Federal Register Vol. 83, No.10,

Federal Register Volume 83, Issue 10 (January 16, 2018)

Page Range2029-2328
FR Document

83_FR_10
Current View
Page and SubjectPDF
83 FR 2154 - Sunshine Act; Notice of MeetingPDF
83 FR 2218 - Sunshine Act MeetingPDF
83 FR 2175 - The Chickasaw Nation; Amendments to the Beverage Control Act of 2007, and the Chickasaw Nation CodePDF
83 FR 2161 - Agency Information Collection Activities: Submission for OMB Review; Comment RequestPDF
83 FR 2148 - Defense Innovation Board; Notice of Federal Advisory Committee MeetingPDF
83 FR 2153 - Notice of Annual Adjustment of the Cap on Average Total Assets That Defines Community Financial InstitutionsPDF
83 FR 2323 - Removing Barriers to Transit Bus AutomationPDF
83 FR 2321 - Research Program: Automated Transit BusesPDF
83 FR 2062 - Adjustment of Civil Monetary Penalties for InflationPDF
83 FR 2328 - Geriatrics and Gerontology Advisory Committee; Notice of MeetingPDF
83 FR 2162 - Proposed Information Collection Activity; Comment Request; Job Search Assistance (JSA) Strategies Evaluation-ExtensionPDF
83 FR 2060 - Drawbridge Operation Regulation; Isthmus Slough, Coos Bay, ORPDF
83 FR 2085 - Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Taxonomical Update for OrangutanPDF
83 FR 2147 - Notice of Availability of Government-Owned Inventions; Available for LicensingPDF
83 FR 2147 - Advisory Committee on Arlington National Cemetery, Honor Subcommittee; Meeting NoticePDF
83 FR 2180 - Agency Information Collection Activities; Cave Management: Cave Nominations and Requests for Confidential InformationPDF
83 FR 2183 - Agency Information Collection Activities; Conveyance of Federally Owned Mineral InterestsPDF
83 FR 2186 - Notice of Receipt of Complaint; Solicitation of Comments Relating to the Public InterestPDF
83 FR 2184 - Agency Information Collection Activities; Submission to the Office of Management and Budget for Review and Approval; Onshore Oil and Gas Operations and ProductionPDF
83 FR 2298 - Qualification of Drivers; Exemption Applications; Epilepsy and Seizure DisordersPDF
83 FR 2145 - Endangered and Threatened Species; Take of Anadromous FishPDF
83 FR 2292 - Qualification of Drivers; Exemption Applications; VisionPDF
83 FR 2306 - Qualification of Drivers; Exemption Applications; VisionPDF
83 FR 2289 - Qualification of Drivers; Exemption Applications; VisionPDF
83 FR 2297 - Qualification of Drivers; Exemption Applications; Epilepsy and Seizure DisordersPDF
83 FR 2172 - 30-Day Notice of Proposed Information Collection: Relocation and Real Property Acquisition Recordkeeping Requirements Under the Uniform Relocation Assistance and Real Property Acquisition Policies Act of 1970, as Amended (URA)PDF
83 FR 2171 - 30-Day Notice of Proposed Information Collection: Public Housing Assessment System (PHAS) Appeals; PHAS Unaudited Financial Statement Submission Extensions; Assisted and Insured Housing Property Inspection Technical Reviews and Database AdjustmentsPDF
83 FR 2169 - 30-Day Notice of Proposed Information Collection: FHA-Insured Mortgage Loan Servicing of Delinquent, Default and Foreclosure With Service Members ActPDF
83 FR 2174 - 60-Day Notice of Proposed Information Collection: Local Appeals to Single-Family Mortgage LimitsPDF
83 FR 2173 - 60-Day Notice of Proposed Information Collection: Land Survey Report for Insured Multifamily Projects (Form HUD-92457)PDF
83 FR 2169 - 60-Day Notice of Proposed Information Collection: Budget-Based Rent IncreasesPDF
83 FR 2172 - 60-Day Notice of Proposed Information Collection: Application for Mortgagor's Certificate of Actual CostPDF
83 FR 2170 - 60-Day Notice of Proposed Information Collection: Dispute Resolution ProgramPDF
83 FR 2045 - Implementation of the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act and Adjustment of Amounts for 2018PDF
83 FR 2309 - Qualification of Drivers; Exemption Applications; VisionPDF
83 FR 2316 - Qualification of Drivers; Exemption Applications; HearingPDF
83 FR 2185 - Notice of Filing of Plat Survey; Eastern StatesPDF
83 FR 2314 - Qualification of Drivers; Exemption Applications; HearingPDF
83 FR 2178 - Notice of Filing of Plat Survey; Eastern StatesPDF
83 FR 2311 - Qualification of Drivers; Exemption Applications; VisionPDF
83 FR 2295 - Qualification of Drivers; Exemption Applications; DiabetesPDF
83 FR 2317 - Qualification of Drivers; Exemption Applications; Diabetes MellitusPDF
83 FR 2187 - United States v. Vulcan Materials Company, SPO Partners II, L.P., and Aggregates USA, LLC, Proposed Final Judgment and Competitive Impact StatementPDF
83 FR 2168 - Notice of Domestic Interested Party Petitioner's Notice of Desire To Contest the Tariff Classification Determination of Certain Steel Tube FittingsPDF
83 FR 2131 - Notice of Determination of the Classical Swine Fever Status of MexicoPDF
83 FR 2150 - Information Collection Request Submitted to OMB for Review and Approval; Comment Request; Implementation of the 2008 Ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standards for Ozone: State Implementation Plan Requirements (Renewal)PDF
83 FR 2150 - Information Collection Request Submitted to OMB for Review and Approval; Comment Request; Confidential Financial Disclosure Form for Special Government Employees Serving on Federal Advisory Committees at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (Renewal)PDF
83 FR 2137 - Multilayered Wood Flooring From the People's Republic of China: Preliminary Results of the Antidumping Duty Administrative Review, Preliminary Determination of No Shipments, and Rescission of Review, in Part; 2015-2016PDF
83 FR 2141 - Carbon and Alloy Steel Wire Rod From the Republic of South Africa: Affirmative Final Determination of Sales at Less Than Fair Value and Affirmative Finding of Critical CircumstancesPDF
83 FR 2135 - Carbon and Alloy Steel Wire Rod From Ukraine: Affirmative Final Determination of Sales at Less Than Fair ValuePDF
83 FR 2133 - Certain Uncoated Groundwood Paper From Canada: Preliminary Affirmative Countervailing Duty Determination, and Alignment of Final Determination With Final Antidumping Duty DeterminationPDF
83 FR 2132 - Notice of Affirmation of Addition of Treatments for Aircraft for Certain Hitchhiking PestsPDF
83 FR 2163 - Agency Information Collection Activities; Submission for Office of Management and Budget Review; Comment Request; Medical Devices; Device TrackingPDF
83 FR 2144 - New England Fishery Management Council; Public MeetingPDF
83 FR 2143 - Visiting Committee on Advanced TechnologyPDF
83 FR 2216 - Notice of a Virtual Meeting of the Task Force on Apprenticeship ExpansionPDF
83 FR 2132 - Notice of Public Meeting of the Alabama Advisory Committee To Discuss Proposed Panelists for a Hearing on Access To Voting in the State of AlabamaPDF
83 FR 2223 - Submission for OMB Review; Comment RequestPDF
83 FR 2300 - Qualification of Drivers; Exemption Applications; Diabetes MellitusPDF
83 FR 2283 - Qualification of Drivers; Exemption Applications; Diabetes MellitusPDF
83 FR 2291 - Qualification of Drivers; Exemption Applications; Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator (ICD)PDF
83 FR 2223 - Agency Information Collection Activities: Proposed Collections; Comment Request; Capital Planning and Stress TestingPDF
83 FR 2073 - Annual Civil Monetary Penalties Inflation AdjustmentPDF
83 FR 2217 - Proposed Collection, Comment RequestPDF
83 FR 2216 - Agency Information Collection Activities; Submission for OMB Review; Comment Request; Cognitive and Psychological ResearchPDF
83 FR 2092 - Clarification of When Products Made or Derived From Tobacco Are Regulated as Drugs, Devices, or Combination Products; Amendments to Regulations Regarding “Intended Uses”; Proposed Partial Delay of Effective DatePDF
83 FR 2149 - Agency Information Collection Activities; Submission to the Office of Management and Budget for Review and Approval; Comment Request; National Evaluation of the Investing in Innovation (i3) ProgramPDF
83 FR 2165 - Accreditation Scheme for Conformity Assessment of Medical Devices to Food and Drug Administration-Recognized Standards; Public Workshop; Request for CommentsPDF
83 FR 2057 - Unique Device Identification: Policy Regarding Compliance Dates for Class I and Unclassified Devices; Immediately in Effect Guidance for Industry and Food and Drug Administration Staff; AvailabilityPDF
83 FR 2070 - Secure Tests: Extension of Comment PeriodPDF
83 FR 2032 - Special Conditions: Dassault Aviation Model Falcon 5X Airplanes; Non-Rechargeable Lithium Battery InstallationsPDF
83 FR 2038 - Special Conditions: Gulfstream Aerospace Corporation, Gulfstream GVI Airplane; Non-Rechargeable Lithium Battery InstallationsPDF
83 FR 2035 - Special Conditions: Airbus Model A330-841 and A330-941 New Engine Option (A330neo) Airplanes; Use of High-Incidence Protection and Alpha-Floor SystemsPDF
83 FR 2221 - Records Schedules; Availability and Request for CommentsPDF
83 FR 2200 - Proposed Final Judgment and Competitive Impact Statement: United States v. TransDigm Group IncorporatedPDF
83 FR 2160 - Notice of Closed MeetingPDF
83 FR 2160 - Solicitation of Nominations for Appointment to the Interagency Committee on Smoking and Health (ICSH)PDF
83 FR 2159 - Advisory Board on Radiation and Worker Health (ABRWH or the Advisory Board), National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)PDF
83 FR 2158 - Board of Scientific Counselors, Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response, (BSC, OPHPR)PDF
83 FR 2154 - Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposed Collection; Comment RequestPDF
83 FR 2156 - Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposed Collection; Comment RequestPDF
83 FR 2071 - Civil Penalties Adjustment for 2018PDF
83 FR 2278 - Self-Regulatory Organizations; The NASDAQ Stock Market LLC; Order Instituting Proceedings To Determine Whether To Approve or Disapprove a Proposed Rule Change To Modify the Listing Requirements Related to Special Purpose Acquisition Companies Listing Standards To Reduce Round Lot Holders on Nasdaq Capital Market for Initial Listing From 300 to 150 and Eliminate Public Holders for Continued Listing From 300 to Zero, Require $5 Million in Net Tangible Assets for Initial and Continued Listing on Nasdaq Capital Market, and Impose a Deadline To Demonstrate Compliance With Initial Listing Requirements on All Nasdaq Markets Within 30 Days Following Each Business CombinationPDF
83 FR 2244 - Self-Regulatory Organizations; Cboe BYX Exchange, Inc.; Notice of Filing and Immediate Effectiveness of a Proposed Rule Change Related to Transaction FeesPDF
83 FR 2234 - Self-Regulatory Organizations; Bats BZX Exchange, Inc.; Order Approving a Proposed Rule Change, as Modified by Amendment No. 2, To List and Trade Shares of the Cboe Vest S&P 500® Dividend Aristocrats® Target Income Index ETF Under the ETF Series Solutions Trust Under Rule 14.11(c)(3)PDF
83 FR 2237 - Self-Regulatory Organizations; Cboe BZX Exchange, Inc.; Notice of Filing and Immediate Effectiveness of a Proposed Rule Change Related to Fees for the BZX Depth Market Data ProductPDF
83 FR 2240 - Self-Regulatory Organizations; Nasdaq PHLX LLC; Order Granting Approval of a Proposed Rule Change To Amend Rule 1009 To Modify the Criteria for Listing an Option on an Underlying Covered SecurityPDF
83 FR 2271 - Self-Regulatory Organizations; The Options Clearing Corporation; Notice of Filing of Proposed Rule Change Related to The Options Clearing Corporation's Model Risk Management PolicyPDF
83 FR 2265 - Self-Regulatory Organizations; Nasdaq ISE, LLC; Notice of Filing and Immediate Effectiveness of Proposed Rule Change To Amend the Price Level Protection RulePDF
83 FR 2248 - Self-Regulatory Organizations; Cboe BYX Exchange, Inc.; Notice of Filing and Immediate Effectiveness of a Proposed Rule Change Related to Fees for the BYX Depth Market Data ProductPDF
83 FR 2276 - Self-Regulatory Organizations; Nasdaq PHLX LLC; Notice of Filing and Immediate Effectiveness of Proposed Rule Change To Amend a Cross-Reference in Rule 1017 (Openings in Options)PDF
83 FR 2268 - Self-Regulatory Organizations; Cboe EDGX Exchange, Inc.; Notice of Filing and Immediate Effectiveness of a Proposed Rule Change Related to Fees for the EDGX Depth Market Data ProductPDF
83 FR 2255 - Self-Regulatory Organizations; Cboe EDGA Exchange, Inc.; Notice of Filing and Immediate Effectiveness of a Proposed Rule Change Related to Fees for the EDGA Depth Market Data ProductPDF
83 FR 2261 - Self-Regulatory Organizations; The Nasdaq Stock Market LLC; Notice of Filing and Immediate Effectiveness of Proposed Rule Change To Amend Exchange Rule 7037PDF
83 FR 2258 - Self-Regulatory Organizations; Nasdaq GEMX, LLC; Notice of Filing and Immediate Effectiveness of Proposed Rule Change To Amend the Exchange's Schedule of Fees at Chapter V, Section H, Entitled “Nasdaq GEMX Trades Feed”PDF
83 FR 2252 - Self-Regulatory Organizations; Nasdaq ISE, LLC; Notice of Filing and Immediate Effectiveness of Proposed Rule Change To Amend the Exchange's Schedule of Fees at Chapter VIII, Section J, Entitled “Nasdaq ISE Trades Feed”PDF
83 FR 2181 - Notice of Intent To Prepare Monument Management Plans for the Bears Ears National Monument Indian Creek and Shash Jáa Units and Associated Environmental Impact Statement, UtahPDF
83 FR 2327 - Notice and Request for CommentsPDF
83 FR 2179 - Notice of Intent To Prepare Resource Management Plans for the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument-Grand Staircase, Kaiparowits, and Escalante Canyon Units and Federal Lands Previously Included in the Monument That Are Excluded From the Boundaries and Associated Environmental Impact Statement, UtahPDF
83 FR 2069 - Rights of Way; Removal of Outdated ReferencePDF
83 FR 2065 - General Regulations; Areas of the National Park System, Free Distribution of Other Message-Bearing ItemsPDF
83 FR 2247 - Proposed Collection; Comment RequestPDF
83 FR 2152 - Agency Information Collection Activities: Comment RequestPDF
83 FR 2153 - Agency Information Collection Activities: Comment RequestPDF
83 FR 2151 - Agency Information Collection Activities: Comment RequestPDF
83 FR 2214 - Importer of Controlled Substances Application: Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc.PDF
83 FR 2215 - Importer of Controlled Substances Application: Catalent Pharma Solutions, LLCPDF
83 FR 2215 - Bulk Manufacturer of Controlled Substances Application: Johnson Matthey Inc.PDF
83 FR 2059 - Annual Adjustment of Civil Monetary Penalty To Reflect InflationPDF
83 FR 2248 - Proposed Collection; Comment RequestPDF
83 FR 2246 - Proposed Collection; Comment RequestPDF
83 FR 2241 - Proposed Collection; Comment RequestPDF
83 FR 2282 - Proposed Collection; Comment RequestPDF
83 FR 2242 - Proposed Collection; Comment RequestPDF
83 FR 2251 - Proposed Collection; Comment RequestPDF
83 FR 2243 - Proposed Collection; Comment RequestPDF
83 FR 2237 - Proposed Collection; Comment RequestPDF
83 FR 2275 - Proposed Collection; Comment RequestPDF
83 FR 2254 - Proposed Collection; Comment RequestPDF
83 FR 2283 - Submission for OMB Review; Comment RequestPDF
83 FR 2029 - Civil Monetary Penalty Inflation AdjustmentPDF
83 FR 2325 - Requested Administrative Waiver of the Coastwise Trade Laws: Vessel TE FITI; Invitation for Public CommentsPDF
83 FR 2326 - Requested Administrative Waiver of the Coastwise Trade Laws: Vessel INDIGO; Invitation for Public CommentsPDF
83 FR 2324 - Requested Administrative Waiver of the Coastwise Trade Laws: Vessel FAR SEA II; Invitation for Public CommentsPDF
83 FR 2325 - Requested Administrative Waiver of the Coastwise Trade Laws: Vessel DUNVEGAN; Invitation for Public CommentsPDF
83 FR 2326 - Requested Administrative Waiver of the Coastwise Trade Laws: Vessel AQUATHERAPY; Invitation for Public CommentsPDF
83 FR 2167 - Advisory Council on Alzheimer's Research, Care, and Services; MeetingPDF
83 FR 2039 - Airworthiness Directives; Airbus HelicoptersPDF
83 FR 2097 - Air Plan Approval; Connecticut; Revision of the Low Emission Vehicles ProgramPDF
83 FR 2088 - Airworthiness Directives; DG Flugzeugbau GmbH GlidersPDF
83 FR 2100 - Oklahoma: Approval of State Coal Combustion Residuals State Permit ProgramPDF
83 FR 2224 - Biweekly Notice; Applications and Amendments to Facility Operating Licenses and Combined Licenses Involving No Significant Hazards ConsiderationsPDF
83 FR 2046 - Treatment of Certain Communications Involving Security-Based Swaps That May Be Purchased Only by Eligible Contract ParticipantsPDF
83 FR 2090 - Airworthiness Directives; Bombardier, Inc.PDF
83 FR 2104 - Bridging the Digital Divide for Low-Income Consumers, Lifeline and Link Up Reform and Modernization, Telecommunications Carriers Eligible for Universal Service SupportPDF
83 FR 2075 - Bridging the Digital Divide for Low-Income Consumers, Lifeline and Link Up Reform and Modernization, Telecommunications Carriers Eligible for Universal Service SupportPDF
83 FR 2119 - Electronic Delivery of MVPD Communications; Modernization of Media Regulation InitiativePDF
83 FR 2158 - Request for Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission NominationsPDF
83 FR 2042 - Airworthiness Directives; Airbus AirplanesPDF

Issue

83 10 Tuesday, January 16, 2018 Contents Agriculture Agriculture Department See

Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service

Animal Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service NOTICES Affirmation of Addition of Treatments for Aircraft: Certain Hitchhiking Pests, 2132 2018-00569 Determinations: Classical Swine Fever Status of Mexico, 2131-2132 2018-00576 Antitrust Division Antitrust Division NOTICES Proposed Final Judgments and Competitive Impact Statements: United States v. TransDigm Group Inc., 2200-2214 2018-00544 United States v. Vulcan Materials Co., SPO Partners II, LP, and Aggregates USA, LLC, 2187-2200 2018-00578 Army Army Department NOTICES Government-Owned Inventions; Available for Licensing, 2147 2018-00609 Meetings: Advisory Committee on Arlington National Cemetery, Honor Subcommittee, 2147-2148 2018-00608 Centers Disease Centers for Disease Control and Prevention NOTICES Meetings: Advisory Board on Radiation and Worker Health, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, 2159 2018-00541 Board of Scientific Counselors, Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response, 2158-2159 2018-00540 Disease, Disability, and Injury Prevention and Control Special Emphasis Panel, 2160-2161 2018-00543 Requests for Nominations: Interagency Committee on Smoking and Health, 2160 2018-00542 Centers Medicare Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals, 2161-2162 2018-00486 2018-00621 Children Children and Families Administration NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: Job Search Assistance Strategies Evaluation, 2162-2163 2018-00612 Civil Rights Civil Rights Commission NOTICES Meetings: Alabama Advisory Committee, 2132-2133 2018-00564 Coast Guard Coast Guard RULES Drawbridge Operations: Isthmus Slough, Coos Bay, OR, 2060-2062 2018-00611 Commerce Commerce Department See

International Trade Administration

See

National Institute of Standards and Technology

See

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Copyright Office Copyright Office, Library of Congress RULES Secure Tests, 2070-2071 2018-00549 Corporation Corporation for National and Community Service RULES Annual Civil Monetary Penalties Inflation Adjustment, 2073-2075 2018-00558 Defense Department Defense Department See

Army Department

NOTICES Meetings: Defense Innovation Board, 2148-2149 2018-00620
Drug Drug Enforcement Administration NOTICES Importers of Controlled Substances; Applications: Catalent Pharma Solutions, LLC, 2215 2018-00507 Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc., 2214-2215 2018-00508 Manufacturers of Controlled Substances; Applications: Johnson Matthey Inc., 2215-2216 2018-00506 Education Department Education Department RULES Adjustment of Civil Monetary Penalties for Inflation, 2062-2065 2018-00614 NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: National Evaluation of the Investing in Innovation Program, 2149-2150 2018-00554 Employment and Training Employment and Training Administration NOTICES Meetings: Task Force on Apprenticeship Expansion; Virtual Meeting, 2216 2018-00565 Environmental Protection Environmental Protection Agency PROPOSED RULES Air Quality State Implementation Plans; Approvals and Promulgations: Connecticut; Revision of the Low Emission Vehicles Program, 2097-2100 2018-00477 Approval of Coal Combustion Residuals State Permit Program: Oklahoma, 2100-2104 2018-00474 NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: Confidential Financial Disclosure Form for Special Government Employees Serving on Federal Advisory Committees at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 2150 2018-00574 Implementation of the 2008 Ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standards for Ozone; State Implementation Plan Requirements, 2150-2151 2018-00575 Export Import Export-Import Bank NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals, 2151-2153 2018-00509 2018-00510 2018-00511 2018-00512 2018-00513 Federal Aviation Federal Aviation Administration RULES Airworthiness Directives: Airbus Airplanes, 2042-2045 2018-00110 Airbus Helicopters, 2039-2042 2018-00478 Special Conditions: Airbus Model A330-841 and A330-941 New Engine Option (A330neo) Airplanes; Use of High-Incidence Protection and Alpha-Floor Systems, 2035-2038 2018-00546 Dassault Aviation Model Falcon 5X Airplanes; Non-Rechargeable Lithium Battery Installations, 2032-2035 2018-00548 Gulfstream Aerospace Corporation, Gulfstream GVI Airplane; Non-Rechargeable Lithium Battery Installations, 2038-2039 2018-00547 PROPOSED RULES Airworthiness Directives: Bombardier, Inc., 2090-2092 2018-00340 DG Flugzeugbau GmbH Gliders, 2088-2090 2018-00476 Federal Communications Federal Communications Commission RULES Bridging the Digital Divide for Low-Income Consumers, Lifeline and Link Up Reform and Modernization, Telecommunications Carriers Eligible for Universal Service Support, 2075-2085 2018-00152 PROPOSED RULES Bridging the Digital Divide for Low-Income Consumers, Lifeline and Link Up Reform and Modernization, Telecommunications Carriers Eligible for Universal Service Support, 2104-2119 2018-00153 Electronic Delivery of MVPD Communications: Modernization of Media Regulation Initiative, 2119-2130 2018-00151 Federal Housing Finance Agency Federal Housing Finance Agency NOTICES Annual Adjustment of the Cap on Average Total Assets That Defines Community Financial Institutions, 2153-2154 2018-00618 Federal Motor Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration NOTICES Qualification of Drivers; Exemption Applications: Diabetes, 2295-2297 2018-00580 Diabetes Mellitus, 2283-2289, 2300-2306, 2317-2321 2018-00561 2018-00562 2018-00579 Epilepsy and Seizure Disorders, 2297-2300 2018-00598 2018-00603 Hearing, 2314-2317 2018-00583 2018-00585 Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator, 2291-2292 2018-00560 Vision, 2289-2295, 2306-2314 2018-00581 2018-00586 2018-00599 2018-00600 2018-00601 Federal Retirement Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board NOTICES Meetings; Sunshine Act, 2154 2018-00706 Federal Trade Federal Trade Commission NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals, 2154-2158 2018-00538 2018-00539 Federal Transit Federal Transit Administration NOTICES Removing Barriers to Transit Bus Automation, 2323-2324 2018-00617 Research Programs: Automated Transit Buses, 2321-2323 2018-00615 Fish Fish and Wildlife Service RULES Endangered and Threatened Species: Taxonomical Update for Orangutan, 2085-2087 2018-00610 Food and Drug Food and Drug Administration RULES Guidance: Unique Device Identification—Policy Regarding Compliance Dates for Class I and Unclassified Devices, 2057-2059 2018-00550 PROPOSED RULES Clarification of When Products Made or Derived From Tobacco Are Regulated as Drugs, Devices, or Combination Products; Amendments to Regulations Regarding “Intended Uses”, 2092-2097 2018-00555 NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: Medical Devices; Device Tracking, 2163-2165 2018-00568 Meetings: Accreditation Scheme for Conformity Assessment of Medical Devices to Food and Drug Administration-Recognized Standards; Public Workshop, 2165-2167 2018-00551 Government Accountability Government Accountability Office NOTICES Requests for Nominations: Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission, 2158 2018-00117 Health and Human Health and Human Services Department See

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

See

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services

See

Children and Families Administration

See

Food and Drug Administration

NOTICES Meetings: Advisory Council on Alzheimer's Research, Care, and Services, 2167 2018-00480
Homeland Homeland Security Department See

Coast Guard

See

U.S. Customs and Border Protection

Housing Housing and Urban Development Department NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: Application for Mortgagor's Certificate of Actual Cost, 2172 2018-00589 Budget-Based Rent Increases, 2169-2170 2018-00590 Dispute Resolution Program, 2170-2171 2018-00588 FHA-Insured Mortgage Loan Servicing of Delinquent, Default and Foreclosure With Service Members Act, 2169 2018-00593 Land Survey Report for Insured Multifamily Projects, 2173-2174 2018-00591 Local Appeals to Single-Family Mortgage Limits, 2174 2018-00592 Public Housing Assessment System Appeals; Unaudited Financial Statement Submission Extensions; Assisted and Insured Housing Property Inspection Technical Reviews and Database Adjustments, 2171-2172 2018-00594 Relocation and Real Property Acquisition Recordkeeping Requirements Under the Uniform Relocation Assistance and Real Property Acquisition Policies Act of 1970, as Amended, 2172-2173 2018-00597 Indian Affairs Indian Affairs Bureau NOTICES Liquor Control Ordinances: Chickasaw Nation, 2175-2178 2018-00622 Interior Interior Department See

Fish and Wildlife Service

See

Indian Affairs Bureau

See

Land Management Bureau

See

National Indian Gaming Commission

See

National Park Service

International Trade Adm International Trade Administration NOTICES Antidumping or Countervailing Duty Investigations, Orders, or Reviews: Certain Uncoated Groundwood Paper From Canada, 2133-2135 2018-00570 Multilayered Wood Flooring From the People's Republic of China, 2137-2141 2018-00573 Determinations of Sales at Less Than Fair Value: Carbon and Alloy Steel Wire Rod From the Republic of South Africa, 2141-2143 2018-00572 Carbon and Alloy Steel Wire Rod From Ukraine, 2135-2137 2018-00571 International Trade Com International Trade Commission NOTICES Complaints: Certain Healthcare Barcode Readers and Components Thereof, 2186-2187 2018-00605 Justice Department Justice Department See

Antitrust Division

See

Drug Enforcement Administration

Labor Department Labor Department See

Employment and Training Administration

See

Labor Statistics Bureau

NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: Cognitive and Psychological Research, 2216-2217 2018-00556
Labor Statistics Labor Statistics Bureau NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals, 2217-2218 2018-00557 Land Land Management Bureau NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: Cave Management; Cave Nominations and Requests for Confidential Information, 2180-2181 2018-00607 Conveyance of Federally Owned Mineral Interests, 2183-2184 2018-00606 Onshore Oil and Gas Operations and Production, 2184-2185 2018-00604 Environmental Impact Statements; Availability, etc.: Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument—Grand Staircase, Kaiparowits, and Escalante Canyon Units and Federal Lands Previously Included in the Monument That are Excluded From the Boundaries, Utah, 2179-2180 2018-00518 Monument Management Plans for the Bears Ears National Monument Indian Creek and Shash Jaa Units, Utah, 2181-2183 2018-00520 Plats of Survey: Eastern States, 2178-2179, 2185-2186 2018-00582 2018-00584 Legal Legal Services Corporation NOTICES Meetings; Sunshine Act, 2218-2221 2018-00698 Library Library of Congress See

Copyright Office, Library of Congress

Maritime Maritime Administration NOTICES Requests for Administrative Waivers of the Coastwise Trade Laws: Vessel AQUATHERAPY, 2326 2018-00481 Vessel DUNVEGAN, 2325-2326 2018-00482 Vessel FAR SEA II, 2324-2325 2018-00483 Vessel INDIGO, 2326-2327 2018-00484 Vessel TE FITI, 2325 2018-00485 NASA National Aeronautics and Space Administration RULES Implementation of the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act and Adjustment of Amounts for 2018, 2045-2046 2018-00587 National Archives National Archives and Records Administration NOTICES Records Schedules, 2221-2223 2018-00545 National Credit National Credit Union Administration RULES Civil Monetary Penalty Inflation Adjustment, 2029-2032 2018-00488 NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals, 2223 2018-00563 Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals: Capital Planning and Stress Testing, 2223-2224 2018-00559 National Endowment for the Arts National Endowment for the Arts RULES Civil Penalties Adjustment for 2018, 2071-2073 2018-00537 National Foundation National Foundation on the Arts and the Humanities See

National Endowment for the Arts

National Highway National Highway Traffic Safety Administration NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals, 2327-2328 2018-00519 National Indian National Indian Gaming Commission RULES Annual Adjustment of Civil Monetary Penalty to Reflect Inflation, 2059-2060 2018-00505 National Institute National Institute of Standards and Technology NOTICES Meetings: Visiting Committee on Advanced Technology, 2143-2144 2018-00566 National Oceanic National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration NOTICES Endangered and Threatened Species: Take of Anadromous Fish, 2145-2147 2018-00602 Meetings: New England Fishery Management Council, 2144-2145 2018-00567 National Park National Park Service RULES General Regulations; Areas of the National Park System, Free Distribution of Other Message-Bearing Items, 2065-2069 2018-00515 Rights of Way, 2069-2070 2018-00516 Nuclear Regulatory Nuclear Regulatory Commission NOTICES Facility Operating and Combined Licenses: Applications and Amendments Involving No Significant Hazards Considerations; Biweekly Notice, 2224-2234 2018-00386 Securities Securities and Exchange Commission RULES Treatment of Certain Communications Involving Security-Based Swaps That May Be Purchased Only By Eligible Contract Participants, 2046-2056 2018-00347 NOTICES Agency Information Collection Activities; Proposals, Submissions, and Approvals, 2237, 2241-2244, 2246-2248, 2251-2252, 2254-2255, 2275-2276, 2282-2283 2018-00489 2018-00490 2018-00491 2018-00492 2018-00493 2018-00494 2018-00495 2018-00496 2018-00497 2018-00498 2018-00499 2018-00500 2018-00501 2018-00502 2018-00503 2018-00504 2018-00514 Self-Regulatory Organizations; Proposed Rule Changes: Bats BZX Exchange, Inc., 2234-2237 2018-00533 Cboe BYX Exchange, Inc., 2244-2246, 2248-2251 2018-00528 2018-00534 Cboe BZX Exchange, Inc., 2237-2240 2018-00532 Cboe EDGA Exchange, Inc., 2255-2258 2018-00525 Cboe EDGX Exchange, Inc., 2268-2271 2018-00526 Nasdaq GEMX, LLC, 2258-2261 2018-00523 Nasdaq ISE, LLC, 2252-2254, 2265-2268 2018-00522 2018-00529 Nasdaq PHLX LLC, 2240-2241, 2276-2277 2018-00527 2018-00531 Nasdaq Stock Market LLC, 2261-2265, 2278-2282 2018-00524 2018-00535 The Options Clearing Corp., 2271-2275 2018-00530 Transportation Department Transportation Department See

Federal Aviation Administration

See

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

See

Federal Transit Administration

See

Maritime Administration

See

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

Customs U.S. Customs and Border Protection NOTICES Domestic Interested Party Petitioner's Notice of Desire To Contest the Tariff Classification Determination of Certain Steel Tube Fittings, 2168-2169 2018-00577 Veteran Affairs Veterans Affairs Department NOTICES Meetings: Geriatrics and Gerontology Advisory Committee, 2328 2018-00613 Reader Aids

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

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83 10 Tuesday, January 16, 2018 Rules and Regulations NATIONAL CREDIT UNION ADMINISTRATION 12 CFR Part 747 RIN 3133-AE83 Civil Monetary Penalty Inflation Adjustment AGENCY:

National Credit Union Administration (NCUA).

ACTION:

Final rule.

SUMMARY:

The NCUA Board (Board) is amending its regulations to adjust the maximum amount of each civil monetary penalty (CMP) within its jurisdiction to account for inflation. This action, including the amount of the adjustments, is required under the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act of 1990, as amended by the Debt Collection Improvement Act of 1996 and the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvements Act of 2015.

DATES:

This final rule is effective January 15, 2018.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Ian Marenna, Senior Trial Attorney, at 1775 Duke Street, Alexandria, VA 22314, or telephone: (703) 518-6540.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: I. Legal Background II. Calculation of Adjustments III. Regulatory Procedures I. Legal Background A. Statutory Requirements and OMB Guidance

The Debt Collection Improvement Act of 1996 1 (DCIA) amended the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act of 1990 2 (FCPIA Act) to require every federal agency to enact regulations that adjust each CMP provided by law under its jurisdiction by the rate of inflation at least once every four years.

1 Public Law 104-134, 31001(s), 110 Stat. 1321-373 (Apr. 26, 1996). The law is codified at 28 U.S.C. 2461 note.

2 Public Law 101-410, 104 Stat. 890 (Oct. 5, 1990), codified at 28 U.S.C. 2461 note.

In November 2015, Congress further amended the CMP inflation requirements in the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015,3 which contains the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvements Act of 2015 (the 2015 amendments).4 This legislation provided for an initial “catch-up” adjustment of CMPs in 2016, followed by annual adjustments. The catch-up adjustment re-set CMP maximum amounts by setting aside the inflation adjustments that agencies made in prior years and instead calculated inflation with reference to the year when each CMP was enacted or last modified by Congress. Agencies were required to publish their catch-up adjustments in an interim final rule by July 1, 2016 and make them effective by August 1, 2016.5 The NCUA complied with these requirements in a June 2016 interim final rule, followed by an October 2016 final rule to confirm the adjustments as final.6

3 Public Law 114-74, 129 Stat. 584 (Nov. 2, 2015).

4 129 Stat. 599.

5 Public Law 114-74, Sec. 701(b)(1), 129 Stat. 584, 599 (Nov. 2, 2015).

6 81 FR 40152 (June 21, 2016); 81 FR 78028 (Nov. 7, 2016).

The 2015 amendments also specified how agencies must conduct annual inflation adjustments after the 2016 catch-up adjustment. Following the catch-up adjustment, agencies must make the required adjustments and publish them in the Federal Register by January 15 each year.7 The NCUA issued an interim final rule on January 6, 2017,8 followed by a final rule issued on June 23, 2017.9 This final rule will satisfy the agency's requirement for the 2018 annual adjustments.

7 Public Law 114-74, Sec. 701(b)(1), 129 Stat. 584, 599 (Nov. 2, 2015).

8 82 FR 7640 (Jan. 23, 2017).

9 82 FR 29710 (June 30, 2017).

The statute provides that the adjustments shall be made notwithstanding the section of the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) that requires prior notice and public comment for agency rulemaking.10 The 2015 amendments also specify that each CMP maximum must be increased by the percentage by which the consumer price index for urban consumers (CPI-U) 11 for October of the year immediately preceding the year the adjustment is made exceeds the CPI-U for October of the prior year.12 For example, for the adjustment made in 2018, agencies must compare the October 2016 and 2017 CPI-U figures.

10 Public Law 114-74, Sec. 701(b)(1), 129 Stat. 584, 599 (Nov. 2, 2015).

11 This index is published by the Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, and is available at its website: http://www.bls.gov/cpi/.

12 Public Law 114-74, Sec. 701(b)(1)(2)(B), 129 Stat. 584, 600 (Nov. 2, 2015).

The 2015 amendments also provide that agencies may forgo the required annual adjustments in certain circumstances. Specifically, in a subsection titled “Other Adjustments Made,” the statute provides that an agency is not required to make an annual adjustment to a CMP if it has been increased by a greater amount than the contemplated annual adjustment in the preceding 12 months.13 When these criteria are met, the agency has discretion not to make the adjustments otherwise required by the statute.

13 Public Law 114-74, Sec. 701(b)(1), 129 Stat. 584, 600 (Nov. 2, 2015).

In addition, the 2015 amendments directed the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to issue guidance to agencies on implementing the inflation adjustments.14 OMB is required to issue its guidance each December and did so on December 15, 2017.15 This OMB guidance for the 2018 adjustments includes an inflationary multiplier (1.02041) to apply to each current CMP maximum amount to determine the adjusted maximum. The guidance also addresses rulemaking procedures and agency reporting and oversight requirements for CMPs.16

14 Public Law 114-74, Sec. 701(b)(4), 129 Stat. 584, 601 (Nov. 2, 2015).

15 Id.; OMB, Implementation of Penalty Inflation Adjustments for 2018, Pursuant to the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvements Act of 2015, M-18-03 (Dec. 15, 2017), available at https://www.whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/M-18-03.pdf (noting that the applicable 2017 CMP-adjustment multiplier is 1.02041).

16 Id.

The next section sets forth the Board's calculation of the adjustments for 2018, in accordance with the foregoing requirements.

B. Application to the 2018 Adjustments

This section applies the statutory requirements and OMB's guidance to the NCUA's CMPs.

As explained above, the 2015 amendments require the NCUA to adjust the maximum amounts of its CMPs by the percentage by which the October 2017 CPI-U (246.663) exceeds the October 2016 CPI-U (241.729). The percentage change is 2.041. This percentage increase can be expressed as an inflation multiplier (the quotient of the October 2017 figure divided by the October 2016 figure). Accordingly, each CMP maximum amount should be multiplied by 1.02041 to determine the adjusted maximum amount. OMB's guidance identifies the same multiplier.

The Board has considered the exception in the 2015 amendments for adjustments made in the preceding 12 months, discussed above, and has determined that it does not apply. All of the adjustments calculated below are equal to or greater than the adjustments made in January 2017 for each CMP. Accordingly, the exception for greater adjustments in the preceding 12 months does not apply. Thus, the Board lacks discretion to decline to make the adjustments calculated below.

The table below presents the adjustment calculations. The current maximums are found at 12 CFR 747.1001, as adjusted in January 2017. This amount is multiplied by the inflation multiplier to calculate the new maximum in the far right column. Only these adjusted maximum amounts, and not the calculations, will be codified at 12 CFR 747.1001 under this final rule. The adjusted amounts will be effective January 15, 2018, and can be applied to violations that occurred on or after November 2, 2015, the date the 2015 amendments were enacted. The table to be published in the CFR adds a separate row for tier 3 penalties against insured credit unions under 12 U.S.C. 1786(k). This is a format change to conform the table in the CFR with the table below, which lists the tier 3 penalties against credit unions and natural persons separately, following the structure of the statute.

17 The table uses condensed descriptions of CMP tiers. Refer to the U.S. Code citations for complete descriptions.

Table—Calculation of Maximum CMP Adjustments Citation Description/tier 17 Current maximum ($) Multiplier Adjusted maximum ($) (current maximum × multiplier, rounded to nearest dollar) 12 U.S.C. 1782(a)(3) Inadvertent failure to submit a report or the inadvertent submission of a false or misleading report 3,849 1.02041 3,928. 12 U.S.C. 1782(a)(3) Non-inadvertent failure to submit a report or the non-inadvertent submission of a false or misleading report 38,492 1.02041 39,278. 12 U.S.C. 1782(a)(3) Failure to submit a report or the submission of a false or misleading report done knowingly or with reckless disregard Lesser of 1,924,589 or 1% of total CU assets 1.02041 Lesser of 1,963,870 or 1% of total CU assets. 12 U.S.C. 1782(d)(2)(A) Tier 1 CMP for inadvertent failure to submit certified statement of insured shares and charges due to NCUSIF, or inadvertent submission of false or misleading statement 3,519 1.02041 3,591. 12 U.S.C. 1782(d)(2)(B) Tier 2 CMP for non-inadvertent failure to submit certified statement or submission of false or misleading statement 35,186 1.02041 35,904. 12 U.S.C. 1782(d)(2)(C) Tier 3 CMP for failure to submit a certified statement or the submission of a false or misleading statement done knowingly or with reckless disregard Lesser of 1,759,309 or 1% of total CU assets 1.02041 Lesser of 1,795,216 or 1% of total CU assets. 12 U.S.C. 1785(a)(3) Non-compliance with insurance logo requirements 120 1.02041 122. 12 U.S.C. 1785(e)(3) Non-compliance with NCUA security requirements 279 1.02041 285. 12 U.S.C. 1786(k)(2)(A) Tier 1 CMP for violations of law, regulation, and other orders or agreements 9,623 1.02041 9,819. 12 U.S.C. 1786(k)(2)(B) Tier 2 CMP for violations of law, regulation, and other orders or agreements and for recklessly engaging in unsafe or unsound practices or breaches of fiduciary duty 48,114 1.02041 49,096. 12 U.S.C. 1786(k)(2)(C) Tier 3 CMP for knowingly committing the violations under Tier 1 or 2 (natural person) 1,924,589 1.02041 1,963,870. 12 U.S.C. 1786(k)(2)(C) Tier 3 (same) (CU) Lesser of 1,924,589 or 1% of total CU assets 1.02041 Lesser of 1,963,870 or 1% of total CU assets. 12 U.S.C. 1786(w)(5)(A)(ii) Non-compliance with senior examiner post-employment restrictions 316,566 1.02041 323,027. 15 U.S.C. 1639e(k) Non-compliance with appraisal independence standards (first violation) 11,053 1.02041 11,279. 15 U.S.C. 1639e(k) Subsequent violations of the same 22,105 1.02041 22,556. 42 U.S.C. 4012a(f)(5) Non-compliance with flood insurance requirements 2,090 1.02041 2,133. III. Regulatory Procedures A. Final Rule Under the APA

In the 2015 amendments to the FCPIA Act, Congress provided that agencies shall make the required inflation adjustments in 2017 and subsequent years notwithstanding 5 U.S.C. 553,18 which requires agencies to follow notice-and-comment procedures in rulemaking and to make rules effective no sooner than 30 days after publication in the Federal Register. The 2015 amendments provide a clear exception to these requirements.19 In addition, the Board finds that notice-and-comment procedures would be impracticable and unnecessary under the APA because of the largely ministerial and technical nature of the rule, which affords agencies limited discretion in promulgating the rule, and the statutory deadline for making the adjustments.20 In these circumstances, the Board finds good cause to issue a final rule without issuing a notice of proposed rulemaking or soliciting public comments. The Board also finds good cause to make the final rule effective upon publication because of the statutory deadline. Accordingly, this final rule is issued without prior notice and comment and will become effective immediately upon publication.

18 Public Law 114-74, Sec. 701(b)(1), 129 Stat. 584, 599 (Nov. 2, 2015).

19 See 5 U.S.C. 559; Asiana Airlines v. Fed. Aviation Admin., 134 F.3d 393, 396-99 (D.C. Cir. 1998).

20 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(3)(B); see Mid-Tex Elec. Co-op., Inc. v. Fed. Energy Regulatory Comm'n, 822 F.2d 1123, 1133-34 (D.C. Cir. 1987).

B. Regulatory Flexibility Act

The Regulatory Flexibility Act requires the Board to prepare an analysis to describe any significant economic impact a regulation may have on a substantial number of small entities.21 For purposes of this analysis, the Board considers small credit unions to be those having under $100 million in assets.22 This final rule will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small credit unions because it only affects the maximum amounts of CMPs that may be assessed in individual cases, which are not numerous and generally do not involve assessments at the maximum level. In addition, several of the CMPs are limited to a percentage of a credit union's assets. Finally, in assessing CMPs, the Board generally must consider a party's financial resources.23 Because this final rule will affect few, if any, small credit unions, the Board certifies that the final rule will not have a significant economic impact on small entities.

21 5 U.S.C. 603(a).

22 Interpretive Ruling and Policy Statement 15-1, 80 FR 57512 (Sept. 24, 2015).

23 12 U.S.C. 1786(k)(2)(G)(i).

C. Paperwork Reduction Act

The Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (PRA) applies to rulemakings in which an agency creates a new paperwork burden on regulated entities or modifies an existing burden.24 For purposes of the PRA, a paperwork burden may take the form of either a reporting or a recordkeeping requirement, both referred to as information collections. This final rule adjusts the maximum amounts of certain CMPs that the Board may assess against individuals, entities, or credit unions but does not require any reporting or recordkeeping. Therefore, this final rule will not create new paperwork burdens or modify any existing paperwork burdens.

24 44 U.S.C. 3507(d); 5 CFR part 1320.

D. Executive Order 13132

Executive Order 13132 encourages independent regulatory agencies to consider the impact of their actions on state and local interests. In adherence to fundamental federalism principles,

The NCUA, an independent regulatory agency as defined in 44 U.S.C. 3502(5), voluntarily complies with the executive order. This final rule adjusts the maximum amounts of certain CMPs that the Board may assess against individuals, entities, and federally insured credit unions, including state-chartered credit unions. However, the final rule does not create any new authority or alter the underlying statutory authorities that enable the Board to assess CMPs. Accordingly, this final rule will not have a substantial direct effect on the states, on the connection between the national government and the states, or on the distribution of power and responsibilities among the various levels of government. The Board has determined that this final rule does not constitute a policy that has federalism implications for purposes of the executive order.

E. Assessment of Federal Regulations and Policies on Families

The Board has determined that this final rule will not affect family well-being within the meaning of Section 654 of the Treasury and General Government Appropriations Act, 1999.25

25 Public Law 105-277, 112 Stat. 2681 (Oct. 21, 1998).

F. Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act

The Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996 26 (SBREFA) provides generally for congressional review of agency rules. A reporting requirement is triggered in instances where the Board issues a final rule as defined by Section 551 of the APA.27 The Board has submitted this final rule to OMB for it to determine whether it is a “major rule” within the meaning of the relevant sections of SBREFA.

26 Public Law 104-121, 110 Stat. 857 (Mar. 29, 1996).

27 5 U.S.C. 551.

List of Subjects in 12 CFR Part 747

Credit unions, Civil monetary penalties.

By the National Credit Union Administration Board on January 9, 2018. Gerard S. Poliquin, Secretary of the Board.

For the reasons stated above, the NCUA Board amends 12 CFR part 747 as follows:

PART 747—ADMINISTRATIVE ACTIONS, ADJUDICATIVE HEARINGS, RULES OF PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE, AND INVESTIGATIONS 1. The authority for part 747 continues to read as follows: Authority:

12 U.S.C. 1766, 1782, 1784, 1785, 1786, 1787, 1790a, 1790d; 15 U.S.C. 1639e; 42 U.S.C. 4012a; Pub. L. 101-410; Pub. L. 104-134; Pub. L. 109-351; Pub. L. 114-74.

Subpart K—Inflation Adjustment of Civil Monetary Penalties 2. Revise § 747.1001 to read as follows:
§ 747.1001 Adjustment of civil monetary penalties by the rate of inflation.

(a) The NCUA is required by the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act of 1990 (Pub. L. 101-410, 104 Stat. 890, as amended (28 U.S.C. 2461 note)), to adjust the maximum amount of each civil monetary penalty within its jurisdiction by the rate of inflation. The following chart displays those adjusted amounts, as calculated pursuant to the statute:

U.S. Code citation CMP description New maximum amount (1) 12 U.S.C. 1782(a)(3) Inadvertent failure to submit a report or the inadvertent submission of a false or misleading report $3,928. (2) 12 U.S.C. 1782(a)(3) Non-inadvertent failure to submit a report or the non-inadvertent submission of a false or misleading report $39,278. (3) 12 U.S.C. 1782(a)(3) Failure to submit a report or the submission of a false or misleading report done knowingly or with reckless disregard $1,963,870 or 1 percent of the total assets of the credit union, whichever is less. (4) 12 U.S.C. 1782(d)(2)(A) Tier 1 CMP for inadvertent failure to submit certified statement of insured shares and charges due to NCUSIF, or inadvertent submission of false or misleading statement $3,591. (5) 12 U.S.C. 1782(d)(2)(B) Tier 2 CMP for non-inadvertent failure to submit certified statement or submission of false or misleading statement $35,904. (6) 12 U.S.C. 1782(d)(2)(C) Tier 3 CMP for failure to submit a certified statement or the submission of a false or misleading statement done knowingly or with reckless disregard $1,795,216 or 1 percent of the total assets of the credit union, whichever is less. (7) 12 U.S.C. 1785(a)(3) Non-compliance with insurance logo requirements $122. (8) 12 U.S.C. 1785(e) (3) Non-compliance with NCUA security requirements $285. (9) 12 U.S.C. 1786(k)(2)(A) Tier 1 CMP for violations of law, regulation, and other orders or agreements $9,819. (10) 12 U.S.C. 1786(k)(2)(A) Tier 2 CMP for violations of law, regulation, and other orders or agreements and for recklessly engaging in unsafe or unsound practices or breaches of fiduciary duty $49,096. (11) 12 U.S.C. 1786(k)(2)(A) Tier 3 CMP for knowingly committing the violations under Tier 1 or 2 (natural person) $1,963,870. (12) 12 U.S.C. 1786(k)(2)(A) Tier 3 CMP for knowingly committing the violations under Tier 1 or 2 (insured credit union) $1,963,870 or 1 percent of the total assets of the credit union, whichever is less. (13) 12 U.S.C. 1786(w)(5)(ii) Non-compliance with senior examiner post-employment restrictions $323,027. (14) 15 U.S.C. 1639e(k) Non-compliance with appraisal independence requirements First violation: $11,279.
  • Subsequent violations: $22,556.
  • (15) 42 U.S.C. 4012a(f)(5) Non-compliance with flood insurance requirements $2,133.

    (b) The adjusted amounts displayed in paragraph (a) of this section apply to civil monetary penalties that are assessed after the date the increase takes effect, including those whose associated violation or violations pre-dated the increase and occurred after November 2, 2015.

    [FR Doc. 2018-00488 Filed 1-12-18; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 7535-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION Federal Aviation Administration 14 CFR Part 25 [Docket No. FAA-2017-1141; Special Conditions No. 25-710-SC] Special Conditions: Dassault Aviation Model Falcon 5X Airplanes; Non-Rechargeable Lithium Battery Installations AGENCY:

    Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), DOT.

    ACTION:

    Final special conditions; request for comment.

    SUMMARY:

    These special conditions are issued for non-rechargeable lithium battery installations on the Dassault Aviation (Dassault) Model Falcon 5X airplane. Non-rechargeable lithium batteries are a novel or unusual design feature when compared to the state of technology envisioned in the airworthiness standards for transport category airplanes. The applicable airworthiness regulations do not contain adequate or appropriate safety standards for this design feature. These special conditions contain the additional safety standards that the Administrator considers necessary to establish a level of safety equivalent to that established by the existing airworthiness standards.

    DATES:

    This action is effective on Dassault Aviation on January 16, 2018. Send your comments by March 2, 2018.

    ADDRESSES:

    Send comments identified by docket number FAA-2017-1141 using any of the following methods:

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

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

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

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

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

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

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Nazih Khaouly, Airplane and Flight Crew Interface Section, AIR-671, Transport Standards Branch, Policy and Innovation Division, Aircraft Certification Service, 1601 Lind Avenue SW, Renton, Washington 98057-3356; telephone 425-227-2432; facsimile 425-227-1149.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Future Requests for Installation of Non-Rechargeable Lithium Batteries

    The FAA anticipates that non-rechargeable lithium batteries will be installed in most makes and models of transport category airplanes. We intend to require special conditions for certification projects involving non-rechargeable lithium battery installations to address certain safety issues until we can revise the airworthiness requirements. Applying special conditions to these installations across the range of transport category airplanes will ensure regulatory consistency.

    Typically, the FAA issues special conditions after receiving an application for type certificate approval of a novel or unusual design feature. However, the FAA has found that the presence of non-rechargeable lithium batteries in certification projects is not always immediately identifiable, since the battery itself may not be the focus of the project. Meanwhile, the inclusion of these batteries has become virtually ubiquitous on in-production transport category airplanes, which shows that there will be a need for these special conditions. Also, delaying the issuance of special conditions until after each design application is received could lead to costly certification delays. Therefore, the FAA finds it necessary to issue special conditions applicable to these battery installations on particular makes and models of aircraft.

    On April 22, 2016, the FAA published special conditions no. 25-612-SC in the Federal Register (81 FR 23573) applicable to Gulfstream Aerospace Corporation for the GVI airplane. Those were the first special conditions the FAA issued for non-rechargeable lithium battery installations. We explained in that document our decision to make those special conditions effective one year after publication in the Federal Register, which is April 22, 2017. In those special conditions, the FAA stated its intention to apply non-rechargeable lithium battery special conditions to design changes on other makes and models applied for after this same date.

    Section 1205 of the FAA Reauthorization Act of 1996 requires the FAA to consider the extent to which Alaska is not served by transportation modes other than aviation and to establish appropriate regulatory distinctions when modifying airworthiness regulations that affect intrastate aviation in Alaska. In consideration of this requirement and the overall impact on safety, the FAA does not intend to require non-rechargeable lithium battery special conditions for design changes that only replace a 121.5 megahertz (MHz) emergency locator transmitter (ELT) with a 406 MHz ELT that meets Technical Standard Order C126b, or later revision, on transport airplanes operating only in Alaska. This will support our efforts of encouraging operators in Alaska to upgrade to a 406 MHz ELT. These ELTs provide significantly improved accuracy for lifesaving services to locate an accident site in Alaskan terrain. The FAA considers that the safety benefits from upgrading to a 406 MHz ELT for Alaskan operations will outweigh the battery fire risk.

    Comments Invited

    The substance of these special conditions previously has been published in the Federal Register for public comment. These special conditions have been derived without substantive change from those previously issued. It is unlikely that prior public comment would result in a significant change from the substance contained herein. Therefore, the FAA has determined that prior public notice and comment are unnecessary, and finds that, for the same reason, good cause exists for adopting these special conditions upon publication in the Federal Register.

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

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

    Background

    On July 1, 2012, Dassault applied for a type certificate for a new Model Falcon 5X airplane. The Model Falcon 5X airplane is a twin engine, transport category airplane with a passenger seating capacity of 19 and a projected maximum takeoff weight of 66,635 pounds.

    The FAA is issuing these special conditions for non-rechargeable lithium battery installations on the Dassault Model Falcon 5X airplane. The current battery requirements in title 14, Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) part 25 are inadequate for addressing an airplane with non-rechargeable lithium batteries.

    Type Certification Basis

    Under the provisions of 14 CFR 21.17, Dassault must show that the Model Falcon 5X airplane meets the applicable provisions of part 25, as amended by Amendments 25-1 through 25-139.

    If the Administrator finds that the applicable airworthiness regulations (i.e., 14 CFR part 25) do not contain adequate or appropriate safety standards for the Dassault Model Falcon 5X airplane because of a novel or unusual design feature, special conditions are prescribed under the provisions of § 21.16.

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

    In addition to the applicable airworthiness regulations and special conditions, the Dassault Model Falcon 5X airplane must comply with the fuel-vent and exhaust-emission requirements of 14 CFR part 34, and the noise-certification requirements of 14 CFR part 36.

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

    Novel or Unusual Design Feature

    The novel or unusual design feature is the installation of non-rechargeable lithium batteries.

    For the purpose of these special conditions, we refer to a battery and battery system as a battery. A battery system consists of the battery and any protective, monitoring, and alerting circuitry or hardware inside or outside of the battery. It also includes vents (where necessary) and packaging.

    Discussion

    The FAA derived the current regulations governing installation of batteries in transport category airplanes from Civil Air Regulations (CAR) 4b.625(d) as part of the recodification of CAR 4b that established 14 CFR part 25 in February 1965. This recodification basically reworded the CAR 4b battery requirements, which are currently in § 25.1353(b)(1) through (4). Non-rechargeable lithium batteries are novel and unusual with respect to the state of technology considered when these requirements were codified. These batteries introduce higher energy levels into airplane systems through new chemical compositions in various battery cell sizes and construction. Interconnection of these cells in battery packs introduces failure modes that require unique design considerations, such as provisions for thermal management.

    Recent events involving rechargeable and non-rechargeable lithium batteries prompted the FAA to initiate a broad evaluation of these energy storage technologies. In January 2013, two independent events involving rechargeable lithium-ion batteries revealed unanticipated failure modes. A National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) letter to the FAA, dated May 22, 2014, which is available at http://www.ntsb.gov, filename A-14-032-036.pdf, describes these events.

    On July 12, 2013, an event involving a non-rechargeable lithium battery in an emergency locator transmitter installation demonstrated unanticipated failure modes. The United Kingdom's Air Accidents Investigation Branch Bulletin S5/2013 describes this event.

    Some known uses of rechargeable and non-rechargeable lithium batteries on airplanes include:

    Flight deck and avionics systems such as displays, global positioning systems, cockpit voice recorders, flight data recorders, underwater locator beacons, navigation computers, integrated avionics computers, satellite network and communication systems, communication management units, and remote-monitor electronic line-replaceable units;

    Cabin safety, entertainment, and communications equipment, including emergency locator transmitters, life rafts, escape slides, seatbelt air bags, cabin management systems, Ethernet switches, routers and media servers, wireless systems, internet and in-flight entertainment systems, satellite televisions, remotes, and handsets;

    Systems in cargo areas including door controls, sensors, video surveillance equipment, and security systems.

    Some known potential hazards and failure modes associated with non-rechargeable lithium batteries are:

    Internal failures: In general, these batteries are significantly more susceptible to internal failures that can result in self-sustaining increases in temperature and pressure (i.e., thermal runaway) than their nickel-cadmium or lead-acid counterparts. The metallic lithium can ignite, resulting in a self-sustaining fire or explosion.

    Fast or imbalanced discharging: Fast discharging or an imbalanced discharge of one cell of a multi-cell battery may create an overheating condition that results in an uncontrollable venting condition, which in turn leads to a thermal event or an explosion.

    Flammability: Unlike nickel-cadmium and lead-acid batteries, lithium batteries use higher energy and current in an electrochemical system that can be configured to maximize energy storage of lithium. They also use liquid electrolytes that can be extremely flammable. The electrolyte, as well as the electrodes, can serve as a source of fuel for an external fire if the battery casing is breached.

    Special condition no. 1 of these special conditions requires that each individual cell within a non-rechargeable lithium battery be designed to maintain safe temperatures and pressures. Special condition no. 2 addresses these same issues but for the entire battery. Special condition no. 2 requires the battery be designed to prevent propagation of a thermal event, such as self-sustained, uncontrollable increases in temperature or pressure from one cell to adjacent cells.

    Special conditions nos. 1 and 2 are intended to ensure that the non-rechargeable lithium battery and its cells are designed to eliminate the potential for uncontrollable failures. However, a certain number of failures will occur due to various factors beyond the control of the battery designer. Therefore, other special conditions are intended to protect the airplane and its occupants if failure occurs.

    Special conditions 3, 7, and 8 are self-explanatory.

    Special condition no. 4 makes it clear that the flammable fluid fire protection requirements of § 25.863 apply to non-rechargeable lithium battery installations. Section 25.863 is applicable to areas of the airplane that could be exposed to flammable fluid leakage from airplane systems. Non-rechargeable lithium batteries contain an electrolyte that is a flammable fluid.

    Special condition no. 5 requires that each non-rechargeable lithium battery installation not damage surrounding structure or adjacent systems, equipment, or electrical wiring from corrosive fluids or gases that may escape in such a way as to cause a major or more severe failure condition.

    While special condition no. 5 addresses corrosive fluids and gases, special condition no. 6 addresses heat. Special condition no. 6 requires that each non-rechargeable lithium battery installation have provisions to prevent any hazardous effect on airplane structure or systems caused by the maximum amount of heat the battery installation can generate due to any failure of it or its individual cells. The means of meeting special conditions nos. 5 and 6 may be the same, but the requirements are independent and address different hazards.

    These special conditions apply to all non-rechargeable lithium battery installations in lieu of § 25.1353(b)(1) through (4) at Amendment 25-123. Sections 25.1353(b)(1) through (4) at Amendment 25-123 remain in effect for other battery installations.

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

    Applicability

    These special conditions are applicable to the Dassault Model Falcon 5X airplane. Should Dassault apply at a later date for a change to the type certificate to include another model incorporating the same novel or unusual design feature, these special conditions would apply to that model as well.

    These special conditions are only applicable to design changes applied for after the effective date.

    These special conditions are not applicable to changes to previously certified non-rechargeable lithium battery installations where the only change is either cosmetic or to relocate the installation to improve the safety of the airplane and occupants. Previously certified non-rechargeable lithium battery installations, as used in this paragraph, are those installations approved for certification projects applied for on or before the effective date of these special conditions. A cosmetic change is a change in appearance only, and does not change any function or safety characteristic of the battery installation. These special conditions are also not applicable to unchanged, previously certified non-rechargeable lithium battery installations that are affected by a change in a manner that improves the safety of its installation. The FAA determined that these exclusions are in the public interest because the need to meet all of the special conditions might otherwise deter these design changes that improve safety.

    Conclusion

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

    List of Subjects in 14 CFR Part 25

    Aircraft, Aviation safety, Reporting and record keeping requirements.

    The authority citation for these special conditions is as follows:

    Authority:

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

    The Special Conditions Accordingly, pursuant to the authority delegated to me by the Administrator, the following special conditions are issued as part of the type certification basis for the Dassault Model Falcon 5X airplane. Non-Rechargeable Lithium Battery Installations

    In lieu of § 25.1353(b)(1) through (4) at Amendment 25-123, each non-rechargeable lithium battery installation must:

    1. Be designed to maintain safe cell temperatures and pressures under all foreseeable operating conditions to prevent fire and explosion.

    2. Be designed to prevent the occurrence of self-sustaining, uncontrollable increases in temperature or pressure.

    3. Not emit explosive or toxic gases, either in normal operation or as a result of its failure, that may accumulate in hazardous quantities within the airplane.

    4. Meet the requirements of § 25.863.

    5. Not damage surrounding structure or adjacent systems, equipment, or electrical wiring from corrosive fluids or gases that may escape in such a way as to cause a major or more severe failure condition.

    6. Have provisions to prevent any hazardous effect on airplane structure or systems caused by the maximum amount of heat it can generate due to any failure of it or its individual cells.

    7. Have a failure sensing and warning system to alert the flightcrew if its failure affects safe operation of the airplane.

    8. Have a means for the flightcrew or maintenance personnel to determine the battery charge state if the battery's function is required for safe operation of the airplane.

    Note:

    A battery system consists of the battery and any protective, monitoring, and alerting circuitry or hardware inside or outside of the battery. It also includes vents (where necessary) and packaging. For the purpose of these special conditions, a “battery” and “battery system” are referred to as a battery.

    Issued in Renton, Washington, on January 9, 2018. Victor Wicklund, Manager, Transport Standards Branch, Policy and Innovation Division, Aircraft Certification Service.
    [FR Doc. 2018-00548 Filed 1-12-18; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4910-13-P
    DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION Federal Aviation Administration 14 CFR Part 25 [Docket No. FAA-2017-0482; Special Conditions No. 25-709-SC] Special Conditions: Airbus Model A330-841 and A330-941 New Engine Option (A330neo) Airplanes; Use of High-Incidence Protection and Alpha-Floor Systems AGENCY:

    Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), DOT.

    ACTION:

    Final special conditions; request for comments.

    SUMMARY:

    These special conditions are issued for the Airbus Model A330-841 and A330-941 New Engine Option (A330neo) airplanes. These airplanes will have a novel or unusual design feature when compared to the state of technology envisioned in the airworthiness standards for transport-category airplanes. This design feature is a high-incidence protection system that limits the angle of attack (AOA) at which the airplane can be flown during normal low-speed operations, and that the flightcrew cannot override. The applicable airworthiness regulations do not contain adequate or appropriate safety standards for this design feature. These special conditions contain the additional safety standards that the Administrator considers necessary to establish a level of safety equivalent to that established by the existing airworthiness standards.

    DATES:

    This action is effective on Airbus on January 16, 2018. Send your comments by March 2, 2018.

    ADDRESSES:

    Send comments identified by docket number FAA-2017-0482 using any of the following methods:

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

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

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

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

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

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

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Joe Jacobsen, FAA, Airplane and Flight Crew Interface Section, AIR-671, Transport Standards Branch, Policy and Innovation Division, Aircraft Certification Service, 1601 Lind Avenue SW, Renton, Washington 98057-3356; telephone 425-227-2011; facsimile 425-227-1320.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    These special conditions are derived from special conditions of the same topic for the Airbus Model A380 airplane (Special Conditions No. 25-316-SC). The substance of these special conditions has been published in the Federal Register for public comment in several prior instances. The FAA therefore finds it unnecessary to delay the effective date, and finds that good cause exists for making these special conditions effective upon publication in the Federal Register.

    Comments Invited

    We invite interested people to take part in this rulemaking by sending written comments, data, or views. The most helpful comments reference a specific portion of the special conditions, explain the reason for any recommended change, and include supporting data.

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

    Background

    On January 20, 2015, Airbus applied for an amendment to Type Certificate no. A46NM to include the new Model A330-841 and A330-941 New Engine Option airplanes, collectively marketed as Model A330neo airplanes. These airplanes, which are derivatives of the Model A330-200 and A330-300 airplanes currently approved under Type Certificate No. A46NM, are wide-body, jet-engine airplanes with a maximum takeoff weight of 533,519 pounds, and a passenger capacity of 257 (A330-841); or a maximum takeoff weight of 535,503 pounds, and a passenger capacity of 287 (A330-941).

    Type Certification Basis

    Under the provisions of § 21.101, Airbus must show that the Model A330neo airplanes meet the applicable provisions of the regulations listed in Type Certificate No. A46NM, or the applicable regulations in effect on the date of application for the change except for earlier amendments as agreed upon by the FAA.

    For the high-incidence protection system, Airbus will not meet the latest standards, as outlined in the Airbus Model A350 airplane special conditions (Special Conditions No. 25-517-SC). However, in accordance with § 21.101, Airbus has agreed to meet improved standards relative to the original Airbus Model A330 airplane certification basis corresponding to Airbus Model A380 airplane standards.

    If the Administrator finds that the applicable airworthiness regulations (i.e., title 14, Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) part 25) do not contain adequate or appropriate safety standards for Model A330neo airplanes because of a novel or unusual design feature, special conditions are prescribed under the provisions of § 21.16.

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

    In addition to the applicable airworthiness regulations and special conditions, the Model A330neo airplanes must comply with the fuel-vent and exhaust-emission requirements of 14 CFR part 34 and the noise-certification requirements of 14 CFR part 36.

    The FAA issues special conditions, as defined in 14 CFR 11.19, in accordance with § 11.38, and they become part of the type certification basis under § 21.101.

    Novel or Unusual Design Features

    The Airbus Model A330neo airplanes will incorporate the following novel or unusual design features:

    A high-incidence protection system that limits the angle of attack at which the airplane can be flown during normal low-speed operations, and that the flightcrew cannot override.

    Discussion

    The application of this high-incidence protection system, which limits the airplane's AOA, impacts the longitudinal airplane handling characteristics. In addition, the Alpha-floor function automatically advances the throttles on the operating engines under flight circumstances of low speed if the airplane reaches a predetermined high AOA. This function is intended to provide increased climb capability.

    The high-incidence protection system prevents the airplane from stalling and, therefore, the stall-warning system is not needed during normal flight conditions. If there is a failure of this system that is not shown to be extremely improbable, the flight characteristics at the AOA for lift coefficient CLmax (an airspeed calculated from a variety of factors; see item 1.f. in these special conditions) must be suitable in the traditional sense, and stall warning must be provided in a conventional manner.

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

    Applicability

    As discussed above, these special conditions are applicable to the Airbus Model A330-841 and A330-941 (A330neo) airplanes. Should Airbus apply at a later date for a change to the type certificate to include another model incorporating the same novel or unusual design feature, these special conditions would apply to that model as well.

    Conclusion

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

    List of Subjects in 14 CFR Part 25

    Aircraft, Aviation safety, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements.

    The authority citation for these special conditions is as follows:

    Authority:

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

    The Special Conditions

    Accordingly, pursuant to the authority delegated to me by the Administrator, the following special conditions are issued as part of the type certification basis for Airbus Model A330-841 and A330-941 (A330neo) airplanes.

    1. Definitions: The following definitions apply for terminology that does not appear in 14 CFR part 25:

    a. High-Incidence Protection System: A system that operates directly and automatically on the airplane's flying controls to limit the maximum incidence that can be attained to a value below that at which an aerodynamic stall would occur.

    b. Alpha-Floor System: A system that automatically increases thrust on the operating engines when incidence increases through a particular value.

    c. Alpha limit: The maximum steady incidence at which the airplane stabilizes with the high-incidence protection system operating and the longitudinal control held on its aft stop.

    d. Vmin: The minimum steady flight speed, for the airplane configuration under consideration and with the high-incidence protection system operating, is the final, stabilized, calibrated airspeed obtained when the airplane is decelerated at an entry rate not exceeding 1 knot per second until the longitudinal pilot controller is on its stop.

    e. Vmin1g: Vmin corrected to 1g conditions. It is the minimum calibrated airspeed at which the airplane can develop a lift force normal to the flight path and equal to its weight when at an AOA not greater than that determined for Vmin.

    f. VCLmax: An airspeed calculated from a variety of factors including load factor normal to the flight path at VCLmax, airplane gross weight, aerodynamic reference wing area, and dynamic pressure.

    2. Capability and Reliability of the High-Incidence Protection System: These special conditions are in lieu of 14 CFR 25.103, 25.145, 25.201, 25.203, 25.207, and 25.1323, provided that acceptable capability and reliability of the high-incidence protection system can be established by flight test, simulation, and analysis as appropriate. The capability and reliability required are as follows:

    a. It must not be possible during pilot-induced maneuvers to encounter a stall, and handling characteristics must be acceptable, as required by condition 5 of these special conditions.

    b. The airplane must be protected against stalling due to the effects of wind shears and gusts at low speeds, as required by condition 6 of these special conditions.

    c. The ability of the high-incidence protection system to accommodate any reduction in stalling incidence resulting from residual ice must be verified.

    d. The reliability of the system and the effects of failures must be acceptable in accordance with § 25.1309 and the associated policy.

    3. Minimum Steady Flight Speed and Reference Stall Speed: In lieu of § 25.103, the following requirements apply:

    a. Vmin: The minimum steady flight speed, for the airplane configuration under consideration and with the high-incidence protection system operating, is the final, stabilized, calibrated airspeed obtained when the airplane is decelerated at an entry rate not exceeding 1 knot per second until the longitudinal control is on its stop.

    b. The minimum steady flight speed, Vmin, must be determined with:

    i. The high-incidence protection system operating normally.

    ii. Idle thrust.

    iii. Alpha-Floor System inhibited.

    iv. All combinations of flap settings and landing gear positions.

    v. The weight used when VSR is being used as a factor to determine compliance with a required performance standard.

    vi. The most unfavorable center of gravity (CG) allowable, and

    vii. The airplane trimmed for straight flight at a speed achievable by the automatic trim system.

    c. Vmin1g: Vmin corrected to 1g conditions. It is the minimum calibrated airspeed at which the airplane can develop a lift force normal to the flight path and equal to the weight of the airplane when at an AOA not greater than that determined for Vmin. Vmin1g is defined as follows:

    ER16JA18.000 Where nzw = load factor normal to the flight path at Vmin

    d. The Reference Stall Speed, VSR, is a calibrated airspeed defined by the applicant. VSR may not be less than a 1g stall speed. VSR is expressed as:

    ER16JA18.001 Where VCLmax = Calibrated airspeed obtained when the load-factor-corrected lift coefficient ER16JA18.002 is first a maximum during the maneuver prescribed in condition (3)(e)(viii) of these special conditions. nzw = Load factor normal to the flight path at VCLmax W = Airplane gross weight; S = Aerodynamic reference wing area; and q = Dynamic pressure. Note:

    Unless AOA protection-system (stall warning and stall identification) production tolerances are acceptably small, so as to produce insignificant changes in performance determinations, the flight-test settings for stall warning and stall identification should be set at the low AOA tolerance limit; high AOA tolerance limits should be used for characteristics evaluations.

    e. VCLmax must be determined with the following conditions:

    i. Engines idling, or, if that resultant thrust causes an appreciable decrease in stall speed, not more than zero thrust at the stall speed.

    ii. The airplane in other respects (such as flaps and landing gear) in the condition existing in the test or performance standard in which VSR is being used.

    iii. The weight used when VSR is being used as a factor to determine compliance with a required performance standard.

    iv. The CG position that results in the highest value of reference stall speed.

    v. The airplane trimmed for straight flight at a speed achievable by the automatic trim system, but not less than 1.13 VSR and not greater than 1.3 VSR.

    vi. The Alpha-Floor System inhibited.

    vii. The high-incidence protection system adjusted to a high enough incidence to allow full development of the 1g stall.

    viii. Starting from the stabilized trim condition, apply the longitudinal control to decelerate the airplane so that the speed reduction does not exceed one knot per second.

    f. The flight characteristics at the AOA for CLmax must be suitable in the traditional sense at forward (FWD) and aft (AFT) CG in straight and turning flight at IDLE power. Although for a normal production Electronic Flight Control System (EFCS) and steady full aft stick, this AOA for CLmax cannot be achieved. The AOA can be obtained momentarily under dynamic circumstances, and deliberately in a steady-state sense, with some EFCS failure conditions.

    4. Stall Warning:

    In lieu of § 25.207, the following requirements apply:

    a. Normal Operation: If the items in condition 2, above, are satisfied, equivalent safety to the intent of § 25.207, Stall Warning, must be considered to have been met without provision of an additional, unique warning device.

    b. Failure Cases: Following failures of the high-incidence protection system not shown to be extremely improbable, if the system no longer satisfies items in conditions 2. a., b., and c., stall warning must be provided in accordance with § 25.207. The stall warning should prevent inadvertent stall in the following conditions:

    i. Power off straight stall approaches to a speed 5 percent below the warning onset.

    ii. Turning-flight stall approaches at entry rates up to 3 knots per second when recovery is initiated not less than 1 second after the warning onset.

    5. Handling Characteristics at High Incidence:

    a. High-Incidence Handling Demonstrations: In lieu of § 25.201, the following requirements apply:

    i. Maneuvers to the limit of the longitudinal control, in the nose-up direction, must be demonstrated in straight flight and in 30-degree banked turns with:

    1. The high-incidence protection system operating normally.

    2. Initial power condition of:

    a. Power off

    b. The power necessary to maintain level flight at 1.5 VSR1, where VSR1 is the reference stall speed with the flaps in the approach position, the landing gear retracted, and the maximum landing weight. The flap position to be used in determining this power setting is that position in which the stall speed, VSR1, does not exceed 110 percent of the stall speed, VSR0, with the flaps in the most extended landing position.

    3. Alpha-Floor System operating normally, unless more severe conditions are achieved with Alpha floor inhibited.

    4. Flaps, landing gear, and deceleration devices in any likely combination of positions.

    5. Representative weights within the range for which certification is requested, and

    6. The airplane trimmed for straight flight at a speed achievable by the automatic trim system.

    b. The following procedures must be used to show compliance with these special conditions:

    i. Starting at a speed sufficiently above the minimum steady flight speed to ensure that a steady rate of speed reduction can be established, apply the longitudinal control so that the speed reduction does not exceed 1 knot per second until the control reaches the stop.

    ii. The longitudinal control must be maintained at its stop until the airplane has reached a stabilized flight condition, and must then be recovered by normal recovery techniques.

    iii. The requirements for turning-flight maneuver demonstrations must also be met with accelerated rates of entry to the incidence limit, up to the maximum rate achievable.

    c. Characteristics in High Incidence Maneuvers: In lieu of § 25.203, the following requirements apply:

    i. Throughout maneuvers with a rate of deceleration of not more than 1 knot per second, both in straight flight and in 30-degree banked turns, the airplane's characteristics must be as follows:

    1. There must not be any abnormal airplane nose-up pitching.

    2. There must not be any uncommanded nose-down pitching, which would be indicative of stall. However, reasonable attitude changes associated with stabilizing the incidence at Alpha limit, as the longitudinal control reaches its stop, would be acceptable. Any reduction of pitch attitude associated with stabilizing the incidence at the Alpha limit should be achieved smoothly and at a low pitch rate, such that it is not likely to be mistaken for natural-stall identification.

    3. There must not be any uncommanded lateral or directional motion, and the pilot must retain good lateral and directional control by conventional use of the cockpit controllers throughout the maneuver.

    4. The airplane must not exhibit buffeting of a magnitude and severity that would act as a deterrent to completing the maneuver specified in § 25.201(a), as amended by this special condition.

    ii. In maneuvers with increased rates of deceleration, some degradation of characteristics, associated with a transient excursion beyond the stabilized Alpha limit, is acceptable. However, the airplane must not exhibit dangerous characteristics or characteristics that would deter the pilot from holding the longitudinal controller on its stop for a period of time appropriate to the maneuvers.

    iii. It must always be possible to reduce incidence by conventional use of the controller.

    iv. The rate at which the airplane can be maneuvered from trim speeds associated with scheduled operating speeds such as V2 and VREF up to Alpha limit, must not be unduly damped or significantly slower than can be achieved on conventionally controlled transport airplanes.

    6. Atmospheric Disturbances: Operation of the high-incidence protection system must not adversely affect airplane control during expected levels of atmospheric disturbances, nor impede the application of recovery procedures in case of wind shear. This must be demonstrated in non-icing and icing conditions.

    7. Alpha Floor: The Alpha-floor setting must be such that the airplane can be flown at normal landing operational speed, and maneuvered up to bank angles consistent with the flight phase (including the maneuver capabilities specified in § 25.143(g)), without triggering Alpha floor. In addition, there must be no Alpha-floor triggering unless appropriate when the airplane is flown in usual operational maneuvers and in turbulence.

    8. Proof of Compliance: Change § 25.21 as follows:

    Section 25.21(b)—The flying qualities must be evaluated at the most unfavorable CG position.

    9. For §§ 25.145(a), 25.145(a), and 25.145(b)(6), the following requirements apply:

    a. Section 25.145(a)—It must be possible, at any point between the trim speed prescribed in § 25.103(b)(7) as amended by this special condition and Vmin, to pitch the nose downward so that the acceleration to this selected trim speed is prompt with—

    b. Section 25.145(a)(1)—The airplane trimmed at the trim speed prescribed in § 25.103(b)(7) as amended by this special condition.

    c. Section 25.145(b)(6)—With power off, flaps extended and the airplane trimmed at 1.3 VSR1, obtain and maintain airspeeds between Vmin and either 1.6VSR1 or VFE, whichever is lower.

    10. In lieu of § 25.1323(d), the following requirement applies:

    (d) From 1.23 VSR to Vmin, the IAS must change perceptibly with CAS and in the same sense, and at speeds below Vmin speed the IAS must not change in an incorrect sense.

    Issued in Renton, Washington, on January 9, 2018. Victor Wicklund, Manager, Transport Standards Branch, Policy and Innovation Division, Aircraft Certification Service.
    [FR Doc. 2018-00546 Filed 1-12-18; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4910-13-P
    DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION Federal Aviation Administration 14 CFR Part 25 [Docket No. FAA-2015-4279; Special Conditions No. 25-612-SC] Special Conditions: Gulfstream Aerospace Corporation, Gulfstream GVI Airplane; Non-Rechargeable Lithium Battery Installations AGENCY:

    Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), DOT.

    ACTION:

    Final special conditions; correction.

    SUMMARY:

    This document corrects errors that appeared in Docket No. FAA-2015-4279, Special Conditions No. 25-612-SC, which was published in the Federal Register on April 22, 2016. The errors are incorrect title 14, Code of Federal Regulations section citations in two locations in the final special conditions document.

    DATES:

    The effective date of this correction is January 16, 2018.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Nazih Khaouly, Airplane and Flight Crew Interface Section, AIR-671, Transport Standards Branch, Policy and Innovation Division, Aircraft Certification Service, 1601 Lind Avenue SW, Renton, Washington 98057-3356; telephone 425-227-2432; facsimile 425-227-1149.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Background

    On April 22, 2016, the Federal Register published a document designated as Docket No. FAA-2015-4279, Final Special Conditions No. 25-612-SC (81 FR 23573). The document issued special conditions pertaining to the installation of non-rechargeable lithium batteries in Gulfstream GVI airplanes. As published, the document contained an error in a title 14, Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) section citation in two locations in the final special conditions document. These citations inadvertently referred to the wrong amendment level for the certification basis of the various Gulfstream GVI airplanes. Therefore, we have corrected these special conditions to include the correct citations and amendment levels that apply to certification bases applicable to airplanes with non-rechargeable lithium-ion battery installations.

    Correction

    In the final special conditions document (FR Doc. 2016-09311 Filed 4-21-16; 8:45 a.m.), published on April 22, 2016 (81 FR 23573), make the following corrections.

    1. On page 23574, second column, change the following paragraph:

    These special conditions apply to all non-rechargeable lithium battery installations in lieu of § 25.1353(b)(1) through (b)(4) at Amendment 25-113. Sections 25.1353(b)(1) through (b)(4) at Amendment 25-113 remain in effect for other battery installations.

    To read:

    These special conditions apply to all non-rechargeable lithium battery installations in lieu of §  25.1353(b)(1) through (4) at Amendment 25-123 or §  25.1353(c)(1) through (4) at earlier amendments. Those regulations remain in effect for other battery installations.

    2. On page 23577, third column, change the following paragraph:

    In lieu of § 25.1353(b)(1) through (b)(4) at Amendment 25-113, each non-rechargeable lithium battery installation must:

    To read:

    In lieu of §  25.1353(b)(1) through (4) at Amendment 25-123, or §  25.1353(c)(1) through (4) at earlier amendments, each non-rechargeable lithium battery installation must:

    Issued in Renton, Washington, on January 9, 2018. Victor Wicklund, Manager, Transport Standards Branch, Policy and Innovation Division, Aircraft Certification Service.
    [FR Doc. 2018-00547 Filed 1-12-18; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4910-13-P
    DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION Federal Aviation Administration 14 CFR Part 39 [Docket No. FAA-2017-0826; Product Identifier 2016-SW-084-AD; Amendment 39-19153; AD 2018-01-12] RIN 2120-AA64 Airworthiness Directives; Airbus Helicopters AGENCY:

    Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), DOT.

    ACTION:

    Final rule.

    SUMMARY:

    We are superseding Airworthiness Directive (AD) 2015-22-53 for Airbus Helicopters Model AS350B3 helicopters. AD 2015-22-53 required revising the rotorcraft flight manual (RFM) to perform the yaw load compensator check after rotor shut-down and to state that the yaw servo hydraulic switch must be in the “ON” position before taking off. Since we issued AD 2015-22-53, Airbus Helicopters developed a modification of the ACCU TST switch. This new AD retains the requirements of AD 2015-22-53 and requires modifying the yaw servo hydraulic switch (collective switch) and replacing the ACCU TST button. The actions of this AD are intended to address an unsafe condition on these products.

    DATES:

    This AD is effective February 20, 2018.

    The Director of the Federal Register approved the incorporation by reference of certain publications listed in this AD as of February 20, 2018.

    ADDRESSES:

    For Airbus Helicopters service information identified in this final rule, contact Airbus Helicopters, 2701 N. Forum Drive, Grand Prairie, TX 75052; telephone (972) 641-0000 or (800) 232-0323; fax (972) 641-3775; or at http://www.helicopters.airbus.com/website/en/ref/Technical-Support_73.html. You may view this referenced service information at the FAA, Office of the Regional Counsel, Southwest Region, 10101 Hillwood Pkwy., Room 6N-321, Fort Worth, TX 76177. It is also available on the internet at http://www.regulations.gov by searching for and locating Docket No. FAA-2017-0826.

    Examining the AD Docket

    You may examine the AD docket on the internet at http://www.regulations.gov in Docket No. FAA-2017-0826; or in person at the Docket Management Facility between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays. The AD docket contains this AD, the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) AD, any incorporated-by-reference information, the economic evaluation, any comments received, and other information. The address for the Docket Office (phone: 800-647-5527) is Document Management Facility, U.S. Department of Transportation, Docket Operations, M-30, West Building Ground Floor, Room W12-140, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE, Washington, DC 20590.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    George Schwab, Aviation Safety Engineer, Safety Management Section, Rotorcraft Standards Branch, FAA, 10101 Hillwood Pkwy., Fort Worth, TX 76177; telephone (817) 222-5110; email [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Discussion

    We issued a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) to amend 14 CFR part 39 to remove AD 2015-22-53, Amendment 39-18331 (80 FR 74982, December 1, 2015) and add a new AD. AD 2015-22-53 applied to Airbus Helicopters Model AS350B3 helicopters with a dual hydraulic system installed. AD 2015-22-53 required revising the pre-flight and post-flight procedures in the RFM to perform the yaw load compensator check (ACCU TST switch) after rotor shut-down instead of during preflight procedures and to state that the yaw servo hydraulic switch (collective switch) must be in the “ON” (forward) position before taking off.

    The NPRM published in the Federal Register on September 8, 2017 (82 FR 42487). The NPRM was prompted by AD No. 2016-0220, dated November 4, 2016, issued by EASA, which is the Technical Agent for the Member States of the European Union, to correct an unsafe condition for Airbus Helicopters Model AS 350 B3 helicopters. EASA advises that further analysis resulted in the recognition that a pilot could forget to activate a switch despite the RFM changes and that altering the bistable push button (push-on, push-off) ACCU TST switch is necessary.

    Accordingly, the NPRM proposed to retain the requirements of AD 2015-22-53 and also proposed to require, within 350 hours time-in-service, installing a timer relay for the yaw servo hydraulic switch, installing an additional light on the caution and warning panel, and replacing the bistable ACCU TST button with a monostable button. The proposed requirements were intended to prevent takeoff without hydraulic pressure in the tail rotor (T/R) hydraulic system, loss of T/R flight control, and subsequent loss of control of the helicopter.

