process. The DMR methodology and findings are included as an appendix to the annual GOA groundfish SAFE report.

    In 2016, the DMR estimation methodology underwent revisions per the Council's directive. An interagency halibut working group (International Pacific Halibut Commission, Council, and NMFS staff) developed improved estimation methods that have undergone review by the Plan Team, SSC, and the Council. A summary of the revised methodology is contained in the GOA proposed 2017 and 2018 harvest specifications (81 FR 87881, December 6, 2016), and the comprehensive discussion of the working group's statistical methodology is available from the Council (see ADDRESSES). The DMR working group's revised methodology is intended to improve estimation accuracy, as well as transparency and transferability in the methodology used for calculating DMRs. The working group will continue to consider improvements to the methodology used to calculate halibut mortality, including potential changes to the reference period (the period of data used for calculating the DMRs). Future DMRs may change based on additional years of observer sampling, which could provide more recent and accurate data and which could improve the accuracy of estimation and progress on methodology. The new methodology will continue to ensure that NMFS is using DMRs that more accurately reflect halibut mortality, which will inform the different sectors of their estimated halibut mortality and allow specific sectors to respond with methods that could reduce mortality and, eventually, the DMR for that sector.

    At the December 2016 meeting, the SSC, AP, and Council concurred with the revised DMR estimation methodology, and NMFS adopted the DMRs calculated under the revised methodology for the 2017 and 2018 harvest specifications. In October 2017, the Council recommended adopting the halibut DMRs derived from the 2016 process for the proposed 2018 and 2019 DMRs. The proposed 2018 and 2019 DMRs maintain the 2016 process using an updated 3-year reference period of 2014 through 2016. The proposed DMR for catcher vessels using hook-and-line gear increased to 17 percent from 12 percent, and the proposed DMR for trawl catcher vessels operating in the Rockfish Program decreased to 62 percent from 67 percent. Other sectors had minor increases of 3 percent or less. Table 12 lists the proposed 2018 and 2019 DMRs.

    Table 12—Proposed 2018 and 2019 Halibut Discard Mortality Rates for Vessels Fishing in the Gulf of Alaska [Values are percent of halibut assumed to be dead] Gear Sector Groundfish fishery Halibut discard
  • mortality rate
  • (percent)
  • Pelagic trawl Catcher vessel
  • Catcher/processor
  • All
  • All
  • 100
  • 100
  • Non-pelagic trawl Catcher vessel
  • Catcher vessel
  • Mothership and catcher/processor
  • Rockfish Program
  • All others
  • All
  • 62
  • 67
  • 84
  • Hook-and-line Catcher/processor
  • Catcher vessel
  • All
  • All
  • 10
  • 17
  • Pot Catcher vessel and catcher/processor All 7
    Chinook Salmon Prohibited Species Catch Limit

    Amendment 93 to the FMP (77 FR 42629, July 20, 2012) established separate Chinook salmon PSC limits in the Western and Central GOA in the directed pollock trawl fishery. These limits require NMFS to close the pollock directed fishery in the Western and Central regulatory areas of the GOA if the applicable Chinook salmon PSC limit is reached (§ 679.21(h)(8)). The annual Chinook salmon PSC limits in the pollock directed fishery of 6,684 salmon in the Western GOA and 18,316 salmon in the Central GOA are set in § 679.21(h)(2)(i) and (ii).

    Amendment 97 to the FMP (79 FR 71350, December 2, 2014) established an initial annual PSC limit of 7,500 Chinook salmon for the non-pollock groundfish trawl fisheries in the Western and Central GOA. This limit is apportioned among three sectors: 3,600 Chinook salmon to trawl C/Ps; 1,200 Chinook salmon to trawl CVs participating in the Rockfish Program; and 2,700 Chinook salmon to trawl CVs not participating in the Rockfish Program (§ 679.21(h)(4)). NMFS will monitor the Chinook salmon PSC in the non-pollock GOA groundfish fisheries and close an applicable sector if it reaches its Chinook salmon PSC limit.

    The Chinook salmon PSC limit for two sectors, trawl C/Ps and trawl CVs not participating in the Rockfish Program, may be increased in subsequent years based on the performance of these two sectors and their ability to minimize their use of their respective Chinook salmon PSC limits. If either or both of these two sectors limit its use of Chinook salmon PSC to a certain threshold amount in 2017 (3,120 for trawl C/Ps and 2,340 for trawl CVs), that sector will receive an incremental increase to its 2018 Chinook salmon PSC limit (4,080 for trawl C/Ps and 3,060 for trawl CVs) (§ 679.21(h)(4)). NMFS will evaluate the annual Chinook salmon PSC by trawl C/Ps and non-Rockfish Program CVs when the 2017 fishing year is complete to determine whether to increase the Chinook salmon PSC limits for these two sectors. Based on preliminary 2017 Chinook salmon PSC data, the trawlC/P sector and the non-Rockfish Program CV sector may receive an incremental increase of Chinook salmon PSC limit in 2018. This evaluation will be completed in conjunction with the final 2018 and 2019 harvest specifications.

    American Fisheries Act (AFA) Catcher/Processor and Catcher Vessel Groundfish Sideboard Limits

    Section 679.64 establishes groundfish harvesting and processing sideboard limits on AFA C/Ps and CVs in the GOA. These sideboard limits are necessary to protect the interests of fishermen and processors who do not directly benefit from the AFA from those fishermen and processors who receive exclusive harvesting and processing privileges under the AFA. Section 679.7(k)(1)(ii) prohibits listed AFA C/Ps from harvesting any species of fish in the GOA. Additionally, § 679.7(k)(1)(iv) prohibits listed AFAC/Ps from processing any pollock harvested in a directed pollock fishery in the GOA and any groundfish harvested in Statistical Area 630 of the GOA.

    AFA CVs that are less than 125 ft (38.1 meters) length overall, have annual landings of pollock in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands of less than 5,100 mt, and have made at least 40 landings of GOA groundfish from 1995 through 1997 are exempt from GOA CV groundfish sideboard limits under § 679.64(b)(2)(ii). Sideboard limits for non-exempt AFA CVs in the GOA are based on their traditional harvest levels of TAC in groundfish fisheries covered by the FMP. Section 679.64(b)(3)(iv) establishes for CVs the groundfish sideboard limitations in the GOA based on the retained catch of non-exempt AFA CVs of each sideboard species from 1995 through 1997 divided by the TAC for that species over the same period.

    Table 13 lists the proposed 2018 and 2019 groundfish sideboard limits for non-exempt AFA CVs. NMFS will deduct all targeted or incidental catch of sideboard species made by non-exempt AFA CVs from the sideboard limits listed in Table 13.

    Table 13—Proposed 2018 and 2019 GOA Non-Exempt American Fisheries Act Catcher Vessel (CV) Groundfish Sideboard Limits [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton] Species Apportionments by season/gear Area/component Ratio of
  • 1995-1997
  • non-exempt
  • AFA CV catch
  • to 1995-1997
  • TAC
  • Proposed
  • 2018 and 2019
  • TACs 3
  • Proposed
  • 2018 and 2019
  • non-exempt
  • AFA CV
  • sideboard
  • limit
  • Pollock A Season January 20-March 10 Shumagin (610)
  • Chirikof (620)
  • Kodiak (630)
  • 0.6047
  • 0.1167
  • 0.2028
  • 1,725
  • 26,704
  • 8,513
  • 1,043
  • 3,116
  • 1,726
  • B Season March 10-May 31 Shumagin (610)
  • Chirikof (620)
  • Kodiak (630)
  • 0.6047
  • 0.1167
  • 0.2028
  • 1,725
  • 30,469
  • 4,748
  • 1,043
  • 3,556
  • 963
  • C Season August 25-October 1 Shumagin (610)
  • Chirikof (620)
  • Kodiak (630)
  • 0.6047
  • 0.1167
  • 0.2028
  • 15,125
  • 9,538
  • 12,278
  • 9,146
  • 1,113
  • 2,490
  • D Season October 1-November 1 Shumagin (610)
  • Chirikof (620)
  • Kodiak (630)
  • 0.6047
  • 0.1167
  • 0.2028
  • 15,125
  • 9,538
  • 12,278
  • 9,146
  • 1,113
  • 2,490
  • Annual WYK (640)
  • SEO (650)
  • 0.3495
  • 0.3495
  • 5,791
  • 9,920
  • 2,024
  • 3,467
  • Pacific cod A Season 1 January 1-June 10 W
  • C
  • 0.1331
  • 0.0692
  • 9,477
  • 12,362
  • 1,261
  • 855
  • B Season 2
  • September 1-December 31
  • W
  • C
  • 0.1331
  • 0.0692
  • 6,318
  • 8,241
  • 841
  • 570
  • Annual E inshore
  • E offshore
  • 0.0079
  • 0.0078
  • 3,303
  • 367
  • 26
  • 3
  • Sablefish Annual, trawl gear W
  • C
  • E
  • 0.0000
  • 0.0642
  • 0.0433
  • 273
  • 915
  • 213
  • 0
  • 59
  • 9
  • Flatfish, shallow-water Annual W
  • C
  • E
  • 0.0156
  • 0.0587
  • 0.0126
  • 13,250
  • 19,418
  • 4,311
  • 207
  • 1,140
  • 54
  • Flatfish, deep-water Annual W
  • C
  • E
  • 0.0000
  • 0.0647
  • 0.0128
  • 257
  • 3,488
  • 5,637
  • 0
  • 226
  • 72
  • Rex sole Annual W
  • C
  • E
  • 0.0007
  • 0.0384
  • 0.0029
  • 1,478
  • 4,995
  • 1,948
  • 1
  • 192
  • 6
  • Arrowtooth flounder Annual W
  • C
  • E
  • 0.0021
  • 0.0280
  • 0.0002
  • 14,500
  • 75,000
  • 13,800
  • 30
  • 2,100
  • 3
  • Flathead sole Annual W
  • C
  • E
  • 0.0036
  • 0.0213
  • 0.0009
  • 8,650
  • 15,400
  • 3,870
  • 31
  • 328
  • 3
  • Pacific ocean perch Annual W
  • C
  • E
  • 0.0023
  • 0.0748
  • 0.0466
  • 2,627
  • 16,347
  • 4,480
  • 6
  • 1,223
  • 209
  • Northern rockfish Annual W
  • C
  • 0.0003
  • 0.0277
  • 400
  • 3,108
  • 0
  • 86
  • Shortraker rockfish Annual W
  • C
  • E
  • 0.0000
  • 0.0218
  • 0.0110
  • 38
  • 301
  • 947
  • 0
  • 7
  • 10
  • Dusky Rockfish Annual W
  • C
  • E
  • 0.0001
  • 0.0000
  • 0.0067
  • 146
  • 3,499
  • 309
  • 0
  • 0
  • 2
  • Rougheye rockfish Annual W
  • C
  • E
  • 0.0000
  • 0.0237
  • 0.0124
  • 104
  • 702
  • 512
  • 0
  • 17
  • 6
  • Demersal shelf rockfish Annual SEO 0.0020 227 0 Thornyhead rockfish Annual W
  • C
  • E
  • 0.0280
  • 0.0280
  • 0.0280
  • 291
  • 988
  • 682
  • 8
  • 28
  • 19
  • Other Rockfish Annual W/C
  • E
  • 0.1699
  • 0.0000
  • 1,534
  • 774
  • 261
  • 0
  • Atka mackerel Annual Gulfwide 0.0309 3,000 93 Big skates Annual W
  • C
  • E
  • 0.0063
  • 0.0063
  • 0.0063
  • 908
  • 1,850
  • 1,056
  • 6
  • 12
  • 7
  • Longnose skates Annual W
  • C
  • E
  • 0.0063
  • 0.0063
  • 0.0063
  • 61
  • 2,513
  • 632
  • 0
  • 16
  • 4
  • Other skates Annual Gulfwide 0.0063 1,919 12 Sculpins Annual Gulfwide 0.0063 5,591 35 Sharks Annual Gulfwide 0.0063 4,514 28 Squids Annual Gulfwide 0.0063 1,137 7 Octopuses Annual Gulfwide 0.0063 4,878 31 1 The Pacific cod A season for trawl gear does not open until January 20. 2 The Pacific cod B season for trawl gear closes November 1. 3 The Western and Central GOA area apportionments of pollock are considered ACLs.
    Non-Exempt AFA Catcher Vessel Halibut PSC Sideboard Limits

    The halibut PSC sideboard limits for non-exempt AFA CVs in the GOA are based on the aggregate retained groundfish catch by non-exempt AFA CVs in each PSC target category from 1995 through 1997 divided by the retained catch of all vessels in that fishery from 1995 through 1997 (§ 679.64(b)(4)(ii)). Table 14 lists the proposed 2018 and 2019 non-exempt AFA CV halibut PSC limits for vessels using trawl gear in the GOA.

    Table 14—Proposed 2018 and 2019 Non-Exempt American Fisheries Act Catcher Vessel Halibut Prohibited Species Catch (PSC) Sideboard Limits for Vessels Using Trawl Gear in the GOA [PSC limits are rounded to the nearest metric ton] Season Season dates Fishery category Ratio of 1995-
  • 1997 non-exempt
  • AFA CV retained
  • catch to total
  • retained catch
  • Proposed 2018
  • and 2019 PSC
  • limit
  • Proposed 2018
  • and 2019
  • non-exempt
  • AFA CV PSC
  • limit
  • 1 January 20-April 1 shallow-water
  • deep-water
  • 0.340
  • 0.070
  • 384
  • 85
  • 131
  • 6
  • 2 April 1-July 1 shallow-water
  • deep-water
  • 0.340
  • 0.070
  • 85
  • 256
  • 29
  • 18
  • 3 July 1-September 1 shallow-water
  • deep-water
  • 0.340
  • 0.070
  • 171
  • 341
  • 58
  • 24
  • 4 September 1-October 1 shallow-water
  • deep-water
  • 0.340
  • 0.070
  • 128
  • 0
  • 44
  • 0
  • 5 October 1-December 31 all targets 0.205 256 52 Annual: Total shallow-water 262 Total deep-water 48 Grand Total, all seasons and categories 1,706 362
    Non-AFA Crab Vessel Groundfish Sideboard Limits

    Section 680.22 establishes groundfish sideboard limits for vessels with a history of participation in the Bering Sea snow crab fishery to prevent these vessels from using the increased flexibility provided by the Crab Rationalization Program to expand their level of participation in the GOA groundfish fisheries. Sideboard harvest limits restrict these vessels' catch to their collective historical landings in each GOA groundfish fishery (except the fixed-gear sablefish fishery). Sideboard limits also apply to landings made using an LLP license derived from the history of a restricted vessel, even if that LLP license is used on another vessel.

    The basis for these sideboard harvest limits is described in detail in the final rules implementing the major provisions of the Crab Rationalization Program, including Amendments 18 and 19 to the Fishery Management Plan for Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands King and Tanner Crabs (Crab FMP) (70 FR 10174, March 2, 2005), Amendment 34 to the Crab FMP (76 FR 35772, June 20, 2011), Amendment 83 to the GOA FMP (76 FR 74670, December 1, 2011), and Amendment 45 to the Crab FMP (80 FR 28539, May 19, 2015).

    Table 15 lists the proposed 2018 and 2019 groundfish sideboard limitations for non-AFA crab vessels. All targeted or incidental catch of sideboard species made by non-AFA crab vessels or associated LLP licenses will be deducted from these sideboard limits.

    Table 15—Proposed 2018 and 2019 GOA Non-American Fisheries Act Crab Vessel Groundfish Sideboard Limits [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton] Species Season/gear Area/component/gear Ratio of 1996-
  • 2000 non-AFA
  • crab vessel
  • catch to 1996-
  • 2000 total
  • harvest
  • Proposed
  • 2018 and 2019
  • TACs
  • Proposed
  • 2018 and 2019
  • non-AFA crab
  • vessel
  • sideboard
  • limit
  • Pollock A Season
  • January 20-March 10
  • Shumagin (610)
  • Chirikof (620)
  • Kodiak (630)
  • 0.0098
  • 0.0031
  • 0.0002
  • 1,725
  • 26,704
  • 8,513
  • 17
  • 83
  • 2
  • B Season
  • March 10-May 31
  • Shumagin (610)
  • Chirikof (620)
  • Kodiak (630)
  • 0.0098
  • 0.0031
  • 0.0002
  • 1,725
  • 30,469
  • 4,748
  • 17
  • 94
  • 1
  • C Season
  • August 25-October 1
  • Shumagin (610)
  • Chirikof (620)
  • Kodiak (630)
  • 0.0098
  • 0.0031
  • 0.0002
  • 15,125
  • 9,538
  • 12,278
  • 148
  • 30
  • 2
  • D Season
  • October 1-November 1
  • Shumagin (610)
  • Chirikof (620)
  • Kodiak (630)
  • 0.0098
  • 0.0031
  • 0.0002
  • 15,125
  • 9,538
  • 12,278
  • 148
  • 30
  • 2
  • Annual WYK (640)
  • SEO (650)
  • 0.0000
  • 0.0000
  • 5,791
  • 9,920
  • Pacific cod A Season 1 W Jig CV
  • W Hook-and-line CV
  • 0.0000
  • 0.0004
  • 9,477
  • 9,477
  • 4
  • January 1-June 10 W Pot CV
  • W Pot C/P
  • W Trawl CV
  • C Jig CV
  • 0.0997
  • 0.0078
  • 0.0007
  • 0.0000
  • 9,477
  • 9,477
  • 9,477
  • 12,362
  • 945
  • 74
  • 7
  • C Hook-and-line CV
  • C Pot CV
  • C Pot C/P
  • C Trawl CV
  • 0.0001
  • 0.0474
  • 0.0136
  • 0.0012
  • 12,362
  • 12,362
  • 12,362
  • 12,362
  • 1
  • 586
  • 168
  • 15
  • B Season 2 W Jig CV
  • W Hook-and-line CV
  • 0.0000
  • 0.0004
  • 6,318
  • 6,318
  • 3
  • September 1-December 31 W Pot CV
  • W Pot C/P
  • W Trawl CV
  • C Jig CV
  • 0.0997
  • 0.0078
  • 0.0007
  • 0.0000
  • 6,318
  • 6,318
  • 6,318
  • 8,241
  • 630
  • 49
  • 4
  • C Hook-and-line CV
  • C Pot CV
  • C Pot C/P
  • C Trawl CV
  • 0.0001
  • 0.0474
  • 0.0136
  • 0.0012
  • 8,241
  • 8,241
  • 8,241
  • 8,241
  • 1
  • 391
  • 112
  • 10
  • Annual E inshore
  • E offshore
  • 0.0110
  • 0.0000
  • 3,303
  • 367
  • 36
  • Sablefish Annual, trawl gear W
  • C
  • E
  • 0.0000
  • 0.0000
  • 0.0000
  • 273
  • 915
  • 213
  • Flatfish, shallow-water Annual W
  • C
  • E
  • 0.0059
  • 0.0001
  • 0.0000
  • 13,250
  • 19,418
  • 4,311
  • 78
  • 2
  • Flatfish, deep-water Annual W
  • C
  • E
  • 0.0035
  • 0.0000
  • 0.0000
  • 257
  • 3,488
  • 5,637
  • 1
  • Rex sole Annual W
  • C
  • E
  • 0.0000
  • 0.0000
  • 0.0000
  • 1,478
  • 4,995
  • 1,948
  • Arrowtooth flounder Annual W
  • C
  • E
  • 0.0004
  • 0.0001
  • 0.0000
  • 14,500
  • 75,000
  • 13,800
  • 6
  • 8
  • Flathead sole Annual W
  • C
  • E
  • 0.0002
  • 0.0004
  • 0.0000
  • 8,650
  • 15,400
  • 3,870
  • 2
  • 6
  • Pacific ocean perch Annual W
  • C
  • E
  • 0.0000
  • 0.0000
  • 0.0000
  • 2,627
  • 16,347
  • 4,480
  • Northern rockfish Annual W
  • C
  • 0.0005
  • 0.0000
  • 400
  • 3,108
  • 0
  • Shortraker rockfish Annual W
  • C
  • E
  • 0.0013
  • 0.0012
  • 0.0009
  • 38
  • 301
  • 947
  • 0
  • 0
  • 1
  • Dusky rockfish Annual W
  • C
  • E
  • 0.0017
  • 0.0000
  • 0.0000
  • 146
  • 3,499
  • 309
  • 0
  • Rougheye rockfish Annual W
  • C
  • E
  • 0.0067
  • 0.0047
  • 0.0008
  • 104
  • 702
  • 512
  • 1
  • 3
  • 0
  • Demersal shelf rockfish Annual SEO 0.0000 227 Thornyhead rockfish Annual W
  • C
  • E
  • 0.0047
  • 0.0066
  • 0.0045
  • 291
  • 988
  • 682
  • 1
  • 7
  • 3
  • Other Rockfish Annual W/C
  • E
  • 0.0033
  • 0.0000
  • 1,534
  • 774
  • 5
  • Atka mackerel Annual Gulfwide 0.0000 3,000 Big skate Annual W
  • C
  • E
  • 0.0392
  • 0.0159
  • 0.0000
  • 908
  • 1,850
  • 1,056
  • 36
  • 29
  • Longnose skate Annual W
  • C
  • E
  • 0.0392
  • 0.0159
  • 0.0000
  • 61
  • 2,513
  • 632
  • 2
  • 40
  • Other skates Annual Gulfwide 0.0176 1,919 34 Sculpins Annual Gulfwide 0.0176 5,591 98 Sharks Annual Gulfwide 0.0176 4,514 79 Squids Annual Gulfwide 0.0176 1,137 20 Octopuses Annual Gulfwide 0.0176 4,878 86 1 The Pacific cod A season for trawl gear does not open until January 20. 2 The Pacific cod B season for trawl gear closes November 1. Rockfish Program Groundfish Sideboard and Halibut PSC Limitations

    The Rockfish Program establishes three classes of sideboard provisions: CV groundfish sideboard restrictions,C/P rockfish sideboard restrictions, andC/P opt-out vessel sideboard restrictions (§ 679.82(c)(1)). These sideboards are intended to limit the ability of rockfish harvesters to expand into other fisheries.