    Comments

    After our NPRM was published, we received comments from two commenters.

    Requests

    The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) requested that the AD address the need for an alert when there is insufficient pressure in the T/R hydraulic system, which results in increased pedal loads. In support of this request, the NTSB stated that, for at least four events it investigated in which the yaw servo hydraulic switch was likely not returned to its correct position before takeoff, a salient alert could have cued the pilots of insufficient T/R hydraulic pressure.

    We partially agree. We agree that an aural and visual alert to the pilot to indicate loss of T/R hydraulic pressure would address this unsafe condition. However, Airbus Helicopters has not developed an alteration that provides such an alert. The FAA has determined the requirements proposed by the NPRM are appropriate to address this unsafe condition at this time. Should an aural and visual alert to the pilot to indicate loss of T/R hydraulic pressure be developed and approved, we might consider additional rulemaking at that time. We did not change the AD based on this comment.

    The NTSB also requested that we eliminate the requirement to move the yaw load compensator check (ACCU TST switch) to post-flight procedures instead of preflight procedures. In support of this request, the NTSB stated that performing this check post-flight does not ensure the yaw load compensator will remain functional for the next flight.

    We disagree. We determined that requiring this check post-flight with the RFM procedure to have the yaw servo hydraulic switch in the “ON” position before takeoff, along with the alterations to the yaw servo hydraulic switch and replacement of the ACCU TST button, reduces the risk of takeoff with the switch in the incorrect position to an acceptable level. We did not change the AD based on this comment.

    Eagle Copters requested we change the AD to address helicopters that have replaced the factory console with a Geneva Aviation P122 or P132 electrical console under Eagle Copters USA, Inc. Supplemental Type Certificate No. SH4747NM. In support of this request, Eagle Copters noted that operators of these helicopters will need to request an Alternative Method of Compliance to comply with the AD, because the Airbus Helicopters service information required for replacing the bistable ACCU TST button does not apply to these helicopters. Eagle Copters proposed adding a requirement to the AD to replace the HYD TEST/ACCU TEST ESN-11 switch on the console from the locking bistable toggle switch to a locking momentary (monostable) toggle switch part number (P/N) MS24658-16F.

    We agree. We revised the AD to require helicopters with a P122 or P132 electrical console installed to replace the bistable ACCU TEST switch (which may be marked “HYD TEST”) with monostable toggle switch P/N MS24658-16F.

    FAA's Determination

    We have reviewed the relevant information and determined that an unsafe condition exists and is likely to exist or develop on other helicopters of the same type design and that air safety and the public interest require adopting the AD requirements as proposed with the change previously described. This change is consistent with the intent of the proposals in the NPRM and will not increase the economic burden on any operator nor increase the scope of the AD.

    Related Service Information Under 1 CFR Part 51

    We reviewed Airbus Helicopters Service Bulletin (SB) No. AS350-67.00.64, Revision 0, dated February 25, 2015. This service information specifies procedures to install a timer relay and an additional indicator light on the caution and warning panel. This modification provides an “OFF” status indication of the yaw servo hydraulic switch by flashing a newly installed “HYD2” indicator light on the caution and warning panel. Airbus Helicopters identifies performance of this SB as modification 074622. This modification was available when AD 2015-22-53 was issued; however, it was determined unnecessary to address the unsafe condition at that time.

    We also reviewed Airbus Helicopters SB No. AS350-67.00.65, Revision 0, dated August 25, 2016. This service information specifies procedures to replace the bistable push button ACCU TST switch with a monostable push button switch. Airbus Helicopters identifies performance of this SB as modification 074719.

    This service information is reasonably available because the interested parties have access to it through their normal course of business or by the means identified in the ADDRESSES section.

    Other Related Service Information

    We reviewed Airbus Helicopters SB No. AS350-67.00.66, Revision 1, dated October 22, 2015. This service information specifies inserting specific pages of the SB into the rotorcraft flight manual. These pages revise the preflight and post-flight hydraulic checks by moving the T/R yaw load compensator check from preflight to post-flight. These pages also revise terminology within the flight manuals for the different engine configurations.

    Costs of Compliance

    We estimate that this AD affects 86 helicopters of U.S. Registry. We estimate that operators may incur the following costs in order to comply with this AD. Labor costs are estimated at $85 per work-hour.

    Revising an RFM would take about 0.5 work-hour for a cost of $43 per helicopter and $3,698 for the U.S. fleet. Installing a timer relay for the yaw servo hydraulic switch and an indicator light would take about 9 work-hours and parts would cost about $2,224. Replacing the ACCU TST button would take about 1 work-hour and parts would cost about $2,244.

    Based on these figures, we estimate a total cost of $5,361 per helicopter and $461,046 for the U.S. fleet.

    Authority for This Rulemaking

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

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

    Regulatory Findings

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

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

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

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

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

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

    List of Subjects in 14 CFR Part 39

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

    Adoption of the Amendment

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

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

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

    § 39.13 [Amended]
    2. The FAA amends § 39.13 by removing Airworthiness Directive (AD) 2015-22-53, Amendment 39-18331 (80 FR 74982, December 1, 2015), and adding the following new AD: 2018-01-12 Airbus Helicopters: Amendment 39-19153; Docket No. FAA-2017-0826; Product Identifier 2016-SW-084-AD. (a) Applicability

    This AD applies to Model AS350B3 helicopters with a dual hydraulic system installed, certificated in any category.

    Note 1 to paragraph (a) of this AD: The dual hydraulic system for Model AS350B3 helicopters is referred to as Airbus modification OP 3082 or OP 3346.

    (b) Unsafe Condition

    This AD defines the unsafe condition as lack of hydraulic pressure in a tail rotor(T/R) hydraulic system. This condition could result in loss of T/R flight control and subsequent loss of control of the helicopter.

    (c) Affected ADs

    This AD supersedes AD 2015-22-53, Amendment 39-18331 (80 FR 74982, December 1, 2015).

    (d) Effective Date

    This AD becomes effective February 20, 2018.

    (e) Compliance

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

    (f) Required Actions

    (1) Before further flight, insert a copy of this AD into the rotorcraft flight manual, Section 4 Normal Operating Procedures, or make pen and ink changes to the preflight and post-flight procedures as follows:

    (i) Stop performing the yaw load compensator check (ACCU TST switch) during preflight procedures, and instead perform the yaw load compensator check during post-flight procedures after rotor shut-down.

    (ii) The yaw servo hydraulic switch (collective switch) must be in the “ON” (forward) position before takeoff.

    Note 2 to paragraph (f)(1)(ii) of this AD: The yaw servo hydraulic switch is also called the hydraulic pressure switch or hydraulic cut off switch in various Airbus Helicopters rotorcraft flight manuals.

    (2) Within 350 hours time-in-service:

    (i) Install a timer relay for the yaw servo hydraulic switch (collective switch) by following the Accomplishment Instructions, paragraph 3.B.2.b.1, 3.B.2.b.2, 3.B.2.b.3, 3.B.2.b.4, 3.B.2.b.5, or 3.B.2.b.6, as applicable to the configuration of your helicopter, of Airbus Helicopters Service Bulletin (SB) No. AS350-67.00.64, Revision 0, dated February 25, 2015 (AS350-67.00.64). If your helicopter has an automatic pilot system, also comply with paragraph 3.B.2.b.7 of AS350-67.00.64.

    (ii) Install an indicator light on the caution and warning panel by following the Accomplishment Instructions, paragraph 3.B.2.c.1 or 3.B.2.c.2, as applicable to the configuration of your helicopter, of AS350-67.00.64.

    (iii) For helicopters with a Geneva Aviation P122 or P132 electrical console installed, replace the ESN-11 HYD TEST (ACCU TST) switch with a monostable toggle switch part number MS24658-16F.

    (iv) For helicopters without a Geneva Aviation P122 or P132 electrical console installed, replace the bistable ACCU TST button on the control panel with a monostable button as depicted in Figure 1 or Figure 3, as applicable to the configuration of your helicopter, of Airbus Helicopters SB No. AS350-67.00.65, Revision 0, dated August 25, 2016.

    (3) After the effective date of this AD, do not install a bistable ACCU TST button on any helicopter.

    (g) Special Flight Permits

    A special flight permit may be issued for paragraph (f)(2) of this AD only.

    (h) Alternative Methods of Compliance (AMOCs)

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

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

    (i) Additional Information

    (1) Airbus Helicopters SB No. AS350-67.00.66, Revision 1, dated October 22, 2015, which is not incorporated by reference, contains additional information about the subject of this AD. For service information identified in this AD, contact Airbus Helicopters, 2701 N. Forum Drive, Grand Prairie, TX 75052; telephone (972) 641-0000 or (800) 232-0323; fax (972) 641-3775; or at http://www.helicopters.airbus.com/website/en/ref/Technical-Support_73.html. You may view a copy of the service information at the FAA, Office of the Regional Counsel, Southwest Region, 10101 Hillwood Pkwy, Room 6N-321, Fort Worth, TX 76177.

    (2) The subject of this AD is addressed in European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) AD No. 2016-0220, dated November 4, 2016. You may view the EASA AD on the internet at http://www.regulations.gov in Docket No. FAA-2017-0826.

    (j) Subject

    Joint Aircraft Service Component (JASC) Code: 2910, Main Hydraulic System.

    (k) Material Incorporated by Reference

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

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

    (i) Airbus Helicopters Service Bulletin No. AS350-67.00.64, Revision 0, dated February 25, 2015.

    (ii) Airbus Helicopters Service Bulletin No. AS350-67.00.65, Revision 0, dated August 25, 2016.

    (3) For Airbus Helicopters service information identified in this AD, contact Airbus Helicopters, 2701 N. Forum Drive, Grand Prairie, TX 75052; telephone (972) 641-0000 or (800) 232-0323; fax (972) 641-3775; or at http://www.helicopters.airbus.com/website/en/ref/Technical-Support_73.html.

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

    (5) You may view this service information that is incorporated by reference at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). For information on the availability of this material at NARA, call (202) 741-6030, or go to: http://www.archives.gov/federal-register/cfr/ibr-locations.html.

    Issued in Fort Worth, Texas, on January 8, 2018. Lance T. Gant, Director, Compliance & Airworthiness Division, Aircraft Certification Service.
    [FR Doc. 2018-00478 Filed 1-12-18; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4910-13-P
    DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION Federal Aviation Administration 14 CFR Part 39 [Docket No. FAA-2017-0514; Product Identifier 2016-NM-206-AD; Amendment 39-19148; AD 2018-01-07] RIN 2120-AA64 Airworthiness Directives; Airbus Airplanes AGENCY:

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

    ACTION:

    Final rule.

    SUMMARY:

    We are adopting a new airworthiness directive (AD) for all Airbus Model A300 B4-600, B4-600R, and F4-600R series airplanes, and Model A300 C4-605R Variant F airplanes (collectively called Model A300-600 series airplanes) airplanes. This AD was prompted by a revision of certain airworthiness limitation item (ALI) documents, which require more restrictive maintenance requirements and airworthiness limitations. This AD requires revising the maintenance or inspection program, as applicable, to incorporate new maintenance requirements and airworthiness limitations. We are issuing this AD to address the unsafe condition on these products.

    DATES:

    This AD is effective February 20, 2018.

    The Director of the Federal Register approved the incorporation by reference of certain publications listed in this AD as of February 20, 2018.

    ADDRESSES:

    For service information identified in this final rule, contact Airbus SAS, Airworthiness Office—EAW, 1 Rond Point Maurice Bellonte, 31707 Blagnac Cedex, France; telephone +33 5 61 93 36 96; fax +33 5 61 93 44 51; email [email protected]; internet http://www.airbus.com. You may view this referenced service information at the FAA, Transport Standards Branch, 1601 Lind Avenue SW, Renton, WA. For information on the availability of this material at the FAA, call 425-227-1221. It is also available on the internet at http://www.regulations.gov by searching for and locating Docket No. FAA-2017-0514.

    Examining the AD Docket

    You may examine the AD docket on the internet at http://www.regulations.gov by searching for and locating Docket No. FAA-2017-0514; or in person at the Docket Management Facility between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays. The AD docket contains this AD, the regulatory evaluation, any comments received, and other information. The street address for the Docket Office (telephone 800-647-5527) is Docket Management Facility, U.S. Department of Transportation, Docket Operations, M-30, West Building Ground Floor, Room W12-140, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE, Washington, DC 20590.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Dan Rodina, Aerospace Engineer, International Section, Transport Standards Branch, FAA, 1601 Lind Avenue SW, Renton, WA 98057-3356; telephone 425-227-2125; fax 425-227-1149.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Discussion

    We issued a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) to amend 14 CFR part 39 by adding an AD that would apply to all Airbus Model A300 B4-600, B4-600R, and F4-600R series airplanes, and Model A300 C4-605R Variant F airplanes (collectively called Model A300-600 series airplanes). The NPRM published in the Federal Register on June 2, 2017 (82 FR 25552) (“the NPRM”).

    The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), which is the Technical Agent for the Member States of the European Union, has issued EASA AD 2016-0218, dated November 2, 2016 (referred to after this as the Mandatory Continuing Airworthiness Information, or “the MCAI”), to correct an unsafe condition for all Airbus Model A300 B4-600, B4-600R, and F4-600R series airplanes, and Model A300 C4-605R Variant F airplanes (collectively called Model A300-600 series airplanes). The MCAI states:

    The airworthiness limitations for Airbus A300-600 aeroplanes, which are approved by EASA, are currently defined and published in the Airbus A300-600 Airworthiness Limitations Section (ALS) document(s). These instructions have been identified as mandatory actions for continued airworthiness.

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

    EASA previously issued [EASA] AD 2014-0124 (later revised) [which includes actions for Airbus A300-600 airplanes; those actions are included in FAA AD 2013-13-13, Amendment 39-17501 (79 FR 48957, August 19, 2014) (“AD 2013-13-13”)], requiring the actions described in Airbus A300-600 Airworthiness Limitation Item (ALI) Document at issue 13 and Temporary Revision (TR) 13.1.

    Since EASA AD 2014-0124R1 was issued, Airbus replaced A300-600 ALI Document issue 13, with A300-600 ALS Part 2 Revision 01 and then published the A300-600 ALS Part 2 Variation 1.1 and Variation 1.2, to introduce more restrictive maintenance requirements and/or airworthiness limitations.

    A300-600 ALS Part 2 Variation 1.1 also includes ALI 571067 and ALI 571068, superseding Service Bulletin A300-53-6154, which is referenced in EASA AD 2006-0257 [which corresponds to FAA AD 2007-22-05, Amendment 39-15241 (72 FR 60236, October 24, 2007) (“AD 2007-22-05”)].

    For the reasons described above, this [EASA] AD retains part of the requirements of EASA AD 2014-0124R1, which will be superseded, and requires accomplishment of the actions specified in Airbus A300-600 ALS Part 2 Revision 01, and ALS Part 2 Variation 1.1 and ALS Part 2 Variation 1.2 (hereafter collectively referred to as `the ALS' in this [EASA] AD), and supersedes EASA AD 2006-0257. The remaining requirements of EASA AD 2014-0124R1 are retained in AD 2016-0217, applicable to A310 aeroplanes, published at the same time as this [EASA] AD.

    You may examine the MCAI in the AD docket on the internet at http://www.regulations.gov by searching for and locating Docket No. FAA-2017-0514.

    Comments

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

    Request To Provide an Additional Compliance Time Grace Period

    United Parcel Service (UPS) requested that the compliance time specified in paragraph (g) of the NPRM be revised to add an additional grace period. UPS pointed out that there are several new or revised tasks with relatively low compliance time thresholds that would lead to short lead times on accomplishing those tasks after the effective date of the AD. UPS referenced the compliance time required in AD 2013-13-13 as an example of the type of grace period it envisions, which specifies that a compliance time, in flight cycles (FC), that is after the publication date of the applicable service information should be considered as after the effective date of that AD. UPS suggested that where the compliance time in Airbus A300-600 Airworthiness Limitations Section (ALS), Part 2, “Damage Tolerant Airworthiness Limitation Items (DT—ALI),” Revision 01, dated August 7, 2015, specifies “within 2000 FC from Jun 11/15,” the proposed AD should specify that phrase as “within 2000 FC from the effective date of this AD.” UPS anticipated submitting a request for an alternative method of compliance (AMOC) if the additional grace period is not added.

    We do not agree with the commenter's request to add an additional grace period. We have reviewed the compliance times specified in the service information and have determined that the compliance times specified and grace periods provided in both the service information and in paragraph (g) of this AD are sufficient to allow compliance. However, under the provisions of paragraph (j)(1) of this AD, we will also consider requests for approval of an extension of the compliance time if sufficient data are submitted to substantiate that the new compliance time would provide an acceptable level of safety. We have not changed the AD in this regard.

    Request To Allow AMOCs Previously Approved for AD 2013-13-13

    FedEx requested that AMOCs for AD 2013-13-13 be applicable to this AD. No further justification was provided.

    We agree to allow AMOCs that were previously approved for AD 2013-13-13 as AMOCs for this AD. We have revised paragraph (j)(1) of this AD and added paragraphs (j)(1)(i) and (j)(1)(ii) to this AD to add that provision.

    Request To Revise Cost Estimate

    FedEx requested that the cost information be revised to include the costs of additional actions such as AD tracking and planning, changing work cards and the maintenance program, getting local FAA approvals, and aircraft down time. FedEx proposed that the cost for U.S. operators would exceed $500,000.

    We agree to revise the cost information. Based on the information provided by FedEx, we have revised the estimated work-hours from 1 work-hour to 90 work-hours. We recognize that revising the maintenance or inspection program to incorporate changes in multiple tasks or a new revision level of a section of an ALS document would take more time than a change in a single task. The cost analysis in AD rulemaking actions, however, typically does not include incidental costs such as the time necessary for planning or time necessitated by other administrative actions. Those incidental costs, which might vary significantly among operators, are almost impossible to calculate.

    Conclusion

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

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

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

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

    Related Service Information Under 1 CFR Part 51

    We reviewed the following service information:

    • Airbus A300-600 Airworthiness Limitations Section (ALS), Part 2, “Damage Tolerant Airworthiness Limitation Items (DT—ALI),” Revision 01, dated August 7, 2015.

    • Airbus A300-600 Airworthiness Limitations Section (ALS), Part 2, “Damage Tolerant Airworthiness Limitation Items (DT—ALI),” Variation 1.1, dated January 25, 2016.

    • Airbus A300-600 Airworthiness Limitations Section (ALS), Part 2, “Damage Tolerant Airworthiness Limitation Items (DT—ALI),” Variation 1.2, dated July 22, 2016.

    The service information describes airworthiness limitations applicable to the DT ALIs. These documents are distinct because they contain unique tasks. This service information is reasonably available because the interested parties have access to it through their normal course of business or by the means identified in the ADDRESSES section.

    Costs of Compliance

    We estimate that this AD affects 128 airplanes of U.S. registry.

    We estimate the following costs to comply with this AD:

    Estimated Costs Action Labor cost Parts cost Cost per
  • product
  • Cost on
  • U.S. operators
  • Maintenance program revision 90 work-hours × $85 per hour = $7,650 None $7,650 $979,200
    Authority for This Rulemaking

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

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

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

    Regulatory Findings

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

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

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

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

    3. Will not affect intrastate aviation in Alaska; and

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

    List of Subjects in 14 CFR Part 39

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

    Adoption of the Amendment

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

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

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

    § 39.13 [Amended]
    2. The FAA amends § 39.13 by adding the following new airworthiness directive (AD): 2018-01-07 Airbus: Amendment 39-19148; Docket No. FAA-2017-0514; Product Identifier 2016-NM-206-AD. (a) Effective Date

    This AD is effective February 20, 2018.

    (b) Affected ADs

    This AD affects AD 2007-22-05, Amendment 39-15241 (72 FR 60236, October 24, 2007) (“AD 2007-22-05”) and AD 2013-13-13, Amendment 39-17501 (79 FR 48957, August 19, 2014) (“AD 2013-13-13”).

    (c) Applicability

    This AD applies to all Airbus Model A300 B4-601, B4-603, B4-620, B4-622, B4-605R, B4-622R, F4-605R, F4-622R, and C4-605R Variant F airplanes, certificated in any category, all manufacturer serial numbers.

    (d) Subject

    Air Transport Association (ATA) of America Code 05, Time limits/maintenance checks.

    (e) Reason

    This AD was prompted by a revision of certain airworthiness limitation item (ALI) documents, which require more restrictive maintenance requirements and airworthiness limitations. We are issuing this AD to prevent fatigue cracking, damage, or corrosion in principal structural elements, which could result in reduced structural integrity of the airplane.

    (f) Compliance

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

    (g) Revision of Maintenance or Inspection Program

    Within 3 months after the effective date of this AD, revise the maintenance or inspection program, as applicable, to incorporate the information specified in the service information identified in paragraphs (g)(1), (g)(2), and (g)(3) of this AD. The initial compliance times for doing the tasks are at the time specified in the service information identified in paragraphs (g)(1), (g)(2), and (g)(3) of this AD, or within 3 months after the effective date of this AD, whichever occurs later.

    (1) Airbus A300-600 Airworthiness Limitations Section (ALS), Part 2, “Damage Tolerant Airworthiness Limitation Items (DT—ALI),” Revision 01, dated August 7, 2015.

    (2) Airbus A300-600 Airworthiness Limitations Section (ALS), Part 2, “Damage Tolerant Airworthiness Limitation Items (DT—ALI),” Variation 1.1, dated January 25, 2016.

    (3) Airbus A300-600 Airworthiness Limitations Section (ALS), Part 2, “Damage Tolerant Airworthiness Limitation Items (DT—ALI),” Variation 1.2, dated July 22, 2016.

    (h) No Alternative Actions or Intervals

    After the maintenance or inspection program has been revised as required by paragraph (g) of this AD, no alternative actions (e.g., inspections), or intervals, may be used unless the actions, or intervals, are approved as an alternative method of compliance (AMOC) in accordance with the procedures specified in paragraph (j)(1) of this AD.

    (i) Terminating Actions

    Accomplishing the actions required by this AD terminates all of the requirements of AD 2007-22-05 and AD 2013-13-13 for that airplane only.

    (j) Other FAA AD Provisions

    The following provisions also apply to this AD:

    (1) Alternative Methods of Compliance (AMOCs): The Manager, International Section, Transport Standards Branch, FAA, has the authority to approve AMOCs for this AD, if requested using the procedures found in 14 CFR 39.19. In accordance with 14 CFR 39.19, send your request to your principal inspector or local Flight Standards District Office, as appropriate. If sending information directly to the International Section, send it to the attention of the person identified in paragraph (l)(2) of this AD. Information may be emailed to: [email protected]

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

    (ii) AMOCs approved previously for AD 2013-13-13 are approved as AMOCs for the corresponding provisions of this AD.

    (2) Contacting the Manufacturer: For any requirement in this AD to obtain corrective actions from a manufacturer, the action must be accomplished using a method approved by the Manager, International Section, Transport Standards Branch, FAA; or the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA); or Airbus's EASA Design Organization Approval (DOA). If approved by the DOA, the approval must include the DOA-authorized signature.

    (k) Related Information

    (1) Refer to Mandatory Continuing Airworthiness Information (MCAI) EASA Airworthiness Directive 2016-0218, dated November 2, 2016, for related information. This MCAI may be found in the AD docket on the internet at http://www.regulations.gov by searching for and locating Docket No. FAA-2017-0514.

    (2) For more information about this AD, contact Dan Rodina, Aerospace Engineer, International Section, Transport Standards Branch, FAA, 1601 Lind Avenue SW, Renton, WA 98057-3356; telephone 425-227-2125; fax 425-227-1149.

    (l) Material Incorporated by Reference

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

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

    (i) Airbus A300-600 Airworthiness Limitations Section (ALS), Part 2, “Damage Tolerant Airworthiness Limitation Items (DT—ALI),” Revision 01, dated August 7, 2015.

    (ii) Airbus A300-600 Airworthiness Limitations Section (ALS), Part 2, “Damage Tolerant Airworthiness Limitation Items (DT—ALI),” Variation 1.1, dated January 25, 2016.

    (iii) Airbus A300-600 Airworthiness Limitations Section (ALS), Part 2, “Damage Tolerant Airworthiness Limitation Items (DT—ALI),” Variation 1.2, dated July 22, 2016.

    (3) For service information identified in this AD, contact Airbus SAS, Airworthiness Office—EAW, 1 Rond Point Maurice Bellonte, 31707 Blagnac Cedex, France; telephone +33 5 61 93 36 96; fax +33 5 61 93 44 51; email [email protected]; internet http://www.airbus.com.

    (4) You may view this service information at the FAA, Transport Standards Branch, 1601 Lind Avenue SW, Renton, WA. For information on the availability of this material at the FAA, call 425-227-1221.

    (5) You may view this service information that is incorporated by reference at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). For information on the availability of this material at NARA, call 202-741-6030, or go to: http://www.archives.gov/federal-register/cfr/ibr-locations.html.

    Issued in Renton, Washington, on December 27, 2017. John P. Piccola, Jr., Acting Director, System Oversight Division, Aircraft Certification Service.
    [FR Doc. 2018-00110 Filed 1-12-18; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4910-13-P
    NATIONAL AERONAUTICS AND SPACE ADMINISTRATION 14 CFR Parts 1264 and 1271 [Document Number NASA-17-094: Docket Number-NASA-2017-0004] RIN 2700-AE30 Implementation of the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act and Adjustment of Amounts for 2018 AGENCY:

    National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

    ACTION:

    Final rule.

    SUMMARY:

    The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has adopted a final rule making inflation adjustments to civil monetary penalties within its jurisdiction. This final rule represents the annual 2018 inflation adjustments of monetary penalties. These adjustments are required by the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvements Act of 2015.

    DATES:

    Effective: This final rule is effective January 15, 2018.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Bryan R. Diederich, Office of the General Counsel, NASA Headquarters, telephone (202) 358-0216.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: I. Background

    The Inflation Adjustment Act, as amended by the 2015 Act, required Federal agencies to adjust the civil penalty amounts within their jurisdiction for inflation by July 1, 2016. Subsequent to the 2016 adjustment, Federal agencies were required to make an annual inflation adjustment by January 15 every year thereafter.1 Agencies were required to make the initial 2016 adjustments through an interim final rulemaking published in the Federal Register.2 Under the amended Act, any increase in a civil penalty made under the Act will apply to penalties assessed after the increase takes effect, including penalties whose associated violation predated the increase.3 The inflation adjustments mandated by the Act serve to maintain the deterrent effect of civil penalties and to promote compliance with the law.

    1See 28 U.S.C. 2461 note.

    2 The statute also provides that, for the initial 2016 adjustment, an agency may adjust a civil penalty by less than the otherwise required amount if (1) it determines, after publishing a notice of proposed rulemaking and providing an opportunity for comment, that increasing the civil penalty by the otherwise required amount would have a negative economic impact or that the social costs of increasing the civil penalty by the otherwise required amount outweigh the benefits, and (2) the Director of the Office of Management and Budget concurs with that determination. Inflation Adjustment Act section 4(c), codified at 28 UUSC 2461 note. NASA has chosen not to make use of this exception.

    3 Inflation Adjustment Act section 6, codified at 28 U.S.C. 2461 note.

    On June 26, 2017, NASA published its interim final rule providing for the initial adjustment called for under the Act.4 The public comment period interim final rule closed on August 24, 2016, and the rule became effective on August 25, 2017. On October 20, 2017, NASA adopted this interim rule as final.5 In its final rule, NASA also amended the interim rule to incorporate the required annual adjustments for 2017.

    4 82 FR 28760.

    5 82 FR 48760.

    Pursuant to the Act, adjustments to the civil penalties are required to be made by January 15 of each year. The annual adjustments are based on the percent change between the U.S. Department of Labor's Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (“CPI-U”) for the month of October preceding the date of the adjustment, and the CPI-U for October of the prior year (28 U.S.C. 2461 note, section (5)(b)(1)). Based on that formula, the cost-of-living adjustment multiplier for 2018 is 1.02041 percent. Pursuant to the 2015 Act, adjustments are rounded to the nearest dollar.

    II. The Final Rule

    This final rule makes the required adjustments to civil penalties for 2018. Applying the 2018 multiplier above, the adjustments for each penalty are summarized below.

    Law Penalty description 2017 penalty Penalty
  • adjusted
  • for 2018
  • Program Fraud Civil Remedies Act of 1986 Maximum Penalties for False Claims $10,957 $11,181 Department of the Interior and Related Agencies Appropriations Act of 1989, Public Law 101-121, sec. 319 Minimum Penalty for use of appropriated funds to lobby or influence certain contracts 19,246 19,639 Department of the Interior and Related Agencies Appropriations Act of 1989, Public Law 101-121, sec. 319 Maximum Penalty for use of appropriated funds to lobby or influence certain contracts 192,459 196,387 Department of the Interior and Related Agencies Appropriations Act of 1989, Public Law 101-121, sec. 319 Minimum penalty for failure to report certain lobbying transactions 19,246 19,639 Department of the Interior and Related Agencies Appropriations Act of 1989, Public Law 101-121, sec. 319 Maximum penalty for failure to report certain lobbying transactions 192,459 196,387

    This rule codifies these civil penalty amounts by amending parts 1264 and 1271 of title 14 of the CFR.

    III. Legal Authority and Effective Date

    NASA issues this rule under the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act of 1990,6 as amended by the Debt Collection Improvement Act of 1996,7 and further amended by the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvements Act of 2015,8 which requires NASA to adjust the civil penalties within its jurisdiction for inflation according to a statutorily prescribed formula.

    6 Public Law 101-410, 104 Stat. 890 (1990).

    7 Public Law 104-134, section 31001(s)(1), 110 Stat. 1321, 1321-373 (1996).

    8 Public Law 114-74, section 701, 129 Stat. 584, 599 (2015).

    Section 553 of title 5 of the United States Code generally requires an agency to publish a rule at least 30 days before its effective date to allow for advance notice and opportunity for public comments.9 After the initial adjustment for 2016, however, the Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act requires agencies to make subsequent annual adjustments for inflation “notwithstanding section 553 of title 5, United States Code.” Moreover, the 2018 adjustments are made according to a statutory formula that does not provide for agency discretion. Accordingly, a delay in effectiveness of the 2018 adjustments is not required.

    9See 5 U.S.C. 533(d).

    IV. Regulatory Requirements Regulatory Flexibility Act

    Because no notice of proposed rulemaking is required, the Regulatory Flexibility Act does not require an initial or final regulatory flexibility analysis.10

    10 5 U.S.C. 603(a), 604(a).

    Paperwork Reduction Act

    In accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995,11 NASA reviewed this final rule. No collections of information pursuant to the Paperwork Reduction Act are contained in the final rule.

    11 44 U.S.C. 3506.

    List of Subjects in 14 CFR Parts 1264 and 1271

    Claims, Lobbying, Penalties.

    For the reasons stated in the preamble, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration is amending 14 CFR parts 1264 and 1271 as follows:

    PART 1264—IMPLEMENTATION OF THE PROGRAM FRAUD CIVIL PENALTIES ACT OF 1986 1. The authority citation for part 1264 continues to read as follows: Authority:

    31 U.S.C. 3809, 51 U.S.C. 20113(a).

    § 1264.102 [Amended]
    2. In § 1264.102, remove the number “$10,957” everywhere it appears and add in its place the number “$11,181”. PART 1271—NEW RESTRICTIONS ON LOBBYING 3. The authority citation for part 1271 continues to read as follows: Authority:

    Section 319, Pub. L. 101-121 (31 U.S.C. 1352); Pub. L. 97-258 (31 U.S.C. 6301 et seq.)

    § 1271.400 [Amended]
    4. In § 1271.400: a. In paragraphs (a) and (b), remove the words “not less than $19,246 and not more than $192,459” and add in their place the words “not less than $19,639 and not more than $196,387”. b. In paragraph (e), remove the two occurrences of “$19,246” and add in their place “$19,639” and remove “$192,459” and add in its place “$196,387”. Appendix A to Part 1271 [Amended] 5. In appendix A to part 1271: a. Remove the number “$19,246” everywhere it appears and add in its place the number “$19,639”. b. Remove the number “$192,459” everywhere it appears and add in its place the number “$196,387”. Nanette J. Smith, NASA Federal Register Liaison Officer.
    [FR Doc. 2018-00587 Filed 1-12-18; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 7510-13-P
    SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION 17 CFR Part 230 [Release No. 33-10450; File No. S7-09-14] RIN 3235-AL41 Treatment of Certain Communications Involving Security-Based Swaps That May Be Purchased Only by Eligible Contract Participants AGENCY:

    Securities and Exchange Commission.

    ACTION:

    Final rule.

    SUMMARY:

    We are adopting a rule under the Securities Act of 1933 (“Securities Act”) to provide that certain communications involving security-based swaps will not be deemed to constitute “offers” of such security-based swaps for purposes of Section 5 of the Securities Act. The final rule covers the publication or distribution of price quotes that relate to security-based swaps that may be purchased only by persons who are eligible contract participants (“covered SBS”) and are traded or processed on or through certain trading platforms. The final rule also covers a broker, dealer, or security-based swap dealer's publication or distribution of written communications that discuss covered SBS and that meet the definition of “research report” in Rule 139(d) under the Securities Act and certain other conditions.

    DATES:

    Effective January 16, 2018.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Andrew Schoeffler, Special Counsel, Office of Capital Markets Trends, Division of Corporation Finance, at (202) 551-3860, U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, 100 F Street NE, Washington, DC 20549-3628.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    We are adopting Rule 135d under the Securities Act.1

    1 15 U.S.C. 77a et seq.

    I. Background and Summary

    On July 21, 2010, President Barack Obama signed the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (“Dodd-Frank Act”) 2 into law. Title VII of the Dodd-Frank Act (“Title VII”) provides the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC” or the “Commission”) and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (“CFTC”) with the authority to regulate over-the-counter derivatives. Under Title VII, the CFTC regulates “swaps,” the SEC regulates “security-based swaps,” and the CFTC and SEC jointly regulate “mixed swaps.” 3

    2 Public Law 111-203, 124 Stat. 1376 (2010).

    3 The SEC and the CFTC, in consultation with the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, jointly further defined the product and intermediary terms used in Title VII, including “swap,” “security-based swap,” “swap dealer,” “security-based swap dealer,” “major swap participant,” “major security-based swap participant,” “eligible contract participant,” and “security-based swap agreement.” See Further Definition of “Swap Dealer,” “Security-Based Swap Dealer,” “Major Swap Participant,” “Major Security-Based Swap Participant” and “Eligible Contract Participant”, Release No. 34-66868 (Apr. 27, 2012), 77 FR 30596 (May 23, 2012) (“Intermediary Definitions Adopting Release”), and Further Definition of “Swap,” “Security-Based Swap,” and “Security-Based Swap Agreement”; Mixed Swaps; Security-Based Swap Agreement Recordkeeping, Release No. 33-9338 (Jul. 18, 2012), 77 FR 48208 (Aug. 13, 2012) (“Product Definitions Adopting Release”).

    Title VII amended the Securities Act and the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (“Exchange Act”) 4 to include “security-based swaps” in the definition of “security.” 5 As a result, “security-based swaps” are subject to the Securities Act and the Exchange Act and the rules and regulations thereunder. Section 5 of the Securities Act requires that any offer or sale of a security must either be registered under the Securities Act or be made pursuant to an exemption from registration.6 As a result, counterparties entering into security-based swap transactions need either to rely on an available exemption from the registration requirements of the Securities Act or register such transactions. Title VII also amended the Securities Act to prohibit offers and sales of security-based swaps to persons who are not “eligible contract participants” (“ECPs”) 7 unless a registration statement is in effect as to the security-based swaps.8

    4 15 U.S.C. 78a et seq.

    5See Sections 761(a)(2) and 768(a)(1) of the Dodd-Frank Act (amending Section 3(a)(10) of the Exchange Act [15 U.S.C. 78c(a)(10)] and Section 2(a)(1) of the Securities Act [15 U.S.C. 77b(a)(1)], respectively).

    6See 15 U.S.C. 77e.

    7 The term “eligible contract participant” is defined in Section 1a(18) of the Commodity Exchange Act [7 U.S.C. 1a(18)]. The definition of the term “eligible contract participant” in the Securities Act refers to the definition of “eligible contract participant” in the Commodity Exchange Act. See Section 5(e) of the Securities Act [15 U.S.C. 77e(e)]. The SEC and the CFTC have adopted final rules further defining the term “eligible contract participant.” See Intermediary Definitions Adopting Release.

    8See Section 768(b) of the Dodd-Frank Act (adding new Section 5(d) of the Securities Act [15 U.S.C. 77e(d)]). Section 105(c)(1) of the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act subsequently re-designated Section 5(d) of the Securities Act as Section 5(e). See Public Law 112-106, 126 Stat. 306 (2012).

    Because security-based swaps are included in the definition of “security,” the publication or distribution of certain communications involving security-based swaps on an unrestricted basis could be viewed as offers of those security-based swaps within the meaning of Section 2(a)(3) of the Securities Act.9 Further, such communications also may be considered offers to non-ECPs, even though such persons are not permitted to purchase the security-based swaps unless, as noted above, a registration statement under the Securities Act is in effect as to such security-based swaps.10 If there are no Securities Act exemptions available with respect to a security-based swap transaction, the required registration of such transactions could negatively affect the security-based swaps market.

    9See 15 U.S.C. 77b(a)(3).

    10See footnote 8 above and accompanying text.

    On September 8, 2014, the Commission proposed a rule to address the treatment of certain communications involving covered SBS, in particular price quotes relating to covered SBS that are traded or processed on or through a facility either registered as a national securities exchange or as a security-based swap execution facility (“security-based SEF”), or exempt from registration as a security-based SEF pursuant to a rule, regulation, or order of the Commission (“SBS price quotes”).11 Under the proposed rule, the publication or distribution of SBS price quotes would not be deemed to constitute an offer, an offer to sell, or a solicitation of an offer to buy or purchase the security-based swaps that are the subject of such communications or any guarantees of such security-based swaps for purposes of Section 5 of the Securities Act.12 The purpose of the proposed rule was to further the goal of Title VII to bring the trading of security-based swaps onto regulated trading platforms while avoiding unintended consequences arising from the application of the Securities Act to the dissemination of price quotes on such platforms.

    11See Treatment of Certain Communications Involving Security-Based Swaps That May Be Purchased Only By Eligible Contract Participants, Release No. 33-9643 (Sep. 8, 2014), 79 FR 54224 (Sep. 11, 2014) (“Proposing Release”).

    12See Proposing Release. Security-based swaps may be guaranteed to provide protection against a counterparty's default. A guarantee of a security is itself a security for purposes of the Securities Act. See Section 2(a)(1) of the Securities Act [15 U.S.C. 77b(a)(1)]. As a result, the publication or distribution of SBS price quotes also may be viewed as offers of any guarantees of the security-based swaps that are the subject of the SBS price quotes. Because we believe that a guarantee of a security-based swap is part of the security-based swap transaction, the proposed rule also would deem the publication or distribution of SBS price quotes to not constitute an offer, an offer to sell, or a solicitation of an offer to buy or purchase any guarantees of the security-based swaps that are the subject of the SBS price quotes.

    The Proposing Release requested comment on all aspects of the proposed rule, including whether the proposed rule should cover other types of communications, such as communications characterized as research that discuss security-based swaps.13 We have reviewed and considered all of the comments that we received relating to the proposed rule. As described in detail below, we are adopting the rule substantially as proposed, with one substantive addition addressing written communications that discuss covered SBS and meet the definition of “research report” in Rule 139(d) under the Securities Act 14 and certain other conditions (“SBS-related research reports”). The final rule provides that a broker, dealer, or security-based swap dealer's publication or distribution of SBS-related research reports will not be deemed to be an offer of the security-based swaps that are the subject of such communication or any guarantees of such security-based swaps for purposes of Section 5 of the Securities Act.

    13See Proposing Release (79 FR at 54233 through 34). The Proposing Release discussed the types of communications covered and not covered by the proposed rule and included an extensive request for comment about communications characterized as research that discuss security-based swaps. See Proposing Release (79 FR at 54232 through 34).

    14 Rule 139(d) defines a research report as “a written communication, as defined in Rule 405, that includes information, opinions, or recommendations with respect to securities of an issuer or an analysis of a security or an issuer, whether or not it provides information reasonably sufficient upon which to base an investment decision.” See 17 CFR 230.139(d).

    The final rule does not affect the treatment of research reports under existing Securities Act Rules 137, 138 and 139 (the “Research Rules”).15 As a result, communications relating to offerings of securities underlying security-based swaps, including by operation of Section 2(a)(3) of the Securities Act,16 must be analyzed separately under the Research Rules. In that case, any discussion of a security-based swap in a research report would be analyzed under the final rule, while any discussion of securities underlying such security-based swap (which could be in the same research reports discussing the security-based swap) would be analyzed under the Research Rules.

    15 The Research Rules are safe harbors that describe the circumstances in which a broker or dealer may publish or distribute securities research around the time of a securities offering without violating Section 5 of the Securities Act. See 17 CFR 230.137, 17 CFR 230.138 and 17 CFR 230.139. The Commission has not previously addressed the applicability of the Research Rules in the context of research discussing security-based swaps because most security-based swaps were not securities prior to the effective date of Title VII.

    16See 15 U.S.C. 77b(a)(3). Section 2(a)(3) provides, among other things, that “[a]ny offer or sale of a security-based swap by or on behalf of the issuer of the securities upon which such security-based swap is based or is referenced, an affiliate of the issuer, or an underwriter, shall constitute a contract for sale of, sale of, offer for sale, or offer to sell such securities.”

    While the provisions of Title VII relating to security-based SEFs have not yet been fully implemented,17 given that market participants currently are publishing and distributing SBS-related research reports, we believe that it is appropriate at this time to adopt the final rule. As one commenter noted,18 if SBS-related research reports are published or distributed on an unrestricted basis, such communications may be viewed as an offer. As a result, they may affect the availability of Securities Act exemptions for transactions in the security-based swaps that may be discussed in the research reports.19 Such communications also may constitute an illegal offer to non-ECPs if there is no effective registration statement under the Securities Act because no Securities Act exemptions are available for offers and sales of security-based swaps to non-ECPs. In addition, potential uncertainty about the availability of Securities Act exemptions for transactions between ECPs may lead some market participants to not engage in security-based swap transactions or withhold or limit the publication or distribution of SBS-related research reports. This in turn could reduce the information available to investors and other market participants in the security-based swaps market, credit markets, and securities markets generally. We believe that the final rule is needed at this time to reduce this uncertainty.

    17 There are many types of platforms currently in operation on or through which security-based swap transactions are effected. See Proposing Release (79 FR at 54225) and pages 18 through 20 (79 FR at 54228 through 29). While certain of these platforms may be required to register as security-based SEFs upon the full implementation of Title VII, they currently are not required to do so pursuant to exemptive relief adopted by the Commission. See Temporary Exemptions and Other Temporary Relief, Together with Information on Compliance Dates for New Provisions of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 Applicable to Securities-Based Swaps, Exchange Act Release No. 64678 (Jun. 15, 2011), 76 FR 36287 (Jun. 22, 2011). The final rule covers the dissemination of price quotes relating to security-based swaps that are traded or processed on or through exempt security-based SEFs. As such, platforms currently operating pursuant to the Commission's exemptive relief could rely upon the final rule in the event that there is uncertainty about dissemination of price quotes affecting the availability of exemptions from the registration requirements of the Securities Act.

    18See footnote 23 below and accompanying text.

    19 For example, the commenter noted that if such communications were deemed to be an offer, the exemption in Section 4(a)(2) may not be available. Id.

    We are not extending the expiration date of the interim final exemptions or adopting one commenter's request for an exemption from the registration and other provisions of the Securities Act for security-based swap transactions between ECPs.20 We do not believe that either course would address the identified concern about the availability of existing Securities Act exemptions for transactions between ECPs. For example, neither course would address the concern that certain communications involving security-based swaps could be considered offers to non-ECPs. As noted above, such offers must be registered under the Securities Act because no exemptions from the registration requirements of the Securities Act are available for offers and sales of security-based swaps to non-ECPs.21 As such, neither course would remove uncertainty about whether certain communications involving security-based swaps would be deemed to be offers to non-ECPs and thereby require registration of the relevant security-based swaps under the Securities Act.

    20See footnotes 41 and 44 below and accompanying text.

    21See footnote 8 above and accompanying text.

    II. Discussion of the Final Rule A. Comments

    We received four comment letters, each of which supported the proposed rule.22 We discuss and respond to the comments received below.

    22See letter from Chris Barnard, dated October 27, 2014; letter from Daniel E. Glatter, Deputy General Counsel, GFI Group Inc., dated November 10, 2014 (“GFI Letter”); letter from Bryan Levin, Greenspring Funding, dated October 16, 2014; and letter from Kyle Brandon, Managing Director, Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association, dated December 8, 2014 (“SIFMA Letter”).

    1. Comments on the Applicability of the Proposed Rule to Research Reports

    One commenter argued that the proposed rule should be expanded to cover written communications involving “research” discussing security-based swaps.23 This commenter argued that such written communications are not meaningfully different from other types of securities research produced and distributed by broker-dealers and their affiliates in the ordinary course of business. The commenter noted that such written communications are produced and distributed by broker-dealers' or their affiliates' research departments and are subject to the same policies and procedures as other securities research.24 The commenter also noted that such written communications often are included within other published securities research, such as general credit research, and in such materials credit analysts frequently discuss security-based swaps in the context of more general analyses of credit markets, credit strategies, or credit worthiness of an issuer.25 Further, the commenter noted that such written communications included in other credit research or research reports may be published or distributed by broker-dealers or their affiliates through a variety of channels, which, depending on the particular firm, may include proprietary platforms as well as third-party research aggregators.26 Such written communications included in other credit research or research reports may be made accessible to existing clients, including clients that are not ECPs, and in some cases may be made accessible to the general public.27

    23See SIFMA Letter.

    24Id. See, e.g., Regulation Analyst Certification [17 CFR 242.500 through 242.505] and FINRA Rules 2241 (Research Analysts and Research Reports) and 2242 (Debt Research Analysts and Debt Research Reports).

    25See SIFMA Letter. Such research generally discusses security-based swaps in the following contexts: (i) Providing an investment recommendation as to a specific security-based swap by offering views on the security or a relative value analysis against another security; (ii) referring to security-based swaps in connection with an analysis of credit markets or proposed credit trading strategies; or (iii) discussing one or more security-based swaps in the context of covering other securities of the related issuer as an indicator of the overall creditworthiness of such issuer. Id.

    26Id.

    27Id.

    Because of the manner in which such written communications are disseminated, the commenter was concerned that the publication or distribution of such communications may be deemed to be an offer of the relevant security-based swaps, including to non-ECPs.28 According to the commenter, there could be no exemption available for such offer because of the possible dissemination to or accessibility by non-ECPs.29 Further, the commenter noted that determining whether an exemption is available for each particular security-based swap transaction as a result of such written communications would be a time-consuming and fact-intensive judgment call.30 The commenter noted that if no Securities Act exemptions are available for a security-based swap transaction because such written communications are viewed as an offer, market participants may withhold or limit the publication or distribution of such written communications.31

    28Id.

    29Id.

    30 Id.

    31Id.

    The commenter described the possible effects of a limitation on the publication or distribution of such written communications on the security-based swaps market and securities markets generally. According to the commenter, such written communications inform market participants' investment decisions.32 For example, such written communications assist ECPs in determining the pricing of security-based swaps, such as credit default swaps, including with respect to the relative value of a given security-based swap in relation to other securities.33 In addition, the commenter indicated that such written communications also have informational value to securities markets generally, including to non-ECPs.34 Market participants, whether transacting in security-based swaps or not, may find such written communications useful in analyzing underlying issuers or securities because such communications provide views on markets, sectors, and/or issuers.35 For example, credit default swaps can be an indicator of an issuer's creditworthiness.36 Further, the commenter noted that such written communications may be disseminated about swaps based on broad indices of securities or issuers (which are subject to a different regulatory regime).37 A different treatment of communications discussing security-based swaps (i.e., those swaps based on a single security, an issuer or a narrow-based security index) could result in incomplete information being available to the security-based swaps market and securities markets generally.38

    32Id.

    33Id.

    34Id.

    35Id.

    36Id.

    37Id.

    38Id.

    2. Comments on Other Matters

    As we noted in the Proposing Release,39 we previously adopted interim final rules to provide exemptions under the Securities Act, the Exchange Act, and the Trust Indenture Act of 1939 (“Trust Indenture Act”) 40 for those security-based swaps that prior to the effective date of Title VII were “security-based swap agreements” and are defined as “securities” under the Securities Act and the Exchange Act due solely to the provisions of Title VII (collectively, the “interim final exemptions”).41 We adopted the interim final exemptions because, among other things, we were concerned about disrupting the operation of the security-based swaps market while we evaluated the implications for security-based swaps under the Securities Act and the Exchange Act as a result of the inclusion of the term “security-based swap” in the definition of “security.” The interim final exemptions expire on February 11, 2018.42

    39 See Proposing Release (79 FR at 54226 and 54234).

    40 15 U.S.C. 77aaa et seq.

    41See Rule 240 under the Securities Act [17 CFR 230.240], Rules 12a-11 and Rule 12h-1(i) under the Exchange Act [17 CFR 240.12a-11 and 17 CFR 240.12h-1], and Rule 4d-12 under the Trust Indenture Act [17 CFR 260.4d-12]. See also Exemptions for Security-Based Swaps, Release No. 33-9231 (Jul. 1, 2011), 76 FR 40605 (Jul. 11, 2011). The category of security-based swaps covered by the interim final exemptions involves those that would have been defined as “security-based swap agreements” prior to the enactment of Title VII. See Section 2A of the Securities Act [15 U.S.C. 77b(b)-1)] and Section 3A of the Exchange Act [15 U.S.C. 78c-1], each as in effect prior to the Title VII effective date. For example, the vast majority of security-based swap transactions involve single-name credit default swaps, which would have been “security-based swap agreements” prior to the Title VII effective date. In contrast, the definition of “security-based swap agreement” did not include security-based swaps that are based on or reference only loans and indexes only of loans. The Division of Corporation Finance issued a no-action letter that addressed the availability of the interim final exemptions to offers and sales of security-based swaps that are based on or reference only loans or indexes only of loans. See Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP (Jul. 15, 2011). As noted in the Proposing Release, this no-action letter will remain in effect for so long as the interim final exemptions remain in effect.

    42See Exemptions for Security-Based Swaps, Release No. 33-10305 (Feb. 10, 2017), 82 FR 10703 (Feb. 15, 2017).

    The Proposing Release requested comment as to whether the expiration date of the interim final exemptions should be altered, including possibly shortening or further extending the expiration date.43 The Commission did not receive any comments addressing whether we should alter the expiration date of the interim final exemptions, but we did receive one comment that addressed issues relating to the interim final exemptions.44 The commenter requested that we consider adopting an exemption from the registration and other provisions of the Securities Act, other than the anti-fraud provisions of Section 17(a), for security-based swap transactions between ECPs.45 The commenter argued that an exemption from the registration and other provisions of the Securities Act is needed to provide legal certainty as to whether security-based swap transactions effected on security-based SEFs are exempt from the registration requirements of the Securities Act.46 In particular, the commenter argued that certain activities engaged in by the operator of a security-based SEF may create uncertainty as to the availability of exemptions from Section 5 of the Securities Act for such transactions.47

    43See Proposing Release (79 FR at 54234).

    44See GFI Letter. The commenter submitted a previous comment letter requesting exemptions under the Securities Act, the Exchange Act, and the Trust Indenture Act for security-based swap transactions entered into between ECPs and effected through any trading platform similar to the exemptions we adopted for security-based swap transactions involving an eligible clearing agency. See Proposing Release (79 FR at 54231 through 32).

    45Id.

    46Id.

    47Id.

    We do not believe that the exemption suggested by the commenter would provide the legal certainty the commenter seeks. The operator of a security-based SEF will facilitate security-based swap transactions by providing the trading platform on or through which other parties will offer and sell security-based swaps to each other. The examples provided by the commenter primarily relate to activities typically conducted by brokers or dealers. Market participants regularly communicate with each other to facilitate and execute transactions, and the examples appear to be no different from the activities typically conducted by brokers or dealers in connection with other private offerings of securities effected on trading platforms. The commenter did not explain why such activities in the context of security-based swap transactions would affect the ability of market participants to rely upon existing Securities Act exemptions. In contrast, the rule we are adopting today addresses a unique feature of security-based swaps regulation—balancing the prohibition on offers and sales to non-ECPs with the need to disseminate information broadly to market participants, which may incidentally include non-ECPs. The final rule addresses the concern that certain communications involving SBS price quotes and SBS-related research reports could be viewed as offers to non-ECPs in violation of Section 5(e) of the Securities Act. The exemption suggested by the commenter would not address the concern that certain communications could be considered offers to non-ECPs or provide greater certainty in the security-based swaps market because it would not address this concern. As such, we believe that the final rule better addresses this concern.

    We are not persuaded that there is a need for an exemption from the registration and other provisions of the Securities Act for security-based swap transactions between ECPs. As we finalize our regulation of security-based SEFs, we will remain mindful as to whether the regulation of particular communications presents barriers to the efficient operation of the security-based swaps market that are not necessary to protect investors. Further, we are taking no action as to the interim final exemptions, and our adoption of the final rule in this release will not affect the interim final exemptions. The interim final exemptions expire on February 11, 2018.48

    48See footnote 42 above and accompanying text.

    B. Final Rule

    We are adopting Rule 135d under the Securities Act substantially as proposed, with one substantive addition concerning SBS-related research reports. We believe that the final rule is necessary and appropriate so that the publication or distribution of SBS price quotes will not cause unintended consequences for the operation of security-based swap trading platforms following the full implementation of Title VII. We also believe that the final rule is necessary and appropriate so that a broker, dealer, or security-based swap dealer's ability to publish or distribute SBS-related research reports will not be restricted in a manner that would limit the availability of information about security-based swaps to investors and other market participants.

    We note that although the final rule provides that the publication or distribution of SBS price quotes and SBS-related research reports will not be deemed to be offers for purposes of Section 5 of the Securities Act, the final rule will not otherwise affect the provisions of any exemptions from the registration requirements of the Securities Act. As a result, market participants will still need to make a determination as to whether an exemption from the registration requirements of the Securities Act is available with respect to a security-based swap transaction, including whether such transaction complies with any applicable conditions of the exemption. We also note that the final rule applies to any communication of SBS price quotes or SBS-related research reports regardless of whether transactions in the relevant security-based swaps are effected bilaterally in the over-the-counter market or on or through security-based swap trading platforms, or are subsequently cleared in transactions involving an eligible clearing agency.49

    49 For security-based swap transactions involving an eligible clearing agency, the exemptions we adopted under the Securities Act, the Exchange Act, and the Trust Indenture Act will continue to be available. See Rule 239 under the Securities Act [17 CFR 230.239], Rules 12a-10 and 12h-1(h) under the Exchange Act [17 CFR 240.12a-10 and 240.12h-1(h)], and Rule 4d-11 under the Trust Indenture Act [17 CFR 260.4d-11]. See also Exemptions for Security-Based Swaps Issued By Certain Clearing Agencies, Release No. 33-9308 (Mar. 30, 2012), 77 FR 20536 (Apr. 5, 2012). These exemptions do not apply to security-based swap transactions not involving an eligible clearing agency, even if the security-based swaps subsequently are cleared in transactions involving an eligible clearing agency. Id.

    1. SBS Price Quotes

    The final rule allows SBS price quotes to be published or distributed without such dissemination being considered an offer of the relevant security-based swaps or any guarantees thereof for purposes of Section 5 of the Securities Act.50 The scope of dissemination methods covered by the final rule is broad. The final rule applies to the initial publication or distribution of SBS price quotes on security-based swap trading platforms. It also applies to any subsequent republication or redistribution of SBS price quotes on or through mediums other than security-based swap trading platforms, including on-line information services, as it is possible that participants in security-based swap trading platforms that receive the SBS price quotes could further disseminate the SBS price quotes without restriction. We do not believe that the treatment of the SBS price quotes under the final rule should depend on who republishes or redistributes the SBS price quotes or where they are republished or redistributed, so long as only ECPs may purchase the relevant security-based swaps.

    50 The term “security-based swap” includes mixed swaps. The term “mixed swap” is defined in Section 3(a)(68)(D) of the Exchange Act [15 U.S.C. 78c(a)(68)(D)]. See Section IV of the Product Definitions Adopting Release.

    The final rule applies to SBS price quotes, which could take a number of forms depending on the type of trading platform model, including indicative quotes, executable quotes, bids and offers, and other pricing information and other types of quote information that may develop in the future. We are not defining the specific type of SBS price quotes with respect to which the final rule will apply because we do not want to limit the types of trading platform models that currently or may in the future exist.51 This approach is intended to allow flexibility in the final rule as organized markets for the trading of security-based swaps continue to develop.

    51 The Proposing Release discussed five examples of trading platforms that represent broadly the types of models for the trading of security-based swaps, including single-dealer request for quote platforms, aggregator-type platforms, multi-dealer request for quote platforms, limit order book systems, and electronic brokering platforms. See Proposing Release (79 FR at 545228 through 29). These examples may not represent every single trading method in existence today and the discussion was intended to give an overview of the models without providing the nuances of each particular model. Certain of these trading platforms may become security-based SEFs following the full implementation of Title VII.

    The final rule addresses price quotes relating to security-based swaps that are traded or processed on or through registered or exempt security-based SEFs and national securities exchanges because the Title VII provisions applicable to these entities, as well as existing requirements applicable to national securities exchanges, require them to make their trading platforms available or price quotes on their platforms available to all participants without limitation.

    We believe that the final rule with respect to SBS price quotes is necessary and appropriate in the public interest. One of the goals of Title VII is to bring the trading of security-based swaps onto regulated trading platforms, such as security-based SEFs and national securities exchanges, which should help advance the objective of greater transparency for the trading of security-based swaps. We believe that increased transparency in the security-based swaps market could help lower transaction costs associated with market participant risk mitigating strategies and thereby lower the cost of capital and facilitate the capital formation process. If the publication or distribution of SBS price quotes is unrestricted, no Securities Act exemptions may be available with respect to transactions in the relevant security-based swaps because such communications may be viewed as an offer of those security-based swaps, including to non-ECPs. Accordingly, we believe that the final rule is needed so that the publication or distribution of SBS price quotes will not cause unintended consequences for the operation of security-based swap trading platforms by affecting the ability of market participants to rely on available exemptions from the registration requirements of the Securities Act or requiring that such transactions be registered under the Securities Act because they are viewed as offers to non-ECPs.

    We also believe that the final rule with respect to SBS price quotes is consistent with the protection of investors. We believe that the final rule strikes an appropriate balance between providing more certainty to market participants while ensuring that the interests of non-ECPs are adequately protected. Security-based swaps that are not registered under the Securities Act are permitted to be sold only to ECPs, and therefore the final rule is limited to the publication or distribution of SBS price quotes that relate to security-based swaps that may be purchased only by ECPs. Treating the publication or distribution of SBS price quotes as not being offers of the relevant security-based swaps will not harm non-ECPs because they will not be able to purchase such security-based swaps. Further, security-based swap transactions entered into solely between ECPs will be subject to the comprehensive regulatory regime of Title VII once it has been fully implemented, including transaction reporting, trade acknowledgment and verification, and business conduct standards.52 In addition, the final rule relates to the treatment of communications involving SBS price quotes as offers for purposes of Section 5 of the Securities Act and will preserve the other protections of the federal securities laws, including the Commission's ability to pursue an antifraud action in the offer and sale of the securities under Section 17(a) of the Securities Act.53

    52See, e.g., Regulation SBSR—Reporting and Dissemination of Security-Based Swap Information, Release No. 34-74244 (Feb. 11, 2015), 80 FR 14564 (Mar. 19, 2015), and Release No. 34-78321 (Jul. 14, 2016), 81 FR 53545 (Aug. 12, 2016); Trade Acknowledgment and Verification of Security-Based Swap Transactions, Release No. 34-78011 (Jun. 8, 2016), 81 FR 39807 (Jun. 17, 2016); and Business Conduct Standards for Security-Based Swap Dealers and Major Security-Based Swap Participants, Release No. 34-77617 (Apr. 14, 2016), 81 FR 29959 (May 13, 2016) (“Business Conduct Standards Adopting Release”). The business conduct standards generally require, among other things, disclosure by security-based swap dealers and major security-based swap participants to counterparties of (i) the material risks and characteristics of the security-based swap, and certain clearing rights, (ii) the material incentives or conflicts of interest that a security-based swap dealer or major security-based swap participant may have in connection with the security-based swap, and (iii) the daily mark of the security-based swap (collectively, the “Business Conduct Standards”). See Business Conduct Standards Adopting Release. The Business Conduct Standards also require that security-based swap dealers and major security-based swap participants verify that a counterparty meets the eligibility requirements of an ECP. See Business Conduct Standards Adopting Release.

    53See 15 U.S.C. 77q(a).

    The final rule also will enable security-based swap dealers to publish or distribute SBS price quotes on an unrestricted basis without concern that such publication or distribution could jeopardize the availability of exemptions from the registration requirements of the Securities Act for transactions involving the relevant security-based swaps. Unrestricted access to SBS price quotes will improve market transparency by providing all investors with the same information on the pricing of security-based swap transactions.

    Therefore, we believe that the final rule with respect to SBS price quotes is necessary or appropriate in the public interest, and consistent with the protection of investors.

    2. SBS-Related Research Reports

    We believe that written communications discussing security-based swaps that fall within the definition of “research report” in Rule 139(d) under the Securities Act should be treated similarly to other research involving securities offered pursuant to exemptions from the registration requirements of the Securities Act and should not be considered to be an offer.54 We previously have noted the value of securities research in providing information to investors and the securities markets generally.55 We believe that failing to exclude such written communications from the definition of “offer” under the Securities Act could have an adverse effect on the information available to investors and other market participants in the security-based swaps market, credit markets and securities markets generally. Further, we believe that written communications discussing security-based swaps and security-based swap agreements should have consistent regulatory treatment.

    54 This approach is consistent with a commenter's views. See SIFMA Letter.

    55See Securities Offering Reform, Release No. 33-8591 (Jul. 19, 2005), 70 FR 44722 (Aug. 3, 2005) (“Securities Offering Reform Adopting Release”).

    The Research Rules generally apply in the context of registered offerings. They also apply in the context of two types of unregistered offerings: Rule 144A and Regulation S offerings.56 Under the Research Rules, research reports meeting certain conditions are not considered offers or general solicitation or general advertising in connection with offerings relying on Rule 144A and are not deemed to be directed selling efforts or to be inconsistent with the offshore transaction requirements of Regulation S. The Commission addressed these types of unregistered offerings in the Research Rules because it was concerned that the restrictions in Rule 144A and in Regulation S had resulted in brokers and dealers unnecessarily withholding regularly published securities research.57 Security-based swaps offerings typically are not transacted in registered offerings or in reliance on Rule 144A or Regulation S and, as a result, the Research Rules currently do not cover written communications discussing security-based swaps.

    56See paragraphs (b) and (c), respectively, of Rules 138 and 139 under the Securities Act [17 CFR 230.138(b), 17 CFR 230.138(c), 17 CFR 230.139(b) and 17 CFR 230.139(c)].

    57See Securities Offering Reform Adopting Release.

    The final rule imposes several conditions on the publication or distribution of such written communications. First, the written communications must discuss covered SBS.58 Second, the broker, dealer, or security-based swap dealer must publish or distribute research reports on the issuer underlying the security-based swap or its securities in the regular course of its business and the publication or distribution of the research report must not represent the initiation of publication of research reports about such issuer or its securities or the reinitiation of such publication following discontinuation of publication of such research reports. Third, the written communications must be a “research report” as defined in Rule 139(d) under the Securities Act.59 The final rule clarifies that the term “issuer” as used in the definition of “research report” is (i) the issuer of a security or loan referenced in the security-based swap, (ii) each issuer or issuer of a security in a narrow-based security index referenced in the security-based swap, or (iii) each issuer referenced in the security-based swap (each, a “Referenced Issuer”). This provision makes clear that the “issuer” referenced in the definition of “research report” for purposes of the final rule is the Referenced Issuer and not the counterparties to the security-based swap.60

    58See footnote 50 above.

    59See footnote 14 above. The definition of “research report” in Rule 138 under the Securities Act is the same as the definition of that term in Rule 139 under the Securities Act. See 17 CFR 230.138.

    60 The security-based swaps market generally involves bilateral contracts privately negotiated between security-based swap dealers and sophisticated counterparties who must qualify as ECPs, with no secondary resale market. As a result of the bilateral nature of the security-based swap, each party could be viewed as the issuer of a security-based swap to the other party.

    The conditions to the final rule are similar to the conditions that apply to research reports covered by Rules 138 and 139 in the context of unregistered offerings transacted in reliance on Rule 144A or Regulation S.61 Rules 138 and 139 include other conditions that apply to communications used in unregistered offerings transacted in reliance on Rule 144A and Regulation S that limit the types of issuers whose securities may be the subject of the securities research that is covered by the Research Rules. However, in the context of security-based swaps, a Referenced Issuer typically is not involved in the offering of the security-based swap.62 As such, we do not believe that it is necessary to limit the types of issuers that may be the subject of SBS-related research reports.

    61See footnote 56 above.

    62 Footnotes 15 and 16 above and accompanying text address transactions where the issuer may be involved in the offering of the security-based swaps.

    We believe that the final rule with respect to SBS-related research reports is necessary and appropriate in the public interest. As noted above, absent the provisions of the final rule, unrestricted publication or distribution of SBS-related research reports may affect the availability of Securities Act exemptions from registration and may constitute making “offers” to non-ECPs. Accordingly, we believe that the final rule is necessary so that the publication or distribution of SBS-related research reports will not impede the continuous flow of essential information into the security-based swaps market and security markets generally, affect the ability of market participants to rely on available exemptions from the registration requirements of the Securities Act, or require registration of the transactions under the Securities Act because they are viewed as offers to non-ECPs.

    We also believe that the final rule is consistent with the protection of investors. The availability of the final rule is conditioned on the satisfaction of certain requirements similar to the Research Rules. These requirements were included in the Research Rules to permit the dissemination of securities research around the time of an offering while avoiding offering abuses.63 We believe that these requirements, which were designed to ensure that appropriate investor protections are maintained, will be similarly effective in avoiding offering abuses in the security-based swaps context. Further, the final rule applies with respect to covered SBS. Excluding the publication or distribution of SBS-related research reports from the definition of “offer” will not harm non-ECPs because they will not be able to purchase the relevant security-based swaps, as discussed above. Finally, the final rule has no effect on other provisions of the federal securities laws, including the application of the registration requirements of the Securities Act to transactions involving securities referenced in security-based swaps as well as the continued application of the antifraud provisions of the federal securities laws to transactions in security-based swaps or the securities referenced in such security-based swaps.

    63See Securities Offering Reform Adopting Release.

    Therefore, we believe that the final rule with respect to SBS-related research reports is necessary or appropriate in the public interest, and consistent with the protection of investors.

    III. Other Matters

    If any of the provisions of these rules, or the application thereof to any person or circumstance, is held to be invalid, such invalidity shall not affect other provisions or application of such provisions to other persons or circumstances that can be given effect without the invalid provision or application.

    Section 553(d) of the Administrative Procedure Act generally requires an agency to publish an adopted rule in the Federal Register 30 days before it becomes effective.64 This requirement does not apply, however, if the adopted rule is a “substantive rule which grants or recognizes an exemption or relieves a restriction.” 65 We find that the final rule is a substantive rule which relieves a restriction. As explained above, under current law, there is uncertainty as to whether the publication or distribution of SBS price quotes or SBS-related research reports could be viewed as an “offer” of the relevant security-based swaps within the meaning of the Securities Act. If such communications are deemed to be an offer, the relevant security-based swaps consequently would not be able to be offered or sold absent an effective registration statement under the Securities Act. The final rule relieves this restriction and dispels market uncertainty by providing that the publication or distribution of SBS price quotes and SBS-related research reports will not be deemed offers of the relevant security-based swaps for purposes of Section 5 of the Securities Act.

    64See 5 U.S.C. 553(d).

    65See 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(1).

    IV. Economic Analysis

    We are sensitive to the economic consequences and effects, including costs and benefits, of our rules. The discussion below addresses the potential economic consequences and effects of the final rule and alternatives, including the costs and benefits, as well as the potential effects on efficiency, competition, and capital formation.66

    66 Section 2(b) of the Securities Act requires that the Commission, when engaging in rulemaking that requires it to consider whether an action is necessary or appropriate in the public interest, to also consider whether the action will promote efficiency, competition, and capital formation. 15 U.S.C. 77b(b). We have integrated our consideration of these issues into this economic analysis.

    The final rule does not itself establish the scope or nature of the substantive requirements for security-based swaps following the full implementation of Title VII or their related costs and benefits. The rules implementing the substantive requirements under Title VII will be subject to their own economic analysis. The costs and benefits described below therefore are those that may arise in connection with the final rule.

    A. Baseline

    To assess the economic impact of the final rule, we are using as our baseline the regulation of security-based swaps as it exists at the time of this release, taking into account applicable rules adopted by the Commission, including the interim final exemptions affecting security-based swaps under the Securities Act and the Exchange Act.

    As part of the economic analysis in the Business Conduct Standards Adopting Release, we provided an extensive description of the security-based swaps market, including a detailed analysis of the participants in the security-based swaps market and the levels of security-based swaps trading activity.67 The present release addresses a narrower aspect of the security-based swaps market, and we refer market participants to the more comprehensive discussion set forth in the Business Conduct Standards Adopting Release for additional context. In particular, we noted in the Business Conduct Standards Adopting Release that the single-name credit default swaps market—a significant part of the security-based swaps market generally—involves thousands of distinct counterparties but with a heavy concentration of transactions among a relatively small number of dealer entities.68 The notional size of the single-name credit default swaps market is in the trillions of dollars annually, corresponding to hundreds of thousands of individual transactions, and with approximately 80% of transactions between dealers.69 Among the non-dealer market participants, private funds are the largest constituent group, followed by Dodd-Frank Act-defined special entities and investment companies registered under the Investment Company Act of 1940.70 More broadly, the analysis shows that although the dollar volume of transactions in the security-based swaps market is large, there are fewer market participants than for other securities markets.71

    67See footnote 52 above.

    68See Business Conduct Standards Adopting Release.

    69Id.

    70Id.

    71Id.

    As noted above,72 we adopted the interim final exemptions to exempt offers and sales of security-based swap agreements that became security-based swaps on the effective date of Title VII from all provisions of the Securities Act, other than the Section 17(a) anti-fraud provisions, as well as from the Exchange Act registration requirements and from the provisions of the Trust Indenture Act, provided that the transactions are entered into solely between ECPs. Currently, certain market participants may rely on the interim final exemptions to continue to enter into security-based swap transactions as they did prior to the effective date of Title VII without concern they would have to comply with the provisions of the Securities Act.

    72See footnote 41 above and accompanying text.

    The interim final exemptions are available, however, only for certain types of transactions involving security-based swaps. The security-based swaps covered by the interim final exemptions are only those that would have been “security-based swap agreements” prior to the effective date of Title VII, which is a narrower category of security-based swaps than under Title VII.73 In addition, the persons who may enter into security-based swaps covered by the interim final exemptions may be different from those entering into “security-based swap agreements” prior to the effective date of Title VII because the definition of “eligible contract participant” under Title VII is narrower than the pre-Title VII definition.74 Any security-based swap transaction that cannot rely on the interim final exemptions would have to rely on another available exemption from the registration requirements of the Securities Act, such as the exemption in Section 4(a)(2),75 or would have to be registered under the Securities Act. However, no Securities Act exemptions are available with respect to security-based swap transactions involving non-ECPs because Title VII amended the Securities Act to require that all offers and sales of security-based swaps to non-ECPs must be registered under the Securities Act.76

    73See Section 3(a)(68) of the Exchange Act for the definition of “security-based swap.” 15 U.S.C. 78c(a)(68). See footnote 41 above regarding the definition of “security-based swap agreement.”

    74 The amendments to the definition of “eligible contract participant” increased the dollar threshold for certain persons and, with respect to natural persons, replaced a “total assets” test with an “amounts invested on a discretionary basis” test. See Section 1a(12) of the Commodity Exchange Act [7 U.S.C. 1a(12)], as in effect prior to the effective date of Title VII, and Section 1(a)(18) of the Commodity Exchange Act, as re-designated and amended by Section 721 of the Dodd-Frank Act. The definition of the term “eligible contract participant” in the Securities Act and in the Exchange Act refers to the definition of “eligible contract participant” in the Commodity Exchange Act. See footnote 7 above.

    75See 15 U.S.C. 77d(a)(2).

    76See footnote 8 above and accompanying text.

    The interim final exemptions are self-executing and as such are available without any action by the Commission or its staff. As a result, market participants must make their own determinations as to whether such exemptions are available with respect to a particular security-based swap transaction. Given that such exemptions are self-executing, we do not have any data or other quantifiable information regarding the use of such exemptions, including which market participants are effecting transactions in reliance on such exemptions or the number of transactions effected in reliance on such exemptions.

    If we do not take other action, the interim final exemptions will expire on February 11, 2018. Although the analysis below considers the economic consequences and effects of the final rule under the current baseline, which includes the interim final exemptions, we also consider the potential impact of the final rule without the interim final exemptions in our discussion of alternatives.

    B. Analysis of the Final Rule

    Under the final rule, certain communications involving security-based swaps are not considered “offers” for purposes of Section 5 of the Securities Act. However, unlike the interim final exemptions, the final rule is not itself an exemption from the registration requirements of the Securities Act. As a result, while the types of communications covered by the final rule are not considered offers, market participants engaging in any security-based swap transaction will have to either satisfy the conditions of existing exemptions under the Securities Act or register such transactions under the Securities Act.

    Security-based swaps are transacted through hundreds of thousands of individual transactions annually, but because the available registration exemptions are self-executing, we do not know what fraction of market participants that engage in these transactions currently rely on the interim final exemptions as opposed to other exemptions from registration under the Securities Act.77 For transactions involving security-based swaps that do not satisfy the conditions of the interim final exemptions, the final rule will assist market participants in evaluating how they should analyze certain communications that may affect their transactions. In particular, market participants will be able to assess the availability of exemptions from the registration requirements of the Securities Act without concern that certain communications will affect the availability of such exemptions.

    77 Given that these exemptions, including the exemption in Section 4(a)(2) of the Securities Act, are self-executing, we do not have any data or other quantifiable information regarding the number of market participants that may be effecting security-based swap transactions in reliance on these exemptions. However, we believe that a significant portion of market participants engaging in these transactions are eligible to rely on the interim final exemptions because the vast majority of security-based swap transactions involve single-name credit default swaps, which would have been “security-based swap agreements” prior to the effective date of Title VII. See footnote 73 above and accompanying text.

    The final rule is self-executing in that the publication or distribution of SBS price quotes or SBS-related research reports is excluded from the definition of “offer” and thereby will not be deemed to be an offer to buy or purchase the security-based swaps that are the subject of the SBS price quotes or SBS-related research reports or any guarantees of such security-based swaps that are securities for purposes of Section 5 of the Securities Act without any action by the Commission or its staff. Because the final rule is self-executing, the only cost of being able to rely on the final rule is to determine its applicability. In addition, the final rule does not create any new filing, reporting, recordkeeping, or disclosure reporting requirements for any market participants.

    Excluding the types of communications covered by the final rule from the definition of “offer” will have minimal economic consequences or effects on the ability of market participants to enter into security-based swap transactions compared with the baseline.78 For example, as compared to the baseline, the final rule does not affect the ability of market participants to enter into security-based swap transactions in reliance on available exemptions under the Securities Act, such as the exemption in Section 4(a)(2). While the interim final exemptions have limited conditions,79 which differ from the conditions of the exemption under Section 4(a)(2) (including with respect to the communications that are the subject of the final rule), some security-based swap transactions engaged in after the effective date of Title VII may have been effected in reliance on Section 4(a)(2) rather than in reliance on the interim final exemptions. Further, the protections that currently exist under the interim final exemptions and under Section 4(a)(2) still apply. For example, the interim final exemptions do not limit or otherwise affect the antifraud provisions of the federal securities laws, including Section 17(a) of the Securities Act.

    78 The baseline used in this analysis takes into account the interim final exemptions and the fact that Title VII has not been fully implemented. As noted above, unless further action is taken, the interim final exemptions will expire on February 11, 2018. In the discussion of alternatives below, we consider the economic consequences and effects of the final rule without the interim final exemptions.

    79See footnote 41 above and accompanying text. In that regard we note, for example, that security-based swaps based on single loans would not be within the definition of “security-based swap agreement” in effect prior to the effective date of Title VII.

    The final rule does not impose new requirements on market participants. Further, because the final rule is available with respect to any security-based swap transaction involving an ECP, we do not believe that the final rule impairs competition between the different types of trading venues and methods that differ in the extent to which they make SBS price quotes available to the public and differ in their level of public SBS price quotes. Moreover, we believe that the final rule furthers the goal of Title VII to bring the trading of security-based swaps onto regulated trading platforms, which should help advance the objective of greater transparency and a more competitive environment for the trading of security-based swaps. As a result, we believe that increased transparency and competitiveness in the security-based swaps market could help lower transaction costs associated with market participant hedging (risk mitigating) strategies and thereby lower the cost of capital and facilitate the capital formation process. We also note that investors and other users of SBS-related research reports may benefit from the additional information provided by security-based swaps research included in research on other securities.

    We believe that the costs associated with the final rule are minimal. The final rule does not impose additional costs on market participants to determine ECP status.80 In addition, non-ECPs are not permitted to purchase any security-based swaps that are the subject of the SBS price quotes or SBS-related research reports within the scope of the final rule, and the Securities Act registration requirements continue to apply to security-based swap transactions involving such non-ECPs. As a result of these limitations, the exclusion of the SBS price quotes and SBS-related research reports from being deemed offers should not increase the potential for unlawful sales of security-based swaps to non-ECPs.

    80 The determination of whether a person is an ECP is part of the Business Conduct Standards, which require that security-based swap dealers and major security-based swap participants verify the ECP eligibility of their security-based swap counterparties. See footnote 52 above.

    We recognize that a consequence of the final rule is that the vast majority of offers and sales of security-based swap transactions that potentially could be implicated by the final rule are unlikely to be registered under the Securities Act (with the consequent unavailability of certain remedies). As a result, and as is the case under the interim final exemptions, there will not be an effective registration statement under the Securities Act covering the offer and sale of such security-based swaps. A registration statement would provide certain information about the market participants, the security-based swap contract terms, and the identification of the particular reference securities, issuers, or loans underlying the security-based swaps. Further, while an investor will be able to pursue an antifraud action in connection with the purchase and sale of the securities in these security-based swap transactions under Section 10(b) of the Exchange Act, an investor will not be able to pursue civil remedies under Section 11 or 12(a)(2) of the Securities Act because the offer and sale of the securities in these security-based swap transactions will not be registered under the Securities Act. In addition, an investor may be limited in its ability to pursue civil remedies under Section 12(a)(1) of the Securities Act because the publication or distribution of quotes for security-based swaps will not be deemed to be an offer for purposes of Section 5 of the Securities Act. However, the Commission could still pursue an antifraud action in the offer and sale of the securities in these security-based swap transactions under Section 17(a) of the Securities Act.

    We note that the Business Conduct Standards require, among other things, that certain disclosures be made to certain ECPs.81 Such disclosures include (i) the material risks and characteristics of the security-based swap, and certain clearing rights, (ii) the material incentives or conflicts of interest that a security-based swap dealer or major security-based swap participant may have in connection with the security-based swap, and (iii) the daily mark of the security-based swap.82 While the information to be conveyed in the daily mark is not equivalent to that in a registration statement, we believe it could provide a counterparty with a useful and meaningful reference point against which to assess, among other things, the calculation of variation margin for a security-based swap or portfolio of security-based swaps, and otherwise inform the counterparty's understanding of its financial relationship with the security-based swap dealer or major security-based swap participant.83 Moreover, because under the Business Conduct Standards security-based swap dealers and major security-based swap participants are required to provide the same valuation to all of their counterparties, and because counterparties could interact with multiple security-based swap dealers and major security-based swap participants, counterparties should have greater confidence of equal treatment as they now have the ability to observe when valuations differ among security-based swap dealers and major security-based swap participants.

    81See footnote 52 above. The Commission has adopted rules to implement the Business Conduct Standards provisions of the Dodd-Frank Act.

    82Id.

    83 For instance, under the Business Conduct Standards, the required disclosure of the daily mark consists of, for a cleared security-based swap, providing counterparties with the daily end-of-day settlement price received by the security-based swap dealer or major security-based swap participant from the appropriate clearing agency, and, for an uncleared security-based swap, the midpoint between the bid and offer prices for a particular security-based swap, or the calculated equivalent of the midpoint as of the close of business. Id.

    As noted above, to the extent that a security-based swap transaction does not meet the conditions of the interim final exemptions, the counterparties to such transaction likely are effecting the transaction in reliance on an available exemption from the registration requirements of the Securities Act. The final rule will benefit these counterparties because they will be able to assess the availability of an exemption from the registration requirements of the Securities Act without concern that the publication or distribution of SBS price quotes or SBS-related research reports for the security-based swap that is the subject of the transaction may compromise the availability of an exemption. The final rule also will benefit these counterparties by clarifying that the publication or distribution of SBS price quotes or SBS-related research reports does not constitute an offer of the security-based swaps that are the subject of such SBS price quotes or SBS-related research reports to non-ECPs. As noted above, no exemptions from the registration requirements of the Securities Act are available with respect to offers of security-based swaps to non-ECPs. As a result, without the final rule, these counterparties would be required to incur the costs associated with registration under the Securities Act.

    Unlike an equity or debt security, a security-based swap transaction could entail an ongoing financial commitment (i.e., economic exposure) between the dealer (or its affiliate) and the ECP client, whereby a client loss could result in a dealer gain of equal measure. The dealer (or its affiliate) would, at least initially, take the opposite economic exposure as that of the client, who may be entering into the transaction based on information provided by the dealer's research or the research of its affiliate. In such instances, the research may not be considered independent.

    While the final rule's treatment of SBS-related research reports could facilitate these types of transactions, which have the potential for a conflict of interest, we note that such communications are permissible today under the interim final exemptions, and that the additional disclosures required by the Business Conduct Standards should make such potential conflicts transparent to ECPs. Further, the Business Conduct Standards require detailed descriptions of any material risks and other characteristics of a security-based swap, which may mitigate any bias introduced in the SBS-related research reports.

    It remains possible, however, that some market participants may use the provisions under the final rule to disseminate SBS-related research reports with the intent of making an offer or for solicitation purposes, particularly given the lower cost of disseminating these reports compared to registration statements. The potential for market participants to misuse the final rule in this manner should be mitigated by the fact that the final rule covers only communications made in connection with security-based swaps that may be sold only to ECPs and would not cover other security-based swaps that may be offered or sold to non-ECPs. Further, the final rule incorporates other safeguards similar to those in the Research Rules.84

    84See footnote 61 above and accompanying text.

    C. Alternatives Considered

    One alternative to the final rule that we considered was to take no action at this time to address issues arising under the Securities Act for certain communications involving security-based swaps. This alternative would affect all security-based swap transactions, including those currently relying on the interim final exemptions. At this time, all security-based swap transactions either must be registered under the Securities Act or rely on an available exemption from registration. If we take no action with respect to the treatment of communications involving security-based swaps, the publication or distribution of SBS price quotes or SBS-related research reports could be deemed to constitute an offer, an offer to sell, or a solicitation of an offer to buy or purchase security-based swaps. If considered offers, such communications could affect the availability of exemptions from the registration requirements of the Securities Act. If no Securities Act exemptions are available with respect to a security-based swap transaction, such transactions would require registration.

    We believe that taking no action could disrupt and impose unnecessary costs on this segment of the security-based swaps market because it would perpetuate uncertainty as to whether certain communications involving SBS price quotes or SBS-related research reports will be deemed offers for purposes of Section 5 of the Securities Act. Without the final rule, the risk that these communications will be deemed offers might lead some market participants either not to engage in these security-based swap transactions, which could impede the market, or to register the offer and sale of the security-based swap transactions, which would likely increase costs for market participants. This risk also may lead some market participants to withhold or limit the publication or distribution of SBS-related research reports, which could reduce the amount and quality of the information available to investors and other market participants in the security-based swaps market, credit markets and securities markets generally.

    We believe that the final rule facilitates capital formation and promotes efficiency by lowering the costs of security-based swap transactions relative to what would be required without the final rule. Without the final rule and following the expiration of the interim final exemptions, we believe that the operation of the registration provisions of the Securities Act could have unintended consequences for the operation of security-based swap trading platforms and the ability of market participants to enter into these security-based swap transactions in reliance on available exemptions from the registration requirements of the Securities Act following the full implementation of Title VII. Following the expiration of the interim final exemptions, we anticipate that the final rule will facilitate a more efficient market place for these security-based swap transactions.

    Without the final rule, a market participant may choose not to continue to participate in these types of transactions if compliance with the registration requirements of the Securities Act is required. This would likely curtail the use of trading platforms and venues that make use of broad communications methods for the public dissemination of SBS price quotes. As noted above, one of the goals of Title VII is to bring the trading of security-based swaps onto regulated trading platforms. In the absence of applicable Securities Act exemptions for a security-based swap transaction because the dissemination of price quotes for security-based swaps could be viewed as offers of those security-based swaps, the costs of the required registration of such transactions under the Securities Act could limit the incentive for market participants to engage in security-based swap transactions on regulated trading platforms. In response to the lack of an available exemption from registration, some market participants may also seek to restructure their operations to minimize their transactions in, or contact with, the United States in an effort to avoid having to register these transactions under the Securities Act. If market participants were to determine not to engage in security-based swap transactions due to the lack of an available exemption from registration, or to restructure their operations and thus avoid U.S. exposure because of the lack of such an exemption, such actions could affect the number of price quotes for, and the liquidity of, certain types of security-based swaps, which could have a detrimental effect on the ability of U.S. market participants to obtain credit exposure or hedge risk, and could have a more general adverse impact on the liquidity and price discovery of security-based swap transactions. This effect would be inconsistent with the tenet of increased transparency that is central to the legislative intent of Title VII.