    CVs participating in the Rockfish Program may not participate in directed fishing for dusky rockfish, northern rockfish, and Pacific ocean perch in the Western GOA and West Yakutat Districts from July 1 through July 31. Also, CVs may not participate in directed fishing for arrowtooth flounder, deep-water flatfish, and rex sole in the GOA from July 1 through July 31 (§ 679.82(d)).

    C/Ps participating in Rockfish Program cooperatives are restricted by rockfish and halibut PSC sideboard limits. These C/Ps are prohibited from directed fishing for northern rockfish, Pacific ocean perch, and dusky rockfish in the Western GOA and West Yakutat District from July 1 through July 31. Holders of C/P-designated LLP licenses that opt out of participating in a Rockfish Program cooperative will be able to access those sideboard limits that are not assigned to Rockfish Program cooperatives (§ 679.82(e)(2) and (e)(7)). The sideboard ratio for each rockfish fishery in the Western GOA and WYK District is set forth in § 679.82(e)(4). Table 16 lists the proposed 2018 and 2019 Rockfish Program C/P rockfish sideboard limits in the Western GOA and West Yakutat District. Due to confidentiality requirements associated with fisheries data, the sideboard limits for the West Yakutat District are not displayed.

    Table 16—Proposed 2018 and 2019 Rockfish Program Sideboard Limits for the Western GOA and West Yakutat District by Fishery for the Catcher/Processor (C/P) Sector [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton] Area Fishery C/P sector
  • (% of TAC)
  • Proposed 2018
  • and 2019 TACs
  • Proposed 2018
  • and 2019 C/P
  • sideboard limit
  • Western GOA Dusky rockfish
  • Pacific ocean perch
  • 72.3
  • 50.6
  • 146
  • 2,627
  • 106
  • 1,329
  • Northern rockfish 74.3 400 297. West Yakutat District Dusky rockfish Confidential 1 232 Confidential.1 Pacific ocean perch Confidential 1 2,733 Confidential.1 1 Not released due to confidentiality requirements associated with fish ticket data, as established by NMFS and the State of Alaska.

    Under the Rockfish Program, the C/P sector is subject to halibut PSC sideboard limits for the trawl deep-water and shallow-water species fisheries from July 1 through July 31 (§ 679.82(e)(3) and (e)(5)). Halibut PSC sideboard ratios by fishery are set forth in § 679.82(e)(5). No halibut PSC sideboard limits apply to the CV sector, as vessels participating in a rockfish cooperative receive a portion of the annual halibut PSC limit. C/Ps that opt out of the Rockfish Program would be able to access that portion of the deep-water and shallow-water halibut PSC sideboard limit not assigned to C/P rockfish cooperatives. The sideboard provisions for C/Ps that elect to opt out of participating in a rockfish cooperative are described in § 679.82(c), (e), and (f). Sideboard limits are linked to the catch history of specific vessels that may choose to opt out. After March 1, NMFS will determine which C/Ps have opted-out of the Rockfish Program in 2018, and will know the ratios and amounts used to calculate opt-out sideboard ratios. NMFS will then calculate any applicable opt-out sideboard limits and post these limits on the Alaska Region Web site at https://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov/fisheries/central-goa-rockfish-program. Table 17 lists the 2018 and 2019 proposed Rockfish Program halibut PSC limits for the C/P sector.

    Table 17—Proposed 2018 and 2019 Rockfish Program Halibut Mortality Limits for the Catcher/Processor Sector [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton] Sector Shallow-water
  • species fishery
  • halibut PSC
  • sideboard ratio
  • (percent)
  • Deep-water
  • species fishery
  • halibut PSC
  • sideboard ratio
  • (percent)
  • Annual halibut
  • mortality limit
  • (mt)
  • Annual
  • shallow-water
  • species
  • fishery
  • halibut
  • PSC
  • sideboard
  • limit
  • (mt)
  • Annual
  • deep-water
  • species
  • fishery
  • halibut
  • PSC
  • sideboard
  • limit
  • (mt)
  • Catcher/processor 0.10 2.50 1,706 2 43
    Amendment 80 Program Groundfish and PSC Sideboard Limits

    Amendment 80 to the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Area (Amendment 80 Program) established a limited access privilege program for the non-AFA trawl C/P sector. The Amendment 80 Program established groundfish and halibut PSC limits for Amendment 80 Program participants to limit the ability of participants eligible for the Amendment 80 Program to expand their harvest efforts in the GOA.

    Section 679.92 establishes groundfish harvesting sideboard limits on all Amendment 80 Program vessels, other than the F/V Golden Fleece, to amounts no greater than the limits shown in Table 37 to 50 CFR part 679. Under § 679.92(d), the F/V Golden Fleece is prohibited from directed fishing for pollock, Pacific cod, Pacific ocean perch, dusky rockfish, and northern rockfish in the GOA.

    Groundfish sideboard limits for Amendment 80 Program vessels operating in the GOA are based on their average aggregate harvests from 1998 through 2004 (72 FR 52668, September 14, 2007). Table 18 lists the proposed 2018 and 2019 sideboard limits for Amendment 80 Program vessels. NMFS will deduct all targeted or incidental catch of sideboard species made by Amendment 80 Program vessels from the sideboard limits in Table 18.

    Table 18—Proposed 2018 and 2019 GOA Groundfish Sideboard Limits for Amendment 80 Program Vessels [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton] Species Season Area Ratio of
  • Amendment 80
  • sector vessels
  • 1998-2004 catch
  • to TAC
  • Proposed
  • 2018 and 2019
  • TAC
  • (mt)
  • Proposed
  • 2018 and 2019
  • Amendment 80
  • vessel sideboard
  • limits
  • (mt)
  • Pollock A Season January 20-March 10 Shumagin (610)
  • Chirikof (620)
  • Kodiak (630)
  • 0.003
  • 0.002
  • 0.002
  • 1,725
  • 26,704
  • 8,513
  • 5
  • 53
  • 17
  • B Season March 10-May 31 Shumagin (610)
  • Chirikof (620)
  • Kodiak (630)
  • 0.003
  • 0.002
  • 0.002
  • 1,725
  • 30,469
  • 4,748
  • 5
  • 61
  • 9
  • C Season August 25-October 1 Shumagin (610)
  • Chirikof (620)
  • Kodiak (630)
  • 0.003
  • 0.002
  • 0.002
  • 15,125
  • 9,538
  • 12,278
  • 45
  • 19
  • 25
  • D Season October 1-November 1 Shumagin (610)
  • Chirikof (620)
  • Kodiak (630)
  • 0.003
  • 0.002
  • 0.002
  • 15,125
  • 9,538
  • 12,278
  • 45
  • 19
  • 25
  • Annual WYK (640) 0.002 5,791 12 Pacific cod A Season 1 January 1-June 10
  • B Season 2 September 1-December 31
  • W
  • C
  • W
  • C
  • 0.020
  • 0.044
  • 0.020
  • 0.044
  • 9,477
  • 12,362
  • 6,318
  • 8,241
  • 190
  • 544
  • 126
  • 363
  • Annual WYK 0.034 3,671 125 Pacific ocean perch Annual W
  • WYK
  • 0.994
  • 0.961
  • 2,627
  • 2,733
  • 2,611
  • 2,626
  • Northern rockfish Annual W 1.000 400 400 Dusky rockfish Annual W
  • WYK
  • 0.764
  • 0.896
  • 146
  • 232
  • 112
  • 208
  • 1 The Pacific cod A season for trawl gear does not open until January 20. 2 The Pacific cod B season for trawl gear closes November 1.

    The halibut PSC sideboard limits for Amendment 80 Program vessels in the GOA are based on the historic use of halibut PSC by Amendment 80 Program vessels in each PSC target category from 1998 through 2004. These values are slightly lower than the average historic use to accommodate two factors: Allocation of halibut PSC cooperative quota under the Rockfish Program and the exemption of the F/V Golden Fleece from this restriction (§ 679.92(b)(2)). Table 19 lists the proposed 2018 and 2019 halibut PSC sideboard limits for Amendment 80 Program vessels. These tables incorporate the maximum percentages of the halibut PSC sideboard limits that may be used by Amendment 80 Program vessels, as contained in Table 38 to 50 CFR part 679. Any residual amount of a seasonal Amendment 80 sideboard halibut PSC limit may carry forward to the next season limit (§ 679.92(b)(2)).

    Table 19—Proposed 2018 and 2019 Halibut PSC Sideboard Limits for Amendment 80 Program Vessels in the GOA [Values are rounded to the nearest metric ton] Season Season dates Fishery category Historic
  • Amendment 80
  • use of the annual
  • halibut PSC limit
  • (ratio)
  • Proposed
  • 2018 and 2019
  • annual PSC limit
  • (mt)
  • Proposed
  • 2018 and 2019
  • Amendment 80
  • vessel PSC
  • sideboard limit
  • (mt)
  • 1 January 20 -April 1 shallow-water
  • deep-water
  • 0.0048
  • 0.0115
  • 1,706
  • 1,706
  • 8
  • 20
  • 2 April 1-July 1 shallow-water
  • deep-water
  • 0.0189
  • 0.1072
  • 1,706
  • 1,706
  • 32
  • 183
  • 3 July 1-September 1 shallow-water
  • deep-water
  • 0.0146
  • 0.0521
  • 1,706
  • 1,706
  • 25
  • 89
  • 4 September 1-October 1 shallow-water
  • deep-water
  • 0.0074
  • 0.0014
  • 1,706
  • 1,706
  • 13
  • 2
  • 5 October 1-December 31 shallow-water
  • deep-water
  • 0.0227
  • 0.0371
  • 1,706
  • 1,706
  • 39
  • 63
  • Annual: Total shallow-water 117 Total deep-water 357 Grand Total, all seasons and categories 474
    Classification

    NMFS has determined that the proposed harvest specifications are consistent with the FMP and preliminarily determined that the proposed harvest specifications are consistent with the Magnuson-Stevens Act and other applicable laws, subject to further review after public comment.

    This action is authorized under 50 CFR 679.20 and is exempt from review under Executive Orders 12866 and 13563.

    NMFS prepared an EIS for this action and made it available to the public on January 12, 2007 (72 FR 1512). On February 13, 2007, NMFS issued the Record of Decision (ROD) for the Final EIS. A Supplemental Information Report (SIR) that assesses the need to prepare a Supplemental EIS is being prepared for the final action. Copies of the Final EIS, ROD, and SIR for this action are available from NMFS (see ADDRESSES). The Final EIS analyzes the environmental consequences of the proposed groundfish harvest specifications and alternative harvest strategies on resources in the action area. The Final EIS found no significant environmental consequences from the proposed action or its alternatives.

    NMFS prepared an Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (IRFA) as required by section 603 of the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA), analyzing the methodology for establishing the relevant TACs. The IRFA evaluated the impacts on small entities of alternative harvest strategies for the groundfish fisheries in the EEZ off Alaska. As set forth in the methodology, TACs are set to a level that fall within the range of ABCs recommended by the SSC; the sum of the TACs must achieve the OY specified in the FMP. While the specific numbers that the methodology produces may vary from year to year, the methodology itself remains constant.

    A description of the proposed action, why it is being considered, and the legal basis for this proposed action are contained in the preamble above. A copy of the IRFA is available from NMFS (see ADDRESSES). A summary of the IRFA follows.

    The action under consideration is a harvest strategy to govern the catch of groundfish in the GOA. The preferred alternative is the existing harvest strategy in which TACs fall within the range of ABCs recommended by the SSC. This action is taken in accordance with the FMP prepared by the Council pursuant to the Magnuson-Stevens Act.

    The entities directly regulated by this action are those that harvest groundfish in the EEZ of the GOA and in parallel fisheries within State of Alaska waters. These include entities operating CVs and C/Ps within the action area and entities receiving direct allocations of groundfish.

    For 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 gross receipts not in excess of $11 million for all its affiliated operations worldwide.

    The IRFA shows that, in 2016, there were 920 individual CVs with gross revenues less than or equal to $11 million. This estimate accounts for corporate affiliations among vessels, and for cooperative affiliations among fishing entities, since some of the fishing vessels operating in the GOA are members of AFA inshore pollock cooperatives, GOA rockfish cooperatives, or BSAI Crab Rationalization Program cooperatives. Therefore, under the RFA, it is the aggregate gross receipts of all participating members of the cooperative that must meet the “under $11 million” threshold. Vessels that participate in these cooperatives are considered to be large entities within the meaning of the RFA. After accounting for membership in these cooperatives, there are an estimated 920 small CV entities remaining in the GOA groundfish sector. This latter group of vessels had average gross revenues that varied by gear type. Average gross revenues for hook-and-line CVs, pot gear vessels, and trawl gear vessels are estimated to be $340,000, $720,000, and $1.83 million, respectively. Revenue data for the three C/Ps considered to be small entities are confidential.

    The preferred alternative (Alternative 2) was compared to four other alternatives. Alternative 1 would have set TACs to generate fishing rates equal to the maximum permissible ABC (if the full TAC were harvested), unless the sum of TACs exceeded the GOA OY, in which case TACs would be limited to the OY. Alternative 3 would have set TACs to produce fishing rates equal to the most recent 5-year average fishing rate. Alternative 4 would have set TACs to equal the lower limit of the GOA OY range. Alternative 5, the “no action alternative,” would have set TACs equal to zero.

    The TACs associated with the preferred harvest strategy are those adopted by the Council in October 2017, as per Alternative 2. OFLs and ABCs for the species were based on recommendations prepared by the Council's Plan Team in September 2017, and reviewed by the Council's SSC in October 2017. The Council based its TAC recommendations on those of its AP, which were consistent with the SSC's OFL and ABC recommendations.

    Alternative 1 selects harvest rates that would allow fishermen to harvest stocks at the level of ABCs, unless total harvests were constrained by the upper bound of the GOA OY of 800,000 mt. As shown in Table 1 of the preamble, the sum of ABCs in 2018 and 2019 would be 572,710 mt, which falls below the upper bound of the OY range. The sum of TACs is 465,832 mt, which is less than the sum of ABCs. In this instance, Alternative 1 is consistent with the preferred alternative (Alternative 2), meets the objectives of that action, and has small entity impacts that may be equivalent to the preferred alternative. However, it is not likely that Alternative 1 would result in reduced adverse economic impacts to directly-regulated small entities relative to Alternative 2. The selection of Alternative 1, which could increase all TACs up to the sum of ABCs, would not reflect the practical implications that increased TACs for some species probably would not be fully harvested. This could be due to a variety of reasons, including the lack of commercial or market interest in some species. Additionally, an underharvest of flatfish TACs could result due to constraints such as the fixed, and therefore constraining, PSC limits associated with the harvest of the GOA groundfish species. Furthermore, TACs may be set lower than ABC for conservation purposes, as is the case with other rockfish in the Eastern GOA. Finally, the TACs for two species (pollock and Pacific cod) cannot be set equal to ABC, as the ABC must be reduced to account for the State of Alaska's guideline harvest levels in these fisheries.

    Alternative 3 selects harvest rates based on the most recent 5 years of harvest rates (for species in Tiers 1 through 3) or based on the most recent 5 years of harvests (for species in Tiers 4 through 6). This alternative is inconsistent with the objectives of this action, the Council's preferred harvest strategy, because it does not take account of the most recent biological information for this fishery. NMFS annually conducts at-sea stock surveys for different species, as well as statistical modeling, to estimate stock sizes and permissible harvest levels. Actual harvest rates or harvest amounts are a component of these estimates, but in and of themselves may not accurately portray stock sizes and conditions. Harvest rates are listed for each species category for each year in the SAFE report (see ADDRESSES).

    Alternative 4 would lead to significantly lower harvests of all species and reduce the TACs from the upper end of the OY range in the GOA, to its lower end of 116,000 mt. Overall, this would reduce 2018 TACs by about 80 percent and would lead to significant reductions in harvests of species harvested by small entities. While reductions of this size would be associated with offsetting price increases, the size of these increases is very uncertain. There are close substitutes for GOA groundfish species available in significant quantities from the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands management area. While production declines in the GOA would undoubtedly be associated with significant price increases in the GOA, these increases would still be constrained by production of substitutes, and are very unlikely to offset revenue declines from smaller production. Thus, this alternative would have a detrimental impact on small entities.

    Alternative 5, which sets all harvests equal to zero, would have a significant adverse economic impact on small entities and would be contrary to obligations to achieve OY on a continuing basis, as mandated by the Magnuson-Stevens Act. Under Alternative 5, all 920 individual CVs impacted by this rule would have gross revenues of $0. Additionally, the three small C/Ps impacted by this rule also would have gross revenues of $0.

    The proposed harvest specifications (Alternative 2) extend the current 2018 OFLs, ABCs, and TACs to 2018 and 2019, with the exception of Pacific cod, as explained in the preamble. As noted in the IRFA, the Council may modify these OFLs, ABCs, and TACs in December 2017, when it reviews the November 2017 SAFE report from its Groundfish Plan Team, and the December 2017 Council meeting reports of its SSC and AP. Because the 2018 TACs in the proposed 2018 and 2019 harvest specifications are unchanged from the 2018 TACs, with the sole exception of modifications to Pacific cod harvest amounts, and because the sum of all TACs remains within OY for the GOA, NMFS does not expect adverse impacts on small entities. Also, NMFS does not expect any changes made by the Council in December 2017 to have significant adverse impacts on small entities.

    This action does not modify recordkeeping or reporting requirements, or duplicate, overlap, or conflict with any Federal rules.

    Adverse impacts on marine mammals or endangered species resulting from fishing activities conducted under this rule are discussed in the Final EIS and its accompanying annual SIRs (see ADDRESSES).

    Authority:

    16 U.S.C. 773 et seq.; 16 U.S.C. 1540(f); 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.; 16 U.S.C. 3631 et seq.; Pub. L. 105-277; Pub. L. 106-31; Pub. L. 106-554; Pub. L. 108-199; Pub. L. 108-447; Pub. L. 109-241; Pub. L. 109-479.

    Dated: December 4, 2017. Alan D. Risenhoover, Acting Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine Fisheries Service.
    [FR Doc. 2017-26473 Filed 12-6-17; 4:15 pm] BILLING CODE 3510-22-P
    82 235 Friday, December 8, 2017 Notices DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Farm Service Agency Information Collection Request; Emergency Conservation Program (ECP) and Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP) AGENCY:

    Farm Service Agency, USDA.

    ACTION:

    Notice; request for comments.

    SUMMARY:

    In accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, as amended, the Farm Service Agency (FSA) is requesting comments from all interested individuals and organizations on an extension with a revision of currently approved information collection associated with the Emergency Conservation Program (ECP) and Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP). This information is collected in support of, respectively, sections 401-407 of the Agricultural Credit Act of 1978, as amended, and section 9011 of the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002, as amended.

    DATES:

    We will consider comments that we receive by February 6, 2018.

    ADDRESSES:

    We invite you to submit comments on this Notice. In your comment, include the volume, date, and page number of this issue of the Federal Register. You may submit comments by any of the following methods:

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

    Mail, hand delivery, or courier: Virginia Green, ECP Program Manager, Conservation and Environmental Programs Division, Farm Service Agency, United States Department of Agriculture, STOP 0513, 1400 Independence Avenue SW., Washington, DC, 20250-0513.

    You may also send comments to the Desk Officer for Agriculture, Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, Office of Management and Budget, Washington, DC 20503. Copies of the information collection may be requested by contacting Martin Bomar.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    For specific questions related to collection activities, Virginia Green, (202) 401-9144.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Description of Information Collection

    Title: Emergency Conservation Program and Biomass Crop Assistance Program.

    OMB Control Number: 0560-0082.

    Expiration Date: March 31, 2018.

    Type of Request: Extension of a Currently Approved Information Collection.

    Abstract: The collection of this information is necessary to allow FSA to:

    (1) Effectively administer the regulations under ECP, which are set forth at 7 CFR part 701, so as to provide funding and technical assistance for farmers and ranchers to restore farmland damaged by natural disasters, and for emergency water conservation measures in severe droughts; and

    (2) Effectively administer the regulations for BCAP, which are set forth at 7 CFR part 1450, so as to provide financial assistance to owners and operators of agricultural and non-industrial private forest land who wish to establish, produce, and deliver biomass feedstocks.

    This information is collected in support of, respectively, sections 401-407 of the Agricultural Credit Act of 1978 (Pub. L. 95-334), as amended, and section 9011 of the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002 (Pub. L. 107-171), as amended.