    If market participants continue to engage in security-based swap transactions without the final rule and register these transactions under the Securities Act, they would incur increased compliance costs associated with such registration. Additionally, there is unlikely to be a commensurate benefit to registration given that the investors typically in greater need of the investor protections provided by registration are likely not ECPs, and those investors are not eligible to purchase any security-based swaps that are the subject of the communications within the scope of the final rule.

    While the use of a shelf registration statement may be available to some participants and would lessen the costs of registration compared to the costs for participants who were not able to use a shelf registration statement, there would be costs whether or not a shelf registration statement is available.85 Given the eligibility criteria for using a shelf registration statement, the use of a shelf registration statement is likely to be available to a majority of market participants. However, to the extent that there is a decrease in the dissemination of certain communications related to security-based swaps in the absence of the final rule, such a decline may be concentrated among market participants who cannot lower their costs by using a shelf registration statement.

    85 Certain market participants could reduce the registration burden by using the Form S-3 registration statement for their securities offerings. We previously have estimated that 50 or fewer entities ultimately may have to register with us as security-based swap dealers. See Business Conduct Standards Adopting Release. These entities (or their affiliates) are likely to be seasoned or well-known seasoned issuers that are eligible to use the Form S-3 registration statement for their securities offerings. In particular, these entities (or their affiliates) are likely to have a Form S-3 shelf registration statement that is effective under the Securities Act. A shelf registration statement covers the offer and sale of securities that are not necessarily to be sold in a single offering immediately upon effectiveness; instead, the securities are typically sold in a number of “takedowns” over a period of time or on a continuous basis. A shelf registration statement allows issuers to conduct multiple types and amounts of securities offerings using the same registration statement. If these entities (or their affiliates) are required to register the offer and sale of the securities in security-based swap transactions, they would likely use their shelf registration statements for the offerings. For takedowns off their shelf registration statements, an entity (or its affiliate) would file a prospectus supplement under the Securities Act that contains the specific terms of the offering. As a result of the shelf registration procedure, these entities (including their affiliates) would incur lower costs relating to the takedown for each security-based swap transaction than they would otherwise incur if they had to use a non-shelf registration statement for the security-based swap transactions. While the use of a shelf registration statement would reduce the registration burden for qualifying market participants, it may not be available to all market participants.

    Another alternative to the final rule would be to deem only SBS price quotes as not constituting offers for purposes of Section 5 of the Securities Act. To the extent SBS-related research reports are deemed to be offers for purposes of Section 5, dealers or their affiliates may not include information about security-based swaps in research reports, which may otherwise be useful to some investors. However, inclusion of this information may create conflicts of interest problems unique to the security-based swaps market, as discussed above.

    V. Paperwork Reduction Act

    The final rule does not impose any new “collections of information” within the meaning of the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (“PRA”),86 nor does it create any new filing, reporting, recordkeeping, or disclosure reporting requirements. Accordingly, we are not submitting the final rule to the Office of Management and Budget for review in accordance with the PRA.87

    86 44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.

    87 44 U.S.C. 3507(d) and 5 CFR 1320.11.

    VI. Regulatory Flexibility Act Certification

    Under Section 605(b) of the Regulatory Flexibility Act,88 we certified that proposed Rule 135d under the Securities Act would not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. This certification, including our basis for the certification, was included in Part VII of the Proposing Release. We solicited comments on the potential impact of the proposed rule on small entities but received none. We are adopting this rule as proposed with one substantive addition concerning SBS-related research reports. We do not believe that this substantive addition alters the basis upon which the certification in the Proposing Release was made. Accordingly, we certify that Rule 135d under the Securities Act will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities.

    88 5 U.S.C. 605(b).

    VII. Statutory Authority

    The rule described in this release is being adopted under the authority set forth in Sections 5, 19, and 28 of the Securities Act.

    List of Subjects in 17 CFR Part 230

    Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Securities.

    For the reasons set out above, we are amending title 17, chapter II of the Code of Federal Regulations as follows:

    PART 230—GENERAL RULES AND REGULATIONS, SECURITIES ACT OF 1933 1. The authority citation for part 230 continues to read, in part, as follows: Authority:

    15 U.S.C. 77b, 77b note, 77c, 77d, 77f, 77g, 77h, 77j, 77r, 77s, 77z-3, 77sss, 78c, 78d, 78j, 78l, 78m, 78n, 78o, 78o-7 note, 78t, 78w, 78ll(d), 78mm, 80a-8, 80a-24, 80a-28, 80a-29, 80a-30, and 80a-37, and Pub. L. 112-106, sec. 201(a), sec. 401, 126 Stat. 313 (2012), unless otherwise noted.

    2. Section 230.135d is added to read as follows:
    § 230.135d Communications involving security-based swaps.

    (a) For the purposes only of Section 5 of the Act (15 U.S.C. 77e), the publication or distribution of quotes relating to security-based swaps that may be purchased only by persons who are eligible contract participants (as defined in Section 1a(18) of the Commodity Exchange Act (7 U.S.C. 1a(18))) and are traded or processed on or through a trading system or platform that either is registered as a national securities exchange under Section 6(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (15 U.S.C. 78f(a)) or as a security-based swap execution facility under Section 3D(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (15 U.S.C. 78c-4(a)), or is exempt from registration as a security-based swap execution facility under Section 3D(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 pursuant to a rule, regulation, or order of the Commission shall not be deemed to constitute an offer, an offer to sell, or a solicitation of an offer to buy or purchase any security-based swap or any guarantee of such security-based swap that is a security; and

    (b) For the purposes only of Section 5 of the Act (15 U.S.C. 77e), a broker, dealer, or security-based swap dealer's publication or distribution of a research report (as defined in § 230.139(d)) that discusses security-based swaps that may be purchased only by persons who are eligible contract participants (as defined in Section 1a(18) of the Commodity Exchange Act (7 U.S.C. 1a(18))) shall not be deemed to constitute an offer, an offer to sell, or a solicitation of an offer to buy or purchase any security-based swap or any guarantee of such security-based swap that is a security, provided that the broker, dealer, or security-based swap dealer publishes or distributes research reports on the issuer underlying the security-based swap or its securities in the regular course of its business and the publication or distribution of the research report does not represent the initiation of publication of research reports about such issuer or its securities or the reinitiation of such publication following discontinuation of publication of such research reports. For purposes of this section, the term issuer as used in the definition of “research report” means the issuer of any security or loan referenced in the security-based swap, each issuer of a security in a narrow-based security index referenced in the security-based swap, or each issuer referenced in the security-based swap.

    By the Commission.

    Dated: January 5, 2018. Brent J. Fields, Secretary.
    [FR Doc. 2018-00347 Filed 1-12-18; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 8011-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES Food and Drug Administration 21 CFR Parts 16, 801, 803, 806, 810, 814, 820, 821, 822, and 830 [Docket No. FDA-2017-D-6841] Unique Device Identification: Policy Regarding Compliance Dates for Class I and Unclassified Devices; Immediately in Effect Guidance for Industry and Food and Drug Administration Staff; Availability AGENCY:

    Food and Drug Administration, HHS.

    ACTION:

    Notification of availability.

    SUMMARY:

    The Food and Drug Administration (FDA or Agency) is announcing the availability of the guidance for industry and FDA Staff entitled “Unique Device Identification: Policy Regarding Compliance Dates for Class I and Unclassified Devices; Immediately in Effect Guidance for Industry and Food and Drug Administration Staff.” This guidance describes FDA's intention with respect to the enforcement of unique device identification requirements for certain class I and unclassified devices. FDA does not intend to enforce standard date formatting, labeling, and Global Unique Device Identification Database (GUDID) data submission requirements under Agency regulations for these devices before September 24, 2020. In addition, FDA does not intend to enforce direct mark requirements under an Agency regulation for these devices before September 24, 2022. The policy described in this guidance does not apply to implantable, life-supporting, or life-sustaining devices. The guidance document is immediately in effect, but it remains subject to comment in accordance with the Agency's good guidance practices.

    DATES:

    The announcement of the guidance is published in the Federal Register on January 16, 2018.

    ADDRESSES:

    You may submit either electronic or written comments on Agency guidances at any time as follows:

    Electronic Submissions

    Submit electronic comments in the following way:

    Federal eRulemaking Portal: https://www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments. Comments submitted electronically, including attachments, to https://www.regulations.gov will be posted to the docket unchanged. Because your comment will be made public, you are solely responsible for ensuring that your comment does not include any confidential information that you or a third party may not wish to be posted, such as medical information, your or anyone else's Social Security number, or confidential business information, such as a manufacturing process. Please note that if you include your name, contact information, or other information that identifies you in the body of your comments, that information will be posted on https://www.regulations.gov.

    • If you want to submit a comment with confidential information that you do not wish to be made available to the public, submit the comment as a written/paper submission and in the manner detailed (see “Written/Paper Submissions” and “Instructions”).

    Written/Paper Submissions

    Submit written/paper submissions as follows:

    Mail/Hand delivery/Courier (for written/paper submissions): Dockets Management Staff (HFA-305), Food and Drug Administration, 5630 Fishers Lane, Rm. 1061, Rockville, MD 20852.

    • For written/paper comments submitted to the Dockets Management Staff, FDA will post your comment, as well as any attachments, except for information submitted, marked and identified, as confidential, if submitted as detailed in “Instructions.”

    Instructions: All submissions received must include the Docket No. FDA-2017-D-6841 for “Unique Device Identification: Policy Regarding Compliance Dates for Class I and Unclassified Devices; Immediately in Effect Guidance for Industry and Food and Drug Administration Staff.” Received comments will be placed in the docket and, except for those submitted as “Confidential Submissions,” publicly viewable at https://www.regulations.gov or at the Dockets Management Staff between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., Monday through Friday.

    Confidential Submissions—To submit a comment with confidential information that you do not wish to be made publicly available, submit your comments only as a written/paper submission. You should submit two copies total. One copy will include the information you claim to be confidential with a heading or cover note that states “THIS DOCUMENT CONTAINS CONFIDENTIAL INFORMATION.” The Agency will review this copy, including the claimed confidential information, in its consideration of comments. The second copy, which will have the claimed confidential information redacted/blacked out, will be available for public viewing and posted on https://www.regulations.gov. Submit both copies to the Dockets Management Staff. If you do not wish your name and contact information to be made publicly available, you can provide this information on the cover sheet and not in the body of your comments and you must identify this information as “confidential.” Any information marked as “confidential” will not be disclosed except in accordance with 21 CFR 10.20 and other applicable disclosure law. For more information about FDA's posting of comments to public dockets, see 80 FR 56469, September 18, 2015, or access the information at: https://www.thefederalregister.org/fdsys/pkg/FR-2015-09-18/pdf/2015-23389.pdf.

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

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

    An electronic copy of the guidance document is available for download from the internet. See the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section for information on electronic access to the guidance. Submit written requests for a single hard copy of the guidance document entitled “Unique Device Identification: Policy Regarding Compliance Dates for Class I and Unclassified Devices; Immediately in Effect Guidance for Industry and Food and Drug Administration Staff” to the Office of the Center Director, Guidance and Policy Development, Center for Devices and Radiological Health, Food and Drug Administration, 10903 New Hampshire Ave., Bldg. 66, Rm. 5431, Silver Spring, MD 20993-0002; or the Office of Communication, Outreach and Development, Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, Food and Drug Administration, 10903 New Hampshire Ave., Bldg. 71, Rm. 3128, Silver Spring, MD 20993-0002. Send one self-addressed adhesive label to assist that office in processing your request.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    For Center for Devices and Radiological Health-regulated devices: Loretta Chi, Unique Device Identifier Regulatory Policy Support, 301-796-5995, email: [email protected] For Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research-regulated devices: Stephen Ripley, Office of Communication, Outreach, and Development, Food and Drug Administration, 10903 New Hampshire Ave., Bldg. 71, Rm. 7301, Silver Spring, MD 20993-0002, 240-402-7911, or call 1-800-835-4709 or 240-402-8010.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    I. Background

    FDA is announcing the availability of a guidance entitled “Unique Device Identification: Policy Regarding Compliance Dates for Class I and Unclassified Devices; Immediately in Effect Guidance for Industry and Food and Drug Administration Staff.” In the September 24, 2013, Federal Register (78 FR 58786), FDA published a final rule establishing a unique device identification system designed to adequately identify medical devices during their distribution and use (the UDI Rule). Under § 801.20 (21 CFR 801.20) a device is required to bear a unique device identifier (UDI) on its label and packages unless an exception or alternative applies. Special labeling requirements apply to stand-alone software regulated as a device (§ 801.50 (21 CFR 801.50)). Under § 830.300 (21 CFR 830.300) data pertaining to the key characteristics of each device required to bear a UDI must be submitted to the GUDID. Devices that must bear UDIs on their labels and that are intended to be used more than once and reprocessed between uses must be directly marked with a UDI (§ 801.45 (21 CFR 801.45)). In addition, § 801.18 (21 CFR 801.18) requires certain dates on device labels to be in a standard format.

    UDI requirements are being phased in over 7 years according to a schedule of compliance dates established in the UDI Rule ranging from September 24, 2014, to September 24, 2020. The compliance dates established for class I and unclassified devices—other than implantable, life-supporting, or life-sustaining (I/LS/LS) devices—are September 24, 2018, for labeling, GUDID submission, and standard date format requirements, and September 24, 2020, for direct mark requirements.

    FDA does not intend to enforce standard date formatting, UDI labeling, and GUDID data submission requirements under §§ 801.18, 801.20, 801.50, and 830.300 for class I and unclassified devices, other than I/LS/LS devices, before September 24, 2020. FDA also does not intend to enforce direct mark requirements under § 801.45 for these devices before September 24, 2022. This policy does not apply to class I devices that FDA has by regulation exempted from the good manufacturing practice requirements because such devices are excepted from UDI requirements (see § 801.30(a)(2) (21 CFR 801.30(a)(2))).

    In addition, finished class I and unclassified devices, other than I/LS/LS devices, manufactured and labeled prior to September 24, 2018, are excepted from UDI labeling requirements under §§ 801.20 and 801.50, as well as from GUDID data submission requirements for a period of 3 years after the established compliance date or until September 24, 2021. (See §§ 801.30(a)(1) and 830.300(a).) We also do not intend to enforce standard date format requirements under § 801.18 during that same 3-year period for finished class I and unclassified devices, other than I/LS/LS devices, manufactured and labeled before September 24, 2018.

    Pursuant to § 801.30(a)(1), finished class I and unclassified devices, other than I/LS/LS devices, manufactured and labeled prior to September 24, 2018, would also be excepted from direct marking requirements until September 24, 2021. However, with the exception of I/LS/LS devices, we do not intend to enforce direct mark requirements before September 24, 2022, for class I and unclassified devices (including those manufactured and labeled prior to September 24, 2018). We believe this policy regarding direct mark compliance dates is appropriate because it is not in the best interest of the public health for labelers of class I and unclassified devices to prioritize remediating devices in inventory to meet direct mark requirements prior to addressing direct marking, and its impact on the safety and effectiveness, for devices manufactured following labelers' full implementation of UDI.

    Fully realizing the benefits of the unique device identification system depends on UDI being integrated into data sources throughout our health care system, including in the supply chain, electronic health records, and registries. This requires UDI data to be of a high quality such that all stakeholders in the health care community have sufficient confidence in the accuracy and completeness of that data.

    To fully reap the public health benefits and a return on investment of the unique device identification system, the Agency intends to focus its resources on addressing existing implementation challenges and optimizing the quality and utility of UDI data for higher-risk devices before focusing on UDI implementation issues for lower-risk devices. Undertaking this endeavor now will help ensure the transition from development of the unique device identification system to widespread use and sustainability.

    This guidance is being implemented without prior public comment because the Agency has determined that prior public participation is not feasible or appropriate (§ 10.115(g)(2) (21 CFR 10.115(g)(2))). FDA has determined that this guidance document presents a less burdensome policy that is consistent with public health. Although this guidance is immediately in effect, FDA will consider all comments received and revise the guidance document as appropriate.

    II. Significance of Guidance

    This guidance is being issued consistent with FDA's good guidance practices regulation (§ 10.115). The guidance represents the current thinking of FDA on “Unique Device Identification: Policy Regarding Compliance Dates for Class I and Unclassified Devices; Immediately in Effect Guidance for Industry and Food and Drug Administration Staff.” It does not establish any rights for any person and is not binding on FDA or the public. You can use an alternative approach if it satisfies the requirements of the applicable statutes and regulations. This guidance is not subject to Executive Order 12866.

    III. Electronic Access

    Persons interested in obtaining a copy of the guidance may do so by downloading an electronic copy from the internet. A search capability for all Center for Devices and Radiological Health guidance documents is available at https://www.fda.gov/MedicalDevices/DeviceRegulationandGuidance/GuidanceDocuments/default.htm. A search capability for all Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research guidance documents is available at https://www.fda.gov/BiologicsBloodVaccines/GuidanceComplianceRegulatoryInformation/default.htm. This guidance document is also available at https://www.regulations.gov. Persons unable to download an electronic copy of “Unique Device Identification: Policy Regarding Compliance Dates for Class I and Unclassified Devices; Immediately in Effect Guidance for Industry and Food and Drug Administration Staff” may send an email request to [email protected] to receive an electronic copy of the document. Please use the document number 17029 to identify the guidance you are requesting.

    IV. Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995

    This guidance refers to previously approved collections of information found in FDA regulations. These collections of information are subject to review by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3501-3520). The collections of information in 21 CFR part 801 have been approved under OMB control number 0910-0485 and the collections of information in 21 CFR part 830 have been approved under OMB control number 0910-0720.

    Dated: January 9, 2018. Leslie Kux, Associate Commissioner for Policy.
    [FR Doc. 2018-00550 Filed 1-12-18; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4164-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR National Indian Gaming Commission 25 CFR Part 575 Annual Adjustment of Civil Monetary Penalty To Reflect Inflation AGENCY:

    National Indian Gaming Commission.

    ACTION:

    Final rule.

    SUMMARY:

    In compliance with the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvements Act of 2015 (the Act) and Office of Management and Budget (OMB) guidance, the National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC or Commission) is amending its civil monetary penalty rule to reflect an annual adjustment for inflation in order to improve the penalty's effectiveness and maintain its deterrent effect. The Act provides that the new penalty level must apply to penalties assessed after the effective date of the increase, including when the penalties whose associated violation predate the increase.

    DATES:

    This final rule will have an effective date of January 15, 2018.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Contact Armando J. Acosta, Senior Attorney, Office of General Counsel, National Indian Gaming Commission, at (202) 632-7003; fax (202) 632-7066 (not toll-free numbers).

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    I. Background

    On November 2, 2015, the President signed into law the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvements Act of 2015 (Sec. 701 of Pub. L. 114-74). Beginning in 2017, the Act requires agencies to make annual inflationary adjustments to their civil monetary penalties by January 15th of each year, in accordance with annual OMB guidance.

    II. Calculation of Annual Adjustment

    On December 15, 2017, OMB issued guidance to agencies to calculate the annual adjustment. See M-18-03 Memorandum for the Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies, from Mick Mulvaney, Director, Subject: Implementation of Penalty Inflation Adjustments for 2018, Pursuant to the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvements Act of 2015 (December 15, 2017). According to OMB, the cost-of-living adjustment multiplier for 2018, based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI-U) for the month of October 2017, not seasonally adjusted, is 1.02041.

    Pursuant to this guidance, the Commission has calculated the annual adjustment level of the civil monetary penalty contained in 25 CFR 575.4 (“The Chairman may assess a civil fine, not to exceed $50,276 per violation, against a tribe, management contractor, or individual operating Indian gaming for each notice of violation . . .”). The 2018 adjusted level of the civil monetary penalty is $51,302 ($50,276 × 1.02041).

    III. Regulatory Matters Regulatory Planning and Review

    This final rule is not a significant rule under Executive Order 12866.

    (1) This rule will not have an effect of $100 million or more on the economy or will not adversely affect, in a material way, the economy, productivity, competition, jobs, the environment, public health or safety, or state, local, or tribal governments or communities.

    (2) This rule will not create a serious inconsistency or otherwise interfere with an action taken or planned by another agency.

    (3) This rule does not involve entitlements, grants, user fees, or loan programs or the rights or obligations of recipients.

    (4) This regulatory change does not raise novel legal or policy issues.

    Regulatory Flexibility Act

    The Commission certifies that this rule will not have a significant economic effect on a substantial number of small entities under the Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 601 et seq.) because the rule makes annual adjustments for inflation.

    Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act

    This final rule is not a major rule under 5 U.S.C. 804(2), the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act. It will not result in the expenditure by state, local, or tribal governments, in the aggregate, or by the private sector of $100 million or more in any one year. The rule will not result in a major increase in costs or prices for consumers, individual industries, federal, state, or local government agencies, or geographic regions. Nor will this rule have significant adverse effects on competition, employment, investment, productivity, innovation, or the ability of the U.S.-based enterprises to compete with foreign-based enterprises.

    Unfunded Mandates Reform Act

    This final rule does not impose an unfunded mandate of more than $100 million per year on state, local, or tribal governments or the private sector. The rule also does not have a significant or unique effect on state, local, or tribal governments or the private sector. Therefore, a statement containing the information required by the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (2 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.) is not required.

    Takings

    Under the criteria in Executive Order 12630, this final rule does not affect individual property rights protected by the Fifth Amendment nor does it involve a compensable “taking.” Thus, a takings implication assessment is not required.

    Federalism

    Under the criteria in Executive Order 13132, this final rule has no 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.

    Civil Justice Reform

    This final rule complies with the requirements of Executive Order 12988. Specifically, this rule has been reviewed to eliminate errors and ambiguity and written to minimize litigation. It is written in clear language and contains clear legal standards.

    Consultation With Indian Tribes

    In accordance with the President's memorandum of April 29, 1994, Government-to-Government Relations with Native American Tribal Governments, Executive Order 13175 (59 FR 22951, November 6, 2000), the Commission has determined that consultations with Indian gaming tribes is not practicable, as Congress has mandated that annual civil penalty adjustments in the Act be implemented no later than January 15th of each year.

    Paperwork Reduction Act

    This final rule does not affect any information collections under the Paperwork Reduction Act.

    National Environmental Policy Act

    This final rule does not constitute a major federal action significantly affecting the quality of the human environment.

    Information Quality Act

    In developing this final rule, the Commission did not conduct or use a study, experiment, or survey requiring peer review under the Information Quality Act (Pub. L. 106-554).

    Effects on the Energy Supply

    This final rule is not a significant energy action under the definition in Executive Order 13211. A Statement of Energy Effects is not required.

    Clarity of This Regulation

    The Commission is required by Executive Orders 12866 and 12988 and by the Presidential Memorandum of June 1, 1998, to write all rules in plain language. This means that each rule that the Commission publishes must:

    (a) Be logically organized;

    (b) use the active voice to address readers directly;

    (c) use clear language rather than jargon;

    (d) be divided into short sections and sentences; and

    (e) use lists and tables wherever possible.

    Required Determinations Under the Administrative Procedure Act

    In accordance with the Act, agencies are to annually adjust civil monetary penalties without providing an opportunity for notice and comment, and without a delay in its effective date. Therefore, the Commission is not required to complete a notice and comment process prior to promulgation.

    List of Subjects in 25 CFR Part 575

    Administrative practice and procedure, Gaming, Indian lands, Penalties.

    For the reasons set forth in the preamble, the Commission amends 25 CFR part 575 as follows:

    PART 575—CIVIL FINES 1. The authority citation for part 575 continues to read as follows: Authority:

    25 U.S.C. 2705(a), 2706, 2713, 2715; and Sec. 701, Pub. L. 114-74, 129 Stat. 599.

    § 575.4 [Amended]
    2. Amend the introductory text of § 575.4 by removing “$50,276” and adding in its place “$51,302”. Dated: January 9, 2018. Jonodev O. Chaudhuri, Chairman, Kathryn Isom-Clause, Vice Chair, E. Sequoyah Simermeyer, Associate Commissioner.
    [FR Doc. 2018-00505 Filed 1-12-18; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 7565-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY Coast Guard 33 CFR Part 117 [Docket No. USCG-2017-0868] RIN 1625-AA09 Drawbridge Operation Regulation; Isthmus Slough, Coos Bay, OR AGENCY:

    Coast Guard, DHS.

    ACTION:

    Temporary final rule.

    SUMMARY:

    The Coast Guard is temporarily modifying the operating schedule that governs the Oregon State secondary highway bridge (Isthmus Slough Bridge), across Isthmus Slough, mile 1.0, at Coos Bay, OR. To accommodate Oregon Department of Transportation's (ODOT) preservation, painting and replacement of the bridge equipment, ODOT will operate half the double bascule span (single leaf). Additionally, during the period of this work, the non-functioning leaf of the span's vertical clearance will be reduced.

    DATES:

    This temporary final rule is effective from 6 a.m. on February 26, 2018 to 6 p.m. on July 31, 2019.

    ADDRESSES:

    To view documents mentioned in this preamble as being available in the docket, go to http://www.regulations.gov. Type USCG-2017-0868 in the “SEARCH” box and click “SEARCH.” Click on Open Docket Folder on the line associated with this rulemaking.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

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

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: I. Table of Abbreviations CFR Code of Federal Regulations DHS Department of Homeland Security FR Federal Register NPRM Notice of proposed rulemaking Pub. L. Public Law ODOT Oregon Department of Transportation § Section U.S.C. United States Code II. Background, Purpose and Legal Basis

    On October 24, 2017, we published a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) entitled Drawbridge Operation Regulation; Isthmus Slough, Coos Bay, OR, in the Federal Register (82 FR 49153). We received no comments on this rule. ODOT owns and operates the double bascule Isthmus Slough Bridge, across Isthmus Slough, mile 1.0, at Coos Bay, OR. The operating regulation has been temporarily modified to accommodate ODOT's painting, preservation, and upgrading of the bridge electrical systems. Isthmus Slough provides no alternate routes to pass around the Isthmus Slough Bridge. To facilitate this event, ODOT will operate the double bascule bridge in single leaf mode (half of the span), and reduce the vertical clearance of the non-functioning leaf. Up to ten feet of containment will be installed under the non-functioning leaf only, and will reduce the vertical clearance to 18 feet. Vessels that do not require an opening may transit under the bridge at any time. We approved a temporary deviation on August 4, 2017 (82 FR 36332), with the same change in bridge operations as this rule change. We have not received any reports of problems or complaints with the subject bridge operating under the temporary deviation.

    III. Legal Authority and Need for Rule

    The Coast Guard is issuing this rule under authority 33 U.S.C. 499. Isthmus Slough Bridge, across Isthmus Slough, mile 1.0, at Coos Bay, OR, is a double bascule drawbridge, and provides a vertical clearance of 28 feet in the closed-to-navigation position referenced to the vertical clearance above mean high water tide level. ODOT cannot complete scheduled maintenance and equipment upgrades unless the operating schedule for the subject bridge is changed.

    We approved a temporary deviation for this event, but later learned 180 days will not be enough time to complete the work. This temporary rule change to 33 CFR 117.879 will allow ODOT time to complete their scheduled maintenance and equipment upgrades. This temporary rule suspends the current paragraph regarding the Isthmus Slough Bridge, and adds a temporary new paragraph which amends the operating schedule of the Isthmus Slough Bridge by authorizing one half of the draw to open on signal, and reduces the horizontal clearance and vertical clearance of the bridge. The temporary rule is necessary to accommodate painting, preservation, and upgrading of its electrical systems. One half of the double bascule bridge will have a containment system installed on the non-functioning half of the span, and therefore reduces the vertical clearance by ten feet to 18 feet. The horizontal clearance with a full opening is 140 feet. In single leaf operation, the horizontal clearance is reduced to approximately 70 feet.

    IV. Discussion of Comments, Changes and the Temporary Final Rule

    We published a NPRM in October 2017 with a 30 day comment period, and did not receive any comments. We approved this temporary rule change to 33 CFR 117.879 to be in effect from 6 a.m. on February 26, 2018, through 6 p.m. on July 31, 2019. This temporary rule authorizes ODOT to operate the Isthmus Slough Bridge one half of the draw on signal if at least 24 hours notice is given to the bridge operator, and reduce the horizontal clearance and vertical clearance of the bridge.

    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 protesters.

    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, it 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 ability for mariners to transit under the bridge because the Isthmus Slough Bridge can open half the draw allowing for the reasonable needs of navigation.

    B. Impact on Small Entities

    The Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980 (RFA), 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 received no comments from the Small Business Administration on this rule. 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 bridge may be small entities, for the reasons stated in section VI.A above, this rule would not have a significant economic impact on any vessel owner or operator.

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

    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 calls for no new collection of information under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3501-3520).

    D. Federalism and Indian Tribal Government

    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. We received no (0) comments in the NPRM for this section.

    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. We received no (0) comments in the NPRM for this section.

    F. Environment

    We have analyzed this rule under Department of Homeland Security Management Directive 023-01 and Commandant Instruction M16475.lD, which guides the Coast Guard in complying with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA) (42 U.S.C. 4321-4370f), and have made a determination that this action is one of a category of actions which do not individually or cumulatively have a significant effect on the human environment. This rule simply promulgates the operating regulations or procedures for drawbridges. This action is categorically excluded from further review, under figure 2-1, paragraph (32) (e), of the Instruction. A Record of Environmental Consideration and a Memorandum for the Record are not required for this rule.

    G. Protest Activities

    The Coast Guard respects the First Amendment rights of protesters. Protesters are asked to contact the person listed in the “For Further Information Contact” section to coordinate protest activities so that your message can be received without jeopardizing the safety or security of people, places or vessels.

    List of Subjects in 33 CFR Part 117

    Bridges.

    For the reasons discussed in the preamble, the Coast Guard amends 33 CFR part 117 as follows:

    PART 117—DRAWBRIDGE OPERATION REGULATIONS 1. The authority citation for part 117 continues to read as follows: Authority:

    33 U.S.C. 499; 33 CFR 1.05-1; and Department of Homeland Security Delegation No. 0170.1.

    § 117.879 [Suspended]
    2. Suspend § 117.879 effective 6 a.m. on February 26, 2018, through 6 p.m. on July 31, 2019. 3. Add temporary § 117.T879, effective 6 a.m. on February 26, 2018, through 6 p.m. on July 31, 2019, to read as follows:
    § 117.T879 Isthmus Slough.

    The draw of the Oregon State secondary highway bridge, mile 1.0, at Coos Bay, shall operate in single leaf, and open half the draw on signal if at least 24 hours notice is given. The vertical clearance of the non-functioning leaf will be reduced up to ten feet.

    David G. Throop, Rear Admiral, U.S. Coast Guard, Commander, Thirteenth Coast Guard District.
    [FR Doc. 2018-00611 Filed 1-12-18; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 9110-04-P
    DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION 34 CFR Parts 36 and 668 [Docket ID ED-2018-OGC-0004] RIN 1801-AA17 Adjustment of Civil Monetary Penalties for Inflation AGENCY:

    Department of Education.

    ACTION:

    Final regulations.

    SUMMARY:

    The Department of Education (Department) issues these final regulations to adjust the Department's civil monetary penalties (CMPs) for inflation. An initial “catch-up” adjustment was required by the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvements Act of 2015 (2015 Act), which amended the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act of 1990 (Inflation Adjustment Act). These final regulations provide the 2018 annual inflation adjustments being made to the penalty amounts in the Department's final regulations published in the Federal Register on April 20, 2017 (2017 final rule).

    DATES:

    These regulations are effective January 15, 2018. The adjusted CMPs established by these regulations are applicable only to civil penalties assessed after January 15, 2018, whose associated violations occurred after November 2, 2015.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Levon Schlichter, U.S. Department of Education, Office of the General Counsel, 400 Maryland Avenue SW, Room 6E235, Washington, DC 20202-2241. Telephone: (202) 453-6387 or by email: [email protected].

    If you use a telecommunications device for the deaf or a text telephone, call the Federal Relay Service, toll free, at 1-800-877-8339.

    Individuals with disabilities can obtain this document in an accessible format (e.g., braille, large print, audiotape, or compact disc) on request to the contact person listed in this section.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Background

    A CMP is defined in the Inflation Adjustment Act (28 U.S.C. 2461 note) as any penalty, fine, or other sanction that is (1) for a specific monetary amount as provided by Federal law, or has a maximum amount provided for by Federal law; (2) assessed or enforced by an agency pursuant to Federal law; and (3) assessed or enforced pursuant to an administrative proceeding or a civil action in the Federal courts.

    The Inflation Adjustment Act provides for the regular evaluation of CMPs to ensure that they continue to maintain their deterrent value. The Inflation Adjustment Act required that each agency issue regulations to adjust its CMPs beginning in 1996 and at least every four years thereafter. The Department published its most recent cost adjustment to its CMPs in the Federal Register on April 20, 2017 (82 FR 18559), and those adjustments became effective on the date of publication.

    The 2015 Act (section 701 of Pub. Law 114-74) amended the Inflation Adjustment Act to improve the effectiveness of CMPs and to maintain their deterrent effect.

    The 2015 Act requires agencies to: (1) Adjust the level of CMPs with an initial “catch-up” adjustment through an interim final rule (IFR); and (2) make subsequent annual adjustments for inflation. Catch-up adjustments are based on the percentage change between the Consumer Price Index for all Urban Consumers (CPI-U) for the month of October in the year the penalty was last adjusted by a statute other than the Inflation Adjustment Act, and the October 2015 CPI-U. Annual inflation adjustments are based on the percentage change between the October CPI-U preceding the date of each statutory adjustment, and the prior year's October CPI-U.1 The Department published an IFR with the initial “catch-up” penalty adjustment amounts on August 1, 2016 (81 FR 50321).

    1 If a statute that created a penalty is amended to change the penalty amount, the Department does not adjust the penalty in the year following the adjustment.

    In these final regulations, based on the CPI-U for the month of October 2017, not seasonally adjusted, we are annually adjusting each CMP amount by a multiplier for 2018 of 1.02041, as directed by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Memorandum No. M-18-03 issued on December 15, 2017.

    The Department's Civil Monetary Penalties

    The following analysis calculates new CMPs for penalty statutes in the order in which they appear in 34 CFR 36.2. The penalty amounts are being adjusted up based on the multiplier of 1.02041 provided in OMB Memorandum No. M-18-03.

    Statute: 20 U.S.C. 1015(c)(5).

    Current Regulations: The CMP for 20 U.S.C. 1015(c)(5) (Section 131(c)(5) of the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended (HEA)), as last set out in statute in 1998 (Pub. Law 105-244, title I, § 101(a), October 7, 1998, 112 Stat. 1602), is a fine of up to $25,000 for failure by an institution of higher education (IHE) to provide information on the cost of higher education to the Commissioner of Education Statistics. In the 2017 final rule, we increased this amount to $36,849.

    New Regulations: The new penalty for this section is $37,601.

    Reason: Using the multiplier of 1.02041 from OMB Memorandum No. M-18-03, the new penalty is calculated as follows: $36,849 × 1.02041 = $37,601.09, which makes the adjusted penalty $37,601, when rounded to the nearest dollar.

    Statute: 20 U.S.C. 1022d(a)(3).

    Current Regulations: The CMP for 20 U.S.C. 1022d(a)(3) (Section 205(a)(3) of the HEA), as last set out in statute in 2008 (Pub. Law 110-315, title II, § 201(2), August 14, 2008, 122 Stat. 3147), provides for a fine of up to $27,500 for failure by an IHE to provide information to the State and the public regarding its teacher-preparation programs. In the 2017 final rule, we increased this amount to $30,694.

    New Regulations: The new penalty for this section is $31,320.

    Reason: Using the multiplier of 1.02041 from OMB Memorandum No. M-18-03, the new penalty is calculated as follows: $30,694 × 1.02041 = $31,320.46, which makes the adjusted penalty $31,320, when rounded to the nearest dollar.

    Statute: 20 U.S.C. 1082(g).

    Current Regulations: The CMP for 20 U.S.C. 1082(g) (Section 432(g) of the HEA), as last set out in statute in 1986 (Pub. Law 99-498, title IV, § 402(a), October 17, 1986, 100 Stat. 1401), provides for a fine of up to $25,000 for violations by lenders and guaranty agencies of Title IV of the HEA, which authorizes the Federal Family Education Loan Program. In the 2017 final rule, we increased this amount to $54,789.

    New Regulations: The new penalty for this section is $55,907.

    Reason: Using the multiplier of 1.02041 from OMB Memorandum No. M-18-03, the new penalty is calculated as follows: $54,789 × 1.02041 = $55,907.24, which makes the adjusted penalty $55,907, when rounded to the nearest dollar.

    Statute: 20 U.S.C. 1094(c)(3)(B).

    Current Regulations: The CMP for 20 U.S.C. 1094(c)(3)(B) (Section 487(c)(3)(B) of the HEA), as set out in statute in 1986 (Pub. Law 99-498, title IV, § 407(a), October 17, 1986, 100 Stat. 1488), provides for a fine of up to $25,000 for an IHE's violation of Title IV of the HEA or its implementing regulations. Title IV authorizes various programs of student financial assistance. In the 2017 final rule, we increased this amount to $54,789.

    New Regulations: The new penalty for this section is $55,907.

    Reason: Using the multiplier of 1.02041 from OMB Memorandum No. M-18-03, the new penalty is calculated as follows: $54,789 × 1.02041 = $55,907.24, which makes the adjusted penalty $55,907, when rounded to the nearest dollar.

    Statute: 20 U.S.C. 1228c(c)(2)(E).

    Current Regulations: The CMP for 20 U.S.C. 1228c(c)(2)(E) (Section 429 of the General Education Provisions Act), as set out in statute in 1994 (Pub. Law 103-382, title II, § 238, October 20, 1994, 108 Stat. 3918), provides for a fine of up to $1,000 for an educational organization's failure to disclose certain information to minor students and their parents. In the 2017 final rule, we increased this amount to $1,617.

    New Regulations: The new penalty for this section is $1,650.

    Reason: Using the multiplier of 1.02041 from OMB Memorandum No. M-18-03, the new penalty is calculated as follows: $1,617 × 1.02041 = $1,650.00, which makes the adjusted penalty $1,650, when rounded to the nearest dollar.

    Statute: 31 U.S.C. 1352(c)(1) and (c)(2)(A).

    Current Regulations: The CMPs for 31 U.S.C. 1352(c)(1) and (c)(2)(A), as set out in statute in 1989, provide for a fine of $10,000 to $100,000 for recipients of Government grants, contracts, etc. that improperly lobby Congress or the Executive Branch with respect to the award of Government grants and contracts. In the 2017 final rule, we increased these amounts to $19,246 to $192,459.

    New Regulations: The new penalties for these sections are $19,639 to $196,387.

    Reason: Using the multiplier of 1.02041 from OMB Memorandum No. M-18-03, the new minimum penalty is calculated as follows: $19,246 × 1.02041 = $19,638.81, which makes the adjusted penalty $19,639, when rounded to the nearest dollar. The new maximum penalty is calculated as follows: $192,459 × 1.02041 = $196,387.09, which makes the adjusted penalty $196,387, when rounded to the nearest dollar.

    Statute: 31 U.S.C. 3802(a)(1) and (a)(2).

    Current Regulations: The CMPs for 31 U.S.C. 3802(a)(1) and (a)(2), as set out in statute in 1986 (Pub. Law 99-509, title VI, § 6103(a), Oct. 21, 1986, 100 Stat. 1937), provide for a fine of up to $5,000 for false claims and statements made to the Government. In the 2017 final rule, we increased this amount to $10,957.

    New Regulations: The new penalty for this section is $11,181.

    Reason: Using the multiplier of 1.02041 from OMB Memorandum No. M-18-03, the new penalty is calculated as follows: $10,957 × 1.02041 = $11,180.63, which makes the adjusted penalty $11,181, when rounded to the nearest dollar.

    Executive Orders 12866, 13563, and 13771 Regulatory Impact Analysis

    Under Executive Order 12866, the Secretary must determine whether this regulatory action is “significant” and, therefore, subject to the requirements of the Executive order and subject to review by OMB. Section 3(f) of Executive Order 12866 defines a significant regulatory action as an action likely to result in a rule that may—

    (1) Have an annual effect on the economy of $100 million or more, or adversely affect a sector of the economy; productivity; competition; jobs; the environment; public health or safety; or State, local, or Tribal governments or communities in a material way (also referred to as “economically significant” regulations);

    (2) Create serious inconsistency or otherwise interfere with an action taken or planned by another agency;

    (3) Materially alter the budgetary impacts of entitlement 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 stated in the Executive order.

    We have determined that these final regulations: (1) Exclusively implement the annual adjustment; (2) are consistent with OMB Memorandum No. M-18-03; and (3) have an annual impact of less than $100 million. Therefore, based on OMB Memorandum No. M-18-03, this is not a significant regulatory action subject to review by OMB under section 3(f) of Executive Order 12866.

    We have also reviewed these regulations under Executive Order 13563, which supplements and explicitly reaffirms the principles, structures, and definitions governing regulatory review established in Executive Order 12866. To the extent permitted by law, Executive Order 13563 requires that an agency—

    (1) Propose or adopt regulations only upon a reasoned determination that their benefits justify their costs (recognizing that some benefits and costs are difficult to quantify);

    (2) Tailor its regulations to impose the least burden on society, consistent with obtaining regulatory objectives and taking into account, among other things, and to the extent practicable, the costs of cumulative regulations;

    (3) In choosing among alternative regulatory approaches, select those approaches that maximize net benefits (including potential economic, environmental, public health and safety, and other advantages; distributive impacts; and equity);

    (4) To the extent feasible, specify performance objectives, rather than the behavior or manner of compliance a regulated entity must adopt; and

    (5) Identify and assess available alternatives to direct regulation, including economic incentives—such as user fees or marketable permits—to encourage the desired behavior, or providing information that enables the public to make choices.

    Executive Order 13563 also requires an agency “to use the best available techniques to quantify anticipated present and future benefits and costs as accurately as possible.” The Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs of OMB has emphasized that these techniques may include “identifying changing future compliance costs that might result from technological innovation or anticipated behavioral changes.”

    We are issuing these final regulations as required by statute and in accordance with OMB Memorandum No. M-18-03. The Secretary has no discretion to consider alternative approaches as delineated in the Executive order. Based on this analysis and the reasons stated in the preamble, the Department believes that these final regulations are consistent with the principles in Executive Order 13563.

    Under Executive Order 13771, if the Department proposes for notice and comment or otherwise promulgates a new regulation that is a significant regulatory action under Executive Order 12866 and that imposes total costs greater than zero, it must identify two existing regulations for elimination. For fiscal year 2018, any new incremental costs associated with the new regulation must be fully offset by the elimination of existing costs through the repeal of at least two regulations. These final regulations are not a significant regulatory action. Therefore, the requirements of Executive Order 13771 do not apply.

    Waiver of Rulemaking and Delayed Effective Date

    Under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) (5 U.S.C. 553), the Department generally offers interested parties the opportunity to comment on proposed regulations. However, section 4(b)(2) of the 2015 Act (28 U.S.C. 2461 note) provides that the Secretary can adjust these 2018 penalty amounts notwithstanding section 553 of title 5, United States Code. Therefore, the requirements of 5 U.S.C. 553 for notice and comment and delaying the effective date of a final rule do not apply here.

    Regulatory Flexibility Act Certification

    The Secretary certifies that these regulations will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. The formula for the amount of the inflation adjustments is prescribed by statute and is not subject to the Secretary's discretion. These CMPs are infrequently imposed by the Secretary, and the regulations do not involve any special considerations that might affect the imposition of CMPs on small entities.

    Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995

    These regulations do not contain any information collection requirements.

    Intergovernmental Review

    This program is not subject to Executive Order 12372 and the regulations in 34 CFR part 79.

    Assessment of Educational Impact

    Based on our own review, we have determined that these regulations do not require transmission of information that any other agency or authority of the United States gathers or makes available.

    Electronic Access to This Document: The official version of this document is the document published in the Federal Register. Free internet access to the official edition of the Federal Register and the Code of Federal Regulations is available via the Federal Digital System at: www.thefederalregister.org/fdsys. At this site you can view this document, as well as all other documents of this Department published in the Federal Register, in text or Portable Document Format (PDF). To use PDF you must have Adobe Acrobat Reader, which is available free at the site.

    You may also access documents of the Department published in the Federal Register by using the article search feature at: www.federalregister.gov. Specifically, through the advanced search feature at this site, you can limit your search to documents published by the Department.

    List of Subjects in 34 CFR Part 36

    Claims, Fraud, Penalties.

    Dated: January 10, 2018. Betsy DeVos, Secretary of Education.

    For the reasons discussed in the preamble, the Secretary amends parts 36 and 668 of title 34 of the Code of Federal Regulations as follows:

    PART 36—ADJUSTMENT OF CIVIL MONETARY PENALTIES FOR INFLATION 1. The authority citation for part 36 continues to read as follows: Authority:

    20 U.S.C. 1221e-3 and 3474; 28 U.S.C. 2461 note, as amended by section 701 of Pub. Law 114-74, unless otherwise noted.

    2. Section 36.2 is amended by revising Table I to read as follows:
    § 36.2 Penalty adjustment. Table I—Section 36.2.—Civil Monetary Penalty Inflation Adjustments Statute Description New maximum (and
  • minimum, if applicable)
  • penalty amount
  • 20 U.S.C. 1015(c)(5) (Section 131(c)(5) of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (HEA)) Provides for a fine, as set by Congress in 1998, of up to $25,000 for failure by an institution of higher education (IHE) to provide information on the cost of higher education to the Commissioner of Education Statistics $37,601. 20 U.S.C. 1022d(a)(3) (Section 205(a)(3) of the HEA) Provides for a fine, as set by Congress in 2008, of up to $27,500 for failure by an IHE to provide information to the State and the public regarding its teacher-preparation programs $31,320. 20 U.S.C. 1082(g) (Section 432(g) of the HEA) Provides for a civil penalty, as set by Congress in 1986, of up to $25,000 for violations by lenders and guaranty agencies of Title IV of the HEA, which authorizes the Federal Family Education Loan Program $55,907. 20 U.S.C. 1094(c)(3)(B) (Section 487(c)(3)(B) of the HEA) Provides for a civil penalty, as set by Congress in 1986, of up to $25,000 for an IHE's violation of Title IV of the HEA, which authorizes various programs of student financial assistance $55,907. 20 U.S.C. 1228c(c)(2)(E) (Section 429 of the General Education Provisions Act) Provides for a civil penalty, as set by Congress in 1994, of up to $1,000 for an educational organization's failure to disclose certain information to minor students and their parents $1,650. 31 U.S.C. 1352(c)(1) and (c)(2)(A) Provides for a civil penalty, as set by Congress in 1989, of $10,000 to $100,000 for recipients of Government grants, contracts, etc. that improperly lobby Congress or the Executive Branch with respect to the award of Government grants and contracts $19,639 to $196,387. 31 U.S.C. 3802(a)(1) and (a)(2) Provides for a civil penalty, as set by Congress in 1986, of up to $5,000 for false claims and statements made to the Government $11,181.
    PART 668—STUDENT ASSISTANCE GENERAL PROVISIONS 3. The authority citation for part 668 continues to read as follows: Authority:

    20 U.S.C. 1001-1003, 1070a, 1070g, 1085, 1087b, 1087d, 1087e, 1088, 1091, 1092, 1094, 1099c, and 1099c-1, 1221e-3, and 3474; Pub. L. 111-256, 124 Stat. 2643; unless otherwise noted.

    § 668.84 [Amended]
    4. Section 668.84 is amended by, in paragraph (a), removing the number “$27,500” and adding, in its place, the number “$55,907”.
    [FR Doc. 2018-00614 Filed 1-12-18; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4000-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR National Park Service 36 CFR Part 2 [NPS-WASO-23396; GPO Deposit Account 4311H2] RIN 1024-AE32 General Regulations; Areas of the National Park System, Free Distribution of Other Message-Bearing Items AGENCY:

    National Park Service, Interior.

    ACTION:

    Final rule.

    SUMMARY:

    The National Park Service revises its general rule governing the sale or distribution of printed matter to include the free distribution of message-bearing items that do not meet the regulatory definition of “printed matter.” This change gives visitors an additional channel of communication while protecting the resources and values of the National Park System.

    DATES:

    This rule is effective on February 15, 2018.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Lee Dickinson, Special Park Use Program Manager, at (202) 513-7092 or [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Background Authority and Jurisdiction To Promulgate Regulations

    In the National Park Service (NPS) Organic Act (54 U.S.C. 100101), Congress granted the NPS broad authority to regulate the use of areas under its jurisdiction. The Organic Act authorizes the Secretary of the Interior, acting through the NPS, to “prescribe such regulations as the Secretary considers necessary or proper for the use and management of [National Park] System units.” 54 U.S.C. 100751(a).

    National Park System

    Consisting of over 400 units in 50 states, the District of Columbia and multiple territories, the National Park System covers more than 84 million acres. These units are located in a wide range of environments as diverse as the United States itself. The size of these units also varies tremendously, ranging from Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and National Preserve, Alaska, at 13.2 million acres, to Thaddeus Kosciuszko National Memorial, Pennsylvania, at 0.02 acres.

    About one-third of the units—such as Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee; Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona; Everglades National Park, Florida; and Hawaii Volcanoes National Parks, Hawaii—preserve nature's many and varied gifts to the nation. The other two-thirds of the units recognize benchmarks of human history in America. These units protect elements of great native cultures, far older than European exploration and settlement; preserve battle sites from the Revolutionary and Civil Wars—including the key surrender fields of both great conflicts; embrace Thomas Edison's New Jersey laboratories where he and his staff led a technological revolution more dramatic even than the coming of the computer age; and more. These historical park units reflect the development of both art and industry in America, along with landmarks of social and political change.

    As a broader understanding of history took hold, the National Park System eventually grew to include the historic homes of civil rights, political, and corporate leaders, and the lands of the poor, struggling to build lives for themselves on a Nebraska homestead claim or in an urban community. The National Park System now embraces the birthplace, church, and grave of Dr. Martin Luther King at Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Site, Georgia; the birth of jazz at New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park, Louisiana; the flowering of a literary giant at the Eugene O'Neill National Historical Site, California; and the artistic grace of a great sculptor's studios at Saint-Gaudens National Historical Site, New Hampshire. Because of the lessons they help us remember, the National Park System also includes the Japanese American World War II internment camp in the desert at Manzanar National Historical Site, California, as well as Andersonville National Historical Site, Georgia, one of the very bleakest of the Civil War prison sites.

    The National Park System is habitat for 247 threatened or endangered species, has more than 167 million items in museum collections, has 75,000 archaeological sites, and 27,000 historic and prehistoric structures. The National Park System also has an extensive physical infrastructure, which includes thousands of buildings, tens of thousands of miles of trails and roads, and almost 30,000 housing units, campgrounds, and picnic areas as well as 3,000 water and waste water treatment systems.

    Over 325 million visitors visited the National Park System in 2016, where visitors find not only visual, educational, and recreational experiences but also inspirational, contemplative, and spiritual experiences. For Native Americans, certain national parks are also considered sacred religious sites, where the NPS asks visitors to respect these long-held beliefs, such as by voluntarily not walking under a natural bridge.

    Final Rule

    First Amendment activities in units of the National Park System are governed by longstanding but ever-evolving First Amendment jurisprudence; by the statutes and regulations governing the National Park System as a whole; and by park-specific statutes and regulations.

    Title 36 CFR 2.52 currently allows the sale or distribution only of printed matter and only in areas of a park designated by the superintendent. The regulation defines “printed matter” as “message-bearing textual printed material such as books, pamphlets, magazines, and leaflets, provided that it is not solely commercial advertising.” The NPS recognizes, however, that items other than “printed matter” may also contain or present speech, either literal or symbolic, that is not solely commercial and whose expression may be protected by the First Amendment. Accordingly, the NPS is revising its regulations to allow the free distribution of message-bearing items other than printed matter in areas of a park designated by the superintendent, subject to compliance with the regulations at 36 CFR 2.51 and 2.52. These items include readable electronic media like CDs, DVDs, and flash drives; articles of clothing like hats and accessories like buttons and pins; key chains; and bumper stickers.1

    1 This rule therefore enshrines in regulation NPS Policy Memorandum 14-01,(January 28, 2014), which requires superintendents to allow the free distribution of message-bearing items to the public other than printed matter, so long as the activity occurs within an area designated as available for First Amendment activities under 36 CFR 2.51(c)(l) and otherwise complies with 36 CFR 2.52.

    Under the rule, message-bearing items other than printed matter may not be sold within a park unit; they may only be distributed free of charge. This restriction is necessary to prevent the proliferation of unregulated commercial activity that would be inconsistent with park resources and values, that would impinge upon and degrade park scenery, and that would disrupt the visitor experience in many park units.

    The revision to § 2.52 to allow the free distribution of other message-bearing items is consistent with the NPS's National Capital Region (NCR) regulation at 36 CFR 7.96(k). As discussed in the preambles to the proposed and final rules for the NCR regulation, 59 FR 25855 (1994) and 60 FR 17639 (1995), the NPS promulgated § 7.96 to resolve serious issues created by unregulated sales of merchandise on NPS-administered lands that resulted in conflicting and excessive commercialism; degraded aesthetic values; had negative impacts on visitor circulation and contemplation and historic scenes; and inhibited the conservation of park property. In upholding the constitutionality of the NCR regulation limiting the sales of such items, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit found that the regulation was “content neutral” and “narrowly tailored to serve significant government interests” and offered “ample alternative channels of communication” insofar as “members may display and give the audio tapes and [religious] beads to members of the public so long as they do not try to exact a payment or request a donation in exchange for them.” ISKCON of Potomac v. Kennedy, 61 F.3d 949, 952, 958 (D.C. Cir. 1995).

    Summary of and Responses to Public Comments on the Proposed Rule

    The NPS published the proposed rule on October 14, 2016 (81 FR 71026) with request for public comment through the Federal eRulemaking portal at www.regulations.gov, or by mail or hand delivery. The 60-day comment period ended on December 13, 2016. A total of 26 comments were received. The NPS evaluated these comments when developing this final rule. A summary of comments and NPS responses is provided below. Many comments supported the rule and expressed gratitude that it provides an alternative means of communication in national parks. After taking the public comments into consideration and after additional review, the NPS has not made any substantive changes in the final rule. A few conforming edits to 36 CFR 2.51 and 2.52 are included in this final rule. These changes simply add references to the free distribution of other message-bearing items to reflect the substantive revisions to section 2.52 that were included in the proposed rule.

    1. Comment: Some commenters were concerned that the rule would lead to the commercialization of national parks and take away from the serenity and beauty of the environment. One commenter suggested that the rule should prohibit the sale of printed matter as well as other message-bearing items in order to prevent rampant consumerism in national parks. Several commenters suggested that the rule prohibit all items that include or function as commercial advertising, or any items that are predominantly or primarily commercial advertising, rather than only prohibiting those items that are “solely commercial advertising.” One commenter stated that t-shirts, even when given away for free, are primarily used as marketing devices and not to communicate information.

    NPS Response: The rule only allows the free distribution of other message-bearing items. Asking for or requiring payment or donations in exchange for these items is prohibited without written authorization under 36 CFR 5.3 (Business operations) or 36 CFR 2.37 (Noncommercial soliciting). The NPS will use the permit process to ensure that the free distribution of other message-bearing items will not result in the commercialization of national parks and the degradation of park values and visitor experiences. This activity will only be allowed in areas designated as available for First Amendment activities by the Superintendent.

    Items with some amount of commercial advertising may also contain protected speech under the First Amendment. For this reason, the free distribution of these items is properly regulated under 36 CFR 2.52 rather than 36 CFR 5.3, which focuses on business operations. Examples may include t-shirts and water bottles that contain a message unrelated to commercial advertising that are freely distributed by a corporate sponsor at a permitted event. Although these items may also contain a logo or other mark associated with the company, they are not solely commercial advertising and are therefore subject to regulations addressing speech rather than business operations.

    2. Comment: One commenter questioned the basis for allowing the sale of printed matter, but not the sale of other message-bearing items, when both may contain speech protected by the First Amendment.

    NPS Response: Experiences on the National Mall and in other national parks suggest that other message bearing items such as t-shirts, mugs, hats, and jewelry are more likely than printed matter to be sold primarily as a commercial enterprise rather than as part of a sincere First Amendment activity. In the past, the proliferation of sales of other message bearing items has degraded the purposes and values of the National Park System in manner not experienced with the sale of printed matter that is primarily focused on communicating a message. The distinction in this rule between printed matter and other message bearing items will provide the public with a broader opportunity to engage in protected speech without opening national parks to unchecked commerce. The sale of an unlimited range of message bearing merchandise, including t-shirts, would negatively impact park resources and values as well as the visitor experience. In order to sell other message bearing items in national parks, written authorization must be obtained under 36 CFR 5.3.

    3. Comment: Several commenters were concerned that allowing the free distribution of other message-bearing items will result in litter and waste that will harm resources, including wildlife, and the ability of visitors to enjoy national parks. These commenters were concerned about items such as CDs and keychains that are made out of plastic and other materials that are not biodegradable and are costly to recycle.

    NPS Response: Groups of more than 25 people who wish to freely distribute other message bearing items must obtain a permit that will contain terms and conditions addressing the proper disposal of litter and waste. These items will not be allowed to be distributed outside of designated First Amendment areas, reducing their impact on more unspoiled and sensitive areas of the Parks. Designated First Amendment areas are generally developed and have more foot traffic and nearby amenities such as trash and recycling cans. National parks have existing programs in place to collect and dispose of litter that will help mitigate any incremental waste associated with the free distribution of these items. The NPS will not regulate substantially more speech than necessary to implement the NPS's substantial government interest in protecting park resources from impairment. This rule allows the exercise of protected speech. The NPS has determined that any additional measures the NPS could take at this time to prevent additional litter associated with this speech, including, for example, prohibiting the free distribution of plastic message bearing items, are unnecessary. If the NPS determines at a later date that additional management actions are needed to address increases in litter attributable to message-bearing items, then the NPS will consider appropriate responses, including new terms and conditions to permits and changes to this rule.

    4. Comment: Some commenters felt that the free distribution of other message-bearing items will lead to an influx of visitors and material objects, such as t-shirts and keychains, to national parks, which will degrade the natural beauty, contemplative quality, and integrity of these areas. One commenter suggested that the rule allow the Superintendent to deny a permit application based upon the severity of impacts to park resources and values imposed by these items. One commenter was concerned about audio and visual pollution from the distribution of these items that will harm park resources and values.

    NPS Response: There are several protections in place that will mitigate the impacts of this activity on park values and resources. Groups of more than 25 people who wish to freely distribute other message bearing items must obtain a permit that will contain terms and conditions that will address potential impacts. The Superintendent may deny a permit if the number of persons engaged in the distribution cannot be reasonably accommodated, considering such things as damage to park resources or facilities, impairment of a protected area's atmosphere of peace and tranquility, interference with program activities, or impairment of public use facilities. 36 CFR 2.52(e). The free distribution of other message-bearing items may only occur in locations designated under 36 CFR 2.51(c). These locations may only be designated if the free distribution of other message-bearing items in these locations would not (i) cause injury or damage to park resources; (ii) unreasonably impair the atmosphere of peace and tranquility maintained in wilderness, natural, historic, or commemorative zones; or (iii) be incompatible with the nature and traditional use of the particular park area.

    5. Comment: Some commenters were concerned that the content of other message-bearing items could be offensive or contain political messages that are not appropriate in national parks.

    NPS Response: Similar to other types of protected speech that occurs in the National Park System, the NPS does not regulate the content of protected speech contained in other message- bearing items.

    6. Comment: One commenter suggested that the NPS define other message-bearing items by a closed list of items that meet the definition, rather than an open-ended definition that lists only examples of items that qualify. This commenter felt that an exclusive list would relieve park managers from the burden of having to identify which items are message-bearing on a case-by-case basis.

    NPS Response: A non-exhaustive list of things that qualify as other message-bearing items gives the NPS more flexibility than a closed list to determine which items are message- bearing. This will allow the NPS to adapt to the introduction of new message-bearing technologies such as digital downloads and other means of delivering electronic content.

    7. Comment: One commenter suggested that the rule establish standard locations in all national park units that are designated for First Amendment activities, including the free distribution of other message-bearing items, in order to preserve the integrity of the parks. This commenter suggested visitor centers or information kiosks as potential places that could be designated across the National Park System.

    NPS Response: NPS regulations at 36 CFR 2.51 require Superintendents to identify on a map the locations that are designated for demonstrations and the sale and distribution of printed matter. As stated above, these locations must meet certain criteria that will help address the commenter's concerns. This rule updates these regulations to state that these locations are also designated for the free distribution of other message-bearing items. The geography, infrastructure, and frequency and size of First Amendment activities are unique for each national park unit. This makes it difficult to identify a standard location that can be designated as appropriate for First Amendment activities in every unit. The NPS believes that the Superintendents are in the best position to determine which areas in the parks they manage are most appropriate for First Amendment activities.

    Compliance With Other Laws, Executive Orders, and Department Policy Regulatory Planning and Review (Executive Orders 12866 and 13563)

    Executive Order 12866 provides that the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs in the Office of Management and Budget will review all significant rules. The Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs has determined that this rule is not significant.

    Executive Order 13563 reaffirms the principles of Executive Order 12866 while calling for improvements in the nation's regulatory system to promote predictability, to reduce uncertainty, and to use the best, most innovative, and least burdensome tools for achieving regulatory ends. The executive order directs agencies to consider regulatory approaches that reduce burdens and maintain flexibility and freedom of choice for the public where these approaches are relevant, feasible, and consistent with regulatory objectives. Executive Order 13563 emphasizes further that regulations must be based on the best available science and that the rulemaking process must allow for public participation and an open exchange of ideas. We have developed this rule in a manner consistent with these requirements.

    Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs (Executive Order 13771)

    This rule is an E.O. 13771 deregulatory action because once finalized, it will have costs less than zero.

    Regulatory Flexibility Act

    This rule will not have a significant economic effect on a substantial number of small entities under the Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 601 et seq.). This rule will generate positive benefits and no costs. This certification is based upon the cost-benefit and regulatory flexibility analyses found in the report entitled “Cost-Benefit and Regulatory Flexibility Analyses: Proposed Regulation Revisions for Free Distribution of Other Message-Bearing Items” that is available to the public upon request.

    Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act

    This rule is not a major rule under 5 U.S.C. 804(2), the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act. This rule:

    (a) Does not have an annual effect on the economy of $100 million or more.

    (b) Will not cause a major increase in costs or prices for consumers, individual industries, Federal, State, or local government agencies, or geographic regions.

    (c) Does not have significant adverse effects on competition, employment, investment, productivity, innovation, or the ability of U.S.-based enterprises to compete with foreign-based enterprises.

    Unfunded Mandates Reform Act

    This rule does not impose an unfunded mandate on State, local, or tribal governments or the private sector of more than $100 million per year. The rule does not have a significant or unique effect on State, local or tribal governments or the private sector. It addresses public use of national park lands, and imposes no requirements on other agencies or governments. A statement containing the information required by the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (2 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.) is not required.

    Takings (Executive Order 12630)

    This rule does not effect a taking of private property or otherwise have takings implications under Executive Order 12630. A takings implication assessment is not required.

    Federalism (Executive Order 13132)

    Under the criteria in section 1 of Executive Order 13132, the rule does not have sufficient federalism implications to warrant the preparation of a Federalism summary impact statement. This rule only affects use of federally-administered lands and waters. It has no outside effects on other areas. A Federalism summary impact statement is not required.

    Civil Justice Reform (Executive Order 12988)

    This rule complies with the requirements of Executive Order 12988. This rule:

    (a) Meets the criteria of section 3(a) requiring that all regulations be reviewed to eliminate errors and ambiguity and be written to minimize litigation; and

    (b) Meets the criteria of section 3(b)(2) requiring that all regulations be written in clear language and contain clear legal standards.

    Consultation With Indian Tribes (Executive Order 13175 and Department Policy)

    The Department of the Interior strives to strengthen its government-to-government relationship with Indian tribes through a commitment to consultation with Indian tribes and recognition of their right to self-governance and tribal sovereignty. We have evaluated this rule under the criteria in Executive Order 13175 and under the Department's tribal consultation policy and have determined that tribal consultation is not required because the rule will have no substantial direct effect on federally recognized Indian tribes.

    Paperwork Reduction Act

    This rule does not contain any new collections of information that require approval by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) under the Paperwork Reduction Act. OMB has approved the information collection requirements associated with NPS Special Park Use Permits and has assigned OMB Control Number 1024-0026 (expires 01/31/20). An agency may not conduct or sponsor and a person is not required to respond to a collection of information unless it displays a currently valid OMB control number.

    National Environmental Policy Act of 1969

    This rule does not constitute a major Federal action significantly affecting the quality of the human environment. A detailed statement under the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA) is not required because the rule is covered by a categorical exclusion. We have determined that the rule is categorically excluded under 516 DM 12.5(A)(10) as it is a modification of existing NPS regulations that does not increase public use to the extent of compromising the nature and character of the area or causing physical damage to it. Further, the rule will not result in the introduction of incompatible uses which might compromise the nature and characteristics of the area or cause physical damage to it. Finally, the rule will not conflict with adjacent ownerships or lands uses, or cause a nuisance to adjacent owners or occupants.

    We have also determined that the rule does not involve any of the extraordinary circumstances listed in 43 CFR 46.215 that would require further analysis under NEPA.

    Effects on the Energy Supply (Executive Order 13211)

    This rule is not a significant energy action under the definition in Executive Order 13211. A Statement of Energy Effects is not required.

    List of Subjects in 36 CFR Part 2

    Environmental protection, National parks, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements.

    In consideration of the foregoing, the National Park Service amends 36 CFR part 2 as set forth below:

    PART 2—RESOURCE PROTECTION, PUBLIC USE AND RECREATION 1. The authority citation for part 2 continues to read as follows Authority:

    54 U.S.C. 100101, 100751, 320102.

    2. Amend § 2.51 by revising the section heading and paragraphs (c)(1) introductory text and (c)(2) to read as follows:
    § 2.51 Demonstrations and designated available park areas.

    (c) Designated available park areas. (1) Locations may be designated as available for demonstrations under this section, and for the sale or distribution of printed matter and the free distribution of other message-bearing items under § 2.52, only if these activities would not:

    (2) The superintendent must designate on a map, which must be available in the office of the superintendent and by public notice under § 1.7 of this chapter, the locations designated as available for demonstrations, the sale or distribution of printed matter, and the free distribution of other message bearing items.

    3. Amend § 2.52 by: a. Revising the section heading; b. Revising the paragraph (a) subject heading; c. Adding two sentences at the end of paragraph (a); d. Revising paragraph (b) introductory text; and e. Revising paragraph (i) introductory text.

    The revisions and additions to read as follows:

    § 2.52 Sale of printed matter and the distribution of printed matter and other message-bearing items.

    (a) Printed matter and other message-bearing items. * * * The term “other message-bearing items” means a message-bearing item that is not “printed matter” and is not solely commercial advertising. Other message-bearing items include, but are not limited to: Readable electronic media such as CDs, DVDs, and flash drives; clothing and accessories such as hats and key chains; buttons; pins; and bumper stickers.

    (b) Permits and the small group permit exception. The sale or distribution of printed matter, and the free distribution of other message-bearing items without asking for or demanding payment or donation, is allowed within park areas if it occurs in an area designated as available under § 2.51(c)(2) and when the superintendent has issued a permit for the activity, except that:

    (i) Misrepresentation. Persons engaged in the sale or distribution of printed matter or the free distribution of other message-bearing items under this section are prohibited from misrepresenting the purposes or affiliations of those engaged in the sale or distribution, and misrepresenting whether the printed matter or other message-bearing items are available without cost or donation.

    Jason Larrabee, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks Exercising the Authority of the Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks.
    [FR Doc. 2018-00515 Filed 1-12-18; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4312-52-P
    DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR National Park Service 36 CFR Part 14 [NPS-WASO-24690; PPWOVPADU0/PPMPRLE1Y.Y00000] RIN 1024-AE42 Rights of Way; Removal of Outdated Reference AGENCY:

    National Park Service, Interior.

    ACTION:

    Final rule.

    SUMMARY:

    This rule removes an outdated reference to a document establishing environmental criteria for electric transmissions lines that is no longer used by the National Park Service to evaluate applications for right-of-way permits.

    DATES:

    This rule is effective January 16, 2018.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Jay Calhoun, NPS Division of Jurisdiction, Regulations, and Special Park Uses, (202) 513-7112, [email protected].

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Background

    On July 11, 1980, the National Park Service (NPS) promulgated regulations at 36 CFR part 14 that provide a process for the review, consideration, and approval or disapproval of requests for rights-of-way across all areas of the National Park System. 45 FR 47092. Section 14.78 describes the process for filing applications for rights-of-way for power transmission lines. Paragraph (b)(6)(i) of this section requires that the applicant include a detailed description of the environmental impact of the project that provides information about the impact of the project on airspace, air and water quality, scenic and aesthetic features, historical and archeological features, and wildlife, fish, and marine life. Paragraph (b)(6)(ii) requires that the proposed site, design, and construction of the project be consistent with a document entitled the “Environmental Criteria for Electric Transmission Lines.” This document was published by the Department of the Interior and the Department of Agriculture in 1970 and revised in 1979. This document is no longer available and no longer used by the NPS to evaluate applications for right-of-way permits for power transmission lines.

    This rule removes paragraph (b)(6)(ii) from § 14.78 because the reference to the environmental criteria document is obsolete and outdated. The NPS will continue to evaluate applications for rights-of-way for power transmission lines in accordance the other provisions in subpart F of 36 CFR part 14. This rule also updates the authority line for 36 CFR part 14 to reflect the 2014 recodification of former 16 U.S.C. 5 and 79 into 54 U.S.C. 100902.

    Compliance With Other Laws, Executive Orders, and Department Policy Regulatory Planning and Review (Executive Orders 12866 and 13563)

    Executive Order 12866 provides that the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) in the Office of Management and Budget will review all significant rules. OIRA has determined that this rule is not significant.

    Executive Order 13563 reaffirms the principles of Executive Order 12866 while calling for improvements in the nation's regulatory system to promote predictability, to reduce uncertainty, and to use the best, most innovative, and least burdensome tools for achieving regulatory ends. The Executive Order directs agencies to consider regulatory approaches that reduce burdens and maintain flexibility and freedom of choice for the public where these approaches are relevant, feasible, and consistent with regulatory objectives. Executive Order 13563 emphasizes further that agencies must base regulations on the best available science and the rulemaking process must allow for public participation and an open exchange of ideas. We have developed this rule in a manner consistent with these requirements.

    Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs (Executive Order 13771)

    This rule is an E.O. 13771 deregulatory action because it will have costs less than zero. This rule will remove an outdated requirement. This will reduce the potential for confusion and may result in a more efficient application process for those applying for rights of way for power transmission lines across NPS-administered lands. This rule meets the goals of E.O. 13771 because the regulatory requirement being removed is outdated and unnecessary.

    Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act (SBREFA)

    This rule is not a major rule under 5 U.S.C. 804(2), the SBREFA. This rule:

    (a) Does not have an annual effect on the economy of $100 million or more;

    (b) Will not cause a major increase in costs or prices for consumers, individual industries, Federal, State, or local government agencies, or geographic regions;

    (c) Does not have significant adverse effects on competition, employment, investment, productivity, innovation, or the ability of U.S.-based enterprises to compete with foreign-based enterprises.

    Administrative Procedure Act (Notice of Proposed Rulemaking)

    We recognize that under 5 U.S.C. 553(b) and (c) notice of proposed rules ordinarily must be published in the Federal Register and the agency must give interested parties an opportunity to submit their views and comments. We have determined under 5 U.S.C. 553(b) and 318 DM HB 5.3, however, that notice and public comment for this rule are not required. We find good cause to treat notice and comment as unnecessary. As discussed above, the document entitled “Environmental Criteria for Electric Transmission Lines” is no longer used by the NPS to evaluate applications for right-of-way permits for power transmission lines. The current reference in 36 CFR 14.78(b)(6)(ii) is potentially confusing for right-of-way applicants and its removal will simply reflect how the NPS currently processes applications. This correction will not benefit from public comment, and further delaying it is contrary to the public interest.

    We also recognize that rules ordinarily do not become effective until at least 30 days after their publication in the Federal Register. We have determined, however, that good cause exists for all the rule to be effective immediately upon publication for the reasons stated above.

    Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (UMRA)

    This rule does not impose an unfunded mandate on State, local, or tribal governments or the private sector of more than $100 million per year. The rule does not have a significant or unique effect on State, local or tribal governments or the private sector. This rule does not impose requirements on other agencies or governments. A statement containing the information required by the UMRA (2 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.) is not required.

    Takings (Executive Order 12630)

    This rule does not effect a taking of private property or otherwise have takings implications under Executive Order 12630. A takings implication assessment is not required.

    Federalism (Executive Order 13132)

    Under the criteria in section 1 of Executive Order 13132, the rule does not have sufficient federalism implications to warrant the preparation of a Federalism summary impact statement. A Federalism summary impact statement is not required.

    Civil Justice Reform (Executive Order 12988)

    This rule complies with the requirements of Executive Order 12988. This rule:

    (a) Meets the criteria of section 3(a) requiring agencies to review all regulations to eliminate errors and ambiguity and write them to minimize litigation; and

    (b) Meets the criteria of section 3(b)(2) requiring agencies to write all regulations in clear language and contain clear legal standards.

    Consultation With Indian Tribes (Executive Order 13175 and Department Policy)

    The Department of the Interior strives to strengthen its government-to-government relationship with Indian tribes through a commitment to consultation with Indian tribes and recognition of their right to self-governance and tribal sovereignty. We have evaluated this rule under the Department's consultation policy and under the criteria in Executive Order 13175 and have determined it has no substantial direct effects on federally recognized Indian tribes and consultation under the Department's tribal consultation policy is not required.

    Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA) (44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.)

    This rule does not contain new collections of information that require approval by the Office of Management and Budget under the PRA. The rule does not impose new recordkeeping or reporting requirements on State, tribal, or local governments; individuals; businesses; or organizations. We may not conduct or sponsor and you are not required to respond to a collection of information unless it displays a currently valid OMB control number.

    National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)

    This rule does not constitute a major Federal action significantly affecting the quality of the human environment. A detailed statement under the NEPA of 1969 is not required. We have determined the rule is categorically excluded under 43 CFR 46.210(i) because it is administrative, legal, and technical in nature. We also have determined the rule does not involve any of the extraordinary circumstances listed in 43 CFR 46.215 that would require further analysis under NEPA.

    Effects on the Energy Supply (Executive Order 13211)

    This rule is not a significant energy action under the definition in Executive Order 13211. A Statement of Energy Effects in not required.

    Drafting Information: The primary author of this regulation was Jay Calhoun, Regulations Program Specialist, National Park Service.

    List of Subjects in 36 CFR Part 14

    Electric power, Highways and roads, Public lands-rights-of-way.

    In consideration of the foregoing, the National Park Service amends 36 CFR part 14 as follows:

    PART 14—RIGHTS-OF-WAY 1. The authority citation for part 14 is revised to read as follows: Authority:

    54 U.S.C. 100902; 23 U.S.C. 317.

    § 14.78 [Amended]
    2. In § 14.78, remove and reserve paragraph (b)(6)(ii). Jason Larrabee, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks, exercising the authority of the Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks.
    [FR Doc. 2018-00516 Filed 1-12-18; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4310-EJ-P
    LIBRARY OF CONGRESS U.S. Copyright Office 37 CFR Parts 201 and 202 [Docket No. 2017-8] Secure Tests: Extension of Comment Period AGENCY:

    U.S. Copyright Office, Library of Congress.

    ACTION:

    Interim rule with request for comments; extension of comment period.

    SUMMARY:

    The U.S. Copyright Office is further extending the deadline for the submission of written comments in response to its June 12, 2017 and November 13, 2017 interim rules, regarding changes to the special procedure for examining secure tests, and the creation of a new group registration option for secure tests, respectively.

    DATES:

    The comment period for the interim rules, published on June 12, 2017 (82 FR 26850), and November 13, 2017 (82 FR 52224), is extended by an additional sixty days. Comments must be made in writing and must be received in the U.S. Copyright Office no later than April 2, 2018.

    ADDRESSES:

    For reasons of government efficiency, the Copyright Office is using the regulations.gov system for the submission and posting of public comments in this proceeding. All comments are therefore to be submitted electronically through regulations.gov. Specific instructions for submitting comments are available on the Copyright Office website at https://www.copyright.gov/rulemaking/securetests/. If electronic submission of comments is not feasible due to lack of access to a computer and/or the internet, please contact the Office for special instructions using the contact information below.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Robert J. Kasunic, Associate Register of Copyrights and Director of Registration Policy and Practice; Sarang Vijay Damle, General Counsel and Associate Register of Copyrights; Erik Bertin, Deputy Director of Registration Policy and Practice; or Kevin R. Amer, Senior Counsel for Policy and International Affairs, by telephone at 202-707-8040 or by email at [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], and [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    On June 12, 2017, the U.S. Copyright Office issued an interim rule memorializing its special procedures for examining secure texts.1 On November 13, 2017, the Office issued an additional interim rule establishing a new group registration option for secure test questions.2 The Office invited public comment on each of these interim rules, and previously extended its initial deadline for the submission of written comments.3 To ensure that members of the public have sufficient time to respond, and to ensure that the Office has the benefit of a complete record, the Office is further extending the submission deadline by an additional sixty days. Written comments now are due no later than April 2, 2018.

    1 82 FR 26850 (June 12, 2017).

    2 82 FR 52224 (Nov. 13, 2017).

    3 82 FR 56890 (Dec. 1, 2017).

    Dated: January 9, 2018. Sarang V. Damle, General Counsel and Associate Register of Copyrights.
    [FR Doc. 2018-00549 Filed 1-12-18; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 1410-30-P
    NATIONAL FOUNDATION FOR THE ARTS AND HUMANITIES National Endowment for the Arts 45 CFR Parts 1149 and 1158 RIN 3135-AA33 Civil Penalties Adjustment for 2018 AGENCY:

    National Endowment for the Arts, National Foundation for the Arts and Humanities.

    ACTION:

    Final rule.

    SUMMARY:

    The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) is adjusting the maximum civil monetary penalties (CMPs) that may be imposed for violations of the Program Fraud Civil Remedies Act (PFCRA) and the NEA's Restrictions on Lobbying to reflect the requirements of the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvements Act of 2015 (the 2015 Act). The 2015 Act further amended the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act of 1990 (the Inflation Adjustment Act) to improve the effectiveness of civil monetary penalties and to maintain their deterrent effect. This final rule provides the 2018 annual inflation adjustments to the initial “catch-up” adjustments made on June 15, 2017.

    DATES:

    Effective date: This rule is effective January 15, 2018. Applicability date: The adjusted civil monetary penalties established by this rule are applicable only to civil penalties assessed after January 15, 2018.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Aswathi Zachariah, Assistant General Counsel, National Endowment for the Arts, 400 7th St., SW, Washington, DC 20506, Telephone: 202-682-5418.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 1. Background

    On December 12, 2017 the NEA issued a final rule entitled “Federal Civil Penalties Adjustments” which finalized the NEA's June 15, 2017 interim final rule entitled “Implementing the Federal Civil Penalties Adjustment Act Improvements Act”, implementing the 2015 Act (section 701 of Pub. L. 114-74), which amended the Inflation Adjustment Act (28 U.S.C. 2461 note) requiring catch-up and annual adjustments to the NEA's CMPs. The 2015 Act requires agencies make annual adjustments to its CMPs for inflation.

    A CMP is defined in the Inflation Adjustment Act as any penalty, fine, or other sanction that is (1) for a specific monetary amount as provided by Federal law, or has a maximum amount provided for by Federal law; (2) assessed or enforced by an agency pursuant to Federal law; and (3) assessed or enforced pursuant to an administrative proceeding or a civil action in the Federal courts.

    These annual inflation adjustments are based on the percentage change in the Consumer Price Index for all Urban Consumers (CPI-U) for the month of October preceding the date of the adjustment, relative to the October CPI-U in the year of the previous adjustment. The formula for the amount of a CMP inflation adjustment is prescribed by law, as explained in OMB Memorandum M-16-06 (February 24, 2016), and therefore the amount of the adjustment is not subject to the exercise of discretion by the Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts (Chairman).

    The Office of Management and Budget has issued guidance on implementing and calculating the 2018 adjustment under the 2015 Act.1 Per this guidance, the CPI-U adjustment multiplier for this annual adjustment in 1.02041. In its prior rules, the NEA identified two civil penalties which require adjustment: The penalty for false statements under the PFCRA and the penalty for violations of the NEA's Restrictions on Lobbying. The NEA adjusts the amount of those CMPs amount accordingly.

    1 OMB Memorandum M-18-03 (December 15, 2017).

    2. Effective Dates

    The inflation adjustments contained in this rule shall apply to any violations assessed after January 15, 2018, the effective date of this rule.

    3. Adjustments

    Two civil penalties in NEA regulations require adjustment in accordance with the 2015 Act: (1) The penalty associated with Restrictions on Lobbying (45 CFR 1158.400; 45 CFR part 1158, app. A) and (2) the penalty associated with the Program Fraud Civil Remedies Act (45 CFR 1149.9).

    A. Adjustments to Penalties Under the NEA's Program Fraud Civil Remedies Act Regulations

    The current penalty under the PFCRA for false claims and statements is currently set at $10,957. The post-adjustment penalty or range is obtained by multiplying the pre-adjustment penalty or range by the percent change in the CPI-U over the relevant time period and rounding to the nearest dollar. Between October 2016 and October 2017, the CPI-U increased by 102.041 percent. Therefore, the new post-adjustment maximum penalty under the PFCRA for false statements is $10,957 × 1.02041 = $11,180.63, which rounds to $11,180. Therefore, the maximum penalty under the PFCRA for false claims and statements will be $11,180.

    B. Adjustments to Penalties Under the NEA's Restrictions on Lobbying Regulations

    The penalty for violations of the Restrictions on Lobbying is currently set at a range of a minimum of $19,246 and a maximum of $192,459. The post-adjustment penalty or range is obtained by multiplying the pre-adjustment penalty or range by the percent change in the CPI-U over the relevant time period and rounding to the nearest dollar. Between October 2016 and October 2017, the CPI-U increased by 102.041 percent. Therefore, the new post-adjustment minimum penalty under the Restrictions on Lobbying is $19,246 × 1.02041 = $19,638.81, which rounds to $19,639, and the maximum penalty under the Restrictions on Lobbying is $192,459 × 1.02041 = $196,387.09, which rounds to $196,387. Therefore, range of penalties under the law on the Restrictions on Lobbying shall be between $19,639 and $196,387.

    Administrative Procedure Act

    Section 553 of the Administrative Procedure Act requires agencies to provide an opportunity for notice and comment on rulemaking and also requires agencies to delay a rule's effective date for 30 days following the date of publication in the Federal Register unless an agency finds good cause to forgo these requirements. However, section 4(b)(2) of the 2015 Act requires agencies to adjust civil monetary penalties notwithstanding section 553 of the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) and publish annual inflation adjustments in the Federal Register. “This means that the public procedure the APA generally requires . . . is not required for agencies to issue regulations implementing the annual adjustment.” OMB Memorandum M-18-03.

    Even if the 2015 Act did not except this rulemaking from section 553 of the APA, the NEA has good cause to dispense with notice and comment. Section 553(b)(B), authorizes agencies to dispense with notice and comment procedures for rulemaking if the agency finds good cause that notice and comment are impracticable, unnecessary, or contrary to public interest. The annual adjustments to civil penalties for inflation and the method of calculating those adjustments are established by section 5 of the FCPIAA, as amended, leaving no discretion for the NEA. Accordingly, public comment would be impracticable because the NEA would be unable to consider such comments in the rulemaking process.

    Regulatory Planning and Review (Executive Order 12866)

    Executive Order 12866 (E.O. 12866) established a process for review of rules by the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, which is within the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Only “significant” proposed and final rules are subject to review under this Executive Order. “Significant,” as used in E.O. 12866, means “economically significant.” It refers to rules with (1) an impact on the economy of $100 million; or that (2) were inconsistent or interfered with an action taken or planned by another agency; (3) materially altered the budgetary impact of entitlements, grants, user fees, or loan programs; or (4) raised novel legal or policy issues.

    This final rule would not be a significant policy change and OMB has not reviewed this final rule under E.O. 12866. The NEA has made the assessments required by E.O. 12866 and determined that this rule: (1) Will not have an effect of $100 million or more on the economy; (2) will not adversely affect in a material way the economy, productivity, competition, jobs, the environment, public health or safety, or State, local, or Tribal governments or communities; (3) will not create a serious inconsistency or otherwise interfere with an action taken or planned by another agency; (4) does not alter the budgetary effects of entitlements, grants, user fees, or loan programs or the rights or obligations of their recipients; and (5) does not raise novel legal or policy issues.

    Executive Order 13771

    Executive Order 13771 section 5 requires that agencies, in most circumstances, remove or rescind two regulations for every regulatory action (such as the promulgation of regulations) unless they request and are specifically exempted from that order's requirements by the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (the Director).

    This rule is not subject to the requirements of Executive Order 13771 because this rule is not significant under Executive Order 12866. Per OMB guidance, annual inflation adjustments “are not significant regulatory actions under E.O. 12866, they are not considered E.O. 13771 regulatory actions.” 2 Furthermore, the NEA has requested and has received an exemption from the requirement that the agency rescind two regulations for every regulation it promulgate from the Director.

    2Id.

    Federalism (Executive Order 13132)

    This rule does not have Federalism implications, as set forth in E.O. 13132. As used in this order, Federalism implications mean “substantial direct effects on the States, on the relationship between the national government and the States, or on the distribution of power and responsibilities among the various levels of government.” The NEA has determined that this rulemaking will not have Federalism implications within the meaning of E.O. 13132.

    Civil Justice Reform (Executive Order 12988)

    This Directive meets the applicable standards set forth in section 3(a) and 3(b)(2) of E.O. 12988. Specifically, this final rule is written in clear language designed to help reduce litigation.

    Indian Tribal Governments (Executive Order 13175)

    Under the criteria in E.O. 13175, the NEA has evaluated this final rule and determined that it would have no potential effects on Federally recognized Indian Tribes.

    Takings (Executive Order 12630)

    Under the criteria in E.O. 12630, this rule does not have significant takings implications. Therefore, a takings implication assessment is not required.

    Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980 (5 U.S.C. 605(b))

    This rulemaking will not have a significant adverse impact on a substantial number of small entities, including small businesses, small governmental jurisdictions, or certain small not-for-profit organizations.

    Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C., Chapter 35)

    This rulemaking will not impose any “information collection” requirements under the Paperwork Reduction Act. Under the act, information collection means the obtaining or disclosure of facts or opinions by or for an agency by 10 or more nonfederal persons.

    Unfunded Mandates Act of 1995 (Section 202, Pub. L. 104-4)

    This rulemaking does not contain a Federal mandate that will result in the expenditure by State, local, and tribal governments, in the aggregate, or by the private sector of $100 million or more in any one year.

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

    The final rule will not have significant effect on the human environment.

    Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996 (Sec. 804, Pub. L. 104-121)

    This final rule would not be a major rule as defined in section 804 of the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996. This final rule will not result in an annual effect on the economy of $100,000,000 or more, a major increase in costs or prices, significant adverse effects on competition, employment, investment, productivity, innovation, or on the ability of United States-based companies to compete with foreign based companies in domestic and export markets.

    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 website. All information about the NEA required to be published in the Federal Register may be accessed at www.arts.gov. This Act also requires agencies to accept public comments on their rules “by electronic means.” See heading “Public Participation” for directions on electronic submission of public comments on this final rule.

    Finally, the E-Government Act requires, to the extent practicable, that agencies ensure that a publicly accessible Federal Government website 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 website https://www.regulations.gov contains electronic dockets for the NEA's rulemakings under the Administrative Procedure Act of 1946.

    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 rule has been written in plain and clear language so that it can be used and understood by the public, the NEA has modeled the language of this rule on the Federal Plain Language Guidelines.

    Public Participation

    The NEA encourages public participation by ensuring its documentation is understandable by the general public, and has written this final rule in compliance with E.O. 13563 by ensuring its accessibility, consistency, simplicity of language, and overall comprehensibility.

    List of Subjects in 45 CFR Parts 1149 and 1158

    Administrative practice and procedure, Government contracts, Grant programs, Loan programs, Lobbying, Penalties.

    For the reasons stated in the preamble, the NEA amends 45 CFR chapter XI, subchapter B, as follows:

    PART 1149—PROGRAM FRAUD CIVIL REMEDIES ACT REGULATIONS 1. The authority citation for part 1149 continues to read as follows: Authority:

    5 U.S.C. App. 8G(a)(2); 20 U.S.C. 959; 28 U.S.C. 2461 note; 31 U.S.C. 3801-3812.

    2. Revise § 1149.9(a)(1) to read as follows:
    § 1149.9 What civil penalties and assessments may I be subjected to?

    (a) * * *

    (1) A civil penalty of not more than $10,957 for each false, fictitious or fraudulent statement or claim; and

    PART 1158—NEW RESTRICTIONS ON LOBBYING 3. The authority citation for part 1158 continues to read as follows: Authority:

    20 U.S.C. 959; 28 U.S.C. 2461; 31 U.S.C. 1352.

    4. Revise § 1158.400(a), (b), and (e) to read as follows:
    § 1158.400 Penalties.

    (a) Any person who makes an expenditure prohibited herein shall be subject to a civil penalty of not less than $19,639 and not more than $196,387 for each such expenditure.

    (b) Any person who fails to file or amend the disclosure form (see appendix B of this part) to be filed or amended if required herein, shall be subject to a civil penalty of not less than $19,639 and not more than $196,387 for each such failure.

    (e) First offenders under paragraph (a) or (b) of this section shall be subject to a civil penalty of $19,639, absent aggravating circumstances. Second and subsequent offenses by persons shall be subject to an appropriate civil penalty between $19,639 and $196,387, as determined by the agency head or his or her designee.

    Appendix A to Part 1158 [Amended] 5. Amend appendix A to part 1158 by: a. Removing “$19,246” and adding in its place “$19,639” each place it appears. b. Removing “$192,459” and adding in its place “$196,387” each place it appears. Dated: January 9, 2018. Jillian Miller, Director of Guidelines and Panel Operations, Administrative Services, National Endowment for the Arts.
    [FR Doc. 2018-00537 Filed 1-12-18; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE P
    CORPORATION FOR NATIONAL AND COMMUNITY SERVICE 45 CFR Parts 1230 and 2554 RIN 3045-AA68 Annual Civil Monetary Penalties Inflation Adjustment AGENCY:

    Corporation for National and Community Service.

    ACTION:

    Interim final rule.

    SUMMARY:

    The Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) is updating its regulations to reflect required annual inflation-related increases to the civil monetary penalties in its regulations, pursuant to the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvements Act of 2015.

    DATES:

    Effective date: This rule is effective January 15, 2018.

    Comment due date: Technical comments may be submitted until February 15, 2018.

    ADDRESSES:

    You may send your comments electronically through the Federal government's one-stop rulemaking website at www.regulations.gov. Also, you may mail or deliver your comments to Stephanie Soper, Law Office Manager, Office of General Counsel, at the Corporation for National and Community Service, 250 E Street SW, Washington, DC 20525. Due to continued delays in CNCS's receipt of mail, we strongly encourage comments to be submitted online electronically. The TDD/TTY number is 800 833-3722. You may request this notice in an alternative format for the visually impaired.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Stephanie Soper, Law Office Manager, Office of General Counsel, at 202-606-6747 or email to [email protected] Individuals who use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TTY-TDD) may call 800-833-3722 between 8:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    I. Background

    The Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) is a federal agency that engages more than five million Americans in service through its AmeriCorps, Senior Corps, and Volunteer Generation Fund programs to further its mission to improve lives, strengthen communities, and foster civic engagement through service and volunteering. For more information, visit NationalService.gov.

    The Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvements Act of 2015 (Sec. 701 of Pub. L. 114-74) (the “Act”), which is intended to improve the effectiveness of civil monetary penalties and to maintain the deterrent effect of such penalties, requires agencies to adjust the civil monetary penalties for inflation annually.

    II. Method of Calculation

    CNCS has two civil monetary penalties in its regulations. A civil monetary penalty under the Act is a penalty, fine, or other sanction that is for a specific monetary amount as provided by Federal law or has a maximum amount provided for by Federal law and is assessed or enforced by an agency pursuant to Federal law and is assessed or enforced pursuant to an administrative proceeding or a civil action in the Federal courts. (See 28 U.S.C. 2461 note).

    The inflation adjustment for each applicable civil monetary penalty is determined using the percent increase in the Consumer Price Index for all Urban Consumers (CPI-U) for the month of October of the year in which the amount of each civil money penalty was most recently established or modified. In the December 15, 2017, OMB Memo for the Heads of Executive Agencies and Departments, M-18-03, Implementation of Penalty Inflation Adjustments for 2018, Pursuant to the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvements Act of 2015, OMB published the multiplier for the required annual adjustment. The cost-of-living adjustment multiplier for 2018, based on the CPI-U for the month of October 2017, not seasonally adjusted, is 1.02041.

    CNCS identified two civil penalties in its regulations: (1) The penalty associated with Restrictions on Lobbying (45 CFR 1230.400) and (2) the penalty associated with the Program Fraud Civil Remedies Act (45 CFR 2554.1).

    The civil monetary penalties related to Restrictions on Lobbying (Section 319, Pub. L. 101-121; 31 U.S.C. 1352) range from $19,246 to $192,459. Using the 2018 multiplier, the new range of possible civil monetary penalties is from $19,639 to $196,387.

    The Program Fraud Civil Remedies Act of 1986 (Pub. L. 99-509) civil monetary penalty has an upper limit of $10,957. Using the 2018 multiplier, the new upper limit of the civil monetary penalty is $11,181.

    III. Summary of Final Rule

    This final rule adjusts the civil monetary penalty amounts related to Restrictions on Lobbying (45 CFR 1230.400) and the Program Fraud Civil Remedies Act of 1986 (45 CFR 2554.1). The range of civil monetary penalties related to Restrictions on Lobbying increase from “$19,246 to $192,459” to “$19,639 to $196,387.” The civil monetary penalties for the Program Fraud Civil Remedies Act of 1986 increase from “up to $10,957” to “up to $11,181.”

    IV. Regulatory Procedures A. Determination of Good Cause for Publication Without Notice and Comment

    CNCS finds, under 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(3)(B), that there is good cause to except this rule from the public notice and comment provisions of the Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. 553(b). Because CNCS is implementing a final rule pursuant to the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvements Act of 2015, which requires CNCS to update its regulations based on a prescribed formula, CNCS has no discretion in the nature or amount of the change to the civil monetary penalties. Therefore, notice and comment for these proscribed updates is impracticable and unnecessary. As an interim final rule, no further regulatory action is required for the issuance of this legally binding rule. If you would like to provide technical comments, however, they may be submitted until February 15, 2018.

    B. Review Under Procedural Statutes and Executive Orders

    CNCS has determined that making technical changes to the amount of civil monetary penalties in its regulations does not trigger any requirements under procedural statutes and Executive Orders that govern rulemaking procedures.

    V. Effective Date

    This rule is effective January 15, 2018. The adjusted civil penalty amounts apply to civil penalties assessed on or after January 15, 2018, when the violation occurred after November 2, 2015. If the violation occurred prior to November 2, 2015, or a penalty was assessed prior to August 1, 2016, the pre-adjustment civil penalty amounts in effect prior to August 1, 2106, will apply.

    List of Subjects 45 CFR Part 1230

    Government contracts, Grant programs, Loan programs, Lobbying, Penalties, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements.

    45 CFR Part 2554

    Claims, Fraud, Organization and functions (Government agencies), Penalties.

    For the reasons discussed in the preamble, under the authority of 42 U.S.C. 12651c(c), the Corporation for National and Community Service amends chapters XII and XXV, title 45 of the Code of Federal Regulations as follows:

    PART 1230—NEW RESTRICTIONS ON LOBBYING 1. The authority citation for part 1230 continues to read as follows: Authority:

    Section 319, Pub. L. 101-121 (31 U.S.C. 1352); Pub. L. 93-113; 42 U.S.C. 4951, et seq.; 42 U.S.C. 5060.

    § 1230.400 [Amended]
    2. Amend § 1230.400 by: a. In paragraphs (a), (b), and (e), removing “$19,246” and adding in its place “$19,639” each place it appears. b. In paragraphs (a), (b), and (e), removing “$192,459” and adding in its place “$196,387” each place it appears. Appendix A to Part 1230 [Amended] 3. Amend appendix A to part 1230 by: a. Removing “$19,246” and adding in its place “$19,639” each place it appears. b. Removing “$192,459” and adding in its place “$196,387” each place it appears. PART 2554—PROGRAM FRAUD CIVIL REMEDIES ACT REGULATIONS 4. The authority citation for part 2554 continues to read as follows: Authority:

    Pub. L. 99-509, Secs. 6101-6104, 100 Stat. 1874 (31 U.S.C. 3801-3812); 42 U.S.C. 12651c-12651d.

    § 2554.1 [Amended]
    5. Amend § 2554.1 by removing “$10,957” in paragraph (b) and adding in its place “$11,181.” Dated: January 5, 2018. Tim Noelker, General Counsel.
    [FR Doc. 2018-00558 Filed 1-12-18; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6050-28-P
    FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION 47 CFR Part 54 [WC Docket Nos. 17-287, 11-42, 09-197; FCC 17-155] Bridging the Digital Divide for Low-Income Consumers, Lifeline and Link Up Reform and Modernization, Telecommunications Carriers Eligible for Universal Service Support AGENCY:

    Federal Communications Commission.

    ACTION:

    Final rule.

    SUMMARY:

    In this document, the Federal Communications Commission (Commission) takes a fresh look at the Commission's Lifeline program and makes changes to the Lifeline rules to ensure that the program can more effectively and efficiently help close the digital divide for low-income consumers, while minimizing the contributions burden on ratepayers by tackling waste, fraud, and abuse.

    DATES:

    Effective February 15, 2018, except for § 54.411, which will become effective March 19, 2018, and §§ 54.403(a)(3), 54.413, and 54.414 which contain information collection requirements that have not been approved by OMB. The Federal Communications Commission will publish a document in the Federal Register announcing the effective date of those rules awaiting OMB approval.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Jodie Griffin, Wireline Competition Bureau, (202) 418-7400 or TTY: (202) 418-0484.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    This is a summary of the Commission's Fourth Report and Order, Order on Reconsideration, and Memorandum Opinion and Order in WC Docket Nos. 17-287, 11-42, 09-197; FCC 17-155, adopted on November 16, 2017 and released on December 1, 2017. The full text of this document is available for public inspection during regular business hours in the FCC Reference Center, Room CY-A257, 445 12th Street SW, Washington, DC 20554 or at the following internet address: http://transition.fcc.gov/Daily_Releases/Daily_Business/2017/db1201/FCC-17-155A1.pdf. The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) and Notice of Inquiry (NOI) that was adopted concurrently with the Fourth Report and Order, Order on Reconsideration, Memorandum Opinion and Order are published elsewhere in this issue of the Federal Register.

    I. Introduction

    1. This Fourth Report and Order, Order on Reconsideration, and Memorandum Opinion and Order takes a series of steps to address ongoing areas of concern in the Lifeline program to prevent waste, fraud, and abuse. Specifically, the Orders target enhanced Lifeline support to residents of rural areas on Tribal lands, establish mapping resources to identify rural Tribal lands, require independent certification of residency on rural Tribal lands, and direct enhanced support to facilities-based providers. In addition, this document makes changes to increase Lifeline benefit portability by eliminating the port freezes for voice and broadband internet access services. This document also clarifies that “premium Wi-Fi” and other similar networks of Wi-Fi-delivered broadband internet access service do not qualify as mobile broadband under the Lifeline program rules. Together, the Orders target enhanced Lifeline support for Tribal lands to support the deployment of modern communications networks, promote consumer choice within the program, and remove uncertainty and streamline our rules regarding the application of Lifeline support and eligibility for Lifeline reimbursement.

    II. Fourth Report and Order

    2. In this Fourth Report and Order, the Commission adopts several reforms to our Tribal Lifeline policies to increase the availability and affordability of high-quality communications services on Tribal lands. The Commission first targets enhanced Lifeline support on Tribal lands to residents of rural areas on Tribal lands. Since 2000, the Lifeline and Link Up programs have provided an enhanced subsidy of up to an additional $25 per month for service provided to qualified residents of Tribal lands, and a Link Up reduction of up to $100 for the cost to initiate supported service for qualifying residents of Tribal lands. This targeted support is in recognition of not only the low income levels but also the particularly poor connectivity on many Tribal lands. When it adopted the enhanced Lifeline Tribal subsidy, the Commission noted that the “unavailability or unaffordability of telecommunications service on Tribal lands is at odds with our statutory goal of ensuring access to such services to `[c]onsumers in all regions of the Nation, including low-income consumers,'” and explained that the added Lifeline and Link Up support would help lead to the deployment of more robust networks. While the Commission provided the enhanced support as a discount on services, that support was focused to most efficiently encourage “investment and deployment” in facilities, especially since all Lifeline providers in the program at the time were facilities-based. Because of an overly-broad definition of the geographic areas eligible for the enhanced subsidy, however, many areas where this enhanced subsidy is currently available are not lacking in either voice or broadband networks. To remedy this, the Commission refines its approach to target enhanced Lifeline support to residents of rural areas on Tribal lands. Focusing the enhanced subsidy for Tribal lands on rural areas is consistent with the enhanced subsidy's purpose and will ensure that the Fund is better directed toward the residents of Tribal lands who typically have the least choice for communications services.

    3. The Commission believes that targeting enhanced support toward rural, facilities-based providers is consistent with the intent of the 2000 Tribal Order, 65 FR 47883, August 4, 2000. While the 2000 Tribal Order referenced reducing the costs of telecommunications services, it specifically premised the support on the idea that enhanced support would incentivize providers to “deploy telecommunications facilities in areas that previously may have been regarded as high risk and unprofitable.” The Commission's creation of an enhanced Lifeline benefit in the 2000 Tribal Order both reduced telecommunications costs and supported the deployment of networks because, at the time, all ETCs were facilities-based. (The Commission did not forbear from the Act's facilities-based requirements at all until 2005.) While the Commission must consider and address appropriate distinctions between support for facilities-based and non-facilities-based providers, the Commission does so in a way that continues to follow the principles identified in the 2000 Tribal Order and Sections 214 and 254 of the Act. (See U.S.C. 214(e) and 254(b)(3).)

    4. To identify rural areas on Tribal lands, the Commission adopts the definition of “rural” used in the E-rate program rules, which define “urban” as “an urbanized area or urban cluster area with a population equal to or greater than 25,000.” The Commission defines all other areas as “rural.” (47 CFR 54.505(b)(3).) In the 2015 Lifeline FNPRM, 80 FR 42669, July 17, 2015, the Commission asked for comment on “what level of density” and at “what level of geographic granularity” it should define such rural areas. Shortly thereafter, the Commission began consultations with Tribal Nations regarding the Lifeline proposals that the Commission sought comment on in the 2015 Lifeline FNPRM. After consideration of the comments, including comments by numerous Tribal stakeholders, and evaluation of the practicality of implementation, the Commission believes this definition will reasonably identify the Tribal areas the Commission intends to benefit from additional Lifeline funding. Accordingly, the Commission amends §§ 54.403(a)(3), 54.413, and 54.414 of the Lifeline program rules and directs the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) to develop a tool that will allow Lifeline service providers to determine whether a subscriber residing on Tribal lands resides in a rural area according to this definition. USAC shall update this tool pursuant to the same update schedule used for the E-rate rurality tool.

    5. Selection of the E-rate program's “rural” definition is based on consideration of the record and matters of administrative efficiency. In the 2015 Lifeline FNPRM, the Commission sought comment on focusing enhanced support to those Tribal lands with lower population densities. Specifically, the Commission sought comment on “focus[ing] enhanced support only on areas of low population density that are likely to lack the facilities necessary to serve subscribers.” The Commission also sought comment on the approach taken by the United States Department of Agriculture's Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR), which excludes from eligibility residents of towns or cities in Oklahoma with populations of 10,000 or more, and sought comment on whether the Commission “should implement a similar approach that excludes urban areas on Tribal lands from receiving enhanced Tribal support.” Some commenters expressed concerns with a population density approach, but provided alternative density-based proposals ranging from limiting enhanced support to areas with fewer than 10,000 people and a county population density of less than 125 people per square mile, (Navajo Nation Telecommunications Regulatory Commission Comments at 12-13.) or “only to Tribal lands that are located outside of a Metropolitan Statistical Area and that have less than 100 persons per square mile.” (Smith Bagley Inc., Comments at 16) These proposals are more restrictive than the E-rate program's definition of rural. Other commenters opposed limiting the enhanced Tribal subsidy based on population density. The Commission disagrees with those commenters because their path would preserve the status quo of providing enhanced support to Lifeline subscribers on Tribal lands in densely populated areas where service providers already have sufficient incentive to deploy broadband facilities as in non-Tribal areas.

    6. The Commission agrees that focusing enhanced support on less-dense areas will improve the Tribal support mechanism and better serve the goals of enhanced Tribal Lifeline support to incent deployment in areas that need it most and to increase the affordability of Lifeline services for Tribal lands residents. Based on the record, however, the Commission declines to adopt a population-density threshold to identify the Tribal areas that are eligible for enhanced Tribal support. Instead, the Commission takes an approach similar to the approach used by the FDPIR and use the E-rate program definition of “rural” to identify Tribal areas that are eligible for enhanced Lifeline support. This approach provides consistency between the E-rate and Lifeline programs. In addition, the Commission's definition of “rural” in the E-rate program serves the goals of enhanced Tribal Lifeline support by focusing enhanced support where communications services are more costly. As explained in the 2014 E-rate Order, 80 FR 5961, February 4, 2015, the Commission adopted the current E-rate program definition of “rural” after numerous parties demonstrated that a narrower definition would result in an urban classification for numerous schools and libraries in small towns and remote areas where E-rate supported services are more costly. Using the E-rate definition of “rural” to identify Tribal areas that are eligible for enhanced support would ensure that the enhanced support is available for Tribal lands in these small towns and remote areas where supported services are more costly. Further, the E-rate definition of “rural” is less restrictive than the alternative population density-based methodologies proposed by Smith Bagley and the Navajo Nation Telecommunications Regulatory Commission.

    7. The Commission also concludes that identifying less-dense areas by using the same definition of “rural” as the E-rate program (which was adopted in December 2014 and implemented for E-rate Funding Year 2015) will allow for more accurate, efficient administration by USAC. The Commission expects that consistency between the two USF programs will simplify the urban/rural determinations for carriers and eligible households. Specifically, standard program definitions of rurality would allow USAC to develop master data sources and simplify the development and updating of service provider tools for identifying addresses that qualify for enhanced support. The Commission therefore declines to adopt commenters' proposals to create an entirely new definition of rurality based directly on the number of persons per square mile in a particular geographic area. Those proposals would create unnecessary administrative difficulties and uncertainty for Lifeline providers, which the Commission believes would in turn create confusion and fewer choices for eligible low-income consumers.

    8. The Commission also concludes that the provision of enhanced support in more densely populated Tribal lands, such as large cities (e.g., Tulsa, Oklahoma or Reno, Nevada), is inconsistent with the Commission's primary purpose of the enhanced support. (Despite being “The Biggest Little City in the World,” Reno, NV has a population of 446,154 and, according to Form 477 data, 97.5% percent of the population in its county have access to fixed broadband speeds of at least 25 Mbps/3 Mbps. Tulsa, OK has a population of 637,215 and 100% percent of the population in its county has access to fixed broadband speeds of at least 25 Mbps/3 Mbps. See Fixed Broadband Deployment Data, Deployment (last visited Oct. 24, 2017), https://www.fcc.gov/maps/fixed-broadband-deployment-data/.) When the Commission first adopted enhanced support on Tribal lands, it noted that “unlike in urban areas where there may be a greater concentration of both residential and business customers, carriers may need additional incentives to serve Tribal lands that, due to their extreme geographic remoteness, are sparsely populated and have few businesses.” That remains too true today. Approximately 98 percent of Americans in urban areas already have access to fixed broadband internet access service at speeds of 25 Mbps/3 Mbps, including residents of both Tulsa and Reno. (See Fixed Broadband Deployment Data, Deployment (last visited Oct. 24, 2017), https://www.fcc.gov/maps/fixed-broadband-deployment-data/.) Directing enhanced support to Tribal lands in urban areas is unlikely to materially increase the deployment of facilities in such areas and, therefore, risks wasting scarce program resources. In contrast, rural Americans, particularly those residing on Tribal lands, are much less likely to have access to high-speed internet access services, with Commission data showing that 63 percent of Americans living on rural, Tribal lands lack access to fixed broadband services at speeds of 25 Mbps/3 Mbps, making enhanced support more likely to incentivize deployment to serve low-income, rural residents on Tribal lands. (See Fixed Broadband Deployment Data, Deployment (last visited Oct. 24, 2017), https://www.fcc.gov/maps/fixed-broadband-deployment-data/.) This policy supports our view that enhanced Tribal support should be targeted to rural areas where the need is greatest.

    9. The Commission next identifies mapping resources that can be used to locate “Tribal lands” under our rules. These maps can then be intersected with the maps delineating rural areas in order to create a map showing where enhanced Tribal lands Lifeline support is available. The Commission directs USAC to make these mapping resources available to providers.

    10. Section 54.400(e) of our rules defines Tribal lands to include any federally recognized Indian tribe's reservation, pueblo, or colony (including former reservations in Oklahoma); Alaska Native regions established pursuant to the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act; Indian allotments; Hawaiian Home Lands held in trust for Native Hawaiians pursuant to the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act; and “. . . any land designated as such by the Commission for purposes of this subpart.” Before 2015, the Commission had not established any mapping resources to provide ready access to the boundaries of these Tribal lands.

    11. The geographic areas described in § 54.400(e) of the Lifeline program rules correspond with the map of Hawaiian Home Lands maintained by the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands (DHHL), the U.S. Census Bureau's American Indians and Alaska Natives Map, the Oklahoma Historical Map 1870-1890, as amended by the Commission to include the Cherokee Outlet, and the Alaska Native regions established pursuant to the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act. (See 85 Stat. 688.)

    12. To assist carriers and subscribers, the Commission identifies specific maps of these Tribal lands. In the 2015 Lifeline FNPRM, the Commission interpreted the term “former reservations in Oklahoma” to establish boundaries for Tribal lands in the Lifeline program for residents in Oklahoma. The Commission and USAC later provided a map and shapefile for carriers to use in determining whether their customers reside on Tribal lands in Oklahoma. The Commission believes making this map available has successfully given clarity to providers and subscribers about the boundaries of Tribal lands in Oklahoma. The Commission thus believes providing additional maps and data, including in shapefile format, is appropriate for the other Tribal lands listed in § 54.400(e) of the Commission's rules. By providing carriers the information they need to quickly and accurately determine if an enrolling customer qualifies for enhanced support under the Lifeline rules, these maps and data will help prevent waste, fraud, and abuse in the program. These maps and data will also help Lifeline providers avoid situations in which the provider improperly requests enhanced Tribal support for customers who self-certified their Tribal residence but did not actually reside on Tribal lands.

    13. The Hawaiian Homes Commission Act of 1921 (42 Stat. 108.) delineated the boundaries of “Hawaiian Home Lands” and tasked the DHHL with maintaining those boundaries, along with the responsibility of promulgating rules under that Act. As part of its responsibilities, the DHHL makes available a map and shapefile that precisely defines the geographic areas within the state of Hawaii considered “Hawaiian Home Lands.” Using this map will assist both Lifeline providers and consumers. Likewise, the Census Bureau maintains a map of every “federally recognized Indian tribe's reservation, pueblo, or colony,” called the American Indian and Alaska Native Areas Map. (See 47 CFR 54.400(e).) This map, and its accompanying shapefile, comports with the data sources the Commission uses regularly and will also provide clear guidance for Lifeline providers and consumers.

    14. In light of these identified mapping resources, as well as the expected need for a reasonable transition period, the Commission directs USAC to prepare a map and the corresponding shapefiles to delineate the areas on which subscribers may receive enhanced Lifeline support for rural Tribal lands. USAC shall make this map and data available at least sixty (60) days before the effective date of this Order's rule changes for enhanced Lifeline support on Tribal lands. If, in the future, any of the sources identified in this section issue updated maps or shapefiles, the Commission directs USAC to make an updated map and the underlying data available within a reasonable time period but no later than ninety (90) days after the updated map or shapefile is issued.

    15. The Commission also directs USAC to incorporate the map discussed above in its administration and implementation of the National Lifeline Accountability Database (NLAD) and National Eligibility Verifier (NV).

    16. In the 2015 Lifeline FNPRM, the Commission sought comment on requiring additional evidence of Tribal residency beyond the current self-certification requirement and placing the obligation to confirm Tribal residency with the Lifeline provider. To see that enhanced Lifeline support for rural Tribal lands is actually directed to subscribers who verifiably reside on Tribal lands, the Commission now establishes that only subscribers whose residential address or location is shown to fall within the boundary of the enhanced Tribal Lifeline map discussed above may receive enhanced support. Previously, the Commission had permitted providers to accept subscribers' self-certifications that they reside on Tribal lands according to the Commission's Lifeline rules, which made the program vulnerable to fraud and abuse and resulted in a $2 million settlement with one provider for claiming enhanced Tribal support for subscribers who did not reside on Tribal lands. The Commission finds that the provision of maps delineating the boundaries of areas eligible for enhanced Tribal Lifeline support will give consumers and providers a more effective and simpler means of determining rural Tribal residency, thereby eliminating the need for reliance on self-certification. Accordingly, going forward, Lifeline providers will be required to independently verify and document subscribers' rural Tribal residency according to the map and data sources identified above. An ETC may seek enhanced reimbursement only for subscribers whose residential address is located within the bounds of that map.

    17. In response to the 2015 Lifeline FNPRM, some commenters urged the Commission to continue to permit consumers to self-certify their residence on Tribal lands. Commenters supporting this approach argue that there is no evidence of abuse of the self-certification mechanism, and eliminating self-certification would only increase subscriber costs. However, the Commission has recently found concrete evidence of abuse of the self-certification mechanism, resulting in improper payments that had to be reclaimed through an enforcement proceeding. (See Blue Jay Wireless, LLC, Order, 31 FCC Rcd 7603 (EB 2016).) In that instance, a Lifeline provider relied on subscriber self-certifications to improperly enroll several thousand customers as residents of Tribal lands, and continued to do so even after being informed that it was apparently over-claiming enhanced Tribal support. The Commission also finds that providing a map against which providers can verify eligibility for enhanced Tribal support provides greater certainty to providers and consumers alike, and thus eliminates questions about how to handle a consumer's self-certification if that consumer seems to reside outside Tribal lands.

    18. The Commission concludes that a process by which providers determine enhanced eligibility by comparing the subscriber's residential address to data sources delineating rural Tribal lands is a more accurate method of verifying that a subscriber is entitled to enhanced Tribal reimbursement. If a subscriber does not reside within the bounds of the map that the Commission now provides, permitting that subscriber to receive reimbursement by simply certifying that she or he lives on Tribal lands leaves the program open to improper payments, waste, and possibly fraud and abuse.

    19. The Commission is also sensitive to Tribal residences that have not been assigned conventional addresses and instead use descriptive addresses that are not recognized by the U.S. Postal Service. For those residences, a Lifeline subscriber may provide a descriptive address when enrolling in the program. A provider enrolling a subscriber with a descriptive residential address in a state where the National Verifier is not responsible for eligibility determinations must retain records documenting compliance with the program rules, including the rules the Commission amends in this Order limiting enhanced Lifeline support to rural Tribal lands and removing subscriber self-certification of Tribal lands residency. Accordingly, the Commission reminds providers that they must retain the documentation demonstrating how the provider determined that a subscriber with a descriptive address resides on rural Tribal lands to claim the enhanced Tribal Lifeline support. For example, as providers do today to verify the accuracy of consumers' self-certification, providers may note if a subscriber has a ZIP code that is entirely located in an area eligible for enhanced support, or may record the latitude and longitude of the subscriber's residence to compare against a map identifying areas eligible for enhanced support. The Commission directs USAC to develop a process for subscribers with descriptive addresses who reside on Tribal lands for use in the National Verifier, and to make public the steps in that process to better inform providers about acceptable methods of determining whether such subscribers are eligible for enhanced support.

    20. In the 2015 Lifeline FNPRM, the Commission sought comment on limiting enhanced Tribal Lifeline support to facilities-based service providers, just as the Commission in 2012 had limited enhanced Tribal Link Up support to facilities-based service providers that also received high-cost support. The Commission now concludes that such a limitation is appropriate. Accordingly, the Commission amends § 54.403(a)(3) of the Lifeline program rules to effectuate this change.

    21. The Commission finds that last-mile facilities are critical to deploying, maintaining, and building voice- and broadband-capable networks on Tribal lands and Lifeline funds are more efficiently spent when supporting such networks. When the Lifeline discount is applied to a consumer's bill for a facilities-based service, those funds go directly toward the cost of providing that service, including provisioning, maintaining, and upgrading that provider's facilities. Since the introduction of enhanced Tribal and Link Up support in 2000, facilities-based providers have used that support to construct and upgrade networks on Tribal lands.

    22. In contrast, Lifeline funds disbursed to non-facilities-based providers will still lower the cost of the consumer's service, but cannot directly support the provider's network because the provider does not have one. When the Commission eliminated Link Up support for non-facilities-based carriers on Tribal lands in 2012, it noted that at least one wireless reseller “has received approximately a million in Link Up support for two months in 2011 on Tribal lands in [Oklahoma] without building infrastructure”—contravening the purposes of the enhanced support. And in the 2015 Lifeline FNPRM, the Commission explained, “Lifeline program data show that two-thirds of enhanced Tribal support goes to non-facilities based providers, and it is unclear whether the support is being used to deploy facilities in Tribal areas”—which contravened the Commission's express “desire to use enhanced support to incent the deployment of facilities on Tribal lands.”

    23. For the purposes of the Lifeline program, to enforce our revised § 54.403(a)(3), the Commission limits enhanced Tribal support to (1) fixed or mobile wireless facilities-based Lifeline service provided on Tribal lands with wireless network facilities covering all or a portion of the relevant Lifeline ETC's service area on Tribal lands; and (2) facilities-based fixed broadband or voice telephony service provided through the ETC's ownership or a long-term lease of last-mile wireline loop facilities capable of providing Lifeline service to all or a portion of the ETC's service area on Tribal lands. For purposes of enhanced Lifeline support, a fixed wireless provider must, consistent with FCC Form 477 instructions, provision or equip a broadband wireless channel to the end-user premises over licensed or unlicensed spectrum, while a mobile wireless provider must hold usage rights under a spectrum license or a long-term spectrum leasing arrangement along with wireless network facilities that that can be used to provide wireless voice and broadband services. (The Commission considers a long-term spectrum leasing arrangement as long-term de facto transfer spectrum leasing arrangements as defined and identified in 47 CFR 1.9003 and 1.9030, and long-term spectrum manager leasing arrangements as defined and identified in 47 CFR 1.9003 and 1.9020(e).) For wireline providers, the Commission considers a “long-term lease” as an indefeasible right of use (IRU) of 10 years or more over the last-mile facility in question. The Commission has found that IRUs carry many of the same indicia of control as full ownership and therefore are considered fully owned facilities in other regulatory contexts.

    24. The Commission concludes that, in the Lifeline program, an ETC's use of tariffed and un-tariffed special access services, resold services offered pursuant to sections 251(b) and (c), commercially available resold services, or unbundled network elements (UNEs) does not demonstrate that the service is “facilities-based” because such services do not reflect investment in broadband-capable networks in the service area by the ETC. Previously, the Commission found that competitors' use of incumbent local exchange carrier (LEC) special access services is not relevant to whether there is sufficient facilities-based competition in a market to justify forbearance from the incumbent LEC's obligation to provide UNEs. Additionally, UNEs themselves are only available in those cases where competitors are “impaired” without access—that is, UNEs are available to competitive carriers for those network components that a “reasonably efficient” competitor would not likely be able to construct on its own and without which market entry would likely be uneconomic.

    25. If an ETC offers service using its own as well as others' facilities in its service area on rural Tribal lands, it may only receive enhanced support for the customers it serves using its own last-mile facilities. The Commission finds this definition is technology-neutral as between fixed and mobile services.

    26. For many of the same reasons the Commission limited Link Up support to facilities-based carriers on Tribal lands, the Commission finds that limiting enhanced Lifeline support to facilities-based service provided to subscribers residing on Tribal lands will focus the enhanced support toward those providers directly investing in voice- and broadband-capable networks on rural Tribal lands. The Commission finds that this result comports with the Act's direction to the Commission to base its policies on the principle that “low-income consumers and those in rural, insular, and high cost areas, should have access to telecommunications and information services . . . that are reasonably comparable to those services provided in urban areas. . . .” (47 U.S.C. 254(b)(3).) Directing enhanced Lifeline funds to facilities-based services makes those services more affordable and competitive for low-income consumers and also encourages investment that will ultimately provide more robust networks and higher quality service on rural Tribal lands. Doing so also ensures that the payments Lifeline providers receive from the Fund to serve rural Tribal lands will be reinvested in the “provision, maintenance, and upgrading” of facilities in those areas. (47 U.S.C. 254(e).) A number of Tribal Nations, Tribally-owned Lifeline providers, and other Lifeline providers agree with this decision and favor limiting enhanced support to providers with facilities, arguing that it will ensure that the enhanced subsidies reach the Tribal lands and residences that have never been connected and will support those network facilities already constructed.

    27. The Commission disagrees with parties who argue that resellers' purchase of wholesale services from carriers that own facilities increases the incentive of those carriers to deploy and maintain their networks. Resellers offer little evidence beyond their own assertions that funneling Lifeline enhanced support funding through middle men will spur facilities-based carriers to invest in their rural, Tribal networks. Moreover, even if revenue from resellers marginally increases the ability and incentive of other providers to deploy or maintain facilities, the Commission concludes that this benefit is outweighed by our need to prudently manage Fund expenditures. Indeed, these resellers cannot explain how passing only a fraction of funds through to facilities-based carriers will mean more investment in rural Tribal areas than ensuring that facilities-based carriers receive 100 percent of the support. The Commission concludes that providing the enhanced support to Lifeline providers deploying, building, and maintaining critical last mile infrastructure is a more appropriate way to support the expansion of voice- and broadband-capable networks on Tribal lands. (The Commission reminds all ETCs that they may not discontinue Lifeline service to any community they serve without first relinquishing their ETC designation after the approval of the designation (state or federal) commission. See 47 U.S.C. 214(e)(4).)

    28. To ensure compliance with this requirement and prevent potential waste, fraud, and abuse, the Commission directs USAC to take appropriate measures to verify that any ETC claiming enhanced rural Tribal support satisfies the facilities requirement outlined in this section prior to disbursing the enhanced support.

    29. The Commission also clarifies that the “facilities-based” standard it describes bears only on whether the Lifeline provider is eligible to receive enhanced rural Tribal support. Whether a provider is “facilities-based” under the Act for purposes of seeking a Lifeline-only ETC designation and must obtain approval for a compliance plan to take advantage of blanket forbearance from the facilities requirement is unaffected by this standard and remains the same. (See 47 U.S.C. 214(e)(1)(A) (requiring ETCs to offer service “either using its own facilities or a combination of its own facilities and resale of another carrier's services”).)

    30. To ensure all impacted parties have sufficient time to make the necessary changes adopted in this Fourth Report and Order, the Commission provides a transition period. The changes made in this Fourth Report and Order for enhanced Lifeline support on Tribal lands shall be effective 90 days after the Wireline Competition Bureau announces that the Commission has received approval from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for the new information collection requirements in this Fourth Report and Order subject to the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (PRA), Public Law 104-13, or on August 1, 2018, whichever date occurs later. The Commission directs ETCs to notify, in writing, any customers who are currently receiving enhanced support who will no longer be eligible for enhanced support as a result of the changes in this Order. This notice must be sent no more than 30 days after the announcement of PRA approval. (Or, if the Commission has not received approval from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for the new information collection requirements in this Order subject to the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (PRA), once OMB approval has been received.) This notice must inform any impacted customers that they will not receive the enhanced Lifeline discount beginning 90 days after the announcement of PRA approval or on August 1, 2018, whichever occurs later, and that customers residing on rural Tribal lands who are currently receiving service from a non-facilities-based provider have the option of switching their Lifeline benefit to a facilities-based provider to continue receiving enhanced rural Tribal support. The notice must also detail the ETC's offerings for Lifeline subscribers who are not eligible for enhanced support.

    III. Order on Reconsideration

    31. By this Order, the Commission eliminates the port freeze for voice and broadband internet access services found in § 54.411 of the Commission's rules. The Commission takes this action in response to significant concerns regarding the port freeze raised in Petitions for Reconsideration and other recent filings in the docket. In the 2016 Lifeline Order, 81 FR 33026, May 24, 2016, the Commission codified port freezes lasting 12 months for broadband internet access service and 60 days for voice telephony service. After reconsideration of certain findings in the 2016 Lifeline Order, the Commission now eliminates the Lifeline port freeze for voice and broadband internet access service.

    32. The Commission established the extended port freeze for broadband internet access service “[t]o facilitate market entry for Lifeline-supported BIAS [broadband internet access service] offerings, provide additional consumer benefits, and encourage competition” by “allowing broadband providers the security of a longer term relationship with subscribers. . . .” Since the Commission adopted these requirements, multiple parties have filed Petitions for Reconsideration raising a variety of concerns regarding the port freeze rule. Petitioners argue that the port freeze requirements adversely impact consumers by restricting consumer choice and the record lacks evidence that demonstrates new entrants were or are having difficulty entering the Lifeline market. Petitioners also argue that the port freeze requirements were imposed without adequate notice, as required under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA); and raise concerns regarding the challenges ETCs will face from an administrative perspective in attempting to comply with the 12-month port freeze requirement. Because the Commission grants the petitions for reconsideration on other grounds below, it does not address the APA and administrative burden arguments here. Additionally, since implementation of the port freeze rule, other parties have raised concerns regarding the alleged improper invocation of consumer port freezes by certain Lifeline providers, which limits consumer choice, especially with regard to the 12-month port freeze for broadband service.

    33. The Commission agrees with arguments raised by Petitioners and others that the disadvantages to consumers of the port freeze rule, in practice, outweigh the anticipated advantages; accordingly, the Commission eliminates the codified Lifeline benefit port freeze for voice and broadband internet access service. (See 47 CFR 54.411.) The Commission concludes that restricting the ability of Lifeline consumers to transfer their Lifeline benefit between service providers ultimately disadvantages Lifeline consumers. Such a restriction limits Lifeline consumers' ability to seek more competitive offerings and obtain those services that best meet their needs. In addition, restricting consumers' ability to transfer their Lifeline benefit will not promote competitive service offerings and, in fact, may diminish providers' motivation to provide higher quality service after enrolling a Lifeline-supported broadband subscriber, because the provider is assured a 12-month commitment from the subscriber. The Commission also agrees that the record evidence does not clearly support the view that a 12-month port freeze is necessary to ease market entry, and indeed can discourage new providers from entering the Lifeline market or a new geographical area because a significant portion of Lifeline subscribers would not be able to transfer their benefit to otherwise compelling new services offerings. Nor does the Commission believe that the 60-day port freeze for voice services adopted in the 2016 Lifeline Order, while leading to these disadvantages, is effective in furthering its desired goals.

    34. In general, parties that filed in support of a longer port freeze argued that carriers will be willing to make more significant investments as a result of longer term customer-carrier relationships and that a longer port freeze will discourage consumers from “flipping.” Indeed, several carriers decry “flipping” and explain how consumer churn makes it harder for carriers to recover their costs, including the costs of free phones. But flipping and consumer churn are not unique to the Lifeline marketplace, and companies have repeatedly turned to voluntary agreements (such as contracts) and alternative business models (such as prepaid plans) to address such concerns without the federal government artificially limiting consumer choice. In addition, the Commission notes that the primary intent of the Lifeline program is to provide a discount on service rather than devices. To the extent that providing discounted or free devices incentivizes consumers to engage in flipping, that outcome primarily results from a service provider's own marketing practices. The Commission also notes that supporters of the port freeze generally did not assert the 12-month port freeze was needed to address impediments to entering the market.

    35. The Commission disagrees with those commenters who contend that removing the 12-month broadband internet access service port freeze will reduce provider participation in the Lifeline program and make it “impossible to meet the Commission's minimum service standards and handset requirements at a cost that is affordable for low-income consumers.” (Joint Lifeline ETC Respondents' Opposition at 7-8.) The Commission adopted minimum service standards after considering the record and concluding that minimum service standards are not unduly burdensome. Affordability was an important factor in adopting minimum service standards, and the standards the Commission adopted struck “a balance between the demands of affordability and reasonable comparability.” While the Commission considered concerns raised by some providers that they would not be able to offer services that meet the minimum standards, the Commission ultimately concluded that allowing the Lifeline benefit to be used on services that do not meet minimum service standards would lead to the type of “second class” service that the minimum service standards are meant to eliminate. Furthermore, prior to the 2016 Lifeline Order, the shorter USAC-administered 60-day benefit port freeze for voice service did not drive providers out of the program. Indeed, the Commission is now acting in response to requests from Lifeline providers to eliminate or shorten the port freeze due to the administrative burdens associated with compliance.

    36. The Commission codified the port freeze in part because it anticipated that consumers would benefit from greater choice and innovative service offerings as a result. In addition, the Commission envisioned benefits would accrue to consumers from a longer term relationship with their service providers. Since the implementation of the port freeze, the Commission has been presented with evidence, however, that it has not delivered the consumer benefits the Commission envisioned when it codified the requirement, but instead has incented certain providers to enroll consumers in offerings that provide little meaningful residential broadband access while locking in their Lifeline benefit with that provider for the following 12 months. These providers have used the port freeze to prevent customer churn, asserting that the service falls within the 12-month port freeze timeframe, even when offering plans with only 10 MB of guaranteed mobile cellular data. As a result, although the port freeze rule has in some instances resulted in longer term relationships as anticipated, any benefits have come at the expense of consumers who find themselves trapped in low-quality plans for a full year. Parties such as Consumer Action and the National Consumers League have urged the Commission “to stop the abuse of the so-called `port freeze' rule, which is now being used to limit consumer choice and access to true broadband service and broadband-suitable devices.” Because implementation of the port freeze has not, on balance, resulted in the anticipated benefits to Lifeline consumers and instead appears to have harmed consumers, the Commission now determines that this rule should be eliminated. The Commission also finds that retaining existing customers' port freezes would hinder consumer choice without leading or having led to improved offerings for consumers, and so the Commission declines to continue subscribers' existing port freezes.

    37. Finally, the Commission clarifies the application of the Commission's rolling recertification rule in the absence of the port freeze rule and the port freeze exceptions. (47 CFR 54.410(f).) For purposes of rolling recertification, the subscriber's service initiation date is twelve months from the date of the most recent transfer or enrollment with the subscriber's current service provider, and recertification will be required every twelve months thereafter.

    38. These changes to § 54.411 of the Commission's rules will become effective 60 days after publication of this Order in the Federal Register.

    39. To ensure that qualifying low-income Americans receive quality, affordable Lifeline-supported broadband service, the Commission revises its rules concerning the application of Lifeline support. Section 54.403(b)(1) of the Commission's rules requires ETCs “that charge federal End User Common Line charges or equivalent federal charges” to apply federal Lifeline support to waive such charges for Lifeline subscribers. (47 CFR 54.403(b)(1).) The rule is silent, however, on the application of Lifeline support for subscribers receiving the Lifeline benefit for broadband internet access service, either in a bundle with qualifying voice telephony service or on a standalone basis, which does not have an End User Common Line charge. The Commission hereby clarifies that § 54.403(b)(1) of the Commission's rules only applies to subscribers receiving Lifeline-supported standalone voice telephony service or a bundled offering where the ETC is requesting reimbursement from the Lifeline program for the voice telephony component of the bundle.

    40. USTelecom has filed a petition for reconsideration requesting, in relevant part, that the Commission eliminate § 54.403(b) of the Commission's rules to resolve the rule's ambiguity with regard to Lifeline-supported broadband internet access service. USTelecom argues that broadband internet access service does not have a federal End User Common Line charge or intrastate service, creating confusion as to how ETCs may comply with § 54.403(b) of the Commission's rules when the customer is receiving Lifeline-supported broadband internet access service. No parties filed in opposition to USTelecom's petition on this issue.

    41. The Commission declines to eliminate the rule, as requested by USTelecom, so that ETCs seeking reimbursement for Lifeline voice telephony service, either on a standalone basis or in a bundle, will continue to apply the Lifeline discount to the EUCL. Instead the Commission now modifies § 54.403(b)(1) to clarify that this rule only applies to subscribers receiving standalone voice telephony service or a bundled offering where the ETC is requesting reimbursement from the Lifeline program for the voice telephony component of the bundle. By not addressing whether and how § 54.403(b)(1) applies to Lifeline-supported broadband internet access service, the rule causes unnecessary uncertainty for ETCs and may result in less affordable offerings for subscribers without any corresponding benefit for Lifeline subscribers. This revision of § 54.403(b)(1) also comports with the longstanding Commission goal of simplifying administration of the Lifeline program and reflecting current marketplace conditions. Accordingly, the Commission amends § 54.403(b)(1) to clarify that ETCs are only required to apply the Lifeline discount to the End User Common Line charge or equivalent federal charges where the ETC is receiving Lifeline support for that subscriber's voice telephony service.

    42. The 2016 Lifeline Order modified § 54.410(b)(2)(ii), (c)(2)(ii), and (e) to require the National Verifier, where it is responsible for determining subscriber eligibility or conducting recertification, to provide a copy of the subscriber's certification to the provider. (47 CFR 54.410(b)(2)(ii), (c)(2)(ii), (e).) The Commission now resolves an apparent conflict in our rules and alters § 54.410(b)(2)(ii), (c)(2)(ii), and (e) of the Commission's rules to eliminate the requirement that the National Verifier provide copies of certifications to ETCs where the National Verifier is responsible for eligibility determinations.

    43. USTelecom filed a petition for reconsideration requesting, in relevant part, modifications to § 54.410(b)(2)(ii), (c)(2)(ii), and (e) of the Commission's rules to properly reflect the 2016 Lifeline Order's intent with regard to the National Verifier. USTelecom argues that the text of the rule is in direct conflict with the 2016 Lifeline Order's language and intent. The 2016 Lifeline Order states: “[t]he National Verifier will retain eligibility information collected as a result of the eligibility determination process” and that “Lifeline providers will not be required to retain eligibility documentation for subscribers who have been determined eligible by the National Verifier.” However, § 54.410(b)(2)(ii), (c)(2)(ii), and (e) require Lifeline providers to retain eligibility documentation and certifications even when the National Verifier was responsible for the enrollment process. USTelecom adds that the cost and burden to providers of maintaining duplicative subscriber eligibility information from the National Verifier are unsupported by any “sound policy basis.” Further, USTelecom argues the rule may actually subvert program goals of “. . . `ensur[ing] that the National Verifier will incorporate robust privacy and data security best practices in its creation and operation of the National Verifier.' ” No parties filed in opposition to USTelecom's petition on this issue.

    44. The Commission now modifies § 54.410(b)(2)(ii), (c)(2)(ii), and (e) to clarify that where the National Verifier is responsible for the consumer's initial eligibility determination or recertification, the National Verifier is not required to deliver copies of those certifications to the ETC. The Commission finds that this amendment to the rules is consistent with the goals of the National Verifier to ease burdens on Lifeline providers while improving privacy and security for consumers applying to participate in the program. This amendment also brings § 54.410 of the Commission's rules in line with the Commission's stated intent in the 2016 Lifeline Order that Lifeline providers would not be required to retain eligibility documentation for eligibility determinations made by the National Verifier. Additionally, the Commission agrees with USTelecom that requiring Lifeline providers to maintain duplicative subscriber enrollment documentation presents unnecessary risk to the privacy and security of subscriber information.

    IV. Memorandum Opinion and Order

    45. To fully realize the Commission's objectives of providing Lifeline-support for broadband services, the Commission provides clarity to ensure that service providers claiming Lifeline support for broadband service actually provide Lifeline customers with the level of broadband service intended in the 2016 Lifeline Order. In February 2017, the Wireline Competition Bureau solicited public comment on a TracFone Wireless, Inc. (TracFone) request for clarification regarding §§ 54.408 and 54.411 of the Commission's rules. The Commission now removes any uncertainty in the record with respect to whether certain Wi-Fi technologies qualify for Lifeline reimbursement by clarifying that broadband internet access delivered via Wi-Fi is not eligible for reimbursement as mobile broadband under the Lifeline program rules, and the Commission reiterates that mobile broadband service eligible for Lifeline reimbursement must be provided on a network using at least 3G (Third Generation) mobile technologies. The Commission also clarifies that a provider does not directly serve a customer with fixed broadband service under the Lifeline rules if that customer cannot access the services at their residential address and, therefore, Wi-Fi offerings like the “premium Wi-Fi” service described in the record also do not qualify for Lifeline support as fixed broadband service offerings.

    46. In its request for clarification, TracFone sought clarification regarding the types of service that meet the minimum service standards for Lifeline-supported mobile broadband and qualify for the twelve-month benefit port freeze. In response, several commenters expressed concerns that interpreting the minimum service standards for Lifeline-eligible mobile broadband to allow for Wi-Fi-delivered broadband as described in the request would inhibit the Commission's goal of supporting quality service to low-income consumers, while others supported an interpretation of the Commission's rules that would permit Lifeline support for “premium Wi-Fi” access offerings.

    47. The Commission clarifies that “premium Wi-Fi” and other similar networks of Wi-Fi-delivered broadband internet access service do not qualify as mobile broadband under the Lifeline program rules. (See 47 CFR 54.400 et seq.) In the 2016 Lifeline Order, the Commission focused on “mobile network technologies” and mobile service offerings over different generations of mobile technologies in adopting rules for Lifeline-eligible mobile broadband service. (See 47 CFR 54.408(b)(2)(i).) Against this backdrop, the Commission established minimum service standards, including minimum 3G (Third Generation mobile network) speeds, to qualify for Lifeline support. There is no evidence in the record that Wi-Fi-only technology, as deployed today, is a “mobile technology” or one of the “generations” of mobile technologies, as contemplated by the Commission in the 2016 Lifeline Order. Further, nothing in the record demonstrates that Wi-Fi, including “premium Wi-Fi,” as deployed today, should be treated as an industry accepted generation of mobile technology.

    48. The Commission also disagrees with Telrite that the use of the term “3G” in the § 54.408(b)(2)(i) of the Commission's rules was only intended as a proxy for a particular minimum network speed threshold and not a generation of mobile technology. In the 2016 Lifeline Order, the Commission's discussion makes it clear that it was incorporating industry mobile technology generations, and that 3G was not just a proxy for a speed threshold. The Commission, for example, stated that “[f]or the mobile broadband minimum service standard for speed, it relies on Form 477 data while also incorporating industry mobile technology generation (i.e., 3G, 4G).

    49. Unlike Wi-Fi, mobile networks provide ubiquitous mobility with large service area coverage. Wi-Fi access, however, can be a complement to a consumer's primary broadband service. Lifeline-eligible mobile broadband requires a mobile service provided through 3G mobile broadband technologies or subsequent and superior generations of mobile broadband technologies. Accordingly, the rules governing Lifeline support for a “mobile broadband service” contemplate not just a minimum of “3G” mobile network threshold speeds, but also a mobile network. (47 U.S.C. 153(33) (defining “mobile service”); 47 CFR 20.3 (same).) As noted above, mobile networks, unlike current Wi-Fi networks, provide ubiquitous mobility within a large service area. Was the Commission to interpret the minimum service standard otherwise, an ETC could offer any fixed service with an arguably fast-enough speed, limit it to serve end users primarily using mobile devices, and claim that such a service was in fact “mobile” broadband because it offers speeds faster than “3G.” As a result, the section establishing Lifeline minimum service standards for fixed broadband service would have no meaningful application, because ETCs could simply offer the much lower data allowances permitted under the mobile broadband standards, supplement that amount with Wi-Fi-delivered data, and receive the same Lifeline support amount. (See 47 CFR 54.408(b)(1).)

    50. The Commission also clarifies that a provider does not directly serve a customer with fixed broadband service under the Lifeline rules if that customer cannot access the service at their residential address. (See 47 CFR 54.407(a) (“Universal service support for providing Lifeline shall be provided directly to an eligible telecommunications carrier based on the number of actual qualifying low-income customers it serves directly as of the first day of the month.”)) The 2016 Lifeline Order contemplates Lifeline-supported fixed broadband service as a residential service. A service that, for example, purports to offer Lifeline-supported fixed broadband service but only provides customers with access to hotspots that a qualifying low-income subscriber cannot access from their own residence undermines the Commission's requirement that carriers directly provide service to receive reimbursement. A review of the Wi-Fi service disputed in the record before us indicates that the iPass network used to provide the premium Wi-Fi service keeps customers connected in “hotels, airports, and other business venues,” trains, airplanes, and convention centers, and in many towns only includes hotspots at establishments with pre-existing free public Wi-Fi offerings, like McDonald's, Burger King, and Walmart. (See The iPass Global Wi-Fi Network, iPass (last visited Oct. 24, 2017), https://www.ipass.com/mobile-network/. See also, e.g., iPass hotspot locations in Indianola, Iowa, and Forrest City, Arkansas, https://hotspot-finder.ipass.com/united-states/indianola-iowa, https://hotspot-finder.ipass.com/united-states/forrest-city-arkansas (last visited Oct. 24, 2017).) Some commenters indicated that these hot spot locations are “likely to be of little use to most Lifeline customers” because few of the hot spots are located in low-income residential areas, and the hot spot locations “may not be common areas in which Lifeline customers would find themselves trying to utilize their Lifeline supported [broadband internet access service].” (TracFone Wireless Reply at 7 & n. 12; Public Utility Division of Oklahoma Comments at 4.) TracFone also states that based on its sample testing for one Florida ZIP Code, “[l]ess than one percent of the 10,223 Lifeline households within that ZIP Code reside within areas covered by iPass hotspots” and that nine of the twelve iPass hot spots within that ZIP Code “are located inside business locations (typically, restaurants and hotels, and only available to patrons of those businesses).” Accordingly, these types of premium Wi-Fi services would be functionally inaccessible to many Lifeline consumers and, thus, offering such services does not directly serve a Lifeline customer with fixed broadband service as required by § 54.407(a) of the Lifeline rules.

    V. Procedural Matters A. Paperwork Reduction Act

    51. The Fourth Report and Order contains new information collection requirements subject to the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (PRA), Public Law 104-13. It will be submitted to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review under section 3507(d) of the PRA. OMB, the general public, and other federal agencies will be invited to comment on the revised information collection requirements contained in this proceeding. In addition, the Commission notes that pursuant to the Small Business Paperwork Relief Act of 2002, Public Law 107-198, the Commission previously sought specific comment on how it might further reduce the information collection burden on small business concerns with fewer than 25 employees.

    52. As required by the Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980, as amended (RFA), the Federal Communications Commission (Commission) included an Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (IRFA) of the possible significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities by the policies and rules proposed in the 2015 Lifeline FNPRM in WC Docket Nos. 11-42, 09-197, 10-90. The Commission sought written public comment on the proposals in the 2015 Lifeline FNPRM, including comment on the IRFA. This Final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (FRFA) conforms to the RFA.

    53. The Commission is required by section 254 of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, to promulgate rules to implement the universal service provisions of section 254. The Lifeline program was implemented in 1985 in the wake of the 1984 divestiture of AT&T. On May 8, 1997, the Commission adopted rules to reform its system of universal service support mechanisms so that universal service is preserved and advanced as markets move toward competition. Since the 2012 Lifeline Reform Order, 77 FR 12952, March 2, 2012, the Commission has acted to address waste, fraud and abuse in the Lifeline program and improved program administration and accountability. In this Fourth Report and Order, Order on Reconsideration, and Memorandum Opinion and Order (Order), the Commission takes steps to focus Lifeline program support to effectively and efficiently bridge the digital divide for low-income consumers while minimizing the contributions burden on ratepayers. The Commission resolves questions regarding enhanced Lifeline support for Tribal lands, which were raised in the 2015 Lifeline Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking but left unaddressed by the 2016 Lifeline Order. The Commission resolves Petitions for Reconsideration to improve competition and efficiency in the Lifeline program. The Commission enables competition and empower Lifeline consumers by increasing their ability to switch their Lifeline benefit to a new provider. The Commission also clarifies how Lifeline providers should apply the Lifeline discount to service offerings that include Lifeline-supported broadband internet access service.

    54. The RFA directs agencies to provide a description of and, where feasible, an estimate of the number of small entities that may be affected by the proposed rules, if adopted. The RFA generally defines the term “small entity” as having the same meaning as the terms “small business,” “small organization,” and “small governmental jurisdiction.” In addition, the term “small business” has the same meaning as the term “small business concern” under the Small Business Act. A small business concern is one that: (1) Is independently owned and operated; (2) is not dominant in its field of operation; and (3) satisfies any additional criteria established by the Small Business Administration (SBA). Nationwide, there are a total of approximately 28.2 million small businesses, according to the SBA. A “small organization” is generally “any not-for-profit enterprise which is independently owned and operated and is not dominant in its field.”

    55. Small Entities, Small Organizations, Small Governmental Jurisdictions. Our actions, over time, may affect small entities that are not easily categorized at present. The Commission therefore describes here, at the outset, three comprehensive small entity size standards that could be directly affected herein. As of 2016, according to the SBA, there were 28.8 million small businesses in the U.S., which represented 99.9 percent of all businesses in the United States. Additionally, a “small organization is generally any not-for-profit enterprise which is independently owned and operated and not dominant in its field.” Nationwide, as of 2014, there were approximately 2,131,200 small organizations. Finally, the term “small governmental jurisdiction” is defined generally as “governments of cities, towns, townships, villages, school districts, or special districts, with a population of less than fifty thousand”. U.S. Census Bureau data published in 2012 indicates that there were 89,476 local governmental jurisdictions in the United States. The Commission estimates that, of this total, as many as 88,761 entities may qualify as “small governmental jurisdictions.” Thus, the Commission estimates that most governmental jurisdictions are small.

    56. A number of our rule changes will result in additional reporting, recordkeeping, or compliance requirements for small entities. For all of those rule changes, the Commission has determined that the benefit the rule change will bring for the Lifeline program outweighs the burden of the increased requirement/s. Other rule changes decrease reporting, recordkeeping, or compliance requirements for small entities. The Commission has noted the applicable rule changes below impacting small entities.

    57. Compliance burdens. All of the rules the Commission implements impose some compliance burdens on small entities by requiring them to become familiar with the new rules to comply with them. For several of the new rules the burden of becoming familiar with the new rule in order to comply with it is the only additional burden the rule imposes.

    58. The RFA requires an agency to describe any significant, specifically small business, alternatives that it has considered in reaching its proposed approach, which may include the following four alternatives (among others): “(1) the establishment of differing compliance or reporting requirements or timetables that take into account the resources available to small entities; (2) the clarification, consolidation, or simplification of compliance and reporting requirements under the rule for such small entities; (3) the use of performance rather than design standards; and (4) an exemption from coverage of the rule, or any part thereof, for such small entities.”

    59. This rulemaking could impose minimal additional burdens on small entities. In this Order, the Commission modifies certain Lifeline rules to target funding to areas where it is most needed. In developing these rules, the Commission worked to ensure the burdens associated with implementing these rules would be minimized for all service providers, including small entities. In taking this action, the Commission considered potential impacts on service providers, including small entities. The Commission considered alternatives to the rulemaking changes that increase projected reporting, recordkeeping and other compliance requirements for small entities, including alternatives on how to define “rural” for purposes of describing rural Tribal lands and how the Commission and USAC could provide mapping resources to help small entities identify with certainty areas that are eligible for enhanced support. In developing our rules related to Tribal benefits, the Commission carefully crafted the requirements to be easier on all service providers and determined that a specific carve-out for small businesses was not necessary.

    60. No commenters specifically offered alternatives to the changes made in this Order. Further, given the narrow and targeted scope of the changes being made no alternative readily presents itself to limit the burdens on small business or organizations. The identified increase in burden is minimal and outweighed by the advantages in combating waste, fraud, and abuse in the program.

    VII. Ordering Clauses

    61. Accordingly, it is ordered, that pursuant to the authority contained in sections 1 through 4, 201 through 205, 254, and 403 of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, 47 U.S.C. 151-154, 201-205, 254, and 403, and § 1.2 of the Commission's rules, 47 CFR 1.2, this Fourth Report and Order, Order on Reconsideration, and Memorandum Opinion and Order is adopted effective thirty (30) days after the publication of this Fourth Report and Order, Order on Reconsideration, and Memorandum Opinion and Order, in the Federal Register, except to the extent provided herein and expressly addressed below.

    62. It is further ordered, that pursuant to the authority contained in sections 1 through 4, 201 through 205, 254, and 403 of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, 47 U.S.C. 151-154, 201-205, 254, and 403, part 54 of the Commission's rules, 47 CFR part 54, is amended as described in the following Final Rules, and such rule amendments to §§ 54.403(b) and 54.410 of the Commission's rules shall be effective thirty (30) days after the publication of this Fourth Report and Order, Order on Reconsideration, and Memorandum Opinion and Order in the Federal Register.

    63. It is further ordered, that pursuant to the authority contained in sections 1 through 4, 201 through 205, 254, and 403 of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, 47 U.S.C. 151-154, 201-205, 254, and 403, that the removal and reservation of § 54.411 of the Commission's rules shall be effective sixty (60) days after the publication of this Fourth Report and Order, Order on Reconsideration, and Memorandum Opinion and Order in the Federal Register.

    64. It is further ordered, that pursuant to the authority contained in sections 1 through 4, 201 through 205, 254, and 403 of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, 47 U.S.C. 151-154, 201-205, 254, and 403, part 54 of the Commission's rules, 47 CFR part 54, is amended as described in the following Final Rules, and such rule amendments to §§ 54.403(a)(3), 54.413, and 54.414 of the Commission's rules are subject to the PRA and shall be effective ninety (90) days after announcement in the Federal Register of OMB approval of the subject information collection requirements or on August 1, 2018, whichever occurs later.

    65. It is further ordered that, pursuant to the authority contained in sections 1-5 and 254 of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, 47 U.S.C. 151-155 and 254, and § 1.429 of the Commission's rules, 47 CFR 1.429, the Petition for Reconsideration filed by United States Telecom Association on June 23, 2016 and the Petition for Reconsideration/Clarification of NTCA—The Rural Broadband Association and WTA—Advocates for Rural Broadband are granted to the extent described above.

    66. It is further ordered that the Commission shall send a copy of this Fourth Report and Order, Order on Reconsideration, and Memorandum Opinion and Order to Congress and to the Government Accountability Office pursuant to the Congressional Review Act, see 5 U.S.C. 801(a)(1)(A).

    List of Subjects in 47 CFR Part 54

    Communications common carriers, Health facilities, Infants and children, internet, Libraries, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Schools, Telecommunications, Telephone.

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

    For the reasons discussed in the preamble, the Federal Communications Commission amends 47 CFR part 54 as follows:

    PART 54—UNIVERSAL SERVICE 1. The authority citation for part 54 continues to read as follows: Authority:

    47 U.S.C. 151, 154(i), 155, 201, 205, 214, 219, 220, 254, 303(r), 403, and 1302 unles otherwise noted.

    2. Amend § 54.403 by revising paragraphs (a)(3) and (b)(1) to read as follows:
    § 54.403 Lifeline support amount.

    (a) * * *

    (3) Tribal lands support amount. Additional federal Lifeline support of up to $25 per month will be made available to a eligible telecommunications carrier providing facilities-based Lifeline service to an eligible resident of Tribal lands, as defined in § 54.400(e), if the subscriber's residential location is rural, as defined in § 54.505(b)(3)(i) and (ii), and the eligible telecommunications carrier certifies to the Administrator that it will pass through the full Tribal lands support amount to the qualifying eligible resident of Tribal lands and that it has received any non-federal regulatory approvals necessary to implement the required rate reduction.

    (b) Application of Lifeline discount amount. (1) Eligible telecommunications carriers that charge federal End User Common Line charges or equivalent federal charges must apply federal Lifeline support to waive the federal End User Common Line charges for Lifeline subscribers if the carrier is seeking Lifeline reimbursement for eligible voice telephony service provided to those subscribers. Such carriers must apply any additional federal support amount to a qualifying low-income consumer's intrastate rate, if the carrier has received the non-federal regulatory approvals necessary to implement the required rate reduction. Other eligible telecommunications carriers must apply the federal Lifeline support amount, plus any additional support amount, to reduce the cost of any generally available residential service plan or package offered by such carriers that provides at least one supported service as described in § 54.101(a), and charge Lifeline subscribers the resulting amount.

    3. Amend § 54.410 by revising paragraphs (b)(2)(ii), (c)(2)(ii), and (e) to read as follows:
    § 54.410 Subscriber eligibility determination and certification.

    (b) * * *

    (2) * * *

    (ii) If a state Lifeline administrator or other state agency is responsible for the initial determination of a subscriber's eligibility, a copy of the subscriber's certification that complies with the requirements set forth in paragraph (d) of this section.

    (c) * * *

    (2) * * *

    (ii) If a state Lifeline administrator or other state agency is responsible for the initial determination of a subscriber's eligibility, a copy of the subscriber's certification that complies with the requirements set forth in paragraph (d) of this section.

    (e) State Lifeline administrators or other state agencies that are responsible for the initial determination of a subscriber's eligibility for Lifeline must provide each eligible telecommunications carrier with a copy of each of the certification forms collected by the state Lifeline administrator or other state agency for that carrier's subscribers.

    § 54.411 [Removed and Reserved]
    4. Remove and reserve § 54.411.
    5. Revise § 54.413 to read as follows:
    § 54.413 Link Up for rural Tribal lands.

    (a) For purposes of this subpart, the term “Tribal Link Up” means an assistance program for eligible residents of Tribal lands, if the subscriber's location is rural, as defined in § 54.505(b)(3)(i) and (ii), seeking telecommunications service from a telecommunications carrier that is receiving high-cost support on rural Tribal lands, pursuant to subpart D of this part, that provides:

    (1) A 100 percent reduction, up to $100, of the customary charge for commencing telecommunications service for a single telecommunications connection at a subscriber's principal place of residence imposed by an eligible telecommunications carrier that is also receiving high-cost support on rural Tribal lands, pursuant to subpart D of this part. For purposes of this subpart, a “customary charge for commencing telecommunications service” is the ordinary charge an eligible telecommunications carrier imposes and collects from all subscribers to initiate service with that eligible telecommunications carrier. A charge imposed only on qualifying low-income consumers to initiate service is not a customary charge for commencing telecommunications service. Activation charges routinely waived, reduced, or eliminated with the purchase of additional products, services, or minutes are not customary charges eligible for universal service support; and

    (2) A deferred schedule of payments of the customary charge for commencing telecommunications service for a single telecommunications connection at a subscriber's principal place of residence imposed by an eligible telecommunications carrier that is also receiving high-cost support on rural Tribal lands, pursuant to subpart D of this part, for which the eligible resident of rural Tribal lands does not pay interest. The interest charges not assessed to the eligible resident of rural Tribal lands shall be for a customary charge for connecting the telecommunications service of up to $200 and such interest charges shall be deferred for a period not to exceed one year.

    (b) An eligible resident of rural Tribal lands may receive the benefit of the Tribal Link Up program for a second or subsequent time only for otherwise qualifying commencement of telecommunications service at a principal place of residence with an address different from the address for which Tribal Link Up assistance was provided previously.

    5. Amend § 54.414 by revising paragraph (b) to read as follows:
    § 54.414 Reimbursement for Tribal Link Up.

    (b) In order to receive universal support reimbursement for providing Tribal Link Up, eligible telecommunications carriers must use the maps made available by the Administrator to determine an eligible resident of rural Tribal lands' initial eligibility for Tribal Link Up. Eligible telecommunications carriers must obtain a certification form from each eligible resident of Tribal lands that complies with § 54.410 prior to enrolling him or her in Tribal Link Up.

    [FR Doc. 2018-00152 Filed 1-12-18; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6712-01-P
    DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR Fish and Wildlife Service 50 CFR Part 17 [Docket No. FWS-HQ-ES-2017-0081; 4500090024] RIN 1018-BC54 Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Taxonomical Update for Orangutan AGENCY:

    Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

    ACTION:

    Direct final rule.

    SUMMARY:

    We, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce the revised taxonomy of the orangutan under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). When we listed the orangutan in 1970, the listed entity included all orangutans in the genus Pongo. At that time, the scientific community recognized one species (Pongo pygmaeus) in the genus Pongo, which consisted of two subspecies (P. pygmaeus pygmaeus and P. p. abelii). However, the orangutan has recently been reclassified as belonging to two distinct species: P. pygmaeus and P. abelii. Therefore, we are revising the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife to reflect the current scientifically accepted taxonomy and nomenclature of the orangutan. Because all orangutans in the genus Pongo are already included under the original listing of Pongo pygmaeus as endangered under the Act, the newly recognized taxonomic species is considered part of the original listed entity, and this technical correction does not alter the regulatory protections afforded to the orangutan. For the same reason, if other Pongo species emerge due to future taxonomic revisions to further subdivide the genus Pongo, they would be encompassed by the original listing and this technical correction.

    DATES:

    This rule is effective April 16, 2018 without further action, unless we receive significant scientific information that provides strong justifications as to why this rule should not be adopted or why it should be changed on or before February 15, 2018. If we receive significant scientific information regarding this taxonomic change for the orangutan, we will publish a timely withdrawal of this rule in the Federal Register.

    ADDRESSES:

    You may submit comments by one of the following methods:

    Electronically: Go to the Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. In the Search box, enter FWS-HQ-ES-2017-0081, which is the docket number for this rulemaking. Then, click on the Search button. On the resulting page, you may submit a comment by clicking on “Comment Now!”

    By hard copy: Submit comments by U.S. mail or hand-delivery to: Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS-HQ-ES-2017-0081; Division of Policy, Performance, and Management Programs; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 5275 Leesburg Pike, MS: BPHC; Falls Church, VA 22041-3803.

    See Public Comments, below, for more information about submitting comments.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Janine Van Norman, Chief, Branch of Foreign Species, Ecological Services Program, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; MS: ES, 5275 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA 22041-3803; telephone, 703-358-2171. If you use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD), call the Federal Relay Service at 800-877-8339.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Public Comments

    You may submit your comments and materials regarding this direct final rule by one of the methods listed in ADDRESSES. Please include sufficient information with your comments to allow us to verify any scientific or commercial information you include. We will not consider comments sent by email or fax, or to an address not listed in ADDRESSES.

    We will post all comments on http://www.regulations.gov. Before including your address, phone number, email address, or other personal information in your comment, you should be aware that your entire comment—including your personal identifying information—may be made publicly available at any time. While you can ask us in your comment to withhold your personal identifying information from public review, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so.

    Comments and materials we receive, as well as supporting documentation we used in preparing this direct final rule, will be available for public inspection on the internet at http://www.regulations.gov. Please note that comments posted to http://www.regulations.gov are not immediately viewable. When you submit a comment, the system receives it immediately. However, the comment will not be publicly viewable until we post it, which might not occur until several days after the submission. Information regarding this rule is available in alternative formats upon request (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT).

    Previous Federal Actions

    In a final rule published in the Federal Register on June 2, 1970 (35 FR 8491), we listed the orangutan (Pongo pygmaeus) under the Act's precursor, the Endangered Species Conservation Act of 1969 (Pub. L. 91-135), as an endangered species, and since then, the species has remained listed as an endangered species under the Act (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.).

    This Rule Background

    We are directed by title 50 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) at §§ 17.11(c) and 17.12(b) (50 CFR 17.11(c) and 17.12(b)) to use the most recently accepted scientific name of any wildlife or plant species, respectively, that we have determined to be an endangered or threatened species.

    Taxonomy

    Orangutans were historically classified as one species with two subspecies, Pongo pygmaeus pygmaeus and P. p. abelii. In accordance with taxonomic classifications at the time, we listed the orangutan in 1970, recognizing one species of orangutan (Pongo pygmaeus) as the listed entity occurring in Indonesia, Malaysia, and Brunei (35 FR 8491; June 2, 1970). However, the orangutan, currently only found in northern Sumatra (Indonesia) and Borneo (Indonesia and Malaysia), has recently been reclassified as belonging to two distinct species: P. pygmaeus, which occurs in Borneo (Malaysia and Indonesia), and P. abelii, which occurs in northern Sumatra (Indonesia) (Groves, in WWF Orangutan Action Plan, 1999, p. 27; Singleton et al. 2016, p. 3; Singleton et al. 2004, p. 181; Xu and Arnason 1996, p. 435; Brandon-Jones et al. 2004, pp. 153-155; Zhang et al. 2001, pp. 522-525). Additionally, orangutans in Borneo (P. pygmaeus) are now recognized to contain three subspecies (P. pygmaeus pygmaeus, P. p. wurmbii, and P. p. morio) (Brandon-Jones et al. 2004, pp. 181, 193).

    While some scientists question the data and effectiveness of elevating Sumatran and Bornean orangutans to full species (Muir 1998, p. 378; Muir et al. 2000, pp. 476-479), species-level classification was advocated jointly in April 2000, by Conservation International, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature Species Survival Commission's Primate Specialist Group, and the Center for Environmental Research and Conservation (Orangutan Species Survival Plan 2015). The newer classification recognizing two distinct species is widely accepted today by most experts based on genetic and morphological data (Singleton et al. 2016, p. 3; Ancrenaz et al. 2016, p. 3).

    The entity that resides closest to Brunei is a subspecies of P. pygmaeus. Individual orangutans in Brunei are described as transient, and no permanent populations have been reported there (World Atlas of Great Apes and Their Conservation 2005, p. 427; Orangutan Foundation International 2017, no pagination).

    Taxonomic Corrections Made in This Rule

    All orangutan populations are encompassed by the previous listed entity, Pongo pygmaeus. Using the best available scientific information, this direct final rule documents the reclassification of the orangutan as two distinct species, Pongo pygmaeus and Pongo abelii, on the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife (50 CFR 17.11(h)). This change is supported by published studies in peer-reviewed journals, and it does not affect the range or endangered status of the orangutan. If other Pongo species emerge due to future taxonomic revisions to further subdivide the genus Pongo, they would be encompassed by the original listing and this technical correction.

    Use of Direct Final Rule

    The purpose of this direct final rule is to notify the public that we are revising the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife at 50 CFR 17.11(h) to reflect the scientifically accepted taxonomy and nomenclature of the orangutan. In accordance with 50 CFR 17.11(c), we are revising the taxonomy of the orangutan to reflect the reclassification of the previously listed entity into two distinct species, acknowledging both Pongo pygmaeus and P. abelii as endangered species under the Act.

    We are publishing this final rule without a prior proposal because this is a technical action that is in the best interest of the public and should be undertaken in as timely a manner as possible. It does not alter the regulatory protections afforded to the orangutan but is a taxonomic revision necessary to acknowledge that both Pongo pygmaeus and Pongo abelii retain endangered status under the Act.

    This rule will be effective, as published in this document, on the effective date specified in DATES, unless we receive significant scientific information that provides strong justifications as to why this rule should not be adopted or why it should be changed on or before the comment due date specified in DATES.

    If we receive comments containing significant scientific information that provides strong justifications as to why this rule should not be adopted or why it should be changed regarding the taxonomic change for the orangutan, we will publish a document in the Federal Register withdrawing this rule before the effective date. If the rule is withdrawn, we may publish a proposed rule to initiate promulgation of this taxonomic revision or we may end the rulemaking process.

    Required Determinations National Environmental Policy Act

    We have determined that environmental assessments and environmental impact statements, as defined under the authority of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.), need not be prepared in connection with regulations issued pursuant to section 4(a) of the Act. We published a notice outlining our reasons for this determination in the Federal Register on October 25, 1983 (43 FR 49244).

    Clarity of the Rule

    We are required by Executive Orders 12866 and 12988 and by the Presidential Memorandum of June 1, 1998, to write all rules in plain language. This means that each rule we publish must:

    (a) Be logically organized;

    (b) Use the active voice to address readers directly;

    (c) Use clear language rather than jargon;

    (d) Be divided into short sections and sentences; and

    (e) Use lists and tables wherever possible.

    If you feel that we have not met these requirements, send us comments by one of the methods listed in ADDRESSES. To help us to revise this rule, your comments should be as specific as possible.

    List of References Cited

    A list of the references cited in this direct final rule is provided in Docket No. FWS-HQ-ES-2017-0081 at http://www.regulations.gov.

    List of Subjects in 50 CFR Part 17

    Endangered and threatened species, Exports, Imports, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Transportation.

    Regulation Promulgation

    Accordingly, we hereby amend part 17, subchapter B of chapter I, title 50 of the Code of Federal Regulations, as set forth below:

    PART 17—ENDANGERED AND THREATENED WILDLIFE AND PLANTS 1. The authority citation for part 17 continues to read as follows: Authority:

    16 U.S.C. 1361-1407; 1531-1544; and 4201-4245, unless otherwise noted.

    2. Amend § 17.11(h) by adding an entry for “Orangutan” [Pongo abelii] in alphabetical order by common and scientific name and revising the entry for “Orangutan” [Pongo pygmaeus] under MAMMALS to read as follows:
    § 17.11 Endangered and threatened wildlife.

    (h) * * *

    Common name Scientific name Where listed Status Listing citations and applicable rules MAMMALS *         *         *         *         *         *         * Orangutan Pongo abelii Wherever found E 35 FR 8491, 6/2/1970; 83 FR [Insert Federal Register page where the document begins], 1/16/2018. Orangutan Pongo pygmaeus Wherever found E 35 FR 8491, 6/2/1970; 83 FR [Insert Federal Register page where the document begins], 1/16/2018. *         *         *         *         *         *         *
    Dated: December 13, 2017. James W. Kurth, Deputy Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, exercising the authority of the Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
    [FR Doc. 2018-00610 Filed 1-12-18; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4333-15-P
    83 10 Tuesday, January 16, 2018 Proposed Rules DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION Federal Aviation Administration 14 CFR Part 39 [Docket No. FAA-2018-0014; Product Identifier 2017-CE-044-AD] RIN 2120-AA64 Airworthiness Directives; DG Flugzeugbau GmbH Gliders AGENCY:

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

    ACTION:

    Notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM).

    SUMMARY:

    We propose to supersede Airworthiness Directive (AD) 2017-08-09 for DG Flugzeugbau GmbH Models DG-500MB gliders that are equipped with a Solo 2625 02 engine modified with a fuel injection system following the instructions of Solo Kleinmotoren GmbH Technische Mitteilung (TM)/Service Bulletin (SB) 4600-3 “Fuel Injection System” and identified as Solo 2625 02i. This proposed AD results from mandatory continuing airworthiness information (MCAI) originated by an aviation authority of another country to identify and correct an unsafe condition on an aviation product. The MCAI describes the unsafe condition as the potential of an in-flight shut-down and engine fire due to failure of the connecting stud for the two fuel injector mounts of the engine redundancy system on gliders equipped with a Solo 2625 02i engine. This proposed AD adds the DG Flugzeugbau GmbH Model DG-1000M glider equipped with Solo 2625 02i engines to the applicability. We are issuing this proposed AD to require actions to address the unsafe condition on these products.

    DATES:

    We must receive comments on this proposed AD by March 2, 2018.

    ADDRESSES:

    You may send comments by any of the following methods:

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

    Fax: (202) 493-2251.

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

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

    For service information identified in this proposed AD, contact Solo Kleinmotoren GmbH, Postfach 600152, 71050 Sindelfingen, Germany; telephone: +49 703 1301-0; fax: +49 703 1301-136; email: [email protected]; internet: http://aircraft.solo-online.com. You may review copies of the referenced service information at the FAA, Policy and Innovation Division, 901 Locust, Kansas City, Missouri 64106. For information on the availability of this material at the FAA, call (816) 329-4148.

    Examining the AD Docket

    You may examine the AD docket on the internet at http://www.regulations.gov by searching for and locating Docket No. FAA-2018-0014; or in person at Docket Operations between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays. The AD docket contains this proposed AD, the regulatory evaluation, any comments received, and other information. The street address for Docket Operations (telephone (800) 647-5527) is in the ADDRESSES section. Comments will be available in the AD docket shortly after receipt.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

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

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Comments Invited

    We invite you to send any written relevant data, views, or arguments about this proposed AD. Send your comments to an address listed under the ADDRESSES section. Include “Docket No. FAA-2018-0014; Product Identifier 2017-CE-044-AD” at the beginning of your comments. We specifically invite comments on the overall regulatory, economic, environmental, and energy aspects of this proposed AD. We will consider all comments received by the closing date and may amend this proposed AD because of those comments.

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

    Discussion

    We issued AD 2017-08-09, Amendment 39-18858 (82 FR 18694; April 21, 2017) (“AD 2017-08-09”). That AD required actions intended to address an unsafe condition on DG Flugzeugbau GmbH Model DG-500MB gliders and was based on mandatory continuing airworthiness information (MCAI) originated by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), which is the Technical Agent for the Member States of the European Community. That MCAI is EASA AD No.: 2014-0269, dated December 11, 2014 (referred to after this as “the MCAI”).

    Since we issued AD 2017-08-09, the FAA has now type certificated the DG Flugzeugbau GmbH Model DG-1000M glider and that glider model is equipped with a Solo 2625 02i engine.

    You may examine the MCAI on the internet at http://www.regulations.gov by searching for and locating Docket No. FAA-2018-0014.

    Related Service Information Under 1 CFR Part 51

    Solo Kleinmotoren GmbH issued Technische Mitteilung Nr. (English translation: Service Bulletin No.) 4600-5, Ausgabe 2 (English translation: issue 2), dated December 12, 2014, approved for incorporation by reference on May 26, 2017 (82 FR 18694; April 21, 2017). The service information describes procedures for changing the fuel injector mounts for the engine redundancy system and securing of the connection of the lower to the upper engine mount. This service information is reasonably available because the interested parties have access to it through their normal course of business or by the means identified in the ADDRESSES section of this NPRM.

    FAA's Determination and Requirements of the Proposed AD

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

    Costs of Compliance

    We estimate that this proposed AD will affect 6 products of U.S. registry. We also estimate that it would take about 1 work-hour per product to comply with the basic requirements of this proposed AD. The average labor rate is $85 per work-hour. Required parts would cost about $67 per product.

    Based on these figures, we estimate the cost of the proposed AD on U.S. operators to be $912, or $152 per product.

    Authority for This Rulemaking

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

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

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

    Regulatory Findings

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

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

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

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

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

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

    List of Subjects in 14 CFR Part 39

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

    The Proposed Amendment

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

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

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

    § 39.13 [Amended]
    2. The FAA amends § 39.13 by removing Amendment 39-18858 (82 FR 18694; April 21, 2017), and adding the following new AD: DG Flugzeugbau GmbH: Docket No. FAA-2018-0014; Product Identifier 2017-CE-044-AD. (a) Comments Due Date

    We must receive comments by March 2, 2018.

    (b) Affected ADs

    This AD replaces AD 2017-08-09, Amendment 39-18858 (82 FR 18694; April 21, 2017) (“AD 2017-08-09”).

    (c) Applicability

    This AD applies to DG Flugzeugbau GmbH DG-500MB and DG-1000M gliders, all serial numbers, certificated in any category, that are:

    (1) Equipped with a Solo 2625 02 engine modified with a fuel injection system following the instructions of Solo Kleinmotoren GmbH Service Bulletin (SB)/Technische Mitteilung (TM) 4600-3 “Fuel Injection System” and identified as Solo 2625 02i; or

    (2) equipped with a Solo 2625 02i engine at manufacture.

    (d) Subject

    Air Transport Association of America (ATA) Code 72: Engine.

    (e) Reason

    This proposed AD results from mandatory continuing airworthiness information (MCAI) originated by an aviation authority of another country to identify and address an unsafe condition on an aviation product. The MCAI describes the unsafe condition as the potential of an in-flight shut-down and engine fire resulting in loss of control due to failure of the connecting stud for the two fuel injector mounts of the engine redundancy system on gliders equipped with a Solo 2625 02i engine. We are issuing this AD to prevent such failure that could lead to the potential of an in-flight shut-down and engine fire and result in loss of control and to include recently FAA type-certificated DG Flugzeugbau GmbH Model DG-1000M gliders equipped with Solo 2625 02i engines.