    FSA will decrease the burden hours in the request because FSA will replace the form series AD-245 and its associated computing process, with the new form series FSA-848 and a web-based computing environment. Also, participation in BCAP has been reduced due to reduced funding. FSA is removing three forms for ECP, FSA-18, ACP-153, and ACP-153A, and one form for BCAP, CCC-36, Assignment of Payment, from the information collection.

    For the following estimated total annual burden on respondents, the formula used to calculate the total burden hours is the estimated average time per response multiplied by the estimated total annual of responses.

    Estimate of Average Time To Respond: Public reporting burden for collecting information under this notice is estimated to average 0.26556 hours per response (an average of 16 minutes), including the time for reviewing instructions, searching existing data sources, gathering and maintaining the data needed, completing and reviewing the collection of information for all respondents, and travel time for half of the respondents. The average travel time, which is included in the total annual burden, is estimated to be 1 hour per respondent.

    Type of Respondents: Owners, operators and other eligible agricultural producers on eligible farmland.

    Estimated Number of Respondents: 55,680.

    Estimated Number of Responses per Respondent: 5.258.

    Estimated Total Annual Reponses: 292,820.

    Estimated Average Time per Response: 0. 26556 hours.

    Estimated Total Annual Burden on Respondents: 77,763 hours.

    We are requesting comments on all aspects of this information collection to help us to:

    (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 collection of information, including the validity of the methodology and assumptions used;

    (3) Evaluate the quality, ability and clarity of the information technology; and

    (4) Minimize the burden of the information collection on those who respond through the use of appropriate automated, electronic, mechanical, or other technological collection techniques or other forms of information.

    All responses to this notice, including names and addresses when provided, will be summarized and included in the request for OMB approval. All comments will also become a matter of public record.

    Steven J. Peterson, Acting Administrator, Farm Service Agency.
    [FR Doc. 2017-26464 Filed 12-7-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3410-05-P
    DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Food and Nutrition Service Agency Information Collection Activities; Comment Request; Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Pre-Screening Tool AGENCY:

    Food and Nutrition Service (FNS), USDA.

    ACTION:

    Notice.

    SUMMARY:

    In accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, this notice invites the general public and other public agencies to comment on this proposed information collection. This is a revision of a currently approved collection for a web-based pre-screening tool used by the general public to determine potential eligibility for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits.

    DATES:

    Written comments must be received on or before February 6, 2018.

    ADDRESSES:

    Comments may be sent to: Sasha Gersten-Paal, Branch Chief, Certification Policy Branch, Program Development Division, Food and Nutrition Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, 3101 Park Center Drive, Room 812 Alexandria, VA 22302. Comments may also be submitted via fax to the attention of Sasha Gersten-Paal at 703-305-2507 or via email to [email protected] Comments will also be accepted through the Federal eRulemaking Portal. Go to http://www.regulations.gov, and follow the online instructions for submitting comments electronically.

    All responses to this notice will be summarized and included in the request for Office of Management and Budget approval. All comments will be a matter of public record.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Requests for additional information or copies of this information collection should be directed to Sasha Gersten-Paal at 703-305-2705.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Comments are invited on: (a) Whether the proposed collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the agency, including whether the information shall have practical utility; (b) the accuracy of the agency's estimate of the burden of the proposed collection of information, including the validity of the methodology and assumptions that were used; (c) ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and (d) ways to minimize the burden of the collection of information on those who are to respond, including use of appropriate automated, electronic, mechanical, or other technological collection techniques or other forms of information technology.

    Title: Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Pre-Screening Tool.

    Form Number: None.

    OMB Number: 0584-0519.

    Expiration Date: 03/31/2018.

    Type of Request: Revision of a currently approved collection.

    Abstract: In June 2003, The Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) deployed an interactive web-based pre-screening tool that can be utilized by the general public to determine the potential eligibility for benefits in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). The pre-screening tool allows the English and Spanish speaking user to enter the household size, income, expenses and resource information in order to calculate an estimated range of benefits that the household may be eligible to receive. Since SNAP eligibility and benefit amount may vary based on program options States have implemented, FNS makes it clear that the tool is only an estimator and the household will need to contact the local agency to determine actual eligibility and the associated benefit amount.

    Some other data requested by the tool include:

    • State or territory in which the user resides;

    • Number of People: Number of people living in the household;

    • First Name/Age/Disability;

    • Citizenship: Whether each member is a U.S. citizen;

    • Earned Income/Assets/Motor Vehicle Ownership;

    • Migrant Workers: Whether anyone in the household is a seasonal or migrant farm worker;

    • Homeless: Whether the household is homeless or living in a shelter;

    • Utility expenses: Whether the client is billed for utility costs.

    Although the tool also requests the name and age of the user, FNS does not retain this information nor does it request other personally identifiable information such as social security numbers or birthdates of the household members. Once the user logs out of the system, none of the user-provided information is retained by FNS. FNS estimates it will take approximately 380,283 users about 10 minutes (.167 hours) to provide the required information to receive potential eligibility benefit information using the pre-screening tool. Users are expected to access the system once for a total annual response of 380,283. FNS estimates 63,507 burden hours for this activity.

    In reviewing SNAP participation data for FY 2014 to FY 2016, it was noticed that participation has decreased each year and this downward trajectory suggests that household participation in SNAP may continue to decline. Based on this analysis, and the number of potential applicants estimated to use the prescreening tool, FNS requests an annual burden inventory of 63,507 hours, which represents a decrease in 3,716 hours since the last extension of this collection, which approved for 67,223 hours.

    Affected Public: Individuals and households, potential SNAP clients.

    Estimated Number of Respondents: 380,283.

    Estimated Number of Responses per Respondent: 1.

    Estimated Total Annual Responses: 380,283.

    Estimated Time per Response: 0.167.

    Estimated Total Annual Burden on Respondents: 63,507.

    OMB No. 0584-0519 Requirement Estimated number of
  • respondents
  • Responses annually per respondent Total annual responses Hours per
  • response
  • Annual
  • burden
  • hours
  • Affected Public INDIVIDUAL AND HOUSEHOLDS Potential SNAP Clients Reporting Burden Completion of SNAP
  • Pre-screening Tool
  • 380,283
  • 1
  • 380,283
  • 0.167
  • 63,507
  • Reporting Totals 380,283 1 380,283 0.167 63,507
    Dated: October 23, 2017. Brandon Lipps, Administrator, Food and Nutrition Service.
    [FR Doc. 2017-26494 Filed 12-7-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3410-30-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE Submission for OMB Review; Comment Request

    The Department of Commerce (DOC) will submit to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for clearance the following proposal for collection of information under the provisions of the Paperwork Reduction Act (44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.).

    Agency: Economic Development Administration (EDA or Agency).

    Title: Revolving Loan Fund Reporting and Compliance Requirements.

    OMB Control Number: 0610-0095.

    Form Number(s): ED-209.

    Type of Review: Revision of a collection currently under review.

    Number of Respondents: 866.

    Average Hours per Response: 1.5 hours.

    Burden Hours: 1,299 hours.

    Needs and Uses: The EDA Revolving Loan Fund (RLF) Program, authorized under section 209 of the Public Works and Economic Development Act of 1965, as amended (42 U.S.C. 3149), has been part of EDA investment programs since the establishment of the RLF Program in 1975. The purpose of the RLF Program is to provide regions with a flexible and continuing source of capital, to be used with other economic development tools, for creating and retaining jobs and inducing private investment that will contribute to long-term economic stability and growth. EDA provides RLF grants to eligible recipients, which include State and local governments, Indian tribes, and non-profit organizations, to operate a lending program that offers loans with flexible repayment terms, primarily to small businesses in distressed communities that are unable to obtain traditional bank financing. These loans enable small businesses to expand and lead to new employment opportunities that pay competitive wages and benefits.

    A unique feature of the RLF Program is that EDA must monitor RLF grants in perpetuity because, absent statutory authority providing otherwise, the Federal interest in an RLF never expires. EDA regulations currently require RLF recipients to submit a financial report to EDA on a semi-annual basis for each RLF (13 CFR 307.14(a)), which is currently submitted via Form ED-209, Revolving Loan Fund Financial Report. In addition, RLF recipients must also submit on a semi-annual basis a completed Form ED-209I, RLF Income and Expense Statement, if either of the following conditions apply: RLF administrative expenses for the reporting period exceeded $100,000, or RLF administrative expenses for the reporting period exceeded 50 percent of RLF income earned during the reporting period (13 CFR 307.14(c)). EDA requires both reports to be completed using standardized, auto-calculable fillable PDF (Portable Document Format) forms.

    EDA is revising its regulations implementing the RLF Program through a final rule published in the Federal Register on December 1, 2017, “Revolving Loan Fund Program Changes and General Updates to Public Works and Economic Development Act Regulations” (82 FR 57034). The revised regulations update RLF Program requirements to reflect best practices within financial institutions and to strengthen EDA's efforts to evaluate, monitor, and improve RLF performance by moving to a risk-based approach to assess individual RLFs. The measures EDA plans to use to assess performance under the new risk-based approach were published in a notice in the Federal Register on December 1, 2017, “Implementation of Revolving Loan Fund Risk Analysis System” (82 FR 56942).

    In the transition to a risk-based approach, EDA has revised the RLF regulations to eliminate the requirement that RLF recipients submit Form ED-209I. The revised RLF regulations instead encourage RLF recipients to keep administrative expenses to a minimum in order to maintain and grow the capital base of RLFs, in part by incorporating the percentage of RLF income used for administrative expenses as a performance measure in the new risk-based approach. Because of this change, EDA has determined that it is no longer necessary for RLF recipients to submit income and expense statements through Form ED-209I. In addition, EDA is revising Form ED-209 to reflect the new regulations and to ensure that the Form collects only the data necessary, including individual loan detail, to oversee the RLF Program under the new risk-based approach. As such, the revised Form ED-209 is shorter and easier to complete. The revised regulations will allow those RLF recipients that earn a high rating under the new risk-based monitoring approach to be placed on an annual reporting cycle, while RLF recipients receiving lower ratings will be required to maintain semi-annual reporting.

    The reduction in burden associated with the revised Form ED-209 and eliminated Form ED-209I is not a distinct “deregulatory action” for the purposes of Executive Order 13771, “Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs.” The revised Form ED-209 and eliminated Form ED-209I are one piece of EDA's transition to a risk-based approach to monitor and manage the RLF Program. As such, the reduction in burden stemming from the shortened and simplified Form ED-209 and eliminated Form ED-209I are already accounted for as part of the broader “deregulatory action” made pursuant to the recently published final rule that revised the regulations governing the RLF Program.

    This notice clarifies the notice previously published in the Federal Register on November 2, 2017 relating to this information collection (82 FR 50858) and extends the 30-day period for public comment established in that notice to 30 days after publication of this notice.