    (f) Actions and Compliance

    (1) For DG Flugzeugbau GmbH Model DG-500MB gliders: Unless already done, within the next 60 days after May 26, 2017 (the effective date of AD 2017-08-09), modify the engine redundancy system following the actions in Solo Kleinmotoren GmbH Technische Mitteilung (English translation: Service Bulletin), Nr. 4600-5, Ausgabe 2 (English translation: Issue 2), dated December 12, 2014.

    (2) For DG Flugzeugbau GmbH Model DG-1000M gliders: Unless already done, within the next 60 days after the effective date of this AD, modify the engine redundancy system following the actions in Solo Kleinmotoren GmbH Technische Mitteilung (English translation: Service Bulletin), Nr. 4600-5, Ausgabe 2 (English translation: Issue 2), dated December 12, 2014.

    (3) For all gliders: The Note in Solo Kleinmotoren GmbH Technische Mitteilung (English translation: Service Bulletin), Nr. 4600-5, Ausgabe 2 (English translation: Issue 2), dated December 12, 2014, stating “the actions have to be accomplished by a certified maintenance organization and must be released by certifying staff,” is not applicable to this AD.

    Note 1 to paragraph (f) of this AD: This service information contains German to English translation. The EASA used the English translation in referencing the document. For enforceability purposes, we will refer to the Solo Kleinmotoren service information as it appears on the document.

    (g) Credit for Actions Accomplished in Accordance With Previous Service Information

    This AD allows credit for modification of the engine redundancy system as required in paragraph (f) of this AD if done before May 26, 2017 (the effective date of AD 2017-08-09) following Solo Kleinmotoren GmbH Technische Mitteilung (English translation: Service Bulletin), Nr. 4600-5, Ausgabe 1 (English translation: Issue 1), dated November 24, 2014.

    (h) Other FAA AD Provisions

    The following provisions also apply to this AD:

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

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

    (i) Related Information

    Refer to MCAI European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) AD No.: 2014-0269, dated December 11, 2014, for related information. You may examine the MCAI on the internet at http://www.regulations.gov by searching for and locating Docket No. FAA-2018-0014. For service information related to this AD, contact Solo Kleinmotoren GmbH, Postfach 600152, 71050 Sindelfingen, Germany; telephone: +49 703 1301-0; fax: +49 703 1301-136; email: [email protected]; internet: http://aircraft.solo-online.com. You may review this referenced service information at the FAA, Small Airplane Standards Branch, 901 Locust, Kansas City, Missouri 64106. For information on the availability of this material at the FAA, call (816) 329-4148.

    Issued in Kansas City, Missouri, on January 8, 2018. Melvin Johnson, Deputy Director, Policy and Innovation Division, Aircraft Certification Service.
    [FR Doc. 2018-00476 Filed 1-12-18; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4910-13-P
    DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION Federal Aviation Administration 14 CFR Part 39 [Docket No. FAA-2017-1246; Product Identifier 2017-NM-086-AD] RIN 2120-AA64 Airworthiness Directives; Bombardier, Inc. AGENCY:

    Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), DOT.

    ACTION:

    Notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM).

    SUMMARY:

    We propose to supersede Airworthiness Directive (AD) 2014-02-01, which applies to certain Bombardier, Inc., Model CL-600-2C10 (Regional Jet Series 700, 701, & 702), Model CL-600-2D15 (Regional Jet Series 705), and Model CL-600-2D24 (Regional Jet Series 900) airplanes. AD 2014-02-01 requires repetitive inspections of the rudder travel limiter (RTL) return springs and primary actuator, and corrective actions if necessary; and replacement of certain RTL return springs. Since we issued AD 2014-02-01, we received reports that when installing the RTL return springs, the RTL limiter arm assembly lug can become deformed. This proposed AD would require an inspection of the RTL return springs for signs of chafing; an inspection of the casing of the primary actuator for signs of chafing or missing paint; replacement of the RTL return springs; and an inspection of the lugs of the RTL limiter arm assembly for cracks, and modification or replacement, as applicable; and applicable corrective actions. This proposed AD would also add airplanes to the applicability. We are proposing this AD to address the unsafe condition on these products.

    DATES:

    We must receive comments on this proposed AD by March 2, 2018.

    ADDRESSES:

    You may send comments, using the procedures found in 14 CFR 11.43 and 11.45, by any of the following methods:

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

    Fax: 202-493-2251.

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

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

    For service information identified in this NPRM, contact Bombardier, Inc., 400 Côte-Vertu Road West, Dorval, Québec H4S 1Y9, Canada; Widebody Customer Response Center North America toll-free telephone: 1-866-538-1247 or direct-dial telephone: 1-514-855-2999; fax: 514-855-7401; email: [email protected]ombardier.com; internet: http://www.bombardier.com. You may view this referenced service information at the FAA, Transport Standards Branch, 1601 Lind Avenue SW, Renton, WA. For information on the availability of this material at the FAA, call 425-227-1221.

    Examining the AD Docket

    You may examine the AD docket on the internet at http://www.regulations.gov by searching for and locating Docket No. FAA-2017-1246; or in person at the Docket Management Facility between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays. The AD docket contains this proposed AD, the regulatory evaluation, any comments received, and other information. The street address for the Docket Operations office (telephone: 800-647-5527) is in the ADDRESSES section. Comments will be available in the AD docket shortly after receipt.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Cesar Gomez, Aerospace Engineer, Airframe and Mechanical Systems Section, FAA, New York ACO Branch, 1600 Stewart Avenue, Suite 410, Westbury, NY 11590; telephone: 516-228-7318; fax: 516-794-5531.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Comments Invited

    We invite you to send any written relevant data, views, or arguments about this proposal. Send your comments to an address listed under the ADDRESSES section. Include “Docket No. FAA-2017-1246; Product Identifier 2017-NM-086-AD” at the beginning of your comments. We specifically invite comments on the overall regulatory, economic, environmental, and energy aspects of this proposed AD. We will consider all comments received by the closing date and may amend this proposed AD based on those comments.

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

    Discussion

    We issued AD 2014-02-01, Amendment 39-17729 (79 FR 7382, February 7, 2014) (“AD 2014-02-01”), for certain Bombardier, Inc., Model CL-600-2C10 (Regional Jet Series 700, 701, & 702), Model CL-600-2D15 (Regional Jet Series 705), and Model CL-600-2D24 (Regional Jet Series 900) airplanes. AD 2014-02-01 was prompted by reports of failure of the RTL return spring. AD 2014-02-01 requires repetitive inspections of the RTL return springs and primary actuator, and corrective actions if necessary; and replacement of certain RTL return springs, including related investigative and corrective actions, if necessary. We issued AD 2014-02-01 to prevent failure of the RTL, which would permit an increase of rudder authority beyond normal structural limits and consequently affect the controllability of the airplane.

    Since we issued AD 2014-02-01, we received reports that when installing RTL return spring part number BA670-93468-1, the RTL limiter arm assembly lugs can become deformed when the RTL return spring attachment bolt is torqued. We have also determined that additional airplanes are affected by the unsafe condition.

    Transport Canada Civil Aviation (TCCA), which is the aviation authority for Canada, has issued Canadian AD CF-2017-19, dated June 6, 2017 (referred to after this as the Mandatory Continuing Airworthiness Information, or “the MCAI”), to correct an unsafe condition for certain Bombardier, Inc., Model CL-600-2C10 (Regional Jet Series 700, 701, & 702), Model CL-600-2D15 (Regional Jet Series 705), and Model CL-600-2D24 (Regional Jet Series 900) airplanes. The MCAI states:

    Transport Canada AD CF-2010-18R1 [which corresponds to FAA AD 2014-02-01] mandated a repetitive inspection and introduced a new rudder travel limiter (RTL) return spring, part number (P/N) BA670-93468-1, to correct the potential dormant RTL spring failure. This [Canadian] AD is issued to supersede the repetitive inspection and the replacement of the RTL spring due to discoveries made after the issuance of [Canadian] AD CF-2010-18R1.

    When installing the RTL return spring P/N BA670-93468-1 as mandated by [Canadian] AD CF-2010-18R1, it was found that it is possible for the RTL limiter arm assembly lug to be deformed. The lugs become bent when the RTL return spring attachment bolt is torqued. This condition, if not corrected, can lead to failure of the limiter arm assembly lug. In combination with failure of the RTL, failure of the limiter arm assembly lug could affect the controllability of the aeroplane.

    This [Canadian] AD mandates the inspection for cracked RTL limiter arm lugs and modification of the RTL limiter arm to prevent the RTL limiter arm lugs from bending during RTL assembly.

    Required actions include: A detailed visual inspection of the RTL return springs for signs of chafing; a detailed visual inspection of the casing of the primary actuator for signs of chafing or missing paint; replacement of the RTL return springs; an eddy current inspection of the lugs of the RTL limiter arm assembly for cracks, and modification or replacement of the RTL limiter arm assembly, as applicable; and applicable corrective actions. Corrective actions include: replacement of the RTL return springs, repair of the primer and topcoat of the primary actuator, and replacement of the primary actuator. You may examine the MCAI in the AD docket on the internet at http://www.regulations.gov by searching for and locating Docket No. FAA-2017-1246.

    Related Service Information Under 1 CFR Part 51

    Bombardier, Inc., has issued Bombardier Service Bulletin 670BA-27-070, Revision B, dated March 31, 2017. The service information describes procedures for an inspection of the RTL return springs for signs of chafing; an inspection of the casing of the primary actuator for signs of chafing or missing paint; replacement of the RTL return springs; and an inspection of the lugs of the RTL limiter arm assembly for cracks, and modification or replacement, as applicable; and applicable corrective actions. This service information is reasonably available because the interested parties have access to it through their normal course of business or by the means identified in the ADDRESSES section.

    FAA's Determination and Requirements of This Proposed AD

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

    Costs of Compliance

    We estimate that this proposed AD affects 544 airplanes of U.S. registry.

    We estimate that it would take about 16 work-hours per product to comply with the basic requirements of this proposed AD. The average labor rate is $85 per work-hour. Required parts would cost about $2,960 per product. Based on these figures, we estimate the cost of this proposed AD on U.S. operators to be $2,350,080, or $4,320 per product.

    We have received no definitive data that would enable us to provide cost estimates for the on-condition actions specified in this proposed AD.

    Authority for This Rulemaking

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

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

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

    Regulatory Findings

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

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

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

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

    3. Will not affect intrastate aviation in Alaska; and

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

    List of Subjects in 14 CFR Part 39

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

    The Proposed Amendment

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

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

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

    § 39.13 [Amended]
    2. The FAA amends § 39.13 by removing Airworthiness Directive (AD) 2014-02-01, Amendment 39-17729 (79 FR 7382, February 7, 2014), and adding the following new AD: Bombardier, Inc.: Docket No. FAA-2017-1246; Product Identifier 2017-NM-086-AD. (a) Comments Due Date

    We must receive comments by March 2, 2018.

    (b) Affected ADs

    This AD replaces AD 2014-02-01, Amendment 39-17729 (79 FR 7382, February 7, 2014) (“AD 2014-02-01”).

    (c) Applicability

    This AD applies to the airplanes identified in paragraphs (c)(1) and (c)(2) of this AD, certificated in any category.

    (1) Bombardier, Inc., Model CL-600-2C10 (Regional Jet Series 700, 701, & 702) airplanes, serial number 10002 through 10344 inclusive.

    (2) Bombardier, Inc., Model CL-600-2D15 (Regional Jet Series 705) airplanes and Model CL-600-2D24 (Regional Jet Series 900) airplanes, serial numbers 15001 through 15397 inclusive.

    (d) Subject

    Air Transport Association (ATA) of America Code 27, Flight controls.

    (e) Reason

    This AD was prompted by reports that when installing the rudder travel limiter (RTL) return springs, the RTL limiter arm assembly lug can become deformed. We are issuing this AD to prevent deformed RTL limiter arm assembly lugs, which can lead to failure of the limiter arm assembly lug. In combination with failure of the RTL, failure of the limiter arm assembly lug could result in reduced controllability of the airplane.

    (f) Compliance

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

    (g) Inspections, Modification, and Replacement

    (1) For airplanes equipped with RTL return spring part number BA-670-93465-1 or E0650-069-02750S: Within 800 flight hours or 4 months after the effective date of this AD, whichever occurs first, do a detailed visual inspection of the casing of the primary actuator for signs of chafing or missing paint, and all applicable corrective actions; replace the RTL return springs; and do an eddy current inspection of the lugs of the RTL limiter arm assembly for cracks, and modify or replace the RTL limiter arm assembly, as applicable; in accordance with Part A of the Accomplishment Instructions of Bombardier Service Bulletin 670BA-27-070, Revision B, dated March 31, 2017. Accomplishment of the actions specified in Bombardier Service Bulletin 670BA-27-059 does not meet the requirements of this paragraph.

    (2) For airplanes equipped with RTL return spring part number BA-670-93468-1: Within 8,000 flight hours after the effective date of this AD, do a detailed visual inspection of the RTL return springs for signs of chafing, and applicable corrective actions; a detailed visual inspection of the casing of the primary actuator for signs of chafing or missing paint, and all applicable corrective actions; and do an eddy current inspection of the lugs of the RTL limiter arm assembly for cracks, and modify or replace the RTL limiter arm assembly, as applicable; in accordance with Part B of the Accomplishment Instructions of Bombardier Service Bulletin 670BA-27-070, Revision B, dated March 31, 2017. Accomplishment of the actions specified in Bombardier Service Bulletin 670BA-27-059 does not meet the requirements of this paragraph.

    (h) Credit for Previous Actions

    This paragraph provides credit for actions required by paragraph (g) of this AD, if those actions were performed before the effective date of this AD using the service information specified in paragraph (h)(1) or (h)(2) of this AD.

    (1) Bombardier Service Bulletin 670BA-27-070, dated December 17, 2015.

    (2) Bombardier Service Bulletin 670BA-27-070, Revision A, dated September 01, 2016.

    (i) Other FAA AD Provisions

    (1) Alternative Methods of Compliance (AMOCs): The Manager, New York ACO Branch, FAA, has the authority to approve AMOCs for this AD, if requested using the procedures found in 14 CFR 39.19. In accordance with 14 CFR 39.19, send your request to your principal inspector or local Flight Standards District Office, as appropriate. If sending information directly to the manager of the ACO, send it to ATTN: Program Manager, Continuing Operational Safety, FAA, New York ACO Branch, 1600 Stewart Avenue, Suite 410, Westbury, NY 11590; telephone: 516-228-7300; fax: 516-794-5531. Before using any approved AMOC, notify your appropriate principal inspector, or lacking a principal inspector, the manager of the local flight standards district office/certificate holding district office. Before using any approved AMOC, notify your appropriate principal inspector, or lacking a principal inspector, the manager of the local flight standards district office/certificate holding district office.

    (2) Contacting the Manufacturer: For any requirement in this AD to obtain corrective actions from a manufacturer, the action must be accomplished using a method approved by the Manager, New York ACO Branch, FAA; or Transport Canada Civil Aviation (TCCA); or Bombardier Inc.'s TCCA Design Approval Organization (DAO). If approved by the DAO, the approval must include the DAO-authorized signature.

    (j) Related Information

    (1) Refer to Mandatory Continuing Airworthiness Information (MCAI) Canadian AD CF-2017-19, dated June 6, 2017, for related information. This MCAI may be found in the AD docket on the internet at http://www.regulations.gov by searching for and locating Docket No. FAA-2017-1246.

    (2) For more information about this AD, contact Cesar Gomez, Aerospace Engineer, Airframe and Mechanical Systems Section, FAA, New York ACO Branch, 1600 Stewart Avenue, Suite 410, Westbury, NY 11590; telephone: 516-228-7318; fax: 516-794-5531.

    (3) For service information identified in this AD, contact Bombardier, Inc., 400 Côte-Vertu Road West, Dorval, Québec H4S 1Y9, Canada; Widebody Customer Response Center North America toll-free telephone: 1-866-538-1247 or direct-dial telephone: 1-514-855-2999; fax: 514-855-7401; email: [email protected]; internet: http://www.bombardier.com. You may view this service information at the FAA, Transport Standards Branch, 1601 Lind Avenue SW, Renton, WA. For information on the availability of this material at the FAA, call 425-227-1221.

    Issued in Renton, Washington, on December 28, 2017. John P. Piccola, Jr., Acting Director, System Oversight Division, Aircraft Certification Service.
    [FR Doc. 2018-00340 Filed 1-12-18; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4910-13-P
    DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES Food and Drug Administration 21 CFR Parts 201, 801, and 1100 [Docket No. FDA-2015-N-2002] RIN 0910-AH94 Clarification of When Products Made or Derived From Tobacco Are Regulated as Drugs, Devices, or Combination Products; Amendments to Regulations Regarding “Intended Uses”; Proposed Partial Delay of Effective Date AGENCY:

    Food and Drug Administration, HHS.

    ACTION:

    Proposed rule; partial delay of effective date.

    SUMMARY:

    The Food and Drug Administration (FDA, the Agency, or we) is proposing to delay the effective date of certain portions of a final rule published in the Federal Register of January 9, 2017. In the Federal Register of February 7, 2017, we delayed until March 21, 2017, the effective date of the final rule. In the Federal Register of March 20, 2017, we further delayed the effective date of the final rule until March 19, 2018, and invited public comment on the rule. This action, if finalized, will delay until further notice the effective date of the portions of the final rule amending FDA's existing regulations describing the types of evidence that may be considered in determining a medical product's intended uses. FDA received a number of comments on the final rule that raise questions about the amendments to the existing medical product “intended use” regulations. FDA is proposing to delay the effective date of the amendments to the existing medical product “intended use” regulations to allow further consideration of the substantive issues raised in the comments received. This action, if finalized, will not further delay the effective date of the new regulation that describes the circumstances in which a product made or derived from tobacco that is intended for human consumption will be subject to regulation as a drug, device, or a combination product under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act).

    DATES:

    Submit either electronic or written comments on this proposed rule by February 5, 2018.

    ADDRESSES:

    You may submit comments on the proposed rule for partial delay as follows. Electronic comments must be submitted on or before February 5, 2018. The https://www.regulations.gov electronic filing system will accept comments until midnight Eastern Time at the end of February 5, 2018. Comments received by mail/hand delivery/courier (for written/paper submissions) will be considered timely if they are postmarked or the delivery service acceptance receipt is on or before that date. Please note that late, untimely filed comments will not be considered.

    Electronic Submissions

    Submit electronic comments in the following way:

    Federal eRulemaking Portal: https://www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments. Comments submitted electronically, including attachments, to https://www.regulations.gov will be posted to the docket unchanged. Because your comment will be made public, you are solely responsible for ensuring that your comment does not include any confidential information that you or a third party may not wish to be posted, such as medical information, your or anyone else's Social Security number, or confidential business information, such as a manufacturing process. Please note that if you include your name, contact information, or other information that identifies you in the body of your comments, that information will be posted on https://www.regulations.gov.

    • If you want to submit a comment with confidential information that you do not wish to be made available to the public submit the comment as a written/paper submission and in the manner detailed (see “Written/Paper Submissions” and “Instructions.”)

    Written/Paper Submissions

    Submit written/paper submissions as follows:

    Mail/Hand delivery/Courier (for written/paper submissions): Dockets Management Staff (HFA-305), Food and Drug Administration, 5630 Fishers Lane, Rm. 1061, Rockville, MD 20852.

    • For written/paper comments submitted to the Dockets Management Staff, FDA will post your comment, as well as any attachments, except for information submitted, marked and identified, as confidential, if submitted as detailed in “Instructions.”

    Instructions: All submissions received must include the Docket No. FDA-2015-N-2002 for “Clarification of When Products Made or Derived from Tobacco Are Regulated as Drugs, Devices, or Combination Products; Amendments to Regulations Regarding `Intended Uses'; Proposed Partial Delay of Effective Date.” Received comments, those filed in a timely manner (see ADDRESSES), will be placed in the docket and, except for those submitted as “Confidential Submissions,” publicly viewable at https://www.regulations.gov or at the Dockets Management Staff between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., Monday through Friday.

    Confidential Submissions—To submit a comment with confidential information that you do not wish to be made publicly available, submit your comments only as a written/paper submission. You should submit two copies total. One copy will include the information you claim to be confidential with a heading or cover note that states “THIS DOCUMENT CONTAINS CONFIDENTIAL INFORMATION.” The Agency will review this copy, including the claimed confidential information, in its consideration of comments. The second copy, which will have the claimed confidential information redacted/blacked out, will be available for public viewing and posted on https://www.regulations.gov. Submit both copies to the Dockets Management Staff. If you do not wish your name and contact information to be made publicly available, you can provide this information on the cover sheet and not in the body of your comments and you must identify this information as “confidential.” Any information marked as “confidential” will not be disclosed except in accordance with 21 CFR 10.20 and other applicable disclosure law. For more information about FDA's posting of comments to public dockets, see 80 FR 56469, September 18, 2015, or access the information at: http://www.thefederalregister.org/fdsys/pkg/FR-2015-09-18/pdf/2015-23389.pdf.

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

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Kelley Nduom, Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, Office of Regulatory Policy, Food and Drug Administration, 10903 New Hampshire Ave., Bldg. 51, Rm. 6221, Silver Spring, MD 20993, 301-796-8597, [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    I. Background

    In the Federal Register of January 9, 2017 (82 FR 2193), FDA published a final rule entitled “Clarification of When Products Made or Derived From Tobacco Are Regulated as Drugs, Devices, or Combination Products; Amendments to Regulations Regarding `Intended Uses.' ” The final rule added a new regulation (§ 1100.5) to title 21 of the CFR to describe the circumstances in which a product made or derived from tobacco that is intended for human consumption will be subject to regulation as a drug, device, or a combination product under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act). The rule also amended FDA's existing regulations describing the types of evidence that may be considered in determining a medical product's intended uses (21 CFR 201.128 (drugs) and 21 CFR 801.4 (devices)).

    In the Federal Register of February 7, 2017 (82 FR 9501), in accordance with the memorandum of January 20, 2017, from the Assistant to the President and Chief of Staff, entitled “Regulatory Freeze Pending Review,” we delayed, until March 21, 2017, the effective date of the final rule. In the Federal Register of March 20, 2017 (82 FR 14319), we further delayed the effective date of the final rule until March 19, 2018, and reopened the docket to invite additional public comment on the rule.

    The comments we received are summarized below. To allow further consideration of the substantive issues raised in these comments, FDA is proposing to delay the effective date of the amendments to the existing medical product “intended use” regulations (§§ 201.128 and 801.4) contained in the final rule of January 9, 2017, until further notice. See 21 CFR 10.35(a) and (b) (stating that FDA “may at any time stay or extend the effective date of an action pending or following a decision on any matter” and recognizing that the stay may be “for an indefinite time period”). The Agency must solicit public comment on this proposed delay, consider the comments submitted, and prepare and publish a final notification of the delay before March 19, 2018, when the final rule is scheduled to take effect. In light of this limited timeframe, it is impracticable to provide 60 days for comment on this proposed delay. Thus, the Commissioner of Food and Drugs finds good cause under 21 CFR 10.40(b)(2) for providing a shortened comment period, ending February 5, 2018. In light of the date on which the current delay of the effective date will expire unless further extended, no extensions on the comment period will be granted.

    II. Summary of Comments Received in the Reopened Docket of the Final Rule

    Fifteen comments were submitted to the docket for the January 9, 2017 final rule after the docket was reopened on March 20, 2017. These comments were submitted by the drug and device industries, various associations, academia, and individual submitters including a health professional and a consumer. A brief summary of these comments is included below.1

    1 This summary is not intended to be a comprehensive discussion of the comments nor should it be construed to suggest that FDA has made any decisions about the substantive issues raised in the comments.

    Two of the comments submitted to the docket related to the new regulation included in the final rule that describes circumstances in which a product made or derived from tobacco that is intended for human consumption will be subject to regulation as a drug, device, or a combination product under the FD&C Act (§ 1100.5). One comment criticized the modified risk tobacco product provisions of the FD&C Act. The other comment supported the new regulation and criticized the delay in its issuance. Neither comment sought a delay in the effective date of that new regulation.

    Thirteen of the 15 comments submitted to the docket related to the amendments to FDA's existing regulations describing the types of evidence that may be considered in determining a medical product's intended use (§§ 201.128 and 801.4). Many of these comments opposed what they described as a broadening from the September 25, 2015, proposed rule (see 80 FR 57756 at 57764 to 57765) of the types of evidence that could be considered in determining intended use, and specifically raised concerns with the “totality of the evidence” language included in the final rule. Several of these comments urged a narrowing of the types of evidence that could be considered in determining intended use. Some comments stated that only promotional or external claims should be included in the consideration of intended use, while other comments asserted that scientific exchange, truthful non-misleading communications, and/or mere knowledge of unapproved use should be expressly excluded from consideration. In contrast, a few comments stated that the types of evidence included in the final rule were appropriate at least for certain subsets of medical products, such as wholly unapproved medical products and non-prescription devices.

    Several comments raised legal concerns with the final rule, including arguments to the effect that the rule: (1) Violates the First Amendment by regulating truthful speech regarding lawful activity; (2) violates the due process clause of the Fifth Amendment to the extent that the types of evidence to be considered are not clearly defined; (3) unlawfully interferes with the practice of medicine; and (4) departs from relevant statutory text, legislative history, case law, and FDA past practices. Several comments asserted that the January 9, 2017, final rule was issued in violation of the notice requirement under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) based on the inclusion of the “totality of the evidence” language in that final rule.

    In addition to these legal concerns, several comments asserted that the final rule could have potentially negative public health implications, including impeding important communications between manufacturers and patients, healthcare professionals, and payors; reducing healthcare options for patients; and harming patient outcomes. In contrast, another comment asserted that narrowing the scope of evidence of intended use could jeopardize the Agency's ability to take enforcement actions against illicit substances, counterfeit products, and synthetic drugs, among other products.

    Based on some of the above concerns, several comments urged FDA to stay indefinitely or revoke the final rule. Other comments recommended that FDA adopt the “intended use” language proposed in the September 25, 2015, proposed rule, or engage in a new rulemaking.

    III. Scope of and Rationale for the Proposed Partial Delay of the Effective Date of the Final Rule

    We are proposing to delay the effective date of the portions of the final rule amending the existing medical product “intended use” regulations (§§ 201.128 and 801.4) until further notice, to allow for additional consideration of the issues raised in the comments described above. This action should not be construed to indicate that FDA has made any decisions about either the substantive arguments made in these comments or the issues discussed in previous Federal Register notifications regarding the amendments to these “intended use” regulations.

    When the Agency proposed amendments to the existing intended use regulations in 2015, the objective was not to reflect a change in FDA's approach regarding evidence of intended use for drugs and devices. These proposed amendments were intended to better reflect FDA's existing interpretation and application of these regulations (see 80 FR 57756 at 57761). Specifically, the amendments were intended to clarify that FDA would not regard a firm as intending an unapproved new use for an approved or cleared drug or device based solely on that firm's knowledge that its product was being prescribed or used by doctors for such use (see 80 FR 57756 at 57761). FDA proposed to delete the last sentence of the intended use regulations to provide this clarification, in addition to some other changes.

    In the Federal Register of January 9, 2017, we published final regulations adding new § 1100.5 to title 21 of the CFR and amending the intended use regulations found at §§ 201.128 and 801.4. The provisions in the final rule amending the intended use regulations were modified from the proposed rule because of comments we received that suggested to us that the proposed changes might not provide adequate clarity to manufacturers (see 82 FR 2193 at 2207). Significant comments were submitted on the proposed rule that indicated misunderstanding of the very limited scope of what FDA intended by the proposed changes to the intended use provisions.

    In response to the new language in the final rule, a petition raising concerns with the final language was submitted by various industry organizations on February 8, 2017 (“petition” and “petitioners”). The petition requests that FDA reconsider the amendments to the “intended use” regulations and issue a new final rule that, with respect to the intended use regulations at §§ 201.128 and 801.4, reverts to the language of the September 25, 2015, proposed rule. The petition also requests that FDA indefinitely stay the rule. Petitioners ask that the final rule be stayed indefinitely and reconsidered for two independent reasons (petition at pg. 10). First, they argue that the final rule was issued in violation of the fair notice requirement under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) (petition at pgs. 10-13). Second, they argue that the “totality of the evidence” language in the final rule is a new and unsupported legal standard (petition at pgs. 10, 13-21). The petitioners contend that the final rule unexpectedly expanded the understanding of intended use, and that adding the new final sentence referencing the “totality of the evidence” was a reversal of the proposed rule that violates the APA's notice-and-comment provisions (petition at pg. 11). Petitioners express the view that the wording used in the proposed rule would have helped to address substantial concerns they have regarding FDA's intended use definitions, while the final rule exacerbates those concerns (petition at pg. 11). These concerns include constitutional concerns (petition at pg. 19-21), and public health concerns related to chilling valuable scientific speech (petition at pg. 21). Based in part on the questions raised by the petition, we further delayed the effective date of the final rule until March 19, 2018, and reopened the docket to invite additional public comment on the rule.

    The issues raised by the petition, as well as the comments we have received on the 2015 proposed rule, the January 2017 delay of the effective date, and the March 2017 delay of the effective date (discussed above in section II) underscore for FDA the potential for confusion related to the language in the final rule. “Intended use” is fundamental to medical product jurisdiction under the FD&C Act (21 U.S.C. 321(g) (definition of “drug”) and 21 U.S.C. 321(h) (definition of “device”)). Lack of clarity regarding the text of the final rule might affect FDA's medical product jurisdiction in ways that FDA did not intend when it set out to clarify one point regarding “intended use.” Although FDA remains committed to the goal of the intended use rulemaking because it reflects current agency policy, FDA has tentatively concluded, for the reasons set forth above, that the Agency needs additional time for further consideration. FDA continues to work diligently on the issues relating to intended use raised in the underlying rulemaking and remains committed to rulemaking on this issue.

    FDA does not propose to further delay the effective date of the portions of the final rule that issued a new regulation that describes the circumstances in which a product made or derived from tobacco that is intended for human consumption will be subject to regulation as a drug, device, or a combination product (§ 1100.5). As noted, the Agency did not receive any comments requesting that we further delay the effective date of § 1100.5 or that we make any changes to that regulation. The effective date of § 1100.5 remains March 19, 2018.

    IV. Economic Analysis of Impacts

    We have examined the impacts of the proposed rule under Executive Order 12866, Executive Order 13563, Executive Order 13771, the Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 601-612), and the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 (Pub. L. 104-4). Executive Orders 12866 and 13563 direct us to assess all 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, and other advantages; distributive impacts; and equity). Executive Order 13771 requires that the costs associated with significant new regulations “shall, to the extent permitted by law, be offset by the elimination of existing costs associated with at least two prior regulations.” We believe that this proposed rule is not a significant regulatory action as defined by Executive Order 12866. Moreover, this proposed rule is an action that does not impose more than de minimis costs and, consequently, is not a regulatory or deregulatory action for the purposes of Executive Order 13771.

    The Regulatory Flexibility Act requires us to analyze regulatory options that would minimize any significant impact of a rule on small entities. Because we expect the proposed rule to impose negligible costs, if any, we propose to certify that the rule will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities.

    The Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 (section 202(a)) requires us to prepare a written statement, which includes an assessment of anticipated costs and benefits, before proposing “any rule that includes any Federal mandate that may result in the expenditure by State, local, and tribal governments, in the aggregate, or by the private sector, of $100,000,000 or more (adjusted annually for inflation) in any one year.” The current threshold after adjustment for inflation is $148 million, using the most current (2016) Implicit Price Deflator for the Gross Domestic Product. This proposed rule would not result in expenditure in any year that meets or exceeds this amount.

    In table 1, we provide the Regulatory Information Service Center and Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs Consolidated Information Center accounting information.

    Table 1—Summary of Benefits, Costs and Distributional Effects of the Proposed Rule Category Primary
  • estimate
  • Low
  • estimate
  • High
  • estimate
  • Units Year
  • dollars
  • Discount
  • rate
  • (%)
  • Period
  • covered
  • (years)
  • Notes
    Benefits: Annualized 2016 7 10 Monetized $millions/year 2016 3 10 Annualized 2016 7 10 Quantified 2016 3 10 Qualitative None Costs: Annualized 2016 7 10 Monetized $millions/year 2016 3 10 Annualized 2016 7 10 Quantified 2016 3 10 Qualitative Negligible costs, if any. Transfers: Federal 2016 7 10 Annualized 2016 3 10 Monetized $/year From: To: Other 2016 3 10 Annualized 2016 3 10 Monetized $/year From: To: Effects: State, Local or Tribal Government: None Small Business: None Wages: None Growth: None

    On January 9, 2017, we published the final rule “Clarification of When Products Made or Derived from Tobacco are Regulated as Drugs, Devices, or Combination Products; Amendments to Regulations Regarding `Intended Uses'.” We refer to this final rule as the Clarifications Final Rule in this section of the preamble. The Clarifications Final Rule included changes to the “intended uses” provisions for medical products. In the Federal Register of March 20, 2017, we further delayed the effective date of the final rule—we extended the effective date of the Clarifications Final Rule to March 19, 2018 and reopened the docket to invite public comments on the medical products “intended uses” provisions. Comments submitted to the docket revealed a number of stakeholders had questions and concerns about possible implications of our revised “intended uses” provisions for medical products. Thus, the proposed rule would delay until further notice the changes to the “intended uses” provisions in the Clarifications Final Rule, and give all stakeholders and FDA sufficient time to consider the substantive issues raised by the comments to the docket.

    When we conducted our economic analysis of the final rule that published on January 9, 2017, we expected that the benefits and costs of the rule for drug sponsors and for device manufacturers would be negligible, if any, because we anticipated that the final rule would leave the existing policies for these industries unchanged. As discussed in section II, we revised the intended use provisions for medical products in the final rule to clarify our position that the intended use of a medical products can be based on any relevant source of evidence, including a variety of direct and circumstantial evidence. Thus, we expected that the final rule would maintain the status quo and not impact current business practices.

    Comments submitted to the reopened docket for the January 9, 2017, final rule indicate that at least some of the medical products industries believe that the final rule would change current practices and impose new burdens not captured in our final regulatory impact analysis. By delaying the final rule's intended use provisions for medical products, this proposed rule would maintain the status quo for medical products.

    We judge that the proposed rule, if finalized, would thus avoid any potential unintended burden caused by the final rule. Moreover, drug sponsors and medical device manufacturers would likely learn about the proposed rule through industry news sources and not incur one-time costs to learn about the rule. We request comment on our assumptions.

    V. Analysis of Environmental Impact

    We have determined under 21 CFR 25.20(h) that this action is of a type that does not individually or cumulatively have a significant effect on the human environment. Therefore, neither an environmental assessment nor an environmental impact statement is required.

    VI. Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995

    FDA has determined that this proposed rule contains no collection of information as defined by 5 CFR 1320.3(c). Therefore, clearance by the Office of Management and Budget under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 is not required.

    VII. Federalism

    We have analyzed this proposed rule in accordance with the principles set forth in Executive Order 13132. We have determined that this proposed rule does not contain policies that have substantial direct effects on the States, on the relationship between the National Government and the States, or on the distribution of power and responsibilities among the various levels of government. Accordingly, we conclude that the rule does not contain policies that have federalism implications as defined in the Executive Order and, consequently, a federalism summary impact statement is not required.

    VIII. Consultation and Coordination With Indian Tribal Governments

    We have analyzed this proposed rule in accordance with the principles set forth in Executive Order 13175. We have tentatively determined that the rule does not contain policies that would 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. The Agency solicits comments from tribal officials on any potential impact on Indian Tribes from this proposed action.

    IX. Other Issues for Consideration

    This proposed rule would only delay the effective date of the portions of a final rule amending the “intended use” regulations for medical products (§§ 201.128 and 801.4), published in the Federal Register of January 9, 2017. Therefore, comments to this proposed rule should pertain to this delay of the effective date only with respect to such provisions.

    X. Request for Comments

    FDA is proposing to delay, until further notice, the effective date of the amendments to §§ 201.128 and 801.4 that were published at 82 FR 2193 on January 9, 2017. FDA had previously delayed the effective date on February 7, 2017 (82 FR 9501), and on March 20, 2017 (82 FR 14319). FDA requests comment on this proposal to further delay the effective date of the amendments to §§ 201.128 and 801.4.

    Dated: January 10, 2018. Leslie Kux, Associate Commissioner for Policy.
    [FR Doc. 2018-00555 Filed 1-12-18; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4164-01-P
    ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY 40 CFR Part 52 [EPA-R01-OAR-2017-0697; FRL-9972-98-Region 1] Air Plan Approval; Connecticut; Revision of the Low Emission Vehicles Program AGENCY:

    Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

    ACTION:

    Proposed rule.

    SUMMARY:

    The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing to approve a State Implementation Plan (SIP) revision submitted by the State of Connecticut on December 14, 2015. This SIP revision includes Connecticut's revised regulation for new motor vehicle emission standards. Connecticut has updated its rule to be consistent with various updates made to California's low emission vehicle (LEV) program. The Connecticut LEV regulations also include updates to the zero emission vehicle (ZEV) provision. Connecticut has adopted these revisions to reduce emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOC), particulate matter (PM), and nitrogen oxides (NOX) in accordance with the requirements of the Clean Air Act (CAA), as well as to reduce greenhouse gases. The intended effect of this action is to propose approval of Connecticut's December 14, 2015 SIP revision. This action is being taken under the CAA.

    DATES:

    Written comments must be received on or before February 15, 2018.

    ADDRESSES:

    Submit your comments, identified by Docket ID No. EPA-R01-OAR-2017-0697 at www.regulations.gov, or via email to [email protected] For comments submitted at Regulations.gov, follow the online instructions for submitting comments. Once submitted, comments cannot be edited or removed from Regulations.gov. For either manner of submission, the EPA may publish any comment received to its public docket. Do not submit electronically any information you consider to be Confidential Business Information (CBI) or other information whose disclosure is restricted by statute. Multimedia submissions (audio, video, etc.) must be accompanied by a written comment. The written comment is considered the official comment and should include discussion of all points you wish to make. The EPA will generally not consider comments or comment contents located outside of the primary submission (i.e. on the web, cloud, or other file sharing system). For additional submission methods, 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 www.epa.gov/dockets/commenting-epa-dockets. Publicly available docket materials are available at www.regulations.gov or at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, EPA New England Regional Office, Office of Ecosystem Protection, Air Quality Planning Unit, 5 Post Office Square—Suite 100, Boston, MA. EPA requests that if at all possible, you contact the contact listed in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section to schedule your inspection. The Regional Office's official hours of business are Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., excluding legal holidays.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Eric Rackauskas, Air Quality Planning Unit, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, EPA New England Regional Office, 5 Post Office Square, Suite 100 (mail code: OEP05-2), Boston, MA 02109-3912, telephone number (617) 918-1628, fax number (617) 918-0628, email [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Throughout this document whenever “we,” “us,” or “our” is used, we mean EPA.

    Table of Contents I. Background and Purpose II. The California LEV Program III. Relevant EPA and CAA Requirements IV. Proposed Action V. Incorporation by Reference VI. Statutory and Executive Order Reviews I. Background and Purpose

    On December 14, 2015, the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) submitted a revision to its SIP consisting of the amended Section 22a-174-36b “Low Emission Vehicle II Program” (LEV II) and the newly adopted Section 22a-174-36c “Low Emission Vehicle III Program” (LEV III) of the Regulations of Connecticut State Agencies (RCSA). This SIP revision proposes to adopt regulations to mirror the California Air Resources Board (CARB) emission limits for new passenger cars, light-duty trucks, and medium-duty passenger vehicles sold, leased, imported, delivered, purchased, rented, acquired, or received in the State of Connecticut. Connecticut's amended LEV II and adopted LEV III programs were submitted as part of an overall revision to their “infrastructure SIP” for the 2012 Fine Particle (PM2.5) National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS), as required by section 110(a)(1) and (2) of the CAA.

    EPA previously approved RCSA Section 22a-174-36b (LEV II) into the Connecticut SIP on March 17, 2015 (80 FR 13768). The SIP revision approved on March 17, 2015, adopted the California LEV II program, which was effective in Connecticut on December 4, 2004, and subsequently amended on December 22, 2005, August 4, 2009, and September 10, 2012. The previously SIP-approved LEV II program also included all elements of the ZEV program, commencing with 2008 model year vehicles. The current version of Connecticut's LEV II program regulation, which is being proposed for approval, was amended with an effective date of August 1, 2013. The revised Connecticut LEV II program, submitted as part of Connecticut's December 14, 2015 SIP revision, contains minor updates that place an end date to LEV II program standards of model year 2014, for vehicles bought in Connecticut. Any 2015 and subsequent model year vehicle is regulated by the more stringent RCSA Section 22(a)-174-36c (LEV III), also effective in CT on August 1, 2013.

    Connecticut's revised regulations also include updates to the California ZEV program. In 2003, CARB finalized modifications to the ZEV program that better aligned the requirements with the status of then-available technology development. The updated CARB regulations require that 10% of vehicles be ZEVs starting in 2005, and allow manufacturers to earn and bank credits for those types of vehicles produced before 2005. The program also includes an “alternative compliance path” that allowed advanced technology partial ZEVs (AT PZEVs) (e.g. gasoline electric hybrids) to be used to meet ZEV program requirements, provided that manufacturers meet a requirement that a portion of the motor vehicle fleet be fueled by hydrogen fuel cells. The modifications to the ZEV program also broadened the scope of vehicles that qualified for meeting a portion of the ZEV sales requirement.

    Additionally, Connecticut's LEV III regulation includes the California updates to the State's greenhouse gas (GHG) program. This update applies to all passenger cars, light-duty trucks, and medium-duty vehicles for 2017 and subsequent model years. Connecticut previously adopted a GHG provision as part of its LEV II regulation, which applies to model year 2009-2016 vehicles. The updated Connecticut GHG language mirrors the California GHG regulation.

    II. The California LEV Program

    CARB adopted the first generation of LEV regulations (LEV I) in 1990, which impacted vehicles through the 2003 model year. CARB adopted California's second generation LEV regulation (LEV II) following a November 1998 hearing. Subsequent to the adoption of the California LEV II program in February 2000, EPA adopted separate Federal standards known as the Tier 2 regulations (February 10, 2000; 65 FR 6698). In December 2000, CARB modified the California LEV II program to take advantage of some elements of the Federal Tier 2 regulations to ensure that only the cleanest vehicle models would continue to be sold in California. EPA granted California a waiver for its LEV II program on April 22, 2003 (68 FR 19811). In 2012, CARB `packaged' the third generation LEV program (LEV III) with updated GHG emission standards and ZEV requirements as part of California's Advanced Clean Cars (ACC) program. EPA granted California a waiver for the ACC program on January 9, 2013 (78 FR 2112).

    The LEV II and LEV III regulations expanded the scope of LEV I regulations by setting strict fleet-average emission standards for light-duty, medium-duty (including sport utility vehicles) and heavy-duty vehicles. The standards for LEV II began with the 2004 model year and increased in stringency with each vehicle model year. The LEV III standards began in 2015 and continue to increase emission stringency with each progressive vehicle model year through 2025 and beyond.

    An automobile manufacturer must show that the overall vehicle fleet for a given model year meets the specified phase-in requirements according to the fleet average non-methane hydrocarbon requirement for that year. The fleet average non-methane hydrocarbon emission limits are progressively lower with each model year. The program also requires auto manufacturers to include a “smog index” label on each vehicle sold, which is intended to inform consumers about the amount of pollution produced by that vehicle relative to other vehicles.

    In addition to meeting the LEV II and LEV III requirements, large or intermediate volume manufacturers must ensure that a certain percentage of the passenger cars and light-duty trucks that they market in California are ZEVs. This is referred to as the ZEV mandate. California has modified the ZEV mandate several times since it took effect. One modification allowed an alternative compliance program (ACP) to provide auto manufacturers with several options to meet the ZEV mandate. The ACP established ZEV credit multipliers to allow auto manufacturers to take credit for meeting the ZEV mandate by selling more partial ZEVs (PZEVs) and AT PZEVs than they are otherwise required to sell. On December 28, 2006, EPA granted California's request for a waiver of Federal preemption to enforce provisions of the ZEV regulations through the 2011 vehicle model year. In a letter dated June 27, 2012, CARB requested that EPA grant a waiver of preemption that allowed updated ZEV regulations as part of the ACC program. These updated ZEV regulations will require manufacturers to produce increasing numbers of ZEVs and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles in 2018 and subsequent years. EPA granted this waiver on January 9, 2013 (78 FR 2112).

    On October 15, 2005, California amended its LEV II program to include GHG emission standards for passenger cars, light-duty trucks, and medium-duty passenger vehicles. On December 21, 2005, California requested that EPA grant a waiver of preemption under CAA section 209(b) for its GHG regulations. On June 30, 2009, EPA granted CARB's request for a waiver of CAA preemption to enforce its GHG emission standards for new model year 2009 and subsequent model year motor vehicles (July 8, 2009; 74 FR 32744-32784). Approval for updated and extended GHG emissions standards was granted by EPA as part of the January 9, 2013 ACC waiver (78 FR 2112), which includes regulations that incrementally reduce GHG emissions though 2025 and beyond.

    III. Relevant EPA and CAA Requirements

    Section 209(a) of the CAA prohibits states from adopting or enforcing standards relating to the control of emissions from new motor vehicles or new motor vehicle engines. However, under section 209(b) of the CAA, EPA shall grant a waiver of the section 209(a) prohibition to the State of California if EPA makes specified findings, thereby allowing California to adopt its own motor vehicle emission standards. Furthermore, other states may adopt California's motor vehicle emission standards under section 177 of the CAA.

    For additional information regarding California's motor vehicle emission standards and adoption by other states, please see EPA's “California Waivers and Authorizations” web page at URL address: www.epa.gov/otaq/cafr.htm. This website also lists relevant Federal Register notices that have been issued by EPA in response to California waiver and authorization requests.

    A. Waiver Process

    The CAA allows California to seek a waiver of the preemption which prohibits states from enacting emission standards for new motor vehicles. EPA must grant this waiver before California's rules may be enforced. When California files a waiver request, EPA publishes a notice for public hearing and written comment in the Federal Register. The written comment period remains open for a period of time after the public hearing. Once the comment period expires, EPA reviews the comments and the Administrator determines whether the requirements for obtaining a waiver have been met.

    According to CAA section 209—State Standards, EPA shall grant a waiver unless the Administrator finds that California:

    —Was arbitrary and capricious in its finding that its standards are in the aggregate at least as protective of public health and welfare as applicable Federal standards; —Does not need such standards to meet compelling and extraordinary conditions; or —Proposes standards and accompanying enforcement procedures that are not consistent with section 202(a) of the CAA.

    The most recent EPA waiver relevant to EPA's proposed approval of Connecticut's LEV program is “California State Motor Vehicle Pollution Control Standards; Notice of Decision Granting a Waiver of Clean Air Act Preemption for California's Advanced Clean Car Program and a Within the Scope confirmation for California's Zero Emissions Vehicle Amendments for 2017 and Earlier Model Years” (January 9, 2013; 78 FR 2112-2145). This final rulemaking allows California to strengthen standards for LEV regulations and GHG emissions from passenger cars, light-duty trucks and medium-duty vehicles. It also allows for continuing ZEV regulations by requiring more ZEV manufacturing and sales through 2025 and subsequent years.

    B. State Adoption of California Standards

    Section 177 of the CAA allows other states to adopt and enforce California's standards for the control of emissions from new motor vehicles, provided that, among other things, such state standards are identical to the California standards for which a waiver has been granted under CAA section 209(b). In addition, the state must adopt such standards at least two years prior to the commencement of the model year to which the standards will apply. EPA issued guidance (CISD-07-16) 1 regarding its cross-border sales policy for California-certified vehicles. This guidance includes a list and map of states that have adopted California standards, specific to the 2008-2010 model years. All SIP revisions submitted to EPA for approval must also meet the requirements of CAA section 110(l).

    1 See EPA's October 29, 2007 letter to Manufacturers regarding “Sales of California-certified 2008-2010 Model Year Vehicles (Cross-Border Sales Policy),” with attachments. https://iaspub.epa.gov/otaqpub/display_file.jsp?docid=16888&flag=1.

    The provisions of section 177 of the CAA require Connecticut to amend the Connecticut LEV program at such time as the State of California amends its California LEV program. Connecticut has demonstrated its commitment to maintain a LEV program through the continued adoption of regulatory amendments to Connecticut's initial LEV program.

    In addition, Connecticut's December 14, 2015 SIP submittal meets the requirements of section 110(l) of the CAA because the SIP revision would not interfere with any applicable requirement concerning attainment and reasonable further progress or any other applicable requirement of the CAA. This SIP revision sets new requirements, the California LEV III standards, that are more stringent than the California LEV I and LEV II standards previously approved into the Connecticut SIP, and expands program coverage to model year vehicles not covered by the California LEV I and LEV II standards, and by extension, not previously included in the Connecticut SIP. Though the SIP revision places an end date to model year cars covered under the LEV II program, it also adopts the more stringent LEV III program to apply to model years immediately following the LEV II regulated vehicles. Connecticut's SIP revision also includes increasingly stringent GHG emissions and LEV sales requirements that are not currently part of the Connecticut SIP.

    IV. Proposed Action

    EPA is proposing to approve, and incorporate into the Connecticut SIP, Connecticut's revised RCSA Section 22a-174-36b (LEV II) and adopted RCSA Section 22a-174-36c (LEV III), effective in the State of Connecticut on August 1, 2015, and submitted to EPA on December 14, 2015. The new and revised regulations include: Ending the California LEV II program with model year 2014 vehicles and adopting the California LEV III program for model year 2015 and subsequent model year vehicles, the updated California GHG provisions, and the updated ZEV provisions. EPA is proposing to approve Connecticut's revised RCSA Section 22a-174-36b and adopted RCSA Section 22a-174-36c into the Connecticut SIP because EPA has found that the requirements are consistent with the CAA.

    In addition, EPA is proposing to remove 40 CFR 52.381, which was promulgated on January 24, 1995 (60 FR 4737). This section states that Connecticut must comply with the requirements of 40 CFR 51.120, which are to implement the Ozone Transport Commission (OTC) LEV program. As noted above, Connecticut subsequently adopted the California LEV and LEV II programs. Furthermore, today's proposed approval of Connecticut's revised LEV II and adopted LEV III programs, if finalized, will add California's even more stringent standards into Connecticut's SIP. Thus, Connecticut has satisfied 40 CFR 52.381, and therefore, EPA is proposing to remove 40 CFR 52.381 from the Code of Federal Regulations. In addition, on March 11, 1997, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit vacated the provisions of 40 CFR. 51.120. See Virginia v. EPA, 108 F.3d 1397. Because of the vacatur, EPA concludes that 40 CFR 52.381 is, in any event, obsolete.

    EPA is soliciting public comments on the issues discussed in this notice or on other relevant matters. These comments will be considered before taking final action. Interested parties may participate in the Federal rulemaking procedure by submitting written comments to this proposed rule by following the instructions listed in the ADDRESSES section of this Federal Register.

    V. Incorporation by Reference

    In this rule, the EPA is proposing to include in a final EPA rule regulatory text that includes incorporation by reference. In accordance with requirements of 1 CFR 51.5, the EPA is proposing to incorporate by reference Connecticut's regulations cited in Section IV of this proposed rulemaking. The EPA has made, and will continue to make, these documents generally available electronically through www.regulations.gov and at the appropriate EPA.

    VI. Statutory and Executive Order Reviews

    Under the Clean Air Act, the Administrator is required to approve a SIP submission that complies with the provisions of the Act 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 Clean Air Act. Accordingly, this proposed 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 proposed action:

    • Is not a significant regulatory action subject to review by the Office of Management and Budget under Executive Orders12866 (58 FR 51735, October 4, 1993) and 13563 (76 FR 3821, January 21, 2011);

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

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

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

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

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

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

    • Is not subject to requirements of Section 12(d) of the National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act of 1995 (15 U.S.C. 272 note) because application of those requirements would be inconsistent with the Clean Air Act; 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, the rule does not have tribal implications and will not impose substantial direct costs on tribal governments or preempt tribal law as specified by Executive Order 13175 (65 FR 67249, November 9, 2000).

    List of Subjects in 40 CFR Part 52

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

    Dated: January 2, 2018. Ken Moraff, Acting Regional Administrator, EPA New England.
    [FR Doc. 2018-00477 Filed 1-12-18; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560-50-P
    ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY 40 CFR Part 257 [EPA-HQ-OLEM-2017-0613; FRL-9972-95-OLEM] Oklahoma: Approval of State Coal Combustion Residuals State Permit Program AGENCY:

    Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

    ACTION:

    Notice of availability; request for comment.

    SUMMARY:

    Pursuant to the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA or Act), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing to approve the application submitted by the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality to allow the Oklahoma Coal Combustion Residuals (CCR) state permit program to operate in lieu of the Federal CCR program. EPA has preliminarily determined that Oklahoma's program meets the standard for approval under RCRA. Once approved, the State program requirements and resulting permit provisions will be subject to EPA's inspection and enforcement authorities under RCRA and other applicable statutory and regulatory provisions as discussed below. This notice also announces that EPA is seeking comment on this proposal during a 45-day public comment period, and is providing an opportunity to request a public hearing within the first 15 days of this comment period.

    DATES:

    Comments must be received on or before March 2, 2018. In addition, a public hearing request must be submitted on or before January 31, 2018.

    ADDRESSES:

    Submit your comments, identified by Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OLEM-2017-0613, at https://www.regulations.gov or by mail to: EPA Docket Center, Environmental Protection Agency, Mail Code 28221T, 1200 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20460. Follow the online instructions for submitting comments. Once submitted, comments cannot be edited or removed from regulations.gov. The EPA may publish any comment received to its public docket. Do not submit electronically any information you consider to be Confidential Business Information (CBI) or other information whose disclosure is restricted by statute. Multimedia submissions (audio, video, etc.) must be accompanied by a written comment. The written comment is considered the official comment and should include discussion of all points you wish to make. The EPA will generally not consider comments or comment contents located outside of the primary submission (i.e. on the web, cloud, or other file sharing system). For the full EPA public comment policy, information about CBI or multimedia submissions, and general guidance on making effective comments, please visit https://www.epa.gov/dockets/commenting-epa-dockets.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Mary Jackson, Office of Resource Conservation and Recovery, Environmental Protection Agency; telephone number: (703) 308-8453; email address: [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Throughout this document “we,” “us,” and “our” means the EPA.

    I. General Information A. Overview of Proposed Actions

    EPA is proposing to approve Oklahoma's CCR state permit program application, pursuant to RCRA 4005(d)(1)(B). Oklahoma's proposed program would allow the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality (ODEQ) to enforce rules promulgated under its solid waste statute related to CCR activities in non-Indian Country, as well as to handle permit applications and to enforce permit violations. If approved, Oklahoma's CCR permit program will operate in lieu of the Federal CCR program, codified at 40 CFR part 257, subpart D.

    This notice also announces that EPA is seeking comment on this proposal, and providing an opportunity to request a public hearing on whether the State's program is at least as protective as the federal program. If there is significant interest shown in holding a public hearing EPA will then hold a public hearing. Please submit any request for a public hearing within the first 15 days of the public comment period through the Contact Us form on the following web page: (https://www.epa.gov/coalash). If the desire for a public hearing is demonstrated EPA will hold the hearing at the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality building located at 707 N Robinson Ave., Oklahoma City, OK on February 13, 2018 starting at 9 a.m. EPA will post a confirmation of the public hearing in the docket and on the EPA CCR website (https://www.epa.gov/coalash) providing information for the hearing.

    EPA has also engaged federally-recognized Tribes within the State of Oklahoma in consultation and coordination regarding the program authorizations for ODEQ. EPA has established opportunities for formal as well as informal discussion throughout the consultation period, beginning with an initial conference call on October 19, 2017. Tribal consultation will be conducted in accordance with the EPA policy on Consultation and Coordination with Indian Tribes (https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2013-08/documents/cons-and-coord-with-indian-tribes-policy.pdf).

    B. Background

    CCR are generated from the combustion of coal, including solid fuels classified as anthracite, bituminous, subbituminous, and lignite, for the purpose of generating steam for the purpose of powering a generator to produce electricity or electricity and other thermal energy by electric utilities and independent power producers. CCR includes fly ash, bottom ash, boiler slag, and flue gas desulfurization materials. CCR can be sent off-site for disposal or beneficial use or disposed in on-site landfills or surface impoundments.

    On April 17, 2015, EPA published a final rule, creating 40 CFR part 257, subpart D, that established a comprehensive set of minimum requirements for the disposal of CCR in landfills and surface impoundments (80 FR 21302). The rule created a self-implementing program which regulates the location, design, operating criteria, and groundwater monitoring and corrective action for CCR disposal, as well as regulating the closure and post-closure care of CCR units and requiring recordkeeping and notifications for CCR units. The regulations do not cover the “beneficial use” of CCR as that term is defined in § 257.53.

    C. Statutory Authority

    EPA is issuing this proposed determination pursuant to section RCRA sections 4005(d) and 7004(b)(1). See 42 U.S.C. 6945(d), 6974(b)(1).

    Section 2301 of the 2016 Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (WIIN) Act amended Section 4005 of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), creating a new subsection (d) that establishes a Federal permitting program similar to those under RCRA subtitle C and other environmental statutes. See 42 U.S.C. 6945(d). Under the WIIN Act, states may develop and submit a CCR permit program to EPA for approval; once approved the state permit program operates in lieu of the Federal requirements. See 42 U.S.C. 6945(d)(1)(A).

    To become approved, the statute requires that a State provide “evidence of a permit program or other system of prior approval and conditions under State law for regulation by the State of coal combustion residuals units that are located in the State.” See 42 U.S.C. 6945(d)(1)(A). In addition, the statute directs that the State submit evidence that the program meets the standard in section 4005(d)(1)(B), i.e., that it will require each coal combustion residuals unit located in the State to achieve compliance with either: (1) The Federal CCR requirements at 40 CFR part 257, subpart D; or (2) other State criteria that the Administrator, after consultation with the State, determines to be at least as protective as the Federal requirements. See 42 U.S.C. 6945(d)(1)(B). EPA has 180 days from receiving a complete application to make a final determination, and must provide public notice and an opportunity for public comment. See 42 U.S.C. 6945(d)(1)(B).

    To receive EPA approval, EPA must determine that the state program requires each CCR unit located in the state to achieve compliance either with the requirements of 40 CFR part 257, subpart D, or with state criteria that EPA determines (after consultation with the State) to be at least as protective as the requirements of 40 CFR part 257, subpart D. See 42 U.S.C. 6945(d)(1)(B). EPA may approve a proposed state permit program in whole or in part. Id.

    Once a program is approved, EPA must review the program at least every 12 years, as well as no later than 3 years after a revision to an applicable section of 40 CFR part 257, subpart D, or 1 year after any unauthorized significant release from a CCR unit located in the state. See 42 U.S.C. 6945(d)(1)(D)(i)(I)-(III). EPA also must review a program at the request of another state alleging that the soil, groundwater, or surface water of the requesting state is or is likely to be adversely affected by a release from a CCR unit in the approved state. See 42 U.S.C. 6945(d)(1)(D)(i)(IV).

    In a state with an approved CCR program, EPA may commence administrative or judicial enforcement actions under RCRA § 3008 if the state requests assistance or if the EPA determines that an EPA enforcement action is likely to be necessary to ensure that a CCR unit is operating in accordance with the criteria of the permit program. See 42 U.S.C. 6945(d)(4).

    II. Oklahoma's Application

    ODEQ issued a Notice of Rulemaking Intent related to its proposed CCR program and accepted public comments from December 1, 2015 through January 13, 2016. ODEQ then published an Executive Summary rulemaking document that included the public comments received and the ODEQ responses.

    In September 2016, ODEQ promulgated Oklahoma Administrative Code (OAC) Title 252 Chapter 517 Disposal of Coal Combustion Residuals from Electric Utilities, establishing its CCR program. OAC 252:517 incorporates all of the federal regulations at 40 CFR part 257, subpart D, with some minor modifications as discussed below.

    On July 31, 2017 Oklahoma submitted to EPA its initial application. The State supplemented its original application on October 18, 2017. EPA determined that the application was complete and notified Oklahoma of its determination by letter dated December 21, 2017.1

    1 ODEQ's initial CCR permit program application, subsequent supplementation, and EPA's determination of completeness letter are available in the docket supporting this proposal.

    EPA is aware of six CCR facilities currently in Oklahoma. Approval of ODEQ's CCR application would allow the ODEQ regulations to apply to those existing CCR units as well as any future CCR units not located in Indian country in lieu of the Federal requirements.

    EPA is not aware of any existing CCR units in Indian country within Oklahoma, but EPA will maintain sole authority to regulate and permit CCR units in Indian country, meaning formal and informal reservations, dependent Indian communities, and Indian allotments, whether restricted or held in trust by the United States.

    III. EPA Analysis of Oklahoma's Application

    As discussed in Section I.C. of this notice, the statute requires EPA to evaluate two components of a state program to determine whether it meets the standard for approval. First, EPA is to evaluate the adequacy of the permit program (or other system of prior approval and conditions) itself. See 42 U.S.C. 6945(d)(1)(A). Second, EPA is to evaluate the adequacy of the technical criteria that will be included in each permit, to determine whether they are the same as the federal criteria, or to the extent they differ, whether the modified criteria are “at least as protective as” the federal requirements. See 42 U.S.C. 6945(d)(1)(B). Only if both components meet the statutory requirements may EPA approve the program. See 42 U.S.C. 6945(d)(1).

    On that basis, EPA conducted an analysis of ODEQ's application, including a thorough analysis of OAC 252:517 and its adoption of 40 CFR part 257, subpart D. Based on this analysis, EPA has preliminarily determined that ODEQ's submitted CCR permit program meets the standard for approval in section 4005(d)(1)(A) and (B). EPA is therefore proposing to approve Oklahoma's application. Oklahoma's program contains all the elements of the federal rule, including requirements for location restrictions, design and operating criteria, groundwater monitoring and corrective action, closure requirements and post-closure care, recordkeeping, notification and internet posting requirements. It also contains state-specific language, references and state-specific requirements that differ from the federal rule, which EPA has preliminarily determined to be at least as protective as the Federal criteria. EPA's analysis and preliminary findings are discussed in greater detail below and in the Technical Support Document.

    Non-substantive changes include language inserts and deletions to enable the ODEQ to permit CCR units and enforce the Oklahoma rule. The revisions include: The removal of statements regarding national applicability; the inclusion of language to require submittal and approval of plans to ODEQ; the inclusion of permitting provisions to allow the ODEQ to administer the CCR rules in the context of a permitting program; the inclusion of state-specific location restrictions; the inclusion of procedures for subsurface investigation; the inclusion of provisions addressing cost estimates and financial assurance.

    Throughout Oklahoma's Chapter 517 rules, references for tribal notifications and/or approval that appear in the federal rule have been deleted along with the terms “Indian Country,” “Indian Lands,” and “Indian Tribe.” EPA will retain sole authority to regulate and permit CCR units in Indian country as defined in 18 U.S.C. 1151, which includes reservations, dependent Indian communities, and Indian allotments, whether restricted or held in trust by the United States. EPA treats as reservations trust lands validly set aside for the use of a tribe even if the trust lands have not been formally designated as a reservation. See, e.g., Oklahoma Tax Commission vs. Citizen Band Potawatomi Indian Tribe of Oklahoma, 498 U.S. 505, 511 (1991).

    A. Adequacy of Oklahoma's Permit Program

    RCRA section 4005(d)(1)(A) requires a State seeking program approval to submit to EPA an application with “evidence of a permit program or other system of prior approval and conditions under State law for regulation by the State of coal combustion residuals units that are located in the State.”

    RCRA section 4005(d)(1)(A) does not require EPA to promulgate regulations for determining the adequacy of State programs. EPA is therefore relying in large measure on the existing regulations in 40 CFR part 239, Requirements for State Permit Program Determination of Adequacy, on the statutory requirements for public participation in RCRA Section 7004, and on the Agency's experience in reviewing and approving State programs in general. However, in order to aid States in developing their programs and to provide a clear statement of how, in EPA's judgment, the existing regulations and statutory requirements in both 4005(d) and 7004 apply to state CCR programs, on August 15, 2017 EPA announced the availability of an interim final Guidance for Coal Combustion Residuals State Permit Programs (82 FR 38685). This guidance outlines the process and procedures EPA generally intends to use to review and make determinations on State CCR permit programs. EPA evaluated the adequacy of ODEQ's permit program based on the statutory requirements and EPA's interpretation of the regulatory requirements. A summary of EPA's findings are below, organized by the program elements identified in the Part 239 regulations and the guidance document; our detailed analysis of the submitted State program can be found in the Technical Support Document which is included in the docket for this proposal.

    1. Permitting Guidelines

    Based on section 7004 and on the part 239 regulations, it is EPA's judgment (as expressed in the interim final guidance) that an adequate permitting program will provide for public participation by ensuring that: Documents for permit determinations are made available for public review and comment; final determinations on permit applications are made known to the public; and public comments on permit determinations are considered.

    All environmental permit and modification applications in Oklahoma are subject to the Oklahoma Uniform Environmental Permitting Act (UEPA) and the permitting rules promulgated to carry out UEPA. UEPA classifies all permit applications into three tiers that determine the level of public participation and administrative review the permit application will receive. See OAC 252:4-7-2. Oklahoma classifies solid waste management applications, including CCR applications, into their respective tiers at OAC 252:4-7-58 through 60. All permit documents, regardless of tier, are available for review and copying. OAC 252:4-1-5.

    Oklahoma describes the Tier I program as “the category for those things that are basically administrative decisions which can be made by a technical supervisor with no public participation except for the landowner.” OAC 252:4-7-2. The Tier I permit application requires an application, notice to the landowner, and Department review. 27A O.S. § 2-14-103(9). Only applications for minor modifications, lateral expansions within the permit boundary below a certain capacity, and approval of technical plans fall within the Tier I category. OAC 252:4-7-58.

    The Tier II permit application process expands upon the Tier I requirements to include published notice of the application filing and published notice of the draft permit or denial and opportunity for a public meeting. 27A O.S. § 2-14-103(10). The Tier II process covers new permits for on-site CCR disposal units and more substantial modifications to existing facilities beyond Tier I. OAC 252:4-7-59.

    The Tier III permit application process includes the requirements of Tiers I and II and adds notice of an opportunity for a process meeting, response to public comments, and notice of an opportunity for an administrative permit hearing. 27A O.S. § 2-14-103(11). The Tier III process covers new permits for off-site disposal units and permits for some significant modifications to off-site disposal units. OAC 252:4-7-60.

    UEPA provides for public notice and review of permit applications and significant permit modifications through its Tier II and III programs. Tier II and III programs also provide the opportunity for public hearing, and, in the case of Tier III applications, the opportunity for an administrative hearing. These programs appear to provide adequate opportunities for public participation in the permitting process, and the application of UEPA to the CCR permitting program is consistent with Oklahoma's practice across environmental programs. Permit and modification applications for CCR facilities fall under the existing solid waste management application at OAC 252:4-7-58 through 60, and those classifications are used for Oklahoma's authorized Municipal Solid Waste Landfill program.

    2. Guidelines for Compliance Monitoring Authority

    Based on the part 239 regulations, it is EPA's judgment (as expressed in the interim final guidance), that a state's application for permit program approval should demonstrate that the state has the authority to gather information about compliance, perform inspections, and ensure that information it gathers is suitable for enforcement.

    ODEQ has compliance monitoring authority under 27A O.S. § 2-3-501, allowing for inspections, sampling, information gathering, and other investigation. This authority extends to ODEQ's proposed CCR permit program and would provide the authority to adequately gather information for enforcement.

    3. Guidelines for Enforcement Authority

    Further, based on the part 239 regulations, it is EPA's judgment (as expressed in the interim final guidance), that a state's application for permit program approval should demonstrate that the state has authority to administer RCRA § 4005(c)(1)(B) and (C) programs to have adequate enforcement authority to administer those programs, including: The authority to restrain any person from engaging in activity which may damage human health or the environment, the authority to sue to enjoin prohibited activity, and the authority to sue to recover civil penalties for prohibited activity.

    ODEQ appears to have adequate enforcement authority for its existing programs under 27A O.S. § 2-3-501-507 and that authority extends to ODEQ's proposed CCR permit program.

    4. Intervention in Civil Enforcement Proceedings

    Based on section 7004 and on the part 239 regulations, it is EPA's judgment (as expressed in the interim final guidance) that a state application for permit program approval should demonstrate that the state provides adequate opportunity for citizen intervention in civil enforcement proceedings through the requirements found in 40 CFR 239.9. In general, those requirements state that the state must provide authority to allow citizen intervention or provide assurance of (1) a notice and public involvement process, (2) investigating and providing responses about violations, and (3) not opposing intervention when permitted by statute, rule, or regulation.

    ODEQ's CCR program appears to satisfy the civil intervention requirement (40 CFR 239.9(a)) by allowing intervention by right. (see 12 OK Stat § 12-2024). In addition, ODEQ's CCR program would satisfy the requirements of 40 CFR 239.9(b) by providing a process to respond to citizen complaints (see 27A O.S. § 2-3-101,503) and by not opposing citizen intervention when allowed by statute (see 27A O.S. § 2-7-133). ODEQ in meeting 40 CFR 239.9(b)(2) has an extremely robust process for responding to citizen complaints. In 27A O.S. § 2-3-101-F-1, The complaints program is responsible for intake processing, mediation and conciliation of inquiries and complaints received by the Department and which shall provide for the expedient resolution of complaints within the jurisdiction of the Department. In 27A O.S. § 2-3-503, if the Department undertakes an enforcement action as a result of a complaint, the Department shall notify the complainant of the enforcement action by mail. The State program in 27A O.S. § 2-3-503 offers the complainant an opportunity to provide written information pertinent to the complaint within fourteen (14) calendar days after the date of the mailing. The State's program also goes further in 27A O.S. § 2-3-104 that the complaints program shall, in addition to the responsibilities specified by Section 2-3-101 of this title, refer, upon written request, all complaints in which one of the complainants remains unsatisfied with the Department's resolution of said complaint to an outside source trained in mediation. It is clear that ODEQ takes public intervention seriously in enforcement actions considering the additional elements of the State's complaint process.

    EPA has preliminarily determined that these requirements allow a minimum necessary level of citizen involvement in the enforcement process.

    B. Adequacy of Technical Criteria

    EPA has preliminarily determined that ODEQ's submitted CCR permit program generally meets the standard for approval in RCRA section 4005(d)(1)(B)(i), as it will require each CCR unit located in Oklahoma to achieve compliance with the applicable criteria for CCR units under 40 CFR part 257. To make this preliminary determination, EPA compared ODEQ's proposed CCR permit program to 40 CFR part 257 to determine whether it differed from the federal requirements, and if so, whether those differences met the standard for approval in RCRA section 4005(d)(1)(B)(ii) and (C).

    Oklahoma has adopted all of the technical criteria at 40 CFR part 257, subpart D into its regulations at OAC Title 252 Chapter 517. While ODEQ's CCR permit program also includes some modification of 40 CFR part 257, subpart D, the majority of ODEQ's modifications were merely those that were needed to allow the State to implement the part 257 criteria through a permit process. As mentioned above, the 40 CFR part 257, subpart D rules were meant to be implemented directly by the regulated facility, without the oversight of any regulatory authority, such as a state permitting program. For example, ODEQ removed 40 CFR 257.61(a)(2)(iv), which references the Marine Protection, Research, and Sanctuaries Act requirements because Oklahoma does not have any coastal or ocean environments which apply under the MPRSA regulations. EPA considers these revisions to be ministerial, and as such, they do not substantively modify the federal technical criteria.

    ODEQ also made a few minor changes to the 40 CFR 257, Subpart D criteria. These changes reflect the integration of the CCR rules with the responsibilities of other state agencies or state specific conditions. There are a few minor changes that were made inadvertently that will be changed by the State through another rulemaking, including a typographic error in Chapter 517-9-4(g)(5) and removal of the words “and the leachate collection and removal” from 40 CFR 257.70(e). The State has acknowledged these differences and has plans to correct any errors. Additional changes include removal of the web link to EPA publication SW-846 under the definition “Representative Sample” in 40 CFR 257.53; and the replacement of 40 CFR 257.91(e) with a reference to the Oklahoma Water Resources Board (OWRB) Section 785:35-7-2. After review of this OWRB regulation, an EPA groundwater expert finds the Oklahoma rules to be more stringent than the requirements under 40 CFR 257.91(e). EPA preliminarily finds these changes to be minor because the key aspects of the CCR program including requirements for location restrictions, design and operating criteria, groundwater monitoring and corrective action, closure requirements and post-closure care, recordkeeping, notification and internet posting requirements are not substantially changed or reduced by the Oklahoma revisions and in one example is more stringent. These changes do not keep the overall program from being at least as protective as 40 CFR part 257, subpart D. EPA's full analysis of Oklahoma's CCR permit program can be found in the Technical Support Document (TSD) located in the docket for this notice.

    IV. Proposed Action

    In accordance with 42 U.S.C. 6945(d), EPA is proposing to wholly approve ODEQ's CCR permit program application.

    Dated: January 3, 2018. Barry N. Breen, Principal Deputy Assistant Administrator, Office of Land and Emergency Management.
    [FR Doc. 2018-00474 Filed 1-12-18; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560-50-P
    FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION 47 CFR Part 54 [WC Docket Nos. 17-287, 11-42, 09-197; FCC 17-155] Bridging the Digital Divide for Low-Income Consumers, Lifeline and Link Up Reform and Modernization, Telecommunications Carriers Eligible for Universal Service Support AGENCY:

    Federal Communications Commission.

    ACTION:

    Proposed rule.

    SUMMARY:

    In this document, the Federal Communications Commission (Commission) proposes and seeks comment on reforms to ensure the Lifeline program rules comport with the authority granted to the Commission in the Communications Act and to curb wasteful and abusive spending in the Lifeline program. The Commission also seeks comment on how Lifeline might more efficiently target funds to areas and households most in need of help in obtaining digital opportunity.

    DATES:

    Comments are due on or before January 24, 2018, and reply comments are due on or before February 23, 2018. If you anticipate that you will be submitting comments, but find it difficult to do so within the period of time allowed by this document, you should advise the contact listed below as soon as possible.

    ADDRESSES:

    You may submit comments, identified by WC Docket Nos. 17-287, 11-42, and 09-197, by any of the following methods:

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

    Federal Communications Commission's website: http://fjallfoss.fcc.gov/ecfs2/. Follow the instructions for submitting comments.

    People with Disabilities: Contact the FCC to request reasonable accommodations (accessible format documents, sign language interpreters, CART, etc.) by email: [email protected] or phone: (202) 418-0530 or TTY: (202) 418-0432.

    For detailed instructions for submitting comments and additional information on the rulemaking process, see the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section of this document.
    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Jodie Griffin, Wireline Competition Bureau, (202) 418-7400 or TTY: (202) 418-0484.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    This is a summary of the Commission's Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and Notice of Inquiry (NPRM and NOI) in WC Docket Nos. 17-287, 11-42, 09-197; FCC 17-155, adopted on November 16, 2017 and released on December 1, 2017. The full text of this document is available for public inspection during regular business hours in the FCC Reference Center, Room CY-A257, 445 12th Street SW, Washington, DC 20554 or at the following internet address: http://transition.fcc.gov/Daily_Releases/Daily_Business/2017/db1201/FCC-17-155A1.pdf. The Fourth Report and Order, Order on Reconsideration and Memorandum Opinion and Order that was adopted concurrently with the NPRM and NOI are published elsewhere in this issue of the Federal Register.

    I. Introduction

    1. In this Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, the Commission proposes and seeks comment on reforms to ensure the Lifeline program rules comport with the authority granted to the Commission in the Communications Act and to curb wasteful and abusive spending in the Lifeline program. Specifically, the NPRM seeks comment on ending the Commission's previous preemption of states' role in designating certain eligible telecommunications carriers and removing the Lifeline Broadband Provider designation; targeting Lifeline funds to facilities-based broadband-capable networks offering both voice and broadband services; adopting a self-enforcing budget cap for the program; improving the eligibility verification and recertification processes to further prevent waste, fraud, and abuse in the program; and improving providers' incentive to provide quality communications services by establishing a maximum discount level for Lifeline-supported service. In the Notice of Inquiry, the Commission seeks comment on how Lifeline might more efficiently target funds to areas and households most in need of help in obtaining digital opportunity.

    II. Notice of Proposed Rulemaking

    2. In this Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, the Commission proposes and seeks comment on reforms to ensure that the Commission is administering the Lifeline program on sound legal footing, recognizing the important and Congressionally mandated role of states in Lifeline program administration, and rooting out waste, fraud, and abuse in the program. These steps must precede broader discussions about how the Lifeline program can be updated to effectively bring digital opportunity to those who are currently on the wrong side of the digital divide.

    3. The Commission first seeks comment on ways the Commission can better accommodate the important and lawful role of the states in the Lifeline program. The Commission proposes to eliminate the Lifeline Broadband Provider category of ETCs and the state preemption on which it is based. The Commission also seeks comment on ways to encourage cooperative federalism between the states and the Commission to make the National Verifier a success.

    4. In this section, the Commission addresses the serious concerns that have been raised that the Commission's creation of Lifeline Broadband Provider (LBP) ETCs and preemption of state commissions' designations of such LBPs was inconsistent with the role contemplated for the states in Section 214 of the Act. In the 2016 Lifeline Order, 81 FR 33026, May 24, 2016, the Commission established a framework to designate providers as Lifeline Broadband Providers (LBPs), eligible to receive Lifeline reimbursement for qualifying broadband internet access service provided to eligible low-income consumers, but not Lifeline voice service. The Commission's role in this framework was premised on the Commission's authority to designate a common carrier “that is not subject to the jurisdiction of a State commission.” And to effectuate that policy goal, the agency preempted state authority in a manner wholly inconsistent with Section 214 of the Communications Act, which gives primary responsibility for designation of eligible telecommunications carriers to the states. (47 U.S.C. 214(e)(2), (3)). Based on these circumstances and on further review, the Commission believes it erred in preempting state commissions from their primary responsibility to designate ETCs under section 214(e) of the Act and seek comment on this issue. (See 47 U.S.C. 214(e)).

    5. The 2016 Lifeline Order's preemption of state designation of LBPs was challenged by the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) and a coalition of states led by the State of Wisconsin (State Petitioners). (See NARUC v. FCC, Case No. 16-1170 (DC Cir., filed June 3, 2016); Wisconsin v. FCC, Case No. 16-1219 (DC Cir. filed June 30, 2016). Among other issues, NARUC and the State Petitioners contend the Commission's decision to preempt states from exercising any authority to designate broadband providers as LBPs violates the Act and the Administrative Procedure Act. The United States Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit has remanded the legal challenges to the Commission for further proceedings. (NARUC v. FCC, Case No. 16-1170, Order (DC Cir., Apr. 19, 2017), granting the Commission's motion for voluntary remand.) The legal challenges to the LBP designation process question the Commission's legal authority to create an LBP designation process and designate providers under that process. Additionally, members of Congress have introduced legislation to reverse the Commission's preemption and clarify that the Communications Act of 1934 and the Telecommunications Act of 1996 cannot be interpreted to limit the jurisdiction of any state to designate an ETC. (See Preserving State Commission Oversight Act of 2017, S. 421, 115th Cong. (2017)). Would reversing the preemption in the 2016 Lifeline Order resolve the legal issues surrounding LBPs and their designation process? How would reversing the preemption in the 2016 Lifeline Order impact the future of LBPs in the Lifeline program? Should ETCs be designated through traditional state and federal roles either for purposes of only Lifeline or for both the high-cost and Lifeline programs? (See 47 U.S.C. 214(e)). What rule changes would be needed to restore the traditional state and federal roles for ETC designations? The Commission seeks comment on this proposal and on any alternatives.

    6. The 2016 Lifeline Order “applaud[ed] state programs for devoting resources designed to help close the affordability gap for communications services.” Although not formally constraining how states administer those state programs for voice and/or broadband support, the Order recognized that its approach to ETC designations could create inconsistencies with the operation of those state programs. States continue to play an important role in ensuring affordability of voice, and also supporting broadband; accordingly, reversing the preemption in the 2016 Lifeline Order may resolve inconsistencies between state and federal efforts and provide benefits to the operation of state and federal programs. The Commission seeks comment on these issues.

    7. The Commission also proposes eliminating stand-alone LBP designations to better reflect the structure, operation, and goals of the Lifeline program, as set forth in the Communications Act, as well as related state programs. For example, the existence of an LBP designation enables entities to participate in the Lifeline program without assuming any obligations with respect to voice service. The Commission seeks comment on this proposal.

    8. In the 2016 Lifeline Order, the Commission established the National Verifier to make eligibility determinations and perform a variety of other functions necessary to enroll eligible subscribers into the Lifeline Program. As outlined in the 2016 Lifeline Order, “[t]he Commission's key objectives for the National Verifier are to protect against and reduce waste, fraud, and abuse; to lower costs to the Fund and Lifeline providers through administrative efficiencies; and to better serve eligible beneficiaries by facilitating choice and improving the enrollment experience.” A strong cooperative effort between the Commission and its state partners is critical to advancing these laudable objectives. In this Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, the Commission seeks comment on ways to ensure the Commission can partner with states to facilitate the successful implementation of the National Verifier.

    9. The Commission seeks comment on ways states can be encouraged to work cooperatively with the Commission and USAC to integrate their state databases into the National Verifier without unnecessary delay. Because the National Verifier is a critical part of improving the integrity of the Lifeline program, it is important all states join the National Verifier in a timely manner. To protect the integrity of the enrollment and eligibility determination process, the Commission seeks comment on whether new Lifeline enrollments should be halted in a state at any point if the launch of the National Verifier has been unnecessarily delayed in that state. For example, when the plan for National Verifier initiation in a state falls behind schedule, what steps should be taken to ensure no ineligible subscribers enroll in the program because of the delay? What is the proper response when the scheduled launch of the National Verifier in a state is not accomplished by the announced date and carriers relying on the launch announcement are unprepared to handle eligibility determinations? Should enrollments be halted for all consumers in the state or only for those whose eligibility must be verified using a state database?

    10. The Commission seeks comment on other steps to encourage cooperation and collaboration between the states, the Commission, and USAC to ensure the National Verifier is launched in a state in a timely fashion. Should the Commission adopt specific benchmarks or proposed timelines to guide this process? Are there ways to streamline the process of developing and executing the agreements necessary to allow data sharing between states and the Commission? In the event a state has demonstrated an unwillingness to engage in the effort to deploy the National Verifier or to do so at reasonable costs, are there other measures the Commission should take? In these situations, USAC is able to conduct a manual review of all eligibility documentation for potential Lifeline subscribers in that state but that measure is costly, burdensome, and inefficient; the Commission believes program expenses would be better directed towards electronic connections between state systems and the National Verifier platform. How can the Commission encourage states to work cooperatively with USAC to avoid unnecessary costs?

    11. The Lifeline program has an important role in bringing digital opportunity to low-income Americans. The Commission believes that changes to Lifeline policies are warranted to ensure the Commission's administration of Lifeline support is faithful to Congress's stated universal service goals and is focused on helping low-income households obtain the benefits that come from access to modern communications networks. In this section, the Commission proposes policy changes to focus Lifeline support on encouraging service provider investment in networks that offer quality, affordable broadband service. The Commission also seeks comment on the Commission's legal authority for these proposed changes.

    12. Lifeline Support for Facilities-Based Broadband Service. The Commission seeks comment on focusing Lifeline support to encourage investment in broadband-capable networks. As explained in the 2016 Lifeline Order, broadband service is increasingly important for participation in the 21st Century economy. However, broadband service is not as ubiquitous or as affordable as voice service. This is particularly true in rural and rural Tribal areas, where broadband deployment lags behind other areas of the country.

    13. Section 254(b) of the Act requires the Commission to base its policies for the preservation and advancement of universal service on the principles that “[q]uality services should be available at just, reasonable, and affordable rates,” “[a]ccess to advanced telecommunications and information services shall be provided in all regions of the Nation” and “[c]onsumers in all regions of the Nation . . .  should have access to . . .  advanced telecommunications and information services, that are reasonably comparable to those services provided in urban areas and that are available at rates that are reasonably comparable to rates charged for similar services in urban areas.” (47 U.S.C. 254(b)(1)-(3)).

    14. Mindful of the direction given to the Commission by Congress, the Commission believes Lifeline support will best promote access to advanced communications services if it is focused to encourage investment in broadband-capable networks. The Commission therefore proposes limiting Lifeline support to facilities-based broadband service provided to a qualifying low-income consumer over the ETC's voice- and broadband-capable last-mile network. The Commission believes this proposal would do more than the current reimbursement structure to encourage access to quality, affordable broadband service for low-income Americans. In particular, Lifeline support can serve to increase the ability to pay for services of low-income households. Such an increase can thereby improve the business case for deploying facilities to serve low-income households. In this way, Lifeline can serve to help encourage the deployment of facilities-based networks by making deployment of the networks more economically viable. Furthermore, the competitive impacts of having multiple competing facilities-based networks can also help to lower prices for consumers. If Lifeline can help promote more facilities, it can then indirectly also serve to reduce prices for consumers.

    15. The Commission seeks comment on this proposal. What rule changes would be necessary to implement this proposal? How can the Commission ensure Lifeline support is only disbursed to ETCs that provide broadband service over facilities-based networks? How would his proposal impact the availability and affordability of Lifeline broadband services? Are there other steps the Commission should take to focus Lifeline support to encourage investment in broadband networks?

    16. Discontinuing Lifeline Support for Non-Facilities-Based Service. Next, the Commission seeks comment on discontinuing Lifeline support for service provided over non-facilities-based networks, to advance our policy of focusing Lifeline support to encourage investment in voice- and broadband-capable networks. The Commission proposes limiting Lifeline support to broadband service provided over facilities-based broadband networks that also support voice service. Under this proposal, Lifeline providers that are partially facilities-based may obtain designation as an ETC, but would only receive Lifeline support for service provided over the last-mile facilities they own. The Commission seeks comment on how the Commission should define “facilities” for this purpose. Should the Commission adopt the same definition of facilities that the Fourth Report and Order uses for enhanced support on rural Tribal lands? If the Commission adopts different facilities-based criteria for Lifeline generally, should the Commission also use that definition of “facilities” for purposes of enhanced Tribal support? The Commission seeks comment on any other rule changes that would be necessary to implement this proposal.