    Affected Public: EDA RLF recipients, including state and local governments, Indian tribes, and non-profit organizations.

    Frequency: Semiannually or annually, depending on the RLF recipient's rating under the risk-based oversight approach, as explained above.

    Respondent's Obligation: Mandatory.

    This information collection request may be viewed at reginfo.gov. Follow the instructions to view DOC 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 faxed to (202) 395-5806.

    Sheleen Dumas, Departmental PRA Lead, Office of the Chief Information Officer.
    [FR Doc. 2017-26471 Filed 12-7-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-24-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE International Trade Administration [A-570-992] Monosodium Glutamate From the People's Republic of China: Final Results of Antidumping Duty Administrative Review; 2015-2016 AGENCY:

    Enforcement and Compliance, International Trade Administration, Department of Commerce.

    SUMMARY:

    On August 7, 2017, the Department of Commerce (the Department) published in the Federal Register the preliminary results of the administrative review of the antidumping duty (AD) order on monosodium glutamate (MSG) from the People's Republic of China (PRC) covering the period of review (POR) November 1, 2015, through October 31, 2016. This review covered 27 exporters of subject merchandise. Because none of these companies filed a separate rate application (SRA) and/or a separate rate certification (SRC) to establish their separate rate status, they are being considered part of the PRC-wide entity.

    DATES:

    Applicable December 8, 2017.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Jun Jack Zhao, AD/CVD Operations, Office VII, Enforcement and Compliance, International Trade Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce, 1401 Constitution Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20230; telephone: (202) 482-1396.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Background

    On August 7, 2017, the Department published the Preliminary Results and gave interested parties an opportunity to comment.1 The Department received no comments. The Department conducted this review in accordance with section 751(a)(1)(B) of the Tariff Act of 1930, as amended (the Act).

    1See Monosodium Glutamate from the People's Republic of China: Preliminary Results of Antidumping Duty Administrative Review; 2015-16, 82 FR 36730 (August 7, 2017) (Preliminary Results).

    Scope of the Order

    The product covered by this order is MSG, whether or not blended or in solution with other products. Specifically, MSG that has been blended or is in solution with other product(s) is included in this scope when the resulting mix contains 15 percent or more of MSG by dry weight. Products with which MSG may be blended include, but are not limited to, salts, sugars, starches, maltodextrins, and various seasonings. Further, MSG is included in this order regardless of physical form (including, but not limited to, in monohydrate or anhydrous form, or as substrates, solutions, dry powders of any particle size, or unfinished forms such as MSG slurry), end-use application, or packaging. MSG in monohydrate form has a molecular formula of C5H8NO4Na-H2O, a Chemical Abstract Service (CAS) registry number of 6106-04-3, and a Unique Ingredient Identifier (UNII) number of W81N5U6R6U. MSG in anhydrous form has a molecular formula of C5H8NO4Na, a CAS registry number of l42-47-2, and a UNII number of C3C196L9FG. Merchandise covered by the scope of this order is currently classified in the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS) at subheading 2922.42.10.00. Merchandise subject to the order may also enter under HTS subheadings 2922.42.50.00, 2103.90.72.00, 2103.90.74.00, 2103.90.78.00, 2103.90.80.00, and 2103.90.90.91. The tariff classifications, CAS registry numbers, and UNII numbers are provided for convenience and customs purposes; however, the written description of the scope is dispositive.2

    2See Monosodium Glutamate from the People's Republic of China: Second Amended Final Determination of Sales at Less Than Fair Value and Amended Antidumping Order, 80 FR 487 (January 6, 2015) (Amended Antidumping Duty Order).

    Final Results of Review

    The Department preliminarily determined that none of the companies demonstrated eligibility for separate rate status and were thus found to be part of the PRC-wide entity.3 As noted above, the Department received no comments concerning the Preliminary Results on the record of this segment of the proceeding. As there are no changes from, or comments upon, the Preliminary Results, the Department finds that there is no reason to modify its analysis. Accordingly, no decision memorandum accompanies this Federal Register notice. For further details of the issues addressed in this proceeding, see the Preliminary Results.4 In these final results of review, we continued to treat all 27 exporters subject to this review as part of the PRC-wide entity.5 The PRC-wide entity rate is 40.41 percent.6

    3See Preliminary Results.

    4See Preliminary Results.

    5 In the Preliminary Results, we found all 27 exporters subject to this review to be part of the PRC-wide entity as each exporter failed to submit an SRA and/or an SRC to establish its eligibility for separate rate status. For further details of the issues addressed in this proceeding, see the Preliminary Results.

    6See Amended Antidumping Duty Order.

    PRC-Wide Entity

    The Department's policy regarding the conditional review of the PRC-wide entity applies to this administrative review.7 Under this policy, the PRC-wide entity will not be under review unless a party specifically requests, or the Department self-initiates, a review of the entity. Because no party requested a review of the PRC-wide entity in this review, the entity is not under review and the entity's rate is not subject to change (i.e., 40.41 percent).8

    7See Antidumping Proceedings: Announcement of Change in Department Practice for Respondent Selection in Antidumping Duty Proceedings and Conditional Review of the Nonmarket Economy Entity in NME Antidumping Duty Proceedings, 78 FR 65963 (November 4, 2013).

    8See Amended Antidumping Duty Order.

    Assessment Rates

    The Department has determined, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) shall assess, antidumping duties on all appropriate entries in this review, in accordance with section 751(a)(2)(C) of the Act and 19 CFR 351.212(b)(1). The Department intends to issue assessment instructions directly to CBP 15 days after publication in the Federal Register of these final results of this administrative review.

    Cash Deposit Requirements

    The following cash deposit requirements will be effective upon publication of the final results of this administrative review for all shipments of the subject merchandise entered, or withdrawn from warehouse, for consumption on or after the publication date, as provided for by section 751(a)(2)(C) of the Act: (1) For previously investigated or reviewed PRC and non-PRC exporters not under review in this segment of the proceeding, but who have separate rates, the cash deposit rate will continue to be the exporter-specific rate published for the most recent period; (2) for all PRC exporters of subject merchandise that have not been found to be entitled to a separate rate, the cash deposit rate will be the PRC-wide entity rate (i.e., 40.41 percent); and (3) for all non-PRC exporters of subject merchandise which have not received their own rate, the cash deposit rate will be the rate applicable to the PRC exporter that supplied that non-PRC exporter. These deposit requirements, when imposed, shall remain in effect until further notice.

    Reimbursement of Duties

    This notice also serves as a final reminder to importers of their responsibility under 19 CFR 351.402(f)(2) to file a certificate regarding the reimbursement of antidumping duties prior to liquidation of the relevant entries during this review period. Failure to comply with this requirement could result in the Secretary's presumption that reimbursement of antidumping duties occurred and the subsequent assessment of double antidumping duties.

    Administrative Protective Order

    This notice also serves as a reminder to parties subject to administrative protective order (APO) of their responsibility concerning the return or destruction of proprietary information disclosed under APO in accordance with 19 CFR 351.305(a)(3), which continues to govern business proprietary information in this segment of the proceeding. Timely written notification of the return/destruction of APO materials or conversion to judicial protective order is hereby requested. Failure to comply with the regulations and terms of an APO is a violation, which is subject to sanction.

    We are issuing and publishing this notice in accordance with sections 751(a)(1) and 777(i)(1) of the Act, and 19 CFR 351.213(h).

    Dated: December 4, 2017. Gary Taverman, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Operations, performing the non-exclusive functions and duties of the Assistant Secretary for Enforcement and Compliance.
    [FR Doc. 2017-26486 Filed 12-7-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-DS-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE International Trade Administration [C-570-968] Aluminum Extrusions From the People's Republic of China: Final Results of Countervailing Duty Administrative Review; 2015 AGENCY:

    Enforcement and Compliance, International Trade Administration, Department of Commerce.

    SUMMARY:

    The Department of Commerce (the Department) has completed the administrative review of the countervailing duty (CVD) order on aluminum extrusions from the People's Republic of China (PRC) for the January 1, 2015, through December 31, 2015, period of review (POR). We have determined that mandatory respondents Changzhou Jinxi Machinery Co., Ltd. (Changzhou Jinxi) and tenKsolar (Shanghai) Co., Ltd. (tenKsolar) received countervailable subsidies during the POR. The final net subsidies are listed below in the section entitled “Final Results of Administrative Review.”

    DATES:

    Applicable December 8, 2017.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Tom Bellhouse or Tyler Weinhold, AD/CVD Operations, Office VI, Enforcement and Compliance, International Trade Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce, 1401 Constitution Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20230; telephone: (202) 482-2057 or (202) 482-1121, respectively.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Background

    The Department published the Preliminary Results of this administrative review in the Federal Register on June 7, 2017.1 For a description of the events that occurred since the Preliminary Results, see the Issues and Decision Memorandum.2

    1See Aluminum Extrusions from the People's Republic of China: Preliminary Results of the Countervailing Duty Administrative Review and Rescission of Review, in Part; 2015, 82 FR 26438 (June 7, 2017) (Preliminary Results), and accompanying Preliminary Decision Memorandum.

    2See Memorandum, “Decision Memorandum for the Final Results of Countervailing Duty Administrative Review: Aluminum Extrusions from the People's Republic of China, 2015,” dated concurrently with, and hereby adopted by, this notice (Issues and Decision Memorandum).

    Scope of the Order

    The merchandise covered by the order is aluminum extrusions which are shapes and forms, produced by an extrusion process, made from aluminum alloys having metallic elements corresponding to the alloy series designations published by The Aluminum Association commencing with the numbers 1, 3, and 6 (or proprietary equivalents or other certifying body equivalents).

    Imports of the subject merchandise are provided for under the following categories of the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS): 6603.90.8100, 7616.99.51, 8479.89.94, 8481.90.9060, 8481.90.9085, 9031.90.9195, 8424.90.9080, 9405.99.4020, 9031.90.90.95, 7616.10.90.90, 7609.00.00, 7610.10.00, 7610.90.00, 7615.10.30, 7615.10.71, 7615.10.91, 7615.19.10, 7615.19.30, 7615.19.50, 7615.19.70, 7615.19.90, 7615.20.00, 7616.99.10, 7616.99.50, 8479.89.98, 8479.90.94, 8513.90.20, 9403.10.00, 9403.20.00, 7604.21.00.00, 7604.29.10.00, 7604.29.30.10, 7604.29.30.50, 7604.29.50.30, 7604.29.50.60, 7608.20.00.30, 7608.20.00.90, 8302.10.30.00, 8302.10.60.30, 8302.10.60.60, 8302.10.60.90, 8302.20.00.00, 8302.30.30.10, 8302.30.30.60, 8302.41.30.00, 8302.41.60.15, 8302.41.60.45, 8302.41.60.50, 8302.41.60.80, 8302.42.30.10, 8302.42.30.15, 8302.42.30.65, 8302.49.60.35, 8302.49.60.45, 8302.49.60.55, 8302.49.60.85, 8302.50.00.00, 8302.60.90.00, 8305.10.00.50, 8306.30.00.00, 8414.59.60.90, 8415.90.80.45, 8418.99.80.05, 8418.99.80.50, 8418.99.80.60, 8419.90.10.00, 8422.90.06.40, 8473.30.20.00, 8473.30.51.00, 8479.90.85.00, 8486.90.00.00, 8487.90.00.80, 8503.00.95.20, 8508.70.00.00, 8515.90.20.00, 8516.90.50.00, 8516.90.80.50, 8517.70.00.00, 8529.90.73.00, 8529.90.97.60, 8536.90.80.85, 8538.10.00.00, 8543.90.88.80, 8708.29.50.60, 8708.80.65.90, 8803.30.00.60, 9013.90.50.00, 9013.90.90.00, 9401.90.50.81, 9403.90.10.40, 9403.90.10.50, 9403.90.10.85, 9403.90.25.40, 9403.90.25.80, 9403.90.40.05, 9403.90.40.10, 9403.90.40.60, 9403.90.50.05, 9403.90.50.10, 9403.90.50.80, 9403.90.60.05, 9403.90.60.10, 9403.90.60.80, 9403.90.70.05, 9403.90.70.10, 9403.90.70.80, 9403.90.80.10, 9403.90.80.15, 9403.90.80.20, 9403.90.80.41, 9403.90.80.51, 9403.90.80.61, 9506.11.40.80, 9506.51.40.00, 9506.51.60.00, 9506.59.40.40, 9506.70.20.90, 9506.91.00.10, 9506.91.00.20, 9506.91.00.30, 9506.99.05.10, 9506.99.05.20, 9506.99.05.30, 9506.99.15.00, 9506.99.20.00, 9506.99.25.80, 9506.99.28.00, 9506.99.55.00, 9506.99.60.80, 9507.30.20.00, 9507.30.40.00, 9507.30.60.00, 9507.90.60.00, and 9603.90.80.50.

    The subject merchandise entered as parts of other aluminum products may be classifiable under the following additional Chapter 76 subheadings: 7610.10, 7610.90, 7615.19, 7615.20, and 7616.99, as well as under other HTSUS chapters. In addition, fin evaporator coils may be classifiable under HTSUS numbers: 8418.99.80.50 and 8418.99.80.60. Although the HTSUS subheadings are provided for convenience and customs purposes, our written description of the scope of the order, which is contained in the accompanying Issues and Decision Memorandum, is dispositive.3

    3See Issues and Decision Memorandum for a full description of the scope of the order.

    Analysis of Comments Received

    All issues raised in the parties' briefs are addressed in the Issues and Decision Memorandum, dated concurrently with, and hereby adopted by, this notice. A list of issues addressed is attached as an Appendix to this notice. The Issues and Decision Memorandum is a public document and is on file electronically via Enforcement and Compliance's Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Centralized Electronic Service System (ACCESS). ACCESS is available to registered users at http://access.trade.gov; the Issues and Decision Memorandum is available to all parties in the Central Records Unit (CRU), Room B8024 of the main Department of Commerce building. In addition, a complete version of the Issues and Decision Memorandum can be accessed directly at http://enforcement.trade.gov/frn/. The signed and electronic versions of the Issues and Decision Memorandum are identical in content.

    Methodology

    The Department conducted this review in accordance with section 751(a)(1)(A) of the Tariff Act of 1930, as amended (the Act). For each of the subsidy programs found countervailable, we find that there is a subsidy, i.e., a government-provided financial contribution that gives rise to a benefit to the recipient, and that the subsidy is specific.4 For a full description of the methodology underlying the Department's conclusions, including any determination that relied upon the use of adverse facts available pursuant to sections 776(a) and (b) of the Act, see the Issues and Decision Memorandum.

    4See sections 771(5)(B) and (D) of the Act regarding financial contribution; section 771(5)(E) of the Act regarding benefit; and section 771(5A) of the Act regarding specificity.

    Rate for Non-Selected Companies Under Review

    In this review, and in addition to the two selected mandatory respondents, there are 16 companies for which a review was requested and not rescinded (non-selected companies). For these non-selected companies, we could not calculate a rate by averaging Changzhou Jinxi's and tenKsolar's individual rates, as the rates for both companies are based entirely on adverse facts available.5 Instead, for these final results, we based the non-selected companies' rates on the subsidy rate calculated for non-selected companies in the prior administrative review. For further information on the calculation of the non-selected companies' rates, refer to the section in the Issues and Decision Memorandum entitled, “Final Ad Valorem Rate for Non-Selected Companies Under Review.”

    5See sections 703(d) and 705(c)(5)(A) of the Act.

    Final Results of Administrative Review

    In accordance with 19 CFR 351.221(b)(5), we determine the following final net subsidy rates for the 2015 administrative review:

    Company Ad
  • valorem
  • rate
  • (Percent)
  • tenKsolar (Shanghai) Co., Ltd 198.61 Changzhou Jinxi Machinery Co., Ltd 198.61 Classic & Contemporary Inc 16.08 Daya Hardware Co., LTD 16.08 Dongguan Golden Tiger Hardware Industrial Co., Ltd 16.08 ETLA Technology (Wuxi) Co., Ltd 16.08 Global Hi-Tek Precision Limited 16.08 Jiangsu Zhenhexiang New Material Technology Co., Ltd 16.08 Johnson Precision Engineering (Suzhou) Co Ltd 16.08 Kam Kiu Aluminum Products Sdn Bhd 16.08 Ningbo Haina Machine Co., Ltd 16.08 Ningbo Innopower Tengda Machinery Co., Ltd 16.08 Ningbo Yinzhou Sanhua Electric Machine Factory 16.08 Precision Metal Works LTD 16.08 Summit Heat Sinks Metal Co., Ltd 16.08 Suzhou New Hongji Precision Parts Co Ltd 16.08 Taishan City Kam Kiu Aluminium Extrusion Co., Ltd 16.08 Wuxi Huida Aluminum Co., Ltd 16.08
    Assessment Rates

    The Department intends to issue appropriate assessment instructions directly to CBP, 15 days after publication of these final results of review, to liquidate shipments of subject merchandise entered, or withdrawn from warehouse, for consumption on or after January 1, 2015, through December 31, 2015, at the ad valorem rates listed above.

    Cash Deposit Requirements

    The Department also intends to instruct CBP to collect cash deposits of estimated countervailing duties in the amounts indicated above for each company listed on shipments of subject merchandise entered, or withdrawn from warehouse, for consumption on or after the date of publication of the final results of this administrative review. For all non-reviewed firms, we will instruct CBP to collect cash deposits of estimated countervailing duties at the most recent company-specific or all-others rate applicable to the company, as appropriate. Accordingly, the cash deposit requirements that will be applied to companies covered by this order, but not examined in this administrative review, are those established in the most recently completed segment of the proceeding for each company. These cash deposit requirements, when imposed, shall remain in effect until further notice.

    Administrative Protective Order

    This notice serves as a reminder to parties subject to administrative protective order (APO) of their responsibility concerning the disposition of proprietary information disclosed under APO in accordance with 19 CFR 351.305(a)(3). Timely written notification of return or destruction of APO materials or conversion to judicial protective order is hereby requested. Failure to comply with the regulations and the terms of an APO is a sanctionable violation.

    We are issuing and publishing these results in accordance with sections 751(a)(1) and 777(i)(1) of the Act.

    Dated: December 4, 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 List of Topics Discussed in the Final Decision Memorandum Summary Background Scope of the Order Analysis of Comments Comment 1: Application of AFA to tenKsolar Comment 2: Inclusion of Alleged Non-Use Programs in tenKsolar's Rate Calculation Comment 3: Inclusion of Geographically Limited Programs in tenKsolar's Rate Calculation Comment 4: Inclusion of Programs Which Have Allegedly Been Terminated in tenKsolar's Rate Calculation Comment 5: AFA Subsidy Rates for Certain Income Tax Rebate, Depreciation, Refund, Offset, and Arrears Forgiveness Programs Comment 6: Selection of Respondents Comment 7: Application of AFA to Changzhou Jinxi Conclusion
    [FR Doc. 2017-26488 Filed 12-7-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-DS-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE International Trade Administration [A-357-820, A-560-830] Biodiesel From Argentina and Indonesia: Postponement of Final Determinations of Sales in Less Than Fair Value Investigations and Extension of Provisional Measures AGENCY:

    Enforcement and Compliance, International Trade Administration, Department of Commerce.

    SUMMARY:

    The Department of Commerce (the Department) is postponing the deadline for issuing the final determinations in the less-than-fair-value (LTFV) investigations of biodiesel from Argentina and Indonesia until February 15, 2018, and is extending the provisional measures from a four-month period to a period of not more than six months.

    DATES:

    Applicable December 8, 2017.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    David Lindgren at (202) 482-3870 (Argentina); Myrna Lobo at (202) 482-2371 (Indonesia), Enforcement and Compliance, International Trade Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce, 1401 Constitution Avenue NW., Washington, DC 20230.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Background

    On April 12, 2017, the Department initiated LTFV investigations of imports of biodiesel from Argentina and Indonesia.1 The period of investigation for each investigation is January 1, 2016, through December 31, 2016. On October 31, 2017, the Department published its Preliminary Determination in each of these LTFV investigations.2

    1See Biodiesel from Argentina and Indonesia: Initiation of Less-Than-Fair-Value Investigations, 82 FR 18428 (April 19, 2017).

    2See Biodiesel from Agentina: Preliminary Affirmative Determination of Sales at Less Than Fair Value, Preliminary Determination of Critical Circumstances, In Part, 82 FR 50391 (October 31, 2017) (Argentina Preliminary Determination); see also Biodiesel from Indonesia: Preliminary Affirmative Determination of Sales at Less Than Fair Value, 82 FR 50379 (Indonesia Preliminary Determination).

    Postponement of Final Determinations

    Section 735(a)(2) of the Tariff Act of 1930, as amended (the Act), and 19 CFR 351.210(b)(2) provide 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 the exporters or producers 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 petitioners. Further, 19 CFR 351.210(e)(2) requires that such postponement requests by exporters be accompanied by a request for extension of provisional meausres from a four-month period to a period of not more than six months, in accordance with section 733(d) of the Act.