    17. How would this proposal impact the number of Lifeline providers participating in the program and the availability of quality, affordable Lifeline broadband services? Are there other means of providing broadband service that should be considered facilities-based for purposes of the Lifeline program? How should the facilities-based requirement apply in a situation where a reseller and a facilities-based provider form a joint venture to provide Lifeline services? How should the Commission ensure Lifeline support is only issued to ETCs that satisfy the facilities requirement? Would the facilities-based requirement further the Commission's goal of eliminating waste, fraud, and abuse in the Lifeline program? On this last point, the Commission notes that the vast majority of Commission actions revealing waste, fraud, and abuse in the Lifeline program over the past five years have been against resellers, not facilities-based providers. And the proliferation of Lifeline resellers in 2009 corresponded with a tremendous increase in households receiving multiple subsidies under the Lifeline program. How do the incentives of resellers differ from those who use their own last-mile facilities? Why have waste, fraud, and abuse increased—including multiple-subsidies-per-household problems, self-certification problems, authentication-of-subscriber problems, phantom-subscriber problems, and eligibility problems—since the advent of multiple resellers within the program in 2009?

    18. The Commission does not expect that this approach would impact the forbearance relief from section 214(e)(1)(A)'s facilities requirement. However, the Commission recognizes that not reversing this forbearance relief may create a tension that could be relieved by making the requirements for obtaining a Lifeline-only ETC designation under section 214(e)(1)(A) match the facilities requirement for receiving Lifeline reimbursement. The Commission seeks comment on such matters.

    19. Alternatively, should the Commission reverse the forbearance from section 214(e)(1)(A)'s facilities requirement? If the Commission found that forbearing from the facilities-based requirement was no longer in the public interest, what other findings, if any, would the Commission need to make under section 10? If the Commission rescinded this forbearance, what effective date would give impacted ETCs and their customers an appropriate amount of time to make the transition? Furthermore, if the Commission were to rescind forbearance from the facilities requirement, should it reconsider its interpretation of that requirement? For example, § 54.201(g) of our current rules states that an ETC's facilities need not be located within the relevant service area as long as the carrier uses them within the designated service area. But the Commission has previously noted that “[s]everal ETCs, some of which call themselves `facilities-based resellers,' have previously maintained they are facilities-based based on facilities that provision operator and/or directory assistance services, which are provided in conjunction with their retail offering.” The Commission seeks comment on revising those rules to make clear that a carrier is only facilities-based under our rules if its facilities are located in its service area and it uses those facilities to provide last-mile service to its supported customers. The Commission also notes that the Act defines a facilities-based carrier as one that offers service “either using its own facilities or a combination of its own facilities and resale of another carrier's services.” (47 U.S.C. 214(e)(1)(A)). The Commission seeks comment on how to balance Congress's expectation that ETCs would invest universal service support in the areas they serve (See 47 U.S.C. 254(e).) and its recognition that some amount of resale should be permissible. The Commission seeks comment on any other formulations of this rule it should consider to ensure that facilities-based Lifeline carriers are in fact reinvesting the support they receive in facilities in the communities they serve.

    20. The Commission also seeks comment on the transition period for implementing this approach. If Lifeline support is only provided to ETCs that provide Lifeline broadband services over facilities-based voice- and broadband-capable last-mile networks, what should the transition period and transition process be for non-facilities-based providers currently participating in the Lifeline program and their customers? Should the transition process consider whether there is a facilities-based provider in a specific market that intends to continue providing Lifeline service? If so, what geographic area would be the appropriate focus of this determination? What sources could the Commission use to determine whether a facilities-based Lifeline provider is present in and plans to continue offering Lifeline service in a particular geographic market? What other factors should the Commission consider in developing the transition process? What would be an appropriate transition period for impacted ETCs and their customers? Should the Commission provide a three-year support phase down period for non-facilities-based ETCs participating in the Lifeline program, or would a shorter period be appropriate? How would the transition process and period differ if the Commission reversed the forbearance from section 214(e)(1)(A)'s facilities requirement?

    21. The Commission also seeks comment on how to determine whether existing or future resellers have fully complied with the statute's exhortation that universal service funding must be spent “only for the provision, maintenance, and upgrading of facilities and services for which the support is intended.” (47 U.S.C. 254(e)). Have Lifeline resellers passed through all Lifeline funding to their underlying carriers to ensure federal funding is appropriately spent on the required “facilities and services” rather than non-eligible expenses like free phones and equipment? What accounting measures have Lifeline resellers instituted to ensure that Lifeline funding has only been used for eligible expenses? Would eliminating resellers from the program address any concerns about the appropriate use of federal funds by Lifeline providers? Would limiting payments to resellers to what they pay their wholesale carriers fully effectuate the congressional intent of section 254(e)? What auditing or other review should the Commission or USAC carry out to ensure that resellers that have been receiving funds used them properly?

    22. Alternatively, the Commission seeks comment on TracFone's suggestions that it minimizes waste, fraud, and abuse in the Lifeline program through “conduct-based requirements.” One form of conduct-based requirement would be to suspend for a year or disbar any Lifeline ETC with sufficiently high improper payment rates, whether on the basis of Payment Quality Assurance reviews or program audits. The Commission seeks comment on such a conduct-based requirement. If the Commission were to adopt such a requirement, what should be the measuring stick it uses and what should be the trigger? Should the Commission use a percent of Lifeline revenues improperly paid in a given state? Should the Commission establish a threshold amount of improper payments, such as $50,000, as a trigger for suspension in a state? What levels should be established for disbarment? And should the Commission apply such a requirement to all Lifeline providers, as TracFone suggests, or only wireless resellers, the historic source of most of the Commission's enforcement actions and investigations with respect to waste, fraud, and abuse? Another conduct-based requirement could be the suspension of companies that regularly engage in fraud-related conduct—such as practices that TracFone has previously suggested eliminating from the program. Would banning such practices and suspending those who engaged in them mitigate our concerns about rampant waste, fraud, and abuse? Would any of the conduct-based requirements minimize waste, fraud, and abuse in the Lifeline program to the same extent as the proposed facilities requirement? How could TracFone's proposals be implemented with minimal additional administrative burden on Lifeline service providers? How would such proposals ensure that Lifeline support is being appropriately used to advance the deployment of broadband-eligible networks?

    23. Continuing the Phase Down of Lifeline Support for Voice Service. The Commission also seeks comment on continuing the phase down of Lifeline support for voice-only services. In the 2016 Lifeline Order, the Commission adopted rules to gradually phase out Lifeline support for voice-only services to further the Commission's goal of transitioning to a broadband-focused Lifeline program. The current rules provide that Lifeline support will decrease to zero dollars on December 1, 2021, with an exception permitting Lifeline voice support to continue in Census blocks where there is only one Lifeline provider. (47 CFR 54.403(a)(2)(iv).) In deciding to phase down Lifeline support for voice-only service, the Commission explained that continuing to provide Lifeline support for voice-only service may “artificially perpetuate a market with decreasing demand” and may incent Lifeline providers to “avoid providing low-income consumers with modern services as Congress intended.” The Commission also cited the declining prices of fixed and wireless voice-only services and the availability of a wide-range of voice-only services in the marketplace.

    24. Continuing the phase down of Lifeline support is faithful to section 254(b)'s mandates and would support our proposal to focus Lifeline support to encourage investment in broadband-capable networks. (See 47 U.S.C. 254(b)(1)-(3)). The Commission acknowledges that some parties have argued against the phase down of Lifeline support for voice service, citing, among other concerns, the lack of affordable of voice service. However, the Commission expects that even without Lifeline voice support, low-income consumers would be able to obtain quality, affordable voice service in urban areas. Based on the 2018 Urban Rate Survey, several providers charge monthly rates of fifteen dollars or less for fixed voice-only service, and the national average monthly rate for fixed voice-only service is $25.50. (See 2018 Urban Rate Survey, Voice Data, Column J, Rows 423, 496, 501, 763, 788, https://www.fcc.gov/general/urban-rate-survey-data-resources.) The 2016 Universal Service Monitoring Report indicates that telephone expenses represent under four percent of after-tax income for low-income households. (See Universal Service Monitoring Report, CC Docket No. 96-45, et al., at 57, Table 6.12 (2016) https://apps.fcc.gov/edocs__public/attachmatch/DOC-343025A1.pdf.) Therefore, the Commission expects that even without Lifeline support for voice-only service, the monthly cost of such service in urban areas would represent a small percentage of low-income households' after-tax income. The Commission seeks comment on continuing the phase down of Lifeline support for voice-only service. Should the Commission make any changes to the current schedule for phasing out Lifeline support for voice services to support the policy changes the Commission proposes in this section? Should the Commission retain the exception permitting Lifeline support for voice services after December 1, 2021 in areas where there is only one Lifeline provider? (47 CFR 54.403.) Would retaining this exception impede the adoption of Lifeline broadband service or investment in broadband-enabled networks?

    25. In contrast, it is unclear whether low-income consumers would be able to obtain quality, affordable voice service in rural areas without Lifeline voice support. The Commission's rules require high-cost ETCs to offer voice service at rates that are reasonably comparable to the rates for similar services in urban areas, USF/ICC Transformation Order, 76 FR 73830, November 29, 2011. Although such rates may be affordable in theory, they may not be in practice: The 2018 reasonable-comparability benchmark for voice services is $45.38—almost double the average urban rate. The Commission accordingly seeks comment on eliminating the phase down of Lifeline support for voice-only service in rural areas. Would eliminating the phase down be the best way to ensure that consumers in rural areas are offered affordable voice services? Should voice-only support be limited to a subset of rural areas where voice rates are actually above the urban average? If so, by how much? And how should the Commission determine the areas where voice-only support is available? Would offering voice-only support to rural Tribal lands ensure more affordable voice services in those areas? If so, what should be the level of support offered compared to the amount of support available for broadband?

    26. Legal Authority. The Commission believes it has authority under Section 254(e) of the Act to provide Lifeline support to ETCs that provide broadband service over facilities-based broadband-capable networks that support voice service. Section 254(e) provides that a carrier receiving universal service support “shall use that support only for the provision, maintenance, and upgrading of facilities and services for which the support is intended.” Our proposed changes to Lifeline support comport with the Commission's authority under Section 254 because voice service would continue to be defined as a supported service under the Commission's rules, and the networks receiving Lifeline support would also support voice service. (47 CFR 54.401(a)(2)). Thus, under the proposed changes, Lifeline support would be used “for the provision, maintenance, and upgrading of facilities and services for which the support is intended.” (47 U.S.C. 254(e)). This legal authority does not depend on the regulatory classification of broadband internet access service and, thus, ensures the Lifeline program has a role in closing the digital divide regardless of the regulatory classification of broadband service.

    27. Relying on the Commission's authority under Section 254(e) for the proposed changes to Lifeline support would also better reconcile the Commission's authority to leverage the Lifeline program to encourage access to broadband with the Commission's efforts to promote access to broadband through high-cost support. In the universal service high-cost program, the Commission relied on section 254(e) as its authority to require ETCs receiving support through the Connect America Fund (including the Mobility Fund) or the existing high cost-support mechanisms to invest in broadband-capable networks, but declined to add broadband internet access service to the list of supported services. In adopting this requirement, the Commission explained that Section 254(e) grants the Commission the authority to “support not only voice telephony service but also the facilities over which it is offered” and that Congress's use of the words “services” and “facilities” in Section 254(e) provides the “Commission the flexibility not only to designate the types of telecommunications services for which support would be provided, but also to encourage the deployment of the types of facilities that will best achieve the principles set forth in section 254(b) and any other universal service principle that the Commission may adopt under section 254(b)(7), USF/ICC Transformation Order. The Commission further explained that it has a “ `mandatory duty' to adopt universal service policies that advance the principles outlined in section 254(b) and the Commission has the authority to `create some inducement' to ensure that those principles are achieved.” In 2014, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit upheld the Commission's interpretation of its section 254(e) authority in the USF/ICC Transformation Order.

    28. The Commission seeks comment on the Commission's legal authority to adopt the proposed changes to Lifeline support. Are there other sources of authority that allow the Commission to make these changes to Lifeline support proposed in this section?

    29. The Commission seeks comment on ways the Lifeline program can responsibly empower Lifeline subscribers to obtain the highest value for the Lifeline benefit through consumer choice in a competitive market. In particular, the Commission seeks comment on a request from TracFone Wireless, Inc. (TracFone) to allow providers to meet the minimum service standards through plans that provide subscribers with a particular number of “units” that can be used for either voice minutes or broadband service. TracFone argues that the Bureau's previous guidance that such “units” plans do not meet the minimum service standards was given without public comment and represented an improper reading of the relevant rule. (47 CFR 54.408.) Should the Commission now allow “units” plans to receive reimbursement from the Lifeline program? What impact would these plans have on consumer choice in the Lifeline market? Would such a decision require a change in the Commission's rules? If the Commission permits such plans, how should the Commission determine the appropriate support amount for those plans that combine voice and broadband options when the support level for voice service decreases to $7.25 while the support amount for broadband service remains at $9.25? (See 47 CFR 54.403(a).)

    30. The Commission also seeks comment on eliminating the Lifeline program's “equipment requirement.” (See 47 CFR 54.408(f).) That rule mandates that any Lifeline provider that “provides devices to its consumers[] must ensure that all such devices are Wi-Fi enabled,” prohibits “tethering charge[s],” and requires mobile broadband providers to offer devices “capable of being used as a hotspot.” (See 47 CFR 54.408(f)(1)-(3)). The Commission never sought comment on such requirements before imposing them on all Lifeline providers and appears to lack the statutory authority to adopt or enforce such requirements. And although well-intentioned, the equipment mandate appears unnecessary if not affirmatively harmful. As the 2016 Lifeline Order recognized, a “substantial majority” of Americans already own Wi-Fi enabled smartphones, suggesting such mandates are not needed. And even those Lifeline providers that appear to support offering Wi-Fi-enabled devices or hotspot-enabled equipment acknowledge the increased cost of such equipment, and fail to explain why consumers should not be free to choose lower-cost options. For example, the equipment mandate would prohibit a cable Lifeline provider from offering a low-cost modem rather than an integrated modem-Wi-Fi-router, even if a Lifeline consumer wanted to use a desktop computer to access the internet. What is more, the 2016 Lifeline Order lacked record evidence suggesting that these mandates would have any meaningful impact on the homework gap—their nominal purpose. As such, it appears these mandates are more likely to widen the digital divide than close it. And so, for the first time, the Commission seeks comment on whether the Commission may or should retain the equipment mandates in our rules, or whether they instead should be eliminated.

    31. In the interest of removing regulations that no longer benefit consumers, the Commission proposes to eliminate § 54.418 of the Commission's rules, and the Commission seeks comment on this proposal. (See 47 CFR 54.418.) When enacted, section 54.418 required ETCs to notify their customers about the then-upcoming transition for over-the-air full power broadcasters from analog to digital service (the “DTV transition”) over the course of several months in 2009. The DTV transition has since occurred, and it appears that the rule is no longer relevant. The Commission seeks comment on this proposal.

    32. As the Commission embarks on an effort to reform the incentives and effectiveness of the Lifeline program, it is incumbent on the Commission to consider ways it can continue to fight and prevent waste, fraud, and abuse in the program. To that end, the Commission seeks comment on a number of proposals to improve the Lifeline program's administration to preserve program integrity.

    33. The Commission proposes to adjust the process that USAC currently uses to identify which service providers will be subjected to Lifeline audits by transitioning to a fully risk-based approach. The Commission proposes to transition the independent audit requirements required by section 54.420 of the Commission's rules away from a $5 million threshold and, instead, to move toward identifying companies to be audited based on established risk factors and taking into consideration the potential amount of harm to the Fund. The Commission proposes modifying section 54.420 to allow companies to be selected based on risk factors identified by the Wireline Competition Bureau and Office of Managing Director, in coordination with USAC. This approach allows for adaptable, independent audits that respond to risk factors that change over time. The Commission believes this new audit approach will better target waste, fraud, and abuse in the program and also utilize administrative resources more efficiently and effectively than in prior years.

    34. USAC's current audit program consists of audits targeted to high-risk participants as well as mandatory audits of certain carriers, such as all carriers offering Lifeline for the first time and any carrier receiving more than $5 million in program support in a given year. Recognizing that some mandatory audits were unnecessary, the Commission in the 2016 Lifeline Order directed the Office of Managing Director to work with USAC to modify the approach for determining the first-year Lifeline providers to be audited. The Commission intended this direction to prevent wasteful auditing of companies with limited subscriber bases, for example, and to allow USAC to more efficiently direct audit resources to higher risk providers. The Commission's rules still require carriers drawing more than $5 million annually from the program to obtain independent biennial audits. (47 CFR 54.420.)

    35. The Commission seeks comment on transitioning from the mandatory $5 million threshold for the biennial independent audits under § 54.420(a) of the Commission's rules to a purely risk-based model of targeted Lifeline audits. Under this approach, the Wireline Competition Bureau and Office of Managing Director, with support from USAC, would establish risk factors to identify the companies required to complete the biennial independent audits. The independent audits would then follow the same process currently outlined in the rules with the identified carriers obtaining an independent auditor and following a standardized audit plan outlined by the Commission. (47 CFR 54.420(a)). The Commission believes this approach would be more efficient and more effective at rooting out waste, fraud, and abuse in the program because the identified risk factors would better target potential violations than merely focusing on companies receiving large Lifeline disbursements. A wider range of risk factors would be more responsive to identified program risks.

    36. The Commission also seeks comment on the impact and burdens the current audit program imposes on providers and whether this risk-based approach reduces those burdens. What resources have the current, non-risk-based audits consumed in terms of employee time, recordkeeping systems, and other related audit costs? Would transitioning all Lifeline audits to a risk-based model improve the accountability of the program? What factors are key indicators of potential abuse in the program? Are there other risk factors the Wireline Competition Bureau, Office of Managing Director, and USAC should consider when identifying companies that should be subject to audit? How many companies should be required to obtain independent audits?

    37. In its recent report, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) identified significant fraud and an absence of internal controls by performing undercover work to determine whether ETCs would enroll subscribers who are not eligible for Lifeline support. (See GAO, Telecommunications: Additional Action Needed to Address Significant Risks in FCC's Lifeline Program, GAO-17-538, at 44-46 (2017), http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-17-538.) The Commission seeks comment on conducting similar undercover work as part of the audits administered by USAC or a third-party auditor acting on USAC's behalf. Would such auditing techniques be a cost-effective way to eliminate fraud in the program? What administrative challenges would the Commission or USAC face in undertaking such undercover work?

    38. Finally, the Commission seeks comment on how Lifeline program audits can ensure that Lifeline beneficiaries are actually receiving the service for which ETCs are being reimbursed. What documentation should an audit require to demonstrate that service is being provided? How should an audit detect and report instances where the subscriber's equipment makes it difficult or impossible for the subscriber to use the relevant service? Would changes to auditing methods on this issue require any changes to the Lifeline program rules? Should the Commission require Lifeline service providers to demonstrate that they have addressed any issues that resulted in PQA failures above a certain threshold, or audit findings that result in recovery of more than a certain percentage of the disbursements during the audit period?

    39. The Lifeline enrollment and recertification processes continue to demonstrate significant weaknesses that open the program to waste, fraud, and abuse that harms contributing ratepayers and fails to benefit low-income subscribers. The Commission therefore seeks comment on a number of potential changes to the eligibility verification and reverification processes in the Lifeline program.

    40. ETC Representatives. The Commission seeks comment on prohibiting agent commissions related to enrolling subscribers in the Lifeline program and on codifying a requirement that ETC representatives who participate in customer enrollment register with USAC. The Commission believes these measures may benefit ratepayers by reducing waste, fraud, and abuse in the program. Many ETCs compensate sales employees and contractors with a commission for each consumer enrolled, and these sales and marketing practices can encourage the employees and agents of ETCs to enroll subscribers in the program regardless of eligibility, enroll consumers in the program without their consent, or engage in other practices that increase waste, fraud, and abuse in the program.

    41. The Commission seeks comment on codifying in the Commission's rules the USAC administrative requirement that ETCs' customer enrollment representatives register with USAC in order to be able to submit information to the NLAD or National Verifier systems. The Commission also seeks comment on the scope of the use of representatives' information. USAC is currently implementing an ETC representative registration database to help detect and prevent impermissible activity when enrolling or otherwise working with USAC to enroll Lifeline subscribers. The Commission is aware of certain practices of sales representatives resulting in improper enrollments or otherwise violating the Lifeline rules. (See Letter from Ajit V. Pai, Chairman, FCC, to Vickie Robinson, Acting Chief Executive Officer and General Counsel, USAC, at 1-4 (July 11, 2017), http://transition.fcc.gov/Daily_Releases/Daily_Business/2017/db0711/DOC-345729A1.pdf; GAO, Telecommunications: Additional Action Needed to Address Significant Risks in FCC's Lifeline Program, GAO-17-538 (2017), http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-17-538.) These practices include data manipulation to defeat NLAD protections, using personally identifying information (PII) of an eligible subscriber to enroll non-eligible subscribers, and obtaining false certifications from subscribers. USAC's current administrative efforts to create this database of ETC representatives would also combat waste in the event a representative using impermissible enrollment tactics is engaged by multiple ETCs. The Commission seeks comment on codifying the ETC representative registration requirement. How should the Commission define an ETC enrollment representative for these purposes? What information would be necessary for the creation of this database? What privacy and security practices should be used to safeguard this information?

    42. The Commission also seeks comment on its ability to take appropriate enforcement action against registered ETC representatives who violate the rules governing Lifeline enrollment. For the Commission to exercise its forfeiture authority for violations of the Act and its rules without first issuing a warning, the wrongdoer must hold (or be an applicant for) some form of authorization from the Commission, or be engaged in activity for which such an authorization is required. (See 47 U.S.C. 503(b).) Toward this end, the Commission seeks comment on whether it should implement a certification or blanket authorization process applicable to ETC representatives who register with USAC. How would this blanket authorization coincide with the Commission's existing authority over Lifeline providers' officers, agents, and employees under Section 217 of the Act? (See 47 U.S.C. 217).

    43. The Commission also seeks comment on whether the Commission should require ETCs to implement procedures that prohibit commission-based ETC personnel from verifying eligibility of Lifeline subscribers. By prohibiting commissions, the Commission hopes to dis-incent improper, fraudulent, or otherwise illegal enrollment processes sometimes utilized by ETCs' representatives. The Commission proposes that those employees, agents, or third parties who receive a significant portion of their compensation based on the number of Lifeline subscribers they enroll in the program be precluded from determining eligibility. The Commission is concerned that ETCs implementing procedures barring commission-based personnel from reviewing and verifying subscriber eligibility certifications and documentation will reduce financial incentives for commission-based personnel to enroll ineligible subscribers. Should this proposal preclude ETCs from using commission-based personnel altogether, or should it instead require ETCs to simply implement procedures precluding commission-based personnel from determining eligibility? As an additional safeguard, should the Commission require Lifeline providers to ensure that service provider representatives involved in soliciting customers are separated from service provider representatives who are involved in the verification process?

    44. NLAD Dispute Resolution. The Commission seeks comment on requiring USAC to directly review supporting documents for manual NLAD dispute resolutions, including information regarding the ETC agent submitting the documentation. The Commission believes this requirement would reduce improper enrollments in the program. Currently, manual documentation review is required when a subscriber wishes to dispute an NLAD denial. An NLAD denial occurs when a subscriber fails one of the protective checks contained in the NLAD system. For example, if USAC's automated identity check rejects a consumer's application, that consumer may produce documentation verifying their identity, because the databases that are available to automatically verify identity are not comprehensive. A Lifeline subscriber may dispute an NLAD denial by submitting the appropriate documentation to the ETC. The ETC then reviews the documents, verifies the information at issue in the dispute, and processes the dispute resolution with USAC.

    45. The current system's reliance on carrier certification for dispute resolution has been questioned for making the Lifeline program vulnerable to waste, fraud, and abuse. (See Testimony of FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai Before the Subcommittee on Communications and Technology of the United States House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce, Oversight of the Federal Communications Commission, at 4-5 (July 12, 2016), available at https://www.fcc.gov/document/commissioner-pai-statement-house-oversight-hearing.) Having USAC conduct actual document review associated with NLAD dispute resolutions would increase the accountability of the resolutions. The Commission seeks comment on this proposal. Do the associated costs and administrative burdens associated with such review justify this additional step? If the Commission directed USAC to adopt this measure, what would be the optimal response time for USAC to process such disputes? How should USAC collect the documentation and what privacy safeguards should be taken to protect that information? Should USAC offer a list of acceptable documentation, and what documentation should qualify?

    46. Subscriber Recertification. The Commission seeks comment on prohibiting subscribers from self-certifying their continued eligibility during the Lifeline program's annual recertification process if the consumer is no longer participating in the program they used to demonstrate their initial eligibility for the program. Section 54.410(f) of the Commission's rules allows subscribers to self-certify that they continue to be eligible for the Lifeline program if their eligibility cannot be determined by querying an eligibility database. This is true even where the subscriber is seeking to recertify under a different qualifying program than the one they used to demonstrate their initial eligibility. Requiring eligibility documentation to be submitted in such cases would help to ensure the self-certification option for the eligibility recertification process is accurate and the subscriber is still eligible to participate in the Lifeline program through a different eligibility path. Should the Commission amend its rules to require documentation be submitted when the subscriber attempts to recertify by self-certification only when the subscriber seeks to recertify under a different program than the one through which they initially demonstrated eligibility and cannot be recertified through an eligibility database? Should the Commission require USAC to review that documentation?

    47. Independent Economic Household Forms. The Commission next seeks comment on limiting ETCs' use of the Independent Economic Household (IEH) worksheet only when the consumer shares an address with other subscribers already enrolled in the Lifeline program. The 2016 Lifeline Order amended the language of § 54.410(g) of the Commission's rules to require a prospective subscriber to complete an IEH worksheet upon initial enrollment and during any recertification in which the subscriber changes households and as a result shared an address with another Lifeline subscriber. The intended purpose of the IEH worksheet was for use when multiple independent households reside at the same residence. If an ETC collects an IEH worksheet from all subscribers regardless of whether another Lifeline subscriber resides at the same address, it is more difficult for USAC to monitor aggregate trends and particular ETCs' use of the IEH worksheet to detect improper activity. Prophylactic use of the household worksheet can therefore subvert the duplicate address protections and may result in increased waste, fraud, and abuse. The Commission seeks comment on amending the language of § 54.404(b)(3) to only permit the use of an IEH worksheet after the ETC has been notified by the NLAD, or state administrator in the case of NLAD opt-out states, that the prospective subscriber resides at the same address as another Lifeline subscriber.

    48. Additionally, the Commission seeks comment on other methods to prevent abuse of the IEH worksheet process. Should the Commission direct USAC to develop a list of addresses known to contain multiple households? The addresses would primarily be assisted-living and retirement facilities, homeless shelters, public housing, and similar institutions. This list would enable USAC or the Commission to more effectively investigate addresses with high numbers of enrollments that do not appear to be physically or organizationally capable of housing many independent economic households. How should this list of known multiple-household addresses impact whether an ETC may collect an IEH worksheet from the prospective Lifeline consumer? Should the Commission require Lifeline applicants residing in multi-person residences (e.g., homeless shelters, nursing homes, assisted living facilities) to submit a certification from the facility manager confirming that the applicant resides at the address and is not part of the same economic household as any other resident already receiving Lifeline support? What administrative approaches would reduce burdens on subscribers without creating vulnerabilities in the program's integrity?

    49. More broadly, the Commission seeks comment on other dispute resolutions or “overrides” to Lifeline enrollment requirements that should be restricted or eliminated. Are there other points of the enrollment process that rely on the consumer's certification or manual document review in a way that irreparably weakens the integrity of the enrollment process? The Commission notes that, currently, a consumer may go through a dispute resolution process if that consumer is not found in a third-party identity verification database, has the same address as another Lifeline subscriber, has an address not recognized by the U.S. Postal Service, or cannot be found in an available eligibility program database. What additional steps should the Commission institute as part of this resolution process to reduce the opportunity for abuse? Should the Commission limit the ability of providers or subscribers to override those initial failures with additional documentation to prevent fraudulent or abusive practices?

    50. Other Measures. Finally, the Commission seeks comment on whether there are other measures the Commission could take to further reduce waste, fraud, and abuse and improve transparency in the program. Should the Commission require USAC to conduct ongoing targeted risk-based reviews of eligibility documentation or dispute resolution documentation? Should the Commission codify a requirement that subscribers be compared to the Social Security Master Death Index during the enrollment and recertification processes? Should the Commission amend its rules to require that a provider's Lifeline reimbursement be based directly on the subscribers it has enrolled in the NLAD to prevent claims for “phantom” subscribers? Should the Commission prohibit Lifeline providers from distributing handsets in person to Lifeline consumers and, if so, should there be any exceptions? Are there additional measures the Commission should take to address waste, fraud, and abuse in the program? The Commission seeks comment on these proposals.

    51. The Commission seeks comment on additional reports USAC could make public or available to state agencies to increase program transparency and accountability. The Commission seeks comment on directing USAC to periodically report suspicious activity or trends to the Wireline Competition and Enforcement Bureaus, as well as the Office of Managing Director, and any relevant state agencies. Suspicious activity would include trend analysis of NLAD exemptions, subscriber churn, TPIV failure rates, and IEH worksheet rates. It will also include information gained from analytics on the National Verifier data. In addition to more transparent reporting of NLAD exemptions, what information would state agencies need to access to increase the effectiveness of state enforcement in the Lifeline program? Further, what information should USAC make accessible to other Lifeline stakeholders to increase the effectiveness and transparency of the program?

    52. The Commission seeks comment on what additional reports USAC should make available for state agencies. USAC currently makes available a number of Lifeline program statistics and reports showing eligible Lifeline population estimates, Lifeline participation, and ETCs receiving Lifeline support. In addition to this information, state agencies may request NLAD access for their respective state. This access allows the state agency to review detailed subscriber information in the NLAD to aid their own program administration and enforcement, including information regarding which carriers are providing service. In the 2016 Lifeline Order, the Commission directed USAC to publish Lifeline subscriber counts on the study area code (SAC) level to “increase[] transparency and continue[] to promote accountability in the program.”

    53. In the 2016 Lifeline Order, the Commission implemented a budget process for the Lifeline program. This budget approach, however, does not include any mechanism that automatically curtails disbursements beyond the budget amount absent further action by the Commission. Instead, if Lifeline disbursements in a given year meet or exceed 90 percent of that year's budget, initially set at $2.25 billion, the Bureau is required to issue a report to the full Commission detailing the reasons for the increased spending and recommending next steps.

    54. The Commission proposes to adopt a self-enforcing budget mechanism to ensure that Lifeline disbursements are kept at a responsible level and to prevent undue burdens on the ratepayers who contribute to the program. The Commission believes a self-enforcing budget is appropriate to ensure the efficient use of limited funds. The Commission therefore proposes to replace the approach adopted in the 2016 Lifeline Order and require an annual cap for Lifeline disbursements. The Commission intends for the program to automatically make adjustments in order to maintain the cap in the event the budget is exceeded.

    55. The Commission seeks comment on the operation of such a self-enforcing budget. What is the appropriate period over which the Commission should measure and enforce the cap? Would a six-month period be appropriate? For example, under this proposal, for each upcoming six-month period, USAC would forecast expected Lifeline and Link Up disbursements, as well as administrative expenses attributable to the operation of these programs. If projected disbursements and expenses are expected to exceed one half of the annual cap, USAC would proportionately reduce support amounts during the upcoming six-month period to bring total disbursements under one half of the annual cap. If, however, total payments in the upcoming six-month period are projected to be less than one half the annual cap, USAC would provide the full support amounts as determined by the Commission and collect only what is necessary to fund the demand. The Commission seeks comment on this proposal. What administrative difficulties should USAC anticipate when forecasting disbursements? What steps should USAC take, if any, in the midst of a six-month period in the event forecast disbursements and expenses vary significantly from actual disbursements and expenses? The Commission notes that USAC currently projects quarterly requirements for the Lifeline program and submits those projections to the Commission. What can the Commission learn from the accuracy of USAC's past forecasts that would inform how this proposal would work? Alternatively, would another period of time be more appropriate? Would a one-year period be more suitable for the Lifeline market? In particular, the Commission seeks comment on the concept of measuring the budget over a 12-month period and whether that concept fully protects the ratepayer from excessive spending.

    56. Alternatively, the Commission seeks comment on a different self-enforcing budget mechanism that would allow Lifeline spending in a given period to exceed the cap, but would result in Lifeline disbursements being reduced in the next period to accommodate the excessive spending. In this mechanism, disbursements would be reduced proportionally throughout the following period to ensure the disbursements and expenses do not exceed the budget less the amount by which the previous period's disbursements and expenses exceeded the budget. The Commission seeks comment on this approach, noting that it has the benefit of not requiring a forecast or handling the inevitable under- or over-shooting of the actual demand. Under this proposal, when should the cap for the second period of time be set? At the beginning of the first period, or the second one? The Commission also seeks comment on whether it is acceptable to allow disbursements to exceed the budget in a given period, even where adjustments made in the following period mean the program spends less than the total budgeted amount over the two periods. Would any of the proposed budget mechanisms result in a significant variance in the disbursement cap for consecutive funding years, and if so, what impact would that have on Lifeline consumers and providers?

    57. The Commission also seeks comment on whether Lifeline spending should be prioritized in the event that the cap is reached or USAC projects will be reached in a funding year. If so, the Commission proposes that the Commission prioritize funding in the following order if disbursements are projected to exceed the cap: (1) Rural Tribal lands, (2) rural areas, and (3) all other areas. The Commission seeks comment on this prioritization scheme and whether any other factors should weigh in our analysis. For example, should the Commission prioritize Lifeline spending in low-income areas where the business case for deployment is harder to make? If the Commission adopts such funding prioritizations, how should it implement such a system? Should the Commission adjust all of the support amount categories to different extents, or should categories with less prioritization receive no support before the support of the category with the next-highest prioritization is adjusted? The Commission seeks comment on these issues.

    58. The Commission also seeks comment on the appropriate initial amount for this cap. Would historical disbursement levels be instructive in determining the appropriate annual cap? In 2008, when the Commission first allowed a non-facilities-based ETC to receive Lifeline support, Lifeline expenditures totaled approximately $820 million. By 2012, that amount had grown to over $2.1 billion. The Commission's initial steps to eliminate waste, fraud, and abuse within the program have reduced Lifeline disbursements to just over $1.5 billion in 2015. If the Commission adopted a previous disbursement level as the annual disbursement cap, which disbursement level would be appropriate? The Commission seeks comment on these issues and other relevant matters, such as whether this cap should include USAC's expenses for administering the Lifeline program. If so, how should the Commission incorporate these administrative expenses?

    59. The Commission also seeks comment on whether and how the program's cap should be adjusted in subsequent years. Should the cap remain the same, absent further action by the Commission, or should the cap be automatically indexed to inflation? Should the cap be tied to other metrics, like the growth or decrease of poverty nationwide or participation in means-tested programs?

    60. In this section, the Commission seeks comment on ways to focus Lifeline support toward encouraging broadband adoption among low-income consumers and minimizing wasteful spending in the program.

    61. Maximum Discount Level. The Commission seeks comment on whether to apply a maximum discount level for Lifeline services above which the costs of the service must be borne by the qualifying household. Today, many service providers use the monthly Lifeline support amount to offer free-to-the-end-user Lifeline service, for which the Lifeline customer has no personal financial obligation. In 2016, certain wireless Lifeline service providers estimated that 11 million Lifeline participants (85 percent of all Lifeline program participants) subscribed to plans providing free-to-the-end-user Lifeline service. (See Letter from John Heitmann, Kelly Drye & Warren LLP, to Marlene Dortch, Secretary, FCC, WC Docket No. 11-42 et al., at 2 (Feb. 3, 2016)). In contrast, the Commission's other universal service support programs all require beneficiaries or support recipients to pay a portion of the costs of the supported service. For example, the E-rate program discount levels range from 20 percent to 90 percent of the costs of eligible goods and services, and E-rate beneficiaries are required to pay the remaining costs of the supported goods and services. (47 CFR 54.505(b) and 54.504(a)(1)(iii).) Should the approach that the Commission has taken in other universal service support programs be instructive in the Lifeline context? Do the users of the supported service value that service more if they contribute financially? Are such users more sensitive to the price and quality of the service? Is there any particular approach taken by another universal service support program that should inform the Commission's analysis for the Lifeline program? Under the Commission's rules, providers of video relay service (VRS) are compensated for the reasonable costs of providing VRS. (47 CFR 64.604(c)(5)(iii)(E)(1).) Do the policies underlying that approach apply in the Lifeline context? The concept of maximum discount levels and mandatory contributions is not limited to federal benefit programs administered by the Commission. For example, many participants in the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's (HUD's) Public Housing and Housing Choice Voucher programs and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' (DHHS') Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) are required to pay a portion of the costs of their utilities or rent. The Commission seeks comment on the utility of comparing these programs to the Lifeline program, and if the Commission should consider the approach undertaken in other benefit programs with capped support amounts. For those other benefit programs, has the efficacy of mandatory end user payments been evaluated? Did the requirement of end user payments impact services provided to the consumer, program enrollment, or competition in the relevant market? Importantly, did such a requirement reduce the waste, fraud, and abuse in those programs that would have occurred absent the cap?

    62. The Commission also seeks comment on the impact a maximum discount level would have on the Lifeline program. What impact would a maximum discount level have on the affordability, availability, and quality of communications service for low-income consumers? Would a maximum discount level for the Lifeline program impact the types of services that consumers obtain through the program? Would it change the quality of broadband service that Lifeline providers offer, including speed and data allowances? Would this change affect the availability of certain types of service more than others, for example, mobile versus fixed service? Would a maximum discount level help ensure that Lifeline funds are targeted at high-quality broadband service offerings that truly help close the digital divide for low-income consumers? Would adopting a maximum discount level encourage consumers to more carefully investigate and evaluate the service to which they wish to apply their Lifeline benefit, thereby decreasing Lifeline subscriber churn or violations of the one-per-household rule and helping further reduce waste, fraud, and abuse in the Lifeline program?

    63. One proposal is to adopt a maximum discount level to improve the Lifeline program's efficiency and further reduce waste, fraud, and abuse in the program. Under the current structure, service providers may engage in fraud or abuse by using no-cost Lifeline offerings to increase their Lifeline customer numbers when the customers do not value or may not even realize they are purportedly receiving a Lifeline-supported service. The Commission seeks comment on whether Lifeline's current benefit structure fails to ensure that the program supports services that consumers value. Would a maximum discount level curtail such practices and prevent universal service funds from being spent on services of little to no value for the Lifeline consumer?

    64. What rule changes would be needed to implement a maximum discount level? If the Commission established a maximum discount level requirement for Lifeline, how should such a requirement operate? Are there specific pricing data or other data that would help the Commission determine an appropriate maximum discount level? Should the required end user payment be a flat amount or a percentage of the price of the service? Should the maximum discount level apply differently to enhanced Lifeline support than standard Lifeline support? Should the maximum level apply to Link Up support? How would a maximum discount level apply for prepaid services or consumer payment structures that otherwise do not require a monthly billing relationship between the provider and the consumer? Should Lifeline service providers have flexibility to determine the timing of the customer's payment (e.g., upfront payments, monthly, post-paid)? What steps could the Commission take to ensure that Lifeline service providers actually collect the required customer share? How should the Commission treat partial payments by Lifeline subscribers? Should there be any exceptions to the maximum discount level and, if so, what is the justification for these exceptions? How could the Commission implement a maximum discount level with minimal increases in Lifeline service provider costs and administrative burdens? Are there specific data that would help the Commission evaluate the potential impact of a maximum discount level on the Lifeline participation rate of qualifying low-income consumers? Are there other alternatives the Commission should consider to ensure that the Lifeline program supports services that Lifeline customers value?

    65. In the 2016 Lifeline Order, the Commission adopted minimum service standards to make sure that Lifeline customers receive quality Lifeline-supported services. A maximum discount level may also achieve this goal because consumers who pay a portion of the costs may be more sensitive to the price and quality of the service. Would a maximum discount level therefore make minimum service standards unnecessary? Do the minimum service standards serve additional purposes that would not be served by a maximum discount level? If the Lifeline program rules included both a maximum discount level and minimum service standards, should the Commission revise the formulas used to determine the minimum service standards or adjust the mechanisms by which the minimum service standards are updated? Similarly, would adopting a maximum discount level eliminate the need for the usage requirement in § 54.407(c)(2) of the Lifeline program rules and the related non-usage de-enrollment rule in § 54.405(e)(3)?

    66. Targeting Non-Adopters. The Lifeline program was originally created to promote low-income consumers' access to affordable services. Some parties have suggested that the Commission should target Lifeline support to low-income consumers who have not yet adopted broadband service. The Commission seeks comment on changes the Commission could make to target consumers who have not yet adopted broadband, and to what extent the Commission should weigh efforts that facilitate reaching those consumers specifically? The Commission seeks comment on whether and how the Commission should adopt a support framework that encourages adoption of high quality communications service by low-income consumers. What rule changes would be necessary to implement these changes?

    67. The Commission seeks comment on the need for regulatory action to address the problems identified here, as well as the costs and benefits of our proposals along with data and other information that can be used to quantify these. Specifically, the Commission seeks comment on the need for and costs and benefits of regulatory action of the following proposals, relative to the status quo: Encouraging cooperative federalism between state data sources and the National Verifier; directing Lifeline support to facilities-based providers; alternatives to a facilities requirement; adopting a maximum discount level; changes to encourage Lifeline consumers to adopt broadband services; adopting a self-enforcing budget; enhancing targeted audits of participating providers; and acting on the other interpretive and policy changes for which the Commission seeks comment above. Commenters proposing alternatives to our proposals should discuss the need for and costs and benefits of their proposal, including relative costs and benefits of their proposal as compared to those set forth here, and should provide supporting evidence. The Commission also seeks comment on options to achieve the most effective use of resources to achieve the purposes of the Lifeline program, and specifically to lower the cost of adoption to lower-income subscribers. The Commission seeks data and information commenters believe is necessary for these analyses and comment on specific methodologies commenters believe are best suited for this purpose. The Commission also seeks comment generally on how to evaluate the relative importance of public interest outcomes that are not readily susceptible to quantification, such as “equity, human dignity, fairness, and distributive impacts.” (See Executive Order 13563, 76 FR 3821, 3821-23 (Jan. 18, 2011)).

    III. Notice of Inquiry

    68. The Lifeline program is an important means of achieving universal service. In the 2016 Lifeline Order the Commission took the step of allowing Lifeline to support broadband to help low-income Americans obtain access to quality, affordable service. However, the Commission remains concerned about the well-documented digital divide for low-income Americans, and in particular low-income Americans residing in rural Tribal, rural, and underserved areas.

    69. To ensure that the Lifeline program achieves universal service for 21st Century services, it is necessary to evaluate the ultimate purposes of the Lifeline program and identify the policies that will best accomplish those purposes. Sharpening the focus of the Lifeline program would further promote digital opportunity for low-income individuals, and in particular for low-income Americans who have not adopted broadband, or who reside in rural Tribal or rural areas.

    70. To focus the Lifeline program on supporting affordable communications service for the nation's low-income households and on improving the economic incentives of providers serving them, the Commission begins a proceeding to reexamine the Lifeline program's support structure to encourage affordable access to high quality services for low-income consumers while the Commission continues to discourage the practices leading to program waste, fraud, and abuse. Accordingly, the Commission seeks comment on potential changes to the Lifeline program funding paradigm that will help the Lifeline program more efficiently target funds to areas and households most in need of help obtaining digital opportunity.

    71. Ensuring that service providers have appropriate incentives to deploy and provide services to these populations can further the Commission's efforts to bring digital opportunity to low-income Americans who have not yet adopted broadband and low-income Americans residing in rural or rural Tribal areas who typically experience difficulty obtaining access to affordable, quality broadband. The Commission seeks comment on actions the Commission could take to create better economic incentives for providers participating in the Lifeline program. The Commission also seeks comment on how those incentives would impact the program's effectiveness at reaching certain subsets of the low-income population.

    72. The Commission also seeks comment on how the Commission could leverage the Lifeline program to encourage broadband deployment in areas that have found themselves on the wrong side of the digital divide. Where a provider has already invested in building a broadband-capable network, that provider often has incentives to create mutually beneficial offerings that make affordable connectivity options available to low-income households within the network's footprint. The Commission seeks comment on whether the Commission should shape its Lifeline support structure to provide enhanced support in areas where providers do not have sufficient incentive to make available affordable high-speed broadband service.

    73. The Commission seeks comment on whether and how the Commission should adopt rule changes to target Lifeline support to bring digital opportunity to areas that offer less incentive for deployment of high-speed broadband service, such as rural areas and rural Tribal areas. Rural and rural Tribal areas have higher percentages of broadband non-adopters compared to other areas. It is also well documented that lower-income households have lower broadband adoption rates and lower in-home broadband connectivity rates compared to higher-income households. Some have suggested that the Commission should therefore target Lifeline support primarily to nonadopters to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the Lifeline program. In light of these analyses, the Commission seeks comment on whether the Lifeline program could better reach nonadopters of broadband by focusing Lifeline support in areas where providers need additional incentive to offer high-speed broadband service.

    74. Rural and Rural Tribal Areas. The Commission specifically seeks comment on whether and how the Commission should adjust the Lifeline support amount to encourage affordable broadband access for low-income consumers in rural areas. Low-income consumers in rural or rural Tribal areas may have difficulty obtaining affordable, quality broadband service because service providers have less incentive to incur the costs to deploy advanced facilities or to provide a wide range of services at competitive prices in these areas. In rural areas, higher deployment costs can also lead to fewer service options and higher prices that disproportionately impact low-income consumers. The Commission also focuses on rural Tribal areas in which affected stakeholders have suggested that the current Lifeline Tribal enhanced subsidy amount is insufficient to incentivize broadband deployment in rural Tribal areas. Although broadband deployment in both rural and rural Tribal areas is lagging compared to other areas, the current Lifeline program rules only provide targeted enhanced monthly Lifeline support (up to an additional $25 per month) for Lifeline customers residing on Tribal lands. (47 CFR 54.403(a)(3).)

    75. The Commission is also mindful about the need to establish the correct support amounts. If the Commission establishes enhanced Lifeline support for consumers living in rural and rural Tribal areas, how could the Commission provide targeted support while also promoting the interests of fiscal responsibility and minimizing the burden on the ratepayers who support the Fund? Are there specific pricing data or other data that the Commission should consider in determining the appropriate enhanced monthly support amounts for Lifeline subscribers in rural and rural Tribal areas? Should a single enhanced monthly support amount apply in all rural areas or should Lifeline consumers in rural areas on Tribal lands or another subset of rural residents receive a higher monthly support amount? How should the enhanced monthly support amounts compare to the monthly support amount for Lifeline subscribers who do not live in rural areas? What data or metrics should the Commission use to identify the rural areas that qualify for enhanced support? What geographic level (e.g., county, Census tracts, Census block groups) should the Commission use to identify these rural areas? Is the E-rate program's definition of “rural” the best option for identifying rural areas in the Lifeline program, or should the Commission consider some other definition to identify rural areas? (47 CFR 54.505(b)(3)(i)-(ii))

    76. Underserved Areas. The Commission next seeks comment on whether and how the Commission should also target Lifeline support to bring digital opportunity to low-income areas where service providers have less incentive to invest in facilities or offer robust broadband offerings compared to other areas. Recent reports argue that certain low-income areas experience less facilities deployment when compared to other areas, and that low-income consumers in those areas may experience increased difficulty obtaining affordable, robust communications services.

    77. The Commission seeks comment on how the Commission can address this issue with the Lifeline program. If the Commission permits an enhanced subsidy amount for households in these areas, how should the Commission define underserved areas for the purpose of this enhanced support, and how should the Commission identify these underserved areas? What data could inform the Commission as to the prevalence of service providers electing not to invest as much in facilities or robust broadband offerings compared to other areas, and the areas where this has occurred? What types of broadband deployment, service offerings, adoption data or other measures could the Commission use to determine whether areas are underserved because service providers have less incentive to invest in facilities and broadband services in those areas compared to other areas? Are there certain income levels or other markers in a geographic area that could help the Commission reliably identify whether an area is likely to be underserved? For example, could the Commission address underserved areas by offering enhanced Lifeline support in areas where the median household income and/or broadband investment rates are significantly lower than the national average?

    78. What changes should the Commission make to the Lifeline program support structure to target support to underserved areas? Are there specific pricing or other data the Commission could use to determine the appropriate support amount for underserved areas? How should the targeted support for underserved areas compare to and interact with the support amounts for rural or Tribal areas? What level of geographic granularity (e.g., county, Census tracts, Census block groups) should the Commission use to identify areas that qualify for enhanced Lifeline support as underserved areas? How frequently should the Commission update the threshold for areas that qualify for enhanced support as underserved areas?

    79. The Commission next seeks comment on whether the Commission should implement a benefit limit that restricts the amount of support a household may receive or the length of time a household may participate in the program. The objectives of such restrictions include encouraging broadband adoption without reliance on the Lifeline subsidy and controlling the disbursement of scarce program funds. Such a limit would provide low-income households incentives to not take the subsidy unless it is needed, since taking the subsidy in a given month will forfeit the opportunity to use it in a future month. The Commission seeks comment on whether the Commission should adopt a benefit limit for the Lifeline program.

    80. What rule changes would be necessary to implement a benefit limit or time limit for consumer participation in the Lifeline program? If the Commission established a benefit limit or time limit for Lifeline, how should such a requirement operate and how should it be enforced? Are there specific data that would help the Commission determine an appropriate monetary or temporal limit in support? Currently in the Lifeline program, households remain enrolled for 1.75 years on average. How should this information affect our decision to impose this restriction? Should the limit be applied to households or individuals, and how would the Commission or USAC track benefits received if consumers transfer to different providers? Should there be any exceptions to the benefit limit or time limit and, if so, what is the justification for these exceptions? How could the Commission implement a benefit limit or time limit with minimal increases in the costs or administrative burdens for Lifeline service providers? Are there specific data that would help the Commission evaluate the potential impact of a benefit or time limit on the Lifeline participation rate of qualifying low-income consumers? Are there other alternatives to a benefit limit that the Commission should consider to better focus Lifeline funds on those households who need it most?

    81. This Notice of Inquiry seeks comments on potential ways to sharpen the focus of the Lifeline program to further promote digital opportunity for all Americans. The Commission now seeks comment on the program's goals and metrics that would allow us to better determine if Lifeline support is truly achieving the purpose of closing the digital divide. In 2015, the GAO reported that “outcome-based performance goals and measures will help illustrate to what extent, if any, the Lifeline program is fulfilling the guiding principles set forth by Congress.” (GAO, Telecommunications: FCC Should Evaluate the Efficiency and Effectiveness of the Lifeline Program, GAO-15-335, at 13 (2015), http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/669209.pdf.) In 2016, the Commission revised its Lifeline program goals by including the affordability of voice and broadband service, as measured as the percentage of disposable household income spent on those services, to the goals established in the Commission's 2012 Lifeline Order, 77 FR 12951, March 2, 2012. The Commission agrees outcome-based performance goals and measures have an important role ensuring Lifeline support is achieving Congress's universal service goals. The Commission seeks comment on how the Commission should determine and define the Lifeline program's goals and metrics and how those goals should inform the Commission's efforts to sharpen the focus of the Lifeline program, as discussed in this Notice of Inquiry.

    IV. Procedural Matters A. Paperwork Reduction Act

    82. This document contains proposed modified information collection requirements. The Commission, as part of its continuing effort to reduce paperwork burdens, invites the general public and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to comment on the information collection requirements contained in this document, as required by the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, Public Law 104-13. In addition, pursuant to the Small Business Paperwork Relief Act of 2002, Public Law 107-198, see 44 U.S.C. 3506(c)(4), the Commission seeks specific comment on how it might further reduce the information collection burden for small business concerns with fewer than 25 employees.

    83. As required by the Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980, as amended (RFA), the Commission has prepared this Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (IRFA) of the possible significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities from the policies and rules proposed in this Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (Notice). The Commission requests written public comment on this IRFA. Comments must be identified as responses to the IRFA and must be filed by the deadlines for comments on the Notice provided on the first page of the Notice. The Commission will send a copy of the Notice, including this IRFA, to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business Administration (SBA). In addition, the Notice and IRFA (or summaries thereof) will be published in the Federal Register.

    84. The Commission is required by section 254 of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, to promulgate rules to implement the universal service provisions of section 254. The Lifeline program was implemented in 1985 in the wake of the 1984 divestiture of AT&T. On May 8, 1997, the Commission adopted rules to reform its system of universal service support mechanisms so that universal service is preserved and advanced as markets move toward competition. The Lifeline program is administered by the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC), the Administrator of the universal service support programs, under Commission direction, although many key attributes of the Lifeline program are currently implemented at the state level, including consumer eligibility, eligible telecommunication carrier (ETC) designations, outreach, and verification. Lifeline support is passed on to the subscriber by the ETC, which provides discounts to eligible households and receives reimbursement from the universal service fund (USF or Fund) for the provision of such discounts.

    85. When the Commission overhauled the Lifeline program in its 2016 Lifeline Order, it included broadband internet access service as a supported service; laid the groundwork for a National Verifier; strengthened protections against waste, fraud and abuse; improved program administration and accountability; and improved enrollment and consumer disclosures. In this NPRM, the Commission proposes steps to focus Lifeline program support to effectively and efficiently bridge the digital divide for low-income consumers while minimizing the contributions burden on ratepayers. The actions and proposals in this NPRM aim to facilitate the Lifeline program's goal of supporting affordable, high-speed internet access for low-income households.

    86. In this NPRM, the Commission seeks comment on a number of significant reforms that will effectively and responsibly leverage the Lifeline program to bridge the digital divide for low-income consumers. The Commission seeks comment on respecting the states' primary role in eligible telecommunications carrier designation by eliminating Lifeline Broadband Provider designations. The Commission also seeks comment on proposals to enable consumer choice and proposed policies to focus Lifeline support to encourage investment in broadband-capable networks. Finally, the Commission proposes several program accountability improvements to reduce waste, fraud, and abuse and improve transparency in the program.

    87. The legal basis for the NPRM is contained in sections 1 through 4, 201-205, 254, and 403 of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended by the Telecommunications Act of 1996, 47 U.S.C. 151 through 154, 201 through 205, 254, and 403.

    88. The RFA directs agencies to provide a description of and, where feasible, an estimate of the number of small entities that may be affected by the proposed rules, if adopted. The RFA generally defines the term “small entity” as having the same meaning as the terms “small business,” “small organization,” and “small governmental jurisdiction.” In addition, the term “small business” has the same meaning as the term “small business concern” under the Small Business Act. A small business concern is one that: (1) Is independently owned and operated; (2) is not dominant in its field of operation; and (3) satisfies any additional criteria established by the Small Business Administration (SBA). Nationwide, there are a total of approximately 28.2 million small businesses, according to the SBA. A “small organization” is generally “any not-for-profit enterprise which is independently owned and operated and is not dominant in its field.”

    89. Small Entities, Small Organizations, Small Governmental Jurisdictions. Our actions, over time, may affect small entities that are not easily categorized at present. The Commission therefore describes here, at the outset, three comprehensive small entity size standards that could be directly affected herein. As of 2016, according to the SBA, there were 28.8 million small businesses in the U.S., which represented 99.9 percent of all businesses in the United States. Additionally, a “small organization is generally any not-for-profit enterprise which is independently owned and operated and not dominant in its field.” Nationwide, as of 2014, there were approximately 2,131,200 small organizations. Finally, the term “small governmental jurisdiction” is defined generally as “governments of cities, towns, townships, villages, school districts, or special districts, with a population of less than fifty thousand.” U.S. Census Bureau data published in 2012 indicates that there were 89,476 local governmental jurisdictions in the United States. The Commission estimates that, of this total, as many as 88,761 entities may qualify as “small governmental jurisdictions.” Thus, the Commission estimates that most governmental jurisdictions are small.

    90. In this NPRM, the Commission seeks public input on new and additional solutions for the Lifeline program, including reforms that would bring the program closer to its core purpose and promote the availability of modern services for low-income families. The issues the Commission seeks comment on in this NPRM are directed at enabling us to meet our goals and objectives for the Lifeline program, and reducing waste, fraud, and abuse. Specifically, the Commission seeks comment on a number of potential changes that would increase the economic burdens on small entities, and also seek comment on proposals that would decrease those burdens. The Commission has identified the applicable potential changes below that impact small entities.

    91. Focusing Lifeline Support to Encourage Investment in Broadband-Capable Networks. The Commission seeks comment on several policy changes that would focus Lifeline support to encourage investment in broadband-capable networks, including limiting Lifeline support to facilities-based broadband service provided to Lifeline customers over the ETC's voice-and-broadband-capable network, discontinuing Lifeline support for non-facilities-based service, and continuing the phase down of Lifeline support for voice service in urban areas.

    92. Reforms to Increase Efficient Administration of the Lifeline Program. The Commission seeks comment on a number of reforms to increase the efficient administration of the program, including requiring ETCs to supply documentation to USAC for National Lifeline Accountability Database (NLAD) dispute resolutions, ETCs to collect documentation for subscribers seeking to self-certify to continued eligibility, and limiting the use of independent economic household forms to only NLAD dispute resolutions.

    93. The RFA requires an agency to describe any significant, specifically small business, alternatives that it has considered in reaching its proposed approach, which may include the following four alternatives (among others): “(1) the establishment of differing compliance or reporting requirements or timetables that take into account the resources available to small entities; (2) the clarification, consolidation, or simplification of compliance and reporting requirements under the rule for such small entities; (3) the use of performance rather than design standards; and (4) an exemption from coverage of the rule, or any part thereof, for such small entities.”

    94. The NPRM seeks comment on several policies that would bring the program closer to its core purpose and promote the availability of modern services for low-income families, and also reduce waste, fraud, and abuse in the program. As explained below, several of the policies would increase the economic burdens on small entities, and certain changes would lessen the economic impact on small entities. In those instances in which a policy would increase burdens on small entities, the Commission has determined that the benefits from such changes outweigh the increased burdens on small entities because those proposed changes would facilitate the Lifeline program's goal of supporting affordable, high-speed internet access for low-income Americans or would minimize waste, fraud, and abuse in the program. The Commission invites comments on ways in which the Commission can achieve its goals, but at the same time further reduce the burdens on small entities. The Commission expects to consider the economic impact on small entities, as identified in comments filed in response to the NPRM and this IRFA, in reaching its final conclusions and taking action in this proceeding.

    95. Eliminating Lifeline Device Requirements. The Commission seeks comment on eliminating the Lifeline program's device requirements. This would decrease the burdens for small entities because they would no longer be required to meet criteria imposed by the rule, including the requirement that devices provided to consumers be Wi-Fi enabled and the requirement that mobile broadband providers offer devices that are “capable of being used as a hotspot.” Eliminating these requirements should reduce compliance costs for small entities because they will no longer be required to include these capabilities.

    96. Focusing Lifeline Support to Encourage Investment in Broadband-Capable Networks. The Commission seeks comment on several potential policies that would focus Lifeline support to encourage investment in broadband-capable networks. The Commission also seeks comment on TracFone's suggested alternatives to the proposed facilities requirement. The Commission's proposed policies would change the services eligible for Lifeline support and would also change the type of providers that can receive Lifeline support. In particular, these policies would eliminate Lifeline support for ETCs that do not offer facilities-based broadband service over their own networks, or would continue the phase down of Lifeline support for voice-only service in urban areas. However, these policies would facilitate the Lifeline program goals of providing low-income consumers access to quality, affordable broadband services, in particular by encouraging service providers to invest in broadband networks in unserved and underserved areas. The Commission also notes that these policies may benefit small entities that operate facilities-based broadband-capable networks, whose services would be more affordable for low-income consumers through the application of the Lifeline discount. The benefits of these policies to Lifeline customers outweighs any impact of these changes on small entities. TracFone's suggested alternatives to the proposed facilities requirement would impact Lifeline service provider in-person hand-set distribution, operations practices concerning Lifeline solicitations and eligibility verifications, and application processes. These alternatives would increase service providers' administrative burdens. However, they would also minimize waste, fraud, and abuse in the program, which in turn benefits consumers and service providers that pay into the Universal Service Fund. Therefore, the benefits of these changes would outweigh and impact of these changes on small entities.

    97. Focusing Lifeline Support on Modern Communications Services. The Commission seeks comment on adopting a maximum discount level for Lifeline subscribers, and potential changes to encourage Lifeline consumers to adopt broadband services. These changes could increase costs associated with ETCs' administrative processes, including billing. However, the Commission expects these burdens to be manageable for ETCs. Further, these proposed changes would help minimize waste, fraud, and abuse in the Lifeline program, and would also increase the effectiveness of Lifeline support by targeting support to Lifeline consumers who have not yet adopted broadband services. Therefore, the benefits of these proposed changes outweigh the impact of the proposed changes on small entities.

    98. Reforms to Increase Efficient Administration of the Lifeline Program. The Commission seeks comment on a number of reforms to increase the efficient administration of the program, including requiring ETCs to supply documentation to USAC for National Lifeline Accountability Database (NLAD) dispute resolutions, ETCs to collect documentation for subscribers seeking to self-certify to continued eligibility, and limiting the use of independent economic household forms to only NLAD dispute resolutions. These reforms could increase costs associated with ETCs' administrative processes. However, the Commission expects these burdens to be manageable for ETCs. In addition, in states where the National Verifier will be implemented, these burdens would be temporary because the National Verifier would take over eligibility verification and recertification in those states. Further, these proposed changes would help minimize waste, fraud, and abuse in the Lifeline program, which in turn would benefit consumers and providers that pay into the Universal Service Fund. Therefore, the benefits of these proposed changes outweigh the impact of these proposed changes on small entities.

    99. Compliance burdens. Implementing any of our proposed rules (e.g., requiring ETCs to supply documentation to USAC for National Lifeline Accountability Database (NLAD) dispute resolutions, ETCs to collect documentation for subscribers seeking to self-certify to continued eligibility, and limiting the use of independent economic household forms to only NLAD dispute resolutions) would impose some burden on small entities by requiring them to make such certifications and entries on FCC forms, and requiring them to become familiar with the new rules to comply with them. For many of proposed the rules, there is a minimal burden. Thus, these new requirements should not require small businesses to seek outside assistance to comply with the Commission's rule but rather are more routine in nature as part of normal business processes. The importance of bringing the Lifeline program closer to its core purpose and promoting the availability of modern services for low-income families, however, outweighs the minimal burden requiring small entities to comply with the new rules would impose.

    100. The proceeding for this NPRM and NOI initiates shall be treated as a “permit-but-disclose” proceeding in accordance with the Commission's ex parte rules. Persons making ex parte presentations must file a copy of any written presentation or a memorandum summarizing any oral presentation within two business days after the presentation (unless a different deadline applicable to the Sunshine period applies). Persons making oral ex parte presentations are reminded that memoranda summarizing the presentation must (1) list all persons attending or otherwise participating in the meeting at which the ex parte presentation was made, and (2) summarize all data presented and arguments made during the presentation. If the presentation consisted in whole or in part of the presentation of data or arguments already reflected in the presenter's written comments, memoranda, or other filings in the proceeding, the presenter may provide citations to such data or arguments in his or her prior comments, memoranda, or other filings (specifying the relevant page and/or paragraph numbers where such data or arguments can be found) in lieu of summarizing them in the memorandum. Documents shown or given to Commission staff during ex parte meetings are deemed to be written ex parte presentations and must be filed consistent with rule 1.1206(b). In proceedings governed by rule 1.49(f) or for which the Commission has made available a method of electronic filing, written ex parte presentations and memoranda summarizing oral ex parte presentations, and all attachments thereto, must be filed through the electronic comment filing system available for that proceeding, and must be filed in their native format (e.g., .doc, .xml, .ppt, searchable .pdf). Participants in this proceeding should familiarize themselves with the Commission's ex parte rules.

    D. Comment Filing Procedures

    Pursuant to §§ 1.415 and 1.419 of the Commission's rules, 47 CFR 1.415 and 1.419, interested parties may file comments and reply comments on or before the dates indicated on the first page of this document. Comments may be filed using the Commission's Electronic Comment Filing System (ECFS). See Electronic Filing of Documents in Rulemaking Proceedings, 63 FR 24121 (1998).

    Electronic Filers: Comments may be filed electronically using the internet by accessing the ECFS: http://fjallfoss.fcc.gov/ecfs2/.

    Paper Filers: Parties who choose to file by paper must file an original and one copy of each filing. If more than one docket or rulemaking number appears in the caption of this proceeding, filers must submit two additional copies for each additional docket or rulemaking number. Filings can be sent by hand or messenger delivery, by commercial overnight courier, or by first-class or overnight U.S. Postal Service mail. All filings must be addressed to the Commission's Secretary, Office of the Secretary, Federal Communications Commission.

    ○ All hand-delivered or messenger-delivered paper filings for the Commission's Secretary must be delivered to FCC Headquarters at 445 12th St. SW, Room TW-A325, Washington, DC 20554. The filing hours are 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. All hand deliveries must be held together with rubber bands or fasteners. Any envelopes and boxes must be disposed of before entering the building.

    ○ Commercial overnight mail (other than U.S. Postal Service Express Mail and Priority Mail) must be sent to 9050 Junction Drive, Annapolis Junction, MD 20701.

    ○ U.S. Postal Service first-class, Express, and Priority mail must be addressed to 445 12th Street SW, Washington, DC 20554.

    Availability of Documents. Comments, reply comments, and ex parte submissions will be publicly available online via ECFS. These documents will also be available for public inspection during regular business hours in the FCC Reference Information Center, which is located in Room CYA257 at FCC Headquarters, 445 12th Street SW, Washington, DC 20554. The Reference Information Center is open to the public Monday through Thursday from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

    People with Disabilities. To request materials in accessible formats for people with disabilities (braille, large print, electronic files, audio format), send an email to [email protected] or call the Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau at 202-418-0530 (voice), 202-418-0432 (tty).

    V. Ordering Clauses

    121. Accordingly, it is ordered, that pursuant to the authority contained in sections 1 through 4, 201 through 205, 254, and 403 of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, 47 U.S.C. 151-154, 201-205, 254, and 403, and section 1.2 of the Commission's rules, 47 CFR 1.2, this Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and Notice of Inquiry is adopted.

    List of Subjects in 47 CFR Part 54

    Communications common carriers, Health facilities, Infants and children, internet, Libraries, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Schools, Telecommunications, Telephone.

    Federal Communications Commission. Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary. Proposed Rules

    For the reasons discussed in the preamble, the Federal Communications Commission proposes to amend 47 CFR part 54 as follows:

    PART 54—UNIVERSAL SERVICE 1. The authority citation for part 54 continues to read as follows: Authority:

    47 U.S.C. 151, 154(i), 155, 201, 205, 214, 219, 220, 254, 303(r), 403, and 1302 unless otherwise noted.

    § 54.201 [Amended]
    2. Amend § 54.201 by removing paragraph (j).
    § 54.202 [Amended]
    3. Amend § 54.202 by removing paragraphs (d) and (e).
    § 54.205 [Amended]
    4. Amend § 54.205 by removing paragraph (c). 5. Amend § 54.404 by revising paragraph (b)(3) to read as follows:
    § 54.404 The National Lifeline Accountability Database.

    (b) * * *

    (3) If the Database indicates that another individual at the prospective subscriber's residential address is currently receiving a Lifeline service, the eligible telecommunications carrier must not seek and will not receive Lifeline reimbursement for providing service to that prospective subscriber, unless the prospective subscriber has certified, pursuant to § 54.410(d) that to the best of his or her knowledge, no one in his or her household is already receiving a Lifeline service. This certification may only be obtained after the eligible telecommunications carrier receives a notification from the Database or state administrator that another Lifeline subscriber resides at the same address as the prospective subscriber.

    § 54.408 [Amended]
    6. Amend § 54.408 by removing paragraph (f). 7. Amend § 54.410 by revising paragraphs (f)(2)(iii) and (f)(3)(iii) and removing and reserving paragraph (g) to read as follows:
    § 54.410 Subscriber eligibility determination and certification.

    (f) * * *

    (2) * * *

    (iii) If the subscriber's program-based or income-based eligibility for Lifeline cannot be determined by accessing one or more state databases containing information regarding enrollment in qualifying assistance programs, then the eligible telecommunications carrier may obtain a signed certification from the subscriber on a form that meets the certification requirements in paragraph (d) of this section. The subscriber must present documentation meeting the requirements in paragraph (b)(1)(i)(B) or (c)(1)(i)(B) of this section to establish continued eligibility. If a Federal eligibility recertification form is available, entities enrolling subscribers must use such form to re-certify a qualifying low-income consumer.

    (3) * * *

    (iii) If the subscriber's eligibility for Lifeline cannot be determined by accessing one or more databases containing information regarding enrollment in qualifying assistance programs, then the National Verifier, state Lifeline administrator, or state agency may obtain a signed certification from the subscriber on a form that meets the certification requirements in paragraph (d) of this section. The subscriber must present documentation meeting the requirements in paragraph (b)(1)(i)(B) or (c)(1)(i)(B) of this section to establish continued eligibility. If a Federal eligibility recertification form is available, entities enrolling subscribers must use such form to recertify a qualifying low-income consumer.

    § 54.418 [Removed and Reserved]
    8. Remove and reserve § 54.418.
    [FR Doc. 2018-00153 Filed 1-12-18; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6712-01-P
    FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION 47 CFR Part 76 [MB Docket Nos. 17-317, 17-105; FCC 17-168] Electronic Delivery of MVPD Communications; Modernization of Media Regulation Initiative AGENCY:

    Federal Communications Commission.

    ACTION:

    Proposed rule.

    SUMMARY:

    In this document, the Federal Communications Commission (Commission) addresses ways to modernize certain notice provisions in the Commission's rules governing multichannel video and cable television service.

    DATES:

    Comments are due on or before February 15, 2018; reply comments are due on or before March 2, 2018.

    ADDRESSES:

    You may submit comments, identified by MB Docket Nos. 17-317, 17-105, by any of the following methods:

    Federal Communications Commission's website: http://fjallfoss.fcc.gov/ecfs2/. Follow the instructions for submitting comments.

    Mail: Filings can be sent by hand or messenger delivery, by commercial overnight courier, or by first-class or overnight U.S. Postal Service mail. All filings must be addressed to the Commission's Secretary, Office of the Secretary, Federal Communications Commission.

    People with Disabilities: Contact the FCC to request reasonable accommodations (accessible format documents, sign language interpreters, CART, etc.) by email: [email protected] or phone: (202) 418-0530 or TTY: (202) 418-0432.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

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

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    This is a summary of the Commission's Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, FCC 17-168, adopted and released on December 14, 2017. The full text of this document is available electronically via the FCC's Electronic Document Management System (EDOCS) website at https://apps.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/FCC-17-168A1.docx. Documents will be available electronically in ASCII, Microsoft Word, and/or Adobe Acrobat. This document is also available for public inspection and copying during regular business hours in the FCC Reference Information Center, Federal Communications Commission, 445 12th Street SW, CY-A257, Washington, DC 20554. Alternative formats are available for people with disabilities (Braille, large print, electronic files, audio format), by sending an email to [email protected] or calling the Commission's Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau at (202) 418-0530 (voice), (202) 418-0432 (TTY).

    Synopsis

    1. In this Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM), we address ways to modernize certain notice provisions in part 76 of the Federal Communications Commission's rules governing multichannel video and cable television service. First, we seek comment on proposals to modernize the rules in subpart T of part 76 (subpart T),1 which sets forth notice requirements applicable to cable operators. In particular, we propose to allow various types of written communications from cable operators to subscribers to be delivered electronically, if they are sent to a verified email address and the cable operator complies with other consumer safeguards. We also tentatively conclude that subscriber privacy notifications required pursuant to sections 631, 338(i), and 653 of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended (the Act), may be delivered electronically to a verified email address, subject to consumer safeguards. In addition, we propose to permit cable operators to reply to consumer requests or complaints by email in certain circumstances. Second, we seek comment on how to update the requirement in §§ 76.64 and 76.66 of the Commission's rules that requires broadcast television stations to send carriage election notices via certified mail. With this proceeding, we continue our efforts to modernize our regulations and reduce unnecessary requirements that can impede competition and innovation in the media marketplace.2

    1 47 CFR 76.1601 through 76.1630.

    2See Commission Launches Modernization of Media Regulation Initiative, Public Notice, 32 FCC Rcd 4406 (2017) (initiating a review of rules applicable to media entities to eliminate or modify regulations that are outdated, unnecessary, or unduly burdensome).

    I. Background

    2. Subpart T Cable Notices. Subpart T regulates various aspects of cable operators' communications with subscribers as well as with other parties, including television broadcast stations and the Commission.3 In 1999, the Commission revised and streamlined the cable television notice, public file, and recordkeeping requirements contained throughout part 76 of the Commission's rules, and as part of this reorganization, it created a new subpart T for notice requirements.4 Among other requirements, subpart T requires cable operators to communicate specified information about various topics to their subscribers in writing, including the following:

    3 Subpart T refers to “subscribers,” “customers,” and “consumers” interchangeably. See, e.g., 47 CFR 76.1602(b), 76.1603(b), 76.1622. In the NPRM, we use the term “subscribers” for consistency, but it includes both “customers” and “consumers” as used in subpart T.

    4See 1998 Biennial Regulatory Review—Streamlining of Cable Television Services Part 76 Public File and Notice Requirements, Report and Order, 14 FCC Rcd 4653 (1999); Second Report and Order, 16 FCC Rcd 19773 (2001).

    • Deletion or repositioning of broadcast signals (47 CFR 76.1601): Requires cable operators to provide written notice to subscribers if they are deleting a broadcast television station from carriage or repositioning that station.

    • Customer service—general information (47 CFR 76.1602): Requires cable operators to provide written information to subscribers at the time of installation, at least annually, and at any time upon request about: Products and services offered; prices and options for programming services and conditions of subscription to programming and other services; installation and service maintenance policies; instructions on how to use the cable service; channel positions of programming carried on the system; billing and complaint procedures; assessed fees for rental of navigation devices and single and additional CableCARDs; and the fees allocable to the rental of single and additional CableCARDs and the rental of operator-supplied navigation devices, if the provider includes equipment in the price of a bundled service offering.

    • Customer service—rate and service changes (47 CFR 76.1603): Requires cable operators to notify customers of any changes in rates, programming services, or channel positions as soon as possible in writing; to notify subscribers a minimum of 30 days in advance of such changes, if the change is within the control of the cable operator; to notify subscribers 30 days in advance of any significant changes in the other information required by § 76.1602; to give 30 days written notice to subscribers before implementing any rate or service change, stating the precise amount of any rate change and a brief explanation in readily understandable fashion of the cause of the rate change; to provide written notice to a subscriber of any increase in the price to be charged for the basic service tier or associated equipment at least 30 days before any proposed increase is effective (or 60 days if the equipment is provided to the consumer without charge pursuant to § 76.630), including the price to be charged, the date that the new charge will be effective, and the name and address of the local franchising authority.5

    5 To the extent the cable operator is required to provide notice of service and rate changes to subscribers, the operator may provide such notice using any reasonable written means at its sole discretion. 47 CFR 76.1603(e).

    • Charges for customer service changes (47 CFR 76.1604): Requires cable systems to notify all subscribers in writing that they may be subject to a charge for changing service tiers more than the specified number of times in any 12-month period, if the cable operator establishes a higher charge for changes effected solely by coded entry on a computer terminal or by other similarly simple methods.

    • Basic tier availability (47 CFR 76.1618): Requires a cable operator to provide written notification of the availability of basic tier service to new subscribers at the time of installation, which should include that the basic tier is available, the cost per month for basic tier service, and a list of all services included in the basic service tier.

    • Availability of signals (47 CFR 76.1620): Requires a cable operator to notify subscribers of all broadcast stations carried on the cable system which cannot be viewed via cable without a converter box and to offer to sell or lease such a converter box to such subscribers, if a cable operator authorizes subscribers to install additional receiver connections, but does not provide the subscriber with such connections or with the equipment and materials for such connections.6

    6 Such notification must be provided to each new subscriber upon initial installation and annually thereafter. Id. sec. 76.1620. The notice, which may be included in routine billing statements, must identify the signals that are unavailable without an additional connection, the manner for obtaining such additional connection, and instructions for installation. Id.

    • Equipment compatibility offer (47 CFR 76.1621): Requires cable system operators that use scrambling, encryption, or similar technologies in conjunction with cable system terminal devices that may affect subscribers' reception of signals to offer to supply each subscriber with special equipment that will enable the simultaneous reception of multiple signals.7

    7 The offer of special equipment must be made to new subscribers at the time they subscribe and to all subscribers at least once each year. Id. sec. 76.1621(a).

    • Consumer education program on compatibility (47 CFR 76.1622): Requires cable system operators to provide a consumer education program on compatibility matters to their subscribers in writing that includes certain information, such as notice that certain models of television receivers and videocassette recorders may not be able to receive all of the channels offered by the cable system when connected directly to the system, as well as an explanation of the types of channel compatibility problems that could occur if the device is connected directly to the system and suggestions to resolve such problems; notice that subscribers may not be able to use special features and functions of their television receivers and videocassette recorders where service is received through a cable system terminal device; and notice that remote control units compatible with cable system terminal devices and other customer premises equipment provided to subscribers may be obtained from other sources, such as retail outlets, as well as a representative list of remote control models that are compatible with deployed customer premises equipment.8

    8 This information must be provided to subscribers at the time they first subscribe and at least once a year thereafter. Id. sec. 76.1622(a). The rule specifies that this notification requirement may also be satisfied by an annual mailing to all subscribers and may be included in one of the system's regular subscriber billings. Id.

    3. In June 2017, the Commission issued a Declaratory Ruling (2017 Declaratory Ruling) that interpreted the written communications requirement of one section of subpart T to be satisfied by electronic delivery of written material to subscribers.9 Specifically, the ruling clarified that the “written information” that cable operators provide to their subscribers annually pursuant to § 76.1602(b) of the Commission's rules may be provided via email to a verified email address if there is a mechanism for customers to opt out of email delivery and continue to receive paper notices.10 The Commission found that section 632(b) of the Act grants the Commission authority to establish the means by which annual notices may be delivered to subscribers and to specify consumer protections with regard to the delivery of the notices.11 It concluded that the statute does not impose any limitations on the Commission's authority under section 632(b) to specify the means by which cable operators may deliver notices to consumers.12 The Commission determined that a verified email address is necessary to ensure that the written information is provided—i.e., made available—to subscribers, as is required by § 76.1602(b).13 The Commission also cited policy arguments that it found to be persuasive in support of interpreting the “written information” requirement of § 76.1602(b) to encompass electronic distribution to a verified email address, such as the positive environmental aspects of saving substantial amounts of paper annually, increased efficiency, and enabling customers to more readily access accurate information about their service options.14 The Commission concluded that electronic delivery of annual notices would greatly ease the burden of complying with these notification requirements for all cable operators, including small cable operators.15

    9See National Cable & Telecommunications Association and American Cable Association, Petition for Declaratory Ruling, Declaratory Ruling, 32 FCC Rcd 5269 (2017) (2017 Declaratory Ruling). See 82 FR 35658. The Declaratory Ruling granted a petition for declaratory ruling filed by NCTA—The internet and Television Association (NCTA) and the American Cable Association (ACA). See Petition for Declaratory Ruling of National Cable & Telecommunications Association and American Cable Association, MB Docket No. 16-126 (filed Mar. 7, 2016) (requesting clarification that the written information that cable operators must provide to their subscribers pursuant to § 76.1602(b) of the Commission's rules may be provided via electronic distribution).

    102017 Declaratory Ruling, 32 FCC Rcd at 5269, paragraph 1.

    11Id. at 5273, paragraph 7.

    12Id. In the Cable Television Consumer Protection and Competition Act of 1992, Congress, in order to “provide increased consumer protection,” amended section 632 of the Act to require the Commission to adopt customer service standards for cable operators. Public Law 102-385, 106 Stat. 1460 (1992); 47 U.S.C. 552. In section 632(b), Congress directs the Commission to “establish standards by which cable operators may fulfill their customer service requirements” and specifies that “[s]uch standards shall include, at a minimum, requirements governing . . . communications between the cable operator and the subscriber (including standards governing bills and refunds).” 47 U.S.C. 552(b)(3).

    132017 Declaratory Ruling, 32 FCC Rcd at 5274, paragraph 9.

    14Id. at 5272-73, paragraph 6.

    15Id. at 5273, paragraph 8.

    4. As discussed in more detail below, parties responding to the Commission's Modernization of Media Regulation Initiative ask the Commission to consider permitting electronic delivery of information required to be provided by cable operators to subscribers in writing pursuant to subpart T, consistent with the Commission's findings in the 2017 Declaratory Ruling, and to consider other changes to the rules in subpart T.

    5. Carriage Election Notices. When the Commission implemented the law establishing the must carry/retransmission consent regime,16 it adopted a requirement that each commercial television broadcast station provide periodic notice to cable operators electing either to demand carriage or to withhold carriage absent express consent.17 A similar requirement, applying to both commercial and noncommercial television broadcast stations, was adopted as part of the “carry one, carry all” regime for Direct Broadcast Satellite (DBS) carriers.18 In both cases, the election notice must be sent via certified mail once every three years by each broadcaster to each cable system and DBS carrier serving the station's market. A number of broadcaster commenters in the Media Modernization proceeding propose changes to this process, as set forth below.

    16 “The Communications Act prohibits cable operators and other multichannel video programming distributors from retransmitting commercial television, low power television and radio broadcast signals without first obtaining the broadcaster's consent. This permission is commonly referred to as `retransmission consent' and may involve some compensation from the cable company to the broadcaster for the use of the signal. Alternately, local commercial and noncommercial television broadcast stations may require a cable operator that serves the same market as the broadcaster to carry its signal. A demand for carriage is commonly referred to as `must-carry.' If the broadcast station asserts its must-carry rights, the broadcaster cannot demand compensation from the cable operator. While retransmission consent and must-carry are distinct and function separately, they are related in that commercial broadcasters are required to choose once every three years, on a system-by-system basis, whether to obtain carriage or continue carriage by choosing between must carry and retransmission consent.” FCC Media Bureau, Cable Carriage of Broadcast Stations, https://www.fcc.gov/media/cable-carriage-broadcast-stations (last visited Oct. 4, 2017).

    17 47 CFR 76.64(h) (adopted in Implementation of the Cable Television Consumer Protection and Competition Act of 1992: Broadcast Signal Carriage Issues, Report and Order, 8 FCC Rcd 2965, 3003, paragraph 160 (1993)).

    18 47 CFR 76.66(d) (adopted in Implementation of the Satellite Home Viewer Improvement Act of 1999: Broadcast Signal Carriage Issues; Retransmission Consent Issues, Report and Order, 16 FCC Rcd 1918, 1932, paragraph 30 (2000)). “Carry one, carry all” refers to the fact that DBS carriers are not required to carry any local broadcast stations in a market, but must carry all of them upon request if any are carried (with certain narrow exceptions). The DBS “mandatory carriage/retransmission consent” regime otherwise functions in a manner very similar to the cable “must carry/retransmission consent” regime described above.

    II. Discussion A. Modernization of MVPD Notice Requirements 1. Electronic Distribution of Notices to Subscribers

    6. We propose to adopt a rule that would allow various types of generic written communications from cable operators to subscribers to be delivered electronically, if they are sent to a verified email address and the cable operator complies with other consumer safeguards.19 This includes generic written information provided to consumers about the deletion or repositioning of broadcast signals (§ 76.1601); general information about services offered (§ 76.1602); rate and service changes (§ 76.1603); charges for customer service changes (§ 76.1604); basic tier availability (§ 76.1618); availability of signals (§ 76.1620); equipment compatibility offer (§ 76.1621); and consumer education program on compatibility (§ 76.1622).20 Consistent with the Commission's clarification in the 2017 Declaratory Ruling that written information required under § 76.1602(b) can be sent via email to a verified email address with inclusion of an opt-out mechanism, we tentatively conclude to adopt a rule reflecting these requirements with respect to § 76.1602(b) and some of the other subscriber notices required in the rules listed above. With respect to notices that pertain to rate and service changes, charges for customer service changes, basic tier availability, and subscriber privacy,21 we tentatively conclude that these notices can be sent via email to a verified email address and seek comment on whether consumers should have to opt in to begin receiving these notices electronically. Alternatively, we seek comment on whether these notifications should be treated like the other ones in subpart T such that cable operators should be permitted to deliver these notices electronically, if they allow consumers to opt out of email delivery and continue to receive paper notices.

    19 By “generic” or “general,” we mean information that applies to subscribers or groups of subscribers generally (e.g., those residing in the same zip code; those subscribing to the same service, etc.) and is not specific to an individual subscriber. See 2017 Declaratory Ruling, 32 FCC Rcd at 5275, paragraph 10, note 40.

    20 47 CFR 76.1601 through 76.1604, 76.1618, 76.1620 through 76.1622.

    21Id. secs. 76.1603 through 76.1604, 76.1618; 47 U.S.C. 551(a)(1), 338(i), 573(c)(1)(a).

    7. In comments filed in the Modernization of Media Regulation Initiative docket, some industry commenters request that the Commission take steps to ease the burden of complying with the cable notice requirements, such as by permitting electronic distribution of written notifications to subscribers. NCTA asks the Commission to adopt more efficient, less costly ways to provide required notices, and it contends that cable operators should expressly be permitted to correspond with customers via electronic means, if the customer has provided the cable operator with an email address or contacted the cable operator using such means.22 ACA agrees with NCTA that, “at a minimum, the Commission should clarify that the written notice requirement as it pertains to [customer notification] provisions can be satisfied via electronic notice.” 23 ACA posits that “electronic notification would provide welcomed relief to cable operators and other entities from paperwork burdens.” 24 According to ACA, modifying subscriber notification rules can relieve cable operators from undue burdens and reduce subscriber “notice fatigue.” 25 Verizon agrees that “electronic delivery should be available for required notices to subscribers.” 26 Frontier Communications Corporation (Frontier) supports reform of “outdated notice requirements that were created before companies had websites and before customers had email.” 27

    22 Comments of NCTA—The internet and Television Association, at 4-5 (NCTA Comments).

    23 Reply Comments of the American Cable Association, at 9 (ACA Reply). ACA asks the Commission to launch a rulemaking to update outdated subscriber notification requirements. See Comments of the American Cable Association, at 18-26 (ACA Comments).