    In September 2017, P.T. Musim Mas (Musim Mas) and Wilmar Trading PTE Ltd. (Wilmar), the mandatory respondents in the Indonesia investigation, requested that the Department postpone the deadline for the final determination until no later than 135 days from the publication of the Indonesia Preliminary Determination, and extend the application of the provisional measures from a four-month period to a period of not more than six months.3 In November 2017, Camara Argentina de Biocombustibles (CARBIO) and LDC Argentina S.A. (LDC), the mandatory respondents in the Argentina investigation, requested that the Department postpone the deadline for the final determination until no later than 135 days from the publication of the Argentina Preliminary Determination, and extend the application of the provisional measures from a four-month period to a period of not more than six months.4

    3See Musim Mas' Letter, “Biodiesel from Indonesia: Request to Extend Final Determination,” dated September 19, 2017; see also Wilmar's Letter, “Biodiesel from Indonesia: Request for Extension of Final Determination,” dated September 19, 2017.

    4See CARBIO's Letter, “CARBIO's Request for Postponement of the Final Determination Biodiesel from Argentina (A-357-820),” dated November 10, 2017; see also LDC's Letter, “Biodiesel from Argentina: Request for Postponement of the Final Determination,” dated November 16, 2017.

    In accordance with section 735(a)(2)(A) of the Act and 19 CFR 351.210(b)(2)(ii), because (1) each preliminary determination was affirmative; (2) the requests in each investigation were made by the exporters and producers who account for a significant proportion of exports of the subject merchandise from the country at issue; and (3) no compelling reasons for denials exist, the Department is postponing the final determination in each investigation until no later than 107 days after the date of the publication of the relevant preliminary determination, and extending the provisional measures from a four-month period to a period of not more than six months. Accordingly, the Department will issue its final determination in each investigation no later than February 15, 2018.

    This notice is issued and published pursuant to 19 CFR 351.210(g).

    Dated: December 4, 2017. Gary Taverman, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Operations, performing the non-exclusive functions and duties of the Assistant Secretary for Enforcement and Compliance.
    [FR Doc. 2017-26489 Filed 12-7-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-DS-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 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 (44 U.S.C. Chapter 35).

    Agency: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

    Title: Alaska License Limitation Program for Groundfish, Crab, and Scallops.

    OMB Control Number: 0648-0334.

    Form Number(s): None.

    Type of Request: Regular (revision and extension of a currently approved information collection).

    Number of Respondents: 49.

    Average Hours per Response: Transfers, 1 hour; appeals, 4 hours.

    Burden Hours: 52.

    Needs and Uses: This request is for extension of a current information collection.

    The License Limitation Program (LLP) restricts access to the commercial groundfish fisheries, commercial crab fisheries, and commercial scallop fisheries in the Exclusive Economic Zone off Alaska except for certain areas where alternative programs exist. The intended effect of the LLP is to limit the number of participants and reduce fishing capacity in fisheries off Alaska.

    For a vessel designated on an LLP license, the LLP license authorizes the type of fishing gear that may be used by the vessel, the maximum size of the vessel, an area endorsement, and whether the vessel may catch and process fish at sea or if it is limited to delivering catch without at-sea processing. LLP licenses that allow vessels to catch and process at-sea are assigned a catcher/processor endorsement. LLP licenses specify the maximum length overall (MLOA) of the vessel to which that LLP license may be assigned. The LLP may also include a species endorsement for Pacific cod in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands management area (BSAI) and Gulf of Alaska (GOA).

    An LLP license is required for vessels participating in directed fishing for LLP groundfish species in the BSAI or GOA, or fishing in any BSAI LLP crab fisheries. An LLP license is also required for any vessel deployed in scallop fisheries in Federal waters off Alaska (except for some diving operations).

    Affected Public: Business or other for-profit organizations; individuals or households.

    Frequency: On occasion.

    Respondent's Obligation: Required to obtain or retain benefits.

    This information collection request may be viewed at 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.

    Dated: December 5, 2017. Sarah Brabson, NOAA PRA Clearance Officer.
    [FR Doc. 2017-26467 Filed 12-7-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-22-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Proposed Information Collection; Comment Request; Economic Impacts of Diving and Snorkeling Expenditures in Hawaii AGENCY:

    National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce.

    ACTION:

    Notice.

    SUMMARY:

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

    DATES:

    Written comments must be submitted on or before February 6, 2018.

    ADDRESSES:

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

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Requests for additional information or copies of the information collection instrument and instructions should be directed to Kristy Wallmo, 301-427-8190 or [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: I. Abstract

    This request is for a new collection of information.

    The objective of the survey will be to understand divers' and snorkelers' expenditures associated with recreational coral reef diving activities in Hawaii. The survey will also collect information on divers' attitudes, preferences, and concerns about recreational diving and coral reefs health in Hawaii. We are conducting this survey to improve our understanding of divers' expenditure patterns and to estimate the economic impact of coral reef related spending. Results of the survey will be used to inform coastal resource management planning and establish a baseline for outreach and education. The expenditure survey is also expected to provide useful information for local economic and business interests. A similar survey (OMB 0648-0746) was implemented in south Florida and was successfully completed in Nov. 2017.

    II. Method of Collection

    The survey will be conducted using two modes: mail and Internet.

    III. Data

    OMB Control Number: 0648-XXXX.

    Form Number: None.

    Type of Review: Regular submission (request for a new information collection).

    Affected Public: Individual recreational divers and snorkelers.

    Estimated Number of Respondents: 1,500.

    Estimated Time Per Response: 20 minutes

    Estimated Total Annual Burden Hours: 500.

    Estimated Total Annual Cost to Public: $0 in recordkeeping/reporting costs.

    IV. Request for Comments

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

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

    Dated: December 5, 2017. Sarah Brabson, NOAA PRA Clearance Officer.
    [FR Doc. 2017-26466 Filed 12-7-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-22-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration RIN 0648-XF861 Endangered Species; File Nos. 21198 and 21434 AGENCY:

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

    ACTION:

    Notice; receipt of applications.

    SUMMARY:

    Notice is hereby given that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), Southeast Regional Office, Century Boulevard, Atlanta, GA 30602 [Responsible Party: Allan Brown], has applied in due form for a permit [File No. 21198] to take captive shortnose sturgeon (Acipenser brevirostrum) and Atlantic sturgeon (Acipenser oxyrinchus oxyrinchus) for purposes of scientific research and enhancement. Additionally the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Cooperative Oxford Laboratory, 904 South Morris Street, Oxford, Maryland 21654 [Responsible Party: Brian Richardson], has applied in due form for a permit [File No. 21434] to take captive Atlantic sturgeon for purposes of conducting scientific research and enhancement.

    DATES:

    Written, telefaxed, or email comments must be received on or before January 8, 2018.

    ADDRESSES:

    The applications and related documents are available for review by selecting “Records Open for Public Comment” from the “Features” box on the Applications and Permits for Protected Species (APPS) home page, https://apps.nmfs.noaa.gov, and then selecting File Nos. 21198 or 21434 from the list of available applications.

    These documents are also available upon written request or by appointment in the Permits and Conservation Division, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, 1315 East-West Highway, Room 13705, Silver Spring, MD 20910; phone (301) 427-8401; fax (301) 713-0376.

    Written comments on this application should be submitted to the Chief, Permits and Conservation Division, at the address listed above. Comments may also be submitted by facsimile to (301) 713-0376, or by email to [email protected] Please include the File No. in the subject line of the email comment.

    Those individuals requesting a public hearing should submit a written request to the Chief, Permits and Conservation Division at the address listed above. The request should set forth the specific reasons why a hearing on the application(s) would be appropriate.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Malcolm Mohead or Erin Markin at (301) 427-8401.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    The subject permits are requested under the authority of 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).

    File No. 21198: Researchers with the USFWS propose to use existing captive populations of shortnose and Atlantic sturgeon to conduct research facilitating the development of new methods needed for achieving species recovery in facilities located in the Southeast Region of the USFWS. Research would include nutrition, physiology, nutrition, propagation, contaminants, genetics, fish health, cryopreservation, tagging, refugia, and collaborative research with others. Additional objectives would include collaborative research and public display at other satellite facilities on the permit. The permit would be valid for ten years from the date of issuance.

    File No. 21434: Researchers at the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and cooperating researchers (e.g., University of Maryland and other collaborators) propose objectives for conducting research and public display on captive Atlantic sturgeon. Researchers propose developing reliable culture techniques, minimizing or eliminating the use of wild fish and impacts on non-target species. Research projects are to include fish physiology, fish culture, behavioral studies, tagging, fish nutrition, propagation methods, genetics, cryopreservation, refinement of anesthetization technology, and refugia as needed for management priorities. Additional objectives would include collaborative research and public display at other satellite facilities on the permit. The permit would be valid for ten years from the date of issuance.

    Dated: December 5, 2017. Julia Harrison, Chief, Permits and Conservation Division, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service.
    [FR Doc. 2017-26493 Filed 12-7-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-22-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 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 (44 U.S.C. Chapter 35).

    Agency: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

    Title: Alaska Crab Arbitration.

    OMB Control Number: 0648-0516.

    Form Number(s): None.

    Type of Request: Regular (extension of a currently approved information collection).

    Number of Respondents: 2.

    Average Hours Per Response: 6.

    Burden Hours: 12.

    Needs and Uses: This request is for extension of a current information collection.

    The Crab Rationalization Program (CRP) allocates Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands (BSAI) crab resources among harvesters, processors, and coastal communities through a limited access system that balances the interests of these groups who depend on these fisheries.

    The Crab Rationalization Program Arbitration System (CRPAS) is a series of steps that harvesters and processors can use to negotiate delivery and price contracts. The Arbitration System allows unaffiliated Class A individual fishing quota holders to initiate an arbitration proceeding in the event of a dispute to allow an independent third party to provide a review of harvester and processor negotiation positions and provide an independent and binding resolution to issues under dispute. To use the arbitration system, a harvester must commit deliveries to a processor and initiate a binding arbitration proceeding in advance of the season opening. The Arbitration System is designed to minimize antitrust risks for crab harvesters and processors and is intended to ensure that a reasonable price is paid for all landings.

    Affected Public: Business or other for-profit organizations; individuals or households.

    Frequency: Annually.

    Respondent's Obligation: Required to retain or obtain benefits.

    This information collection request may be viewed at 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.

    Dated: December 5, 2017. Sarah Brabson, NOAA PRA Clearance Officer.
    [FR Doc. 2017-26468 Filed 12-7-17; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-22-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration RIN 0648-XF792 Endangered and Threatened Species; Initiation of a 5-Year Review for the Endangered Western Distinct Population Segment of Steller Sea Lion AGENCY:

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

    ACTION:

    Notice of initiation of 5-year review; request for information.

    SUMMARY:

    We, NMFS, announce our intent to conduct a 5-year review for the endangered western distinct population segment (DPS) of Steller sea lion (Eumetopias jubatus) under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (ESA). We are required by the ESA to cond