    24 ACA Reply at 9.

    25 ACA Comments at 19.

    26 Reply Comments of Verizon, at 6 (Verizon Reply).

    27 Reply Comments of Frontier Communications Corp., at 6 (Frontier Reply).

    8. We tentatively conclude that permitting cable operators to deliver the aforementioned subscriber notices by email would serve the public interest. We believe that the policy considerations that the Commission found persuasive in the 2017 Declaratory Ruling clarifying that the annual notices required under § 76.1602(b) may be delivered electronically apply equally with respect to other subscriber notices required in subpart T of the rules, and we seek comment on our tentative conclusion that the public interest would be served by our proposal. We note that no party in the media modernization proceeding has opposed the cable industry's request to permit electronic distribution of notices to subscribers.

    9. In the 2017 Declaratory Ruling, the Commission concluded that it has authority to establish the means by which subpart T notices may be delivered to subscribers and to specify consumer protections with regard to the delivery of the notices.28 As noted above, section 632(b) of the Act provides the Commission with broad authority to “establish standards by which cable operators may fulfill their customer service requirements.” 29 Moreover, the statute does not impose limitations on the Commission's authority to specify the means by which cable operators may deliver notices to or otherwise communicate with consumers (including communications about bills and refunds).30 Because the Commission has authority to establish standards governing communications between cable operators and subscribers, and email is one such method of communication, we believe permitting cable operators to deliver subscriber notices by email is consistent with section 632(b).

    282017 Declaratory Ruling, 32 FCC Rcd at 5273, paragraph 7.

    29 47 U.S.C. 552(b).

    30See id.

    10. A different statutory standard applies to notices of service and rate changes provided to subscribers pursuant to § 76.1603. Section 632(c) of the Act states that “[a] cable operator may provide notice of service and rate changes to subscribers using any reasonable written means at its sole discretion.” 31 Section 76.1603, which implements section 632(c), also states that notice of rate or service changes can be made by any reasonable written means at the discretion of the cable operator.32 We tentatively conclude that “reasonable written means” includes distribution via email to a verified email address. We tentatively find that permitting cable operators to deliver notices about service and rate changes via email satisfies the “written means” requirement of section 632(c). As we have found previously, emails, by their very nature, convey information in writing.33 Section 632(c) further requires the written means chosen by the cable operator to be “reasonable.” 34 For the reasons described below, we tentatively find that to be “reasonable,” a cable operator must use a subscriber's verified email address. We seek comment on these tentative conclusions.

    31See id. sec. 552(c). See also 2017 Declaratory Ruling, 32 FCC Rcd at 5273, note 27; Implementation of Cable Act Reform Provisions of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, Report and Order, 14 FCC Rcd 5296, 5363, paragraph 156 (1999) (“[N]otices of rate changes provided to subscribers through written announcements on the cable system or in the newspaper will be presumed sufficient.”).

    32See 47 CFR 76.1603(e). See also NCTA Comments at 7-8 (requesting that the Commission clarify that a written notice for purposes of § 76.1603 includes an electronic notice); Frontier Reply at 8 (same).

    332017 Declaratory Ruling, 32 FCC Rcd at 5272, paragraph 6.

    34See 47 U.S.C. 552(c).

    11. We believe that certain consumer safeguards must be put in place if cable operators are permitted to disseminate written notifications to subscribers electronically with respect to subpart T notification rules. First, we tentatively conclude that cable operators must have verified email contact information if they choose to deliver notifications to subscribers via email, and, if no verified email contact information is available for a particular subscriber, cable operators must continue to deliver notices via paper copies to that subscriber.35 In the 2017 Declaratory Ruling, the Commission determined that, for purposes of satisfying the requirements of § 76.1602(b), each of the following would be considered to be a verified email address: (1) An email address that the subscriber has provided to the cable operator (and not vice versa) for purposes of receiving communication, (2) an email address that the subscriber regularly uses to communicate with the cable operator, or (3) an email address that has been confirmed by the subscriber as an appropriate vehicle for the delivery of notices.36 We see no reason to deviate from the criteria identified in the 2017 Declaratory Ruling, and we propose to adopt this as a definition of the term “verified email address” as part of our rules. This definition was proposed by the cable industry, and we found that it set acceptable parameters for the email delivery of written material.37 We seek comment on this proposal and tentative finding.

    352017 Declaratory Ruling, 32 FCC Rcd at 5274, paragraph 9.

    36Id.

    37See id. at 5274, paragraph 9 (“By requiring the use of a verified email address, we will ensure that the . . . notices have a high probability of being successfully delivered electronically to an email address that the customer actually uses, so that the written information is actually provided to the customer.”).

    12. Second, we tentatively conclude that cable operators must provide a mechanism for subscribers to opt out of email delivery and continue to receive paper notices with respect to the following subpart T notification rules: Generic written information provided to consumers about the deletion or repositioning of broadcast signals (§ 76.1601); general information about services offered (§ 76.1602); availability of signals (§ 76.1620); equipment compatibility offer (§ 76.1621); and consumer education program on compatibility (§ 76.1622).38 In the 2017 Declaratory Ruling, the Commission determined that to satisfy § 76.1602(b), cable operators must include an opt-out telephone number that is clearly and prominently presented to subscribers in the body of the originating email that delivers the notices, so that it is readily identifiable as an opt-out option, to ensure that customers continue to be provided information in a way that they will actually accept and receive.39 We tentatively find that it is necessary to allow subscribers to opt out of email delivery and to provide an opt-out mechanism that is clearly and prominently presented in the body of the originating email for purposes of the aforementioned notice rules in subpart T, and we seek comment on this tentative finding.40 Should we require that cable operators provide a telephone opt-out method as a minimum requirement, consistent with the 2017 Declaratory Ruling? Or, should we also permit cable operators to provide the opt-out mechanism via an electronic link that allows subscribers to identify their delivery preferences electronically, as an alternative to providing the opt out mechanism via a telephone number? 41 We recognize that subscribers are accustomed to having electronic opt-out links available in commercial emails,42 and that, for many internet-savvy subscribers, an electronic link will be more efficient than a telephone number. However, in the 2017 Declaratory Ruling, the Commission found that providing a telephone number “would be the means most universally accessible to customers that prefer not to receive their notices electronically,” and it specified this as the minimum requirement.43 Is there reason to deviate from that approach for purposes of our rules? To the extent we adopt safeguards that differ from those specified in the 2017 Declaratory Ruling, should we adopt such safeguards also with respect to the annual notices required under § 76.1602(b) of the rules, or is there a reason to treat § 76.1602(b) differently?

    38 47 CFR 76.1601 through 76.1602, 76.1620 through 76.1622.

    392017 Declaratory Ruling, 32 FCC Rcd at 5275, paragraph 10.

    40See id.

    41See id. at 5276, paragraph 10 (agreeing with commenters that providing a link for customers to identify their delivery preference electronically “could also be efficient and convenient for many customers”).

    42 Commercial emails must include an opt-out option under the Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act of 2003, 15 U.S.C. 7701, et seq. (CAN-SPAM Act). Many commercial emails satisfy this requirement with an “unsubscribe” link.

    43See also 2017 Declaratory Ruling, 32 FCC Rcd at 5276, paragraph 10. The Commission also noted that, while providing an opt-out telephone number is a minimum requirement, “cable operators may choose to offer additional choices to their customers that are clearly and prominently presented in the body of the originating email.” Id.

    13. With respect to notices of rate and service changes pursuant to § 76.1603, charges for customer service changes pursuant to § 76.1604, and basic tier availability pursuant to § 76.1618, we seek comment on whether subscribers should have to opt in to begin receiving these notices electronically.44 Does the nature of these notices in particular necessitate that cable operators have an opt-in safeguard in place with respect to these notices? If so, what specific opt-in procedures should be required? Or, alternatively, should these notifications be treated like the other ones in subpart T such that cable operators should be permitted to deliver these notices electronically, if they allow consumers to opt out of email delivery and continue to receive paper notices? Are there advantages to both consumers and cable operators in having various notices treated in a similar manner?

    44 47 CFR 76.1603 through 76.1604, 76.1618.

    14. In the 2017 Declaratory Ruling, the Commission found that inclusion of a website link to the notice itself would be considered reasonable when annual notices are delivered via email, provided the link remains active until superseded by a subsequent notice, and would give customers flexibility to choose when to review the annual notices.45 We tentatively conclude that this finding should also apply with respect to any other subpart T subscriber notices that the Commission permits cable operators to send to subscribers via email, and we seek comment on this tentative finding.

    452017 Declaratory Ruling, 32 FCC Rcd at 5276, paragraph 11, note 46.

    15. We also seek comment on whether we should permit cable operators to provide to subscribers notices of general information at the time of installation and annually thereafter pursuant to § 76.1602 and information on basic tier availability pursuant to § 76.1618 by posting the written material on the cable operator's website, in lieu of providing such notice to subscribers via U.S. mail or electronic delivery to a verified email address.46 NCTA, Frontier, and ACA identify these two requirements in particular as suitable for website posting.47 We seek comment on whether it is appropriate for these types of generic notifications to be provided to subscribers via website posting. We seek input on the benefits, both to cable operators and to subscribers, of permitting notices via website posting to fulfill these written notice requirements as well as any potential burdens this may pose to subscribers. Would subscribers benefit from having an option that allows them to access written material via the cable operator's website at any time that is convenient to them, as opposed to either paper copies delivered to a physical address or email copies delivered to a verified email address? Would website posting lessen the burden on cable operators, and small operators in particular, to communicate this information every year to each subscriber on an individual basis, while still fulfilling the objectives of section 632?

    46 47 CFR 76.1602, 76.1618.

    47 With respect to initial and annual notices, NCTA notes that this detailed information “appears to be of little utility to customers and can become frequently outdated,” and that website posting would enable operators to provide more timely information in a less burdensome manner. NCTA Comments at 5-6. With respect to notice of the availability of the basic service tier, NCTA asserts that most customers would instinctively turn to the cable operator's website for information about programming packages and channel lineups. Id. at 8-9. See also ACA Comments at 23 (“[T]he Commission should consider modifying its rules to allow cable operators to decide how best to convey statutorily mandated information about the basic tier to customers.”). Frontier agrees that cable operators should be allowed to share any required annual information by posting the information on its website, giving subscribers the opportunity to opt in to email notification. Frontier Reply at 7. While acknowledging that, for the most part, the notices convey “important information for consumers to have,” ACA questions the benefit of delivering the information year after year. ACA Comments at 20.

    16. On the other hand, would a website posting of initial and annual notices required pursuant to § 76.1602 and information on basic tier availability required pursuant to § 76.1618 ensure that subscribers are adequately informed? The Commission recently observed that “[t]he internet has become a major part of consumers' daily lives and now represents a widely used medium to obtain information.” 48 However, in the 2017 Declaratory Ruling, the Commission rejected the request of the petitioners in that proceeding to permit electronic delivery of annual notices via other means reasonably calculated to reach the individual customer, and instead limited permissible electronic delivery to email.49 The Commission explained that allowing other means to deliver annual notices, such as placing a website link inside a bill, “could create an undue risk that subscribers will not receive the required notices.” 50 Can the Commission's concerns be mitigated by putting some consumer safeguards or additional requirements in place? Further, are there any requirements that the Commission can adopt to help ensure that subscribers without internet access receive the required notices? For example, if cable operators were permitted to include a website link to these notices inside a bill, should we also require them to include a telephone number that subscribers can use to request a paper copy of the notices?

    48Amendment of Section 73.624(g) of the Commission's Rules Regarding Submission of FCC Form 2100, Schedule G, Used to Report TV Stations' Ancillary or Supplementary Services; Amendment of Section 73.3580 of the Commission's Rules Regarding Public Notice of the Filing of Broadcast Applications; Modernization of Media Regulation Initiative; Revision of the Public Notice Requirements of Section 73.3580, Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, 32 FCC Rcd 8203, 8208-09, paragraphs 8-9 (2017) (seeking comment on whether to update § 73.3580 of the Commission's rules to provide broadcast licensees with more flexibility as to how they inform the public about the filing of certain applications, including whether to allow posting of such notice on an internet website).

    492017 Declaratory Ruling, 32 FCC Rcd at 5276, paragraph 11.

    50Id.

    17. To the extent that the Commission does decide to permit website posting of these two subpart T notices, we seek comment on what requirements should be adopted to ensure this information can be easily accessed by consumers. For example, should the Commission require that an electronic link to written material posted on a cable operator's website be clearly labeled “Important Subscriber Notices” and be prominently displayed on the initial screen of the cable operator's website? This would allow subscribers to easily locate the pertinent written material without having to search the website. Should any website link containing generic written material include an opt-out mechanism that allows subscribers to identify their delivery preferences? Should the Commission specify that the link must allow a subscriber to find the same information that would be included in the paper copies delivered to the subscriber's physical address or delivered by email to a verified email address? We seek comment on these or any other consumer protections that would be appropriate to impose in conjunction with website posting to ensure that consumers effectively receive the required notifications.

    18. Finally, as suggested by NCTA,51 we tentatively conclude that we should add a rule in subpart T that specifies that subscriber privacy notifications required pursuant to sections 631, 338(i), and 653 of the Act may be delivered electronically to a verified email address, subject to the consumer safeguards discussed above. Section 631 of the Act requires a cable operator to “provide notice in the form of a separate, written statement to such subscriber which clearly and conspicuously informs the subscriber of” certain privacy protections.52 Section 338(i) of the Act imposes the same requirement on satellite providers and section 653(c)(1)(A) of the Act imposes this requirement on Open Video System (OVS) providers.53 We tentatively conclude that the Commission should interpret the term “separate, written statement” in these statutory provisions to include notices delivered electronically to a verified email address and that the Commission should add a rule to subpart T codifying this interpretation. We seek comment on whether subscribers should have to opt in to begin receiving electronic privacy notices. Or, alternatively, should these notifications be treated like the other ones in subpart T such that MVPDs should be permitted to deliver them electronically, if they allow consumers to opt out of email delivery and continue to receive paper notices? We recognize the importance of privacy protections to video subscribers, which are reflected in sections 631, 338(i), and 653(c)(1)(A). Are there concerns underlying the privacy notification requirements that suggest those requirements should be treated differently from other subscriber notifications?

    51See NCTA Comments at 9. Although NCTA's comments discuss only the privacy notifications applicable to cable operators pursuant to section 631, we find it appropriate to also address similar statutory provisions applicable to other types of MVPDs.

    52 47 U.S.C. 551(a)(1). Specifically, section 631 requires annual notice of “(A) the nature of personally identifiable information collected or to be collected with respect to the subscriber and the nature of the use of such information; (B) the nature, frequency, and purpose of any disclosure which may be made of such information, including an identification of the types of persons to whom the disclosure may be made; (C) the period during which such information will be maintained by the cable operator; (D) the times and place at which the subscriber may have access to such information in accordance with subsection (d) [of this section]; and (E) the limitations provided by this section with respect to the collection and disclosure of information by a cable operator and the right of the subscriber under subsections (f) and (h) [of this section] to enforce such limitations.” Id.

    53Id. secs. 338(i), 573(c)(1)(a); 47 CFR 76.1510.

    2. Responses to Consumer Requests and Complaints by E-Mail

    19. We propose to allow cable operators to respond to consumer requests or billing dispute complaints by email, if the consumer used email to make the request or complaint or if the consumer specifies email as the preferred delivery method in the request or complaint, and we seek comment on this proposal.54 Sections 76.1614 and 76.1619 of subpart T require written responses to requests or complaints.55 Specifically, § 76.1614 requires cable operators to respond in writing within 30 days to any written request by any person for the identification of the signals carried on its system in fulfillment of the must-carry requirements of § 76.56.56 Section 76.1619 requires cable operators to respond to a written complaint from a subscriber within 30 days if there is a billing dispute.57 We seek comment on whether there are any other provisions in subpart T that would be affected by this proposal.

    54 Our proposal is limited to responses to consumer complaints or requests, and does not extend to communications between cable operators and other parties, such as broadcast stations.

    55See 47 CFR 76.1614, 76.1619.

    56Id. sec. 76.1614.

    57Id. sec. 76.1619.

    20. NCTA asks the Commission to clarify that cable providers may use email to respond to consumer complaints when the consumer “has provided an email address on the complaint form and has not specifically requested a different format.” 58 According to NCTA, “[a]n electronic submission implicitly and reasonably calls for an electronic response.” 59 NCTA also points out that the Commission already permits common carriers and internet service providers to respond to formal complaints by email.60 Likewise, Frontier calls on the Commission to allow cable providers to use email to respond to consumer complaints when the consumer has provided an email address on the complaint form or if the provider has an email address on record.61 Frontier contends that this would “cut down on unnecessary paper waste and postage and remove unnecessary costs.” 62

    58 NCTA Comments at 10.

    59Id. at 11.

    60Id. at 10-11 (citing 47 CFR 1.735(f) (permitting answers to formal complaints against common carriers to be delivered by email); and 8.13(c)(1) (permitting the same for formal complaints regarding open internet rules)). NCTA also notes that this would be consistent with prior guidance from the Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau allowing providers to submit responses to informal complaints against common carriers via email. Id. at 11, note 30.

    61 Frontier Reply at 15.

    62Id. Frontier also notes that letter or email communication is frequently made in addition to communication via other means, including by phone for “the most pressing and important complaints.” Id. at 15-16.

    21. We believe that permitting cable operators to respond electronically using the same method as the consumer or the method chosen by the consumer gives both parties the opportunity to communicate via their method of choice and will allow cable operators to respond more efficiently to requests and complaints. We seek comment on this proposal.

    3. Other Subpart T Requirements

    22. § 76.1621 (Equipment Compatibility Offer). 63 We propose to eliminate § 76.1621, which requires cable operators to offer and provide upon request to subscribers “special equipment that will enable the simultaneous reception of multiple signals.” 64 We seek comment on whether the requirements in § 76.1621 can be eliminated consistent with section 624A of the Act.65 NCTA argues the Commission should eliminate this requirement because it is a “relic[] of long-outdated technologies and policies.” 66 When the Commission adopted the requirement for cable operators to offer subscribers special equipment with multiple tuners, it was intended to address “cases where cable systems use scrambling technology and set-top boxes,” such that subscribers need “supplemental equipment to enable the operation of extended features and functions of TV receivers and VCRs that make simultaneous use of multiple signals,” including “picture-in-picture” features or the ability to watch one program while recording another.67 Today, consumers widely use digital video recorders (DVRs), rather than VCRs or television receivers, for recording features, and “picture-in-picture” features on television receivers are not prevalent. Given today's digital technologies, we tentatively conclude that it is no longer necessary to promote the “special equipment that will enable the simultaneous reception of multiple signals” referred to in the rules, and we seek comment on this tentative conclusion.

    63 ACA and NCTA request that the Commission delete § 76.1630 of the Commission's rules, which requires cable operators and other multichannel video programming distributors (MVPDs) to provide subscribers with notices about the digital transition in monthly bills or bill notices received by subscribers beginning April 1, 2009 and concluding on June 30, 2009. See 47 CFR 76.1630; ACA Comments at 26; NCTA Comments at 9. We plan to address this in a subsequent order in the Modernization of Media Regulation Initiative proceeding. NCTA and Frontier also request that the Commission eliminate or revise the requirements for cable operators to provide subscribers with notice of certain rate changes in §§ 76.1603 and 76.1604 of the Commission's rules. See NCTA Comments at 6-8; Frontier Reply at 8-9. We plan to address these issues in a subsequent proceeding.

    64See 47 CFR 76.1621.

    65See 47 U.S.C. 544a(c)(2). Section 624A specifies that the Commission “shall periodically review and, if necessary, modify the regulations issued pursuant to this section in light of any actions taken in response to such regulations and to reflect improvements and changes in cable systems, television receivers, video cassette recorders, and similar technology.” See id. sec. 544a(d).

    66 NCTA Comments at 9.

    67See Implementation of Section 17 of the Cable Television Consumer Protection and Competition Act of 1992; Compatibility Between Cable Systems and Consumer Electronics Equipment, First Report and Order, 9 FCC Rcd 1981, 1989-90, paragraphs 43-48 (1994). See also 47 U.S.C. 544a(c)(2); Implementation of Section 17 of the Cable Television Consumer Protection and Competition Act of 1992; Compatibility Between Cable Systems and Consumer Electronics Equipment, Memorandum Opinion and Order, 11 FCC Rcd 4121 (1996).

    23. § 76.1622 (Consumer Education Program on Compatibility). We seek comment on how to appropriately update references to technology in § 76.1622 of the Commission's rules, which requires cable operators to provide a consumer education program on equipment and signal compatibility matters to their subscribers in writing upon initial subscription and annually thereafter.68 Among other types of technology, the rule refers to the compatibility of “videocassette recorders.” 69 Frontier asks the Commission to update § 76.1622, noting that a requirement to educate consumers on the interoperability of videocassette recorders no longer makes sense.70 ACA emphasizes that “[c]oncerns about TV receiver and VCR compatibility are, quite simply, no longer relevant to today's consumer.” 71 We seek comment on how we can best modernize references to technology in § 76.1622.72 We also seek comment on whether there are any parts of the rule that are no longer necessary given changes in technology and, therefore, should be eliminated.73 We seek comment on whether the requirements in § 76.1622 can be modified consistent with section 624A of the Act, and, if so, how.74

    68 47 CFR 76.1622.

    69See id.

    70 Frontier Reply at 7-8.

    71 ACA Comments at 25.

    72 ACA asserts that section 624A of the Act references outdated technology, specifically requiring the Commission to prescribe regulations with respect to the compatibility of “videocassette recorders.” Id. at 23-24; 47 U.S.C. 544a(c)(2). However, as ACA notes, the statute also directs the Commission to periodically review and, if necessary, modify its regulations with regard to consumer education about equipment compatibility “to reflect improvements and changes in cable systems, television receivers, video cassette recorders, and similar technology.” See 47 U.S.C. 544a(d); ACA Comments at 24, note 93.

    73See NCTA Comments at 9 (arguing that the Commission should eliminate § 76.1622 because it is a “relic[] of long-outdated technologies and policies” and addresses “equipment that no longer is routinely used by consumers”). Section 624A directs the Commission to “include such regulations as are necessary” to notify subscribers of certain consumer electronics equipment compatibility issues. See 47 U.S.C. 544a(c)(2) (emphasis added).

    74See 47 U.S.C. 544a(c)(2). Section 624A(c)(2) states that “[t]he regulations prescribed by the Commission . . . shall include such regulations as are necessary . . . to require cable operators offering channels whose reception requires a converter box—(i) to notify subscribers that they may be unable to benefit from the special functions of their television receivers and video cassette recorders, including functions that permit subscribers . . . to watch a program on one channel while simultaneously using a video cassette recorder to tape a program on another channel; . . . to use a video cassette recorder to tape two consecutive programs that appear on different channels; and . . . to use advanced television picture generation and display features; and . . . (ii) to the extent technically and economically feasible, to offer subscribers the option of having all other channels delivered directly to the subscribers' television receivers or video cassette recorders without passing through the converter box.” Id. sec. 544a(c)(2)(B). In addition, the statute requires the regulations “to require a cable operator who offers subscribers the option of renting a remote control unit . . . to notify subscribers that they may purchase a commercially available remote control device from any source that sells such devices rather than renting it from the cable operator; and . . . to specify the types of remote control units that are compatible with the converter box supplied by the cable operator.” Id. sec. 544a(c)(2)(E).

    24. Further, we seek comment on whether the Commission should consider any other changes to § 76.1622, such as scaling back the requirement to provide these types of notices annually. ACA asks the Commission to eliminate those parts of the rule that are not mandated by statute, such as the requirement to provide this information to subscribers at the time of subscription and then annually thereafter, and to give cable operators greater flexibility in determining when and how to notify subscribers about equipment compatibility issues.75 ACA argues that the redundancy of annual notices “is no longer necessary, especially now that technology has moved far beyond what was considered cutting edge at the time the statute was enacted, and the equipment compatibility problems the requirement was designed to solve are no longer pervasive.” 76 We seek comment on whether the Commission should grant cable operators more flexibility with respect to these notices, as suggested by ACA.

    75 ACA Comments at 23-25.

    76Id. at 25.

    B. Carriage Election Notices

    25. We seek comment on how to revise §§ 76.64(h) and 76.66(d) of our rules to permit television broadcast stations to use alternative means of notifying MVPDs about their carriage elections. Currently, the rules direct each television broadcast station to provide notice every three years, via certified mail, to each cable system or DBS carrier serving its market regarding whether it is electing to demand carriage (“must carry” or “mandatory carriage”), or to withhold carriage pending negotiation (“retransmission consent”). The DBS rule also states that the certified mail letter be “return receipt requested.” 77 The Commission “believe[d] that certified mail, return receipt requested [was] the preferred method to ensure that broadcast stations [were] able to demonstrate that they submitted their elections by the required deadline, and that they were received by the satellite carrier.” 78 A number of commenters have proposed changes to this process.79

    77 47 CFR 76.66(d)(1)(ii).

    78Implementation of the Satellite Home Viewer Improvement Act of 1999: Broadcast Signal Carriage Issues, Order on Reconsideration, 16 FCC Rcd 16544, 16576, paragraph 65 (2001).

    79See Comments of the National Association of Broadcasters, at 22-23 (NAB Comments); Comments of CBS Corporation, The Walt Disney Company, 21st Century Fox, Inc., and Univision Communications Inc., at 10-12 (CBS, Disney, Fox, and Univision Comments); Comments of Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc., at 16-17 (Nexstar Comments); Comments of America's Public Television Stations et al., at 15 (APTS Comments); Comments of Meredith Corporation, at 2; Reply Comments of the ABC Television Affiliates Association, CBS Television Network Affiliates Association, and FBC Television Affiliates Association, at 10-11; Joint Reply Comments of the Named State Broadcasters Associations, at 7-8; Reply Comments of AT&T, at 5-6 (AT&T Reply). Although some of these commenters proposed even broader changes to the must carry/retransmission consent system, in this docket we are focused exclusively on notice issues.

    26. We seek comment on what alternative means of serving triennial election notices would satisfy the needs of broadcasters and MVPDs, such as express delivery service or email. Nexstar, among others, suggests that notices could be delivered via email, and AT&T proposes allowing broadcasters to use express delivery services instead of certified U.S. mail.80 How would these or other approaches work in practice? As discussed above, we have in another context allowed delivery of certain customer notices to a “verified” email address, noting that such a notice will “have a high probability of being successfully delivered electronically to an email address that the customer actually uses, so that the written information is actually provided to the customer.” We seek comment on whether this approach would be sufficient in the context of carriage election notices, where significant legal and financial consequences arise from the failure to make a timely election notice.81 Is there an electronic equivalent to certified mail? Would the use of express delivery services, as proposed by AT&T, meaningfully reduce burdens on broadcasters? More generally, can we modernize our rules in a way that would minimize the burden on broadcasters, ensure that MVPDs receive the elections in a timely way, and still provide a mechanism by which broadcasters can demonstrate that they met the election deadline with respect to specific cable operators and DBS carriers?

    80 Nexstar Comments at 16-17; AT&T Reply at 5-6.

    81 A failure to deliver a timely carriage election notice to a cable operator means that station defaults to must carry with respect to that operator, and loses the ability to negotiate for compensation for carriage of the station during that three-year election cycle. 47 CFR 76.64(f)(3). See also ACA Reply at 13 (arguing that continued reliance on certified mail is essential). On the DBS side, a failure to deliver a timely carriage election notice has the opposite effect, meaning the station defaults to retransmission consent and loses the ability to demand carriage during that three-year election cycle. 47 CFR 76.66(d)(1)(v). See also APTS Comments at 14-15.

    27. Some commenters request that we eliminate the requirement to send election notices to MVPDs by certified mail, and replace it with a mechanism for providing notice of carriage election online.82 For example, in their joint filing, CBS, Disney, and Univision argue that “[t]he system-by-system election requirement creates inefficiencies, both for broadcasters and cable operators,” incentivizes broadcasters to send duplicative notices, and is time-consuming and costly.83 They contend that allowing stations to provide notice of elections online “not only would make it easier for broadcasters and cable operators to keep track of elections but also would be consistent with rules applicable in other contexts and in line with the Commission's recent shift toward internet-based solutions.” 84 We seek comment on the pros and cons of this approach. In particular, what are the specific benefits to and burdens for both broadcasters and MVPDs of such an approach? Further, what rule changes would the Commission need to make to effectuate online notice of elections? For example, should all broadcasters be required to make carriage elections online or would this be one of their options in addition to the existing mechanism? Under an online election approach, how would broadcasters differentiate their elections to the extent they wish to make different elections vis-à-vis different MVPDs? Finally, would these online carriage elections be placed in the broadcasters' online public file or on another (existing or new) website that is publicly accessible?

    82See, e.g., NAB Comments at 22-23; CBS, Disney, Fox, and Univision Comments at 11-12.

    83 CBS, Disney, Fox, and Univision Comments at 11.

    84Id. at 11-12. But see AT&T Reply at 4-5 (arguing that this approach does not minimize burdens—it simply shifts them).

    Initial Paperwork Reduction Act Analysis

    28. This document may result in new or revised information collection requirements subject to the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, Public Law 104-13 (44 U.S.C. 3501 through 3520). If the Commission adopts any new or revised information collection requirement, the Commission will publish a notice in the Federal Register inviting the public to comment on the requirement, as required by the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, Public Law 104-13 (44 U.S.C. 3501 through 3520). In addition, pursuant to the Small Business Paperwork Relief Act of 2002, Public Law 107-198, see 44 U.S.C. 3506(c)(4), the Commission seeks specific comment on how it might “further reduce the information collection burden for small business concerns with fewer than 25 employees.”

    Ex Parte Rules

    29. Permit-But-Disclose. This proceeding shall be treated as a “permit-but-disclose” proceeding in accordance with the Commission's ex parte rules.85 Persons making ex parte presentations must file a copy of any written presentation or a memorandum summarizing any oral presentation within two business days after the presentation (unless a different deadline applicable to the Sunshine period applies). Persons making oral ex parte presentations are reminded that memoranda summarizing the presentation must (1) list all persons attending or otherwise participating in the meeting at which the ex parte presentation was made, and (2) summarize all data presented and arguments made during the presentation. If the presentation consisted in whole or in part of the presentation of data or arguments already reflected in the presenter's written comments, memoranda, or other filings in the proceeding, the presenter may provide citations to such data or arguments in his or her prior comments, memoranda, or other filings (specifying the relevant page and/or paragraph numbers where such data or arguments can be found) in lieu of summarizing them in the memorandum. Documents shown or given to Commission staff during ex parte meetings are deemed to be written ex parte presentations and must be filed consistent with rule § 1.1206(b). In proceedings governed by rule § 1.49(f) or for which the Commission has made available a method of electronic filing, written ex parte presentations and memoranda summarizing oral ex parte presentations, and all attachments thereto, must be filed through the electronic comment filing system available for that proceeding, and must be filed in their native format (e.g., .doc, .xml, .ppt, searchable .pdf). Participants in this proceeding should familiarize themselves with the Commission's ex parte rules.

    85 47 CFR 1.1200 et seq.

    Filing Requirements

    30. Comments and Replies. Pursuant to §§ 1.415 and 1.419 of the Commission's rules, 47 CFR 1.415, 1.419, interested parties may file comments and reply comments on or before the dates indicated on the first page of this document. Comments may be filed using the Commission's Electronic Comment Filing System (ECFS). See Electronic Filing of Documents in Rulemaking Proceedings, 63 FR 24121 (1998).

    Electronic Filers: Comments may be filed electronically using the internet by accessing the ECFS: http://fjallfoss.fcc.gov/ecfs2/.

    Paper Filers: Parties who choose to file by paper must file an original and one copy of each filing. If more than one docket or rulemaking number appears in the caption of this proceeding, filers must submit two additional copies for each additional docket or rulemaking number.

    Filings can be sent by hand or messenger delivery, by commercial overnight courier, or by first-class or overnight U.S. Postal Service mail. All filings must be addressed to the Commission's Secretary, Office of the Secretary, Federal Communications Commission.

    All hand-delivered or messenger-delivered paper filings for the Commission's Secretary must be delivered to FCC Headquarters at 445 12th Street SW, TW-A325, Washington, DC 20554. The filing hours are 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. All hand deliveries must be held together with rubber bands or fasteners. Any envelopes and boxes must be disposed of before entering the building.

    Commercial overnight mail (other than U.S. Postal Service Express Mail and Priority Mail) must be sent to 9050 Junction Drive, Annapolis Junction, MD 20701.

    U.S. Postal Service first-class, Express, and Priority mail must be addressed to 445 12th Street SW, Washington, DC 20554.

    31. Availability of Documents. Comments, reply comments, and ex parte submissions will be available for public inspection during regular business hours in the FCC Reference Center, Federal Communications Commission, 445 12th Street SW, CY-A257, Washington, DC 20554. These documents will also be available via ECFS. Documents will be available electronically in ASCII, Microsoft Word, and/or Adobe Acrobat.

    32. People with Disabilities. To request materials in accessible formats for people with disabilities (Braille, large print, electronic files, audio format), send an email to [email protected] or call the FCC's Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau at (202) 418-0530 (voice), (202) 418-0432 (TTY).

    Additional Information

    33. For additional information on this proceeding, contact Maria Mullarkey of the Policy Division, Media Bureau, at [email protected], or (202) 418-2120.

    Initial Regulatory Flexibility Act Analysis

    34. As required by the Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980, as amended (RFA),86 the Commission has prepared this present Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (IRFA) concerning the possible significant economic impact on small entities by the policies and rules proposed in the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM). Written public comments are requested on this IRFA. Comments must be identified as responses to the IRFA and must be filed by the deadlines for comments provided on the first page of the NPRM. The Commission will send a copy of the NPRM, including this IRFA, to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business Administration (SBA).87 In addition, the NPRM and IRFA (or summaries thereof) will be published in the Federal Register.88

    86See 5 U.S.C. 603. The RFA, see 5 U.S.C. 601 through 612, has been amended by the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996 (SBREFA), Public Law 104-121, Title II, 110 Stat. 857 (1996). The SBREFA was enacted as Title II of the Contract With America Advancement Act of 1996 (CWAAA).

    87See 5 U.S.C. 603(a).

    88See id.

    A. Need for, and Objectives of, the Proposed Rules

    35. This NPRM addresses ways to modernize certain notice provisions in part 76 of the Federal Communications Commission's rules governing multichannel video and cable television service. First, the NPRM seeks comment on proposals to modernize the rules in subpart T of part 76,89 which sets forth notice requirements applicable to cable operators. In particular, the NPRM proposes to allow various types of written communications from cable operators to subscribers to be delivered electronically, if they are sent to a verified email address and the cable operator complies with other consumer safeguards. The NPRM also tentatively concludes that subscriber privacy notifications required pursuant to sections 631, 338(i), and 653 of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended (the Act), may be delivered electronically to a verified email address, subject to consumer safeguards. In addition, the NPRM proposes to permit cable operators to reply to consumer requests or complaints by email in certain circumstances. Second, the NPRM seeks comment on how to update the requirement in §§ 76.64 and 76.66 of the Commission's rules that requires broadcast television stations to send carriage election notices via certified mail.

    89 47 CFR 76.1601 through 76.1630.

    B. Legal Basis

    36. The proposed action is authorized pursuant to sections 1, 4(i), 4(j), 325, 338, 624A, 631, 632, and 653 of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, 47 U.S.C. 151, 154(i), 154(j), 325, 338, 544a, 551, 552, and 573.

    C. Description and Estimate of the Number of Small Entities to Which the Proposed Rules Will Apply

    37. The RFA directs agencies to provide a description of, and where feasible, an estimate of the number of small entities that may be affected by the proposed rules, if adopted.90 The RFA generally defines the term “small entity” as having the same meaning as the terms “small business,” “small organization,” and “small governmental jurisdiction.” 91 In addition, the term “small business” has the same meaning as the term “small business concern” under the Small Business Act.92 A small business concern is one which: (1) Is independently owned and operated; (2) is not dominant in its field of operation; and (3) satisfies any additional criteria established by the SBA.93 Below, we provide a description of such small entities, as well as an estimate of the number of such small entities, where feasible.

    90 5 U.S.C. 603(b)(3).

    91Id. sec. 601(6).

    92Id. sec. 601(3) (incorporating by reference the definition of “small-business concern” in 15 U.S.C. 632). Pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 601(3), the statutory definition of a small business applies “unless an agency, after consultation with the Office of Advocacy of the Small Business Administration and after opportunity for public comment, establishes one or more definitions of such term which are appropriate to the activities of the agency and publishes such definition(s) in the Federal Register.” 5 U.S.C. 601(3).

    93 15 U.S.C. 632.

    38. Cable Companies and Systems (Rate Regulation Standard). The Commission has also developed its own small business size standards, for the purpose of cable rate regulation. Under the Commission's rules, a “small cable company” is one serving 400,000 or fewer subscribers, nationwide. Industry data indicate that, of 1,076 cable operators nationwide, all but 11 are small under this size standard. In addition, under the Commission's rules, a “small system” is a cable system serving 15,000 or fewer subscribers. Industry data indicate that, of 6,635 systems nationwide, 5,802 systems have under 10,000 subscribers, and an additional 302 systems have 10,000-19,999 subscribers. Thus, under this second size standard, the Commission believes that most cable systems are small.

    39. Cable System Operators. The Act also contains a size standard for small cable system operators, which is “a cable operator that, directly or through an affiliate, serves in the aggregate fewer than 1 percent of all subscribers in the United States and is not affiliated with any entity or entities whose gross annual revenues in the aggregate exceed $250,000,000.” The Commission has determined that an operator serving fewer than 677,000 subscribers shall be deemed a small operator, if its annual revenues, when combined with the total annual revenues of all its affiliates, do not exceed $250 million in the aggregate. Industry data indicate that, of 1,076 cable operators nationwide, all but 10 are small under this size standard. We note that the Commission neither requests nor collects information on whether cable system operators are affiliated with entities whose gross annual revenues exceed $250 million, and therefore we are unable to estimate more accurately the number of cable system operators that would qualify as small under this size standard.

    40. Open Video Services. Open Video Service (OVS) systems provide subscription services. The open video system framework was established in 1996, and is one of four statutorily recognized options for the provision of video programming services by local exchange carriers. The OVS framework provides opportunities for the distribution of video programming other than through cable systems. Because OVS operators provide subscription services, OVS falls within the SBA small business size standard covering cable services, which is “Wired Telecommunications Carriers.” The SBA has developed a small business size standard for this category, which is: All such firms having 1,500 or fewer employees. To gauge small business prevalence for the OVS service, the Commission relies on data currently available from the U.S. Census for the year 2012. According to that source, there were 3,117 firms that in 2012 were Wired Telecommunications Carriers. Of these, 3,059 operated with less than 1,000 employees. Based on this data, the majority of these firms can be considered small. In addition, we note that the Commission has certified some OVS operators, with some now providing service. Broadband service providers (“BSPs”) are currently the only significant holders of OVS certifications or local OVS franchises. The Commission does not have financial or employment information regarding the entities authorized to provide OVS, some of which may not yet be operational. Thus, at least some of the OVS operators may qualify as small entities. The Commission further notes that it has certified approximately 45 OVS operators to serve 116 areas, and some of these are currently providing service. Affiliates of Residential Communications Network, Inc. (RCN) received approval to operate OVS systems in New York City, Boston, Washington, DC, and other areas. RCN has sufficient revenues to assure that they do not qualify as a small business entity. Little financial information is available for the other entities that are authorized to provide OVS and are not yet operational. Given that some entities authorized to provide OVS service have not yet begun to generate revenues, the Commission concludes that up to 44 OVS operators (those remaining) might qualify as small businesses that may be affected by the rules and policies adopted herein.

    41. Satellite Master Antenna Television (SMATV) Systems, also known as Private Cable Operators (PCOs). SMATV systems or PCOs are video distribution facilities that use closed transmission paths without using any public right-of-way. They acquire video programming and distribute it via terrestrial wiring in urban and suburban multiple dwelling units such as apartments and condominiums, and commercial multiple tenant units such as hotels and office buildings. SMATV systems or PCOs are now included in the SBA's broad economic census category, “Wired Telecommunications Carriers,” which was developed for small wireline firms. Under this category, the SBA deems a wireline business to be small if it has 1,500 or fewer employees. Census data for 2012 indicate that in that year there were 3,117 firms operating businesses as wired telecommunications carriers. Of that 3,117, 3,059 operated with 999 or fewer employees. Based on this data, we estimate that a majority of operators of SMATV/PCO companies were small under the applicable SBA size standard.

    42. Direct Broadcast Satellite (DBS) Service. DBS Service is a nationally distributed subscription service that delivers video and audio programming via satellite to a small parabolic dish antenna at the subscriber's location. DBS is now included in SBA's economic census category “Wired Telecommunications Carriers.” The Wired Telecommunications Carriers industry comprises establishments primarily engaged in operating and/or providing access to transmission facilities and infrastructure that they own and/or lease for the transmission of voice, data, text, sound, and video using wired telecommunications networks. Transmission facilities may be based on a single technology or combination of technologies. Establishments in this industry use the wired telecommunications network facilities that they operate to provide a variety of services, such as wired telephony services, including VoIP services, wired (cable) audio and video programming distribution; and wired broadband internet services. By exception, establishments providing satellite television distribution services using facilities and infrastructure that they operate are included in this industry. The SBA determines that a wireline business is small if it has fewer than 1500 employees. Census data for 2012 indicate that 3,117 wireline companies were operational during that year. Of that number, 3,083 operated with fewer than 1,000 employees. Based on that data, we conclude that the majority of wireline firms are small under the applicable standard. However, currently only two entities provide DBS service, which requires a great deal of capital for operation: DIRECTV (owned by AT&T) and DISH Network. DIRECTV and DISH Network each report annual revenues that are in excess of the threshold for a small business. Accordingly, we must conclude that internally developed FCC data are persuasive that in general DBS service is provided only by large firms.

    43. Television Broadcasting. This Economic Census category “comprises establishments primarily engaged in broadcasting images together with sound.” These establishments operate television broadcast studios and facilities for the programming and transmission of programs to the public. These establishments also produce or transmit visual programming to affiliated broadcast television stations, which in turn broadcast the programs to the public on a predetermined schedule. Programming may originate in their own studio, from an affiliated network, or from external sources. The SBA has created the following small business size standard for such businesses: Those having $38.5 million or less in annual receipts. The 2012 Economic Census reports that 751 firms in this category operated in that year. Of this number, 656 had annual receipts of $25 million or less, 25 had annual receipts between $25 million and $49,999,999, and 70 had annual receipts of $50 million or more. Based on this data we therefore estimate that the majority of commercial television broadcasters are small entities under the applicable SBA size standard.

    44. The Commission has estimated the number of licensed commercial television stations to be 1,384. Of this total, 1,264 stations had revenues of $38.5 million or less, according to Commission staff review of the BIA Kelsey Inc. Media Access Pro Television Database (BIA) on February 24, 2017, and therefore these licensees qualify as small entities under the SBA definition. In addition, the Commission has estimated the number of licensed noncommercial educational (NCE) television stations to be 394. The Commission, however, does not compile and otherwise does not have access to information on the revenue of NCE stations that would permit it to determine how many such stations would qualify as small entities.

    45. We note, however, that in assessing whether a business concern qualifies as “small” under the above definition, business (control) affiliations must be included. Our estimate, therefore, likely overstates the number of small entities that might be affected by our action, because the revenue figure on which it is based does not include or aggregate revenues from affiliated companies. In addition, another element of the definition of “small business” requires that an entity not be dominant in its field of operation. We are unable at this time to define or quantify the criteria that would establish whether a specific television broadcast station is dominant in its field of operation. Accordingly, the estimate of small businesses to which rules may apply does not exclude any television station from the definition of a small business on this basis and is therefore possibly over-inclusive.

    46. There are also 417 Class A stations. Given the nature of these services, including their limited ability to cover the same size geographic areas as full power stations thus restricting their ability to generate similar levels of revenue, we will presume that these licensees qualify as small entities under the SBA definition. In addition, there are 1,968 LPTV stations and 3,776 TV translator stations. Given the nature of these services as secondary and in some cases purely a “fill-in” service, we will presume that all of these entities qualify as small entities under the above SBA small business size standard.

    D. Description of Projected Reporting, Recordkeeping, and Other Compliance Requirements

    47. As indicated above, this NPRM addresses ways to modernize certain notice provisions in part 76 of the FCC's rules governing multichannel video and cable television service. First, the NPRM seeks comment on proposals to modernize the rules in subpart T of part 76,94 which sets forth notice requirements applicable to cable operators. In particular, the NPRM proposes to allow various types of written communications from cable operators to subscribers to be delivered electronically, if they are sent to a verified email address and the cable operator complies with other consumer safeguards. The NPRM also tentatively concludes that subscriber privacy notifications required pursuant to sections 631, 338(i), and 653 of the Communications Act may be delivered electronically to a verified email address, subject to consumer safeguards. In addition, the NPRM proposes to permit cable operators to reply to consumer requests or complaints by email in certain circumstances. Second, the NPRM seeks comment on how to update the requirement in §§ 76.64 and 76.66 of the Commission's rules that requires broadcast television stations to send carriage election notices via certified mail. Through this NPRM, the Commission seeks to minimize the administrative burden on cable television operators, including smaller cable operators, by allowing electronic delivery of certain notices to subscribers, which will reduce the costs and burdens of providing such notices. We anticipate that this will lead to a long-term reduction in reporting, recordkeeping, or other compliance requirements on all cable operators, including small entities.

    94 47 CFR 76.1601 through 76.1630.

    E. Steps Taken To Minimize Significant Economic Impact on Small Entities and Significant Alternatives Considered

    48. The RFA requires an agency to describe any significant alternatives that it has considered in reaching its proposed approach, which may include the following four alternatives (among others): “(1) the establishment of differing compliance or reporting requirements or timetables that take into account the resources available to small entities; (2) the clarification, consolidation, or simplification of compliance and reporting requirements under the rule for such small entities; (3) the use of performance, rather than design standards; and (4) an exemption from coverage of the rule, or any part thereof, for small entities.” 95

    95 5 U.S.C. 603(c)(1) through (c)(4).

    49. The Commission expects to more fully consider the economic impact on small entities following its review of comments filed in response to the NPRM and this IRFA. Generally, the NPRM seeks comment on: A proposal to adopt a rule allowing generic written communications from cable operators to subscribers required by subpart T to be delivered to a verified email address; a proposal to require an opt-out mechanism enabling customers to continue receiving paper notices for certain notices, and on whether to require consumers to opt in to electronic delivery for other notices; whether to permit cable operators to provide certain written notices to subscribers by posting the written material on the cable operator's website; a proposal to adopt a rule specifying that cable, satellite, and open video system subscriber privacy notifications required pursuant to sections 631, 338(i), and 653 of the Communications Act may be delivered via email, subject to consumer safeguards; a proposal to allow cable operators to respond to consumer requests or billing dispute complaints by email, if the consumer used email to make the request or complaint or if the consumer specifies email as the preferred delivery method in the request or complaint; whether to adopt other proposals to update subpart T in light of technological advances and market changes in the cable industry; and how to update the requirements that broadcast stations send carriage election notices via certified mail. The Commission has found that electronic delivery of notices would greatly ease the burden of complying with notification requirements for cable operators, including small cable operators, and it is considering alternatives that may further reduce burdens on small entities, such as allowing website posting of certain notices. The Commission's evaluation of the comments filed on these topics as well as on other questions in the NPRM that seek to reduce the burdens placed on small cable operators and other MVPDs will shape the final conclusions it reaches, the final significant alternatives it considers, and the actions it ultimately takes in this proceeding to minimize any significant economic impact that may occur on small entities.

    F. Federal Rules That May Duplicate, Overlap, or Conflict With the Proposed Rule

    50. None.

    51. Accordingly, it is ordered that, pursuant to the authority found in sections 1, 4(i), 4(j), 325, 338, 624A, 631, 632, and 653 of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, 47 U.S.C. 151, 154(i), 154(j), 325, 338, 544a, 551, 552, and 573, this Notice of Proposed Rulemaking is adopted.

    52. It is further ordered that the Commission's Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau, Reference Information Center, shall send a copy of this Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, including the Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis, to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business Administration.

    List of Subjects in 47 CFR Part 79

    Cable television operators, Multichannel video programming distributors (MVPDs), Satellite television service providers, Television broadcasters.

    Federal Communications Commission. Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary. Proposed Rules

    47 CFR part 76 of the Commission's rules is proposed to be amended as follows:

    PART 76—MULTICHANNEL VIDEO AND CABLE TELEVISION SERVICE 1. The authority for part 76 continues to read as follows: Authority:

    47 U.S.C. 151, 152, 153, 154, 301, 302, 302a, 303, 303a, 307, 308, 309, 312, 315, 317, 325, 338, 339, 340, 341, 503, 521, 522, 531, 532, 534, 535, 536, 537, 543, 544, 544a, 545, 548, 549, 552, 554, 556, 558, 560, 561, 571, 572, 573.

    2. Add § 76.1600 to read as follows:
    § 76.1600 Electronic delivery of notices.

    (a) Written information, notices, advisements or offers that are generic in nature and provided in writing by cable operators to subscribers or customers pursuant to this subpart, as well as subscriber privacy notifications required by cable operators, satellite providers, and open video systems pursuant to sections 631, 338(i), and 653 of the Communications Act, may be delivered electronically by email if the entity:

    (1) Sends the written material to the subscriber's verified email address; and

    (2) Provides a mechanism to allow subscribers to continue to receive paper copies of the written material.

    (b) For purposes of this section, a verified email address is defined as:

    (1) An email address that the subscriber has provided to the cable operator (and not vice versa) for purposes of receiving communication;

    (2) An email address that the subscriber regularly uses to communicate with the cable operator; or

    (3) An email address that has been confirmed by the subscriber as an appropriate vehicle for the delivery of notices.

    (c) The term “generic” means information that applies to subscribers or groups of subscribers generally (e.g., those residing in the same zip code; those subscribing to the same service, etc.) and is not specific to an individual subscriber.

    (d) For notices that require an opt-out mechanism, the entity must include, in the body of the originating email that delivers the written material, a mechanism for the subscriber to opt out of email delivery that is clearly and prominently presented to subscribers so that it is readily identifiable as an opt-out mechanism. The mechanism may be either:

    (1) An opt-out telephone number; or

    (2) An electronic link that allows subscribers to identify their delivery preferences electronically.

    (e) If the conditions for electronic delivery in paragraphs (a) through (d) of this section are not met, or if a subscriber opts out of electronic delivery, the written material must be delivered by paper copy to the subscriber's physical address.

    (f) In this subpart, any required written response to a subscriber or customer may be delivered by email, if the consumer used email to make the request or complaint or if the consumer specifies email as the preferred delivery method in the request or complaint.

    (g) This section applies only to written information, notices, advisements, offers or responses provided to subscribers or customers and does not affect communications between cable operators and other parties addressed in this subpart.

    § 76.1621 [Removed]
    3. Remove § 76.1621.
    [FR Doc. 2018-00151 Filed 1-12-18; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6712-01-P
    83 10 Tuesday, January 16, 2018 Notices DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service [Docket No. APHIS-2016-0038] Notice of Determination of the Classical Swine Fever Status of Mexico AGENCY:

    Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, USDA.

    ACTION:

    Notice.

    SUMMARY:

    We are advising the public of our determination that Mexico is free of classical swine fever (CSF). Based on our evaluation of the animal health status of Mexico, which we made available to the public for review and comment through a previous notice, the Administrator has determined that CSF is not present in Mexico and that live swine, pork, and pork products may safely be imported into the United States from Mexico subject to conditions in the regulations.

    DATES:

    This change in disease status will be recognized on January 16, 2018.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Dr. Chip Wells, Senior Staff Veterinarian, Regionalization Evaluation Services, National Import Export Services, VS, APHIS, USDA, 4700 River Road, Unit 38, Riverdale, MD 20737-1231; [email protected]; (301) 851-3317.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) regulates the importation of animals and animal products into the United States to guard against the introduction of animal diseases not currently present or prevalent in this country. The regulations in 9 CFR part 94 (referred to below as the regulations) prohibit or restrict the importation of specified animals and animal products to prevent the introduction into the United States of various animal diseases, including classical swine fever (CSF), foot-and-mouth disease, swine vesicular disease, and rinderpest. These are dangerous and communicable diseases of ruminants and swine.

    The regulations in § 94.32 specify conditions for the importation of live swine, pork, and pork products from certain regions that APHIS currently recognizes as CSF-free but whose products may be at risk of commingling with products from CSF-affected regions due to common land borders or other factors. The conditions for such imports include, among others, a requirement for certification by a full-time salaried veterinary officer of the national government of the region of export that the pork or pork products originated in a CSF-free region, requirements that the pork or pork products be derived only from swine that were born and raised in such a region and never lived in a CSF-affected region, a prohibition against the comingling of the pork or pork products with pork or pork products that have been in an affected region, and a requirement that any processing of the pork or pork products be done in a federally inspected processing plant in a CSF-free region.

    The regulations in 9 CFR part 92 contain requirements for requesting the recognition of the animal health status of a region or for the approval of the export of a particular type of animal or animal product to the United States from a foreign region. If, after review and evaluation of the information submitted in support of the request APHIS believes the request can be safely granted, APHIS will make its evaluation available for public comment through a notice published in the Federal Register. Following the close of the comment period, APHIS will review all comments received and will make a final determination regarding the request that will be detailed in another notice published in the Federal Register.

    In response to a series of requests submitted by the Government of Mexico between 2007 and 2009, we conducted a qualitative risk evaluation to evaluate the CSF status of Mexican States other than the nine States already recognized at that time as CSF-free. The resulting risk evaluation document, “APHIS Evaluation of the CSF Status of a Region in Mexico” (referred to below as the “2013 risk evaluation”), did not support CSF-free recognition of all of Mexico; however, it did support access to the U.S. domestic market under certain risk-mitigating conditions. Based on the findings of the 2013 risk evaluation, on July 29, 2014, we published in the Federal Register (79 FR 43974-43980, Docket No. APHIS-2013-0061) a proposal 1 to amend the regulations by recognizing a new APHIS-defined low-risk CSF region consisting of all Mexican States except the nine CSF-free States and the State of Chiapas, which we did not recognize as CSF-free.

    1 To view the 2013 risk evaluation, the proposed rule, and the comments we received, go to http://www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=APHIS-2013-0061.

    In February 2015, Mexico received notice that the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) recognized the country as CSF-free. Citing the OIE decision, the Government of Mexico then requested that APHIS suspend its rulemaking and instead continue evaluating Mexico for CSF-free status.

    In response to this request, APHIS reopened its evaluation of the CSF status of Mexico. This reevaluation incorporated findings from a 2015 APHIS site visit report, along with updated surveillance data and other information submitted by Mexico. These findings are documented in an April 2016 addendum to the 2013 risk evaluation.

    On August 8, 2017, we published in the Federal Register (82 FR 37043-37044, Docket No. APHIS-2016-0038) a notice 2 in which we announced the availability for review and comment of the April 2016 addendum to the 2013 risk evaluation. In the addendum, we presented the results of our updated evaluation of the risk of introducing CSF into the United States via the importation of live swine, pork, and pork products from Mexico.

    2 To view the notice, the addendum, and the comment we received, go to http://www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=APHIS-2016-0038.

    We solicited comments on the notice for 60 days ending on October 10, 2017. We received one comment by that date, from a domestic pork industry group.

    The commenter supported our conclusion, as stated in the addendum, that the risk of introduction of CSF into the United States via the importation of live swine, pork, and pork products from Mexico is very low. Referencing a recommendation by our site visit team that certain improvements should be made to slaughterhouse surveillance in Mexico, however, the commenter urged APHIS to ensure that those improvements were implemented before authorizing pork imports from Mexico.

    In the April 2016 risk evaluation addendum, we indicated that our recommended improvements notwithstanding, the design of Mexico's active surveillance system for CSF is adequate. We made no statement suggesting that recognition of Mexico as CSF-free or trade with Mexico would be contingent upon any action by the Mexican Government to improve slaughter surveillance.

    Based on the addendum and the reasons given in this document in response to comments, we are recognizing Mexico as free of CSF and adding it to the list of regions found on the APHIS website at http://www.aphis.usda.gov/import_export/animals/animal_disease_status.shtml that are considered to be free of CSF but from which live swine, pork, and pork products may only be imported into the United States under certain conditions. Copies of the list are also available via postal mail, fax, or email from the person listed under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT.

    Authority:

    7 U.S.C. 450, 7701-7772, 7781-7786, and 8301-8317; 21 U.S.C. 136 and 136a; 31 U.S.C. 9701; 7 CFR 2.22, 2.80, and 371.4.

    Done in Washington, DC, on January 10, 2018. Kevin Shea, Administrator, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.
    [FR Doc. 2018-00576 Filed 1-12-18; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3410-34-P
    DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service [Docket No. APHIS-2016-0035] Notice of Affirmation of Addition of Treatments for Aircraft for Certain Hitchhiking Pests AGENCY:

    Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, USDA.

    ACTION:

    Notice.

    SUMMARY:

    We are affirming our earlier determination that is was necessary to immediately add two new treatment schedules for aircraft for regulated pests to the Plant Protection and Quarantine (PPQ) Treatment Manual. In a previous notice, we made available to the public for review and comment a treatment evaluation document that discussed the existing treatment schedules, described the new treatment schedules, and explained why these changes were immediately added to the PPQ Treatment Manual. Based on the treatment evaluation document and the comments we received, we are affirming the addition of those new treatments to the PPQ Treatment Manual.

    DATES:

    The addition of the treatments is affirmed as of January 16, 2018.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Mr. George Balady, Senior Regulatory Policy Specialist, PPQ, APHIS, 4700 River Road Unit 133, Riverdale, MD 20737-1231; (301) 851-2240.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    The regulations in 7 CFR chapter III are intended, among other things, to prevent the introduction or dissemination of plant pests and noxious weeds into or within the United States. Under the regulations, certain plants, fruits, vegetables, and other articles must be treated before they may be moved into the United States or interstate. The phytosanitary treatments regulations contained in part 305 of 7 CFR chapter III (referred to below as the regulations) set out standards for treatments required in parts 301, 318, and 319 of 7 CFR chapter III for fruits, vegetables, and other articles.

    In § 305.2, paragraph (b) states that approved treatment schedules are set out in the Plant Protection and Quarantine (PPQ) Treatment Manual.1 Section 305.3 sets out the processes for adding, revising, or removing treatment schedules in the PPQ Treatment Manual. In that section, paragraph (b) sets out the process for adding, revising, or removing treatment schedules when there is an immediate need to make a change. The circumstances in which an immediate need exists are described in § 305.3(b)(1). They are:

    1 The PPQ Treatment Manual is available at http://www.aphis.usda.gov/import_export/plants/manuals/index.shtml or by contacting the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Plant Protection and Quarantine, Manuals Unit, 92 Thomas Johnson Drive, Suite 200, Frederick, MD 21702.

    • PPQ has determined that an approved treatment schedule is ineffective at neutralizing the targeted plant pest(s).

    • PPQ has determined that, in order to neutralize the targeted plant pest(s), the treatment schedule must be administered using a different process than was previously used.

    • PPQ has determined that a new treatment schedule is effective, based on efficacy data, and that ongoing trade in a commodity or commodities may be adversely impacted unless the new treatment schedule is approved for use.

    • The use of a treatment schedule is no longer authorized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency or by any other Federal entity.

    In accordance with § 305.3(b)(2), we published a notice 2 in the Federal Register on August 8, 2017 (82 FR 37042-37043, Docket No. APHIS-2016-0035), in which we announced the availability, for review and comment, of a treatment evaluation document (TED) we prepared to discuss the existing treatment schedules, describe the new treatment schedules, and explain why certain changes were immediately necessary.

    2 To view the notice, the TED, and the comments we received, go to http://www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=APHIS-2016-0035.

    We solicited comments on the notice for 60 days ending on October 10, 2017. We received two comments by that date, from private citizens. Both commenters supported the addition of the treatment schedules.

    Therefore, in accordance with the regulations in § 305.3(b)(3), we are affirming our addition of the two new treatment schedules (T409-a and T409-b-3) for aircraft for regulated pests to the PPQ Treatment Manual. The treatment schedules will be listed in the PPQ Treatment Manual, which is available as described in footnote 1.

    Authority:

    7 U.S.C. 7701-7772 and 7781-7786; 21 U.S.C. 136 and 136a; 7 CFR 2.22, 2.80, and 371.3.

    Done in Washington, DC, on January 10, 2018. Kevin Shea, Administrator, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.
    [FR Doc. 2018-00569 Filed 1-12-18; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3410-34-P
    COMMISSION ON CIVIL RIGHTS Notice of Public Meeting of the Alabama Advisory Committee To Discuss Proposed Panelists for a Hearing on Access To Voting in the State of Alabama AGENCY:

    U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.

    ACTION:

    Announcement of meeting.

    SUMMARY:

    Notice is hereby given, pursuant to the provisions of the rules and regulations of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights (Commission) and the Federal Advisory Committee Act that the Alabama Advisory Committee (Committee) will hold a meeting on Tuesday, January 16, 2018, at 11:00 a.m. (Central) for the purpose of a discussion of proposed panelists for a hearing on Access to Voting in Alabama.

    DATES:

    The meeting will be held on Tuesday, January 16, 2017, at 11:00 a.m. (Central).

    Public Call Information: Dial: 888-471-3840, Conference ID: 4589358.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    David Barreras, DFO, at [email protected] or 312-353-8311

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Members of the public can listen to the discussion. This meeting is available to the public through the following toll-free call-in number: 888-471-3840, conference ID: 4589358. Any interested member of the public may call this number and listen to the meeting. An open comment period will be provided to allow members of the public to make a statement as time allows. The conference call operator will ask callers to identify themselves, the organization they are affiliated with (if any), and an email address prior to placing callers into the conference room. Callers can expect to incur regular charges for calls they initiate over wireless lines, according to their wireless plan. The Commission will not refund any incurred charges. Callers will incur no charge for calls they initiate over land-line connections to the toll-free telephone number. Persons with hearing impairments may also follow the proceedings by first calling the Federal Relay Service at 1-800-977-8339 and providing the Service with the conference call number and conference ID number.

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

    Records generated from this meeting may be inspected and reproduced at the Midwestern Regional Office, as they become available, both before and after the meeting. Records of the meeting will be available via www.facadatabase.gov under the Commission on Civil Rights, Alabama Advisory Committee link (http://www.facadatabase.gov/committee/committee.aspx?cid=233&aid=17). Persons interested in the work of this Committee are directed to the Commission's website, http://www.usccr.gov, or may contact the Midwestern Regional Office at the above email or street address.

    Agenda Welcome and Roll Call Proposed Panelists for a hearing on Access to Voting in Alabama Discussion on a venue for the hearing Next Steps Public Comment Adjournment

    Exceptional Circumstance: Pursuant to 41 CFR 102-3.150, the notice for this meeting is given less than 15 calendar days prior to the meeting because of the exceptional circumstance of this Committee doing work on the FY 2018 statutory enforcement report.

    Dated: January 10, 2018. David Mussatt, Supervisory Chief, Regional Programs Unit.
    [FR Doc. 2018-00564 Filed 1-12-18; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE International Trade Administration [C-122-862] Certain Uncoated Groundwood Paper From Canada: Preliminary Affirmative Countervailing Duty Determination, and Alignment of Final Determination With Final Antidumping Duty Determination AGENCY:

    Enforcement and Compliance, International Trade Administration, Department of Commerce.

    SUMMARY:

    The Department of Commerce (Commerce) preliminarily determines that countervailable subsidies are being provided to producers and exporters of certain uncoated groundwood paper (UGW paper) from Canada. The period of investigation is January 1, 2016, through December 31, 2016.

    DATES:

    Applicable January 16, 2018.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    David Crespo or Whitley Herndon, AD/CVD Operations, Office II, Enforcement and Compliance, International Trade Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce, 1401 Constitution Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20230; telephone: (202) 482-3693 or (202) 482-6274, respectively.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Background

    This preliminary determination is made in accordance with section 703(b) of the Tariff Act of 1930, as amended (the Act). Commerce published the notice of initiation of this investigation on September 1, 2017.1 On October 19, 2017, Commerce postponed the preliminary determination of this investigation and the revised deadline is now January 8, 2018.2 For a complete description of the events that followed the initiation of this investigation, see the Preliminary Decision Memorandum.3 A list of topics discussed in the Preliminary Decision Memorandum is included as Appendix II to this notice. The Preliminary Decision Memorandum is a public document and is on file electronically via Enforcement and Compliance's Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Centralized Electronic Service System (ACCESS). ACCESS is available to registered users at http://access.trade.gov, and is available to all parties in the Central Records Unit, room B8024 of the main Department of Commerce building. In addition, a complete version of the Preliminary Decision Memorandum can be accessed directly at http://enforcement.trade.gov/frn/. The signed and electronic versions of the Preliminary Decision Memorandum are identical in content.

    1See Certain Uncoated Groundwood Paper from Canada: Initiation of Countervailing Duty Investigation, 82 FR 41603 (September 1, 2017) (Initiation Notice).

    2See Certain Uncoated Groundwood Paper from Canada: Postponement of Preliminary Determination of Countervailing Duty Investigation, 82 FR 48681 (October 19, 2017).

    3See Memorandum, “Decision Memorandum for the Preliminary Determination in the Countervailing Duty Investigation of Certain Uncoated Groundwood Paper from Canada,” dated concurrently with, and hereby adopted by, this notice (Preliminary Decision Memorandum).

    Scope of the Investigation

    The product covered by this investigation is UGW paper from Canada. For a complete description of the scope of this investigation, see Appendix I.

    Scope Comments

    In accordance with the preamble to Commerce's regulations,4 the Initiation Notice set aside a period of time for parties to raise issues regarding product coverage, (i.e. , scope).5 Certain interested parties commented on the scope of the investigation as it appeared in the Initiation Notice.

    4See Antidumping Duties; Countervailing Duties, Final Rule, 62 FR 27296, 27323 (May 19, 1997).

    5See Initiation Notice.

    Commerce intends to issue its preliminary decision regarding comments concerning the scope of the antidumping (AD) and countervailing duty (CVD) investigations in the preliminary determination of the companion AD investigation.

    Methodology

    Commerce is conducting this investigation in accordance with section 701 of the Act. For each of the subsidy programs found countervailable, Commerce preliminarily determines that there is a subsidy, i.e. , a financial contribution by an “authority” that gives rise to a benefit to the recipient, and that the subsidy is specific.6

    6See sections 771(5)(B) and (D) of the Act regarding financial contribution; section 771(5)(E) of the Act regarding benefit; and section 771(5A) of the Act regarding specificity.

    Commerce notes that, in making these findings, it relied, in part, on facts available and, because it finds that one or more respondents did not act to the best of their ability to respond to Commerce's requests for information, it drew an adverse inference where appropriate in selecting from among the facts otherwise available.7 For further information, see “Use of Facts Otherwise Available and Adverse Inferences” in the Preliminary Decision Memorandum.

    7See sections 776(a) and (b) of the Act.

    Alignment

    As noted in the Preliminary Decision Memorandum, in accordance with section 705(a)(1) of the Act and 19 CFR 351.210(b)(4), Commerce is aligning the final CVD determination in this investigation with the final determination in the companion AD investigation of UGW paper from Canada based on a request made by the petitioner.8 Consequently, the final CVD determination will be issued on the same date as the final AD determination, which is currently scheduled to be issued no later than May 22, 2018, unless postponed.

    8See Letter from the petitioner, “Countervailing Duty Investigation of Certain Uncoated Groundwood Paper from Canada: Request for Alignment,” dated December 18, 2017.

    All-Others Rate

    Sections 703(d) and 705(c)(5)(A) of the Act provide that in the preliminary determination, Commerce shall determine an estimated all-others rate for companies not individually examined. This rate shall be an amount equal to the weighted average of the estimated subsidy rates established for those companies individually examined, excluding any zero and de minimis rates and any rates based entirely under section 776 of the Act.

    In this investigation, Commerce calculated individually estimated countervailable subsidy rates for Catalyst Paper Corporation (Catalyst), Kruger Trois-Rivieres L.P. (Kruger), and Resolute FP Canada Inc. (Resolute), that are not zero, de minimis , or based entirely on facts otherwise available.9 Commerce calculated the all-others rate using a weighted-average of the individually estimated subsidy rates calculated for the examined respondents using each company's business proprietary data for the merchandise under consideration.10

    9See MacLean-Fogg Co. v. United States, 753 F.3d 1237 (Fed. Cir. 2014) (holding that voluntary respondents are considered “individually investigated” for purposes of calculating the all-others rate). Commerce accepted White Birch Paper Canada Company NSULC (White Birch) as a voluntary respondent in this investigation. However, we have preliminarily calculated a de minimis subsidy rate for White Birch; thus, in accordance with Sections 703(d) and 705(c)(5)(A) of the Act, we have not included White Birch's de minimis subsidy rate in the calculation of the all-others rate for this preliminary determination.

    10See Memorandum, “Countervailing Duty Investigation of Certain Uncoated Groundwood Paper from Canada: All Others Rate Calculation for Preliminary Determination,” dated January 8, 2018.

    Preliminary Determination

    Commerce preliminarily determines that the following estimated countervailable subsidy rates exist:

    Company Ad Valorem,
  • subsidy rate
  • (percent)
  • Catalyst Paper Corporation 11 6.09 Kruger Trois-Rivieres L.P 12 9.93 Resolute FP Canada Inc 13 4.42 White Birch Paper Canada Company NSULC 14 * 0.65 All-Others 6.53 * de minimis.
    Suspension of Liquidation

    In accordance with section 703(d)(1)(B) and (d)(2) of the Act, Commerce will direct U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to suspend liquidation of entries of subject merchandise as described in the scope of the investigation section entered, or withdrawn from warehouse, for consumption on or after the date of publication of this notice in the Federal Register . Further, pursuant to 19 CFR 351.205(d), Commerce will instruct CBP to require a cash deposit equal to the rates indicated above. Because the subsidy rate for White Birch is de minimis , Commerce is directing CBP not to suspend liquidation of entries of the merchandise from this company.

    11 As discussed in the Preliminary Decision Memorandum, Commerce has found the following companies to be cross-owned with Catalyst Paper Corporation: Catalyst Paper, Catalyst Pulp Operations Limited, and Catalyst Pulp and Paper Sales Inc.

    12 As discussed in the Preliminary Decision Memorandum, Commerce has found the following companies to be cross-owned with Kruger Trois-Rivieres L.P.: Kruger Publication Papers Inc., Corner Brook Pulp and Paper Limited, Kruger Energy Bromptonville LP, Kruger Holdings L.P., Kruger Holdings GP Inc., and Kruger Inc.

    13 As discussed in the Preliminary Decision Memorandum, Commerce has found the following companies to be cross-owned with Resolute FP Canada Inc.: Resolute FP Canada, Fibrek General Partnership (Fibrek), and Resolute Growth.

    14 As discussed in the Preliminary Decision Memorandum, Commerce has found the following companies to be cross-owned with White Birch Paper Canada Company NSULC: Papier Masson WB (White Birch) LP, FF Soucy WB LP, and Stadacona WB LP.

    Disclosure

    Commerce intends to disclose its calculations and analysis performed to interested parties in this preliminary determination within five days of its public announcement, or if there is no public announcement, within five days of the date of this notice in accordance with 19 CFR 351.224(b).

    Verification

    As provided in section 782(i)(1) of the Act, Commerce intends to verify the information relied upon in making its final determination.

    Public Comment

    Case briefs or other written comments may be submitted to the Assistant Secretary for Enforcement and Compliance no later than seven days after the date on which the last verification report is issued in this investigation. Rebuttal briefs, limited to issues raised in case briefs, may be submitted no later than five days after the deadline date for case briefs.15 Pursuant to 19 CFR 351.309(c)(2) and (d)(2), parties who submit case briefs or rebuttal briefs in this investigation are encouraged to submit with each argument: (1) A statement of the issue; (2) a brief summary of the argument; and (3) a table of authorities.

    15 See 19 CFR 351.309; see also 19 CFR 351.303 (for general filing requirements).

    Pursuant to 19 CFR 351.310(c), interested parties who wish to request a hearing, limited to issues raised in the case and rebuttal briefs, must submit a written request to the Assistant Secretary for Enforcement and Compliance, U.S. Department of Commerce within 30 days after the date of publication of this notice. Requests should contain the party's name, address, and telephone number, the number of participants, whether any participant is a foreign national, and a list of the issues to be discussed. If a request for a hearing is made, Commerce intends to hold the hearing at the U.S. Department of Commerce, 1401 Constitution Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20230, at a time and date to be determined. Parties should confirm by telephone the date, time, and location of the hearing two days before the scheduled date.

    International Trade Commission Notification

    In accordance with section 703(f) of the Act, Commerce will notify the International Trade Commission (ITC) of its determination. If the final determination is affirmative, the ITC will determine before the later of 120 days after the date of this preliminary determination or 45 days after the final determination.

    Notification to Interested Parties

    This determination is issued and published pursuant to sections 703(f) and 777(i) of the Act and 19 CFR 351.205(c).

    Dated: January 8, 2018. Gary Taverman, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Enforcement and Compliance, performing the non-exclusive function and duties of the Assistant Secretary for Enforcement and Compliance. Appendix I—Scope of the Investigation

    The merchandise covered by this investigation includes certain paper that has not been coated on either side and with 50 percent or more of the cellulose fiber content consisting of groundwood pulp, including groundwood pulp made from recycled paper, weighing not more than 90 grams per square meter. Groundwood pulp includes all forms of pulp produced from a mechanical pulping process, such as thermo-mechanical process (TMP), chemi-thermo mechanical process (CTMP), bleached chemi-thermo mechanical process (BCTMP) or any other mechanical pulping process. The scope includes paper shipped in any form, including but not limited to both rolls and sheets.

    Certain uncoated groundwood paper includes but is not limited to standard newsprint, high bright newsprint, book publishing, directory, and printing and writing papers. The scope includes paper that is white, off-white, cream, or colored.

    Specifically excluded from the scope are imports of certain uncoated groundwood paper printed with final content of printed text or graphic. Also excluded are papers that otherwise meet this definition, but which have undergone a supercalendering process.16

    16 Supercalendering imparts a glossy finish produced by the movement of the paper web through a supercalender which is a stack of alternating rollers of metal and cotton (or other softer material). The supercalender runs at high speed and applies pressure, heat, and friction which glazes the surface of the paper, imparting gloss to the surface and increasing the paper's smoothness and density.

    Certain uncoated groundwood paper is classifiable in the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS) in several subheadings, including 4801.00.0120, 4801.00.0140, 4802.61.1000, 4802.61.2000, 4802.61.3110, 4802.61.3191, 4802.61.6040, 4802.62.1000, 4802.62.2000, 4802.62.3000, 4802.62.6140, 4802.69.1000, 4802.69.2000, and 4802.69.3000. Subject merchandise may also be imported under several additional subheadings including 4805.91.5000, 4805.91.7000, and 4805.91.9000.17 Although the HTSUS subheadings are provided for convenience and customs purposes, the written description of the merchandise is dispositive.

    17 The following HTSUS numbers are no longer active as of January 1, 2017: 4801.00.0020, 4801.00.0040, 4802.61.3010, 4802.61.3091, and 4802.62.6040.

    Appendix II—List of Topics Discussed in the Preliminary Decision Memorandum I. Summary II. Background III. Scope Comments IV. Injury Test V. Subsidies Valuation VI. Application of Facts Otherwise Available and Facts Otherwise Available With an Adverse Inference VII. Analysis of Programs VIII. Conclusion Appendix I: Not-Used and Not-Measurable Programs, by Company
    [FR Doc. 2018-00570 Filed 1-12-18; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-DS-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE International Trade Administration [A-823-816] Carbon and Alloy Steel Wire Rod From Ukraine: Affirmative Final Determination of Sales at Less Than Fair Value AGENCY:

    Enforcement and Compliance, International Trade Administration, Department of Commerce

    SUMMARY:

    The Department of Commerce (Department) determines that imports of carbon and alloy steel wire rod (wire rod) from Ukraine are being, or are likely to be, sold in the United States at less than fair value (LTFV). The final estimated weighted-average dumping margins of sales at LTFV are listed below in the section entitled “Final Determination.” The period of investigation is January 1, 2016, through December 31, 2016.

    DATES:

    Applicable January 16, 2018.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Julia Hancock or Courtney Canales, AD/CVD Operations, Office V, Enforcement and Compliance, International Trade Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce, 1401 Constitution Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20230; telephone: (202) 482-1394, or (202) 482-4997, respectively.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Background

    On October 31, 2017, the Department published the Preliminary Determination in the Federal Register.1 The petitioners in this investigation are Gerdau Ameristeel US Inc., Nucor Corporation, Keystone Consolidated Industries, Inc., and Charter Steel (collectively, the petitioners). The mandatory respondents in this investigation are ArcelorMittal Steel Kryvyi Rih OJSC (AMKR) and Public Joint Stock Company (PJSC) Yenakiieve Steel (Yenakiieve).2 In the Preliminary Determination, the Department determined that the application of facts available with an adverse inference (AFA) was warranted as a result of AMKR's and Yenakiieve's failure to cooperate and provide complete, useable data in this investigation.

    1See Carbon and Alloy Steel Wire Rod from Ukraine: Preliminary Affirmative Determination of Sales at Less Than Fair Value, 82 FR 50375 (October 31, 2017) (Preliminary Determination) and accompanying Preliminary Decision Memorandum.

    2 The Department preliminarily determined not to further examine Duferco S.A. (Duferco) as part of this investigation because the evidence does not show that Duferco made any sales of subject merchandise in the United States during the POI. For the final determination, we continue to find that Duferco had no sales of subject merchandise during the POI. As such, any entries of subject merchandise exported by Duferco will be subject to the All-Others Rate.

    A summary of the events that occurred since the Department published the Preliminary Determination, as well as a full discussion of the issues raised by parties for this final determination, may be found in the accompanying Issues and Decision Memorandum.3 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, and to all parties in the Central Records Unit, room B8024 of the main Department of Commerce building. In addition, a complete version of the Issues and Decision Memorandum can be accessed directly at http://enforcement.trade.gov. The signed and electronic versions of the Issues and Decision Memorandum are identical in content.

    3See Memorandum, “Issues and Decision Memorandum for the Final Affirmative Determination in the Less-Than-Fair-Value Investigation of Carbon and Alloy Steel Wire Rod from Ukraine,” dated concurrently with this determination and hereby adopted by this notice (Issues and Decision Memorandum).

    Scope of the Investigation

    The products covered by this investigation are generally described as wire rod from Ukraine. For a complete description of the scope of the investigation, see Appendix I of this notice.

    Scope Comments

    During the course of this investigation, the Department received numerous scope comments from interested parties. Prior to the Preliminary Determination, the Department issued a Preliminary Scope Decision Memorandum to address these comments. As a result of these comments, the Department made no changes to the scope of this investigation as it appeared in the Initiation Notice. 4

    4 For discussion of these comments, see Memorandum, “Carbon and Alloy Steel Wire Rod from Belarus, Italy, the Republic of Korea, the Russian Federation, South Africa, Spain, the Republic of Turkey, Ukraine, the United Arab Emirates, and the United Kingdom: Scope Comments Decision Memorandum for the Preliminary Determinations” (Preliminary Scope Decision Memorandum), dated August 7, 2017; see also Carbon and Alloy Steel Wire Rod from Belarus, Italy, the Republic of Korea, the Russian Federation, South Africa, Spain, the Republic of Turkey, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, and United Kingdom: Initiation of Less-Than-Fair-Value Investigations, 82 FR 19207 (April 26, 2017) (Initiation Notice).

    In November 2017, we received scope case and rebuttal briefs. On November 20, 2017, we issued the Final Scope Decision Memorandum in response to the comments received.5 We did not change the scope of this investigation.

    5 For discussion of these comments, see Memorandum, “Carbon and Alloy Steel Wire Rod from Belarus, Italy, the Republic of Korea, the Russian Federation, South Africa, Spain, the Republic of Turkey, Ukraine, the United Arab Emirates, and the United Kingdom: Final Scope Memorandum” (Final Scope Decision Memorandum), dated November 20, 2017.

    Analysis of Comments Received

    All issues raised in the case and rebuttal briefs that were submitted by interested parties in this investigation are addressed in the Issues and Decision Memorandum. A list of these issues is attached to this notice at Appendix II.

    Verification

    Because the mandatory respondents in this investigation did not provide the information requested, the Department did not conduct verification.

    Changes Since the Preliminary Determination and Use of Adverse Facts Available

    The Department has made no changes to the Preliminary Determination. As explained in the Preliminary Determination, we found that the application of facts available with an adverse inference with respect to both mandatory respondents in this investigation, AMKR and Yenakiieve, was warranted, in accordance with sections 776(a)(1), 776(a)(2), and 776(b) of the Act.6

    6See Preliminary Determination, 82 FR at 50375; see also PDM at 7-24.

    All-Others Rate

    As discussed in the Preliminary Determination, the Department based the selection of the all-others rate on the simple average of the six dumping margins calculated for subject merchandise from Ukraine alleged in the petition,7 in accordance with section 735(c)(5)(B) of the Act, and determined a rate of 34.98 percent. We made no changes to the all-others rate for this final determination.8

    7See Letter to the Secretary of Commerce and the Secretary of the U.S. International Trade Commission, “Carbon and Alloy Steel Wire Rod from Belarus, Italy, the Republic of Korea, the Russian Federation, the Republic of South Africa, Spain, Turkey, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, and the United Kingdom—Petitions for the Imposition of Antidumping and Countervailing Duties,” dated March 28, 2017; see also Notice of Preliminary Determination of Sales at Less Than Fair Value: Sodium Nitrite from the Federal Republic of Germany, 73 FR 21909, 21912 (April 23, 2008), unchanged in Notice of Final Determination of Sales at Less Than Fair Value: Sodium Nitrite from the Federal Republic of Germany, 73 FR 38986, 38987 (July 8, 2008), and accompanying Issues and Decision Memorandum at Comment 2; Notice of Final Determination of Sales at Less Than Fair Value: Raw Flexible Magnets from Taiwan, 73 FR 39673, 39674 (July 10, 2008); Steel Threaded Rod from Thailand: Preliminary Determination of Sales at Less Than Fair Value and Affirmative Preliminary Determination of Critical Circumstances, 78 FR 79670, 79671 (December 31, 2013), unchanged in Steel Threaded Rod from Thailand: Final Determination of Sales at Less Than Fair Value and Affirmative Final Determination of Critical Circumstances, 79 FR 14476, 14477 (March 14, 2014).

    8See Preliminary Determination, 82 FR at 50375.

    Final Determination

    The final estimated weighted-average dumping margins are as follows:

    Producer or exporter Weighted-average dumping margins (percent) ArcelorMittal Steel Kryvyi Rih 44.03 Public Joint Stock Company Yenakiieve Iron and Steel Works 44.03 All-Others 34.98 Disclosure

    The estimated weighted-average dumping margin assigned to AMKR and Yenakiieve in this investigation in the Preliminary Determination were based on adverse facts available and the Department described the method it used to determine the AFA rate in the Preliminary Determination. As we made no changes to this margin since the Preliminary Determination, no disclosure of calculations is necessary for this final determination.

    Continuation of Suspension of Liquidation

    In accordance with section 733(d)(2) of the Act, the Department will instruct U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to suspend liquidation of all appropriate entries of wire rod from Ukraine, as described in Appendix I of this notice, which were entered, or withdrawn from warehouse, for consumption on or after October 31, 2017, the date of publication of the Preliminary Determination.

    Furthermore, the Department will instruct CBP to require a cash deposit for such entries of merchandise. Pursuant to section 735(c)(1)(B)(ii) of the Act, CBP shall require a cash deposit equal to the weighted-average amount by which normal value exceeds U.S. price, as follows: (1) For AMKR and Yenakiieve, the cash deposit rates will be equal to the estimated weighted-average dumping margin which the Department determined in this final determination; (2) if the exporter is not a firm identified in this investigation but the producer is, then the cash deposit rate will be equal to the estimated weighted-average dumping margin established for the producer of the subject merchandise; (3) the cash deposit rate for all other producers and exporters will be 34.98 percent, as discussed in the “All-Others Rate” section and as listed in the chart, above.

    The instructions suspending liquidation will remain in effect until further notice.

    U.S. International Trade Commission Notification

    In accordance with section 735(d) of the Act, we will notify the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) of our final determination. Because the final determination in this proceeding is affirmative, the ITC will make its final determination as to whether the domestic industry in the United States is materially injured, or threatened with material injury, by reason of imports, or sales (or the likelihood of sales) for importation of wire rod from Ukraine no later than 45 days after this final determination, in accordance with section 735(b)(2) of the Act. If the ITC determines that material injury or threat of material injury does not exist, the proceeding will be terminated and all cash deposits will be refunded. If the ITC determines that such injury does exist, the Department will issue an antidumping duty order directing CBP to assess, upon further instruction by the Department, antidumping duties on all imports of the subject merchandise entered, or withdrawn from warehouse, for consumption on or after the effective date of the suspension of liquidation, as discussed above in the “Continuation of Suspension of Liquidation” section.

    Notification Regarding Administrative Protective Orders

    This notice will serve as a reminder to parties subject to administrative protective orders (APOs) 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.

    Notification to Interested Parties

    This determination and notice are issued and published in accordance with sections 735(d) and 777(i) of the Act and 19 CFR 351.210(c).

    Dated: January 8, 2018. Gary Taverman, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Operations, performing the non-exclusive functions and duties of the Assistant Secretary for Enforcement and Compliance. Appendix I—Scope of the Investigation

    The products covered by this investigation are certain hot-rolled products of carbon steel and alloy steel, in coils, of approximately round cross section, less than 19.00 mm in actual solid cross-sectional diameter. Specifically excluded are steel products possessing the above-noted physical characteristics and meeting the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS) definitions for (a) stainless steel; (b) tool steel; (c) high-nickel steel; (d) ball bearing steel; or (e) concrete reinforcing bars and rods. Also excluded are free cutting steel (also known as free machining steel) products (i.e., products that contain by weight one or more of the following elements: 0.1 percent of more of lead, 0.05 percent or more of bismuth, 0.08 percent or more of sulfur, more than 0.04 percent of phosphorous, more than 0.05 percent of selenium, or more than 0.01 percent of tellurium). All products meeting the physical description of subject merchandise that are not specifically excluded are included in this scope.

    The products under investigation are currently classifiable under subheadings 7213.91.3011, 7213.91.3015, 7213.91.3020, 7213.91.3093, 7213.91.4500, 7213.91.6000, 7213.99.0030, 7227.20.0030, 7227.20.0080, 7227.90.6010, 7227.90.6020, 7227.90.6030, and 7227.90.6035 of the HTSUS. Products entered under subheadings 7213.99.0090 and 7227.90.6090 of the HTSUS may also be included in this scope if they meet the physical description of subject merchandise above. Although the HTSUS subheadings are provided for convenience and customs purposes, the written description of the scope of these proceedings is dispositive.

    Appendix II—List of Topics Discussed in the Issues and Decision Memorandum I. Summary II. Background III. Period of Investigation IV. Scope of the Investigation V. Determination of No Sales VI. Discussion of the Issues: Comment 1: Application of Total AFA to AMKR Comment 2: Application of Total AFA to Yenakiieve VII. Recommendation
    [FR Doc. 2018-00571 Filed 1-12-18; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-DS-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE International Trade Administration [A-570-970] Multilayered Wood Flooring From the People's Republic of China: Preliminary Results of the Antidumping Duty Administrative Review, Preliminary Determination of No Shipments, and Rescission of Review, in Part; 2015-2016 AGENCY:

    Enforcement and Compliance, International Trade Administration, Department of Commerce.

    SUMMARY:

    The Department of Commerce (Commerce) is conducting an administrative review of the antidumping duty order on multilayered wood flooring (MLWF) from the People's Republic of China (China). The period of review (POR) is December 1, 2015, through November 30, 2016. The review covers two mandatory respondents, Jiangsu Senmao Bamboo and Wood Industry Co., Ltd. (Jiangsu Senmao) and Jilin Forest Industry Jinqiao Flooring Group Co., Ltd. (Jinqiao Flooring).

    We preliminarily determine that sales of subject merchandise by Jiangsu Senmao have not been made at prices below normal value (NV) and that Jinqiao Flooring is not eligible for a separate rate and, therefore, remains part of the China-wide entity. In addition, we are preliminarily granting separate rates to 70 producers/exporters, including Jiangsu Senmao, and determine that 16 producer/exporters made no shipments of subject merchandise during the POR. Finally, we are rescinding the review with respect to Dalian Penghong Floor Products Co., Ltd. (Dalian Penghong). We invite interested parties to comment on these preliminary results.

    DATES:

    Applicable January 16, 2018.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Sergio Balbontin or Michael Bowen, AD/CVD Operations, Office VIII, Enforcement and Compliance, International Trade Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce, 1401 Constitution Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20230; telephone: (202) 482-6478 and (202) 482-0768, respectively.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Scope of the Order

    The product covered by the Order is wood flooring from China. For a complete description of the scope of this administrative review, see the Preliminary Decision Memorandum.1

    1See Memorandum to 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, from James P. Maeder Senior Director performing the duties of Deputy Assistant Secretary for Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Operations, “Decision Memorandum for the Preliminary Results in the Antidumping Duty Administrative Review; Multilayered Wood Flooring from the People's Republic of China; 2015-2016,” (Preliminary Decision Memorandum), dated concurrently with, and hereby adopted by, this notice.

    Partial Rescission of Review

    Commerce initiated a review of 116 companies in this administrative review. 2 The requests for review of Dalian Penghong were timely withdrawn.3 Accordingly, we are rescinding the administrative review with respect to this company.4

    2See Initiation of Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Administrative Reviews, 82 FR 10457 (February 13, 2017) (Initiation Notice); see also Initiation of Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Administrative Reviews, 82 FR 57705 (December 7, 2017) (Second Initiation Notice). Commerce notes that the Second Initiation Notice contained a typographical error in the spelling of “Dun Hua Sen Tai Wood Co., Ltd.” This determination corrects the second notice of initiation and reflects the accurate spelling.

    3See Letters from the Coalition for American Hardwood Parity, “Partial Withdrawal of Request for Administrative Review: Multilayered Wood Flooring from the People's Republic of China,” and Dalian Penghong, “Multilayered Wood Flooring from the People's Republic of China; Withdrawal of Request for Review,” both dated March 27, 2017.

    4See 19 CFR 351.213(d)(1).

    Preliminary Determination of No Shipments

    Sixteen companies submitted timely-filed certifications that they had no exports, sales, or entries of subject merchandise during the POR. Accordingly, Commerce, consistent with its practice, requested that U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) conduct a query of potential shipments made by these companies. Based on an analysis of the CBP information and the no shipment certifications, Commerce preliminarily determines that these 16 companies had no shipments during the POR.5 For additional information regarding this determination, see the Preliminary Decision Memorandum.

    5See Appendix II for a list of these companies.

    Consistent with our practice in non-market economy (NME) cases, Commerce is not rescinding this administrative review with respect to these companies but, rather, intends to complete the review and issue appropriate instructions to CBP based on the final results of the review.6

    6See Non-Market Economy Antidumping Proceedings: Assessment of Antidumping Duties, 76 FR 65694, 65694-95 (October 24, 2011) (NME AD Assessment) and the “Assessment Rates” section, below.

    Separate Rates

    Commerce preliminarily determines that 70 respondents are eligible for separate rates in this review.7

    7See Preliminary Decision Memorandum at 8-14, for more details.

    Separate Rates for Eligible Non-Selected Respondents

    In accordance with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit's decision in Albemarle Corp. v. United States, 8 we assigned to eligible non-selected respondents the separate rate we assigned to Jiangsu Senmao 9 for the preliminary results of this review.

    8See Albemarle Corp. & Subsidiaries v. United States, 821 F.3d 1345 (Fed. Cir. 2016).

    9See Memorandum, “Preliminary Results Margin Calculation for Jiangsu Senmao Bamboo and Wood Industry Co., Ltd.,” dated concurrently with this notice (Preliminary Results Memorandum).

    China-Wide Entity

    Commerce's policy regarding conditional review of the China-wide entity applies to this administrative review.10 Under this policy, the China-wide entity will not be under review unless a party specifically requests, or Commerce self-initiates, a review of the entity. Because no party requested a review of the China-wide entity, the entity is not under review and the entity's rate is not subject to change. Aside from the no shipments companies discussed above, and the company for which the review is being rescinded, Commerce considers all other companies for which a review was requested and which did not preliminarily qualify for a separate rate, to be part of the China-wide entity.11 For additional information, see the Preliminary Decision Memorandum.

    10See 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).

    11See Initiation Notice (“All firms listed below that wish to qualify for separate rate status in the administrative reviews involving NME countries must complete, as appropriate, either a separate rate application or certification, as described below.”) Companies that are subject to this administrative review that are considered to be part of the China-wide entity are listed in Appendix II.

    Methodology

    Commerce is conducting this review in accordance with section 751(a) (1) (B) of the Tariff Act of 1930, as amended (the Act). We calculated export price for Jiangsu Senmao in accordance with section 772 of the Act. Because China is a NME within the meaning of section 771(18) of the Act, we calculated NV in accordance with section 773(c) of the Act.

    For a full description of the methodology underlying our conclusions, see the Preliminary Decision Memorandum. The Preliminary Decision Memorandum is a public document and is on file electronically via Enforcement and Compliance's Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Centralized Electronic Service System (ACCESS). ACCESS is available to registered users at https://access.trade.gov and in the Central Records Unit, Room B8024 of the main Commerce building. In addition, a complete version of the Preliminary Decision Memorandum can be accessed directly on the internet at http://enforcement.trade.gov/frn/index.html. The signed Preliminary Decision Memorandum and the electronic version of the Preliminary Decision Memorandum are identical in content. A list of topics discussed in the Preliminary Decision Memorandum is included as Appendix I to this notice.

    Preliminary Results of Review

    In this administrative review, we preliminarily calculated a weighted-average dumping margin for Jiangsu Senmao of zero.12 We assigned this rate to the companies subject to this review who established their eligibility for a separate rate.

    12See Preliminary Results Memorandum.

    Commerce preliminarily finds that Jinqiao Flooring did not establish eligibility for a separate rate, and is therefore considered to be part of the China-wide entity.13 Because no party requested a review of the China-wide entity, the entity is not under review, and the China-wide entity's rate of 25.62 percent from the investigation is not subject to change. For additional information regarding this determination, see the Preliminary Decision Memorandum.

    13See Preliminary Decision Memorandum and “Preliminary Separate Rate Analysis Memorandum for Jilin Forest Industry Jinqiao Flooring Group Co., Ltd.,” dated concurrently with this notice.

    For companies subject to this review that have established their eligibility for a separate rate, Commerce preliminarily determines that the following weighted-average dumping margins exist for the period December 1, 2015, through November 30, 2016:

    Exporters Weighted-
  • average
  • dumping
  • margin
  • (percent)
  • A&W (Shanghai) Woods Co., Ltd 0.0 Anhui Longhua Bamboo Product Co., Ltd 0.0 Baishan Huafeng Wooden Product Co., Ltd 0.0 Benxi Wood Company 0.0 Changzhou Hawd Flooring Co., Ltd 0.0 Dalian Dajen Wood Co., Ltd 0.0 Dalian Guhua Wood Product Co., Ltd 0.0 Dalian Huade Wood Product Co., Ltd 0.0 Dalian Huilong Wooden Products Co., Ltd 0.0 Dalian Jaenmaken Wood Industry Co., Ltd 0.0 Dalian Kemian Wood Industry Co., Ltd 0.0 Dalian Xinjinghua Wood Co., Ltd 0.0 Dongtai Fuan Universal Dynamics, LLC 0.0 Dunhua City Jisen Wood Industry Co., Ltd 0.0 Dunhua City Dexin Wood Industry Co., Ltd 0.0 Dunhua City Hongyuan Wood Industry Co., Ltd 0.0 Dunhua City Wanrong Wood Industry Co., Ltd 0.0 Dunhua Shengda Wood Industry Co., Ltd 0.0 Dun Hua Sen Tai Wood Co., Ltd 0.0 Fine Furniture (Shanghai) Limited 0.0 Fusong Jinlong Wooden Group Co., Ltd 0.0 Fusong Jinqiu Wooden Product Co., Ltd 0.0 Fusong Qianqiu Wooden Product Co., Ltd 0.0 Guangzhou Panyu Kangda Board Co., Ltd 0.0 Guangzhou Panyu Southern Star Co., Ltd 0.0 HaiLin LinJing Wooden Products, Ltd 0.0 Hangzhou Hanje Tec Co., Ltd 0.0 Hunchun Forest Wolf Wooden Industry Co., Ltd 0.0 Hunchun Xingjia Wooden Flooring Inc 0.0 Huzhou Chenghang Wood Co., Ltd 0.0 Huzhou Fulinmen Imp. & Exp. Co., Ltd 0.0 Huzhou Jesonwood Co., Ltd 0.0 Huzhou Sunergy World Trade Co., Ltd 0.0 Jiangsu Guyu International Trading Co., Ltd 0.0 Jiangsu Kentier Wood Co., Ltd 0.0 Jiangsu Mingle Flooring Co 0.0 Jiangsu Senmao Bamboo and Wood Industry Co., Ltd 0.0 Jiangsu Simba Flooring Co., Ltd 0.0 Jiashan Huijiale Decoration Material Co., Ltd 0.0 Jiaxing Hengtong Wood Co., Ltd 0.0 Jilin Xinyuan Wooden Industry Co., Ltd 0.0 Karly Wood Product Limited 0.0 Kember Flooring, Inc 0.0 Kemian Wood Industry (Kunshan) Co., Ltd 0.0 Linyi Anying Wood Co., Ltd 0.0 Linyi Youyou Wood Co., Ltd 0.0 Metropolitan Hardwood Floors, Inc 0.0 Mudanjiang Bosen Wood Industry Co., Ltd 0.0 Nakahiro Jyou Sei Furniture (Dalian) Co., Ltd 0.0 Pinge Timber Manufacturing (Zhejiang) Co., Ltd 0.0 Scholar Home (Shanghai) New Material Co. Ltd 0.0 Shanghai Lairunde Wood Co., Ltd 0.0 Shenyang Haobainian Wooden Co., Ltd 0.0 Shenzhenshi Huanwei Woods Co., Ltd 0.0 Sino-Maple (Jiangsu) Co., Ltd 0.0 Suzhou Dongda Wood Co., Ltd 0.0 Tongxiang Jisheng Import and Export Co., Ltd 0.0 Xiamen Yung De Ornament Co., Ltd 0.0 Xuzhou Antop International Trade Co., Ltd 0.0 Xuzhou Shenghe Wood Co., Ltd 0.0 Yekalon Industry, Inc 0.0 Yihua Lifestyle Technology Co., Ltd 0.0 Yingyi-Nature (Kunshan) Wood Industry Co., Ltd 0.0 Zhejiang Biyork Wood Co., Ltd 0.0 Zhejiang Dadongwu Green Home Wood Co., Ltd 0.0 Zhejiang Fudeli Timber Industry Co., Ltd 0.0 Zhejiang Fuerjia Wooden Co., Ltd 0.0 Zhejiang Fuma Warm Technology Co., Ltd 0.0 Zhejiang Longsen Lumbering Co., Ltd 0.0 Zhejiang Shiyou Timber Co., Ltd 0.0
    Disclosure and Public Comment

    Commerce intends to disclose to the parties the calculations performed for these preliminary results within five days of the date of publication of this notice in accordance with 19 CFR 351.224(b). Interested parties may submit case briefs no later than 30 days after the date of publication of these preliminary results of review.14 Rebuttals to case briefs may be filed no later than five days after the written comments are filed, and all rebuttal comments must be limited to comments raised in the case briefs.15

    14See 19 CFR 351.309(c).

    15See 19 CFR 351.309(d).

    Pursuant to 19 CFR 351.309(c)(2) and (d)(2), parties who submit case briefs or rebuttal briefs in this review are encouraged to submit with each argument: (1) A statement of the issue; (2) a brief summary of the argument; and (3) a table of authorities.

    Pursuant to 19 CFR 351.310(c), interested parties who wish to request a hearing, limited to issues raised in the case and rebuttal briefs, must submit a written request to the Assistant Secretary for Enforcement and Compliance, U.S. Department of Commerce, within 30 days after the date of publication of this notice. Requests should contain the party's name, address, and telephone number, the number of participants, whether any participant is a foreign national, and a list of the issues to be discussed. If a request for a hearing is made, Commerce intends to hold the hearing at the U.S. Department of Commerce, 1401 Constitution Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20230, at a time and date to be determined. Parties should confirm by telephone the date, time, and location of the hearing two days before the scheduled date.

    Unless otherwise extended, Commerce intends to issue the final results of this administrative review, which will include the results of our analysis of the issues raised in the case briefs, within 120 days of publication of these preliminary results in the Federal Register, pursuant to section 751(a)(3)(A) of the Act.

    Assessment Rates

    Upon issuance of the final results, Commerce will determine, and CBP shall assess, antidumping duties on all appropriate entries covered by this review, in accordance with 19 CFR 351.212(b). For the company for which this review is rescinded, antidumping duties shall be assessed at rates equal to the cash deposit of estimated antidumping duties required at the time of entry, or withdrawal from warehouse, for consumption, in accordance with 19 CFR 351.212(c)(1)(i). Commerce intends to issue appropriate assessment instructions with respect to the companies for which this review is rescinded to CBP 15 days after the publication of this notice.

    For the remaining companies subject to review, and for which we do not make a final determination of no shipments, Commerce will direct CBP to assess rates based on the per-unit (i.e., per square meter) amount on each entry of the subject merchandise during the POR. For the respondents that were not selected for individual examination in this administrative review but qualified for a separate rate, the assessment rate will be equal to the weighted-average dumping margin assigned to Jiangsu Senmao in the final results of this review.16 If Jiangsu Senmao's weighted-average dumping margin is zero or de minimus (i.e., less than 0.5 percent), Commerce will instruct CBP to liquidate the appropriate entries without regard to antidumping duties. Commerce intends to issue assessment instructions to CBP 15 days after the publication date of the final results of review. For entries that were not reported in the U.S. sales databases submitted by the companies individually examined during this review, Commerce will instruct CBP to liquidate such entries at the China-wide rate. In addition, if we continue to find no shipments of subject merchandise for the 16 companies that reported no such shipments during the POR,17 any suspended entries of subject merchandise from those companies will be liquidated at the China-wide rate.18

    16See Drawn Stainless Steel Sinks from the People's Republic of China: Preliminary Results of the Antidumping Duty Administrative Review and Preliminary Determination of No Shipments: 2014-2015, 81 FR 29528 (May 12, 2016), and accompanying Preliminary Decision Memorandum at 10-11; unchanged in Drawn Stainless Steel Sinks from the People's Republic of China: Final Results of Antidumping Duty Administrative Review; Final Determination of No Shipments; 2014-2015, 81 FR 54042 (August 15, 2016).

    17See Appendix II for a list of these companies.

    18See Non-Market Economy Antidumping Proceedings: Assessment of Antidumping Duties, 76 FR 65694, 65695 (October 24, 2011).

    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 from China 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 the companies listed above that have a separate rate, the cash deposit rate will be that rate established in the final results of this review (except, if the rate is de minimis, then a cash deposit rate of zero will be required); (2) for previously investigated or reviewed Chinese and non-Chinese exporters not listed above that received a separate rate in a prior segment of this proceeding, the cash deposit rate will continue to be the existing exporter-specific rate; (3) for all Chinese exporters of subject merchandise that have not been found to be entitled to a separate rate, the cash deposit rate will be the rate for the China-wide entity, which is 25.62 percent; and (4) for all non-China exporters of subject merchandise that have not received their own rate, the cash deposit rate will be the rate applicable to China exporter(s) that supplied that non-China exporter. These cash deposit requirements, when imposed, shall remain in effect until further notice.

    Notification to Importers

    This notice also serves as a preliminary reminder to importers of their responsibility under 19 CFR 351.402(f) to file a certificate regarding the reimbursement of antidumping and/or countervailing duties prior to liquidation of the relevant entries during this review period. Failure to comply with this requirement could result in Commerce's presumption that reimbursement of antidumping and/or countervailing duties occurred and the subsequent assessment of double antidumping duties.

    We are issuing and publishing these preliminary results of review in accordance with sections 751(a)(l) and 777(i)(l) of the Act and 19 CFR 351.221(b)(4).

    Dated: January 2, 2018. Christian Marsh, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Enforcement and Compliance. Appendix I—List of Topics Discussed in the Preliminary Decision Memorandum I. Summary II. Background III. Period of Review IV. Scope of the Order V. Selection of Respondents VI. Partial Rescission of Review VII. Preliminary Determination of No Shipments VIII. Discussion of the Methodology A. Non-Market Economy Country Status B. Separate Rate Determinations 1. Wholly Foreign-Owned Applicants 2. Mandatory Respondents and the Remaining Separate Rate Applicants a. Absence of De Jure Control b. Absence of De Facto Control 3. China-Wide Entity C. Weighted-Average Dumping Margin for Non-Examined Separate-Rate Companies D. Surrogate Country and Surrogate Value Data 1. Surrogate Country Selection 2. Economic Comparability 3. Significant Producer of Comparable Merchandise 4. Data Availability E. Date of Sale F. Comparisons to Normal Value 1. Determination of Comparison Method 2. Results of the Differential Pricing Analysis G. U.S. Price 1. Export Price 2. Value-Added Tax H. Normal Value 1. Factor Valuation Methodology a. Direct and Packing Materials b. Labor c. Financial Ratios d. By-Products I. Adjustment Under Section 777A(f) of the Act J. Currency Conversion IX. Recommendation Appendix II No-Shipment Certifications Anhui Boya Bamboo & Wood Products Co., Ltd. Changbai Mountain Development and Protection Zone Hongtu Wood Industrial Co., Ltd. Chinafloors Timber (China) Co, Ltd. Dalian Jiahong Wood Industry Co., Ltd. Guangzhou Homebon Timber Manufacturing Co., Ltd. Huzhou Muyun Wood Co., Ltd. Jiangsu Keri Wood Co., Ltd. Jiangsu Yuhui International Trade Co., Ltd. Jiashan On-Line Lumber Co., Ltd. Kingman Floors Co., Ltd. Les Planchers Mercier, Inc. Linyi Bonn Flooring Manufacturing Co., Ltd. Power Dekor Group Co., Ltd. Shanghai Lizhong Wood Products Co., Ltd. Zhejiang Shuimojiangnan New Material Technology Co., Ltd. Zhejiang Simite Wooden Co., Ltd. China-Wide Entity Companies Anhui Suzhou Dongda Wood Co., Ltd. Baishan Huafeng Wood Product Co., Ltd. Baiying Furniture Manufacturer Co., Ltd. Cheng Hang Wood Co., Ltd. Dalian Jiuyuan Wood Industry Co., Ltd. Dalian Qinqui Wooden Product Co., Ltd. Dongtai Zhangshi Wood Industry Co., Ltd. Fu Lik Timber (HK) Co., Ltd. GTP International Ltd. Guangdong Yihua Timber Industry Co., Ltd. HaiLin Xincheng Wooden Products, Ltd. Hangzhou Dazhuang Floor Co., Ltd. (dba Dasso Industrial Group Co., Ltd.) Hangzhou Huahi Wood Industry Co., Ltd. Huber Engineering Wood Corp. Huzhou City Nanxun Guangda Wood Co., Ltd. Huzhou Fuma Wood Co., Ltd. Jiafeng Wood (Suzhou) Co., Ltd. Jilin Forest Industry Jinqiao Flooring Group Co., Ltd. Qingdao Barry Flooring Co., Ltd. Shandong Kaiyuan Wood Industry Co., Ltd. Shanghai Anxin (Weiguang) Timber Co., Ltd. Shanghai Eswell Timber Co., Ltd. Shanghai New Sihe Wood Co., Ltd. Shanghai Shenlin Corporation Vicwood Industry (Suzhou) Co., Ltd. Yixing Lion-King Timber Industry Zhejiang AnJi Xinfeng Bamboo and Wood Industry Co., Ltd. Zhejiang Desheng Wood Industry Co., Ltd. Zhejiang Haoyun Wooden Co., Ltd.
    [FR Doc. 2018-00573 Filed 1-12-18; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-DS-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE International Trade Administration [A-791-823] Carbon and Alloy Steel Wire Rod From the Republic of South Africa: Affirmative Final Determination of Sales at Less Than Fair Value and Affirmative Finding of Critical Circumstances AGENCY:

    Enforcement and Compliance, International Trade Administration, Department of Commerce.

    SUMMARY:

    The Department of Commerce (Commerce) determines that imports of carbon and alloy steel wire rod (wire rod) from the Republic of South Africa (South Africa) are being, or are likely to be, sold in the United States at less than fair value (LTFV). The final estimated weighted-average dumping margins of sales at LTFV are listed below in the section entitled “Final Determination.” The period of investigation (POI) is January 1, 2016, through December 31, 2016.

    DATES:

    Applicable January 16, 2018.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Moses Song or John McGowan, AD/CVD Operations, Office VI, AD/CVD Operations, Enforcement and Compliance, International Trade Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce, 1401 Constitution Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20230; telephone: (202) 482-5041 or (202) 482-3019, respectively.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Background

    On October 31, 2017, Commerce published the Preliminary Determination in the Federal Register.1 The petitioners in this investigation are Gerdau Ameristeel US Inc., Nucor Corporation, Keystone Consolidated Industries, Inc., and Charter Steel (collectively, the petitioners). The three mandatory respondents in this investigation are: (1) ArcelorMittal South Africa Limited (AMSA); (2) Scaw South Africa (Pty) Ltd. (also known as Scaw Metals Group) (Scaw); and (3) Davsteel Division of Cape Gate (Pty) Ltd. (Cape Gate). At the Preliminary Determination, Commerce determined that AMSA, Scaw, and Consolidated Wire Industries (CWI) are affiliated and constituted a single entity, i.e., AMSA/Scaw/CWI. Furthermore, we preliminarily found that the application of facts available with an adverse inference (AFA) to the collapsed entity, due to Scaw's failure to participate in this investigation, was warranted. Commerce also preliminarily determined that critical circumstances existed for AMSA/Scaw/CWI and for all-other exporters/producers of wire rod. Concerning Cape Gate, Commerce preliminarily determined not to further examine Cape Gate as part of this investigation because Cape Gate timely certified that it did not make any sales of subject merchandise in the United States during the POI and there is no record evidence to the contrary.

    1See Carbon and Alloy Steel Wire Rod from the Republic of South Africa: Preliminary Affirmative Determination of Sales at Less Than Fair Value, Preliminary Affirmative Determination of Critical Circumstances, and Preliminary Determination of No Shipments, 82 FR at 50383 (October 31, 2017) (Preliminary Determination), and accompanying Preliminary Decision Memorandum (PDM).

    A summary of the events that occurred since Commerce published the Preliminary Determination, as well as a full discussion of the issues raised by parties for this final determination, may be found in the accompanying Issues and Decision Memorandum.2 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, and to all parties in the Central Records Unit, room B8024 of the main Department of Commerce building. In addition, a complete version of the Issues and Decision Memorandum can be accessed directly at http://enforcement.trade.gov. The signed and electronic versions of the Issues and Decision Memorandum are identical in content.

    2See Memorandum, “Issues and Decision Memorandum for the Final Affirmative Determination in the Less-Than-Fair-Value Investigation of Carbon and Alloy Steel Wire Rod from the Republic of South Africa,” dated concurrently with this determination and hereby adopted by this notice (Issues and Decision Memorandum or IDM).

    Scope of the Investigation

    The product covered by this investigation is wire rod from South Africa. For a complete description of the scope of this investigation, see Appendix I.

    Scope Comments

    During the course of this investigation, Commerce received numerous scope comments from interested parties. Prior to the Preliminary Determination, Commerce issued a Preliminary Scope Decision Memorandum to address these comments. As a result of these comments, Commerce made no changes to the scope of this investigation as it appeared in the Initiation Notice. 3

    3 For discussion of these comments, see Memorandum, “Carbon and Alloy Steel Wire Rod from Belarus, Italy, the Republic of Korea, the Russian Federation, South Africa, Spain, the Republic of Turkey, Ukraine, the United Arab Emirates, and the United Kingdom: Scope Comments Decision Memorandum for the Preliminary Determination” (Preliminary Scope Decision Memorandum), dated August 7, 2017; see also Carbon and Alloy Steel Wire Rod from Belarus, Italy, the Republic of Korea, the Russian Federation, South Africa, Spain, the Republic of Turkey, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, and United Kingdom: Initiation of Less-Than-Fair-Value Investigations, 82 FR 19207 (April 20, 2017) (Initiation Notice).

    In September 2017, we received scope case and rebuttal briefs. On November 20, 2017, we issued the Final Scope Decision Memorandum in response to these comments in which we did not change the scope of this investigation.4

    4 For discussion of these comments, see Memorandum, “Carbon and Alloy Steel Wire Rod from Belarus, Italy, the Republic of Korea, the Russian Federation, South Africa, Spain, the Republic of Turkey, Ukraine, the United Arab Emirates, and the United Kingdom: Final Scope Memorandum” (Final Scope Decision Memorandum), dated November 20, 2017.

    Analysis of Comments Received

    All issues raised in the case and rebuttal briefs that were submitted by interested parties in this investigation are addressed in the Issues and Decision Memorandum. A list of these issues is attached to this notice at Appendix II.

    Verification

    As explained in the Issues and Decision Memorandum, Commerce did not conduct verification of AMSA/Scaw/CWI.

    Changes Since the Preliminary Determination and Use of Adverse Facts Available

    Commerce has made no changes to the Preliminary Determination. As stated in the Preliminary Determination, we found that the application of facts available with an adverse inference with respect to the collapsed entity, i.e., AMSA/Scaw/CWI, in this investigation, was warranted, in accordance with sections 776(a)(1), 776(a)(2)(A)-(C), and 776(b) of the Act.5

    5See Preliminary Determination, 82 FR at 50383; see also PDM at 6-9.

    Final Affirmative Determination of No Sales

    As stated above in the “Background” section, at the Preliminary Determination, we found that Cape Gate had no sales of subject merchandise during the POI, and, therefore, we determined not to further examine Cape Gate as part of this investigation. Commerce received no comments regarding this issue after the Preliminary Determination. Thus, for this final determination, we continue to find that Cape Gate had no sales of subject merchandise during the POI. As such, any entries of subject merchandise exported by Cape Gate will be subject to the All-Others Rate.

    Final Affirmative Determination of Critical Circumstances

    In accordance with section 733(e)(1) of the Act and 19 CFR 351.206, we preliminarily found that critical circumstances exist with respect to AMSA/Scaw/CWI, and all other producers and exporters of wire rod from South Africa (All Others).6 Commerce received no comments regarding this issue after the Preliminary Determination. Thus, for this final determination, we continue to find that, in accordance with section 735(a)(3) of the Act and 19 CFR 351.206, critical circumstances exist for imports from all producers and exporters of wire rod from South Africa.

    6See Preliminary Determination, 82 FR at 50383, 50384; see also PDM at 11-16.

    All-Others Rate

    As discussed in the Preliminary Determination, Commerce based the selection of the all-others rate on the simple average of the two dumping margins calculated for subject merchandise from South Africa alleged in the petition,7 in accordance with section 735(c)(5)(B) of the Act, and determined a rate of 135.46 percent. No parties commented on this issue and we made no changes to the all-others rate for this final determination.8

    7See the Petitions for the Imposition of Antidumping Duties on Carbon and Alloy Steel Wire Rod from Belarus, Italy, the Republic of Korea, the Russian Federation, the Republic of South Africa, Spain, Turkey, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, and the United Kingdom, dated March 28, 2017 (the petition).

    8See Preliminary Determination, 82 FR at 50383, 50384-50385.

    Final Determination

    The final estimated weighted-average dumping margins are as follows:

    Exporter/producer Estimated
  • weighted-
  • average
  • dumping
  • margin
  • (percent)
  • ArcelorMittal South Africa Limited, Scaw South Africa (Pty) Ltd. (also known as Scaw Metals Group), and Consolidated Wire Industries 142.26 All-Others 135.46
    Disclosure

    The estimated weighted-average dumping margin assigned to the collapsed entity (i.e., AMSA/Scaw/CWI) in this investigation in the Preliminary Determination were based on adverse facts available and Commerce described the method it used to determine the adverse facts available rate in the Preliminary Determination. As we made no changes to this margin since the Preliminary Determination, no disclosure of calculations is necessary for this final determination.

    Continuation of Suspension of Liquidation

    In accordance with section 733(d)(2) of the Act, for this final determination, we will direct U. S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to suspend liquidation of all entries of wire rod from South Africa, as described in Appendix I to this notice, which were entered, or withdrawn from warehouse, for consumption on or after August 2, 2017 (90 days prior to the date of publication of the Preliminary Determination), because we continue to find that critical circumstances exist with regard to imports from all producers and exporters of wire rod from South Africa.

    Furthermore, Commerce will instruct CBP to require a cash deposit for such entries of merchandise. Pursuant to section 735(c)(1)(B)(ii) of the Act, CBP shall require a cash deposit equal to the weighted-average amount by which normal value exceeds U.S. price, as follows: (1) For AMSA/Scaw/CWI, the cash deposit rate will be equal to the estimated weighted-average dumping margin which Commerce determined in this final determination; (2) if the exporter is not a firm identified in this investigation but the producer is, then the cash deposit rate will be equal to the estimated weighted-average dumping margin established for the producer of the subject merchandise; (3) the cash deposit rate for all other producers or exporters will be 135.46 percent, as discussed in the “All-Others Rate” section, above.

    The instructions suspending liquidation will remain in effect until further notice.

    U.S. International Trade Commission Notification

    In accordance with section 735(d) of the Act, we will notify the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) of our final determination of sales at LTFV and final affirmative determination of critical circumstances for South Africa. Because the final determination in this proceeding is affirmative, the ITC will make its final determination as to whether the domestic industry in the United States is materially injured, or threatened with material injury, by reason of imports, or sales (or the likelihood of sales) for importation of wire rod from South Africa no later than 45 days after this final determination, in accordance with section 735(b)(2) of the Act. If the ITC determines that such injury does not exist, the proceeding will be terminated and all cash deposits posted will be refunded or cancelled. If the ITC determines that such injury exists, Commerce will issue an antidumping duty order directing CBP to assess, upon further instruction by Commerce, antidumping duties on all imports of the subject merchandise entered, or withdrawn from warehouse, for consumption on or after the effective date of the suspension of liquidation, as discussed above in the “Continuation of Suspension of Liquidation” section.

    Notification Regarding Administrative Protective Orders

    This notice serves as a reminder to parties subject to an 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 the 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.

    Notification to Interested Parties

    These determinations are issued and published in accordance with sections 735(d) and 777(i)(1) of the Act and 19 CFR 351.210(c).

    Dated: January 8, 2018. Gary Taverman, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Operations, performing the non-exclusive functions and duties of the Assistant Secretary for Enforcement and Compliance. Appendix I Scope of the Investigation

    The products covered by this investigation are certain hot-rolled products of carbon steel and alloy steel, in coils, of approximately round cross section, less than 19.00 mm in actual solid cross-sectional diameter. Specifically excluded are steel products possessing the above-noted physical characteristics and meeting the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS) definitions for (a) stainless steel; (b) tool steel; (c) high-nickel steel; (d) ball bearing steel; or (e) concrete reinforcing bars and rods. Also excluded are free cutting steel (also known as free machining steel) products (i.e., products that contain by weight one or more of the following elements: 0.1 percent of more of lead, 0.05 percent or more of bismuth, 0.08 percent or more of sulfur, more than 0.04 percent of phosphorous, more than 0.05 percent of selenium, or more than 0.01 percent of tellurium). All products meeting the physical description of subject merchandise that are not specifically excluded are included in this scope.

    The products under investigation are currently classifiable under subheadings 7213.91.3011, 7213.91.3015, 7213.91.3020, 7213.91.3093, 7213.91.4500, 7213.91.6000, 7213.99.0030, 7227.20.0030, 7227.20.0080, 7227.90.6010, 7227.90.6020, 7227.90.6030, and 7227.90.6035 of the HTSUS. Products entered under subheadings 7213.99.0090 and 7227.90.6090 of the HTSUS may also be included in this scope if they meet the physical description of subject merchandise above. Although the HTSUS subheadings are provided for convenience and customs purposes, the written description of the scope of these proceedings is dispositive.

    Appendix II List of Topics Discussed in the Issues and Decision Memorandum I. Summary II. Background III. Period of Investigation IV. Scope of the Investigation V. Discussion of the Issues: Comment 1: Affiliation and Collapsing of AMSA/Scaw/CWI Comment 2: Application of Total AFA to AMSA/Scaw/CWI Comment 3: Commerce's Statutory Obligations Under 782(d) of the Act Comment 4: Verification Comment 5: Adjustment to AMSA's General and Administrative (G&A) Expense Ratio Comment 6: Adjustment to AMSA's Warranty Expenses Comment 7: Adjustment to AMSA's Direct Selling Expenses Comment 8: Denial of AMSA's CEP Offset VI. Recommendation
    [FR Doc. 2018-00572 Filed 1-12-18; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-DS-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Institute of Standards and Technology Visiting Committee on Advanced Technology AGENCY:

    National Institute of Standards and Technology, Department of Commerce.

    ACTION:

    Notice of public meeting.

    SUMMARY:

    The Visiting Committee on Advanced Technology (VCAT or Committee), National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), will meet in Wednesday, February 7, 2018, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Eastern Time. The VCAT is composed of not fewer than 9 members appointed by the NIST Director who are eminent in such fields as business, research, new product development, engineering, labor, education, management consulting, environment, and international relations.

    DATES:

    The VCAT will meet on Wednesday, February 7, 2018, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Eastern Time.

    ADDRESSES:

    The meeting will be held in the Portrait Room, Administration Building, at NIST, 100 Bureau Drive, Gaithersburg, Maryland 20899. Please note admittance instructions under the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section of this notice.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Stephanie Shaw, VCAT, NIST, 100 Bureau Drive, Mail Stop 1060, Gaithersburg, Maryland 20899-1060, telephone number 301-975-2667. Ms. Shaw's email address is [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Authority:

    15 U.S.C. 278, as amended, and the Federal Advisory Committee Act, as amended, 5 U.S.C. App.

    The purpose of this meeting is for the VCAT to review and make recommendations regarding general policy for NIST, its organization, its budget, and its programs within the framework of applicable national policies as set forth by the President and the Congress. The agenda will include an update on major programs at NIST. In addition, the meeting will include presentations and discussions on NIST's role in cybersecurity and technology transfer from federal laboratories. The Committee also will present its initial observations, findings, and recommendations for the 2017 VCAT Annual Report. The agenda may change to accommodate Committee business. The final agenda will be posted on the NIST website at http://www.nist.gov/director/vcat/agenda.cfm.

    Individuals and representatives of organizations who would like to offer comments and suggestions related to the Committee's affairs are invited to request a place on the agenda. Approximately one-half hour will be reserved for public comments and speaking times will be assigned on a first-come, first-serve basis. The amount of time per speaker will be determined by the number of requests received, but is likely to be about 3 minutes each. The exact time for public comments will be included in the final agenda that will be posted on the NIST website at http://www.nist.gov/director/vcat/agenda.cfm. Questions from the public will not be considered during this period. Speakers who wish to expand upon their oral statements, those who had wished to speak but could not be accommodated on the agenda, and those who were unable to attend in person are invited to submit written statements to VCAT, NIST, 100 Bureau Drive, MS 1060, Gaithersburg, Maryland 20899, via fax at 301-216-0529 or electronically by email to [email protected]

    All visitors to the NIST site are required to pre-register to be admitted. Please submit your name, time of arrival, email address and phone number to Stephanie Shaw by 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday, January 29, 2018. Non-U.S. citizens must submit additional information; please contact Ms. Shaw. Ms. Shaw's email address is [email protected] and her phone number is 301-975-2667. For participants attending in person, please note that federal agencies, including NIST, can only accept a state-issued driver's license or identification card for access to federal facilities if such license or identification card is issued by a state that is compliant with the REAL ID Act of 2005 (Pub. L. 109-13), or by a state that has an extension for REAL ID compliance. NIST currently accepts other forms of federal-issued identification in lieu of a state-issued driver's license. For detailed information please contact Ms. Shaw at 301-975-2667 or visit: http://nist.gov/public_affairs/visitor/.

    Kevin Kimball, Chief of Staff.
    [FR Doc. 2018-00566 Filed 1-12-18; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-13-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration RIN 0648-XF946 New England Fishery Management Council; Public Meeting AGENCY:

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

    ACTION:

    Notice of public meeting.

    SUMMARY:

    The New England Fishery Management Council (Council, NEFMC) will hold a two-day meeting to consider actions affecting New England fisheries in the exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

    DATES:

    The meeting will be held on Tuesday, January 30, and Wednesday, January 31, 2018, beginning at 10 a.m. on January 30 and 9 a.m. on January 31.

    ADDRESSES:

    The meeting will be held at the Sheraton Harborside, 250 Market Street, Portsmouth, NH 03801; telephone: (603) 431-2300; online at www.sheratonportsmouth.com.

    Council Address: New England Fishery Management Council, 50 Water Street, Mill 2, Newburyport, MA 01950; telephone: (978) 465-0492; www.nefmc.org.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Thomas A. Nies, Executive Director, New England Fishery Management Council; telephone: (978) 465-0492, ext. 113.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Agenda Tuesday, January 30, 2018

    After introductions and brief announcements, the meeting will begin with reports from the Council Chairman and Executive Director, NMFS's Regional Administrator for the Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office (GARFO), liaisons from the Northeast Fisheries Science Center (NEFSC) and Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council, representatives from NOAA General Counsel and the Office of Law Enforcement, and staff from the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) and U.S. Coast Guard. Next, the Council will receive an industry-funded monitoring briefing from GARFO that includes: (1) An update with preliminary results on the agency's electronic monitoring project aboard midwater trawl vessels participating in the Atlantic herring and mackerel fisheries; and (2) information on industry-funded monitoring service providers. The Skate Committee will report next. The Council is expected to initiate Framework Adjustment 6 to the Northeast Skate Complex Fishery Management Plan (FMP) to consider adjustments to the skate wing possession limit.

    After a lunch break, members of the public will have the opportunity to speak during an open comment period on issues that relate to Council business but are not included on the published agenda for this meeting. The Council asks the public to limit remarks to 3-5 minutes. The Habitat Committee will report after the public comment period. The Council is scheduled to take final action on coral protection measures for the continental slope and canyons south of Georges Bank in its Omnibus Deep-Sea Coral Amendment. The Council took final action on coral protection measures for the Gulf of Maine in June of 2017. In other habitat-related business, the Council will: (1) Review NMFS's decision on Omnibus Habitat Amendment 2 and discuss how it relates to the Council's 2018 habitat priorities; and (2) review comments on offshore wind projects. The Council then will hear from its Research Steering Committee and first review and possibly approve the committee's recommendations for potential improvements to the Council's research priority-setting process. The Council also will receive an update on issues related to the Northeast Cooperative Research Program and be briefed on management reviews of completed research projects. Following these actions, the Council will adjourn for the day.

    Wednesday, January 31, 2018

    The second day of the meeting will begin with a closed session in order for the Council to consult on Scientific and Statistical Committee appointments for 2018-20. The first item of business in the open session will be an update on the ongoing external review of Council operations, known as the Council Program Review. Next, the Council will receive a report on the latest meeting of the Northeast Trawl Advisory Panel and discuss several issues related to the workings of the panel, including NEFSC engagement and previous/future studies and projects. This discussion will be followed by a National Fish and Wildlife Foundation-funded report on implementing electronic monitoring in New England's groundfish fishery. The Council then will receive a presentation on the NEFSC's “2007-2015 Final Report on the Performance of the Northeast Multispecies Fishery,” followed by the Scientific and Statistical Committee's report, which is centered on providing overfishing limit and acceptable biological catch recommendations for Atlantic halibut to the Council.

    Following a lunch break, the Council will begin its Groundfish Committee report, which will cover recreational fishery measures and the Council's Groundfish Monitoring Amendment 23. On the recreational end, the Council will: (1) Provide recommendations to GARFO on fishing year 2018 recreational measures for Gulf of Maine cod and haddock; (2) possibly consult with GARFO on fishing year 2018 recreational measures for Georges Bank cod; and (3) consider recommending a new control date for the party/charter fishery. Regarding Amendment 23 to the Northeast Multispecies Fishery Management Plan, which is focused on monitoring in the groundfish fishery, the Council will: (1) Receive a progress report on the amendment's development; and (2) discuss the possibility of holding a groundfish workshop or establishing a working group dedicated to monitoring issues. Finally, the Council will close out the meeting with “other business.”

    Although non-emergency issues not contained on this agenda may come before the Council for discussion, those issues may not be the subject of formal action during this meeting. Council action will be restricted to those issues specifically listed in this notice and any issues arising after publication of this notice that require emergency action under section 305(c) of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, provided the public has been notified of the Council's intent to take final action to address the emergency. The public also should be aware that the meeting will be recorded. Consistent with 16 U.S.C. 1852, a copy of the recording is available upon request.

    Special Accommodations

    This meeting is physically accessible to people with disabilities. Requests for sign language interpretation or other auxiliary aids should be directed to Thomas A. Nies (see ADDRESSES) at least 5 days prior to the meeting date.

    Dated: January 10, 2018. Tracey L. Thompson, Acting Deputy Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service.
    [FR Doc. 2018-00567 Filed 1-12-18; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-22-P
    DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration RIN 0648-XF945 Endangered and Threatened Species; Take of Anadromous Fish AGENCY:

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

    ACTION:

    Notice; applications for one new scientific research permit and five scientific research permit renewals.

    SUMMARY:

    Notice is hereby given that NMFS has received six scientific research permit application requests relating to Pacific salmon and steelhead. The proposed research is intended to increase knowledge of species listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and to help guide management and conservation efforts. The applications may be viewed online at: https://apps.nmfs.noaa.gov/preview/preview_open_for_comment.cfm.

    DATES:

    Comments or requests for a public hearing on the applications must be received at the appropriate address or fax number (see ADDRESSES) no later than 5 p.m. Pacific standard time on February 15, 2018.

    ADDRESSES:

    Written comments on the applications should be sent to the Protected Resources Division, NMFS, 1201 NE Lloyd Blvd., Suite 1100, Portland, OR 97232-1274. Comments may also be sent via fax to 503-230-5441 or by email to [email protected] (include the permit number in the subject line of the fax or email).

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Rob Clapp, Portland, OR (ph.: 503-231-2314), Fax: 503-230-5441, email: [email protected]). Permit application instructions are available from the address above, or online at https://apps.nmfs.noaa.gov.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Species Covered in This Notice

    The following listed species are covered in this notice:

    Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha): Endangered upper Columbia River (UCR); threatened Snake River (SR) spring/summer (spr/sum), threatened SR fall-run.

    Steelhead (O. mykiss): Threatened UCR; threatened SR; threatened middle Columbia River (MCR).

    Sockeye salmon (O. nerka): Endangered SR.

    Authority

    Scientific research permits are issued in accordance with section 10(a)(1)(A) of the ESA (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.) and regulations governing listed fish and wildlife permits (50 CFR parts 222-226). NMFS issues permits based on findings that such permits: (1) Are applied for in good faith; (2) if granted and exercised, would not operate to the disadvantage of the listed species that are the subject of the permit; and (3) are consistent with the purposes and policy of section 2 of the ESA. The authority to take listed species is subject to conditions set forth in the permits.

    Anyone requesting a hearing on an application listed in this notice should set out the specific reasons why a hearing on that application would be appropriate (see ADDRESSES). Such hearings are held at the discretion of the Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, NMFS.

    Applications Received Permit 1124-6R

    The IDFG is seeking to renew for five years a permit under which they have been conducting six research projects in the Snake River basin for nearly 20 years. The permit would continue to cover the following actions: One general fish population inventory; one project designed to monitor fish health throughout the state; two projects looking at natural and hatchery Chinook salmon production (in which sockeye may rarely be captured); one project monitoring natural steelhead; and one project centering on monitoring sockeye salmon recovery in Idaho. Much of the work being conducted under these projects is covered by other ESA authorizations; the work contemplated here is only the work that portion of the research that may affect sockeye salmon. The purposes of the research are therefore to monitor listed salmonid health, help guide sockeye salmon recovery operations, and to rescue sockeye salmon in need imperiled by circumstances such as being trapped by low flows. The benefits to the salmon would come in the form of information to help guide resource managers in restoring the listed fish and, as stated, in directly rescuing them from peril. The fish would be captured by various methods—screw traps, electrofishing, hook-and-line-angling, mid-water trawl—and most captured fish would immediately be released. The researchers do not intend to kill any of the captured fish, but a few may die as an inadvertent result of the research.

    Permit 1134-7R

    The Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission (CRITFC) is seeking to renew for five years a permit under which they have been conducting research for nearly 20 years. The permit would continue covering five study projects that, among them, would annually take adult and juvenile threatened SR spring/summer Chinook salmon and adult and juvenile threatened SR steelhead in the Snake River basin. There have been some changes in the research over the last ten years; nonetheless, the projects proposed are largely continuations of ongoing research. They are: Project 1—Adult Spring/summer and Fall Chinook Salmon and Summer Steelhead Ground and Aerial Spawning Ground Surveys; Project 2—Cryopreservation of Spring/summer Chinook Salmon and Summer Steelhead Gametes; Project 3—Adult Chinook Salmon Abundance Monitoring Using Video Weirs, Acoustic Imaging, and passive integrated transponder (PIT) tag Detectors in the South Fork Salmon River; Project 4—Snorkel, Seine, fyke net, Minnow Trap, and Electrofishing Surveys and Collection of Juvenile Chinook Salmon and Steelhead; and Project 5—Juvenile Anadromous Salmonid Emigration Studies Using Rotary Screw Traps. Under these tasks, listed adult and juvenile salmon would be variously (1) observed/harassed during fish population and production monitoring surveys; (2) captured (using seines, trawls, traps, hook-and-line angling equipment, and electrofishing equipment) and anesthetized; (3) sampled for biological information and tissue samples, (4) PIT-tagged or tagged with other identifiers, (5) and released.

    The research has many purposes and would benefit listed salmon and steelhead in different ways. However, in general, the studies are part of ongoing efforts to monitor the status of listed species in the Snake River basin and to use those data to inform decisions about land- and fisheries management actions and to help prioritize and plan recovery measures for the listed species. Under the proposal, the studies would continue to benefit listed species by generating population abundance estimates, allowing comparisons to be made between naturally reproducing populations and those being supplemented with hatchery fish, and helping preserve listed salmon and steelhead genetic diversity. The CRITFC researchers do not intend to kill any of the fish being captured, but a small percentage may die as a result of the research activities.

    Permit 13380-3R

    The NWFSC is seeking to renew for five years a permit that currently allows them to annually take natural juvenile SR spring/summer Chinook salmon and SR steelhead in the Salmon River subbasin in Idaho. This research has been in progress for over ten years and is designed to assess three alternative methods of nutrient enhancement (Salmon carcasses, carcass analogues, and nutrient pellets) on biological communities in Columbia River tributaries. In general, the purpose of the research is to learn how salmonids acquire nutrients from the carcasses of dead spawners and test three methods of using those nutrients to increase growth and survival among naturally produced salmonids. The research would benefit the fish by helping managers use nutrient enhancement techniques to recover listed salmonid populations. Moreover, managers would gain a broader understanding of the role marine-derived nutrients play in ecosystem health as a whole. This, in turn, would help inform management decisions and actions intended to help salmon recovery in the future.

    Under the proposed research, the fish would variously be (1) captured (using seines, nets, traps, and possibly, electrofishing equipment) and anesthetized; (2) measured, weighed and fin-clipped; (3) held for a time in enclosures in the stream from which they are captured; and (4) released. A number of the captured fish would also be intentionally killed so the researchers may conduct stable isotope, otolith, and diet analyses with the purpose of linking growth and survival to habitat conditions. It is also likely that a small percentage of the fish being captured would unintentionally be killed during the process; in such instances, any unintentional mortalities would be used in place of any fish that would otherwise be lethally taken. In addition, tissue samples would be taken from adult carcasses.

    Permit 14283-3R

    Environmental Assessment Services (EAS) is seeking to renew for five years a permit that currently allows them to annually take listed fish in the mid- and upper Columbia River in support of the U.S. Department of Energy's Hanford Site Cleanup Mission and regulatory drivers under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA). The research would take place in four areas the Columbia River waters extending from McNary Dam to a point upstream of Wanapum Dam. The researchers are targeting non-listed resident fish but may also capture UCR steelhead and Chinook, MCR steelhead, SR fall Chinook, SR spr/sum Chinook, and SR Steelhead. The research would benefit listed fish by helping monitor and reduce contamination from the Hanford Nuclear Reservation. The researchers would capture the fish using electrofishing, hook and line, and long-line techniques. Any captured listed fish would immediately be released. The researchers do not propose to kill any listed fish but a small number may inadvertently be killed by the activities.

    Permit 16979-2R

    The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is seeking a five-year permit to collect data on UCR Chinook and steelhead abundance, status, distribution, diversity, species/ecological interactions, and behavior in the Columbia River from its confluence with the Yakima River upstream to Chief Joseph Dam. The research would benefit fish by helping managers (1) understand the distribution and proportion of hatchery and natural origin steelhead, and Chinook in UCR tributaries, (2) understand the influences of other biotic and abiotic factors with respect to recovering listed species, (3) understand the potential effects of proposed land use practices, (4) determine appropriate regulatory and habitat protection measures in the areas where land use actions are planned, (5) project the impacts of potential hydraulic projects, and (6) evaluate the effectiveness of local forest practices and instream habitat improvement projects in terms of their ability to protect and enhance listed salmonid populations.

    The researchers would capture fish via a wide variety of means (snorkeling, dip netting, seining, using electrofishing equipment, traps and weirs, and barbless hook-and-line sampling). The captured fish would be variously tissue sampled, measured, tagged, allowed to recover, and released. The researchers do not intend to kill any of the fish being captured, but a small percentage of them may inadvertently be killed as a result of the proposed activities.

    Permit 21571

    The United States Geological Survey (USGS) is seeking a five-year permit to conduct research on migration survival among middle Columbia River steelhead in the Yakima River system in Washington State. The research would look at how well the listed fish are surviving passage through various reaches of the Yakima River. The research would benefit the listed fish by helping managers understand what survival risks the young salmonids face when migrating downriver in the Yakima system. The managers would then be able to use that information to take actions designed to increase fish survival. The USGS researchers would capture juvenile MCR steelhead and tag them with acoustic and PIT tags. They would then use PIT tag detectors and acoustic receivers to follow the fish as they move downstream. The researchers would also use boat electrofishing equipment to count predators in several reaches, but they would not use that equipment to capture any listed animals for handling an adult steelhead would be avoided in all cases. The researchers do not intend to kill any listed animals, but a small number may die as an inadvertent result of the planned activities.

    This notice is provided pursuant to section 10(c) of the ESA. NMFS will evaluate the applications, associated documents, and comments submitted to determine whether the applications meet the requirements of section 10(a) of the ESA and Federal regulations. The final permit decisions will not be made until after the end of the 30-day comment period. NMFS will publish notice of its final action in the Federal Register.

    Dated: January 10, 2018. Angela Somma, Chief, Endangered Species Division, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service.
    [FR Doc. 2018-00602 Filed 1-12-18; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510-22-P
    DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE Department of the Army Notice of Availability of Government-Owned Inventions; Available for Licensing AGENCY:

    Department of the Army, DoD.

    ACTION:

    Notice.

    SUMMARY:

    The inventions listed below are assigned to the United States (U.S.) Government as represented by the Secretary of the Army and are available for licensing by the Department of the Army (DoA):

    • U.S. Patent Number 7,812,366 entitled “Ultraviolet Light Emitting AlGaN Composition, and Ultraviolet Light Emitting Device Containing Same”, Inventors Sampath et al., Issue date October 12, 2010.

    • U.S. Patent Number 8,564,014 entitled “Ultraviolet Light Emitting AlGaN Composition and Ultraviolet Light Emitting Device Containing Same”, Inventors Sampath et al., Issue date October 22, 2013.

    • U.S. Patent 7,498,182 entitled “Method of Manufacturing an AlGaN Composition and Ultraviolet Light Emitting Device Containing Same”, Inventors Sampath et al., Issue Date March 3, 2009.

    The novel claims of these patents are not specific to the growth method used in the production of Ultraviolet (UV) Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) and apply to any Aluminum Gallium Nitride (AlGaN) composition containing self-assembled nanometer-scale compositional inhomogeneities that are localized in more than one dimension, and includes wells, dots, and wires. These patents are relevant to a large portion of semiconductor UV LED industry, which employ some degree of nanoscale compositional inhomogeneity to enhance ultraviolet light emission, regardless of growth method. Further, a semiconductor UV light emitting device having an active region layer comprised of the AlGaN composition is provided, as well as a method of producing the AlGaN composition and semiconductor UV light emitting device, involving molecular beam epitaxy.

    DATES:

    Request for supplemental information should be made prior to March 31, 2018.

    ADDRESSES:

    Request for supplemental information, including licensing application packages and procedures should be directed to John Millemaci, 301-645-6637, [email protected], Energetics Technology Center (ETC), 4185 Indian Head Highway, Indian Head, MD 20640.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    U.S. Army Research Laboratory Technology Transfer Office, RDRL-DPP/Thomas Mulkern, Building 321 Room 110, Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD 21005-5425. Phone: (410) 278-0889, Email: [email protected].

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    The U.S. Army intends to move expeditiously to license these inventions. Licensing application packages are available from ETC and all applications and commercialization plans must be returned to ETC by May 1, 2018. ETC is an authorized Department of Defense Partnership Intermediary per Authority 15 U.S.C. 3715. ETC will turn over all completed applications to the U.S. Army for evaluation by May 28, 2017, with final negotiations and awards occurring during the months of June and July, 2018. The U.S. Army will consider requests for nonexclusive, partially exclusive, and fully exclusive licenses in the U.S. and may prefer to grant an exclusive license to a company capable of broad commercialization as well as patent maintenance and enforcement within the U.S.

    The DoA intends to ensure that its licensed inventions are broadly commercialized throughout the United States.

    Brenda S. Bowen, Army Federal Register Liaison Officer.
    [FR Doc. 2018-00609 Filed 1-12-18; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 5001-03-P
    DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE Department of the Army Advisory Committee on Arlington National Cemetery, Honor Subcommittee; Meeting Notice AGENCY:

    Department of the Army, DoD.

    ACTION:

    Notice of open subcommittee meeting.

    SUMMARY:

    The Department of the Army is publishing this notice to announce the following Federal advisory subcommittee meeting of the Honor subcommittee of the Advisory Committee on Arlington National Cemetery (ACANC). This meeting is open to the public. For more information about the Committee and the Subcommittees, please visit: http://www.arlingtoncemetery.mil/About/Advisory-Committee-on-Arlington-National-Cemetery/ACANC-Meetings.

    DATES:

    The Honor subcommittee will meet on Tuesday, January 30, 2018 from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

    ADDRESSES:

    The Honor Subcommittee will meet in the Stars Conference Room, Sheraton Pentagon City Hotel, 900 S. Orme St., Arlington, VA 22204.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Mr. Timothy Keating; Alternate Designated Federal Officer for the subcommittees, in writing at Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington VA 22211, or by email at [email protected], or by phone at 1-877-907-8585.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    This subcommittee meeting is being held under the provisions of the Federal Advisory Committee Act of 1972 (5 U.S.C., Appendix, as amended), the Sunshine in the Government Act of 1976 (U.S.C. 552b, as amended) and 41 Code of the Federal Regulations (CFR 102-3.150).

    Purpose of the Meetings: The Advisory Committee on Arlington National Cemetery is an independent Federal advisory committee chartered to provide the Secretary of the Army independent advice and recommendations on Arlington National Cemetery, including, but not limited to, cemetery administration, the erection of memorials at the cemetery, and master planning for the cemetery. The Secretary of the Army may act on the committee's advice and recommendations. The primary purpose of the Honor subcommittee is to accomplish an independent assessment of methods to address the long-term future of the Army national cemeteries, including how best to extend the active burials and what ANC should focus on once all available space is used.

    Agenda: The Honor subcommittee will receive an update on the results of a national dialogue public survey conducted as a result of Public Law 114-158. The subcommittee will subsequently conduct a roundtable discussion with visiting guests and study suggestions in consideration of a second survey. The subcommittee will then report its deliberations and findings to the full committee.

    Public's Accessibility to the Meeting: Pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 552b and 41 CFR 102-3.140 through 102-3.165, and the availability of space, this meeting is open to the public. Seating is on a first-come basis. The Stars Conference room at the Sheraton Pentagon City is readily accessible to and usable by persons with disabilities. For additional information about public access procedures, contact Mr. Timothy Keating, the Alternate Designated Federal Officer, at the email address or telephone number listed in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section.

    Written Comments and Statements: Pursuant to 41 CFR 102-3.105(j) and 102-3.140 and section 10(a)(3) of the Federal Advisory Committee Act, the public or interested organizations may submit written comments or statements to the subcommittee, in response to the stated agenda of the open meeting or in regard to the subcommittee's mission in general. Written comments or statements should be submitted to Mr. Timothy Keating, the subcommittee's Alternate Designated Federal Officer, via electronic mail, the preferred mode of submission, at the address listed in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section. Each page of the comment or statement must include the author's name, title or affiliation, address, and daytime phone number. Written comments or statements being submitted in response to the agenda set forth in this notice must be received by the Designated Federal Officer at least seven business days prior to the meeting to be considered by the subcommittee. The Designated Federal Officer will review all timely submitted written comments or statements with the respective subcommittee Chairperson, and ensure the comments are provided to all members of the subcommittee before the meeting. Written comments or statements received after this date may not be provided to the subcommittee until its next meeting. Pursuant to 41 CFR 102-3.140d, the subcommittee is not obligated to allow the public to speak or otherwise address the subcommittee during the meeting. However, interested persons may submit a written statement or a request to speak for consideration by the subcommittee. After reviewing any written statements or requests submitted, the subcommittee Chairperson and the Designated Federal Officer may choose to invite certain submitters to present their comments verbally during the open portion of this meeting or at a future meeting. The Designated Federal Officer in consultation with the subcommittee Chairperson, may allot a specific amount of time for submitters to present their comments verbally.

    Brenda S. Bowen, Army Federal Register Liaison Officer.
    [FR Doc. 2018-00608 Filed 1-12-18; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 5001-03-P
    DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE Office of the Secretary Defense Innovation Board; Notice of Federal Advisory Committee Meeting AGENCY:

    Deputy Chief Management Officer, Department of Defense.

    ACTION:

    Notice of Federal Advisory Committee meeting.

    SUMMARY:

    The Department of Defense (DoD) is publishing this notice to announce that the following Federal Advisory Committee meeting of the Defense Innovation Board (DIB) will take place.

    DATES:

    Closed to the public Wednesday, January 17, 2018 from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. Open to the public Wednesday, January 17, 2018 from 2:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.

    ADDRESSES:

    The closed portion of the meeting will be held in the Pentagon. The open portion of the meeting will be held at 1776 Crystal City, 2231 Crystal Drive, Arlington, VA 22202. Additionally, the meeting will be live streamed for those who are unable to physically attend the meeting.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Michael L. Gable, (571) 372-0933 (Voice), [email protected] (Email). Mailing address is Defense Innovation Board, 9010 Defense Pentagon, Room 5E572, Washington, DC 20301-9010. Website: http://innovation.defense.gov.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Due to circumstances beyond the control of the Designated Federal Officer and the Department of Defense, the Defense Innovation Board was unable to provide public notification concerning its meeting on January 17, 2018, as required by 41 CFR 102-3.150(a). Accordingly, the Advisory Committee Management Officer for the Department of Defense, pursuant to 41 CFR 102-3.150(b), waives the 15-calendar day notification requirement.

    This meeting is being held under the provisions of the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA) of 1972 (5 U.S.C., Appendix, as amended), the Government in the Sunshine Act of 1976 (5 U.S.C. 552b, as amended), and 41 CFR 102-3.140 and 102-3.150.

    Purpose of the Meeting: The mission of the DIB is to examine and provide the Secretary of Defense and the Deputy Secretary of Defense independent advice and recommendations on innovative means to address future challenges in terms of integrated change to organizational structure and processes, business and functional concepts, and technology applications. The DIB focuses on (a) technology and capabilities, (b) practices and operations, and (c) people and culture.

    Agenda: During the closed portion of the meeting, the DIB will receive classified informational briefings from the Deputy Chief Management Officer related to innovation priorities and DoD business reforms and modernization efforts; from the Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army related to innovation priorities and establishment of the Army Modernization Command; and from senior military representatives from the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and the Air Force on innovation activities within the Services to build workforce innovation capacity, promote and optimize operational practices for speed and agility, and leverage advances in technology.

    During the open portion of the meeting, the DIB will invite selected experts to provide analysis and inputs related to innovation, innovation cells, and innovation activities within DoD related to workforce innovation initiatives. Potential experts include: From the United States Army, Chief of Staff, General Mark Milley; from the Defense Digital Service, Tim Van Name; from the Navy Digital Warfare Office, Margaret Palmieri; from the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Irregular Warfare, Lt Col Dave Blair, USAF; from the Military District 5 office within the office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Manufacturing and Industrial Base Policy, Morgan Plummer; and from the Chief Data Officer for the U.S. Air Force, Maj Gen Kim Crider. The DIB will deliberate and potentially vote on recommendations to (1) Design a DoD Fast-Track for Major Technology Initiatives, (2) Incubate and Execute New Ideas from the Field, (3) Create a New Innovation, Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (I-STEM) Career Field, and (4) Establish a Technology and Innovation Training Program for DoD Senior Leaders. The DIB will discuss the initial research and plan for the Software Acquisition Reform (SWAR) study directed in the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act. The DIB's Executive Director will brief the DIB on DoD's latest implementation activities related to DIB recommendations. Members of the public will have an opportunity to provide oral comments to the DIB regarding the DIB's deliberations and potential recommendations. See below for additional information on how to sign up to provide public comments.

    Meeting Accessibility: Pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 552b(c)(1), the DoD has determined that the portion of the meeting from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. shall be closed to the public. The Assistant Deputy Chief Management Officer, in consultation with the Office of the DoD General Counsel, has determined in writing that this portion of the DIB's meeting will be closed as the discussions will involve classified matters of national security. Such classified material is so inextricably intertwined with the unclassified material that it cannot reasonably be segregated into separate discussions without disclosing matters that are classified SECRET or higher. Pursuant to Federal statutes and regulations (FACA, the Government in the Sunshine Act, and 41 CFR 102-3.140 through 102-3.165) and the availability of space, the meeting is open to the public from 2:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Seating is on a first-come basis. Members of the public wishing to attend the meeting or wanting to receive a link to the live stream webcast should contact the Executive Director to register no later than January 16, 2018, by email at [email protected] Members of the media should RSVP to Cmdr. Patrick Evans, Public Affairs Officer, at [email protected]

    Special Accommodations: Individuals requiring special accommodations to access the public meeting should contact the Executive Director at least five business days prior to the meeting so that appropriate arrangements can be made.

    Written Statements: Pursuant to section 10(a)(3) of the FACA and 41 CFR 102-3.140, the public or interested organizations may submit written comments to the DIB about its approved agenda pertaining to this meeting or at any time regarding the DIB's mission. Individuals submitting a written statement must submit their statement at [email protected] The Designated Federal Officer will compile all written submissions and provide them to Board Members for consideration.

    Oral Presentations: Individuals wishing to make an oral statement to the DIB at the public meeting may be permitted to speak for up to three minutes. Anyone wishing to speak to the DIB should submit a request by email at [email protected] not later than January 16, 2018 for planning. Requests for oral comments should include a copy or summary of planned remarks for archival purposes. Individuals may also be permitted to submit a comment request at the public meeting; however, depending on the number of individuals requesting to speak, the schedule may limit participation. Webcast attendees will be provided instructions with the live stream link if they wish to submit comments during the open meeting.

    Dated: January 10, 2018. Aaron Siegel, Alternate OSD Federal Register Liaison Officer, Department of Defense.
    [FR Doc. 2018-00620 Filed 1-12-18; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 5001-06-P
    DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION [Docket No.: ED-2017-ICCD-0134] Agency Information Collection Activities; Submission to the Office of Management and Budget for Review and Approval; Comment Request; National Evaluation of the Investing in Innovation (i3) Program AGENCY:

    Institute of Education Sciences (IES), Department of Education (ED).

    ACTION:

    Notice.

    SUMMARY:

    In accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, ED is proposing an extension of an existing information collection.

    DATES:

    Interested persons are invited to submit comments on or before February 15, 2018.

    ADDRESSES:

    To access and review all the documents related to the information collection listed in this notice, please use http://www.regulations.gov by searching the Docket ID number ED-2017-ICCD-0134. Comments submitted in response to this notice should be submitted electronically through the Federal eRulemaking Portal at http://www.regulations.gov by selecting the Docket ID number or via postal mail, commercial delivery, or hand delivery. Please note that comments submitted by fax or email and those submitted after the comment period will not be accepted. Written requests for information or comments submitted by postal mail or delivery should be addressed to the Director of the Information Collection Clearance Division, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue SW, LBJ, Room 216-32, Washington, DC 20202-4537.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    For specific questions related to collection activities, please contact Tracy Rimdzius, 202-245-7283.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    The Department of Education (ED), in accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (PRA) (44 U.S.C. 3506(c)(2)(A)), provides the general public and Federal agencies with an opportunity to comment on proposed, revised, and continuing collections of information. This helps the Department assess the impact of its information collection requirements and minimize the public's reporting burden. It also helps the public understand the Department's information collection requirements and provide the requested data in the desired format. ED is soliciting comments on the proposed information collection request (ICR) that is described below. The Department of Education is especially interested in public comment addressing the following issues: (1) Is this collection necessary to the proper functions of the Department; (2) will this information be processed and used in a timely manner; (3) is the estimate of burden accurate; (4) how might the Department enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and (5) how might the Department minimize the burden of this collection on the respondents, including through the use of information technology. Please note that written comments received in response to this notice will be considered public records.

    Title of Collection: National Evaluation of the Investing in Innovation (i3) Program.

    OMB Control Number: 1850-0913.

    Type of Review: An extension of an existing information collection.

    Respondents/Affected Public: Private Sector.

    Total Estimated Number of Annual Responses: 23.

    Total Estimated Number of Annual Burden Hours: 343.

    Abstract: This submission requests approval to collect data in support of the Investing in Innovation (i3) Program Technical Assistance and Evaluation Project. The i3 Program is designed to support school districts and nonprofit organizations in expanding, developing, and evaluating evidence-based practices and promising efforts to improve outcomes for the nations' students, teachers, and schools. Each i3 grantee is required to fund an independent evaluation. The Technical Assistance and Evaluation Project requires data collection to assess the strength of the evidence produced under the grantees independent evaluations as well as provide a cross-site summary of the findings. Specifically, the data collected will be used to support reviews and reports to ED that: Describe the intervention implemented by each i3 grantee; assess the strength of the evidence produced by each i3 evaluation; present the evidence produced by each i3 evaluation; identify effective and promising interventions; and, assess the results of the i3 Program. We will collect data from the universe of all 172 i3 projects funded under the i3 Program.

    Dated: January 10, 2018. Stephanie Valentine, Acting Director, Information Collection Clearance Division, Office of the Chief Privacy Officer, Office of Management.
    [FR Doc. 2018-00554 Filed 1-12-18; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4000-01-P
    ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY [EPA-EPA-HQ-OA-2010-0757; FRL-9972-93-OEI] Information Collection Request Submitted to OMB for Review and Approval; Comment Request; Confidential Financial Disclosure Form for Special Government Employees Serving on Federal Advisory Committees at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (Renewal) AGENCY:

    Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

    ACTION:

    Notice.

    SUMMARY:

    The Environmental Protection Agency has submitted an information collection request (ICR), “Confidential Financial Disclosure Form for Special Government Employees Serving on Federal Advisory Committees at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (Renewal)” (EPA ICR No. 2260.06, OMB Control No. 2090-0029) to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review and approval in accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act. This is a proposed extension of the ICR, which is currently approved through February 28, 2018. Public comments were previously requested via the Federal Register on August 21, 2017 during a 60-day comment period. This notice allows for an additional 30 days for public comments. A fuller description of the ICR is given below, including its estimated burden and cost to the public. An agency may not conduct or sponsor and a person is not required to respond to a collection of information unless it displays a currently valid OMB control number.

    DATES:

    Additional comments may be submitted on or before February 15, 2018.

    ADDRESSES:

    Submit your comments, referencing Docket ID Number EPA-HQ-OA-2010-0757, to (1) EPA online using www.regulations.gov (our preferred method), by email to [email protected], or by mail to: EPA Docket Center, Environmental Protection Agency, Mail Code 28221T, 1200 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20460, and (2) OMB via email to [email protected]. Address comments to OMB Desk Officer for EPA.

    EPA's policy is that all comments received will be included in the public docket without change including any personal information provided, unless the comment includes profanity, threats, information claimed to be Confidential Business Information (CBI) or other information whose disclosure is restricted by statute.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Megan Moreau, Office of Resources, Operations and Management, Federal Advisory Committee Management Division, Mail Code 1601M, Environmental Protection Agency, 1200 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20460; telephone number: 202-564-5320; fax number: 202-564-8129; email address: moreau[email protected].

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Supporting documents, which explain in detail the information that the EPA will be collecting, are available in the public docket for this ICR. The docket can be viewed online at www.regulations.gov or in person at the EPA Docket Center, WJC West, Room 3334, 1301 Constitution Ave. NW, Washington, DC. The telephone number for the Docket Center is 202-566-1744. For additional information about EPA's public docket, visit http://www.epa.gov/dockets.

    Abstract: The purpose of this information collection request is to assist the EPA in selecting federal advisory committee members who will be appointed as Special Government Employees (SGEs), mostly to the EPA's scientific and technical committees. To select SGE members as efficiently and cost effectively as possible, the Agency needs to evaluate potential conflicts of interest before a candidate is hired as an SGE and appointed as a member to a committee. Agency officials developed the “Confidential Financial Disclosure Form for Special Government Employees Serving on Federal Advisory Committees at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency,” also referred to as Form 3110-48, for greater inclusion of information to discover any potential conflicts of interest as recommended by the Government Accountability Office.

    Form numbers: EPA Form 3110-48.

    Respondents/affected entities: Candidates for appointment to serve as SGEs on EPA federal advisory committees.

    Respondent's obligation to respond: Mandatory in order to serve as a SGE on an EPA federal advisory committee (5 CFR 2634.903).

    Estimated number of respondents: 500 (total).

    Frequency of response: Once, Annually, On occasion.

    Total estimated burden: 500 hours (per year). Burden is defined at 5 CFR 1320.03(b).

    Total estimated cost: $56,000 (per year), includes $0 annualized capital or operation & maintenance costs.

    Changes in the Estimates: There is an increase of 250 hours in the total estimated respondent burden compared with the ICR currently approved by OMB. This change is due to an increase in the estimated number of respondents.

    Courtney Kerwin, Director, Regulatory Support Division.
    [FR Doc. 2018-00574 Filed 1-12-18; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560-50-P
    ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY [EPA-HQ-OAR-2010-0885; FRL-9973-01-OEI] Information Collection Request Submitted to OMB for Review and Approval; Comment Request; Implementation of the 2008 Ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standards for Ozone: State Implementation Plan Requirements (Renewal) AGENCY:

    Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

    ACTION:

    Notice.

    SUMMARY:

    The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has submitted an information collection request (ICR)—Implementation of the 2008 Ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standards for Ozone: State Implementation Plan Requirements (Renewal), OMB Control Number 2060-0695, EPA ICR No. 2347.03—to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review and approval in accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA). This is a proposed extension of the ICR, which is currently approved through January, 31, 2018. Public comments were previously requested via a Federal Register notice published on October 2, 2017 and November 8, 2017. This notice allows an additional 30 days for public comments. A fuller description of the ICR is given below, including its estimated burden and cost to the public. An agency may not conduct or sponsor and a person is not required to respond to a collection of information unless it displays a currently valid OMB control number.

    DATES:

    Additional comments may be submitted on or before February 15, 2018.

    ADDRESSES:

    Submit your comments, referencing Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2010-0885, to (1) the EPA online using http://www.regulations.gov (our preferred method), by email to [email protected], or by mail to: EPA Docket Center, Environmental Protection Agency, Mail Code 28221T, 1200 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20460, and (2) OMB via email to [email protected] Address comments to OMB Desk Officer for EPA. The EPA's policy is that all comments received will be included in the public docket without change including any personal information provided, unless the comment includes profanity, threats, information claimed to be Confidential Business Information or other information whose disclosure is restricted by statute.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

    Mr. Butch Stackhouse, Air Quality Policy Division, Office of Air Quality Planning and Standards, C539-01, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Research Triangle Park, NC 27709; telephone number: (919) 541-5208; fax number: (919) 541-5509; email address: [email protected]

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Supporting documents, which explain in detail the information that the EPA will be collecting, are available in the public docket for this ICR. The docket can be viewed online at https://www.regulations.gov or in person at the EPA Docket Center Reading Room, WJC West, Room 3334, 1301 Constitution Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20229. The telephone number for the Docket Center is (202) 566-1744. For additional information about the EPA's public docket, visit https://www.epa.gov/dockets.

    Abstract: The EPA requires the information requested in this ICR to perform its proper function to ensure the implementation of the 2008 ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) in areas of the country that are designated nonattainment for the standards. This ICR pertains to attainment planning efforts by states for areas designated nonattainment for the ozone NAAQS revised on March 12, 2008 (73 FR 16436). Those planning efforts must meet the statutory requirements of CAA sections 172, 182 and 184, and the regulatory requirements established in the “Implementation of the 2008 National Ambient Air Quality Standards for Ozone: State Implementation Plan (SIP) Requirements; Final Rule” (80 FR 12264). The EPA has since revised the ozone NAAQS on October 1, 2015 (80 FR 65292), and any burden associated with attainment planning for areas designated nonattainment for the 2015 ozone NAAQS will be covered through a separate ICR process. The information covered by this ICR includes, but is not limited to, state submissions of attainment demonstrations, reasonable further progress plans, and reasonably available control technology determinations.

    Form Numbers: None.

    Respondents/Affected Entities: State and local governments.

    Respondent's Obligation To Respond: Mandatory (see Clean Air Act sections 172, 182 and 184).

    Estimated Number of Respondents: 17 (total).

    Frequency of Response: Annual.

    Total Estimated Burden: 34,000 hours (per year). Burden is defined at 5 CFR 1320.3(b).

    Total Estimated Cost: $2,311,000 (per year), includes $0 annualized capital or operation and maintenance costs.

    Changes in Estimates: There is a decrease of 6,000 annual labor hours in the total estimated respondent burden compared with the ICR currently approved by OMB. This decrease is due to the activities expected to occur during the period from February 1, 2018, to January 31, 2021, which are similar in nature, but not identical, to the SIP planning and submission activities in the original ICR period. Factors contributing to the variation include the stage of implementation that various nonattainment areas are in for the 2008 ozone NAAQS, and states' relative success in attaining the 2008 ozone NAAQS during the original ICR period. More specifically, the reasons the total estimated burden in this ICR renewal is different than the total estimated burden hours currently approved by OMB, include:

    • Many areas that have successfully attained the 2008 ozone NAAQS are now eligible to request redesignation to attainment.

    • As many as 13 nonattainment areas are potentially subject to the additional air quality planning and emissions control requirements of the “Serious” classification because they may not attain the 2008 NAAQS by the Moderate area attainment deadline of July 20, 2018. For these areas, states will need to take further steps to ensure air quality standards are achieved by the next attainment deadline.

    • The estimates have been calculated using 2017 dollars. The adjustments to the cost assumptions are summarized in sections 6(b) and 6(c) of the supporting statement, and fully detailed in a background spreadsheet titled, “Estimate of Burden for 2008 O3 SIP Rule 1st Renewal ICR Worksheet, 2017.” This spreadsheet is available in the docket.

    Courtney Kerwin, Director, Regulatory Support Division.
    [FR Doc. 2018-00575 Filed 1-12-18; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6560-50-P
    EXPORT-IMPORT BANK [Public Notice: 2017-6010] Agency Information Collection Activities: Comment Request AGENCY:

    Export-Import Bank of the United States.

    ACTION:

    Submission for OMB review and comments request.

    SUMMARY:

    The Export-Import Bank of the United States (EXIM), as a part of its continuing effort to reduce paperwork and respondent burden, invites the general public and other Federal Agencies to comment on the proposed information collection, as required by the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995.

    The collection provides EXIM staff with the information necessary to monitor the borrower's payments for exported goods covered under its short and medium-term export credit insurance policies. It also alerts EXIM staff of defaults, so they can manage the portfolio in an informed manner.

    DATES:

    Comments must be received on or before February 15, 2018 to be assured of consideration.

    ADDRESSES:

    Comments may be submitted electronically on www.regulations.gov (EIB 92-27) or by mail to Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, 725 17th Street NW, Washington, DC 20038 Attn: OMB 3048-0027 Form can be viewed at http://www.exim.gov/pub/pending/eib92-27.pdf

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Title and Form Number: EIB 92-27 Report of Overdue Accounts Under Short-Term Policies.

    OMB Number: 3048-0027.

    Type of Review: Regular.

    Need and Use: The collection provides EXIM staff with the information necessary to monitor the borrower's payments for exported goods covered under its short- and medium term export credit insurance policies. It also alerts EXIM staff of defaults, so they can manage the portfolio in an informed manner.

    Affected Public: This form affects entities involved in the export of U.S. goods and services.

    Annual Number of Respondents: 745.

    Estimated Time per Respondent: 15 minutes.

    Annual Burden Hours for Respondents: 186.25 hours.

    Frequency of Reporting or Use: Monthly, until completed.

    Government Expenses:

    Reviewing Time per Year: 186.25 hours.

    Average Wages per Hour: $42.50.

    Average Cost per Year: $7,915.63 (time * wages).

    Benefits and Overhead: 20%.

    Total Government Cost: $9,498.75.

    Bassam Doughman, IT, Specialist.
    [FR Doc. 2018-00510 Filed 1-12-18; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6690-01-P
    EXPORT-IMPORT BANK [Public Notice: 2017-6014] Agency Information Collection Activities: Comment Request AGENCY:

    Export-Import Bank of the United States.

    ACTION:

    Submission for OMB review and comments request.

    SUMMARY:

    The Export-Import Bank of the United States (EXIM), as part of its continuing effort to reduce paperwork and respondent burden, invites the general public and other Federal Agencies to comment on the proposed information collection, as required by the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995.

    Pursuant to the Export-Import Bank Act of 1945, as amended (12 U.S.C. 635, et seq.), the Export-Import Bank of the United States (EXIM), facilitates the finance of the export of U.S. goods and services by providing insurance or guarantees to U.S. exporters or lenders financing U.S. exports. By neutralizing the effect of export credit insurance or guarantees offered by foreign governments and by absorbing credit risks that the private sector will not accept, EXIM enables U.S. exporters to compete fairly in foreign markets on the basis of price and product. In the event that a borrower defaults on a transaction insured or guaranteed by EXIM, the insured or guaranteed exporter or lender may seek payment from EXIM by the submission of a claim. This collection of information is necessary, pursuant to12 U.S.C. 635(a)(1), to determine if such claim complies with the terms and conditions of the relevant insurance policy or guarantee, as the case may be.

    DATES:

    Comments must be received on or before February 15, 2018 to be assured of consideration.

    ADDRESSES:

    Comments may be submitted electronically on WWW.REGULATIONS.GOV (EIB 10-05) or by mail to Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, 725 17th Street NW, Washington, DC 20038 Attn: OMB 3048-10-05 The information collection tool can be reviewed at: http://www.exim.gov/pub/pending/eib10-05.pdf.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Title and Form Number: EIB 10-05 Notice of Claim and Proof of Loss, Medium Term Guarantee.

    OMB Number: 3048-0035.

    Type of Review: Regular.

    Need and Use: This collection of information is necessary, pursuant to 12 U.S.C. Sec. 635(a)(1), to determine eligibility of the applicant for EXIM assistance. The information collected enables EXIM to determine the eligibility of the shipment(s) for insurance and to calculate the premium due to EXIM for its support of the shipment(s) under its insurance program.

    Affected Public: This form affects entities involved in the export of U.S. goods and services.

    Annual Number of Respondents: 65.

    Estimated Time per Respondent: 1 hour.

    Annual Burden Hours: 65 hours.

    Frequency of Reporting of Use: As needed to request a claim payment.

    Government Expenses:

    Reviewing Time per Year: 65 hours.

    Average Wages per Hour: $42.50.

    Average Cost per Year: $2,762.

    (time * wages)

    Benefits and Overhead: 20%.

    Total Government Cost: $3,315.

    Bassam Doughman, IT Specialist.
    [FR Doc. 2018-00513 Filed 1-12-18; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6690-01-P
    EXPORT-IMPORT BANK [Public Notice: 2017-6013] Agency Information Collection Activities: Comment Request AGENCY:

    Export-Import Bank of the United States.

    ACTION:

    Submission for OMB review and comments request.

    SUMMARY:

    The Export-Import Bank of the United States (EXIM), as part of its continuing effort to reduce paperwork and respondent burden, invites the general public and other Federal Agencies to comment on the proposed information collection, as required by the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995.

    This collection of information is necessary to determine eligibility of the export sales for insurance coverage. The Report of Premiums Payable for Financial Institutions Only is used to determine the eligibility of the shipment(s) and to calculate the premium due to EXIM for its support of the shipment(s) under its insurance program. EXIM customers will be able to submit this form on paper or electronically.

    By neutralizing the effect of export credit support offered by foreign governments and by absorbing credit risks that the private sector will not accept, EXIM enables U.S. exporters to compete fairly in foreign markets on the basis of price and product. Under the Working Capital Guarantee Program, EXIM provides repayment guarantees to lenders on secured, short-term working capital loans made to qualified exporters. The guarantee may be approved for a single loan or a revolving line of credit.

    In the event that a buyer defaults on a transaction insured by EXIM the insured exporter or lender may seek payment by the submission of a claim.

    DATES:

    Comments must be received on or before February 15, 2018 to be assured of consideration.

    ADDRESSES:

    Comments may be submitted electronically on WWW.REGULATIONS.GOV or by mail to Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, 725 17th Street NW, Washington, DC 20038, Attn: OMB 3048-10-03.

    The information collection tool can be reviewed at: http://www.exim.gov/pub/pending/eib10-03.pdf (EIB 10-03).

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

    Title and Form Number: EIB 10-03 Notice of Claim and Proof of Loss, Export Credit Insurance Policies.

    OMB Number: 3048-0033.

    Type of Review: Regular.

    Need and Use: This collection of information is necessary, pursuant to 12 U.S.C. 635(a)(1), to determine if such claim complies with the terms and conditions of the relevant insurance policy.

    Affected Public: This form affects entities involved in the export of U.S. goods and services.

    Annual Number of Respondents: 300.

    Estimated Time per Respondent: 45 minutes.

    Annual Burden Hours: 225 hours.

    Frequency of Reporting of Use: As needed to request claim payment.

    Government Expenses:

    Reviewing Time per Year: 300 hours.

    Average Wages per Hour: $42.50.

    Average Cost per Year: $12,750 (time * wages).

    Benefits and Overhead: 20%.

    Total Government Cost: $15,300.

    Bassam Doughman, IT Specialist.
    [FR Doc. 2018-00512 Filed 1-12-18; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 6690-01-P
    EXPORT-IMPORT BANK [Public Notice: 2017-6011] Agency Information Collection Activities: Comment Request AGENCY:

    Export-Import Bank of the United States.

    ACTION:

    Submission for OMB review and comments request.

    SUMMARY:

    The Export-Import Bank of the United States (EXIM), as a part of its continuing effort to reduce paperwork and respondent burden, invites the general public and other Federal Agencies to comment on the proposed information collection, as required by the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995. Our customers will be able to submit this form on paper or electronically.

    This form is used by insurance brokers to register with Export-Import Bank. It provides EXIM staff with the information necessary to make a determination of the eligibility of the broker to receive commission payments under Export-Import Bank's credit insurance programs.

    DATES:

    Comments must be received on or before February 15, 2018 to be assured of consideration.

    ADDRESSES:

    Comments may be submitted electronically on WWW.REGULATIONS.GOV<